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3 Nov 2009   ·   30
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day begins…

It's 1:30 p.m. CST and homeschooling is done for the day, Grandma is here to watch the children, my apron is on, Pandora is playing in the background, and I'm about ready to make a very big mess in my just-cleaned kitchen… all for a good cause because I'm baking and cooking up a storm today!

I'll be back with an update in a few hours or less. In the mean time, you can follow along on Twitter.

3 Nov 2009   ·   19
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The Master Plan


Today's the day! I've cleared my schedule, made my list, done my shopping, got a good night's rest, cleaned my kitchen, and brought in recruits (i.e. Grandma!) to help with the children. And I'm ready to hit the ground running with this cooking and baking thing.

But not before I first make another list (yes, I'm one of those Type-A list-makers–sorry, it's just the only way things seem to get done around here!). This list is my Master Plan list which tells me what to do when–in detailed order.

I've found that it's great to have a Proposed List of everything I want to accomplish, but breaking it down into bite-size pieces of the order I plan to accomplish it in helps me be much more efficient and organized.

Last night before going to bed, I grated up all the cheese I'd need today and set out the milk and ground turkey from the freezer to thaw. Prepping a few things like that the night before help give me a little jumpstart to my Freezer Cooking the next day.

Here's my Master Plan for today and tomorrow (remember, I'm planning to work from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST since I'm fitting this in around our homeschooling schedule):


1) Grind flour and mix together waffle batter and begin cooking waffles
2) Boil chicken
3) Get potatoes in the crockpot for Freezer Mashed Potatoes
4) Chop chicken, boil noodles
5) Quick clean up
6) Boil rice, make homemade cream soup, chop red peppers
7) Make Chicken Tetrazinni
8) Make Chicken Broccoli Rice
9) Make Granola
10) Make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
11) Mix together Turkey Meatballs, cook one pan for dinner, cook the rest and freeze
13) Finish Freezer Mashed Potatoes
12) Finish dinner preparations (Turkey Meatballs, Freezer Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, Toast) and clean up


1) Make Slow Cooked Pepper Steak and put in crockpot
2) Make Farmhouse Chicken
3) Make Pumpkin Scones
4) Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
5) Finish dinner preparations (Farmhouse Chicken) and clean up kitchen
6) Be thrilled with the finished results, put my feet up, and relax knowing I don't have to do much cooking for the next month!

As you can tell, I'm planning to do the bulk of my cooking today since Grandma is here to play with the children. It also gives me a little wiggle room if I'm not able to get to everything I planned to do on Tuesday; I can always bump it to Wednesday, if need be. And if I get incredibly ambitious, finish everything on Tuesday's list, and have extra time, I can always start in on Wednesday's list!

Need more help and ideas for making a game plan for your Freezer Cooking Day? Check out FishMama's post here.

Stay tuned for live-blogging and tweeting (follow me on Twitter here) this afternoon on my real-time progress complete with pictures and recipes. Don't forget to follow FishMama on her blog and Twitter or the more that 250 other women around the country who are participating in this Freezer Cooking Day and tweeting about it with the hashtag #bakingday

Have you posted your Baking Day plans on your blog? If so, leave your link below so others can be inspired with ideas and new recipes to try. Remember to link directly to your blog post.

3 Nov 2009   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Three more recommended paid survey companies

I shared about a few of my favorite survey companies last Friday and
talked about how this was a little way I brought in some extra money
during our lean law school days. Since I posted that, I’ve done some
more research on survey companies and wanted to share some more links
to reputable companies which my friends have recommended.


SurveySpot–This is one of the companies I’ve heard the most rave reviews about in the last year or so. They pay up to $5 per survey and you can request payout when you have earned $5. So therefore, it’s not hard at all to earn enough to get a check. In fact, while I don’t have a lot of extra time these days, I’m seriously considering signing up just to see what it’s like! Go here to sign up.

LightSpeed ResearchThis survey site pays in points and they are fairly generous in their points given. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can cash them in for cash, online gift certificates, music downloads, and hundreds of
other prizes. Or, build up your points for bigger prizes in your
Lightspeed Points Account.
Go here to sign up.

iPoll–Pays in point rewards for every completed survey. You can cash these in for instant win opportunities, sweepstakes, or cash. There are also opportunities to do free product testing. Go here to sign up.

If you have any experience with these companies–either good or bad–please tell us about it in the comments section. As always, remember that you won’t get rich taking surveys and it takes work and effort to earn money from surveys, but if you stick with it, you can create a small and steady sidestream of income through surveys.

2 Nov 2009   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Tackling Meal Planning–One Month At a Time!


Guest Post by Tricia from Once-A-Month Mom

planning can be a bit of a challenge to even the savviest of
organizers. Planning each and every week can sometimes be time-consuming or tiring. I use to plan meals one week at a time and found
that it worked for me most of the time, but other times, I was too exhausted or didn't have new ideas or I would make a great plan only to
have plans change and not be able to use the meals, thus ingredients
going to waste! That's when I started doing once-a-month cooking (also
known as bulk cooking, freezer cooking, power cooking, and OAMC).

people are overwhelmed at the prospect of making all of their meals for
the entire month in one day. They hear "8 hours in the kitchen" and
they leave about hyperventilate!

Don't get me wrong, 8 hours in the
kitchen is a long time, and tiring. But when you are finished, you have
enough meals to rarely step into the kitchen for another month! Not
only that, but you can also save money on your grocery bill as well because this method of planning and cooking will save you shopping trips and trips through the fast-food lane.

Here is a look at how a whole day in the kitchen can put more hours in
your day and money in your wallet:

Once-A-Month Cooking Saves You Time
cooking does require an 8-10 hour cooking day (or split amongst several
days). However, if you do the math on the amount of time that you would
have spent in the kitchen preparing these meals throughout the month,
it would be substantially higher.

Once-a-month cooking saves time
because you are cutting, dicing, mixing, chopping, sautéing, and cooking
"like" ingredients all at once. For instance, instead of chopping onion
several nights each week for the entree you are making, you can chop
that onion all at once, then cook and package the meal.

my most recent once-a-month endeavor, I spent 8.5 hours in the kitchen.
At the end of the day I had 30 meals (a mix of breakfasts, lunches, and
dinners). The time I would have spent had I prepared these meals when I
was serving them would have been at least 30 hours. I don't know about
you, but I can find lots of things that I can do with an extra 22 hours
during the month!

One of the other ways that
once-a-month cooking saves time is that you don't have to perform a juggling act to get dinner on the table. The
stretch between 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm has to be the most hectic time of
the day in our household. My husband isn't home from work yet; I am
trying to appease my son so that I can get dinner finished in a timely
manner; and all he wants is for me to play with him—it gets rough! I
find myself frazzled and easily willing to forgo my menu plan to save
my sanity. When I have done once-a-month cooking, I instead pull out
one of my freezer meals, stick it in the oven and go play with my son
until it is ready. That is precious time that I can't afford to miss!

Once-A-Month Cooking Saves You Money
am amazed at how cooking "like" meals can really save you money in a
month. The savings comes in the fact that you are buying large
quantities of products at one time, hopefully when they are on sale or
when you have coupons. If you plan to make things that are in season,
you can also save money by buying ingredients when they are at their
lowest price point.

For smaller families, these bulk savings are not
usually possible because large quantities of food often spoil before it
can be consumed. With once-a-month cooking, you are preparing all that
food at once and don't have to worry about it going to waste. And it
will last in the freezer for several months!

In the last two months alone, we have cut our grocery bill in
more than half by doing once-a-month cooking. I decide what we are
cooking, shop the sales all month, and then prepare the meals that we
will be eating the following month. I usually spend approximately $75 to $130 for a month's worth of meals. That is around $2.60 to $4.33 per meal!

If you are
looking for ways to make your dinner time less hectic, spend more time
with your family, spend less money on your grocery bill, or develop an
effective way to menu plan, you should try once-a-month cooking. You
just might surprise yourself at how much you can save, both in your
wallet and by your watch!

Tricia recently had her first child and is getting used to her new
career as a stay-at-home mom in Ohio, where her family resides. She is
expecting her second child in December (don't ask the gender they
aren't finding out). She is trying to show others how to be good
stewards of their time and their money while still providing wholesome
and nutritious meal options to their families. Her website, Once-A-Month Mom, is dedicated to "making daily chores
monthly memories" by providing monthly meal plans, grocery lists,
instructions, recipes and more for families curious about once-a-month
cooking and baby food.

Note from Crystal: If you are planning to join us for our Baking/Freezer Cooking Day Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and are looking for a "plan of action", you might try using the October (Thanksgiving) Menu or the new November (Christmas) Menu. The October (Thanksgiving) Menu has
many make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes and lots of menu items that you
will find on sale right now at your local grocers. The November (Christmas) Menu is
meant to be shopped throughout the month of November, cooked at the end
of the month, and consumed in December. However, you are welcome to shop
and use the menu now. Each menu includes recipes, a grocery list,
step-by-step instructions, and labels.
2 Nov 2009   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

The Proposed Baking/Freezer Cooking Day List
As I mentioned on Saturday, FishMama from LifeAsMom and I are planning to host a Freezer Cooking Day on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. We'll be live-blogging our progress and sharing tips and recipes along the way on both of our blogs. If you'd like to join in the fun, you can sign up at the Facebook Event page here, follow along on twitter with the #bakingday hashtag, or just check our blogs for updates, pictures, and more!

Since our family is on a new schedule and I'm staying completely offline in the mornings so I can focus all of my energies and full attention on homeschooling and investing in/loving on my children, I'm planning on doing my baking and cooking from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Check in here or on Twitter for my real-time progress updates.

In the mean time, here's my Proposed Freezer Cooking Plan:

Whole Wheat Waffles x 5
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Icing

Main Dishes:
Chicken Tetrazinni x 4
Turkey Meatballs x 3
Farmhouse Chicken x 4
Chicken Broccoli Rice x 4
Slow Cooked Pepper Steak x 3

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Freezer Mashed Potatoes

30 Oct 2009   ·   34
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Over $75 worth of natural/organic foods for $19!


I made a quick run into a nearby health food store this week as a friend of mine had tipped me off to the fact that their Annie's cereals were on sale for $0.99. I'm so glad I stopped when I did because I walked out with everything shown above and paid less than $20!

The Annie's cereals were on sale for $0.99 (an incredible deal considering the regular price is $5.99! Do people really pay that kind of money for a box of cereal??)! The Kashi bars were $1.99 per box and I had $1/1 coupons making them $0.99 per box. All of the veggies/fruit were reduced to $0.99 per bag/carton–even that 5.5 lb. bag of organic carrots!

Now the fun challenge has been using up all those carrots as they are nearing the end of their life (which is why the bag was so inexpensive!) We've been making carrot/apple juice–yum!–and I'm also thinking of making a whole-wheat carrot cake this coming week as we have lots of cream cheese in the freezer.

If I have any left, I think I might just whip up some homemade baby food for the freezer since Silas is almost 6 months old (sniff!) and he'll inevitably be starting solid foods before long. I've said before that I don't usually make special baby food, but if I can get organic carrots for $0.99 per five pounds, I just might change my mind on that! Or maybe I'll just chop, cook, and freeze the leftovers to use in soups. We'll see!

I spent a few dollars at both Target and Wal-Mart on deals this week as well, but I failed to get a picture of those.

All totaled, we're about $10 under our $40/week grocery budget for the month of October–and our cupboards, freezer, pantry, and refrigerators are still quite full with food.

By the way, I'm teaming up with FishMama to do a Baking/Cooking Ahead Day next week. We even got all fancy and set up a Facebook page here if you're interested in joining us. Stay tuned early next week for further details.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways?
If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link
below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you
personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order
to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in
their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content
other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to
make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your
link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

30 Oct 2009   ·   8
Money Saving Mom

The 30-Day Giving Challenge

My friend Alyssa is hosting a 30-Day Giving Challenge during the month of November over on her blog, Keeping the Kingdom First. She is challenging each of us to give to someone in some fashion every day in November. This
could be large or small, simple or extravagant. Read more details here.

30 Oct 2009   ·   38
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Starting with Small Things (Part 2)


Last week, I left you hanging in the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series at the point where I’d just found out I was pregnant. Let’s pick up from there…

Those two pink lines changed my life forever. Not only because they meant I was going to be a mom, but they also were the impetus for me to become a work-at-home mom.

It’s easy to say that becoming a mom also propelled me to become a work-at-home mom, but believe me, it wasn’t anywhere easy. In fact, I had no idea just how hard it was going to be.

I was sick from week five to week twenty-one in my pregnancy. I never had to be hospitalized for dehydration, but there were days when I could barely get out of bed because I was so nauseated. I wanted to be a mom more than just about anything in the world, but I had no idea how miserable morning sickness was going to be!

Needless to say, my jobs as a mother’s helper were abruptly ended. And therefore, our income was drastically reduced as well. When I was working four days a week as a mother’s helper, we were scraping by, without that income, it seemed impossible we could ever pay all of our bills.

I remember how helpless I felt so many times during those long weeks of my early pregnancy. I knew there had to be something I could do to earn an income from our little basement apartment, but what? I wracked my brain for days and weeks on end. I prayed, I worried, I cried, and I prayed some more.

As thankful as I was to be pregnant, I couldn’t help but also wonder and fret over how we were going to eat and have a roof over our heads. And I couldn’t even begin to try and figure out how we would pay for the extra expenses of having a baby, too. How would we survive for two more years of law school?

At that point, I had no idea. But I did know one thing: God was watching over us. He had called us to step out in faith and get married, move to Topeka, KS, and God had clearly opened up the doors for Jesse to go to law school. I also knew that God had given us this precious baby and He was going to take care of us.

And you know what? He never failed us or forsook us.

Oh yes! I worried many times when it seemed there was no way we were going to be able to pay all of the basic bills for the month. But somehow, someway, every necessary bill always got paid.

God called us not only to step out in faith and trust Him, but we also knew it was our responsibility to do everything we could to be wise stewards of the gifts, time, talents, and resources He had given us.

Since the beginning of our marriage, Jesse and I spent long hours talking about and tossing around ideas of possibly starting our own business. When we found out we were expecting, we knew that it was time to act on these ideas.

But where to start? Jesse was gone long hours at school and I was stuck in bed or on the couch much of the day feeling very sick.

I decided if I were going to be sick all day, it wasn’t going to make things any worse if I tried to use that time to learn what I could about possible ways to earn money online.

So I took the laptop and dug in where I was at. I spent countless hours scouring the internet, I signed up for Yahoo! Groups on entrepreneurialism and small businesses, I emailed anyone and everyone who had any clue about anything when it came to internet businesses or running your own business, and I read stacks of books on starting a small business and online marketing from the library.

Little by little, I came up with different ideas. I began with small things–mostly things I could do straight from the couch! Here are just a few of the things I tried during those long weeks of morning sickness that produced at least some positive results:–I listed and sold a number of books we were no longer needing or using (especially Jesse’s old textbooks) through this website and ended up making at least $1500 over the course of a few years. I tried my hand at buying used books at the thrift store and reselling these but I never had much success with that.

If you’re interested in reselling books, I’d recommend that you start by looking around your home and finding books you no longer need or use and see what the going rate is on I’d suggest check out, too, as they will pay you immediately whereas on, you have to wait for a buyer to purchase from you.

If Cash4Books is going to pay you somewhat similar to the going rate on, definitely go with Cash4Books as you won’t have to sit around waiting for a buyer. Instead, you’ll get the payment immediately.

There’s a great article here on reselling books which gives some more detailed advice if this is something you’re interested in. Some folks actually make a living doing this full-time. I’ve heard the market is more saturated than it used to be, but it’s still something to consider–especially if you have some decent books around your home you’d like to part with!

Online Surveys–I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up for online survey companies and I quickly found out that most of them are much more work than they are worth. However, I definitely don’t think they all should be discounted.

You can go here to see my favorite paid online survey sites!

I was encouraged to see money start trickling in from these things. It wasn’t enough to pay our bills, but it was something–and something is better than nothing, right?

As I started feeling better and I researched more ideas, I got braver and branched out to try other things. Most of these things flopped royally, but I learned a great deal in the process. I’ll tell you more about these in Part 3.

…To be continued

If you haven’t taken a chance to read through the comments on Part 1 of this series, be sure to do so here. There are dozens of great business ideas and tidbits of wisdom shared there!

28 Oct 2009   ·   50
women with shopping bags

Becoming a Mystery Shopper

women with shopping bags

You’ve probably seen the signs or ads which promise that you can make hundreds of dollars every month by shopping and going out to eat. And you’ve probably though it was too good to be true.

Well, those advertisements are likely a little over-the-top and just designed to get you to sign up for some overpriced list which you can find yourself with a little searching online. But Mystery Shopping is a very legitimate source of income and in many area, the jobs are plentiful and the pay is good.

Erin recently emailed me about her experiences with Mystery Shopping:

I heard about the idea of “mystery shopping” a few years ago, when my husband was in between coming home from a tour in Afghanistan, finding a temporary job, and returning to Active Duty Military. We needed a little extra cash, and this seemed to work well with my schedule.

At that time, I only had my son, but I’ve continued to do these shops with my second child. There are some very simple shops that pay $5 and $10, all the way up to more complex shops that pay out up to $200!

I also have taken on jobs that have compensated me for meals that my family and I have eaten. I get paid very quickly and I have never had any
problems with any of the sites I’ve used. A few of them are:

Mystery Shoppers Provider Association
Beyond Hello
Kern Scheduling
National Shopping Service
Trend Source

Again, these are all real businesses. I have done jobs for every single one of these companies and have been paid for all of my work. -Erin

When I first began mystery shopping, I signed up for all of the legitimate mystery shopping companies I could find. I opened up a separate email account which was dedicated to mystery shopping emails and used that when I signed up. It took me hours to sign up with all of the companies and it was quite time-consuming.

If you’ll thoroughly fill out all the applications and have patience, you’ll likely begin to see quite a number of job opportunities sent to you. Many times, these jobs are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so you’ll want to check your email for job openings a few times each day and be quick to respond to any which you are interested in.

Most mystery shopping jobs pay between $7-$15 and include some sort of reimbursement as well. I have done lots of fast food shops, casual dining, high-end restaurants, gas stations, beauty supply stores, pet stores, and even a bowling alley, to name a few. I found restaurant shops to be my favorite as they usually not only reimbursed for a meal for myself and my husband, but they also usually paid at least an extra $10 for the work involved. It was very worth it to me to get a nice free dinner date with my husband plus some cash — all for about 30 minutes of extra work!

One very important caution: DO NOT PAY TO MYSTERY SHOP! Legitimate jobs or companies do not require that you pay a fee to join or be accepted as a mystery shopper. There are many scam companies out there charging fees for lists or supposed job opportunities which are nothing that you cannot find yourself by applying to the companies listed above.

A good mystery shopper is someone who is attentive to detail and thorough in everything they do. In addition, it is very important you keep accurate records and follow instructions carefully.

Mystery shopping is a lot of work–especially in the beginning when you are first learning the ropes–but it can be a fun and rewarding experience which also can help supplement your income.

If you’re looking for even more recommendations for legitimate mystery shopping companies, check out this Facebook post with great info from readers who are experienced mystery shoppers!

Have you been a mystery shopper before? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and advice for someone who is considering dipping their toes into the world of mystery shopping.

23 Oct 2009   ·   49
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Dillon’s and a trip to the Bulk Foods Store


We did something different this month in our grocery budgeting. Instead of taking out $40 each week to use on groceries like we usually do, we took out a lump sum of $160 at the beginning of the month. I was surprised, but it seemed like this $160 went a lot farther than the $40 per week usually does. I'm not sure the reasoning behind that, but that's what happened!

Motivated by my success the past two months in setting aside money from our weekly grocery budget for bulk purchases, I've been working a little harder this month to see if I could set aside a larger amount. I've been amazed at how much purchasing in bulk is helping me to do this. It seems build upon itself: the more I purchase in bulk, the more it gives me wiggle room to purchase in bulk.

This month, I was able to set aside $60 from our grocery budget for bulk purchases. Some friends and I drove to a nearby town today and shopped at a bulk foods store and I was able to purchase a lot of what you see pictured above for just right under $40. I got enough spices and herbs to last me well over a year, 25 pounds of unbleached flour, raw sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, dates, coconut, and even a big bag of turbinado sugar (a more natural sugar) and carob powder.

I'm so excited to be finding creative ways to afford some healthier foods in our budget. Buying in bulk has certainly been a big asset there. I am going to be using some of these items to make a big batch of homemade granola and I'm also looking forward to experimenting with some new and more healthful recipes. I've never used carob powder or turbinado sugar before. Have you? Any can't-miss recipes you want to share?

In addition to the bulk foods store, we also made two quick trips to Dillons this week–since the sale weeks changes on Wednesdays and we wanted to get things from both sale ads. I won't list off all the deals, but you can read more about the Nature Valley Nut Clusters deal here.

I also got 3 packages of Huggies wipes free off of Amazon using my Swagbucks.

We spent a total of $72 on groceries this week and we were able to really stock up on some things which will last us much longer than a week. We still have about $35 left to spend on groceries this month and I we should have no problem staying under that next week–especially since our freezer is still well-stocked with food.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

23 Oct 2009   ·   48
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Guest Post by Katie from Frugal Femina

Did you panic when you heard there might be a pumpkin shortage? My stores have plenty, but the rumors made me wonder what I would do in a pinch. At first I thought, "I can live without pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving."

Then someone posted on Twitter about making their own pie filling from a real, live pumpkin {gasp!}. So I thought I'd give it a try. You know what? It's easy to do, and your kiddos will love scooping out the seeds. Check out these tips.

Pie pumpkins are smaller than the kind you might use for carving–usually about 6-8 inches each. Walmart sells them for $0.78/lb. I got them for $3/pumpkin at a pumpkin farm. I got 5, because pumpkins are about 90% water, and I wanted to make sure I had enough.

I ended up with so much puree I had to freeze some in a plastic container. I love pumpkin, though, and will definitely put it to good use!

Here's how I turned the pumpkins from the pumpkin farm into pumpkin puree:

When I got home, I washed the pumpkin with plain water.

Then I cut off the stem.

Next, I cut the pumpkin in half with a large, serrated knife. I'm told
you're less likely to slip and cut yourself with a serrated knife. I
would much rather eat pumpkin than go to the ER. How 'bout you?

I scooped out the seeds/strings with an ice cream scoop. You can save the seeds to roast or plant next year. We did both.

I put the pumpkin halves in a dish with a couple of inches of water. I
didn't have a deep enough dish with a lid, so I just covered them with
a dish towel and  microwaved them for 30 minutes. You can cook them in
the oven, but it takes a little longer.

The skin slid right off the pumpkin once it was cooked through.

Next, I pureed it in the food processor until it was smooth. It took a
minute or two. You'll want to drain off any free-standing water.
And now you're ready to bake!

I ended up making:

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Coconut Bread

THE Pumpkin Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (I served these with Cinnamon Honey Spread–1/2 cup softened butter or margarine blended with 1 cup powdered sugar,
1/4 cup honey, and
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.)

Want more tips? Check out It's my favorite resource for all things preserving.

Katie is a pastor's wife, a stay-at-home mama of one little munchkin,
and a part-time nursing student. Her family lives in a little cabin on
a farm in Kentucky. Katie has been blogging since 2005, and she shares
fun and thrifty talk for a well-managed home at her latest project, Frugal Femina.

23 Oct 2009   ·   5
Money Saving Mom

Worth Reading Round-up

Just a few links I’ve enjoyed this past week:

::Struggling to instill contentment in your children? The Happy Housewife has some great insight here.

::Life as Mom shares here how to cook one night and eat for three nights. Now that’s my kind of deal!

::Wish you could come up with creative ideas to waste less food? Check out the plethora of ideas here from Planet Green.

::If you’re wondering whether using coupons and shopping sales is worth the effort, check out Saving Your Cents post here on ten items you’ll likely never pay for again if you use coupons.

::Heather wrote and said:

My boys drink yogurt smoothies every day, so
we go through tons of yogurt in a week. We buy organic dairy, so you
can guess how expensive that can be. Instead of buying $12 (are you
cringing, yet?) of organic yogurt a week, I buy a gallon of
organic milk at about $5.97 and use it to make yogurt in my slow cooker using this recipe. It makes about 13 cups of yogurt and supplies our family with yogurt for about 2 weeks. I do have to buy a “starter” quart of
yogurt, but this lasts a long time. It is very
easy to do and I was amazed with the results.
22 Oct 2009   ·   52
Money Saving Mom

The Frugal Homeschool: L is for Leaf

Just for fun (and because I've received many requests!), I'm going to start posting a little peek into our homeschooling here every few weeks. I hope that it is an inspiration to those of you who are homeschooling young ones or looking for educational things you can do with your little ones which are inexpensive and simple.

If you haven't done so, you can read more about our homeschooling curriculum and philosophies here.

Recently, we studied the letter "L" and our theme of the My Father's World unit was leaves. What fun we had!


The girls collected leaves and we used them for quite a few different things: we sorted from smallest to largest, we talked about big and little, and used them to practice counting.


We talked about patterns and used these lollipops to make a variety of patterns.


This is one of Kathrynne's favorite games. It's just the uppercase and lowercase alphabet printed on cards and we use it to play Alphabet Memory.


While Kathrynne and I work at the table, I have a basket of different fun things for Kaitlynn to play with that I slowly dole out one by one to keep her occupied. Here she's "reading" Caps for Sale–one of our read-alouds from the leaf unit.


She loves the Paint with Water Books–and so do I! I just give her a paint brush and a cup of water and let her go at it. Sometimes water ends up in many more places than the book, but it's much less mess than actual paint!


Next up: bubbles! Again, these make a little bit of a mess, but it's very easy to clean up and she has a blast playing with them. I picked these up at the Dollar Store and they gave the girls hours of fun!


We took the leaves that the girls had picked and made leaf rubbings.


Who says you have to wait to teach Home Ec. until high school? The girls have a real interest in cooking and baking so I've been making a point to spend time teaching them basic cooking skills. It takes extra time and effort now, but I'm hopeful it will pay off in the long-run with my girls being able to do much of the cooking and baking for our family in the not-too-distant future.

20 Oct 2009   ·   270
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: In the Beginning… (Part 1)

I am a firm believer that, with God’s blessings and lots of hard work, anyone can successfully work from home. However, I will be the first to tell you that working from home is just that–it’s work.
I’m by nature a positive person but I won’t sugar-coat the truth when
it comes to working from home: if you are not prepared to put in lots
and lots and lots of time and effort, working from home won’t work for you.

I’m sure many moms could look at me and want what I have–the
ability to make a good income while staying at home, choosing my own
hours, and taking care of my husband, home, and family first. I can
take a day off (or even a few days off!) whenever I like and
the money continues to come in at about the same rate because of the many
multiple streams of income I’ve set in place.

All this might sound really wonderful (and it is!) but what most people
often don’t add into this equation are the countless hours, days,
weeks, months, and even years I’ve spent working, learning, and experimenting to get things to the point they are at.

The effort has paid off and I’m now reaping the fruits of my labors
(though I’m still making lots of mistakes and I’m sure I’ll continue to
do so until the day I die!), but I won’t ever forget the struggles I
had to go through to getwhere I’m at or the mountains I’ve had to
climb along the way.

This series is my personal journey to Becoming a Work-at-Home Mom. I will be sharing what things have and haven’t worked for me, what I
wish someone had told me when I was first contemplating starting a
business from home, and how you, too, can become a work-at-home mom.

Let me start at the very beginning…

When my husband and I were married–over six and a half years ago–we knew we wanted to stay out of debt, live on a budget, and we wanted my primary place to be at home. I had no desire to pursue an outside-the-home career; I just wanted to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.

However, there was also this thing called money. We didn’t have a lot of it and my husband still had three and a half years of school left ahead of him. We were living on a very tight budget but we weren’t even making enough to pull that off. We knew that the only way we’d survive the next three and a half years was if we not only continued to pinch pennies, but if we also found ways to increase our income.

Before we got married, I worked an odd assortment of side jobs to produce a little income: I taught violin, babysat, tutored, and worked as a mother’s helper and a waitress. I continued on in some of these after we got married but when we moved to a new town where we knew no one so my husband could begin three years of law school, I found that my side job possibilities narrowed a great deal!

However, we prayed a lot and talked about a hundred different ideas. And then we got creative.

I advertised my experience as a mother’s helper in the local homeschool newsletter and soon was working for four different families each week. I enjoyed this work and it helped to pay the bills. We didn’t have any wiggle room at all, but by carefully squeezing every little thing we could out of every penny, not buying anything but basic necessities, and strategic grocery shopping, we were able to survive on $800-$1000 per month.

A number of months went by and one week I began noticing that I didn’t feel so well. I was tired and sick to my stomach much of  the time. I went about my usual routine, but I could barely keep up with my mother’s helper jobs. I continued to feel worse and worse and we couldn’t figure out what on earth my problem was. After about a week of this, I realized that the one thing I’d not considered was the possibility I could be pregnant.

We’d wanted to have children since we were first married but we’d struggled with some infertility issues and I’d finally just given up the hope that I’d ever be a mom. However, I had some pregnancy tests stashed away and that morning I decided–on a whim!–that I’d just take one. After all, it wouldn’t hurt anything.

Imagine my total shock when I took it and looked down a few seconds later to see two pink lines! No wonder I’d felt so sick and tired!

We were ecstatic, elated, excited, and overwhelmed all at once! We were thrilled to be parents, but we realized this was going to turn our world a little upside down. Never could we have realized at the time just how much having a baby was going to change our lives forever–for the better!

To be continued next week…

Just for fun: How many of you currently work from home?
Tell us a little about what you do. (And if you have a website, be sure to leave the link in the comments section.)

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