Monday, August 22, 2016

School Supplies/Office Supplies

I LOVE back to school shopping.  I have loved back to school shopping since I can remember.  Getting new pencils, folders, pens, backpack, highlighters, sticky notes, I enjoy back to school supplies. (side note I can't have enough sticky notes)  While I love shopping for school supplies, school supplies can get expensive!  Which is something I really never paid attention to when I was a kid, I mean my parents were the ones buying all the school supplies, I was just having fun picking out what I wanted (from the choices they gave me of course).

However, even though I'm not teaching anymore, I still am in need of office supplies.  Whether it be notebooks that my husband likes to write our finances in, or pencils to write with, or crayons, construction paper and glue for my now 3 year old who is starting to love crafts.  We use office/school supplies just as much as the back to school kid.

Well, when is the best time to buy those office/school supplies?  Yep, you guessed it in August when the back to school supply shopping happens.  This is one of those times it pays to spend more in the beginning as opposed to trying to spend on what you need.  Think about notebooks for example, they usually start around 0.75-$1.00 or maybe more!  During back to school sales, they can be less than $.20 a piece!  Why buy only a few especially if you know you're going to need them?  I bought 5 the other day, and I plan to buy 5 more before the sale ends.  That's 10 for the price of about 2 during the rest of the year! This is also great for all you parent's who have kids in school.  As much as you tell those kids, "you can only have 8 notebooks for the year and that's it", you know you're going to end up buying at least 2-3 more at some point in the year.  Why buy those at regular priced, when you can get them in the moment for way cheaper?  Now maybe you are really good at making those notebooks or folders last throughout the year and more power to you, but for those that say you're going to make them last and then end up re-buying later on, just pick up a few extra (hide them where you only know where they are), and enjoy when that day comes that you don't have to go spend that extra $0.50 per book.  

For all you moms and dads out there of preschoolers, think about how many glue sticks or crayons, or pencils you can go through in a year.  Whether you're homeschooling or they're at a school those little tikes are notorious for going through dozens of those items.   I taught art, I remember...those glue sticks are the worst!  So why not just stock up?  I mean there's no expiration date on those things so why not have extra?  Don't spend those extra pennies, nickels or even dollars later on, because stores know that you WILL run out before the end of school and will pay again.

What's your favorite school supply item to buy?   

Thursday, August 18, 2016

4 tips to save money in your kitchen

I'm going to be talking about 4 tips to save some money in the kitchen.  These are just a modge podge of ideas that I've found help me save a little money, making that grocery budget go a little farther.

1. Spaghetti sauce mix in or no?
So I've grown up with having spaghetti and the sauce mixed together, it was just what we did.  I honestly never thought about not mixing it together until one night my husband asked to have it separate.  It really wasn't anything to me, no more extra work really to not, so we had it separate.  Now, first of all, I don't use a whole jar of sauce each time I make spaghetti, with just the husband, me and two girls under 3, we don't really need a lot of spaghetti.  So I use 1/2 a jar each time.  However, the night we didn't mix the spaghetti and the sauce, I felt like I needed to go and heat up more from the jar.  Which the next day for the leftover spaghetti I did, because the sauce was lacking that day.  So needless to say we went back to mixing the sauce in with the spaghetti, because you know what, that sauce is still good in the fridge for another 2 weeks.  So we just plan spaghetti again about a week later and use the remaining sauce.  So there you go, mixing the sauce in makes it go farther, at least in my experience.

2. Dry milk for baking and cooking
I am not a fan of dry milk, even though I know the powder dissolves well, I just can't mentally drink it; however, I can cook with it.  Dry milk is significantly cheaper than liquid milk and I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm always adding milk to some recipe of some sort.  Dry milk can also be stored in the freezer, which then makes it last longer, and so makes it easier to use for cooking.  As someone who, honestly, said she'd never buy dry milk for anything, it really is my choice over liquid milk to cook with, saving me money and my liquid milk for drinking.

3. Shredded cheese ~ buy in bulk and freeze in small bags
Shredded cheese, have you noticed you pay more for it when it's in smaller bags.  I mean sometimes when it's on sale it's cheaper, but for the most part it's better to buy it in 8 cup bags.  Now we like chesse and we eat it a lot, but an 8 cup bag is a lot for even us.  However, I buy it in the 8 cup bags and then spilt the bags into 2 smaller bags and freeze them.  That way I can stock up when they're on sale (or when Hy-vee has a fuel saver reward on theirs, stay tuned for a post about how I save on groceries), and save some money.

4. Saving on flour
Now this one is how to save on flour with those little helpers.  A while back I posted about little helpers in the kitchen, you can check it out here, I mentioned in that post about trying to find a better way to save the flour my little one plays with.  Well one day when I was having her help me do some baking, I put a baking tray under her bowls so that whatever spilled we could put it back in the flour container.  Then, I had a duh moment, why haven't I been doing this when she just plays with flour, the pan is large enough for her to play on with the roller, and cookie cutters and whatever else she wants to use.  So if you are wanting to find a way to save on some of those kitchen supplies you let your little play with, grab a large cooking sheet and let them go.  Just make sure the cookie sheet is clean first and you can easily save whatever spills on the tray.

This also works great for when they want to help you refill something in the kitchen.  A loves to refill my coffee canister, but would get upset when she spilled.  Now we just dump what spilled on the cookie sheet and it works great! 

So there you have it, my 4 ways to save some money in the kitchen.  Hope 1 or all were helpful!  How are ways you save some money in the kitchen?

This post includes affiliate links, which means if you click on the link I get a portion of any sales at NO COST to you.  See my disclosure page for more details. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

One year later

It's been a little over a year since I've started these new adventures, first with my decision to stay at home and then second to start a blog. First off, I want to say thanks to all who have been following my blog as I'm still molding it to be what I want. Thanks for your support and your time to read what I've written. It really means a lot to see my ideas being used or inspiring other ideas. Overall I have really loved this last year, including both my struggles and triumphs.

One year, I really can't believe I've made it that long, both in creating and managing a blog, along with staying at home. Being a stay at home mom, has many mixed feelings for me.  In the beginning I was optimistic, staying at home was going to be AWESOME!
I mean really I love my girls why wouldn't I love spending every minute with them? Then....I started staying home.  First off-to all you stay at home moms and dads out there, you are Awesome!  Keep up your hard work because you are molding great young minds and are having a daily impact on them. I don't know why but, staying at home is WAY harder than I imagined.  Constant cleaning up (I mean really where do all those crumbs come from?), constant diapers (whether cloth or disposable there's A LOT) , and the little one that's always at your feet, even in the bathroom. I recently saw a pin on Pinterest with a picture of motherhood and two little girls were sitting in front of the toilet while Mommy was trying to do her thing. Yep, that pretty much sums up my life this last year. Somewhere around October/November I remember thinking, "Am I sure this was the right choice?"  I honestly thought "Am I doing the best for my girls?" It felt like there were many days that I was more stressed, more tired, more emotional (I'm sure husband could list many times here), and more flustered than I had ever been before.  But, then....there were those moments. Those small tender moments, where I was able to teach my oldest her letters, or how to wash dishes, or hear her tell Daddy about all the things we did that day TOGETHER. Or getting to snuggle as long as I want to with Peanut as she's going down for a nap. Writing this brings tears to my eyes because now that I'm staying home I get to have more of those moments. I'm not rushing through the door, trying to cook dinner as well as hear about my daughter's day at daycare, but rather I get to be apart of that day with her. Especially when A stopped taking naps. Which became a positive too, because it gave her and I more one on one time. I wouldn't have that if I wasn't home.

Now, I don't write this to make anyone feel guilty about not getting to stay at home, because that's not what this post it about. Staying at home is not for everyone and that is 100% okay. However, if you read this and have that desire to be a SAHM or SAHD, then check out the rest of my blog for tips to start saving on little things to help make that desire happen.

That's how it all started for me. I didn't really think I'd want to stay at home, I really loved being a teacher, but after my husband and I found out we were expecting I had a slight desire to but it just didn't seem to work for us financially. A couple years later after we found out we were expecting our 2nd, that desire really grew and I couldn't accept the idea of not being able to stay at home with my girls. I remember breaking down to my mother-in-love that I just wanted something, either to move back close to family, or be able to stay at home.  I felt I wasn't asking for a lot, I didn't need both, I just wanted ONE.  So staying at home became a priority to make.

The blog idea started shortly after the decision to stay at home.  My mother-in-love started helping me come up with ideas to help save a little here and there. Then one night we were talking and my sister in love mentioned starting a blog about my experience and how I'm making it work.  I remember thinking, "Me? I'm not super techy, I'm not the best writer and I don't really feel like I would have enough content."  But, then I thought why not, and with help from my sister in love, I started this blog.  And guess what, it's been over a year and I'm still writing and I'm LOVING IT!  Just staying at home has given me so much to write about and I really believe God gives me inspiration from my girls, or family, or friends.

So one year later, am I happy that I chose this path of mine?  YES!  I wouldn't trade any moment both good and bad, because through the bad I've been able to learn and grow. Staying at home is not easy, but I wouldn't trade this life of mine.  One day my littles will be starting preschool (for A that's next year already!) and then kindergarten, so right now I'm soaking up as much time with them as I can, while trying to help others do the same through blogging. For this next year I hope to continue to grow and help mold my daughters to be the best they can, while also giving an example of how to work hard to pursue what you want to do.

This is my absolute favorite photo of A.  I use this photo as a reminder, life is just a snapshot of our eternal life.  I'm loving what I'm doing in this snapshot of mine and I'm so thankful for you all who have helped make this a possibility for me.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Candy Re-Purposed

Candy, summer can be filled with candy, depending on how many or which parades you go to.  We don't really eat a lot of candy in our house, and so in the end I usually dump about half of the candy we got; usually right before Christmas, before we get more candy.  

One day I was having a play date with a friend and we got to talking about the candy we got from the recent parade.  She had a great idea, shortly after getting the candy she sorts it.  

First she tosses all the candy that didn't make it, the ones that fell in the water, or melted, or got smushed.  Plus as she's putting aside candy, she always makes sure she uses the better ones, because they are going to last longer.   

Next, she pulls out those dum dum suckers, you know the ones that you always get a bunch of, and saves them for her kids' Valentine's Day parties at school.  She just makes sure she knows about how many stuents are in the class and that's how many she saves.  The suckers make great little butterflies, with some paper attached.  I found this tutorial on Pinterest: Skip to my Lou

Here are some other sucker Valentine's options too: 

Then, she grabs the carmel squares.  She told me they are great to add to your chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I haven't tried that yet, but it's on my list, I mean carmel and chocolate...YUM!! 

Finally, she takes the rest of the candy and keeps what she wants to have for her family.  Then the rest gets saved for Halloween.  That way, she only has to buy one bag of candy and mix it in with the parade candy she set aside and she has enough candy to pass out at Halloween. 

Now, maybe some of these things aren't up your alley, or maybe you'd rather just pitch the candy than have any of it in your house, totally your choice.  But, if you are looking for ways to make that candy go a little farther without having to eat it, or you need ways to save on those Valentine's candies or Halloween night then hopefully this helped.  

What are ways to save that candy?  I thought about freezing ours in smaller portions to then grab out later on, but not sure how candy freezes?  Any thoughts?  Maybe I'll have to do some experimenting. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Home hair cuts

Hair cuts can add up.  Now, I will say I can't cut my own hair.  I did try one time, and it went ok, but not something I will try again for a while.  However, my husband has never paid for a haricut, I have cut his hair since we've been married.  This wasn't something that we did to save money in the beginning, my husband has always had his mom cut his hair so that was something his mom taught me how to do so that I could continue doing so.  However, now it is a great way to continue to save money.  Plus his hair is pretty easy to cut, its curly so it's forgiveable, but practice makes perfect so if you can whoever's hair you are going to start cutting to let you try it's worth it! 

Now that we have a couple little ones, I plan to better my skills and learn to cut/trim their hair as well.  I will say my oldest has had her haircut at a salon already, but it was the sentimental first haircut experience (and Mimi was paying, so how could I pass that up).  Although, the guy who cut her hair, his hands were shaking, so I may have to practice a little on a doll or something.  I can on; imagine how she'll do for me as she gets older.    Any tips on cutting children's hair?

For me though, I usually get my hair cut 1-2 times a year,.  I generally chop it off in the summer and then let it grow for the fall, winter and spring.  Sometimes, I get a trim in between.  I know I really should get it trimmed more, but I don't know it's just not something I want to spend money on all the time.  With that, I would like to try and trim my hair myself so that I could keep it long and only trim it.  Anyone have tips on how to trim your own hair?