6.26.2010

My. Bad.

I've been away for what seems like forever- my apologies.

I have a REALLY good reason this time though....

On May 14th 2010- I got this....


...a positive pregnancy test. It has kind of consumed my life since then.

I also started working full-time on June 7th.

I work 6:30am-3:30pm. I take care of THREE 22 month olds and ONE 4 year old.

By the end of the day- I'm bagged.

My new bedtime is 9:00pm.

I promise to be better at keeping up with this blog. For obvious reasons *cough PREGNANT cough* I will be upping my frugalness (is that even a word?) so that we can start saving more each month for when I am not working come January when the babe is due.

So- that is my news and my excuse for being a crappy blogger.

I hope I haven't lost all of my valued readers in my hiatus.....

Frugally Yours,
~Erin B.




5.24.2010

Guest Blogger #2

Welcome again to the stand- Sandra!

There’s nothing like the thrill of getting something for free…a free lunch, a free coffee, a free bagel when we buy a dozen. We all love the feeling of keeping a big of our money in our wallet.
But how far are you willing to go?

Modern western society dictates that in the business world, free is a great marketing tool, as long as it is meted out as a way to get even more money from the customer. If a complete stranger handed you a computer printer and said, "here, take it, I don’t want it anymore," would you crow about it the same way you would about getting a free coffee at Timmies?

What’s different about it? Well, the motivation behind it, obviously.

The main difference, however, is how we want others to think of us and our status in the community and the greater world. Getting a free "thing" as a promotion makes us feel special. Getting a free "thing" from a stranger makes us wonder if people will think we can’t afford it or are "cheap". Both of these notions I’ve dealt with before on my blog, http://www.darfieldearthship.com/


I won’t dwell on them here, but keep in mind my motivation for receiving (and giving) free "things" are two-fold:
  1. It is environmentally sound NOT to buy things new. It keeps things out of the landfill and removes a disposal issue for somebody.

  2. It is frugal in the best sense of the word. Saving our financial and world resources. We exchange our very life and breath for money. Why would we spend it on things, just so we have to work harder for more money to buy more "things?

Obviously I’m the "converted" but I wasn’t always so!

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably have already thought about many of these issues. Like me and my family, you are looking for ways to save money (stretch money), pay down debt, spend more time with your family, and feel good about your contribution to the world. Free can do all of that for you.

So, ways to get free things:



  1. Join freecycle in your community. Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) is a worldwide organization that provides an online community of givers and receivers. Membership is free and once you join you can post a "wanted" ad or an "offered" ad. There are some ground rules. In addition to the usual (nothing illegal, profane, etc), there is the stipulation that you should offer something for every four "wanted" ads you post. This isn’t actually all that difficult to do. The kinds of things a person could give and receive on freecycle? Here’s a list of the most recent posts on my local freecycle network in Kamloops, B.C. Stereos, TV’s, air purifier, stovetops, dryers, baby clothing, shampoo, mattress, egg cartons, incubator, discount tickets and pianos. I have given away: a breadmaker, cat scratcher, queen boxspring and mattress, computer keyboard and children’s toys. I have received a $500 like new tumbling composter, endless bags of fabric for quilting, girls’ jewelry, craft supplies and canning jars. Freecycle is also on Facebook. Look it up and see what people worldwide have to say about it!

  2. Check out online used sites for free items. www.kajjiji.ca and www.craigslist.com each have boards in many cities where people are trying to give away items they no longer want. Check out the free ads in both your local newspaper and in your local Buy and Sell.
    Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open at harvest time for folks whose produce bounty is so plentiful they can’t keep up with the harvest. Many will offer you free food if you simply arrive to pick it. You can often find these people on freecycle and in local newspapers. Most gardeners and farmers are "waste-not, want-not" people, so you give them an amazing sense of satisfaction if you can help them ensure their harvest is not wasted.

  3. Swap meets are also a wonderful way to save money, especially if you have young children and the swap is all about clothing. Best of all, you get to meet families just like yours.

  4. Cruise the neighbourhood (or if you feel funny, an adjoining neighbourhood) on garbage day. The curbside give-away culture is becoming more and more prevalent. Some people, rather than going to the bother of taking their cast away furniture, appliances or other goodies, will put it curbside early as a sign that it is up for grabs. They may even put up a sign saying "free!"

  5. Sharing sheds were a concept introduced to me by a few of my friends who had experienced this great concept in previous communities. The idea here is to take items you no longer want to a centrally located drop off, or "shed" and let people take things as they want. I love this idea because it can take the stigma (or perceived stigma) out of curbside collection or answering free ads. This sharing shed idea also builds a sense of community.
    When you are buying a big ticket item at a big box store, ask if they will "throw" in an accessory item. For example, when we purchased our Nikon D-90 camera last year, my husband Chris casually asked if the salesperson would include a camera case for the price of the camera. Without hesitation the salesperson agreed. Keep in mind that on big ticket items, most big box stores make decent margins and including a smaller item is good customer service and will hopefully bring that customer back. This is not insulting to the salesperson who is directed in just how much negotiation he or she can engage in. For the record, the store was The Future Shop and I am TERRIBLE at asking for free items in this manner. Chris is not and does it tastefully, respectfully and without aggression. He doesn’t always succeed but will often try with very large chain stores. We are both more uncomfortable with this at smaller, non-chain stores.

  6. Dumpster diving. I’ll admit this is "out there". I have done a lot of investigation of this topic and have yet to come to any conclusions. What I once thought of as "ick" is changing as I speak to more and more people. There are several Canadian books about dumpster diving and you can check out my blog to check see what I’ve written before.

If you’ve never thought about "free" as part of frugality then I encourage you to do so. Treat it as an adventure to salvage your wallet and save a little piece of the earth. Then, let me know what you think by leaving a comment, here, on Erin’s blog!



Sandra Burkholder was trained as a journalist and worked in pharmaceutical and health care public relations and marketing communications for 13 years in Toronto and San Francisco. She and husband Chris Newton built log homes for 10 years near her hometown of Barriere, B.C. in the late 90s after the first of their three children were born. Several years ago they slowed things down to spend more time with their children and become more involved in their community. They decided to confuse family and friends even more by going "frugal" and talking about it, starting a family farm, planting a garden and building a sustainable house out of old tires and pop cans. Please feel free to contact Sandra at Sandra@darfieldearthship.com or check out their blog at www.darfieldearthship.com
THANK YOU SANDRA FOR PARTICIPATING IN FRUGALLY YOURS GUEST BLOGGING SERIES!!! YOUR WORDS ARE AN INSPIRATION TO US TRYING TO BE AS FRUGAL AS POSSIBLE.
Stay Tuned for some good stuff next week!
Frugally Yours,
Erin B.


5.10.2010

For My Family.

Cystic Fibrosis (also known as CF) is a common hereditary disease which affects the entire body, causing progressive disability and often early death. *wikipedia*

I have 3 cousins with this disease. I am a carrier of this disease.

I received an email from one of my cousins yesterday. It goes like this:

" Hi Erin! I hope you had a happy Mother's Day! Your baby is so cute! I would like to ask for your help with fundraising for CF. Here is the information:

As you know, my sisters and I were diagnosed with CF a few years ago. Although, research has improved the lives of those living with CF, we are still a long way from a cure.

Our friend, Stan Shaw is cycling for my sisters and I this year in Gearup4cf. The ride leaves from Vancouver and finishes in Banff 9 days later. Stan hopes to help find a cure for CF, but cannot do this without your support. You can follow his journey on his blog.

http://gearup4cf2010.blogspot.com/

You can find our story and photos in his journal by clicking on this link:

http://gearup4cf2010.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-real-heros-of-ride-roman-madison-and.html

Donations can be made on the CF Foundation's secure website:

http://gearup4cf.org/index.php?/The-Riders/2009-Riders/Stan-Shaw.html

Thank you for your support!"

I will be supporting this cause because I want to see my cousins live long and happy lives.

I will be supporting this cause because I believe in sharing what little I have with those who need it more then I do.

I will be supporting this cause because it is my family...and I love them.

Will you help by supporting them too??

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

Frugal Fact:
Supporting charitable events/activities is great and frugal! I fully, 100% support this. Often, if you donate more then $15 you'll get a tax receipt. I'm also a firm believer in 'give some, get some'...I don't know what I'll get, and to be honest, it doesn't really matter to me- but I feel better knowing that I've helped out, even if it is just a little bit. Did you know that the richest people in the world donate more then HALF of their salaries to charities a year. Could you do that? Everyone starts with nothing, the Power of Now is actually going out and doing something about it.

Guest Blogger #2- better late then never...

I was originally slated as a guest blogger for two days in April. Erin, however, was busy with her teaching practicum and I was busy building my house (www.darfieldearthship.com), so the two of us by unspoken mutual agreement, let the whole thing slide.

Erin is recovering (I think!) and my husband, Chris, and I are still building, but I did want to fulfill my obligation to the first of two guest blogs, before the serious building season is upon us.

TIPS FOR SPENDING LESS

Over the course of several years, Chris and I have drastically changed our spending habits as a means to work less at paid work, and to have more time with our children. While financial constraints weren’t the driving force for our change in spending habits, making them has allowed us to last longer on less money.

Even if your goal isn’t to free up your time for children or home building, our experiences and tips obviously work equally effectively in families where there is a desire to live within one’s means, have one parent in the home with the children, or to save money to pay off debt.

Spending less in my world is sometimes relative because my family tries to think about the environment when we make our purchases. For example, I’m not a big proponent of sending away or accepting free product samples as a way to spend less. My issues with it are: the packing of a small amount of product, the carbon footprint of the shipping, and often, the consumption of materials to produce said product (including nasty chemicals)! So, some of my comments need to be taken in that context; you will have to make your own decisions about spending within your own philosophical frameworks!

1.) Groceries.
This, as anybody who is trying to save money knows, is the single most important area where spending can be reduced. It is also one of the most difficult because food is an ongoing expenditure.

In Canada food coupons do not represent a significant source of savings to a grocery budget. Coupons generally are issued for processed foods and products, which I have an issue with philosophically, nutritionally and frugally (more later). They are also usually issued as a means to secure brand loyalty, rather than as a long-term commitment to saving loyal customers money.

I don’t generally use coupons. I do, however, have a Save On “club card” at Save-On foods, where I’m guaranteed to get the lowest posted price and I always ask at the checkout at The Real Canadian Superstore, if there is a gift card/food gift for spending a minimum amount. For example, often the store will issue a $25 gift card if you spend $250 or more. This is easy for me to do with our family of five. Watch out for “tax free” days at grocery stores. This only occurs once in a while, but I did calculate that my last shopping trip during one of the tax free promotions garnered me a $20 savings (just for showin’ up!)

Know your prices. Become familiar with great prices on the products you buy often. For us this is whole wheat English muffins (which go on sale for $1 for a package of six every two weeks or so). I buy as many as I can and freeze them. We also, despite having a garden, buy lots of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, so I know that $0.89 for a large can of tomato sauce is a great price. Some frugalists keep a notebook of best prices but this is way too organized for me. I generally know in my head what is a good price and stock up when I see the item on sale.

No name brands are not always awful. Granted, the no name cornflakes taste like cardboard, but we have found that tomato sauce, pasta, cheese and jams (when we run out of our own) taste no different than brand name products. What you’re NOT paying for is the heavy marketing and advertising.

Plan ahead with two weeks of meals. I know this is easier said than done. Currently we are so busy we are back at only being a few days ahead of our meal preparation. But this strategy has always proven to be a money saver for us, if only because it allows us to bypass take-out pizza and other convenience foods when we are in a hurry.

Cook double or triple meals. This saves not only money (presumably you are buying items at low prices, in bulk) but saves time when you can pull a meal out of the freezer and warm it up. When our children were very small and we both worked full time, we used to spend one Sunday a month cooking and freezing. It was a lot of work but made the month so much easier.

Less processed food means less money spent. At first blush, processed foods seem to be cost effective, mostly because it saves you time cooking. However, processed foods are highly dependant on the corn industry which is in turn, highly subsidized by governments. You might not pay that subsidy at the checkout but you do pay it in your taxes. Without getting into depth in this issue (the ethics of feed lots, the poor nutritional quality of processed foods, etc.) processed foods are simply not a frugal choice. Cooking from scratch is the best choice all around. Home-made pizza really does cost substantially less than even a frozen grocery pizza. Again, the trade-off here is time…you really need to have/dedicate the time to cooking from scratch.

Eating out of the pantry. Despite our good intentions and planning, we sometimes end up with food items in the pantry and freezer that just sit there. Every once in a while we take stock and plan meals around these items. Hey, we’ve paid for them, it’s worth a little effort.

Have a garden if possible. Even the smallest city lot can produce a few basic vegetables. Plus it’s fun, especially if you have children! Try square foot gardening as an easy way to start. www.squarefootgardening.com If you can’t garden yourself, consider buying your produce locally. It’s fresher, and when in season, it can be less expensive than in the store.

Buy fruits and vegetables in season. This is pretty easy…strawberries at the grocery store are simply going to cost more in December than in June! To offset this, buy LOTS of in season fruit and freeze to enjoy in the winter.

There are many other ways to save on the grocery bill and I’d be very interested in hearing any not listed here. The most important rule in our family any time we are trying to be frugal is not to feel deprived. If we’re feeling deprived then we change what we are doing.

2.) Try using less of your cleaning products. I won’t go into the whole issue of nasty chemicals here. I use very limited cleaning products, mostly just dish soap, dishwasher soap and laundry soap (although once we move into our new, sustainable home, this will be greatly reduced). I don’t buy extra cleaners for anything else. Baking soda and a few other natural combinations work, albeit with a bit of effort. Don’t assume popular (expensive) brands are the best! I experimented with laundry soaps and discovered that in cold water (hot water washes cost more!) Purex or Gain worked equally well as Tide, Sunlight or Cheer and cost a lot less. AND I can cut the amount required down to a mere tablespoon per load (front washer) without seeing a difference in cleaning power. One of my next projects is to find a less-toxic alternative to soaps.

3.) Eating out/entertainment

Restaurants
When my husband and I were childless, earning two fantastic incomes in Toronto, we never thought twice about questioning our spending on meals out or what we spent on entertainment. When we were had small children and both of us worked full time, eating out became the easy way to end a tough day…we had no idea until we started tracking, that we were consistently spending $400 plus a month on meals out. Several years ago when we returned to tracking our expenses (and following the financial philosophies outlined in Your Money or Your Life http://yourmoneyoryourlife.info/ ) we decided that if we ate out it had to be worth it, meaning that we had to clearly enjoy it. That meant for the most part we left the kids behind when we went out and opted for great restaurants, rather than chain eateries.

At the same time as we were changing our eating out patterns, we were both undergoing a change in our diet and we discovered that portion sizes were just too big for us, no matter where we went. Although we felt a bit weird about it at first, we began splitting an entree and appetizer between us. Except at the most chi-chi places (where there is a splitting fee, or a ban on splitting entrees) no one batted an eye. Suddenly the portions were perfect for us and eating out became even more affordable.

When eating out with the kids we generally take them to restaurants where there is pizza or dishes that can be shared. About 90 per cent of the time we order water (at $2.75 per drink this adds up AND so does the sugar content!). Occasionally we break all the rules, like the lunch we had the day we attended the Olympics in Vancouver. It cost a fortune, we all had two sugary drinks each and enjoyed every minute of it!

Entertainment

We take the kids to movies occasionally and I use a Scene “club” card to book tickets. After a certain number of purchases, Odeon issues a free ticket. The Scene card also ensures a 10 per cent discount at the concession. When registering for this card I selected the option of NOT having promotional material or ads emailed to me, so I keep the electronic clutter to a minimum. At the concession, instead of buying the kids individual $8 popcorn/drink combo, we buy the large refillable popcorn bag and a large drink. I ask for extra cups which get handed over without comment. I walk over to the candy dispenser and grab four empty candy bags and before the movie starts we divvy all the popcorn up. The large popcorn usually comes with a free refill, but we hardly ever get it filled feeling that the amount is excessive. The savings? $13 versus $39. Having said that, when the kids take a friend or two to the movies on their birthdays, I will break our frugal rule and buy each child his/her own drink/popcorn combo. It’s all about moderation and enjoyment and we try to balance it as much as possible.

There is free entertainment all around us, even in our small town. In cities free or inexpensive family entertainment abounds. Use it, enjoy it, and save your entertainment dollars for the big stuff!

4.) Clothes

I’ve never blogged on my own site about clothes but plan to in the coming months. Our family has slowly begun weaning ourselves from retail clothes shopping. We shop at thrift stores and consignment stores and as we began doing this we were amazed at what is for sale, how new it is and just how much used and lightly used clothing is available. We have a strict rule that we have to really like what we buy (that whole deprivation thing.). The savings? Well, brand new Tommy Hilfiger jeans are pretty pricey…We found Stephen a pair of very lightly used TF’s for $5. After two wearings, he’d already frayed the hem anyway. I’ve found NEW leather shoes at thrift stores for $5 to $15. Real finds. Once you become knowledgeable about brand names and prices and how the thrift stores receive and sell, it becomes much easier to save money and buy high quality items. Underwear we still buy new. 

Some things, (like winter coats) are a bit hit and miss. I generally case out the sales at sports stores, etc in March and buy for the next season, often at 75% reductions. When you have kids and can judge their sizes 6 months into the future, the savings can be substantial. I also frequent a really great consignment sports store on Broadway in Vancouver and have found some amazing winter outerwear for a fraction of the “new” price.

Hand-me-downs are a tried and true method of keeping your clothing costs down, too.

5.) Use the library. I love the smell and feel of a new book. I used to spend a large proportion of my disposable income at the bookstore. My library membership, however, is FREE. Using the library consistently means being patient. In our small town of Barriere, not every book is available when I want it. Because we are part of a larger library network, I can have the book transferred from another location. Sometimes, when a book is very popular, I have to join a queue to wait for an item. (I waited 4 months for The Time Traveler’s Wife). Sometimes, however, you just CAN’T wait. We purchased the last two Harry Potter books the day they were available and at Christmas we each get at least one new book! Used book stores provide another way to lower costs on your book purchases. Many stores will “buy” back the books you bought from them, giving you credit toward future purchases.

6.) Always buy the highest quality you can afford. It will pay for itself in the end in terms of longevity. I can’t emphasize this enough. For example, when the kids had a total of eight sheep last summer, they asked me to buy grain buckets for them. In a fit of frugality I hit the dollar store and found plastic (ouch) buckets for $1.50 each. Five days later, every single one had a crack in it ($12 wasted). The metal feed buckets are $13 each and are still going strong.

7.) Buy holiday items out of season. I buy all of my Christmas decorations, cards, wrapping (fabric in my case, as I make fabric wrapping bags) and tags between Boxing Day and January 3. The later you leave it the better the prices. You will find discounts up to 90 percent! I buy anything to do with Halloween in early November, and Valentine’s after February 14. The first year I did this it was a pain because I had to wait a whole year to reap the benefits (and still buy holiday items for the current year). Now, I simply go to the appropriate bin in our storage shed and bask in my frugal-ness! I had been told not to try freezing Christmas chocolate for a year because freezing puts a “bloom” on the chocolate. Always up for an experiment, I once bought $30 of discounted chocolate after Christmas and stuck it in the freezer. Sadly, it (I) didn’t last a month, so I can’t tell you what it tasted like after a year!!

8.) Buy used, especially for large ticket items (excluding perhaps computer equipment). Used is good for the environment, too! Use the classifieds or the Buy and Sell, or go online and peruse Kajijii www.kajijii.com or Craig’s list. www.craigslist.com We found two of our three kayaks through Craig’s list for about a third of what they would cost new. As always when buying used, make sure you know what to look for to guarantee performance and quality.

9.) Stop reading flyers and catalogs. Seriously. You’ll never know how much you “need” something until you see it on sale in the Canadian Tire flyer. A good strategy to use when you think you really “need” something is to wait four months and see how you feel about purchasing it then. So many of our purchases are impulsive and I’ve found the “wait” usually cures me of the compulsion to buy.

10.) Eliminate debt. Debt is expensive. For the privilege of owning something before we can afford it, the banks charge us enormously. If you are good at math and spreadsheets, or can find an online loan calculator, try entering your loan information for your car or home reno project. It is amazing what the true cost of your purchase is after interest is calculated. It might make you pause and reconsider a used vehicle or a smaller reno project. Then try it with your home mortgage! Once you’ve entered all the information, shorten the amortization period or increase the weekly/monthly payments. You will be amazed at how many years (and how much interest) you can shave off, simply by adding another $25 each week to your payment.

We have found that the most important method of reducing spending is to be able to separate your emotions from your bank account. Truthfully examine how you spend, why you spend, the value you receive from spending and how your life could be more enjoyable if you spent differently. It’s not about deprivation; it’s about placing value on what you use your money for. Know exactly what you are spending and how much income comes into your household. It amazes us that we never really knew how much came in or out until we began tracking all of it. It’s an arduous and emotional process, but one that can give you an immense feeling of control over your life.

Check out Erin’s blog again on May 24th for my tips on how to get things for….FREE!

Sandra Burkholder was trained as a journalist and worked in pharmaceutical and health care public relations and marketing communications for 13 years in Toronto and San Francisco. She and husband Chris Newton built log homes for 10 years near her hometown of Barriere, B.C. in the late 90s after the first of their three children were born. Several years ago they slowed things down to spend more time with their children and become more involved in their community. They decided to confuse family and friends even more by going “frugal” and talking about it, starting a family farm, planting a garden and building a sustainable house out of old tires and pop cans. Please feel free to contact Sandra at Sandra@darfieldearthship.com or check out their blog at www.darfieldearthship.com

5.05.2010

Re-introduction

Hello!

I feel like a stranger. I've been MIA for 2 months. You probably forget who I am. Well, let me re-introduce myself.

I'm Erin B. I'm frugal. I also just got a haircut that I'm not 100% sure about.



That is about all you need to know!

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

*I'll be back tomorrow with FRUGAL TIPS*

5.04.2010

Today I...

...baked with Charlotte all. day. long.

She isn't much of a baker yet, she mostly likes to eat flour and stir things but I hope that one day she will love it as much as I do.

I remember baking with my Mom, Nana and Grandma when I was little and I hope she remembers back to these times when she is older.

The reason for baking today? It was cold outside. (Charlotte says, buurr!) And I didn't want to get out of my Mommy Gear (read: sweats)- SO we baked. My house smelled wonderful and then we got to indugle ourselves with Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Banana Muffins and Welsh Cakes.

The reason for this post? I stumbled upon this cute blog and it inspired me to blog. I encourage you all to check it out and tell her what you did today. It will be worth your while.

Today I cuddled with my baby before bed...
Today I'm going to watch Glee...
Today I got a wonderful reference letter from a great man....
Today I felt the wind on my face...
Today I slept in until 8:00 am...

Tomorrow I will....

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

5.02.2010

Let the kicking can commence!!

Why you ask??

Because I've been such a d-bag for the last 2 *cough* months and haven't posted a single. ass. thing.

It's not because I haven't wanted too- because I have...honest- it's just been CRAZY. There were many times when I wanted to come on here and document the weird and wacky stuff I experienced when I returned to high school. And then life (read: sleep) got the best of me and before I knew it the 7 weeks were over and I hadn't posted a single thing. It wasn't just my blogs that I ignored...it was everything. Laundry, cleaning, making the bed, lesson planning, marking, washing diapers....... . .. . . . and the list goes on. I sometimes went days without checking Facebook, which for me, is like...WHOA!

I know, you'll probably need a moment to recover from that as well. *phew*

But I'm back.

And even though I technically gave permission (see above) for some kicking- I'd appreciate, perhaps, a flick on the cheek or a swift smack on my bottom...

But be careful...I might like it...

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

PS: I'll be back tomorrow with a 'frugal' post.
PPS: And there is still a guest blogger to be had, one who was very understanding of my hiatus.
PPPS: And a "Frugally Yours" giveaway.
PPPPS: Stay TUNED! Please!

3.15.2010

*exhaustion*

Again, I apologise for my lack of posts.

If you are upset at this, then I suggest you come live a day in my life.

Don't knock it 'til you try it yo!

For shizzles...

Dope!

That's what happens when you spend your days surrounded by high school students. Your vocab changes, you start checking your cellphone for txts every 3-5 minutes, and you have no time for the normal things you enjoy because you are 1. dealing with teenages, 2. planning to teach said teenages or 3. sleeping because teenagers (plus a 19 month old) are EXHAUSTING.

I have nothing in the way of Frugal-ness right now. I'm being VERY Frugal, not by choice, by necessity...(even though ultimately it is a choice). Even if I wanted to go out and spend friviously...even if we had the money for me to do that with...I wouldn't because I'm lacking the energy.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to get energized (yes, this is coming from me, the Energizer Bunny) please pass your tip along. I'd love to hear it!

Stay tuned for a GIVE-AWAY in the next few days! :) That's right- our first ever GIVE-AWAY!

Oh- and a guest blogger! :)

Frugally Yours, (or in teenage lingo- 'peaced out')
Erin B.

3.09.2010

Long story short...

It may have taken some harsh words and some knowledge about Customer Service etiquette BUT our phone and Internet WAS installed this evening.

Long story short: don't mess with an exhausted Mommy, who's baby is suffering from a double ear infection, who's just started teaching high school, who is coming down with a nasty bug...WHO SHOULDN'T BE MESSED WITH.

On an even more positive note- you'll all be happy to hear that I've survived my first 2 days in a high school. If you don't remember this post then I suggest re-reading about my phobia of hormonal high school students. The best part of today- being told by the one girl that actually frightens me, that I am "dope".

So pretty much I rock and even though she hates school- she thinks she will like my class. Thanks J.

Frugal Tip? Eat dinner at your parents house...every night....from now until they ask you to not come back. You will save BIG dollars! :) Thanks parental units for being so understanding and willing to feed your favourite daughter and favourite grand-daughter. It will all come back to you one day- your good deeds do not go unnoticed.

I'm going to go crash now.
Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

3.05.2010

Welcome Back Erin!

And I am back.

Kind of...

For the weekend at least.

So here is the deal. Upon the recommendation of my glorious BFF, we switched from Shaw to Telus for our phone and Internet service. Our Shaw bill ranged between $50-58 a month for High Speed Lite Internet and the Basic Phone with Caller ID. After contacting Telus, they were going to upgrade my Internet to High Speed and with the Basic Phone for $30 a month for the first 6 months and then $46 for the months following that. Oh- I should also mention that I got the first month FREE with Telus. So...long story short- I call Telus, they tell me what they can give me, I call Shaw tell them what Telus will give me and I ended up up choosing Telus because Shaw just couldn't offer me anything different then what I already had. *Frugal Tip: barter*

Fast forward to Saturday. We move in. *I will post about that once my computer/Internet is up and running at the house*. My phone was to be activated that day, and my Internet on Wednesday. Nothing worked. I tried EVERY. JACK. IN. MY. HOUSE. TWICE. and nothing. So I busted out the cellphone and called and complained.

Nothing changed, it still didn't work and I was pissed because my cellphone died and the hubs had BOTH chargers (FML). So I go to my parents house, someone is sent to fix the issue at my house on Tuesday night and then WHAM...I have a working home phone! Yey! The only problem? Only one jack works. IN THE WHOLE HOUSE!! Seriously!!

So- Wednesday, the Internet is supposed to be activated. It was (apparently, I'm starting to believe that Telus is employed by Aliens) but it didn't work- go figure eh! So I'm pissed because HELLO- I'VE BEEN WITHOUT THE INTERNET FOR LIKE EVER!!! and I'm desperate to be back online AND THIS STUPID INTERNET IS NOT WORKING.

*I'm using lots of CAPITALS because it's been very frustrating and I'm trying to share that with you :) *

One working jack = phone or Internet...not both. It also means that to talk to some 'support person' at Telus, I need to use my cellphone because the modem needs to be plugged into the ONE. WORKING. JACK. Fast forward a freaking hour and a half and I'm in tears because this is stupid and the people don't speak ENGLISH (I'm not racist- so don't flame) and my Internet is still not working and I'm sick and tired of walking up and down the stairs so I BLOW up on the lady, wake my sleeping baby and hang up.

I called Shaw.

Obviously I shouldn't have switched companies. Retrospect is always 20/20 right?! I told the kind man at Shaw (kudos to Rob who listened to me bitch about Telus f0r 20 minutes) and he upgraded my Internet for LESS then what we were paying before and gave us the same phone package we had before. So $20.95 for phone and $23 for their High Speed Internet. That is a total of $44 which is less then what I'd be paying Telus after the initial 6 months (it's only $2 but it's still a saving!). They are coming on Tuesday between 6-8pm (did I mention that if someone from Telus is going to come to your house you need to be there ALL DAY because they don't do appointments?). Shaw people are going to come in, install it, ensure that it all works AND NOT CHARGE ME (did I mention that any service call from Telus costs $19.99/15 minutes?).

Thank you Shaw for being better then Telus- I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

Morale of the Story? Telus sucks. Sometimes a 'deal' isn't worth the headache...and for once, I realize that.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

2.22.2010

BOX

This is how we are living right now.

Friday cannot come soon enough.











Frugally Yours,
Erin B.



2.19.2010

les ├ępices

Translation: SPICES

I just restocked all of the spices in my spice rack and the ones in my cupboard for under $10.

Did you know that you should be replacing your spices every 6-12 months...?!

Thank You Bulk Barn.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

2.18.2010

Frugal Move

Moving isn't cheap- in fact, it is pretty darn expensive when you consider all the things you'll have to buy or put money out for. When I look at our numbers for moving- even though they are the cheapest they can be...I'm still shocked. Despite the fact that moving is expensive, it is the best choice for my family- so I can look past the cost and consider all of the positives of this HUGE move.

In my research, I've stumbled across a few lists of frugal things you can do to cut costs. Believe it or not, they were things I was already doing, BUT for the sake of this blog- I will post them anyways, because they will probably be helpful to someone else down the line.

Frugal Moving Tips:
  • Move Yourself. It takes more time and energy on your part, but you can save between $400-$2000 (if not more!) if you don't hire professional movers. You'll need to gather your friends and learn how to properly pack a truck- but it will save you BIG money in the long run. A truck rental costs between $200-$300 *give or take, it depends on the company* and you can rent it for however long you need it for.
  • Free Boxes. Having matching boxes is really nice...but it is also quite expensive. I haven't spent a single dollar on any of the boxes that we have for moving. I put a post on Kijiji asking for free boxes, I went to Safeway and picked up some apple boxes and then a good friends Dad brought a TON over. All I had to buy was packing tape. I'm also going to be paying-it-forward after our move and giving all of our boxes to a friend who is moving in April.
  • Rubbermaid Containers. Relatively inexpensive and totally worth it down the line. They can be used over and over for numerous things. Not only are they pretty cheap (approximately $7 per bin) but they are handy for moving and storing things. Now I'm not suggesting going out and buying 50 bins...that is NOT frugal, but 4 or 6 is. I packed all my Christmas stuff in 2 bins and then all our clothes into another 3 bins. I also had a few from previous moves that we were able to use again. It's handy for me, and it saves me having to recycle extra boxes...
  • Feed Your Friends. You need to feed the people who are helping you move. Pizza and Beer are classic moving food- however, that's pretty expensive. For moving day #1, we will get the $5 Pizzas from Little Caesars...because it's cheap and easy. The following day, I made a HUGE batch of chili that people can enjoy when they help us unload. The total cost for feeding a small army? $40- that includes, pizza, pop, chili and buns. Totally affordable. And totally an expense that I am ok with- these people are helping us out, so the least I can do is give them a little food.
  • Donate/Sell/Trash. De cluttering is an awesome way to save money on a move. Getting rid of all the extra crap that you have is not only save you time when you move, but it will also ensure that you aren't on the show Hoarders in a few years time. Sell what you can (I made over $200 selling random items), donate what you can't sell, and trash all the other crap that you don't really need. I'm really proud that we were able to get rid of so much stuff this time 'round. We are moving into a much bigger house but I don't want to fall into the trap of needing to fill all the extra space. By getting rid of unwanted stuff NOW- I won't have to pack it or unpack it AND it saves me space.

The list above offers the most cost effective way to move. Now- for some this won't be practical...but for us, it works. We have a lot of great friends who are helping out here and in Calgary, and it is greatly appreciated.

The countdown is on- 8 days until the BIG MOVE...so I must leave you now and go pack...

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

OH- and if anyone else has any other frugal moving tips- please leave a comment! I'd love to hear how you save money on a move...

2.13.2010

Motto

Go Big or Go Home.

I was reminded tonight by a dear friend how ultimately I live this motto.

Packing up and moving cities with my family with less then 3 weeks notice? That's pretty freaking HUGE...

When I started drama in high school, one of my teachers shared this with us on our first day. It's always stuck with me, because it is how I am. Whenever I perform, I always go all the way...sometimes it's too much, and sometimes it is perfect. It is always easier to reign enthusiasm then it is to fake it, or vamp it up. I never need to remind myself to go big- because it is how I naturally am. It works in all aspects of my life- not just the performing side...

My daughter takes after me. I haven't decided if this is good or bad thing yet, I'll let you know when she turns 13. I do know that my Mom laughs when I share stories with her and mumbles something about 'karma....'?! That being said- I will NEVER try to curb my daughters excitement for life. I will never try to kill the creativity that comes so naturally to her. I see other children who are able to sit through a 2 hour movie at 12 months and I thank my lucky stars that my child can't sit still for 2 minutes. I LOVE that my child is able to think outside the box at 18 months of age.

I believe that everything in life should be worth doing, and if it is worth doing then it should be done BIG. When I save- I save BIG, when I spend...I spend small but on BIG things (or lots of things). It is this skill that I have, that my daughter has, that allows us to live the way we do. It gives me confidence and allows me to share the real me. I can only hope that my daughter will look to me as inspiration one day- as I look at my Mom.

So- I encourage you all to try, just for one day- go BIG or go home. You may feel silly, you may feel self-conscious- but someone might see you and you might inspire a change.

I've received numerous e-mails thanking me for my frugal tips, for my environment-saving ideas...and I feel like I've done what I set out to do. I've gone big- I've put my heart out on my sleeve and shared with you the ins and outs of living Frugally. Some of you have started making small changes yourselves...which makes me happy. I'm glad I could help...

So this is me...going big....

Frugally Yours,
Erin B. *that is as big as I can go here...*

2.12.2010

I Believe

Never before in my life have I ever felt this proud to be Canadian.





*~ with glowing hearts~*


I Believe,
Erin B.

2.11.2010

Diva Cup REVIEW...or rant...

WARNING: TMI- like loads of TMI below, don't say I didn't warn you. If you don't want to read about my girlie parts, then I advise you close this window immediately.

Ok- so it arrived and I used it and I can honestly say that I was on the fence about it for a day or two. Not because I didn't want to like it- because I did...but because it hurt and it felt like it was going to fall out. However, I've figured out the trick to it and I can honestly say, I'm never going back to pads or tampons...eva!

So- the evil AF (read: Aunt Flow) arrived and I was all excited to try my Diva Cup. I've never anticipated the arrival of a period as much as I did this month- no lie. So anyhow- she arrives, and I'm all ready to try it out. I read and then reread the instructions- because I don't want to do this wrong. I mean, not that you can really do it wrong, but I didn't want to hurt myself or make it impossible for me to have more children- so I read the instructions like 10 times.



Sounds easy enough. So I did it, got it in and went on my business. Only, it didn't feel right...and I was worried that I'd done something wrong, so I removed it and tried it a few more times. Again, it never felt right, so I removed it and went online to ask my FP ladies WTF was up.

So there is this little tab thing on the end...

...why it is there is beyond me, because it rubs and it's irritating, so I cut it off. I tried it again with the little tab removed- and it felt a little better UNTIL it started feeling like it was going to fall out. All I can say, is that who knew your cervix was so high up- holy cow!!

Ok- so I'm still kind not liking this, and I was starting to doubt my decision to try it and then a friend suggested that I flip it inside out so that the tab and the outer ridges are on the inside. So I give it a try...and WHAM!

I'm in LOVE.

Not only is it easier to insert...(hehe, that's a funny word) but it's much easier to rotate the 365 degrees you need to create the seal...but it is a little smaller, so it sits up higher meaning it doesn't feel like it is going to flop out. Win and Win.

I wore it all night with no problems. None! We are talking 10 hours- with no leaks and no squishy diaper feeling...BONUS!

Now what turns people off the most is the blood. I get faint around blood- so I wasn't really looking forward to it, BUT seriously, it isn't bad at all. If you empty it regularly then you have no problems. Just be careful removing it if you've been wearing it for a while (especially on your heavy flow days) because it might be full and you don't want to spill it. Just imagine...blood everywhere...haha- GROSS.

So- my final word? Give it a try. It might take you a few cycles to get the hang of it- but when you do you will be instantly converted and you'll never go back. I'm. Not. Kidding.

You not only be benefiting yourself and your health *who doesn't like that?* (click here to read up on tampons) but you'll also be saving our environment *who doesn't like that?*. You might also want to click here for more information regarding disposable menstrual products. Clicking here would also provide you with some useful information regarding whats in them and why they are bad. We all need to take little steps towards creating a better and healthier future for our children and ourselves! I know at least 10 women who have switched from traditional feminine protection to the Diva Cup, that is saving our landfill from hundreds of used maxi pads and tampons. That is taking steps in the right direction.

I want my baby to see this...

...and I want our Earth to look like this...

...so I'm going to do my part.

Give the Diva Cup a try and say BYE-BYE to pads and tampons and WASTE that will kill our earth.

Preach Preach Preach...you're welcome.
Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

2.10.2010

s l a c k e r

My bad.

Forgive my lack of posts in the last week. After finding out that we were going to be moving at the end of February- Charlotte and I made an impromptu trip to Calgary to look at houses. After 2 devastating places- we found the perfect home. I filled out the application, gave the guy our security deposit and then went back the next day to sign the papers. It's ours as of February 27th. We couldn't be more happy!

I've since been arranging to have things transfered from our place here to our new place. Changing addresses, arranging for utilities, water, gas, Internet etc...it's kept me on the phone for 2 whole nap times in the past 2 days.

Things are moving slowly on the packing front. I really feel like I want to pack and then when I start packing I think, "oh, I might need that next week" so the packing stops. I need to get over that, because chances are I won't need it and in the end I'll be rushed to pack everything- like our last move.

That being said- I know everything will get packed on time...because I have a lot of helpers this time 'round. We have friends and family on both ends who are going to offering some help. It is greatly appreciated- trust me.

In other news- I'm not buying groceries again until after our move. We have enough food in our freezer and pantry that we should be able to not shop (aside from milk) for the next 17 days. I'll let you know how that goes. I figure the more we can eat here, the less we have to move there...that being said- I will have one LARGE shopping bill once we move. Oh well. That's how it goes.

Ok- well I'm off to do recycling and clear out some room in my pantry for boxes...

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

2.04.2010

STRESSED

Ok- so today....

shit

hit

the

fan.

Hello, my name is Erin, and I love making my life difficult. Really- it's a serious problem that needs to be address.

Today, after 4 days of trying to contact our landlord, we FINALLY received a return phone call and were told we are able to move out March 1st. Great! And then it sunk in...holy crap- I'm moving in 22 days and I have to pack up my entire house! Damn February for being so short.

Long story short, I've literally spent all afternoon on the phone- renting trucks, scheduling carpet cleaners, calling Landlords about viewings, and of course, giving my Father a play-by-play...the list goes on...it's retarded!


Initally, Tuesday was going to be the day to view potential homes but after calling 2 places and being told they were already rented, I had a mini meltdown, bumped my trip to Calgary and am now going on Saturday so I can see the places, make a choice and then sign a Lease so that we aren't homeless. *takes a breath*

Moving is not Frugal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially since we are moving into a more expensive city, meaning: higher rent, higher electricity/heat/utilities bills, higher insurance etc etc etc...


This is my second time moving in less then a year...BUT it will be my last time moving for a few years. There are some really nice places that I am going to be looking at...and I'm feeling hopeful that one of them will feel 'right'.

Until then, I have a lot of packing, purging and organizing to do. Stay tuned tomorrow for Frugal Moving tips...because there are some. :)

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

2.01.2010

Call for help!

We. Are. All. Sick.

It sucks.

Just a nasty cold, but we all have it and we are all pretty much miserable.

Believe me when I say that there is very little that I can do for my little grumpy monkey.

I don't believe in drugging my child- so I've been giving her a homeopathic remedy during the day and a very small (1/4 the recommend dose) of Mortin at night. I've been pumping her full of apple juice (1/2 juice, 1/2 water) and giving her lots of oranges and other fruits high in Vitamin C. She won't nurse because she can't breathe and she wants nothing to do with her milk. She doesn't want to eat anything.

Me? I have a sore throat, a killer case of the chills and a lot of aches and pains. I slept from 7:30pm-8:30am. I'm still not feeling 100%.

What do you do to make yourself and your children feel better when you all feel like crap? I don't want to go out to buy anything, and I'm not a fan of OTC medications.

Comment below and let me know what gets you on the mend ASAP.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

1.28.2010

Essentials

Having a well stocked pantry is key to living frugally. Having a well stocked freezer is also key to living frugally. Your goal should be to stock up on a few items each week- items that are on sale, or at a discounted price. Below I will provide you with a list of what I consider 'essentials' for a pantry and a freezer.

Pantry Essentials.
Foundations.
  • Brown, White, Basmati, Jasmine Rice
  • Pasta (Spaghetti, Macaroni, Penne, Couscous)
  • Canned or Dried Beans (Black, Kidney, Garbanzo)
  • Canned Tuna/Salmon
  • Flour (All-Purpose & Whole Wheat)
  • Cornmeal
  • Grains (Quinoa, Barley)
  • Potatoes

Flavour.

  • Vinegars (Red wine, Cider, White)
  • EVOO
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mustard (Dijon, dried)
  • Salsa
  • Garlic (fresh and dried)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Tahini
  • Onions
  • An array of spices (Oregano, Basil, Coriander, Ginger, Cinnamon, Chilies etc)

Assistants.

  • Chicken/Vegetable/Beef Broth (I use bouillon cubes)
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Baking Powder & Soda

Sweet.

  • Honey
  • Brown & White Sugar
  • Confectioner's Sugar
  • Cocoa
  • Molasses
  • Chocolate chips

Freezer Essentials.
Meats.

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Whole Chicken
  • Steak
  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Turkey
  • Whole Turkey
  • Pork (Chops and Tenderloin)

Vegetables.

  • Frozen Green Beans
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • California Mix
  • Frozen Corn

Fruits.

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes

Other.

  • Baked Goods
  • Ice Cream
  • Frozen 'freebie' meals.

These items are all considered 'essentials' because they are regularly used things. I keep my pantry stocked so that I'm:

  • not scrambling
  • not needing to run out during the day the get [insert item here] for dinner (which inevitably end up costing you quite a bit extra if you do it regularly).
  • able to eat 'pantry meals' which I are pretty much 'freebie' meals during the week.

It's easy to keep your pantry stocked. Make sure you have at least 1-2 cans ALWAYS on hand, and make sure that when things are looking low, you ensure that that week you purchase the 1 or 2 items that you need to restock your pantry.

One of my favourite places to go to stock my pantry is Bulk Barn. I can literally re-stock all my spices (we have a spice rack with 16 different spices in it) for less then $5. I can also get all my dried beans (garbanzo, kidney etc) and then just rehydrate them the day before I want to use them. It costs me cents! I've started purchasing my sugar from here as well, as it turns out to be MUCH cheaper then buying the prepackaged stuff. I buy my flour at Costco as it is the cheapest I've found so far. I do A LOT of baking (bread, buns, cookies, muffins etc) so I go through a lot of flour. As for the canned goods, I personally like Walmart. The no named stuff is WAY cheaper then the brand named stuff- and it's the exact same thing. I buy no name whenever I can- it's what all the cool kids are doing. I can all my own tomatoes, salsa, pickles, pickled carrots, cherries, applesauce and jams. I spend approximate $70 on 100lbs of tomatoes, which make approximately 30-40 jars of tomatoes and one batch of salsa which yields 12-15 jars. I'm talking the quart sized jars..not the small ones. I got my all apples free this year (I just had to pick them) and I got my grapes for free (I had to pick them too) as well. I think I got about 20 jars of applesauce and about 12 jars of grape jam...for basically no cost (aside from the cost of pectin and sugar). All my canning takes me a few weeks- but then I'm good for a year- maybe a year and a half. I personally think home canned things taste WAY better then the stuff you can buy in a can. AND I know what it in it so I know what my family is ingesting. In the summer, I buy extra fresh fruit (when it is on sale) and freeze it for the winter. It's great for smoothies, baking and just eating and it's much cheaper then buying the packaged pre-frozen stuff.

Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer can cost you a few extra dollars a week (if that) and it is well worth it in the end.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.


1.27.2010

It's not FREE for everyone...

Sometimes I take for granted the fact that I can just walk into a doctors office, see a doctor and then leave with a prescription in hand. And by me, I mean my husband- as he is slowly recovering from a nasty sinus infection. We are very lucky that we live in the country we do.

I don't think I would like to have to pay to give birth in a hospital.

Or pay outrageous sums to Insurance Companies to ensure that I am covered in case of an emergency.

We DO pay for some extended heath insurance- dental, vision, prescriptions etc...but I'm ok with that, and really, to have only have to pay 80% of dental visits and prescriptions and to get a free pair of glasses every year- it is worth it to me. I would just hate to have to pay for it all.

Which brings me to this... *which I got in an e-mail that I have just copy and pasted*

The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on 'donating a mammogram' for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.

I believe that everyone is entitled to the best health care available.

Do your part...I'm doing mine...

Remember the golden rule? You never know when you are going to need help- so take ONE SECOND and help someone else...

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

1.25.2010

As Tricia Sees It...

Happy Day!

My Life has forever changed..... as a first time Mom of a 6.5 month old I am really discovering what people meant when they said ‘your life will forever change’. I knew that things were going to change, but I do not think that I realized the true extent of it. As the mother of a breastfed daughter (not sure how long it will last if she keeps biting and holding on – story for another time), who does not like to sleep I really do not get any time to myself.

There are days where I feel ambitious and try to start projects, begin to bake or open up a book… and those are the days that she will nap for 20 min… or spit her soother out every 10min and keep me running…. Or just not nap at all. It is always the days that I put her down and think that she will not sleep long, therefore no point in starting anything, and low and behold – 2.5 hours later she wakes up and I have accomplished nothing. It is frustrating, exciting and baffling but every day is a new adventure.

My daughter is wonderful ~ Her smiles are heartbreaking. Her laughter is contagious. Her kisses are precious. Her facial expressions are amusing. Her heart is uplifting. My life has changed forever and I am so thankful that I no longer have time ‘to myself’ as it means that I am fortunate enough to have an amazing daughter to spend my time with.

……..

In the dwindled ‘me’ time that I have, I like to keep myself busy. Lately I became bored with my usual tasks and ventured out for some new ideas. I came across some AWESOME blogs with great do-it-yourself projects. Here are a couple of my favourites (they honestly have a little bit of everything for everyone no matter what previous skills or talents you have)

Little Birdie Secrets

Somewhat Simple

The Art of Crochet

While They Sleep

My most recent projects have been a crocheted toque with purple flowers(LOVE IT!), a shopping cart cover and I am starting nursing covers. I am thrilled.

………

Last but not least for guest blogger number 1 ~ a little something to make you laugh

**A married couple rushed to the hospital because the woman was in labor the doctor asked the couple, "I have invented a new machine that you might want to try, it takes some of the labor pains away from the mother and gives it to the father." So the married couple decided that they would try this. So the doctor hooked the machine up and put it on 10% of pain switched from the mother to the father and the husband said "I feel okay turn it up a lot more" so the doctor turned it up to 50% and the husband said "why don't you just put it all on me cause I'm not feeling a thing" but the doctor warned them "this much could kill you if your not prepared", and the husband replied "I am ready" so the doctor turned the machine up to 100% but the husband didn't feel a thing so they went home happy with a pain free labor, but when they got home the mailman was dead on the front porch ** (Jokes DB)

** Three men were discussing at a bar about coincidences. The first man said, " my wife was reading a "tale of two cities" and she gave birth to twins"

"That's funny", the second man remarked, "my wife was reading 'the three musketeers' and she gave birth to triplets"

The third man shouted, "Good God, I have to rush home!"

When asked what the problem was, he exclaimed, “When I left the house, my wife was reading Ali baba and the forty Thieves"!!!** (Jokes-DB)

That is all,
Tricia

Thank You SOOOO much to our FIRST Guest Blogger- you did an awesome job Tricia!

1.24.2010

SEX- it's everywhere! *rant*



I believe this song came out when I was in junior high. I LOVED it, but I had no idea why. Clearly- I was completely unaware of the SEXUAL message that it was sending me and all of my young and innocent friends. As a mother of a daughter- can you imagine my fears of her listening to crap like this?! It's frightening, every line in this song is encouraging sex. This one goes down in the books as a song she will NEVER EVER be able to listen too. I've add some commentary...

Get Down On You- B4-4

I will be the one to love and comfort you from now until the day I die. They all say that...
I will take you places that you only think about when you're asleep at night. Excuse me??
Let me take the time to understand and I will SET YOUR SPIRIT FREE. My spirit is fine thank you.

If you get down on me, I'll get down on you. How about NO.
I will do anything that you want me to. Anything? How about jump off a cliff?
It's a game of give and take to make it through. Really? Give & Take? haha...
So if you get down on me, I'll get down on you tonight. No you will not.

When night time turns to day again.
And you are on my mind. He just wants you to believe this...
winter turns to spring and then,
life has past you by. Can you say pressure??
But now we are so young and free. So that makes it ok?
But we're running out of time. NO- you'll have your whole life!
So while we've got each other here. Yes- by NOT having sex!
Let's treat our bodies right. By not having sex!

I wanna know, exactly what to do,
So that you'll never get me off of your mind. Respect my wishes...
Communicate, and I'll go undercover Under my covers??
Gonna make you come tonight, OMG- that is all...
Over to my house, You just added that in so it didn't sound so naughty...

If you get down on me, I'll get down on you, No
I will do anything that you want me to, No
It's a game of give and take to make it through. No
So if you get down on me, I'll get down on you tonight. No

I'm not the type to change your mind, Riiiiiiiiiiight....
If you wanna take it slow. Slow as in- get married first??
No pressure to go all the way. haha- how about you read the lyrics to this song...
Just to the places we can go. Like my parents house...or out for dinner...

Anytime is the right time to reveal it when two people
Fall as deep as you and me, LUST does not equal LOVE
I wanna know every inch of your body, so I can set your spirit free. I don't even know every inch of my body.

If you get down on me, I'll get down on you, I'd rather not
I will do anything that you want me to, How about watching Twilight?
It's a game of give and take to make it through. Whatev...
So if your get down on me, I'll get down on you tonight. What does that even MEAN?

I will be the one to love and comfort you from now until the day I die. They all say that...
I will take you places that you only think about when you're asleep at night. You know that I dream of an all-inclusive resort in Mexico?!
If you open up to me, Open what up? Not my legs...
I'll make you realize the things that you could never see. I'm alright with that...
Let me take the time to understand and I will SET YOUR SPIRIT FREE. I like my spirit where it is thank you.

If you get down on me, I'll get down on you, That doesn't sound like much fun.
I will do anything that you want me to, How about NOT having sex!
It's a game of give and take to make it through. Scrabble is a great non-physical game.
So if your get down on me, I'll get down on you tonight. I'd get in trouble...

Repeat.

Ok- so after that, I must confess, I don't always let my child listen to the cleanest of music. I taught my niece Fergalicious a couple years ago- it was hilarious at the time, but now I'm wondering why her parents didn't kick me in the teeth. As a responsible adult I have questionable taste in music- but I'm more about the beat and groove, and not so much about the message it is trying to convey. I'd like to pass that along to my daughter. As of right now, in her 17.5 months of life, her favourite songs are those with beats she can dance too...I think I'm doing alright.

End Rant.
Erin B.

1.23.2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Today at the Item Exchange- I picked up a GARBAGE BAG worth of clothing.

I also picked up a few cookbooks, the WHOLE Little House on the Prairie book series and a few other books.

1 hours of time = a TON of free stuff.

I'm not greedy- I only took clothing that would fit one of my two nephew's or my beautiful daughter...I left all the other stuff there for other Mommy's. It was tempting though, there was some really cute newborn girl/boy stuff that I would of liked to have taken, but I didn't...because I'm not greedy. I also donated our old entertainment unit. It was given to us by my BFF back when we got married- so I didn't feel right taking money for it. Give a little, get a lot. Today was a success in the 'get-stuff-for-free' department.

I wanted to share this with you all- because things like this HAPPEN ALL THE TIME. Seriously, this is the second free item/clothing exchange that I've been to in less then 6 months. You just gotta know who to ask.

Apparently there is a Chili-thon coming up...free food = happy Erin.

My suggestion to those of you who are jealous...ask around, go to community centers, make friends with 17 year old (or not, whateva...) and I'm sure you'll find some wicked awesome stuff yourself. OR, better yet- organize one yourself. I'll try to attend it. You know how I get around free stuff....

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

Kill Bill- Vol 1 & Vol 2.

I forgot how awesomely violent and gory these movies are.

I almost yakked 3 times tonight while watching them.

It sure didn't help that I had heartburn- and was slightly light-headed...

That combined with the spraying blood, limb removal, beheading, stabbing, slashing etc...I'm surprised I could keep the bile down.

Lawrence was on the computer ALL. NIGHT. I asked for an hour if he was almost done- and each time, "yes, just a few more minutes..." (read: 60 minutes, read: the WHOLE freaking movie).

He said I wouldn't be able to watch both movies in one night. I wouldn't have, especially not feeling how I did tonight...but I did- just to prove I could.

My brother-in-law cannot watch the Kill Bill movies, because every time he hears "bang bang" he laughs like a little girl...nice Matt. Luckily he wasn't around to participate in tonight's escapades.

Now, I feel like crap. I'm tired. My hair is a mess. And I kind of wish I had some mad Samurai Sword Skillz...

Tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow I will be going to our Church for a Free Item Exchange...I'm sure to score a bunch of sweet stuff.

Free stuff will make up for the epic fail that was my evening.

How did I find out about this awesome Exchange? I befriended a 17 year old...she knows all the inside stuff. Definite Bonus.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

PS: No meal plan this week- I shopped for $34 last week and it was enough to last us 2 weeks- that is how AWESOME I am. I just need milk. I rock.

1.21.2010

They Can Smell Fear.

I'm a teacher.

I've been given the power to mold the minds of our future generations- who thought that was a good idea?

Yes- I have a lot of great ideas, a sparkling personality and I carry myself with poise and confidence- all things that 'ideally' would make a good teacher.

Then throw in my stubbornness, my lack of flexibility and my 'my-way-or-the-highway' attitude and I'm pretty sure I'm a tragic accident waiting to happen.

And unfortunately, that 'accident' will happen in front of a bunch of high school students.

High school students scare the crap out of me.

High school students will rip the limbs from my body.

They can smell fear.

I'm freaking out.

I can do kids under 11 years of age. For one thing, I'm taller then they are. For another, they are still innocent and think their teacher's know everything. High school students- DIFFERENT. STORY. They know it all. Haven't you heard? Teachers don't know a thing when it comes to teaching pubescent adolescents. They are right, you are wrong. End. Of. Story.

That, right there, freaks me out.

I'll know I'm right, they'll know I'm right, but because they are bigger then I am, they will win. Damn my short stature...

So- I bought new shoes!

They are supposed to make me feel better about this whole 'teaching experience' that will inevitable be my demise come March 8th.

They pretty much rock.

I paid FULL PRICE FOR THEM.

If it is one thing I firmly believe, it is that shoes should never be bought used. They should be borrowed or bought on sale- but never used. You'll get warts, or Athlete's Foot, or something else nasty...NOT GOOD. *The only FRUGAL point of the day*

I went to the mall with a 17-year-old teenage girl. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the enemy (Miss S is not the enemy, but she shares the gender) so that I can feel prepared when I step through the doors of the Prison (literally, the school was designed after a Prison) in March. We went with the intent to let Charlotte burn off some energy- and ended up buying me new shoes, a few $2.50 shirts (yea, I can sniff out a bargain anywhere) and a donut.

My new shoes rock.

If anyone disses them, I'll kick them.



These are my teacher shoes.

I shall wear them with pride as I am fed to the lions.

I hope they think I'm cool...

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

1.20.2010

Photo


Contemplating life.
Is it really worth it?
I mean I spend a ridiculous amount of time meal planning, budgeting, shopping, saving and then re-calculating 3 times over to make sure I have it right.
We are financially stable and independent.
We work hard for the money we make and spend it wisely.
Yet, part of me wonders what it would be like not to have to worry about stuff like student loans, a $40/week grocery budget...
I don't remember ever living frivolously.
When I was 18, I worked so that I could party.
I didn't have much responsibility to anyone but myself- I made sure I was happy and healthy.
Now- there is a husband and a child involved, and I feel compelled not to drive us into the depths of credit card debt.
I'm not even sure I could do that- even if I didn't have a sense of responsibility to my family- I'm not sure I could throw caution to the wind and spend recklessly.
But if I could- I might enjoy it for a day.
Just one day.
Because then I'd wake up and realize that I'm smarter then that.

All of that- because of one photo.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

1.17.2010

The Results Are In...

...and I'm afraid you are going to be disappointed.

It was a tie. A. TIE.

Unbelievable!

I mean I didn't spend hours upon hours- measuring, mixing, rising, rolling, cutting and baking to have tie results! (well, I guess I did).

I decided that the toddler votes didn't count, because they liked whatever I gave them- so they were void, which left the 4 adults with spilt results.

Because I'm the one who did all the work I figure I can be the best judge of things OUTSIDE of the tasting. The ingredients, the dough consistency, ease of baking etc. You'll get a FULL breakdown from yours truly, and then results of the tasting from the other 3.

The Recipes!

Recipe #1
Breadmaker Cinnamon Rolls
1 1/2 Cups warm water
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Egg
4 Cups of flour
1 Tbsp quick rise yeast (I am a big fan of Fermipan)

Softened Margarine
Cinnamon
Brown Sugar

Put all ingredients in breadmaker in order listed. When you get to the yeast, put it in a well in the flour. Set breadmaker to dough setting. Roll out dough and spread a thin layer or margarine (or butter, whatever floats your boat) on top. Cover the margarine with a good layer of brown sugar, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll like a jelly roll and slice. Place slices in a greased 9X13 pan. Let rise for 1 hour then bake in a 350 degree F oven until done.


Recipe #2
INGREDIENTS (for the dough):
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (regular yeast seems to work just fine)

INGREDIENTS (for the cinnamon mixture):
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:
Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. (I just let the dough sit in the pan for awhile after the cycle is over rather than letting it rest on a floured surface.)

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. (I use Pam to spray the surface that I roll the dough on.)

Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan.

Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. (I usually make mine in the evenings and I let them rise overnight in the refrigerator so I can just pop them in the oven in the morning.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

~~
Ok- first off, as you can see, the ingredients are similar. One uses essentials that you can find in your pantry and one uses more expensive ingredients. I thought for sure this would make a difference in the long run- but it totally did not. Anything that did go wrong- was completely my fault for making assumptions. (read: quick rising yeast is NOT the same as regular bread machine yeast).

So my favourite dough was recipe #2. It was a breeze to roll out, it rolled nicely, and it was over all, just a very nice dough. Dough #1 was full of air bubbles which *granted* was my fault, but even with just rolling it out it wasn't as smooth or as elastic-y as #2. Word from the wise? If you are going to use regular yeast, drop the amount to 2.5tsp and I'm sure the dough will be great.

After they were rolled up and needed to be cut, I noticed a huge difference in my ability to do so. Recipe #1 was sticky and difficult to cut into equal sized buns. Granted, I'm not sure how much was my fault with the yeast or just the dough...but that is what I noticed. Recipe #2 was a breeze to cut out and stayed its shape while it rose in the oven.

The 2 batches took different amount of time to bake as well. Recipe #1 took almost an hour while recipe #2 took about 27 minutes. I don't think that made any difference- they both browned nicely and were not dry.

I used a secret frosting recipe which I will not be sharing (sorry ladies). By the request of Ms. B, she wants to keep it on the downlow- which is A-OK with me. She was kind enough to share it with me for the battle, and I promise to take it to the grave. It's easy to whip up- but really...any kind of cream cheese icing/frosting would have worked just fine.

Now onto the results of the taste test.
Judge #1- Mr M.
Sample #1:
without frosting 3/5
with frosting 4/5
total- 7/10
Sample #2:
without frosting 3/5
with frosting 3/5
total: 6/10

Judge #2- Miss S.
Sample #1:
without frosting 4/5
with frosting 5/5
total- 9/10
Sample #2:
without frosting 3/5
with frosting 4/5
total: 7/10

Judge #3- Erin.
Sample #1:
without frosting 3/5
with frosting 4/5
total- 7/10
Sample #2:
without frosting 4/5
with frosting 4.5/5
total: 8.5/10

Judge #4- The Hubs
Sample #1:
without frosting 3.75/5
with frosting 4.16/5
total- 7.91/10
Sample #2:
without frosting 4.5/5
with frosting 4.65/5
total: 9.15/10

OVERALL Recipe # 1: 30.91/40
OVERALL Recipe #2: 30.65/40

So, as you can see, Recipe #1 won by 0.26 but in the end I broke it down to 2 liked the first and 2 liked the second. I will say that both sets of buns were slightly dry, but when put in the microwave for 20 seconds on high, it softens them right up and melts the icing just a little bit. :)

I hope that helps you guys...I wouldn't say that either of these recipes are 'the-best-cinnamon-buns-in-the-world' but they were both very yummy. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for more cinnamon bun recipes and try this again in the future.

And now- for the pictures.
Go ahead...drool...

Recipe #1





Recipe #2





There you have it.
The Battle of the Buns.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

1.15.2010

Battle of the Buns

I love cinnamon buns.

Two friends have recently posted recipes on their blogs.

HERE and HERE.

Two similar yet different recipes and I am intrigued to try both. One calls for more 'expensive' ingredients and the other has all things that are pantry items.

My brother-in-law is staying with us this weekend, so I decided it would be the prefect time to try out BOTH recipes and see which one is actually better.

There will be 6 judges (2 of whom are toddlers). I will post the results on Saturday afternoon after the scheduled tasting on Saturday morning.

They will both be served with Ms. B's glorious Cinnabon Frosting. It's to die for, so good in fact that it would make poop taste good (I'm not even kidding you).

May the best BUN win...

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

1.13.2010

Intended for WOMEN only...TMI below.

Title says it all...if you are a boy- stop reading this now. It will only make you blush.




































Seriously- turn away now....









































I warned you....

Ok ladies- so we all dread that time of the month- when things get all...well...weird...down south in our girly parts. If you are like me, it's not a very pleasant thing, between the cramps, the cravings, the PMSing and the BLOOD (eww!) it's really a week that I wish I never had to suffer through. I went for 17 months without a period- and post partum, I must say, it has returned with a vengence. *le sigh*

Recently I've been looking for something more environmentally friendly, cheaper and better for my health, something that isn't a MAXI PAD or a TAMPON...and I stumbled upon a Diva Cup. It appears almost to good to be true. It is reusable, it doesn't fill our landfills or clog our toilets, and it's a one time purchase, lasting you quite a few years- instead of, well...a few hours.

In light of my recent obsession with online shopping, and at the recommendation of a good friend, I stumbled upon this site, which sells them for CHEAP- less then $25 (that includes shipping) AND I don't have to go out and try to find one. Done deal. Since I have a few weeks between now and when that evil Aunt Flow will rear her ugly head- it should arrive in plenty of time.

So you think $25 is a bit much? It isn't. Once again, I will break it down *mathmatically speaking* to show you how it WILL save you money.

A thing of pads will run you a minimum of $5 *depending on the brand*

A box of tampons will run you anywhere between $7-10 *depending on the brand*
A thing of pads will last you 2 cycles? A box of tampons the same? So we are looking at between $10-$15 every 2 cycles- which breaks down to $5-$7 a cycle. Times that by 12, and you are looking at anywhere between $60-$84 A YEAR on feminine protection. That number shocks me. I just paid $25 and it will last me more then a year...probably 2 if not more! So I'm looking at a maximum savings of $143 dollars for 2 years! And what makes it even better- that is 2 years worth of stuff that I am not throwing into our landfills or flushing down our toilets.

Still freaked out at the thought of using a Diva Cup? Check out their site and have some of your questions answered. Want to hear a real person, giving a real recommendation? Check back here in a month or so and I will let you know what I think about it. :)

Until then- happy periods! (hahaha)

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.