Bluebonnets To Peaches

Texas Math
January 28, 2010, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Parenting

It’s no secret that Texans are proud of where we are from!  It starts at a very early age, most preschool programs incorporate a “Texas” theme unit study during the year.  It’s common to see the bumper stickers that say “I’m not a native Texan, but I got here as fast as I could.”  As parents, we have also stressed to our boys that they are from Texas and to be proud of it! 

One of the things that I love about teaching preschool is that I am just down the hall from our son, Hotrod’s, class.  Hotrod’s teacher lived in Texas several years ago and she brought in a Math workbook that stated it was the “Texas Edition.”  The book had a picture of the state of Texas on it so I called Hotrod over and asked him what the picture was.  He yelled “Texas!”  His teacher told him that they were going to be learning “Texas Math.”  Hotrod’s reaction was the same as if she had told him they were taking a class trip to Disney World!  He immediately ran over to his friends in his class and with much excitement declared “We are going to learn Texas Math!  Whoo Hooo!”

I think we have succeeded in teaching our boys where they are from!


Menu Plan Monday – The “There’s a Mouse in the House” Edition
January 24, 2010, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Recipes

Yes, you read that correctly, we have a mouse mice in our house (the pest man told me “there’s never just one!”)  I’m completely disgusted by the whole ordeal!  We contacted our pest man and he confirmed that they are inside.  Yuck! After looking around, he feels certain that they are coming in through our garage, they have NOT yet found our food and we have discovered them early – this is important since mice have a gestation period of only 19 days! The traps have been set and our pest man will be back to check all the traps.

So, what does this mean for our menu planning? It means that I am refusing to go into our pantry this week. I’m not refusing the pantry because I’m scared of seeing a live mouse, but because I don’t want to see a dead mouse in the trap!  The problem is that I know where pest man has set the traps and it’s this weird force that forces me to look . . . but I don’t want to see it!  Don’t get me wrong, I want the mice to be trapped, but I feel much more comfortable letting pest man tell me that they have been trapped and he can handle the disposal! 

Because dining out every night for the next week would not be good on our budget, I’m being forced to be a bit creative in our plan this week!  I’m raiding our freezer and the crock pot is going to get a good workout this week!  Here’s our plan:

Monday – Chicken Casserole (from freezer)

Tuesday – Out to Dinner (This is awards night at school and we will be celebrating that our oldest has made the Principal’s List!)

Wednesday – Crock Pot Beef Casserole

Thursday – Chicken nuggets (from freezer) Okay, so this isn’t so creative but the boys will eat!

Friday – Beef Soup (from freezer)

Saturday – Chicken Lasagna in the Crock Pot (because of the chaos of last week, we didn’t get around to trying this new recipe)

Sunday – Soft Tacos

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday.

An Envelope System Wallet
January 21, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Curtains/Sewing Projects, Frugal Deals/Ideas

We are big fans of Dave Ramsey and we have been using a cash envelope system for over 2 years!  We love the system, it helps to keep us from overspending.  When the envelope is empty we are done spending in that category for the month!  If you want to learn more about using a cash envelope system, go here.

I’ve been looking for an envelope system friendly wallet for sometime but haven’t been able to find anything that I really liked.  I’ve been stuck to pulling out one envelope and sticking it in my purse to use at the store.  I will admit that when we started using the cash envelope system, having only one envelope at a time definitely stopped me from making some random purchases because I didn’t have the correct envelope with me; however, now that we’ve been on the system for 2 years we are much more disciplined in making random purchases.  I’m not saying it never happens, but we’ve learned to ask ourselves if the item is really needed in our home before buying it.

There are times, however, when I visit a superstore center that I will be buying from more than one category (such as groceries, clothing, and home decor) or when I’ll be making several stops at different types of stores in one outing (such as stopping at the office supply store and grocery store in the same trip).  In these instances it would be really nice to have our most used envelope categories in my wallet, easy to get to.

Last week I spotted this post and Kelleigh’s LOVELY paper envelopes!  I was so excited after learning that I could make these envelopes at home for FREE!!  Whoo Hooo!

I gathered my supplies and made beautiful envelopes!  They make my heart sing . . . but I had nowhere to keep my new beautiful envelopes.  I don’t have a large size wallet so I decided I could make my own! 

I picked out some fun fabric from my stash and got to work!  I wanted my wallet to have a zipper for change, a place to hold my driver’s license and gift cards, a place to hold receipts and of course a nice spot for my new envelopes. 

Here’s how it turned out:

The front has a snap closure

The inside holds 10 of our most used envelopes and there is a spot behind the envelopes to hold receipts.  The bottom front has 6 spots to hold cards (i.e. drivers license, gift cards, etc.)

The zipper pouch for change is located on the back of the wallet.

Loosing Teeth
January 20, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Parenting

About a month or two ago, our oldest son (7 years old) came up to me to show me that his front tooth was sightly loose.  Both he and I thought that he had already lost this tooth, so I called my best friend, the dental hygienist in Texas. She told me not to worry because it was still growing in and not permanently attached to the root.  So we didn’t worry.

Skip to this past Friday.  As lovely son is getting dressed Friday morning he hits his front tooth with a coat hanger and his tooth starts to bleed.  We get the bleeding to stop and go to school.  Everything seems fine.

Saturday during lunch the tooth starts to bleed again.  I get a little concerned, but the bleeding stops.  Saturday night at dinner the tooth starts bleeding again and lovely son starts complaining that it hurts.  I call dental hygienist friend to find out what I should do.  She thinks he probably scratched his gum with the coat hanger, we could put some orajel on it to ease the pain. 

We run by the store on the way home and purchase a bottle of orajel.  I put some on his gum and realize that half the tooth is not attached to the gum.  Now this is when I start to FREAK OUT!  I e-mail a picture of the tooth to dental hygienist friend but the e-mail takes forever to send, so I call her to tell her the tooth fell out.  She can’t believe it!

In case you’re wondering what to do with a permanent tooth if it falls out, let me tell you – you place the tooth in a bowl with icy milk.  I know, I thought it sounded weird too, but dental hygienist friend explained that the icy milk keeps the tooth alive and we had about 2 hours to get it reimplanted in the gum before the tooth would be dead.  As I start asking my friend what I should expect and thinking about all the years and money that we will be spending on an implanted tooth, hubby searches for a pediatric dentist in our area that has an after hours number. 

As I’m headed out the door to meet the dentist, dental hygienist friend calls me back.  She has finally received the e-mail with the picture of his tooth.  As best she can tell from the picture, she thinks the tooth is a baby tooth.  Well, we’ve already called the dentist and pulled her away from her family after hours, so I have to go plus dental hygienist friend still thinks it would be a good idea to have x-rays done to make sure there is no damage to the root.

Thirty minutes later I am at the dentist office with lovely son and our bowl of icy milk.  The dentist takes one look at his mouth and says “Mom, that was a baby tooth”!  At this point I am both embarrassed and relieved!  The dentist still wanted to take x-rays which of course showed the permanent tooth coming in!  Hallelujah! 

As I pay the bill for an after hours dentist visit, I will try to remember that it is better than years of dealing with implants.  Maybe the tooth fairy will leave a little extra for this tooth!

Menu Plan Monday
January 18, 2010, 10:47 am
Filed under: Recipes

I’m trying really hard to actually stick to our menu plan!  It really does make our week much easier and avoids unplanned restaurant stops.  I have discovered that Saturdays are when I seem to fall apart.  If I don’t have something easy to fix for dinner on Saturday then we are much more likely to head out to dinner.  This week I’m going to try a crock pot recipe on Saturday to see how that works for us!

Here’s is our menu plan for this week:

Monday: Chicken with stuffed feta cheese & bacon with side salad

Tuesday: Pick your own night (We can all pick whatever we want to eat as long as it is easy for Mom to fix. Our most popular picks are leftovers, bowl of cereal, chicken nuggets or waffles from the freezer.)

Wednesday: Baked tilapia with salad and bake potatoes

Thursday: Spaghetti with garlic bread

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Chicken Lasagna in the Crock Pot (a new recipe!)

Sunday: Chicken casserole 

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday.

A Nicely Organized Shoe Closet
January 16, 2010, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Orgainizing Ideas

We have a closet right off our garage door entrance that was designed as a second pantry closet, but I always envisioned using it as a shoe/jacket/bag hanging closet. Shortly after moving in I took out the wire shelfs and put in nice hooks – one for each family member.  About 6 months after that I purchased a shelf to put our shoes on since they were just being thrown into the closet, but after putting the shelf together it wouldn’t fit in the closet.  I was irritated and I really haven’t touched the closet since then.  And when I neglect a closet this is what happens:


I received a couple Target gift cards from my students for Christmas so I decided to use them to buy a few things to help organize this mess of a closet!  Having an organized place for everyone to drop their bags, jackets and shoes definitely makes me happy!

First I took everything out of the closet and separated the items by what we use the most often.  This is not a large space and the idea is for this closet to contain items that we use on a daily basis – an easy space to grab from when walking out the door and an easy space to put things away when coming home.

Next I headed to Target and purchased a hanging basket for the top of the closet and a smaller shelf that would fit in the bottom to put our shoes on!  We really keep the majority of our shoes in our bedroom closets, but the boys each keep their tennis shoes in the “shoe closet” and mommy gets to keep one pair of slip on shoes in the shoe closet also.

After that was in place, I hung up our most used bags on the hooks.  The boys each get their own hook to hang their school bag and jacket on.  The top hooks hold a few of mommy’s bags.  I also hung our library book bag on one side and my publix shopping bags on the other side.  Here’s what the bottom half of the closet now looks like:

The top shelf now holds a basket for our winter items (hats, gloves scarfs . . . ), a second basket with reuseable bags and our swimming bag packed and ready for the pool.

Below the shelf hangs the new basket that only has one purpose – to hold my coupon binder!  I put a lot of thought into whether my coupon binder needed its own space.  It gets used A LOT and if I don’t have a specific place for it to go then it gets left around the kitchen and drives me nuts.  So I decided it was worth purchasing a basket just for my binder! 

 Here’s the top of the closet:

I’m happy with the way the shoe closet now looks! Everything is now off of the floor and it’s funcitional!  Do you have a “shoe closet” in your home?  If so, how do you keep it organized?

2009 Grocery Savings
January 6, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Frugal Deals/Ideas

The grand totals are in!

We purchased a total of $5,709.51 in groceries and household toiletries in 2009, and saved $2,162.15 by using coupons and matching those coupons to weekly sales items bringing our total out-of-pocket for groceries in 2009 to $3,547.36

This total brings our groceries to $295.61/month.  This is a bit higher than my $200/month projection; however, I have found that the overage was spent at Costco most months and usually on convenience items (i.e. easy snacks for the kids!).  Since going back to work part-time, it has been important to keep easy snacks around for the kids to grab on their own.  I’m willing to increase the grocery budget a bit more in order to stock up on some of these items.  It means less stress for me and no last-minute runs through the drive through which ultimately saves our family money!

I’m proud of how much we saved in this area of our budget over the past year! This is quite a change from my old ways of grocery shopping.  In the past I didn’t know how much I spent on food and household items, I just bought what I thought we needed and justified whatever the cost was by saying “we have to eat!”  When I finally decided to keep track of what I spent at the grocery store, I discovered that I spent anywhere from $600-$800/month.  I started to read all I could about saving money on groceries and then started applying what I had learned!  I had no idea you could get toothpaste for FREE!  My eyes were opened and I haven’t looked back!

Our grocery budget for 2010 will be $300/month and I will continue to chart our savings in the new year!  I hope you have been inspired to continue or start this way of grocery shopping!  You will be amazed at the money you can save and $2,162.15 sounds like a nice vacation waiting for our family!