Thursday, February 28, 2013

The big February update

Well it is that time of the month again...time for an update on how we are doing with our 2013 resolutions!

~So far I am down 28lbs and doing well with the Trim Healthy Mama plan. I am loving my stationary bike and looking forward to working out more in the future.
~Screen time has been reduced quite a bit. Actually I am finding it hard to get to the computer to write these posts and to get new recipes these days.

~The envelopes are amazing! I thought they would make my life more complicated but it has been just the opposite. They have made my life so much easier. No more tracking every little thing and trying to keep up with our accounts. Much easier!
~We are 51.2% to our savings goal for 2013!

2013 No new "stuff" challenge:
~I have been so tempted to do some shopping for "Stuff" but so far I am doing well and holding out.

**While scrubbing our bathroom this afternoon I noticed that our shower curtain was all "yucky" and told my husband that we needed to buy a new one. However I remembered this challenge and started thinking how to get a new one without buying one new. Then it hit me....our shower curtain is a sort of composite fabric material and I can just wash the thing! DUH! So once I get my laundry caught up I am going to be washing it with some spray stain remover. Honestly no one ever sees our shower curtain so once it is clean it really won't matter.

**Also I was tempted to buy a new cardigan to go over my nursing camisoles during the day. I like to wear the camisoles while I am home to make for easier nursing sessions however it is the middle of winter in NJ and I am cold! A cardigan that buttons down the front is ideal for allowing for easy nursing sessions. My first impulse was again to just order one off of amazon. Then I started thinking "okay I can check ebay surely there will be lots on there for sale." The first I cardigan I saw looked great, only $8 Then I realized they were new cardigans. *Sigh* So off I went to look for used ones instead. I was shocked! The used cardigans were all in the $20 range! For a used sweater?! No way! I started  to just post on our local facebook yard sale site asking if anyone had any in their closet they were looking to get rid of, then I decided to just look harder in my own closet first. Guess what I found in the waaaaay back?
Is it beautiful? No not so much. Is it warm? Yes. Did it cost me anything? No.


I also happened to find a much needed belt I didn't know I had and two nursing bras I forgot I had that will come in VERY handy!

Triple win!

**Next on my list of things I "needed" but couldn't buy new....some of those little command hooks. You know the type that attach to the wall with the little stickers and then pop off without damaging the wall? Yeah those...try finding THOSE used! So I am laying in bed the other night trying to figure out how to suspend my daughers GIANT bath flower above the bathtub so that it drains and dries without damaging the shower stall. The only thing I could think of was the command strips. They however are not a consumable so I couldn't buy them. I then remembered that I had two of the little sticky strips left from the last pack of hooks I bought...I just need the hook. I put it on my "figure it out list" and moved on to other things. Then what do I find while I am cleaning out my 6yr olds toy box?
I seriously couldn't make these things up! There it was!
Doesn't it look great up?!

**And lastly while I was laying in bed contemplating my lack of command hook I also started thinking about my next organization project and began thinking how I needed some type of shelving system for my daughters closet to control all her small toy clutter. Again I added it to my "to figure it out" list and went on with my life. I log on to facebook the next day and what do I see?
One of my friends is selling her sons toy storage shelves for $10. I was on that sucker in seconds!

Honestly I thought this was going to be harder to do. I expected to be overwhelmed by my lack of ability to buy "stuff". Just the opposite has happened I have felt so blessed and honestly feel like the Lord is with me and showing me that I am doing the right thing for our family. I truly feel it is important to use the resources that the Lord has given us wisely and that we were squandering them before. This has been a eye opening experience!

Total for all of the above if I had bought them new? $69
Total I paid? $10

There you go our big February update! I am looking forward to seeing what the next month will be bringing us!

Trim Healthy Mama day 5

Breakfast: (FP) Fat stripping frappa  (super yummy!)

Lunch: (S) BLT Salad....Really simple to make. Just chop up some cooked bacon and mix with a few spoonfuls of mayo. Add to a salad with some chopped tomatoes. This was yummy!

Dinner: (E) Healthy BBQ Chicken with quinoa and grapes. I liked the dinner BUT having E meals for dinner always leaves me hungry quickly.

Snack: (S) Cake in a mug with defatted peanut butter on top and some Choco Pudding.

Exercise: I ended up spending 2 hours scrubbing bathrooms instead of working on today.

Freezer meals in action: Days 21-25

Day 22: Pizza casserole This was too high in carbs for me so I had leftover soup instead
Day 23: leftovers
Day 24: Healthy BBQ chicken with quinoa (Counts as an E meal for THM)
Day 25: Teriyaki Chicken with quinoa (counts as an E meal for THM)

Trim Healthy Mama Day 4

Breakfast: (S)
3 scrambled eggs with 2 wedges of laughing cow cheese, a scoop of pico de gallo, and 1 avocado

Lunch: (Crossover)
Greek Salad pita

Dinner: (S)
Enchilada filling on spinach salad with sour cream and cheddar cheese

Snack: (FP)
Fat stripping frappa

Exercise: 30min on my stationary bike, 8.8miles

Trim Healthy Mama Days 2 &3

One of the "tricks" I use to stay on top of my healthy eating when I am busy is to make up large batches of healthy items and keep them in the fridge to eat several days in a row. That is why days 2 & 3 are exactly the same :)

Breakfast: (S)
3 eggs scrambled with 2 wedges of laughing cow cheese, 2Tbsp cream cheese, and a scoop of pico de gallo

Lunch: (crossover)
Greek salad pitas

Dinner: (E)
Chicken Taco soup with greek yogurt on top

Snack: (S)
Cake in a mug

Day 2: 20min on my stationary bike, 6.3miles
Day 3: 40min on stationary bike, 11.73miles

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trim Healthy Mama....back in the saddle!

A few months ago I started the Trim Healthy Mama diet.  I however had to stop following the principles because I was losing too much weight during my pregnancy. Now that my little one is here I am back in the saddle and ready to give it a go again!

Today is technically day and it is going well!

Day 1:

Breakfast (S) 3 fried eggs with sea salt and brewers yeast. Water to drink

Lunch (crossover) I made a Greek Salad Pita. I added a cup of chicken and left the radishes out. Total of 23g of carbs

Dinner: (S) 1 serving Chicken Enchilada Filling on a spinach salad with pico de galo, sour cream and cheese.

Snack: (S) Trim Healthy Mama's Cake in a Mug with a spoonful of peanut butter and nutella on top of the warm cake.

Exercise: 20min on stationary bike, 5.78 miles 

I like a challenge :)

In true over achiever fashion I am up for a new challenge to add to the ones I am already undertaking.

This new challenge? To go one year (365 days) without buying any new "stuff".

Sounds kind of daunting doesn't it?

Here is the breakdown of the particulars:

~Consumables are allowed purchases. These include:
*Diapers (although I would like to use my own cloth diapers as much as possible)
*Light bulbs
*Cleaning supplies
*School supplies for the kids

~Items that are NOT consumables but that are needed during this year will be bought used. These include:
*Household items

You get the idea.

Honestly I have been toying with the idea of doing this for several months but have been to gun shy to actually pull the trigger. It seems pretty daunting to think about. I have however decided I am willing to give it a go!

So starting today here it goes!

Anyone want to join me?

Freezer Meals in action ~Days 12-20~

Day 12: Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwiches with fruit
Day 13: Sausage and Bean Supper
Day 14: Breakfast for dinner
Day 15: Meat stew
Day 16:Tomestone pizza's
Day 17: Creamy farmhouse chicken
Day 18: Tomestone pizza's
Day 19: Chicken Enchiladas with pico de gallo and spinach (To make this a Trim Healthy Mama ~S~ Meal I had my enchilada filling on a spinach salad)
Day 20: Chicken Taco Soup (to make this a Trim Healthy mama ~E~ meal I will be eating around the corn and using 0% greek yogurt instead of sour cream)

The sausage and bean supper was yummy and a hit all the way around. Although my kids love anything with kielbasa and beans in it!

The meat stew was a hit with my husband for sure...he even had the leftovers the next day for lunch which is a true sign that he likes something.

The creamy farmhouse chicken was a miss in my book. Just sort of blah. The "creamy" part didn't turn out, it separated out instead.

Both the chicken enchilada's and the chicken taco soup we have had already this month and we liked both of them enough to move them up in the rotation. You can find their reviews on our previous Freezer meals in action posts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Freezer Meals in action. Days 9-11

 We are loving our freezer meals over here!

Day 9: Whole chicken with veg
Day 10: Pizza Casserole
Day 11: Honey Glazed Pork chops with spinach salad and chocolate dipped strawberries

The whole chicken with veggies were not such a big hit. The chicken was greasy feeling and the Italian dressing didn't give the meat any flavor at all. The veggies dissolved in the sauce and didn't get put on the plate at all. Also because of the dressing I could not use the drippings and bones to make chicken stock. In the future we will be using just a regular un-seasoned chicken without the veggies and adding frozen veggies on the stovetop at dinner time.

The pizza casserole is always a hit around here.

The honey glazed pork chops were a hit as well. I would probably double the amount of liquid next time so that there would be some sauce to serve over the pork chops. The chocolate dipped strawberries were a gift from my mother for Valentines day and were a major hit as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Years resolutions update!

Time for a update on our New Year's Resolutions!

*Have a healthy baby!
*Breastfeed for a year
*Lose 100lbs....that includes the weight I am carrying right this second from the baby and the pregnancy.
*Less "screen time" This includes less time online (sorry, I know you all will miss me, lol!).

*Fill our Emergency Fund up to 6mths of expenses (Est completion March 1st)
*Set up a months income as a buffer in our checking account. This allows us to use our budgeting software, You Need A Budget, more effectively. (Est completion March 1st)
*Fully fund my Roth account (Est completion December)
*Equal amount saved in my husband's TSP acct (Est. Completion December)
~~That is a grand total of $21,900 into savings this year~~

How are they going?

Well I am down 27lbs! Weight watchers is going well and really easy for me to fall back into again now that our new baby is here. Breastfeeding is going well, she is a natural. I am still struggling with screen time usage. I have limited my computer time considerably...the tv is harder though. I watch a lot of tv right now while nursing my new little seems like she nurses all day long. I am sure the tv usage will get less as she gets more efficient in her nursing and going longer between feedings.

Financially we are DONE with our 6mth emergency fund! We are also halfway through our one month buffer in our checking account and a fifth of the way through funding my roth for this year.

We are getting there!

Freezer meals in action. Days 6-8

 Time to catch up on the freezer meals we have been working our way through over here....

Day 6: Chicken Taco Soup
Day 7: Ceaser Salads
Day 8: Leftover soup and salads

The chicken taco soup was GOOD! So good I went back for a second bowl...and looked forward to getting another bowl for lunch the next day. There was a step missing from the recipe it seems though. I don't know about you but I don't like a whole chicken breast in my soup bowl. Once the chicken was cooked and the soup was ready to serve I pulled the chicken breasts out, diced them up, and added them back to the pot.

The ceaser salads were super simple to make. I had to go to the grocery store and had forgotten to pull a meal out of the freezer before I left. So I bought a rotisserie chicken, some baby spinach, light ceaser dressing, and some parmesan cheese. I diced up the chicken and we were good to go. Super yummy!

I have a whole chicken with veggies in the fridge right now thawing to go in my crockpot for the morning. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Freezer meals in action....Days 2-5

I am a bit behind but still thinking of you all.  So far the freezer meals are going well and super yummy. They are amazing to have on hand when I am way to busy to keep up with everything around the house these days.

A recap of this week:
Day1- Chicken Alfredo wraps with romaine salad
Day 2- Leftovers
Day3- Healthy BBQ Chicken with rice
Day4- Tomestone pizza's with homemade brownies
Day5- Chicken enchilada's

The "healthy bbq chicken" was good but it wasn't quite what I expected. First my chicken turned out to be more of a soup then what you would expect for bbq chicken. didn't taste like bbq at all. Don't get me wrong it was good and I am looking forward to eating it again in the coming months, it just didn't taste like bbq like I expected.

The chicken enchilada's were yummy and everyone went back for seconds. I did take the cheaters way out though. I cooked the chicken and seasonings as it lists in the recipe but when it came time to serve it I took a shortcut (the baby was crying and I had 3 toddlers hanging on my legs wanting their dinner). I shredded the chicken and used it as a burrito filling. We added some sour cream, romaine lettuce, and cheddar cheese. They were super yummy and total hit. We have enough left for 1 enchilada tomorrow or later tonight...will be interesting to see who gets to it first!

I have no idea what is for dinner tomorrow and I like not knowing. I love not having to meal plan or worry about getting anything assembled in the mornings.

I am a bit spoiled right now as I don't get up for the day till 10am. I drop the dinner in the crockpot as I am making my breakfast and it is done by 6pm when we are all ready to eat. Easy Peasy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Freezer meals in action. Day 1.

Back in December I showed you all how I put together and freeze three months of meals for after the birth of our children. Now that you know how the meals are put together and frozen I thought it would be interesting (at least for me, lol) to show you how they actually work when it is time to use them.

Tonight I decided to pull out our Chicken Alfredo Wraps and pair it with a romaine salad with carrots, avocado, and dressing.

The kids LOVED them!

Busy little bee.....

Even though I don't have to cook dinner or lunch these days thanks to my freezer meal stockpile I do still have to spend some time in the kitchen. We still need some snacks and breakfast items on hand on a daily basis. I however only have 30min at a time to get things done. With this in mind I tend to make up a list of things I want to get prepped or cooked in advance per day and then work on it in bits and pieces as time allows.

Yesterday I made up a large batch of pico de gallo and chocolate granola bars...YUM!

Today I worked on cutting up cheese, carrots, and grapes for quick one handed snacks.

Tonight I am hoping to get 6 dozen apple oatmeal muffins made and in the freezer for breakfasts....and maybe if I am REALLY good I can get a french toast bake put together, baked, and in the fridge tonight as well. All depends on little bit's nursing schedule so we will see how well I do.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Adding baby #6 on a budget

My husband and I are very very blessed. We have 6 healthy, happy, amazing children.  Those children we are told should be quite expensive to provide for....we however are not rolling in the cash and are frugal by nature. So when it came time to provide clothing and such for our 6th child we were on a mission to do so as cheaply as possible.

Some things we already had thanks to our older children...
*cloth diapers
*changing table
*car seat
*blankets and bedding

Somethings we needed...
*clothing for 0-12mths
*Bouncy seat

Once we found out we were having a little girl I started looking to buy the needed items for as little as possible. It became a fun challenge for me. Sort of like a frugal scavenger hunt.

How did I do?

Clothes....newborn through 12mths.... $0. Yes I got a entire wardrobe for our new little one for free!  These are amazing clothes, so adorable and most of them are name brands. Actually I have a few too many clothes! How did I manage it? I kept my eyes open and put the word out that we were looking for clothes for our little one. I was willing to pay for them but was blessed to have several people from my husband's work offer me their baby clothes for free. I honestly can't wait to be able to do the same for someone else down the road.

Swing...$30. Gotta love having a facebook yard sale site! Another mom posted that she had a $165 swing that she was selling for $30. It looks brand new and works perfectly. The best part was that they lived in our subdivision so I didn't even have to drive very far to pick it up.

Bouncy seat....$15. Again the facebook yard sale site paid off. I got a brand new looking $64 bouncy seat for $15!

Bassinet...$15. Facebook strikes again. This one was a bit of an adventure as I didn't realize till after I committed to buy the bassinet that the house I was going to was in a rough neighborhood. Luckily the lady was very nice and I didn't get hit in the head and abducted. Don't tell my mother though! The bassinet retails for $84!

Replacement car seat fabric $15. While my car seat was still usable my car seat fabric had seen better days (and was boy themed). So I splurged and bought a used car seat from a neighbor and then removed the fabric to use on my car seat. I do NOT recommend buying a used car seat for use since you do not know 100% that the seat has not been in a accident. However since I just needed the fabric I was willing to buy used.

Total cost for all the "stuff" we needed for this baby? $75! I honestly don't know why people buy new these days. Not only are used items better for your pocket book but so much better for the environment as well.

Our progress....

Well we are a few days into February and I thought I would share a quick update.

The cash envelopes are going well. Actually a lot better than I expected. I have already noticed a decrease in spending. The other day I needed to get gas in my car. Normally I would just fill it up with the mindset of "well I am here I might as well". With only $60 in my gas envelope for the next two weeks however I was uncomfortable emptying it totally out with another 12 days till payday. I instead put $40 in my tank and kept the remaining $20 in reserve in case my husband needs some emergency gas before his next paycheck. Little changes in thinking along those same lines have been making a noticeable difference in my cash reserves. It should be interesting to see how things play out for the rest of the month.

The next new year's resolution I am working on is my goal to lose 100 lbs by Jan 1st 2014. So far I am down 19lbs. I just rejoined weight watchers online since I had wonderful success with them way back in 2007 when I needed to lose weight after having my second child. I really like that they have a nursing program since breastfeeding for a year is very important to me. The next step in my weight loss journey will be to start exercising again as soon as I am cleared by my doctor. I already have an elliptical, dvd's, and weights....I however would love to get a stationary bike, that is on my list of things I am saving my "fun money" for.

I am waiting not so patiently for our tax return to arrive so that we can make some massive strides in our savings. I hear it will be sometime between the 9th and the 19th...I really hate waiting!

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