Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creating a household manual

A household manual is a collection of information to run your home. It can include any number of things, from cleaning schedules to bill records to medical records. Originally I got this idea from the Flylady,  but I am tweeking it to fit our needs.
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

Homeschooling on a budget

I will admit I am new to homeschool, and my child is very young, so what works for us may not work for your family. I have searched for and found lots of resources on homeschooling for free or at low cost (without jeopardizing your child's education of course.
Right now the free resources we use regularly are
1-The Library
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 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

Being frugal when no one around you is

I find it hard when I am with friends and extended family sometimes as their spending habits are different than mine in so many ways. A lot of the people I know choose to spend first on a whim and then regret it later. Or alternately, they just have a much higher fun money budget than I do and blowing money on something seems like no big deal to them. It is hard for them to understand that we just don't want to drop $35 on a movie and snacks for the two of us when that money could be used so much more wisely in other places.
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

Fears over Mortality

There have been a lot of people close to our family that are fighting for their health, either from cancer or our close friend who had a heart attack yesterday. We pray hard for them, and try to help in any way we can but there is the selfish part of my mind that gets scared and says what if that were us. 
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.

Matthews  6:25
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?"

Matthews 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Isaiah 41:10
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.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Frugal Food- Sneaky Meatloaf

Our family likes meatloaf,  but I have been trying to find out a way to make a turkey meatloaf that everyone likes.  I also needed a way to get my husband and toddler to eat carrots. For some reason they both seem to dislike all orange vegetables, and since they are all super nutrient rich, (and inexpensive) I am now resorting to sneaking them in foods. I thought I would combine the two (turkey and carrots) and I am excited that it was a huge success.

Sneaky Meatloaf- serves 4

1 pound ground turkey
2 large or three medium carrots steamed and pureed fine
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 egg
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

Frugal Food- Split Pea Soup

I love split pea soup but was not sure my meat loving husband, and picky toddler would eat it. It was a hit!

1 pound dry green split peas
1 onion chopped
enough water to cover the split peas
1 pound of bacon
two russet potatoes peeled and chopped
2 tbsp of Italian herb season mix
2 heaping tbsp of garlic chopped

Sort peas to make sure nothing needs to be tossed (natural dry beans sometimes have stones), drain in a colander. Add to a large pot or dutch oven, and cover about two inches over with water. Turn on Medium to Medium high. Meanwhile chop onion and potato and add to the pot. I cook the bacon in a shallow baking pan at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Chop bacon coarsely and add to soup (which has probably been cooking 45 minutes now). Cook another half hour or until the majority of the split peas have lost their shape (the pretty much turn to mush).
Move to a food processor or use a wand mixer to puree till smooth.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 8 healthy servings

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, and I just wanted to take a minute to talk about a person I knew who passed away due to AIDS. This young man was born with the virus, in the early 1980s and had a host of other problems because of his mother's addiction and lifestyle. He had developmental difficulties and social difficulties, but he also had a sweet smile and a complimenting heart. He spent the first few years of his life in a crib in a hospital with no loving attention from anyone because everyone was to scared to touch him. A couple I know adopted him when they became aware of him when was a toddler, and I met him when I worked for them. He lived much longer than anyone thought possible and defied all the odds. I really thought he may just live to see the cure.
He did not get to see that day, but my hope and prayers that soon that day will come. The advances in AIDS and HIV treatment have come tremendous leaps since he passed, but still no cure. Please take a minute today to remember all those this disease has taken and hope for a day when it will take no more.