Frugal Friday #3

Frugal Friday

If you’re new here:  On Fridays I share a few frugal things I did during the week.  Then in the comments you to share a frugal thing or two you did during the week.  If you are a blogger feel free to link to your Frugal Friday post in the comments and we’ll come check it out.

  1.  My dad was hospitalized last weekend and had his gall bladder removed.  It was a little bit scary for awhile and Mom and I spent several hours together in the waiting room where they conveniently have a bistro/coffee shop.  We didn’t buy anything.
  2. It’s Black Friday and I’m staying home.  We don’t need anything, but really good deals tempt me anyway. That and the crowds make me cranky.
  3. I had to allergy proof my bedroom this week.  Turns out my intense rash was caused by breathing in fine dust particles created by dust mites.  They live everywhere, too small to be seen with the naked eye.  Some people are sensitive, some aren’t.  The doctor said if I was any more allergic I’d need to carry an epi pen, so everything in my bedroom was encased in dust mite proof wraps.  That itself was not cheap, but we saved hundreds by researching products online, reading reviews, and comparing prices.  One day I was mildly allergic, the next day SEVERE.  What causes a big swing like that?  Every doctor unanimously said, “Stress.”

It’s your turn.  What frugal things did you do this week?

This Changes Everything


Two people in the exact same circumstances, one is happy and the other is miserable.  Why?


The character quality that influences our happiness the most, is gratefulness.  Gratefulness is a seed that flowers into contentment and joy.

When we have it we spend less money. We smile and laugh more. We can rejoice in other people’s blessings.

There’s an herbicide that will kill it all.  It has the generic label Complaining but can be found under the brand names of Comparison and Envy.

DCF 1.0

Sometimes reading someone else’s grateful list brings up some jealousy.  This time of year, I wonder if I should share my grateful list or if it is better to tell it to God.  When I list off my list of things I’m thankful for, I naturally leave out the things that we are struggling with.  It would defeat the purpose to complain and be thankful at the same time. That can leave an impression that my life is perfect and make someone else wonder why theirs isn’t.

In this human experience we will all have trouble.  If it’s not happening now, it’s coming.  Our gratefulness is interwoven with tragedy. The contrast is beautiful.

autumn leaves

My goal is to become thankful no matter my circumstances.  It’s easy for me to be thankful when I look at those who are less fortunate.  If comparison is the thief of joy, then I want my gratitude to be independent from comparison .  There will always be someone better off or worse off than I am.  My joy and my gratitude has to be unaffected by circumstance.

There is one constant to be grateful for,  Jesus.  He remains unchanged no matter my circumstance. He lived and died and lived again so that whatever happens in this life is a blip in the scheme of eternity spent with Him.  If your Christmas tree is already up and you’re singing Christmas carols while you work, it doesn’t bother me.  It’s just another reminder of the reason for our gratitude this Thanksgiving day.

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Family to Yours

I’ve sent up special prayers for those of you with family members who have already been welcomed into the arms of our Savior.  It seems like we miss them more on days like today.


The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer List

the ultimate stocking stuffer list

This is the best stocking stuffer list ever because all your ideas are going to be on it. I’ve started with what I can think of, then I’ll come back and add your ideas up here after you put them in the comments.  You can’t leave the page without adding an idea, got it?

This year we are only giving one gift to each of our kids.  The kids drew names among each other, so they will each have 2 gifts to open. Then there’s the stockings.  I wrapped up smaller gifts for the stockings and spent a little more on some items–up to $15. The idea is that these are things my kids actually need and will use, and won’t be clutter.  The more expensive things are items they’ve been asking for and waiting to get for awhile, but things that weren’t so important that they had to have them right away.  Things like a wallet or a watch or gloves with texting fingers.  I’d rather do fewer gifts that were useful, than fill our house with bargain clutter.  Either way I spend about the same.

I’ve linked to some items for your convenience, but they aren’t affiliate links.  My state is on the list of states that Amazon won’t work with.  

A lot of the items are generic.  I didn’t want to put the same item on each list, so I stuck it on just one of them.  I’m sure girls would like Silly Putty too and I’d be as thrilled with a protein bar as Darren would.

Food Items

Breakfast items–doughnuts, muffins, fruit, cinnamon roll, or single serving fun cereal (so the kids can eat without waking mom and dad)



Favorite Candy

Beef Jerky



Fun food they don’t normally get to have, like Spaghetti-o’s

Restaurant Gift Cards

Dark Chocolate



Hand warmers


Texting Gloves

Lip Balm

Pocket Knife/multi tool

Unbreakable Combs–big pack that would be good to split with friends

Protein Bars

Cough Drops


Toy Handcuffs

Nerf Bullets–big pack to share with friends :)

Mini Nerf Gun

Matchbox Car

Silly Putty

Mini Lego Set (or a special piece from the lego store)

Art Supplies


DVDs (check dollar tree for these too, or even garage sales)

Glow sticks

Sidewalk Chalk

Bubbles (if it’s cold enough they will freeze in the air)

Printed Duct Tape

Ear Buds







Magic Baby Bottles

Hair Ties

Lip Gloss

Fingernail Polish

Coin Purse

Mini Wet Brush — wet brushes are our favorite

Craft supplies

Fuzzy socks or Gloves (Dollar Tree)

Cute socks–for mis-matching

Travel size items for sleepovers

Cosmetic bags for organizing

Cute School Supplies

Sunglasses (snow glares)


Water Bottle Carrier–this is my friend’s company and it is really good quality.  I love mine!

Texting Gloves

Purse size tissues

Kitchen Gadgets


Gift Card for a pedicure

Washi Tape

Fashion Scarf




Wax melts

Essential Oils

AntiBac gel from bath & body works

Fingernail clippers/Tweezers

Essential oil diffusing locket

Shaker Bottle for protein shakes

The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer List 2

Frugal Friday #2

Frugal Friday

Last week’s frugal friday was so much fun!  At first I thought no one would play along and then the comments rolled in.  That made me REALLY happy.  You inspired me to look for new ways to exercise my frugal muscles this week.

If you’re new here:  On Fridays I share a few frugal things I did during the week.  Then in the comments you to share a frugal thing or two you did during the week.  If you are a blogger feel free to link to your Frugal Friday post in the comments and we’ll come check it out.

I’ve been suffering with all over body hives for more than 2 weeks now.  My preliminary blood work shows “numerous active allergies” with more details to come.  In the past I’ve had an allergy to cats so they tested for that agin.  When the test came back negative my first thought was, “I need a cat.” My friend was giving away kittens on facebook—it would just take a second to send her a message….Then I saw this video on facebook.

  1. We didn’t get a cat.  Does that count as frugal?  Pet food, litter costs, extra cleaning, vet bills…..I’m saving big on those.  I really do love cats though.  We’ve been enjoying the friendly farm cats up at my in-law’s place.  There always seems to be a couple of kittens around there.  I’m reserving the right to splurge and get a kitten at some point…but for now, we are being frugal.  We also open our doors to family and friends for pet sitting.  Pet sitting is the joy of a pet for about as long as my kids have an attention span for them.


They are soooo cute though.

2.  Homemade hamburger buns.  I plopped a rump roast (bought over the weekend on a sale for $2.99 a lb) in the crock pot with a pinch of cloves, tons of garlic salt and a splash of red wine vinegar, for shredded beef sandwiches.  The original recipe is here at Taste of Home.  I was planning my day and how I would get to the day old store to buy buns and I thought—why not just bake my own.  It only takes a couple of minutes of hands on time.  Here’s my favorite recipe.  I saved around $5 and a whole lot of driving time.

homemade hamburger buns

3.  When I didn’t feel well, Instead of eating out we used some frugal convenience foods (Deli roast beef $5 lb, 3 cans crescent rolls $.99 each, and sliced provolone $2.50 for 12 oz) plus garden bell peppers to make Philly Pepper Steak Bundles.  I served it up with finger fruits and veggies on costco paper plates (bought on a coupon sale.)  I keep the plates on hand for the days I can’t cope with one more thing–on the wanna be takeout nights. The best part is the kids saw me making them and it looked so fun that they came over to help.

Philly Pepper Steak Bundles

4.  I used the library.  A blogger I really respect recommended a couple of books.  I was not sure if these books were ones I’d want to read once, or refer back to over and over again.  I requested copies from my library.  Once I read them I can decide if they are ones to buy for our forever library. Money saved $25

5. I used a discount prescription card.  With my Melaleuca membership, I could get a prescription drug discount card.  Our health insurance dropped prescription drug coverage last January to try to reduce costs and keep up with the new government mandates.  The discount card costs $5 a month ($60 a year) and covers all 8 of us.  I needed 2 prescriptions to fight my allergies.  Normally one was $40 and the other was $30.  With the discount card the new prices were $10 & $9. $50 saved and we’ve only had the cards 2 months so far :).

It’s your turn!  Inspire us with one of your frugal activities this week.


Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Yesterday I made the most delicious shredded beef in the slow cooker.  I worked all day knowing I had that meal ready to go.  When it was almost time for dinner, I slid our homemade buns into the oven and realized I didn’t have a side dish.  Not one. I poked around in the freezer and the fridge and saw we had frozen brussels sprouts, half a butternut squash, a bag of radishes, and a bag of baby carrots.

Roasted Winter Vegetables before

I threw them all together in a pan–the colors were glorious! Then drizzled and tossed with oil.  Sprinkled and tossed with a tsp of sea salt, and cooked for an hour at 400 degrees.

Roaste winter vegetables

Gorgeous right?  The only problem was last minute and bake for an hour don’t go together well.  I let the family eat the roast beef sandwiches and some canned apple slices and by the time the veggies were ready, they weren’t hungry enough to be adventurous.Roasted Winter Vegetables After 2

Stage 3 of my plan to make my family Butternut Squash lovers backfired, but it was really delicious.  I’m super pumped to have leftovers.

The recipe is simple, trim and cut veggies into bite sized pieces, toss with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 (up to 450 if not in glass) for an hour or until fork tender and golden.  For best results stir after 30 minutes.  Serve while your family is still famished–unless they already know that gorgeous food can be delicious too.

Butternut Squash Fritters

Butternut Squash Fritters 5

Remember yesterday when I told you I have a secret plan to make my kids like squash?  This is level 2.

We enjoyed these fritters (inspiration here) during last Sunday’s lunch with our oven baked chicken, but we kicked it up a notch in the evening by warming them back up in a skillet and melting cheese on the top.  We tried Monterey Jack which was good but sharp cheddar would have been even better. Next time I plan to stir cheddar right into the batter.  It might get crisp in the areas where the cheddar hits the griddle—there’s nothing wrong with that.

Butternut Squash Fritters 2

There’s quite a bit of shredding involved in these.  I decided that it was worth the hassle to get out the kitchen aid shredder attachment to do these.  I was so right.  It shredded up my giant butternut squash in less than 5 minutes.  If you try this by hand it will count as aerobic exercise.Butternut Squash fritters
If you don’t have an electric shredder (or food processor) then grab the kid who most recently used the word, “bored.”  Or the one who was asked to sweep the floor and then walked off with the chairs still pushed against the wall and the broom lying on the floor. He will love to shred the squash for you.  So will the one who made a sandwich and left the mayo on the counter with the knife still in it.

Butternut Squash fritters

I didn’t have any trouble peeling my squash.  The hardest part was cutting it open.  I grabbed the longest, widest knife I had and that helped.  My regular vegetable peeler took the skin right off.  I’ve heard if your peeler is on the dull side, it could be more challenging.  Some have success stabbing the squash with a fork a few times, then microwaving it whole for 3 minutes.  That softens the skin without cooking the meat.

Butternut Squash Fritters

5 cups shredded butternut squash (deseeded and peeled but still raw)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup flour (or 1/2 cup THM baking mix)

coconut oil for frying

Place your squash in a mixing bowl and sprinkle all over with salt.  Beat in eggs, then stir in flour.  Warm a griddle or frying pan and melt a little bit of coconut oil in the pan.  Use a level ice cream scoop to drop batter onto the hot pan and flatten with the back of your flipper.  Cook like pancakes letting the fritter cook halfway through and get toasty brown before flipping.  Then flip and cook the other side.

Butternut Squash Fritters 3

You know what else (besides cheese) would make these yummy?  Bacon. I’ve tried to think of things that bacon wouldn’t make better….like apple pie, pancakes, or ice cream.  Then I had to take it back, bacon would make those things better….



Butternut Squash Chili

Butternut Squash Chili

I love Chili and all things beans, but sometimes they don’t love me.  And beans never love my teenage son.

Butternut Chili Con Carne 2

With butternut squash we can have a nice thick beanless chili without spending a fortune on extra meat. Originally I planned to cut the squash into bite sized squares for a nice texture similar to beans.  Then I remembered my kids aren’t big fans of squash…yet.   I have all sorts of secret plans to turn them into squash fans, mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha.  It’s a work in progress.

Butternut Chil Con Carne 3

I sauteed the squash in a skillet with a little coconut oil and chopped onion, then pureed it in a blender with a can of broth.  When I stirred it into the crushed tomatoes, the squash and onion disappeared.  Chili powder’s dark color made the camouflage complete.

Butternut quash’s mildly sweet flavor complements the spicy seasonings perfectly.  The kids gobbled this up.  It’s a hearty, comforting autumn meal that is lower carb and won’t cause bloating or other gastric distress.

Butternut Chili Con Carne

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 onion, diced

1 can, 15 oz beef or chicken broth  (or 2 cups homemade, cool in temperature)

2 lbs ground beef or turkey, browned and drained

1 can, 28 oz crushed tomatoes

3 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute squash with onion in a little bit of coconut oil until fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Add to a blender or food processor with broth.  Puree.  (You can leave it whole if you like the texture.)  Combine everything in a stock pot and warm through.  The longer it simmers the better the flavors will meld.  This can be stirred together in the morning and held in a slow cooker on low until dinner.

Topping ideas: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped chives, chopped tomatoes, olives, crushed tortilla chips, oyster crackers….

1/8th of the recipe prepared with 93% lean ground beef = 318 calories, 9g fat, 19 net carbs, and 34 grams of protein

Frugal Friday #1

I’m going to try something new on the blog.  On Fridays I’m going to share a frugal thing or two I did during the week.  Then in the comments I want you to share a frugal thing or two you did during the week.  If you are a blogger feel free to link to your frugal thing post in the comments and we’ll come check it out.

  1.  $5 iphone app instead of a $50 macbook app.  If you are meal plan subscriber, you already know I lost my hard drive last week.  When we were reloading all my programs, I discovered that Windows purposefully uses disappearing ink on their activation codes.  They ask you to stick the activation sticker to the back of your lap top where the heat from the machine fades the code over time.  If you have a problem and need to restore the program, you have to pay $150 for a new code.   If you wrote it down in another spot, no problem, but if you trusted them….you are up a creek.  We trusted them.  They are not my friend right now.

I decided to rid my life of the Windows operating system.  The only trouble is I use Microsoft Publisher to stay organized with my meal plans and my blog.   I can find a new program going forward, but for now my entire brain is in .pub files that won’t open.  I searched the app store (surely other people have this problem) and found an app for $50 that will open the files.  It got TERRIBLE reviews.  Sigh.

So I tried searching the app store on my phone.  There was a $5 app for iphone that did the same thing.  I bought the app, emailed the files to my phone, converted the files to pdf and emailed them back to my laptop.  $45 saved.   I printed everything and will be using the old fashioned paper method for awhile.  Life is good.


I already had the binder and dividers in my school supplies box.  They are plain, but the price is right and they work :).

2.  I went to Price Chopper and took advantage of their sale.  Life is so busy for us that I had settled into just shopping at Aldi with a Costco run once a month. The ad this week was so good that I couldn’t resist adding one more store. My goal at a conventional store is for the amount saved to be bigger than the amount spent.  I used no coupons, just advertised sale prices:


I don’t normally buy instant oatmeal because it has sugar, but the kids can fix it themselves.  At $.79 a box it’s only $.08 a serving.  #raretreat

Eggs have been super high lately–at $3 a dozen or higher.  These were on sale for $1.50 a dozen, limit 2.

Frozen veggies were on sale for $.79 a lb.  I bought 9 in our favorites for winter soups.

Shredded Cheese was $1 for 8 oz.  Limit 4. This price was less than Costco.

Cuties were 3 lb for $3.  The kids like to pack them in lunches.  The roasts were $3.99 a lb (cheap for beef in our area.)

If I hadn’t waited until the last day of the sale I would have gone back a few times to get more of the limit stuff.  It’s just as well.

Proof that I saved more than I spent:

Price Chopper Receipt

3.  I made Greek Yogurt in my slow cooker.  I’ve been running out of grocery money earlier each month, so decided to try a few more make at home things that I used to do before I worked so many jobs.  Here are the instructions, and here’s my periscope on how I finish it to make it super smooth and creamy just like store bought.

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Here you can see the yellowish whey separated on the top.  I strain it off to get 1/2 gallon of whey (which I use like buttermilk in recipes) and 1/2 a gallon of Greek yogurt.  It cost $2.35 for 8 cups of yogurt or $.29 a cup (plus free “buttermilk”).  Fage plain Greek yogurt from Costco is $6 for 6 cups or $1 a cup. This is a 71% savings.  Who doesn’t like a sale?

4.  Tuesday our piano teacher asked if Heidi would babysit his kids for the evening.  He brought over a big pot of chili and I made veggies and garlic bread.  I bought an extra loaf of bread thinking we would eat more than we did.  So Thursday I made it into French bread pizza with leftover spaghetti sauce, some of that cheap cheese (#2) and Aldi pepperoni.

French Bread Pizza

This cost roughly $3 for 8 servings or $.37 a serving.

It’s your turn!  Inspire us with one of your frugal activities this week.






Mini Chicken Pot Impossible Pies

Food cooked in a muffin tin is adorable (and cooks more quickly than big pans of things.)  If you are packing food for lunches, muffin tin sized food fits in thermoses (like this one) for a hot lunch on the go.  Just pack the food while it’s super hot into preheated containers and it will keep hot for around 3 hours.

Mini Chicken Pot Impossible Pie

I love this recipe, because you can use up little bits of leftovers if you have them.  Less than a serving of peas? No problem.  A few cooked carrots?  Toss them in.  You can use beef instead, or whatever you have on hand.  Here’s the recipe; tweak at will.

1 lb of chicken breast, cooked and diced

1 cup of shredded cheese, Swiss or Cheddar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup baking mix or self-rising flour

2 cups vegetables (chopped broccoli, peas, carrots, corn–whatever you like in fine bits)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spritz muffin cups with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a level ice cream scoop to fill muffin tins. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Do you ever bake non-muffin things in muffin tins?  What are your favorites?


Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

These tender rolls are light, delicious and child approved.  Mildly sweet, these rolls are the perfect compliment to a Thanksgiving feast (or an autumn after school snack.)pumpkin dinner rolls 2

pumpkin dinner rolls pumpkin butter and whey

Melting the butter and pumpkin together.

pumpkin dinner rolls eggs and brown sugar

Beating eggs and brown sugar together.

pumpkin dinner rolls stir in yeast

Adding the yeast

pumpkin dinner rolls pulling away from the sides

Beating in flour until the dough pulls away from the sizes and holds some shape.  I like to keep it really soft.  You might not need all the flour.  Just add it 1 cup at a time and stop when the dough looks like this.

pumpkin dinner rolls ready to rise

Ready for the first rise.  I like to coat my dough in olive oil to keep it from drying out.  Then cover the bowl with a tea towel.

pumpkin dinner rolls first rise

Ready to form into rolls.  This dough is super forgiving.  I started it at 11 am and it should have been ready to form at 12, but I didn’t have time to get to it until 4pm.  It was still ok.

pumpkin dinner rolls divide into 2 balls

Divide into 2 ballspumpkin dinner rolls cut into wedges

Roll each ball into a circle and cut into triangles.  I did 12 for big rolls.  16 works too.

pumpkin dinner rolls formed

Roll them up like canned crescent rolls.  (Kids like this part.)pumpkin dinner rolls second rise What they look like after rising for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour (I used hard white wheat)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour


  1. In a microwave safe bowl combine pumpkin, milk and butter. Cook on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Beat mixture with a whisk until smooth, then beat in eggs and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. In your mixer bowl, combine both flours, spices, yeast and salt. With the dough hook running, slowly pour in pumpkin mixture, beating until a soft dough forms. (Add additional flour or water if needed.) Allow the machine to knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. Lightly oil the dough and let rest for 1 hour or until doubled.
  3. Punch down dough and divide into 2 balls. Roll each27 ball into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. Use a table knife to cut the circle into 16 wedges. Starting at the fat end roll each wedge into a crescent. Place on greased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Let rest uncovered until doubled, about an hour. Bake rolls at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden on the top. Serve with pumpkin butter if desired.
  4. Each roll has 145 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber.