Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Mama = Happy Babies

Its been a crazy afternoon. Only one of the girls napped and they were both insanely crabby. Aunt Flo came to visit today and I'm about ready to pull my hair out. Its one of those days I talked about in my last 'Sunday Confessional'.  One of the ways I handle these days is to use my Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Spray. Its like heaven in a bottle. The number one thing it does is calm nausea. But I use it to calm my stress. Its totally natural so as to avoid nasty chemicals or drugs. I was tied to Zofran during my last pregnancy, I'm hoping that Happy Mama Spray, in combination with other natural remedies, will keep my morning sickness at bay next time.
I highly recommend this stuff! Especially now that they have a new and improved formula! #VirtualBliss #EarthMama
*I do not make any money off this or anything. It is 100% my true opinion.*

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Party on a Budget

My Baby Crunch turned 1 a couple weeks ago.
We wanted to have a small party, but that isn't really an option for us because of the size of our families (I'm the oldest of 8 and Hubby Crunch is the third of 9, That doesn't include our parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephew, cousins, grandparents, etc.)
My next best option was to figure out how to throw a party on a budget. Where else would I go but Pinterest?
We decided on serving a Taco Bar. Small amounts of each ingredient (specifically the expensive ones), but plenty of variety for everyone! 


Flour Tortillas*
Tostadas (Corn tortillas, fried flat)
Tortilla Chips

Taco Seasoned Ground Beef
Shredded Salsa Chicken

Other Fillers
Refried Black Beans
Refried Pinto Beans
Spanish Rice

Diced Onions
Diced Tomatoes
Sliced Black Olives*
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Jalepenos
"Mexican Blend" of Shredded Cheeses (Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, and Mild Cheddar)

Mexican Corn Salsa (we also added black beans)
Liz's Homemade Salsa (adapted from this recipe)

More Sauces
Mild Taco Bell Sauce*
Hot Taco Bell Sauce*
Sour Cream

*We bought these items rather than making/slicing/prepping/dicing/etc ourselves. We also bought the corn tortillas in order to make the Tostadas and Chips.
I don't know why I angled the picture like this...
I probably thought it would be artsy....
Next were decorations. The theme was Little Bunny Foo Foo (Baby's favorite song). I wanted to get that theme across without breaking the bank. So we made lots of things ourselves.
I hand-wrote all the food signs, I wrapped green utensils in orange napkins to look like carrots,
my sister glued cotton balls to plastic cups and drew faces to make bunnies, several of my siblings drew faces and tails on balloons to make field mice, we put gerber daisies in limes (you can see them hiding in several pictures) and Baby Crunch wore her bunny tutu!

I think my very favorite themed item was the cupcakes. We made bunnies on top of carrot cake and field mice on top of vanilla funfetti cake. Confession though, I used boxed cake mix and premade frosting. I wish I had gotten better pictures, but my phone went MIA, so we made do with what we could. They were so adorable!! Thanks to Pinterest and Google images for the inspiration.
For the bunny ears, I cut a marshmallow in half diagonally and dipped the cut side in sprinkles. The mouse body is a maraschino cherry (stem on) dipped in chocolate and stuck to a Hershey Kiss head, with almond sliver ears.

There ended up being just over 30 teens and adults and around a dozen kids and toddlers at the party. We had plenty of food for everyone, plus leftovers of some things. It was a lot of fun and hardly stressful at all!

I will be posting a full cost breakdown as soon as I can for those who are interested.

Chime in! What is your favorite way to party on a budget?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

October Grocery Shopping Lists

Partway through this month we were able to up our grocery budget to $100 a week and I started shopping Market Basket as well as Walmart because I can get better prices on most products at MB.

October 2, 2014

Red Grapes 1.67lbs @ $1.98 per lb - $3.31
Bananas 2.05lbs @ $0.49 per lb - $1.00

1 Pint Organic Grape Tomatoes - $2.98
1/2 lb Organic Carrots - $0.98
3 bunches Organic Romaine Lettuce - $3.38
Sweet Potatoes 1.01lbs @ $0.98 per lb - $0.99
1 Cucumber - $0.72
Broccoli 0.60lbs @ $1.48 per lb - $0.89
2 Bell Peppers @ $0.78 each - $1.56
1 head Cauliflower - $2.48
Onions 0.75lbs @ $1.28 per lb - $0.96
Garlic Clove 0.22lbs @ $3.88 per lb - $0.85

Deli Turkey Breast 1.14lbs @ $3.78 per lb - $4.31
Whole Chicken 5.81lbs @ $1.09 per lb - $6.33

Deli White American Cheese 1.25lbs @ $5.98 per lb - $7.48
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese block - $1.98
16oz Mozzarella Cheese block - $3.64
8oz Parmesan Cheese wedge - $4.48

two 28oz cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes - $2.96
two 28oz cans Crushed Tomatoes - $2.88
two 28oz cans Tomato Sauce - $2.88
one 14oz can Tomato Sauce - $0.78
Honey - $2.12
two 1lb bags Dry Black Beans - $1.36
1/2 gallon name brand Orange Juice - $3.00
1 gallon store brand Orange Juice - $3.98
1lb Pasta - $1.00
4oz Yeast - $4.68
Worchestershire Sauce - $3.98

Total: $83.82 for 30 items

October 9, 2014

1.34lbs Bananas @ $0.49/lb - $0.66
1.03lbs Fuji Apples @ 0.97/lb - $1.00
Pie Pumpkin - $2.28

1 Green Bell Pepper - $0.78
1 head Iceberg Lettuce - $1.08
0.87lbs Broccoli @ $1.48/lb - $1.29
0.6lbs Tomatoes @ $1.98/lb - $1.19
0.66oz Fresh Basil - $1.98
1.21lb Sweet Onions @ $1.28/lb - $1.55
0.27lb Poblano Pepper @ $2.48/lb - $0.67

'Day Old'/Reduced Steak - $6.20
2.21lb Sliced Ham @ $4.27/lb - $9.44

Dairy and such
1 dozen vegetarian fed chicken Eggs - $2.98
8oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese block - $1.98
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese block - $1.98
16oz Mozzarella Cheese block - $3.64
1/2 gallon Organic Whole Milk - $3.98

1/2 gallon name brand OJ - $3.00
1 gallon store brand OJ - $3.98
12oz Tomato Paste - $0.92
1lb Pasta - $1.00
1lb uncooked White Rice - $0.84
two 28oz cans diced Tomatoes @ $1.08ea - $2.16
BBQ Black Bean Chips - $2.88 (P.S. I thought these were gross, Hubby Crunch thought they were great)
1lb dry Black Beans - $1.72
11oz Coconut Water - $1.68
Coconut Flakes - $0.94
24 White Corn Tortillas - $2.00

45' Parchment Paper - $3.48
50' Tin Foil - $2.98

Total: $70.26 for 30 items

October 16, 2014

1 box Raisins - $1.98
2.49lb Green Grapes @ $0.98/lb - $2.44

Cucumber - $0.72
3.33lb Spaghetti Squash @ $0.98/lb - $3.26
5lb White Potato - $1.97
0.97lb Tomato @ $0.98/lb - $0.95
1lb Carrots - $0.78

2.39lb sliced Ham @ 4.27/lb - $10.08

Dairy and such
1 dozen vegetarian fed chicken eggs - $2.98
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese block - $1.98
8oz Sour Cream - $0.98
two 8oz Mild Cheddar Cheese block @ $1.98ea - $3.96
1.02lb deli White American Cheese @ $5.98/lb - $6.10
1lb Organic Unsalted Butter - $5.58
8oz Swiss Cheese block - $2.48

11oz Coconut Water - $1.68
8.9oz Cheerios - $2.58
King size M&Ms - $1.38 (bought as a gift)
1/2 gallon name brand OJ - $3.00
two 1lb Whole Grain Pasta @ $1.28ea - $2.56
small jar Molasses - $2.68
Brown Gravy Mix packet - $0.44
1 gallon store brand OJ - $3.98
small jar Honey - $2.12
Taco Kit (hard and soft tacos, seasoning, taco sauce, enough for 2 meals) - $3.00
Fruit Squeeze Pouch - $1.25 (because sometimes you forget a snack for the baby)
8.5oz Olive Oil - $1.98
two 28oz cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes @ $1.48ea - $2.96
two 28oz cans Crushed Tomatoes @ $1.44ea - $2.88
32oz White Vinegar - 0.98
18oz Quick Oats - $1.68
42oz Old Fashioned Oats - $3.24
two 29oz cans Tomato Sauce @ $1.44ea - $2.88

9oz Dawn dish soap - $0.97
two 70 count facial tissue @ $1.00ea - $2.00
120 count facial tissue - $1.00
2 flavored chapsticks - $2.00 (gifts)
Playdough - $0.88 (gift)
5pack Matchbox Cars - $4.97 (gift)
16 count Baby Wipes - $0.97
5lb Dog Food - $9.97

Groceries: $101.04 for 38 items
Gifts: $9.23 for 4 items

Total: $110.27 for 42 items

October 23, 2014

Market Basket

1 quart Strawberries - $3.99
2.58lb Red Grapes @ $1.99/lb - $5.13
1.94lb Bananas @ $0.39/lb - $0.76

8oz frozen chopped Spinach - $0.79
Fresh Basil - $1.99
0.34lb Green Beans @ $1.69/lb - $0.57
bag o' Coleslaw greens - $1.59
2 Cucumbers @ 2/$1.19 - $1.19
1.18lb Broccoli @ $0.99/lb - $1.17
1 head Iceberg Lettuce - $0.99
1.7lb Sweet Potatoes @ $0.89/lb - $1.51
0.3lb Sweet Onions @ 0.89/lb - $0.27

Boneless Pork Butt - $9.36 (I don't remember size, but half went in the freezer)

sliced White American Cheese - $3.55
1lb Organic Unsalted Butter - $4.89
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese block - $2.00
two 8oz Mild Cheddar Cheese block @ $2.00ea - $4.00
8oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese block - $2.00
1 dozen Vegetarian Fed Chicken Eggs - $2.00
1/2 gallon Organic Whole Milk - $3.49
16oz Mozzarella Cheese block - $3.49
16oz Ricotta Cheese - $1.89
2 Vanilla Yogurt cups - $0.89
8oz Sour Cream - $0.89

1 gallon store brand OJ - $3.69
Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil - $5.99
Celery Seed - $3.99
Candy Corn - $1.00
1lb jumbo shells Pasta - $1.50
Dijon Mustard - $1.99
small jar Mayonnaise - $1.39

Other40 load size Tide Powder - $9.49
Infant Ibuprofen - $5.99
40 count quart size Storage Bags - $1.50
two 18 count gallon size Storage Bags @ $1.50ea - $3.00

Subract 4% from entire bill until December 27th

Total: $85.03 for 35 items

October 30, 2014 (Baby Crunch's Birthday!)

Market Basket

3lb Cortland Apples - $2.69
2.78lb Red Grapes @ $1.99/lb - $5.53
1 Lemon - $0.69
1.37lb Bananas @ $0.49/lb - $0.67

0.53lb Green Bell Pepper @ $1.49/lb - $0.79
1.22lb Broccoli @ $1.49/lb - $1.82
2 Cucumbers - $1.00
1 sleeved Celery - $0.99
1 head Iceberg Lettuce - $0.99
3.05lb Spaghetti Squash @ $0.79/lb - $2.41
2lb Carrots @ $0.79/lb - $1.58

6oz Swiss Cheese block - $1.50
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese block - $1.50
8oz Mild Cheddar Cheese block - $1.50

Cheese Dip - $3.00
Tortilla Chips - $2.50
1lb angel hair Pasta - $1.00

Subtract 4% from entire bill until December 27th
Subtotal: $28.95 for 17 items


Fun Pumpkin - $4.88 (for carving)

Deli Sliced Ham - $7.92

1 dozen Vegetarian Fed Chicken Eggs - $2.98

Ritz Crackers - $2.50
Cheerios - $2.98
1 gallon store brand OJ - $3.98
1/2 gallon name brand OJ - $3.98
1 loaf Whole Wheat Bread - $2.88
28 count Bottled Water - $3.98

Subtotal: 36.08 for 9 items

Total: 65.03 for 29 items

That last week we also had our daughter's birthday party with a large number of people. But that is going to be a separate post, so I didn't include those groceries, which contributed to several meals because of leftovers.

Starting soonish, I will do 1 post for each week. I will include our dinner menus along with that week's grocery lists.

Chime in! Have you been able to stick to your budget so far this month?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Throw Together Night

It's pretty easy to make dinner after a shopping trip that looks like this:

Not so easy when the fridge looks like this:

One of the ways I make my budget work is to challenge myself at the end of every week to throw together a meal with whatever is left before I go shopping the next morning. That takes some serious work sometimes when I don't buy any extraneous foods. It has worked well so far though.

The first week I made enchiladas with leftover corn tortillas, leftover shredded chicken, an extra can of red beans with chili sauce, and 3 different kinds of leftover cheeses.

The second week I made these twice baked potatoes with leftover broccoli, kale, chili, and sliced american cheese.

I challenge you to make an entire meal out of leftovers the night before you go grocery shopping. Get creative, use Pinterest, and have fun with it!
Chime in! Are you able to get creative with leftovers? Share your creations here.

Sunday Confessional: I Can't Do It All

A couple weeks ago I sent this picture to my husband while he was at work. The caption was "F*** this s**t, I'm going to bed" (There were no asterisks when I sent it to him)

Scary, right? My kitchen didn't look a whole lot better.
Sometimes I like to reread my own blog posts because I sound kind of amazing, gives me a good morale boost. But as you can see, I'm not amazing all the time. The amazingness is actually pretty rare.
This blog is one of the last things on my priority list. So please forgive me for being a horrible blogger. It has been a whole month since my last post and I have 4 half finished posts that I haven't gotten around to completing yet.
Hope is currenting watching Curious George and tearing up the living room so I can have 10 minutes to type this up. Hopefully Daddy will be home soon from hunting so I can get the October grocery lists typed up. I could go on, but there is no need for that! I just wanted to check in and say, I'm here, I'm trying, and I can't do it all!
Chime in! How do you cope with the hard days? I could certainly use some advice.

Green Cleaning

The next step on the road to crunchiness was to rid our home of harmful chemical cleaners. At first I thought it was as easy as buying an organic cleaner. So I did it. I joined  the Healthy Home Company and bought Clean, a 10 in 1 cleaner. I love it, I even made this meme
Yes, it can be used to wash your dog too.
It really does replace all of those products. It's absolutely wonderful. My only problem was the high price tag. $29.95 for non-members, $19.95 for members.
It does last awhile, and I could justify it every which way to Sunday, especially because I love it. But I knew there had to be a more budget friendly option. So I went back to my ebooks from the Healthy Living Bundle. There is a whole category on green cleaning. I started reading and soon face-palmed. Vinegar, baking soda, and blue Dawn. Duh! Of course you can add essential oils and there are other household products that can add oomph to certain jobs (toothpaste to clean headlights anyone?). But basically, you can do anything with those 3 cheap tools.
New meme!!

Now, I won't be replacing everything. Finish tabs will continue to be my dishwasher soap of choice. Tide is still the only thing I trust to get my clothes and cloth diapers clean without leaving a soap residue (which can cause repelling and ammonia build up in diapers). I also keep bleach around for when I buy used diapers. You have to pick and choose what works best for your family and your comfort level.

My current go-to, all purpose cleaner recipe is:
1/2 cup White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Blue Dawn
2 cups Water
3-5 drops Essential Oil (optional)

I also use 'Blue Soap' for more heavy duty scrubbing jobs:
2 parts Blue Dawn
1 part White Vinegar
1 part Hydrogen Peroxide
shake before each use. sprinkle some baking soda on first if its a set in or burned on stain, gives you a little extra scrubbing power.

Chime in. What are the worst chemical offenders in your home?