Friday, August 30, 2013

SMILE! A Few Incredibly Helpful but Super Quick Tips on Potty Training

1) Lower your expectations. Whatever they are. Lower them. A bit more. A bit more. Ok good.

2) Get over it. The inevitable mess I mean. The pee in the car seat, the sudden accident right after your offer to go to the potty is vehemently turned down in the middle of Target, and the surprisingly large pile of poo left in the closet that you had to sniff-search for. Now go buy some stock in Febreeze and carpet cleaner. You're welcome.

3) Do the slosh test. That kiddo is gonna wanna carry the potty seat full of pee into the big toilet all on their own and you certainly wouldn't muffle their independence by saying no (riiiight?). Fill that potty seat up with water and go ahead and see how far you can make it go in a small area. Now you'll be prepared to identify the height and width of splashes when it's a potty full of pee. Just tell yourself that pee is sterile. It'll be ok. (Calm down. Don't really waste time doing this. If you do, while you're busy doing this your sweet child is probably going to be ripping a poo-filled diaper off or squatting happily on the rug.)

4) Giant feces. Surely by now you're over poo. You've probably seen a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. (Oh hush with the "Ewwww" you whiner.) Somewhere between 2 and 3 years old kids begin to develop a talent. This talent is creating the most gigantic turds you've ever seen in your time on earth.  This is why parents take their kids to the zoo. The dung in the elephant exhibit makes every parent feel better about the commode-clogging feces from their own talented spawn.

5) Lose the attitude. I don't care where anyone is on the potty training spectrum. From newborn elimination communicator pro all the way to the parent saying $#!& my kid is now 62 months old and is still scared of the potty. Knock on wood. Hold your tongue. Speak not. Ever heard of karma? Potty training regression is like karma for know-it-all potty trainers that think the fact their kid plopped a pile on the porcelain at 18 months means they win a prize. The only prize is that you did NOT have to fully change that would-be nasty diaper. This is a participation game people. Accept your "participation award" and move along. Let's all be glad that one day our kids will at least be too embarrassed for us to wipe their bums so surely they'll manage to figure it out by then.

6) Be prepared to accept a high five and a proud hooray every time YOU use the bathroom. It's a perk. Nothing wrong with that. Until your 3 year old is declaring "GREAT JOB POOPING, MAMA! You gotta flush! Did you wash your HAAAANDS?!" in the echo-prone public restroom.

7) Do whatever the heck works for you kids. We're teaching beings that would biologically prefer to squat by a bush alone to instead sit awkwardly on top of a large, cold ceramic bowl that makes a loud flushing sound. THEN we push it further by limiting the amount of time they get to splash in the sink and make bubbles. And we expect this to go well! So, by all means: bribe, reward, sing, dance, make a chart, and give yourself a cookie and when you've accomplished this task publish it on facebook!! (Muahaha now all the non-parents are freaking out about their feeds being covered in potty-success announcements accompanied by turd-in-bowl pictures. Calm down. You'll likely be giddily filling in your status bar with something similar one day. Really though people: turd-in-bowl is unnecessary.)

8) This is really a close follow-up to #5. Don't lick your fingers. Ok, really though. Poop and pee won't hurt you, friends. We don't rub our eyeballs or pick our noses whilst disposing of a certain toddler's mess, right? Feel free to make a face and congratulate the kiddo on their impressive odor but don't freak out over every (inevitable) mess.

9) Give yourself a *high five* if you thought I was building a potty training acronym for the word "SMILE".

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Love Reading: Find Reading Resources on a Budget

   All right, I said I would do these three posts. I'm gonna do it! A lot of this post will be oriented around the local library. I know some people may be in rural areas or their closest library may be small, old, or underfunded. I'm assuming if you are reading this that you have internet access too. I'll do my best to cover all the bases on this topic because I think it's very important for everyone to have access to literature. There are so many free or very cheap resources out there! There is absolutely no need to spend a fortune at Barnes & Noble on new books.

For starters here is a list of awesome online resources:

  • Scholastic has a wealth of free information for parents as well as free printable activities and coloring pages for kids of all ages. Go here for their information on age-based language and reading development. And click here for a number of book lists and reading challenge plans.
  •  The International Children's Digital Library and We Give Books are free websites "stocked" with hundreds of books that you and your kids can read online.
  • The Veggie Tales (I love them!) website has digital books with fantastic moral stories.
  • There is an incredible assortment of free educational material on almost any topic you can imagine (Biology, Civics, Weather, etc) for PreK up to 12th grade on the PBS LearningMedia website.  There are videos, learning modules, and printable labs and worksheets.
  • Crayola also has a ton of free printable pages. You can find anything from basic letters and numbers to Presidents of the United States
  • Jump Start has several resources available for new readers. You'll find a lot of school curriculum possibilities here from spelling to public speaking. There are worksheets and short stories as well. 
  • Go here on to search for local book fairs and related events in your area. 
  • World Book Online and have kid's encyclopedias.  
  • Don't forget to look through Amazon's Kindle eBooks, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Apple's iBooks websites or apps for very cheap or free digital books.
     More than likely, your public library has a website. Google it or call them up and ask.  This is going to be your best bet for local resources, reading material you can borrow, and free or cheap programs for your kids. Even our modest library has an incredible selection of books, audio books, DVDs, and research media. Many libraries have story times and art activities for different age groups throughout the week. They may host summer reading contests for kids that anyone in the community can participate in. Here is another example of a sweet reading program at the Rogers Public Library (it involves a dog!). If you need help finding a library in your area go here.

    To find low priced books for your own collection go to Goodwill or other local thrift shops; spend one Saturday looking through yard sales; search Craigslist and your local Freecycle group or create an ad with specific requests; call the library or public schools or check the newspaper for information about local book fairs and festivals. Through these avenues you should be able to find lots of books for under one dollar.

   This Noob Mom's Tips:

     1.) I have found it really easy to do simple things like pointing out letters and sounding out words on signs (and the numbers, colors, shapes, etc) while we're out and about. It's not anything extra in that we don't have to make time for it. I don't have to buy anything. It really turns into quite the game. Now, Bitty Bug (3.5) will even point out signs and colors of things as we drive down the road. She's beginning to recognize familiar logos and signs. This is great since it makes those connections with the words and sounds!
     2.) Don't be afraid to read or explain things that are slightly beyond their capability. Adding words into your vocabulary within the context of things they all ready know can be an effortless way to help them learn. The more I think about approaching my kid's reading and writing as if they are learning a brand new language the simpler it seems. It can take a couple years for an adult studying avidly to become fluent in a second language depending on the language itself and the context of their learning. That perspective has helped think about this in a new way.

     In the end, the highest expenses you may have will be printer ink, any fees for a library membership, and possibly a few extra bucks in gas if you go to the library often or go in search for new books. Budget accordingly and you'll find it is very easy to access a lot of literature for nearly nothing!

    Don't forget to have fun reading with your littles. Reading is not only the key to escaping into whole new worlds but also to being capable of learning about almost anything we can imagine!
And for your convenience (and mine) here are the links to the first two posts of this little series:

Love Reading: Teaching Kids to Respect Literature

Love Reading: Printed Books vs. Electronic Books


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Homemade Carpet Cleaner: Dawn + Peroxide

     There are about 1000 posts about this on pinterest. I'm actually not sure where it even originated. I read about it a few weeks back and I've tried it several times on same vague grease and dirt spots where we have heavy foot traffic in the living room. So far I've had good results.

   Well, I've been working on getting our bedroom de-cluttered. (Not my favorite.) We switched with the girl's last year. There are some lovely leftover stains from their (unauthorized) acrylic paint art project. After trying some regular carpet cleaners, including Resolve and Nature's Miracle with massive spots still leftover I gave up. I hadn't gotten back around to it until now. Mind you, they got into my stash. They emptied multiple 2oz bottles of the stuff in shades of brown, white, and green in soupy globs all over the floor (and their little table, some toys, and the crib). It came off almost everything plastic and wooden ok since I got right to it but after getting up as much as I possibly could I assumed there would be a paint stain forever on the carpet.

    Not that I cared that much . . . it's the cheapest carpet available on this planet and we're in a rental. Anyway, it's still unsightly.

So here's what my results looked like:

Click to See A Larger Image

Not bad. There's definitely still some discoloration but it is much, much better. The green spot there near the top was actually from a spot of permanent marker. Yummy. I bet I could go over it again just one more time and you wouldn't be able to tell it was there.

So here's the recipe breakdown:

Hot water . . . however much it takes to fill that standard red mop bucket almost halfway.
Dawn . . . 4-5 good spins into the bucket while the water was running.
Baking Soda . . . just a few teaspoons dashed across the top
Hydrogen Peroxide . . . the kind in the dark brownish black bottle, maybe 1/4 cup

I used one of my handy dandy flat diapers and with a little bit of effort it obviously did what other cleaners couldn't quite manage. The water was definitely brown and gross looking by the time I was done with that area and a few other spots.

Next up: the chocolate syrup stain in the hallway.

Yeah, we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Choosing a Coming Home Outfit

     There are so many decisions to make when you're having a baby. Some of them, such as vaccinations, circumcision, or which form of pain management to use (or avoid?) during labor are a lot more pressing and serious. However, among all these new decisions are the fun ones like decorating a nursery or choosing a coming home outfit.

    Bottomline: you can pretty much choose whatever you want. Simple and comfortable. Frilly and detailed. Heirloom. Well-I-Don't-REAALLY-Care-This-Looks-Cute-It-Might-Fit-YAY. Something to wear over and over. Something you can pass down for the next generation. Something bought or something homemade. Something pink or something blue or something green!

   With my first, it was an easy decision. Automatic, really. Bitty Bug wore the same beautifully delicate white gown that my mother, my sister, and I wore that first day home. It's a precious heirloom. I love comparing the pictures.

    I had every intention of Sweet Pea wearing the same thing. Timing with checking out of the hospital just didn't work out so I'm thankful I brought along a "just in case" outfit. It was a soft, pink, cotton gown we happened to get as a gift when Bitty Bug was born.

    Now for the Little Pumpkin I've actually had to make some sort of an effort. Some part of me is on the Don't-Really-Care-But-Hey-This-Is-Cute. The other part of me could totally fathom spending big bucks on a specially made outfit complete with matching everything that matched the nursery and my own outfit.

   In the end, unless you're bringing baby home nude (which I'm gonna venture to claim wouldn't be recommended even in warmer climates) or using something that might hinder the safe use of the car seat or worse, void the warranty. This still leaves so many options.

Gown/dress or pants/sleeper? Gowns and dresses can work. If it's going to be chilly you're probably going to want to lay a blanket over baby or find some tiny baby leggings so their little appendages don't get cold. You'll just have to push the middle bottom out of the way to make sure the buckle of the car seat is placed properly.

Buttons, zipper, velcro, ties, or snaps? It seems like everyone has different take on what's most user-friendly.  Buttons are usually tiny and tedious. Zippers, well, I've managed to snag skin even with the strip of cloth behind it that is intended to prevent that. Velcro can actually feel stiff which might create an annoying texture on a new baby's skin. Ties may not provide very good closure. Snaps can leave gaps in the cloth which isn't ideal if you're trying to keep baby warm.  A lot of this will be based on the climate where you are. A one-piece that zips will keep in all the cozy warmth. A plain onesie with stretchy is just enough for comfort. Layering is key. That's what those plain white onesies and blankets are for!

One piece or two piece? Most newborn to 3 month outfits are either the long gown OR sleeper/romper style one piece OR a simple top or bottom-snap onesie with stretchy, soft pants. This is purely a matter of preference, I think. There may be some factors to consider when it comes to keeping any irritant off the cord nub or avoiding difficult diaper changes but most infant clothes are designed to be soft, loose, and simple. I've managed to change a diaper without taking a sleeper all the way off (even with feet in)and it's easy enough to slip little feet back in if you do pull them out. Same for pants. It really doesn't take much to slip the little pants off and on. A gown just slides up to their belly.

Shoes, booties, or socks? Any of these are likely to come off those chubby baby feet if they move around enough but it's usually a good idea to have something on their feet since they can get cold so easily. Most booties are just a slightly more structured sock. They may be a good choice for colder areas. Tiny newborn shoes are funny looking, in my opinion. Cute, no doubt, but they really serve no purpose other than achieving a certain look. No matter which you decide on there's a good chance that once you make it home you'll be pulling them off to stare at those perfect toes.

Mittens? Pretty much anywhere you shop for baby clothes you'll find tiny mittens like these. Maybe you all ready know this but newborns (especially those born a little later than average) tend to have tiny little fingernails that can scratch up their faces. Most new parents aren't quite ready to tackle clipping those microscopic things so the mittens protect them. When baby is at the birth center, hospital or home and swaddled up this won't matter so much but in the car or swing it's a nice option so you just don't have to worry about them upsetting themselves with a scratch on the cheek.

Hats? I've heard the theory that you lose most of your heat through your head. I've heard that's a myth too, at least for adults and big kids. But, with their funny proportions most of a newborn IS his or her head. There's probably no need for a bulky winter hat unless you're in the arctic but a simple knit beanie cap will keep their head covered. Babies aren't all that great at regulating their own body temp so even the littlest thing will help. Again, of course, you'll probably be slipping it off once you're home to admire their sweet newborn hair and itty bitty ears.

Boy, girl, or neutral? Obviously, if you know gender that might make this choice a no-brainer. Maybe you still want to go neutral so you can have all your kids wear the same adorable outfit home. You could pick one of each if you're waiting for the birth to find out boy or girl. I've seen way more options for neutral outfits that aren't that bright yellow or bland green lately. If you're looking for neutral something like this set from Carter's,  these options at Gymboree, this one-piece from Crazy 8, or even something silly like this onesie from Etsy. 

   Your baby will need something to wear. It's up to you. You can be as sentimental, comfort-focused, or carefree as you like. Worst case? You'll be birthing at home anyway OR the hospital will have shirts, hats, and blankets.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

FinAid and such

     Depending on financial aid to go to school really sucks. Lemme just say that. I've had a very busy week. Today was the peak of crazy with two sickly kids. Although, not so sick that they didn't manage to go and spread toothpaste on themselves and the carpet while I was trying to make emails and calls.

     Can I just say: work at home parents, I know not how you do it. I mean, I've been enrolled part time or full time in school off and on since Bitty Bug (3 year old) was 6 months old. That's hard. No doubt. I just assume that's a lot more flexible than most work-at-home jobs. I can barely make a quiet call to hubby during the day. Good grief.

     Anyway, classes are supposed to start Monday. I'm split between readiness, excitement and frustration. I may not get awarded in time to avoid being dropped from my classes. We're poor as dirt so we can't just fork out the dough for 25% of the bill right now. Particularly not when there are no refunds and FinAid is never guaranteed until you've got it in the account and signed on the dotted line. Oh well. I'll take this as a hint. Unfortunately, I won't know for sure whether I'm taking classes until I hear back from my adviser and FinAid on Monday or Tuesday. Blah. So much for getting so motivated for this semester.
     I guess I should avoid ranting.

     So yeah, it's almost 7 am on Saturday. Everyone else is asleep. I'm googling ideas to make this fall count for something. Ideas, anyone? CLEP testing is probably in the agenda. I'm sure I can focus whatever energy I'd spend on classes on ebay, my photography, and even this blog.

    Right now it seems like it will be a miracle if I finish this degree by the time the kids graduate high school. ha! 

P.S. I'm totally working on that last book-related post!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stock Up On Food Staples For Under $100

      When we first got married we had the tiniest budget on the planet for food. We still try to keep our budget low for food and avoid eating out. We very rarely go to sit-down restaurants because that would mean either taking small kids along (no thanks!) or paying a sitter. We're fairly content making ourselves a delicious meal at home these days and on special occasions we'll splurge on things like steak. It's not easy to keep under a strict budget and eat healthy all the time. People like to make it sound like it's easy but it's just not that simple. Buying a small bunch of bananas is the same as one snicker bar? True and obviously one is a much better choice. However, when it comes to choosing higher quality versions of similar foods say whole grain bread or pasta over white or for another example organic apples over "regular" the price differences add up quickly.

      Thankfully, my mom taught us a lot about baking and cooking so I wasn't learning from scratch. We also went to the store with her a lot so price differences were evident to me well before I started shopping for myself or a family of my own. Still, keeping up a budget while buying healthy for a growing family isn't nearly as simple as buying for one on whim (want that organic, specialty ice cream from Fresh Market? One pint for $8? NBD!) or even as poor newlyweds.

     This list is made up of some of the things we buy most often or keep in our cabinets all the time. Everyone has a slightly different budget and different taste. Hopefully after reading this list you can use it to your advantage. Maybe it'll give you some ideas or inspire you to look for deals. It is based on a variety of name brands and store brands. The prices and estimates are average for this area (Northwest Arkansas) so it may not reflect anything close to what you'd see in other areas of the country. As much as I love some good local produce, organic foods, and all that I don't have the budget for being a total foodie snob all the time. If you're looking for ideas for high end brands you're in the wrong place! I shop Target, Walmart, Aldi, and Fresh Market the most and go to our local farmer's markets whenever I can. I flip through my local ads and clip coupons and orient our meals around what's on sale. You may not find prices like this at all depending on where you are but the idea that you can shop for off brands, look for sales, and buy some healthy staples for less than a bunch of processed boxes is likely to stand. Prices can vary so much anyway, especially for things like meat, produce and dairy so I spend more time than I'd like shopping around. I don't have nearly as many grocery store options as other places either. (Can we get a Trader Joe's and/or a Publix PLEASE?!) If something is overpriced for my standing budget ($8 for a small watermelon or $8 for that fancy pint of ice cream, for example) I just don't buy it. The lists, the budget, the coupons, and the prices change constantly. It's kind of annoying, really but it's something anyone can learn. Why waste money on the same sorts of foods when that money could be utilized much better elsewhere??

     All that said, now that I have some staples and things like seasonings "established" in our kitchen we spend anywhere from $400-600 a month on food just depending on our needs and wants, what I happen to have ready to go in the freezer or cabinets, and what I can manage to get for a good price on sale or with coupons. Like the title hints, I'm going to keep this list under $100. So here goes . . .

48oz Unsweetened applesauce: $2.00
It makes a great snack with (or without) some added cinnamon and also a super substitute in baked goods.

28oz Peanut Butter: $4.00
Who doesn't like a straight spoonful of peanut butter, a PB&J or some PB with apples or banana? You can get more for less if you go for the larger off-brand jar than the average on-brand jar. Natural and "organic" versions are becoming popular. The fewer additives the better but you'll definitely want to steer clear of specialty brands with fancy logos if you want to get bang for your buck (as they say).

A Dozen Eggs: $1.00 - 2.00
A healthy choice if you don't add a ton of butter or salt, eggs can be cooked up in so many ways alone, scrambled into a side, stuffed into breakfast burritos, or used in baking.

4 Bell Peppers: $3.00
Usually one bell pepper is around 75 cents depending on where you live. Chop it up and eat it raw, use in stir fry, stuff with rice and beans or meat, or add to a pasta dish.

6-8 Bananas: $1.50 - 2.00
Depending on the actual size and weight, they are very cheap. Eat them as a snack, with breakfast, or maybe on a peanut butter sandwich. For a treat they can be pureed for an ice cream texture or dipped in chocolate and frozen.

One Bag of Baby Carrots: $1.00 - 1.50
Another cheap snackable veggie that can also be steamed, added to stir fry, or a crock pot roast.

2 bags of Frozen Vegetables: $3.00 - 4.00
You have to be careful with the frozen veggies. From what I understand frozen is better than canned but, of course, fresh is usually better than store-bought frozen. I like to keep things like sugar snap peas, broccoli, and sweet peas in our freezer. Healthwise: beware of the sodium. I make a point of using seasonings other than salt when I cook frozen or canned veggies so I'm not topping sodium with more yummy sodium.

3 cans or bags Dried Beans: $4.50 - 6.00
I keep cannellini (white kidney) and black beans for crockpot chili in the winter. You can make some homemade hummus with garbanzo or maybe use refried beans for some burritos. Not to mention good ole classic rice and beans!

One Gallon of Milk: $3.00 - 4.50
Milk is expensive. It may cost even more than this in some areas. It's much cheaper to buy at stores like Sam's Club and Aldi. It goes with just about everything. We use it in cold cereal and baking. We prefer almond for drinking but it's usually twice as expensive at $3 or more per half gallon. If you can forgo it that might be a nice way to save some $$ just make sure you have another good source of calcium like cheese or yogurt.

18oz box Whole Grain Cream of Wheat OR 42oz can Old Fashioned Oatmeal: $3.50 - 4.00
These are much healthier alternatives to the typical sugary cold cereal and both can be made with water from the tap instead of milk. Add in some sugar and cinnamon or some fruit and honey and you have a tasty breakfast with a good amount of iron and fiber. 3tbsp cream of wheat or 1-1.5 cups of oatmeal will serve one person well.

1lb of Rice: $1.00-3.00
Cheap. A pound of this stuff goes a long way (should feed about 4 people, give or take, if you have small portions and/or don't go for seconds) and if you pair it with beans or meat and some veggies you'll have a very complete meal. There are lots and lots of varieties to choose from.

1lb of Whole Grain Pasta: $1.00 - 3.00
Also enough to feed four people, the price depends on what variety and what brand you might buy. Spaghetti and macaroni are usually the cheapest choices. You can make pasta in a lot of different ways. We love to make a meal with baked chicken, sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, and pasta.

1 Loaf Whole Grain Bread: $2.00 - 3.00
I personally love Oroweat brand but we'll go for cheaper when we need too. Bread can be super cheap or very expensive. Some people don't ever eat much bread but we are not those people. One day I'll do a better job of making more homemade breads. For now, it's a staple on the grocery list.

24-26oz Pasta Sauce: $3.00 - 4.00
Cool people make their own. We don't. We like Bertolli but we'll buy store brand when it fits the budget better. Even cooking for four we'll only use about half a large jar. Tip: freeze what's left in a ziploc bag if you aren't going to use it relatively soon. Too many times I've had to throw some out thinking I would use it again within a couple days only to find it smells funny or growing a layer of mold. Ew. 

1lb Butter: $2.00
This is used in all sorts of recipes for baking and cooking as well as a spread on toast or sandwiches. 

48oz Vegetable or Cooking Oil: $3.00 - 4.00
Just like butter, this is used in all sorts of recipes. A little can go a long way. Some varieties like coconut or olive oil (especially EVOO) are much more expensive than say vegetable or canola. It's really just a matter of need and preference what you choose. I don't like the taste canola adds to things but I love coconut or olive for cooking (and moisturizing!) and use plain vegetable for baking.

60oz Box of Bisquick: $4.00 - 5.00
Pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and a whole lot more can come out of this one box. Just add water, eggs, milk, oil or whatever the recipe (several handy dandy ones are right on the sides of the box). I like to use the Bisquick biscuit recipe as a base for chicken pot pie (or you know, just biscuits). The recipes for mini cheeseburger or chicken pot pies on are pretty great too!

1lb Baking Soda: $0.50 - 0.75
This is used in baking as well but it is fantastic for cleaning and deodorizing! Some people make homemade toothpaste with it!  You can find a huge 13.5lb bag at Sam's Club that will last you a very long time for around $7.

1lb Active or Instant Dry Yeast: $2.00 - 3.00
You can buy small packets or go for a big bag. If you want to make homemade sandwich breads, donuts, or any dough that needs to rise. There are two types: active requires you to "activate" the yeast with warm water and instant is just that. Some recipes may call for a specific type.

10lb bag of all-purpose flour OR sugar: $5.00
Flour can be used for all sorts of baked good from cookies to cakes to beads. Make homemade tortillas, rolls, cookies, or cupcakes. Sugar is used in lots of baking plus some people like to add it to otherwise plain hot or cold cereals or maybe to their morning coffee. Going for the biggest bag you can manage is a good idea because it can get used up quickly when most recipes call for several cups. (P.S. This is one of those things you can find much cheaper if you keep your eyes open! I found 5lb bags of flour at Aldi for just $1.25!)

Seasonings or Flavored Extracts: ~ $3 each
I've found that I just end up adding to my collection as I need things but some basics we use a lot are salt, pepper, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. A little goes a long way.

Ketchup OR Mayo: $2.00 - 3.00
Or maybe you prefer miracle whip or mustard. Obviously these can go on sandwiches or burgers, top off some meatloaf or add substance and flavor in lots of different recipes. I'd venture to guess most people in America keep some or all of these on hand.

Four 5oz Cans of Tuna: $4.00
We aren't big fans of fish but we like our shredded, canned tuna. My hubby makes himself sandwiches (and our kids like this too!). We can also add it easily to pasta dishes!

1lb Ground Turkey: $3.00 - 4.00
The price of meat can vary a lot depending on what you're buying and when. I prefer turkey to beef as it's a bit healthier. It's very lean. Maybe you like beef better or maybe you don't eat meat and stick with something like tofu. I dunno. The only things turkey doesn't seem to like doing for me is sticking together for a meatloaf.  Otherwise, it's great! When prices shoot up I just don't buy it.

      Some of this stuff is very perishable and some of it will last a stupid amount of time sitting in the back of the cabinet. There are many recipes you can pull just from this list and many more that only need one or a few more ingredients.

So this is what it's going to look like based on the higher prices on my list:

Peanut Butter
1 Dozen Eggs
4 Bell Pepper
6 Bananas
1 Bag Baby Carrots
1 Bag Frozen Broccoli
1 Bag Frozen Sweet Peas
3 Bags or Cans of Beans
1 Gallon of Dairy Milk
Cream of Wheat OR Oatmeal
1lb Rice
1lb Pasta
1 Loaf of Bread
Large Jar of Pasta Sauce
1lb Butter
Vegetable Oil
1lb Baking Soda
1lb Yeast
10lb bag of Sugar
10lb bag of Flour
16oz Salt
4oz Black Pepper
2.4oz Ground Cinnamon
1oz Vanilla Extract
4 Cans of Tuna
1lb Ground Turkey
Total: ~$99.75

     Even after taxes you're not doing too terribly. If you can tack on enough in coupons then the extra tax may not even matter! (That's right, this list does NOT include the use of any coupons.)

     To give you more of an idea of what our food buying looks like. . .  As I said above, our basics are established in the cabinet and fridge. We buy 2-3 dozen eggs each week and 3-4 gallons of dairy and almond milk (both girls still drink around 16oz a day of just milk). No questions asked on those two things. We buy the same sorts of snack foods each week too like nuts, graham crackers, cheerios, greek yogurt, and fruits. Some of our much-used favorite staples aren't even on this particular list: chicken breasts, cocoa powder, coffee or tea, cheese and other baking ingredients. We sometimes like to buy orange or cranberry juice, vitamin water, or other bottled drinks but not unless they are on sale or with a coupon. The kids and I primarily drink water and almond milk. There are some things I'd buy more often if they were a little less pricey like kefir or certain cuts of meat (mmm steak!).

   So, no this isn't a complete list but I think it's a great base list. If you managed to spend closer to the low end and added in some good sales and coupons you could easily keep under $70-75 for all of it. With another $100 you could add a lot more and some random favorites without spending a crazy amount of money the rest of the month if you stick to eating at home.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Deal$ on . . . guess! guess!

     Books. Ebooks. I have no agenda here. I'm just sharing the love. I don't pay enough attention so I've just discovered that Amazon has monthly deals on Kindle books. This month happens to be quite snazzy! I normally just peak through the sidebar list of free books on the website or just search for whatever with "free" somewhere in the search bar. All of these are on sale for less than THREE dollars.

For the kids:
Amelia Bedelia
Judy Moody
Don't Wake Up the Bear
1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom
When We Go Walking
Alice in Wonderland (free!)
Lily Lemon Blossom (free!)

For the adults:
Black by Ted Dekker
Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Berry Bible
House Mommy's Boredom Busters (free!)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (free!)


Here is the page with all the free fiction classics from Anna Karenina to Treasure Island! I have several of these all ready.


Here is the page with a ton of free recipe and cookbooks on anything from canning to paleo!

Enjoy! :)