Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And the ball drops...

New Year's many of us actually keep them? Well in an attempt to convince myself that it is possible...I'm going to share mine with you, which might make me a little more accountable.

1. Be a better Catholic - I'm not very good about keeping up with my holy days etc., so this year I plan on taking the time to do so.

2. Get healthy! - I've just let it all go these past few years and it's time to move on.

3. And of course, get more frugal!- there are so many things that I know I could be doing, so my goal is to focus on completely frugalizing my life the way I dream about.

I hope that if you have a resolution that you have luck with it! Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frugal Tip: Velveeta Boxes

I have to thank my Mom for this one:

Save the cardboard base boxes from Velveeta and other similar block processed cheeses. They (usually) fit perfectly in kitchen drawers for organizers!

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and/or a Happy Holiday and I look forward to getting back to posting!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa Claws

I just had to share these photos of my crazy kitten Rory. She is almost a year old, and we brought her home, along with her twin Allie, from the Gulf Coast Humane Society. Hubby and I were bored one day and decided to stop by the animal shelter and look around. There they were, in the same cage, absolutely identical, and climbing the cages! Hubby always said that if he saw one that nutty, he was going to take it home; but we couldn't split them up. The house has been upside down ever since! So here are a few pics of Rory inside of the Christmas tree, which we hear jingling ALL NIGHT LONG! It's not Santa Claus, it's Santa Claws! ENJOY!

P.S. Any good recommendations for a camera that doesn't blur so badly without flash?

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, December 16th, 2008 (I'm always a little behind)

Outside my is one of the coldest days that we have around these parts and I am utterly enjoying the dark clouds and freezing temperatures!!

I am thinking... that I don't see how universal healthcare can really work, but I am sitting, waiting, and wishing because it just costs too much

I am thankful for... today's weather; it makes me miss Yankeeland just a little less and happy where God has brought me

From the kitchen... Monkey Munch was made last night and I have been "munching" on it ever since. Just melt 1/2 c. peanut butter, 1 c/ chocolate chips, and 1/4 c. butter or margarine and pour over 9 cups of Chex; mix thoroughly; put into large bag with 1 1/2 c/ powdered sugar and shake shake shake! Refrigerate in airtight container...

I am wearing... one of two pairs of jeans that actually fit me, and an Old Navy pullover, because I swear by Old Navy sweaters

I am creating... a wine cork trivet for Christmas; to see how its done click HERE

I am going... to the bank this afternoon, a place that lately I like to avoid

I am reading... still Marie Antoinette, I wonder if I will ever finish that book; the librarians look at me funny because they have the look like "Renewing again??"

I am hoping...that Christmas is somewhat cold, that we make it through the beginning of the year, and that next Christmas will be better

I am hearing... Jingle Bell Rock courtesy of this blog

Around the house... Christmas presents are scattered all over because we cannot trust them under the tree thanks to Rory and Allie; kitchen items are piled up because a bunch of things were given to us and I have no idea where to put them; but I did get my gardenia planted and now its on the porch

One of my favorite things... a small ceramic Christmas tree that I painted as a little girl in ceramics glass, I will share it with you today
A few plans for the rest of the week... Wednesday nanny-ing and baking cornbread and mini pecan pies at the Boardwalk, Thursday baby again then FREE high school band Christmas concert, Friday buying police uniforms for hubby, and Saturday baking again!

A picture thought I would like to share with you

my ceramic tree

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Hint of Spring

A few days ago, right on schedule, my flying friends came to pollenate my loquat tree. I captured them on camera feasting away at my little fruit buds. I love that they arrive in December, because it helps drive the winter blues away. When I see them, I know I have a little harvest to look forward to in the spring.

The loquat tree was in the ground when we bought our house. It took me a whole year just to find out what it was exactly. According to my research, the fruit is difficult to grow in most areas, but thrives well in Zone 9 and 10 and also in Asia. My favorite part about my loquat tree is that I do not tend to it at all. I do not fertilize it, water it any extra that I do other plants, and I do not prune. Yet, it still blesses me every year. Sometimes I think nature just needs to be left alone, because it was taking care of itself long before we were there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, December 10th, 2008

Outside my is freezing, abnormal around here, and I know it desperately wants to snow but we are just not that lucky

I am thinking...that it is ironic that a few days ago I burned the outside of my hands and now they are like icicles

I am thankful for....all the beautiful-hearted children in the world that bring a smile to my face

From the learning rooms.... my old boss contacted me so it looks like I might be homeschooling again next year

From the kitchen.....there sits a bunch of cans of soup for hubby, who did not respond well to his anesthesia yesterday

I am wearing....long sleeved shirt topped by a hoodie, jeans topped with blanket, I'm still cold!

I am creating.... a baby blanket for my new niece to be born in February

I am going... to a wedding on Friday for my best friend, for whom I never thought I would live to see the day

I am reading...still reading Marie Antoinette, but in between that I am reading some Smithsonian magazines I got at the library for only 10 cents a piece; I will later save them to use in projects

I am hoping...that a visit to the doctor will tell me I am not broken, and that I can stop resenting someone in my life and accept what may come

I am hearing...the ticking of my I Love Lucy clock and the Matrix playing in the living room

Around the house...abundant Christmas decorations are in every corner, along with mail I haven't opened yet, socks that the cats stole, and craft items I haven't decided what to do with yet

One of my favorite lap desk, I use it for everything

A few plans for the rest of the week....Thursday nanny-ing followed by some rest finally!; Friday supermarket and wedding, and Saturday baking at the restaurant which is going really well by the way! I can't keep up with the demand

Here's a picture thought I am sharing:

I love when cameras do funny things. One day I will own a professional camera and live in scrapbook heaven forever!
Can you guess what it is?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Little Rearranging...

Last Christmas we were blessed through Freecycle when a lovely lady a few towns away gave us all of her Christmas decorations. There had been many many years of collected items that were dear to her heart, and she delivered them to our doorstep to our young family. This year as we were unpacking the boxes we realized we had something for every room! It was great....I'm really glad that people still think of others :)

I usually have trouble finding table centerpieces because of my trecherous kittens. I had some leftover glass ornaments that I do not dare put on the tree, so I decided to place them on a serving plate with some votives left over from our wedding and here it is.....

I also wanted to share a picture of a Ninja Turtles stocking that I found at a rummage sale for $.25. This is my husband's stocking because he is feeling goofy this year...

I hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit. As I drive through our neighborhood I see all of the Christmas lights going up, and it makes me all warm inside.... :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Family Ties

So I am finally back. I am back in town and back online with a working modem! Yay!

I spent Thanksgiving with my Mom's side of the family and had high hopes of posting lovely autumn ideas, but then a bout with a terrible cold left me in the fetal position on the couch. So I thought instead of backtracking now that it's December, I would just post some pictures of my favorite things at Mom's. A little photojournalism if you will....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Long time no post :(

I know I have been M.I.A. the last couple of days, and I do apologize. I have been a little under the weather. Today I was all revved up to post what has been going on, and then there it modem, lying on the floor, Ethernet socket broken because I have three crazy cats who are hyperactive. So here I sit at the local library, where apparently cable modems do not exist. (Note to self: will all of my millions to the public libraries of America!) I will be out of town for the holiday this week, but I am taking my laptop and hopefully can post while I'm gone. Hope everyone enjoys Thanksgiving...until we meet again!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Tonight I am making some orzo with dinner, so I thought I would share how I make this quick and easy side...

You can cook orzo just as you do rice. When tender, drain, and add some tomato sauce, cinnamon, and paprika. Quick and easy and adds a different, more sweet kind of flavor when you're looking to spice up dinner! Goes great with meats... Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I've Done

I got this list from the Mere. I love her blog, check it out. Feel free to ask questions off of these too.
THINGS I'VE DONE (in bold!)
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
Reading this list has made me aware of all the things I would love to do in my lifetime. I better get cracking! Hope you enjoyed this; make a list of your own!

Monday, November 17, 2008

For Today, November 17th, 2008

For more information on the Simple Woman's Daybook, click the picture

For Today...

Outside my window...some neighborhood cats are making themselves comfy, what can I say I'm loved
I am thinking...about how good a nap sounds right now, but I have to clean house

I am thankful for...everything that we have because sometimes we don't realize what we have

From the kitchen...2 pumpkins pies, a lemon icebox pie, and a batch of homemade whipped cream

I am wearing...Aeropostale tee and jeans, from the store I call the most comfy in the whole world, made for girls with big tops and big bottoms hehe

I am reading...Marie Antoinette: The's very long and takes a while to digest

I am hoping...that the next few months go ok, that we have enough to survive without killing each other...or starving...

I am creating...absolutely nothing at the moment, although I have so many projects I want to start

I am hearing...Gilmore Girls! My daily treat

Around the house...everything needs to be done! Hubby comes home tomorrow and I used to be really good at having everything perfect, boy oh boy

One of my favorite coming home to something happy being in the mail, whether it is a free subscription to a food magazine or a letter from someone far away

A few plans for the rest of the week...watching Bray for the next three days, baking more pies on Friday, and hopefully going to see Twilight on Friday because Harry Potter 6 was cancelled!!! (totally ruining my year in the entertainment market)

Here is a picture thought I want to share with you:

This is the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace at Versailles. I am very into Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and I've heard that Versailles must be seen in one's lifetime

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade laundry detergent is one of the easiest and cost effective things you can do to "frugalize" your home. Not only is it cheap, it is eco-friendly, easy to make, and sufficient for high efficiency (front-loading) washing machines. Combined with the use of vinegar as a softener, your clothes will be cleaner with less residue and a better smell!

There are three ingredients needed to make a basic powdered laundry detergent: washing soda, borax, and bar soap.

Washing soda and borax (all-natural!) can be found in the laundry care aisle of most stores, usually on the top or bottom shelf. For the bar soap, the milder the better. I sometimes use organic lavender soap from the health food store because it is very soft and has a mild scent. Sometimes I use plain old Ivory. It is up to you. Try not to use moisturizing bars such as Dove because these are more creamy and don't rinse out as well.

The recipe:

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 borax

1 cup grated soap flakes

Grate soap flakes using a box grater, or dice into small chunks and put in a food processor. It should look like this.

Combine soap with soda and borax in a sealed container. Shake it up! Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. I keep mine in a large plastic coffee container and use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon. (I made a triple batch of detergent, that is why my container looks very full.)

On the front of this container, I used a label maker to print up the recipe so it is always there.
I also recommend using vinegar as a fabric softener in the rinse cycle. It is cost effective at less than $1.50 per gallon, and it removes most soap residue. It is especially helpful if you hang dry your laundry, because vinegar will help achieve that sunshine smell. And your clothes won't smell like vinegar I promise.

This detergent can be used in front-loading washing machines because it does not sud. It actually suds less than HE laundry detergent.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family Owned and Operated

My little baking area

Friends and family have their own tables; this one is for me and my husband

Today was the opening of my in-laws restaurant, the Boardwalk Cafe in Corpus Christi. I am the baker there and wanted to give a little preview of the place. We serve all kinds of seafood and chicken, homemade hush puppies at every table, and homemade pies and cakes! I love wearing my apron and getting covered head to toe in's quite fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For Today...

To learn about the Simple Woman's Daybook, visit

For Today, November 13, 2008

Outside my is raining and it puts me in the best mood ever
I am thinking...about this horrific backache that I've had for four days

From the learning learning room consists of a small bedroom that harbors my never ending supply of books I love and reread over and over
I am thankful husband who doesn't realize his selflessness

I am wearing...tee and adidas shorts, covered in baby drool and formula..yummy

From the is calling out to me to make something wonderful, but for now it is leftover pot roast
I am reading...Marie Antoinette: The Journey and I can't put it down

I am hoping...that everything will be revealed in due time

I am creating...a knitted baby blanket for my sister-in-law

Around the house...there are so many things to do that I am stuck in one place

One of my favorite library card!
A few plans for the rest of the week...get back on Ebay to get us through Christmas!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
My beautiful sister Athena with her chicken Choo Choo

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frugal Camping

This past weekend we went camping at Riverside Park in Bay City, Texas. This place is near my mother's house so it is a nice place for all of us to meet up and enjoy some time. It costs $18 a night for full hookups, so we usually have someone's RV and a couple of tents. When you divide the price by everyone it is quite cheap, and cheaper than a hotel! Now mind you that our normal way of camping is not exactly "roughing it"! Here are a few pics of the place and some frugal camping tips to go along with them.

- Stay away from ice in the coolers. Everything will be soggy by the end of your trip. Invest in some ice packs instead.
- Omelets in a bag - put all omelet ingredients into a Ziploc bag. Remove air and seal. Place in a pot of boiling water until package floats to the top. (thanks Mom)
- Cook canned foods directly on the grill. Open the lid slightly and you have a little oven in there!
-Use what nature gave you: wood for fire and roasting marshmallow, rivers and lakes for washing clothes, and fish for eating!
- Bring dishes and silverware that you can reuse. Keep down the waste by not using paper products.
- Invest in a decent-sized tent. Not only will you have room for your family but also for the rest of your belongings in case it rains. Our tent has enough room for us and a table in case we have to spend more time in there.
- Aluminum foil! You can cook on it, or in it, or wrap potatoes in it, or deflect the sun with it! Bring it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A-Penny-Saved Tip

Today's tip: save leftover butter stick wrappers to grease pans. I put all of mine in a ziploc bag in the freezer and they are ready to use at anytime. Tonight I made brownies and greased the pan in a matter of seconds. Use it up, wear it out....

We will be camping for the next few days so no posts until Sunday! Have a great weekend...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wine Cork Crafts

I had a bunch of wine corks left over from my wedding favors, and I didn't want to let them go to waste. I decided to make a trivet out of them. All I did was arrange them evenly in a shape, making sure I had enough. Then I hot glued them row by row. Added some ribbon, also from the wedding, and there ya have it! It matches my Tuscan house and can make a great gift too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lentils: The New Meat

My husband is changing jobs at the beginning of the year and we are going to have to economize. Every week I am trying to do something newly frugal, and this week I decided to tackle lentils. Lentils are a staple in a Greek diet but I had never really given them a chance. Turns out, lentils are legumes that are 26% protein and high in iron. This is a nice alternative to meats, especially when there's a drought in the meat-on-sale department. At Wal-Mart, a 1 lb. bag of lentils costs $.92. I made lentil soup, or soupa faki in Greek, using only 1 cup of lentils, or half the bag. The whole meal costs less than a dollar and is pretty filling! Here is the recipe:

1 cup lentils
1 quart water
3-5 large fresh carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tsps. salt
oregano to taste
pepper to taste

Wash lentils in a strainer under cold water. Check for tiny pebbles and sticks. Set aside. Cut carrots and onions. Set aside. Bring water to a boil in a medium soup pot and add all ingredients except salt. Bring to a boil again, then reduce and simmer for 2 hours. If soup begins to thicken too much for your taste, add water. Add salt in the last ten minutes of cooking time. Serve with feta cheese, fresh bread, and kalamata olives, and a glass of wine for a true Greek meal.

Voila! You have a nutrient-rich meal for not a lot of money!

Did You Vote?

IT'S ELECTION DAY! I hope everyone voted. I was prepared in my comfy shoes to wait in a long line, and we arrived to a five minute wait. It was really nice to just get in there and get it done! So now we are watching the election coverage as the votes are coming in! Here's to the next four years!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rock the Vote

Well tomorrow is Election Day, the one day where we all get to go out as Americans and take part in "the process." If you haven't already voted I hope you go out and do so. I am really happy for this election because I feel very informed. The last election was my first eligible election, and I watched the debates but I felt like I didn't know enough. I ended up not voting on that fact. This election, though, I have read and listened to everything that has come across me. I am very confident in my decision. Whether or not you are voting for McCain or Obama, get out there and let your voice be heard!

And don't forget to get your FREE BEN & JERRY'S ice cream between 5 and 8 just for voting! Check your local Ben & Jerry's to see if they are participating. We don't have one here, so I will be living vicariously through the rest of you!

Starbucks is also offering a FREE TALL BREWED COFFEE between 8am and 10 pm. So, if Starbucks is encouraging us, then I guess it's a must!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I am a former woman of waste. No matter what it was it went into the garbage can. When my husband and I lived in an apartment, it was a generous hike to the dumpster and yet I still didn’t grasp the idea that there was just too much trash! When we moved into our house, we were enlightened by the world of recycling.

Each house in our area comes with two recycling buckets provided by the city, picked up every two weeks. I began recycling some paper, plastic, and aluminum. It was until I realized how much less actually goes into the trash bag until I started hardcore recycling. Not a piece of paper, plastic, or aluminum gets thrown away. I have a pile set aside and every so often I take everything to the garage and separate. I also ordered some extra bins from the city so I could separate items and make it easier on the workers. Since starting this practice, (along with some composting of kitchen scraps), I have almost removed the need to buy trash bags more than once every couples of months (and I buy a box of 15). I figure, I am paying for the recycling service whether I like it or not, I might as well use it!

Now you might ask, how am I supposed to recycle? I live in an apartment, or we don’t get curbside pickup… Well, start recycling in other way. I reuse plastic jugs of all sorts to make iced tea and lemonade. I save margarine containers to use as Tupperware. You can also
FREECYCLE (a free trading group offered through Yahoo) anything that is salvageable or you think someone might need. Crush those aluminum cans, store them, and make a trip to earn a few bucks! Do your part to help save the earth, and those trash bags!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

After-Holiday Deals

You have probably heard this time and again, but the best time to buy any seasonal item is right after the season itself is over. Today I stopped by CVS and found all of the Halloween AND Fall merchandise 50% off. We still have one whole month of "fall" left! I bought these two ceramic pumpkins for $2.99 total:

I thought these were great because I can use them anywhere for the whole month of October and November! All of the candy was also on sale, but I decided to get some pretzels for $1.90 instead. Other stores like Michael's, WalMart, and grocery stores clearance out their seasonal merchandise right away as well. It is worth checking out for next year's bounty. I am on the hunt for extremely reduced craft pumpkins!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dealing with Opposition

Dealing with Opposition
An average telephone conversation between myself and a non-believer:

Sid: Hello?
NB: Hey Sid, do you and Jon want to go out to eat with us?
Sid: Where are you going?
NB: Bob’s, like usual.
Sid: Well I don’t have a coupon for that place, and Jon and I usually pick one place a week and reserve some money for that. So, take a rain check?
NB: You guys are old, you don’t ever want to do anything with us.
Sid: Well, everyone could come over here and I could make dinner! I got some great chicken on sale.
NB: (dial tone)

If you are living the frugal life, you have probably met some severe opposition along the way. I find it a daily battle to try and justify my way of living to people who don’t seem to understand. I live in deep South Texas, and being “Yankee-born”, my eccentric way of life doesn’t always mesh well with the locals. So I have a few tips when dealing with friends, family, and strangers who, in attempt to make your feel as big as a Lilliputian, haven’t yet adjusted to your frugal lifestyle.

1. Encourage participation in your frugal activities so people can see for themselves that it does pay off.
2. Offer frugal alternatives and suggestions so you are not left out.
3. Convert as many as you can! I am always dishing out tips or recommending books in hopes that I can get a few converts under my belt, if only to lessen the stares.
4. As Dave Ramsey says, “If they are making fun of you, then you are doing it right.” America has bred a population of people who follow the beat of one drummer, and any side stepping throws them off.
5. My greatest tip: They will get over it. You cannot change everyone, and when people see the fruits of your penny-pinching (and that money saving garden you put together) you won’t have to waste your breath.

I am not a cynic, but I do believe that for so long, we as a people have come to believe many myths and feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses. Just as when you were in high school and you wanted to play the tuba, but that was the geeky thing to do, you did it anyway because you are your own person.

Welcome to November and happy All Saints Day!

Every journey starts with a single step

Well this is my first post on my new blog and I am rather excited about it. I have so much to say and felt that my former blog just wasn't working for me. I am full of ideas, and rants, and have an abnormal love for all things frugal. I am trying to find the joy in every day while learning to make one income go very very far! So if you would like to join me in my ups and down, highs and lows, and ins and outs of frugal living in America, check me out! I welcome you...