Frugal Life · Money Educatioin

The Frugal Life: What it means to me

The word “Frugal” means something different to everyone.  Some find the meaning of the world unpleasant, boring, and blah.  Others find it necessary, practical, and a way of life.  I find the meaning beautiful, strong, and empowering.

122279B4-C545-4BE8-AE72-548655878054

I have longed admired the pioneer women.  The ones who worked from sunrise to sunset.  These women washed laundry by hand, baked and cooked meager meals over a fire.  They had small homes and large hearts.  I’ve heard story after story of women who were hardworking, selfless, and humble.  These are the women I look up to.  I find them strong and their simple way of life beautiful.

Life has changed.  I am so grateful for the conveniences we have, for the advances made in technology and life.  But, I often lean towards those old fashioned ways of life which seems in many ways simpler and in so many ways beautiful.

Frugality reminds me of those simpler days.  I love the feeling of providing for myself, of growing my own food, my husband building our own furniture.  It provides me a sense of connection to the remarkable pioneer ladies from old days.  This is what it means to me to be frugal.

I found this quote today and it resonated so deeply with me.

“More stuff isn’t happiness.  Be grateful and thankful for what you have.”  –Sherry Borsheim

I believe it takes a strong and brave person to try to live a frugal life in a world full of conveniences and entertainment.  It takes a great amount of thought, effort, and strength to ignore the bombardment of marketing everywhere you turn and enjoy the simple, important things in life that are right in front of you.

Being frugal doesn’t mean you are deprived.  It means you can be empowered.  Empowered to control your spending.  Empowered to enjoy your life the way it is right now without needing to keep up with those Joneses and buy everything in front of you to find happiness.  This takes strength.  It’s not easy to live frugally.  But, when I do I find more happiness and joy from the important things in life:  friends, family, myself.

Love the life you live.  Work hard to make the life as great as you possibly can.  Be proud of your frugality.  I find it an absolutely beautiful way to live.

What does being frugal mean to you?  Do you find it beautiful and empowering like I do, or does it hold a different meaning?

Advertisements
Affiliate · Disney · Frugal Life · Get Away Today · Travel

Our Disney Savings Plan: How we paid for our Disney Vacation while on a small budget

E26666D3-CBAE-4B9A-8B96-0FD76667E325

Last fall we took our family on a vacation to Southern California.  We spent a week exploring California, bonding as a family and playing at many of the fun amusement parks.

We started planning this trip a couple of years before it actually happened (planner by nature here!).  We knew we wanted to go on a family vacation in a year or two and we knew that we wanted to save up for it slowly.   I wanted to share the steps that we went through as we planned, saved, and explored California all while on a budget.

We spent a few nights in San Diego and a few nights in Anaheim.  Today’s post will be all about our stay in Anaheim.  Be sure to check out my post How we visited San Diego on a Budget to read about our few days in San Diego.

Disney Savings Plan

First, we set our budget.  We wanted to spend less than $5,000 on the trip.  Once the budget was set we developed an aggressive 52 week savings plan.  I pinned this chart up on my wall to keep me focused and excited as I saved little by little each week and got to cross off each week as our Disney fund grew.

savings.jpg

Hotel

Once we had our savings plan set I began researching.  I checked daily different travel websites and reading review after review of different hotels.  We needed a hotel large enough to sleep our family of five, one that included an in room microwave and fridge, free hotel breakfast and the kids requested a pool.  🙂

We found a great deal and exactly what we wanted in Springhill Suites Anaheim Maingate.  I purchased the hotel through Get Away Today as part of a Disney Vacation package.  We had the pool to ourselves every single night.  The large breakfast was wonderful, they even had Nutella (my favorite!) for my toast.  The room felt nice and spacious with two queen beds and a small couch (turned into a bed) and desk.  I think my favorite part of the room was the large closet where we could hang up our clothes and stash our suitcases.  I will be sharing below a $10 off coupon from Get Away Today later in the post.

Tickets

Get Away Today is the absolute cheapest place to buy Disneyland tickets.  Promise.  I have searched and searched and could not find any cheaper than Get Away Today offered.

We decided to spend two days at Disneyland and bought a one day at each park pass.  This made it possible for us to spend an entire day at both Disneyland and California Adventure.  The parks are each so large, I find it not worth the extra money to buy the park hopper ticket.  We bought these tickets as part of our vacation package with the hotel.

958408A5-07BB-4F37-BDED-A4F57DC67530

We added a one day pass to Universal Studios to our vacation package and had so much fun spending the day exploring Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.  If you are a Harry Potter fan, you MUST visit Universal Studios.  The attention to detail was incredible!

 

 

Transportation

Plane tickets for a family of five are pricey, so we decided to drive the 13 hours to California.  We made it a fun road trip experience for our kids, making multiple sight seeing stops and playing many many car games.

While in Anaheim we decided to use the ART shuttle to take us to and from the Disneyland resort.  The ticket prices for the shuttle was very reasonable as part of our package from Get Away Today.  It was so nice to just sit down on the shuttle and rest our tired feet after a long day playing at the park.  The shuttle was always available for us with very little wait time and the ride to and from the hotel was short.

Food

I’ll start off by saying that our family are not big foodies.  I would rather spend money on experiences then food.  We decided to only purchase one meal a day.  Before driving to California I packed up a cooler full of snacks and makings for sandwiches.  Breakfast was provided by the hotel daily.  We packed sandwiches, bagels and snacks into the amusement parks with us every day.  For dinner, we ate at budget friendly restaurants inside the parks.  It was so handy having the snacks all packed into individual serving baggies, we whipped them out while standing in long lines and it helped keep the kids happy and occupied.

Below I listed a few of our favorite budget friendly places to eat while inside the parks.

Disneyland

7352BB2D-F51E-4716-8A78-1C5F14753319

Bengal Barbeque: The Bengal Barbeque has really tasty meat and vegetable skewers for under $5!

Cafe Orleans:  The Cafe Orleans is not your cheapest option, but I had heard so many great things about the Monte Cristo Sandwich I decided to include it in our food budget.  The Monte Cristo Sandwich is only served at the Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans.  The sandwich is the exact same at both restaurants, but $7 dollars cheaper at Cafe Orleans. So, if you want to try the sandwich do it Cafe Orleans!  We also decided to split the sandwich between my husband and I and then we split a plate of kids Mac and Cheese between my three kids.  Splitting between the three kids was a little small, next time I would buy two kids orders to split.  For the five of us we spent about $30.  Which is the most we spent on a meal the entire trip, but totally worth it to me to get to taste that delicious cheesy Monte Cristo Sandwich!

Rancho Del Zocalo:  Rancho Del Zocalo offers delicious food with very generous servings.  This is another great option for splitting an entree.

California Adventure

5749D58E-CBF7-4137-BE5D-9A392FDC6113

Cozy Cone Motel:  The Cozy Cone Motel offers different snack options that could be turned into a small meal.  We ordered a couple of chili cone quesos and they were so good and so satisfying, and under $10!  Yay!

Pacific Wharf Cafe:  The Pacific Wharf Cafe has great soup and salads each for around $11.  My favorite is Broccoli and Cheese soup served in their famous Sour Bread Bowl.  So GOOD!

Universal Studios

7CE1B324-1728-4091-8E56-5CC753D5981F

We weren’t to adventurous while eating at Universal Studios.  We ate at Panda Express which is located at the bottom lot.  We had a hard time narrowing down which restaurant to try at Universal and ended up going the easy safe route.  Panda Express had good cheap options and the service was very quick.

Souveniers

A month before we left on our vacation I printed off some play money and told my kids that they will need to do chores in order to earn money to buy souvenirs while on our vacation.  They earned between $20-30 total.  We told them that this was their money to spend however they wanted, but once it was gone it was gone.  If they wanted a souvenir or a fun treat that we weren’t going to buy for them they had to make that decision if they wanted to spend their money on it or not.  This really  helped us to not impulse buy and overspending while in the park.  We all had our limit and we stuck to it.

I have also heard a great tip if you are a Target shopper.  Target has Disney Gift Cards available to buy and these can be used within the park.  If you use your Target Red Card you get an automatic 5% off all purchases, and this counts toward gift cards too!  I didn’t try it, but I think it is a really smart idea.

 

We like to use our Discover Credit Card (and pay it off IMMEDIATELY) for big purchases like traveling.  I explained all about it in my blog post titled The one idea I disagree with Dave Ramsey on.  Discover will sometimes give 5% cashback towards travel purchases.  After I have budgeted and saved enough money I then wait for this 5% cashback offer.  Once Discover offers it I then purchased the hotel package.  In this case I was given around $200 cashback.  A great deal!

We had such an amazing family vacation with lots of memories made and laughter shared.  I never feel deprived when traveling on a budget.  We plan, prepare, and spend wisely.  It makes for a guilt free vacation.

Coupon Code

If you are looking into planning a family vacation on a budget Get Away Today will give each of my readers $10 off a vacation package when you use the code SweetFrugal at checkout.  I recommend this travel website to anyone who is looking into good deals on travel!

33BFCA86-00C3-4F65-9599-489D19A85577

Do you have some favorite budget friendly travel tips?  Please share them in the comments!  I would love to learn more tips!

I am a Get Away Today partner and may receive commissions for Get Away Today vacations booked through links on my site (THANKS).  I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.  I was recommending Get Away Today to all my friends BEFORE becoming a partner, because they are that amazing.  🙂

Crafts · For the kids · Holidays · Parenting

Easy St.Patrick’s Day Craft for Kids

This St.Patrick’s Day craft for kids is so easy, so simple, and oh so fun for preschoolers and toddlers.  I love finding fun crafts for kids that are actually helping their little bodies develop.  I am a fan of multi tasking BTW!  This craft is fantastic for helping the little ones develop their fine motor skills.  It requires a lot of tearing, or cutting, which will strengthen those little finger muscles….all while having a little fun!

9887C80C-8354-4A08-88CD-5A1BE8749332

I gathered up all of my random green paper I could find around the house, most of it came from the scrap pile I keep from other other projects.  I printed out a shamrock by finding a clip art shamrock on Microsoft Word.  (yes, I am so fancy  🙂 )

Now let your sweet little get to work.  Encourage them to rip the papers into small pieces.  My son got a little tired of ripping and decided to get his scissors out and cut pieces.  Do whichever works for you and your littles.

Once you have a nice pile of green shredded paper have your child glue the pieces onto the shamrock.  We decided to turn this into a group effort, I glued and he stuck  the papers on.  It was fun to spend some time together crafting and discussing St.Patrick’s.

This was such a fun activity.  I love doing things these simple craft projects, especially when I already have all the supplies on hand.  How are you prepping for St.Patricks day with your kids?

Frugal Life · Recipes

How I use ONE Roast for THREE Meals

I have learned that one of the easiest ways to save money on food is to stretch meat through multiple meals.  I am going to share how I am able to use ONE roast for three different meals.  Each of these three meals are super simple, easy dinner ideas.  As a busy mom, I love meals that do not require a lot of effort and time.  🙂

100E8DBE-1EB2-4CC2-AB82-8B476A2CAC0E

Meal #1:  Pot Roast

The first meal I use the roast for is a simple Pot Roast cooked in the crock pot.  I make this meal for our Sunday Dinner and serve it with mashed potatoes, gravy and a salad.  My sister shared this recipe with me a few years ago and I still can’t believe how easy and delicious it is to make.

59EE07F9-7DF9-4B2E-8C50-9283729C5CB7

For the Pot Roast you will need a packet of brown gravy mix, a packet of ranch dressing, a packet of Italian dressing, a 1/4 cup of water and a 3 1/2 lb. roast.  The size of your roast will vary depending on how many are in your family and how many left overs you want to have.

First, mix the three packets and water together in your crock pot.

 

Next, you will need to brown your roast.  Heat a couple of TBSP of oil in a large sauce pan on stove top over medium heat .  When oil is hot add roast and cook it on each side until each side is lightly browned.  This only takes a few minutes to get it all browned.

 

Once the roast is browned place it into the sauce in the crock pot.  Spoon the sauce as much as you can over the roast.  Turn the crock pot to low and let the roast cook for 6-8 hours.

 

After the roast is done cooking set it on a cutting board, cover, and let rest while you prepare the gravy.

For the gravy you will need to dump the excess sauce from the crock pot into a sauce pan.  Heat this over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl mix about a 1/4 cup of cornstarch with approximately a 1/2 cup water.  Slowly add this to the gravy in sauce pan.  Continue heating until it comes to just a boil.  I do not always use all of the cornstarch/water mix.  I slowly add it and stir until the gravy becomes thick.  When it achieves the right amount of thickness I quit adding the cornstarch mixture.  Remove from heat.

 

Slice the roast into thin pieces and it should be ready to serve!  If you want to use this roast for two more meals make sure to set aside 2/3 of the roast slices.

CACD86AD-897E-43B1-B759-DA2BC394D91F

Meal #2:  French Dip Sandwiches

For dinner the next day I used 1/2 of the Pot Roasts leftovers to make French Dip Sandwiches.  I do not have a recipe for this meal.  I butter the insides of hoagie rolls and lay them face up on a cookie sheet.  I stick them under the broiler for a few minutes to get them slightly toasted.  I then just layer cheese (provolone tastes best) and the roast beef slices on the rolls, and cook them for a few more minutes until the cheese is melty.  While they are cooking I follow the directions on the Au Jus packet to make the dipping sauce.  This dinner is SO easy!  I usually serve it with some carrots or celery on the side.

 

Meal #3:  Beef Stew

I was given this recipe to me years ago by a friend.  It has become my go to dinner for winter evenings when all I want is to eat something warm and let the crock pot do all the work.  🙂  It does require a little bit of prep work to chop all the veggies, but once that is done it is an easy recipe.  I am posting the recipe below.  I cut the rest of my leftover stew meat into chunks, put it in the crock pot and mix with the salt and pepper.  Just add the rest of your ingredients, set it to low and let it cook for 6-8 hours.

 

I hope you love these three meal ideas for one roast.  Do you have any great meal ideas from a roast?  Please share them in the comments!

 

Amazon · Farmhouse · Frugal Life · Good Ideas

How to keep White Kitchen Cabinets White and my Honest Review of the Norwex knockoff the E-Cloth

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

789D42AC-FBA4-4531-A4C2-6AF8D7D350DB

We moved into a new house a few months ago and fell instantly in love with the beautiful white kitchen.  White cabinets, white subway tile, white quartz counter tops.  It was what my kitchen dreams were made of!  With three kids in the house it didn’t take long for those beautiful pure white cabinets to become covered in smudges and finger grease.

 

 

 

I knew that using cleaners on the cabinets was not good for the white paint.  I was constantly washing them with a wet dishcloth.  This method would take off some of the grease, but not all of it.  The other negative thing I found with the wet dishcloth is that it always left behind water streaks.  I was feeling frustrated and missing the clean cabinets I originally fell in love with.

I had a few friends recommend the Norwex cloth to me.  They all swore it was the best cleaner and promised it was worth every single penny.  My frugal mindset however, was having a hard time wanting to spend $20 on a cloth!  I convinced myself I could keep the cabinets clean with my plain dishcloth.

Well, I was WRONG!  No matter how hard I scrubbed and how often I cleaned.  I could not restore my cabinets to the pure white they once were.

I finally accepted that I needed something to help me, but I still felt like $20 was to much to spend on a cloth.  I started researching cheaper options and came across the e-cloth.  It had excellent reviews and for $11 I would get not just one but TWO cloths.  This was a much better value and I added it to my February budget.

The e-cloth arrived last week and I didn’t waste any time pulling it out and attacking cleaning my cabinets.  I’ll be honest with you, I was NOT expecting it to work any different then the plain old Walmart dish rag I had been using.  I was so so pleasantly surprised to be wrong!  I was so happy with it I knew I needed to share it with everyone I know.

39F1252C-D5DE-46BA-8A5A-C5249486BCAA

The e-cloth is similar to the Norwex Cloth that it has zero chemicals and is very eco friendly.  It came with easy to follow instructions and all I needed to do in order to get started was add a little bit of water to the cloth and it was ready for scrubbing!

 

 

 

The water streaks and grease came off instantly!  The smudges took a little bit more elbow grease, but with some scrubbing the smudges were gone as well.  I truly could not believe how quickly and easily the cloth was cleaning these stubborn stains.  I was worried at first that there would be water streaks left behind, but when I came back and looked closely after it dried I could not find a single streak!  Not one!  My cabinets felt as smooth and clean as they felt the day I moved in.  I was in heaven!

 

 

 

I decided that since the cabinet cleaning went over so well I needed to try the cloth out on my stainless steel refrigerator.  I usually clean my stainless steel appliances with this cleaner.  It works great, but I thought if I could use the e-cloth for my appliances as well as the cabinets I would really be getting my moneys worth.

The e-cloth worked just as great on the stainless steel fridge as it did on the cabinets.  All those fingerprints were instantly washed away.  Look at these before and after photos, they were taken within about a minute of each other.  It was honestly that quick and easy!

 

 

 

After two successes I went a little overboard cleaning every inch of my house.  I used the cloth on my counter top, my tile back splash, the microwave, and our doors, and trim.  It reminded me of a cloth form of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Original (8 Count)“>the magic eraser.  But, even better!  I even used the cloth dry to dust my wood furniture.  With so many uses the general purpose e-cloth is a fantastic value!  I am looking forward to enjoying this beautiful white and clean kitchen again!  Let me know if you try the e-cloth and if you love it as much as I did.

 

Frugal Life · Good Ideas

10 Ways using the Public Library will Save you Money

ABF61DA6-8CC5-4A33-B844-FC07FD003FFB

Taking full advantage of our Public Library has been such a money saver for our family.  I think it’s fairly common to associate only books with the Public Library, (which as a book worm is already an awesome thing!), but the library can offer so so much more than beautiful books.  Everything to borrow is completely free.  They offer so many different services, it makes me sad when others don’t take realize the huge benefits of the library.

1.  Books, Books, Books!

We will start the list off with the most obvious thing to borrow from the library; and that is books.  Reading is one of my very favorite forms of entertainment, and if you borrow books from the library it is completely FREE!  (which also happens to be another one of my favorites!)  There really is no need to spend lots of money on books.  The library has just about any book you could imagine.  I often check out books about finance, parenting, biographies, self-help, they have fiction or non-fiction, you name it they have it.  My kids absolutely love going to the children’s selection and getting to choose their very own books to borrow for a couple of weeks.

2.  Movies and TV Shows

A few years ago our finances became unexpectedly very tight.  We cut out every unnecessary expense. This included cancelling all cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc.  This is when I really started taking advantage of the fantastic movie selection at our local library.  We began going once a week and the kids picked out a couple of TV shows or movies they wanted and I picked out a few for my husband and I.  I was pleasantly surprised at just how great of a selection they had.  If you’re wanting to cut out extras from our budget but are worried about the TV options, try checking a few movies out at your library, I bet you’ll find something you like.

3.  Classes and Clubs

I am always impressed with the variety of FREE classes my local library offers.  I recently completed an excellent Parenting class through the library.  I have also seen classes available about Healthy Eating and Finances.  Their are also fun clubs that are available to participate in.  My library has a knitting club, chess club, and book club.  All for adults…all for FREE!  I love the fantastic choices of classes and clubs for my kids to participate in as well.  They host family activities about once a month, activities on holidays, science club, coding club, and more.  It feels like every few weeks the librarian is introducing my kids to a new fun activity that they are welcome to be a part of.  I take advantage of these during the summer months when the kids might be feeling a little bored while out of school and need to stretch their minds a bit.

4.  Story Time

Story Time is our most used of all the kids activities offered.  This is the perfect FREE activity to take your little ones to during the long cold winter months.  We love getting out of the house and not having to spend any money.  We attend regularly and each of my kids have a favorite librarian they look forward to.  My local library puts out a list months in advance of what each weeks story times will be about.  We make sure to note the topics I know my kids would NOT want to miss and put it on the calendar.  My kids love being introduced to new books and songs and occasionally they will have a fun little craft to do together.  We LOVE story time!

5.  Audio Books

I know Audio Books are one of those either you love em or hate em type thing.  But, I happen to fall under the love em category!  I listen to them when I am doing housework or if we are on a road trip.  Not ALL audio books are created equal.  I’ve put in a few before and had to take them right back out a few minutes later.  It all depends on the reader.  The Public Library also has a giant selection of Audio Books for KIDS!  I always borrow one or two and we listen to them on the car.  I spend quite a bit of time in the car with my kids taking them to and from school and other activities.  If I put in an audio book they are MUCH less likely to complain and fight with each other.  Which is pretty important in our car.  🙂

6.  Wi-Fi

This is another library service that we discovered during a time of need.  A year ago we were transition between homes and found ourselves at a place that had no internet access.  We knew we were only going to be there for a few months and didn’t want to spend the money on set up fees for such a short amount of time.  Since SO many things are done online now a days I was so happy when I learned of the library’s free Wi-Fi.   I then became a regular at the library.  I tried to stop in once or twice a week with my laptop and a long list of things I needed to do on the internet.  I spent 30-45 minutes there getting stuff done and then continued on with my day.  I no longer have a need to use their Wi-Fi.  But, this is a great option for others who may not have internet access in their budget or perhaps might be in a similar situation we were in.

7.  Music CD’s

When I had my first baby many years ago I learned that she liked to listen to fun toddler/kids music while we were driving in the car.  I bought a couple of kids CD’s for us to listen to and to keep her entertained while driving.  When my youngest was a toddler I couldn’t find those CD’s anymore.  After searching I decided to check the library.  In the childrens section I found a giant selection of fun kids and Disney CD’s.  I’ve started letting my preschooler pick one to check out every time we go to the library.  He has found his few favorites and always looks forward to choosing one.  My oldest daughter threw a karaoke party for some friends a few weeks ago and I thought, instead of buying a bunch of karaoke songs let’s check the library first.  Sure enough!  I was able to borrow a few karaoke CD’s and her friends had a blast singing and dancing all night……and I didn’t spend any money.  WIN!

8.  Games and Puzzles

I couldn’t believe it when I learned that our Public Library offers a few puzzles, games and learning activities for children to check out.  This is such a great service!  There is no need to spend tons of money on this.  Kids get bored of these type of activities fairly quickly, so being able to borrow and return different ones helps to keep the kids entertained and the games fresh and new.  Look into seeing if your local library offers this, and if they do, take advantage!

9.  Reading Programs and Incentives

We always take part of the reading programs and incentives.  We just finished the winter program and will sign up for the summer one in just a few months.  I love these incentive programs for a couple of different reasons.  It keeps my kids motivated and reading, even when they might not want to.  AND, I love the free coupons they hand out.  We just got a free family pass to a local swimming pool for finishing the winter reading program.  Over the summer we get weekly coupons for kids meals and fun activities and kid places around town.  Using the coupons is a fun way to keep busy over the summer, and to stay within our budget.  I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to take the kids to as many as these activities.

10.  Magazines and Newspapers

If you love getting magazines or newspapers but just don’t want to spend money on the subscriptions anymore, check your library!  I have checked out some of my favorite magazines from the library.  I read them, return them, and then check out the next issue.  They have lots of topics to choose from; from automotive to wedding to home to parenting.  It’s all there.  Cancel your subscriptions and just start using the library!

If you don’t have a library card, go get one!  The library offers so much more than just books.  I believe we save hundreds every year by checking with our library first instead of going out and buying.  What is your favorite thing to borrow from your library?  Comment below and let me know if I missed anything!

91F51C15-7689-4F5B-A0F4-AAD4202AE544

 

Holidays · Recipes · Valentines Day

Chocolate Dipped Valentine Cookies Recipe

This is one of my favorite valentine traditions.  I love baking these for my kiddos and make them every February.   We usually hand some out to friends and neighbors as well. The cream cheese gives the cookie a delicious shortbread flavor and the peppermint extract gives the cookie the perfect amount of light flavor.

228B6027-9F64-417D-A0C5-7F3F8622AA36

Mix your flour, sugar, butter, cream cheese, egg and peppermint extract together in mixer.  I like this pure peppermint extract.  Beat until well mixed.

Add flour and beat until just mixed.

Divide dough in half. Roll each ball in saran wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

 

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick and cut with heart shaped cookie cutters.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in oven for 7 minutes.

Let baked cookies cool completely.  Once cool make your glaze bymelting chocolate with butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Dip cooled cookies in chocolate glaze and place on wax paper or tin foil to harden.  Once hardened store in a covered container in refrigerator.

 

These are delicious!

5B85DF24-024A-4E9A-9EED-B366E9871B33

Chocolate Dipped Valentine Cookies

Cookie

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup softened butter

3 ounces softened cream cheese

1 egg

1 tsp peppermint extract

3 cups flour

Chocolate

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix sugar, butter, cream cheese, egg and peppermint extract in mixer until light and fluffy.  Add flour and beat until well mixed.

Cut the dough into two half balls.  Wrap the balls in ceran wrap and place in fridge for a couple of hours to chill.

Roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with heart shaped cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 6-7 minutes.

Cool completely.

For the glaze melt butter and chocolate together in saucepan over low heat.  Once melted remove from heat.  Dip cookies into chocolate and let them sit on tin foil or waxed paper.

Store in refrigerator.

For the kids · Parenting

Magic toothpick science experiment

88A71AD1-DA04-4C37-AAA8-F1F15F5F39F9

This science experiment is a really fun way to entertain kids at home.  I always have the ingredients on hand and my kids love that it is hands on.  It only takes a few minutes to have the experiment ready.  Kids love to help get it all out and choose the colors.

Pour some milk in a bowl.  I like to use a wide shallow container.  A pie tin would work great or anything you happen to have on hand.  Pour enough milk in to cover the bottom.

F1AA101B-D8FB-4794-B46F-3BBF4EB09AC7

Now choose a few colors of food coloring.  Today my son chose red green and blue.  My kids love this neon food coloring.  The bright colors are really fun.  Drop a few drops of food coloring into the milk.

8DBD47D6-5773-45F4-BBFC-67E9AD80111E

Now comes the fun “magic toothpick” part!  Pour a small amount of dish soap into a small bowl.  Get out a toothpick and dip it into the dish soap.  With the dish soap on the toothpick the science experiment is ready!

EA06ED50-E961-4E4D-9C4A-686FC65D23FF

Lightly touch the toothpick to the drops of food coloring.  The colors will spread and make beautiful designs.  Your children will be sure it’s magic happening right before their eyes!

 

Finances · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin

The one idea I disagree with Dave Ramsey on

I am a member of online affiliate programs.  I will receive compensation from clicks on my links.  All opinions are my own.  I guarantee to never share anything I haven’t already been using for years.

9DBF2B36-E231-49AF-A5CF-A55C8C5AB5A9

I love Dave Ramsey.  I follow his advice and teachings religiously.  Except for one thing….

I have one credit card and use it regularly.

Dave Ramsey advises against using any sort of credit card, but we have found it actually earns us a lot of money just by shopping normally.

I use cash for about 50% of our purchases, clothes, decorations, restaurants, spending money, kids music lessons, etc.  We use a Discover Card for the other half of our purchases, such as utilities, groceries, gas and online purchases.  We are very diligent at paying the card off each month and mainly use it for items that are unable to accept cash, such as online purchases.

Our Discover Card offers a 1% cashback bonus on ALL purchases and a 5% cashback bonus for a variety of purchases.  The 5% rotates monthly from gas to groceries to travel.

They also have an extra rewards center.  The rewards center gives you the option to shop at many popular online stores, (Old Navy, Gap, Target just to name a few) through the Discover link and you will earn 5% cashback on these purchases.  Before I buy ANYTHING online, I always go to the Discover website and check to see if they have a cashback option for that store.

Ebates is very similar where you can earn cashback by shopping through their link, but I have found that my Discover card usually offers a much higher cashback percentage than Ebates does.

We make about $300-$400 a year just by using our credit card.  (YAY for free money!!)  We use this money to pay for our kids Christmas.  Think of all the possibilities you could use it for though!  Such as paying off debt, put it towards retirement or college savings, or treat yourself to a little mini vacay.  The options are endless!

If having a credit card would tempt you to spend more money than you normally would then DO NOT sign up for one.  It is NOT worth the temptation.  If this is your situation the cashback Ebates offers would be a great alternative for you.

However, If and ONLY IF you are able to use a credit card responsibly and pay it off monthly, I HIGHLY recommend signing up for one that offers a cashback option.  In the 10 years we have been using our card we have earned around $4,000!   Just by shopping like we normally would!  It’s the easiest $4,000 I’ve ever made!!

And every other thing Dave Ramsey says I follow to a T!

 

79E8FA16-D19E-45BA-9F13-A0F42D4E587A

 

Recipes · Valentines Day

Homemade Graham Cracker Recipe

I have a rule.  A little grocery shopping rule to help me stay in my grocery budget.  I am only allowed to go to the grocery store once a week.  If I run out of something earlier in the week or if I realize I forgot something, well that’s just to bad, I have to wait.. I have learned to do without and to use what I have on hand.  Read all about my favorite way to grocery shop here.

This past weekend my kids ate through all of my store bought snacks.  Does anyone else’s kids do that?  I thought I had bought plenty snacks for the week, but we are all out.  I still have two more days until my grocery day.  So, today I decided I needed to whip up a few homemade snacks to help tide my kids over until grocery day.   The more food you make from scratch, the more money you will save.  This graham cracker recipe has been a favorite in our house for years.  It is fairly easy, somewhat healthy, and 100% delicious!

B4A6FACE-D580-41BB-A3EA-F1E7BE11BBFC

I use my Blendtec to grind my wheat kernels into wheat flour.  (The Blendtec is one of my most favorite christmas presents ever, but not very budget friendly!  Save your pennies for it though, it’s worth it!)

 

 

Combine flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and soda in mixer.

 

 

Add butter and mix slowly until it turns to crumbs.

 

 

Add vanilla, honey and water.  Mix well.

 

 

Turn onto a floured surface.  Roll out into 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out with your favorite cookie cutters.  We’ve used all shapes and sizes.  It’s fun to mix things up!

 

 

Bake in oven for 10 minutes.  Enjoy!  Hopefully my kids can last on graham crackers and fruit until grocery day!  🙂

49D51539-4764-46EF-87E4-88F79F789060

 

Homemade Graham Crackers

1 1/2 cup wheat flour

1 cup white flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup butter chilled and cubed

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and soda in mixer.

Add butter and mix slowly until it turns to crumbs.

Add vanilla, honey and water.  Mix well.

Turn onto a floured surface.  Roll out into 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out with your favorite cookie cutters.  We’ve used all shapes and sizes.  It’s fun to mix things up!

Bake in oven for 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Happy Frugal Baking!