Friday, September 29, 2017

Frugal Friday 212

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we did a London/England lesson with friends. Annabeth wore a Hello Kitty London shirt handed down to us many years ago but finally fits! We served English muffins pizzas, goldfish crackers/potato chips (get it, fish and chips), fruit, and some English Jam Cookies. I love themes!

- We headed to Evansville for the weekend to celebrate my sister's 28th and Annabeth's 6th birhdays.
Here is what we did for (mostly free!) fun:

Friday: We got into town and my mama had found a rock painting kit for the kids. She and dad painted rocks with the kids that we would hide around town all weekend. Annabeth, of course, chose sushi dinner at Fuji Yama and we were able to hide some rocks there. Annabeth enjoyed watching Aunt Lu find a rock and our favorite waitress Helen even posted Annabeth's picture on Facebook with her rocks!

Saturday: We went to the Master Gardner's Garden for just a bit, it was already very hot. The kids loved seeing all of the flowers and buterflies. We all enjoyed the shade garden the most! We spent the rest of the morning/afternoon at Momaw's house. There was a huge airshow down by the river and Momaw lives close enough that we were able to see many of the planes and to be scared as the huge jets flew nosily over the house! We finished out the day at Evansville's Vintage Bus Festival and dinner at Turoni's.

Mr. O and I loved the Cardinal bus - we were celebrating UofL's big win! 
 Vintage Bus Family. Maybe we will all buy one and travel the country together! 

Sunday: We went downtown to walk along the Ohio River. I don't think Owen remembered the river becuase he was really excited about the water and all of the boats. Annabeth hid more of her rocks. Then we ended up back at the Bus Show. The kids loved climbing all over the buses! Pretty simple, free fun!

- I redeemed my Kellogg's Rewards Points for a $5 Starbucks giftcard! Woohoo!

- We stayed home for our meals this week.

- I dropped all of my stuff off at the Here We Grow Again - Indy South Sale. I used a new system for hanging and tagging this year and cut off about 2 hours off my prep-time! I have been doing this sale for 4 years now and have made back almost $1500!

- I pre-shopped the sale Wednesday afternoon. I came in under budget and was able to find everything on my list! We got three new books, a Christmas dress for Annabeth, jackets for both kids, some dancewear, Annabeth's Halloween costume for $8, and a tricycle for Owen, also just $8. I love shopping this sale and saving money while supporting local families!

We had another busy week and are looking ahead to a really busy weekend! We are loving the fall weather and plan to enjoy it outside with the Franklin Fall Festival and Parade and Annabeth's birthday with the Rileys.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Frugal Friday 211

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I enjoyed two magazines that I receive in the mail for free. I get free magazine offers from the surveys I take online.

- I had FOUR Usborne parties. Thank you to everyone has made my first 90 days so much fun!

- Labor Day Weekend I ordered FREE prints from Shutterfly. I just paid shipping. They came this week and about 1/3 of them were wrong - they had printed them all landscape so many of them had faces cut out. I called Customer Service and they gave me credit for the same number of prints and free shipping on the new order! I replaced the ones that were wrong and since many came out okay, I used the rest to print new pictures from September. I love using Shutterfly and they really do have great customer service!

- Annabeth spent all weekend at the dance studio at a dance conference. She LOVED it! Even after 14 hours of dance she said to me, "What time to I dance tomorrow?" I am so happy that she has found her passion!

- Sunday evening we had Mark's parents over for dinner to celebrate his dad's birthday. We ordered pizza and they brought salad. We were able to all have the leftovers for two meals on Monday.

- Wednesday we enjoyed a free storytime at our friend's church. The kids loved the smaller group than we see at the library. Annabeth loved the games, songs, and craft. Owen, of course, refused to do any of it. "Not want to. No. Not do it." He is 2 after all.

And this cute dude wasn't so frugal yesterday...
Mr. Owen Merit decided to stick a bead up his nose. (Not the first, and I doubt the last, item he has put up there) None of our usual tricks worked so I took him to Immediate Care. They told me, thankfully at the desk before he was admitted, that they couldn't get it and that we needed to go to the ER. So, we made our third ER trip of the year. Once again, we had a great ER doctor and he was able to get the bead out without having to sedate Owen which I was so thankful for! BUT Mr. O that silly business will cost us some serious money!

- We were able to host my best friend and her kids for lunch yesterday and we will be hosting a group in today as well. Our living room floor is torn up, our kitchen is concerete floored at the moment, I don't have a dishwasher, and our fridge is in the hallway but God calls us to show hospitality to others and so we are. We serve the Lord with gladness!

We are looking forward to a fun weekend with my family celebrating my sister's and Annabeth's birthdays!

Happy Savings to All!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bedtime Storytime Lessons and Tears

When I was a little girl, we read all the time.
We had lots of bedtime stories read (and made-up) for us.

I remember reading the Felicity American Girl books together. Mama, Lu, and I were reading on the couch and we got to the book where Grandfather died. We cried and cried together. Dad came in the door and thought something horrible had happened because we were all crying so hard.

Now, I read every day to my own children.
We read lots of beditme stories.

This month, Annabeth and I have been reading some "Who Was..." books that are on loan to us from our friends the Gish Family.

This week, we have been reading Who Was Anne Frank? Annabeth first became interested in Anne Frank after visiting the "Children Who Changed the World" exhibit at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. When she saw the Anne Frank book in our tote from the Gish Family she wanted to read it right away.

We have been reading, and having some heavy discussions, about Anne all week. Tonight we finished it, and it was so hard to read. They finished the book with a beautiful quote from Anne's diary:

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people really are good at heart."


A girl whose childhood was taken as she was forced into nearly two years of hiding, a girl whose life was taken by typhus as she suffered her last days in a concentration camp still saw good. She still chose to believe in the good, to believe in people.

I sobbed as I read Anne's words. I looked over and I saw tears just running down Annabeth's face. She said, "Mama. I am so sad because they hated Anne for nothing." If my child, my five year old, understands that. Why don't others? Why do people still hate? Why don't we learn? 

When we said our bedtime prayer, sweet Annabeth prayed, "Dear God, thank you Mommy, Daddy, and Owen. And for Jesus love. And for hate to end."

Amen. Let's be the love, let's be the light. Always for Him. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Frugal Friday 210

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Saturday, Annabeth and I helped fill meal bags at the Church of God in Franklin. I love serving alongside Annabeth as we do our small part in helping hungry children in our community.

- After meal bags, I went up to Greenwood with a friend for the UTS Banana Box Sale. You can read my review here.

- I had two Usborne Books Parties.

- The kids made and sent homemade cards for Grandparents Day (which was Sunday 9/10) I had them do cute little surveys about their grandparents.

- Tuesday Mark took the day off work and we all went to Conner Prairie Homeschool Day. We had a great time and I really enjoyed being able to go as a whole family. With their special pricing we were able to go for $11. Admission on a regular day for our family of four would be $58! We are so thankful that they do these very affordable homeschool days!

 Annabeth and I loved putting these fun word rocks together
to make phrases and sentences. 
This was the first time we have been in two years. 
It was so fun to see Annabeth experience it as an older child
and for Owen to see it all for the first time. 

- Wednesday we had a long, rainy day. I pulled out the playdough and some games that we had put up in the early summer. Annabeth really enjoyed seeing some "new" things on a long day inside. Both of the kids prefer to be outside every moment of the day!

- I switched around the kids closets/dressers to have some long pants/long sleeves since the weather is getting cooler. I found eight more items that the kids have outgrown and added those to the sale pile.

- We did not grocery shop or eat out this week. The kids and I are making a small run to the store this morning for fresh fruits and veggies. We have been able to eat up quite a bit of the food that we had around.

We are looking forward to a fun weekend ahead - dance workshop, family reunion, and celebrating a birthday in Mark's family.

Happy Savings to All! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September Banana Box Review

Last Saturday my friend Jeanette and I headed up to Greenwood to the new Under the Sun location for their banana box sale.

I would say that this sale was about even with my thoughts on the last sale.

I really liked that the new location is just 20 minutes from home instead of nearly an hour drive. It also wasn't nearly as busy so instead of waiting in line for an hour we waited about five minutes. The new store is smaller though which meant we were really packed in with all of the other shoppers. This banana box sale did not have a coupon like last time so I paid the full $30 for the box. Here is what I got:

1 box instant coffees (a brand that Mark loves for backpacking/camping)
1 Gluten Free (and Anna-Safe) pancake mix
1 Box of slim fast snacks
1 Progresso soup bag
1 Knorr rice side
1 can of fruit
1 can of veggies
1 box of pasta
1 box of GF pasta
1 bag of pasta
1 protein oatmeal cup (Mark likes to take these for breakfast on work days)
1 box of pop-tarts
1 box of movie theater style candy
1 box of gum
1 box of applesauce cups (18 cups total)
1 box of gummies (20 packs total)
2 boxes of Fiber One snacks
2 boxes of Krispey Kreme cake mixes
2 boxes of pineapple upside down cake mixes
2 boxes of GF cake mixes
2 boxes of organic soup
3 boxes of potatoes (all were 2-meal packs so enough for 6 meals)
4 pack of diced pear fruit cups
That all filled the base of my box. But I had about 1/2 an inch at the top and some funky holes to fill so I really felt like I was getting my $30/worth. I filled them with:
8 juice boxes (these were seperated from their package so I could stick them in little spaces)
5 bags of candy (like people buy at gas stations for $1.39/each)
13 candy bars

The Experience Overall:
I really like that the new location is so much closer to home. I do wish the store was larger as I felt like I had less room to move around and a smaller selection to shop from. At the last sale I was able to get more items for meals and more options that were GF and Anna-Safe (peanut/tree-nut free) Like the last sale, many items were out of date and I was not willing to waste room in my box on out-of-date items. I also think these sales would be easier if I didn't have to check every box for both the expiration date as well as the ingredients list.

Biggest Disappointment:
I felt like they had the same items in huge quantities. I bet there were 50-100 bags of the same kind of soup. The shelves did look full but there were many multiples. Some I didn't want and some we couldn't use. There were also a TON of seasonings which people were grabbing in huge handfuls but we never use.

What I Will Do Next Time:
- Mark is considering going too. That means we could fill two boxes at the same time and I wouldn't have to debate over every item as heavily. This sale I ended up trading items around a lot.
- I will take Jeanette! She is like a puzzle master and helped me get SO many extra things in my box.
- I will really look into prices at the grocery. I thought my big box of applesauce was around $10/retail so I thought I had a great deal with that in my box. When I got home I found that it retails for around $5.50. The kids will eat it and the individual cups will come in handy when we have other kids over for meals but I didn't get the awesome deal that I thought I was getting with that in the box.
- I will try to get more canned goods in my box. I realized when I got home I could have added a few more canned goods instead of the bagged candy.

Overall, I calculated that my $30 box would have been around $100 retail at our local grocery stores!
Saving money sure does make me happy! :)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Frugal Friday 209

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had one Usborne Books & More Party and Mark worked one shift at both of his part time jobs.

- I sold a Kelty Kids Backpack on Facebook. We purchased this item 14 months ago, go great use out of it with Owen, and I sold it for the same amount that we bought it for. We will add this money to our vacation savings fund.

- Saturday night Mark and I had our first date since May! We had dinner at The Willard and then went to buy a new dishwasher. We took advantage of Labor Day Sales (all of the dishwashers were at least $125 off) but I was shocked to find out that the white one we needed to match our kitchen is considered an "upgrade." What?! I thought we would run in, find one, and be out in twenty minutes. It turns out very few come in white (and we have all other white appliances and white cabinets so I thought this should be white too) and I didn't like the organization on the inside of many of them. In the end we found one I liked just to learn that it would be $50 extra to order it in white! I was so surprised (Mark said "aggressively so") that the saleslady gave us $20 off that so we just paid $30 extra for the white.

- Sunday afternoon Matt and Jenn had everyone over for lunch. Each household brought something to pitch in and we had a great lasagna lunch with sides and dessert. Jenn and I cleaned out her kids' closets and drawers and she sent home a HUGE bag of hand-me-downs for our kids. Thank you so much!

- I ordered our summer pictures from Shutterfly and got them free using their Labor Day code. Saved: $8.85

- Annabeth has been asking to try cheerleading. I looked into options in our area and many conflicted with dance time or were competitive programs and far more expensive than we wanted to try. Then, a friend mentioned her daughter's cheer team was running one at the high school. Annabeth has attended that this week and had so much fun! She had 4 hours of cheer lessons, a bow, and shirt all for $30. She will also cheer with the high school team for part of the football game tonight. She is SO excited!

- Owen got his first book in the mail from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. It's a very nice copy of The Little Engine That Could. We look forward to Owen adding lots of free books to his library through this program!

Mr. O loves his new book.
He hugged it, kissed it, and yelled "No touch! My choo-choo book!"

- There was an accounting error in my original dance class budget from the studio. Annabeth's class fees ended up being $200 less than our original budget! Woohoo! This means the extra money we paid for class can be moved towards competition fees.

- This week I am running a fundraiser through this You Caring site to raise money to purchase Cuddle Bear Books and Cuddle Bear Animals to donate to the Riley Cheer Guild. If you feel inclined I would love for you to donate here!

We had a busy busy busy week and are really looking forward to some fun plans this weekend!

Happy Savings to All!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

I Can CHOOSE to be Joyful and Grateful

I can CHOOSE joy. I can CHOOSE to be grateful.

In our kitchen, I have this sign:

I put it over our stove to remind us that no matter how much, or how little, we have to eat and drink that it's enough. God will always give us just what we need.

Wednesday evening, Mark noticed a bit of water on the floor. We thought maybe the kids had spilled their cups (Have you seen O? He always has his sippy in hand) But Thursday evening, when soapy water began coming up out of the floorboards we knew it was more than that. We tracked the water to our dishwasher and began the clean-up.

We quickly ate dinner and I let some school friends know we wouldn't be meeting them the next morning. They each are amazing and offered to help right away! I took the kids over to the O'Neals and they kept them for a couple of hours so we could get the floor pulled up and the water removal started. Ben and Andrea have 4 kids and still stepped right up to throw ours in the mix!! Thank you all so so much!

We tracked the water by pulling up the floor and found that it had gone beyond our island into the living room some but not too much at all! It also had only gone though about 2/3 of the kitchen. Mark worked on that while I called the insurance company to begin our claim.

We got the floors pulled up and Mark said he was going to pick up the kids and run to Lowe's so he could get a box fan and dehumidifier. While he did that, I hopped on Facebook to see if anyone had one we could borrow (within 20 minutes 3 families came through with offers to help!) and I ran to our neighbors and our 80 something year old neighbor carried over his huge dehumidifier to help us! This was a huge blessing so that we were able to take care of the water without buying anything or having to call a company to do it for us. We wanted to be safe and to avoid mold but we didn't want to spend a fortune doing it!

We got the kids put to bed about 90 minutes later than usual and then Mark continued the clean-up process while I closed out a book party to help my September sales stats. We were up until midnight but we got most of it done.

Crazy nights like this help me to remember that we are truly so blessed to have so many friends and neighbors who come through for us. Both Mark and I have a hard time asking for help and we like to be the ones giving to others and sometimes it takes an emergency like this to force us to accept help.

The adjuster came out Friday afternoon and we have the claim process started as much as we can. Things are pretty much on hold over the holiday weekend but Mark got the stove and oven moved back in the kitchen so I can cook with more than the toaster and crock-pot. Our fridge is in the hallway and the kids think that is hilarious! Both of the kids love the concrete floor in the kitchen and the fact that everything is all moved around and that really made me happy to see their joy in the chaos.

For now our kitchen looks like this but as I see news-footage from Texas
our kitchen flooding doesn't seem like that big of a deal at all. 

It's going to be a bit of a mess for awhile while we wait for insurance and then for the actual flooring to come in but I hope that we can think of it all as a fun adventure! May we always choose to be grateful and joyful.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you to belong to Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-81

Friday, September 1, 2017

Frugal Friday 208

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked a shift at his part-time job, had over-time, and I had one Usborne Books & More party.

- Saturday morning the kids and I headed to the Trafalgar library to see a penguin! The library brought in the Wave Foundation from Newport Aquarium and they brought a live penguin! The ladies who came did a great job education us about penguins as well as conservation efforts. The kids loved it!

Look how excited they are!
Thank you to our friend Ann for capturing this great moment!
Photo Credit: Ann Black

Annabeth loved being able to pet the penguin!
What a neat experience!

- Mark was given a gift-card as a "Thank You" from a citizen. He surprised Annabeth with a cake-pop and me with coffee from Starbucks. Thank you. 

- Sunday afternoon we went to a cook-out at Luke and Cassidy's. Annabeth and I made chocolate chip cookies and funfetti cake cookies. Both were gluten free box mixes that we found on sale for $1 earlier this summer. Anytime I find Owen's GF items on a good deal I buy what we have room in the grocery budget for. 

- We went to a birthday party Sunday afternoon as well. As always, I tried to take gifts that included art projects and we also added some bubbles. My kids would blow and chase bubbles all day long and I thought they would be great for this new three year old! We also took a box of hand-me-downs for the birthday boy and their family gave us some magazine racks that we will use in our school room. 

- I found a coupon for a FREE notebook at Meijer in my mPerks. The kids don't need it for school this year but I went ahead and got it and saved it for later.

- We had a $4 reward in our mPerks. I always try to use these rewards to buy items for the Weekend Meal Bags we fill at the Church of God in Franklin. We were able to purchase 16 applesauces for the bags. We will be filling our first bags of the school year on September 9th - please let me know if you would like to help donate to this great project!

- I organized a HUGE tote of books given to us by our friends the Gish family. They have loaned us around 75 books for our homeschool! Thank you all so much!

Frugal Fail:
- We ate out three times this week! UGH! We try to only eat out two times a month as a family and we just blew that in the last week. We were out of town for a week and then we got back I had so much cleaning, laundry, and mail to deal with that I didn't get a meal plan/grocery list made and it got crazy. We will do better this week! 

We are looking forward to Labor Day Weekend and hoping that Mark gets some time off so we can enjoy some family time! Although the kids and I enjoyed all the above activities, it would have been wonderful to have Mark along too.

Happy Savings to All!