Photo Friday: Independence Day 2018

We celebrated Independence Day this year with a shrimp boil at Aunt Haley’s House with the Graves family, minus Will and Anna, who were at Joe Daddy’s house for the holiday.

Aunt Haley had a sprinkler going, fully loaded bubble guns, and poppers (since we’re in a burn ban, plus two year olds and real fireworks aren’t always the greatest combo).

The girls sported their red, white, and blue outfits. Frugality tip: wait until a few days before the holiday and resale stores usually run great sales. We got these shirts for $1 each. New stores often do the same thing. My friend, Paige, scored adorable ones for $3.99 from either Gymboree or the Children’s Place (I can’t remember). Plus, unlike some of the other holidays, these are easier to wear throughout the year.

I love buying clothes from the resale store. It’s almost always in great shape and it makes me feel very “green.” You know, like I’m saving the world, one preowned outfit at a time?!? The downside to buying clothes at a resale shop is if you want your multiples or even singles to match, it’s not always easy. Every once in a while I’ll find two of something in the right sizes and I snatch them up. Even though I’m a “matchy-matchy mom,” I’m ok with them just coordinating to save a few bucks. Oh, the sacrifices I make to save money…

Or, if you really want to save money, just put your kid in clothes they already have. That works pretty well too and is obviously a lot easier!

Enough of the frugality tips…..

As you’ll see below, we had a fantastic, fun time on the 4th. So fun, in fact, we didn’t even stay awake long enough that evening to see any fireworks. Yet, even without the fireworks, it was still a wonderful day. I hope everyone had a great holiday as well!


Mommy Review Monday: Discount Tire

I drive a lot.  A WHOLE lot.  It’s part of being in sales, covering the state of Texas.  With that, my tires see a lot of wear.  I buy my tires from Discount Tire.  And I’m soooo glad.  Here’s why:

  • You can buy certifications for them and they cover repairs and replacements for the life of the tire.  What does this mean for me?  Well, over the last two weeks I’ve managed to destroy two tires:  one from a screw while driving on a jobsite and one today from what I think was a curb that totally popped up out of nowhere.  Both were replaced and I just had to pay for the $30 to re-insure each of them.Yes, this is the family truckster earlier today.
  • They will do a free air check.  You know how during the winter months your tire pressure warning will come on in your car and you don’t know whether a tire is really low or not?  It happens to me and because there are so many Discount Tires it’s really easy to swing into one.  And if it’s low, they’ll inspect it to make sure there’s nothing wrong.
  • They will rotate your tires for free too.
  • They have amazing customer service.  I have NEVER had a bad experience with anyone that works there.  They are all very kind, fast, and honest.  Today, as I sit here, it’s packed so there’s a wait.  They offered me fresh coffee and water. They told me where the restrooms are without me asking and even told me there’s a QT (gas station that has pretty decent food too) next door. They keep people appraised of their progress. Service with a smile.
  • They’ve got free WiFi, so I’ve got my laptop open and I’ve already gotten quite a bit of work done that I needed to.
  • I’ve yet to be in one where they didn’t keep it clean and neat.  It’s a nice, open layout with comfy chairs.  None of those loveseats that you sometimes get stuck snuggled up next to a perfect stranger.  That’s something you can’t say about all vehicle service places.
  • They have great prices and give you plenty of options for tires- from super fancy to economy.  They will tell you which ones they typically keep in stock, which helps me for cases like this where I am having to replace one.
  • There are a TON of these places.  I realize if you live in a rural area it might not be as easy to take as much advantage of all of the benefits such as the air check and tire rotations.

I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about them.  I am super-thankful for them today as the family wagon and I limped into their parking lot, knowing that they’d get us taken care of.  I’m pretty sure Garen is glad too- especially that I made it here without having to call in backup since even though I know how to change a tire, it’s been a LONG time!

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

And, FYI, I don’t get any kickbacks from these guys…although that would pretty awesome. Ha!

Making Baby Food- Part 2: What and How I Made Baby Food 

After our trip to the grocery store (see my previous post, Part 1: The Why and Preparation), I got started.    Honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. I never expected to be the mom that makes homemade baby food but, surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. I went into it without recipes but more of a general idea of what I thought might go well together. Here’s what I made:

  • Apple cinnamon sweet potatoes
  • Corn and green peas
  • Corn and bananas 
  • Peas and lentils
  • Carrots and lentils
  • Green beans and lentils
  • Spinach and lentils
  • Bananas, blueberries, and strawberries
  • Blueberries and strawberries 
  • Green peas and wild rice. 
  • Blueberries 
  • Strawberries 
  • Bananas 
  • Pumpkin carrot
  • Pumpkin bananas 

Here was my process:

  1. Get food processor ready
  2. Have hubby unpackage all of the new ice trays and start hot soapy water to wash trays before use
  3. Cook steamer pack of corn as directed
  4. In the meantime, start cooking lentils as directed   
  5. Once corn is finished, start steamer pack of peas. 
  6. Pour finished corn into the processor 
  7. Wash a few trays and put on drying mats to dry while peas cook
  8. Once peas are finished, add them to the processor and start mixing  
  9. Add water (some people add formula or Breastmilk but I didn’t) to get to the consistency you want. You can always add more water when you are ready to feed your little one. 
  10. Spoon or pour the processed food into the ice trays. They’re easier to get out once frozen if your food stays inside the tray rather than overlapping. 
  11. Smooth the food out as much as possible   
  12. Put on a level surface in the freezer. Top with Saran Wrap if you’re going to be stacking any in top of these so they don’t freeze together (like mine did the first round).  
  13. Repeat this process with other combinations or single foods.     
  14. Once the trays are frozen, put them into labeled freezer bags and store in the freezer. 

Note: Here are a few variations from the above process that included other preparation:

  • Finish the lentils and use with combos, as you wish
  • Cook the frozen spinach on the stove rather than the microwave 
  • Cut the apples up and roast them in the oven with cinnamon 
  • Peel and cook the sweet potatoes 
  • Open the cans of pumpkin 
  • I had to do two rounds of the freezing process because it required more than 18 trays. I put the mixtures into bowls and stored in the fridge until the first round was finished.   

This made 465 cubes of food, using the $49.99 of food I listed in my previous post, Part 1: The Why and Preparation. The girls usually eat 2 cubes for lunch and 3 for dinner. Soon they will be eating one with oatmeal or cereal for breakfast too, which is 6 each and 12 cubes used a day for both.  At that rate, what we made should last us about 38 days. My estimate is that we would go through 7-8 jars of store bought food a day, so that means I would spend between $266-$304 in 38 days if each jar costs $1.00. (Try not to be jealous of my killer math skills). 

I would say that’s a pretty good savings. Now we’ll see how Clara and Kate like them. So far, so good. 

Let me know if you’ve made baby food and what combos you’ve made. 

Making Baby Food- Part 1: The Background and Preparation 

I’ve never tried making my own baby food. Honestly, I’ve been intimidated by it. The thought of cooking, blending, and storing it all seemed like a daunting task. Plus, we are on the go a lot so jarred baby food has been convenient to grab and go. 

But after about almost two months of the girls eating baby food now, I’m realizing how expensive it is to feed two. We have been ordering their food from Amazon because it’s quick, easy, and cheaper than in the store. But it’s still a little over $1 a four (4) oz jar. That’s for Earth’s Best Organic so I do realize I could get it cheaper. I’m not really an organic produce person but I tried different types of baby food when Will was a baby and liked Earth’s Best. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

Anywho….Saturday about 4 different recommended pins came up on my Pinterest wall about making your own baby food. I took that as a sign that I should try it out. 

Like I do before any project, I read a few blogs about it. Thanks to Gina of Fitnessista and Wholesome BabyFood for great posts on making your own. I realized that I would have a lot more flavor options and could possibly save money if I made my own. And, with my food processor and two freezers, I figured it might not be that bad. 

Challenge accepted. 

I made a list, checked it twice. Garen and I headed to the store to buy everything. My goal was to make a month’s worth. We ended up coming home with $49.99 in ingredients. Here’s what I bought at Kroger: 

  • 14 bananas 
  • 3 cans pumpkin 
  • 5 organic apples
  • 2 large sweet potatoes 
  • Frozen blueberries, 3 lbs
  • Frozen green beans, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen strawberries, 3 lbs
  • Frozen green peas, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen corn, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen carrots, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen spinach, 1 lb
  • Green lentils, 4 cups

We also stopped at the Dollar Tree, where I bought 18 ice cube trays and a 10 pack of gallon zip-top freezer bags, which cost me a little over $10 with tax. 

  We got home and unloaded the goodies and I went to work, not knowing exactly what to expect or how much baby food all of this might make. 

See my next post (Part 2: What and How I Made Baby Food) for how the adventure went.