Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life at the Larsens'

My mom loves to celebrate ALL holidays. She really likes birthdays, especially her own! So, every year we all get together for a birthday weekend to celebrate how young she's getting. :)

It won't be long until she's younger than me!

This year we spent her birthday in Branson. We had a great weekend! One of the highlights for the kids was the Dinosaur Museum.

Aunt Jonte' brought the birthday cake and let all of the grandkids help decorate. They had a blast and were very proud of their creative ability.

See if you can pick out our resident treasure hunters contribution to the decorations...

We also celebrated the 100th day of school. For Kate's party she had to make a shirt with 100 pieces of something on it. We decided to go for buttons and of course Luke wanted to make one for his 100th day too...

Kate's Valentine Tea Party pics will be next!


Well, I did it! The grand total was $42.68. I was so excited! I was even able to get some great produce, stock up on a couple of things that were cheap, and buy my diet dr. pepper. I did have to skip the cute Valentine tote that was on clearance but I couldn't take a chance of going over. lol! I have to confess that I'm addicted to holiday merchandise...

Now, here's the meal list for the week. Luckily, I was able to find a pack of chicken in my freezer which helped!
S:Tortilla Soup
M: Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings (this was my first time to try it in the crockpot and it was AWESOME!!!)
T: Homemade Chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, sauteed broccoli
W: Ham and Cheese Frittatas, fruit salad, asparagus
TH: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Rice, Asian side salad
F: Taco Salads, Cornbread
I think that I actually have enough of a stockpile to try this again next week. We'll see!

I would love to know...what are you cooking this week??

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's that time again...

I am getting ready to plan my meals for the week. I love to stock my pantry and freezer when groceries are rock bottom and so it's not unusual for me to plan meals based on what I have on hand. The problem comes in that my Aldi stash has run dry, I'm out of chicken, most of the meals that are in the freezer we have had recently and the meals that I'm craving for the week would require purchasing more groceries than what I would like. It's not going to be pretty. So off to the freezer I go to see what sort of yummy meals I can come up with. My own love of food is often one of the challenges that I have in being frugal. I like to cook what sounds good, not what I've stocked up on.

I'll post the final verdict about what Team Larsen will be eating this week later. My secret goal (not so secret now that I've posted it on my blog) is to not spend more than $50 this week. We'll see what kind of skills I have. Especially considering that I have a husband who eats as much as two men and a daughter who gives him a run for his money. This is where the preplanning rubber meets the road. I'll keep you posted...

Side note: I think we've been stalked by the icecream truck. This is the second time that he's passed our house and he slows down and rings his bell right in front of our house. He speeds up as soon as he passes. Luckily my kids aren't here! We're going to be in for it this summer though.
Why is the icecream truck driving around in February anyway!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Frugality 101

I am passionate about frugality. Period. Well, maybe, exclamation mark. I am actually a self-proclaimed hyper-frugal to the point that my heart races at saving cents as well as finding rock bottom deals. I could talk for hours about various ways to save money and bore even the closest of friends. I overanalyze cost comparisons to the point that some people would want to stab their eyeballs out. Some people, who are less kind, would probably even call me cheap. But as I sit and think about sharing frugal wisdom in a blog post, I'm stumped. Mostly because frugality is how I'm wired and it's hard to imagine that the way I think isn't just common sense to others. I want to share some ideas with those who want to be a little more thrify but aren't sure how. If in the process of doing this I end up saying things that make you think "of course, EVERYONE already knew that" then please forgive me. Hopefully, there will be a little nugget that you can walk away with...

Today I'm going to just share one cost saving idea, well maybe two. Or maybe a 3 paragraph essay...

First and foremost...frugality comes with a cost, as ironic as that is. It's easy to buy what you want, when you want, at whatever price it is. Saving money on whatever it is that you are wanting to buy (home decor, clothes, food) takes time and sacrifice. If you want to be frugal it will take patience, planning and discipline. BUT it CAN be done and it comes with great satisfaction and reward!!
You have to decide your reason for frugality. Do you need to be frugal just to make ends meet? Do you have something special that you want to save for? Or maybe you just want to make your money go further? Personally, I feel like I am frugal for all of the above but mostly because it's how I'm wired. I have to work to balance the cost of being frugal with the actual benefits (outside of the high that it brings). If you don't have a clear goal and motivation then it will be hard for you to count the cost.

Here's my one tip for the day...grocery shop less. WHAT?? I know, it's overwhelming. Here comes the cost. You will have to PLAN more and that's hard! You have to have a clear idea of what you NEED before you go to the store. You have to make a meal list (even if it's a flexible one) and have a clear grocery list that you stick too. But, you will SAVE MONEY! Not because you are buying less of what you need but because you are less tempted to buy what you DON'T need. Now, this will look different for everyone. Maybe you are shopping a couple of times a week right now, and you need to cut down to one. Or maybe you need to shop for groceries once every two weeks with a milk and produce run in between. Don't shut down on me, you can do it!
Studies show that people who shop less end up saving money. It's something to think about...

Wabi-Sabi in progress...

As one who values authenticity, I want to make sure that people understand one thing about my wabi-sabi journey. And that's this...it's a journey. I am learning about the concept and am in the beginning stages of allowing it to affect our lives. It' definitely not something that I am an expert in or claim to know a lot about. After a discussion with my sweet hubby, I felt the need to clarify and make sure that it didn't come across as something other than a journey of discovery. :)

AND...thanks to all of you who have shared your blog advice either through comments or in person! Hopefully, I'll be able to apply some of the great tips!