Tag Archives: budget

Romantic Dinner for Two: Where Reality & Romance Collide

Did you ever try to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget?

My budget includes borrowing art supplies from my children and crafting a card that would rival any second grade artist, but I wanted more for this year’s love fest.

I asked myself if I could make a romantic dinner for two at home, after tucking the kids snugly in their beds. Sounds budget-friendly and doable in theory, but allow me to demonstrate a real-life romantic dinner at home.

valentine's day romantic dinner for two at home with the kids: love birds

5:30 pm – Throw several dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in the oven, rescue favorite stuffed animal from the grasp of the dog’s jaws, inspect and sign homework papers, and throw the clean laundry into the dryer. Take the dog outside because she’s chewing on your slippers. Answer the phone.

6:00 pm – Get OFF the phone and scrape all black residue from the chicken nuggets. Serve your kids dinner.

6:30 pm – Listen to reading homework; make sure the kids shower and brush their teeth; do the dishes; don’t kill the dog; go to the bathroom.

8:00 pm – Assign your daughter the job of setting a ‘fancy’ table. Make her promise not to lick each fork to remove dishwasher spots. Send your husband down to the corner market to get the cashews for the cashew chicken.

8:30 pm – Tuck your kids into bed, and take a much-needed shower. Put the dog in her crate so she doesn’t push the bathroom door open and run off with your clean underwear.

8:40 pm – Tame your hair, paint your face, and dress in the first clean outfit hanging in your closet.

8:55 pm – Snack on the burnt crisps leftover from the kid’s nuggets.

9:00 pm – Start cooking. Again.

9:30 pm – Serve a lovely cashew chicken dinner minus the cashews, because apparently there was a run on cashews this afternoon.

9:40 pm – Light the candles and take out the crying dog.

9:45 pm – Just as your husband leans into the flickering light of the candles to smooch your lips, the dog freaks out because your neighbor decides he’s going to shovel the sidewalk. Save the kiss for later and grab the dog before she wakes up your kids.

9:47 pm – Too late. The kids filter through to use the bathroom and get a drink. It’s an emergency, of course. You can faintly see symptoms of dehydration in their eyes. Let them taste your cashew-less chicken.

9:55 pm – Explain the importance of alone time between parents and threaten their lives with ten years of morning-til-night homework, year-round school, and a chore list that stretches to New Jersey and back.

10:00 pm – Throw out the cold chicken and go straight to dessert. Assure your spouse that yawning and drooping eyelids are the latest signs of true love.

Reality says, when you have children, romantic dinners at home do not work. My heartfelt advice to you is, forget the budget and GO OUT. Beg your parents, friends, coworkers, family, neighbors, and the teenagers next door to watch your kids for a few hours. Even if you have no money, go sit in the car (without the kids) and steam up the windows. Just get out of the house!

Couponing Stocked My Shelf

I’ve never watched the extreme couponing show on tv.  I knew I never saved big money with coupons in the grocery store, but I was intrigued.  People are saving lots of money.

I asked myself two question:

How does it work?  Can it work for me?

Here’s what I found out.

You must use a coupon in conjunction with a major store sale.

Yes, it can work for me.

That’s the basic explanation, but couponing isn’t simple.  It’s a complicated labyrinth of store flyers, $1.00 squares of coupon, and TIME.  Yes, couponing takes time.  I do believe that the more you do it, the better and quicker you get; however, I’m still slow.

The only grocery stores I have in my area are Super Wal-Mart and Hannaford.  Neither run great promotional sales.  My coupons will only take me so far there, but I do have a CVS in my town.  CVS runs crazy weekly specials.

I googled how to coupon and I watched videos, read lots and lots, and decided to focus on one store.  CVS.

I love that store now.

I’ve been at this for a few weeks and my savings are growing each week.  I spend Sunday going through the coupons that come in the Sunday paper and clipping them.  I put them in a binder filled with plastic card sheets.  They are the sheets used to hold baseball cards.  My son graciously gave me a few.  He doesn’t collect baseball cards, but he does have fifty-million Star Wars cards.  After my coupons are in the binder, I go online and search the most recent CVS flyer.  You can enter your zip code, so you get the appropriate flyer.

Here’s my book.

Nothing fancy.  I’m sure it could be more organized, but this IS organized for me.

My son asked me the other day if all the time I spent on coupons is worth it.  I told him I wasn’t sure, but I was going to find out.  So Monday morning, armed with coupons, two kids, and a plan of attack, I walked into CVS.

I opened my coupon book right on top of my cart.  Then I pulled out my detailed list and a calculator.  That’s how I shopped.  My son trailed behind me with an extra cart.  People gave me funny looks.  I smiled and waved.

I walked out with this bounty.

I paid $28.74 for all of this.

I thought that was pretty good.  Every item was on sale.  I did not have a coupon for the water, but the water was on sale for $2.22 a case and that’s a good deal.  We don’t drink our tap water because it’s nasty and will kill you.

The Oral B Floss I got for free.  The Dawn dish soap I got for free.  Everything else was very discounted.

I also received $9 in xtra bucks to use on my next purchase.  In CVS language that’s a free $9 for my next shopping trip. Gotta love it!

So here’s what I learned.

  1. Give yourself time to figure things out.
  2. Don’t buy beyond your budget even if it’s a good deal.  Work with what money you have.
  3. Pick one store and become familiar with the card system and sales in that store.
  4. Learn to buy name brands. I know this goes against the thrifty grain, but name brands go on sale and manufacturers put out coupons only for name brands.
  5. Don’t be loyal to a brand.  Be flexible.  If something is free or only pennies, that makes it easier to enjoy other brands.
  6. Have some fun!  Treat yourself to a discounted bag of M&M’s.  (I passed up that sale this week thank you very much. *pats own back*)
  7. Show your husband your haul and receipt.  He’ll be pretty amazed.

After I paid and we were walking to the car, my son said, “I can’t believe all this only cost us twenty-eight dollars.”

I still have lots to learn, but I knew my time spent clipping coupons on Sunday night was worth it on this Monday Morning.

What about you?  Have you tried couponing??

**  On a side note – if you accumulate too much stuff, there are women’s shelters all over our land who take abused women and children and offer them a new beginning.  they are always looking for these products.  They’d be more than happy to help lighten your load and you’ll get to be a blessing to some women in need.

Refashion 80’s Style, T-Shirt Tutorial

Perhaps this T-shirt refashion stems from my being a child of the 1980’s.  I’m not sure.  I am sure that I will not teach you how to put 100 slashes in the back of your t-shirt, and I will not teach you how to cut your t-shirt so it hangs off one shoulder.  I’m also not wearing my hair in a side-pony, so don’t worry yet.

I am attempting to make one of these charm necklaces with my daughter tonight (Girl’s Night).

Pinterest via flamingotoes.com

Ok, so maybe you should worry.

Old School Charm

I’m totally making a grown-up version of my beloved 80’s plastic charm necklace.

At least it’s an updated version.

Like the t-shirt alteration I am going to attempt to show you today.  Don’t worry.  (Notice how many times I’ve said “don’t worry” already?)  All you need is a pair of scissors and a sewing machine or the ability to sew a straight line.

I can’t hand sew a straight line and my sewing machine is a near-dead that doesn’t do much better; however, I gave it a shot of adrenaline and nursed it along.

Here’s the deal – we all have those unisex t-shirts that you bring home free from work or you get at sporting events.  They are generally boxy and unflattering for women; however, with a quick alteration, you can love your t-shirt.

I recently picked up a bunch of t-shirts for twenty-five cents at a yard sale.  They looked brand new and we always need t-shirts in my house.  There’s plenty of dirty-work to go around.

Last week, I threw on one of the shirts and hated the neck.  I felt like it was choking me and being strangled by a t-shirt is a terrible way to die.  So, I cut the neck off.

Then I cut part of the sleeves off and the finished hem from the bottom.

Stay with me here.

I was left with a pile like this.

While I had my scissors out, I decided to take in the sides and make it fit more like a t-shirt purchased in the women’s section of a store.

My medium yard-sale shirt is on the left and my well-worn Kohl’s t-shirt is on the right.

I should have made my bed before I photographed this refashion, but I was in a hurry.  Sorry.

I simply laid my good shirt over the generic shirt.  See how the Kohl’s tee is curved on the sides?

I pinned it along the outer edge to give me a line to sew on.

This isn’t an exact science, so estimate.

Or measure if it makes you feel better.

I would rather throw the shirt in the trash than measure, but that’s just me.

You can cut the shirt as narrow as you’d like.  I don’t like to look shrink-wrapped, so I didn’t go too narrow.

Please excuse my ironing board cover.  It’s very old and stained.

Make sure your shirt is inside-out.  Sew along your pinned line.  My line isn’t even straight, but no worries.  Then cut off the excess edge.

Now I should have taken a before and after in the same shirt, but I didn’t think of it until too late.  You get the idea though.  These are basically the same shirt.

I know this idea isn’t revolutionary.  People alter clothes all the time, especially t-shirts, but I thought I would share.

What do you think?

Is it better??

Would you try this yourself???

And incase you think I don’t have a face…

I’ll never figure out how to take a good picture in the mirror. I don’t know how you bloggers do it!

Outside My Comfort Zone – WIWW

Today I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and I’m participating in Pleated Poppy’s What I Wore Wednesday.   Each week during the winter, I would hop over to The Pleated Poppy and visit several linked blogs.  As I sat in my jeans and layers of t-shirts and sweaters, I’d be inspired by the woman brave enough to get dressed, take a picture, and post it for all the world to see.

I didn’t see it as an egocentric thing to do; I saw it as inspiring.

For me What I Wore Wednesday wasn’t about the nice clothes or cute jewelry, although I did like looking at them, it was more about taking the time to actually get dressed and look nice.  When you’re a stay-at-home mom or work-at-home woman, it’s easy to be lazy.  Let’s face it, yoga pants and t-shirts are pretty dang comfy.  Before you know it, we’re not wearing makeup (why bother when you’re just going to wash it off), we don’t fix our hair (aren’t pony-tails always in style?), and we look like bums.  God forbid the UPS man knocks on the door!  We’re not prepared to face the world, let alone the pizza man.

I kept thinking that one day I’d participate in WIWW.  I didn’t do it in the winter, because I wear jeans and sweaters in the winter, and I have about four sweaters on rotation.  I’d have to show you the same outfit twice in one week.  While I wash between wears, I was afraid you’d think I stink.  Now it’s summer and summer clothes are easy.

Here goes…and yes I did crop my face out of Thursday’s photos.  I know it’s an Adam’s Family type thing to do, but I always have the dorkiest look on my face.  I don’t like pictures being taken of me.  I’m usually the one with the camera in my hand, you know?

Please keep in mind, I’m no fashionista.

Thursday

Yes, that’s my daughter’s very messy room.  She’s cleaned it since these photos.

Went for a haircut, thrift shopping, and to visit a friend and her kids.

Dress – Ann Taylor Loft clearance about 3-4 years ago.

Denim Capris – Kohl’s

Bracelets – H & M

Wedges – Kmart

Friday

  Ran errands, went to library, out for pizza with the family at night.

Dress – Thrifted, New York & Co.

Belt – Thrifted

Necklace – Local Boutique

Sandals – Thrifted

Hair – Cut 🙂

Saturday

Skirt – Thrifted, New York & Co.

Shirt – Kohl’s

Necklace – Target, a gift from a friend

Bracelet – Yard Sale

We spent the day tagging along with my hubby while he did stuff for work/church.  Nothing too exciting.

For the record, this may be the worst picture ever, but what can I say?  This isn’t Project Runway and you can’t vote me off my own blog. 😉

Sunday

It was Father’s Day and you already know what we did that day.

Skirt – Thrifted

T-Shirt with ribbon flowers (you can’t tell) – Target

Brown Tank – Target

Sandals – Thrifted

Bracelets – Gifts, Necklace – Hand-Me-Down

Monday

Went for allergy shots, grocery shopping, hanging around the house and doing laundry.

Denim Capris – Kohl’s

Tank – H & M

Sweater – Gap Clearance

Necklace – Yard Sale

Tuesday

Walked to the park and library.

Skirt – Thrifted

Pink Tank – Thrifted

White Sweatshirt – Thrifted

Bag – Street Vendor NYC

Flip-Flops – Kmart

So there you have it!  As you can tell, I basically shop thrift stores and clearance racks, but I love doing it.  I love that I bought the dress, two of those skirts, and the red belt all for $5 total.  Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking it’s ok to wear pj pants to Wal-Mart because maybe we don’t have a lot of money.  I’m taking a stand against pajama pants in public.  Try not to hate me for it.

So what about you?  Would you ever consider linking up to What I Wore Wednesday??

Go visit The Pleated Poppy and check out all the others participating in WIWW.  Be inspired to get dressed!

Recession End In Sight

The financial powers that be, whomever they may be, have announced that there is a green-backed light at the end of the tunnel.

Recession Ends By Year End

Since they proclaimed it, we believe it despite the fact that 8.6% of people are currently unemployed in the United States.

I guess they won’t find themselves doing any of the things on my “I’m so poor, I…” list, but I’ll share my list with you just incase the recession stretches a little longer than expected.

I’m so poor, I….

1.  rinse my cotton balls and hang them out to dry after removing my makeup.

2. beg my daughter to bring home her paper lunch bag so I can reuse it.  After she tells me it’s against the rules, I send a note to her environmentally friendly teacher telling her I’m starting a new recycling project and I NEED THAT PAPER BAG!

3.  use one scoop of iced-tea mix for every two quarts of water, making a drink that looks like I caught rain water from my rusty gutter.

4.  make every member of my family share one paper towel at dinner.

5. get excited when churches have pot-lucks.  I eat out of their pot and use my luck to hope nobody notices that I came empty handed and walked out with the leftovers.

6.  borrow a tank of gas from my neighbor’s lawnmower.

7.  convince my children that every kid only gets one Skittle per serving.

8.  ask the produce man if a bunch of grapes can be broken up into smaller quantities.

9. get 4 slices of ham at the deli counter, one for each sandwich.

10.  pay my taxes with rolls of pennies.

11.  fashion new school shoes out of duck-tape.

12.  go to Burger King to watch cable TV.

13.  go to Barnes & Noble to read books and mark the page so I can finish the next day.

14. discover 143 ways to make Ramen noodles.

15.  water down skim milk.

16.  think going ‘out to eat’ includes the warehouse store’s sample table.

17.  use public restrooms in order to save money on toilet paper.

18.  go to the mall just to look for dropped change.

19.  think the Salvation Army Thrift store is expensive.

You fill in number 20.  Go ahead!

You’re so poor, you…