Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Meal Gifts

Purchased food from Caputos, pans from Party City, $100 between 5 families:

Cream of Cauliflower Soup: cauliflower 49 cents/lb
spinach/mixed greens (huge bag $3.49) added trail mix and gorgonzola cheese, grape tomatoes $1.99, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
French Bread Extra Long - $1.99 each
Entree - Roasted Italian Sausage 7lbs @ 1.79, 2 bags red potatoes, green beans, onions, 4 lbs carrots, 1 package celery, bell peppers
Apple Crisp - apples 39 cents/lb
Cookies - Home CFO convenience mixes: peanut butter, molasses, double chocolate chip.

Take the food a couple weeks before Christmas when families are busy with school, work, shopping, etc.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cash Only Challenge

Please comment if you plan to participate. About 2 months ago, I went to the envelop system, cancelled most of the automatic purchases to the credit card, switched to using debit card for purchases/payments when necessary.

If you want 2009 to start out with great numbers, cancel the automatic purchases/memberships in the month of December. Then, your January statement will start out right.


The pictures on this website are incredible. My cards never look like this. The warning - if you are going to buy this stuff, use this stuff. I saw the smaller Cricut machine on sale at Michaels for $99 regular $199. Great price...if you use it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lost Savings Bonds

Article in Parade December 6, 2009 page 14 references the website and search by social security number for bonds purchased after 1973.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2009 Scavenger Sale Schedule Cook County

Listed in Section 8 of Chicago Tribune, December 2-3.


Please comment if you have purchased delinquent taxes for investment purposes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Shopping

For organization -please keep 1 goldenrod envelop with clasp for receipts and another for returns (properly labeled). The color of the envelop helps me find them quickly. The size of the envelop typically fits in most purses.

Online: - I typically look for a price point at about 1/2 of the store price (including shipping charges). For my own use or for kids, slightly used is ok. - variety, deals...look for deal codes or scenarios on money saving blogs. - great comments from people who have purchased items. - local pickup/payment (mostly moms, friendly, and clean items) - I have used and have felt comfortable with the transactions.


Last year, I purchased gold through bullion I paid $843 for 1 oz (+shipping and handling) and yesterday sold it for $1050 (w/out shipping and handling charges). A 24.56% return for 13 months. I wish I had purchased more last year. I'm not certain that I would buy gold at the current prices. However, if it does fall below $1000 I would think about it.

I don't think I need to claim the capital gain on my taxes (question for my cpa). I didn't sign a w9 form or anything.

If you want additional discussion on this, please comment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Handling a big credit card bill

I've decided it is easier to make a game with points.

For example, if you need to find $10,000 (for a credit card bill or down payment) look for 10,000/100 points or 100 points. It easier to come with increments of $100 than to think of one big block of money.

1 point - cash in loose change around the house
1 point - return items to Home Depot or other retailers for things that were purchased and not needed (bathroom fan, tool)
1 point - cancel membership ie ymca or monthly services
1-5 points - sell some collectibles
1-10 points - don't reinvest your dividends for a period of time - especially for non retirement accounts. If your account is earning less tha 4% and your paying more than 10% on the credit card (example), use some of that money.
1 point - unclaimed property Look at the state of Illinois for unclaimed property (use previous names and at may be surprised.)
1-3 points (check your withholdings on your paycheck. Do you typically get a refund? Check with your CPA to see how this will affect your income taxes. Especially if your state is in trouble financially, you don't want to get an IOU from them.
1-30 points - income tax refund example

In any instance, look for increments of $100.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Appreciation Gifts

Do you come up with a great gift idea and the costs are waayyy out of budget? I do all the time. Well, I was at my son's kindergarden class and was talking with the teacher. She has young grandchildren in California, and a number of other interests.

My idea for her appreciation gift: a tape recorder and some books to read to her grandchildren far away. I went to Walmart expecting a recorder to be $10-$14. NO - it was closer to $30. My son has 3 teachers this year due to pregnancy among the primary teacher. But I loved my idea. Found the recorders on ebay (NEW) for $2.98 plus $5 shipping.

I am so excited that I bought one for my mom. I told her to find a book for my son and a book for my daughter.

The beginning of the tape she should say something: "This Grandma ...." "I hope you have your pajamas on, brushed your teeth, and are getting ready for bed. Grandma is going to read you a very special book. I picked this book because...

Page 1 read and remark any notable pictures, turn the page...

Paper Source

Frugal Gifts

Lip Balm Recipe

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So far this week...

My budget week is Monday-Sunday. For Groceries, convenience foods, cosmetics, cat food, cleaning products ($81/week):

McDonalds: 3 hamburgers $3.04
Convenience Store diet coke $1.25
Little Italian Pizza: $21.60
Caputos: $10.14
7.02 lbs apples $6.88 - (for applesauce and apple pie)
rye bread 1.39
1/2 lb turkey deli 1.70

Jewel: $24.88
2 Fresh Express Salads
5 boxes cereal (cocoa puffs and trix)
3 yoplait 4-6 packs yogurt
2 dannon danonino for kids
3 Viva Big Rolls
8 Progresso Soups
6 Chex Mixs

So far oop 60.91. with $30 in OYNO catalinas. I have a list of items that I want to purchase at Walgreens and Target (if possible).

Don't forget the beer and meat :-)

If you like them both, then it is a good idea to check for cross promotions:

  • New Castle Brown Ale $3 off meat (beer costs $12.99 at Jewel)
  • Heineken/Amstel Light $3 off snacks (crackers, cheeses, salty snacks or deli items) exp 12/31/09 possible to stack cracker q or snack q with it.
  • Stella Artois and purchase of wine receive $10 back mail in rebate exp 12/31/09
  • Budweister, Bud Light, Budweiser Select, BL Lime, Budweiser American Ale with purch of ham, turkey or deli platter $10 mail in rebate exp 12/31/09
  • Baileys Irish Cream $4 off ground coffee exp 01/03/10

Many of the hard liquor, having hanging mail in rebates for up to $50 back for the purchase of xx number of bottles and min. sizes. Combine this with purchase of 6 get automatic 10% discount and possible coupon in Sunday paper for specific liquor brings bottles to less than $10 each.

Great Christmas Gift for friends/family to use for New Years. Also, can make Super Bowl Party Basket with the snacks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canning Jars/Mason Jars/Ball Jars

I love these jars of all sizes:
1/2 pint
1/2 gallon

We went through a period where all of our drinking glasses (from our wedding) broke. (One by one --no big trauma drama) We used the pint jars as drinking glasses, even today, my kids drink out of them. They think it is silly.

We went on vacation to Tennessee and one of the bbq-restaurants served their drinks in these jars and it seemed authentic.

One of the other uses is for temporary food storage--leftover rice, soup, etc. The benefit is the uniformity of the storage units ie finding lids. I also don't have to worry about plastic toxicity in the food. And I can see what is inside the container.

In the pantry, I don't have to worry about pantry flies or ants.

I use masking tape and a sharpee to label. I tried to be perfect and use labels with typed print. It is a nightmare to get off after use.

I have read and not tried baking a cake inside one. Do a google search of cake in a jar and there may even be a instruction/video.

Jewel Stockman & Dakota Angus London Broil

Sunday was a steak and potatoes day. Went to Jewel bought it at $4.99/lb - oop $7

Checked the liquor department to see if there were any coupons. Purchased 12 pack Newcastle Brown Ale for $12.99 and took $3 off my steak.
7-3/1.5= $2.66/lb ok

Cooked it on the grill and it was tough and chewy (prepared medium rare). My husband thinks it's because we have been spoiled by Casey's meat. I told him we purchased steak from Jewel before and have been satisfied. We ate about a 1/2 of the steak. (what to do)

Yesterday, I used the meat to make a roast. Threw it into a dutch oven and cooked it with au jus, onions, carrots, potatoes, and wine. When it was almost done, added milk/sour cream and cornstarch. Then placed it on top egg noodles. It was great.

Other options with this meat:
marinade w/soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce and sautee it with an Asian medley of vegetables over white rice


cook it, chop it up and bake in a pot pie:
2 pie crusts
recipe: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup shortening, 1/4 cup cold water
mix into a ball, and place in fridge for about 10 minutes, roll with additional flour.

can cream of anything soup (preferably cream of mushroom or celery), carrots, peas, celery, and little chunks of cheddar cheese (optional) and bake about 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

PS the pot pie recipe is great for leftover steak at restaurants. or chop it small and place in an omelet.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Using pantry items/gardening items

This summer froze watermelon pulp/juice, made peach nectar and so forth.

Today, it was a beautiful day. We went for a bike ride as a family and returned for smoothies:

frozen watermelon cubes
peach nectar (liquid)
a few ice cubes

Kids and husband loved it. My husband was thinking 'rum runner'. Too early for us. Maybe during the Sunday Bears game.

I used my 'faux' pineapple cubes (canned zucchini and pineapple juice) in the smoothies this past week. My son didn't like it. I think if I add the faux pineapple with orange juice it will turn out better.

Riverwalk Quilters Guild

presents Beth Weheeler and Lori Marquette:
presenting a lecture and trunk show of lighthearted mixed media adventures with samplesa nd examples, demos and handouts.

7pm Tuesday at Grace United Methodist Church in Naperville
registration 6:30pm
guest fee $5

Everday Cheapskate, Mary Hunt in Naperville

7 pm Tues, 11/10/09, Nichols Library, 200 W Jefferson Ave., Naperville. No registration is necessary for free presentation. For more information contact Bobby Rudnick at 630-961-4100 x 6328.

A Place to Bead 11/06/09

in Naperville has a girl's night out event and one on 11/13/09. I went it is a create your own event with little instruction.
1st pick your beads, then the assistant will give you a wire to string them. They will tie the ends for you and add the clasps.

I thought I would learn how to do the ends.

2nd The prices on beads seemed a bit high (compared to ebay or other stores. ie price per bead .25 cents -.60 each for smaller items.

3rd love my piece.--oop $37
I'll post a picture if I can figure out how.

Michaels Craft Store

regular size calendars 2010 16 month on sale for $1 regular price $9.95
cute kittens
light houses
funny farm animals
extreme sports
m & m's
and many more

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jewel, Caputos 11/06/09

Wow- Jewel has spend $30 get $15 back. For experienced couponers...

Gold Medal Flour 5 lbs could be as low as 32 cents each - no coupons (shelf price 3.49 and pref 1.99) 9 x 3.49 = $31.41 actual $17.91 - 15 catalinas = 2.91/9 = 32 cents each bag/5 = 6 cents/lb

Trix Cereal 10.7 oz as low as 8 cents each shelf price $3.09 30/3.09 = 10 boxes x 1.88 pref price 18.80 - $1 off 3 (see x 3 =15.80 less $15 back = .80 for 10 boxes or 8 cents each plus tax.

Also at Jewel, Green Giant Idaho Potatoes 5lbs for 99 cents or 20 cents/lb. There are so many things to make with potatoes or store them in a cool dry spot in the basement (root cellar) and they should last months.

Apples - several variaties for 33 cents/lb. Great for applesauce, freeze for apple pies, baked apples...
Also check out deli meat.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday last day - Breyers

Ok. Not that I really need more ice cream. At Jewel, the price is $6.69 per 1.5qt tub of ice cream. It is buy 1 get 2 free. When you buy 6 total oop $13.38 and you get $15 back in catalinas.

From, it works on the all natural variaties not the low fat or fat free variaties.

We did the last deal and bought about 20 tubs. Gave a few away and ran out a couple weeks back.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Carving Pumpkins

66 page instructions with pictures and templates - awesome! psst and free

I could spend all day here.

easy ideas - pin cushions/sewing kits
tshirt shrugs (recycle/reuse and fashionable)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jewel Breyers deal thru 10/31

buy 1 get 2 free
expected price per 1.5 qt tub 6.75
6.75 - .75 10/18 rp
free- .75 10/18 rp
free- .75 10/18 rp
6.75 -.75 10/18 rp
free -.75 10/18 rp
free -.75 10/18 rp
4 off 5 catalina from the summer sale
total oop $5 for 6 tubs .83/tub plus tax.

need multiple inserts and catalina

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't forget the leftovers

Bought v8 juice large bottle a few weeks back. My husband likes 'not so much'. We had a 1/3 bottle left. I poured it into muffin tins to freeze and then place in zip lock baggies for use in homemade chile or maybe a bloody mary.

Monday, October 26, 2009 80% off

code: TREATS good through Oct 31.

Garden Fresh Market sale thru tues 10/25

Pork Shoulder Roast 89 cents/lb

Many purposes:
pulled pork sandwiches (jar salsa and jar bbq sauce) - cook all day in crockpot
shredded pork tacos/enchiladas

Great game day meal/gift for family in need (sick, new baby)

Call ahead because they were almost all gone.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fun/Gifts It doesn't always cost a lot of money...

My 3 1/2 year old daughter has Barbie nail polish. She wanted someone to paint her nails. I was cooking dinner and I said 'ask dad'.

Her dad was sitting on the sofa painting her nails.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Michaels Fresh Market thru 10/20/09

20 lb bag Riceland Extra Long Grain Rice 7.99/bag = .3995/lb limit 2 bags
(If you are asking what would I ever do with all this rice, see other post on rice mixes. I have classes/share this rice).

Sara Lee Smoked Turkey Breast 3.99/lb
Healthy One Honey Mesquite Ham 2.99/lb
Wisconsin Pepper Jack Cheese 1.99/lb
Landolakes American Cheese 1.99/lb

Limes 10cents each (make key lime pie, sweet and sour mix ...)
Garlic 10 cents each (store in root cellar for later use, roast and freeze for later use)

Chicken Drumsticks 69cents/lb
Bone-in Chicken breasts 99cents/lb
Tilaplia Fillets 1.99/lb

PS Caputos also has sales on eggplant 49 cents/lb, beets 29cents/lb, red peppers 79cents/lb, red delicious apples 69cents/lb and deli meat. However, I don't typically like to go to more than 2 locations each week. This week Michaels and Jewel.
With eggplant (roasted/dried, frozen for later use), beets (add to henna to color my hair), red peppers (roast in oven and peel skin and freeze for later use), apples priced ok for weekly consumption and for apple sauce or freeze for later use.

Perfect Sunday

Wow - what a great Sunday!
We slept in and then each of us parents went for our own bike rides. Then our plan was to go to a corn maze/pumpkin patch. We decided to go to Malta, IL. We didn't know what to expect.

The drive is about 1 hour away. We played the I spy game looking for letters. It helped pass the time in the car. The weather was nice for autumn.

Jonomac Orchard
For $32 a family of four can enjoy an all day pass:
The barnyard has a petting zoo, a small maze (where you can only turn right), a huge slide, and bails of hay maze for kids to crawl thru and climb and much more (esp for kids under 10 years old).

We then went to the corn maze. It is huge. We only did one part of 2. Inside the maze there is historical/funny trivia posted to give you hints for which way to turn. There is also a scavenger hunt. We found 1 of 3 things. Kids loved it.

As we exited the maze, popcorn was $1 so we shared a box. And then the kiddies went on an apple ride (little barrels that looked like apples, pulled by a tractor).

Then we took a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch is huge. I told the kids that we could only get what we could carry. We found a large, medium, and smaller pumpkin for $10.

We had lunch (huge-huge line). Next time, we will bring peanut butter/jelly sandwiches. There was a guitar player/singer and harmonica player at the picnic area. We watched other families enjoy one another.

Then, we went into the store and it was packed.

My son wanted to do the apple cannon launch. With our day pass, we received tokens. My son was able to propel apples out at a target.

We left, no crying.

I think we will make this an annual activity.

We were home in time to get ready for the Bears game.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


It was Saturday night and I was folding clothes and thought, since it was Sweetest Day, maybe I should mend some of my husband's jeans. He is a carpenter and the knees get worn out.

He brought me 5 pairs of pants that need knee patches and 4 pairs that need to be shortened (were different brands from Men's Wearhouse/Old Navy). He also had 5 pair that don't fit.

His favorite jeans are Levi's 505. At Kohls they can cost as much as $36 on sale $26. In the past, I have purchased jeans on Ebay. Typically slightly used and cost $10 (incl shipping). Well the problem has been that the pants haven't been consistently sized.

So, I patched 3 last night and 2 of my kids pants.

With the pants that don't fit: I won't resell or donate them because in many cases they are very used. I'll cut them into 4"x4" squares and I'm planning to use them for quilting squares. Currently, I'm using the squares as patches.

This project is on my list for this week.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


One of the biggest issues in the kitchen is food waste. Since my shopping day is Monday, I need to clean out and use what I have.
Watermelon - Monday, I cleaned out a watermelon and saved the pulp and juice. What to do with it. From a different watermelon, I made watermelon sorbet. The kids only sorta liked it. Today, I made smoothies with watermelon, a frozen banana, and v8 splash. Kids loved it. So I poured the watermelon puree into ice cube trays and muffin tins to freeze and have a taste of summer during the winter.
Cabbage - Monday, I retrieved my last 2 heads of cabbage. For dinner tonight, I'm making a beef stew with onions, celery, and cabbage to eat with mashed potatoes. Still have some left to either make pierogies or coleslaw...We'll see.
Tomatillos - I made the puree, added spices for the final batch of salsa verde. Should get 3 quarts canned.

Remaining - cooked and pureed sweet potatoes - what to do? how much time will it take. :-)

Meijer - 1 day only Sat Oct 17

Pork Back Ribs are 2.49/lb
Should be able to get rack for $6
If you have the freezer space, get a few extra.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vacation Rentals

Also - we are placing our 3 weeks for Cocoa Beach for sale. 2 bedroom 2 bath oceanview condo (sleeps 6)
Weeks 7 & 8 February
Week 24 June
45 minutes away from Disney, Seaworld
10-15 minutes away from NASA

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jewel 10/12/09

making shopping list and waiting on to post her favorites:
6 soft soap x .7 = 4.2
4 pop secret x .7 = 2.8 ips found 1 off 2

2 daisy sour cream x .7 = 1.40
2 sparkle paper towels 1.4 - .5 on 2 9/13 r2
2 wet ones 15 pk 1.40
2 blistex lipcare 1.40
2 playtex disposable gloves 1.40 - 2qs 1 on 1 5/3 s

oop 9.50 please let me know if I'm missing any q's.

1 ocean spray cranenergy 4pk 1.75
4 valley fresh canned chx 7 -1 off 4 peelie
2 log cabin syrup 3.50 -.5 on 1 sept ay
1 sargento 1.75 -1 9/27 s
1 smart balance 1.7 - loose q .55 off 1
2 pepperidge farm frozen bread 3.50 -1 on 2 loose q
1 super pretzel 1.75 - .75 loose q

oop $16.15 if you have the freezer qs from feb, get pepperidge farm and super pretzel for free.
use canned chicken for thermos soup mixes.

2 heads lettuce apx $3
2 oscar mayer shaved meat 7 -2 peelies from older purchase for combo meat/lettuce
1 oscar mayer deli creations sandwich free w in ad q
1 white bread 1.25
1 wheatbread 1.25
1 rye bread 1.25

oop 11.75 looking for bread qs possible jewel tent booklet

2 aunt jemima syrup 1.50 = 3 -1 on 2 8/30rp
3 true delights 4.50 -3 8/23 rp (look for cats)
2 quaker oats oatmeal 3 -1.25 on 2 8/3 rp
3 quaker chewy granola bars 3-.75 on 2 10/11 rp

oop 7.50 need to purchase quantities specified or combo see ad. using q's that I have.

oatmeal for dry mixes that I premix for husband with brown sugar and dried berries.

4 thinly sliced chicken breasts 1.76-$2/pkg should trigger $4.10 instant savings
4 clorox wipes 35 ct lemon scent 10-3 - (3 x.5) 10/4 rp= 5.5
oop 9.4 with $3 oyno for wipes

if i can find chx breasts, i'll make chx cordon blue or some other stuffed chicken breast and/or bread chicken with fiber one coating bake and garnish with fruit compote.

I'll go on Tuesday morning, after I check jill's website.

expect $54.30 w $3 back in cats

Friday, October 9, 2009


Yeah! My neighbor said I could come over and pick pears off of her tree. I think I have 45 pears (over a bushel). I gave her some peppers, celery, cabbage, and parsley. I have to wait for pears to ripen and then 'can' them. Thank you Candy!!

Rice Mixes Friday am Oct 23

Planning to make rice mixes (5 of each)
  • buttery garlic rice
  • savory onion rice
  • spanish rice
  • lemon herb rice

Please let me know if you want to make some. Please bring a 10 lb bag of rice and 50 sandwich bags (one to hold mix and the other to double bag with instructions.) I'll provide the seasonings and the recipes. It should take about 1 1/2 hours.

In my house we have rice 1-2 times per week and sometimes I take food to friends/neighbors during the holidays.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Michaels and Caputos 10/7-10/13

avacados 49cents each
gala apples 69 cents/lb

Butterball Cajun Turkey Breast
Sara Lee Low Sodium Chicken Breast
Sara Lee Roast Beef 4.49/lb

Homemade sausage 1.49/lb for 10 lbs+ or 1.99/lb
Bartlett Pears 39 cents/lb --for canning recipes
Norwegian Salmon Fillet Portions 3.99/lb
gala apples 59 cents/lb

Finding Spices

1-grow your own - basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, cilantro, chives, parsley...
Big Lots - sometimes Italian seasoning, parsley, ... 67 cents/container.
Aldi's - dried onions, parsley... $1/container
GSF - catering grocery store (no loyalty card needed) $6 for megacontainer cumin, paprika...
Caputos - house brand (not sure) very good prices. I found a megacontainer of cinnamon sticks for $2.50 (used for canning/pickling).
Spice House (Geneva) WOW! Vanilla Beans (4-6 ct) $3-$4 (typically at Jewel cost is $8 for 1 or 2 beans) and the quality WOW!
Penzis - I have not used them yet. Heard great things.
Ethnic Grocers - Cumin, turmeric.... prices good

I premix rice mixes (buttery garlic rice, spanish rice, lemon herb rice, dirty rice... and soup mixes (minestrone, chicken tortilla, vegetable, beef barley...), and baked goods (chocolate cake, brownies, muffins). I go through A LOT of spices.

LOVE - dried minced onions. Easy to store, you won't cry from peeling onions and EASY.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cleaning Garden Plot and birthday

Went to the garden yesterday to:
  • remove tomato stakes
  • bring home tools
  • clean brush and remove plants to compost
  • dig sweet potatoes (1 -5 gallon bucket full)
  • remaining tomatoes (red and green)
  • peppers
  • beans
  • gourds

Today I need to process the items:
1-sweet potato and sage ravioli (freeze the excess)
2-more salsa verde

Today is my husband's birthday and the best present I can give him is cleaning the kitchen. With all the harvesting, it has been 'conjested'.

I'd like to make him a special dinner:
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Sweet potato, goat cheese, sauteed onion, and sage ravioli with a parmesan butter sauce and pine nuts.
  • Creme Brule'

Friday, October 2, 2009

BUDGETING - Envelop System/Cash System

During college, I used the envelop system. The idea of doing it again didn't really appeal to me ....until after the Grocery Challenge.

I started again and here goes:
Food (incl paper products, cleaning, alcohol, eating out-convenience) $81
Upkeep (house expense - paint and light bulbs) $10
Gifting ($20)
Major upgrade/maintenance $38
Gas - (incl vacation gas expense) $30
Childcare (incl babysitter, preschool, after school activities, camp) $92
Fun (incl waterparks, out to eat -sit down, vacation) $57
Clothes $27

I have broken down the number of twenties, tens, fives, and singles that are needed and place them in an envelope with the receipts.

I'm on week #2. Last week went well. Had about $25 leftover from groceries plus $25 in mail in rebate--Fetzer. This week, I'm ok. Did another $25 mail in rebate for Sterling and was kind of stressed out about the amount of cash remaining for the weekend.

There was a study that shows that amount of pain a person goes through when they have to pay cash vs credit card, vs express swipe (BP Amoco). How does it work when I go to the gas station? I go to the register, give them my cash and pump my gas.

Please let me know if you are on a cash system.

Friday, September 4, 2009


My daughter and I went to garden yesterday and picked 3 corn on cob, and a 5 gallon bucket of hot peppers, tomatoes, & tomatillos.

Today, I have a dutch oven cooking pasta sauce and a pot on the stove cooking salsa verde. I was smart this time, I wore rubber gloves as I cleaned the peppers. Almost choked on the fumes. I have several of the Roma tomatoes in the food dehydrator. Let's see how that works.

I hope I have time to clean the jars and do the hot water bath. I still have to do something with a large zucchini. I'm thinking of large cubes and cooking it with apple juice and canning it. What do you think?

Gave away vegetables - 2 quarts each to 2 neighbors.--Always fun to share.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Went to the market to get peaches at 59cents/lb. Yesterday - dried 3 lbs (took FOREVER)--ended up with 1 pint of dried fruit. Made 9 pints of spiced peaches (med syrup) and have the peach nectar in fridge to cook and can.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Harvesting 2009

My garden is ready to be harvested:
brussel sprouts
swiss chard
zucchini (thought I planted acorn squash?)

not yet ready to process:
sweet potatoes

In addition to the edibles, we have cut flowers 2 dozen gladiolas and more to bring in, a mixed boquet, and sunflowers. Waiting on the gourds for fall decorations and also gifts for autumn birthdays. Will use the corn stalks as additional decoration for the house. Somehow, I have about 18 mums plants that will need to be transplanted or placed in pots for gifts.

beans and peas didn't do well this year, some cucumbers needed to be supplemented with grocery purchase at 25-33cents/lb.

From the garden, I have processed in August:
13 pints bread and butter pickles
?pickle relish - need to do a recount
13 1/2 pints tomatilla salsa (salsa verde)
1 batch zucchini 'crab' cakes
2 loaves zucchini bread
1 zucchini 'apple' crisp
2 heads of cabbage for coleslaw
1st and 2nd cuttings of lettuce and radishes from a friend and waiting on next planting
8 pints zucchini 'pineapple' cubes
3 pints salsa
6 pints pasta sauce
? quarts (frozen) kale
? quarts (frozen) swiss chard
? quarts of mint tea
? we have eaten the beans and peas as they have been harvested...unable to freeze due to lack of quantity

items from store
fuji apples @49 cents/lb
7 quarts 1 pint applesauce

yesterday, found food dehydrator on craigslist for $6 WOW!
today, purchased 15 lbs of peaches at .59/lb
leftover granny smith apples
put 3 lbs of peaches in dehydrator and 3 lbs of sliced apples in dehydrator

purchased 3 large green bell peppers @ 39 cents/lb

Final Numbers for All You Contest 2009

4 week magazine contest need to spend less than $100/week including eating out and alcohol:week #1 - $95.86 -$20 mail in rebate week #2 - $101.98-$10 mail in rebate, 5 dom cats, 4 wal catsweek #3 - $136.07 - $25 mail in rebate, 15 jewel cats, 4 wal catsweek #4 196.37 with about $15 in cats plus misc product cats.

Monday, August 10, 2009

After the challenge week 5:

homemade pancakes - with extra mix for next time, homemade syrup
packed DH lunch: tunafish sandwich with cucumber slices, lettuce & cheese (and extra sandwich for me), joint juice, bottle water, breakfast bar, yogurt, trail mix, apple

snack - yogurt (me), cereal (kids)

lunch - plan a bunch of leftovers for lunch and dinner.

Best guess for dinners this week:
Tues -chicken thighs (grilled - swap with neighbor for pantry items)
Wed - pot pie
Turs - asian
Fri - fish
Sat - ???--something for the grill and rice
Sun -???--something for the grill and rice

How do I feel after the contest?

I didn't feel all that commited after the first week because I don't think I was registered correctly.

What did I learn: Many things, (1)I think we drink more than we should. My goal this next week is to only have cocktails on Friday and Saturday. This will improve my 'bottom-line' especially for my new wellness initiative. (2) I didn't make my husband's lunches like I did in week 1-3 because I ran out of mayonaisse. I didn't want to buy it without a good deal. Well I could have paid for the mayonaisse several times over with the costs of fast food. Sometimes, I forget that...especially with coffee/or the coffee containers. (3) We don't go out to dinner very often --about 3 times per year unless we are on vacation. I need to look at different savings strategies for this. (4) I did more baking in week 1 than in the other weeks. It is easier for me to bake in the fall and winter than any other time of year because I don't like to heat up my kitchen. However, the early mornings have been cooler and I should have gotten my butt up earlier. Again ran out of flour and didn't want to go to store for that without a coupon or deal. Silly me.

As far as nutrition: My family loves fresh fruit and vegetables. I think I could have done better by incorporating more vegetarian and fish meals. I tried organic milk in week 1. I really need to do a better job of buying better milk for our family. As far as other organic items, I don't typically purchase organic fruits or vegetables. I have a garden that I grow that has most of our vegetables for the year. In the garden, I don't use pesticides or sprays and have my own compost that we use from our yard to fertilize it.

As far as creativity: I could have swapped more and incorporated my friends network. The only problem is that many people in my neighborhood don't cook that much and my friends live a few towns away. I planted a new blueberry bush (purchased prior to the contest) and when the sales for these plants appear in the fall, we will plant a few more. My DH cleared out some unwanted perennials for me for the edible landscaping.

To be perfectly honest, my DH tries to please me. However, this last 4 weeks, it felt that I was checking up on him and I felt like his mother and not his wife. Asking for receipts and questioning him everyday. He usually spends his 'petty cash' on his lunches.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Week #4 - Yeah!!

Monday - cereal, coffee
packed snack - joint juice, cranenergy drink, breakfast bar, yogurt (DH was going to buy a sandwich)

Made several Jewel runs - I'll post later -spent 40 oop and received $41 in catalinas :-) unbelievable sales

kids snack - cereal, yogurt, grapes

kids lunch - pb sandwichs
my lunch - yogurt, grapes, leftovers

dinner - kids/me sloppy joes, green beans, frozen strawberries, DH steak/me and mashed potatoes w/green beans

special note - all rebates have been mailed in - went to library to copy forms/upcs. Hope to get them back in next couple of weeks.

Tues. - cereal, coffee
packed DH - joint juice, yogurt, breakfast bar

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Week 3

Monday - breakfast-cereal, coffee
packed husband's lunch - egg salad sandwich, apple, yogurt, breakfast bar, water

Dominiks run:
Motts apple juice 99cent q -.55
eggs .99-.5q
milk 1.69
3 lb roast 6.07
1 lb banans 1.14
2 plums .73
2 pints blue berries 1.98
5 lbs potatoes .99q
8 oz mushrooms 1
cantelope .99q
deli sandwich - grilled chicken 3.99q
oop 17.66

kids camp snack - plum, bread, celery, water, raisins, cheese

was going to take sandwich to husband - he had sanwiches at work

Talked with DH later and somehow the office decided to order sandwiches and my husband paid because he was the only one with cash oop $25.55 (later recovered $12).

dinner - hotdogs, leftovers, cantelope, blueberries

Tues -
cereal, coffee, leftover pancakes, blueberries, cantelope, pop tart

kids lunch snack - banana, bread, water

jewel run:
3 -4paks yocrunch 1.25 x 3 = 3.75 x .7 store promo 2.625
3 - free tuna 2.5 oz pouches free w/q
1 4 pack cranenergy drinks 2.5 -1q *.7 = 1.05
1 sargentos salad toppers 2.5 - .75q *.7 = 1.225
6 dannon light and fit yogurts 3-.6-1 = 1.40
3 breyer yogurt 6 pks 7.50 - 2.25q *.7 = 3.675
6 bottles sterling wine @ 6.99 = 41.94 - 9qstore tags *.9 (10% disc) = oop 29.646- 25 mail in rebate
2 tony's frozen pizzas 5-1q *.7 = 2.80
1 whole fruit pops 2.5 -1 *.7 = 1.05
oop $43.07 grocery - 25 mail in rebate (+non grocery items on receipt 5.45)

2 - snickers
2 - peanut mm
2 - reg mm
@.49 x 6 - 3qs = .06 overage for rest office supplies - (use candy for kids' incentives with learning numbers, letters with flash cards.)

Total so far:
17.66 + 25.55-12 + 43.07 -.06 = oop 74.22 - 25 mail in rebate

Tues - lunch - coleslaw, leftover ham

snacks - fruit pops
Dinner - brother was in town and brought elk meat - marinated it in soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame seed oil, cider vinegar, ketchup, garlic and later made a stir fry with some frozen vegetables, served with white rice.

PREPPED - browned leftover sausage for meals this week, cut up ham (sliced some for leftover snack, cut-up some for split pea soup, baked beans recipes, quiche, and pot pies), and cooked bones for ham stock.

breakfast - cereal, coffee
packed DH lunch - yogurt, cranenergy drink, blueberries (plan to take him a hot sandwich from Dominiks deli)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Finding $500 Money Challenge

Every once in awhile it is a good idea to look for money. Here are my first suggestions:
1-have coin counted at the bank and deposited.
2-check to find unclaimed property
3-returns - Home Depot and other retailers
4-review credit card statements for automatic transactions that you don't use anymore ie dietary supplements,
5-review suppliers ie cell phone, internet, cable
6-checking out type - check with banker to see if you are in the right account
7-if you have paid off a vehicle recently, check that gap insurance is refunded.
8-if you have refinanced recently, check that you received your escrow check refund from previous lender
9-check with lender to see if you can refinance and save $150+/month
10-do you qualify for real estate tax freeze (seniors)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Week 2 Menu Ideas

Mon -black bean veggy burgers
Tues - tilapia
Wed - farfalle pasta w/tomato cream sauce, sausage, green onions, sun dried tomatoes
Thurs -Chinese - spicy beef, asian vegetable mix, brown sauce, white rice
Fri - salmon
Sat - Little Italian Pizza - house crust, sausage and spinach
Sunday -grilled chicken and roasted vegetables

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Menus - week 1

Monday - Teriyaki Shrimp, Birds Eye Asian Medley Mix, White Rice
Tuesday - Roasted Salsa Chicken and Broccoli Salad
Wednesday - Hillshire Farm Sausage and Rice Bake
Thursday - Vegetable Lasagna (spinach, homemade ricotta cheese, roasted red pepper, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella)
Friday - Tilapia w/Fiesta Rice - need to buy Tilapia
Saturday - Grilled Chicken and Roasted Vegetables - need to buy chicken
Sunday - Honey Glazed Ham and Sauteed Onions

Let's see how this goes.

Week #1 Prep

  • cleaned out fridge
  • chopped carrots, celery for salad topping, soup, casserole
  • marinated shrimp skewers
  • made puppy chow mix - peanut butter, butter, chocolate chips, fiber one cereal, cheerios, powdered sugar

grocery shopping:
2 hamberger buns .79 x 2
white bread .79
chunk pineapple .89
whole grain bread 1.69
can mandarin oranges .45
5 lbs all purpose flour 1.79
peaches 4 x .39
grapefruit .69
corn tortillas .31
baby carrots .49
3 lb granny smith apples 2.99
sunflower seeds .39
total 13.86

wild harvest organic 2% milk 64 oz 3.69 - coupon free
jewel water 24 ct .5 L 4.98 - coupon free
3.roma tomatoes 1.07
total 1.09

3 heads of romaine lettuce
2 cucumbers
1 broccoli crown

5 dinner salads (lettuce, celery, carrots, red onions, tomato, bacon bits, hard boiled egg
2 cherry yogurt bran quick bread - shared one with friend MAO
2 quiche - shared one with MAO
2 pot pies - shared one with MAO

In exchange for sharing, received help in kitchen, saran wrap and big box of raisins. -to supplement pantry.

Monday, July 6, 2009


1 - Stockpile - will inventory and post
2 - From Scratch - recipes will post,, and google for substitutions
3 - Couponing websites:,,,
4 - Store Loyalty Cards - Jewel's Avenue, Meijer's mealbox, Dominick's shortcuts
5 - Manufacturer coupons - currently receive 2 Sunday Chicago Tribunes and 1 Naperville Sun
6 - Garden - will post pictures of my two Naperville Garden Plots and will inventory harvest
7 - Menu Planning - 1 week in advance and to have 5 meals prep'd on Sunday evening for the busy work week.
8 - Nutrition - The garden and edible landscape will help. Will incorporate vegetarian dishes, legumes, and fresh fruit (in season) to list. www.sparkpeople has a nutrition calculator that will assist in validating nutrition component of menus.
9 - Creativity - Since I have an interesting stockpile of dried vegetables and fruits, it is possible to swap with friends for legumes or other items. There will be a component of gourmet flair that I want to hit. Some of this is by using 'luxury items' pine nuts, fresh fish, pesto, and goat cheese.