Monday, December 27, 2010
I had one of these long ago and let it fall by the wayside and when I went to send out my Christmas cards this year I realized I had lost my address book, and if only I had kept up with my manual I would have had the information there to use. I was kicking myself for having to call my in laws to get their address, so here goes a new attempt to get one of these going.
For me the sections will be
1 Cleaning schedules and checklists
2 Family calendar, including all family activities, appointments and birthdays
3 Addresses and contact info for family, doctors, contractors etc
4 Bill payment schedule,budget and a place to hold current bills
5 Menu plan, or rotating list of dishes
6 Price book for local grocery stores
7 Useful extraneous info like what goes on sale at what time of the year
Do you use a household manual? What sections do you have? What did you originally include that you now realize was not useful, or what do you wish you had included from the start?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Right now the free resources we use regularly are
Our local library has an art and story time for children my daughter's age that she really likes and a lot of the books I use with her come from there are well. Also, luckily our local branch has a large selection of homeschooling books, from many different methods.
2- The Internet-
This one is vast, and there are many sites I like, here are a few.
Starfall http://www.starfall.com/ is a phonics early reading site that both my daughter and I like, and in part is the reason she knows her ABCs in capital and lowercase and phonetically before age 2. It is an amazing site and will follow through with her to early reading.
DLTK has lots and lots of printables and coloring pages.
Ambelside Online is an entire K-12 free Charlotte Mason curriculum.
Prekinders is a great site for both resources and ideas.
3. Other Homeschoolers
I have a few links on my blog for other bloggers that homeschool and often they have lessons available at reasonable prices or for free.
Overall, like just about everything else, you can spend lots of money homeschooling on boxed curriculum and the like, but right now we are really enjoying the free resources we have access to and she is learning quickly and well.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Here are some things I have tried to remember and tips I have tried to use when being around people who do not have frugal attitudes.
1- Remember being frugal is not for everyone. Saving money I see as an integral part to my job in the home. I spend time each week looking for the best deals and how to get the most out of what we have, but not everyone wants to do that, or feels they don't have the time.
2- Telling the truth sometimes works wonders, but can be boring. For instance, just telling your family member or friend that the dinner out or whatever is not something that is in your budget that week.
3- If for whatever reason you don't feel comfortable telling them your budget ins and outs, you can almost always find a kind and honest way to get out of whatever it is without hurting their feelings.
4- Reconsider your spending if necessary. If you realize you would really like to spend that $35 on the movie, go through in your head where that money can come from in your budget and go have fun. Just make it so you don't regret having spent the money.
5- Suggest something else that is free or lower cost. Have them over for dinner, have a park play day, etc.
In the hard times right now a lot of people are learning lower cost ways to have fun. The most important thing is how you connect with others, not if it is done over $5 lattes.
Friday, December 10, 2010
The friend that had the heart attack is our age. I don't know what to do in those times when it really is in God's hands. I can try to put my fears over my friend and their family, or my father's returning cancer in a box in my head and move forward in prayer and a helping attitude, or I can get bogged down in what ifs.
What ifs can distract me, steal my time and take from me what I actually can offer to the people who need me. What ifs can make me not act when action is needed or not say something when it lies on my heart.
I am trying very hard this week to win the battle of the what ifs.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sneaky Meatloaf- serves 4
1 pound ground turkey
2 large or three medium carrots steamed and pureed fine
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 can tomato soup (divided in half)
1 package dry onion soup mix
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, reserving 1/2 of the tomato soup for the top of the meatloaf after you get it in the pan. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour 15 mins.I should also note that I hardly ever preheat my oven so your cooking time may be less if you do.
Also one of the best cooking investments I made was a double meatloaf pan that has a drainage chamber under it. It makes the meatloaf so much better and takes care of that excess grease.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
First project, I have been trying for some time to get my pantry and grocery lists organized, to no avail. What I was trying for was a system where I would have a master grocery list and then I could just determine what we did not have in the house and that would tell me what to buy.
I just never seem to have the time, so this week I am going to try and make time.
The other organizational mission I have is the homeschooling supplies and manipulatives need an organized place in our home. I decided to homeschool my daughter this year and like many new homeschoolers I have been picking up things here and there for our homeschool. Unfortunately I did not appropriately visualize where this stuff was supposed to live in my home, and I am worried, especially since I am buying a few years ahead if I find a good deal that by the time she gets to the first grade, I will have forgotten I have something because it was not appropriately organized. My hope is to organize all of it in bins or baskets on a large bookshelf.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Maybe if I put it in writing the plan to motivate change will work better.
This week I am working on me time. I realized the other day that I am taking NO time for myself. This is not good for my family or for my happiness so it has to stop. I am planning to spend 15 minutes a day doing something I want to do, just taking a breath or having a hot cup of tea, or writing this blog. It is not much, but you have to start somewhere. Also if I plan a longer time it just won't happen, so baby steps it is.
I think a lot of women are really good at taking care of everyone but themselves. It seems to be a part of the caregiver nature most of us have. But we can't take care of everyone else when we are run down and tired, so hopefully I can change that cycle a bit in my own home.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Here are a few things that may or may not help your home, budget and soul.
1- Use it, reuse it, repurpose it, offer it to some one else to use, and then and only then throw it away.
Old clothes can make rag rugs or crazy quilts, boxes can make play things for kids, chicken bones can make stock, an old pot can beocome a planter... get creative, and think outside the box.
2- Food does not have to be gourmet to be good. Some recipes with only a few ingredients can give you what you need, taste good and not break the bank.
3-Think twice before you buy. If you wait a week before you buy that impulse purchase you may find that you can make do with what you have or you never really wanted it at all.
4- Going out to eat should be an occassion. It is much more expensive to eat spaghetti at Olive Garden than make your own. Save the restaurant trips for special days as a treat.
5- There is always someone who has less than you. This is the one I remember to keep my life in perspective when it feels like I am running in place up hill. There is always some one with less food, inadequate shelter, etc that needs your help. Even if it is just 4 cans of food to the pantry or a smile to some one down on their luck, you never know how that will help or brighten some one who really needs it. We never know why they are where they are, or what circumstances brought them there, but we can do one kind deed for them when we see their need.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
We started homeschooling at the beginning of September, and we are both getting our feet on the ground with learning to be a teacher and student as well as a mom and daughter. My husband and I decided to homeschool her for a variety of reasons, but most of them have to do with a lack of faith in the public school system. We believe that she deserves the best education possible and we don't believe that she will get that in a public school with all the inherent problems of meeting testing standards and teachers having to do crowd control more than teach. I intend to write a more detailed account of why we homeschool at some point, but for now I will just say we know this is best for our family right now.
We homeschool between 1 and 1/2 to 3 hours a day, 4 days a week as my daughter is not quite 2 yet and any more than that seems to be too much for her. Right now I am trying to establish the basics she will need for PreK. We have six subjects (English, Math, Science, Bible/Character, Art, and Physical Education) that we work on in the week with some having more emphasis than others depending on what needs work.
I will say that there have been some challenges, like trying to keep things interesting and age appropriate for a toddler. She loves art, and is doing really well with her alphabet and pre-reading. Math is hard for her, but the concept of numbers is abstract, so I think that will iron out in time.
I am constantly on the look out of for cirricula and activities that I think she will like, or that can make a tedious subject more fun. There are a lot of great blogs out there, and we are starting to get involved in homeschool groups. In NC you don't have to legally declare that you are homeschooling till your child is 7, but some of the homeschoolers have little brothers and sisters that she is getting a chance to do activities with.
More updates and pictures to come soon!
Monday, June 28, 2010
I learned to can green beans last weekend with my sister in law, and now I can't wait to get my own canner. I think I will try some water bath canning myself this year (we go through tomatoes like crazy), and then do my own pressure canning next year when the kidlet is old enough to preoccupy herself a bit more so I can babysit the pressure canner. I am also vacuum sealing produce for deep freeze, so hopefully we will be enjoying summer produce way into the winter.
I have been meaning to blog about the grocery game for a bit now, and just have not had a chance. This is a site http://www.thegrocerygame.com/
I am not in any way affiliated with this company, it has just saved me lots on my groceries and thought it may be useful to some one else. Essentially you enter your zip code, and pick your store(s) and every Sunday your stores lists are updated. The lists show you what you can get at a deep discount or even FREE using coupons, and store deals. It tells you where to find your coupons, and what percentage of a discount you get on the item so you can stock up on things you need for cheap. Since starting it, I have routinely gotten $150 of groceries for $75 or less.
The site of course can explain the service better, but I thought I would write about my experience. There is a small fee (it comes out to less than $2 a week for two store lists) but since it does all the work for me and the savings are so large it is worth it for our family.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Here are the things that I have found actually do work for me, either to give me piece of mind or to get the house to a small level of sanity
1- Realize that we actually LIVE here. When you stay at home and don't eat out much you generate lots of mess. It was a lot easier to keep my home clean when I lived alone and worked all the time as I was never there to mess it up.
2- Give myself a break, it does not need to be perfect, and if people come over they are coming to see me not the house.
3-Do a little at a time. The one system I tried that almost worked was the Flylady system. One of the parts of her plan has you set a timer and do as much as you can cleaning before the timer goes off. This has really helped me and I can get my daughter involved as she thinks it is a race.
4-Get rid of stuff. The less stuff you have that you don't use the less you have to organize and clean.
5-Ask for help if you need it. This is a never ending job and like any job some projects are better tackled as a team.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I worked from the time I was 15-16 years old till I was laid off work when I was pregnant with my little girl, at 33. I was good at what I did, but it was always just a job. When I was laid off my husband and I sat down and did lots of talking and decided that at the end of the day we wanted one of us to be the primary caregiver to our child. I believe my daughter is only young once and she cannot possibly get the care and attention from a stranger that she gets from me. The most important roles I will ever play are as a wife to my husband and a mom to my child, and the idea of having to give them the last bit of attention at the end of a busy day from working outside the home just makes me sad.
Now that being said, we are not rich, in fact many people would say we are poor. We make conscious decisions and take actions to make it possible for me to stay at home. Part of my job, is figuring out where we can save money. I stretch and stretch every dollar that comes in. We do without luxuries, and have learned to find free or low cost things to do as a family, and at the end of the day we are all much happier than we were when I was working.
This is not the decision for everyone, not even for most people I know, and a lot of people who knew me in the past would be surprised that a feminist could be a stay at home mom. But at the end of the day feminism is about empowering women to have the choice and ability to do what they want, and this really is what I want to do.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
When I go shopping, I do look at the price, but I try to weigh that against the time spent to earn that money, whether I believe the item will help our lives in some way, and whether it will last if appropriately cared for. I also try not to buy something the first time I think I need it to avoid impulse buying, I try to wait a week to make sure it is something I really want to spend money on. There are plenty of guides for the best time of year to buy big ticket items, here is a listing on an article with MSN http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/TheBestTimeToBuyAnything.aspx
In general though it comes down to appropriate planning and taking care of what you already have. My husband is a godsend because he really understands electronics, plumbing, cars, and can do our home repairs, but if no one in your family can, there are FREE clinics offered regularly through Lowe's and Home Depot to help with home repairs. If you do need to hire some one to work on your home or car, please get a personal recommendation, or at least call the Better Business Bureau before giving your money to a repair company you know nothing about.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I have been making a conscious effort in the last few years with the hard financial times we have had to make home a soft place to land, instead of just a place we live. I think that the decluttering of our home has lead to a greater peace for our family. Creating family rhythms and rituals have slowed down the pace of our lives, and given us a chance to really enjoy each other's company. This has been more important to me than anything that I could ever purchase.
I have been rather ruthless when getting rid of stuff in our home. If I cannot find an immediate use or repurpose for it, then whatever it is leaves to donation or the trash. If I decide we need a new item for the home, I try to research it and wait a week before buying it. Often at the end of that week I have determined we really don't need it. As the items leave our home to bless Goodwill I do not miss them. For me letting go of all these things is freeing, and calming and helps me create the environment that I am happy to bring my child up in.
Does simple living help find peace in your home?
Monday, April 5, 2010
I will post pictures when I get something other than dirt in a pot to show you.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Some tips I have learned in shopping over the years:
1- The thrift stores in the richer areas of town generally have better quality stuff. If you really need something to last start there first.
2-Look at what the garment is made of. Denim and heavier cottons hold up well, and are less likely to fall apart on you than a used rayon or polyester.
3-Children's clothes are usually the best deals, as kids generally outgrow their clothes before they are worn out.
4- Try things on if you can, you don't know if they have shrunk in some one else's dryer.
5- If you decide to buy toys, look over it carefully for safety. Also check for all the parts. Generally you can't return it if it is missing something.
6-Don't buy used cribs or car seats this is just too risky. You can't tell if a car seat has been in a wreck, and if it has it may not be strong enough to protect your child in one.
7-Check your shops frequently, the merchandise changes often because of donations.
8-If you are buying furniture, carefully inspect it. Makes sure there are no hidden tears of stains that you aren't willing to live with.
9-Know what something costs new. Some consignment sales allow people to price their own clothes, and items can be priced high for used items.
10-If you are buying anything that plugs in, check to make sure it works. There should be a place for you to test it. If you are buying an appliance, buy from somewhere that does their own appliance testing. I know Habitat for Humanity Restore does this before allowing some appliances to be sold.
Good luck finding deals!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
This year has been very tough on us financially, so some of the goals are financial to help ease some of that burden in case we go through extended periods of unemployment again.
1- Create an emergency savings of $1000 as soon as possible. This is also one of the first steps suggested by the Dave Ramsay method. I have wanted to take his classes but I can't justify a couple hundred dollars to learn to manage money right now. $1000 may not be enough to solve whatever problem it is but at least I will feel better knowing there is that much toward the solution .
2-Have one spend free week per month. This is one the husband and I are going to try, but I have no idea if we can due to gas for the car. I think in order for him to get to work at some point mid week the car will need more gas. We may have to make the exception of a certain amount of gas money, as riding the bus or carpooling are not options. But even with a mid week gas run, the week would still save money if that was all that was spent.
3-Lose 10% of my body weight to become healthier. This is a beginning goal and one that should help to start the ball rolling.
4-Declutter the house. Once a week I want to go through and determine 30 things to sell, give away or discard, until we are to a more manageable level.