One of our favorite frugal meals is cajun spiced red beans and rice.
Cajun seasoning to taste
Simple and Yummy!
I wanted to leave the recipe at that, but I feel like babbling. There really is a HUGE difference in cajun seasoning...don't buy no-name brand! The brand I buy is Tones. McCormick is good too. I use dried red beans. I buy a bag of them, let them sit overnight in water, in the morning dump out the water, add new water and let simmer for 2 hours or until mooshy. Now that is a run on sentence! The brown rice I cook in my rice cooker. I've NEVER been able to cook rice any other way. I also like to add onions and garlic that have been sauteed as well as cut up smoked sausage and burger to it. Yummy Yummy Yummy! I use 1/2 of the bag of beans, 2 cups brown rice and the sausage. Note January, 2011: knowing what I know now, I'd decrease the rice and increase the meat.
I've talked about swagbucks before on my blog. I love swagbucks! Besides mypoints (let me know if you want a referral code) and very few other random things, it's the only place that I actually get cash.
I received an email earlier in the week informing me that swagbucks was launching a new program. I haven't spent much time looking at it (it just went live today), but anything that earns me more swagbucks makes me happy! If I can earn more than you can too. I'm close to earning another amazon gift card - I don't spend ANY extra time out of my day. I'm always searching for something on the internet!
From Feb 25th through March 3rd, anyone new to swagbucks will receive 60 swag bucks just for signing up! (Read swagbucks website to see why you now receive 60 swagbucks instead of 6). Here is the code you need to use (NOTE: USE ALL CAPS!): JAESCODE
According to swagbucks, "It will be worth noting that on the 25th we will be doing A LOT of Swag Code giveaways through our blog, twitter, and facebook so all your existing registered users will have the opportunity to earn free bucks."
One more important note from swagbucks: "the way to now earn free bucks with the toolbar is to be LOGGED in through the toolbar, not just having it visible."
It always amazes me how I decide to do something for someone else, yet I am the one blessed.
I'm embarrassed to write this, but sometimes my family seems like such a nuisance. They make messes, these people want to eat, they ALWAYS dirty clothes, etc. etc.
Ummmm hellooooo, without them I wouldn't have a JOB!!! I'm a full time homemaker. Without the messes, the faces to feed, the clothes to wash, my life would be horrible!
I love this challenge! So far I've done the following:
made chocolate chip cookies
written several notes
brought hot chocolate to my daughter
took my son to Burger King as a surprise. He ordered cini minis. Cost = $1.00 Time = Priceless
made an effort to find my son, ruffle his hair and ask him if was getting ready (usually I yell from downstairs)
sent my husband an email
I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones I can think of right now.
The biggest impact was when I made my daughter's bed. Every day they have to do this. They don't do a great job and they usually don't get to it until after school. I made her bed when she was at school. She came home and went upstairs to start working on her list of things she needs to do. She came running down the stairs and gave me a huge hug. I mean a huge huge long hug. She had a huge grin to go with it to. Told me thank you over and over again.
Really?!? I'll make her bed every day if that's how happy she gets.
Now here's the difference between the two kids. My son yells from upstairs - "Thanks mom for making my bed."
This morning at Burger King after buying cini minis during our special time...thank you Mommy so much. I love you.
On a side note. My 13 year old daughter decided to give up chocolate for Lent. She wants to know what we're doing for Lent. I haven't told anyone the challenge I've given myself. I don't know why she's giving something up, but I'm so proud of her. When I made chocolate chip cookies she was picking around the chocolate!
BEWARE: Complete and total rambling...more for me than you...
You should be doing something EACH day with money/budget stuff or you will feel out of control and/or spend more money. It doesn't have to take very much time; just note where your money went that day, where you stand with your bills, or balance your checking account.
Wondering where this is coming from? Last week, I was thinking that I spent too much time on our budget stuff. I think I spent 30 minutes. A LOT less time than I used to spend, but more time than I have been spending lately. I realized though that what I was doing is helping my family. The more time I spend working on money stuff, the more I'm focused on how blessed we have been. It keeps me focused on my priorities too. I don't seem to "want" as much when I know where we stand with our bills, savings and our student loans.
Money IS simply a tool. A means to and end. It is amoral.
A few years ago I read that someone had great success cooking a roast in the crock pot after wrapping it in aluminum foil. I'm fairly certain I tried this and thought it was awesome. Unfortunately I completely forgot about it until I cooked a roast last week and it was dry. AGAIN.
I need some meat for sandwiches this weekend so I wrapped a roast in aluminum foil, put it in the crock pot on high for 4 hours, and then turned to low and cooked a while longer...maybe 2 hours and OH MY!!! I sprinkled salt, pepper and garlic powder on it. It's delicious!
The roast cost $6.50. I'll easily get two or three meals out of it (I serve up the meat and hide the rest!) I put another roast wrapped in foil in the freezer. I'm going to throw the frozen roast in the crock pot next week and see which one is better.
I was curious if there are any issues cooking in aluminum foil. I didn't find anything on the Internet to scare me away. I found this short article interesting.
Why do I spend $2.50 per pound for sausage that is high in fat, but won't spend that much on salmon that is SOOOOO good for you?
Because I can make the sausage last for two meals and I can't even make the salmon last for one meal. Not a real good reason!
Well DUH!!! I can portion the salmon out then make two veggies and some kind of a bread to go with the salmon and it'll last for a meal. Then the next night I can have beans and rice to even out the cost.
Next time I find salmon on clearance for $2.50/lb I'm buying it!!!
While we don't actually celebrate Lent, last year I decided that during the Lenten season I'd give up some "thing". It had to be big and meaningful, something that would make me better at my job as a homemaker.
Last year I gave up time on the computer. Mostly. I still did online banking and if there was an email I needed to see my husband would tell me to look at it. It was so difficult for me for about one week. I kept a journal of this time and it's amazing that after that week it was pure freedom! I looked in cookbooks, sewed a bit, did some scrapbooking, read more books, hung out with my family more. Some times I can see where I slip back into the computer habit (which is why I haven't joined Facebook or Twitter.) I catch myself pretty quick and limit my time even more. In fact, I don't allow myself much time on the computer during the day until I'm done with my work.
This year I've been trying to figure out what I should do for Lent. I've decided that in order to accomplish my 2010 non-resolutions, I won't allow myself to read in the evening unless I have accomplished my goals for each day. This is a luxury for me and I shouldn't do it if I don't have my priorities in order.
My goals are simple, but they are not easy.
Each day I need to show my family that I love them using THEIR love language....not mine!
For my daughter that means words of encouragement and/or gifts.
For my son that means time and touch.
For my husband that means words of encouragement and acts of service.
Words of encouragement is the hardest love language for me. I feel goofy when I tell my husband that I appreciate that he works so hard to provide for us. I sincerely appreciate all he does for us, but to say that to him is not natural for me. It's easy for me to tell my daughter that she's beautiful. I have to be more aware of her actions if I want to compliment her on "real things". For example last week she amazed me when she told me that her brother needs more time to get his work done after school because he doesn't get home from swim team until 5:30. Those are the kinds of things I want to compliment her on. Neither my son nor I want to read together in the evening. He NEEDS to be a better reader so he NEEDS to read! It's the perfect time to cuddle up and read together. I NEED to make this a priority in my life.
Until recently, I had never eaten canned chicken before. I bought it in case of an emergency and we needed easy food to prepare. I'm now trying to get rid of that food so it doesn't expire. In the fall I'll build it up again.
We had it the other night in a pasta dish and it was delicious! My kids ate half of the can before I could put it into the pasta. We aren't crazy about tuna fish so as a substitute and in an emergency it'd be great to have on hand.
Today, husband started a new job with a much higher salary (he's now being paid the average salary for his position - good for him!)
Remember the saying "the more you make, the more you spend." That's going to be true in our case.
We haven't had much blow money at all for the past few months while we figured out our new budget. We will each be getting a raise in our "allowance" or "blow money" whatever you want to call it. Money we can spend whatever way we want!
Blow money is so important to a budget. It doesn't have to be much, but just a bit of money you can spend on yourself. Or better yet, choose NOT to spend. I've found that when it's "my" money I'm much more careful in my spending!
We LOVE ranch dressing at our house. The stuff in the bottle doesn't cut it though...we want the package of Hidden Valley ranch dressing with mayo and milk.
Unfortunately the pack of dressing mix is over $1.00. I know you can make your own mix, but it just doesn't taste the same. Thankfully a lady at Frugal-Families directed me to the Outback Steakhouse Ranch Salad Dressing copycat recipe.
1 t. Hidden Valley Ranch mix
1 c mayonnaise
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t paprika
1/8 t garlic powder (I use 1/4 t).
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
2. Cover bowl and chill dressing for at least 30 minutes before serving
Note: To save time I use 4 baggies and mix the spices in there so I don't have to drag everything out every time I want to make ranch. Dump a baggie of spices w/ mayo and milk and I'm good to go!
My husband has been working 4-10 hour shifts at work. With his new job he'll be working 5 days a week. We've had Wednesdays together for a couple of years and it's been awesome! I have found however, that I can't schedule any home "work" on that day. I have a few things on a list that I would like to accomplish like vacuuming and dusting upstairs, as well as one load of laundry, but if it doesn't get done it doesn't matter. I always plan something quick and easy for dinner as well.
My husband really likes to go places on his day off (hiking, biking, run errands together etc.) this is also the day that we usually spend some time planning where our money will go. Now that we won't have this day together anymore, I've decided to make this my listless "list-less" day. Although I believe routines are so important in running a home I am now going to make Wednesday project day (no routines will be done!). I have so many projects that I want to do:
sew the curtains on my French doors
work a little every month on my dad's calendar for Christmas
work on my scrapbooks
sew buttons on pillows that fell off
make handmade cards
sew a pillow for my bed
hang up curtains in my family room
the list is endless!
Unfortunately I never do these things. In the evenings I'm shot. The best time of day for me to get anything accomplished is in the morning! So from now on Wednesdays will be my project day. So why on Earth did I make an appointment for Wednesday morning? Because it's a habit to say "sure anytime is good - I'm a homemaker!" Bad bad idea. I think I'll put a big fat X through Wednesdays from now on!
Do we really need to buy and/or drink bottled water? Several studies have found that drinking tap water is just as good for your body as bottled water.
There are times that I will buy bottled water. I usually buy a case of Aquafina water in the spring during baseball/softball season. Aquafina water is more expensive than store brand, however, the reason I buy bottled water isn't for the water, it's for the bottles.
If my kids forget the bottle of water at practice or a game then it's not a big deal. When we bought them their own bottles it was always a battle trying to find their water when we needed to go. For some reason they don't lose cheapie bottles near as much as they did their own bottles.
While I've written before about Dave Ramsey and our current plan to pay off our student loan debt, I haven't gone into detail much about our budget. There are a few items in our budget that are always a source of discussion between my husband and me. Entertainment and vacations. If it were up to me we wouldn't spend ANY money on ANYTHING fun whatsoever until our loans were paid off. I'm a total nerd and feed on finding new excel programs and updating our budget numbers CONSTANTLY. We have a lot of student loan debt to pay off. It will be years before it's paid off (but won't take 30 years like it's scheduled to).
My husband on the other hand believes we should enjoy this time with our kids and maybe possibly do some fun things once in a while. Like take them skiing or go camping. All paid in cash of course.
Well, all I have to say is....THANK GOODNESS he's around! I know our kids aren't going to be around forever, but sometimes I forget to have fun with them. When we are out of our house and in our camper we totally relax and have fun with the kids. When we're riding on a ski lift together chatting about various things we form a different kind of bond than when we're making snow angels and having snow ball fights. If I stop for a minute and really think about the priorities I have for our family, I know that he is right.
We're planning on going skiing on Friday providing the weather cooperates. We went skiing last year for the first time in 17 years and we both had a blast! The kids are so much better than us.
A compromise in marriage is soooo very important! With the extra money he'll get when he quits his job (from unused vacation days) we will send most of it to our student loan debt, give some to our local food pantry and send some to Haiti. These things are important to both of us. Spending time together as a family by going on a ski trip is very important to my husband. I have a choice to make. I can choose to support him or I can choose to let this become a big issue our marriage.
Ten years ago I would have let this become a big issue in our house. Today, I'm choosing to support him!!! Make the right choice today, your marriage is worth it!
Unfortunately the saga continues. I have been wasting spending so much time trying to fix my computer.
On Tuesday I received another malware horrid program on my laptop that was called Malware Defense. I would not have been able to fix the issues without having access to the internet on my old desktop computer.
I couldn't even get to my favorite website for help! I could go to other places on the internet on my laptop and I could get to that website from my desktop so I knew something was really messed up!
It's still not fixed for good. I keep finding more things that I need to do/things that I SHOULD have been doing to maintain my computer. You'd think with a degree in computers I'd know this stuff! I do know it, but I just get busy like everyone else. However, with a little bit of preventative care I would have saved hours and hours of my time!
One thing I did find that was interesting was that old java programs can be corrupt. A few months ago I kept getting a message that java wanted to update my program and I kept putting it off! I didn't know what it was so when I got around to it I was going to look into it. I didn't ever get around to it!
I ended up deleting the JAVA program from both of my computers so we'll see if I need it for anything. I may have messed it up even more! Time will tell!
I mentioned in a previous post about hot spots and my buffet. Well, I must say that last night was the first time in quite a while that I put anything on there (I quickly took it off when I realized what I had done). I guess I got out of the habit of using it! Here's a picture of my purrrrrty buffet!
Notice the "stuff" on the right side of the picture. I needed a place for my thermometer and pens that was handy. At the thrift store I found the cutest black tray for $1.00. It helped to have these odds and ends in a one contained area. I put a different tray on my dryer for all my "stuff" and it looks so much better. I don't get it, but I'm not a decorator!
I think I break every "rule" in the decorating book. Check out my curtains. I know the curtain rod is way too low, but I don't care at all. I kind of like it and since I'm the one who lives here I think I'm okay with that!
You know the BEST part about buying used clothes....
You know that the clothes are not going to shrink!
Don't you hate it when you buy a brand new shirt that fits you perfectly in the store, but once you wash it, it no longer fits as nice.
Here in my small town we don't have the wonderful thrift store selection that we had when we lived in Phoenix. Now when I need new clothes I usually end up at a 50% off sale at Kohls. Unfortunately I buy them, wash them and then they end up too big or too small. Maybe I should just quit shopping!
I love applesauce! Even though we don't eat it, it's in my pantry.
What?!? Why?!? It's much better for you than sugar!
I can put it in my baked goodies often times and you can't tell a difference. Pumpkin bread and banana bread are two examples. I think I tried to put it in my brownies and won't be doing that again - don't be messing with my chocolate!
Today I decided to make banana bread. After I pulled out everything I needed to make it, I noticed that I'm getting low on sugar. Apparently there hasn't been a sale in a long time. I usually keep an extra bag in my pantry.
Applesauce to the rescue! Frozen applesauce cubes to be exact. I buy applesauce to use in recipes, but then forget about it and it gets moldy in the fridge. Or my son who absolutely loves applesauce decides he doesn't like it anymore. So I found the perfect way to store it. Once I open the applesauce and use what I need, I put the remaining applesauce into an ice cube tray. I think that 1 cube = 2 T applesauce, but that is a guesstimate. The next day I dump the cubes into a baggie. When I need applesauce for breads or smoothies then I have them. I replaced half of the sugar that the recipe called for with applesauce and it's delicious!