Sunday, January 29, 2012

Show Your Support!

Show Your Support!

Brian Lichtenberg top
$165 - alexandchloe.com

True religion pants
$129 - revolveclothing.com

Not rated shoes
$44 - buckle.com

Forzieri crystal handbag
$378 - forzieri.com

Surface To Air longs jewelry
£119 - farfetch.com

Anchor jewelry
$48 - nordstrom.com

BKE pendant necklace
$6.70 - buckle.com

Baccarat "3 Stars" Paperweight
$180 - bloomingdales.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday-Life Happens



This week I have a few extra things to do that I didn't expect, and two of my co-workers lost loved ones as well. Very, very sad. :( So I will be busy almost every evening this week. That's how life is, and when things like that happen it makes you grateful that God has blessed you and your family with another day to participate! Thank you Lord for all of your blessings!

My newest niece is also getting Baptized this weekend, and I was asked to make mints for the occasion. I'm getting with my grandma and we are going to rock them out. I will post the how-to on those as my grandma makes not only THE BEST mints in the world, but hers always turn out so beautiful too. I'm a sucker for pretty food I just can't help it.

So here we go with our MP for this on the go week!

Monday-Since my family LOVED last week's cheese cavatelli recipe, I am making it again...by request! I really try to make different things for them but sometimes when something is good you want it again and I'm fine with that because you seriously can't get any easier than this recipe. It made me feel like I knew what I was doing and I totally didn't.

Tuesday-I have a visitation to go to, Quinn has tumbling, Nick has to take Meredith to school to sign up for *gasp* high school classes, and it's family night at Subway for Quinn's school. Sayler is free so she is coming with me to grab the Subway in between all of the madness. Luckily it travels well. ;)

Wednesday-The mint mixture will have to be prepared tonight because it needs to set overnight. I will also have to go to another visitation. I am making Nathan's Hot Dogs with all of the fixin's. Nothing too fancy but we love these silly hot dogs and my grandma can eat with us.

Thursday-Mint night! Won't take long to bang these out with me and my grandma, and I'm sure the girls will want to help too. I love doing things like this with my grandma. I want to learn to make the mints as perfect as she does. She has so many amazing talents and recipes that I need to perfect! Besides I will take any opportunity to hang out with her, she's my BFF. Tonight I'm going to throw a good ole Tombstone Pizza in the oven with beautiful side salads.

Friday-It's just the hubby and I tonight so I am going to throw his favorite chili in the crockpot before I leave for work. Good ole crockpot I love you so.

Saturday-Groupon Roundup! hahaha it's date night and I'm using the rest of my Groupons for a nice little night on the town. Smashburger and TCBY is on the menu. Never been to either if you can believe that. I wonder if I can get my husband to feed me yogurt all romantical like?

Sunday-Homemade Taco Bravos....hope I can hold out until then!! Tacos are my CRACK!

Are you lacking cooking inspiration? Seriously head over the http://www.orgjunkie.com/ for her MPM...you will have trouble picking just one!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let Love Rule

I received this in an e-mail from a friend today, and I thought it was lovely and had to share. This would be a good one to hang up next to your morning mirror!


1. There are at least two people in this world

that you would die for.


2. At least 15 people in this world

love you in some way.


3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you

is because they want to

be just like you.


4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone,

even if they don't

like you.


5. Every night,

SOMEONE thinks about you

before they go to sleep.


6. You mean the world to someone.


7. You are special and unique.


8. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.


9. When you make the biggest mistake ever,

something good comes from it.



10. When you think the world

has turned its back on you

take another look.



11. Always remember the compliments you received...

Forget about the rude remarks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Window Wednesday-Frugal Edition


I am always looking for a good deal. Before I go anywhere, I do a quick scan on the net or through my coupons to make sure I don't have something that will get me a few bucks off. Today we'll check out some sites that do so much work to make sure we all save a few extra bucks...bless their little hearts.

Before I go grocery shopping, I make sure I check out Becentsable to keep up on all the hot new high dollar coupons. I also like to check out Learning the Frugal Life and Penny Pinchin Mom for my local grocery store match-ups. These girls do so much work it's a shame not to take advantage of it.

Before I go to any fast food restaurant, I make sure I check out Mommy Saves Big and Wow Coupons. If I'm going out to eat, I make sure I google the restaurant's name with the word coupon and you can find great deals that way. I found on for the Spaghetti Works recently that led me to their Facebook for a very rare printable coupon. It's always worth taking a few minutes to search around.

Group buy sites are extremely popular and with good reason. My dating life has been re-invented thanks to sites like Groupon, Living Social, DSM Daily and Dealchicken. My husband and I just went on a date during my 31 Days of Nothing Challenge and used a Groupon I had bought previously for the movie theater. 2 tickets, 2 medium drinks and a large popcorn for $11. Since I had bought the Groupon in December we were allowed under my challenge rules to use this. It was such a nice evening and didn't cost me a dime. (Except for the $11 that I had paid previously!) If you want to get in on all of the universal deals, check out Groupbuygirl who breaks it all down in one spot.

Before I buy anything off of the net, first I visit a rebate site like E-Bates and ride the link right on through. It's pretty slick because a few days later you have some money sitting there! Before I check out of any site, I visit RetailMeNot...they have the best coupon codes available for everything out there.

You can make a few extra bucks with some of your "stuff" on sites like E-bay and Craig's List, but you can also find community swap pages on Facebook that receive a much quicker response, or you can use Yardsellr which groups items in to "blocks"...you can follow a "block" or sell something in a block. I have some old Beatles items that I have been looking to sell and I believe I would have greater success with this site since the buyers are following a Beatles "block".

Do you have a ton of books and DVDs sitting around that you never read or watch? Run them out the Half Price Bookstore...they will give you cash and you do not have to use it in the store. This is an easy way to de-clutter and make some easy money. You could probably make more selling them individually but it's a lot bigger pain! If you have furniture or art or sometimes even clothing, you can take them to consignment shops like Grimes Garage Consignment or the Classy Closet. These are also fabulous places to shop!

So there you have it. Tons of places for you to save a buck or two...who doesn't want to do that??

Monday, January 16, 2012

Modern Day Minnie

Modern Day Minnie

Cut out dress
$85 - modcloth.com

Disney tote handbag
$235 - disneystore.com

Wedding glove
$41 - dhgate.com

31 Days of Nothing & The Pantry Challenge...Make It Work!




I don't think it's a big secret that these challenges are taking it out of me. For someone who always thought they were getting good bargains I didn't realize how many of them I was scoring....and unnecessarily at that!

I had to hit up Costco this week for toilet paper, apples, strawberries and some granola for my yogurt. This put a dent in to the monthly spending but it had to be done. I hate buying these particular items anywhere else as the quality just doesn't compare...or the price!

I went to the grocery store to take advantage of a few sales since I didn't have as much stockpiled for either of these challenges. I spent $30 which for me is a record. I have been pretty creative with what I've had though. I've done a few "freezer potlucks" with all of the leftovers freezer snacks like pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, fries...I got rid of all those little bags of 5 fries here and 10 pizza rolls there which made me feel like a pantry challenge masta!

Friday I had to go shopping for my Mother-in-Law & Aunt's birthdays. (GULP) I like to hit up my fave stores Tuesday Morning & TJ Maxx for presents because I can find unusual fun things. This was an obvious mistake. I ended up spending $6.99 on a notebook (that matched my bigger one!!) and $2.99 on some magnets for my little yellow bird magnet board I bought from there on clearance months earlier. I did get my Aunt an itty bitty tea Hummel set for one (she collects teapots) and my Mother-in-Law a black & white polka dot housecoat as she loves polka dots. I also made them both a salt scrub (which I post separately) that smelled heavenly and didn't cost me a dime since I had all the ingredients on hand. That's frugal, right??

Does that mean I'm a failure on this challenge? I sure hope not. I've been working so hard! I honestly thought I was living "frugally" but gosh what a joke that is. I might cut coupons and go out of my way to spend less on each item I buy...but that doesn't mean anything if you are buying things you don't need. That's what this challenge has been about for me. It has really opened my eyes to all of the little things I spend money on. Some of it cannot be helped obviously! But did I need cute magnets for my bird board? YES!!!! Ok I guess not.

I'm going to keep plugging away. I suppose I could totally fib and create a post where I've been fabulously frugal and hadn't spent a penny, but that just isn't my style. I figure there are has to be at least one other mom out there like me! Hello? (crickets)

If you are wanting to find some "better" tips on watching your pennies...head over to http://www.learningthefrugallife.com/ and http://www.goodcheapeats.com/ for some real expert advice!

Menu Plan Monday! The Staple Recipe Re-mix pt 2


First a few updates!

Diet-seems to be going well. I don't generally like to weigh myself too often. My weight fluctuates so much that it can ruin my day. I use the way I feel in my clothes as a general rule and weigh myself once a month or so. My clothes are fitting a little better though and I have felt better overall so that says something.

Any dinner that isn't super low calorically, I just have a small portion of it. If I try to drive myself nuts making something different for myself and something to please my kids I will throw in the towel on the second day.

Vegetarian Crockpot Chili from last week was AWESOME. Seriously. No seriously! I have actually been craving it since I made it. It had the yummiest flavor. I'm thinking of making a batch to freeze to use for a quick healthy meal in a pinch.

The Potato-Sausage Foil Packets in the crockpot were good too, but I sure would've like to see what they would've tasted like on the grill. I have a feeling they would've been even better. Either way the veggies inside were lovely and they really filled you up.

*Meatless* Monday-Baked Cheese Cavatelli-this recipe is similar to one of my kid's favorite dinners crockpot lasagna...I'm betting this is going to be a hit as well!

Tuesday-Birthday Celebration for my Mother-in-Law! We are gathering at my sister-in-law's and ordering in Tasty Tacos (which are legend in these here parts) and I am making cupcakes and these Dutch Letter Bars. My mother-in-law (and everyone else in Iowa) adores Dutch Letters. This recipe looks pretty simple and I'm sure will be fabulous. Not very diet friendly but to turn down a Tasty Taco on a birthday celebration would not only be rude, but they would think I've went round the bend.

Wednesday-Cheeseburger Salad-I've been wanting to make this for a while. I love a good salad and I love a good burger...how can this be anything but delicious?? I first saw this in a Pampered Chef recipe book and then thank goodness Ree Drummond perfected it. Can't wait to try it! (For the sake of my diet, I am going to leave off the croutons...BOO)

Thursday-Grilled Cheese/Turkey & Tomato Paninis & Soup-I have a grill pan and instead of grilled cheese I'm going to try to healthify that option with some turkey instead.

Friday-***Family Fave***Tombstone Pizza!

Saturday-Crockpot Lasagna

Sunday-You are on your OWN. Ok mommy will help you but you have to choose something from the fridge. :)

Looking for some dinner ideas? Head over to http://www.orgjunkie.com/ for her Menu Plan Monday and get yourself some!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gingerbread Man S'Mores

Goodness I hope you weren't hoping I made some fancy ginger flavored cracker for these or anything...now now don't get upset, these are 10 times easier, they taste fabulous and are ready in a few minutes.

Over the holidays I bought some of those cute little gingerbread flavored marshmallows...I'm sure you saw them....or better yet SMELLED them! They were heavenly if you love gingerbread the way I do. I used them to top off hot chocolate for cuteness as well as the yumminess. I had quite a few leftover so I do what I always do with leftover marshmallows. S'MORES!

Whenever I buy candy for stockings or baskets, I make sure I buy these Pack-a-Snack versions of the Hershey Bars. They are the perfect size for making S'mores, and a pack of them cost a little over a buck!



Ok this isn't rocket science here, we all know how to build a S'More...



I have found that 20 seconds in the microwave melts these little guys just right...



Add the perfect amount of chocolate...



Give to a sweet little cutie pie to enjoy!


For more fun & creative ideas...visit Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

31 Days of Nothing Challenge Update-The Need List


Boy I've just been going to town on this whole getting frugal thing. I've realized how much impulse shopping that I do that I can't afford. It's not so much my tried and true staples, but the things that I haven't tried...the little eyeshadow I pick up and didn't end up liking, or the shimmery powder that ended up in my daughter's play make-up because it was sparkly and not shimmery. And seriously, what did I need with another shimmery powder anyway?

Another buying issue is clothes and shoes. I love to find a really unique top or some quirky shoes that have such a distinct look that I can only pull them out so often. I work at an office with a business casual dress code, so unique and luxurious clothing is not only not necessary every day, I would feel pretentious dressing like that every day. Sure I save those clothes for special occasions like a wedding or our yearly sales summit, but the problem is, I barely have enough basics anymore to get me through a week. I splurge on a jacket that I might wear once a year instead of buying things I need. It's a weakness of mine and here I am finally realizing it and admitting it in front of you all...and to myself.

Remember when I obsessed over my family photo shoot here? I went and bought us all new clothes head to toe. Did I need to do that? NO! One of sister-in-law's bought her family $1.00 polo shirts from a sale rack at Wal-Mart and my other sister-in-law declared to me that she was wearing something they already owned and pulled out some black shirts from their wardrobe. They all looked fantastic. I could've easily done the same thing for my family but I went out and spent more money than I care to admit to you all.

Going through the 31 Days of Nothing Challenge, knowing I wasn't to buy anything that wasn't absolutely necessary, I kept making a little mental list of things that we do need. For example, one of my daughters really needs a few layering T's for the winter months. Another one of my daughters needs a new skirt for church. We need a few new organizing tubs for the basement. I started to think, ok so you like to shop, maybe if you make this a real list, you can remember to buy the things you need instead of the things you don't.

I do love the thrill of the hunt. I love thrift shops, garage sales, Von Maur clearance racks...I love finding that jewel in a pile of junk....and I must say that I am quite good at it. The only problem is that it can lead to a lot of clutter. Another thing I need to work on is even if it is a jewel, do I need that jewel? Or do I leave that jewel for another lucky girl to find? I have to learn to shake off the rush of finding a Hanna Andersson jacket for $2.89...because even though it was a Hanna and it was super cute, it really wasn't in my color.

So here are my new habits that I am trying to form from this challenge for myself.

1. Make a list of things that our family needs, and make it your mission to find the best deal on those which will hopefully help with the impulse buying, and feed my need to hunt.

2. After the challenge is over, give myself a bi-weekly allowance of $10 (payday) for my second hand shopping. Hopefully this will help me to think harder about my purchases, and make to make it easier for me to leave jewels behind for the next lucky girl...also leading to less clutter to deal with.

3. I can't think of a third. 1 & 2 are going to be hard enough. Ok #3 is I need to learn to give myself a break. This isn't an easy challenge and I have done rather well sticking to it and using it to see myself in a different way...oh and maybe create some new habits.

Gosh is this Chillmom going to end up an organized frugal expert? HAHAHAHAHA I wish! I leave that to the real experts...I rely on http://www.orgjunkie.com/ and http://www.learningthefrugal/ life, and their expertise to keep me on track. God didn't bless me with these skills, he led me to others for help!

Do you have any tips for a girl like me? I love fashion & luxury but I can't afford to keep spending this way...it's time for a change. Can I be frugal and fabulous? Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Housekeeping Rules


I am not by any means a perfect housekeeper. I don't dust every week like I should, and I don't always get the bathtub scrubbed like I should either. But I do like to have a few rules to keep myself and my house in check. The two things that can get out of hand quickly for me is the kitchen and laundry. The rest of the house can get cleaned and/or picked up pretty easily if you have your kitchen clean and your laundry somewhat caught up.

So these are the my daily rules that I try to make sure are done every day.

1. Nothing in the kitchen sink at bedtime. Every day I make an effort to empty the dishwasher and make sure there are no dishes in the sink. Not a pan, not a spoon. Counters cleaned and floor swept.

2. Do one complete load of laundry. In my house, everyone has their own laundry hamper, towels are separate. Each person gets their own laundry day. This eliminates missing socks and wrong t-shirts and undies going to the wrong girls in the wrong drawers. The rule is, they are washed, dried, folded and put away. This keeps us from having one day full of nothing but endless laundry.

Having just these two things to manage keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. This is what works for me & helps me feel better about my home. Sometimes life gets in the way and a spoon might get left in the sink and the dryer might run cold a night, but we just get back to it the next day.

Are you a clean freak? Or do you have to check yourself?

I am linking this post to the Works for Me Wednesday at http://www.wearethatfamily.com/ and Women Living Well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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This policy is valid from 10 January 2012

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 This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content may not always be identified.



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How I Conquered Free Samples!


 
We all sign up for free samples here and there, or we receive them in the mail or at the store only to be put in a drawer or on the bathroom counter or hey maybe you use yours to try new things. I've done all of the above. I came up with a better solution for mine and not only does it fit in with being organized, it's also a frugal solution which I must admit gives me a jolt of satisfaction. I love Hey It's Free! He seems to stay right on top of every type of freebie out there and he lets you know when they are dead which is nice.

I suppose I have to admit up front that I've always been a freebie junkie, which is why I had to conquer this problem in the first place. I would get that thrill of yay! something for free! and then put it somewhere where I just know I will use it and it would stay there for goodness knows how long. One day that changed however, when I took my little family on a weekend trip to Minnesota. I had just received a great sample of Fredric Fekkai shampoo from Costco and was dying to try it out. I packed it along with a sample of deodorant I had received. Those little deodorants are pretty expensive in the travel section, and I always worry about shampoo leaking out all over the place. Product samples are made to hold up for travel and they are more compact. It was way more luxurious than the hotel shampoo, which usually leaves my hair tangled. Nothing leaked out and it all fit in this awesome little travel clutch I got for FREE at Ulta.

So now whenever I receive a free sample of shampoo, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, deodorant, Kleenex, Shout wipes, sunscreen, shaving cream or lotion I put it here:





(Whenever I order my fave cleansing oil from DHC that I obsessed about here, they give you 4 free samples. I always pick the cleansing oil so that I always have it with me for trips! This stuff leaks terribly and it's too expensive to waste even a drop!)
When we are ready to go on a trip, (like Disneyworld in May!!) I pack it in this little clutch that was also filled with free samples:





The greatest part is that I know exactly where to put the sample when I receive it, and exactly where it is when I'm ready to pack!

Which is right here in these cute little containers I found at a second hand shop. I do keep all of the face wash and moisturizer in a little basket so that I can easily grab one if I need it.


This is going to be awesome for my Disney Trip, and my yearly sales convention coming in May! Saves me lots of money and time!




 



Visit Celebrating Family for some tips to better your little family!


For more Frugal Tuesday Tips visit Juliecashe, Frugal Playground, Learning the Frugal Life and Confessions of a Frugal Mind!

To get your organization on visit http://www.orgjunkie.com/!