Creative Kristi

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Creative Kristi: March 2010

Creative Kristi

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thoughtful Hubby!

I just wanted to pop in and say that my hubby is not the most romantic man (as in- I pull teeth to get him to tell me what he loves about me instead of just saying "I love you") but there are days when the things he does tell me that he does LOVE LOVE me & while he may not buy flowers or write me love notes he shows me in other ways.
Like today for instance. This morning while he was in the kitchen making coffee it seemed like he was taking an awfully long time. After he left to go to the store I went to pour some coffee & noticed he had scrubbed both the sink & the stove (if these are not clean it bugs me and he knows that)
Then he gets back from the store and holds up a bottle of something he bought.....

Now to all you in the South- I know I know it's not 'the' best sweet tea (it's made by the Coca-Cola company) but when you are from Maine and it's hard, no, near impossible- to find ANY sweet tea (let alone this big bottle!!) and you LOVE you some sweet tea- when you find it- you BUY IT! Also this happens to be the brand I bought the most while we were in SC in Feb. '09 for our 'honeymoon.' Meaning my hubby (who was only at the store to get milk & diaper cream) saw this, remembered first that I love sweet tea & second that this was the brand I liked the best on our vaca over. a. year. ago. then bought it and was so PROUD to show me when he got home!
*swoon!* See? He loves me!
Anyway I had to take a minute on this rainy Monday afternoon to toot my hubby's horn because I love him too & I really love that I have a clean stove & sink and a glass of sweet tea!

FYI: I blame my best friend Heather for moving to Charleston, SC for a few years after college on my obsession with sweet tea! I am still sad that she moved back home last year (not sad that she's closer to me but sad that I don't have a 'I haven't seen Heather in 6 months- let's go to SC' excuse anymore. tee-hee!)

Anyway happy Monday! I will hopefully be back tomorrow or Wednesday with a post on my baby shower invites I'm making!


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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Clothes Pin Bag

Sorry I've been a bit MIA- only just a little bit of sewing/crafting got done this week. Otherwise it was all tax filing & doctor's appointments (just regular pregnancy ones-nothing wrong!)
Last Saturday it was in the upper 60's here in Maine (which in March is un-heard of!) and I got a phone call from my Aunt asking if I could make a clothes pin bag for my 'other' grandmother. I call her Grammie but she actually isn't related to me- she is my Aunt's mother-in-law. Grammie loves cats so we decided a cat patterned fabric would be good.
Now I have never made a clothes pin bag (although I thought about it) because my clothesline is retractable and we have TONS of spiders in our back yard and I squirm at the thought of reaching my hand into a bag and having spiders be in it...because I'm sure they would be.
Anyway- enough of my spider phobia- I Googled how to make a clothespin bag and came across a great tutorial that you can find here.

Here is the result of my efforts:

I'm hoping to make it down to my Aunt's house to deliver this today but it might just have to be tomorrow because my little man is cranky!

Have a Happy weekend!!!

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Friday!!

Just a little quick pop-in today to let you know that my 'granite' countertops were spotlighted over at another great blog (Saving the Family Money) that is ALL about saving YOU money! 
I do hope you go on over to read the post but also stay and snoop around awhile- Karen has some great ideas, tips, tricks & deals to save you money!! 
Thanks for the little 'shout out' about my countertops, Karen! :) I am loving the looks of your cabinets & mine are on my 'to-do something about' list!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shoe Party!!

So I'm a little late in today's post but it's so nice out can you really blame me?? :)
Anyway I actually don't have a shoe obsession or even own many shoes. My husband actually has more shoes than I do. Probably because 90% of them are Army boots haha. I trip over these daily:
And if it isn't big boy boots it's little boy shoes (which I think are quite cute!):
But I DO have some shoes. In fact the ones I wear the most often can fit in one picture...and I even cropped it so all the space around them didn't distract you ;) haha:
I have my brand new from Christmas Dansko shoes, then my 'going out' shoes, rain boots, cute little kitten heel slides & my flip flops. If it's not snowing or raining I'm in flip flops. Period.
These ones are new from last summer but I wear out a pair a summer at least.:
I would totally wear those green kitten heels more often but because they don't have a strap on them I can't run after the little man in them. Boo :( but I love to wear them when I go shopping by myself or out on a date or with my playgroups "mom's night out" because they are CUTE & make me feel all put together!

Next is the rain boots. I got them last year at Target in the gardening section. I had other cute ones (yellow & blue) with (I think?) umbrellas all over them but our dog chewed them :(
Then my 'going out' sandals/heels. I LOVE these!! They make my butt look awesome & they are super comfy to wear dancing all I used to do at the bar before I had kiddos. They don't get worn very much at all now...hence the dust on them. Last is my Dansko clogs. I LOVE these right now. They look more put together with a pair of jeans and any old top then my flip flops would & I don't have to worry about bending over and painting my toes (kinda hard when you are over 6 months pregnant!)
See how cute they are on?
And last here are my favorite black ballet flats that I hardly wear now that I'm pregnant because I know my feet will swell like they did with my son. So I try not to get too attached:
So those are my simple shoes. I covet a mid-calf to knee high leather boot with a little heel on them but I haven't found the pair that both A. fits over my calves and B. has the right heel. *Sigh* I will find them someday.

Now go visit Beth over at The Stories of A to Z and get lookin at everyone else's cute shoes!!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Draft Stopper

Ok I was just going to hop on here real quick and share my latest project (which even though it is warmer now will help keep it cooler in my house in the summer) of a DIY/recycle/use what you have door draft stopper. But then I get on (after a couple days of being sick and/or taking care of a sick kiddo) and see that I was featured yesterday on the Better After blog! Woohoo! Thanks so much!

Ok so now that I am all done being giddy (well not quite- I'll probably dance around for awhile) I'll show you my project.
You've all seen the commercials for those draft stoppers that move with the door right? Well I wanted one for both my front and back doors because I have a toddler who would probably run off with a draft stopper that wasn't attached haha! But I didn't really want to pay for one, let alone two. So I was so happy when this idea popped into my head: make it out of toilet paper rolls!

Here is the step by step to use what you have on hand, recycle AND get a great way to reduce cold drafts!

Paper towel or toilet paper rolls, tape measure, scissors, duct tape, fabric, batting.

Start putting together your paper towel rolls to form one long tube. The picture below shows how I did this on the first tube (you need two tubes per door)- I inserted one into the other. I would not recommend doing this on yours though- I did it differently on the second tube.

Here is how I did it on the second tube. It came out easier, stronger and the duct tape laid smooth over the joint unlike the ones I made where I inserted the ends into each other.
I put one end in the center of the duct tape then laid the second tube right up next to it and pressed it into the duct tape also.
Then just roll the two tubes up in the duct tape until you get all the way around. Continue until you have one long tube you know is longer than the width of your door.

Then go measure your door width and mark that measurement on your tube. Next we are going to cut our tube to that exact length.
I couldn't find my box cutter and all I had were scissors...which makes it hard to cut tubes. So I just cut a few slits like this into the tube down to the line. Then folded each flap back a bit and cut from slit to slit. It made it MUCH easier to cut! Repeat this for the second tube.

After that I stuffed my tubes with batting (no pictures sorry)- use a yardstick or a stick from your yard (ha. ha.) to shove the batting down the full length of the tube. Repeat for the 2nd tube.

Next I laid out my fabric and rolled one tube in it and pinned it down. I didn't fold the raw edge under then pin but you can if you want :) I slid the tube out and sewed the seam.
After leaving a little bit of fabric to go under the door I did the same thing with the second tube. Leaving me with this.

Then I just tucked the loose ends into the tubes and slid the whole thing under my door and closed the door...All DONE! :) Easy and practically free!

I'm linking up to The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday Linky Party!

Decided to enter this into the $5 challenge at Living With Lindsay since I had everything on hand already & the toilet paper rolls are recycled so the cost for this project to keep out the spring breezes: $0!


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Monday, March 8, 2010

A little time for organizing....

Sorry I haven't been posting as much lately. I'm in full on nesting mode & some things around the house have been bugging me.....

Ok a lot of things have been bugging me and I'm trying to fix them all in a short amount of time because that's how I roll. Pressure, overload, time crunch. I do my best work that way. Trust me.

Anyway here are a couple 'before' pictures of what I'm tackling today. My 'office' in an hutch.

This is the bottom shelf (my computer sits on the middle shelf):

And here is the top shelf:

 Let's play I-spy shall we? I spy: 4 messages, rubber stamp, Christmas ornament, two rolls of tape, hole punch, ribbon, misc. cords, a paper score mat. 

Don't worry if you can't find all those things...I usually can't either. ha. ha. 

Anyway the great paper purge is on in my house. If I really didn't care about what you thought I'd show you my 'craft' and 'catch-all' rooms. But you might be too frightened to sleep. 

So anyway that's what I'm doing this wonderful Monday...what are you up to? Do you get the urge to purge around this time of year too? 

How about a little poll: What is the messiest room in your house? 

Talk soon,

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Feeding my family on $140- Part 2

Ok so now you know my menu plan for the next few weeks & I just wanted to put in a couple notes.
1. I switch around meals to suit our needs that day (for example Hubs will be working late one night this week & since he is the 'cook' I will probably move Saturday's pasta night to that night to save me some time). I write out the menu plan so I know what I need to buy at the grocery store to have everything I need for all those meals- it doesn't mean we ONLY eat that on the scheduled day.
2. Lunch is usually grilled cheese but you won't ever find bread on my grocery list. I make my own. Flour & yeast are so much more inexpensive then a loaf of bread. I do not have a breadmaker but I do have a stand mixer to help me out. That said- a stand mixer is not an 'essential' part of a kitchen, people have been making bread for many more years then there has been electricity.

3. If you don't stay at home like I do you CAN still do this. It takes a little thing called pre-planning & discipline to figure it out. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and there is always more month then $$ just promise me you'll give menu planning & a grocery budget a try? It's so reassuring to know that your family will be fed no matter what. I'm not saying you have to make your own bread or hamburger rolls- that's just how I save us that much more.
4. Beans & rice are staples in our diet. Why? they are filling, nutritious, and cheap. Yes they take a little pre-planning & 'extra' work but you are saving $ by doing the 'extra' work yourself and not paying someone to do it for you. That is the core of saving money- remove some of the convenience and you get a cheaper product.
5. There ARE menu planning resources on the internet and I did try a few (usually $5 a month subscription or something similar) but I found our grocery budget skyrocketing because they didn't focus on cheaper foods, just yummy tasting ones. But if they work for you- by all means go that route and save yourself some time!
6. I buy whole chickens and cook them up in my crockpot and end up with enough meat for at least 2 meals plus *free* chicken stock for other meals. For about $4 a chicken (whole, free range, 'organic' chicken) I get much more then those $7 (& up!) packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If I don't get a whole chicken I at least get the bone in, skin on package of chicken. It takes 2 seconds to take of the skin and cut the meat away from the bone. If you are squeamish about it just have Hubs do it- like I do ;)

Ok moving on. I know these posts without many pictures are long but hopefully we are all learning something and saving some $$ for ourselves right?? I promise tomorrow I will get back to posts with pictures & more crafty ideas!
Here is my grocery list & receipt total- keep in mind even if it doesn't list 'organic' next to it- it still probably was. I am just pointing out organic items that I buy that you might not think of as having an 'organic' option.

My grocery list for this paycheck was this: (tried to separate it out a bit for you- easier reading)
1 gal. Milk, juice, bananas, apples, grapes,
D's cereal bars (organic), raisins, dried cranberries, butter- hope to buy in bulk soon,
half & half, coffee-organic/fair trade, celery, cream cheese, 4 cans tuna fish packed in water,
Vegetable oil (almost out so had to replace), Sugar (again- replacing), Worcestershire sauce (replacing),
15 oz. chopped tomatoes, 26 oz. chicken stock (needed some more before I remembered I had a chicken to cook in the crockpot- oops!), 15 oz. can kidney beans (normally buy dried to save money but didn't this week...weird.),
6 pack Yo-kids yogurt for Little Man & the large organic vanilla yogurt for Hubs & me, sour cream,
all-natural peanut butter, strawberry jelly, 1 lb. bag northern beans, Jiffy mix- cornbread,
Stove Top stuffing mix (I never have any leftover bread to make my own stuffing or bread crumbs), taco shells, 2 or 3 tomatoes, lettuce (we buy the pre-shredded bag but the lettuce head would be cheaper),
pinto beans (hubs bought the canned kind but I prefer the bag of dried), dozen eggs,
2 cans black beans, rice (we were running low on both white & brown), mexican shredded cheese mix (hope to buy bulk blocks of cheese and shred just what we need soon to save $$),
shredded cheddar cheese, 1 lb. ground turkey,
jar of yeast, bottle of honey (anyone know where I can get bulk honey??). That's it!

Here is a photo (blurry- iPhone again...stupid computer won't read my camera card reader!) of the total for all the items listed above:

In case you can't read that it says: $125.98 (woohoo! LESS then my $140 budget!)
Also here is a photo of the $$ off per gallon I saved too since my grocery store teams up with a gas chain to offer the discount:

It says I will save $0.20/gallon if I use it within the next 2 weeks...which we always do! :)

So there you have it! A little thought, planning & time is all it takes to save money on the grocery bill! Coupons & stockpiling not required! (Although would help out a lot!)

I hope you learned something and if not- at least got some great links to new sites to check out recipes from! :) Please let me know what you think & if you have any great resources for me!!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Feeding my family for $140 or less

So..... I posted on my facebook a few weeks ago about how my hubs was heading off to do our bi-weekly grocery shopping & that I had instructed him to keep it under $140. I got a lot of responses that basically boiled down to "You're crazy! You can't feed 3 people for TWO weeks on $140" so I promptly did what every person would do in that situation...I tweeted about it. I asked if I really WAS crazy and way under pricing my grocery budget. By the responses I received- I'm guessing so.
But here's the funny thing: Hubs & I have had a grocery budget of $140 for every paycheck (he gets bi-weekly paychecks) for almost 2 years now (ever since we starting following Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover). At first it was really hard keeping it under $140 and we'd end up eating out or running back to the store with our money that was saved for debt repayment.
In the past 3 months or so we've gotten strict about it. After that $140 is spent that's it. We eat what we have and no more runs to the grocery store.
Right about now you're all going "Ok I get that you have a budget but you need to tell me what you are buying that you can have 3 meals a day for 3 people and stay under $140 every two weeks"
So here we go- below you'll find my menu plan below (with links to all the recipes I get from the internet) then tomorrow I'll post my grocery list (what we didn't already have) and the total on my receipt for the grocery trip Hubs took on Saturday. Plus other little tips I have for saving money. I had to break this up into 2 posts because it is getting pretty long already!

I am only listing dinner as breakfast and lunch don't change much. It's either oatmeal, yogurt & granola, or a cereal bar for breakfast. Lunch is usually grilled cheese or chicken nuggets, yogurt and crackers (Hubs takes leftovers usually).
Menu Plan:
Week One:
Monday March 1- Northern Beans & corn bread
Tuesday March 2- Aloha Chicken & a veggie (From Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food)
Wednesday March 3- Baked Potato, a veggie & Stove Top stuffing
Thursday March 4- Taco Night with homemade refried beans & homemade taco seasoning
Friday March 5- Homemade pizza (dough recipe from Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 10th Edition)
Saturday March 6- Pasta noodles with from the jar sauce and a veggie
Sunday March 7- Breakfast for dinner (whole wheat pancakes from Betty Crocker cookbook, turkey bacon & scrambled eggs plus fruit) You can also find whole wheat pancakes at The Happy Housewife too.
Week Two:
Monday March 8- Mexican Chiken Skillet  (this is one of my favorites!!)
Tuesday March 9- Southwest Brown Rice/Black bean burgers with homemade hamburger buns (this is a new recipe for us to try)
Wednesday March 10- Cream Of potato Soup (again a new recipe to try)
Thursday March 11- Homemade Mac & Cheese (from Deceptively Delicious cookbook)
Friday March 12- Tuna salad sandwiches (from Deceptively Delicious cookbook)
Saturday March 13- Sloppy Joes made with ground turkey (from Deceptively Delicious cookbook)
Sunday March 14- Moroccan Spiced Chicken (can not find the link online- I'll post the recipe below it's really simple)
Week Three: (oh yes we are entering week 3 on the same $140 budget)
Monday March 15- Turkey Chili (from Deceptively Delicious) This one is a favorite among Hub's Army co-workers when we make way to much and he has to bring the extra to work.

Ok so there you have it 15 days of our menu plan. I usually just rotate this in for the next two weeks too and as the seasons change we change our meals to be less 'hot' and more 'summer-y'. I always have 2 weeks planned out on a calendar on the fridge & sometimes I get crazy and plan the whole month haha. I am not a crazy 'coupon' lady- meaning I very very rarely use them. I shop at Shaw's supermarket using my Shaw's rewards card (to get the gas savings) & I buy approx. 90-97% organic. You'll also notice we have quite a few 'meatless' meals since that saves money- and trust me on this ladies: my meat & potato Irish heritage Hubs doesn't mind ONE bit. All the food is yummy & filling!

Here is the Moroccan Spiced Chicken recipe (don't forget to come back tomorrow to see the grocery list & how much I spent on this menu plan at the grocery store this week)

Moroccan Spiced Chicken:
1 Tbl paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 1 & 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbl vegetable or olive oil

Mix together spices in a small bowl. Rub on both sides of each piece of chicken. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 15-20 minutes, turning once, until fully cooked. Enjoy with rice if you'd like!

P.S. I'd LOVE to know your menu plan (or if you don't have one), what is your favorite recipe & what do you do to save money on groceries? Also I think it would be fun if you all left a comment with how many people you feed and how much your grocery bill is (whether it be weekly shopping, bi-weekly or monthly)! I would love to see where my $140 falls in the mix!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase a product after following one of these links you will be helping to support me & this blog. I will make a small percentage of your purchase price & I thank you!

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