Thursday, November 14, 2013

Italian Meatball Soup



Aside from diving back to bed on a cold weather season , Soups are our favorite thing. It is economical and I call it a one pot wonder.

Make the MEATBALLS( can be made in batches, freezer friendly - use it later for teriyaki meatballs or sub sandwich)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage ( remove the casings)
1 egg. beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs - cheaper if you'll use HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, chop it finely.

Preheat oven to 450. Brush a baking pan or cookie sheet with olive oil.
Mix all the ingredients. Form it into 1 inch meatballs ( I made 40). Place the meatballs snugly ( touching) in the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes , until they are done.

For the SOUP :
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs , chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion
1-2 cups rice vermicelli or can use small pasta shells.
6 cups Chickem Broth ( Homemade is the best!)
6 cups Spinach
juice and zest of one lemon.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add carrots, celery and onion. Saute until they are done.
Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add the rice vermicelli ( cook according to the package instruction).
Add the spinach during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Turn the stove off and add the lemon juice and zest.

I served it with French bread. yummy goodness!


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Thrive and Survive on a Single Income.


  Living on a single income is not for everybody for a lot of reasons. Not everyone aspires to become one. I get it , to live in a single income and have a family is not easy.  I am here to encourage families that has this calling. ( I am not trying to convince nor question anybody's well thought decisions).
I became a stay at home wife and mom for the past 5 1/2 years and this decision is in cahoots with the birth of our daughter. Hubby and I both decided on this.



For the past 5 1/2 years we have lived on one modest income. It is possible. Living on a single income can be hard when everything is not planned out carefully ( esp with kids) . 

  We took a lot of willful steps in our finances and decisions. Along the way we made several mistakes, we had some bumps and rough roads but we took it as a learning process. We climbed it and conquered it. Same with the 2 income families , it requires sacrifices. I gathered a few things of what our family did..realized and learned. I must mention that we both are lucky to have families who helped us when the going got tough.




** this post is not intended to point the debate between stay at home moms and working moms. All moms are working moms. All are great in what they do .

Embrace it.
 Priorities needed  to change. Embrace it.  Know what really matters. While our kids are not in school yet , Rob and I made this choice.. for me to be a stay at home momma. It is for our family , for our kids. I wanted to be home for them.  I knew things are not gonna be easy but we both embraced the change.  Acceptance also helps.. what works for other family may not work for you. If one family is living extravagantly , and you just can't .. (it is normal to wish having "the same" for your family) , go visit your what matters list.. Realize that MONEY and MATERIAL things will not define us ( who we are) as a person and family.



Communicate

Needs and wants must be separated, communicating is essential for this because what matters for you may just be superficial for your partner. ( or kids) We  treat  all income as “shared,” not “yours” or “mine.”  Hubby and I talked,  about our expenses, our budget..our income. Every pay day actually , we need to be on the same page with planning and budgeting. 

Set Goals
It can be a  long term goal ( saving for  emergency fund or pay debt) or short term ( saving up to buy essentials for the house) , set your goals. Write it in your family information center or family planner. Make a checklist. There is something good in seeing what you had accomplished.

Budgeting
This is very important. There are a lot of Budget Online tools that you can use. We used Microsoft Excel as well. We have formulated our "own way ". I was a novice on this few years ago..crunching numbers is not my strongest suit. We sat down..listed all of our bills, car payments etc ..ALL EXPENSES.  We both decided which expenses we can live without and which lifestyle can work for us. (ie : how often should we eat out , dates or do we really need all of these magazine subscriptions)

Use Cash
Stop using your credit cards. It is just a recipe for disaster . Having credit cards is not a status symbol. It doesn't make you richer just because you have a huge debt. It makes you a " not so smart spender ".  Use an envelope system for cash. I'm sure you have read about Dave Ramsey. I've read his book, he's a genius. Just like what he said it is not something new.. our grandmothers, mothers..have used this technique. CASH.

Here's my cash system envelope in my wallet. Basically , you just tell your money where it should go . Once your done with the budgeting part, and you figured out which ones you can spend cash on ( because not all expenses can be paid with cash right? like automatic bill payment or home payment), fill up your envelopes with your allotted budget on each category. Remember that, once you put cash in your envelope , let's say for the category of FUN... Once its gone, its gone! No borrowing from the grocery fund.

My categories for my envelope are only four :

Costco
Groceries
Non food ( Target - where I always buy our non food essentials)
Miscellaneous and Fun.

Only four because these are the four category that we feel ..we always misbehave.
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Be smart when you shop
Plan when you shop , it takes time but definitely worth it Wait until the grocery circular comes out in the mail, see what stores have the most items on sale.  Build  menu based on the good deals you see. This doesn't mean that you don't go for healthy foods. You can eat healthy on a budget.  SHOP WITH A LIST AND WITH A BUDGET.  Make a week's worth of menu and make sure you  follow the list ( of course!)  Get in the store..get what you need and get out. It is easy to be side tracked inside with all the tempting "good deals". I also use coupons.. There's a lot of websites that teaches good couponing tips. Set aside a little amount of money on your grocery budget for stocking up.We stocked up on whats on sale.  You don't have to be an extreme couponer , just stock up on what your family usually consumes.  A penny saved is a penny earned.
Awesome couponing websites : The Krazy Coupon Lady and Southern Cali Saver


              

NOT A BIG FAN OF COUPONING , you can still save money! This is a great resource for cutting your grocery bill in half. It is loaded with tips.  Kimberly Stokes..feeds her family of six, with teens with a budget of $125 per week ...WITH REAL FOOD.

Save More - Clip Less: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half {without extreme couponing}


Use your kitchen and eat healthy
 Settle on how many times you can eat out in a week or in a month . Nothing is more budget friendly than home cooking . While it is a little challenging to cook healthy on a budget , it can be done. Be mindful of what you serve , it is much better to invest on good health.  I try to get our girls involved  in the kitchen too , instilling positive habits early is always good. They know we seldom eat out and it makes it  more special and fun experience when we do.  I buy and cook whats in season and on sale. I do batch cooking as well. I freeze kitchen staples like  broths , beans, some vegetables ,  herbs (on ice cube trays), berries, spinach and peppers.


Frugal and Healthy Meals

You can have fun  in a less expensive way ( free too!)
Our weekends are always being looked forward to. There are a lot of frugal and sometimes free ways to enjoy your time with your family. Search for free entrances to museums. We love going to farmers market, parks, go for a scenic drive..or even just a simple walk in a neighborhood.  Just a stroll in the park gives us time to slow down and talk inspite of  busy weekdays.  I also subscribed to National Macaroni Kid . Events are delivered right into your inbox every Thursday or Friday. Some events are free and some cost are just very minimal. Sometimes, national parks have free entrance days. Shopping for things you actually do not need is not your only outlet for fun. Buying toys for our kids, is not the only way to make them happy.  It can be challenging  , as parents we always struggle with guilt.

Great list of frugal and free things to do with your kids to build strong relationship

This is one of my favorite quote. Spending time with our family creates a strong relationship.


 It is important to pay yourselves too . If  the budget is flexible for any pay period or particular week. We do spoil ourselves too once in a while. It is important so you don't feel deprived , whatever floats your boat.. it can be a dine out kinda day ( who doesn't love a break from cooking and cleaning the dishes ) or a trip to Bass Pro shop because it is your hubby's happy place :). 

Just remember it doesn't matter what you guys do..what matters is the time (quality time) you spend together.

Blessing
 
Know that there is a multitude of benefits in staying at home with young children ( they are the motivation of our decision after all ) stability, consistency,  relationship, and experience to name a few.
Less is more
 
  Living simple  can give you a happy life. Contented life. Living simple can vary from one person to another. I would encourage you to write down things in your life that you can simplify. Is it the over-scheduling?  How does over-scheduling affect your family ? If you put too much on your schedule that you end up eating out a lot, ask your self if there can be ways to schedule down.
Do you really need to have all the extra subscriptions to entertain your family ( netflix, redbox, hulu etc). Maybe you can just choose one instead of eliminating all of it..to start with.

BE FAITHFUL AND PRAY 

Whatever your reason is for deciding on being a single income family, know that it is a part of greater plan from God. It is difficult but it will pass. As for me, our daughters will not be little for long, they will be school, they will grow up.  It was difficult at first but is it worth it? DEFINITELY! Our kids are always worth it.

Image source : Becoming Minimalist


Check out these amazing books , resources that had helped me , inspired me and had helped many frugal and smart families as well.






Other Posts that you might like :

Ways to build your savings account quickly

5 Great Books to Read for your financial goals


---> this post contains affiliate links, I participate in amazon affiliate ..I get compensated when a purchase is made .See full disclosure HERE



Monday, November 11, 2013

Pray for Philippines

      It is Monday and most of us are back with our usual routine.  But this Monday is different for me..different for my country. My country suffered the most damaging typhoon in decades. It hit a province..where the lives are simple and humble. Many have died. Including people who evacuated in the church where they thought they would be safe..but they were not. They too drowned. I would like to ask all my readers , my fellow bloggers for prayers for my country . Philippines. 
I have lived in the United States for 10 years but that is my HOME. It is my heart and soul. Parents finding their kids dead body. Casualties all over the road because they do not have any place to put the bodies anymore. They don't have anything to eat nor a house to go home too..the province was wiped out. Casualties could go up to 10,000. Help is on the way .15 countries have pledge to help Philippines. 
     But we need prayers..for those who have passed..for those who was left behind. Prayers for strength to face another day..for hope to rebuild and resiliency to face the future.
  This too shall pass.


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Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday : Truth

There were days that I do not know where will I get the energy to last through out the day.
Sometimes I beat myself up for not accomplishing certain goals and to do's .  Lack of sleep maybe and sometimes overwhelmed.  I am not comfortable admitting it most of the time  because moms do have a tough crowd.  Ive been told in the past , that I have an easy job because i stay at home ..and I am JUST at home..that "they"would give everything to JUST stay at home.

  I love my life..I love the life my hubby and I made. I love my husband dearly. I love my girls as big as the sky. I wouldn't trade this life with anything else.

   The truth is , it is okay to be tired and overwhelmed. It is okay to complain .It is okay to be mad. It is okay to storm out sometimes when you cook and the food you worked so hard to prepare just get thrown on the floor..because its what toddlers do right? It is okay to feel dissatisfaction over the toys you stepped on over and over again. It is okay to moan over dirty dishes.It doesn't make me a bad momma. No matter what my tough crowd would say..what I do at home matters to my family.They see it. They appreciate it. I stay at home . I mold young minds. I take care of my domain. Bad days..it happens. But life is good ..it is full of many chances. Every single morning is a chance to be a better person to be a good mom.

 It is okay to be truthful.



This post was written in five minutes for Five Minute Friday over at http://lisajobaker.com/ Come link up every Friday or read wonderful post of bloggers for five minutes about her one word prompt.


Five Minute Friday

Peanut Butter Chocolate Muffins




I love baking muffins. They are very easy to make. I serve it as a snack or breakfast to our girls and I pack it for Hubby's lunch as well. And what's not to like with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips right?


PEANUT BUTTER & CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

Ingredients:

2 cups All purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick ) -- softened
1 3/4 cup Peanut Butter ( can use peanut butter with honey)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk 
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips ( or more! )

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly grease muffin tin or line with paper baking cups.
In a large mixing bowl , combine the dry ingredients -- all purpose , salt and baking soda.
In a separate bowl , cream butter , peanut butter and sugar
Add eggs.
Gradually add the milk
Combine well.
Add the dry ingredients to the the peanut butter mixture. Mix with wooden spoon. DON'T OVER MIX . Just enough that all the dry ingredients are moistened. Add Chocolate chips and just fold it in.
Mixture will be stiff -- so don't panic

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Fill the muffin cups / muffin tin with the mixture. Filling each cup 3/4 full.



Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Let it cool .


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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Black Friday TIPS AND ADS.

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Black Friday Tips


      Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day. The term originated in Philadelphia where it  was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.   "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or "in the black".

Most retailers  open at 6:00 a.m., However,  in 2011,  several retailers (including Target, Kohl's , Macy's) opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. (Which I think is ok FOR EMPLOYEES WHO WANT TO WORK AND EARN MONEY. )

For many, Black Friday marks the start of Christmas Shopping. Here are a few tips that may help :

  •  SAVE money  and Set up a budget.
               No brainer isn't it?  Save money and know your budget. You will get excited with all the Black Friday ads you'll see. Chances are some of the sale items will also be repeated in a few weeks before Christmas. Don't go over your set budget.

  • MAKE A LIST from the ads.
             Write down which stores have which sales and make a plan. STICK TO THE ITEMS ON YOUR LIST.  You will be sidetracked in the store , there will pretty things hanging everywhere, but unless those eye catching MARK DOWN SIGNS are price slashed  more than 75%, walk on by.  You deviate from your list , you will break the bank.

  •  Check the Coupons, Deals and Compare Prices:
          A deal is a deal. Make sure you are getting the right and low price ( after all that's the sole purpose of shopping black Friday). Pricegrabber.com is a good site in comparing product prices. 

  • Shop online
          When Big sister was born..I stayed away from door buster deals and waiting in ( in vain sometimes) line. Our family preferred to give each holiday its due. After the dinner  , when everybody is in bed..that is when this momma goes online to shop. Not only does it save me gas and energy to fight the crowds ( and fights???) . Nothing beats shopping online in your pj's with a hot coco or tea by your side.

  • Bring a buddy and Be safe.
          A shopping buddy is nice to have when your waiting in line for 8 hrs or more. Lets say, you needed to go number 1 and somebody needs to hold the line for you. Also two heads are always better than one. So you both have a good "plan of attack". Be safe, there will always be that one person who can be a pain .. keep an eye on your purse. If your taking your kids with you ( I highly advise not)..keeping them safe in these insane crowds should be your priority not the 65'' Ultra high Def TV.

  • Be kind and don't loose your temper nor your manners.
       Like what I said, there will be that one person who can be a pain in the tush. Whatever the circumstances will be.. just carry on. Its not like your gonna break if you can't have that $19.99 boots that retails for $70.00. Be kind and always remember you manners. Have fun and do not loose your temper. Expect insanity , expect different type of personalities. You have a goal ( to shop the best deals) but do not loose yourself in the middle of all this madness.

HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL LINKS FOR 2013 BLACK FRIDAY ADS AND DEALS :




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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

COUPON 101 BASICS , TERMS AND HOW TO'S






PHRASEOLOGY..must know terms!


SS Smart Source AND  RP Red Plum --this are coupon inserts from Sunday newspapers (pls note that not all Sundays have coupons, or not all Sundays will have both)

 $1/1, etc. :: Indicates the value of a coupon, $1 off 1 item in this instance but could be any value, $4/2 ($4 off 2 items), $0.25/1 ($0.25 off 1) etc.
AC= After coupon
 BOGO/B1G1 = Buy One Get One
CATALINA = Coupon printed at register after purchased
DND = Do not Double (Some coupons have this lang)
DOUBLE COUPON = Coupon that grocery store doubles in value
EB/ECB = ExtraCare Bucks (CVS)
FAR = Free After Rebate
MIR = Mail in Rebate
OOP = Out of Pocket
P&G = Proctor & Gamble (Newspaper Insert)
Peelie = Coupon you peel off package
RR = Rebate Rewards (Walgreens)
STACKING = Using stores allow multiple use of coupons – manufacturer’s & store coupons or rebates.
TEAR PAD = A pad of coupons or MIR near a product or on display
WYB= When You Buy
IPQ, IP :: Internet Printable coupon
MFG, MFR :: Manufacturer
MQ :: Manufacturer’s Coupon

E Coupons ( printable coupons from a coupon database website such as coupons.com or the stores website..like Target -- yep just in case you lived in a cave for a long time they do have coupons online)

LIMIT ONE COUPON PER PURCHASE -  means that you cannot use a bunch of identical coupons when you’re only buying one product. It also refers  to your ability to use one coupon per item.  Meant to enforce the point that you may not use two of the exact same coupon for one item.

Read More about this.

 LIMIT ONE COUPON PER TRANSACTION - This means limit 1 like coupon per transaction (or per tender). If you are buying 2 bottles of Salad Dressing and you have 2 coupons, you will only be allowed to use 1 of the same coupons in one transaction.  In this case, you could pay separately for each Salad Dressing in order to use your 2 coupons.


PRINTABLE COUPONS

Coupons.com

Redplum.com

Smartsource.com

Couponnetwork.com

Savingstar.com

Commonkindness.com

Healthy Essentials ( Johnson & Johnson )

Target Coupons 

   ** Also check Cartwheel by Target 

 

HELPFUL LINKS :

Couponing For Begginers 

Organize your coupons:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

DIY Thing 1 and Thing 2 Costumes

Halloween was over and we did had a lot of fun. We had a blast putting our girl's costumes together. Hubby and I gave ourselves a pat on the back because we got a lot of compliments with their costumes. I didn't know how much I would enjoy Halloween and all the activities that goes with it until I became a mommy. I had fun looking at all the different costumes and how creative other parents can be.  It was tiring but definitely a great and memorable experience.

When we came home and after the kid's  did their "candy inventory" we were already thinking and brainstorming on next year's costume. I just love dressing them up. We are sure that our costume decision making will end too soon...they will be choosing their own costumes when get to be a big kid. For now, this is one of the things I truly enjoy. The girls absolutely loves The Cat in the Hat and some of Dr. Seuss's books. Thing 1  and Thing 2 are the perfect costume for siblings too!





They both love Cat in the Hat  and Lucy loves the Step One Cat in the Hat book 
as well. So that just validated our decision..ha! I am not a seasoned DIY'er . If it hits my fancy ( and with enough courage) , I will try to DIY something. Have you notice how Halloween costumes can get crazy expensive? I am all for a one day fun however "practicality" is all over my body.

I did try hunting for a cheap Thing 1 and Thing 2. I collected coupons that I may used. However it is still expensive. My husband planted the seed on my mind that we can just put the costume together ourselves. 


The blue wigs are actually for a clown costume. It was a little big for Lil's head but there is nothing a pin can't fix. The red tights and shoes are something that they can use not just on Halloween. And the shirts? How cute are they!!

They used the shirts as well at school. They had a class activity for Dr. Seuss's birthday and they were required to wear something Dr. Seuss. It really came handy! We were also able to use the red tutu's again for Christmas.  We did got our money's worth. The best part? We had fun putting it all together.







Aren't they just adorable?


We got the shirts and tights from Children's place ( sign up and you get 20% off your purchase)  . Their cute shoes are from Oakwest.  These cute and fun blue wigs  ,  red tutus ( which comes in different colors too! ) and the thing 1 and 2 shirt decals are from Amazon.com

We also chose not to go for the "usual" thing 1 and 2 costume which is a jumpsuit ,  we thought a lil creativity is awesome.






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Friday, November 1, 2013

Fab Five Fridays




Pin It Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a cold night. I'm fighting a cold bug right now and when your a momma of two small kids ( or more) , getting sick is not an option . Serve it with crackers , french bread or a homemade whole wheat bread.

so here's my fab five cold fighting soups and stews.

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Photo by: Kat Teutsch 


Slow Cooker Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup 



 

Spicy Beef Stew

 


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Happy Friday and have a blessed weekend with your families and loved ones !