Friday, May 31, 2013

Kids In The Kitchen – Poke Cake


I’m always looking for easy recipes my girls can do on their own with minimal supervision or assistance from me.  The Poke Cake is a perfect one to incorporate in their recipe collection. 

Poke Cake 

1 boxed yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1¼ c. water
1 3 oz. box gelatin (any flavor)
1 c. hot water
½ c. cold water 

1 tub frozen whipped topping, thawed 

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Prepare your cake by spraying a 9” X 13” oblong pan with non stick spray.  In a large bowl combine cake mix, eggs, oil and 1¼ cups of water and whisk until smooth.  Pour into cake pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes until center springs back to the touch.  Allow cake to cool completely. 

With a fork poke holes half way down all over the cake spaced about every half inch.  Do not poke all the way to the bottom of the cake.  In a small bowl thoroughly dissolve gelatin in 1 cup hot water.  Add ½ cup cold water and stir.  Spoon gelatin over surface of cake.  Place cake in refrigerator four hours to allow gelatin to set. 

“Frost” cake with whipped topping and serve. 

Strawberry cake poked with a fork.

After gelatin has set it is time for whipped topping.

Over Memorial Day Weekend we used a strawberry cake mix and strawberry gelatin.  Oh my goodness!  Another favorite is to use a lemon cake mix and lemon gelatin.  The orange cake with orange gelatin is equally delicious.  Topping it with fresh fruit is also nice.  You can definitely experiment and change it up. 

This is a family favorite and we make it often, especially as the dessert for family get-togethers.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Latest Staycation

Last week when I posted our Memorial Day Weekend Plans I was focusing on the chores I wanted to get done.  I also managed to put some fun into the weekend so it didn’t feel like all work and no play.  I also did it on a budget. 

We started Friday evening with no chores other than to feed our pets and do the dishes.  We stopped at the store on the way home for a treat of frozen pizza, ice cream and soda.  At home we baked the pizzas, watched DVDs from our home collection and finished off the evening with a nice bowl of ice cream. 

Saturday we started with a pancake breakfast and then the girls had to clean their room while I did laundry and cleaned bathrooms.  Next we went outside for a set time of weed pulling.  After the chores for the day were completed the girls got to bake a poke cake and then we made a nice pork chop dinner.  We watched a couple programs on TV and called it a day.
Sunday we did something we rarely do.  We took in a matinee at the theater.  I had put a pot roast in the slow cooker before we left so our home smelled so good when we got back.  The girls hurried to mow our little yard ahead of a storm that was heading in while I made a big bowl of popcorn for a snack and then put veggies in the slow cooker.  We had an early supper and then settled in for watching NASCAR and playing dominoes.  We also ate cake – twice! 

Monday the girls slept in and I got to enjoy a quiet relaxing morning.  While I worked on some items on my “To-Do” list I enjoyed watching a few cooking programs on TV.  After a big breakfast and a few more chores around the house we watched DVDs from our own collection and enjoyed the last of our long weekend.  

I spent less than $34 on our staycation.  $9.87 on our pizza, soda and ice cream, $24 for movie tickets.  Definitely a bargain compared to what it would have cost if we had left town.  I can’t even fill my gas tank for $34. 

Do you do staycations?  What are some of the things you do?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Menu Planning Changes

For the longest time I have done my menu planning for an entire month as a time.  I also structured my shopping accordingly.  But now with us getting ready to go on our big adventure I need to scale back here just like with everything else.
We will have far less space for stocking up groceries and therefore I expect we will need to shop weekly.  I decided the best way to menu plan would be weekly as well.  I’m going to have to make other changes too.  I will be purchasing more canned and dry items for stability and better food storage and relying on fresh and frozen less than I ever have in the past. 

It will be a challenge for me at first to figure it all out but I am certainly up to it.  I’m sure it will definitely test my creativity quite a bit.  It will be fun too.  Change things up a bit. 

For now we will continue to work our way through our stock in the freezers and pantry.  I will shop to supplement with items we run out of and keep it all to a minimum. 

I think I will be posting our Weekly Meal Plan on Wednesdays with the idea that we will be doing them beginning Sunday and doing our shopping prior to that.  We’ll see how it goes?  Wish me luck! 

Next Week’s Menu Plan 

Sunday – Thai Noodle Soup
Monday – Chicken Fried Rice
Tuesday – Leftover soup
Wednesday – Tacos
Thursday – Eggs Benedict
Friday – Taco Salad
Saturday – Zucchini & Carrot Quiche 

What delicious things are you fixing for supper this week?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do You Car Dance?

After a rather long and, unfortunately, stressful week Friday couldn’t have come soon enough for us last week.  The fact that it was a three day weekend with the Memorial Day holiday, well let’s just say it couldn’t have come at a better time. 

We crawled into the car and as I was digging out my sunglasses and preparing for the drive home I realized it was tremendously quiet.  The girls were just as tapped out as I was. 

What else is a Mom to do?  Initiate some serious car dancing, that’s what! 

I put our Billy Idol’s Greatest Hits CD in and punched up the volume.  We rolled down the windows and sang and moved around with our arms in the air or our hands clapping (I kept my hands on the wheel except when stopped at a light) all the way to the post office, then the grocery store and then all the way home. 

We got some funny looks from the surrounding motorists but we really didn’t care because it was obvious we were having way more fun than they were.  By the time we pulled into the driveway we had a whole new attitude and some pep in our step. 

So, do you car dance?


Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Sunday I made a pot of chicken noodle soup literally out of leftover items hanging out in my freezer.  I used up the last of a bag of frozen chicken breasts and added frozen peas and carrots, corn, mixed veggies and several containers of frozen broth I had been saving to make soup.  All the veggies were little bits left after making other meals.  I also used up a partial box of ditalini pasta I had in the pantry.  It was so delicious! 

I turned five pair of holey jeans into five pair of shorts for my youngest daughter to wear this summer. 

I made a point of using up items still hanging out in our freezer and pantry to make our meals this week.  I didn’t go to the grocery store until Friday.  We also made sure we used up leftovers in the fridge so nothing went to waste. 

On Friday we had a family pizza party and movie night.  We stopped at Fred Meyer on the way home from work and purchased two Red Baron frozen pizzas (2/$7), ice cream ($2) and a 2 liter bottle of lemon lime soda (87¢) all for less than $10.  We watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs from our home collection.  The girls thought it was great! 

On Saturday my daughters made a wonderful dessert for the holiday weekend using a cake mix I had bought on sale for 49¢, a box of gelatin on sale for 20¢, a tub of frozen whipped topping for 74¢ and three of our farm fresh eggs. 

I baked a big loaf of whole wheat bread. 

Our chickens blessed us with 20 eggs last week!  Good girls!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

While some of you will be travelling, camping or having a BBQ and others will be working in their yards or homes getting them summer ready I will be putting my three days off to good use. 

Right now our home looks like it's been ransacked.  I guess in a way it really has.  In the past three weeks we have all pulled out everything in our closets, cupboards and drawers.  We have sorted, re-organized and purged like a trio of mad ladies.  Then we packed up what was left into boxes, labeled them and set them aside. 

I have made one of those wretched “To-Do” lists for this weekend.  You didn’t think I had given them up completely did you?  This is what I have planned: 

·         Finish sorting, organizing, and purging the closets, drawers and cupboards.
·         Bag up donations for thrift store and make a delivery.
·         Pack the items we don’t need to use right now.
·         Price items for yard sale.
·         Take pictures of items to sell on Craigslist and write listings.
·         Pull and spray the weeds along the driveway.
·         Give the girls haircuts.
·         Bake bread.
·         Play dominoes with the kids.
·         Clean my house and get the laundry done.
·         Make a list of summer clothing items we need.
·         Make some great meals to use up items in my freezer and pantry.
·         Take some down time and watch a couple movies. 

I have two large pot roasts in the freezer to cook up in the coming month.  I want to make shredded beef enchiladas with one of them.  Yummy!
What are your big plans this weekend?


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Missed Trash Day

Last week I completely missed trash day.  Time seemed to be passing so quickly that I didn’t realize it was already Wednesday.  In my little brain I was still on Monday heading for Tuesday.  To say I was a little behind the times would be an understatement. 

By the time I mentioned it to the girls it was already Friday!  I didn’t feel so bad when they told me they had completely forgotten about it too.  Hadn’t even crossed their minds. 

I’d like to say this is an infrequent occurrence but the truth of the matter is it has steadily become our norm.  I lose track of the days constantly, so do my girls.  I sit at work on a Friday and can’t seem to figure out how it is possible that it is Friday already.  Again! 

I remember when I couldn’t wait for Friday to get here.  Seemed to take forever and then the weekends would go by so fast.  Monday morning would show up and I’d groan at the idea that Friday would take forever to get here.  Now my weekends are gone in a flash.  I don’t have time to groan about Monday because it is already Tuesday, before I figure it out, and groaning at this point would just be silly. 

The school year here ends in less than two weeks.  Memorial Day is next Monday!  I’m still trying to figure out what the heck happened!  Is it really possible?   

As a chronic overachiever I have the tendency to put so much emphasis on planning and working on my goals that I fail to enjoy the process of getting there.  And I am a constant worrier. 

I don’t take time to sit and enjoy what is going on.  I don’t listen to the birds sing and I cannot tell you the last time I watched a sunset.  I do not take the time to stop and smell the roses.  I can’t manufacture more time.  I can’t slow down the clocks or turn back the pages on the calendar. 

I have to slow down.  I need to focus more on this moment and less on the next one.   

It’s time.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We Are Leaving

We are shucking it all! 

I have made the decision to leave Boise and start my life over in a new place.  I will no longer be the Thrifty Mom In Boise.  Instead I will be the Thrifty Mom From Boise.  There are a multitude of reasons supporting my decision to do this.  The most important one is to improve my quality of life. 

I have an idea where my final destination may be but I am not 100% sure.  My plan is to wend my way in that direction and see what happens.  For someone who is anything but spontaneous, this is a huge departure from my norm.  I am a planner.  I like to know what to expect.  I need to know the ending before I even get started.  That sounds kind of nuts if you really think about it. 

Not this time.  I am making myself do something completely different. 

Usually when I know my destination I charge ahead and we get there.  If you have ever travelled with me you know I stop when I get there.  If you need to pee (sorry about that one time Mom) you’d better do it while I’m gassing up or else you will be in trouble later.  I’ve always had an agenda and a timeline. 

Not this time. 

The hardest part about this decision and the process to get ready to go has been saying “see you later” to my friends and family.  “Good Bye” isn’t an option.  I’m not fond of good byes, anyway.  We all need to stay in touch and I really think most of us will. 

I’ve caused quite a few tears lately and for that I feel badly, but not enough to stick around. 


I’m excited, my girls are excited, our two cats are… well maybe not so much, but we are going on a great adventure.  One of my friends told me he thinks I’m like a little kid.  He likes that I seem to have found my spark again.  I think he might be right about that. 

I can hardly wait to see what happens!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Sunday I made a delicious Mother’s Day meal with all the ingredients from my pantry, fridge and freezer.  I baked the meatloaf and potatoes in my convection oven so I didn’t have to heat up my kitchen. 

Monday I thawed out a pan of lasagna I had put in the freezer a couple of months ago and baked it in the toaster oven for our supper that night.  We had enough leftover meatloaf and lasagna for another meal on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

I mended two things that have been patiently waiting for a long time.  My backpack and my camera bag.  Both had issues with frayed webbed straps.  The camera strap was literally hanging by a thread.  I got out a heavy needle, my great-grandmother’s thimble and a spool of black carpet thread and finally repaired them.  It feels good not to look at them sitting in my mending pile anymore.
Webbed strap was fraying at the seam.

All fixed!

Camera bag hanging by a thread.

Good as new!

Much better sales last week so I went to Fred Meyer on Tuesday to pick up a few things.  We ran out of cheese and peanut butter and both were on sale. 

·         2 jars of peanut butter $1.50 each
·         2 pounds of butter $1.88 each
·         2 pounds medium cheddar $4.29
·         2 bags lettuce mix – buy one get one free 88¢
·         2 bags spinach – buy one get one free $1.99
·         2 tomatoes 44¢
·         apples & oranges - 77¢ per pound
·         cucumber 69¢
·         strawberries $1.88 

I sold some more stuff on eBay this week. 

I finally broke down Friday evening and did my monthly grocery shopping.  Amazingly I didn’t need to purchase very much so I was in and out in no time.  It was nice!
I finished up every last bit of my facial cleanser and a tube of toothpaste.  I'm now working on using up a bottle of whitening toothpaste that has been taking up space in the cupboard  It is about half full.  Not my favorite but waste not, want not.

The chickens blessed us with 16 eggs last week.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Yard Sale Season

It is definitely yard sale season once again and we are seriously contemplating having another one this year.  I just need to find the time.  As I am purging and reorganizing, however, I am finding I have quite a bit of stuff to put in one. 

A friend of mine is having one in June so I think I might just take my stuff over and set it up with hers.  The more the merrier, right? 

Yards sales are a wonderful way to get rid of your stuff and acquire a little extra cash.  They are also a great way to acquire things you need or want for a fraction of the cost of buying something at the store or even online.   

Lately I’ve been more in the selling at yard sales and less about the acquisition of stuff.  Someday I’m sure that will change. 

Last year I ran this post about Yard Sales.  You may want to re-visit it if you are thinking about or planning a yard sale this year.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This week I went through and reorganized our toiletries in our main bathroom.  I have found that I have enough toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner and soaps to last until the end of the year.  I have enough toothpaste, razors, deodorant and lotions to last even longer than that.

I wait to purchase toiletries when they go on sale and most of the time I have a coupon to match up with that sale for maximum savings and then I stock up.  Often, as is the case with toothpaste this year, I am able to match up a sale and a coupon to get it for free.  Usually, I am able to buy shampoo for as little as 99¢ and deodorant for 50¢. 

I really like the shower gels and lotions they sell at Bath and Body Works.  I feel, despite the fact that this stuff is more expensive than others you can buy for less, that I get a better value.  I find that the lotion moisturizes better and seems to last longer so I don’t need to use as much.  I use the shower gel not only to wash with but for shaving my legs.  Since I started doing that I no longer get razor burn.  I also love the fragrances and find that I save on using perfume this way too.  For me it is definitely an affordable luxury. 

To save money on the shower gels and lotions I purchase in bulk, using coupons (you can print them right off their website if you are not on their mailing list) in conjunction with their really great promotions they run periodically throughout the year.  I am not only able to acquire a lot of product but a lot of free product this way.  I end up using quite a bit of what I purchase as gifts for friends and family too which saves me even more money in the long run. 

I am not an extreme coupon shopper by any means, but saving big money on toiletries is super easy to do with just a little bit of time and effort. 

Do you have any great tips for saving money on toiletry purchases?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Park Model RVs


Remember when I posted about my love for Tiny Homes?  Well, long before I discovered those I discovered the park model RV.  They’ve been around forever.  In the past ten years they have really evolved into a nice miniature home with great style and an efficient use of space. 

They come with everything you need, a complete bathroom with a full sized tub and nicely equipped kitchen with plenty of storage and nice appliances.  No dishwasher, but that wouldn’t matter to me.  I hardly use the one I have.  You can even get an option for a stackable washer and dryer set installed.  I’d definitely want that, I think. 
The bedrooms have your drawers and closets already built right in so all you need is your bed.  A love seat and a recliner would fit nicely in the living room and most have a dining area to fit a table and four chairs.  Not to mention a cable ready entertainment center. 

If I was to purchase one I’d want one with a loft so kids and grandkids would have a place to stay over or play games.  They are definitely more spacious than a tiny home would be. 

Several years ago I started looking into them as a vacation property option.  I thought it would be much more reasonable for me to buy a lot and put one of these on that lot rather than trying to build my own cabin.  Definitely an affordable option in that they start out at around $22,000.  I love that you can get one with log siding. 

Recently I’ve found myself looking once again and pining away for one of these.  It is so much fun to look and dream!
You may also enjoy reading this article about this downsizing couple.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How I Spent My Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is supposed to be restful.  A time for Mom to sleep in late, have a gourmet breakfast served to her in bed by her kind and loving husband with the six pack abs and pecs to die for with her wonderful children, impeccably groomed and so well behaved in tow carrying a bouquet of flowers and a great big card.  Who’s house are we talking about?! 

Alright, so once I had woken up and reality set in… J 

My children slept in until 10:00 while I was up at 6:30.  Hurray!  I can get a bunch of stuff done, because that is really how it works at my house. 

I did take the time to enjoy a couple cups of coffee and read the Sunday paper.  Of course I checked the ads and clipped my coupons, just like any other Sunday.  Then I got dressed and headed off to Fred Meyer to pick up my gift for my Mother.  I always buy her a bunch of bedding plants for her flower pots.  She loves to garden and every time I think I should get her something else I end up getting her flowers for her pots.  I kind of think she expects it now and would be disappointed if I did get her something else.  When I got home I arranged all 8 plants in a really nice recycled wicker basket I had received at Christmas and we used it as our centerpiece on the table at dinner.  Then she got to take it home.  If I had been thinking I would have taken a picture. 

Next it was time to start the preparations for dinner.  I had invited my parents over and they were bringing dessert so that was covered.  I made a meatloaf out of ground pork and ground beef and added a package of frozen grated zucchini to it too.  Made it moist and delicious.  I also made a raspberry gelatin with crushed pineapple, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream,  frozen broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, canned green beans, olives and pickles.  Everything I already had on hand and no shopping required.  We are water drinkers so I didn’t even need to worry about beverages. 

I had everything ready to go into the oven when they got here and the girls were still sleeping so I cleaned my kitchen, mopped my floors and vacuumed the entire downstairs.  The vacuum cleaner got them up.  We spent the rest of the day goofing off after they did their chores and mowed the grass. 

After supper we finished the evening off with a couple games of dominoes and a really decadent ice cream my parents brought.  I don’t even want to know the calorie count on that one.  It sure was good though. 

After my parents left and the girls went to bed I spent the remainder of my Mother’s Day washing up a big sink full of dirty dishes.  I vacuumed the living room once again because my cat decided to groom himself and pluck hair all over the floor last night.  Gotta love that!  Then I crawled into bed with my book and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  Needless to say I didn’t read long. 

Yes, I did a lot of work and no, it wasn’t restful by any stretch, but it was a wonderful day and I loved every minute of it! 

How was your Mother’s Day?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

I am happy to report we are still working on clearing things from our pantry so I didn’t do any major grocery shopping last week.  I did stop and pick up a couple packages of flour tortillas on sale at Albertson’s for $10/10.  Total spent – a whopping $2! 

Sales last week were pretty crummy at the grocery stores. 

All our vegetables and fruit have been coming from our pantry and freezer.  I had some onion, bell peppers and coleslaw mix leftover in the crisper drawer that we used up.

I detailed our car for $5.  I took it to the Metro Express Carwash on Tuesday and they not only gave me a $2 discount on their basic wash but also upgraded me to the next level of wash and wax for free.  I love their vacuum cleaners too.  The crevice toll is much better than the one I have at home to get into all the nooks and crannies.  I completely cleaned the inside and it looks beautiful! 

I thawed a boneless ham from the freezer and sliced it up for sandwiches for the girl’s lunches last week.  I also cubed some of it and used it in a Denver style scramble with our fresh eggs for a supper one night. 

My mother gave me a delicious loaf of her French bread and her next door neighbor gave me 6 huge Haas avocados from her tree at her home in California.  They are delicious and I still have a couple left to enjoy this week. 

I sold some items on eBay last week for extra cash for our household. 

Our chickens blessed us with 14 eggs this week.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Monthly To-Do List

I am suspending my monthly To Do Lists until further notice.  Boy that felt really good to say! 

In an effort to cut down on my many tasks and things to do, I will be re-evaluating this idea to see if I can come up with something better.  Once I figure it out I’ll let you know. 

I have been struggling with these lists this year because I am seriously burned out on the process.  What used to be a motivation tool has become something I now find just plain unpleasant.  Therefore, no longer effective! 

Time to find something else!  What I can tell you is this. Its replacement will be much shorter and far less ambitious.  I also know that in order to make this goal a reality I need to streamline things so lofty To Do lists aren’t as necessary. 

How to you feel about To Do lists?  Daunting or effective?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What If…?

What if… one day you woke up and decided to shuck it all and start over?  A whole new life, a brand new beginning. 

What would you do? 

How would you do it? 

Where would you go? 

How would you live? 

What would you keep and what would you take? 

Could you really do it? 

I just read an article a couple of weeks ago on about a single woman living in New York City.  She had moved there to start her career and thought, for the most part, she was living her dream.  Then one day she realized her dream was living her.  She was unhappy and wondering why.  She had found that time was passing her by and all she did was work.  Her social life had diminished to almost non-existent.  Her tiny apartment did not fulfill her, nor did her job anymore. 

After some serious soul searching she bid the hustle and bustle of Manhattan good bye and hopped a plane to Portland, Oregon.  Then she started her life over. 

Talk about a complete change in lifestyle.  Could you do it?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Home Office

Notice the cat condo serves double duty holding my inbox.
My little home office is located in a corner of our living room.  I used to have a much larger desk with a hutch and everything plus a printer stand. What a monstrosity that was! 

I bought a much smaller desk, I think the smallest computer desk they make, to scale it down and make it less of a dominant presence.  The desk holds the computer and printer altogether nicely so no need of a separate printer stand.  It does have the pull out keyboard shelf so I still have a clear surface to set my work or to write on. 

I also pared down my office supplies considerably and put up a couple of shelves above to store them on.  I use pretty photo boxes to store cards, post its, notepads, envelopes, stickers and what have you.  I added a clamping desk lamp to the lower shelf for lighting and a bulletin board hangs on the wall for important things like schedules and photos of my children. 

Neat, organized and compact.  Do you have a home office?  How do you manage your computer and all your things?
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