Friday, September 26, 2014

Frugal Friday 58

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely this week:

- We ate lunch out and used a coupon. Saved: $3

- Mark installed a new faucet to fix a leaky sink. We saved money by him doing the work himself and should save a bit on the water bill without the leak.

- Mark also installed a low-flow shower head in our second shower. We did the first one last year when we moved in but just installed this one as well. We are hoping to see a change in our water bill from this as well.

- Mark and I enjoyed a date night at Penn Station while Annabeth stayed with Nana and PawPaw. We miss eating there - since they use peanut oil we do not ever go with Nanners. We enjoyed a Two Can Eat for $13.99 deal.

- We had new friends over for a playdate. Usually when it's the first time having new people over, I panic and stress about what to feed them. This time, I finally managed to relax and instead of going to the grocery, I chose to cook with what we had at home. We enjoyed scrambled eggs, cheeses, cinnamon rolls, and fruit.

- I made Freezer Meals for the first time. I was able to make 6 meals for under $5.50/meal.

- Friends had us over for a Fall Craft Playdate on the first day of fall. The girls painted pumpkins, played with homemade playdough, and played a rice/candy corn game.

Playing with homemade playdough.

- Science and Math both used water this week, as we are discussing the concepts of Floating vs. Sinking objects as well as volume and density. Once we were done with the lessons, we used the water to water our plants instead of just pouring it down the drain.

- Annabeth and I ate our meals at home.

- A lady on Facebook was looking for Box Tops for Education for her daughter's school. We donated our stash to her.

- We fingerpainted with shaving creme for part of school this week.

One of my favorite memories from school at Trinity was shaving creme finger painting!

We hope you all had a wonderful week and that those of you who live in our area also enjoyed this warm weather for fall!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mama Love

Mama Love.

Today at Homeschool Group, one of the Mamas was talking about how important Mama Support is. SO true!

For a long time I felt very lonely here after I quit working and after Annabeth was born. But when Jen was talking today, I realized I have slowly developed some very special Mama relationships and for that I am so thankful. 

When we first had Annabeth, Matt and Jenn (Mark's brother and his wife, our friends) lived less than an hour away. We met almost every week for playdates and to help each other. If she needed help baby wrangling to finish a project, I was there. If I needed to go to the doctor, she would come keep Annabeth. It was such a special way to parent and then about a year ago they moved. We have found a new way to parents together. We have a phone chat every Monday, well sometimes Tuesday or even Friday, morning and share our weeks, our prayers, etc. I have been so blessed to share Mama Love with her.

My closest friends Rose and Sarah are both sweet Mamas as well.They are very much a part of our family and I am so thankful to share this life journey with them and their little ones. It is so nice to have friends you can text and say, "Want to play this week, my kid is making me crazy?" or "My kid is a teething monster, what do I do?!" They build me up in love, in motherhood, and most of all in our faith in our precious Lord. 

My former co-worker friend Brandi is also now my Mama Friend. Her two boys are the cutest little guys and I love hearing what crazy things they are thinking to do. Brandi's Wesley is also a non-sleeper and we love to share stories about what Annabeth and Wes have each been doing while being awake all night. 

Last summer I met an amazing mom of 4 at our library. Alysha has been such a great role model for me as she has two toddlers and two school aged children. She has the most creative ideas and always calms me down when I get crazy about what Annabeth "should" be doing. She is so fun and so outgoing and I find myself often thinking in shy moments, "What would Alysha say?"

In the past few months, we have met a military family at our library. Since Cynthia's husband is the only husband I know that works more than Mark we've found a great relationship in playing with our three girls. Her girls, Julia and Emilia, are 2.5 and 14 months and Annabeth has so much fun playing with them. They speak Spanish in the home so it has been such a wonderful cultural lesson in watching Julia and Annabeth play without speaking the same language. It is wonderful to have a friend in our neighborhood who I can say, "Mark works 'till midnight. Want to play?" "Sure, come on over!" Thank you Cynthia! 

And finally our homeschool group, currently with three other Mamas: Andrea, Jen, and Trevva. Each of them encourage me in different ways and each time we meet I see things that they do with their children that I really admire. I love Andrea's gentle spirit and tone with her three girls. She never seems to raise her voice and her girls mind her so well. I could take note and learn to speak loudly less. Jen is the mama who introduced our family to the "Baby Signing Time" video series and I am so thankful. It has made such a difference in learning signs more quickly and really using them as a family. I love watching her talk to her boys and admire so many of the techniques she uses to get them to listen so well.  Trevva is a proud mama of three boys and one of six children herself. She has so many wonderful leadership qualities and an amazing ability to find calm in the chaos of life. 

In this season of life, I feel so blessed to have a support system of different women who love their children, many who love the Lord, and who love living each day with and for their children. I pray that I may encourage each of them just a bit as much as they each inspire me. Amen. 

15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:1-7New International Version (NIV)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Freezer Meals: Part One

Since I joined Pinterest a year ago, I have been wanting to make freezer meals. As homeschooling has begun taking up more of our days and as we have been busier with activities outside of the house I have been searching for Crockpot Freezer Meals.

I chose this post to follow and made 3 of her 4 recipes.

Why did I chose her post?
1. Since it was my first time, I liked that there were only a couple of recipes.
2. The recipes were fairly basic and easy to follow.
3. They actually had ingredients that we are not allergic to (although I did have to modify some).

What did I make?
Mediterranean Pork, Teriyaki Chicken, and BBQ Chicken
Each recipe made two meals for our family of three but they look rather small so if you have a larger family and decide to use these you may want to put all the ingredients in one bag/recipe.

How much money did I spend?

All of our items from the grocery

I spent $32.59 on ingredients and freezer bags.
Since I made 6 meals that comes out to $5.43/meal.

I chose to do it this week was the meat we needed and the freezer bags were all on sale. I was able to purchase all the meat for just $10 and freezer bags were on closeout for 50% off.

How much time did I spend? 
55 minutes. (40 minutes of food prep and 15 minutes of cleanup)

Meal One: Mediterranean Pork - 10 minutes prep

Meal Two: Teriyaki Chicken - 20 minutes prep

These look different because I chopped the carrots for one and shredded them for the other

Meal Three: BBQ Chicken - 10 minutes prep

Honestly, I was shocked at how quickly this went!
I realize that it would not take much time in the morning to throw one of these meals into the crockpot, but it was really nice to do all of the trimming of the meat and chopping of the vegetables in one session. Plus I only had to clean my kitchen once!

Any tips for others?
1. Wear comfortable shoes. I kept reading this online and it really helped as I don't generally stand it just one place for an hour.
2. Label the bags before you put ingredients in.
3. Pour sauces in first so you can press all of the air out of the bags easier.

I am glad I...
1. Ran the dishwasher this morning. It made cleanup SO easy! The only thing I had to handwash was my food processor.
2. Used the #1 tip from above and wore my comfy shoes.
3. I did this as soon as we came home from a grocery trip. I think it saved time because I didn't put everything away just to get it out another day.

I wish I...
1. Would have paid attention to #3 above because I did the sauces last and it made a mess! Oops!

Our family will try these recipes over the next week or so and I will write a follow-up post with how many servings came from each recipe and how we liked each one. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Frugal Friday 57

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely this week:

- We enjoyed leftovers for lunch most days. This helps us save time on busy school days and it keeps us from wasting what we purchase.

- Mark's parents bought a large outdoor item and gave Annabeth the box to play with. She has loved coloring it and making a castle out of it.

Annabeth and her big box
Also, please note, she told me this outfit was "So cool, Mama!"  

Getting started on her artwork

- Annabeth helped Aunt Lu clean out her closet while visiting. She came home with Curious George bookends from Aunt Lu! Thank you!!

 New bookends for one of Annabeth's bookshelves. 

- While visiting my Momaw, I was able to "shop" her collection of freebies from various organizations. She receives SO much mail from people asking for money and they all send gifts with their requests. She keeps the whole family fully stocked with cards, notebooks, and wrapping paper among other things.

My collection of freebies from this trip.
Cards, ink pens, notebooks, post-its, stickers, and wrapping supplies.

- We met friends at Chilli's for Kids-Eat-Free-Tuesday. The meals were so large we were able to eat the leftovers for another meal as well! Saved: $4.99

- We received 23 free eggs this week - 11 from a coworker of Mark's and 12 free with a coupon from Kroger. Saved: $5.00

- A friend ordered through our Zulily referral code. We earned a $15 credit and I used it to by an outfit I had pinned for Annabeth. I was able to get her a sweet apple shirt and leggings set for $.94!

We had a wonderful week and had some great fellowship with old friends and new friends!
We hope your week was wonderful and frugal as well!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference!"

Friday, September 12, 2014

Frugal Friday 56

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely this week:

- Friday's homeschool lesson called for Annabeth to play online games for computer time. She enjoyed 30 minutes of FREE play time on

- Thursday I made homemade potato soup in the crockpot. It yielded 12 servings for $6. That is just $.50 a serving!

- The consignment sale I do, requires all clothing items to be hung on wire hangers. Originally I purchased a sale kit from the sale owners and found wire hangers around the house but the last sale nearly depleted my supply. I put a post on Facebook and was excited to learn that our friends Tiara and Shane had tons of wire hangers that they wanted to get rid of - Shane's uniforms come on wire hangers each week so they have a huge supply! T brought over 111 hangers for us! Saved: $20 by not having to buy them! Thank you!!

- As the weather has cooled down, we have been able to turn the air way up and just cool the house by opening the screen door and the windows. We were able to do this a few weeks in August as well. It made a $50 difference in our electric bill last month!

- Every three months we receive a bonus reward through Pampers Rewards. This month we received 24 FREE address labels from Shutterfly - Pampers paid for the labels and shipping! Saved: $10.98

- We shared a Free Kids Meal Coupon to Chilli's with one of Annabeth's dance class friends.

- Instead of buying expensive teacher supplies, I either hit the Dollar Tree, Target Dollar Section, or make due with what we have. For example, this week one of our lessons called for special blocks and color coded bins. We just used some colored blocks we already had and random containers from around the house. It worked out just fine.

- Mark and Annabeth built and painted a birdhouse for Mark's Dad's birthday.

 PawPaw opening his birthday present 

- We enjoyed Homeschool Days at Conner Prairie. Annabeth was just $5 and I, as a Home Educator, was FREE! Saved: $20

A future homemaker in training - cooking dinner with a baby on her hip

We had a very busy week. Annabeth and I were out of the house everyday for classes, homeschool group, and a playdate. We are looking forward to a weekend with family!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference" 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adkins-McElroy Wedding Weekend

Yesterday our sweet church friend Cindy married her love Chris McElroy.
They had Annabeth as their flower girl and we had a wonderful wedding weekend.

Their rehearsal was Friday evening at church. We enjoyed seeing all of the bridal party again, we had met at a bridal shower this spring. Annabeth and the ring bearer, Lewis, did a wonderful job with their practicing. Everyone, minus me due to allergies, enjoyed a Pizza Hut dinner and gift giving. Annabeth received a Hello Kitty Ballerina doll and a gift-card to Build-A-Bear for being in the wedding. She has never been in that store and I think she will be very excited to spend her giftcard.

Saturday, we arrived at church and were dressed by 12:30. We did pictures until 2 or so and then Annabeth and Lewis played in the parlor with the church's toys. The wedding was at 3:30 and absolutely beautiful. Annabeth did a great job, much better than at Luke and Cassidy's wedding, at walking down the aisle and standing/sitting nicely during the ceremony.

Sweet Nanners.
A beautiful flower girl. 

Me and my girl after the ceremony

After the wedding, they all took a few more pictures and then it was off to the reception. The highlight of the day for Annabeth was dancing at the recepetion. The last reception she went to she was only about 8 months old so she was surprised by all of the lights and loud music. It took her about 10 minutes of watching the colored lights in awe to get into the dancing mood. Once she did, she loved it! She danced for over two hours!

Dancing Queen.
Her dress was perfect for twirling! 

Cindy and her mom and friends planned a beautiful wedding. She had so many beautiful and unique touches. I thought I would list a few here for any brides looking for ideas:

- At the rehearsal dinner she had mints with little stickers on them that said: "Mint to bee" with a picture of a cartoon bee
- Cindy had "Mrs. Chris McElroy" embroidered in blue onto the inside of her wedding dress as her something blue. It was so sweet and made for beautiful pictures
- At the reception everyone's favors were little picture frames with the word Love. It was nice that it was something we can really use in our home!
- The reception tables also had Hershey Kisses with stickers that said "Hugs and Kisses, Chris and Cindy are Mr. and Mrs."
- After the reception, we all went outside and lit lanterns and let them go into the night sky. It looked so beautiful. Cindy shared that they had done the same thing after her grandmother's funeral. What a beautiful way to celebrate life and love.

Annabeth and Mark sending off our lantern. 

 Beautiful lanterns in the night sky.
Happy Wedding Day and Happy Marriage Wishes for Chris and Cindy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frugal Friday 55

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- My parents brought up a china cabinet from Grandma and Grandpa Chico's house. We spent Saturday organizing everything and it looks beautiful. It is so special for us to have another piece from their house to enjoy.

- While Mama and Dad were up visiting for the long weekend, they were kind enough to take family photos of us at our favorite park. We will use the photos to make Christmas gifts for family. Here is an outtake from the shoot:

The Riley Three

- Since we had company over the weekend, we made larger meals than usual and were treated to lunch out on Sunday. We were able to eat leftovers for three meals early in the week.

- Mark worked Saturday and Monday at a friend's house helping with indoor and outdoor projects. Made: $50

- I had filled out a rebate a few weeks ago. The check came in the mail this weekend. Made: $10

- Mark's parents had purchased a large bag of popcorn that they ended up not liking. They sent it home with us. Yummy!

We love Boom-Chicka-Pop
We love that they are a dairy, egg, and peanut free facility! 

- For the month of September, our library is having extra storytimes. They are called "Sing and Swing Storytime." We will be able to enjoy 2 or 3 of them.

- I treated Annabeth to a special lunch from McDonald's using a coupon. She had a cheeseburger, fries, and drink for FREE! While there they gave us another coupon for a FREE cookie on our next visit.

- Wednesday night we sold our Tribute. It was my first car and I was so sad to let it go. However, the new car came in June and it really doesn't make sense for our family to have two cars. We have kept it for the past few months and only driven the Tribute a handful of times. As it costs $1,000+ a year just to insure and register it we decided it was the best financial decision to sell it and add the money to savings.

We are happy that September is here! We are praying for cooler weather soon and are looking forward to cooking with apples and pumpkins soon!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Tribute to My Tribute

Last night, we sold my first car. We got another car in June and have kept the Tribute to see if we really need to be a 2-car-family. The answer was no and so I said Good-Bye.

A Tribute to my Tribute

I received it for my graduation as a gift from my Momaw and Granddaddy. I thought I was just getting a car but over the past 9 years it has become so much more:

First day with my new car!
May 2005

- I drove my Tribute to my high school graduation. I said "Good-Bye" to high school in my new car.

- It was the car I packed up childhood and drove to UofL and unpacked into Threlkeld Hall.

- My Tribute was the car that I used to explore and learn the city of Louisville. It was the car that took Leah and me to Arby's and the Denny's by campus. I made midnight runs to Krispy Kreme Donuts for heart-to-hearts with Daniel in that car.

Outside my car with Daniel and Leah
Celebrating "Daniel Reams Appreciation Day"

- My Tribute was the car I drove to camp in May 2006. It was the car that Mark helped me unpack into my cabin just minutes after meeting me.

- It was the car I drove to Franklin, Indianapolis, and eventually Vincennes to maintain a long-distance relationship with Mark. It was the car we drove to buy our wedding rings.

- We took our first road-trip together in the Tribute, to Tennessee for Mark's 20th birthday. We took it to Iowa for Matt and Jenn's wedding. We took it to Cincinnatti for my 21st birthday. 

- My Tribute was the car I drove to and from camp every day in the summer of 2008 so I could finish my last classes of UofL. It was the car I drove away from campus for the last time as a college graduate.

- I drove the Tribute to my post-college interviews and then to work every day at Macy's and subbing.

- It was the car I drove to Old North on our wedding day. It was the car we drove away from the chapel as Mr. and Mrs. Riley. We drove the Tribute to Florida and back for our honeymoon.

- The Tribute was the car we packed up to move to Greenwood. We moved from the apartment to the Greenwood house in the Tribute as well. 

- It was the car I drove to and from work when I was pregnant - pulling over to get sick a couple times each way. It was the car we drove to our ultrasound and where we cried once we knew our Anna Baby was on her way!

- Mark drove the Tribute to the hospital on October 4 while I was in labor. We drove it home October 7 for Annabeth Sage's first car ride. 

Annabeth's First Moments in a Car 
(outside the belly)
Getting ready to head home from the hospital! 

- It was the car we drove on Annabeth's first vacations to Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio. It is the car that she has ridden in all of her life.

When I drive my car, I think of so many memories. Sweet memories with family and friends and most of all with Mark and Annabeth.

That being said, it was still sad to say good-bye to my first car. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Organizing for Fall

We have been doing some annual fall cleaning and organizing.

One of the biggest tasks, first done last fall, is to sort through Annabeth's toys, books, and clothing. Since her birthday (October 5) and Christmas are coming we like to go through and see what she has outgrown or does not use any more. We make four piles: Donate, Keep, Pass-On, and Sell. This year we parted with two bags to Goodwill, passed on clothing earlier this summer to some friends, and we have 100+ items tagged to sell in the Fall Consignment Sale in our area.

Up until now we have had a few different containers for Annabeth's toys but I have quite often envied friends who have, at least in common areas, been able to store children's toys in nice looking furniture. This past week, I moved the living room toys from a toy box into a nice, decorative cube. We received the cube as a wedding shower gift and have always had it in our dining room to house our board games and to decorate with pictures and things. I think moving it to the living room and organizing the toys has really made a difference in how nice our living room looks.

The toy box chaos in our living room 

Everything picked up nicely and put away 

The reason we were able to move and redesign the purpose for the cube was the arrival of my Grandma and Grandpa Chico's china cabinet. After Grandma went Home last spring, we were all allowed to name items we would like to have. I have always wanted a china cabinet and theirs is a beautiful one that Grandpa refinished. I am so excited to have it and it really finishes out our dining room. 

I think it looks so beautiful!
The pretty table in the corner is also from their house. 

I was excited to be able to display some of our nice serving dishes
as well as special photos and keepsakes.

We had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend visit with Mama and Dad and I am so thankful to be organized and ready for fall! 

Where does your furniture come from? Do you enjoy buying your own or using family furniture?