Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Resource Review- restaurant.com

Today was my anniversary. I guess it still is, but the day is almost over. Eight years ago today we were getting our pictures taken at Sunken Gardens, pledging our lives to one another, eating a great meal, and dancing with our friends and family. It was a great day. (and I don't appear to have any of my wedding photos digitized, so enjoy this engagement pic!) We had a terrific honeymoon. We spend our week eating one meal out each day! Our hotel had an awesome breakfast and we decided to combine our lunch and dinner budget and eat at great restaurants every day. We won't be able to do something like that again for quite a while...now that we have five kids.

But we do make a point to have a date night a couple of times a month and we usually enjoy a dinner as part of our evening together. You may wonder how we manage to do that. Well, there's the mystery shopping. I try to get us some meals out for the cost of my time to fill out the survey afterwards. Most of our dinners are spent this way. Tonight we utilized a new favorite resource- restaurant.com.

Restaurant.com offers certificates to a number of restaurants at a discounted price. Usually you'd pay $10 for a $25 gift certificate. Last fall, we signed up for the dinner of the month club. Each month we receive a $25 gift certificate redeemable at any of the restaurants on the site. Some restrictions apply- gratuity is added, minimum purchase amounts, etc. The best part is, that I was able to use a promo code and bought our year's worth of dinner out for the low price of TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS! And now, you can enjoy the same incredible savings. Enter the promo code ENJOY through May 13th, and you'll receive 80% off. Get your $25 gift certificates for only $2!!!

And peruse some other great tips at Works for Me Wednesday. Remember, you've got until Thursday to get a great deal on dinner!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

One thing I've learned about dinner time is that if the meal takes a lot of work to prepare, I just don't want to do that clean up. And if it only takes a little bit of work to prepare, I still don't want to do the clean up! Today, I remembered that my skillet can go in the oven. I have one recipe that utilizes this feature- you brown you chicken in the skillet, add the other ingredients, then stick it in the oven. Do you think I can do this with any type of casserole I might make? What one-pot meals do you make? Even crock pot meals are great- as long as the crock pot is the only dish I have to clean up!

Monday- BBQ Pork Chops, Potato Salad, Green Salad
Tuesday- Date Night! Fried Rice for kiddos
Wednesday- Green Bean Casserole for small group dinner
Thursday- Burritoes
Friday- Pizza Night
Saturday- Fried Rice and side dish for Cub Scout dinner
Sunday- Eat What You Want Night

Check out orgjunkie.com for more menu ideas this week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Need Diapers?

This spring I started using diapers.com. I love it. I love that they have a referral program, I love that they offer discounts, I love that they have free shipping. Most of all, I love that I get my order in just a couple of days. It's great!

If you need diapers, sign up for an account and use my referral code (NETT4468). You'll receive $10 off your first order (of $49 or more) and $5 off your second order! You can even mail in your coupons for more savings! If you're already a diapers.com customer, use the Mother's Day code 5formom and receive $5 off your order.

I'll be stocking up on diapers this weekend, how about you? They also offer a variety of baby and children's products. So, if you're lucky enough to have all your kids out of diapers, check out their website and see if you can score a great deal on anything else right now!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Is a Garden Really Worth It?

Spring is here, spring is here! I love being warm again. It's fun to see the flowers growing inches ever day and the bright colors can't help but make me feel more cheerful and optimistic. This spring we put in a small strawberry bed, but I have yet to put in any veggies.

I like to get the most bang out of the small space we have. Why plant potatoes when I can get them so cheaply all year round? I'm not going to put a watermelon plant in, because then that's all I'd have! Plus, I could probably buy one for less than the cost of watering it. We typically go for things like dark green lettuces, sugar snap peas, roma tomatoes, basil, and spinach. While it's not much of a variety, we can have a daily salad, make some salsa or tomato sauce and can it, and get some pesto in the freezer. I usually have extra peas to freeze, as well. These are the things my family eats that cost a bit more at the store, so it's worth my time and effort to grow them myself.

Last year, I found this great article from one person who kept track of their garden costs for one year to see if they had any savings over purchasing their food from the store. It's a great read and gets you thinking about what  you plant and why you plant it. Most gardeners aren't just doing it for the savings, but for those of us who are frugally minded, it's a great resource for helping you do a cost-analysis of your garden. In seeing where your money goes, you can make changes to save even more if you choose to.

What's going in your garden this year?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Resource Review- The Messies Manual

I picked up a bunch of books a couple of weeks ago. They were laying out on a table and said "free"... how could I refuse? I did leave some for others, but went back at the end of the time and grabbed a couple more. I sure do love books!

One of the books I snagged, was called "The Messies Manual: The Procrastinator's Guide to Good Housekeeping." I am definetly in a phase where I am trying to get my house under control. I really don't like stepping over things (you know- toys, books, folded laundry) and I don't like having to clean all the time. It's hard to have fun and enjoy my children when I'm constantly thinking about how much work there is to do. I'm learning that it needs to be streamlined and that there are ways to organize my home so that it is less prone to being messy.

I've also been thinking about how much stuff we have. We were able to visit Asia last summer, and it's really amazing how little people can live with. Here in the States, we think we need to have everything readily available. Think about how much stuff in your home just sits there, gathering dust. We have shelves full of books that are rarely read, closets full of clothes that don't even fit, kitchens full of appliances with purposes too specific to warrant the amount of space they take up. The list goes on and on! If I trust God to provide for me when we need it, I should be able to get rid of all the excess and let Him give us what we need. It's a hard concept! If only I could remember that when I give, it will come back to me.

Felton does a great job providing an overview of what causes us to be messy. She talks straight and helps us deal with the reasons we're holding on to our stuff and have a hard time getting rid of it. We all have neat, organized friends that we wish we could be like. She takes us in to the mind of Neat person and helps us learn the things that come so naturally to them. Little tips on how to organize our space more wisely and plan our time better. We don't need to spend all day cleaning to have a beautiful maintained home, and Felton shows you how.

This book was written in 1983, and there is an updated version available. I have not read this updated version, so I do not know where the differences lie between the two. Felton has spend the last thirty years teaching classes and writing books. I'm sure that anything that she has added will be well worth the read.

I now have a vision for clearning out my clutter. We don't need most of the stuff in our home, and it will be so much easier to manage if it's not here! I feel like I need a little jumpstart, though. I have decided to hire a teen or two to come and help me get things off on the right foot. Even having a friend come and take my children to the park would be extrememly helpfull!

What's one project you wish you could get a jumpstart on?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I've gone without a menu plan for a couple of weeks. I realized that I desperately need my menu plan! Some people say they like the freedom of choosing their dinners each night or wonder what they would do if they don't feel like eating what's on the schedule. I say, you'll feel like eating what's on the schedule if it's planned out for you and you have all the ingredients in the house! My grocery shopping has been pretty sporadic, which means I'm out of potatoes How could I be out of potatoes?!? It's hard deciding what meat to pull out of the freezer in the morning, hard to decide what to do with it in the afternoons, hard to make what I want with the ingredients we happen to have lying around. 

So, back to my menu plan! It will be so good to save my brain power this week for important things- like decluttering the kids' clothes and planning a field trip! I also discovered that without a plan I just wanted to go out and pick something up. I've decided to have a "busy day backup" of items quick and easy to prepare. Then, when I feel done in after a busy day it will be easier to pull that out than head to the grocery store for deli chicken! What kinds of meals do you keep on hand to save you a trip through the drive thru?

Monday- tuna casserole
Tuesday- roast, potatoes, carrots
Wednesday- fried rice
Thursday- tacoes
Friday- pizza night
Saturday- graduation party
Sunday- mother's day picnic
Back up- hotdogs, chips, fruit

That's my plan! Check out more plans on Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.org. What's on your menu this week?