Sunday, May 22, 2011


Even before I got laid off from my job I was pretty frugal. I like to spend money, especially on clothes, but I always want to get the most bang for my buck. There were a few things that I knew we weren't going to be able to do like we were used to when our income was cut short.

One of them was eating out. But, because I was home more I found that I had more time to cook. After about three weeks we got sick of eating the same thing over and over. I didn't even know where to start looking for new recipes. So, we signed up for It's about $15 for three months, and not only does it give you recipes for the week, it gives you a shopping list to go along with it. I love it! We've been eating something new every day, and our grocery bill is actually less than it had been because we aren't buying a bunch of stuff and then trying to make meals out of it. Instead, we are buying what we need and using it (no throwing away spoiled food!).

We've been doing a ton of things around the house that we haven't been able to get done. One thing we've always wanted to do was fence in our back yard. We had a small area for our dogs to go out the dog door, but we've always wanted to get a big part of the back yard fenced in. So, we searched on Craig's List and found a deal on fence. We paid $200 for chain link fence, three gates, and poles and hardware. My brother-in-law knows how to install fence and had the tools needed, so he came out and helped us. We were able to fence in our entire backyard and make a larger dog kennel. We had a ton of fence and hardware leftover, which we sold for $280! So we actually make $80 on the deal!

I called XM Radio to cancel our subscription, and they offered us 6 months for $32, and they let us apply our recent payment towards the $32. I love Oprah Radio, so it was an offer we couldn't refuse.

We cut down the channels on our satellite. Instead we signed up for Netflix and watch the on-demand movies with our WII or X-box. If I do want to rent a movie, I use Redbox and get it for $1.

I have shih tzus, which need regular grooming. It cost about $30 a dog, and they go in about every six weeks. I didn't want to spend $90 (plus a tip) grooming my dogs, so I watched a few You Tube videos, invested in a pair of doggy clippers, and taught myself. I was really slow and they looked a little crazy at first. But I got the hang of it.

Our electric bill was really high. I know it sounds nuts, but we started unplugging anything that isn't in use and we have noticed a difference on our bill!

Those are just a few things we've done. If you have any items or tips on how you save money I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I love reading Sunday Secrets from Post Secret.

Sometimes I find the secrets touching, sometimes I laugh, and sometimes I can relate.

Today, I read this secret. It was like a punch to the gut. I still feel sick about it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I talked before about how my son wants to go to a private school. I also talked about how my husband and I are both currently unemployed. Obviously, we didn't think my son would be able to go to a private high school since we couldn't afford it.

My kid really wants to go to this school. It's not because of his friends. Most of them are going to public school. It's not because of a girl. It's because he feels this school would give him a great academic base and would jump start his education.

How do you argue with that?

(Also, where did this kid come from? Education was the last think my husband and I were thinking about when we were his age!)

So, we are taking a leap of faith. We found out some financial assistance/scholarship money is available. We have applied for it, and things are looking good for him. He is enrolling in the private high school.

As a parent I have learned to go with my gut. I feel in my heart that this is the place my son is supposed to be. The school he goes to now has been a tremendous blessing for our family, and I hope that this new school will be the same.

I could really use some prayers and positive thoughts. This money for school would be the answer to our prayers.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


(I am not feeling sorry for myself, I assure you. I just don't take myself too seriously. It's a joke people, lighten up!)

We recently threw a party for my son. Confirmation in our faith is sort of like a First Communion in the Catholic religion or a Bar Mitzvah. It's a big deal. He was Confirmed this weekend, and we threw a party for him. It's something that's a big deal, and I wanted to make this party special for him. Since my husband and I are both laid off I knew I would be working on a budget. Well, let me tell you, I'm the queen of cheap when we have lots of money to spend, I am absolutely anal working on a budget. 

So here are my tips for a great, but inexpensive, party. 


Pick out a color and stick with it. In this case it was blue. Don't be to use various shades of the same color. In fact, if you use all the same color it will be color overkill.  

I saw a great idea on Krisit's blog that I "borrowed" from her. I used pictures of my son that had special meaning to us. I had them printed in black and white and I laid them out in chronological order. I found a package  of coordinated card stock, embellishments, and stickers for $5. (It's made by Colorbök.) It had 30 pages of cardstock that was really pretty. I arranged the pictures and card stock together like this:

Then I used a paper punch to make holes and threaded it together with ribbon like this:

Total cost: $9.34
Total time: About an hour and a half total. (But I was very anal- I measured out the holes before I punched them so everything was even!)

I didn't know what to do for a center piece because I didn't want to spend too much money, but I wanted something cute. I finally put together these:

The basket was two for $1! The small suckers were $1 total and the large lollypop was $1. I used blue M&Ms but only because I got them on sale (about 40% off). I didn't want to fill up the entire basket with candy, and I needed a way to keep the suckers upright, so I used blue colored floral foam. It was $1 and I could do two baskets with one piece of foam.

Total cost: about $3.50 (estimating the cost of the M&Ms)
Total time: about 10 minutes.


My one splurge was a cake. I wanted a beautiful cake for him. I took my son with me and let him pick out the design. This is what he picked out.

This was made by Sugar High LLC in Frankenmuth, MI. Not only was is beautiful, it tasted fantastic! We didn't have any left.

I wanted to do something fun. I recently went to a wedding that had a fantastic candy bar. I wanted to do something like that, but candy can get costly. Instead I did a popcorn bar. There is a place right by the cake store that sells gourmet popcorn. I picked out popcorn in the blue color family to go with the decorations.

My mom and I had most of these containers. I did buy a few from the dollar store. (bonus!) Then I used the left over card stock from the banner to made labels for the popcorn. I had a few pictures I didn't use on the banner, so I put them in those three frames I already had, and used left over card stock to make a mat to go around the pictures. Using the same card stock tied everything together.

The popcorn containers I found (the blue things on either corner) was blue and shaped just like a popcorn box. I got them $5 for 32 from Wal.mart.

Here's a tip: I attached the ribbon and lables with little stick-on velcro circles available in the craft isle of most stores. It made it easy to set up on the day of. To take the guesswork out of it, I attached the sticky side of the velcro on one end of the ribbon, and then the other side of the velco (sticky side out) was stuck to that velcro. Then I was able to attached the other end of the ribbon, or the label, exactly where I wanted. No measuring, so guessing. Very easy!

Total cost: $35, including the ribbon and the velcro.
Total time: Maybe an hour.

Obviously catering was out of the question due to budget constraints. We cooked the food ourselves. We had a ton! Two meats, mashed potatoes and gravy, three vegetables, three salads, bread and various other things to nibble on. Almost everything was homemade. Homemade always tastes better!

Here's another tip: Ask a friend and/or family member to bring their specialty dish (maybe in lieu of a gift?). Even though I didn't ask her to, my sister made these:

They tasted better than they look. 

My mom made Guacamole Salad. It's one of my favorite things she makes and I asked her to make it again. It was a hit, and she had to give the recipe out to a few people.  Here it is for you!

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup small diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced
Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.
Just before you're ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad.

Cost of food and drinks: $121 (and we had A LOT left. I'd rather have too much than not enough.)

Prep time: Besides the meat, which had to be started early, we spent about 2 hours total preparing the food. 

But in the end the most important thing is that you have fun. 

My son definitely had fun.