Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sharing ways we save on Sunday

It has been another week already and it is that time again to come together and share what we do to be good stewards of what we have been given!

*  I accepted a walmart bag full of coupons, a couple outfits for my daughter and a pair of shoes for her from an older couple we have bonded with in our church

* I made Aunti P a birthday gift from photos and frames we have picked up in previous weeks and decorated it using craft supplies I already had

*  We used tomatoes in as many ways as we could to keep what we had left in the fridge from going bad and having to throw them away...we even one day had a simple lunch of tomato sandwiches with a little salt and mayo. (we are working hard to reduce our food waste)

*  I made a sour cream coffee cake from scratch to use up sour cream (googled a recipe and got one from all I have left so it won't go bad.  It was apparently very good, it only lasted two days.

*  We had someone surprisingly offer us two twin mattresses, a lamp, and a homemade bed frame.  We accepted them, and replaced my daughters older not so supportive mattress on her bed, the other was also put in our daughters room for our son to sleep on while we have a temporary house mate.  My son was so kind and gave up his room for the gentleman.

*  Our electric bill despite needing to use the heat some this month came in at about 87.00 for the month..(my goal is to stay on budget is 100.00 or less) which is awesome because we usually are at 150 in the winter.  I turned off the computer when we were not using it, set the washer to wash in cold water every load, and used a shorter cycle on the dishwasher, and did not allow it to dry the dishes. 

*  My highlight of the week was this

We participated in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party at our church.  This is the second or third year that we have done this.  It is always so much fun.  Now we get to pray for the children that will receive the boxes along with a gospel message!!!!  And the bonus was we got to eat pizza with our church family and I did not have to cook!!!!

These are the little ones with their santa and elf hats getting ready to get their pack on!!!!

*  The last thing I can think of this week is that I made my Uncle's wedding gift using also craft materials we had on hand. 

It looks better in person.  I tried and tried to take a good photo of it.  The wreath has dark blue, off white, and light blue flowers on it with pearls and blue buttons in the middle. The fabric I used on the M and to wrap around the wreath is fabric from a housecoat that belonged to my grandmother.  (my Uncles mother who passed over 8 years ago)  I don't know if that is corny or not, but I hope the newlywed couple will like it or at least get the message of love that was in it when it was made.)

My flops for the week were, we forgot about a lunch offer we extended to someone about two weeks ago, and we had to follow through on it but thankfully my husband did a side job that paid for most of the lunch.  The rest of the week though we ate at home, I even have about a two week menu plan.

We also over spent on our Christmas budget by about $60.00.  My husband unexpectedly picked up a gift for me, and I decided to buy postage for Christmas cards and I need to unexpectedly ship a package too.  We are done shopping though.  Now we just have stuff to make. 

I hope everyone had a great week!.  I love hearing from you!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sharing ways we save each Sunday

Well it has been an interesting, full of some private struggles week, but we did a fair share of trying be wise with funds.

*  Earlier this week with my grandma, I cooked my first meal from scratch.  It was chicken and dumplings with biscuits, that yes we cut with a cookie cutter into the shapes of hearts.  Alot of work but so much fun.  Although I don't enjoy cleaning up.

 *  My husband cut his own hair.

* Accepted 8 bags of hot dog rolls that were left over from a friends anniversary party and froze them.

* Each time we went out we did our best to combine errands

* I buy our dogs food at a local pet depot, and they have a rewards program and we recieved 5.00 off her   bag of food.

*  I mentioned in my holiday budgeting post that we were going to email our Christmas cards but this week I came home and the Kelloggs's reward program had emailed me some codes for $20.00 of free Christmas cards plus a code to get free shipping, so I took advantage of the offer and designed the cards with pictures we took in our homemade photo shoot. We are now getting 25 photo Christmas cards for free from Shutterfly.  (if you don't have your own code, i heard you can literally google shutterfly codes and get one)

*  I used some coupons at Michael's to finish my craft supply shopping in order to finish some Christmas, birthday, and wedding present projects and saved a total of $11.00.

*  Renewed library books over the phone instead of having to make the trip in the car.

*  Got a $14.00 incorrect charge on our bank statement refunded (it really is worth the time to look over your monthly statements from banks and even your utility bills to be sure they aren't incorrectly charging you for something.)

*  I had previously used Wen shampoo...but I never paid for it...a friend of mine had given me two bottles completely free over the summer when she was cleaning out her home.  Well it finally ran out and I went back to the Suave 1.00 bottle of shampoo.  I noticed a problem that plagued my scalp for years returned when i was using the cheaper shampoo.  There is no way I can afford to buy the actual Wen.  I did find a good deal, but I didn't want to have to pay shipping and take a chance on getting caught up in automatic shipping/payment of the product etc.  So i did some research and found this blog  I went to Walgreens and purchased the RenPure dup in Pomegranate, so far no scalp problem, and I paid just 7.00.  It will last me two or three months.

*  I went to pick up a jacket for my son that we found on a yardsale facebook site, fully prepared to pay the $5.00 for it but when the gentleman found out it was really for my kid and I wasn't try to just pick up something and resell it he gave it to me for free.  I was so thrilled I hugged him, and we surprised my son with the jacket to celebrate his awesome report card of straight A's.

* I also got a .99 photo collage to give away as a photo gift from Walgreens.  The code came in my email directly from Walgreens.

* we also attended an early thanksgiving dinner with hubbys fam and we made pumpkin pies and corn muffins with things we had in the pantry already

Sorry for the rant, that is about it.  How did you save or spend wisely this week?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grandmas Individual Cheese Cake Recipe

This past weekend, we hosted our daughter's third birthday, and my grandma surprised me, and showed up early to the party with this tasty treat.

Okay so I could have taken a better picture...but let's chalk it up to me being a Novice blogger, and honestly at the time I didn't know she was going to share a recipe, I had no idea they were homemade I just assumed it was a no bake cheesecake thing at first sight.  (I should have known better right...this is grandma we are talking about...she is a definite from scratch cooker.)  At first bite it was obvious it was not from a tasted soo much better than a box mix.  When she did share the recipe with me it was too late to take a better photo because everyone ate them..two cupcake tins full....just vanished without a trace......

Anyway here is the ingredient list:

18 Vanilla Wafers
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 pkgs (8oz) cream cheese
1 can (22oz) of pie filling  (cherry, blueberry,strawberry, etc

Place 18 paper cupcake liners in muffin tins.  Put 1 wafer in each liner.  Mix eggs, sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla together at medium speed for 5 minutes.  Spoon into liners over the wafer until 3/4 full.  Bake  at 375 for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool, then spoon pie filling of your choice on top.  Chill and serve.

In my opinion this is a perfect portion size if you want that great treat without having to feel guilty about enjoying it.  You can also reduce the calories by using an artificial sweetener like splenda in place of the sugar.  You could possibly also try a reduced fat cream cheese, although I have not yet tried this recipe with lesser fat cream cheese.  If you try it let me know how it works out.  Either way, they are sure to disappear.

I will be sharing this post over at  Homey Oy My! 

as well as frequenting this link ups to get some great ideas as we continue to prepare for the holidays.  I am finding that doing some things homemade is making our resources and ability to bless other go so much farther. Please come check it out!

Creative K  Kids

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sharing ways we save on Sunday

Happy Sunday everyone.  What did you do to renew your spirit today?  It's time to share with you this weeks happenings and ways that worked to save our family money.

* I purchased flea medication from the vet's office instead of online and got 1 tube free  (did you know that if you purchase Frontline from a veterinarian's office and if you somehow still end up with fleas in your home they will pay for Terminix to come out and treat the flea problem?)

* We made Dove body wash and filled two 24 ounce bottles from 3 bars of soap.  I bascially paid 3.50 for two bottles that would have normally cost 5.50 each at the store.

* Made home made furniture polish with a recipe from Pinterest.

*  I had a 10.00 coupon from Build a Bear and I used it to purchase my son a Christmas gift so in the end I only paid 2.50 for the gift.

*  We combined errands on our day off and ended up visiting grandma....We accepted a walmart bag full of clothes for my daughter, a princess sleeping bag that will now become the comforter for her bed, 1 toy, and a kids tent for my son that they have set up in our great room and are playing inside of as I type.

* We also browsed a Wal mart for after halloween sales and I got the kids a stocking stuffer and paid .25 for each item.

We also hosted our daughters 3rd birthday party. 

We probably had approximately 30 people or so in our home...we kept the food simple, hot dogs, chips, koolaid, and cake and icecream of course.  Lets say the food cost maybe 30.00 but we fed all those people and even took left overs to neighbors to bless them with dinner.  The food cost included everything but the ice cream....Mr. B brought that for me.  We had a blast!  We had a fire in our outside fire place.  We didn't do any decorating though, but no one noticed we showed the movie that was the theme of the party on our tv in the great room, and for favors we gave out sunglasses and beach balls that I purchased from Oriental trading....we spent 20.00 but I waited to order until they offered free shipping.

The cake was made by a friend....we went for a beach theme and it was decorated with teddy grahams, life savers, and graham crackers to make the was so much less expensive than any store bought cake and tasted better too.....we had so much fun.

Oh and my photo plans had bombed during our anniversary weekend due to rainy weather but we had cleaned up our yard for the party so we did an at home photo shoot....Aunti P took the pics for me and here is one unedited

I plan to use free online editing software that I found out about from another blogger over at  called pic monkey.  During our photo shoot I also snapped this current years picture of the birthday girl for her side of the wall, and we took a photo of our son too that will go on his side of the wall in our play room.  We didn't buy school pictures. 

It was a  great week.  I plan to share more about this weekend in a special post later this week.  Please share you accomplishments!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Holiday Budgeting?

So it is unavoidable, the season will soon be upon us, and this year, we are coming undone from years of Christmas preparations past.  I want to share ways we are preparing this year.  Maybe we can help each other.

These are our two children, the reason we decorate for Christmas and try to make it special each year.  Our plans start with them and then we evaluate what if anything we are going to do for anyone else.  There have been years my husband and I do not exchange.  This year, we are trying to combine some new items with other home made items for our kids, friends and family.  The blog world has been so instrumental in this.  I have seen some great ideas, that I cannot wait to use.  We will also be using some things we already have to come up with what I hope will be some great gift ideas i hope to share.

Over at  there is something she calls a Holiday Control Journal that is free to download to assist you with making your plans.  She also has some ideas for Holiday Cruising Missions.  The idea is to help you prepare for the upcoming holiday season so you are not out doing anything last minute.

Also Brandy over at has some great posts on a gift a day, and there are some other postings if you search on her site doing Christmas on a zero dollar budget along with some other things.

Have you set your Christmas shopping budget yet?  My husband and I did the other day.  We have said from last week forward our shopping budget is $110.  Now to be clear I did seperately spend over the summer and during my son's school fundraiser a seperate 40.00.  About 30.00 was spent to support our son's schools fundraising efforts.  We purchased seasonal calendars for each of the grandparents, you can put family photos in them for each month.  Now if you want to do something like this though, and your budget is tight, one year we did this by going to Michael's and we purchased from the baskets by the register photo calendars for $1.00 each.  We only did it this way this year because at the time we had the money and we wanted to support our son's school.  The other 10.00 was spent over the summer supporting a friend who was trying to start her own business and I purchased my husband some special meaninful ornaments that were 5.00 each from At Home when they were still in business and having a Flash Sale.  These will be from our children to him.  (remember he already got his motorcycle a month or two ago)  So all together I expect our total shopping to clost 160.00 for the season.

We are not mailing Christmas cards, we will send electronic ones free through email!

My tips for photo printing....sometimes shutterfly offers 101 free prints, and Walgreens does too.  That is how I got the pictures we used.  Walgreens had 25 free prints, and Shutterfly offered the 101...So I paid only $2.50 shipping form Shutterfly for pictures that will make gifts for grandparents and 12 other families/friends.  Watch your flyers get cheaper prices, don't settle for the .33 prints at Walmart unless you really have to.  If you don't have money for new prints....look through the pictures you have from years past can you be creative with those?

No credit cards will be used, we won't still be paying for it in the Spring. I did not include consumable gifts in this budget because all food gifts will be made from items we already have stocked in the pantry we built over the summer by following examples over at blissful and domestic, and the prudent homemaker.

My kids have 15 cousins and each year Mr. B hosts a cookie baking party, so we usually make a little home made gift for each of them or purchase something really inexpensive.  There are so many of them now that the gifts have to be homemade. We are doing this  but my kids will be drawing Christmas pictures and messages on the bags, and we will tie a bottle of popcorn seasoning to each set with ribbon.  We will probably do two microwaveable bags per kid.  The ones that are too small for popcorn will get homemade playdough.  I already have all the stuff to do each of these in our pantry.  We will also make some sort of ornament that will share a gospel message for each of them.  Last year we did salt dough crosses with John 3:16 cards, this year they will probably be paper ornaments.

Feel free to share what you do.  I love to see your comments.  I don't know if we will have a fancy Christmas dinner.  My husband can't travel because of his towing job, we may do a pre Christmas dinner with the grandparents, but I think it will be tacos!  A big Christmas dinner for just the 4 of us would be crazy.

As you can see, I am not quite done with my planning.  I can say though, that it is November 8th, and I have completed 2 of my Christmas projects (photo calendars).  We had a friend that works at Walmart purchase the new items we wanted for each of our kids using her discount. (hey a penny saved is a penny earned) and I did purchase my husband a new wedding band for $7.00 at  It was a high polish titanium band with a small stone in the middle since we recently celebrated 15 years.   We will also this weekend be doing a home made photo shoot during my daughter's birthday party.    Last year my bestie (at the time) spent days right before Christmas baking, and making our photo gifts.  It was just 4 days straight of non stop activities.  We were miserable.  Here is to coming undone!!! (raise of coffee mug for a toast)

Hope you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tips and Tricks Tuesday, a day late.

exploring Domesticity

I am linking up a day late, I thought I would get to let the doctor weigh me in yesterday but it didn't happen so I weighed myself in this morning very much to my diappointment.

I am apparently up to 275.  Now I am on my period and I am hoping that is the problem.  I guess we will see next week.  I did start replacing one meal a day with a shake beginning  today, i was suppossed to start this last week, but my personal schedule got all out of wack, and I was nervous about the motorcycle course so I waited to start till today.  I am not pleased at all with this weeks results.  I plan to log caloric intake on myfitnesspal as well.  I have been brainstorming about making myself a motivation to move journal or something like that on the days I drag my feet.  So far I am at 15 minutes of definate moving each day with an exception of 30 minutes some days.

My son and I are playing the wii fit this morning.  Then it's shower time, and errand day.  I am grumpily getting on with my day.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sharing ways we saved on Sunday # 3

I love reading what everyone does.  There is always a chance that someone does something that one of us may not have thought of yet to save money.

This week I received a free food processor.  Someone was given a new one so I said I would take their old one they were giving a way....this was from a free needs for seeds group on Facebook in my local area.

I made some spray to spot clean our carpet  you mix 2 oz hydrogen peroxide with 1 oz dish soap (spray spot with solution and rub) then spray with plain water and scrub with another rag)  I mixed it in a plastic spray bottle we already had.

I got a code to get a free 8 by 10 collage for free at Walgreens so i made a collection of the kids halloween pics from this year.....can't wait to get it.

The kids costumes were things we already had, and we did not give out candy....our neighborhood doesn't get kids...mine are basically the only ones that live in it.

I made pumpkin and cream cheese muffins and to avoid wasting the egg yolks I made homemade chocolate pudding (your recipe :)   ) 

My husband received some second hand clothing from extended family and we went through them all and put them away and I even found one piece!

We used the Goop glue from my craft stash to repair a pair of boots I own that the sole was coming off of and it worked, I think I can get at least one more season out of them :)

My husband and I both completed a motorcycle safety course this weekend at our local DMV successfully and this will entitle us to a 10 percent savings on our insurance  (that is right this mama is officially licensed to operate dad's  Class was fun  but i was scared alot too.

I did not have to go to the grocery store this week.

So I know we talk about ways we save, but did you spend any money that you see as a wise investment?  I  don't know that I did that, but we did look at our spending and our budget, and we set a Christmas budget to be $110 out of pocket. We will make some consumable items but they will be made from items already in the pantry I worked on building over the summer.  A few weeks ago when my son had his first school fundraiser we purchased some calendars that will allow us to put photos in them for each of the grandparents as a Christmas gift for them, that was 19.00 not included in the $110 budget listed above. The calendars seem to be good quality.  We could have gone cheaper with this project, but we got a chance to support our son and his school so we decided it was worth it.  Here is hoping our planning pays off.  I promise to be honest if we go over or stay under.

Have you made any holiday plans?  I look forward to hearing about your week :)

Hugs from MJ!!! you are beautiful, loved, and important!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friendship Friday

I have decided to join Friendship Friday's link up November is officially “A Month Of Gratitude” at Create With Joy and each week, we are invited to express how gratitude is manifested in our lives in various ways!
Today's question was this :What are you most grateful for at this moment in your life?
And without overthinking it, the first thing that came to my mind was this
 This is an older picture taken almost three years ago when my daughter was born.  The answer to that question is that I have children.  I know it sounds lame and corny right, but there is a story behind it that I have not shared with you readers, but I plan to one day, it's just an emotional one.  I know that shamefully I have been angry with my kids when I shouldn't be and I have taken my family for granted at times.  
I will touch every so briefly on the story I never shared with you all, My husband and I were married 4 years and we discovered we were pregnant with our first child.  We had been having marital issues and had just reconciled when I found out I was pregnant, but despite our issues, I had always wanted to be a mother.  Unfortunately on 02-05-03 our joyous moments of pregnancy turned to sadness when our son was born still at 36 weeks.  Now that is all of that story I am going to share for now.  But to briefly sum up time afterwards, we could not easily concieve again, a little more than 2 years later we had another son.  And thankfully he was born screaming and healthy and is now 8.  4 1/2 years later once I had accepted we would probably just be a one child family I surprisingly discovered that we were expecting again, and this time on November 9, 2010 the Toomey family expanded by two beautiful girly feet!  I think I intend to create a page on this blog eventually dedicated to our very first son to share our story but that is for another day.  So I am thankful for what I thought at one time in my life I would never have.  The miracle of life, that I don't deserve to have stewardship over.  Feel free to leave your comments if you would like and share what you are thankful for.  I love hearing from you.!