Welcome to Penny Pinching Mom

Throughout this blog, you will find meal plans, date night ideas, daily routines, preschool activities, natural cleaning products, crafting and so much more. Essentially, I want to share how I make "everyday tasks" into something to look forward to - except for mopping floors, you're on your own for that one!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Project 365 {February Favourites}

Project 365 is going strong!  I completely forgot to post my favourite photos last month.  I missed 4 days in February but I didn't even notice until now and I am kinda bummed that I didn't take a photo on February 29th.  I guess I was too busy doing leapy (yes, that's word...) kind of things.  Annnnnd, I realized that I haven't used a real camera in a month!  As great as my camera phone is you can't print and frame those photos.  So now I have added another dimension to my project: take a photo everyday and use a real camera more often then never.

I think that is an attainable goal. ;)

If you put a wooden spoon over your pot of boiling water, it wont boil over!

Great Papa and Red

Red found a hole in the floor! I PROMISE he was not as hurt as his face would suggest! He was sticking his arm in there all morning! I barely snapped the photo before he pulled his arm out and then stuck it in again! LOL

Ginger's buildings are becoming more detailed.

Our one and only snowman of the year. It wasn't even that cold out, I put snowsuits on them because it would be wet out.

Baking "spicy cookies" (A.K.A. Ginger Snaps)

We are getting pretty good at the back wrap
Our 1st Bulldog's Hockey game, as a family.  We scored seats for $10 each!

At the Hamilton Children's Museum. We borrow a family pass, from the library, and we get in for free!

Do you use a "real" camera or your cell phone camera, more often?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Jesus Loves Me {Sunday School Unit}

This was a three week unit.  It can be difficult for a four year old to understand how to have a connection to a person they have never met.  This unit was a short intro to who Jesus is and how he loves us.  I am not very good a keeping track of where I find all our resources.  The only thing I made myself (for this unit) is the take home sheets.  I used a lot of ideas from Kids Sunday School for this lesson, too.

The three topics are:
  • I am special to Jesus
  • Jesus is my healer
  • Jesus is our shepherd

Crafts, Activities and Stories:

I am special - craft

Bible verse:
I found these printables from a website/blog called 1+1+1=1.  She has so many homeschooling and Sunday school resources!

Take home sheets:

Monday, March 19, 2012

March Meals {Week of March 19/12}

Meal planning.

Well, I think I have found my groove!

We using our bread maker almost every week, there is always the right ingredients in the cupboard and the kitchen is organized!

I am always trying to find ways to save money on food. First I thought I would do some research and see if anyone suggests how much I should be spending in the first place.  I have figured out two numbers.
  1. Your weekly budget should be $3-$5 per person, per day.
  2. You should expect to spend 11%-14% of your take home, families income.
What does that look like? (Yearly income) × .11 ÷ 52 = weekly food budget.

Right now we are spending about 11.5% and I think it would be awesome if I could manage 10%.
Now I just need to figure out how to do that!

I have slowly but surely figured out a few things.
  1. No Frills will price match. This was the first week I tried this. I felt a little disorganized - I grabbed the wrong name brand of frozen corn, forgot to get grapes... but I know it will go better next time.
  2. Make food from scratch.  This one is tough.  I remember working a 9 hour shift in Oakville and the 3 hour commute - there is no way I would have been able to make everything from scratch.  Now, I have a lot more opportunities.  I only work about 15 hours outside of the house and about 4 hours at home. Red is sleeping through the night.  I have a bread maker (even though it is technically my husbands!)
  3. Buy in bulk.  I had to hyper-organize the kitchen to make this work.  I needed to have the room to store all that extra food. 
  4. Buy when things are on sale (even if it isn't needed yet).  I don't seem to get a big benefit from this one. I am trying to eat clean so I don't food that is full of preservatives; that has a long shelf life.  Right now, this only seems to apply to my husbands shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and toilet paper.
  5. Cooking meals once a month and freezing them.  I have just discovered this amazing site that gives you detailed instructions on how to do this.  I just got all the ingredients for the March menu today.  Including our extra snacks, meats and dairy purchases I spent $175. I am hoping this will last us 2 weeks - with a little left over for milk and such in the second week.  Instead of using this menu as the site suggests (spreading out all the meals for the months), I am going to cram it all in for two weeks.
  6. Participate in a Freezer exchange group. If you are on Facebook, there is fan page that explains the whole idea.
So, what's on the menu?

  • Apple Spice Oatmeal
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin and Nut Oatmeal
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins *
  • Pumpkin Biscuits *
  • Fruit Smoothies

  • Mini Vegetarian Meatloaves *
  • Broccoli Cheddar Biscuit Muffins *
  • Mini Zucchini Muffins
  • Pizza Dippers
  • Rice Cakes
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • Salmon Frittata and Salad (2 meals)
  • Veggie Pizza and Salad
  • Zucchini/Meat Burgers, Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli *
  • Asparagus and Mushroom Quesadillas *
  • Broccoli Cheese Stromboli *
  • Spinach Meatballs and Pasta *
  • Chickpea patties and Veggies *
  • Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers with Pitas and Veggies *
* www.onceamonthmom.com

    Here's hoping this works!

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Project Simplify {week 2: the pantry & fridge - the finished product}

    I did it! A complete overhaul of every cupboard in our kitchen! Phew! It took three hours and I am SO glad that no one was in the house all day.  I was able to focus and make all the noise I needed to (without worrying if Red was about to wake up!).  Have you heard of Project Simplify?  We are on week 2.

    Lets start with some before and after photos...

    The counters don't always look that bad (more often then I would like them to, though) but the cupboards are always that bad!

    First I washed all the dishes, emptied all the cupboards and organized all the stuff into piles.  Boy, was I happy to find this!


    Spice Cupboard
    I had zero money to purchase a spice organizing system so I just kept moving things around until it made sense.  We made this jar of spice rub from Father's Day last year and now we can access it better.

    We have a useless skinny cupboard beside the sink.  I put the spices that we use most often  on the bottom shelf, multi vitamins on the 2nd shelf and cake decorating/toothpicks on the top shelf.

    I put a bright green label on the inside of the cupboard to indicate what spices were in there.  We have more spices than magnetic tins so now we won't be riffling through baggies of spices every night.

    Any left overs that we rarely use or unopened packages were put into containers and shoved the very back of the highest cupboard.  I found we had a few duplicate bags of spices.

    I am super excited about this discovery!  This is Playtex bottle that uses a plastic liner - so there is no bottom.  I was looking for containers to fill the Bulk Barn bags of spices with and saw these.  There were no nipples for these so I think this is the best way to re purpose them.  This way, I can take the baggie to the Bulk Barn, fill it and then just drop it into the bottle.

    The bottom shelf of the pantry was particularly offensive.  So many random bags of flour and baking things I had no idea what was in there!

    I was searching the web trying to come up with ways to re purpose something to store everything in.  The problem is that we are trying to choose our groceries that has the least amount of packaging.  That means the only usable containers we have are medium sized yogurt containers.  We go through a glass jar of apple sauce a week and they are the perfect container. I created round labels for all the containers, and took out rarely used baking supplies and put them in the newly cleaned out cupboard above the stove.  If you would like the labels, I have added them to my Google Docs for you to download.  They are formatted to be used with Avery round labels.  I also left some of the labels blank for you to customize.

    I taped the cooking instructions on the back of the jars so I would always know the ratios for the beans and such.

    Finally, I cleaned up the command center.  Here is our menu board, recipes, coupon folder, paper organizer and pens/scissors.
    Well, last week, I didn't do any of the project.  This week I didn't finish the blog post in time to join the link up.  I think come next week I will be on top of things! LOL  If you are looking for more kitchen organization ideas head over to Tsh's blog. Next week challenge is a big one - closets!

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Gingers are not to be trusted with scissors

    So I have this theory that you have to give children a glass cup so they learn how to be gentle with it.  You have to let children use scissors so they learn how to be safe with them.

    This child is testing ALL my theories!

    Last December, Ginger cut her hair.  How, you ask?

    Sometime in the fall, she decided that she didn't want me to cut her bangs anymore. She wanted them to "grow long like the rest of her hair".  Sure, no problem.
    Then just as they are almost long enough to tuck behind her ear, she has had enough, she wants me to cut her bangs.  Sure, no problem.
    After her bath, I set her up and trim her bangs.  I remind her (as with every hair cut) that only adults cut hair. "Okay Mommy, no problem"
    That night was rough, Red woke up three times. Ginger woke up twice.  The kids slept in so I took advantage.  9:30 rolls around and Red wakes up screaming.  I roll out of bed and Ginger is standing at the foot at my bed, staring at me! I rub my eyes and ask "What are you doing?". He response is "What, Mommy?"  And then I see her hair... or should I say lack thereof...

    I didn't want to spaz on her so I sent her downstairs. Now she is crying and Red is still crying.  As soon as I open Red's bedroom door, I can smell the vomit.  That's why he was crying all night!  After bathing him I go back into my room and see the puddle of hair at the foot of my bed.  An indication that she stood at the foot of my bed, with a pair of scissor and cut her hair while staring at me!

    After a looooong conversation about what scissors are used for... blah, blah, blah it was decided that she couldn't have any scissors until her hair grows back!

    Last month, her scissor privileges were returned.

    Last night, Ginger walks up to me and stares at me.  You know, the "I did something I'm not supposed to and I am sure you can plainly see that, but I don't want to tell you" look.

    I see red smear all over he hands and shirt. "Is it marker?" "No." "Is it make-up?" "No." "Is it nail polish?" "No. It just keep coming out of my finger."


    She had found my rotary cutter (which was at the back of my desk, in the pencil holder, behind the lamp!) and sliced her finger. Then as her thumb kept bleeding, she would wipe it on herself. Come on!  So I put them on a decorative shelf that I can hardly reach.  But the more  I think about it the more I realize that there is only so much you can do.

    I remember learning how to climb into my kitchen counter, with out a stool or chair, so I could get at things that I wasn't supposed to touch.  Ginger is so much like me; she will figure this out too.  That's not to say that I will leave things laying around but now I am worried about the knives that are on the magnetic knife rack, behind the kitchen faucet.  If she is determined to slice her arm off I feel like she will find a way! Ack!!  I wonder if I can google "what to do when your child keeps finding your hidden sharp things"?

    Hang on, I am going to to try that...
    ... okay, I found this: Keeping Kids Safe  ... practical advice, just not what I need! LOL

    Well, in other news:
    How do I remove blood stains from a cotton t-shirt?

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Easter Traditions

    I don't remember Easter being a big deal in our house.

    I remember Palm Sunday because we all got big palm leaves and we would bring them upstairs, at the end of church and walk down the isle, laying the leaves down as we walked to the front.  I remember my Mom would take great pride in hiding the eggs so well that we wouldn't find them until the next day! That's about it though...

    There was a while, before I got married, that my in-laws would make a big dinner but that kind of faded away too.

    This year, Ginger is 3.5 years old  For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a solid understanding of the spiritual side of Easter and I am excited to share that with her. I posted about our Lent Jar and she is really digging it!  Every day she either does something on purpose (so she can add a bean to the jar) or she realizes hours later that her actions deserve a bean.

    So I have the important parts covered, now I want to start some fun traditions!

    We try to take them to an outdoor Easter egg hunt every year, I put a little bag of carrots on Ginger's door on Easter morning (a sign the Easter bunny has been there) and I love painting blown out eggs with her.  According to my photo album, Red slept through most of his first Easter!

    The photo with the big yellow egg was taken by Danielle Valiquette

    I remember my dresses...
    Every Easter, my Mother, Grandmother and I would pick out a dress.  Most of the time my Grandmother had it purchased for me in August...
    I couldn't find any photos to share with you but as soon as I found these images through Google, all the memories came flooding back :)

    I had the purse, the shoes, the frilly socks, the hat... the only way you can tell this photo isn't me is the red hair!

    Why did the dresses have so much fabric!?

    I don't care if Ginger wears a dress or if Red wears a suit (although, I have a small sweater vest obsession!) I am super excited to get them dressed up for Easter photos! How convenient is it, that I am a photographer!

    Since Red was sleeping when my bunny sessions were all done, I am going to schedule a time slot for my own children so I don't miss out! LOL

    Do you have any Easter traditions?

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Project Simplify {week 2: the pantry & fridge - plan of attack}

    Simple Mom

    I had planned to participate in Tsh's Project Simplify from week one but life was too disorganized to start - a clear sign I need to participate!

    So now, I will start at week two and finish with week one :)

    So here is what it plan to do:
    • Assess the damage and decide what needs to be done
    • Come up with a plan of attach
    • Create a list of needed storage items
    • Clean and organize the fridge
    • Clean and organize the food storage containers
    • Purchase needed storage items
    • Worry about the fact that I have no money to purchase anything right now ;)
    • Clean and organize the pantry
    • Clean and organize the spice cupboard
    • Pray that I complete my list so I can have a date night!
    And I will leave you with a sample of what I need to deal with:

    Wish me luck!

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Food, books and crafts {Weekend Reading}

    • Food
    • Books
    • Crafts
    • Baby shower

    That pretty much sums up my weekend!
    I hosted our first "Freezer Exchange Group".  The idea is to get, say, 5 people to make 5 freezable meals.  Then you all get together, once a month and exchange.  It is cheaper to buy in bulk and easier to double a recipe.  This way, you get 5 meals that are ready to go and you only spent about 2 hours (or less) in the kitchen.  I am really excited to try the meals we concocted!  We have a "meatless, gluten free group and hope we can invite more people because right now it is just the 3 of us. Though, I am stoked that I don't have to cook for three night!!

    I don't get a lot of time to focus on reading actual books but I love finding random things through Facebook and Google :)

    50+ Great Re-purposing Ideas:: Saved by love creations
    Keep Calm And Carry On - The Story Of An Accidentally Iconic Poster:: George Stroumboulopoulos
    Grow Green Onions … from your Groceries!:: Sumptuous Spoonfuls
    Clean Eating Super Berry Smoothie:: The Gracious Panty

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    When babies turn into 3 year olds...


    It's 11pm.
    It's dark outside but the moon is full and bright. So bright, I can see the clouds drifting across the night sky.
    The only noise I hear is Adam laughing as he plays XBOX.
    Red is fast asleep.

    I hear a thud. Ginger fell out of bed. A minute later, little footsteps tell me I am about to have a visitor.
    When I ask her what happened, she responds with a shrug and says "I just love you."
    How can I send her back to bed? Besides, I am in desperate need of some snuggle time.
    As we lay in bed, I stare at the moon and cry.
    Who is this 3 year old? She was 2 only a few months ago! She was learning to walk only last summer! Well, maybe it has been a little longer than that...
    That thought only reminds me how quickly Red is growing.

    I wanted a snuggle. I didn't feel like crying - maybe it's good for me...maybe not.
    Now all I can think about is how much i want another baby. Would a third child satisfy my baby fetish? Probably not. Would I cry when that baby is 3. Most likely. I still want more babies though.

    I can barely see the moon now, it is quickly moving through the sky. And Ginger has readjusted so she is laying on my face. No room for tears now! Time for sweet little redheads to go to bed.

    The moon rises and sets. It follows it's path through the sky.
    Life goes on.
    Babies or no babies - I will suck up every moment I am blessed with.

    I pray.
    Help me focus on what I have instead of what I don't have.
    Don't let me miss a single moment.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Fruits of the Spirit {Sunday School Unit}

    With the help of two fantastic volunteers, I teach Sunday School at Wentworth Baptist Church.
    Last summer, we did a whole unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and I thought I would try to share everything we came up with.  There are lesson plans with activities, crafts, worship songs and prayer/discussion topics.  Our class is made up of 3-5 year olds but this lesson could be adapted to a younger or older audience.  The lessons are created in order but they certainly don't need to be used in this way.  I have also included my "brainstorming" notes - no guaranties it make any sense!

    Our routine:

    The lessons:

    Intro (I didn't create a lesson for the intro.  We coloured a colouring sheet and we read a little intro story.


    Each week, we decorated a "fruit" and added to our bulletin board.  Today I realized we didn't take a photo of the final result!

    Colour photos of fruit (I didn't create this one and I don't remember it's source)

    There isn't a printable for every craft.  I hope the descriptions in each lesson plan will be clear so you can figure out how to create the art activity.
    Peace craft (part 1)
    Peace craft (part 2)

    Take Home Sheet:
    Each week, we send home a little note that tells the parent what we talked about.  There is a little colouring picture and an idea how to incorporate that weeks lesson into the families week.  We started adding the Bible verse that we practice after this unit, so you will see that version in the future.  These are formatted to print on a legal size (8.5" x 14") but you can edit your printer settings and it will print on a letter size (8.5" x 11") quite fine. They are JPGs so they aren't able to be edited.