Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How is our list coming?

Time to update on how we are doing with our Christmas list.....

Our list for our children:

9yr old daughter:
  • Book pocket *DONE*
  • Flannel night gown *DONE*
  • Book marks
  • Felt and ribbon hair clips
7yr old daughter:
  • Book Pocket *DONE*
  • Flannel nightgown *DONE*
  • Book marks 
  • Felt and ribbon hair clips
3 yr old twin daughters:
  • Book pockets *DONE*
  • Flannel nightgowns *DONE*
  • Tutu's
  • Felt and ribbon hair clips
  • Baby doll pillow and blanket 
  • Matching nightgown for baby dolls
  • Crocheted owl families
2yr old son:
  • PVC pipe water maze bath toy
  • Flannel pj's 
  • Felt car carrier
  • Felt "race track"
10mth old daughter:
  • Crocheted owl family
  • Flannel nightgown *DONE*
  • Crocheted baby hat and mittens *DONE*
  • Apron bibs 
Total Spent: $4/100

Nightgowns everywhere I look!

Part of our Christmas tradition is to give each of the kids new pajamas on Christmas Eve. I admit I have a ulterior motive here. New pj's on Christmas morning look great in all those pictures you always end up taking while they open their presents.  I can't say I came up with the idea however, that credit would go to my mother. 

 Since we are doing a homemade Christmas you know making pajamas was top of my to do list. I went rooting around my fabric stash to find the ton of flannel I bought last year on Black Friday and never used....when what do I see. A bag with flannel scraps and a pajama pattern envelope. I open the bag and realized that the "scraps" of flannel are actually a night gown already cut out and labeled by my grandmother. A little more digging shows that my mother's name and size were on the pattern instructions.  The date on the pattern? 1970! No that isn't a typo my grandmother cut out these night gown pieces for my mother 40yrs ago! I was floored!  My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was about the same age as my oldest daughter so it just seemed fitting that I finish the gown for my own daughter. 

So here you have a night gown for a little girl cut out by her great grandmother, intended for her grandmother, and sewn by her mother. I will be honest I get a bit teary just thinking about it.

There were other pieces in the bag with the gown above. They however were for what appears to be a maternity gown for my grandmother. That puts the pieces at 1970-1971 when she was pregnant with my Uncle.  Since I don't need a maternity gown and I wanted my second oldest to have a special gown as well I cut the pieces down to make a gown for my 7 yr old as well.  I went with a simpler pattern for this gown. I am not the seamstress my grandmother was but I try.  This pattern was super simple to put together and start to finish I was done in an hour.

 It was so simple I used the same pattern for my three younger daughters as well. I however altered the pattern to leave out the bow tie on the little girls gowns. No need to fret about my little ones strangling themselves in their sleep on the ties.

So there you go, 5 night gowns for 5 little girls all for just the cost of the pattern, $4.  That is quite the deal if you ask me!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baby Hat and Mittens!

I am a sucker for baby hats and little tiny mittens! They are just so stinking cute. My youngest little one needed a new hat and mittens for this winter so I decided to add them onto her Christmas list. I think she approves.........

 For the hat I used Bernat Easter Basket yarn and this pattern. I however altered the pattern and instead of the ruffle (which I didn't care for) I added a simple shell stitch instead. So adorable and simple!

 For the mittens I used this pattern, but as you can guess altered them to use the matching shell pattern from the hat.
Cute. Simple. Done!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Pockets

 My girls LOVE to take things to bed with them and needed an option for keeping things close but not under them while they were trying to sleep. I found this tutorial for book pockets and thought they would be perfect. I however altered the pattern just a bit. Instead of having them go all the way across the bed under the pillow I decided to use less fabric and have them go under the mattress. With them on top of the mattress I could just see them getting carried around the house and me constantly having to pick them up and put them back where they go. This way seemed much simpler.

I used flannel because it was what I had on hand and wanted to use up.  I cut  a strip (31in by 11 in) of my base light purple fabric, a 8x8in square of my light pink accent fabric, and a 5x5in monogram for each girl.  Here you can see it all cut and laid out. As you can see I incorrectly cut my "H" out. I had to recut it so that my flowers were going up and down not sideways!

 Then I started sewing.I first added my hems to my long light purple fabric. Then I used a zig zag stitch around the letters sewing them to the pink 8x8 square. Once that was done I centered the pink 8x8 square with letter on to the purple fabric (about 1 in down from the hem and centered between the sides. Using a zig  zag stitch around three sides (leaving the top open for a second pocket) I attached the pink pocket to the light purple. Once that was done I flipped the fabric over, right sides together, and stitched up the sides of the main pocket. You should in the end have a 10in deep decorative pocket and a 10in length of fabric acting like a "tail" behind the pocket. The "tail" will be slipped between the mattress and the box springs to suspend the pocket from the bed. If the pocket wants to slip out from between the mattress and the box springs because of the weight of the items in the pocket you can pin it into place under the mattress.

Book pockets done! Now on to my next project!

Homemade Christmas. The list!

This is our second "Homemade Christmas" and I am very excited to be starting on making the gifts for our children and family members. Last year there was a real learning curve for me. Having never done anything like it before and being massively pregnant with baby #6 I was in a bit over my head. This year however I am ready to go! I have also been very blessed this year to be able to find several things for my children for free. My son for example will be getting a little people farm with all the animals (free!) and a massive train set with tracks (free!) just to name a few.

Our list for our children:

9yr old daughter:
  • Book pocket
  • Flannel night gown
  • Book marks
  • Felt and ribbon hair clips
7yr old daughter:
  • Book Pocket
  • Flannel nightgown
  • Book marks 
  • Felt and ribbon hair clips
3 yr old twin daughters:
  • Book pockets
  • Flannel nightgowns
  • Tutu's
  • Felt and ribbon hair clips
  • Baby doll pillow and blanket 
  • Matching nightgown for baby dolls
  • Crocheted owl families
2yr old son:
  • PVC pipe water maze bath toy
  • Flannel pj's 
  • Felt car carrier
  • Felt "race track"
10mth old daughter:
  • Crocheted owl family
  • Flannel nightgown
  • Crocheted baby hat and mittens
  • Apron bibs

We also have a list of things we will be making for family members, those however I am going to hold off on mentioning at the moment since I don't want to ruin the surprise if they read my blog.  I will update you with those items after they are received however :)

Our busy fall.

Wow I really seems like quite the slacker these days don't I? I took some time off of blogging this fall to help get my family situated into our new "normal". Things around here have been a whirlwind of activity it seems. I am just now 3 months later starting to feel like I am getting my footing again.

Lets see...

In August we went on a month long roadtrip to visit family. It was an amazing time but I am sure you understand that it was very taxing. Our kids did amazing considering the amount of time we spent driving and loved getting to see family members that they hadn't seen in months or in some cases years!  We spent lots of time on the water boating, fishing and swimming. As you can tell my little ones loved it!
After arriving back home in September we started the process of getting help for our 2 yr old son. He is still in the middle of the diagnosis process (don't get me started on how hard that is to get done!) but it looks like he is autistic. As I have mentioned before we have an autistic daughter as well. Our son however presents in a totally different manner. He can be quite the handful when he wants to be. In September we started his therapy routine which includes 2 hours of behavioral therapy and 1 hour of occupational therapy a week.  We just had a review done and will actually be upping him to 3 hours of behavioral therapy very soon. The therapy takes up our entire mornings these days and keeps us very busy. Little man needs tons of sensory input we are finding so we are adjusting our entire lives around his needs. It has taken me several months to figure out how to make this work and still keep the family going. More about this to come later.

In October things started to lighten up here and get a bit easier. Our son started to become more verbal and the therapy was starting to show in his daily behavior. We took advantage of the breathing room to do some fun stuff together as a family. Starting with some Halloween decorating, our new favorite thing to do is decorate our door for each different month.

It is now November. Where does the time go?! We are looking forward to Thanksgiving and have decorated our door for this month.
I am working on our second "Homemade Christmas" this year (more about that to come later as well) and keeping quite busy with the little ones. Our youngest has started to get more mobile now that she is 10 mths old (seriously where does the time go?!).
I hope you all have had an amazing fall and I look forward to getting to post more often now that things are slowing down here for us!

Monday, July 22, 2013

No new stuff challenge: Third week of July

How is it already the third week of July? This year has gone by so quickly!

This week has been another whirlwind over here at our house.

Lets see....This week we cleaned out the rest of our junk that didn't sell at the yard sale and dropped it off for charity. I have been working on cleaning out and organizing my "projects to do" box (how did it get SO full?!). I worked on catching our budgeting software up to date (I strongly dislike that chore), and getting myself back on my weight loss program. Also this week I was finally able to get my laptop fixed!  My two year old autistic son threw it last March and it refused to turn on after that trauma. I had put off getting it fixed since I was sure it would be terribly expensive. Turns out it just needed a $70 repair.

This week makes 20 weeks on this challenge. I am going to be honest. I am tired of it. I am tried of thinking about it and finding ways around buying new things. As of next week we will be on a month long road trip with all 6 kids. As you can imagine that is not a conducive environment for our "no new stuff challenge". This will be our first vacation in a very very long long our youngest 4 children have never been on one! This weekend I plan to go to the Dollar Store and the BX and get all set up with our organization gear and new toys/games for our many many hours on the road.   As soon as we get back into town we will be preparing for a move to a new "adaptive house" so our oldest daughter (who is special needs) can have the resources she needs.

 At this moment I have decided to suspend the "no new stuff" challenge. Hopefully once our lives are settled down in October we can get back to the challenge.

Thank you all for your support over the last 20 weeks! We will be sure to keep in touch over the next very busy two months!  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: Second week of July

We are continuing with our "we need to get rid of all our junk so we can move" theme this week.

We finally got all of our junk out of the attic and organized, our bedroom closets are all cleaned out and decluttered (58 items of clothing out of my closet alone :blush: ), and things around here are looking much better.

Hubby supervised the yard sale this morning and we were able to make a whole $54 off of all our junk. Guess it is better than a kick to the head! I know a local Airmen's attic that is going to be getting a BIG donation on Monday morning. I  will get a lot of joy out of thinking about all the lives we will bless with our donations.....and all the joy I will get out of being able to walk a straight line through my bedroom!

This week we are also planning and preparing for our month long vacation next month. The logistics of moving 8 people through so many states is staggering. I will be sure to post about our preparing and packing for sure. In the mean time I did some shopping this week for the kids to make sure they had what the needed.

My oldest two daughters both got new sandals while my twins got new sippy cups *what is it with sippy cups? I always end up with either a top or a bottom missing from each cup*.

I started the process by looking on Amazon at new shoes and sippy cups. I will admit I felt weak, I was tired and just wanted to get the stuff ordered and be done with it. However the total shocked some sense into me. I am sorry but I am not paying $80 for two pairs of sandals and some sippy cups. It just isn't happening I don't care how tired I am.

So off I went to ebay. I found everything I needed for $42.75 with shipping charges. My oldest daughter now wears a women's sized shoe and those suckers are not cheap even used. I did save about 50% so that makes me happy.

Total I would have spent this week: $80
Total actually spent: $42.75

No New Stuff Challenge: First week of July

I am so far behind in blogging. Please bare with me!

Things around our house have gotten very busy very suddenly. First up we are in the process of preparing for a future move. Apparently when you have 6 kids moving to a new house becomes a major project....who woulda thunk it?

First on our list of things to do for the move is to get all the paperwork with base housing taken care of. Since our oldest daughter has special needs we can not just move to just any old house. We have to have a letter from her neurologist specifying they type of house we can live in. Specifically we need an "adaptive house". You would think this part would be easy to take care of. No. I have been leaving messages all week and no response. I also happen to need a copy of my daughters blood work showing that her medication is making her deficient in Vitamin D so that I can start her on a supplement, no go on that one either. Mommy is about to start getting crabby with these people.

Second on our list of things to do is to clean out all the junk that is still packed from our last move....2 years ago! I am sorry but if it is still packed it needs to go. So we have spent the whole last week up in the attic pulling everything out and getting it all organized for a yard sale next week. Luckily my daughter didn't mind if we mounded the junk up in her room. I was so shocked by the amount of STUFF we have that we don't need or even want. I found boxes up there where everything in them was trash. Why in the world did we move a box of empty cd cases halfway around the world? See this is what happens when you pay movers to pack your junk instead of doing it yourself. Those things never would have made it into a box if I had been packing the boxes.

Not surprising since I have spent the whole week getting rid of things that I have not done any shopping this week. Outside of food we have been in a spending freeze.

Total we would have spent this week: $0
Total spent this week: $0

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

No new stuff challenge: Fourth week of June

This has been a busy busy week here!

Lets see....

The week started with my husband having minor surgery. Which turned out to be not so minor. He is having lots of complications and is still down for the count. With him out of commission the care of the house and the children has fallen all on me. Being the only adult capable of working around the house is exhausting. I am however thankful to have a house and children to care for!

Also this week my father came into town for a visit. Grandpa is one fun guy to be sure! We spent each day at either the playground or the pool. My children are totally spoiled now and think we need to go to the playground every single day now. It wouldn't be hard to do except that it has stormed every single day since my dad left.

I finally made an appointment and took my son in for his 2 year well baby appointment this week. I knew going in that the doctor was going to mention the dreaded "A" word, autism. Sure enough we left with referrals for a developmental pediatrician, early intervention, and hearing tests. We have walked this path before with our oldest daughter,  but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. He is such a bright little man, he just has little to no verbal skills and reacts VERY strongly to new situations and new people. The pediatrician and I are both sure he falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. Only time will tell where.  More about this to come later.

With all this going on I am sure it doesn't surprise you that I have not done any shopping this week. I was tempted while at the local farmers market with my dad. I mean there were socks made out of alpaca wool! I held strong though and resisted.

I can honestly say that this is one week that I am VERY glad is over!

Total I would have spent this week: $30
Total actually spent: $0

Sunday, June 23, 2013

No new stuff challenge: Third week of June

Went thrift store shopping this week...and found the outfit for little bit for our upcoming family photo shoot ($1 :) ). It is an 18mth top but will fit her like a dress and work perfectly. It was hanging right on the end of the rack and just jumped out at me. I snatched it off that rack so fast I am surprised the rack didn't fall over ;)

Also found swim suits for the three youngest girls today! I actually got 4 suits because I was not sure if my smallest twin would fit a 2T or a 4T (my only two choices close to her size). I will redonate the one she can't wear.

Found some crocs for my son, and a pair of sandals for each of my big girls.

Plus the glasses my husband has been asking for for months. He hates drinking out of the little 8oz glasses and wanted the big 16 oz ones.

Then some random stuff: 2 pairs of shorts for my son, 1 pair of athletic pants for son, pair of pj's for my 6yr old, sun hat for my son, a pair of shoes for my son to grow into (size 11), and a swim suit for my oldest daughter (hers is faded and kind of saggy in the booty ;) ).

All of this for $5.11 :D

Total I would have spent if bought new: $200
Total actually spent: $5.11

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: Second week of June

Last week was a hard week I am not going to fib. This week however has gone a lot better! First a dear friend sent my son a pair of shoes and a swimsuit that her son had outgrown. They will come in very handy with a little man who seems to grow like a little weed. I wasn't planning on buying anything this week but the base Airman's Attic sent out a message on Facebook asking people to come take as much as they wanted so that they didn't have to move it to a new building. Since they were speaking my language (FREE) I was all in. I did some shopping today and came home with a little bit of something for most of my kids....

9yr old daughter:
Two tops

6yr old daughter:
Two dresses

3yr old twin daughters:
Three tops and three pairs of shorts

2yr old son:
Two tops and a pair of shorts
A large Lightening Mcqueen toy car

Two tops

Also this week we are doing a freezer/pantry challenge. The goal is to eat out of our freezer/pantry instead of shopping for ingredients. Last Saturday I was able to get a weeks groceries for $67.38 Most of that was just snacks *sigh* My kids eat like horses I swear. At 3pm it is a feeding frenzy here. The little ones are just getting up from naps and the big ones are just getting home from school. Everyone is hungry  and crabby.

Breakdown of what I spent:

*Chips $1.75
Popcorn $1.39
Pretzels (the GIANT container) $5.23
Peanut butter $2.39  (already gone)
Cereal $2.39 (already gone)

Coconut oil $4.23
Olive oil $2.49
Flour $2.43

Hot dogs $2.89
Hot dog buns $1.51
Flat bread pizza (my lunch for that day) $3.99
3 Tombstone pizzas (DH and the kids lunch for that day) $7.50
Sausage biscuits (Dh's breakfasts) $3.59

Almond milk (for me, will last two weeks) $2.79
Whole milk $2.90 *Already gone*

H&B and cleaning:
Dish soap (will last a month or more) $0.75
Toilet paper (will last to end of month) $4.99

Fruit and veg:
Apples $2.69 *almost gone*

2 loafs @ $1.27 each

Dh's tea $3.79
M&M's for oldest two daughters for helping with the grocery shopping $0.75 x 2

The meal breakdown for the 8th-30th:
Meat stew
Whole chicken with veg
creamy farmhouse chicken
Vegetable beef stew
Buffalo chicken salads (greens from my garden)
Crockpot pulled pork
pork sirloin tip roast (need recipe for this)
meat stew
whole chicken with veg
Vegetable beef soup
Homemade pizzas
Mystery bag (No clue what this is, it lost its label)
Vegetable beef soup

So I need to figure out 5 more meals to finish out the month. I think I have some options in my small freezer just need to go through it. I know there is a bag of wonton filling in there and some chili. Just need to pull it all out.

I plan to do a lot of breakfasts and snacks using the 10lbs of oats and 5lbs of quinoa I have on hand. I am sure by the end of the month my kids and husband are going to be sick of oats ;) 

Total if I had bought the above stuff new: $150
Total actually spent: $0

Saturday, June 8, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: First Week of June

This has been a hard week. I admit we bought several things new this week including a new set of jumper cables and a new part for my husband's car. I don't know folks I think my get up and go has got up and gone.

This is a new week however and I am determined to get back to the challenge full force.

In other news I have been trying to keep my hands busy in the evenings and have decided to start crocheting again. I am currently making newborn hats to sell (hoping to offset some of those costs listed above).

My current obsession is little bear hats....

Isn't it cute? I am asking $15 per newborn hat plus $6 shipping if you just happen to know someone who would like one ;)

If you would like to make one yourself I used the pattern from this website.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: Fourth Week of May

I did a lot of shopping this week. All of it was used of course but man did it add up fast!

Lets see....
*14 dresses (5 for my oldest, 5 for my second oldest, and 4 for me)
*4 pairs of shoes
*Replacement hammock parts (totally splurge but it is my favorite spot in the backyard)
*2 new children's Bibles for my oldest two daughters
*2 Bible covers for the Bibles listed above
*A toddler Bible for my toddlers
*A new book for my summer Bible study
*A calculator for my husband's college class

I *think* that is it. I really wasn't kidding when I said I was on a shopping spree! We should be stocked up for a while now ;)

Total cost new: $510
Total amount I paid: $211.54

Saturday, May 18, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: Third week of May

This week has been a big week in our house. Our littlest little bit has been doing some growing! She turns 4mths next week and just outgrew her 0-3mth clothes. So all you mom's know what that means.....sorting through boxes and totes full of clothes to get the next size pulled out and in her drawers. You would think that since we have 5 daughters we would have lots of handme downs laying around. That is true for our older 4 girls, however when we moved from Hawaii to New Jersey we needed to cut down on the amount of weight we were shipping. To do this we got rid of all our baby clothes and baby gear. So while we have clothes from 12mths (the size the twins were wearing at the time of the move) and up, we had nothing for the first year. We were very blessed when little bit was just a few weeks old, one of my husband's coworkers gave us an entire wardrobe for 0-12mths! They are super cute clothes and in great shape.  As I was pulling the 3-6mth wardrobe out and getting it all sorted into the correct drawers I couldn't help but marvel at the blessings in our lives. The Lord really does provide when you are faithful and trust in Him! I am looking forward to passing these clothes on to the next person who needs them!

Another side effect of little bit growing is that she is outgrowing her cloth diapers. I use prefolds and covers on my small babies, till around the time they are starting to crawl. The prefolds are cheaper, easier to wash and dry, and easier to deal with out of the dryer. Which is great when you think about how often you have to change a little bitty baby. I did a lot of searching this week to find the next size prefolds for little bit. My last baby grew so fast he went straight from newborn prefolds (birth to 3mths) to standard prefolds (fits 6-9mth olds). Since little bit is growing quite a bit slower I needed to find some prefolds that would fit her from 3-6mths. I did some researching on what new prefolds were going for (about $1 per prefold) and then put the word out on several of my online sites (diaperswappers, my mom's group, and my facebook yardsale sites). One of the ladies on my mom's group had some prefolds with snaps, which are great because you don't have to use a snappi, they however sell for a lot more than $1 per! They run about $12 per prefold new! She was willing to sell me 16 of them for $46 with shipping. That is about $150 saved!

The prefolds have not come in the mail yet, which isn't a big deal since the newborn prefolds are still fitting her at the moment. However since I think every blog posts benefits from a picture I will share a pic of the little bit I have been rambling about....
Amount items would have been if bought new: $300
Actual amount spent: $46

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Meal Plan May 11th-17th

Things around here are snug this month thanks to some unexpected car repairs and doctors bills. In an effort not to touch our savings we are trying to tighten our belt a little tighter than normal. Today is our grocery shop day and after having a look at the meals we had planned for the upcoming week I decided to make some changes. My goal for this week was "healthy and cheap". Not the easiest order to fill but I was up for the challenge. We have some set menu rules in our house that really help with meal planning.

Mondays: Vegetarian
Tuesdays: Meat
Wednesdays: Leftovers or sandwiches
Thursday: Vegetarian
Friday: Breakfast for dinner
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Meat

With that in mind I started searching for healthy meals that fit our pattern and were pretty cheap to put together.

Breakfasts (all served with fruit and milk):
Apple Nut Quinoa 
 *need: apple juice
Funky Monkey Oatmeal
*need: Peanut butter, banana's, coconut, and chocolate chips
Choco-Coconut Granola 
* need: nothing
Banana Bread
*need: nothing

Leftovers or sandwiches

Dinners (Served with side salads):
Chipotle Chicken Chili
*need: V8 juice, diced tomatoes, dried beans
Sweet Chili Thai Pizza and Pepperoni Pizza
*need: pepperoni, tomato sauce, red onion, zucchini, sweet chili sauce, green onions, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese
Chicken Quesadillas 
*need: cheddar cheese
Roasted Vegetable French Bread Pizza 
*need: red onion, zuchini,  bell pepper, pesto, mozzarella cheese
Southwestern Baked Potatoes
*need: baking potatoes, dried beans, sour cream, cheddar cheese
Breakfast Tostadas
*need: tortillas

I managed to get this weeks groceries for $135. I probably could have done it cheaper however we use organic milk, eggs, cheese, and juice. Considering I am feeding 8 people I think I did an okay job this week ;)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Recycling in the garden...

Here is as fun fact for you. After 9 years of marriage I can still embarrass my loving husband. The poor guy, he really does put up with a lot of quirky ideas. My latest escapades in my garden have thrown him for a loop it seems. I needed some supports for my peas and tomatoes. Since we are in the middle of our no new stuff challenge buying the supports was a bit difficult. I did however have two toddler beds that were no longer needed (one was broken and the other one had lost all it's hardware in our last move). Instead of throwing the beds away I decided to use them in my garden. Now this wasn't a product of my own creativity, I saw someone do something similar with crib parts over on pinterest (I need a pinterst intervention it seems). 
As you can see from the pics the toddler bed pieces work perfectly. I had some wooden stakes leftover from last year that I was able to tie the metal frames to to keep them upright.  I also had some metal poles that were part of a shelving system that broke long ago (I don't know why I still had the poles I found them as part of the great shed clean out)I can't decide if this is thrify recycling, being cheap, or just being a redneck. Since no one but the UPS man sees our backyard I don't think it really matters much. I am happy and my plants are happy so I guess we are good to go. Good thing my husband is a good sport :)

No New Stuff Challenge: Second Week of May

Where does the week go? Seems like time is flying around here these days. This week has been pretty busy here at our house. I finally finished our vegetable garden! Yay! I plan to get some pictures when everything starts to sprout. I think I embarrassed my poor husband when I used recycled materials from around our house to act as trellis and stakes. I however had several old toddler beds just laying around and they work perfectly in the garden. Luckily no one can see in our backyard so poor dh should live ;)

I planted:
Bell Peppers
Flat leaf parsley

Once I had all the vegetable and fruit plants in the ground my daughter and I were able to plant some pretty flowers. Even better news is that the flowers and the mulch were free from our housing office. I am all over free!

Also this week I finally had enough of looking at our dirty carpets and decided they needed to be cleaned. Trouble is I sold our big carpet cleaner a few months ago because I didn't like that it had a cross-action brush instead of a rotating brush. My original plan was to sell the machine I didn't like and buy a new carpet cleaner. However we started this challenge before I could actually do so. Since buying a new machine wasn't an option I sucked it up and went to self help to borrow the cleaner they have there. Of course all three were already checked out the first day I went to see about getting one. Luckily the next day I was able to get one of the machines....okay...the thing is HUGE, and LOUD. Not the greatest thing when you have to lift it in and out of the back end of your SUV, and are trying to clean carpets while the kids are asleep. Ugh. It was however FREE, even the soap! So I dealt with the inconveniences (including having to take it back within 24 the rain). My carpets look brand new now and I am a happy mama once more.

This week also found me on the search for more feety pj's for my 2yr old son. I don't know what it is with this kid. He grows like a little weed! He just turned 2 last month and fits a 3T perfectly. My husband felt he needed more pj's and I agreed with him. So off to the thrift store I went. I was able to find him 4 pairs of feety pj's  (the only kind he can't strip off at 2am and pee in the bed while wearing) for $9. I was very tempted to go ahead and get some 4T ones while I was there (and they had them) but I held out. Call me an optimist but I would like to think he will be past this stripping naked and peeing everywhere phase by the time he can fit in a 4T...which at the rate he is growing will be in just a few months.

Remember how last week I said I wanted to learn how to knit? Well I did it. I taught myself how to do it (thanks to youtube!). I admit I got SO frustrated with having to keep ripping out my rows because I made mistakes. After decades spent crocheting I admit it was really hard for me to go from one needle with a hook on the end to two straight and LONG needles. Once I stopped dropping stitches it was actually pretty easy to do. Here is my current project. My entire family keeps asking what it am going with a washcloth for now ;)
Total I would have spent this week: $410
Total I actually spent: $104

(Budget for the garden was $100 and I spent $95 on plants and seeds)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: First week of May

We started this week with cleaning out the storage shed which left me in a bit of a depressed mood. So much stuff.... 

May is always a bittersweet month for me, it was the month that I first became a mother....9years ago! Yep my oldest daughter turns 9 years old this month! We decided to have her party this week since it worked out better with her school schedule.

I started off the planning by asking her what kind of cake she wanted. She decided she wanted a butterfly, and that set the theme of the whole day. I did a quick search on pinterest and came up with a super cute idea for the cake using round cakes.I let the girls decorate the cake with M&M's and they were SO excited!
For the party we decided to have a very simple get together here at the house. My daughter and her best friend got together to decorate simple brown paper bags to use as the goodie bags. We added a few pieces of candy and called it a day. I made up a bunch of scavenger hunt clues and hid the bag of goodie bags in a bush. The kids LOVED following the clues and had a blast searching for their goodies bags.
As for the gifts we continued the butterfly theme. My husband and I got her an animated butterfly in a jar, a Dr. Suess book about butterflies, and a butterfly nightlight. All used of course. She had an amazing day and it was a lot of fun to watch her play with her friends.

Also this week I made a trip to the library where I checked out the Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber. The books are set around a yarn store and learning to knit, I read through all 5 books  in 5 days. Of course I then had to learn how to knit. I was able to order two knitting for beginners books off  of amazon used, and a massive set of used knitting needles off of ebay. I have a massive amount of yarn in my closet so hopefully I can figure out how to knit with the help of the books and youtube and clean out my stash.

My second oldest daughter came to me this week and told me that her scooter was missing. Sure enough it is gone. Since she was getting a bit big for her old scooter we went ahead and ordered her a new one on ebay. She was  crazy excited to be getting a pink scooter and I was crazy excited about the price ($9).

Amount I would have spent this week: $217
Amount I actually spent: $89

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cleaning out the storage eye opening adventure.

Over the course of our no spend challenge there have been lots of things I have wanted to buy. However I lost interest in most of the items when I realized I would have to spend time trying to find them used. I obviously didn't want them bad enough to do the leg work...however just a few months ago I would have willingly bought them new without blinking an eye.

A few days ago I was looking for something in our storage shed and was just overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that was in there. It bothered me so bad I went back several hours later and ripped everything out of the shed, organized what I wanted to keep, and threw away a ton of stuff. While I was in there rooting around I found several things that I had forgotten I even owned.

One of those things was a grocery cart cover for infants. For the last few weeks I have been noticing people use these covers in our grocery store and been thinking to myself that I needed to get one for when little bit was old enough to sit up. Since I am positive that I got Strep from a grocery cart a few weeks ago (it was the only time I left the house in a week and I was the first one in the house to get sick) I didn't want little bit touching the cart at all. It wasn't a big enough deal for me to start looking for used cart covers though since she is only 3mths old, we have a while. However when I was out cleaning out our shed I found the practically brand new cart cover that I bought when my son was a baby. I just kind of stood there staring at it in shock. How could I forget that I had this? I know I paid a lot more than the $20 that amazon has it listed for, now that I remember buying it I think it was more like $30 when I bought it. Wanna know something else? My credit card was still in the zippered pouch. Now that card was canceled a long time ago so there were no worries there but it did shake me up. The point of this challenge was to no longer take God's blessings for granted, to be better stewards of what we are given, and to be a better role model for our kids. It was just kind of a slap in the face and an eye opening moment for me. I took such poor care of the resources the Lord had given me that not only do I forget half of what I own but I can't even be bothered to notice when a credit card is missing!

It didn't stop there though. Oh no. There was more. I also found this skiphop pronto changing station out there. I had no memory of buying this at all and have never used it once. I hate dragging my diaper bag around all the time when all I need is a few diapers and wipes so this would have come in handy months ago. When I found it out in the storage shed I had no idea what it was till I opened it. I don't even remember when I bought it. I think it was probably before the twins were born (3yrs ago) but I can't be sure. I spent $30 plus shipping on an item then never used it once. The hits just keep coming!

The best one yet? I found a watering can I didn't know I owned. Now how in the world do I forget that I owned a watering can? I have been watering my plants with cups of water for years! Once I saw it I remembered buying it years ago......

I am just at a loss for words. Seems this challenge was very much needed. We (okay I) have been terrible stewards of what we have been given! We have been so wasteful we can't even remember half the things we own. Most of those have never been used more than once or  twice (if at all!). You know what makes me really ill? I still have to go through the attic! I know there are tons of boxes up there with stuff that I was not ready to deal with when we moved into this house back in 2011. I had unpacking to deal with and 5 small children to care for. So those boxes of random stuff got sent to the attic to make room in our living areas. I am sure going through those boxes is going to be an interesting adventure to say the least.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Little Man's Bedroom Makeover

Way back in January I started working on doing a mural in my son's room. I was able to get the base coat on the walls before little bit decided to arrive two weeks early and put a stop to my productivity. Now that she is three months old I finally got the time to start working on the room again. We were blessed to get a free cars themed bed for little man while we were treading water and waiting on the room decorating. The addition of the new bed has caused me to rethink our plan and totally alter our plan. Instead of monkeys we instead decided to go with a transportation theme.

I did some searching on amazon and found these transportation themed wall stickers used. Once I had that part worked out it all just sort of fell into place. I decided to use the leftover paint from my daughters room to paint hills along the bottom of the wall. Then I dug out the leftover white paint from painting his dresser last year and painted clouds on the upper parts of the wall. Now I am not the artistic one in our family (that would be my husband) but I paint with love so I hope that counts for something! I added the stickers and I think it is a pretty fun room!

While I was at it I had to decide what to do with his window. There were curtains in this room but I think my children think curtains are used for swings because they managed to break several curtain rods. I decided instead of curtains I would put up some privacy film on the window. I figured it would be impossible to find used but there it was on amazon. It was crazy big but it was super easy to cut down to fit the window.

Total costs:
Bed and dresser: Free!
Paint: $20 for the blue back in January, $0 for green and white
Wall stickers: $8.75
Privacy film: $26 (with some leftover for other rooms)

Total for decorating little man's room: $54.75

Friday, April 26, 2013

No new stuff challenge: Fourth week of April

This week we have had birthdays , room decorating (more to come about this in a bit), and shoe sorting...oh my! Seems like I am finally over my bought of strep and feeling much better.  I am very happy to say that things are going well here and everyone is on the mend. A few of the kids are still on antibiotics but everyone is fever free and we seem to be over the worst of it. While at the drugstore picking up my son's antibiotic (which he refused to take, but that is another story) I browsed at the rack of books. Now if you know me well you know that books are my weakness. I am obsessed with them. So my standing in front of a bookshelf filled with books is a major temptation for me. I found two books that my library doesn't have yet and I REALLY wanted to read. I managed to hold strong and came home to see if I could find them used. I got lucky and found both of them on amazon. I was able to get Just Kate for $4.00 with shipping and Heart of Texas for $4.00 with shipping.

Also this week I have been working on a mural for my son's room. It is not quite finished but I am getting close. I plan to post a update with pictures when it is done. My husband caught me ordering some stuff off of amazon for the room (all used of course) and said, "It better be all used, I am watching you" I couldn't help but laugh, seems he is getting on board with our challenge. I counted the mural and such in the totals for the breakdown below since it was all paid out this week.

I have some pictures to upload but my computer (actually my husband's computer as my laptop is still broken) is being fussy. I will try and add them in a bit.

Total if I had bought the above things new: $490
Total actually spent: $87

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shoe sorting insanity

It is that time of the year again. Time to go through the shoe tote to pull out the summer shoes and put away the winter shoes. I hate doing this...I don't know why but it always seems so overwhelming. Instead of going through the attic and the hall closet to find shoes for my twins I was more than willing to just buy new shoes. If we had not been doing our "No new stuff challenge" I would have just ordered the girls some crocs and been done with it. However since we are doing the  challenge I decided to look for used am sorry but I am not paying $15 for a pair of used toddler shoes! Seeing how expensive even used shoes were motivated me to get up in the attic and start sorting. I found THREE boxes of shoes! Ack! Once I got them all out and sorted I was very overwhelmed. My goodness there were a lot of shoes up there! Wanna know what really made me sick? There were two pairs of crocs up there in the twins size!

I couldn't see saving all these shoes when 90% of them had never been worn! Some of them still had the tags on them and most I can't remember ever seeing before.

I decided to keep the following for each size of shoe per kid (so two of each size below for the twins):
1 pair of summer shoes
1 pair of dress shoes
1 pair of tennis shoes
1 pair of winter boots

I think that is more than reasonable!

Total I would have spent on new shoes for the kids: $46
Total actually spent: $0

Double Birthday!

At the end of April we have two birthdays within days of each other. This month my husband turned 32 and my son turned 2! We decided to have a double party for them and it was a big hit. 

I am not a professional cake decorator (as you can see!) but I try. I attempted to get creative with the cakes this year and did a heart cake for my husband and a monkey for my little monkey man :)

 The company "Birthday in a Box" gifted me with a monkey themed "birthday in a box" kit at my baby shower for baby #6. Since it was monkey themed and my little man is monkey obsessed it just seemed like a natural fit to use it for his birthday party.
After cake you know it was time for presents! I was able to get this play cube used for $15! It looks brand new and he loves it....even better I saved $85!
Total I would have spent if I had bought everything new: $180
Total actually spent: $25

Friday, April 19, 2013

Greek Pitas with Couscous

Tonight was the first night I have had to cook since little bit was born in January. Well actually I didn't *have to* cook tonight since we still had some meals left in our freezer from our big pre-baby stock-up.  The problem was though that no one (especially me) wanted to eat those meals right now. We are a bit burnt out after 3mths. So I decided to let them stay in there for a while longer and go ahead and start cooking again. I have been craving Greek food so I knew that would be our first meal.

Our super simple recipe:

Greek Pitas
*Pita bread
*Shredded Chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken since I did my grocery shopping today)
*Cucumbers, chopped
*Tomatoes, chopped
*Tzatziki (recipe below)

Just cut the pita bread down the middle and fill with the other ingredients. Super simple and super yummy!

For the Tzatziki:
1c plain yogurt
1 cucumber shredded
3tsp minced garlic

Mix all the ingredients together and chill till ready to serve.

The pitas wouldn't be complete without some Greek Couscous on the side!

Greek Couscous
*4c cooked couscous
*1/2c kalamata olives, chopped
*1c sun dried tomatoes, chopped
*1 bell pepper, chopped
*6oz Feta cheese, crumbled

Just stir together and then dig in! 

I am one happy mama tonight :)

No New Stuff Challenge: Third Week of April

This has been a hard week in our house. First I came down with Strep. Anyone who has had this lovely bug knows it is brutal. After suffering through for 24hours I realized I was getting progressively worse not better so I went to the ER where they diagnosed me and gave me two quite lovely shots in the behind. They swore I would feel better in two days and I am SO happy to say I did. I am however dealing with exhaustion and headaches as my body tries to fight the remaining strep in my system. I am currently 6 days past the initial onset of symptoms and my lymph nodes are swollen and painful and I have absolutely no appetite at all. All that to say we didn't do a whole lot of shopping this week! I kept my pitiful self in my bed and concentrated instead on survival. I was very lucky that my husband was able to be here with me and take care of the kids. Of course you know how it goes....I now have two kids on antibiotics now as well. Thankfully I came down with it first and the Dr's did all testing on me instead of the kids. All I have to say is "positive for strep" and they write a prescription for the kids without blinking an eye.

The only thing we bought this week was a new textbook for my husbands college class. The school bookstore wanted $194 for the book new or $145 for a used book. Now you all know that didn't go over well with me even if I was on deaths doorstep. No way was I paying that kind of money for ONE BOOK! Are you NUTS? I was lucky to find it used on for $35 shipped. Now that is MUCH better!

I am planning a big garden update post once I am feeling better but for now I will say that my lettuce, herbs and peas are loving the warm weather we have been having. Looks like they are not the only little January baby is starting to figure out what this outside place is all about and she loves it. I think we are all very happy to be getting out of the house in the afternoons and enjoying the wonderful weather.
Total I would have spent on new items this week: $194
Total I actually spent: $35

Saturday, April 13, 2013

No New Stuff Challenge: Second Week of April

Time for our weekly update! Things have been going well here. We have been quite busy this week with doing our big seasonal clothing swap out. Good news is I only have one child left to do (my son) and then all the winter clothes will be put away.  While I was cleaning out the clothes I went ahead and moved the twins clothes over to their new room with their older sister. We are planning on trying them in there tonight. I am hoping it goes smoothly! On the topic of bedrooms we were very blessed this week when we received a free Lightening McQueen toddler bed complete with four piece bedding set!


Little man is in love!

Also this week I bought a "new" cookbook....those of you who know me well know I am a bit of a cookbook junkie. I just love the things! Sadly I have yet to actually get to read this new one. Life here has just been too busy! I did however clean out and inventory my big chest freezer and realized I only have about 15 more meals left from my last big freezer stock-up. So I will be doing some cooking again soon and will be sure to try some recipes out of my new book!

I am sitting here wracking my brain and that is all I can come up with for this week. I have been in constant motion which leaves little time for "wantitis" :)

Total I would have spent to buy the above items new: $277
Total I actually spent: $13.31

Monday, April 8, 2013

Recipe Index

I finally found the time and the patience to  go back through my entire blog and make up a recipe index. I have been dreading doing it but knew it would make my life so much easier so I sucked it up and got to working on it. Luckily I didn't post many recipes the first few years on the blog so it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would.

Over on the right hand side above my "about me" section you can see all the new pages I have added this month. I finally had the time while sitting and nursing the baby to explore all the different sections of my blog software. While playing around with the software I stumbled upon the ability to make pages and was oh so happy! I have a few more I am working on adding but I thought I would share my newest page, my Recipe Index :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sara and the pillow case

                                                                            The other day out of the blue my 6yr old came to me sobbing. I thought something was horribly wrong and was shocked when she told me, "I want to be just like you. I want to sew things and make things and do everything you do but I am too little". This was just so out of the blue that she took me quite by surprise. Which I think is the only reason I agreed to the insanity of helping her make a dress. I have never made a dress before in my life much less taught someone how to make one. 
After doing some thinking I decided to see if I could get her to agree to a simpler project. She was not overly enthused at the thought but she reluctantly agreed that a pillow case would be a good project.I had a ton of flannel that I got on sale during last years Black Friday sales and had yet to find a project for. She went through and picked out the fabric she wanted to use and we got started. She was all ready to go until I told her to sit down at the sewing machine. She wanted so badly to use it but was a little afraid of it at the same time. I controlled the speed and she directed the fabric. As I expected she lost interest about 10min into the project and I ended up finishing the hem for her. She however was very happy with her finished project and I get fun mom points at the same time. Win :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No new stuff challenge: First Week of April

This has been a busy week in our house! First we had Easter which was a blast but very busy.Then we were also changing over our kitchen to non-processed foods and removing all plastic's from our kitchen as well. I have spent half my week in the kitchen it seems. The good things is that I am finding lots of recipes that we like so I will be able to start doubling recipes for the freezer this week. That will make my life SO much easier! 

One of the major changes we have made this week is to start sending the older two girls to school with a home lunch. I had read the school menu at the beginning of the year and was happy at that point with the options that were available. Lots of salads, lean meats, and veggies. I however did NOT realize that the kids could buy "treats" with their lunch money as well. I was horrified when I asked my 6yr old what she had to eat at school the other day:

*Cocoa puffs
*Two Chocolate milks
*Chocolate ice cream
*Fruit roll ups

Are you kidding me? Who lets a 6yr old have free reign over their meals? When I was in school I was given a tray with a well balanced meal on it, there was no adding chips or chocolate ice cream! No wonder she comes home from school hyperactive...she is on a sugar high! Yeah that is conducive to learning.

Once I heard what she was eating I was determined to start sending their lunches and snacks to school everyday. I was however expecting to be met with just a bit of resistance. I mean I was taking away their chocolate and chips. I was very shocked (pleasantly this time) to find that my kids were actually excited about the change. They were actually giddy the first day I handed them their lunch bags.

I however was not quite prepared for the over night change. After all I had just gotten rid of all my plastic storage containers and sending glass didn't seem like the best option. I luckily was able to find the lunch bags their grandmother had gotten for them years ago so at least I had something to put the lunches in. I resorted to plastic baggies for the first few days while I did my research. I was able to find these eco-friendly containers used on amazon...with free two day shipping! I have no idea if these were actually used or if they were just returned to the company and had to then be sold as used from that point. They still had the original tags on them but did not come in the original packaging so who knows. While looking for glass water bottles I found the Lifefactory 16-Ounce Glass Beverage BottleThey are glass bottles covered in silicone to prevent breakage (although I am told they will still break if you throw them). I then needed to find some storage containers for the small snack items I send in their lunch packs. Things like grapes, carrots, etc that I would normally put in a ziploc bag. I found the Kids Konserve Leak-Proof Stainless-Steel Food Containers
 and fell in love. They are stainless steel, very sturdy, and easy for my 8yr old and 6yr old to open. I am a happy mama and better yet I have happy kids who are now eating healthy meals at school.

Remember how we just finished spring cleaning our kitchen and threw out all our plastic storage containers? Well I have been on the search for glass containers to replace them with. Finding used glass containers wasn't hard...but the prices were obscene. People wanted retail prices for things that had been used for long periods of time...guess that means there is good resale potential! I however was able to find some used sets on amazon that were reasonable. The first set I found was the Pyrex 14-Piece Round Storage SetIt had a damaged box, but the contents were 100% fine. The next set I chose was the Rubbermaid 8-Piece Glass Storage ContainersThe box was in perfect shape but one of the containers had a small chip that they had rounded down to make smooth...honestly I never would have noticed the chip if there hadn't been a post-it note on the container pointing out the chip. I now have plenty of glass storage containers, actually I may have too many ;)

This week my husband also started a new job. He now has his own cubical which apparently did not come properly equiped. He came home with a list of things he needed. Some things like a calender were easy (I asked him if he could just print one out and he was fine with that). Other things were a little more complicated, like a Black Leather Notebook holderI don't even know what the proper name for this thing is. Just a case for a notebook as far as I can tell. I asked myself if "work stuff" counted into the acceptable "school stuff" that I allowed at the beginning of the challenge. I decided to check ebay however before going shopping and was able to find a used leather binder that was the perfect size. I was able to make an offer on it and got it for $15 shipped. Hubby was very happy when he opened the package. Apparently I lucked out and got him the exact right thing so he matches all his buddies...I really thought we were past these types of things ;) One of the things he asked for however has been a pain. He needs an office type trash can. I checked ebay and the local thrift store and nothing. I asked him if he would be willing to take the one out of our bathroom (it is a small frosted can) and he was happy to do so. He however seems to have forgotten so I am not reminding him. After all I like my trash can!

As I mentioned last week hubby is a bit hard on his jeans just like our oldest daughter. I managed to get him a free pair last week but he asked me to find him a second pair as well. While I was at the thrift store I was able to find him a pair of Eddie Bauer Jeans Retail cost: $50, I paid $3. They fit perfect and he is a happy camper.

This week I also joined a Biggest Loser Challenge on my moms forum.  The goal is to lose 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks, that is a total of 8lbs. My first thought was that I needed to buy a new workout dvd. I mean how am I supposed to lose weight with just my stationary bike and elliptical, lol. I admit I might have a slight obsession with workout "stuff". I decided instead of going shopping I would check out my dvd drawer instead. Yeah...I found 30 workout dvds in there! THIRTY! Now some of  them are in sets but still! That is a little much! Needless to say I didn't buy a new dvd...hubby actually thinks I should sell some of the ones I have and get down to just 5 total. I am not quite ready to go THAT far. I am a work in progress for sure! I did my favorite 50min work out this morning and could only get through 34min before I thought I was going to die. That is pretty pathetic since the last time I did it I had no trouble completing the entire thing. That however was over a year and 2 children ago. I am doing my best though!

There you go another busy week here!  I am really enjoying this challenge it is a lot more fun then I was expecting it to be!  :)

Total I would have spent: $231.31
Total actually spent:  $106.91

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