- cooking does not mean you have to be Julia Child. Keep it simple and add complexity later on, if at all;
- develop the ability to make a few standard dishes you like;
- figure out how to freeze the dishes you do make; frozen leftovers make for great lunches or "fast food" in a time pinch;
- find recipes that use the same ingredients (i.e. rice, spices, eggs, etc.) and keep those on hand;
- most dishes can be made for half the price of a restaurant meal....especially pasta dishes. You'll save quite a bit of money of a year's time; and
- home cooked foods will hopefully reduce future health care costs....you control the ingredients and can make a huge different in your veggie and fruit intake.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
1, 2, 3, .... 29! Wow, 29 Play-Doh's -- That's Too Many Play-doh's, and Other Thoughts on Simplicity Parenting
Environment: De-cluttering too much stuff at home.
Rhythm: Increasing predictability by introducing rhythmic moments for connection and calm.
Scheduling: Soothing violent schedules brings moments for Being into all the Doing.
Unplugging: Reducing the influence of adult concerns, media and consumerism on children and families to increase resilience, social and emotional intelligence.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
- Easter baskets were purchased at Savers, total cost less than $3;
- Brought th baskets with us to FUS for the community egg hunt -- allows the kids to play with baskets, but we didn't have to fill them;
- Attended services at FUS and participated in the "egg hunt" following the service. This provided just the right amount of treats for the children; total cost -- free;
- Easter lunch served at home. Dinning out with two small children is not fun, especially if the greater Madison population is also attempting to eat out;
- Lunch consisted of primarily vegetarian food: zucchini quiche, green bean casserole, homemade bread, sweet potatoes, asparagus, jello (in the midwest jello is associated with holiday celebrations, not illness), and a slice of ham for my mom, a non-vegetarian; and
- Time outside walking, filling the bird feeders, and looking for plants rising from the earth.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
- no longer do I own 20 pairs of shoes. I used to pay $8 or so a pair. They were inexpensive, so I bought a lot of them. Now I pay $100 a pair, and own 4 pairs. Two for work, one for casual, and the best pair of hiking boots ever (good in snow or summer heat). I like the simplicity of owning 4 pairs, it is easy;
- when it is time to buying shoes for myself, my husband or my kids, we go to Morgan's. They have a great loyalty program. After 10 purchases, you get $50 in store credit. With little ones, we are buying them new shoes every 3 to 4 months. In less than a year we filled up the loyalty card;
- Morgan's has a lot of great coupons in the Bucky Book, and if you get a coupon on the back of the Sentry grocery store receipt, you get a free pair of wool socks.
Friday, April 22, 2011
- Cover pans when boiling water, it uses less energy;
- Keep the thermostat at 62 degrees during the winter (even a Wisconsin winter) results in major energy savings;
- Use reusable grocery bags at the grocery store and Target; both give me a 5 or 10 cent credit per bag. I'm there once a week, using approximately 10 bags a week. It won't put the kids through college, but little bits add up;
- Replace regular light bulbs with compact florescent;
- Prepare a large number of vegetarian meals;
- Cook meals at home;
- Sign up for paperless banking and avoid banking fees;
- Purchase kids clothing and household decorations at thrift stores whenever possible;
- Borrow books, music, and other media from the library instead of purchasing items;
- Taught my toddler to turn off the lights to "save energy".
Thursday, April 21, 2011
- Purge items you have not used in the past year. You can donate items to a charity (some will come to you for a pick-up), post items for free or a low price in Craiglist, or simply put them at the curb;
- Opt not to have items "wrapped". We were going a short distance, and nothing we own is that valuable so we decided it didn't need to be packaged as though it were going cross-country;
- Move items yourself. Ideal for children's toys, clothing you can put in luggage, and fragile kitchen items;
- Use a coupon for the mover (mine was 1/2 off the first hour);
- Purchase new items and have them delivered to the new location. Instead of paying movers a fee to move our old furniture we sold some and donated the rest and then bought new for the new house (at a great and inexpensive local furniture store).
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
- have a good supply of colored construction paper;
- trace cookie-cutters to make shapes;
- pick up a variety of stickers;
- invest in nice crayons, markers, and colored pencils;
- buy blank card stock that can be painted or drawn upon; and
- have a drawer filled with odds and ends that can be glued on.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
- From Madisonenvironmental.com;
- From The Daily Page;
- The UW Arboretum;
- Henry Vilas Zoo; and
- Madison's Children's Museum;
- soup (black bean, chicken tortilla, or split pea);
- fresh baked bread from our bread machine; and
- homemade cookies.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
- peel and core the apples, slice in quarters;
- dump into crock pot;
- add 1/2cup water;
- add cinnamon and nutmeg;
- put on high for 3 hours.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
- 1/2 cup butter, creamed;
- 3 eggs;
- 3/4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice;
- 1 cup whole wheat flour;
- 1 and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour;
- 1/3 cup wheat germ;
- 1 teaspoon baking soda;
- 3 teaspoons baking powder;
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg;
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon;
- 3 and 1/4 cups shredded carrot; and
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
- St. Vincent de Pauls
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saving time and money, those are two of my favorite things. However, I have two small children, so both are a challenge some days. Feeding my children healthy food is a strong desire of mine, and a feat my son often seeks to thwart. He is 2 and a half. Meal times are less than pleasant at times. More meals than not, we sit down, light a candle (a great little trick I picked up at the Waldorf play group…nothing getssa little boy to the table faster than fire), and put the meal on the plate….or in his case, tray. Usually he has helped me prepare the food, something he loves to do. I’ve read that having a child participate in cooking the food, increases the chances that he or she will actually eat the food. Not the case here. So, what to do when 7pm is approaching and your son (who goes to bed late and rises early – rooster early) hasn’t eaten dinner? I know an empty stomach is a surefire way to have a hungry toddler calling your name in the middle of the night. The baked sweet potato – that is my silver bullet. Drop it in a nifty microwave bag, nuke it for 5 minutes, lather on some butter, and voila, you have Super Fast Food that he’ll devour ….at least for now.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I’m still on about the lawn. We bought our current home last fall, closing on November 18th and moving the day after Thanksgiving. It snowed a week later, and I had not seen the ground since. But, alas the sun has chased away the snow (a favorite line for one of my kids’ books), and I’m discovering the lawn we purchased. Previous owners had it professionally landscaped. A great selling point. However, now that I own this visually appealing lawn I’ve come to a realization….I haven’t a clue how to maintain or update it! I’m an attorney, I write wills and trusts for a living. I do not have the first idea how to keep up the lawn or integrate the changes I’d like (butterfly and hummingbird garden for example). So, I see two options:
a) hire a professional landscaper and pull out our check book; or
b) follow my frugal inclinations, say, you’re smart, read up on gardening, do it yourself, resulting in me destroying the lovely landscaped yard I purchased.
I need an option c) – any ideas?
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Note to Self: Before purchasing your next home, pause, grab a rake and look at the backyard. That lawn, beautiful and expansive, may take on a new, less lustrous feel when you realize how long it will take you to clear the yard of leaves. Sure, raking is great fun, when you have endless amounts of time. I have two kids under three years of age and a part-time legal practice. Free time is non-existent here. Ten years from now raking with my kids may be great fun. But tackling the feat now is less than great. My 2 year old son hacked a muddy hole on the edge of the bushes. And my infant daughter was less than thrilled to be strapped into a carrier while mom flipped around this new and disturbing tool (a.k.a. the rake). So, after completing 1/20th of the mess to be cleaned up, I decided, some of this lawn needs to go. And that will require a consult with a landscaper. And being frugal, I’d like another option…..suggestions anyone?
Friday, April 8, 2011
Frugal, it’s a word I’d include if someone said describe yourself in 5 words or less. So, when people who know me heard that we were going to hire a nanny to care for our children while we worked, heads tilted, looks of puzzlement shadowed faces, and the question emerged – how can you have a nanny AND be frugal? It may not be apparent, but it is true.
First, you need to start with the word nanny. Nanny may conjure up images of palatial homes, maids in outfits, and a mother who lunches. No, not at our house. A nanny is a child care provider who views themselves as a professional, often with a degree or two that focuses on child development. Many of them are connected with families through an agency; that is the case with our current nanny. They hope to earn a decent wage and provide quality child care.
Second, nannies care for sick children. In our home we are both self-employed. We did not want our work to come to a grinding halt if a child were sick. That would translate into no work = no pay. Yet, in a traditional child care center or home daycare, you pay even if your child is home sick. So, not wanting to pay for care when a child is sick, and see our own income go down, a nanny was an attractive option.
Third, children at home are less likely to pick up a virus, the flu, or other common childhood ailment if they are at home, away from lots of other small children. Sure, kids need to build immunity, but we have a high-deductible health insurance plan (remember, we’re both self-employed). That means we pay the first $5200 of health care expenses out of pocket (we use our HSA – more on that in a future post). A sick child for us does not mean a $25 office visit co-pay and a $10 co-pay on a prescription. If we have not hit the deductible, we pay the negotiated rate. Both kids recently spiked fevers (after a water park visit, which is retrospect, was a terrible idea). The virus lead to a UTI in our 8-month old daughter. That translated into a doctor visit ($250), cauterization and lab work ($150), antibiotic, ($130), and another doctor visit to make sure it was really cleared up ($250). That my friend is why we try our best to keep our kids healthy and out of the doctors’ office. We think using a nanny accomplishes this; in two and a half years of using a nanny, this was the first type of visit of this nature. All others were for Well Baby checks.
Fourth, when you have a nanny you get more than just childcare. We get someone to helps with household chores. From doing the kids laundry to emptying the dishwasher to prepping dinner one night a week; you won’t get that from a home daycare or traditional child care center. There is plenty of housework left for us to feel connected to the kids and our home, but it certainly eases the burden a bit.
And fifth, nannies work around your schedule. We are not confined to the hours of a center. When you are self-employed, this flexibility is wonderful.
Finding a good nanny is key. We resisted the idea of using a placement agency for a long time, finally did and were very happy. As the owner of Nanny Connections told us, it is more than connecting a family with a nanny who lines up with their needs. It is about matching personalities, and is very akin to a match-making service. We are delighted with our current nanny, and take comfort in knowing that should she be sick or go on vacation, we can be connected with a fill-in nanny (who has been thoroughly screened) through Nanny Connections. So, that is why we opted for a nanny and think it was the frugal approach.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Voluntary Simplicity Discussion Group
Thursdays, April 7 – May 5Simplicity has a long tradition in religious practice and philosophy of life in the United States. From Thoreau to the "back to the land" movement, people have been drawn to the idea of living lightly on the Earth. Yet Americans remain at the top of the list of consumers in the world. Why the disconnect? Join this small discussion group to explore why we feel enough is never enough, to examine our own lifestyles, and to develop ways to bring our behavior in line with our beliefs about fairness in the world.
Time: 6:30 – 8 pm
Fee: $25 pledged/$35 non-pledged;
Location: Isom House
Facilitator: Ann Puser
Ann Puser is a student of voluntary simplicity. Facilitating this program is a wonderful opportunity to share what she has learned on her own journey and to learn from those on the same path. Participants will need to purchase Voluntary Simplicity from the Northwest Earth Institute, http://nwei.org; the cost is $20.