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Archive for October, 2010

Hello Ireland ...

October 31st, 2010 at 02:36 am


Younger Irish dancing daughter finally placed 1st in the Hornpipe today, after six grueling months of 2nd, 3rd, or no place. The way the qualifying for nationals/prelim to worlds works is a dancer must place 1st in all of their six dances (Three soft shoe: jig, reel, slip jig, and Hard shoe: Treble Jig, Hornpipe, Traditional Set). This daughter had the five first by the first six months into the season. Today she finally placed 1st in the Hornpipe and is fully qualified for Preliminary Championships, which only a small percentage of competing Irish dancers actually achieves.

Older Irish dancing daughter placed extremely well today, too. She had her first dance in the Open/Prizewinner competition grade, and placed 4th, which again is a really good thing given the size of the group (20+).

The Oireachtas Competition is at the end of November, and is also known as the Mid-America Championships. Both girls are dancing, and I'm finally convinced that both should recall. It is nice to see that their practice and determination is finally paying off.

Usually these days are somewhat costly, but at this point the girls are immune to medals, ribbons and trophies and no longer ask for trophy holders/ribbons/engravings. They no longer pester me for the competition logo'd souvenir T-shirt which can be personalized at an additional cost.

It was actually a NSD. The competition was happily close to home. My parents came to watch the afternoon competitions and drove us home. DH had to leave to take the boys to a Halloween party. My parents took us out to eat at Stake N Shake (and we were able to eat under $20 - not including tip - because kids eat Free on Saturdays and the waiter comped one $4 shake off of our bill). It helps to have cute pre-teen girls who giggle at cute waiters.

So, DH asked me if we should think about passports and start a separate line item in the savings account for Ireland in the next year or two (unless of course the Worlds are help in Glasgow as they were this past April). I said we should seriously consider it.

All in all, a very good day! Smile

Gaffes, Blunders, and Goofs

October 29th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Don't know how I managed to do this, but rather than paying my electric bill and gas bill for the past two months, I paid the gas bill ALL the utility money (two $93 payments and two $141 payments). See where this is going? Huge surplus with Nicor, Huge deficit with ComEd. I never would have noticed this, because ...

I NEVER OPEN THE STATEMENTS (I know, I'm a dumb bunny). They always read the same and this has never been a problem. Until yesterday when I opened up both statements to see the error. Bad news it that Nicor won't refund my money, but I don't need to pay that bill for two months. I owe ComEd $585 (my bad payment track has removed me from the good payee budget system). I owe them $236.96 speedy quick (by the 11/15). THEN, I can break the remaining odd $350 into twelve equal installments to be added to the regular bills for the next year. I suppose it could be really worse, but I feel SO dumb.

(Did I mention this is rather a tight time of year for us? Birthdays and Christmas and parties and the big Irish dance Oireachtas? Not the time to be iresponsible with money)

Then, younger dancing daughter came home in tears, sobbing over her lost dance shoe. She had two - one was hers, the other wasn't. This has me convinced that her other ghillie is floating around the studio and will turn up. Glad to see that her old shoes still fit her (competition tomorrow). Later today I'll send out an email to all the other parents about the shoe that is MIA.

I really hope today is better than yesterday. I am off to the Kindergarten-AM party. If I don't return, I hope that one of your super-sleuths can figure out who I am and where I was last seen. I'm thinking that the 28 kindergartners might try to tie me up and burn me at that the stake!

The Dreaded Sam's Club Run, and Update

October 28th, 2010 at 01:01 pm

Warning: Boring post ahead, big warehouse club related (plus my shopping list for seven).

Been living the Mother Hubbard life over here - meaning that we're eating what we've got and the cupboards are getting sort of bare. This AM the breakfast choices were: rice crispies, scrambled eggs, or spice cake. I still had one that only ate granola bars and OJ. Lunches for kids/DH were substantial and tonight is leftovers.

My mom is the rightful owner of the Sam's Club Card and I'm shopping with her today (sometimes I pilfer the card and pay with cash). My list looks something like this:

apples, bananas, grapes, romaine lettuce, carrots
milk, eggs, activia, danimals, butter
dog food and treats
chicken breasts, ground turkey, orange roughy fillets
flour, sugar, chocolate chips
pretzels, veggie chips, granola bars, fruit snacks
Progresso soup, canned green beans, canned fruit
Kid's vitamins, protein mix for DH
paper towels and toilet paper
Cereal, oatmeal
Pasta, frozen veggies

I am wondering how much this could possibly be. Any guesses? And I am sticking only to the items on the list. My guess is $275. Probably more is a realistic guess. Nice thing about this deal is my mom lets me break the balance into two and I will pay 1/2 now and 1/2 in two weeks (next pay day). I'm hoping this will at least get me through a solid three weeks, with supplementing of specific recipe ingredients, milk, fresh produce.

Note to self: Avoid book and video section. Avoid clothing section. Avoid unneeded gadgets. Avoid jewelery/designer handbag area upon first entering. Think: ONLY CONSUMABLES, ONLY CONSUMABLES.

So I am off to the dreaded Sam's Club. I hate putting everything away, also.

UPDATED TO INCLUDE FINAL TALLY:

Purchased everything on the list minus the pasta and oatmeal. I also purchased the following: (1) children's fever reducer, (2) liquid dish soap, (3) almonds, (4) croutons, AND a $10 bag of Halloween candy - 125 trick or treaters can be accommodated.

Total Spent: $297.00 (My mom insisted on the 'upgraded TP' and gave me a $10 credit and took one of the three dish soaps for $2.) I gave her two checks for $142.50 apiece and she can pay her Discover bill at the Sears Hardware two blocks away. So the first check should clear quickly.

Relieved to have it done, my cupboards are brimming! Yay! And there were some cute Christmas ideas I got for the kids ($10 baubles and trinkets). To be purchased later!


Not feeling fun at all ...

October 27th, 2010 at 06:12 pm


my fun factor is gone. Probably due to mini-migraine last night (I don't think I'll ever be able to be of caffeine if this is the price) and then insomnia, and the knowledge that I've got to get tons done! However, I must revert to "Fun Mom" so that I can help younger daughter and her bff tie-dye for Halloween (Hello, Hippies!) AND make birthday party invitations for oldest son (thankfully he is easy to please, and still thinks anything I do/make is wonderful). All before dinner time. And then there is a last-minute hair color matching evening at the girls' dance school - Irish Dancers must wear wigs, and ours are sort of trashed (velcro from the top of the cape that attaches to the back of solo dresses has a nasty way of making the curls at the back of the wig look frizzy and bad). I have to LOVE my parents (mom and stepdad) for picking up the tab for this expense. Prior to the huge family fall-out, my biological father was "happy to spare no expense in outfitting his only granddaughters in grand Sciope Rince dresses, hand-made in Ireland" which we happened to get used. I love him for that last act of generosity. And my in-laws paid for the socks. So, enough of this ramble, and time to go find my enthusiasm (said sacrastically).

If anyone has any hints for dealing with migraines and insomnia in a homeopathic way, I'm open to any/all suggestions. Hope everyone is have a fun day!

I'll 2nd the "Icky Weather" and Going Back to School!

October 26th, 2010 at 01:13 pm

Actually CB in the City and I reside about two suburbs apart. I can vouch for the crappy weather. I hate that word, but it is quite an accurate description. DH went out onto the deck this AM at 5:30 and BROUGHT IN our wrought iron love seat and two chairs. Thankfully I've got the room in the dining room which happens to open onto the deck. I heard something about tornadoes. Anyhow, it is just plain wicked!

And to top it off, I'm home with a sick child. I think it is Round 2 - the Kindergartner was the first sick two weeks ago. Now it is a BAD cough - no temperature or anything like that, just a really bad, dry hacking cough. Clearly the teacher wouldn't have wanted him today. SO, another day of TV and coloring - this time it will probably be SpongeBob videos. "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" ... blah blah blah

Big new here: I've decided to return to school in January for my certification in counseling Eating Disorders. It's offered at the state university about 45 minutes away, and is one of the best certification programs at the Master's level in the country. Really only four classes to supplement the education I already have. I should be able to do it in one/two semesters (depending on the course offerings).

My goal in doing this is when I return to the workforce (even if only part-time), I will at least be current. Something about me being home for 13 years and simply doing paid-for database management and telecommunication coordination and volunteer work at the school, might not make me the most competitive. Thankfully there isn't a long drawn out admission process. I've been previously a student at this school and my goal for the day is to work on my 250 word essay as to why I would like to pursue this.

Hello academia! Now I must don on my haz-met suit and go hang with the sickie!

I just upped

October 25th, 2010 at 06:21 pm


contributions to DH's 401(k) to 10%. Feeling good about that, was hovering around 4%

Needing to be realistic about how much money I will actually be able to save now through year end, though. Rethought renting a hotel room at the major dance competition on Thanksgiving Weekend, and decided against that. While it would be convenient, we do only live 30 minutes from the Hyatt Rosemont and I'll be saving over $100.

Have given children #1, #2, and #3 a budget of $150 each for their birthday celebrations. #1 would like to see Wicked with her BFF, which means I'll have to cough up $65 for my ticket (but so totally worth it). #2 wants a pedicure party (her idea of fun) and a pizza party/sleepover. #3 is checking out laser tag for several friends and a stop at Pizza Hut. I'm fine with all of it.

Still couponing diligently, and sadly had to pass on some things I perceive as "good deals" because I've run out money. It is important to watch that bottom line. I am still in the black, but had to use my CVS ECB for a Sunday paper and toilet paper.

Christmas Ideas are looking like this:

Titleist golf balls for FIL and Stepdad $50 ($25 apiece)
African soap carving figures for MIL and Mom (Don't know price, but a fund raiser at Church supporting women working in Africa)
XSIL - flannel PJs ((Purchased) and framed Wedding Sampler (must buy frame and have framed Budget $40)
BFF - ?
Brother - ?

Children #4 and #5 are done. Child #1 would like an I-Pod Touch, Child #2 would like an I-Pod Nano, and I am thinking about an electric/motorized scooter for Child #3. Most of those can be purchased at Target, so I may consider a Red Debit Card (credit cards aren't even an option for me). I will have $170 for the above items. I also have picked up small stuff (clearance long-sleeve shirts from Aeropostle and some other stuff for the girls, plus some odd stuff for the boys) DH and I might be skimping on ourselves this year.

"Plan the work, and work the plan" as the mighty merch once said. Anyone know his whereabouts?



Friday - and my ramblings

October 23rd, 2010 at 12:13 am

Well, it was a productive day, housework wise. After a week of sicklings, it took a solid day to vacuum and dust, clean one bathroom thoroughly, do three loads of laundry (wash/dry/fold/put away), etc. I also filled in for lunch duty at the kids' school (someone was kind enough to cover for me earlier in the week). It was also a NSD. My daughter had me turn her change in for cash today - she was going ice skating with her best friend and was down to her last singles. She luckily lost a tooth earlier in the week to boost her revenue - she wondered in there was an economic increase in surrending a tooth that was replaced with a 12 year molar. She's still covering her own expenditures, and I gave her a few extra dollars for hot chocolate and a snack.

DH spent $11.00 yesterday - he bought a one day fishing license for $5, rather than a $15 six month one (they apparently run March to February). I spent $11 at my lunch out yesterday. I really like these friends, and we've agreed to a lunch monthly and coffee weekly (my social phobia kicks in and I wonder if I can possibly get together weekly and still have things to talk about - I like to refrain from gossip, but one of them is a true gossipper). Anyhow, I was surprised to find out one of these two friends has MS, has had it for 11 years (I've known her for 6.5 years). The only reason she shared this is all of our three daughters and best friends and her daughter has been asking some questions about the progression of the disease. She disclosed no details, but I was left feeling a bit uneasy. She asked that we not say anything and don't treat her differently. I am glad, again, for my health and my family's, though I'm seeing that there are situations that people deal with and these don't necessarily cause a negative quality of life.

Well, busy weekend ahead, but low-spend. Getting ready for Halloween means we'll do a dress rehearsal and I'll take my pictures, plus we'll carve the pumpkin. I got an awesome one at Aldi's last week for $1.99, plus we've got a small one from the pumpkin patch that is rightfully the smallest one's.

Still have to sit down and get the sale ads matched up with coupons. I'm a bit leary to do, as my funds are rather depleted. But I'm afraid that there might be an awesome deal that I'm missing!

All for my ramblings.

Return to wellness

October 21st, 2010 at 01:09 pm


I want to yell "HELLO HEALTH", after having my own bad headache yesterday (mini migraine, I would call it - with me sleeping from 5:00 to 7:00 PM and then going to bed at 8:30). No complaining or moaning or sniffles this AM.

The troops all went to school today - the kindergartner to K-Club (all day) for the first time. He sure was happy to be getting a lunch like everyone else, and will be taking the bus home with all the bigger brothers and sisters.

I have a whole day to myself. I plan on bagging up the pile to go to Amvets, taking a bag of things to friends who get all of our hand-me-downs, returning library books, and lunch with friends. I am not a naturally outgoing person (prefer to be home with a book or needle/thread), BUT I did initiate a lunch outing with my two best parent friends (my younger daughter's two best friends' moms). We did a dinner out in August and had a nice time. We're doing lunch at Egg Harbor.

I spent $80 in groceries yesterday - with $6 in coupons, and $5 ECB from a CVS run. DH is buying a fishing license today $13, my lunch should run $10.
We are still OK with the funds. My older daughter asked if I could go to the bank and turn all her change into cash for a book fair purchase. All the kids have their own money for those purchases as well.

I do believe that after we put gas in the tanks on Sunday, make the donation to Church, and buy dog food/produce, there will be $0 come next Monday. I'm planning on NSDs from Monday-Thursday. Next payday is 10/29. I think we will be fine.

Yet another day of illness ... or more situational-induced NSDs

October 19th, 2010 at 04:48 pm


... it isn't mine ... younger daughter is sick again today. DH wasn't feeling well yesterday either, and went in late today and is going to leave early (had something he had to get done).

I am thankful for a collection of books the kids have never read before. DD fell asleep reading "The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler", a really fun read. We also have a Jeanette Oke DVD that we've never seen. Glad I have worthwhile entertainment to keep her occupied.

I am hoping for healthiness tomorrow.

Spent yesterday: $1.08 at Caribou Coffee for a small decaf coffee 7:15 for a meeting about Cub Scouts.

I'm out of coffee and have two lone apples remaining in the produce department. I will have to shop tomorrow.

Feeling rather blaaaahhhh

October 18th, 2010 at 12:48 pm


It is cold out today: high of 50 and possible rain. The Kindergartner (1st sick) and Sick-But-Recovering Husband are off to the Pumpkin Patch today. I am happy that I was organized enough to know where warm skull caps are located. And at last minute I fielded a call from the Picture Mom who won't be on the Field Trip: Will DH who is chaperoning please make sure to take lots of cute photos for the scrapbook project at the end of the year? My thoughts: Um, yeah right, I'm only hoping that he has a few well behaved little girls thrown into his group, so he doesn't lose a few! I am sending him with the camera (new batteries, chalk another one in the Success Column for me!)

Younger daughter is the 3rd child to become sick since Wednesday. The 3rd Grader lasted 1.5 hours at school on Friday. Now she, the 6th Grader, is sick - sleeping on the couch. My thermometer broke yesterday, but I do have fever reducer. Can't win all battles, I guess.

Will the 7th and 1st graders get sick? Will I get sick? I do feel a sinus head-ache coming on.

Money update: Minimal money spent this weekend. Well within tight spending parameters, even included a $10 donation for younger daughter's last minute Crop Walk participation to raise awareness of hunger. Dancing daughters placed well in a competition this past Saturday. Boy Scout son has done well in the annual selling of wreaths - some who didn't buy last year did, and some upgraded their wreaths.

Time to think of the holidays, I guess ...

Hope all are well!

Just curious: what is your weekly grocery/household expenses and for how many?

October 15th, 2010 at 07:10 pm



Seems to me that I spent too much the past two weeks. $240 in groceries/household/personal care/pets for 7 people plus one dog/one turtle/two birds/two fish. Coupon savings was $40.

How are your numbers looking?

I fought Target, and I won

October 14th, 2010 at 09:52 pm


Against my better judgment I went to Target today. I should add that I am planning on my older daughter's major Christmas purchase at this store. The item is probably $230. I am collecting Target gift cards like mad, and got a $10 card today when I transferred an Rx there. (I have been redeeming points through our bank's credit card reward program as well - and I've got $40 of those thus far).

The register has been spitting out these $1.50 off of three MP grocery items. Today we needed to bake for the Cub Scout Pack meeting tonight. Brownie mix was on sale for $.69 a box (got 3), marshmallows and a box of rice krispy cereal was $2.65, and a 1/2 gallon of light apple juice was $1.75. My OOP after the $3 off was $3.69. And I got another one of those coupons. Might head back for three more boxes of brownie mix for upcoming things.

I won! ;P

Situation-induced NSD

October 13th, 2010 at 03:22 pm

The situation making this a NSD is a very sad, sick kindergartner. Temperature of 100, runny nose, pitiful little face with watery eyes. This is my palest child to begin with, and he gets white as a sheet. Anyhow, the fever came on yesterday after school, and it goes away with acetaminophine, only to reappear six to eight hours later. We were "middle of the night friends", having our own personal soiree' from about 3:30 to 5:00. He was able to go back to bed for several hours after that, me ... not so much. I am one tired mother today.

DH overslept, and was kind enough to adjust his schedule to take the 3rd grader to the public school where he receives services. Today was his first week on double the minutes, one full hour of instruction with the new young, energetic Resource Teacher. I only had to leave the house once with the sick one, to pick up the 3rd grader and take him back to school.

It's pasta and garlic bread for dinner. Tomorrow might even be a NSD-er as well, though hopefully the sickling will feel better. Off to watch his birthday movie from last week, featuring the penguins from the movie Madagascar. Should be fun.

At odds over the budget, and not what you think!

October 12th, 2010 at 01:06 pm


We've got the budget in place here at my house, and it is working. Making steady progress on chipping away at the debt, building the savings, and taking care of everything else at is comes without using the credit cards. No longer paycheck to paycheck, smarter spending, etc. I'm liking the direction that we are taking. Do I sleep easy at night because I've got a huge safety net to catch us if there is a problem? No, but I've got a plan that is workable should we have substantial changes in our scenario.

That said, there is another budget I'm dealing with ... that of the Morning Kindergarten Party Fund. Each class has $200 for the Halloween Party, Christmas Party, and Field Day (year end picnic school-wide). The Kindergarten also has a Valentine's Day Party and Graduation Get Together, plus we celebrate the teacher's and aide's birthday. Parents do contribute supplies and snacks for the parties, so that isn't the sole source of supplies, etc. In my experience, I've been a rather no-nonsense room parent, fun parties, movies and snacks, etc. I've incorporated service projects (we are at a Catholic school and I believe it is important to remember the less fortunate). I've also managed to have an $18 surplus one year that we donated to the school. OK, now you kind of have my approach.

Well ... I'm co-room parent to a mother who is a lover of loot bags. At the planning meeting last Thursday for the Halloween party, she wanted to place a $68 order at Oriental Trading Company for plastic crap for "goodies" - and she gushed over each and every item description (colorful bouncy balls, tattoos, erasers, big bendables, etc. etc. etc.). My kids go trick-or-treating and get enough sugary crap, I don't need plastic crap all over as well.

I was reluctant to go along with this and said:
(1) in my experience the $200 doesn't go as far as one might think
(2) we could use some of our surplus at the end of the year to do goodie bags (maybe get squirt guns for the picnic, etc).
(3) if there is a deficit at the end of the year, I won't be contributing to cover it

I also pointed out that for future parties we should plan a service component. The other room mother said, "But oh ... they're still so little, and might not understand." To that I had to say that even in kindergarten they should be aware that they are fortunate and should help out the less fortunate. The other mother had to agree with that. I suggested that she simply be responsible for the budget, and I'd be responsible for correspondence (send out all emails and communicate with the other parents about party details, etc.) She initially agreed.

Until this morning, when I got an email saying she'd like to be jointly responsible for the budget, and she'd be going to the Dollar Tree to see if she could rework the numbers. I don't know this other mother well enough to tell what her motives are, but I said we could talk about it at the planning for the Christmas party. I'm done dealing with Halloween.

Oh, how simple it would be to be the only room parent ...

One little trip to Target can wipe out your budget surplus in a moment flat.

October 11th, 2010 at 01:38 pm

That is what I learned yesterday.

A run into Target to get a birthday gift (for a last minute party get-together) will lead to a browse past the clearance section, and you will buy things that will be needed in the future. $5.98 a pair for new dance shorts for my girls, $4.98 denim shorts for my sons (one of them did have holes in this year's pair and out they went).

The birthday child (of your own) who has $50 to spend WILL spend $55.

Frozen chicken fillets will be on sale for $5 a bag (we are big poultry eaters here).

The birthday gift will be $15, but then DS will decide that he would like to wrap the gift and would like wrapping paper (and he has kindly offered his services - for a fee - for Christmas, since he likes to wrap). Add on $4 for a roll of wrapping paper and a card.

Thankfully we have all the groceries we need for the week (save a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs ~ $4 at Aldi's), and the gas tanks are full.

STAY AWAY FROM TARGET IF YOU ARE TRYING TO PROTECT A SURPLUS. OR SHOP BY YOURSELF. NOTHING WORSE THAN SIX OTHER INDIVIDUALS SHOPPING IN TARGET POINTING AT THE NEAT THINGS THEY SEE. "NO! OUR DOG ISN'T GETTING A HALLOWEEN COSTUME!!"

Anyhow, on the last money note of the post, I will maintain the EF of $14,000. I will pay $600 to credit card debt this month. I will pay an additional $50 to the mortgage principle. I will pay $1,000 toward the upcoming dance bill (it is quite expensive to compete at a semi-national level). All in all, it is still looking good.

During this economy, it is wiser to

October 9th, 2010 at 04:30 pm


be one mortgage payment ahead, or keep that payment in the EF?

I'm presently at $14,750 (I do move money in and out of it because the interest rate is 1.3%. The $750 to be withdrawn will take care of a $425 tuition payment to school and a $325 payment to the credit card). DH's paycheck will be paid on the 15th, as will be the rental property income. I've worked the budget numbers and I believe that we could remain solvent on the money remaining in the checking account after taking a mortgage payment from the balance.

So, do I leave the EF at $14,000 and remain right on target with the mortgage (making it on the date that is due - I pay online at the mortgage company website, so there isn't a chance of it being late or anything like that - and there isn't a fee for that either), or do I drop the EF to $12,250 and have a leeway of six weeks prior to the next mortgage payment?

I'm feel certain the DH's job is safe, but I'm seeing all of these things in the media about foreclosures and am wondering if I should keep the money in EF.

What say you?

Indian summer is here for the weekend!

October 8th, 2010 at 03:14 pm


We have a nice, relaxed four-day weekend planned. No school today for the kids as it is a Teacher In-service today. My mom and I are taking the kids to the Arboretum today to see the scarecrow festival, the weather is glorious - 80 and breezy (this IS Indian Summer!)

We are going into low-spend mode, going to see the Silent Parade in town tonight (fire and police vehicles with lights only, no sirens), shakes at Steak N Shake (using BOGO and free certificats), seeing Despicable Me at the bargain matinee on Sunday. My older daughter is debuting in the Teen Choir at church tomorrow. Today the baby is 6 (gasp), where did the time go? He'll get his cake and present after dinner, and has a gift card to spend at Target. My mom and stepdad are coming over for brunch on Sunday (I'll need to do a quick trip to Aldi's to get a few items I am out of).

All for now. The good monetary thing is, even with this planned spending, I'm hoping for a surplus of the $144 remaining (my goal: $27.50 for half of school pictures due next Friday). I think I'll make it!

Sharing a proud mom moment

October 7th, 2010 at 09:36 pm

I just picked up older daughter from town. She's in 7th grade and a good steward of her own money - rarely is frivolous and is always generous. She stopped at my town's local chocolate shoppe and purchased a milk chocolate sucker for her brother who is turning six tomorrow. It cost her $3.50 and she requested they put a 6 on it. (I should add that she only had $4 on her and didn't buy herself anything, though I suspect that her best friend shared some item with her.) It is really cute, and she can barely wait to give it to him tomorrow. It is presently hidden away in the fridge in the garage. I love it when my kids are so kind to one another! Makes it well worth the chaos of sometimes having so many of them!

Wednesday and a recipe

October 6th, 2010 at 04:09 pm

Spent $29.39 today - $15.01 on gas, $14.38 on groceries (taking advantage of the last day of the $1 Progresso soup - coupons savings was $4.45). [Should add that the last day any money was spent was last Friday!! Might be a record for longest consecutive NSDs in the history of my family!]

Productive, too. Volunteered 1.5 hours in Religious Ed Office. Dropped off letter from son's teacher to school where he receives services. Outcome: no problem increasing his minutes to one hour - same day and time, only 30 additional minutes. Taking middle son to speech in a few minutes.

Another cheap and easy recipe that I'll be trying:

Portabello Stir Fry with Blue Cheese

8 ounce fusilli
1# Portabello mushroom cleaned and cut into 1/2" slices
1/2 cup EVOO
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper and 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Cook pasta. Marinate mushrooms in ingredients 3-7 for ten minutes. Heat skillet, cook mushrooms four minutes on each side or until brown. Serve over pasta and cover with cheese.

Can anyone say yum? My hope is I can conceal the fact that these are mushrooms and my kids will eat it. Hell, the first time I ate out with a vegan friend I thought she missed the fact that the waiter brought her a steak, rather than a portabello!

You know you're old

October 5th, 2010 at 12:54 pm


when you refer to learning about the facts of life as "sex ed". This is how the conversation went:

Me: Hi Mrs. R (school secretary). It's Laura M (my last name). I've misplaced the paper stating the start time of the Catholic Sex Ed presentation tonight for M's 6th grade class. Can you tell me what time we need to be there?

Mrs. R: Now, Mrs. M(my last name), we're calling it Catholic Family Life. And the meeting starts at 6:30.

Me: We'll see you then.

To me ... sex ed is sex ed. I like that we'll cover morality and values, but we talk about that all the time at home.


No money spent yesterday. No money anticipated being spent today. Tomorrow I'll need to get some more apples and grapes. Money spending is still looking good.

Any easy recipes to share?

October 4th, 2010 at 08:39 pm


In my quest for quick and easy meals, staying away from pre-packaged convenience foods like Hamburger Helper, mac and cheese, and canned ravioli, I came across a few recipes that are easy and will appeal and can be readily made with ingredients on hand. Here is one of them:

Vegetarian Stir-Fry

1 - 16 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies
2 tbsp water
1 - 14 oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 - 14 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook the veggies covered for 7-10 minutes. Uncover and add the rest of the ingredients, cooking til warm. Serve over rice or noodles.

This is on the menu for tomorrow.

Anything you've got to share?

October Spending

October 3rd, 2010 at 02:45 pm

October is my month of attempting to squeeze every extra dollar out of our budget and see how much I can save (goal $1,250). I have found that I do not possess a true frugal spirit, and am still sometimes carried away by the thrill of certain purchases. I'll elaborate in the following paragraph.

I reduced the amount available for living for two weeks by $110, bringing us to $440. I should add that I've deposited my "goal" + $110 to the money market account, so I should be on track if I don't need to transfer anything back to checking.

Here is what I've spent thus far:

$440 Start
-$173.75 on groceries/household/pet/personal care
-$70.01 on gas for two minivans
-$15.00 donation
- $32.38 Misc

$156 REMAINS

The $173 on groceries includes a replenishment of staple items that we were out of (milk/coffee/sugar/butter/eggs/flour, etc). I also included dog food for two weeks and turtle food/bird supplies for a month. I also included a purchase of shaving items using great coupon savings. $10 for soccer game snack/water contributions. I have the mean plan in place with main dinners for this week and some of next. I'll need to buy milk and produce next Friday for the week of the 8-14. DH's diet is also running a bit more than usual (he's starting a training program and wanted Activia and Fiber One bars which were on sale and I stocked up).

The $70.01 represents our weekly fill-ups of $35 each vehicle.

The $32.38 Miscellaneous was my "carried away moments". A $10 off coupon at Kohl's yielded me a handy-dandy Rachel Ray plastic food server complete with little compartments and a cover. My Boy Scouts are heading to the woods today and needed to bring fruit/veggies. Seemed the easiest way to send them, plus I wanted one. My daughter was waiting anxiously for the 2nd book by Ingrid Law and she was delighted to find it was available. Sadly for $16.99 in hard cover, but I found a 30% off coupon for our local indie book store and got it for $12 out the door with tax. Well worth it though, books are a luxury I usually indulge! And then my 8 year old got his pictures taken at JC Penney Portrait Studio with a coupon and cost $8.62. OK, shopping dept. is done.

The weather here in the Midwest took a turn for the cold this past weekend (I was at my son's soccer game in a wind breaker with the hood up under a flimsy blanket wishing I had wool or fleece!) This means that it is time to see where there are holes in the kids' wardrobe. I WISH I HAD TAKEN BETTER ADVANTAGE OF THE $10 ITEM SALE AT OLD NAVY! Note to self: plan better next year!