Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How will you do it??

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...is the question we've been asked a lot lately when we tell people we are having twins. It's probably going to be a while before I share all tried-and-true secrets on how to raise multiples with you. In fact, every time somebody asks this question, I mentally start biting my nails because I have NO idea. Just the thought of burping and feeding two babies makes my head spin... The only comfort I get is that this too shall pass... even the burping stage.

Another part of this question usually entails the financial side of it. After all, we will become a family of six in a matter of months.. Say lots and lots of expenses...

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I can't say I don't think about it. More like all the time :) I do believe that God knows our needs and He provides when we trust in Him. But I also believe that He will not help if we don't raise our tush off the couch and do our part, so He can meet us half way.

I know I can't predict what will happen. I can only hope. And I know that whatever we do will require lots of careful planning. I'm not trying to figure it all out until all the kids are out of the house. We'll take it one step at a time. But we will be doing at least these few things:

Tighten our belts even tighter.  Well, that's a given. We've always been frugal but, I guess, we would have to explore a whole new level of frugality. It's probably going to be a while before we take all for of the kids to Disneyland again... I can see a lot more camping trips in our future instead. But I believe that in many ways kids are as expensive as you make them. And having a big family often means just adjusting your lifestyle and priorities. We will never have the biggest house on the block or a Ferrari parked in front of it but if our kids are well fed, clean, decently (doesn't equal new) dressed and know they are loved, I will be forever grateful for all the blessings in our lives.

SAHM. I will keep staying home with my kids. I don't know if I'll keep working from home when the babies are here (I need to find out my company's policy on that) but between taxes and daycare prices I will save us more by not working full-time.

Develop new talents. I'm slowly getting into sewing (Carla, you can be proud of me!). It's a work in progress but I want to be able to sew at least some things for our kids. My sister really inspires me to do that. She just made a bunch of dress pants for her son instead of buying uniforms. I want to be her when I grow up (don't mind the fact that I'm seven years older... I'm a child at heart!)

Pay ourselves first. I might be in the minority here but I believe that parents are NOT obligated to put their kids through college (even though we should encourage kids to do so). I paid my way through college all by myself while working in a senior center, as a tutor, and while helping my Mom with embellishing her sewing orders (I would do the embroidering by hand on some of the pieces), and I never felt that my parents owed me anything. That was something I owed to myself. But I am gratfeul that they taught me the value of working hard even at  young age. I hope to instill it to our children too.
We put my husband through college too. His Dad helped us out with a couple of semesters but for the rest, we partially got FAFSA and paid out of pocket. And kids have their whole future ahead of them to make choices (including financial) for themselves. On the other hand, retirement savings are only there if you contribute. We will keep contributing to our future while trying to do our best to set something aside for the kids too, as needed.

Save, coupon, not shop or shop where I can afford Again, I will keep doing it in the future and, maybe, a little more so. For example, I'm discovering a whole new world of diapers all over again. Let me just tell you, it's a lot harder to find a good deal now comparing with five years ago (and yes, I know that cloth diapers might be cheaper but I don't think I can pull it off, at least the first few months. If I'm going to function on 2-3 hrs. of sleep, I think, the disposables will be a must to keep me sane...). One of the things I'm still debating on though is whether or not a warehouse membership is worth it. What do you think? Do you have one? Pros and cons of having one? I talked to a friend the other day, and she told me that she spends $600 or more on groceries a month, all because she shops at Costco. Does a warehouse membership really save you money??

And I will keep being grateful for classifieds, thrift stores and hand me downs :)

I know, the older the kids will get, the more expensive raising them will become but we will worry about it as time goes. Again, I noticed how many times in our lives God miraculously provided for everything we needed and sometimes even more when it seemed like there was no way out...

So what are/would be your secrets on how to make it financially with a bigger family?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Food waste and a menu, week 7/21-7/26.

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Hello, hello, my dear friends,

How was your Monday? I woke up feeling great and full of energy this morning. I love mornings like this, especially at the beginning of the week. I had quite a productive weekend and it didn't stop today. The proof of my productivity? Well, how about 13 cans of pickles? :) This girl is getting ready for winter already (even though I doubt they will last until winter...):

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And my house is surprisingly clean too :) I don't remember when the last time that happened was... I don't count on it to last with two three little piggies here but it feels nice...

I also organized our fridge and the only food waste I have is this little tomato:

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I will have to reevaluate a few things about my cooking now though. Last year my husband was diagnosed with Esophagitis. He finally made it to the doctor a week ago and they did preliminary tests and already told us that he's allergic to most nuts (especially, pistachios) and sesame seeds. But we also noticed that he's been struggling every time he eats tomato-based meals (he's still fine with fresh tomatoes). And I never realized how many things I make with tomato sauce/paste!!! It's been weeks since we had anything but Alfredo sauce or plain cheese and butter with our pasta... He's fine with us eating things made with tomato sauce but I'm just too lazy to cook twice. So this week I decided to wait with the menu until (hopefully!) we'll get more answers. We will just work through the leftovers, make eggs and grill some, and will see how it goes. Our garden finally started to produce - we will have peppers and zucchinis this week, so we'll be eating them too. I'm kind of craving some grilled zucchinis here:)

And that's how things are :)

What is your favorite go-to recipe on a lazy day?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The diamond in the rough...

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Hello, hello, my lovely friends!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Ours is chock full of fun with family and friends. I really enjoy spending time with them but, man, this girl is exhausted! I can barely drag my feet today...

But I know I promised to tell you how much I spent for the dresser :) No Terri, it wasn't free :)

Last week we all went to Toys R Us to use my oldest son's Birthday coupon (the perks of signing the kids up for the Birthday Club - $5 to spend on anything). But very close to Toys R Us is my favorite Goodwill. Of course, I couldn't pass it up :)

Before I knew it, I was in the furniture department.  And here it was... my diamond in the rough. For the most unbelievable price. (insert drum rolls, please!!):

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Yep, just $5.99 (Cindy, you were the closest with your guess on Facebook :) I couldn't believe my eyes at first. Score! I immediately called my husband and told him that we are getting it. To sweeten the deal even further - even though it was super-sweet already - I used a 20% coupon that I got after donating a bunch of stuff to them, so in reality I only paid $4.69 for it. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, it's very solid though does need a bit of help. But all of it is cosmetic, and I can see this piece lasting us for years and years to come.

And this is my major score for the month :)

And did you get any good deals lately, whether in a grocery store, from thrift stores or classifieds, or, maybe, yard sales??

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Frugal Fridays. Guess what I got??

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Yesterday a good friend of mine stopped by. We see each other occasionally but it's been a while since she actually stopped by our house. She's been one of my faithful readers over the past couple of years (hey, hey :) and she really wanted to see all of the different projects she had seen on the blog. As we were taking a small tour, she mentioned how much stuff - furniture etc. - was originally bought used and then fixed, repainted or redone in some other way if needed. I've never really thought of it but it's so true.

I just hate paying full price for anything! More than I thought, in fact. And what we do buy/get usually lasts us for years and years.  So now that we are slowly buying new things for the nursery, it's quite exciting :) But yes, it's a slow process because I'm still looking for the best deal whether we are planning to buy brand-new or used. And do you remember about my woes of finding an inexpensive dresser that would serve as a changing table too? Well, I found exactly what we need (insert a loud "wohoo" here!!!):

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It's really sturdy and nice. But as you can see, it needs some help. It has a few scratches and scrapes (an easy fix), some screws need to be tightened and knobs replaced (guess, who is going to Hobby Lobby tomorrow?? Looks like they might be having their 50% sale on all of the knobs and handles) but mostly it just needs a really good wash.

It has a changing area on the top too that can be later removed to turn it into a regular dresser:

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And how much did I pay for this "beauty"?? Ha, I'm not going to tell you :) Yet. How about you guess instead?

So how much do you think I paid for this dresser? And if you are really curious, come back tomorrow, wink wink ;)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A little garden update... Or a big update on my tiny garden...

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Well, hello there!

How have you been, my friends?

For the past few weeks I really neglected my vegetable garden. My husband was watering it for me but I would go there maybe once a week. But as I'm slowly bouncing back to being my normal self, I knew it was time to show it some love. We got a few days of beautiful rain about a week ago (after weeks and weeks of heat and drought), and my plants really enjoyed it. I also used a mixture of epsom salt and water (dilute 1 TB in a gallon) and sprayed peppers, tomatoes and zucchinis to give them a boost. Apparently, it's supposed to majorly boost your crops within ten days. I was skeptical at first but let me tell you - it's for real!!! Everything like doubled - both in size and amount. I suddenly have about 20 peppers coming, a bunch of new tomatoes and I should pick at least two of my first zucchinis by the end of next week:

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This year I ended up with five zucchini plants. I've never planted more than 4 and it was the plan again this year too. But two of my plants were really struggling. Then one died and the other one looked like it was going to follow very soon. So I got another plant but didn't put it into the ground right away. In fact, a week later it was still sitting in my green house. But in that week the "sad" plant decided to start fighting for life... I have at least ten beginnings among those five plants, and I know it's only the beginning. Now I need to figure out what I'm going to do with all of them. Maybe, I'll try this recipe this year or this one. Yum!

And let me introduce you to the first tomatoes of the year:

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OK, I'm totally boasting here :) I'm just too excited about these little guys. They taste so much better than any store-bought cherries I've ever had (OK, I might be just slightly too bias...:)

And a few peppers. These are the gipsy kind but I should have a bunch of green and red peppers by the end of July:

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But something that makes me especially happy is this particular plant (or a couple that I have):

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My beautiful basil. Oh, I love thee so... Why am I so excited about a basil plant? Well, it's actually my third attempt to plant basil this year. The first four plants (I planted two each time) were eaten by an evil nocturne creature that was skillfully hiding from me (OK, I do have a suspicion it was a slug of some sort but I could never get it, and it drove me insane). It literally devoured my plants within about 3 days... I was desperate. And then I remembered a trick about planting marigolds in the garden to prevent the "evil creatures" from attacking the tender leaves. I gave it the last try... I bought two more basil plants and two wilty marigolds (since the season for them is pretty much over). And as you can see, the slugs are GONE!!! Not a single hole on the leaves and the plants are thriving. Yes, it might be a bit silly to be that excited and jump up and down here right now but, hey, I think I have every right to be.

Or maybe it's just the hormones?...

So do you have a garden? How is it doing this year?

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