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?

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What I’m Watching on Netflix. . .

Sometimes after a long day, long week, etc.  I LOVE to sit and relax while watching a good movie, or TV show.  I am super excited because one of my favorite movies is back available on Netflix (Midnight in Paris)!  I go through phases where I can find lots to watch on Netflix, and other days where I feel like I can’t find ANYthing!  I normally love watching documentaries, but haven’t seemed to find any that interest me recently, so that category is seriously lacking from my list.

Here is a short list of some of the recent great movies and TV shows I’ve been watching.

Midnight In Paris (2011) rate PG-13
A Woody Allen movie, and one of my favorites!  A young hollywood screen writer finds himself traveling back into the 1920’s and meeting some of the famous writers of that time.  Romantic, nostalgic and quirky.

Woman In Gold (2015) rated PG-13
Based on a true story about art restitution.  An elderly Jewish refugee, Maria, fights to ger her families painting back that was stolen by the Nazis before WWII.  A feel good movie, with a happy ending.

Finding Dory (2016)  rated PG
The sequel to Finding Nemo.  An excellent family film, and in my opinion even better than Finding Nemo.

The Great Brittish Bakeoff
I am totally addicted to this show!  I have watched most of the seasons live when they come to PBS, but I could watch it over and over again.  It is a friendly Brittish cooking competition show, where amateur bakers have various challenges.


Have you watched any good shows or movies on Netflix recently?

What I spent and What we Ate


 

hugs-were-inventedto-let-people-know-youlove-them-withouthaving-to-say-anything

goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $184.64

Aldi : $63.52
weekly total: $63.52
=

 This was a SUPER quick picture snapped on the conveyer belt at Aldi.  Here is what I bought, half and half, 3 half gallons of organic whole milk, 2 packages of goldfish, 4 bagged caesar salads, grapes, egg noodles, 2 packages of ground turkey, 1 package of organic chicken breasts, 1 package of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 2 packages of butter, grass fed ground beef, and taco shells  I am sure I got a few other things, but I can’t remember them!
 
Saturday 3/4
Dinner |linguini, tomato sauce and chicken
Sunday 3/5
Dinner | tacos
Monday 3/6
Dinner | chicken noodle casserole *this was a new recipe, and I am not sure I loved it.  I think I would make it again, and leave the mixed veggies out and serve a vegetable on the side.  The creamy chicken and noodles were delicious!  I just don’t always care for veggies mixed in with
Tuesday 3/7
Dinner |Rotisserie chicken, rice, salad and bread (provided by my in-laws!)
Wednesday 3/8
Dinner |take out pizza from a  local coal fired pizza place (in-laws for the win again here!)
Thursday 3/9
Dinner |Chinese delivery (I had planned on leftovers, but then had a hankering for some chinese food)
Friday 3/10
Dinner | ??  Maybe takeout, or something easy at home.
So this was a totally crazy week!  Mr. Bird was out of town traveling for work monday-friday.  His parents came in to help for 3 nights.  With my new job and still adjusting to my schedule, this was not my finest meal planning week.  But hey, I made an effort and packed a lunch every day.  So that’s somewhat of a win!
What did you eat this week?  Have you tried any new recipes?
How do you cope with a busy week and meal planning? 

Pepper Jack Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

This is actually one of the few recipes I have found on pinterest that I love, and consider a success.  I have had more than my fair share of pinterest fails.
This recipe is an easy family favorite.  It is super quick to assemble, and freezes unbaked.  We typically serve with a salad or green beans.  This is going to start making the rounds in our weekly rotation again soon with my busy schedule.
 I might experiment a bit and see if I can fully bake this casserole the night before and just quickly reheat it for dinner.  Mr. Bird and I have been getting home from work around 5:15/5:30, which means we have about 30 minutes to pull dinner together before we all get crazy hangry (hungry-angry). The turkey meatloaves and mashed potatoes I made last week were perfect for this, and I am hoping to find a few more options with the same convenience.
Ingredients
  • Box of instant stuffing (I use chicken)
  • Can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts/tenderloins
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 6 slices pepper jack cheese

Directions

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish
  2. Place chicken in a single layer in the dish
  3. Layer pepperjack cheese on top of the chicken
  4. Mix milk and soup and then spread on top of cheese
  5. Top the cheese with the whole bux of stuffing
  6. Drizzle melted butter on top of stuffing (you can freeze at this step if you want)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

 

Do you have any great freezer-friendly casserole recipes?

 

How I eliminated paper from our kitchen (using cloth napkins and dish towels)

Since Mr. Bird and I first got married we have hardly ever kept paper towels or paper napkins in our home.  One of the biggest reasons we first started doing this was cost.  We didn’t have a ton of money, and I didn’t want to be spending money on something we were always throwing away!  We were lucky enough to have a moderate supply of cloth dish towels and cloth napkins.  We had received some as gifts for our wedding but also were given some hand me downs.  My aunt one year cleared out all her “holiday” dish towels that she didn’t want to store to use just one time a year.  We happily used these all year long to avoid buying paper towels.

I think the key to being able to successfully eliminate paper towels and paper napkins is to have enough cloth.  I only have to wash our kitchen laundry once a week.  I keep a milk crate easily accessible in the kitchen as a “hamper”.  I find that the cloth towels and washcloths do a better job than paper, and are much nicer for wiping and cleaning up Little Bird.

 

Here is a picture of my “stash”.  The OCD/minimalist part of me wishes everything was the same color, size and what not.  But the frugal part of me LOVES that most of collection was gifted to us or free hand me downs.  I store our cloth napkins in a bowl on our dining room table for easy access.  I store my cloth towels and dishcloths in a bin in our kitchen storage unit.  

Here is what a basic stash consists of:
24 microfiber cloths – $15 on amazon
5 flour sack towels – $8 at wal-mart
about 24 dish towels – 12 for $24 at amazon
12 wash/dish cloths -24 for $12 at amazon
24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon
Total for the cloth kitchen stash = $109.
Ok, so while this might seem like a lot!  You can slowly build your stash over time, and I bet you might even have many of these things at home to begin with.  These cloth items will last you at LEAST 5 years, and you will see savings in the first year.  One of the biggest things I had to get over was “saving” something for a special occasion.  I now have enough cloth napkins that I do have some that I save for when we have company over (our everyday ones have seen better days).  I am often gifted patterned/seasonal dish towels.  For some reason I wanted to save them and keep them “looking nice”.  Once I got over the fact that they are meant to be used, and that might mean they get stained–things have been going smoothly.

Cost to use paper towels
2 rolls or paper towels per week (average $1.50 per roll) = $3/week or$156 per year
For 5 years that is $780!
(you can head on over to a post growinggreenfamily wrote a few years back with more details of costs savings)

The laundry is definitely something to consider.  I love doing laundry, and it fits easily into my schedule to do an extra load a week of our kitchen laundry.  I am able to use my soapnut laundry soap without any issues. In fact, I have actually found that my kitchen laundry is coming out CLEANER with the soapnuts than with traditional laundry soap.

A bonus to doing kitchen laundry is that folding towels is nice and easy for toddlers, and is a great way for them to learn to help out!

 

Moderation is the name of the game when it comes to saving money and maintaining sanity.  What are some ways that you save money that don’t feel like an extra burden?

**this post contains some affiliate links, I may recieve some compensaiton should you purchase from the link**

 

 

Our Favorite Board Games

Do you love board games?  Well, I do!  I am known to keep Bananagrams in my purse and whip it out appropriate inappropriate times during coffee dates or when waiting for a meal at a restaurant.  Mr. Bird and I also sometimes relax after Little Bird goes to bed with a quick game.  And I love hosting game nights!  If you are looking for some good board games, here is a list of some of our favorites!

Bananagrams! Similar to scrabble, but speed and flexibility are key to mastering this word game.  Great for 2 players, but you can play with up to 4.

Dixit  A family game for kids ages 8+.  A low-key story picture guessing game.  For 3-6 players.This is a favorite of ours, and we have yet to find friends or family who doesn’t enjoy it.

Forbidden Island  A collaborative everybody wins together or loses together game. Another low key game, however, this one involves thinking and strategy planning.  For ages 10+ and 2-4 players.

Ticket to Ride A game similar to Monopoly in which there can be multiple strategies to succeed.   Using cards/tickets you will build your train from destination to destination. A great game for 2-5 players and my guess is age 10+

Anomia  I have friends who LOVE this game, and friends that hate this game!  It is a fast-paced, word/symbol association game.  I think its one of those games that if you think a certain way you enjoy it, and if you don’t, you hate it.  I for one, LOVE IT!  For 3-6 players.

Sushi Go A quick, fun and quirky card game where you try to combine cards to create sushi combinations for points.  It’s a quick play.  Ages 8+ for 2-5 players.

Last Word!  This is a super fun party game!  It is recommended for ages 14+ and 2-8 players (although you can play with ANY number of players if you have coins or tokens to use as score pieces).  This is similar to a hot potato word game.  Fun, easy and great for a crowd!


What are your favorite games?

 

What I spent and What we Ate


 

hugs-were-inventedto-let-people-know-youlove-them-withouthaving-to-say-anything

goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $121.12

Fresh Direct : 58.76
Produce Club : 2.00
Aldi : 60.36
weekly total:  $121.12
Underbudget (barely).  I was a little surprised by this: I didn’t buy a ton of food or do a ton of stocking up. I think the culprit is FreshDirect.  FreshDirect is super convenient (hello online grocery shopping and delivery to my door!), but I definitely pay a premium for it.  

img_2472
I snapped this photo of our cart!  Pretty basic shopping trip.  I picked up some jars of tomato sauce for a quick pasta night if needed, as well as stocking up on some chicken broth (I used up all of my homemade broth).  I try not to eat a ton of bread/carbs, but I have been eyeing the organic breads that our Aldi recently started carrying, so I bought a loaf and might have toast this week for breakfast.  You might also spy in the cart a tub of frozen eclairs.  We go to a small group every Sunday and there are always snacks, and we have never brought anything, so for $5 an easy treat to share with our friends.  I also bought pack of Kerrygold butter.  Total impulse buy, but I keep seeing ads for it on Top Chef, so I wanted to try it for myself.  I’ll let you know if my butter and toast is exceptional!
Saturday 2/25
Dinner |homemade white broccoli and sausage pizza
Sunday 2/26
Dinner | chicken won ton soup and salad
Monday 2/27
Dinner | chicken teriyaki
Tuesday 2/28
Dinner | turkey meatloaves and potatoes
Wednesday 3/1
Dinner | leftover turkey meatloaves
Thursday 3/2
Dinner | takeout pizza
Friday 3/3
Dinner | planning on making salmon and rice
**I am extremely pleased that we only did 1 night of takeout.  It was unplanned, but definitely nice and needed!  My work hours were longer than I expected this week, which made coming home to cook dinner more challenging.  I had actually made the turkey meatloaves Monday night and all we had to do was reheat them. So really I wasn’t able to cook dinner any day but Monday.  I am thinking this is going to need to be a normal thing going forward.
Any suggestions for recipes that reheat well?
What did you eat this week?

DIY Magnesium Lotion Stick (with essential oils)

DIY essential oil magnesium lotion stick
Ok, so why magnesium in a lotion stick.  I started using a magnesium spray supplement to help regulate my sleep better.  I had read that it helps to promote a more restful sleep.  I ordered this spray from Amazon initially, but then realized I could make my own spray and save money with magnesium flakes.
I was looking for a “gentler” way to give LittleBird magnesium.  Magnesium spray can sometimes sting when you are first getting started with it.  I had seen recipes for magnesium lotion, but sometimes I don’t like to get my hands messy, and I have been really loving my lotion sticks, so I decided to come up with a magnesium lotion stick!
Oh, and one more benefit of magnesium!  There is a growing body of research that suggests that morning sickness is a result of magnesium deficiency.  As someone who was throwing up for 30+ weeks, I will try ANYthing, ANYTHING to prevent this from happening in any future pregnancies.
WellnessMama has a ton of information on Magnesium as does Dr Axe.  Check them out if you want more information about magnesium.  I tend to take all information from their sites with a grain of salt and balance it with my own research and knowledge.  
Magnesium Lotion Stick Recipe
ingredients:
1/8 cup magnesium flakes (i use these)
2 1/2 teaspoons boiling filtered water
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax
2 tablespoons mango butter
5 drops of vitamin E oil
20-30 drops of essential oils (I used YL gentle baby blend, but any relaxing blend will work)
2- 2 oz tubes (like these from amazon)
img_2441

Measure out the magnesium flakes in a small container.  Add the boiling water and stir until magnesium flakes start to dissolve.  Additional heat may be needed to fully dissolve the magnesium (i put mine in the microwave for 15 seconds).  Add the beeswax to a glass jar submerged in a pot of water.  Or place in a double boiler.  Add the magnesium mixture and heat until the beeswax is melted.  Measure out and add the coconut oil to the magnesium mixture.  Then add your vitamin E and essential oils.  Pour into your tubes and cool to set.
Below are some pictures of my process!
Dissolving the magnesiums
Dissolving the magnesium
melting in my "double boiler"
melting in my “double boiler”
The finished product-cooling
The finished product-cooling

 

Mission to Minimalize | update #2

Mission to minimalize

So actually ended up starting my new full time job this week!  I found out pretty last minute my  date was moving up 2 weeks.  Oh boy was it a scramble to get myself ready.  I had some shopping for work attire that I needed to do, and wanted to stock up on some household essentials as well as finishing my decluttering goals!  There is still a lot left, which I guess I will squeeze into evenings and weekends.  But here is our progress so far

Here is the progress so far:

Downstairs  

Living Room

Dining Room

Foyer

Kitchen

half bathroom 

Upstairs

Master Bedroom | Let me start out by saying our “master” bedroom is tiny!  It has room for 1 queen bed, 2 very  small nightstands and 1 mid-sized dresser.  And that’s it.  So this room constantly feels “cluttered” in my opinion, but I think its just too small for a “master”.  The largest bedroom in the house has outdated drop ceilings and old carpeting. Our goal is to re-do that room this year and turn it into a master.  I do think I did a great job of cleaning out and organizing our clothes.  I got rid of almost 2 trash bags full of unworn and old clothes.  I kon-marie’d our dresser and folded the clothes sideways instead of in stacks.   At first I didn’t like it, but I think it has been easier for me to see what is in my dresser.  It also has made it more obvious to me what clothes I am not wearing.

Bathroom | I guess I need to call this more of a declutter than a true cleanout/minimalizing.  But I did get a lot of crap stuff back in it’s place and organized the medicine cabinets and shelves.

Little Bird’s Room | This was not super time consuming and but definitely emotionally draining.  It’s so clear when I shift out his wardrobe that he is growing up so fast.  I love the toddler he has become, but I miss that squishy baby.

Since the season are about to change, I was able to pack up some of the winter stuff that he had outgrown and switch in some spring clothes (mostly hand-me downs and gifts from my in-laws).  I also organized his bookshelf and packed up some of the books either he is not interested in, or that my husband and I are sick of reading.

Little Bird loves to bring some of his favorite toys to bed with him, so I sorted through a bunch of trucks, care and trains and returned them to their proper home.  I also sorted through his cloth diapers and straightened that area up, packed up a few things we don’t use anymore to make room for pull ups and underwear!

Guest Room

PlayRoom/office/misc

3rd Floor

Living Room | I went through and packed up some of the toys that Little Bird no longer plays with.  I sorted them to save and packed some up to give away.  We have a large entertainment unit/storage that is mostly empty!  I want to figure out the best way to store some toys in there so we can lessen the toys that are out in the open.
Office 

 

Do you have any minimizing/organizing goals?  Have you made any progress?

 

See my other mission to minimalize posts
Mission to Minimalize
Mission to Minimalize | update!

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?