Monday, November 28, 2011

An Update

I thought an update post would be in order since I've only been posting a recipe or DIY post once a week. I also didn't have anything ready to post last night/early this morning.

So here's what we've been up to:

  • Our debt repayment schedule is still on track and we're looking to be debt free this spring hopefully
  • We're done getting Christmas presents and I have renamed my savings account "The House Fund". It only has $150 at the moment but it's a start. If I go back to work we should be able to have a decent downpayment in a year or so.
  • We've decided that we cannot deal with the renting situation for much longer and would like to buy a house. There is too much noise from neighboring apartments, people are smoking in our building, there was dog poo just outside the elevator for an entire day which is strange considering our lease said we weren't allowed to have a cat or dog, repairs are still not done after nearly a year and a half and our rent will be going up again in June. Why not use that money towards a mortgage payment and have something to show for it? We're just in the beginning plans of this but hope to be out of here in a year, we would have to upgrade by then to a larger space anyway
  • I'm working on updating my resume and will be out looking for a part-time job probably later this week. We need the extra income to save up for a house and I would like some adult interaction. Jon works from home and makes his own hours so he can hang out with Alice while I'm gone for a few hours a couple times a week. Alice is just now starting to eat a lot more solids and use her sippy cups, so she is finally able to go for more than 2 hours without nursing.
  • With the exception of maybe once a week Alice is asleep by 8pm and stays asleep for 3 hours. She still wakes me up a lot at night but it's slowly getting better.
  • I'm nearly consistently getting up around 8am now. Alice gets out of bed and plays until she needs her diaper changed and then she comes to wake me up, usually by putting a diaper on my face and yelling and patting at me. It's super cute. We let Jon sleep in a bit since he stays up late working most nights.
  • I haven't managed to go out jogging since the initial failed attempt from a while ago but I'm still hopeful that I can start again at some point. I would like to try to get up a bit earlier to accomplish this.
  • The basil and tomato plants have finally died off. I now have a renewable source of fresh green onions in my windowsill nearly ready to use. I have a couple of avocado pits that I'm soaking in water just to see if they will sprout. It's a fun project that doesn't cost anything and takes almost no effort.
  • We've done takeout just a couple of times and done a fair bit of shopping but nothing we feel guilty about. We don't spend a lot, we don't buy impulse items anymore, most of what we get is stuff we actually need.
  • Jon did a bunch of studio upgrading since a lot of software was on sale for very good prices, he can write everything off as work expenses on his taxes
  • I picked up a small Ikea high chair from a seller on Craigslist, it takes up about a third of the space the old one did. Now I just have to give the old one a quick cleanup and we should be able to resell it.
  • I'm doing even more decluttering. I've decided that I don't need the 3 pairs of high heels I have. There is very little chance I will wear them. They were all fairly pricey so I should be able to get a decent amount of money for them on Craigslist. I love them but I will sacrifice them for the house fund. Same goes for the couple of nice dresses I own, I only really wear dresses in the summer and then it's the same 2 or 3 sundresses.
  • Alice has a lot of toys and shoes that have been outgrown so those are all being sold as well. All of the toys that will be left are all things that she should be able to play with for the next 2 or 3 years. She also has a few Christmas presents that will replace the things that we are getting rid of. 
  • I have a lot of household projects on the go that I intend to post here on the blog, I'm going to try to post more often. I have to make laundry soap this week so that post will be coming up soon
  • Jon made me a little shelf for over my baking/sewing table. It makes it easier to quickly grab ingredients needed for dinner and baking and makes my kitchen look more organized
  • The meal plan is a bit different now. I no longer plan a month of meals in advance, I found I was constantly going out to the store to pick up more meat or special ingredients. We've been placing a meat order with the butcher, they have set orders for set prices and we've also been picking up anything canned, frozen and bulk that we need early in the month. Now we just pick up fruit, veg and dairy once a week. We still have a ton of meat left and it's nearly the end of the month so we shouldn't need another meat order until halfway through December. We're also not sticking strictly to the $250 food budget. Last week I only had $20 left which was enough for the fruit, veg and dairy for the rest of the month but we were low on cereal and it was on sale for a very good price so I took out an extra $20 and bought 3 boxes as well as tooth paste and some other items.
I think that's about it for what's been going on around here, we plan on having Christmas at home by ourselves this year so I have to think of a menu for that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

22 Great Meat-Free Meals (Dinner)

Meat is expensive so we try to do a meat-free meal for dinner once a week. We do this a lot more often in the summer when it's hot, we want to eat lighter and I don't want to use the oven or even the stove for extended periods of time. We usually go back to big, hearty, meaty meals once the cooler weather rolls around but this year we're trying to stick with a meat free day once or sometimes even twice a week. We're not fond of tofu or any other meat substitute products so we've incorporated a lot more beans into our diet to meet our iron and protein needs.

So in no particular seasonal order here's our list of  things we've had for dinner so far!

  1. Macaroni and cheese (make your own cheese sauce)
  2. Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce (or any sauce, Red Pepper, Alfredo, etc)
  3. Veggie Stirfry
  4. Bean and Cheese Burritos
  5. Minestrone Soup and biscuits
  6. Homemade pizza (try basil, tomatoes and mozzarella)
  7. Risotto
  8. Cheese, cracker and veggie and dip platter
  9. A big salad and breadsticks
  10. Pasta or potato salad
  11. Nachos
  12. Loaded baked potato
  13. Layered bean dip and tortilla chips
  14. Bruschetta or olive cheese bread with butter parmesan linguine
  15. Mexican rice (black beans, corn, tomatoes,cheese)
  16. Bean chili
  17. Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  18. Spring rolls and a side of steamed veggies and rice
  19. Lasagna
  20. Cauliflower cheese soup
  21. Bean, corn, green onion and tomato quesadillas
  22. Pierogies fried with green onions and served with sour cream
That's all that I could think of for now, feel free to suggest other veggie meals for us to add to our rotation!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Make Your Own Makeup Remover

So the day has come that I've finally run out of makeup remover. My Walmart brand bottle has lasted me over a year especially since I don't even wear makeup every day anymore. I've already used up the cash I set aside every month for fun/other spending so buying a bottle would have to come out of the grocery money and I didn't really want to do that. So I checked out the DIY section on Pinterest and found a link to  this "recipe" that uses things I already have at home.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 cup water (I used the cold Brita water)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baby shampoo
  • 1/8 teaspoon olive oil
That's it! Just mix everything together and you're done. This made enough to fill my entire bottle as well as a baby cube, I didn't have any tiny jars around to store the rest.

This worked really well, it got all of my mascara off pretty easily. And I wear A LOT of eye makeup!

I realize that not everyone has baby shampoo around but you can get a teeny sample bottle from most pharmacies for just $1 or from the dollar store and each bottle has enough to make probably 2 or 3 batches. Sure beat the $5+ that it costs to get a small bottle of store-brand makeup remover.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Freebies arrived!!!

We got all of this stuff in the mail late last week.

The P+G Brandsaver sample pack mentioned previously and a Kashi bar sample which came with a coupon for a free box of bars!

Jon, Alice and I shared the bar. Jon didn't like it but I thought it was pretty good, comparable to Nutrigrain bars. I'll probably use the coupon to get the same flavor (blackberry). It will be a good snack to keep in the stroller that Alice and I can share after baby time at the library when we get home a bit late for lunch or when we're out getting groceries.

I also had enough Swagbucks to get a $25 PayPal giftcard which I used to order one of Jon's Christmas presents from Etsy. My points are nearly high enough to order another card soon. I'll probably use it on Etsy as well.

I also cashed in my Huggies points to order a $15 Starbucks gift card. I rarely ever buy Huggies anymore since they never send out coupons, have very little points per package, I find the diapers stiff feeling and leaky and they rarely go on sale for a decent price. So I definitely wasn't going to be adding any more points to my account and was just waiting for a reward to be posted that would use up my meager 375 points.