Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Try-it Tuesday - Smartipants

A while ago I mentioned the financial reasons that we choose to use cloth diapers, and I briefly mentioned Smartipants, the brand of diapers that we chose for our stash. I discovered Smartipants through an ad on Facebook when I was first considering using cloth as well as comparing with the brands friends were using and the most prevalent names in modern cloth. After about a month of looking and comparing, talking to and e-mailing friends that used cloth, reading more, crunching numbers and being a bit nervous about "pulling the trigger", I decided to order a complete stash of 24 Smartipants. (7 of the "boy" smart start 3 packs and one "neutral".) The reasons for choosing Smartipants initially?

  • The price - of the "modern" diapers, they were by far the most competitively priced - with three for $36.95 (sale price)
  • Ease of use - They looked and were described as easy to use - Daddy and Grandparent friendly.
  • Snaps and a 2 year guarantee on the snaps
  • One size
  • Inserts come out in the wash!
  • Made in the USA
So once the diapers arrived I got them laundered and stuffed and ready to go. Baby arrived and I was eager to try the diapers - and gave them a go about every week. (The first time was a total disaster - maybe because I also got a "shower" and pooped all over...) and I was finally comfortable with the fit on his one month birthday - and we were done with disposables! While it took awhile to get just the right fit and we had a few leaks at first - we have not had a poop explosion since we said goodbye to disposables!

I did learn pretty quickly that we had a "heavy wetter" so to avoid changing every hour or so, day and night we learned pretty quick about doublers. We doubled with inexpensive pre-folds and sham-wows (ok dollar store sham wow knock offs) for awhile, and then I realized I needed a heavier duty night-time solution. My friends at Little Padded Seats hooked me up with the Loopy do - and told me to use it with my regular insert closest to him, and the loopy do behind. Worked like a charm! (As he's gotten a bit older we've gone to a Super-Do in addition to the regular insert, and use the loopy do's when we are going out and about for a couple of hours.) Our regular day stash are all doubled with either tri-folded micro-terry towels (8 for $5 in the automotive section of your local Superstore) or the large Happy Heiny's hemp ovals placed in the "wet zone" behind the regular insert.

Overall, I've been thrilled with our Smartipants - after almost 9 months of use, they are holding strong - one of the inserts has started to come apart on one end - but it is totally cosmetic - still works great - and only one out of 24 - I can totally live with that. The covers still look great, and there have been no stains either! So, for the after almost 9 months of use, here are the reasons I still use and recommend Smartipants:
  • Easy to use, whether for myself, sitters, family, or even daddy
  • Cost - for the total breakdown, you can check out my previous post here.
  • They look good - I like the simple classic colors and the way my little guy looks in them.
  • No matter how full I stuff them, the stuffins always come out in the wash
  • The "smart sleeve" also makes it easier to stuff
  • They have held up to repeated washings and use
As for things I don't particularly care for...hmm, that's a bit harder but let's see:
  • They aren't carried locally, and I like to support my local retailer, and it makes it harder (shipping/etc.) to place smaller orders if needed
So, they are keeping disposable out of the landfill and off of my baby's bum, they are less expensive, work as good or better than disposables, or other cloth options - I think that gives Smartipants the Chewy Granola Family "seal" of approval! I know it sounds like a paid advertisement, but I did my own research, and bought my own diapers - and think these are a great "chewy" hit.

They have recently posted that we should be on the lookout for a big announcement August 1st. I'm trying not to go too crazy speculating. Please take the time to checkout their website www.Smartipants.com. Even if you don't have kids in diapers, check out the new "modern" cloth diaper - you may be surprised.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mish Mash Monday -- truly

I'm going to try a Mish Mash Monday "Mr. Chewy" Style with a variety of snippets.

A blog I have really enjoyed reading is "Fed up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project" "Mrs. Q" Decided she would eat the same meal offered to the students at her school every school day during 2010. It is interesting to read her take, and follow her photos of the process. During the summer she is looking at a variety of topics related to kids and nutrition as well. She is concerned about the amount of processed foods being fed to our children, as well as the amount of garbage coming out of school lunchroom's every day.

Ok, I'm a bit of a Facebook Junkie. and I admit that I like to play Bejeweled Blitz It's my "just one minute" break from whatever. Although, yes, on occasion "just one minute" has turned into "just too many minutes"

cloth in hospitalsCheck out the push to get "real diapers" back in hospitals cloth diapers in hospitals Really it wasn't that long ago that cloth WAS diapers. There are a few hospitals where cloth is the norm - although it is pretty much your mother's cloth diaper. I wonder if this does more harm than good for the modern cloth diaper movement? When Lucas had his surgery, we were told we could bring our own cloth, as long as they were uniform in weight so they could measure his output regularly.

Cool Bobby McFerrin video -- science and music - Who said scientists can't sing?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Simple Saturday and Sunday - Cloth Napkins

One of the simplest things we did several years ago was make the switch to cloth napkins. I believe it was in 2003 when we moved into our home in Minnesota. I have to say it was one of our best moves. Why? We have used the same 12 napkins for almost 7 years - so they have definitely paid for themselves. The really don't take anything "extra" to launder - we just wash them with whatever load is going in next (with the exception of diapers, I don't wash them with diapers!) And, to top it all off? They work better than paper napkins. I now hate trying to eat something like fried chicken with paper napkins.
As for initial investment - When seasons change, I've seen some pretty inexpensive cloth napkins (in the $1-2 range) or if you are more handy than I am - I would guess they are pretty easy to make. Also, if you are looking to build a stash, check out restaurant supply stores, or warehouse clubs - Sam's Club sells packs of 24 for just under $19.

So, if switching to cloth napkins saves money, is environmentally sound, and they work better, why don't you give it a try - sounds simple doesn't it?

Family Friday - A Ticket to Ride

We play a lot of board games, ok, not as many as we did "pre-kids" but still more than the average family (I think). If you are familiar with "Mr. Chewy's Blog" this isn't a total surprise. Most of our games are not ones you'll find on the shelves at your local "Big Box Mart" either, although some of them do make the occasional appearance. One of our favorites, that is also an easy one to share with friends is "Ticket to Ride".

The concept is pretty simple - collecting various colored cards to complete various train routes for points. The strategy however, can get a bit more complicated. Board Game Geek (yes, that is a real, and very appropriately titled website) has more detailed information here.. Cities on the various maps are based on railroad hubs. You have to keep in mind - this is not published by Rand McNally and locations of various cities are not exactly precise- but in the general ballpark.

Why do I think this is such a great family game? Besides being pretty easy to pick up, there is the bit of history and geography component. While latitudes and longitudes may not be totally to scale - the chewy kid (and the rest of us) are getting refreshers on general locations of cities including Seattle, Denver, Boston, New Orleans, and more. It also teaches delayed gratification. There is more reward for completing longer routes - reinforcing saving your resources for the bigger payoff. There are also expansions and additional maps/gameplay rules available. While I kind of like the "Ticket to Ride Europe" option/rules, it is the original that comes out to play the most.

Like a lot of games of this type - it is not one you'll find on sale for $5.88 - and is definitely an investment. It's currently on sale at Amazon where you can also check out a video from the publisher. But publisher list is $50.00. Which, believe it or not, does not totally freak out this frugal mama. We could easily drop that amount on a family evening at the movies - or a nice dinner out. For a game the whole family enjoys playing - and we actually interact while playing... it's an investment I'm willing to make, and the amount of plays Ticket to Ride has seen at our table - it's been worth it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Light my Fire

I am not ashamed to use fire starters when camping. And anyone who has needed to build a fire with wet wood wouldn't be either. I would much rather use a fire starter than use chemicals or liquid fuel to get a flame. While you can purchase firestarters - I have made my own for quite some time. It takes only 3 items and a little bit of time.

cardboard egg cartons
drier lint - lots of it
wax (I use candle leftovers and broken, old or short crayons.)

Pack the compartments of the egg carton until they are stuffed tight with the drier lint. When I'm saving lint, I just keep the egg carton on the drier and shove it right in there until I have a full carton.

I also have an old metal teapot that I'm not even sure where it came from, but when I got it - it already had melted wax in it. whenever I have old candles, broken crayons or whatever - I drop them in the teapot. Here's The Chewy kid taking the papers off of some old crayons.

When I am ready to make the fire starters (either I need some and am out - or I have 3 or so egg cartons ready to go.) I melt the wax. Wax should always be melted in a "double boiler" so I use an old saucepan with water, and put the metal teapot in it - bring the water to a boil - and watch the wax melt pretty quickly.

Meanwhile - "just in case" I put the egg cartons on top of newspaper to catch any leaks or spills, and pour the melted wax into the "cups" of the egg carton - just enough to keep it together - and let them cool.

When you are ready to use - tear off one or two of the "cups" - place underneath your kindling light the edge of the cups. The wax will keep it from burning too quickly, and gives it a good chance to catch even damp wood on fire.

Last weekend we were camping and saw someone across the road struggling with their fire - Mr. Chewy ran over some kindling and a few of the starters and the guy waved back over to me and said "Genius, You're Genius" I'm not so sure about that - but I took a bunch of "garbage" and made something that was pretty useful.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Try it Tuesday - Netflix

For the majority of our married life, we have had either cable or Satelite TV. Last fall - when balancing the budget with the addition of the "Chewy tot" and enabling me to be a full-time parent - cable got the boot. To soften the blow - we found space in the budget for Netflix. For the first several months - I'm not sure we used it enough to "pay for itself" however, considering some of the late fees we'd encountered on library dvd's, maybe we did.

We have the plan where we can have 2 dvd's by mail, in addition to the streaming online of select movies/shows. We definitely take advantage of both ways of watching movies - but our streaming use has skyrocketed with the ability to stream via the Wii. It is much easier than previously hooking a laptop up to the tv, and has far fewer glitches.

Some of the reasons I really like Netflix:
  • The queue system - I can see a commercial for a movie coming to the theater and add it to my queue before I forget, or something coming to, or new to DVD, or even a movie I hadn't thought of in a long time. The fact I can rearrange the queue is pretty handy too - we try to make sure we have a family dvd at any given time - the 2nd one could be anything - based on who will have the time to watch it.
  • Streaming - while the titles available for instant streaming is by no means and exhaustive list - and it does change, there is almost always something to watch if you suddenly find yourself up with a restless baby in the middle of the night, or with the third rainy day in a row, or something else I didn't plan for.
  • Variety - both for streaming and dvd's by mail - I've been checking out exercise dvd's - The chewy kid (TCK) and I are going to try some of the 10 minute work outs. There are also a lot of tv series available. TCK loves the Muppet Show, and I've watched Fraggle Rock.
  • The flat fee - I can set this as our entertainment budget for the month. I don't have to worry about late fees if plans change, we just hold on to the dvd until we have a chance to watch it.
  • I'm not driving to/from the video store or library, where they may not even have what I'm looking for. With the library, I could put things on hold, but when they come in - I have a window of only a few days to pick it up, and then one week to watch. Not a horrible amount of time, but if we've got other plans for the weekend, or going to be out of town - it doesn't work so well - then it's back to the bottom of the hold list.
Things that are challenging with Netflix:
  • Streaming on the computer I have had some issues with stalls, audio not lining up with video, etc. (not an issue on the Wii at all)
  • Would like to see more fitness dvd's available for streaming. Even if it rotates, this seems like something that would make sense to be available instantly.
  • Our mailman - our movies have been delivered to other people more than once - who sometimes take a week or more to get them to us. While Netflix has no control over this - it does affect our experience.
  • The flat fee -- yes, this is on both lists. Some months we watch more TV/movies than others, so it seems like we may be paying for something we aren't using - although with the streaming option, this seems to be less of a concern.
Did I like cable more than Netflix? I'm not sure - I miss a few things, but not very much, and definitely not enough for the difference in price. Mr. Chewy agrees with one exception, he misses the sports now that a lot of "standard" sporting events are on cable only. Overall, for our family - Netflix seems to be a pretty good value, allowing us to watch a wide variety of movies - The Chewy Kid is getting familiar with a lot of 80's favorites -- "Back to the Future" is up for this weekend.

Mish Mash Monday - Camping

This weekend we went camping with family. It had been almost 2 years since we'd been camping - and at least twice that long since we'd camped in an actual campground. So, on Friday evening - after a day of gathering, shopping and packing, our tent landed at the KOA west of Des Moines on I-80. I will have to admit - having the pool and the fishing pond was very nice with the boys. Joey hit the pool on Friday evening while baby and I watched - and the whole family hit the water on Saturday afternoon. Breakfast always tastes better outside - and somehow - you don't feel too bad about eating too much. Overall it was a great chance to get away from the computer for a little while. I think it's a great family activity and a great way to get outdoors. Do I prefer more rustic camping? Yes, but I did have a good time - and so did the boys and the rest of the family. (Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed their pop up camper too!) Unfortunately, we didn't take a camera - so most of the pictures are in our memories - which is ok too. A couple of our family members had cameras - so I'm hoping we'll get at least a few photos!
What this weekend has challenged me to do is spend more time outside as a family - whether it is hiking, swimming, enjoying nature, or just watching the boys explore.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Simple Saturday and Sunday - Simple Sauce

This week got away from me and one night I didn't have a plan for dinner. Gnocchi with Italian Sausage sounded good to "Mr. Chewy" so out came some gnocchi I'd made and frozen a couple of weeks ago along with a small package of Italian Sausage purchased on sale. We are both working on losing the baby weight, so I decided to skip the butter and cheese we often use to dress up the potato dumplings.
I came up with the following:

1 large can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 T chopped garlic
2 t. italian seasoning

Heat through and toss with pasta or gnocchi. In this case - I browned the sausage and then mixed in the sauce ingredients.

Posting this was actually Joey's idea. He asked me what it was called - and I said "I don't know, it's just my simple sauce" Joey responded:
"Don't you have simple Saturday on your blog? You should post this"

Hope you enjoy it.

Family Friday - a game for the car

I like to think we are pretty creative with our games for the car. Joey and I had 3 summers of trips to/from camp everyday - and especially on the way home, he liked to play games. Actually, on long car trips - Thomas and I like to play games too. =) It started out with a trick I learned from my parents. Bring the box of cards from a trivia game along in the car - ask each other questions to pass the time. We would compete to see who could get the most questions right on the Trivial Pursuit card. Once on a trip - Thomas and I brought along some Tribond cards - which was all well and good, but we eventually started making up our own trying to stump the other person. Joey has come to really enjoy this game too - and as he's gotten older, and his vocabulary has expanded - does quite well.

Since it is not the "actual" game mentioned above - we generally call it something like "take 3" - but the premise is the same - you list three words, that all have a connection to the same single word -- for example:


The answer is "Sesame" -- Sesame Street, Open Sesame, and Sesame Seed.

Since it's a verbal game, Homonyms are allowed -- for example:


The answer is "Fair" (fare, Faire)

Here are a few others we've come up with - You'll have to try to come up with the answers!





Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Why I chose cloth diapers from a thrift standpoint

Yes, my original reason for researching and looking at cloth diapers was the money we'd save. After we decided that I would leave my full-time job when Lucas was born - it seemed like an easy way to save a lot of money. Buy a stash of washable diapers and have most of our diaper expense paid for before he made his grand entrance. So, I started talking to a few friends that used cloth - sending them links to websites of diapers I was considering (Thanks Sarah and Rachel!) probably scaring and boring them with questions like "Snaps or Velcro?" )btw - I'm definitely in favor of snaps! My journey (and a Facebook ad) led me to Smartipants - where I also found a sale! So a few days later, a big box of fluff appeared! I will be reviewing Smartipants specifically on a future "Try-it Tuesday" since today I want to focus on the thrifty aspect of using cloth.

Our initial investment of 24 sleeve diapers cost $322 (including shipping). Since then I have purchased some additional inserts (we have a heavy wetter!)and just recently purchased a set of hybrid diapers preparing for travel. I would say for diapers/stuffings alone I have still spent under $500. I have spent additional funds on cloth wipes and solution and a couple of wetbags - but those are items that should either be broken down separately (comparing wipes to wipes) or I would have needed anyway. (I would have a wetbag or two to contain disposables, and/or wet clothing when out and about.)

Many people do bring up the cost of laundering as another thing to consider when comparing costs of cloth vs. disposable. I will say, while I don't break down the cost/load of laundry - our water bills have gone up $10/month since our family has grown. Now - anyone who has had a baby realizes that diapers aren't the only increase in laundry with a baby =). Also, I am now at home, rather than spending half of my waking day out - so that increases our use as well. Also, Lucas' arrival happened to coincide with a rate increase for our water/sewage bill, so for the sake of figuring we'll say half of that increase is going for diaper laundry, or about $8 to more than cover some of the energy costs as well.

Before he was born, the cheapest I was able to find disposable diapers was $.18 each. (bulk, store brand at discount club, or name brand with a great coupon) I am going to say the average number of disposable diapers used is about 50/week, which I think is pretty low - yes, you change less often than in cloth - but infants are changed more - and there are going to be times you use more. That figures to $9.00/week, $468/year, or $1170 for the 2 1/2 years that baby will probably be in diapers.

Cloth diapers - I have spent less than $500 on diapers/stuffins and figuring the water/utilities at $8/month for the same 2 1/2 years ($240) or $740.

So, we are looking at a bare minimum savings of $430 for using cloth diapers. Why bare minimum? Once I purchase my cloth diapers - the actual diaper cost is done - it cannot increase. Disposables could go up in price, my figuring was also based on having a warehouse membership (which we do not at this time) and/or ALWAYS using coupons/big sales. Also, this is on ONE child, if we have more kids - the initial diaper investment on cloth is DONE - so it would only be the $240 for additional utilities - SWEET.

Since making this investment - I have also learned that there is a great re-sale market for cloth as well. These are also my figures - I did not by any means choose the cheapest options in cloth diapering - I spent a bit more to have a system that would be easy enough for sitters/friends/family to use, would be easy to care for and launder. Using pre-folds and covers I know I could have spent no more than half of my initial investment.

One thing I know scares parents away from using cloth is the initial investment. I wish I had the money to do no interest loans to parents wanting to use cloth, and let them pay me back the $40/month they would spend on disposables. However, what I would challenge them to do to cover this initial investment is to:
  • As soon as you know you are expecting, start putting aside the $ you would be spending on diapers each week, by the time baby arrives, you could have enough for a basic stash.
  • Register for them, or ask for gift cards for your preferred diaper retailer for any showers and let people know you would like to use cloth.
For those of you unfamiliar with the "modern" cloth diaper - you'll see more on future reviews - but let's just say - this isn't the cloth diapers our mother's used. I challenge you to check out Little Padded Seats reviewed on Tuesday or Smartipants mentioned earlier today - they aren't so scary anymore - in fact the more I researched, I found disposables were WAY more scary - but that's a topic for another day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Try-it Tuesday - Little Padded Seats

I referenced "Little Padded Seats" located in Valley Junction in last weeks "Try-it Tuesday" and honestly, it will probably come up again, at least a few times in the future, so I decided to take the opportunity to share with you a little bit more about Little Padded Seats, and why I love to shop there. I am so glad that I am lucky enough to have an actual natural parenting storefront where I can go, see and touch product, ask questions, and visit with other people that don't think I'm crazy when I talk about cloth diapers. For those of you that are not local - don't worry, they have a website: www.littlepaddedseats.com. The owners (Lauri and Tommy Ericson) have been a great resource when I've gone in with my questions such as "I have a heavy wetter, is it possible to get through the night?" and "What can I do for diaper rash that won't wonk up my diapers?" They make suggestions and offer information and real life experience but I still feel like I am making my own decisions. I also think it's pretty cool that although we are only in once or twice a month at the most - they ask how we are doing, especially before and after Luke's surgery they checked on his progress and how things were going.

I also appreciate that they are closed on Sunday and Monday. It appears they understand and keep the "family" in family business - not letting it totally take over. It's fun to see their kids in the shop as well.

You can also keep up with them - including their "Manic Monday" online specials on Facebook. They also host free "Cloth Diaper 101" classes and other parent information sessions for those wondering more about making the investment into cloth diapers. Even if you don't have a baby, or cloth diaper - there are other items of note, or that make great gifts including natural toys, clothing, accessories, breastfeeding supplies and more. Be sure to check them out online at www.littlepaddedseats.com or, if you are in the Des Moines area during the day Tuesday - Saturday,(open later on Thursdays in the summer for the Farmer's Market) stop by and see them at their Valley Junction storefront, I'm sure they'll be happy to answer any questions!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mish-Mash Monday - Are dumpsters really exciting?

Last week we received notification that our garbage service for our condo association would be changing vendors. Yawn, ok, whatever. Then I read on...."you will no longer need to sort your recyclables" Really? Yippee! I know that seems pretty lame - is sorting that difficult? Yes, and No. We don't have a lot of space so it was a bit of a hassle - but not impossible. Also, with the previous vendor - we only had bins for plastics, newspaper and mixed paper. Well, last week our new dumpster showed up - instead of two big dumpsters for garbage, we now have a single garbage dumpster and a dumpster that is the same size for recycling for each building in the complex.

As a bonus - we can also now recycle more types of paper, glass, tin and aluminum according to this spiffy sticker on the outside.

We do need to train a few of the neighbors though - a lot of cardboard in the garbage dumpster - no more difficult to toss it in the next dumpster.

So, now I'm thinking about how I can do a better job inside now that I only need two receptacles. I'm thinking either a second kitchen trash can would be the easiest/cheapest route to go - although something like this would look really nice.

I also want to find a couple of washable liners to use in the recycle can as well to make it easier to carry out to dump as well as easier to clean. I haven't come up with much on my washable can liner hunt though. How do you collect your recyclables? Do you line your indoor can/bin?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Simple Saturday and Sunday - Leftovers

OK, this is supposed to be a simple thing you can do to make an easy difference - saving, time, money or the earth. This one actually saves all three!

Save and use meal leftovers. Really - that simple - of course for me sometimes the key is to actually USE them!

Most of our leftovers become lunches. Sometimes they are a bit odd when we are really cleaning out although Joey calls it "Leftover Celebration!" The worst part about using up lots of leftovers -- lots of dishes.

Produce that is started to "go" gets chopped and put in the freezer for use in soups, casseroles, etc.

I challenge you to save and make use of those leftovers - get creative!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Family Friday - Movie night

Taking the family to the movies is not a frugal activity at all! How can you make movie night at home more of an event?

Tonight we are planning on getting back into our "movie night" routine. Pick a movie we own, or on Netflix (gotta love the live streaming on the Wii!) and we all plan a menu around that. Sometimes it gets stretched a little bit, or the strange sense of humor breaks out! There may be a food from the movie, or something that makes you think of it. With Pirates of the Caribbean, I think we had seafood of some sort, and I know we had some Pirate Booty cheese snacks! We got Chinese take out when we watched Mulan. At 9 - Joey knows where most food comes from, and is growing quite the sense of humor. I can mention Finding Nemo as a possible movie - and he'll get a twinkle in his eye and I know what is going to come next.... Sushi.

I'm looking forward to having this be a summer project for Joey - stretching his imagination, planning meals within a theme and budget, and taking ownership of part of family night. If we don't know much about the movie - sometimes our dinner choices are a bit off - but we have fun anyway.

But what you really want to know... what's for dinner tonight?

Shepherd's Pie
Yorkshire Pudding
Cauldron Cakes
Butter Beer

Any ideas for the movie?

Joey finished the book a while ago - so now we get to watch the movie!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Grocery "Limits"

Ok, I LOVE to grocery shop. It is a game and an event all rolled up in one. One of the first things I do online Tuesday mornings is look at the weekly grocery ads. Why? Because I'm an avid sale shopper. I have a budget - and I do my best to stay within it for everyday shopping. In order to do that and eat the foods we like, I need to have maximum prices that I will pay for items. Between sales, buying in season and coupons we average about $80/week for our family. Granted - baby's groceries at this point consist of a few items of produce - but that extra sweet potato, avocado, or banana hasn't broken the bank yet! I will eventually go into more depth on specific aspects, but when people ask me for the brief overview of how I feed a family of 3+ on this budget here is how it goes:

I know that I never need to spend more than

$1.80/lb. for boneless/skinless chicken breasts
$ .99 for a small jar of peanut butter
$ .99 for a jar of spaghetti sauce (can get cans we like for a little less on sale)
$1.50/lb for ground turkey/turkey sausage (can get as low as $1/pound once or twice a year)
$ .99/lb for ham for sandwiches
$2.00 a box for cereal

When the chicken breasts are on sale, I buy enough for about 4-6 weeks - the amount of time before they hit that low price again. That week - Chicken may be the only meat in my cart, but that's ok because there is a roast, hamburgers, ham, turkey and sausage in the freezer.

As a general rule - I never pay more than $2.00/lb for any meat for everyday use, or more than $1.00/lb for fruits/veggies. Yes, that means winter is a lot of apples, oranges, bananas and carrots, lots of carrots.

Coupons are great when I can match them with something on sale. Most often I'm able to do this with cereal. Last December, the store matched a competitors price for Chex cereal for $1.88/box. Our store had an in ad store coupon for $3 off 3 boxes and I had a manufacturers coupon (found online at coupons.com for $1 off 2 boxes. So my 3 boxes of cereal cost a total of $1.64 or about $.55 each. Occasionally I've even been able to get a "free" item based on a sale/coupon combination.

I do realize that actual prices do vary by geographical area. I had sticker shock on meat/produce items when we were living in the Twin Cities a few years ago. Another thing to note is there are times when rules get broken. Special occasion dinners may call for a special treat that costs a bit more like maybe shrimp. Or, in the summer I have been known to splurge a bit on bing cherries or blueberries (when they hit their summer low prices) - especially if I'm getting a lot of our other produce from the garden.

I will also admit to not purchasing a lot of organic items. I do get local organic produce when available - but prefer to buy local and in season as my way of being "green".

Do you have a "great deal" you were able to find - or what is your "Maximum Price" or budget.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I found this at www.kjjy.com and couldn't resist! I've since seen it elsewhere as well so don't know the "true" origin.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Try-it Tuesday - Hyland's Teething Tablets

Teething babies - great fun right? Ha! Not that I can blame them. Sharp teeth pushing through your gums - and having no idea what or why it's going on - I'd be crabby too. While visiting our local cloth diaper/natural parenting store "Little Padded Seats" I had seen these on the shelf and was intrigued enough to come home and check them out online. There are plenty of opinions from Hooey to Hallelujah. Step back from opinions and look at research about homeopathy and I'm very comfortable that these are safe - probably safer than "traditional" teething gels. Add in an endorsement by Dr. Jim Sears - one of "America's Pediatricians" and I'm willing to give them a try.
I will admit that after purchasing these - they sat on the counter for a few weeks. Why? Still a little nervous and skeptical honestly. Also, as a first time parent to an infant - not sure when I was going to hit the "bad teething" is this it or does it get worse? Well, one evening after a particular rough afternoon with "Mr. No-Nap" showing several obvious teething signs (drooling, chewing on anything and everything, drool, irritability, more drool, you get the idea) We decide to give them a try and put 2 tablets in his mouth. They dissolved almost instantly and baby's attitude seemed to improve just as quickly. He was asleep within 3 minutes. Now, as a frazzled exhausted parent, you'd think I'd embrace this opportunity to crash as well. Nope. I stayed awake two more hours making sure he was ok. I was a bit scared by how quickly things changed - even though the box told me this could happen.

We still use these sparingly - and the most we have ever used in a day is two doses of two tablets. They only cause him to crash if he's tired, otherwise, the attitude just greatly improves and fussiness is gone. Hey, that's what happens to me when I'm in pain and I take something to relieve it! My family refers to them as Luke's "magic pills" as in, "Sure we'll watch him! Where are the magic pills in case he needs them?" Over the past few months I have seen these carried in several big box stores as well as Baby Stores, Family Dollar - and of course, Little Padded Seats in Valley Junction. Are there babies that have had reactions - quite possible - my baby reacts to cow's milk, does that mean milk isn't good for all babies? With any new medication, food, or topical - we watch to make sure there are no reactions. Please do the same with your own children.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What to expect...

Thanks for visiting Chewy Granola Family! Whether you are here because you know me, are intrigued by the title, or are interested in little things you can do to save money and make a difference in how you use your own, and the earth's resources, I'm looking forward to sharing things I've learned. I'm also looking forward to hearing from you and your own ideas as well. I'm expecting to post a few times a week (probably not the same days every week) with themes including:

Mish Mash Monday
Ok, the title is lifted directly from "Mr. Chewy's" Blog: http://tdcackler.wordpress.com , but I'll handle it a little differently. It will give me the chance to look at a topic that doesn't fit into another day - or share some of our weekend adventures.

"Try it" Tuesday
On Tuesdays I want to review different products or books that fit into the "chewy" lifestyle.

Wordless Wednesday
Yes, several blogs do this - and I can't promise there won't be quick captions, but photos say a lot. Now, I may just have to learn how to upload my own photos and not drive Mr. Chewy too crazy...

Thrifty Thursday
Thrifty and Frugal are not the same as cheap. I love a great deal and the chance to talk about it. You may even find some thrifty recipes and homemade mixes for food and or cleaning supplies.

Family Friday
Family activities and challenges will be the topic. Don't worry, I won't be afraid to "stretch it"!

Simple Saturday and/or Sunday
Quick tips will be most of what you'll see on the weekends. Hopefully something you can take and use right away!

That is where we'll start anyway! Like any smart woman - I reserve the right to adapt as we move on based on how things go!

Thanks for coming along for the ride!