It Snowed, It Rained (hard), It’s 90… and other reasons I haven’t planted those potatoes

For all of you NOT living in NH, let me tell you that this has been an INSANE week for weather. Memorial Day saw snow in many areas around us. Wednesday (when I promised to plant my potatoes) was very cold and rainy, and therefore I did not go out and make my potato tower.  And today? ya, it’s over 90 degrees out! Only in NH, I tell you.

The weather this past weekend allowed me to feel quite vindicated in the fact that I had not yet planted my garden. See? You can get a frost in (almost) June!

This week I have had many things rolling around in my brain, and of course I feel the need to share them with you all! So, welcome to my randomness:

On Homesteading and pretty nails:

I have always enjoyed being “prettied up” – getting my hair done, getting my nails done, etc. Last year when money got tight, we had to have a hard conversation with ourselves and decide what was truly important. Many things went, but I held out on my nails. I tried giving it up, but that seemed to be the thing that made me feel like everything else was ok. But, for Shelac nails it cost $35 every 2 weeks to have them done in the salon. So, I poked around and found that you could purchase everything needed to do them at home for about $70! We bought the supplies and I have been doing them at home myself:

At Home Shelac

At Home Shelac

 

And they come out JUST like they did for $35 at the salon

Salon style nails at home

Salon style nails at home

Geesh, maybe I should be a hand model?!?! Have I missed my calling? lol… These supplies have lasted me since September. 10 months, twice a month, $35 a pop (plus tip), that’s $700 saved! For a $70 investment and a few bad manicures while I figured it out.

Another place we looked at to save money was my husbands haircuts – he has a high and tight type of haircut, and in the Sales industry he like to keep it cut close and neat at all times. He was going to the Barber shop every other weekend, spending $20 a cut. We tried going longer between cuts to save money, but he felt sloppy and unkempt, so again, we looked at doing it at home. We splurged, and bought a pricey set of clippers and then all of the things you need (cape, comb, clippers, guards, those little paper thingys that go around the neck, etc). All together we probably spend just shy of $150. Doing the math, that’s 10 months, and around $450 saved!  (and only 2 or 3 sub-par haircuts to get it right)

I guess what I am getting at here is that you can be working towards living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, but in doing so you don’t have to give up the things that make you feel good. You just need to evaluate, re-evaluate and get creative.

 

On couponing and splurging:

Many of my friends think I may be a bit compulsive with my couponing, some may think I am a hoarder. I admit, I have 30 cases of soda, and I just bought over 20 deodorants, and I have enough cereal to last us the next 7 months. We are all set for pasta and sauce til after Christmas. The list goes on. But I think this is what they are missing – I buy these things while on the cheap (sometimes FREE) not so I can have a full shelf, but so I can save money and NOT have to buy them when they are full price. When I save money (BIG money) on my everyday staples, that gives me more flexible spending money for things like:

Yummy Splurges

Yummy Splurges

 

A $4.99 jar of Nathan’s pickles and German Mustard! When you save all the time, you have money to buy that mustard that was an impulse. And can I tell you how goooooood this mustard is? Had it for lunch yesterday and again today – ham and cheese with mayo and this stuff! To die for! With a pickle on the side.

In the end, it’s all good. Life balances out. I don’t think you can live super extreme to one side or the other. The trick for us is finding a balance we can live with by doing  what we feel is right (by becoming more self-sufficient) while not giving up things we absolutely love. Everyone has their own list of things that are must-haves or must-dos. When those are kept in tact, I find the other peripheral things can go. Balance.

 

On Potato Towers:

Fear not, I will be making the tower this weekend. Meantime, I have cut my seed potatoes and they are drying on my counter so they won’t mold when I plant them. Maddy assures me this is the grossest thing she has had to endure on the counter. I take that as a challenge!

Cut and Drying Seed Potatoes

Cut and Drying Seed Potatoes

 

Happy Homesteading all! Talk to you soon!

 

 

 

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Pinterest saved my tub!

What you are about to see may be alarming. It is NOT for the faint of heart. It is *gasp* my tub! When we moved in to our new house 7 years ago this tub was the bain of my existence. I am a bubble bath taker. I take one most nights before bed. I relax, decompress and read. For 7 years I have been grossed out by my tub. For seven years I have tried every cleaner ever made. I have used bleach, comet, toothpaste, that “incredible magic” mixture that is on pinterest (btw – this didn’t even make a bit of a change, and all I smelled was vinegar for a week).  Everything! Spray, foam, gel, powder. I really should have kept track of all the money I spent on all of these products. Glad I didn’t.

So, 2 weeks ago I told Kevin I wanted to go to Home Depot and pick up that paint that paints over the tub. He said we should wait until spring when we could open the windows. I couldn’t wait. I went to Pinterest and started looking around more. And this is what I found:

Pinterest Tub Cleaner (I am sorry, but the picture for this won’t cooperate and show up for me, so just trust me when I tell you, it is a picture of a nasty before and a pretty after of a tub)

This pinner suggested the Magic Eraser! So, desperate, and determined to not spend any money (so that I can continue with my No-Spend Challenge) I went off to the kitchen and checked under the sink… SCORE! I had a box of magic sponges! Immediately I went to my bathroom and started scrubbing with the damp Magic Eraser.

Not even 10 minutes later I had finished half – a “before and after” for you so you could see a real life, non-staged, result:

 

Half done!

Half done!

WOOOHOOOOO! And the choir of angels sang! A clean tub was within my reach. But then tragedy struck… my camera battery died! So, being the devoted blogger I am, I had to stop here. My youngest came home from school and asked “Mom, why is the tub half clean?”

Yup. This is what happens when your Mama is a blogger! 🙂

The moral of this story? After spending hours and hours and hours bent over, scrubbing, cramping my arms and hands… Mr. Clean was the best man for the job. And now? I don’t have to go and spend a ton of money on paint to paint my tub (although once it gets warmer, I am TOTALLY painting this old and outdated tile)!

Now, I am off to get my knit on. I will be knitting at The Monarch’s Game this evening. It is Pink in The Rink – Our local hockey teams’ breast cancer awareness game. I will post pics tomorrow.

 

***If you decide to try the Magic Eraser on your tub, I would love to hear how it worked for you****

Anatomy of a Blizzard – 2013 Edition

It’s 4:30 pm, and the snow has only just changed over from the fine powder to a heavier snow. This morning we all slept in – except for Kev, who was working from home – taking advantage of an unplanned day off. OK, nix that, I had to go in and work at the gym for 4 hours today, but still…

This morning we were pretty lazy. Mads made a breakfast sandwich. This was a feat considering her right hand is in a cast from a basketball injury:

Maddie's morning creation

Maddie’s morning creation

More

Blizzard Prep, Knitter-Style

Here’s the thing, in New England when they are predicting a storm you can tell a lot about a person. Some go to the store and get water and dry goods in case they lose power. Some go to the store and get ice melt, shovels, beer, and a roast for the crockpot. Some do nothing.

Me? I make my kids bring in enough wood to heat the entire street for a week. Then I shop for some good food and munchies for the kids. Then, I make sure I have enough projects on hand to knit.

Kevin's Alpine Zippy Sweater

Kevin’s Alpine Zippy Sweater

Celestial Socks

Celestial Socks

And then as if knitting weren’t enough, I have FINALLY learned to crochet, and am working on this project basket for my knitting things. It will be made in two colors – this eggplant will be the bottom and go a short way up the side. Then I will change over to a cream to finish up the sides.

Crochet Ombre Project Basket

Crochet Ombre Project Basket

To top things off… you know… just in case we get snowed in for a month (or my ADD gets the better of me, and I just HAVE to start a new project)… I have the yarn to start this fabulous afghan which will coordinate wonderfully with the wall hanging quilt I made last year.

Bernat Afghan pattern and NEW YARN!

Bernat Afghan pattern and NEW YARN!

 

For those of you who have been following along with my No-Spend Challenge, do not worry! My Mama got me this yarn! It is so perfect! I am so in love with the lime green.

So, yes, you can tell a lot about a person by what they do to prepare for a storm. What is on your must-have list?

To all of those in the path of the storm, stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy your days of winter white…

 

 

 

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post…

For me to brag on my baby!

My son has been playing basketball for a while now, this year he made the middle school team. It is a pretty big thing. And tonight? HE was a starter. Not only a starter, but at Center~

bball1

That’s my boy – the big tall one in the green and white – at the tip-off (or whatever it is called. My kids did NOT get their athletic ability from me!) At 6’2″ and being only 13 years old, I think I have a lot of basketball in my future.

GO HAWKS!

My boy ROCKS!

That’s all. Thank you for listening.

I will be back tomorrow with a double post – some helpful money saving tips, and a little about my over abundance of ongoing projects!

Pinterest Pick of the Week

A few months back I got sucked into the world of Pinterest. Has this happened to you? Well, I have now pinned a few hundred items. So many things I love! So many ideas! But I have never done any of them. I have decided that I am going to take one pin from my boards each week and either make or do them (or, if they are bigger projects, get it started).

For my first project I chose to make one of the billion pins I have pinned to my Recipes Board.

Source: mommyskitchen.net via Marcy on Pinterest

 

This beauty is called The No Peek Beef Tips, and it comes from Tina over at Mommy’s Kitchen. And it fits in nicely with my No-Cash Challenge for February. I had all of my ingredients in either my pantry or my freezer, so I didn’t have to buy anything from the store.  As you can see in the picture below, I had almost 5 pounds of beef chunks that I thawed out. I guess we will be having more beef this week at some point, or maybe I will make something up and toss it in the freezer for a quick heat meal later on when I am in a pinch for time. I’ll let you know what it becomes.

Here’s my Starting Line Up:

Starting Line Up

Starting Line Up

  • 2 pounds of Stew Beef
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 package Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup of water

*Here’s a tip – when you buy those pre-cut packages of stew beef, resist the urge to just pop ‘am all in just as they are from the package. I usually cut most of the pieces into fourths, some just have to be cut in half. The more uniformly you cut your beef chunks, the better they will all cook. By making them smaller, it stretches them further.*

OK – now that you have cut everything up into uniformly sized chunks and placed in a single layer in an 9×13 baking dish, sprinkle the onion soup mix package over the top evenly. In a bowl, mix together the brown gravy mix, the cream of mushroom soup and the water. I had a hard time making everything combine into a smooth blend, so I switched to a whisk – perfection. Once everything is blended together, pour over the top of the stew chunks. It will look a little something like this:

All Set for the Oven

All Set for the Oven

At this point, you want to cover it with foil, and place in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours. And remember, it is called “No Peek” for a reason. Just leave it be for the 3 hours. DON’T PEEK!

*** OK, we are 2 hours and 30 minutes in, and I have GOT to tell you, my house smells in-cred-i-ble! I am off to make my mashed potatoes to serve this over. Potatoes were one of the items I bought when I went grocery shopping earlier. ***

After 3 hours (I left mine for close to 4 because my husband got hung-up at work a little late), you take it out of the oven, do a drumroll, and unveil the beauty (be careful of the STEAM!)…

Steaming out of the Oven

Steaming out of the Oven

As my husband was pulling into the driveway, I scooped out some homemade mashed potatoes (which I make with butter, cream cheese and half and half – NOT for the faint of heart), and topped it with the No Peek Beef Tips.

Ready to Dig In

Ready to Dig In

Kev walked in and said “I don’t know what that smell is, but… YUM!”.  After we devoured our plates, Kev went back for seconds. I call that a keeper!

From start to finish, the meal took roughly 4 hours. From start time to meat in the oven took 10 minutes, and that included me snapping pictures.

I definitely call this one a Pinterest WIN!

See y’all tomorrow

 

 

 

Frugal Friday

OK, so apparently this is alliterations week. I didn’t even do it on purpose. Funny.

I am just finishing my first week of my challenge. And I have learned somethings. First, I spend a bunch of money on things that are just habits. For example, I took my daughter to her ortho appointment. I am supposed to get my Dunkins on the way so I can drink it while she is in getting metal wires and brackets adjusted. After I picked up the oldest, I told myself “no coffee”. I was fine, driving along, heading up the highway. I concentrated hard as I went by exit 2, knowing I was NOT getting my pumpkin spice. Halfway between exits 2 and 3, I panicked. I had forgotten to get my coffee. Quickly my in-head GPS was rerouting me to get to Dunkins. I went over into the exit lane, and I had to mentally slap myself. NO COFFEE! LEt me tell you – three times! I did this three times!

Each day I had to have those same conversations with myself. It was really a week of an awakening. I am realizing very quickly just how much money I leak. And I use the word LEAK for a reason. I don’t buy big things. It is a cup of coffee, a diet coke at McDonalds, a new circular needle because I am knitting my socks, and the one I have is MIA, the trip to my local yarn shop. All of these things are so small I don’t even notice them. Until I check my bank account and I have literally squandered away $50-$60 on NOTHING! It is both a good and bad feeling. It feels good that I have realized this. It feels really bad when I think about all of these weeks multiplied by $30, $40 even $50 each week on nothing.

In the interest of total transparency during my month-long challenge – I am excited to share that I have only spent $43 this week out of my available $150. I only purchased groceries. And, I used coupons and really planned well. I was able to get over $200 in groceries for that $43, accomplishing my best savings yet over 80%!

 

As a side note – I know I had told y’all about my Biggest Loser Challenge – Today was weigh in day, and I have lost a total of 12 pounds (6.5%)  in 4 weeks. I think I am well on my way to meeting my goal for our cruise.

Have a fabulous weekend, and again, if you are joining me in this challenge please keep us posted so we can cheer you on as well.

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