Friday, December 18, 2009

Food Friday: Hash Brown Casserole

This is a classic potluck dish. My aunt usually makes it for Christmas but I could easily eat it year round.

Hash Brown Casserole

32 oz bag frozen hash browns, defrosted
2/3 cup oleo or butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 10 oz can cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz carton sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
crushed cornflakes
oleo or butter

Mix together all but the last 2 ingredients. Put in a casserole dish. Add the cornflakes and butter mixture to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Food Friday: Roast & Veggies

Growing up my mom would make roast with potatoes & carrots every so often. She would make the same recipe in the oven and the crockpot so feel free to try it both ways. I'm not a huge roast fan but every now and then I enjoy it and it always brings back good childhood memories. This is a quick and easy recipe and makes a lot so it is great to serve during the holidays when time is short and the house is full.


beef roast
potatoes - peeled & cut into bite sized pieces
carrots - peeled & cut into bite sized pieces
one can french onion soup

Place roast in a crockpot, fill in the spaces around it with potatoes and carrots. Pour soup over everything. Cook for approximately 8 hours. If you do not like mushy potatoes and carrots, add them about halfway through. I grew up with them cooking the whole time and do not mind them being a bit mushy.

Easy Gift Ideas

I enjoy giving homemade food gifts all year long so when this came across my email I thought I would share it with you. Mason jar gifts are great for more than just Christmas. I like to give soup mixes anytime in the winter. Brownie and cookie mixes are great the whole year through. Of course, who couldn't use a salt scrub or other pampering gift anytime of the year too.

When making jar gifts, think outside the jar. Mason jars are great and affordable but there are other alternatives. For smaller recipes I usually go with a cello bag and a cute ribbon. Sometimes I house recipes in a container that is part of the gift such as I mentioned in this post. The dollar store and the dollar section of Target sometimes have great containers so keep an eye out throughout the year.

Click on the banner to access the mason jar cookbook.

Holiday Ideas

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Simplifying Christmas

Last year at this time I felt like I was losing my mind trying to get through Christmas. I wrote this post on how I was planning to simplify Christmas. This year I feel like I'm losing my mind for completely different reasons but I chose to simplify ahead of time instead of waiting until I was in over my head.

So far this year, I've only put up the Christmas decorations that are near and dear to me. Although I would like it a bit more festive around here, I know I will just be fighting my oldest to stay out of it so I will save the rest for another year.

I bought most of my Christmas presents before Thanksgiving so other than wrapping them, that is one less stress. I still have a few more to buy but I know what I want, it is just a matter of finding a few moments to go get them.

I haven't baked a thing. Although I miss the baking, I don't really need it as I'm still trying to lose the baby weight. I have a few baking items I want to make for gifts and will tackle those as soon as my husband is done with school (just a few days to go!). Luckily next year he will be out of school so hopefully I can do more baking next Christmas.

I've also done less entertaining. I don't mind visiting another person's house and bringing food but it is much less stressful than if I had to clean my own house.

I keep reminding myself that this is just a season of life and someday my husband won't be working two jobs and going to school, I won't be juggling several online businesses, and my kids won't be this young. I want to enjoy my time with my kids so I'm voluntarily simplifying Christmas.

What are you doing this year to simplify Christmas?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Save on Shipping

Many of us are shopping online this year for Christmas. I try as much as possible to avoid paying shipping costs or at least find a coupon code with a discount enough to cover the costs. I found a new site that has many of these wonderful codes - Deal Blabs. Always check for a code or special offer before you finish your purchase.

Also, it has been awhile since I mentioned this so I thought I would remind everyone to search using SwagBucks. You can earn free gift cards for places such as and Starbucks simply for searching on the internet. I save mine and use them to buy gifts throughout the year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Food Friday: Frozen Cranberry Salad

Years ago, I made a recipe book for my friends for Christmas. I contacted everyone's parents and asked them to send me a favorite family recipe. This was one that was sent and it quickly has become a favorite in my family. Sit it out to thaw about 2 hours before you need it. You want to serve it slightly frozen but it has to thaw enough to get a serving spoon into it. I usually make it in a medium sized baking dish. We serve it as a side dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas but several people have told me they think it would make a great dessert too.


1 16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce

1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

1 mashed banana

1 12 oz. carton cool whip

Mix together. Place in a serving dish, cover, and freeze.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Homemade Christmas Gifts

I know many people are planning on making Christmas gifts this year due to a tight economy so I thought I would link up to a few ideas I've posted in the past and add a few new ones too.

White Chocolate Popcorn

Pumpkin Bread

Snickerdoodle Chex Mix

Inexpensive Christmas decorations

Gift Baskets

Kitchen Magnets

Finally, being a Tupperware consultant, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share a practical, yet usable gift idea. I've had customers fill some of our bowls and canisters with their homemade goodies to give as a gift. I've filled our spaghetti dispenser with a brownie mixture. Snack cups make a great holder for cocoa, tea, or coffee mixes. I've also filled Modular Mates and other bowls with pancake mix or soup mixes. This way the recipient receives yummy homemade gift in a very practical, reusable container. If you would like any of the recipes I fill these items with, just email me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Week of Thanks: Morning Snuggles

I look forward to snuggling with my kids every morning. For the past few years, my oldest and I have snuggled in bed every morning while he watches one cartoon and drinks his morning milk. If his brother is awake, I bring him to bed with us too. On days we have to hurry of a morning, I miss this bonding time. It is one of the few slow times of the day and I get to just soak in my kids and enjoy them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Week of Thanks: Modern Conveniences

All too often, we take for granted the modern conveniences we have today. I can't image trying to do laundry by hand while keeping up with two active kids. Or have to kill or grow all the food we eat. I also appreciate my internet. If I have a question, need a recipe, or just want to talk to a friend, I can do it in seconds. Take a moment today to appreciate what you have.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Week of Thanks: Jobs

Although not the ideal situation, in light of today's economy, I am thankful for the jobs my husband and I have. After going close to two years with only a very part time job, he is now working two part time jobs - one with not so ideal hours. Even on the days we feel exhausted from the crazy hours, we are thankful for the full time income. Some day down the road he can hopefully work one job and not feel pulled in multiple directions but something is definitely better than nothing.

I miss the daily interaction with my co-workers from my part time job, but I'm loving working for Tupperware. It is a great company to work for and my local team is wonderful. This month I even promoted to manager so that is exciting.

What are you thankful for today? Feel free to leave a comment or a link.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Week of Thanks: Healthy Family

Too often we take our family and our health for granted. This summer, when I went into labor exactly one month before my due date, I was scared of everything that could go wrong. Our youngest came out healthy though. This situation gave me a new appreciation for life and my healthy family. Take time today to give your family an extra hug.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Week of Thanks

Join me this week as I host the annual Week of Thanks here at Living on Less. Starting Monday, I will post at least one thing each day I am thankful for. Feel free to link up or leave a comment telling what you are thankful for too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pancake Mix

Try as I might, Food Friday just didn't happen this week. This is the recipe I was planning to post though and I figured it was better late than never. This is an easy pancake mix to make ahead and have on hand. It makes several batches of pancakes. I sometimes will make a few batches at a time and freeze them so that I have a quick breakfast on hand. We made this as a MOPS craft this week and it seemed to go over well. Sorry MOPS moms who were looking for a new and exciting recipe this week but I thought the rest of the blog world would enjoy this recipe too.

Pancake Mix

5 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal 1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

Measure the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a large food processor. Process for 15 to 30 seconds or until thoroughly mixed. (Alternatively, stir the ingredients together in a bowl.) Spoon the mix into a 2-quart jar.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups of pancake mix, 2 eggs, and 1 1/4 cups of milk in a mixing bowl until smooth. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Body After Baby: Week 8


This is the last week of the Body After Baby challenge at Mama Notes. I did very well last week with the water challenge but not so hot with the exercise. I did manage to get two days of exercise in though. Overall, I have lost 5 pounds during this challenge. As I've said before, I am a very slow loser while breastfeeding so I feel pretty good having lost five pounds. My challenge now is to keep those 5 lbs off during the holiday season. Congratulations to everyone on the challenge as I've seen some great results from many of you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food Friday: Butter Frosting

I was making sugar cookies with my oldest last week when I suddenly realized I was out of canned frosting. I had promised him he could decorate his cookies and I usually keep some cans on hand just for this purpose. I quickly grabbed my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and looked for an icing recipe. I found this super easy butter frosting recipe. It was delicious and turned out much better than other frosting recipes I have tried before. I liked that it didn't have a strong powdered sugar taste like some recipes do.

Butter Frosting

1/3 cup butter or margarine
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
food coloring (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl beat butter till fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.

2. Slowing beat in remaining powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk, if needed, to reach spreading consistency. If desired, tint with food coloring. This frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9- inch layers.

Light Posting Schedule

As you may have noticed, I haven't been around much this week. I'm finding it very hard to get computer time these days since my husband is currently taking 3 classes and working 2 jobs. I'm going to lighten my load a bit and post when I can for the next few weeks but many of my usual posts (organizations, direct selling, etc) will not run on a set schedule. I hope to resume regular posting as his classes finish up so hang tight as I have a huge list of ideas I want to write about.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This is week 7 of the Body After Baby challenge at Mama Notes. Once again, I forgot to weigh this morning but I feel I did pretty good this week. My clothes are still feeling loose so that is a good sign.

Our challenge this past week was to get 8 hours of sleep. I was in bed by 9:30 every night but it was another rough week with the baby and my husband was called in to work several times in the night so 8 hours of sleep did not happen. I at least tried and that was the point of the challenge. We did get one night that was pretty good and the baby only woke up 3 times.

This week we are supposed to exercise for 30 minutes at a time and drink our water. I know water won't be an issue, I'm not too sure about exercise though. I did get some in today as I worked in the yard while my son played in the leaves. It was a beautiful day here and we played so hard outside we were exhausted this afternoon. I'm hoping for a few more nice days as I've enjoyed being outside lately.

Tightwad Tuesday: Christmas Shopping

Retailers know that this is going to be a slim Christmas season so they are throwing sale after sale at us early this year. It is very tempting to give in to so many sales since items are at rock bottom prices. My suggestion is to make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for, write down what you hope to buy each person, and set a dollar amount for each person. When the temptation strikes, consult your list.

I've already seen some items practically free and it is tempting to go overboard with buying them but in reality, my family does not need more toys and items in our house. My strategy for those items that are just too good to pass up (I'm talking free or just a few dollars) is to buy them and donate to those less fortunate. Here is an example of a wonderful deal on games that I plan on purchasing. I was wanting to buy Candy Land for my son's birthday anyway so this is an easy way to take advantage of a sale and bless others also.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Direct Selling: Taxes

One of the first questions everyone asks me about direct selling is "do I have to pay taxes?". The short answer is yes. The long answer has to do with talking to your CPA, saving all your receipts, etc. I am the daughter of two CPA's but I am not an actual CPA so please contact your CPA for futher details, but here are a few hints for tax time.

Keep good records. It is a pain to have to go back throughout the year to look at all of your sales to figure out taxes. Start from the beginning with tracking sales. I keep track of everything with a very simple Excel spreadsheet that I created.

Bonuses are taxed. If your company offers bonuses, free products, etc. they will be taxed at the end of the year. They should send you a form with all of these listed but once again, keep good records so you will know what to expect.

Mileage adds up. I keep a mileage book in my car so I can write down everywhere I go relating to my business. The ultimate log is in an Excel file on my computer but this allows me to write it down before I forget. Going to and from meetings, parties, buying supplies, deliveries, etc all count towards your mileage and this can add up quickly so please keep track of it.

Keep receipts.
Think of any and every aspect of your business where money comes out of your pocket and keep those reciepts. Here are just a few of those: food (both to demo and food bought at a meeting, etc.), ink, paper, catalogs/flyers, conference fees, etc.

Some people will also be able to deduct items such as computers, cell phone, and a home office. You will need to talk to your CPA to see what you qualify for.

Taxes may seem a little overwhelming at first but if you keep good records, it is not as bad as it seems. Many people find that if they keep track of all expenses, they do not owe or owe very little at the end of the year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pay it Forward: Coupons

Ever have a great coupon for an item on sale but as you look at it on the shelf realize you do not really need it? If so, put the coupon on that item for the next person to find. I heard of someone doing this years ago and I've tried to pay it forward with my coupons every since. It can really bless someone else without costing you any money or time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Body After Baby: Week 6


Today starts week 6 of Mama Notes Body After Baby Challenge. I forgot to weigh this morning so I'm not sure how I did weight wise but my clothes are starting to fit a bit better so I'm thinking all the Halloween candy didn't cause too much damage.

I had to laugh at this week's challenge - get 8 hours of sleep. She says it is ok to get up to take care of the baby. Apparently she hasn't met my baby. For about 3 weeks now, our little guy has been up about 6 times a night and 4 of them are to feed. He was only up 1-2 times a night before he hit a growth spurt, then entered the 4 month wakeful period, then learned to roll over and practiced it all night, etc. I'm starting to feel like the zombie I was with our oldest. He was up 7 times a night for the first year of his life. So, I will do my best to get sleep this week by going to bed a bit earlier but I can't guarantee it will be quality sleep.

Good luck to everyone else in the challenge. It is hard to believe we are on the downhill stretch already.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Direct Selling: Getting Started

In case you missed part 1, choosing a company, click here.

Once you pick a company to sell for, you may be a bit overwhelmed. My best advice is to jump in and get your feet wet. The more you sell, the more you will find your style and what works best for you.

I suggest you tell anyone and everyone you know about your new adventure and ask them if they would like to host a party. I sent out one email to my entire address book and booked a few parties off that email fairly quickly. Months later, I booked a few more from that first email. Friends and family knew they wanted to have a party some time but timing was not right when I first told them I was selling Tupperware. You never know when a contact now might turn into an opportunity later.

Another great way to get your feet wet is to host your first party. Invite over a good mix of family and friends and introduce them to your company. You will probably have several book parties from you after seeing the product in action. Also, family and friends are much more forgiving so it is a great way to get practice in. I suggest scheduling this open house soon after you order your kit so that you have a good start on your first month in business.

Make sure not everyone is from the same social circle though when inviting friends. You want to be able to eventually branch out to other people outside of your circle and it will be hard if everyone already knows each other.

Also, once you decide to take the leap of faith, ask another consultant in the area if you can attend one of their parties for training. It helps to see what others are doing. My first party was very similar to the training party I went to but shortly afterward I started finding other ways to make my parties my own. It really helped my nerves though to have an example to follow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Food Friday: Pumpkin Apple Butter

This recipe came from my son's preschool newsletter. It is easy to make and delicious on a fall day. I'm sure you could can this, but I chose not to as I'm not as much of a pumpkin fan after the new year and this is good for up to 2 months. My tastes seem to change with the weather.

Pumpkin Apple Butter

1 can 15 oz pumpkin
1 cup apple, peeled and grated
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine pumpkin, apple, apple juice, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with biscuits, breads, corn muffins or hot cereal. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes 3 cups.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Direct Selling to Post Later

Just an FYI to those looking for the next post in the direct selling series - it will be posted this weekend or early next week. I've been dealing with a sick child and have not had time to edit the post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Body After Baby: Week 5


Last week was a pretty good week for me on the Body After Baby Challenge over at Mama Notes. I did all 50 of my sit ups everyday except one and on that day I only managed 25. I'm happy to say, I also lost another pound. That makes three pounds since the challenge started. We are half way through and I would like to lose a few more pounds so I need to keep it up this week. There is no specific challenge this week but my goal is to keep up with the eating and exercise. Does chasing a preschooler count for exercise? Actually, we've had several rainy days lately and have been stuck inside so I've been challenging him to races around the couch and down the hall. It gives us both much needed exercise and quality time together.

Tightwad Tuesday: Gift Baskets

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would bring back this post regarding gift baskets. They are a frugal way to provide a great gift for someone. Here are a few more ideas:

For her.
Gather all of the random lotion, perfume, shampoo, coffee, tea etc samples that are hanging out around your house. Add in an inexpensive bottle of nail polish and treat someone to a great girls night in.

For him. Back to the samples - gather some of the food samples add in a gift card for a movie rental and you have a great guys night in.

New business: If you have a friend who is hanging out their shingle, give them a starter basket full of office supplies. By watching deals at Staples, Office Max, and other office supply stores you can pick up inexpensive office supplies for next to nothing. Feel free to add in some of your coupons to those stores too. I like to house all of this in a nice trash can or desk organizer.

Children's Place Coupon

Click here to receive a 15% off coupon to the Children's Place. When I was there last week they had some great markdowns, along with the new Christmas line that just came out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Organization 101: Children's Artwork

Now that I have entered the world of a child in school, I'm starting to see how my child's artwork could easily take over my house. I'm trying to reign it in though by only saving a few items. Each day, when he comes home from preschool, I pull out all of the papers from his backpack. If something is special to him, we hang it on the fridge. The rest we save until daddy gets home to see it. Then, if it is not important to him, it goes into the recycling bin (this usually happens after he goes to bed as he would pull it out if he noticed it in there). We rotate out the pictures on the fridge often as to keep it from getting cluttered.

My plan for the special papers is to have two plastic tubs. One will be to store everything from this year that is keepsake worthy. At the end of the year, I will go through it and weed it out to a more manageable size. The second tub is to keep what I weed out. My plan is to add to that second tub each year for several years and reuse the first tub each year to store a year's worth of work. Growing up, we each had a special drawer to keep our artwork in. Once the drawer became full, we had to weed it out. This one drawer lasted us from preschool to high school so I know it can be done.

How do you keep up with all of the paper and artwork from school? Feel free to leave a comment and let my readers know so we can all keep up with the endless paper coming through our doors.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Food Friday: Bruschetta Chicken Bake

This recipe is originally from Kraft. I like it because the chicken does not have to be cooked ahead of time and it uses pantry staples. My picky husband will even eat it as long as I don't cook it very often.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package Stove Top stuffing for chicken
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes with liquid in medium bowl. Add garlic, stuffing mix and water; stir just until stuffing mix is moistened. Set aside.

Place chicken in 13x9" baking dish; sprinkle with basil and cheese. Top with stuffing mixture.

Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Direct Selling: Pick a Company

The first step on your journey through direct selling is to pick a company. For those of you who read my story last week, you will know that the company picked me. It isn't always that way so here are a few things to think about when deciding which company you want to work for:

A product you like: When you like the product and believe in the company, it truly will not feel like you are working. I'm not a fan of anything related to sales as I greatly dislike being pushy but I've found Tupperware sells itself mostly because I believe in the product. Think about products you like or genres that interest you and go from there.

Competition: I have nothing against Mary Kay (in fact, I own several of their products) but in my area, their sales force seems to be saturated. Keep this in mind as you don't want to be competing with too many of your colleagues. It does help to have some sales force in your area as you learn from each other, but if the market is too saturated, check out another company.

Start up costs: Every company is different as to start up costs so investigate this when looking at a company. With Tupperware, you can start with as little as $79.99. The kit comes with many of the most wanted items too so it is a great value. Some companies require you to keep an inventory and that start up cost can be high so keep that in mind.
Contract details: Explore the fine print and talk to someone who is currently selling for this company to see what it takes to remain a member of the sales force. Some companies have high quotas while others are low. With Tupperware, your only commitment is to hold one party and sell $450, preferrably within the first 30 days. After that, you are free to quit. To remain active, you need to sell $250 every 4 months. That is a pretty low amount compared to some companies.

Discounts: Since you will be selling a product you like, check out what your discount is. You are in this to make money but you will want to buy some of the product for yourself too. Tupperware has a standard discount of 25% with samples being 35%. The best part is this is 25% off sale prices too. Bonuses are also available almost weekly so it is easy to earn free or deeply discounted product. These make great gifts or can add to your start up kit for demonstrating.

Profit Potential: Of course, your first thought on all of this was probably "how much am I going to make". Yes, this is important, but do not pick a company solely on this as there is so much more to the equation than just money. Most direct selling companies pay you a comission of 10-50%. Check out what the average party amount is and how much work is actually involved to get a good look at your profit potential.

Stay tuned as I continue this series in the weeks to come. Again, if you have any questions about direct selling or Tupperware, please leave a comment or email me so I can address them in this series.

Body After Baby: Week 4


This is week 4 of Mama Notes Body After Baby challenge. Last week's challenge was to eat better. I did really good until I went out of town. I actually planned to continue eating great then too but random circumstances kept me from it. For one, we planned on a great dinner at an Italian place Saturday night and when we arrived the wait was about an hour. I was not waiting around with a baby for an hour. We then went to a few other places nearby and they all had a long wait too so we wound up at the only place quick that was nearby and by then, I didn't care what I ate as long as it was food. On the positive side, I did a ton of walking while my husband was in his conference so I think I worked off a lot of the junk I ate. We were in Kansas City and I did The Legends and Crown Center twice each.

Since this challenge began, I've lost 2 pounds. I know that doesn't sound like a lot but I had plateaued for the 3 weeks before so I'm excited to finally see the scale moving again.

This week's challenge is sit ups. I don't think that will be a problem as I can do that while hanging out with my kids. I may wind up with a child jumping all over me, but that is ok.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Organizing 101: The To Do List

First of all, sorry I did not get Food Friday up on Friday. I went out of town with my husband and the baby (the older one stayed with grandparents) and planned on blogging while hanging out in the room. We were there for my husband to attend a conference and I knew I had a lot of dead time. Turns out, it was $10 a day for internet access!!! Everything was expensive at the hotel and it quickly reminded me why I'm not a fan of the higher class hotels - give me a Comfort Inn or Holiday Inn Express any day and I'm much happier. At least the room was nice.

Now, on to the weekly organization tip. If you are like most people, your to do list is much longer than you can ever accomplish. Back when I had my first child, I read a book (sorry, I can't remember the name of the book) that said to pick your hot button item of the day and do everything in your power to accomplish that one item. This is the one thing you have to get done or something that will make you feel like you accomplished something. Then, prioritize everything else on your list and see what truly needs to be done. Many times, several items on the list can actually wait a few days and by taking them off, you can remove some of the stress from your life.

The idea behind the hot button item is that you accomplish something important each day and you have that sense of finishing a task. As a mom of young children, some days, my hot button item is as simple as getting the dishwasher unloaded. Other days, it is getting a project completed, paying the bills, etc. I do feel good though when I get something marked off my to do list each day. It feels like a bonus when I get a few more items marked off as the day goes on. I try my best to get my hot button item finished early on so as the day goes on, the craziness of life does not get keep me from accomplishing something.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tupperware: My Story

Starting next week, I am going to do a short series on direct selling as a way to earn some extra money. Before I get into the details though, I thought I would share why I chose Tupperware.

I am coming up on my one year anniversary of selling Tupperware - I started on Halloween 2008, but let me back up a few years first. Several months before I became pregnant with my first son, I ran into a Tupperware consultant. I've always appreciated the quality of this company and hadn't been to a party in years so I decided to have one . The consultant knew I liked the product
(I'm what we call at Tupperholic) and tried to talk me into selling it then. I thought about it but found out shortly after the party that I was pregnant. I figured that wasn't a great time to start something new though so I moved on. Fast forward to last fall. I'm invited to a Tupperware party and it is with the consultant who held my party three years previous.

She immediately remembered me and started in again about selling it. First of all, I was impressed she remembered me. I did not sign up that night, but the idea kept creeping into the back of my mind. See, we were nearing the one year mark of my husband's job being cut back. I had worked every odd job I could find and was tired of working so hard simply to pay the bills. There was nothing left for just me. I decided to give Tupperware a try but the profits had to be kept for fun money. I could use it for shopping, eating out, entertainment, etc as long as it was something I wanted to do (for me or my family) and not a bill. I treated it like a hobby. I figured there was little to lose because the kit was under $100, included a ton of product that I wanted, and my only commitment was to hold one party.

I'm not pushy and sales are not my strong point but I've found Tupperware sells itself and I think part of that is due to the fact that I love the product. I've had a blast meeting new people and making a little cash at the same time. As many of you know, I lost my part time job at the end of May. At that time, I decided I was doing well enough in Tupperware that I could turn it into my job. I no longer treat this as a hobby, rather a job, but I still keep a small amount of profit for entertainment purposes. I love selling Tupperware much more than sitting at a desk all day and if I put a little effort into it, I can make much more than my day job.

I never set out to find a direct selling company, rather it found me, but I'm glad I made that leap of faith. The funny part about the whole ordeal is that I found out two weeks after I signed up that I was pregnant again. I actually had a party scheduled at my house for the day I had our second child (he was a month early). We laugh that he is a Tupperbaby.

As I mentioned before, direct selling is a great way to make some extra cash for Christmas. If you have any questions about direct selling or Tupperware, please let me know so that I can work them into the series.

Body After Baby: Week 3


I've survived the first two weeks of this eight week challenge that Mama Notes is hosting. Last week we were supposed to track our walking. I said I would find time to walk 3 days for 30 minutes. I wound up walking one day for 45 minutes and one for an hour so I kind of kept my promise - I got the time in, just not the days. The 45 minute walk was with my 3 year old and it was a huge workout. I'm not a runner, but he wanted to race almost the whole time. I'm not sure I've mentioned it before, but we think he is going to be a cross country runner. At age two, he was already able to run a mile!

This week's challenge is to eat healthy meals. I fell off the bandwagon on that last week so this is a great challenge to get me going this week. If you will remember, my husband was working insane hours last week. Due to this and a very cranky 3 year old, I never found time to go to the grocery store. He picked up milk one day on the way home from work but that was it. I had a few frozen veggies in my freezer and a few still left in my garden, but that was all the produce we had since I never made it to the store. By the end of the week, I was missing my produce. I made it to the store on Monday though so I'm stocked up again with lots of fruits and veggies and I have a meal plan in place.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Organizing 101: Mail

Mail can easily take over your house if you are not careful. The best tip I have ever heard is to open your mail over a trash can. I open my mail into 3 piles: trash, recycling, needs further action. Since I'm opening the mail directly over the trash can, the first pile is already taken care of. I then put the items that can be recycled into my recycling bag. Finally, anything that needs further action goes into a file sitting near the trash can. Every few days I sit down and go through that file and take action on as much as possible. Ideally I would take care of things as soon as I opened it but with two kids, that isn't always possible. The idea is to handle mail as few times as possible and get rid of the junk as soon as you can so that it does not get mixed into the important papers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

How To Earn Extra Income Through Direct Sales Series

I've had several readers ask me questions related to my Tupperware business so I thought I would start a short series on direct sales. Direct sales businesses are a wonderful way to earn some extra income for the upcoming holidays and still allow you to stay home with kids during the day. The series will kick off next week when I share my story and why I chose Tupperware.

In the meantime, if you have any questions you would like addressed regarding direct sales or Tupperware, please leave me a comment or email me and I will do my best to address them.

Ecostore USA winner

Congratulations to rubynreba who won the Ecostore USA giveaway. I've sent her an email and she has 48 hours to claim her prize.

Food Friday: Oatmeal Scotties

I discovered this recipe years ago when it was published in our local newspaper. While cleaning out a file area this week, I came across it again. I'm hoping to make some of these soon because they are delicious.

Oatmeal Scotties

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
11 oz butterscotch flavored morsels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Once these are well combined, gradually beat in the flour mixture; then stir in the oats and morsels.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet or shallow baking pan. Bake 7-8 minutes, then remove cookies from baking sheet and place, separated, on a platter and allow to cool.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Body After Baby Challenge: Week Two


This week is the second week of the Body After Baby Challenge from Mama Notes. Last week's challenge was to drink more water. I did good and upped my water intake for the week. I didn't do as well as I hoped in the Diet Coke area but I did decrease it so that counts, right? I've tried to limit myself to one serving per day and I even went two days without one.

This week's challenge is to walk. I love to walk but it will definitely be a challenge this week. I cannot take walks with my preschooler because he runs off and he can climb out of a stroller so that idea is out too. I have a treadmill but he likes to walk on that too which is dangerous. My husband normally watches the kids so I can walk or we go as a family so one can watch the baby and the other can chase the preschooler. Unfortunately, he is working at least 60 hours this week so there is little time for his help. I am committed to losing the weight though so I will try to get in at least 30 minutes 3 days this week. I know it isn't much, but I'm being realistic. I will report back next week on how I did. It really does help that all of my readers are keeping me accountable!

Tightwad Tuesday: Preschool Activities

As my long time readers know, I have an extremely active preschooler. I have to constantly plan projects and outings for him to keep him from running around like crazy and getting in trouble. He began preschool a little over a month ago so I've been trying to find projects that correlate with what he is learning in school. I've found some great online resources with printable crafts and coloring pages. For most, you only need markers or crayons, glue, scissors and possibly some construction paper. There are some more elaborate activities on some of these sites, but I find the simple ones are pretty fun to put together.

First School Offers crafts and activities by theme. This makes it easy to work on a theme for a week at a time because there are usually many ideas for each theme.

Enchanted Learning Offers a several things for K-3 also but has some good printables and games for the younger crowd too.

Free Kid Crafts Written from the heart of a mother, includes some recipes too.

DLTK I've used this site for years to find good Bible crafts for when I was teaching Sunday School and VBS. They have more than just biblical crafts though and you can even search through their craft pages by materials needed.

If you have any great sites you use, feel free to leave a comment - I'm always looking for new ways to entertain my oldest child.

Also, today is the last day to enter my Ecostore USA giveaway. Click on the link and head on over to enter before it is too late.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Organization 101: Plan Ahead

I hear people complain all the time about how hard it is to get ready and out the door each a morning with children. I agree, it is not easy, but if you plan ahead, it can be easier. On days we know we need to someowhere by a certain time, we do as much prep work as possible the night before. I lay out the clothes for everyone. Pack diaper bags, backpacks, etc. Set out the breakfast dishes. Find any coats or jackets if necessary. Then, I set everything I can inside the car so I'm not frantically trying to grab it on the way out the door. The days I plan ahead, life runs much smoother. The days I try to wing it, I'm a mess by the time we get out the door.

My organizing challenge for you this week is to plan ahead and see what a difference it can make in your morning.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Food Friday to return next week

Sorry for the delay in posting Food Friday - it has been one of those weeks. I had a great line up of posts for this week but finding time to write them has been a challenge. I will be back next week with the organizing tips, Food Friday, and more.

In the meantime, please sign up for the Ecostore USA I posted earlier this week.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Body After Baby Challenge


The baby weight is not falling off like it did with my first child so when I saw this challenge, I knew I needed to jump on it. For the next 8 weeks, Mama Notes is having a Body After Baby Challenge. I've been working on changing bad habits that have crept in but I think this challenge will help keep me more accountable. For the record, it took me 9 months to lose the weight with my first, but I barely exercised . I know it will take at least 9 months to lose it again since I'm nursing, but I'm actually trying this time and it is still taking its precious time.

This week's challenge is to drink more water. I'm a huge water drinker but since having the second child, my Diet Coke habit has crept back in. I've been trying to curb it but it is a wonderful treat mid-afternoon when I'm physically and mentally exhausted. I'm going to work on limiting the soda to just a few times a week and focusing more on water. I will check back in next week and let you know how it goes, plus give details on the next challenge.

If anyone would like to join the challenge, head on over to Mama Notes for all the details.

Tightwad Tuesday: Soap Scum Remover

I've shared this tip before, but Lynnae over at Being Frugal shared her favorite frugal cleaning products today so I thought I would share one of mine: shampoo. Shampoo is a great soap scum remover and the cheap stuff actually works the best. Simply rub it on your shower doors and watch the soap scum rub off. This is a great way to use old shampoo that has just been taking up space in your bathroom.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ecostore Product Review & Giveaway

A few weeks ago, Ecostore USA contacted me to try out some of their plant based products. Always wanting to be more environmentally friendly, I thought this sounded like a great product to review. They sell household cleaning, baby, and personal care products that do not contain harsh chemicals. Our family has several skin allergies so I chose to review the baby body wash and the laundry soap hoping to find an ecofriendly alternative to what we already use.

I started using the baby body wash as soon as I received it. I loved the fact that I wasn't using nasty chemicals on the baby or preschooler. The soap has a slight, refreshing scent which I liked. After several days of use, there were no rashes on either child so I was a happy mom. Many soaps break out our preschooler but it looks like we found something that did not.
With such great results, I looked forward to trying the laundry liquid. I first tried it on a load of towels just to see how I liked how the product worked. Once again, the first thing I noticed was how great it smelled. I liked that my towels seemed clean and still soft so I moved on to washing clothes. This is when the allergy issue reared its ugly face. It wasn't my kids who had the problems with it, it was me. I'm always watching out for what my preschoolers clothes are washed in because he breaks out with everything but this product did not seem to cause and issue at all for him. I, on the otherhand, broke out with a very itchy rash. I have a feeling it was from the perfume as most scents cause strange reactions to me. Please do not let this deter you from a great product as my family tends to be allergic to strange things. Overall, I liked the product and felt my clothes were very clean and not dingy like some ecofriendly cleaners tend be.

Ecostore USA offers a lot of other great products, such a plant and mineral based household cleaners. Since having children, I watch out for the chemicals I'm using around the house and this company offers a great alternative to your basic cleaners. These products are available at their website and have recently begun showing up on the shelves at Meijer grocery stores. I noticed on their website that they are having some good sales too so go check them out. Also, check out the Ecostore USA blog to sign up for their newsletter to recieve notice of upcoming sales, coupons, and more.

The great people at Ecostore have offered my readers a $25 gift certificate to try out their ecofriendly products. In order to enter, please leave me a comment below with your favorite ecofriendly tip. You may receive additional entries by subscribing to this blog and/or blogging about this giveaway. Simply leave a separate comment for each additional entry.

This contest ends next Tuesday, Oct 6 at 8 pm CST. I will draw a winner at that time and they will have 48 hours to contact me to claim the prize.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Babywearing Week: Sleepy Wrap Review

This is me holding our newest edition while he sleeps in the Sleepy Wrap. Please excuse the strange look, I was caught off guard by the camera.

This week is International Babywearing Week so I thought I would highlight my favorite wrap. I was always intimidated by a wrap because it looks complicated but I finally took the plunge when our newest was only a few weeks old. I bought the Sleepy Wrap because it had good reviews and I could use my SwagBucks to purchase it from After a few tries, I realized how easy it was to use and I wish I would have had it with our first child.

I had a Snugli with my first child and he hated it. Honestly, I'm not sure he would have liked any carrier because he simply hated being still for more than two seconds (and still does) but I think he would have liked the Sleepy Wrap better simply because there are various ways to hold the baby instead of just upright. With the second child, I bought a sling, thinking it would be the answer to carrying a newborn while chasing an active toddler. Turns out, the sling isn't for me. Our second child wasn't very happy in it but I was uncomfortable too so that may have contributed to it. I pulled out the Snugli and discovered our newborn wasn't big enough for it yet and that is when I set out on a mission to find something we both would like.

By the way, he is now big enough and my husband thinks the Snugli is the best thing ever. We actually have been known to fight over who would wear the baby because we love having him snuggled up next to us.

My favorite part of the Sleepy Wrap is that as long as I tie it tight, I do not have to re-tie it as you have to do with some wraps. The material is stretchy and conforms to your baby. I also like that it is easy to use and comes with a booklet showing you various ways to hold your baby. Once you get the basic wrap down, you do not have to learn more, just how to maneuver the parts to hold your baby in different ways.

Food Friday: Oscar's Garbage Pail Cookies

This recipe comes from the Sesame Street book "Yummy Cookies". My son "bought" me this book for Christmas last year since I love to cook. He thinks it is actually his book though and it sits on his bookshelf, not with my cookbooks. To be honest, I've only made three recipes from it and the first two were awful. This one, however was pretty good. I like it because you can use whatever you have on hand. I didn't have peanut butter chips so I used chocolate chips instead. We used an assortment of leftover candy from our pantry instead of mini M&M's. I also like that it gave me an excuse to use the little bit of leftover sour cream I had in the fridge and the random can of peanuts that I found this week.

Oscar's Garbage Pail Cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soa
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 egg
1 T water
1 t vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup mini candy-coated chocolate pieces (mini M&M's)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the sour cream, egg, water, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, beat until blended.

3. Stir in the peanut butter chips, peanuts and candy-coated chocolate pieces. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Pay at the Pump

I have a slight addiction to trying new snack foods. I learned many years ago that gas stations tend to have all the new snack foods and drinks available and they are usually by the door or the cash register. Once I caught on to this, I began always paying at the pump. It saves me a lot of money and calories by not having that temptation staring me down every time I go in to pay. This past weekend I stepped foot into a gas station for the first time in ages and a wave of excitement came over me. I quickly grabbed the Diet Coke I came in for, paid, and got out of there before I bought more than I came in for.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Organization 101: No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

As I mentioned last week, I'm going to share some organizational tips each week for the next several weeks. Some tips will be for organizing the clutter, while others will be for organizing your life.

This week's tip came from a friend who is a professional organizer. A few years ago, I was complaining to her that my house was a mess and never organized. She pointed out that it was actually very organized, just not in the way I was wanting it to look. She showed me areas she could tell that I use every single day and told me to simply clean up the areas and find pretty baskets to store things in. She explained that we have habits where we sit things every time and there is no need to reinvent the wheel by trying to move where we put those things. For instance, my husband and I always put our keys in the same place every time. Instead of trying to make a new place, we simply made a nice area to put them. We also found our coats and bags always landed in the same place so we bought a decorative coat hanger and put it right where everything always landed.

This week, look for the common areas you use daily in your house and see how you can make them look more organized.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Food Friday: Peanut Butter Snowballs

This was one of my favorite treats growing up. Mom would always make them at Christmas but occassionally at other times throughout the year. Now that my son has outgrown his rice allergy, I look forward to making them with him too.

Peanut Butter Snowballs

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups rice cereal

Mix first 3 ingredients then add cereal. Shape into balls and refrigerate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: 15 Minutes to a Clean House

Does it feel like your house is never clean and organized? One of the best tips I learned years ago is to set a timer for 15 minutes and clean as much as you can in that time. In our house, we set the timer once dinner is cleaned up and everyone is involved. It is so easy to tell my oldest to go play in his room so we can clean, but that is not teaching him anything. I usually pick an easy task for him such as picking up his trains and then if he gets done before the timer goes off, I will find something else for him to do.

You will be amazed how much you can accomplish with as little as 15 minutes. On good days, I will set the timer of a morning too but that doesn't always happen. I also find that sometimes I get in the groove and just keep going once the timer goes off. On days I do not want to pick up the house or get out the cleaning supplies, I remind myself that 15 minutes is such a small portion of my day and I will feel so much better when it is over because I have accomplished something.

This week, try to dedicate 15 minutes every day towards cleaning your house. Come back next week as I am starting a new mini series on organizing your house and life. Early in the week each week, I will post a new tip and challenge you to implement that tip that week.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Organizing Series

First of all, I apologize for a very quiet week around here last week. I was sick with a nasty cold all week. I was feeling better this weekend and planned on catching up but my husband hijacked the computer in order to get some homework done. He went to bed early tonight so I've reclaimed the computer for now.

I've decided to start a mini series on organization. For those of you who know me, you may be wondering why I'm qualified to write on this topic. My house is a wreck most days thanks to my wild and crazy preschooler. I know the concepts to get the house in order and some days work hard to get it there, but most days our house very much has the lived in look. If you will look close though, you can see where I've been trying hard to stay organized.

In the first few weeks our youngest was around, I had a lot of time on my hands while feeding him. I picked up a few organization books and I learned a few new tips, along with being reminded of some oldies but goodies. I plan on posting one tip a week that either I've been using or I've recently come across and plan to implement. Some will be quick and easy and some will require a little more effort.

I challenge you to work on the tip that week and eventually, we will all have a more organized home and life. Along the way, feel free to share your tips and tricks so we can all learn from each other. Stayed tuned as the first tip will be in tomorrow's Tightwad Tuesday post.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Food Friday: Citrus Broccoli

This is an easy way to make broccoli and is perfect for company because it tastes like you spent more time on it than you did.

Citrus Broccoli

1 1/2 lbs fresh broccoli
1 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice

Trim off leaves of broccoli and remove tough ends of lower stalks. Wash broccoli and cut into flowerets. Arrange broccoli in a vegetable steamer over boiling water. Cover broccoli and steam 3-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm. Melt margarine in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add orange rind and orange juice; cook, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Pour sauce over broccoli.

Serves 6. 58 Calories, 1.4g Fat, 10g Carbs, 3.6g Protein, 44mg Sodium

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Home Depot: Do-It-Herself

Home Depot offers some great free classes but many people do not realize not all classes are for the guys. They also offer classes geared towards kids and women. Home Depot has a class for women on kitchen updates coming up on September 24. What women wouldn't like their kitchen updated? Click the box to sign up for a class in your area. Even better, invite your friends and have a fun girls night out learning something new.

Tightwad Tuesday: Coffee Tip

Since having kids, I have come to rely on my morning cup of coffee to get me going. To be honest, it isn't the caffeine that gets me going, it is the 5 minutes I take to sit and enjoy my coffee before tackling the day. I actually usually make half caff but I look forward to that cup every morning.

I get compliments all the time on my coffee and it is because of a little secret - I add cinnamon to the grounds before I brew it. Just a shake or two on top of the grounds adds such a wonderful flavor. A relative who used to own a coffee shop once told me to add a dash of Sweet n Low too and it would cut the acidity.

Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and five minutes of rest before tackling your next project.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Food Friday: 5 Cup Salad

Cooking doesn't get much easier than this. This dish used to show up at every family potluck. My mom resurrected it a few years ago and it was a nice walk down memory lane. For added color, used colored marshmallows.


1 cup coconut

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup mandarin oranges

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup sour cream

Mix together and chill overnight.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Setting Goals

It is hard to reach the finish line if you do not know where you are going? Many of us wander through life with no clue where we are going. The easiest way to get from point A to point B is with goals. Here are a few tips on how to write attainable goals:

Look towards the finish line. Decide what your ultimate goal is and put a date as to when you would like to achieve that goal.

Break it down. Now, break down the goal into smaller goals and assign dates to them also.

Write it down. Simply keeping the goal in your head works for a few, but writing it down can be very powerful.

Keep it in front of you. Display the goal(s) in a place where you will see it at least once a day.

Evaluate often. Sometimes life gets in the way and we realize our goals are not attainable. There is no need to abandon them though, simply evaluate them and see how they can be changed to fit the current circumstances.

Goals can be for anything from paying off a debt to losing weight to getting a promotion at work. I currently have two goals that I am working hard towards obtaining. There are many others in life I would like to accomplish, but these are were my effort is at right now. The first is weight loss. I would love to be one of the lucky people who give birth and suddenly the weight just falls off. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. To keep me from getting frustrated I created a date I would like all of the weight to be off. I then worked backwards and found milestones in between that I can be working towards. It has made a huge difference because I'm working on 5 lbs at a time, rather than the whole thing.

The other main goal I'm working on is building my Tupperware business. I started the business to make a little extra cash for spending money but when I lost my job at the end of May, Tupperware became my job. I'm having a blast at it but I have to run it like a business, not a hobby, to make any money. I am days away from making my first goal of becoming a manager. I have monthly goals laid out for myself from now until the end of the year. At that point, I will re-evaluate and see where I would like to go from there.

Both of these goals are written in detail on notecards and are sitting in front of the sink in my bathroom. I look at them every morning as I get ready. I even sometimes add to them or mark off the smaller goals as I reach them.

I challenge you today to work towards achieving at least one of your goals. Write it down and follow through. Feel free to post back with your results.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Coupon Organization Tip

People tell me all the time that they would like to start using coupons but it is just too much work for them. The best tip I can give is to organize your coupons weekly, instead of letting them pile up. When I do this weekly, it usually takes less than 30 minutes to clip the coupons, organize them, and pull together my grocery list. The times I put off my coupon organization for a week or two, I really regret it because it takes a lot longer.

Also, once a month I clean out my coupon binder and get rid of anything that has expired. It is much easier to find what I need when I'm not searching through a bunch of expired coupons.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Budget: Steadfast or Rolling?

More and more people are having to learn to live on a budget but are struggling because they have never needed to live on a budget before. I know several people who have recently begun to realize the value in stockpiling but are having problems doing this within their grocery budget.

I have a weekly and a monthly budget for groceries. My weekly budget is simply the monthly number broken down into weeks. If I see a great sale on several items I need, I am not afraid to go over budget that week as long as I make up for it down the road. My goal is to be at or under budget by the end of the month. I call this weekly budget number a rolling budget. For instance, my weekly grocery budget is $50. Last week I went over by $13 because there was a huge sale. This week, I only spent $27 so I'm still under budget for the month.

This concept can be applied to other areas of the budget, as long as the money is available at the time it is needed. I know several people who use the envelope system so that their budget is always a rolling budget. If the money is in the envelope, they can buy something but if there is no money, they must wait until another day. If they have money left over, it is left in the envelope for those times they need to spend a little extra money.

So, do you have a steadfast monthly budget or are some categories on a rolling budget? I urge you to find what works best for you so that you can stay on track each month.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food Friday: Autumn Soup

We've had a few cooler days off and on the past few weeks and I've found myself wanting fall comfort foods on those days so I thought I would post a great fall recipe. A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook last year and it has quickly become a family favorite. I change it up with different veggies and spices depending on what I have on hand and what mood I'm in that day.

Autumn Soup

1-2 pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped chunky
1 lg. can crushed tomatoes (+ 1 can of water)
2-4 large potatoes, peeled & cut into bite size pieces
Salt, to taste
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons of beef granules (or bouillon cubes)
2 Tbs. basil

Brown ground beef, celery and onion; drain fat. (I sometimes add a little minced garlic if I have it on hand.) Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least one hour. Serves 6.

***I have no idea why Blogger is deciding I need multiple fonts in this post. It is all written in the same size and style. Sorry it looks so weird.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blessings from Above

Thanks to getting very little sleep lately and my husband working 6 long days a week while training for his second job, I've been in a foul mood the past few weeks. I decided yesterday that I was going to change that. I started by getting out of the house. With my oldest being extremely energetic, this isn't an easy task. Luckily, a friend invited me over for a playdate and we all had a blast. The next thing I did was focus on the blessings I've experienced lately. Seeing God's hand in your life can really change your attitude quickly. Here are just a few of the blessings I've experienced this summer:

A healthy baby. I never thought I would have a preterm baby (born at 35 weeks, 5 days) as there was no indication of problems, but thankfully he was born healthy and the few issues we've had with weight gain seem to be resolving itself.

An outpouring of love from friends and family. When the baby came early, we were not prepared AT ALL. Our house was an absolute wreck, we had friends living in our basement, the baby's room was barely put together and not organized at all, our pantry was not stocked, and I only had two newborn outfits. Within two days my family and friends had rallied to clean our house, provide two weeks worth of meals, and shower us with clothes and diapers. I was slightly overwhelmed by it all because usually I'm the one giving, not receiving.

New friends. Ok, so they aren't really new to me, but our friendships have gone from general acquaintance to good friends over the summer.

A second job for my husband. We had been praying for well over a year for an answer to our financial situation and God is providing with this second job. I'm not a fan of the hours but it is nice to have some relief and my husband absolutely loves the job.

College funding. My husband has two semesters left of school before he graduates. We have paid for his schooling entirely out of pocket as we are not fans of debt. When he went to pay the bill this week for the fall semester, he learned he received financial aid for the first time. This was just under half of his fall tuition. I just stood there and thanked God for his blessings.

These are just a few of the blessings our family has experienced this summer. Take a moment to reflect on how you've been blessed recently. It really will lift your spirits. I know I'm in a much better mood today than I have been in a few weeks. How have you been blessed?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Free Pork Chop Recipes

I'm always looking for new pork chop recipes as we eat waaaayyy too much beef at our house thanks to the free beef we get every year for Christmas. I try to vary up our meat each week and that includes adding in some pork. I'm not a huge pork fan though. I have a few recipes that I love but mostly I would choose chicken over pork if I could. My husband gets sick of chicken all of the time though. I just signed up for this free cookbook and it looks like there are some really good recipes in it. You will need to give your email address and there are a few offers that you are welcome to skip (although a few of the newsletters they offer are actually pretty good - I'm already a subscriber to them though). Otherwise, it is completely free and ready for download.

To get your free eBook: America's Favorite Pork Chop Recipes featuring 52-pages of quick and easy recipes click here.

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