Clutter-Busting Challenge Week #5: This Week's Clutter and Grand Total

This month I joined the clutter-busting challenge hosted by Money Saving Mom.  Crystal challenged her readers to get rid of 7 things every week day in May.  I can't believe this was the last week!  I have really enjoyed this challenge; I found many old, sentimental items and remembered the story behind them.  Of course, I also found many things to get rid of!  

Here's what I found this week:



May 27:  I went back down to the closet under the stairs and found more treasures like my old baby blanket with the wrong birth date embroidered on it.  The cabbage patch doll that my mom made me that I was saving for my own daughter, but will now have to save for a granddaughter.  The old Nancy Drew books that I loved to read growing up.

I did find more things to get rid of:  An old Cricket book.  Does anyone else remember Cricket?  I also found 4 old college textbooks from 10 years ago that are probably obsolete, a calendar from 2000 and some old check stubs from a part time job I had in college.  I made $6.25 an hour!  Total items: 7



May 28: I also found a set of dishes hidden under the stairs.  Total items: 20 (some not pictured)



May 29:  Last week's toy experiment must have left an impression with my children.  Our younger son brought a car to me because he said he and his brother don't play with it anymore!  I added it to our clutter-busting pile along with 4 puzzles, a game and a child-size painting smock. Total items: 7.



May 30:  A few odds and ends on this day:  an m&m dispenser, 3 tea cups, 3 more ac adapters(?), an old pocket calendar/planner and expired medication.  Total items: 9.



May 31:  When you find things with dust on them, then you know it's time to get rid of it!  I found a Noah's Ark knick knack, 7 pairs of earrings, 1 necklace charm, and 1 earring without a match.  Total items: 10.


Here is the final count:

Week #1: 37
Week #2: 57
Week #3: 37
Week #4: 48
Week #5: 53
GRAND TOTAL: 239!

Memorial Day Tribute


Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Meal Plan Monday - May 27




Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Whole Wheat Toaster Pastries

Lunch
Grilled Cheese, Applesauce, Strawberries
Chicken Salad, Grapes
Pasta w/Butter, Parmesan Cheese & Peas, Carrot Sticks
Baked Whole Wheat Parmesan-Herb Tortilla Chips w/salsa for dipping, Carrot Sticks
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
    Meatloaf Patties, Mashed Potato, Corn on the Cob

Tip:  Instead of cooking the meatloaf patties in a skillet (they are a little bit too greasy for us), I cook them under the broiler for about 5 - 7 minutes on each side.

Tuesday:
    Baked Chicken, Broccoli, Rice

Wednesday:
    Hamburger Vegetable Soup, Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Thursday:
    Slow Cooker Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potato, Green Beans

Friday:
    Leftover Night

Saturday:
    Flatbread Pizza

Sunday:
    Spaghetti


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday


Simply Saving Saturday


**It rained almost every day this week and we spent a lot of time indoors.  We made these bottle top stamps, practiced writing with plastic zipper bags filled with paint and set up an indoor tent.

**I tried a few frugal recipes from The Prudent Homemaker. We tried Chicken Cacciatore, Spanish Rice and Strawberry Popsicles with apple juice.

**I also made pizza crust for the first time!  I'm always a little afraid to try recipes with yeast, but I used this super quick and easy whole wheat pizza crust recipe and (besides being just a little bit undercooked) it came out great the first time!  My children, who usually don't like to eat the crust, told me several times how good it was.  That recipe is definitely a keeper!


**I made Roasted Veggie Bites.  It's a very frugal and healthy recipe that my children love.

**Price matched at Walmart to save time and gas.

**In my mailbox: Try me free Playtex coupon and Ruffies trash bag sample.

**I didn't buy any meat this week.  We still have quite a bit of chicken left from the $.99 sale a few weeks ago and almost all of the ground beef that I found marked down last week.

**The issue with the phone bill that I mentioned last week has been resolved.  It was worth the extra effort to make the phone calls and get the bill taken care of instead of just assuming that the issue would be corrected.

Our on-going savings:

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Keep thermostat at 60 during the day and at night.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

**Save bread ends for the freezer.



Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Clutter-Busting Challenge Week #4: Toys and A Trip Down Memory Lane

This month I'm joining the clutter-busting challenge hosted by Money Saving Mom.  Crystal is challenging her readers to get rid of 7 things every week day in May.  That's 161 things!  Here's what I found this week:



May 20:  Over the weekend I asked the boys to find 7 toys that they didn't want.  I had no idea what to expect, but I was in for a big surprise.  They brought out some nice toys that I never would have chosen which also made me realize that even though I complain about how many toys we have, I am part of the problem.  I have a really hard time getting rid of things that are still in good shape and can still be used.  I also realized that the reason that most of these toys are still like new is because they haven't been played with!  Total items: 14


May 21:  The toy experiment went so well that I asked the boys to find 7 books that they didn't need/want anymore.  They found some board books that they had outgrown and a few others that they weren't interested in.  Total items: 7



May 22:  Seven cross stitch books and 1 magazine.  I still have a whole bin full of cross stitch patterns that I would like to do, but don't have time for.  I keep telling myself that someday I will get to it....(sigh).  Total items: 8



May 23:  There is a closet under our stairs where we have been storing things since we moved here 7 years ago.  It was definitely past time to start going through it and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  I opened the first box and took a trip down memory lane.  I couldn't believe all the things I found - high school graduation invitations, every single congratulations card I received for graduation, a scrapbook I had made, lots of pictures and many other momentos that I had forgotten about.  

I did find a few things that were thrown in the box that I could get rid of: an old canvas bag, a plastic bag, an old ac adapter that probably goes to something that I don't own anymore, 3 pieces of scrapbook paper, a sheet of stickers, 3 old gift boxes, a pile of graduation invites and a box of name cards that went with the graduation invitations. Total items: 12



May 24:  I found 3 curtain rods that don't fit any of our windows and I went through my gardening bag and found seeds that were from several years ago.  Total items: 7


Week #1: 37
Week #2: 57
Week #3: 37
Week #4: 48
Total items to date: 179!

Recipe: Roasted Veggie Bites




These Roasted Veggie Bites make a very healthy and frugal lunch or serve it as a snack with a little salsa for dipping.  It is definitely a make-ahead recipe, but it freezes very well for when a quick meal or snack is needed.

Roasted Veggie Bites
Makes: 12

1 lb. potatoes, peeled
3 large carrots
1 small onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil.


2.  Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and place in a single layer on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder, if desired.  Toss to coat.  Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until tender.

3.  Let vegetables cool and put in a food processor.  Pulse just until the "paste" that forms holds together; don't over chop.

4.  Divide the mixture into 12 greased mini-muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly and serve.

To freeze:  Place muffins on a baking sheet and freeze for approx. 30 - 45 minutes.  Store in a freezer bag or container.


Recipe slightly adapted from May/June 2013 issue of Hannaford fresh magazine.




Linking with Simple Lives Thursday, Allergy Free Wednesdays and these parties.

Meal Plan Monday - 5/20



Strawberries have been on sale for the last couple of weeks and since it is probably the lowest price of the season in our area, I bought several pounds.  We have been enjoying them sliced over our cereal, in pancakes and as a snack.  I think they will also be delicious in this Raspberry Oatmeal Casserole recipe and I think the boys will love these Strawberry Popsicles for a special treat this week.

Much to my surprise, canned tuna fish and macaroni was on sale which will make a very inexpensive tuna casserole.  They are both on sale again this week so I will buy more to stock up.  I also have lots of shredded chicken in the fridge that I need to use up and I was able to get a fairly good price on ground beef last week.  I froze the ground beef by the 1/2 pound and often when a recipe calls for a pound of ground beef, I will only use a half pound to make it stretch farther.

Here's our meal plan for the week:

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Strawberry Pancakes (from freezer)
Strawberry Oatmeal Casserole (Subbing strawberries for raspberries. I don't have nuts so I am going to add a little bit of coconut in place of the nuts.)
Scrambled Eggs, Toast

Lunch
Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks 
Graham Crackers w/SunButter, Strawberries, Yogurt
Pasta w/Butter, Parmesan Cheese & Peas, Carrot Sticks
Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Applesauce, Carrot Sticks
Baked Whole Wheat Parmesan-Herb Tortilla Chips w/salsa for dipping, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
   Chicken Stir-Fry, Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Tuesday:
    Tuna Casserole, Leftover Biscuits

Wednesday:
     Chicken Ranch Pasta, Tossed Salad

Thursday:
    Chicken Cacciatore, Veggies

Friday:
    Leftover Night

Saturday:
    Spanish Rice w/Ground Beef, Veggies

Sunday: 
    Bean & Rice Burritos made w/leftover Spanish Rice


$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday


Simply Saving Saturday


This weekend we took the boys to a local park where we followed the walking trail,



enjoyed a picnic lunch that we brought along,



the apple blossoms,


and some beautiful views.


Here are some other simple savings from this week:

**After a very warm week last week, this week turned a little chilly.  Many mornings we woke up to frost on the ground.  Instead of turning the furnace on, we wore sweaters until the sun was able to warm the house up.

**I used a small amount of dressing that was leftover from making Ranch Chicken Salad BLTs to make egg salad sandwiches.  It was so good I think I will continue to make my dressing this way!

**I made Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana pancakes (using this recipe) with strawberries that I got on sale.  I flash froze them on a baking sheet and then stored them in a freezer bag in the freezer.  It makes a really nice quick and easy breakfast (I just warm them up in the toaster) and the boys enjoyed something different for breakfast.

**I used a very ripe banana that no one wanted to eat to make Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.  To make the recipe a little more frugal, I left out the nuts and used vegetable oil instead of coconut oil.

**I spent a lot of time the last few weeks learning more of Photoshop Elements (a program that came with our laptop) and creating a new blog design.  It's not fancy, but I didn't have to spend a lot of money to have someone else do it for me.

**Earned $3.00 for taking a survey.

**Bought bread and hot dog rolls at the bread store for $.67 each.

**In my mailbox: 2 free magazines.

**When we got our phone bill this week, I was shocked to see that it was about 3 times more than what we normally pay.  I gave them a call the next day and had to make another phone call to get the situation cleared up, but I think it's been worked out and we will only need to pay our regular payment.  It was a bit of an inconvenience, but the extra time on the phone saved us quite a bit of money!

Our on-going savings:

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Keep thermostat at 60 during the day and at night.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

**Save bread ends for the freezer.



Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.


Clutter-Busting Challenge Week #3: This Week's Total - 37

This month I'm joining the clutter-busting challenge hosted by Money Saving Mom.  Crystal is challenging her readers to get rid of 7 things every week day in May.  That's 161 things!  Here's what I found this week:



May 13:  Nine hair clips.



May 14:  Getting rid of my own clothing is very, very hard for me.  I must admit that some things went into this pile only to be taken out a few minutes later.  That might explain why I found a 10 (maybe 12?) year old pair of skorts that have been worn maybe once.  I just knew in the last 10 or so years that I would need them.  Do people even wear those anymore?  I'm definitely not a fashion expert, but I'm pretty sure my pink, white and purple plaid ones were a little out of style.  

I also found 1 sweater and 4 shirts and I decided it was time to get rid of an old pair of black shoes (not pictured) since I had 4 others (2 summer and 2 winter).  Black goes with everything doesn't it?

  

May 15:  A few more things from the kitchen: 2 old Jif jars, a thermos with no straw, a pan, an old muffin pan, a storage container and a ceramic halloween/thanksgiving basket.



May 16:  Our youngest son doesn't like wearing overalls.  He calls them "bib pants" and informed me that he isn't a baby anymore and is too old to wear them.  After helping him at least a half dozen times to readjust them, they went in the clutter-busting pile.  I also found 2 shirts, a toy, a pair of baby booties, an eyeglass case, and Wallies wallpaper shapes.



May 17:  I found some odds and ends: 1 candle, 3 magazines, 2 sheets of stickers and an empty box.


Week #1: 37
Week #2: 57
Week #3: 37
Total items to date: 131



A New Design for Vanessa's Values!


For the past couple of weeks I've been working on a new design for Vanessa's Values and installed it this weekend.  Please excuse the mess while I make a few more changes and work out a few kinks.  Thanks for your patience!

Meal Plan Monday - 5/13



Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas

Granola, Greek Yogurt
    Make it frugal:  I use what I have on hand to make granola - this week I will leave out the nuts and use coconut and raisins.  You can also make your own yogurt!

Strawberry Pancakes from Freezer
Scrambled Eggs, Toast

Lunch
Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks 
Strawberry Walnut Muffins (leftover from last week), Pear Slices
SunButter & Jelly Sandwiches, Applesauce, Carrot Sticks
English Muffin Pizzas
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
   Baked Potatoes and Sausage (using leftover sausage from last week), Peas, 
Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Tuesday:
    Chicken Macaroni Casserole with added veggies, Leftover Biscuits

    Make it frugal:  Use sharp cheddar cheese.  Because of the stronger flavor, you can use much less.  I only add about 1 cup.  I also only add about 2 cups of chicken.

Wednesday:
     Roasted Garlic Chicken and Potatoes, Corn

Thursday:
    Baked Ravioli

Friday:
    Leftover Night

Saturday:
    BLT Pasta Salad

    Make it frugal:  I will use only about 1/2 - 3/4 lb. of bacon.

Sunday: 
    Breakfast Pizza w/bacon


$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday


Simply Saving Saturday

I finally joined the 21st century and signed up for online banking last week.  I used it for the first time this week and I love how convenient it is and how much we will save in checks and stamps.

My husband and I had a wonderful conversation this week about ways we could save money. Ironically this conversation took place during a meal at a restaurant.  We enjoyed some time without the children in order to celebrate his birthday...something that we are rarely able to do.



**This week we enjoyed a trip to "Bumpah's" house to visit the chicks and to walk through the woods to the stream behind his house and throw rocks in the water.

**My husband was able to fix a leak under the kitchen sink for $11 instead of calling a plumber.

**I bought seeds in bulk from the hardware/farm supply store where my husband works.  It was much less expensive than buying the little seed packets and we will also get an employee discount.  They also gave our boys a little bag of seeds that had gotten mixed.  I think they will enjoy watching and taking care of their own plants.



**We made Mother's Day cards and paper flowers for my mom and mother-in-law.  I also found a cross-stitch that I had started years ago for my mom that I am finishing up for her.  

**Our children made their dad birthday cards with craft supplies from our craft box and I was able to reuse a gift box to put his gift in.

**In my mailbox:  Always coupons and a free onesie

**I earned $6 for taking 2 surveys.

Our on-going savings:

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Keep thermostat at 60 during the day and at night.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  


**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

**Save bread ends for the freezer.



Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Clutter-Busting Challenge Week #2: This Week's Total - 57

This month I'm joining the clutter-busting challenge hosted by Money Saving Mom.  Crystal is challenging her readers to get rid of 7 things every week day in May.  That's 161 things!  This challenge has not only motivated me to get rid of clutter; but as I'm decluttering, it's also given me the motivation I needed to organize spaces that have gotten a little (ok, a lot) disorganized over the winter.  Here's what I found this week:




Day #4:  I started the second week of the Clutter-Busting Challenge looking for clutter in the kitchen.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I was sure that I wasn't going to find anything that I needed to get rid of.  I proved myself wrong when I discovered that I had 4 sets of measuring cups and spoons!  I also found a straw with no water bottle and a lid that was missing it's container.  An old Christmas container and another storage container were also cluttering up the kitchen.  Total items: 16



Day #5:  I quickly checked the medicine bin and discovered that for some reason I had started a collection of medicine cups.  I also found some medication that had expired.  Total items: 8



Day #6:  I also had quite a collection of magazines; some dating back to 2010!  Believe it or not, they were all free subscriptions and have come in very handy for a few school projects that my first grader was assigned, but it was definitely time for them to go in the recycling.  Total items: 19!



Day #7:  It has been a little over a year since I last organized our coat/shoe closet.  I found winter gear and a few outgrown items to get rid of: a scarf that has never been used, an old pair of hubby's gloves, two mittens without matches, two pairs of outgrown shoes and a pair of boots that have been through three winters and some mud puddles this spring.  Total items: 7



Day #8:  Apparently I have been keeping manuals since before my husband and I we were married and I found many that were for products we didn't even own anymore.  Total items: 7

Week #1 - 37
Week #2 - 57
Total items to date: 94