"$uper" frugal living. "$aving" money...one idea at a time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vulnerability at it's best.

Have you ever wondered what goes on in my head.  Raw and unedited.

Visit my other blog, Methodical Musings of an Unbalanced Woman, to find out.

I bare my soul for the world to see.

Makes one feel quite vulnerable.

I might liken it to leaving the house only to discover that you had forgotten to put any pants on...hours later.

Only on a more deep and serious level.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Attack of the flying bugs leads to desperate use of duct tape

Now, I'm not one to get squeamish about a few bugs here and there.

Yes, I kill spiders (even squish them with my hands or bare feet), I pick up praying mantis's, I'll hold a handful of rolly polly's while my 3 year old uses the bathroom at the park,  but I do not....I repeat, DO NOT like infestations of any kind.  You know...a large gathering of small-ish creepy things.  It makes me feel vulnerable and itchy all over.

Among my least favorites are ants (now that's a good story for later), lice, maggots, and swarming winged ones of any kind.

That's why I spent some time this morning repairing holes in some window and door screens (and when I use the term "repair" I mean jimmy rigging things with duct tape because I don't believe in spending money on things unless I absolutely have to (exceptions being any sort of  sugary goodness) because I have a pack of male rugrats who are determined to destroy anything in their path, so until they are grown and out of the house or we become millionaires and can afford to keep up on repairs I will continue to patch things up with a large roll of duct tape that cost me no more than $6 at old Walmart-O).

(Let's see...where was I?)

Right...so...in summers past, at night, when it would finally get dark enough to turn the lights on inside, we would get all sort of winged friends coming in to play.  They'd enjoy swarming, particularly around the dining room light fixture, and then laying their bodies to rest (dying) on the table for us all to enjoy with our breakfasts the next morning.

But this year (I assume because of the wetter spring and the holes in the screens) we not only have them gathering in the dining room, but the kitchen, the windows throughout the house, and my bedroom ceiling.  I swear I went to bed last night with nightmares of waking up to a "blanket" of bugs.

UGH!  So disgusting.

So...the screen door got a bit of work done on her (notice the handle missing?  Yeah...the kids broke that off two summers ago...so last year I jimmy rigged a "handle" down lower where they could reach it and, wouldn't you know, they'd rather just tear a whole in the screen and open and close the door with the frame instead...yeah...that's why I don't replace things).  Now she's all patched and looking perty don't cha think?(We'll see how long it lasts.)

 The other major repair was on the large kitchen window screen.  Earlier this year I just happened to lock myself out of my car at Costco.  Yeah...Rob was out of town with the three older boys so Mr. Golden Locks and I were stuck...really stuck.  Luckily I have a good friend who was willing to break into my house (thank goodness I left a window open) and grab a spare set of keys.  Unfortunately, those screens are extremely difficult to get out (which is a good thing otherwise any crazy might try to get in) and I gave her permission to bend it if she needed to.  So she did...(no don't feel bad) and came to my rescue.  Long story...well, long....the screen was bent and the bugs have had a super easy time getting in.  
Until today...
With a little bit of muscle and, you guessed it, duct tape, the screen is back in place and doing its job quite nicely.    

Now before you go on judging me, just keep in mind that these repairs, although somewhat "trashy" looking,  cost me no more than $.15 cents.

How's that for "frugal" home improvement?  

And, even better,...so far so good on lessening the amount of little buggies buzzing around my head right now. 

That makes me happy....very happy. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Easy Granola Bars

I love this recipe.  It's fast and easy and HIGHLY adaptable.  I'm always on the lookout for something like this since we can't buy a whole lot of granola bars at the store (nut allergies in the house).  This one is awesome.

Easy Granola Bars  (Thanks Brandage)

adapted from allrecipes.com

3 cups quick-cooking oats

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (can use fat free).

2 TBSP butter, melted (optional...I've never used it)

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup sliced almonds (again, because of allergies, we leave this out)

1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan (I double the recipe and use a cookie sheet).  In a large bowl, mix ingredients with your hands until well blended.  Press flat into the prepared pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, depending on how crunchy you want them.  Lightly browned just around the edges will give you moist, chewy bars.  Let cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares then let cool completely before serving.

**You can totally play with this recipe.  Try adding wheat germ and or ground flax.  Add a little whole wheat flour if you want.  My kids LOVE the Peanut Butter Milk chocolate chip ones I make.  Just add a large dollop of peanut butter, omitting dried fruit, and switch out the semi sweet chips for milk chocolate ones.  They are super tasty.  We've also used raisins instead of cranberries (more cost effective, ya know).  Mix it up...have fun.

Please share any tasty combos you come up with.  :)

Recipe-MultiGrain Muffins

This recipe for Multigrain Breakfast or Anytime Muffins came from the book "52 weeks of Proven Recipes for Picky kids." by Jill McKenzie.  I purchased mine here.
I love this recipe because it is EASY and fast.  It's full of whole grains and very little fat.  I usually make up a double batch and put some in the freezer for snacks later.  My kids really like them.

Multigrain Breakfast or Anytime Muffins

1 cup 10-grain got cereal, such as Bob's Red Mill (I found mine in the bulk section at Winco)

1 1/4 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a standard muffin pan (I use a mini), or line with 12 paper cups. In medium bowl, combine the 10-grain cereal and buttermilk and let stand for (at least)10 minutes.  In a separate bowl, cream sugar, egg, and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add dry ingredients and milk mixture to creamed mixture.  Stir only until just mixed.  Spoon into greased muffin pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

*Heavy cream or milk can be used in place of the buttermilk, if desired.

Also, as a good substitute for 1 cup buttermilk, place 1 TBSP lemon juice (or vinegar) in a 1 cup measuring cup and then fill the remainder with milk.  This recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, so do the same thing with 1/4 TBSP lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup milk. (this tip brought to you by OurBestBites.com in this recipe).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When it hits the fan...it hits the fan

I knew I was supposed to be doing something...I just couldn't remember what.

I was on the phone with my sister when Husband calls...and calls...and calls. ("Maybe I should answer that.")

It finally dawns on me...I was supposed to run some cash out to him at work.


I pick up the phone, "I'm coming."......."Do you remember what else I was going to do while I was out?"

He rattles off my to do list:

*trip to drug store ("list is on the counter"),

*trip to red and white bullseye place for Rx's,

*trip to neighboring city to drop off a bike at bike shop (30 min drive BOTH WAYS)!

I look at the clock...It's 11:30AM.

Double crap...

"I'm so not going to make it home before nap time."


It's a mad rush to get ready to leave.

I start preparing lunch on the go (more economical, you know)...yell for Little Red and Mini Rob to "go potty and get shoes on"... Mr. Golden Locks is still in his jammies...heck, I'm still in my jammies...gotta get the bike in the car...don't forget the coupons... 

I'm feeling a little frantic at this point.  So much to do.

(Thank goodness for therapy!)

I try calming myself using some anxiety relieving techniques (inhale slowly 1,2,3,4...exhale slowly 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8...inhale slowly 1,2,3,4...exhale slowly 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8...you get the idea).

"Mom!," I hear from the other room.

I continue to peel carrots while going over the checklist again in my head.


Yeah...still peeling carrots...lost in my own thoughts.

Finally,  "MOM!  MOM!  MOM! MOM!"

"WHAT?!?!?," I yell.


(goodbye new found calm feeling)

Carrots forgotten I RUN (literally) to the bathroom.

My worst fears are confirmed....my keys are in the toilet...so is Mini Rob's urine...and two or more weeks worth of bacteria (yeah, I've been meaning to get to that.)   UGH!

(Have I mentioned I'm a semi recovered OCD-ish germ-a-phoebe.)

Not good...not good at all.

I order the kids out...and ask Little Red to assist Mr. Golden Locks in the detoxification process (hand sanitizer).

I grab the keys out of the toilet and throw them in the bathroom sink.  I begin the first of several wash cycles (with anti-bacterial soap, of course) while alternating between panic and self-control in my head ("sick, disgusting, I will never be able to touch them again"... "get a hold of yourself, calm down, you will clean them well, you will move on, and you will be okay (positive self reinforcement...ya know)).

While in this back and forth debate with myself (between the OCD and the sane Melanie) I forget what I am doing (other than white knuckle scrubbing these keys)...there are soap suds everywhere.

Little Red comes back into the bathroom, takes a look and says "Mom...your wasting water."

I swear I could have shot lasers out of my eyes just then.  Instead I had to settle for "the evil eye" and "the nostril flare."

"What?", he says casually.


Once I finally got control of myself (and the sane Melanie won out), I did pretty good.

I cut off a fabric key chain that was soaked in toilet water (who needs it anyways), bathed them in Clorox Clean-up (literally), and washed them again (all that you ask?  Yeah...and that's the SANE Melanie)

Deep breath...Done!


Husband calls..."Are you coming?"


Forget economical...we're going to McDonald's!

UPDATE:  I also ended up skipping the trip to the bike shop after I took the wrong freeway exit.  A woman can only take so much in one day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Picking noses and picking battles...

Motherhood is often about picking noses and picking battles.

The kids pick their noses (and eat it) and I pick the battles.

Outdoor play time...for my boys...is a MUST.  I will fight it to the death (figuratively, of course).

It is my experience that little monkeys quickly become giant 40ft prehistoric apes that climb up the Empire States Building (or my walls)  when they have been confined to the indoors for an extended period of time.

G-McBabe and I have often skirmished over his dislike of the outdoors and anything associated with it.

He would rather sit inside and read a book (as soon as his video/computer game time is up, of course).

Now, I'm all for reading.  I highly encourage reading.  With G-McBabe, I am in now way worried about his literary well being.

I am, however, worried about his lack of movement and vitamin D absorption.

Some days the battle rages on for what seams like eternity...and some days it's over without incident.

We wave our white flags and form a treaty of sorts.

A few minutes later I look out the window and see this...

Fine by me.

At least he had to walk to get out there.

A calm settles over the household.

Peace reins again.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One more reason to train for a marathon...

I was at Costco today and saw a sign in the back window of someone's car that read...

Marathon Mama
26.2 miles of peace and quiet
So that's it.

Just one more reason to train for a marathon!
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