Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Garden!

I am really proud of my garden this year: it is the first year I have attempted a BIG garden and I've been pretty successful. Of course, I didn't know quite how to space things, or that the zucchini plants would be 3.5 feet tall (yes, really!), so it isn't as "neat" looking as I would like, but it is producing and I couldn't be happier! The above picture is my garden; the really tall vines are hops for James' beermaking. And Bella had to be in the picture, too!

My yellow squash and zucchini- I'm going to be freezing a TON of this. And discovering all sorts of new zucchini recipes. Next year 2-3 plants will be enough. I think I have 10 total.

My green beans. They are bush beans but the wind got these very early on and they fell over. They still are putting out a ton of beans though; I just picked my second round. Last week, I microwaved cut green beans, 1/2 tsp of butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little water for 3 minutes. I topped it with a slice of cooked, crumbled bacon= YUM!!!

Blooms on the cucumber. I don't plan to make pickles, James just wanted cucumbers. I think I have 3-4 plants so he should have plenty. And maybe Ill be making pickles after all!

Tomatoes, being taken over by zucchini in the back. Yes, I know the spacing is too tight, again, my first year. But I have a ton of flowers so I think they will still do well. I plan on making and canning lots of sauce.

I have 3 containers- maybe 2 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Here is one with my pepper plants and my first baby pepper.

Onions. Some are green onions and some are regular, I am still weeding the regular ones out. Another container is squash; next year I will do strawberries in that one.

Just for fun: lilies I picked from my huge flower bed by the fence. Last year I didn't get many blooms so I am thrilled to see a ton this year!

I also have a few carrots and a watermelon plant, which has yet to make a watermelon. We'll see. I think to put this all together, including the edging to make a big garden, soil, manure, the 3 containers, fencing and seeds, this was $75 or so. A lot of that was the initial stuff; next year I'll just have to do seeds, manure and soil for a total of less than $20.
Not only am I saving money, but this is all organic and FRESH! Veggies are usually picked way before they are ripe to allow for shipping time, especially tomatoes, so the difference in taste is amazing. Not to mention all the gas and manpower required to transport veggies to you.
If you aren't sure about a garden, buy a couple flower pots and pick 2-3 things to grow; you can expand from there. Picking your own veggies is really rewarding!

Thursday, June 25, 2009 certificates- go get 'em!

Right now, has restaurant certificates for 80% off! All you do is put in your zip code and it finds restaurant near you- they are mostly local. When you checkout, the code for 80% off is DISH and it expires tonight.

For example, if you are in Omaha, you can get a $25 Sam and Louies certificate for $2 after the 80% off. It is good for $25 off of a purchase of $35 or more, plus 18% gratuity.

If you go through Ebates, you get 15% back as well.

A great thrifty way to eat out, which is a treat in our house!

I need to lose this weight!

So, I have about 10 pounds to lose before I am back to my prepregnacy weight before Ryan. I am already below what I weighed before I got pregnant with Addison. It is so frustrating- I lost ALL the weight from Addison, plus 10 pounds, by the time she was 5 months.

I don't know what it is this time- because I am nursing, I don't have motivation (I went to Cancun 5 months after Addison was born), or what. So I have been taking baby steps.

I started working out beyond my walks with the girls. And trust me, a half hour walk with the double stroller in my neighborhood is certainly a workout! James and I are doing the 30 day shred at night. I am 15 days into it, although I haven't been doing it every night. I can really see and feel the results. It is HARD when you first start, and there are parts of it when I still feel like my arms are going to fall off. But in a good way!

I am getting more definition in my arms and quads, and Level One is getting easier, I can push myself much more than I was able to in the beginning. I think I am ready to move on the Level Two: sometimes I slack and DON'T push myself, so I need the workout to do it for me. The best part about this is it only takes about 25 minutes.

Being busy with the girls, and James' work schedule usually does not allow me to do a super long workout, as I don't have a gym membership. But I can do this after they go to bed, and still have time to finish laundry, clean or whatever needs to be done.

My next step is to start tracking my food again. I don't know if I am ready for Weight Watchers (what I did after Addison), but at least I can be AWARE of what I am eating. I'm really trying to focus on not eating processed crap with a ton of ingredients, eating fresh fruits and veggies, and making my own stuff like breads and muffins, without the added junk. This weekend I am going to do another batch of bread and I think banana muffins, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Make Your Own Baby Food!

If you have an infant and are looking to save money, one very easy thing you can do is make your own baby food! I made all of my food for Addison, and am doing the same for Ryan. Making the food is SO easy, because you freeze it you really only need to spend 30-40 minutes once a month. Because you are saving money by making it, you can also afford to buy organic. All you need is a pot, steamer insert, food processor or blender, and ice cube trays.

I have made: pears, peaches, butternut squash, green beans, sweet potato, peas and carrots, to name a few.

Step One: Prep your fruit or veggies. Peel pears, peaches, etc. Or, take a shortcut and buy frozen. I have found a great veggie to take a shortcut on is the butternut squash, you can find frozen prepped squash at Whole Foods for a reasonable price.

Step Two: Steam the veggies in the pot with boiling water until they are very tender.

Step Three: Transfer to the food processor, and process to the desired consistency. You can add water to get it thinner.

Step Four: Spoon into ice cube trays, cover with foil, and freeze.

Step Five: Transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag; it will be good in the freezer for up to a month.

To defrost, just microwave 15 seconds or so, or put in the fridge overnight. You can feed them plain, or mix with cereal or yogurt.

Other VERY easy shortcuts:

1. Do not throw your money down the drain with banana baby food. Simply take a banana, puree it (or mash it for older babies, shown), and add water. This takes MAYBE 30 seconds and with baby food at $1 a pack, and bananas 39 cents for a whole pound, you will save quite a bit.

2. Do not buy baby applesauce. Buy the all natural applesauce (no sugar added) and add water if you need to thin it. A big jar costs $1.64 at my grocery store and will last us a month. You can also buy the natural flavored applesauces once they are older- Ryan loves the blueberry pomegranate and peach mango. Again, you can mix with cereal or yogurt.

I think I have maybe bought 3-4 jars of baby food for Ryan, when we traveled overnight. Give it a try- is is very rewarding to know you are feeding your baby the best, and even if you only mash a banana and make 1 fruit, you'll still be saving!

Another "recipe" to try, especially if your little one isn't loving veggies: Monkey Mash! Just combine a mashed banana with 1-2 defrosted sweet potato cubes, and warm up. Addison loved it and Ryan does too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I have veggies!

It has been rainy here for a couple days so I went out to check on my garden in between the rain Thursday and noticed my bean plants actually had green beans on them! I was able to pick them today and got quite a few:

And you can tell I am a gardening rookie, because I had no idea that beans kept producing all summer. So we will have fresh beans all summer and probably some to freeze too.

I'll take some pictures of the garden and the containers this week after I can get out and weed. It's so muddy right now. I have zucchini and summer squash (which is currently overrunning everything- I had no idea how HUGE they get!), carrots, tomato, cucumber, watermelon (1), onions, green onions and green peppers.

Next year: less zucchini, hopefully asparagus and strawberries! But I don't think it's too bad for my first year out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walgreen's Trip Yesterday

Went to Walgreen yesterday to pick up a few things. They were really slow, so I was brave enough to do 2 transactions and the cashier was super nice about it.

First transaction:
St Ives Body Wash
Nilla Cakesters
Oreo Cakesters

-2/$1 manufacturer coupons for the Cakesters (from last week's paper)=

$6.20 after tax

There is also a $1.50 off coupon out there for the body wash, but I didn't have it.

I recived 2 Register Rewards for $3 each.

Second Transaction:
"Cars" Plate
"Cars" Cup
M&Ms (needed it because the 2 items didn't equal $3 before tax, RR's do not cover tax)

Total: $3.89, I used a $3 Register Reward so only paid 89 cents cash!

I still have another $3 Register Reward to use toward my next purchase.

In theory, you could do the Cakesters, get that RR, then buy the body wash and use the Cakesters RR. Then go back another day, or to another store, and get MORE Cakesters with the body wash RR, and keep "rolling" that, just paying the tax on the body wash. But I don't need a ton of body wash right now, I still have some from the Dove RR deal.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Target Trip Yesterday

Yesterday I went to Target, armed with my coupons, list and oh yeah, two little girls. One who insisted on keeping her hand in her pockets and walking at a snails pace. Might I add Addison decided she had to use the bathroom AFTER I had the cart loaded with the ice cream? And I was rather amazed at my balancing skills, holding Ryan, my purse and Addison on the toilet, then lifting her up to wash her hands without dropping her, Ryan or my purse.

Anyway, here is what I got: (Q= coupon)
32 oz jar Miracle Whip Light-
Normally 2.99, used $1.00 Target Q and $1.00 manufacturer Q= 99 cents!

T Bone Steak (a splurge)-
Normally 8.99/lb, on sale for 5.59/lb, used $1.00 Target Q=4.59

Strawberries- Normally 1.99, used $1.00 Target Q=99 cents!

Butter- Just needed it, no sale= 2.14

Old Spice Deodorant-on sale for 1.99, used $1.00 manufacturer Q=99 cents!

Here is my best deal: I bought 4 boxes of Klondike Bars and 1 tub Breyers Ice Cream for 2.50 each. When you buy 5 this week, you get a $5 Target Gift Card. I also found $1/2 boxes of Klondike Bars online, and used two of those. So I paid 10.50 for them, and received a $5 gift card, making them $1.10 each!

Total spent: $20.34
Total saved: $17.80

PLUS my gift card!!!

You can find the Klondike Q's here

You can find the Target Q's throught, just click on the "Target Coupon Generator"

And yes, we have a deep freezer in our basement so I can stock up on cheese, frozen goods, and meats when they are on sale. I HIGHLY recommend one to families, they will save you a ton!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cloth Diapering, Part 2: The Extras

There are a few other things you will need if you are going to cloth diaper:

If you are cloth diapering, you might as well use cloth wipes. They are very inexpensive and you can use less of them vs disposable wipes. You just wash them right along with the diapers.

Here are two cloth wipes, one is flannel and one is a knit cotton print on one side and organic bamboo velour on the other:


Some just wet the wipes with plain water, others use a solution in a spray bottle. I use a solution and fill an empty spray bottle with it, and then spray it directly on the wipes before I use them. My solution is: water, a squirt of baby oil, a drop of baby shampoo and a few drops of tea tree oil. The tea tree oil has antibicrobial properties. You could also use lavender essential oil.

Next, you need something to put the dirty diapers in. You use a waterproof pail liner, which you can buy on cloth diaper websites, and you can just put that in a regular diaper pail. It is washable, so you just empty the bag into the wash and then throw the bag in there. I'll spare you the picture of my diaper pail.

Babies poop. It's a fact. This has to be where most people get turned off of cloth diapering; the prospect of dunking dirty diapers in the toilet to clean them off. Sometimes it will just drop in and you can flush it down, no issues. Other times, not so much. It needs to be rinsed. Enter the diaper sprayer. Also purchased on cloth diaper websites, it is probably the BEST money you will spend. It attaches to your toilet, and when you need to clean off a diaper, you just turn it on and it acts like a shower sprayer, spraying all the nastiness into the toilet and keeping your hands clean.

So, you have all the dirty diapers, now you need to wash them. Cloth diapers do need to be washed specially to avoid build up, which prevents liquid absorbing into them and can also cause stinky diapers. You need to use an additive free detergent, like All Free and Clear. Others use Tide and have great results. I use Tide Free and Clear, which doesn't work for some people, but works great for me. You also can not use ANY fabric softener with cloth diapers.

Here is my wash routine:
1. Cold rinse with Bac Out (helps remove any odors, I order it online). Some people also use Oxy Clean Free.
2. Hot wash with Tide Free to the "1" line, cold rinse and then extra cold rinse.
3. Dry in the dryer or on sunny days, on the clothes line. Sun naturally removes stains and saves on electricity.

A lot of people question how much my electric bill went up after I started cloth diapering. I didn't honestly see a difference.

Other extras you will need/want for cloth diapering: a small zippered wetbag for outings, a snappi or pins if you use prefold diapers and a cloth diaper safe diaper creme in case of a rash. Although, we hardly get rashes here, I really think the cloth diapers help prevent rashes.

My tutorial on cloth diapers is now complete! For more information, check out the message boards at, or websites that sell cloth diapers, like or!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cloth Diapering Part One: Types of Diapers

You would never think it, but there are a ton of options to pick from when you choose to cloth diaper. Everyone has their own preferences, so I would suggest trying one of each kind before committing to a large purchase.

All-In-Ones (AIO): These diapers are the most like disposable diapers. In one step, they velcro or snap on. The outer is waterproof and the inner has the absorbancy. The downsides to these is that they can take longer to dry, may not be the most absorbant option and depending on the brand you choose, may get a little stinky over time and require stripping to remove the smell.

Here is an example of an AIO. This is a one-sized option and will fit from 10 lbs until over 25 lbs, making it a very economical option in the long run. We use these when we go out, and used them at day care:

Fitted: These come in either sized or one size and require a cover to make them waterproof. This makes diapering a two step process and some shy away from fitteds because of this. However, they can be more absorbant than an AIO, and you can also let your baby go coverless around the house to let their bottoms breathe, which helps with diaper rash. We have a lot of fitted diapers and wear them coverless around the house. We can go 1-2 hours with no leaks or dampness on the outside of the diaper.

Here are two examples, the sized option on the left and the one size option on the right. The sized option has an internal soaker and the one sized option has a soaker than snaps in:

Prefolds: This is a "traditional" cloth diaper. Depending on the material you get, this is by far the most economical option for cloth diapering. Again, they require a cover to make them waterproof, and pins or a Snappi to fold and close the diaper. Because of the two step process, many do not choose these. But they are soft, absorbant and wash easily. They also come in a variety of sizes. Once you are done with them, they can be used as burpcloths or for cleaning. They will last through many, many children. I think everyone should try a prefold.

Here are two examples, a bamboo dyed one on bottom (these are more expensive), and an unbleached cotton option on top:

Pockets: Pockets are like AIOs, except the absorbant soaker can be removed. You can stuff them with whatever you like- microfiber or hemp inserts, even prefolds. You can add more inserts if you need more absorbancy, like for overnight. When you put them in the pail, you take out the inserts and wash separately. People like these because they come sized or in one sized options, and they can customize the absorbancy for their child. Downsides are stuffing the pockets after every wash, and for me personally, I didn't enjoy pulling out the insert when it was dirty.

I don't have any examples of this, but two popular brands are Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius.

Covers: These go over prefolds and fitted diapers to make them waterproof. They come in a variety of colors. Some people even use lanolized wool covers or wool pants/shorts that act as a cover.

Here is a cover:

Coming next: Cloth diapering accessories and extras- What else do you need? How do you wash them?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why I Cloth Diaper

I am going to do two or three posts on cloth diapering. I have a few friends that are pregnant right now and interested in it, so hopefully I can provide some useful information.

But how did I start? I always thought it sounded like a good idea, but it sounded gross to me. Plus, I thought you had to pin, and no way could I do that. I also wondered about the laundry.

When Addison was 18 months old, I started really looking into it. It can be very economical (also a little pricey, depending on which diapers you buy), and when I found out what was actually in disposables, that motivated me to make the switch. Disposables contain dioxin, which is listed as a carcinogen. While I was in disposables and am fine, I didn't want that junk next to Addison's vital organs 24/7.

So the #1 reason I cloth diapers is that it is healthier for the baby.

#2. Better for the environment. Diapers are estimated to take up to 500 years to break down in a landfill.

#3. They are cute!!! Don't believe me? Here's a picture of Ryan in a fitted diaper:

4. They can be very economical. A baby in disposables, plus wipes can be $1500-$2000 for two years in diapers. Assuming they are 100% potty trained at two, which isn't always the case. You can reuse/resell the diapers, making back often half of what you have spent.

5. I honestly find them less messy and stinky than disposables.

Some basics:

-I do diaper laundry (1 load) every other day. When Addison was in diapers full time and Ryan was a newborn, I did them once per day. Just threw them in when I got home from work and folded before bed. Or sometimes didn't fold and just brought the basket upstairs.

-I use cloth wipes as well (they work SO much better!) and my own wipe solution. I think I made back my money on wipes within a month.

-When we go out, I take a wetbag with diapers, wipes and a travel size wipe solution.

-I have cloth diapered for a night at a cabin in Niobrara, 12 hour roadtrips to and from Ohio, while I was in Ohio, a night at my aunt and uncles and yes, I do it overnight as well. Overnight is perhaps the most tricky to find a solution for.

Next up: the types of diapers and accessories. What is a prefold? Cover? All in One? What do you REALLY need to get started? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ways to Make a Little Extra

Every penny counts. Even $10 can allow you to get the family a nice treat, like a trip for ice cream or an extra at the grocery store. I use a few websites to make extra cash. It all adds up! I've provided the links to all of these. For full disclosure, I do get a referral if you sign up. But once you sign up and tell your friends, you can get that bonus! These are all legit sites that I actually use and have seen payout from. Aside from Ebates and Swagbucks, I maybe spend 10 minutes a day on the other sites, combined. I do recommend setting up a separate account through Yahoo or Gmail to use because you get a lot of spam and you might not want that in your regular inbox. You sign up and view ads for 2 cents each, plus you get a sign up bonus. When you hit a certain dollar amount, they send you a check in the mail. This actually delivers emails to your inbox, and you get paid (I believe 2 cents as well) to view them. You also have the opportunity to take surveys, which pay from 50 cents to a dollar each.

Ebates: I go through here when I buy online to see if the store participates. There are exclusive coupons and you get money back. I buy Bac Out for my diapers through, and get 4% back.

Click here!

Swagbucks: This is a search engine that randomly awards rewards (Swagbucks) for search terms. For example, today I got one searching for "HTML". Once you accumulate enough points you can redeem them in the Swag store for gift cards and merchandise. I use them towards giftcards. It is actually Google that you are using to search too, so you get the same results you would as using Google, just get paid for something you already do! This is super easy to do.

Search & Win

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Weekly Walgreens Deals

I usually make one trip a week to Walgreens to stock up on their sales. Some weeks there isn't anything I need, other weeks I spend more. This was one of the "spend more" weeks. I have a "stockpile" of health and beauty items and add to it when I can get stuff free or cheap. I only buy what I will use though- so sometimes Walgreens has free things I pass on just because I know they will go to waste. Another time I pass is if I already have quite a bit in my stockpile. Right now, toothpaste is one of those items. I am waiting a few months to get anymore, or at least until we have used up a tube or two. It would defeat the purpose if things just expired and I had to toss them out. This is also a great way to get items to donate to a homeless or women's shelter!

There are people that do multiple transactions or multiple trips to save even more money, but I usually don't unless there is a really good reason for me to. With two girls and James' schedule, I really don't have the time. Maybe next week if I have the chance I'll try to do multiple transactions. We'll see.

So, I got all this yesterday for $13.01 OOP (out of pocket):

Gillette Body Wash: $4.00/each (2)
Dove Ultimate Deodorant: $3.36/each (2)
Dove Deodorant: $2.24/each (2)
Dove Cream Oil Lotion: $5.99
Dove Satin Body Wash: $4.49

These were all items on sale. I then used coupons:
$1.50 off any 2 Dove Ultimate Deodorant
$1.00 off any Gillette Body Wash
$1.25 off any Dove Body Wash
$1.50 off any Dove Lotion
$1.50 off any 2 Dove deodorant
$3 Register Rewards (details below, from last trip)

Total after tax of $22.01. Between the sales and my coupons, I saved $18.99.

I also got Register Rewards. They are like cash you can use towards your next purchase of anything at Walgreens. You just can use them to buy more of the same item. So I got $3 for the 2 Gillette Washes and $6 for the 6 Dove items= $9 for next week!

After you count the $9, I only paid $13.01 and saved $27.99!

The only rules with Walgreens and coupons is that you can't have more items than coupons. So say I had 3 items all with coupons plus Register Rewards to use. I'd have to buy a cheap 4th item to use the Register Rewards. You can also stack Walgreens coupons AND manufacturer coupons together!

I will say here Walgreens is my best bet for H&B items; none of my grocery or discount stores double coupons.

Monday, June 8, 2009


So I decided to make my own bread. It is slightly cheaper and much healthier because it doesn't have the oils and preservatives store bought bread does. I just followed a basic recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook for whole wheat bread and it turned out pretty good! It made two loaves and I plan on freezing one after it cools. The trick is going to be getting it thin enough to make sandwiches with.
Next time I think I am going to add wheat berries.

Welcome to my blog!

I've recently become a stay at home mom. It was a scary step to take but with my husband's long work hours and my second daughter's birth I realized how much I am needed at home.

Because of the change from two incomes to one, I've begun to clip coupons and scour weekly ads to get the best deals possible. This year I also started a garden and thus far, have not killed it. Well, except the watermelon. And the first round of tomatoes. So I hope to focus some of my posts on my grocery savings and where to start if you want to do the same.

I am also becoming more green and trying to live "naturally". I breastfeed my youngest, cloth diaper and am trying to be more conscious of my impact on the earth.

Finally, I am trying to get off that last 10 pounds of Ryan weight!

I've got a lot going on in my head and hope to make some sense of it here!