Monday, August 30, 2010

MY Thrifty Store Finds of the Weekend

We decided to go to DI to see if we could score a lunch box for my daugther.  We looked high and low and found one that was workable for her.  We gladly grabbed it.  It was marked $2, and is very sturdy.  I was looking around just for the fun of it and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it.  The movie.  THE movie my kids have been in love with.  We have rented it from the library like 5 or so times.  It was on DVD for only $2!!!!  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.  I was so excited.  I tried hiding it with no luck.  My kids spotted it immediately.    I looked at the disk itself to make sure it was ok and it looked like it was brand new.  I have been looking for that movie and the lowest price I was able to find was about $12.  So $2 was a steal!  I know my kids will put much use to that movie. 

We also grabbed Julie and Julia for $2.  Perfect condition.  I had been wanting to watch that movie and was going to rent it at Redbox.  I figured for only $2, if I watch it twice then I'll put it to use.  (I lent it to my stepmom after watching it yesterday.  She was really excited.)

I didn't find any cute picture books like I usually find, but that is fine.  I was really happy with our finds.  :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The topic of paying an honest tithe might sound a little silly when speaking about frugality.  I am sure some of you might be thinking, "How in the heck can someone manage to pay tithing when they are trying to save money?"  I know for fact that tithing brings more to our lives.  As a single mom, I have battled with the tithing topic myself.  "If I don't pay tithing, then I can afford ______________."  The past two years I have stuck with paying an honest and true tithing.  I knew that it was time. 

I was at my friends house one day and he was asking how I could justify paying tithing when I am a single mom and my kids have needs.  I immediately replied, "How can I NOT???"  He just looked at me stunned.  You see since paying tithing, I believe that we are more blessed than we were when we weren't.  When I write all my bills and expenses down and compare against my income, it doesn't jive.  It doesn't look like I have enough to pay for our needs.  But somehow it happens. 

Recently I posted about the clothing exchange and how happy we were to receive school clothes for my daughter.  I have to admit that I didn't tell you guys ALL the details.  Sorry.  As it happened, I was wondering how in the heck I was going to be able to afford to buy her clothes based on our income.  For some reason it seemed all these bills that weren't expected came in.  I immediately felt defeated.  Should I not pay tithing so I could pay for school clothes?  Should I just do it this one time?  Come on it wouldn't hurt would it?  I decided I needed to pay tithing anyways.  Yes, that money could come in handy but I know that it is better to pay tithing.  That night I prayed that we would be provided for and that we'd be able to afford to buy both kids clothes.  That same exact week my friend emailed me inviting me to go to the clothing exchange.  And as luck would have it my friend brought over all these clothes for my son.  Coincidence?  I think NOT. 

I told my friend this and he just sat there in shock, and immediately told me, "Sassy you're right.  Keep paying your tithing.  That is pretty neat.  And you need to tell that story to the people at your church because that is an awesome story."  Sorry buddy I don't like to get up and talk in church.  hahaha  But I will tell my friends on my blog here.  :)  There are so many ways we have been blessed from paying tithing other than just the clothes. 

From a financial standpoint, I think it is a wise choice too.  Not that I do it for this reason, but you also are able to claim your tithing on your taxes.  I am greatful for the opportunity to pay tithing.  I feel so incredibly blessed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My house

Upon the perilous journey in cleaning up the ants yesterday, I realized that I am just not happy with my house.  There is "STUFF" everywhere.  It needs to GO!  It just seems that I never have enough time in a day to get everything done.  I have all these clothes in my closet that don't fit.  You would think since I go in there every single morning to get my outfit for the day out, that I would simply take the things that don't fit, put them in a bag and get them the heck outta my house.  Right?  For some reason, I must just be lazy cuz I don't do it.  :(  I have so much stuff to go through in my house, that it isn't even funny.  It's time to really get cracking down on myself.

This weekend I did take two huge loads to DI, in a quest for decluttering, which I was feeling very accomplished.  (Okay so maybe I lied.  I wasn't feeling accomplished.  I was feeling like crap.  I was so intent on going through the garage, in the heat of the day, that I kind of forgot to drink water.  Needless to say, I didn't drink enough water and got extremely overheated.  It was really bad.  I kept drinking water the rest of the day but it didn't feel like I had even had any at all because I was still beyond thirsty.  I felt sick all night Saturday night and all Sunday.  I had the worst headache on Sunday and it just wouldn't go away. )

But I really need to get working on the decluttering and going through the kids' clothes.  They keep growing out of clothes, and instead of holding onto them, I need to just purge them right away.  And my clothes as well.

I want to be happy to go home.  I want to be happy when I am home.   Slowly but surely.

Sassy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday seemed like one of the worst days of my life.  I don't know why, but EVERYTHING was going wrong.   I wake my kids up to get ready, as I am getting ready for work, and hear a grumpy little girl getting a little mouthy with me informing me she did NOT want to get up.  I get us all ready, get us out the door, get in the car, and go.  Driving in traffic to get to work, with people just so RUDE on the roads now days.  Uggg...  Get to work, happy to be off the road with those crazy people.  I get here to be informed I had been doing everything wrong!  :( :(  

You have to know that I was only trained in 2 days.  The girl was moving out of state and hadn't left a big notice, as you can tell.  I thought I had handled the situation very well with the given time frame of my training.  I thought I was doing awesome, having mastered this job so fast.  And then the blow came!  "Ummmm Sassy, why did you do it like this?  What about this?"  "Where is this information"  "What!?!"  "No, you are supposed to do it this way."  "No, that is wrong."  "You weren't trained very well, as I can tell?"  :(  I was crushed.  Yes, completely crushed if you must know.  I felt so small.  So I felt stupid finding out I hadn't been doing as well as I had thought.    Long story short, the bookkeeper sat me down and went over everything with me, after kind of being a bit hard on me, which I can't blame her to any degree, considering my faults make her job even difficult to complete without all the information.  The way she explained it and went over it with me made a whole lot more sense.  But every time she continued to talk to me throughout the day, it just seemed like one more thing I had done wrong.  I had to go over everything I have been doing the past 3 weeks now and am still redoing things. 

Sitting in a quite office at work, you have plenty of time to think while doing your work.  I started thinking about my time off of work while being unemployed.  All my working life, I would find myself yearning to be a stay at home Mommy.  I have always wanted to be one.  Being a single mom though, that is a bit impossible if you get my drift.  So when I was unemployed and able to stay home, I didn't appreciate it.  I was too stressed out looking for a job.  It took me almost 6 months to find a job.  Those 6 months I had many fun moments with the kids, but I didn't do as much as I should have.  So I sat at work thinking about my kids and how badly I wanted to be home with them.  Let's just say it took a lot to keep the tears held back.  I thought of how I didn't appreciate it as I should have at the time.  I had the time to be with them, but I didn't seem to cherish it at all.

Then I started thinking about my lack of dating going on in my life.  This lonely feeling consisting in me, really puts a damper on being happy.  I am so beyond happy to have my kids.  I truly am.  But sometimes I wonder if I am going to be single the rest of my life.  I go to church, work and other places and I never meet anyone.  I don't understand it.  I really don't.  No, I am not desperate by any means.  I just don't understand sometimes how life turns out.  I have always heard these great stories of people turning their lives around, going back to church and suddenly BAM, they find this great guy and live happily ever after.  I have been back in church for some time now, and I guess I feel hopeless.  No, I don't go to church to meet someone.  I go to church because I know that is where the kids and I need to be and because I completely believe it.  I just don't think it would hurt for the Lord to send someone my way.

Then the boss asked me to find the key that opened the storage shed out back.  The girl who was in this position before me never told me where the key was.  So I had about 20-30 key a drawer and I was outside, in the middle of the day in this Vegas heat, trying out every key with no success.  My boss told me it had to be one of them.  So we kept trying any key we could find.  Needless to say, it didn't work.  I guess the only key to it is in the possession of one of the guys in the field.  So I had to call him up to get him to try his keys out.  Oh what a day!

With all these feelings going on, plus me feeling so beyond small because of my work screw ups, I wasn't too surprised when the boss asked if I could stay late to let a computer guy in to work on a printer.  I was having such a bad day and just wanted to go home.  But I said it would be fine and I stayed.  When the boss left, I couldn't hold back the tears.  Yes, I started to cry.  And it wasn't just one or two tears.  It was a lot.  I started to think of how unfair things were for me right now.  Yes, I was/am so beyond thankful to have this job.  I am so thankful to have my kids.  I am so thankful to have food to eat and shelter. 

But sometimes I don't understand why I can't find a good guy.  I feel so out of place sometimes.  I go to get togethers and realize I am the only single one in a room, when everyone is talking about how great their husbands and marriages are.  I go to church and see everyone sitting with their families and they seem so happy.  I, on the other hand, have to take my son out when he is acting up and debate whether to take my daughter with me or have her sit in the meeting by herself, while I get my son to behave so we can go back in. 

So I am sitting at work thinking about all this, and I sit back and remember all these really GREAT guys who I wouldn't ever give a true, honest chance because my ex would just come waltzing back into my life, and I would drop anyone for him.  I loved my ex so much more than I think anyone would know.  And I have finally managed to get over him, but now that I have, there aren't guys flocking around as they used to be.  Okay, so guys weren't exactly "flocking" toward me, but I had some REALLY great guys who were REALLY interested in me, and yet I wouldn't give them the time of day, because my ex suddenly decided, yet again, that he wanted to be with me, even though the truth would come out later that it was just a convenience thing.  And I sat there wondering if God was/is punishing me for not giving any of them a chance?  I don't know.  It might sound kind of funny to some of you, but I honestly wondered that.  And then the tears flowed even more. 

I called my friend on the phone and began to tell her EVERYTHING.  I couldn't stop crying.  I told her how I was seriously having the worst day ever.  She completely agreed with me and knew exactly where I was coming from, because she too is in the same boat.  Then the computer guy came in to work on that printer.  Now, I must admit I completely looked like crap.  Smudged makeup, tears galore, me miserable and on the phone.  Yeah, not too great, huh?  So I proceeded into the other room and was talking on the phone with my friend while the computer guy worked on things. 

I couldn't wait to get home.  He finished working on the printer, and I was so ecstatic to leave.  Then it happened.  The greatest way to add to my horrible day.  I almost got in an accident on the freeway!  Thank goodness it didn't happen, but it was very close.  By the time I got to my grandparents to pick up my babies, I just wanted to go to bed.  I walked in to get my kids and I asked my daughter to do something and she started mouthing off.  Trust me, it wasn't the best way to have her talking to me with the day I had.  We got home around 7:10, and we were going to make a good dinner, when my son screamed, "Mommmmmmmmy!!  There ants in bafrooooomm!!!"  There were ants everywhere.  And they weren't just in the bathroom.  They were all over in the hallway.  There were ants going in the living room.  And I had no idea where they were coming from.  So I spent all this time trying to clean them up.  Bug spray, soap and a vaccum.  In the end, I finished around 8:30ish.  Yes, it took us that long.  They were EVERYWHERE! 

I looked around my house and realized I wasn't even happy to be home.  I was completely miserable.  I wanted to cry again.  I looked around and realized I have way too much crap in my house.  And I went to sit on the couch and noticed ants still.  Turns out my lovely kids had thrown food back behind the couch.  So I went at it again with the vaccum.  And when I say they had thrown food back there, it wasn't just a little.  I love my kids to death, but I was soooo upset.  I sent the kids to bed, not out of punishment.  It was just bedtime.  So by the time I get in bed, I was exhausted, tired, depressed, and just flat out sad.   Then it dawned on me, wow I hadn't even fed the kids or myself dinner.  What a horrible Mommy I am.  And of course, in turn I got even more sad.  Have I mentioned I was having a really bad day?

I had my nightly prayer, and I let everything out to Heavenly Father.  I asked him for comfort and help in this time in my life.  I said some very personal things and just really, let it ALL out.  I was almost in tears, but I held it in from having cried so much earlier.

And when I was in bed, all I could think of were ants being all over me (you know your brain plays little tricks on you when you are in a mood already) even though they weren't.   Needless, to say I didn't sleep very well at all.  When my alarm was going off this morning, I felt the sudden pain in my hand and wondered what had happened.  Oh yeah that's right.  I remember.  Those stupid ants wouldn't die.  So I decided I would hit some of them!  Yes, I hit them to smoosh them.  And I swear those ants wouldn't die until you hit them and smooshed them about 10 times each.  And if you think I was exaggerating, be my guest at trying to kill them any other way.  The bug spray wasn't working for me.  I would hit them with shoes and it didn't do a thing.  So my hand is bruised.  Yes, you read that right.  My hand is BRUISED and it hurts.  Just a painful rememberance of the TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY  that I had, and I just pray and plead to have a much better day today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Never Ending Pasta Bowl is BACK :)

If you're having a craving for Olive Garden and don't feel like cooking one of the yummy "copy cat" recipes, they are having the Never Ending Pasta Bowl now.  For $8.95 you enjoy the never ending pasta bowl of your choice, with different combinations.  In addition, you get your breadsticks and a choice of either soup or salad.  Mmmmmmmm yummy!  This is a more economical way of eating at Olive Garden than having to pay a lot more, plus you can eat lots and not feel too guilty, since it isn't more expensive.  ;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

If Money Wasn't An Issue

If money wasn't an issue, what would you do in life?  Where would you be?  Would you change a lot about your life?  If someone handed you 200 million dollars with no strings attached and said it was all yours to do whatever you wanted with, what would you do?  Just a little fun here. 

If money wasn't an issue, I don't think I would live in the city.  I think I would want to start a farm.  I know that might sound kind of funny to some people, but I would like to be self sufficient.  I would grow my own foods, have my own cows, pigs, chickens and everything.  Okay so I WOULD have to hire someone to kill the animals when it came to slaughtering for meat and such, because there is NO way I could bare to do it myself.  And since money isn't an object here, then I could do that, right?  ;) 

On my farm I would have LOTS of fruit trees and lots of big shade trees by the house in order to shade the house during the summer, elminating wasted money on wasted air conditioning.  The fruit from the trees would be picked and canned, and of course savored straight from the tree when some hungry people decide to eat them, mmmmm.  Peaches, pears, apples, pamagranites, grapes, nectarines, apricots, and everything. 

My kids would have plenty of space to be kids!  They would be outside.  And I think they would be much happier.  Climbing trees, lots of space to run around, enjoying the good outdoors, animals, hard work, and life.  I have to tell you guys that my kids don't play outside too much.  It is way too hot outside in the summer, and our yard isn't very large and we have one single tree but it doesn't do much for shading them when playing.  So I think it would be a much healthier atmosphere.  And of course they would be helping with the chores in the house, with the animals, picking fruits and veggies, yard work, and whatever else is needed.

The house itself would have a large basement with a large storage room for my attempt at a huge food storage.  I would work on getting a food storage set up and continue to add to it constantly.  The basement would have a large open space with a tv and large sectional couch.  The kitchen would be large, as that is where many memories are made while cooking.  The house would be spacious, but not :"show offish".  Just big enough to have a couple extra bedrooms in case someone comes to visit, or finds themself in tough times and needs somewhere to stay.

In addition to having a farm, I would definitely help those in need.  With the current recession, there are so many people out of work and in need.  So there would be plenty of help to those in need!

And since I would be so rich, could I possibly BUY me a husband?  hahahahah 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This weekend

My sister is so awesome.  She agreed to take my kids for me Friday evening and Saturday.  It will be so nice to have some time to myself.  Friday evening I plan on going to my friend's house for a girls only get together for her birthday.  I haven't had the chance to really hang out with my friend in a long time, so I am really excited!!!  It took some work making arrangements for my sister to watch them, but I don't have to pay anyone for babysitting.  My sis is going to pick them up after she gets off work, which is somewhat on that side of town, so I don't have to spend time and gas driving them all the way out there- just to turn around and go back within a mile radius of where my friend lives.  My kids love hanging out with their Aunt Taniah, so they will have a blast. 

As some of you might not know, I don't get too much time to myself since I am a single mommy.  Going out or hanging out (without kiddos) usually manages to cost quite a bit.  Babysitters charge a pretty penny now adays.  And frankly, since I work I like to spend time with my babies on the weekends or when I am out of work.  So this will be a much enjoyed experience or at least I hope so  ;)

And this also goes hand in hand with my motivation blog.  With the kids gone, I will be able to clean house and declutter Saturday morning!!!  :)  YAY!!!!!  I am planning on going to my parents' house and borrow Daddy's truck to take 2 huge trips to DI.  I am just sooooo over the clutter.  Way too over it. I don't want to deal with the hassel of a yard sale or I would do that.  I would rather get the tax receipt from DI to use on my taxes when tax time rolls around.  This year I have donated so much stuff to DI, so I hope that will come in handy.  ;)  Here's to making a better effort at getting things in order. 

Again did I mention how excited I am to have Me time???  *grin

Food Prices

Is it just me, or have the food prices continued to climb?  I know I shouldn't be shocked, but with all the commercials with grocery stores proving that they are doing "rollbacks" and such, I guess I was a little shocked to notice quite a few prices climbing.  For cereal in our household, we purchase the big Malt-O-Meal-like cereal, only it isn't Malt O Meal.  It is Kroger brand.  It is always $2.98 for the huge back.  We ran into the store to get cereal and a few other provisions, and the price jumped in less than a month to $3.20.  I know that most people are thinking, are you kidding me?  You're complaing over 22 measly cents?  Well over the length of a year, that 22 cents is a bit of change.  We buy about 2 or 3 bags a month I think.  My kids like them for breakfast, snacks (who can keep a 2 year old quiet during church without them??), dinners sometimes (not normally but sometimes that is what they beg for), and I bring a bag over to my grandma's for the kids to enjoy there as well.  So say 3 bags a month @ .22 x 12 months = $15.84 That is just an example of cereal alone.

I noticed a few other things that we typically buy, and saw that they too had gone up.  :(  This whole food storage idea I need to get working on.  If they keep jumping in price more often, that will be money saved in the end.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Food Storage

From personal experience, I think it is smart to stock up on foods when they are on sale and create a food storage.  You never know when you'll hit unemployment issues, lack of funds, hard family circumstances, food shortages, or whatever life throws your way.  Before being laid off of work, deep down I had a feeling that I might be laid off, even though I was PROMISED and convinced that my job was not in jeapordy.  I specifically went to my manager and asked him and he said I had nothing to worry about and there was no way they would let me go, that I was too much of an asset to the company.  Funny how I found myself out of a job.  :(  Since I had that feeling, I thought it would be smart to start setting aside some extra food in case I found myself without funds to purchase food later on.  I started finding all these good deals on bulk buy foods at the grocery stores.  I bought a little extra here and there if I had the means.  When I was let go, it took weeks for me to get the first money from unemployment due to being paid vacation pay that I hadn't taken.  Ugggg.  Thank goodness I had set a little food aside when I had a little extra here and there.  It came in handy more than I ever thought it would. 

Now that I am working, I think I am going to make a special effort to set up a more proficient food storage.  Let's face it, no job is 100% secure.  There are always circumstances arising.  The prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been preaching for years about the substancial need to create and keep a food storage.  Even if you aren't LDS, it definitely is smart to work toward setting aside a little extra.  It is much more feasible to grocery shop for just a few things instead of a whole paycheck's worth of food when times are tough. 

I viewed the ads this past week and noticed a great deal on rice.  For anyone in the area, Food 4 Less has long grain white rice in 25 pound bags for only $7.98.  I bought one bag.  I know this will last us a while at our house.  My kids won't eat rice plain.  You have to be pretty inventive to get them to eat it.  Certain recipes they will devour containing rice, but most they won't.  So I figure 25 pounds will really last a while in our home.  It beats having to pay full price on smaller bags of rice later.  If my kids were more open to eating rice more frequently, I would have bought an extra bag and put it aside.  But since I know how it is such a fight to have them eat it, I am at a loss.  I just have to figure out more recipes with rice in them that I can manage to convince them to eat. 

I'm not too familiar with the whole food storage subject, but I would like to get into it more.  So I have been viewing different blogs via any search engine.  I have found some really great ideas, but for me it is one step at a time. 

Anyone here very familiar with food storage?  Anyone ready to give us valuable information on how to do it frugally?

Product of the Convenience Food Generation

I am the product of the Convenience Food Generation.  Growing up in our household, we ate plenty of Mac N Cheese, Ramen, Canned Spaghetti O's, Raviolis, chips, hot dogs, microwavable burritos, frozen pizzas, and there are so many to name.  Truth be told, not much has changed.  I still eat tons of these convenience foods and more.  I need to work on cooking more instead of resorting to easy conveniences.  I am a convenience food addict I guess. 

We were in the car driving home when my daughter informed  me that she really wanted to go to Walmart and buy french toast sticks.  I had a long day at work today and didn't want to go to the store.  I told her that we could go Saturday morning and buy them since that is when I can cash my check.  (I get paid Friday but my credit union is closed at 5, and there is no way in the world I ever get there before then because I don't get off til 4:30.  And if you haven't battled traffic in Vegas on a Friday during rush hour... wow, you sure are missing out  *grin.)  My daughter kept pleading and pleading.  I told her I would give her $5 to go grocery shopping Saturday morning for the french toast sticks.  I told my son that I would give him $5 to do the same.  I explained that one box of sticks costs $2.50 and you can buy 2 with the $5 so we started adding and came to the number 4 (numbers of boxes they could buy with $10.  I will be honest here and tell you the reason why I agreed to let them each have that money to help with the family grocery shopping.  a) To teach them the value of money and what you can buy at the grocery store  
b) I am the only one who ever does the grocery shopping and it would be a good adventure for them.  Plus if they chose something then that is what they chose and it would be fun no matter what. 

They were so excited, but Bug proceeded to tell me how bad she wanted them right then.  She is definitely my daughter  :)  I stood my grounds and told her how she could have them on Saturday morning.  We were almost home, and I thought about those yummy french toast sticks.  I thought long and hard and realized that we had all the ingredients to make them.  I told her that we could make them, and she looked at me like I had lost my freaking mind.  It took a while to convince her that I knew what I was doing, but the end result was much more convincing!  After enjoying these yummy, delicious french toast sticks my daughter informed me that we wouldn't need to buy them after all on Saturday.  And she said, "Mom you must know how to make everything.  You're such a good Mom."  Awwwwww how sweet of her.  I must have done a good job at making them.  :)


I find myself being so unmotivated to do all the projects in my house- ok mainly the every day standard "projects" for me.  You know them- cleaning, laundry, dishes, organizing.  I feel so lazy sometimes.  By the time I get off work and drive across town to get home (while being stuck in traffic on the freeway all the time), pick up the kids, cook dinner, sitting down to eat, and then it seems like it is time for bed.  It seems like there is never enough time. 

I follow Penniless Parenting's Blog.  Recently she posted a post with her kitchen.  It looks so tidy, little and cute!  I have a bigger home than she does, but I can never keep it up to par.  After viewing her post here, I think that gave me a lot of motivation to get working on organizing and tidying up.  If she can do it in a 575 sq ft apartment, then I surely can do it in a 1690 sq ft home!  It is time to really get decluttering and going through things.  I find myself going in phases with the whole decluttering situation.  One week I am so gung ho about getting my bootay in gear and working on it, and then the next I just don't want to do anything.  I really need to get going on it though.  :) 

If you haven't check out Penniless Parenting before, check her out.  No, she isn't paying me anything or exchanging anything for me "advertising" about her blog.  I genuinely like her blog and think she has some great ideas at times. 

Another blog that I like to frequent is Frugal Babe.  She talks a lot about decluttering in her blog recently, and I like some of the ideas she suggests.  If you haven't checked her out before, here it is:

Sassy here needs to work on keeping motivated on the decluttering and tidying up aspects of having a home.  I need to stick with it :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Clearance Shopping Fun

My kids were promised that they could go to there grandparents today.  They were so excited.  We are working on potty training with my son and I told him that if he pooped in his pants, he wouldn't be able to go to Papa's house.  Lo and behold right as we are almost there, he does.  Ugggggg.  I decided to stand my grounds and tell my dad that his grandson wouldn't be able to come over.  My daughter was so excited to go and play, while my son was screaming as we left.  He was so upset.  Let's just hope that he learned his lesson with the whole diaper situation.  (You have to know that he does great with my grandma and keeps his diaper completely dry at her house.  He runs to the bathroom and proclaims that he has to go.)

So when we were driving, I was trying to think of where we could go on that side of town, since they live so far away and I really didn't want to drive all the way home and drive all the way back later on when it came time to pick her up.  I decided to go clearance shoppnig.  I hit up Target and TJ Max, at a few locations.  Yeah, I know not too cheap by spending all that gas, but it was fun to get out.  Each location has different items in their clearance. 

I found another of the 3 musketeer Kelly dolls at TJ's!  This one was purple and it was $5.  My daughter loves both purple and pink.  I think I will give them both to her, or I should say Santa will be giving them to her  ;) 

My daughter specifically told me that she wants some Barbie babies for Christmas(ya I know it is way too early for thinking about Christmas but when we were playing she told me that) since she doesn't have many.  I have been trying bidding on ebay with not much luck.  So when I was at TJ's I found some of these:    My clearance price was only $3!  :)  No, it isn't Barbie but I am sure it will do, since she really just wants asome babies for her Barbies.  Now that I think of it, I should go back and get a few to set aside for presents for Birthdays she gets invited to or selling them online. 

I also found a Little Pony play set for only $3.  I put it aside for a birthday present for a party.

I found a few fun looking board games and playsets at Target, all under $7.  All for Christmas or birthday gifts for extended family members.  I found another VMotion game, this one is Tinker Bell for only $5.  Pretty exciting.  And they had a controller to their game system for about $5 also.  I figured it was a good buy since they tend to be tough with their controller and it would be better to have one set aside just in case. 

All in all, I think I did a pretty good job at clearance shopping.  We have a number of things on hand if the kids get invited to parties, which let's face it, there are always kids birthday parties going on.  So it is nice to have a few things on hand.   

Selling the Little People

I sold the Little People lot on Friday afternoon.  The lady met me at the grocery store and happily paid me the money in exchange for the Little People lot.  She mentioned how she loves the Little People and already had quite a bit of it, but she was so happy to buy mine for her kids to enjoy.  I was happy to get them off my hands.  As I mentioned, I prefer to make the transaction in a public place like in a store parking lot.  I feel much safer seeing how so many people are at grocery stores at all times. 

The Joy of Friends and Family

Man am I happy I have such amazing friends and family.  My friend invited me to her stake's clothing exchange.  I packed up a huge black trash bag full of my son's outgrown clothing and a few of my daughter's clothes.  I imagined a lot of junky clothes and was just happy to be donating the clothes.  Turns out I was so wrong.  It was awesome.  I got my daughter's entire school wardrobe from there.  The clothes were in much better conditions than I ever imagined.  Since my friend just gave us clothes for my son, I wasn't really on a hunt for clothes for him.  I found a few items for myself for church and work.  I was very happy.  The best part of all of this was it was free.  It really helped out at a time when finances are really tight.  As some of you might know, I have been unemployed for almost 6 months until recently. Obviously being a single mommy on unemployment is no joyous picnic financially.  I am so thankful and happy to be working.  But even though I am working, finances are still pretty tight.  So this REALLY helped us out.  I am so thankful I have such an awesome friend who invited me to participate in this event.  Friends truly are the family we meet along the way.  *I know I am such a sap sometimes huh?  ;)

My aunt called me and had me come over that same night.  She asked that I come over and give her 30 minutes of her time.  I immediately started thinking about what I had done.  Had I done something to offend her?  Uh oh.  She never calls me or invites me over.  Hmmmmmm....  scary.  It turns out she was inviting us over to let us go through a bag of clothes for my daughter.  My aunt's client buys clothes for herself and her grandkids very often.  They do NOT wear used clothing.  So the client happily passed them on to my aunt, who in turn called me (since she doesnt have any little girls) and had me come on over.  There were some awesome clothes in there in great condition.  They are in the next size up for my daughter, so we will have clothes for that size.  YAY!  My aunt hadn't even opened the bag yet so she had such a fun time looking at the clothes with me.  It was fun to be able to catch up on life with her since I don't get to see her very often. 

So my daughter has all her school clothes taken care of, so there won't be any stressing over that.  All taken care of, woooo hoooo.  :)  And the best part of it all, was it was free.  Can't beat that price at all.  I love friends and family.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Update: Selling Things Online

So I sold a Bratz doll house, that I bought at a yard sale a year and a half ago for $5, yesterday via craigslist.  In all honest, my daughter played with it when we got it, but she just doesn't play with it that much anymore because it isn't a real house like her other doll house.  We listed it for $10.  We met the lady at a grocery store by our house, as not wanting to sell from our house for security reasons.  The lady showed up with a $100 bill.  I explained that I didn't have change and she said she felt really bad but had been in such a hurry.  She proceeded to go inside to get change from the register.  I guess they told her she had to buy something no matter what, so she grabbed the first thing in site, a big family size box of Hot Pockets.  She came out, gave me my money and I gave her the item.  She then asked if we eat Hot Pockets and gave us the box of Hot Pockets.  hahaha  So we got the $10 + a family size pack of Hot Pockets, with an item that I bought for $5.  Pretty good to me.  :)

We have a huge collection of Little People toys.  Frankly, I think my son is really growing out of that stage.  Seeing as how he'll be three at the end of the year, I decided it was time to let them go since he doesn't play with them anymore really.  I didn't know how to price it all since there was so much stuff.  I originally posted it for $120.  I decided later on that that is way too much.  So I later came back and listed it at $75.  It is a lot of stuff as you can see.

Most of the items were purchased from yard sales.  Some were given from friends who's kids had outgrown that stage.  And, before I had mastered the art of yard saling, I went and bought two brand new play sets which were really expensive compared to yard sale hunting.  One of those items, I am letting my son keep because he does play with it with his toy cars (the Little People garage).  The other of the "new" items was the barn.  I bought both of the new items  for $20 each on a major sale at Target.  So I really just wanted to make sure I didn't exactly lose money in the selling process, if that makes much sense.  Yard sale shopping isn't free either, so I had to make sure it was a decent price as well.  So $75 was a good price I thought.  I could have broken the sets down, but I really just want the stuff out of the house to make room.  I got a few emails today for the Little People items.  A lady is supposed to meet me at the grocery store tonight after work to purchase all of it.  It will be a relief to get it out of the house.  Looking forward to it  :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Toys at Discount Stores

From my experience, you can find some incredible deals at Ross, TJ Max, Big Lots, etc for toys.  You might have to dig a little, but you can definitely find some treasures.  Last night I went to TJ Max after taking my sister to dinner for her birthday, and found a Barbie 3 Musketeer Kelly doll with a horse for only $7.  My daughter loves Barbie, horses and pink  :)  Seemed like a pretty good fit.  And she has a lot of adult Barbies, but not many kids, so this seemed like a pretty good fit. 

Here is a link of the item on amazon:

Pretty good deal huh?  Like I mentioned, you might have to dig around a bit because, let's face it, these stores tend to overstock items on the shelves.  But I was very happy for my find.  Again, this will be saved for Christmas. 

In the past, I have found plenty of great, quality toys at Ross for really cheap.  When my daughter first got into Barbie, I found a Barbie elephant and 2 Kelly dolls and paid $12.  Toys R Us carried it for $30 at the time.  Walmart didn't even carry it.  Here is a link to the item I am referring to:  Man am I a good bargain hunter or what?  ;) 

I don't know how it all works, but Ross gets a pretty consistent stock of toys coming in.  I am always seeing them putting more items out each week.  I remember seeing a Barbie car at Walmart for $12, and I was at Ross and lo and behold I saw the same exact one for only $7.  Pretty good savings if you ask me.  Even though Christmas is months away, it never hurts to slowly shop ahead of time.   

Target Clearance

I went to Target last night and found some awesome deals on toys.  I found a nice Barbie furniture set with a computer desk and all the accessories for only .... drum roll please..... $3.74!!!  I also found a fun Monopoly slot game for only $2.49.  My kids have one of those VMotion gaming systems, so I also picked up a Carz game for $4.98.  Way excited.  I am saving them all for Christmas.  Santa sure is saving some money this year  ;)   Anyone else find some good deals?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Trying Out New Recipes

The first time I ever tasted Chicken Alfredo, was at Olive Garden.  I loved it.  In turn, when I would have a craving for it, I would go to Olive Garden for it.  No, not too often, since it is so expensive to eat out.  But I would go there.  Then I learned how to make it!  How stupid I was to waste that money at Olive Garden for the alfredo.  (Ok so maybe it is worth it for those addicting breadsticks huh? *grin)  Anyways, after learning how to make it from a recipe online and realizing how much cheaper it is this way, man have I saved some money. 

Instead of wasting money eating out, try out fun recipes and make it yourself.  First, you don't have to worry about having bad service.  You don't have to worry about finding a sitter or hauling your kids out, and hoping that they behave without any loud, obnoxious scene.  It is much smarter. 

I wont ever forget hanging out with my friend when I had just had my baby boy.  She made this incredible chicken tortilla soup topped with avocados.  Oh my goodness was that stuff good.  When I asked her about where she had learned to make it, she said she found the recipe online.  It was so great, and if I hadn't known better I would have thought that for sure it had come from a restaurant.  I was amazed at how great it was.  And yes, I had more than one bowl .  Guilty. 

Eating out really can take a toll on anyone's budget.  So try something that you are willing to pay at a restaurant and make it at home.  See how much money you can make it for and save the difference.  I think it is a blast.

Selling Online

I will admit that I sold things online a few years ago via craigslist.  I never had any issues with it, but I just haven't done it in a long time.  I just donate the stuff to thrift stores so I am not bothered by them.  After reading my friend's blog about posting and selling on ebay, I wanted to sell things online.  I know- what a copy cat right?  Lol.  My friend goes to thrift stores and other stores where she finds good deals and sells them in turn.  I think it is awesome that she can do that.  I don't have time to do that, frankly.  However, I started going through my kids' toys and have decided that we are posting things that they don't play with on craigslist.  These are big items, not just dinky things.  Let's hope that we can make some good money  ;)  I personally would rather do it on craigslist so I don't have to pay any fees for posting.  Wish me luck:)  And yes, dear friend, I am a copy cat today. 


The cost of eating out for lunch can get so expensive.  I bring my lunch to work every day.  Long gone are the boring sandwiches for "brown bagging it".  Instead, I make extra when making dinner and set a bowl aside to bring to work for the next day's lunch.  Last Sunday I made a big thing of homemade chicken alfredo.  I made plenty so we could have plenty to eat, as I invited my friend and my parents over to enjoy dinner with us.  I also planned on the kids and I to eat it for dinner the next night.  And I still managed to have plenty to bring for lunch during the week.  Let's just say it turned out great.  It sure was great enjoying it last week during the day at work.  And it sure saves money compared to eating out.

The other thing that most people don't account as an added expense when eating out for lunch is the additional gas and lack of time during your lunch break.  The overcrowded line to the drive thru, all the cars on the road racing to get somewhere for lunch, if you are speeding to get there (you better not be!!! ;)  )the chance of a speeding ticket, the time it takes to get your food and eat it.  If you are at a sit down restaurant for lunch, the additional money required for a tip.  (Just to name a few)

What is the average lunch when you eat out?  $5-$10 per day?  Instead, why don't you pack a lunch.  You'll notice a change in your wallet.  Make extra for dinner, so you can bring lunch the next day.  Hate leftovers?  You could always pack a sandwich, or cheap microwavable dinners that you like.  Today I had a yummy rice casserole that I made last night.  I think it tasted better the next day.  Mmmmmm.  And I love that I didn't have to spend more money in our food budget by eating out for lunch.  And, not to mention, at my office, I can't leave to go out for lunch.  I am the only one here and I have to be here in case the phone rings.  I have to admit, that is a good push to keep bringing my lunch because I can't just leave and grab lunch ;)

Drying Clothing

We received a gas dryer from our friends.  They weren't using it and since we didn't have one, they gladly gave it to us.  Well, it doesn't work anymore.  I don't know what the issue is, but it won't dry the clothes.  It isn't clogged.  It is clean.  I decided to not get it repaired just yet.  I have started line drying our clothes.  Let me tell you- it has saved a lot on our utility bills.  And since it is so hot outside anyways, it surely helps.  Yes, it takes longer to have your clothes ready to wear due to the drying process, but I do our washing all at once so it isn't like we are planning on wearing everything right then and there. 

I have dogs so we can't have a line set up in the back yard, and I wouldn't put it out in the front yard because you never know... some neighborhood kids could come along and take them just as a joke.  Or I could forget about them.  I have set up a line in our garage.  I don't turn the light on or anything.  It gets so hot outside that it just works for us in the garage. 

With the summer ending soon though, I will have to break down and call a repair guy.  Hopefully it won't cost me an arm and a leg.... 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Saving on Vehicle Expenses

Vehicle Expenses can make or break you.  You can go to a car dealership, finance it and walk away.  In addition, you get car insurance (which you have to have full coverage since it isn't yours yet since you are making payments), and drive away.  Oh wait, don't forget about smog, registration, and the other fun things that come with car ownership.  Fun right?  Well, if you want to be spending more money than you need to. 

I personally think it is smarter to purchase a used car.  I will tell you about my personal experience.  I bought a car from my brother when I was 17.  He had bought it used and had been driving it, but wanted to get something newer.  I paid him $500.  He said he could have sold it for $1500 to a friend, but he would much rather sell it to me.  In addition to paying the $500, it needed some work on it.  I paid a mechanic who is a family friend, about $1000.00 to do all the additional work needed.  It really needed a lot of work.  Truth be told, I can't remember everything it needed, but it took him days to do it.  I drove it a while, until it started breaking down.  I will admit to all of you that I know nothing about vehicle maintenance.  First it was this and then it was that.  The tires were done for and I couldn't find the little lock thingy for the wheels.  The mechanic friend looked everywhere in the car and couldn't find it.  He had to end up breaking the lug locks off.  It took him so long.  Then something else broke down.  The final draw was a New Years Eve.  I was driving home and it was raining.  The car started smoking and I was stranded somewhere.  I had to call my ex and have him come get me, which I was so thankful he did come and get me.  Gotta love being friends with your ex still.

After all the money I had put into getting my car functional and with all the upkeep, I talked it over with my mechanic friend.  We decided it would be better for me to find a good used car that was a bit newer.  My car was a '92.  I didn't even get the water pump worked on.  I listed it on Craigslist for $500.  The first guy that came by to take a look at it bought it with cash right on the spot.  He said it definitely needed work and he towed it away. 

I looked on Craigslist and in the newspaper for a good used car.  I found that so many cars were so overpriced.  Some people listed cars for way more than the Kelly Blue Back Value.  I lucked out when I found a '03 Dodge Neon for $6800.00 in the local newspaper.  This was in 2005 that all of this happened.  I had my dad go with me to go take a look at the car.  The guy lived downtown.  He was afraid that he was going to be losing his job because, as he said, the economy wasn't looking so great here in Vegas and he worked for one of the casinos.  He just had a feeling.  He just wanted to get rid of the car payment and be done with it.  He even showed me how much he owed on it with a statment from his loan.  I drove it around and it drove smoothly and nice.  It only had 23,000 miles on it.  I negotiated with him and he accepted $200 less for the car.  I gave him a deposit of $50 to hold the car.  I called my credit union and got it financed for a 3 year loan.  I called my insurance company and found out how  much it would be a month to insure it.  They wanted a lot.  Then we started talking and my representative found out I was a single mom.  She said, "  I didn't know you were a mom.  If you had told me that before you would have only paid x per month for your insurance."  It turned out that since I had a child, I got an additional discount.  I never knew that before.  Turns out I would be paying less for full coverage than I had been paying just for liability on the car I had.  I was so happy when I got my car.  It was just perfect.  I started paying extra per month on my loan and got it all paid off pretty fast.  I have done my regular oil changes and take my car to our mechanic friend who saves us so much money.  He is a sweet, retired, Christian guy who doesn't live far from us.  I love paying him to tend to my car instead of some company.  He doesn't rip me off.  He is very honest and upfront about my car needs.  Recently I had a busted headlight.  He went to the junkyard and couldn't locate one to replace it.  In turn, he took some plexiglass and made me a headlight and sealed it with this sealer.  I also needed a new motor mount on the car.  He charged me less to fix all of this than I would have paid for a brand new headlight.  My biggest advice to anyone is find a good mechanic who is honest.  I love having an honest mechanic.  He does it all at his house.  If he can't do it, he tells me. 

I have been driving my car for 5 and a half years now, and it is still running.  Yes, it needs a little work, which I plan on scheduling with my mechanic pretty soon here now that I am working again, but I would much rather have a paid off car and paying for a little maintenance work than having a monthly car payment.   I just put a little aside for a car fund in case of maintenance work being needed. 

Yeah I could go buy a newer car, but I think it is much smarter to drive this paid for car.  :)


Entertainment is an area that can make or break your budget.  Many people just blow their money and look to their next paycheck to fun their entertainment.  I have found many ways to stretch your entertainment dollars.  If any of you have any other ways to stretch your entertainment dollars, feel free to comment.  :)

1)  Remember that the library is your friend.  You can rent books, magazines and DVDs.  Everything is free!  Well, not free- you pay for your taxes, so in turn you are paying it.  But the way to keep it free is to not be late on returning the items.  Late fees are dumb to have to pay.  So keep on top of your due date for items.  You can request DVDs online. 

2)  Redbox.  For a dollar a night, you can rent a new release DVD.  Awesome price if you ask me.  Just make sure you remember that you have the movies at your house and return it when needed.

3)  The radio shopping show.  Many of you don't know of this fun secret.  It tickles me to tell you about this.  There is a radio shopping show here in Las Vegas.  You pay only a small portion of the value of the certificate you buy.  I am sure this might come off as a little confusing, but let me try to explain.  You call the radio shopping show and buy a certificate.  You can put it on your credit card to be mailed out, or you can opt to pick up.  I personally pick up.  For example I bought a certificate for Bounce U.  The value of the certificate was for $14 and I only paid $5.  My kids spent an hour and a half there, and they absolutely loved it.  For only $5 I was able to entertain my kids and get a work out in by playing with them.  I have bought certificates for restaurants, shows, manicures and pedicures, and places like Bounce U.  It sure stretches your dollars. 

Overall, I have had great experiences with the places I have bought certificates for.  If you like a place you go to, just make sure you return without buying a certificate.  That is the way it pays them to join the radio show. 

I have only had a bad experience twice with the vendors.  I went to an Indian place that we actually didn't like the food at, and apparently the server and people on staff didn't know about the show, and they were pretty rude with my friend and I.  He and I just chalked it up to bad experiences.  Obviously I have never returned there, because the food was really gross.  (For any of you who know me well enough, I absolutely LOVE Indian food.  It is my favorite food, and I can never get enough of it.)  The other bad experience I had was with a really nice Mexican place.  I will admit that the food was awesome!  The atmosphere was incredible as they had a little area to dance, and they had the music playing.  It was seriously a lot of fun.  My daughter was out there dancing, and a server came and danced with her.  Soooo fun.  Honestly, it would be a lot of fun to go there on a date, I would think.  I ordered my kids and myself our meals, and went to pay with our certificate. They informed me that they discontinued their service with the show.  Meaning we had to pay full price.  The price wasn't bad anyways, but still sad that we didn't get to use the certificate.  So my only advice is to make sure you ask BEFORE ordering food. 

Would I ever return and pay full price at that Mexican restaurant?  I personally would if I was planning on going out to eat at a restaurant.  I really think it would be a fun place to eat at for a date if you like to dance.  Even if you don't like to dance, it would be fun to watch.  And it really was a great atmosphere.  If any of you want to try this place out, just let me know and I will give the name out for you to try.  Mmmmmmmmm thinking of their food makes my mouth water now, and I haven't been there in over a year. 

4)  Friends and family night in.  My friends and I get together and play cards.  We each make something to share to eat.  It is fun.  The only expense we have is the food we all share in.  This can be super cheap and a lot of fun.  We just let the kids play together in the other room with a movie playing.  I love our card nights.  My friends love getting together for cards.  In fact, if any of my friends are up for joining us, just let me know.  Just bring your A Game.  :)

5)  Potlucks.  Who doesn't like a fun potluck?  Everyone brings something to share to eat.  What better way to enjoy great food and friends?  Talk, hang out, eat.  Yummy and fun.

6)  Swimming.  In this Vegas heat, swimming is always a blast.  We have a friend who has a pool and they gladly have us over.  We love it.  If we didn't have this friend who shared her pool willingly, we could pay a local recreation center a couple dollars a person if we really wanted to. 

7)  Movie nights in.  Rent a movie and have some friends over.  If someone wants to bring a snack then awesome. 

8)  Going to the movies.  In our area, if you are a stay at home mommy, they have certain days you can go to the movies for free.  Just type in a google search for it. 

If you really want to see a new movie, check out a matinee.  And be smart, and bring snacks in your purse ;)   We stop at the dollar store and it works out great for us.  Fun!

9)  Local parks.  If I let them, my kids would stay at the park all day.  Free entertainment is always awesome.  Play with the kids and get some extra exercise is.  It can count as your work out for the day.

When Enough is Enough

When you frequent yard sales and thrift stores, you can find incredible deals.  With the low prices, you can't help yourself by justifying buying everything.  But when you start to buy so much stuff, your house can become too full.  Yes, way too full.  As a single mom, I like to stretch my dollars.  It isn't easy when you have to do it all alone.  For me getting stuff at great deals made me so happy.  I would hold onto the stuff because I was afraid of spending the money later on if I needed/wanted it again.  It wasn't like an episode of Hoarders, but when you get a bit too cluttered, you know you need to start getting rid of stuff.  So I have been going through things and getting them ready to donate. 

Yes, I could have a yard sale and sell the stuff, but for me it is better to donate to a thrift store.  First, I don't want to spend all day outside selling stuff.  I am a single mom and I don't have all this extra time.  I haev to do it all.  Second, the tax write off is easier for me.  Also, I don't want to deal with people. 

On top of going through things, I don't let myself buy stuff that we don't really need lately.  If I go to Deseret Industries for one thing, I would come out with all these other things.  (There are certain things I will allow myself to buy, like books because I value cute, hardcover, picture storybooks to read to the kids.  But I don't just buy any old book.  I have to really look through it and make sure it is worth the time and space.  And the pictures and story has to be really cute.) 

But I don't buy toys anymore from Deseret Industries because, let's face it, we have enough.  They get toys for birthdays and Christmas from friends and family, as well as Santa at Christmas.  If there is something I really think they would love and will play with I might buy it, clean it up and give it to them from Santa, but I try not to even go down that aisle. 

And with holidays comes a limit on toys.  I will admit that I used to go all out on toy buying for holidays.  In a sense, it felt like I was allowed to because of the holiday.  My daughter's first Christmas, I went all out at Big Lots and bought so many toys because she didn't have many toys.  How many toys does a one year old need???  I'll admit that it was a total waste of money buying so much because I didn't get high end and quality toys.  I wanted her to have lots.  They all got donated later on.  I still would buy lots of gifts when I would get really good deals. 

But this year, I am not buying  as many gifts.  They have plenty of toys that they actually play with and love.  Buying a lot more will result in them not playing with them. 

So far I have found my daughter a VW Van for her Barbies, which I will admit I was shocked to have found for only $5.  It is in great condition.  She will be so happy when she opens that.  I also found a baby high chair for her Barbies and a white Barbie horse.  She loves Barbie and horses.  If there is something she really wants for Christmas that she begs Santa for, I will look into buying that.  Other than that, I think that is enough for her. 

For my son, I have found a bucket of legos for $2 at a yard sale, which I was so happy to have found since I have been looking for legos.  When my kids' grandma and grandpa were moving, they brought up another bucket of legos they said the kids could have.  I immediately saved them and put them aside for Christmas.  So he'll be getting two buckets of legos, which he will be happy about.  I also found some really cool toy cars.  He loves playing with his toy cars that he has, and I didn't go overboard with the toy cars I found.  I think there are about 10 cars.  I also found a bag of toy soldiers with tanks, guns and whatnot. 

I would much rather buy only a few things that I know the kids will love and play with than buy them a lot of toys that they won't have time to play with since there are too many.  I also save money because I don't buy as much, and no waste.  Going through their toys now is enlightening.  I see what they aren't playing with.  If they don't play with it, GET IT OUT!  Enough is enough.  :)

Another Christmas Post

My dad likes black licorice.  That is where I must have gotten the liking for that yummy licorice.  I was at work about two weeks before Christmas (two Christmases ago) and one of the vendors brought in a gift basket for the company.  We shared in the yummy treats.  There was a candy in a wrapper and I popped it into my mouth.  Oh my gosh, it was the best thing ever.  It was black licorice caramel.  I wondered where they had gotten it.  I immediately thought of my dad and his love for black licorice.  I thought it would be the perfect gift for him.  So I looked online and was astonished to find that it wasn't a typical item that candy stores held.  I looked high and low.  The best price I found for this yummy treat was $30 a pound PLUS SHIPPING!  I couldn't believe it.  I will be honest and tell you the truth here.  I was going to pay that.  I decided it was worth it because it would be the perfect gift for my dad.  And isn't Christmas about giving?

Well I was talking to my friend about it and asked if she knew of any upscale candy shops here that would carry it.  She said she would do some research and see what she could find since she was on track break and had the time.  She called me the next day and told me she found the recipe for it online and it looked super easy.  I said, "  I guess you don't know me that well after all.  I am not a baker."  She laughed and told me that she would help me make it.  She wanted to make it as well for her dad so we split the supply list and made a huge batch of them.  It was super easy and yummy.  Definitely worth the time and effort we put into it. 

I decided to give some to my dad and my ex's dad, since both love black licorice.  They both LOVED them.  I told my dad the truth about how we made them instead of paying $30 a pound.  He was happy.

My friend and I got together this past Christmas to make it again.  My dad loved it again, and I was smart this time.  I saved half of it and put it in a box for him for later (a few months later).  Something he wasn't expecting.  When I showed up and gave him his second box of candies, he said how he had been savoring the pieces of candy and had only a couple pieces left. 

Look around for recipes if you find something you are willing to pay major money for.  (For me $30 is a lot for a pound of candy, but yes I was justifying that price for Christmas.)  Try different recipes and enjoy the time spent making them.  My friend and I love getting together, making this, talking and having fun.  I am just so thankful that she was smart and found the recipe for it and pushed me to make it. 

Do I plan on making it again this year?  Yes, but this time we will do it at my house since her daughter is so allergic to milk that she had an allergic reaction afterward with the milk in the house.  :(  I will invite my friend here to do it if she is up for it.


Yes, it is only August but before you know it, Christmas will be right around the corner.  I don't know about you, but for me it seems that the holiday just creeps up on me.  Even though we all know it is in December, some people wait til the very last minute.  I, on the other hand, shop throughout the year.  It is much easier and less stressful for me.  If I find something that I know someone will love and I find it at a great price, I snatch it up and save it for Christmas. 

As I mentioned in another post, I like to make scrapbooks for really close family members or friends.  I like giving something from the heart instead of just something picked up at the store that doesn't mean too much.  Yes, it takes less time to buy something, but time is the best gift you can give, in my opinion.

After my brother was married, that next Christmas he had a nice scrapbook that I compiled and gave him and his wife for Christmas.  They were happy to receive it.

I surprised my little sister and made her a scrapbook, and she was so happy.  She told me it was the best gift she had ever received.  I kind of cheated with getting pictures for it though.  I took her memory card from her camera, used pictures I had and talked to a friend of hers about getting pictures she had.  When my sister opened it, she was in complete shock.  You should have seen her reaction.  She brought it to work and was showing everyone.  In turn, I made another scrapbook for her the next year with recent pictures of the yaer.

I made my stepmom a scrapbook, and she told me it was also the best gift she had ever received.  As funny as it might sound hearing this on Christmas, she told me when she dies she wants the scrapbook to go back to me since she knew how much time I had put into it.  She proudly brought it to work and showed it off to everyone.  Her coworkers loved it so much that some asked if I was up for hire to compile books for them.  No, I didn't take anyone up on it.  The next year I made more pages for her to add to her book.  They were recent pictures of my parents and the kids. 

I have given my mom scrapbooks.  She lives in Europe, so she doesn't get to see the kids too often.  Surprising her with a nice, homemade scrapbook with recent pictures of her grandbabies definitely chears her up.  She has told me she shows all her friends and they absolutely love them.

In my ex's family, we draw names for Christmas.  I drew my ex last year.  I had no idea what to get him.  I thought and thought about it.  He loves Batman, so I looked all over for Batman things that I knew he didn't have.  Truth be told, it was really hard.  I looked online and all over in the stores.  After a bit of time, I thought it through and decided I should make him a scrapbook.  In all the years I had been with him, he didn't have any copies of the pictures of the kids, him and the kids, or any of the pictures really.  I hoped it would mean a lot to him and that he would cherish it.  I spent a long time looking through pictures, making copies, finding the perfect papers to go with the pictures.  It took a lot of time to complete, but I was happy with the ending result.  I wasn't there when he opened it, but he told me he loved it. 

Do you have a hobby or something you are really interested in?  Do you think people on your gift list will like something homemade this year?  Think more about the people you give gifts to. 

I know I have months until Christmas, but for the gifts that I give it takes a lot of time.   So I will be starting pretty soon.


The new school year is just around the corner.  And as many parents know, that means the annual back to school shopping frenzy begins.  That means it is time for new shoes, shirts, pants, shorts, socks, underwear, backpack, and the like.  I tend to like shopping at thrift stores for clothing because children grow out of clothing so fast, that there is still so much life left in them.  Lately though, from my experience, I have noticed that there isn't a great selection in good condition at the thrift stores I have been going to. 

Let's face it, many American's are starting to cut back in the shopping, and instead they are saving money.  As an affect, not as many donations are sent to thrift stores, because they aren't buying as many clothes and they keep the clothing til they are outgrown. 

I was talking to my friend, who is also a single mom, and she was telling me how she had just gone through her girls' outgrown clothing and had a huge bag ready to donate to the thrift store.  She told me that I should just come over and go through them.  She also told me she had a pair of church shoes for my son.  I happily came over and left with a huge bag of clothes.  That will definitely help out with back to school shopping.  My daughter doesn't need that much now. 

I absolutely LOVE having such great friends.  They happily give their outgrown clothing and items no longer needed, and I happily take them off their hands, but  as long as I know only we will use them.  In turn, when my kids grow out of their clothing, I pass them along to friends who want them or else I donate them to thrift stores.  And with how fast kids grow, there is still soooooo much life left to the clothes. 

Yesterday I received four bags of clothing that my friend's son just outgrew, and it came at the perfect time, as my son just grew out of another size of clothing.  As funny as it might sound, I feel like a little kid at Christmas.  :)  I was so happy to see some church clothes for him. 

I will admit that I have seen many people throwing clothes that their children outgrew into the TRASH!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  I can't stand when people are so wasteful.  If you are one of such people, try passing it along to friends who have children a little younger than yours or donating them.  It keeps less trash in landfills and definitely helps out friends in return.  And if you haven't put your kids in hand-me-downs before and a friend offers clothing to you, don't be afraid.  Just wash them and happily put your kids in them.  As you know, kids grow out of clothes so fast.