5 frugal things

5-frugal-things

Five Frugal Things is a great practice of recognizing some of the frugal things in your life.  I first came across it on the blog TheFrugalGirl, and have jumped on that bandwagon!

Back on the bandwagon of posting!  I might not be posting as often, but I am going to try to post 1-2 x per week.  It was a much needed break last week, thanks for being patient!  Here’s a quick 5 frugal things post!

  1. Making cinnamon knots  I used the frugal girl’s recipe, and they came out fabulous and delicious!  I was serious impressed with how simple it was.  All in all it took about 3 hours from start to finish (but much of that was rising time)
  2. at home haircuts.  LittleBird and Mr Bird were due for haircuts. Years ago we spend $19.99 for a a hair clipper set.  I used to cut Mr Bird’s hair, but now he does it himself, and he tackels cutting Litte Birds hair.
  3. No paper towels or paper napkins!  I posted about this a few weeks ago, and I love how much it saves us!
  4. Planning our meals.  I meal planned and grocery shopped this weekend.  I have been spending a bit more at the grocery store for some convenince items to make eating at home easier, but it’s still cheaper, healthier and less stressful than last minute take out!
  5.  Homemade waffles.  Every now and then we love a good homemade brunch!  This weekend I made us some waffles.  A few years ago I bought  this  waffle maker!  It makes 2 belgium waffles at a time, so it is super efficient to make waffles for the whole family!

What frugal things have you done this week?  What do you do to keep yourself motivated to be frugal?

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5 frugal things

5-frugal-things

Five Frugal Things is a great practice of recognizing some of the frugal things in your life.  I first came across it on the blog TheFrugalGirl, and have jumped on that bandwagon!

Here is a quick list of the 5 frugal things I’ve done in the past few weeks

  1. Making homemade room freshener/clothing freshener spray.  You can see my post about it here.  I make a batch of this every few weeks, and it is the BEST deodorizing spray ever!
  2. Drinking water.  I splurged and bought some La Croix sparkling water this week at Aldi.  It reminded me that our habit of drinking mostly water and coffee is frugal.  Juice and other store bought beverages can add up!
  3. No paper towels or paper napkins!  I posted about this last week.  We do this EVERY week, but it still good to remember that it saves us money, and is better for the environment.
  4. Planning our finances.  Mr. Bird and I have been trying to work toward planning our finances and paying off the last few thousand dollars of our car, and planning to pay off our mortgage in 5-10 years.  This might not seem frugal in the moment, but syncing up on finances reminds us of our long-term goals and gives us motivation!
  5.  Homemade bread.  I enjoy baking, but often don’t have the time for it, so I frequently buy store bought baked goods.  This weekend I made some homemade pumpkin bread which is going to be great for breakfasts.

What frugal things have you done this week?  What do you do to keep yourself motivated to be frugal?

5 frugal things

5-frugal-things

 

Here is a quick list of the 5 frugal things I’ve done in the past few weeks

  1. Made homemade laundry detergent from soap nuts.  I made a batch of laundry soap this week.  I make enough to last about 2 weeks, so we should be good for a while.  See my post about soap nuts here.  I spend about $10-15 dollars on a pound of soap nuts and this will last me at least 6 months!
  2. Making my own breadcrumbs.  I have always used store-bought Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, which although cheap, making homemade breadcrumbs from leftover/stale bread is even better!  I don’t know why I never thought of doing this before, or even why I am so surprised they work!  I just take old bread odds and ends and either toast them in my oven or the toaster and then pulse them a few times in my food processor.  I store them in the freezer.
  3. No paper towels or paper napkins!  This isn’t specifically something that I have done in the past few weeks.  In fact, we have been paper-free in our kitchen for 5 years now!  I was reminded how frugal this is when I was picking up some bulk items at BJs and saw the prices of paper towels and napkins.  Thankful for our large stash of cloth dish towels, dish cloths and cloth napkins.
  4. Double checking a coupon at the dept store.  OK, so not super frugal because I used the coupon on an expensive pair of shoes.  But when I doubled checked my coupon and details, I was able to get an additional 20% off that the cashier missed.
  5.  Pantry eating.  We were able to make quite a few meals this past week from items in our pantry.  I am always happy to use of ingredients we have stored in the pantry and save some money on our grocery bill.

What frugal things have you done this week?

A weekend get away

weekend getaway

We decided to take advantage of the President’s Day holiday and meet my in-laws for a 2 night trip in Hudson Valley NY.  We chose this location because it is halfway between Philly (where we live) and Boston (where they are).  The 6+ hour drive between Philly and Boston is long and exhausting for us with ToddlerBird. I splurged and got us an Airbnb rental half way for us!  We decided to take Friday off, and arrive Friday morning, stay 2 nights and head home Sunday morning.

Lodging:
I was able to find us a great 2 bedroom apartment right on the Hudson River with beautiful views for $150 a night.  I wanted to make sure we had a nice place to stay so that if the weather was bad, we were all still comfortable.  $150 is definitely at the top of what I normally pay for an Airbnb (but we typically only need a 1 bedroom).  This rental was definitely a risk, because we were the first people to book it, so there were no reviews.  But I e-mailed back and forth with the host a few times, and felt confident enough to give it a try.
I also knew that I wanted to try to cook some meals at the rental so we wouldn’t have to eat out as much.  This is for 2 reasons: eating out with a toddler is stressful and not fun for us, and eating in saves money!  Win- win!
Entertainment
I was hoping that the rental would be nice enough that we wouldn’t have to look for ways to get out.  I was right!  The view of the Hudson river was great entertainment.  Lots of trains passing by, boats and barges floating along and not to mention the view itself!  Our hosts also had a bird feeder out, and there were tons of birds for us to watch while relaxing in the living room.My mother in law is a jewelry maker/beader.  I had been wanting to make essential oil bracelets with lava beads.  I bought some beads in advance and asked her to bring some additional supplies.  **I will post more about these DIY bracelets soon!  We also had fun playing some board games (Bananagrams and Forbidden Island)
For my in-laws, seeing ToddlerBird is the highlight of any trip, they love to read, play and joke around with him.  Because of this, we didn’t need much entertainment.  And Mr. Bird and I certainly enjoyed some down time with extra hands for Toddler Bird.

I had researched a few outing options for us on TripAdvisor, in case we were looking for something to do.  We decided to visit George Washington’s Headquarters.  It ended up being free because they had a large George Washington’s Birthday Celebration.  There were reenactors, music and craft activities.

Food
I didn’t do a full menu planning because I wanted us to be able to be flexible, and I also knew that my in-laws would be more than happy to provide takeout!  Mr. Bird and  I knew that we wanted to capitalize on some free babysitting so we planned to eat 1 or 2 meals out on our own.  I decided to bring some food from home to limit what we would have to buy.  I brought some coffee, produce, milk, half and half, freezer zucchini bread and a box of mac and cheese.  I also had a hunch I wanted to make a lasagna, so I brought a 9×13 pan.

 I could have gone shopping at Aldi at home and brought all my food with us, which would have definitely saved money, but since I wasn’t totally sure of the kitchen situation in the rental I decided against it.  In the end, even a more expensive grocery store was cheaper, healthier and more delicious than a restaurant!
Here is our weekend meal recap:
 
Friday Morning: Panera Breakfast on the road : $15
Friday Lunch: $40 (date!)
Friday Dinner: Chinese take out (in-law’s treat)
Saturday Breakfast: at home (fruit, zucchini bread and coffee)
Saturday Lunch: Coldcut sandwiches and chips
Saturday Coffee date: $15 
Saturday Dinner: Lasagna, broccoli and garlic bread
Sunday Breakfast: Breakfast out at a Diner (in-law’s treat)
What ways do you save money when you go on vacation?
Interested in booking your next vacation with airbnb, use this link and you will get a $40 credit (I will get a $20 credit if you book)

Mission to Minimalize

missiontomimimalize1

The past year or so, we have been working hard to live a more minimalist life.  We have introduced practices such as “no buy” months.  These are months where we buy nothing but food and other essentials.

We have ruthlessly eliminated extra clothes and clutter from our house.  We have made multiple trips to our local goodwill, scheduled at least a dozen greendrop picks, and despite all this; we are still overwhelmed with stuff.

My goal over the next few months is to systematically go through each and every room of our house and get rid of EVERYTHING that is unnecessary, unused or doesn’t add value to our lives.

Here is the list of rooms to be attacked:

Downstairs
Living Room
Dining Room
Foyer
Kitchen
half bathroom

Upstairs
Master Bedroom
Little Bird’s Room
Guest Room
PlayRoom/office/misc

3rd Floor
Living Room
Office

My hope is that truly focusing on eliminating stuff and in the process hopefully organizing, I will be able to define specific spaces.  Right now we store office supplies in the foyer, the playroom and up on the 3rd floor.  Where’s the stapler? Let me run all over the house to find it!  I want to have clearly defined spaces and places for everything.

I think some of the biggest challenges will be tackling some memories/emotions when it comes to pairing down little birds GINORMOUS collection of books, toys and clothes.  Additionally, I think I need to just come to terms that I might have to be running up to the 3rd floor for office supplies.  Although not super convenient, I think it will greatly reduce stress to contain office items to just one space.

Are you working to declutter or simplify the stuff in your life?

Happy Valentines Day and 5 Frugal Things!

happy-valentines-day

  1. I made breadcrumbs.  I had a collection of bread odds and ends in my freezer.  I toasted them up, put them in my food processor, packaged them up and back in the freezer for when I need them!
  2.  I have stepped up my meal planning game, and we only did take once in the last 2 weeks.  This has saved us money and helped us to eat healthier.  This is a HUGE improvement from our 2x a week takeout.
  3. This month I used up 2 cans of coconut milk that were going to expire.
  4. Making homemade stock.  We had a rotisserie chicken for dinner over the weekend, and I threw the carcass in my instant pot with a half onion, carrot and celery stalk and let it simmer for 10 hours overnight.  I got 8 cups of nice strong chicken stock.
  5. Organizing my “used” gift wrap.  I am very quick to save used gift bags, tissue paper and even large sheets of used wrapping paper.  I had it all tossed in a large box in the basement from the holidays and got around to organizing.  We should be set with wrapping supplies for birthdays this year and next year’s Christmas.

What frugal things have you done lately?

My Kitchen Must-Haves

must have kitchen tools and gadgets

A well-oiled kitchen is worth its weight in gold!  We just finished a very small kitchen update.  This update has made HUGE changes in how our kitchen functions, and I couldn’t be happier. Between my new kitchen layout and some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, I have been happy as a clam and cooking more than I ever have!

Being able to cook and enjoy it saves us money in takeout and eating out costs.

Here are some of my favorite Kitchen Items:

Small Appliances
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Cuisinart Food Processor (I have this one)
Electric Kettle (this one)  I was given this as a gift from my sister 3 years ago!  She got one as a wedding gift from someone who highly recommended it.  My mom got one shortly after, and then my other sister got one a few years ago as well.  Basically, it is well tested by my family and works fantastic!
Vitamix-for the smoothest soups and smoothies!

Tools
Vollrath Metal Bowls (size 1-1/2, 3 and 5 quarts and 8 quart)
Metal Measuring Cups and Spoons
Quality Knives   This is such a personal preference, I have an older version of this set.  I like the smaller blade/handle set up for my small hands.
Sheet Pans.  I have 6 of these!  I use them for baking and roasting veggies.
9 x 13 metal pans.  I have 5 of these, I love that I have enough that I can double make recipes and freeze one in a metal pan.  Saves me money in the long wrong from buying disposable pans
Digital Scale.  Maybe not a necessity for you.  But one of the recipe blogs I love to use, uses weights for most of the measurements.
Microplane/zester

Cookware
I would LOVE to own a full set of all clad cookware, someday maybe.  But right now I have a set that was a gift from my mom when I was in high school!  I kept it in my closet until I moved out on my own. It’s a stainless steel cookware set with copper bottoms. I really do use the whole set.  I have added a 5-quart pan with lid, and 2 nonstick pans.  I wish I had a non-stick brand to recommend.  Despite valiant efforts, I feel as if I have been replacing these every 5 years.

Food storage
I try to avoid storing and reheating food in plastic.  I love the pyrex glass containers, as well as an old set of Corningware baking dishes with glass lids.  I also use mason jars for storing soups and salads.

Serving
A large serving platter is a MUST, if you spend all this time cooking good food, you want to be able to present it nicely to your family and/or guests.

A fancy cake stand to display your desserts.  I just have a simple glass one.  But I have been everything this one at Macy’s

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets, or kitchen must-haves?

What I’m Into | February 2017

What I'm Into

 

Books:
Currently Reading:  You are What you Love by James K.A. Smith

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Up Next: The Road to Character by David Brooks

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Music
Family Favorites: Jazz for Kids
This is a a very fun album.  Ella Fitzgerald has a great rendition of Old MacDonald.   Kid-friendly songs that we love listening too!

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Sound Track: LaLa Land (Composer Justin Hurwitz)
I cannot stop listening to this!  The music is so good, the songs are catchy!  This will probably be on my regular rotation for months to come!

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Movies
In Theaters: LaLa Land
Just see it!  Have no expectations and it will blow you away.  
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TV
Currently Watching: Top Chef
I’ve been watching this show for over a decade, and this season certainly is not disappointing.  This is the first season I have been keeping up with the online Last Chance Kitchen and I am pleasantly surprised.  Excited to see who is this year’s “Top Chef”!

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DIY Stokke Crib Sheet Update

stokke-crib-sheet

 

My DIY tutorial for a stokke crib sheet is one of my most popular posts!  I figured I would write a quick update and include some new photos.  See the original post here.

After 2 years of use, these crib sheets are holding up great!   The fabric does seems to have some wear. The ones in the picture were made from “quilters” cotton fabric. My “test” crib sheet was made from an old sheet, and that fabric seems to be holding up a little better.  But both options worked great.

I love that I was able to make these sheets for a fraction of the cost of Stokke sheets.  I also love that I was able to customize the fabrics.

About 6 months ago, we decided we wanted to add an allergy cover for the crib mattress.  I couldn’t find an option for the stokke sized mattress.  I ended up buying a traditional crib mattress cover.  I just fold the corners of the cover down and when I put the crib sheet on it seems to hold everything in place just fine.  I don’t know that this would be a great option for an infant due to the risk of SIDS, but for our toddler it works great.

I am curious if there is a way to alter or modify an existing crib sheet for it to fit a stokke mattress.  If you’ve tried something let me know!

5 frugal things

5-frugal-things

 

Here is a quick list of the 5 frugal things I did this week.

  1. Hemmed 3 pairs of dress pants.  This was a HUGE pain, but well worth it!  I am starting a new job in a few weeks that requires some major dressing up on my part.  I splurged on some new clothes a few weeks ago but tackled the hemming of the pants myself this week.  Estimated savings $30.
  2. Vegetarian eating (well actually vegan).  We are doing a 21 day daniel fast which is basically a vegan diet. Our grocery bills have been nice and low thanks to this.
  3. Washing my old diaper bag!  This might not save me money now, but maybe in a year or two ,I’ll be thankful to have a nice like new diaper bag to use!
  4. deciding to keep my old phone.  I’v been having some issues with my iphone and was thinking of upgrading.  Ultimately I decided to hang on to it and wait until it completely bites the dust.
  5. no take out!  We normally do takeout or conveinence meals once or twice a week.  But thanks to our danielfast we have been cooking and preparing all our meals at home.

What frugal things have you done this week?