Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Freebies - April 30th edition

Hi everyone!

It's going to be a fantastically beautiful weekend here in California. This afternoon, I'll be listening to my older son's school band, which will be the perfect weekend kick-off. Here are a few freebies I found which I hope you'll enjoy.

50 Days of Disney music - become a fan of Disney music on Facebook, or become a follower on Twitter. Starts May 3rd!

Free sample of Eucerin Daily Skin Balance 

Admongo is a fun little web site for kids that used a game to teach them about advertising and how to be a smart consumer.

Free Comic Book Day is May 1st!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

DIY: Make Your Own Pizza Sauce

One of our newer family traditions is homemade pizza night on Friday nights. Sure, we'd have pizza nights in the past - some expensive pizza place when we had more money. Then, when my husband lost his job over a year ago, it was one of those cheap pizza places. One day we said, hey, we can do this!

At first, we would buy the dough and the sauce. At supermarket prices, you'll spend quite a bit on those! Pizza dough in the dairy section can be up to $4 each at some of my local supermarkets. Trader Joe's has the best deal around here for dough -- plus they have a choice of whole wheat or regular. Pizza sauce will run about $3 depending on where you shop, which will probably make 2 pizzas. You can do better!

Right now, I'm going to focus on the sauce, since it's super EASY to make! My recipe is based on this one. You'll only need four ingredients, and they are:

  1. 28-30 ounces of crushed (or homemade pureed) tomatoes. Use two 15 ounce cans if you can't find one 28 ounce can. If you've got your own canned tomato puree, that's perfect! Right now, with no canned sauce of my own, I buy 28oz crushed tomatoes at Target for $1.07. I think the crushed/pureed tomatoes make a really nice base for this sauce.
  2. The second ingredient you'll need is one six ounce can of tomato paste. Again, if you have your own, that's great! If not, try supermarket brands or Costco or some similar place to get the best price.
  3. Oregano (2 tbsp of whole dried flowers, crushed, or 1 tbsp of flakes) and 
  4. Black pepper (1/2 to 1 tsp, depending on your taste).
Place all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan, mix well, and heat on medium low. Be careful  as this sauce thickens. Stir occasionally with the heat on low until the flavors are well blended, about 10-15 minutes. This makes enough for about 4 pizzas for us, but will depend on how "saucy" you like your pizza! My cost: approximately $0.50 per pizza.


This post is linked to Frugal Food Thursday over at Frugal Follies. Head on over there for more frugal recipes!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garden Update: End of April

Wow! That's what I say when I look at the garden. Every day, I got out and just *look*. It's really a wonder what we're accomplishing in such a small space.

This week, the broccoli florets have begun to form:

... the snow peas are flowering...

and the cucumber seeds have sprouted!

Also, I planted pumpkin, delicata, and zuchini seeds in the new bed, with some nasturiums in between them. To do for the next week: plant the remainder of the tomatoes (they will go where the turnips were, and where the rest of the chard is growing). It's raining AGAIN this week, so everything is watered well.

Have you started a garden this year? How is it going?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Meal Planning - April 26th

It was a beautiful weekend, and my younger son decided he wanted to alter his birthday plan to celebrate early so he could have a barbecue birthday dinner. So last night, we had a really fun afternoon grilling, enjoying our free grill! Also, my husband finished building another section of our raised bed garden. I have some planting to do today!

Note from last week: that Double Dutch Macaroni and Cheese with Chard was great! I used cheddar and monterey jack cheese, chard from our garden, and homemade fresh bread crumbs. I'll definitely be making it again.

This week, my husband has some work (yay!) which puts a bit of a twist on our schedule. Here's what I'm planning this week.

Monday: Stirfry with chicken, snow peas, leaks, and baby carrots, served with rice

Tuesday: Broccoli quiche

Wednesday: Leftover night

Thursday: Vegetable Lasagna - I'll use chard from the garden in place of the spinach

Friday: Homemade pizza night. The last two weeks I've made one with spinach (from the garden), feta and red onions, which everyone loved! I highly recommend the combination.

Saturday: Chicken and Spring Green Gratin

Sunday: Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and turnips, and salad

Have fun planning YOUR weekly menu! If you are looking for more ideas, check out's Menu Planning Monday roundup!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


This morning, we harvested our turnips. I've never grown turnips before, so I was curious how they would turn out. Aside from the slug problems, you can see that they grew beautifully!

I cut the greens from the roots; and put the roots into the refrigerator for a dinner sometime this week. I took half the greens and cooked them up, then stashed them in the freezer to go into another meal. Just like other greens, a lot of them washed, stripped from the large ribs, chopped and cooked don't look like much when you're done!

Now to put something else into that space! Probably tomatoes, though I'll need to harvest more chard and a little bit more spinach. In the meantime, I'm planning my menu for the week. I'm looking forward to some roasted turnips!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Safeway Deals - 79¢ Pasta and more.

Today and tomorrow only, Safeway is having a couple great deals. If you're already heading out to do some errands this weekend, why not stop and pick these up if you need them?

Golden Grain Pasta - 79¢ for selected varieties, 12 to 16 ounces. There is a limit of 6. While I prefer to use whole grain pasta most of the time, for some recipes I prefer certain shapes. I'll be looking for medium shells, macaroni, and maybe some bow ties to stock up my pantry.

Naval oranges - 8lb for $2.99. We're lucky enough to have an orange tree in our yard, but if we didn't we'd definitely get in on this deal! My kids love these!

Safeway Select Breads - 2 for $3. If you can't make your own bread, this is a good price. Pick up one of their great whole grain varieties.

More deals from their regular sale this week, which runs until Tuesday the 27th:

Whole Chickens, buy one get one free. They are usually 1.69/lb.

Fresh Express Shreds, Spinach, or Salad bags - 10 for $10 ($1 each).

Rancher's Reserve London Broil - $1.99/lb. This would be great for a steak salad!

These prices were in Northern California. These are based on our California ad (4/21-4/27), which may or may not be similar to the Safeway, Vons, Dominicks, Genuardis, Pavilions, Carrs, Tom Thumb or Randalls ad in your area. Click the link of your local store; then enter your zip code to get for the circular for your local store!

Friday, April 23, 2010

DIY: Part Two of Frugal Frozen Fare - Lessons Learned

We're having a lot of fun with this frozen yogurt/ice cream maker! We've made vanilla and strawberry ice cream, and now we're branching out into sorbets. My motivation behind making the sorbets is twofold. One, I want to use fruit we have in our own yard (lemons and strawberries right now); and two, I want to reduce the amount of fat, but still make a tasty frozen dessert.

I'm still using the recipes that came with our ice cream machine. They are pretty basic, and I'm learning the "ins and outs" of using this machine. The most important step is to make sure your freezing bowl is FROZEN. You shouldn't hear anything moving around inside the bowl once it's frozen solid. That takes about 18 hours -- but if you put something inside of it sometime during that freezing time, expect it to take longer. (Yes, that happened to us!)

The first part of making these sorbets is to make some simple syrup. It involves the highly complicated (insert: sarcasm!) process of mixing equal parts of sugar and water, bring to a boil, and simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Then, you let it cool. Sounds easy, right? Well, the last step is the one that keeps tripping me up! Both times I've made sorbet (lemon and strawberry) I haven't left enough time for the simple syrup to COOL all the way. It's important that it be cool before the ingredients go into the ice cream maker, or, you guessed it, you won't be happy with the UNFROZEN results.

My recommendation is, if you think you're going to be making some sorbet, make the syrup up the DAY BEFORE, then put it into your refrigerator. It only takes a couple minutes, then you'll be ready for the next step.

Now what about the fruit part of your sorbet? When making lemon sorbet, I recommend using a citrus juicer, either manual or a machine. You will need a lot of lemon juice, and this will make it go faster. If you're making strawberry sorbet, you will need something to strain the seeds from your strawberry puree. I use the smallest sieve I have, and some of the seeds still sneak through. This can be avoided somewhat by straining the puree in small batches, and rinsing the seeds out of the sieve between batches. If needed, add some cheesecloth to your strainer.

Once all your ingredients are ready and mixed together, here's the hardest part. Put the mixture into the refrigerator and wait another hour at least. With your ingredients all nice and cold, you'll get the best result! Once they are well chilled, you're ready to add them to your ice cream maker. Once you begin processing, don't be too hasty to get your tasty treat out of the machine. I let mine go the full recommended time (30 minutes, usually). That last five minutes will result in a lighter, fluffier, and more frozen product, so don't be tempted to stop it too early. Just watch it carefully -- if it gets too fluffy, it might spill out of your freezing bowl! (Yes, that's happened to me once, so keep an eye on yours!)

Strawberry sorbet - ready to be eaten!

Once the processing time is done, I always put it into the freezer for a couple hours. I found that the ice cream is good right from the machine (think soft serve) but the sorbets truly benefit from that extra freezing time. But, try it for yourself, and see how you like it!

Friday Freebies - April 23rd edition

Hi everyone,

Wow, what a week! First it's cold, windy and rainy. Today it's going to be beautiful and sunny! I'm looking forward to working in the garden some this weekend!

Here are some freebies for you for the next week. Enjoy!

Free lowfat ice cream and a flavor shot from Carvel - Thursday, April 29th (all day) only! Check their store locator for a location near you.

And after that ice cream, try this  Free workout music !

Interested in our planet's climate? You and your family can learn at Bill Nye's [online] Climate Lab. offers fun missions and activities that increase climate literacy and teach energy-saving strategies for many areas of daily life.
And finally:
Free Aveda Hand Relief lotion sample and Stimulus package.
Bring us a printout to receive this offer:
  • Free Aroma Sensory Journey
  • Free cup of Aveda’s Comforting Tea 
  • Free Stress-Relieving Hand Ritual
  • Free five-minute stress-relieving neck and shoulder massage
  • Free makeup Finishing Touch
Ahhhh, this sounds like the perfect end to a busy week!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's Your Frugal Flavor?

When people say they live "frugally", what exactly does that mean? If you look up the word in the dictionary, you will find definitions including:
  • thrifty
  • living without waste
  • economical
 What exactly is "economical"? Or "thrifty"? I'd hazard to say that if you put a hundred "thrifty" or "frugal" people together, while there will be some similarities, you'd find many, many differences in the way they live their lives. And that difference would be the result of each person's choices and attitudes about what's waste and what's economical (in both time and money), based on their values and ideals. Living "frugally" is a set of personal choices.

On deciding on a name for my blog, I chose "Frugal Frolic" because it's important to me that while we do our best to save money and reduce waste in money and time, we also have FUN along the way! While it may seem we work a little harder -- making our own bread, having a garden, doing our own home repairs and renovations, for examples -- we make sure we're putting efforts into what we enjoy. Plus, we make sure to take time out to enjoy life. Most of the time, these may truly be "frugal frolics" (a day at the beach, anyone?). But sometimes, it's not frugal at all - for example, a day at the aquarium.

If you're interested in living frugally, either out of choice or need, go with your strengths. Work on what you can do, and look for the opportunities to learn what you can. Let your interests guide you! In that way, you can "grow" your frugal choices as you grow your knowledge. Over the past 15 months, our lives have changed dramatically, but it didn't happen overnight. We weren't growing our own vegetables and cooking from scratch the day after my husband was laid off. We needed to learn what we could do. In that way, we've put our energy into what gives us the greatest benefit, both financially and lifestyle-wise.

If you make frugal choices that enhance your life, then your "frugal flavor" won't be the bitter pill that some imagine such a lifestyle might be. Instead, as you make your own decisions in how you can and will be thrifty and economical, the result will be the creation of your own, fabulous "frugal flavor", different from everyone else's. And don't be surprised when, along the way, your flavors develop into something new, and even surprising! Remember, Yes, You Can!

Looking for tips to make your life simpler and easier? Check out all the posts on Works For Me Wednesday at We Are that Family.

Tuesday Garden Update

Hi everyone,

Well it's Tuesday; and it's raining again in Northern California. My garden is HAPPY! Also this week, there's another new bed section, built by my husband with almost all FREE materials (mostly from Craigslist and salvaging during the city's "Spring Cleanup Campaign"), this past weekend.  I planted tomatoes (Heidi, Amish Paste, and San Marzano), peppers (Ancho, California Wonder, and Karma), and sweet basil plants.
Laying out plant placement in the new bed.

We repurposed some found materials for the tomato stakes, and an old (small) tomato cage and some wire cloth for the supports for the pepper plants. We added more compost to the soil in this bed -- it didn't seem like we'd put enough into the last one, so we'll see how these plants do.

New bed with all plants and supports.

As I mentioned last week, into the empty bed I hadn't planted yet, I planted my celery and parsley seedlings, in addition to some lemon cucumber, Fordhook Chard, and nasturtiums seeds. Some of these are already poking their heads up above the soil!  I'll be using some larger tomato cages for the cucumber supports. I'm not sure how that will work, but it's what we have.
A happy parsley seedling, now in a garden bed!
This week I harvested spinach and turnip greens. Things we need to do soon include putting in a watering system, especially for the tomatoes, and plant more flowers. We also need to work on slug control. We'll probably go for a beer trap.

How is your garden doing? Any challenges or suggestions? Have a great gardening week!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Meal Planning

I'm a little late with this, but not too late :) It's Monday morning and I have a plan! Not knowing what's for dinner for the week really makes me stressed, so taking just a few minutes to get this done makes me feel much more calm. Here's my plan for the week. I've got lots of greens from the garden I need to use, so I'm incorporating them wherever I can.

Monday: Black Bean, Spinach, and Mushroom Enchiladas. I'll use this recipe as a base, spice it up a bit with a bit of salsa on the inside, sprinkle cheese on top, then bake them in the oven. Serve with some Spanish Rice.

Tuesday: Chicken Lo Mein. We have some snow peas from the CSA that we need to use. This recipe is easy and the kids love it!

Wednesday: This is going to be even busier than my normal Wednesdays! I'm planning on having a casserole from the freezer (ham, broccoli, pasta).

Thursday: Double Dutch Mac and Cheese with Chard. I'm planning to try this recipe as a way to use some of the chard from our garden, though I will likely be substituting for those cheeses. I still need to figure that part out!

Friday: Homemade Pizza night! I'm planning to make a spinach/feta/red onion version.

Saturday: Leftover night!

Sunday: Roasted Chicken and Spanakorizo. Yes, I'm looking for more ways to use our garden spinach!

What's your plan for the week? If you're looking for more ideas for your menu this week , check out Menu Plan Monday at! Have a great week!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Frugal Foul - Sears Online Sale

I was so excited to find out that Sears was having a clearance sale on their web site. My older son reminds me of the Incredible Hulk some days when he comes down wearing shirts that are obviously too small! He's outgrown most of what I got at rummage and second hand stores last summer (which I had hoped would last for a while!) So, with great prices listed for the Sears sale, all I could think was, what great timing!

So, I spend about 15 minutes going through the clearance section on the web site, adding anything that seemed my son would like. Tshirts and hoodies mostly, from $0.99 to $2.99. I figured when I got to the end, I'd pick my favorites. Wait a minute, you're saying, isn't this supposed to be a post about a Frugal FOUL? Those are great prices! Well, that's what I thought! I reviewed my shopping cart, did a little editing. I think I ended up choosing seven items, for a total of $21 with shipping. That's great! Happy, happy, frugal shopping. Then, I hit Checkout.

Dismayed, I looked at my monitor. Almost every single item was out of stock. Only one item was available. And the shipping was $10.95 for one item! What a terrible, terrible inventory system. I did try, in vain, to pick different items, but to no avail. It was so frustrating! Sears' web site earns a Frugal Foul from me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Freebies

Here are a few freebies for your Friday morning!

First, did you know April 17-25 is National Park Week? Admission to all National Parks is FREE during this week! Check out the event calendar for a list of events. See what's happening in your area - you can sort by state or by park.

Free sample of Aveeno Hair Care product 

Coupon for Free Kraft Macaroni and Cheese - become a fan on Facebook then click on the "Free Cheesy" tab to request the coupon. A great item to add to your emergency supplies!

Free sample of Cascade ActionPacs - you'll need to register for this. I recommend having an email address just for these kinds of things.

7 Free songs from the Country Throwdown Tour on iTunes.  Download Code: L3Y7PHFHJTFM
Code Expiration: June 30, 2010

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sigh of Relief

I'm breathing a big sigh of relief this morning, as I (mostly) finished our taxes last night. For once, I'm not spending the last few hours of April 15th slaving over the numbers! This is something I've traditionally waited until the last minute to do, especially when I'm afraid we're going to owe money. As our reserves are dangerously low, I purposely put this task off until the last minute.

On Monday, finally ready to face our fate, I sat down and ran some reports in Quicken, and entered the main numbers to give me a ballpark idea of what the damage would be. I can't tell you how so very relieved I was to see that my nightmare of us owing thousands of dollars (which we frankly do not have!) did not come to fruition. Yay! I moved on to getting back as much of what we paid as possible. On Tuesday, I started working on the more detailed entries. This year I used TurboTax desktop software. Compared with the online version, which I've used for a few years, I was not happy with the lack of flexibility in getting to the different sections. I guess I'm not much for following the "straight line" in getting to the end!

I started to enter the receipts I had, happily making progress. My husband mentioned he had a few in a drawer in the garage. Ok, great, I thought! That should help! I was thinking I'd be finished sometime Tuesday. Then he walked in with a BOX FULL of receipts. My jaw dropped! I started looking through them, and realized this would be a major undertaking. I spent some time roughly organizing them, and started fresh yesterday morning.

Wednesday I hunkered down and decided the best way to organize this paper monster was to make an Excel spreadsheet. One by one, those receipts became tamed. By the late afternoon, I was victorious! Once again, I had that feeling -- I'm done, right? But there were a couple nagging questions....

We were missing receipts. I knew a couple items we should have receipts for, but they weren't in the pile. While looking for something else, hubby stumbled upon them.. along with a few other receipts! Together, we worked through them. This time, we're pretty confident. We've got it all! Victory!

Well, I'm not that confident -- I'm going to mail an extension this morning. I'll give it a couple weeks, then send the final forms. Here's to being able to breathe again!

Off to stop at Starbucks to get our free coffee this morning!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cooking Double

When I'm in the kitchen, I've learned to make my efforts count. If you're putting together a dish, whether it's a casserole, pot of soup or stew, or maybe a quiche, consider going double. If you're already making one, the effort to make a duplicate (or double the amount) is much less than making the same dish again another night. So why not save yourself some work, not to mention energy and dirty dishes, and make your dish times two!

Here I've got a pair of Asparagus and Mushroom quiches in progress. I cooked completed versions of both a couple weeks ago. Since then, one has been nestled safely in my freezer, waiting for dinner one night this week. This is a *lifesaver* when life gets super busy. It's the perfect alternative to the temptation of fast food, going out when it's not in your budget, or other expensive options.

Looking for more tips? Check out We Are That Family's Works for Me Wednesday!

Garden Update

It's been wild lately, weather wise, for our area. We're continuing to get rain, and some very windy storms. The garden is looking a bit wind-blown, but everything is growing well.  The "bush" snow peas have been blown into the broccoli, but the broccoli seems to be withstanding the onslaught:

The strawberries are loving the constant moisture!

The Tall Telephone peas are about 18" high now! I'm glad they held onto their trellis during the storms.

I'll be planting some more seedlings very soon! I've got parsley, basil, and celery that are ready to be transplanted. I'm already planning what will go in when the spinach and turnips are fully harvested. I think I need more flowers to bring in the "good bugs" -- I have some nasturtium seeds but I would really like some marigolds. Also, we need to set up some watering, since this lovely rain can't last forever here in California!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Free Coffee at Starbucks, April 15th

Mark your calendar, no coupon needed! From the Starbucks Web site:

Join the movement. On April 15th, bring a reusable travel mug into your local Starbucks and get a free brewed coffee.

One person can save trees, together we can save forests.

For the good of the planet, Starbucks is encouraging everyone to switch from paper cups to reusable travel mugs. One day in March thousands of New Yorkers made the switch. Join them now by taking a pledge to do the same.

Monday Meal Planning - Spring Break Week

This week the boys are on Spring Break, so I'm "breaking" out a couple freezer meals!

Monday: Split pea soup. My freezer cried "Uncle"! I need to get that ham bone out of there, so split pea soup is the perfect answer. Here's my recipe:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
2 c carrots, chopped
1 c turnips, chopped (can substitute potato)
1 lb split peas (about 2 cups)
3 bay leaves
1 ham bone if available
1 1/2  c chopped ham
3-4 c stock, and just enough water to cover.
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c fresh parsley

In a large pot, big enough for the ham bone, saute onion and celery in the olive oil until the onion starts to turn golden brown. Add the carrots and celery and cook on medium low until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the parsley, and heat on medium until it begins to simmer. Simmer for a couple hours, stirring occasionally, until the peas are the desired tenderness and the soup is nice and thick. Add additional water, if needed as it cooks. Near the end of cooking (in the last half hour), add the parsley. Remove ham bone prior to serving.
Note: This can also be made in the crock pot -- just throw all the ingredients into the pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.

Tuesday: Pulled pork sandwiches (pulled pork saved from last week, in the freezer!) with roasted sugar snap peas and baby carrots

Wednesday: Asian Beef and Cauliflower Stew

Thursday: Ham and Pasta Skillet

Friday:  Homemade Pizza night!

Saturday: Leftover night

SundayAsparagus and Mushroom quiche, in the freezer (made two and saved one!).

What are you making this week? If you're looking for more ideas for your menu this week , check out Menu Plan Monday at! Have a great week!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Stocking up at Safeway

At our local Safeway this weekend, there are a few great items for stocking up your pantry, as well as keeping some great fresh fruit in your frig. I'll need lots of fresh fruit this week, as the kids are home for Spring Break. Check out these deals I found at my local Safeway.

Campbell's Tomato Soup, 2 for $1

Prego Pasta Sauce, $1.25 with coupon. This will go straight to our emergency supplies!

Pink Lady or Jazz Apples, $0.98 per pound. Jazz apples are normally $2.50 a lb, and are fabulously crispy and just the right sweetness -- we'll all enjoy these!

Grapes, $0.98 per pound. These will be a nice treat for the boys while they are home for the week!

Smithfield bacon, $1.99 per lb. Before this goes into the freezer, I'll split it into quarters. Just a quarter pound is all you need to add that nice bacony richness to a dish.

These prices were in Northern California. These are based on our California ad (4/7-4/13), which may or may not be similar to the Safeway, Vons, Dominicks, Genuardis, Pavilions, Carrs, Tom Thumb or Randalls ad in your area. Click the link of your local store; then enter your zip code to get for the circular for your local store!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Freebies

Hi everyone, 

Happy Friday! The weather here has been just plain gorgeous this week for April! I'm planning to do some garden planting and generally just enjoy the outdoors this weekend. 

Here are my freebie picks for the week. Some are in the future, but are worth marking your calendar for!

Free Kids Card from Hallmark. You don't need a coupon, just head down to your local Hallmark store, while supplies last. Expires 5/30/2010.

Free 8x10 Print at Walgreen's, TODAY ONLY. Friday, April 9th, get a free 8x10 print at Walgreen's. Use this
coupon, or order online.

And some Earth Day Freebies:

Free Earth Day Poster Download
- from

Free Reusable Tote Bag
- Target will give away tote bags on April 18th

$1 inkjet refills at Walgreen's on Earth Day (April 22nd) - Mark your calendar!

This evening will officially mark the beginning of our Spring Break! I'm looking forward to some quiet time and then a jaunt to check out some land. I'll keep you posted! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Frugal Feats

I needed to go shopping for my older son today, who is growing out of his clothes (again!). I bought a lot of the shirts he currently has at a great rummage sale that has since ceased operations. My son has decided he loved the style of some of these shirts, so I headed out to see if I could find some in his size without breaking our ever-shrinking bank account.

I decided to head to JCPenny's since I knew they were having a sale, and he's been happy with clothes I've bought there in the past. Sure, I could have gone to Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc -- but I didn't have time for some leisurely yet hard core frugal shopping. So, off to Penny's it was, to see what I could find. I did incorporate the trip into my errands for the day, so I felt a little better that I wasn't making a special trip and wasting gas, not knowing if I'll even find anything.

Upon walking in to the Young Men's section, I was pleased to see they had tshirts on sale for $5.99 (Goodwill would have been about the same price!). I picked a couple shirts up and continued wandering. Unfortunately, that seemed about the best deal, at first glance. I did pick up one nice collared polo shirt, maybe not the best deal, but at 50% off, the $17 price tag was still less than Costco and would be perfect for school pictures. I waded through the main clearance section, but didn't find anything else. I took a detour into the Big and Tall section for my husband, but the emphasis was on "Big" vs. "Tall", so there was nothing there for him. Back again I went into the Young Men's section.

At the far end of the section, I found an unusual rack with clearance items, mostly tshirts, on it. This was a vertical set of shelves in a very odd place, tucked into the coat section. I looked through the items briefly and found some marked down to $7. Ah, that's more like it. I found one shirt in a design I though my son would like a lot. Imagine my surprise when I found the price marked down to $1.97! It's got to be a mistake, I thought. Well, only one way to find out.

I headed to the checkout. I reviewed my purchases and put one tshirt back. When it was my turn, the cashier didn't even blink an eye at the $1.97 price tag. In no time I was out the door with my great find.  In the end, I figure the inexpensive shirt balances out the nicer one. Tomorrow morning, my son won't be coming down the stairs looking like the Incredible Hulk ready to tear his shirt! Plus, he was happy with my purchases. Overall, it's a WIN!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

20 Free Prints TODAY at Walgreen's

Today only, Walgreen's has 20 4x6 free prints. Use this instore coupon, or order online with the code PRINTS20.

Enjoy, and have a great day!

DIY: Frugal Frozen Fare

Since we began this frugal journey 14 months ago, one thing that we (or should I say, my BOYS) have wanted is a way to make our own frozen desserts. Sometime last summer, Costco had an ice cream maker for sale. We saw it, ooh and aah'd over it, but didn't buy it. Was it a good model? Was it a good price? Would we use it? Would it be cheaper to make our own than to buy it? These questions lingered as we left the store. I did the research, and the answers were yes, yes, yes, and yes! Well, we didn't get back to Costco for a few days.... and it was gone! There wasn't even a floor model left. Not deterred, my husband checked another Costco not far away, with the same result.

Oh, the disappointment! We hoped that maybe, Costco would carry one for the holidays. No such luck! We had given up. Then, just a few weeks ago, when shopping at Costco, there it was! Well, not the same machine, but something similar. No hesitation this time. It came home with us. We've had great fun experimenting with different recipes. We still have lots of recipes to try (sorbet anyone?) but I'd say this purchase is a hit. I love the fact that I can control the ingredient quality and there are no preservatives, colors, or ingredients I can't pronounce!

Here's the basic recipe (from the booklet that came with the ice cream maker), which makes simple yet fabulous ice cream! The boys like it right out of the machine (soft-serve, they call it). In the freezer for an hour or two, and the texture is more like regular ice cream.

2 cups cream - $1.62
1 cup milk - 15 cents
3/4 cup sugar - 16 cents
1 tsp vanilla - 5 cents

Total cost for 1.5qts: $1.98

Whisk all ingredients together in a mixing bowl, or with your mixer to incorporate more air. With the ice cream machine set up, turn it on before adding your mixture. (Note: freezing vessel needs to be frozen for 18 hours). Pour in the mixture, and let machine process for 30 minutes. Then, enjoy!

As you can see, the lion's share of the cost is from the cream. I bought cream at Target this past week, and it wasn't on sale. I'll be looking for either 1) a substitute for the cream, or 2) a better deal! We will be looking at making sorbet as we get more fresh summer fruits. For now, the boys are eager to try new flavors.

Do you have an ice cream maker? How do you use it? Any suggestions on where to buy the best ingredients?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

First Spring Garden Harvest

I harvested spinach from the garden -- and I'm so excited. It went straight into our dinner Monday evening - Spinach Tomato Tortellini. There is definitely a very satisfying feeling eating something you've grown. From those tiny seeds came part of our dinner. It's very empowering!

As all of my family enjoyed the meal, we considered what other parts of the meal we could provide for ourselves. Certainly the tomatoes, later in the summer, as our tomato seedlings are coming along. What about the cheese? We'd need a goat or maybe a cow -- that won't happen while we still live in the city. Pasta? We could possibly make our own, but tortellini?

The possibilities were fun to imagine. For now, I'm still enjoying that satisfaction, just from one bunch of spinach. And I'm looking forward to all the harvests to come!

Monday, April 5, 2010

100 photo prints for $10 including shipping!

Snapfish is having a special until April 10th to celebrate their 10th birthday! From now until 4/10 you can get 100 prints for $10, shipping included. Planning on working on that memory book or album? Get your prints made now!

Monday Meal Planning

This is the boys' last week until Spring Break. They'll be counting down the days! We are trying to put together a short trip, though we're still working out the details -- we want to look at some land in Oregon, but it's pretty pricey to travel, have the dog watched, etc. We'll figure it out this week! Here's our menu for the week, in the meantime!

Monday: Spinach Tomato Tortellini - I'll be using fresh spinach from our garden. Having at least one meat-free meal a week helps keep our costs down!

Tuesday: Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili - I'll use corn instead of hominy

Wednesday: Bean and Rice Burritos, with fixins (lettuce, onions, salsa, sour cream) - the beans are already made and in the freezer.

Thursday: Julia's Simple Fried Rice, served with toasted cashews.

Friday: Homemade Pizza night!

Saturday: White Chili - I'll be using ham leftover from Easter dinner.

Sunday: Leftover night.

What are you making this week? If you're looking for more ideas for your menu this week , check out Menu Plan Monday at! Have a great week!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

I hope you are all having a happy and peaceful Easter day. Here are some pictures from my garden, which I enjoy watching every day. Enjoy!

Golden Beets

Baby apricot tree we rescued last summer, during landscaping work for the cottage back yard. It lives!

Fordhook chard surviving the leafminers

Baby lettuce

Tall Telephone peas on a homemade trellis, and beets

One of two strawberry beds, in a clawfoot tub

Brussel sprouts - free plant from Freecycle!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday Safeway Deals

Now that we're getting veggies from the farm (for a few weeks, anyway), a trip to the grocery store gives me the chance to pick up anything I need to fill in the "holes" for my meal plan. Also, it's an opportunity to take advantage of the best sales. Here's what I'll be picking up this weekend at Safeway. 

Whole ham - $0.97/lb. The last time we bought one of these, we had it at Christmas. Since then, I've been using portions saved in the freezer for pizzas and casseroles. Since that ham is now gone, this is perfect timing for us to stock up!

Folger's coffee - $5.99/29 oz. This price is better than Costco's regular price, so I'll buy a few for the panty.

Pineapples - $1.97 each. This is a good price, and we love fresh pineapple for fruit smoothies, snacks, and pizzas. Some of it will go into the freezer, depending on how much the boys eat :)

Campbell's Cream of mushroom soup - $0.99 ea plus a coupon for $1 off two makes them $0.49 each! These are great to have on hand for those times when you're meal plan has made a detour, and you need a recipe that's inexpensive and quick. I also keep these kinds of food on hand for as part of our emergency preparedness plan.

These are based on our California ad (3/31-4/6), which may or may not be similar to the Safeway, Vons, Dominicks, Genuardis, Pavilions, Carrs, Tom Thumb or Randalls ad in your area. Click the link of your local store; then enter your zip code to get for the circular for your local store!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Freebies

It promises to be another rainy day, we won't need to water the garden today. I think we'll be coloring eggs today. Tomorrow is our City's Easter Egg hunt, and my younger son's Scout troop will be helping. He's really enjoying being a Boy Scout!

I hope you enjoy these freebies. My favorite -- the music!

Free Special K protein meal bar, plus two $1 coupons (one for Special K protein meal bars, the other for Special K protein shakes).

X5 Free Classical Sampler - Chopin 200 Years  - five free Chopin pieces from Amazon, for a limited time.

Free GeoTrax DVD "Steamer and Samuel Save the Day" - four animated episodes, 46 minutes total length. Allow 12-14 weeks to arrive. Make sure to "select country to begin" and "continue" to get to the ordering page.

And one more site especially for this weekend: Jelly Belly Virtual Factory Tour

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Garden Update

I thought is was about time to give you an update on our garden. My husband has started working on the walkway, which he tells me must go in before any more garden beds. It's a little dangerous out there, as he's getting ready to pour cement, and there are forms right where you would normally walk!

On to the plants! My garden is growing well overall. Both kinds of peas are off to a good start. The carrots, not so much. We found it's hard to keep the soil moist in the corners of the raised bed. Before we replant those spots, we plan to line just the corners with some plastic to help keep the moisture in. The spinach, chard, and turnips are doing well, though we have had some leafminer damage. For now, I'm just pinching off the leaves as I find them. I'm considering taking other measures -- everything from planting marigolds to buying some beneficial insects. I'll probably try the marigolds first.

We still have one small bed unplanted. This bed doesn't get any sun until around noon, so I'm undecided what I should plant there. I have some basil and parsley starts almost ready to plant. I think it will be too shady for the tomato seedlings we currently have in pots. I'm trying to avoid the temptation to go out and buy plants -- it's so much more money -- but I don't think we'll have enough tomatoes if I don't get more plants somehow!

Overall I'm happy with how things are going. Despite some damage from a windy day, the leafminers, our dog running through the bed, and other critters walking through and doing a little damage, the garden is still thriving. It's nice just to go our and look at all our little (some, not so little!) plants. I try to take the time every day -- it's very peaceful and satisfying all at once.

If you've got a garden, or plan to, how is it doing, or how are your plans coming? Any advice or suggestions? This is the first time in 10 years we've had a garden, so I'm definitely finding myself a bit "rusty"!
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