Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bisquick & Cooking for Two Newsletters

Newsletters are a great way to get quick and easy recipes and many times they include coupons. Bisquick is a great time saver in the kitchen and I've found some good recipes through their newsletter. Pillsbury offers a Cooking for 2 newsletter that is perfect for smaller households or those nights when your spouse will not be home for dinner. Sign up today for these great newsletters.

Tightwad Tuesday: YouTube for Kids

One rainy day while trying to entertain my child, I decided to check out You Tube. Much to my amazement, there are hundreds of kids videos on there. Some are snippets of actual shows, some are home videos people have made of their favorite shows. You do have to be careful as there are some not so clean home versions though. At least once a week, I sit down with my child and we watch videos for awhile. I usually ask him to pick a topic (his current favorites are Cars, Roary the Racing Car, and Mickey Mouse) and then we try to find videos to go along with it. I set up the laptop on the dining room table and for the longer videos, I work on cleaning the kitchen while he watches. I'm nearby so I can make sure he doesn't destroy the computer. Sometimes, I use this time to cut and organize my coupons as I can sit right next to him while doing this.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I've been talking about gardening the past few months and thought my readers might be interested in this upcoming Home Depot Do-It-Herself workshop on gardening. It is free and a great way to learn more about creating the garden of your dreams.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hosting a Garage Sale: Part 3

This week's focus is on setting up the garage sale. If you missed the first two parts of this series, here are part 1 and part 2.

Start a few days before the sale. There is nothing worse than waiting until the night before the sale to begin setting it up. You will wind up staying up way too late working on it and being exhausted when the sale starts very early the next morning. Our sale is a week away and we set up the tables Thursday night. I've been slowly bringing items out to the garage as I get a chance. It is supposed to rain parts of next week so I will really focus then when I can't get outside but it is nice to know I won't have to wait until the last minute to get everything organized.

Sweep the garage floor. Sweep out the random leaves, grass clippings, and dirt that have appeared in the garage before setting anything up. If your garage is a mess, try to clean it up a little too. A nice appearance will appeal to the customer instead of distracting from your sale.

Visualize the layout. Decide where you want items to land before randomly setting them on tables. I have taken scrap paper and taped category names on tables so I can sort as I price. This is much easier to do from the get go instead of waiting until everything is priced and then realizing it is not organized at all.

Group like items together. This goes with the point above, but keep like items such as kitchen, toys, etc together. It will make it easier for the customer to find what they are looking for and therefore boost your sales.

Cover anything that is not for sale. There will most likely be items in your garage that are not for sale, simply cover them with a sheet so no one tries to buy them.

Stay tuned next week for how to market your sale. If you have any other great garage sale hints or tips, please leave a comment below.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Food Friday: Campfire Potatoes

It turned warm here this week which puts me in the mood for grilling. I discovered this recipe last summer while looking for ways to use a 5 gallon bucket of potatoes my father in law dropped off. It quickly became a favorite. I should note that I no longer measure the ingredients, I just take a guess and dump all the ingredients on. The original recipe can be found at Recipe Zaar.

Campfire Potatoes

5 medium potatoes, peeled & sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I've used the canned stuff and it works too)
2 tsp minced fresh parsley (dried works too)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine, cubed (I usually use less to keep it semi-healthy)

Place half of the potatoes on a large piece of heavy duty foil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; dot with butter. Top with the remaining potatoes. Fold foil over and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Garden Update

I think I might get to plant my veggie garden this weekend! I spent this afternoon digging up a few more rocks (I'm sure I'm a sight for the neighbors being 6 months pregnant and digging up rocks). The weather is finally stabilizing so that I think the plants will be safe. As a reminder, if you started seeds, they need time to harden outside before planting them in the ground. This means sitting them outside each day for a week or two so they can get used to the difference in tempurature from inside the house to outside. Everything I've read says to start in a shaded place outside and bring them back in at night. Work towards getting them towards the sunlight and out for longer periods of time. I've been doing this for a few days now and they are so far looking great.

My plan is to only work on the veggie garden this weekend. I will start working on flowers next week but I can only work for a few minutes at a time due to being pregnant and having sciatica issues. I would love to spend hours and hours digging in the dirt but that will have to wait for another year. I'm just happy I've been able to accomplish what I have so far this year.

How is your garden coming along?

Green Guest Post

Check out my guest post on upcycling today at Life as Mom. This week she is doing a series of guest posts on the green topic so check out her blog to learn some new tips.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Earth Week Edition

In case you have not heard, this is Earth Week. Earth Day is officially tomorrow (Wednesday) but many companies are celebrating all week long. Today, I thought I would share a few easy ways to help our earth without breaking the bank.

Turn off lights: It seems like such a simple concept but how often have you run through the house for something and realized lights were on in every room? We have been teaching our son to turn off lights and he is getting it. This morning, we were getting ready to walk out the door and he ran back to his room to make sure the light was off and the door was shut. I was proud that he did this all on his own.

Shut doors to unused rooms: It takes energy to heat/cool rooms so shut off those that are not used. We started doing this when our son was very little and getting in to everything and we quickly realized it made a difference in our electric bill. Now, the majority of doors are shut in our house throughout the day. As an added bonus, the clutter in some of those rooms is now cut off.

Use what you have: This concept can be used in all areas of your house but here are a few examples. Go through your pantry and find at least one meal that can be cooked from what you have. This saves gas, money, pollution, etc since it means one less visit to the store for missing ingredients. Another example is to go through your bathroom cabinets and find all of the random samples and gifts of hand lotion, shampoo, etc. Make a pact to use these up before buying anything else. If you do not plan to use it, give it away to someone who would.

Recycle: Create an area in your house for recycling. If you have a designated place, it will make it much easier to actually follow through.

Of course, there are hundreds of other ways to help the earth - composting, florescent bulbs, homemade cleaning supplies, etc. but my goal today was to provide you with a few very simple and easy ways to get you started towards taking care of the earth. Feel free to leave your other tips or links to your blog post on this topic in the comments section.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hosting a Garage Sale: Part 2

For part one of this series, click here. This week the focus is on gathering supplies in order to set up the actual sale. I'm sure you have not had enough time yet to clean out your house for a sale, but hopefully you have a good start. Here are the basic supplies you will need for a sale:

Tables: If you do not have tables, get creative or ask to borrow from friends. I find I always need more tables than I think I will. A great way to make a table is to put a piece of plywood on top of two saw horses.

Prices stickers & markers: Feel free to buy the pre-priced stickers in order to save you time when pricing. Years ago, my parents cleaned out their office (they own their own business) and came across boxes of random sized labels. I took the stash they did not want and use these for my price stickers. For the larger labels, I cut them into smaller sizes. I usually create several pages of labels in the popular price categories (25, 50, 75 cent, $1, etc) so that it is quick and easy to price items as I come across them.

Signs: Cardboard boxes make great signs. I usually break down a box or two in order to have enough signs. Posterboard is good too. Plant stakes work great for areas you cannot staple a sign too. Please do not wait until the day of the sale to begin thinking about signs, you will be plenty busy with everything else by then.

Special Signs: This is more than a directional sign. I always put up a few signs saying "Not Responsible for Accidents". Signs will also be needed for some furniture or if larger items are available inside. During our last sale, it rained off and on all weekend so we had to leave the furniture inside. We posted signs all around the garage so people would know we had the furniture. These special signs can easily be created on a computer and saved for use at future garage sales.

Cash box & change: If you do not have a cash box (I found mine on clearance at Walgreens for less than $5), a shoe box will work too. Begin now collecting ones and quarters as these are the most needed for change.

Stay tuned for the remainder of this series as I discuss setting up the actual sale and marketing the sale in order to gain the most customers possible.

Food Friday: Ham Potato Scallop

Looking for ways to use up that leftover ham from Easter? This is an easy recipe and works great for leftover ham. I found this in one of my Taste of Home magazines years ago and it is a staple in our house.

Ham Potato Scallop

1 package (5 oz) scalloped potatoes
2 cups boiling water
2 tbsp butter or margarine
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fully cooked ham
1 package (10 oz) frozen cut green beans
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

In an ungreased 1 1/2 quart baking dish, combine potatoes with sauce mix, boiling water and butter. Stir in milk, ham and green beans. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Calling All Lurkers

I know their are a bunch of lurkers hanging out there and I would love to "meet" you all. Please leave a comment below and tell me a little about yourself. I've meet some great people and discovered some wonderful new blogs simply from the comments on this blog. It also helps me develop better content when I know who my readers are. I look forward to to meeting you all!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Childcare Co-Op

For my longtime readers, you already know I participate in a childcare co-op but I thought I would tell the newest readers about it.

I'm in a small co-op with a few other moms that meets every other week at a local church. We work one week and then get the other week to play. The best part of it all is that it is guilt free because you pay your dues through work. I usually leave our son with my parents but I feel guilty the entire time because I know they need downtime too so I rush through my errands or whatever I'm doing to get back to them. With the co-op, I know I have 3 hours to do whatever I want or need to do. Unfortunately, the last few times I've been able to play I spent my time at my monthly doctor's appointment but at least I didn't have to hire a babysitter so I could go.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with parenting, or simply need a break, contact a friend or two and see if they are willing to set up a co-op. It doesn't have to be a large group or take place at a certain place, it could simply be at someone's house. Your children will enjoy it because they get to play with friends and you will enjoy it because you get some much needed down time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

Please take a few minutes today to remember why we celebrate this holiday. It is much more than eggs and bunnies, it is about the resurrection after Jesus gave his life for us. He is alive!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hosting a Garage Sale: Part 1

Garage sale season has already started in some parts of the country and for others, it is just around the corner. Garage sales are a great way to clean the clutter from your house and make some quick cash at the same time. This series is going to break down how to hold a successful garage sale into manageable steps. We have a sale every year or two and I constantly hear that it is too much work for the money but hopefully this series will help you see otherwise. I'm not saying having a sale is for everyone, but it can be easier with a little planning. Today's focus is on cleaning up the clutter.

First, designate a place in your house to hold garage sale items. I keep a bag in my bathroom closet for garage sale items. Once it is full, it gets moved to a shelf in the garage. Keeping it in a handy space allows me to get rid of items as I come across them instead of waiting and forgetting about them.

Next, set a date for the sale. If you are like me, you will say you are having a sale but never actually get around to it. I find if I set a date, it is much more likely to happen. We put a date in May on our calendar months ago and it has really helped me prepare for the upcoming sale.

Then, start cleaning up the clutter a little at a time. Earlier, I talked about simplifying by reducing clutter and this is the same concept. We've been going through every single room in our house in order to rearrange it for a new baby. You do not have to go to such extremes, but find a problem area or two and tackle them. You might just be motivated enough to keep going. When the clutter is gone, you will feel better, be more organized, and have some great items for an upcoming garage sale. Feel free to put anything and everything into your garage sale pile as you will be amazed at what will sell. Usually what I think is junk sells right away and I'm always surprised.

Your challenge this week is to tackle one area in your house (it doesn't even need to be a whole room) and start cleaning it out in preparation for an upcoming garage sale.

Stay tuned as I continue this series with topics such as setting up the sale, advertising, etc. If there is a particular area you would like me to cover, feel free to leave a comment or send an email. As a final note, check out this newly redesigned site all about garage sales. You will find some great features including a listing of garage sales in your area. I will also be guest posting on their blog in the near future so check back often.

Food Friday: Creamed Corn

With Easter being this weekend and many people cooking a large meal, I thought I would post a simple, yet delicious side dish. This comes from a friend in MOPS and I first discovered the dish when we made a recipe book last year in MOPS. Most moms with preschoolers tend to go for quick and easy yet tasty recipes and this fits the bill nicely.


4 cups frozen sweet corn

4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 of a block)

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp butter

Dash salt

Cover corn in a sauce pan with water. Boil for 8-10 minutes. Drain water. Add ingredients. Consistency should be creamy and corn all covered.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Seeds Into Plants

I mentioned several weeks ago that I was going to attempt growing veggies from seeds this year. My past attempts have not been good but I decided to give it another try after several years off. I'm happy to say, the majority of my seeds sprouted and are doing great. I'm getting very antsy to get them into the ground but the weather is not cooperating. According to all of the zone charts, I can start planting next week in my area. The only problem is we've had 3 freeze warnings this week so I'm thinking we are not in the clear yet.

It was a beautiful day yesterday so I spent some more time prepping the garden (aka digging up rocks). I live in a very rocky area and no matter how many times I've planted in this area, I still dig up huge rocks every year. Being almost 6 months pregnant, I can only work a little bit at a time but it is starting to come along.

This brings me to a tip my father in law gave me when we first moved to our house. We moved in the early fall and he told me to figure out where I wanted my veggie garden and then every time I went to the hardware store to pick up one bag of dirt. He said if I put down a bag each time, by the time planting season came around, I would have a great area to garden in. I've done this with one garden and it is very helpful. Unfortunately, when I decided to slightly expand my veggie garden, I completely forgot about this tip. It may be too late to get a great garden this way this year but it could give you a good start and it is something to think about for next year.

After the success so far of my veggies, I decided to start some flower seeds two weeks ago. My zinnias are doing fabulous and I moved them to larger containers yesterday. My impatiens are just starting to sprout and I'm anxious to see how they do. My front flower bed is 80% impatiens because the area is mostly shade and these flowers do wonderful in the area. If I can get even a few viable plants out of these seeds, I feel I am ahead.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: SwagBucks

I know I've written about SwagBucks before, but it is worth mentioning again. SwagBucks is a search engine powered by Google and Ask.com. You can earn SwagBucks simply by using this as your main search engine. SwagBucks are then redeemable for various prizes and gift certificates. My favorite way to use them is for Starbucks and Amazon.com gift cards. We need to replace a few items for our upcoming arrival and I've been collecting Amazon gift cards in order to pay for items for free or next to nothing. To sign up for SwagBucks, simply click on the banner below.

Search & Win

Friday, April 3, 2009

Food Friday: Congo Bars

These are basically a chocolate chip bar but they are delicious. This was our go to dessert/snack recipe growing up. When my brother and I moved out, I think it was the first recipe we both called home for.

Congo Bars

1 box brown sugar (16 oz)
3 eggs
1 stick of butter
2 2/3 cups sifted flour
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional - we never used them)
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all together and bake in a sprayed pan at 350 degrees for 23-35 minutes. I usually bake this in a standard cake pan, my mom used a slightly smaller dish so the recipe is flexible.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Coming Soon

Just a quick note to let you all know I am still alive. We spent the weekend at my inlaws and they have no internet. Then, I came home Monday evening from work to find our internet at home was down! I was lost going that long without it. Also, this week we have finished painting our house after our flood last year. Needless to say, it has been a bit crazy around here.

I wanted to let you know that I'm working on a series about holding a garage sale. In some areas, garage sale season has begun and in other areas, it is just around the corner. This is a great way to earn some extra cash and clean up your house at the same time. The first installment should be up by early next week so please check back for it.

See you all tomorrow for Food Friday!

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