Fare thee Well George for Now…

 I know I know I have already broken the Post a Blog a day pact. Im sorry. The last 2 days have been very hectic here as I took a very temp job to try and get some extra cash for Christmas.

Tonight I knew as soon as I heard the news that is now being reported everywhere that my post today would NOT be my usual frugal kind of post.

Today George Osmond passed away. If you don’t know who he was. He was the dad to Donny and Marie and seven other. 

For those of you who don’t know this: I grew up in love with Donny as did many girls my age.  I was excited when Donny lived here in Toronto for a wee bit during his performing time up here and we were in the same ward.

 When I think of his dad and the impact that dad had on his family I couldn’t help but think of two things. First the incredible love that was shown between all family members and it started from the top and flowed down and back up. Secondly they lived there faith. Then my thoughts were drawn to sacred covenants made at alters long ago and what they mean to those who call themselves LDS.  One of the primary beliefs that are held is that we can be together as a family unit after death. With that in mind. I know the Osmonds will miss their patriarch but I can just imagine right now a certain dance in the heavens between a man and his eternal bride who used to dance together to make money. I am sure as they grieve they will also be comforted by their faith.

Today I am thankful for my own family…For having had and having loving parents , and the bestest daugther.

Christmas Tip #5This is more a local request for those that live here in Toronto. Down at the Sony Center on Thursday, Nov 8th they are attempting a world record. What record: an attempt to fill the worlds largest stocking with unwrapped gifts for the Salvation Army. If you can please bring a large unwrapped toy between 12-3 pm to 1 Front St E please do so. If you are one of the first 1500 to do so you will receive as a thank you a ticket to White Christmas for the Nov 22nd performance. As well they will have lots of hot chocolate and cookies on hand and I have hard even a few giveaways….so come lets help some of the kids who need it have a brighter Christmas.

If you aren’t here in Toronto may you make giving somewhere somehow part of your holiday season.

Starting to Feel A Bit Like Christmas

Tis starting to feel a bit like Christmas. Yes all the store are quickly getting to into Christmas gear, and you truly know the season is at hand when The Bay on Yonge St reveals its Christmas window, they are a site and a tradition here in To.

Well here at Castle a La Cheap Mom we too are getting into the spirit so much so that guess what we broke out this weekend. The Christmas decorations.We went through the box, checked it once, checked it twice, and then began can I say this out loud — to decorate! Last year because we were tree less till just a few days before the holiday I really didn’t get to enjoy the season. So this year I am starting early! But then again I really love the season..

We are using an artificial tree, and have all the decorations we will need for the season minus a table cloth( can you figure out where I will be looking for one this week?).

Christmas Tip #4– When getting out your Christmas decorations why not try and save some green and use LED lights. We switched to these last years and for pennies our tree was well lite while not wasting much electricity…So be good on your pocket book and go green.

Today I am thankful for a daughter who loves Christmas as much as I do! Decorating with her after a hard morning of school work. (She finished her Emperor Scorpion project this morning) was so much fun. We laughed and giggled and remembered where and when each ornament came into our home. It truly was a great afternoon of fun.  

waterballoons

Happy Blogging Birthday to Me

It was five years ago tonight that I first sat at a computer screen and typed my thoughts for the world to see. Over the year many sites have hosted the evolution that is me.

I started my blogging journey on Xanga. My site there called “Simply Hollie” was the beginnings for me. It was there that I stayed for a bit. It was there that I first had to write about the fire that would change my life.

Then I moved my blog to MSN and took back an old MSN forum name I have used for many years on line: that being “Celestialmom”. I blogged here for a long time as well. It is here that I first blog about Roo’s diagnosis of being a special needs child.

Then when MSN was going through a period where my site was more down then up, I moved to blogspot again as Simply Hollie…while there I began Cheaper then Cheap as well( but it was only a few month old when I came here) and am now combining all that I am and ever will be.

In the last 5 years I have come to know and visit many bloggers  some stayed on my radar and others faded. You know us bloggers have a life outside our computers right? I have favorite reads that I must go to…girlfriends that I have known only through what they have typed to me over the years. Catholic Mom, Lynne, Beast Mom, SAMM, Jungle Mama, Katy, AM, Holy, Thotman are all old friends with many exchanges between us. AM moved from the blog world and has become one of my closest girlfriend’s…but we started our friendship online. It is her parent’s that took me in for a year after the fire.

I love the interactions that come from being part of the blog community and so I will make that what I am thankful for today this my blogger birthday! For those of you who have read me over the years thanks for letting me ramble-may you of taken away a piece of me. I want to thank you for stopping by, for sitting and reading a bit, for sharing and for caring.

No Christmas tip today I have a blog birthday party to get too! Happy Birthday to me!

November Has Blo In

Well November has come in with a roar! There is much to do for this cheap mom. Today begins National Blog Posting Month and I am participating so expect to see a post every day this month..

And I even have two themes for the month: Frugal Christmas tips and Gratitude. Since I am a thankful mom who is cheaper than cheap you will get to read the best of both. I may even sprinkle in some of Roo’s antidotes( when you are solo parenting a child with special needs you never know where life might take you).

So on to Christmas Tip#3:

If you already haven’t figure out your holiday budget..there is nothing worse then going in debt to show some love…so plan ahead.

Here is my holiday budget:

Christmas Baking: $20

Gifts for Roo:$175 ( $100 of this amount comes from her dad and gram who send cash and I buy gifts from them)

Gift for Mom:$25

Gifts for others: $30

Christmas Meal:$40

Total:$265

Roo and I are busy planning what we are making this year and I am sure than will come up in a tip to come.

When the fall comes it really does get you in a thankful mood as the holidays come along. Today I am thankful that I am a mom. It is the best job in the whole world. I love the fringe benefits of mommyhood the hugs and cuddles.

Well time to go pack up the candy that is still out…

Halloween Night-

costumeIts the night of ghosts and goblins, and trick or treaters gone mad and all thru the streets children are getting home with tired feet, and bags of goodies galore.

Roo and I left for a night of scares and treats at about 6:45 and got home about an hour later. Roo the mermaid dug into her candy and quickly surmised there were candies she would eat, so to the door she quickly went to hand out treats to the few revelers left outdoors.

Then in she came like a dash to sort and stack and see what she had amassed. Tired and happy we took pictures of one great haul. Roo is busy munching and filling freezer bags with chocolate galore.

candy haulHer haul

Gum and candy in one bowl, chocolate in another and chips are in the big bag to count and sort and nibble while we watch a movie till a child sleeps and mom can visit some blogs.

Happy Halloween

halloween  First I want to wish you each that stop by here today a great Halloween night….may this day not leave you too exhausted. Roo is going as a mermaid. My girlfriend Anne Marie(who spoils Roo rotten) bought her a mermaid costume. This mom was going to make Roo make a costume from stuff we have here at home. How dare I right? Well lucky for me me dear girlfriend is on a plane at this very hour going from China to Australia for a once in a life time trip. So no more Roo spoiling till at least December…

Now the thing every parent will of a school age trick or treater will be asking is what to do with all that candy..Roo usually brings home a pillowcase full….can you say candy mania!

Tonight I let her eat as much as she wants! Maybe I spoil her too. But after tonight things change in this house rather quick, and I become the Grinch that stole the Halloween candy.

After tonight this cheap mom lays down the law….

1. The cookie jar becomes the candy jar for the month of Nov…roo favorites go in here and she is allowed one a day…Don’t they say one a day keeps the doctor away? Wait that is for apples.

2. Chocolate bars that mom can get my hands on go into the freezer, these make great inserts for baking, and don’t you know frozen chocolate takes longer to eat making the treat last longer.

3.Think math concepts: sorting and stacking and grouping all help our lil ones learn math skills…do we have any future bankers?

4.Think craft time: Have you ever seen a candy tree? or strung life savers to make an edible necklace.

5. Some candy gets set aside for holiday baking…can you say cheap gingerbread men and houses…

6. Now if you are ambitious you could make a pinata for an upcoming birthday party( if you have a child like mine this means less favor buying right?)

7. Okay another craft idea Christmas ornaments….do I have you thinking, huh, Okay Hollie must be nuts or she has too much time on her hands.

Oh and I love the big oneas we go out early Roo instantly recycles her candy…anything she doesn’t like goes out to the late trick or treaters( you know the teens).

So with that send and done all the candy disappears quite quickly thank goodness.

Which brings me to Christmas Tip #2

Save candies for the gingerbread men and house, put in a sealed container or ziploc baggies to keep fresh.

Well time for this parent to get ready for this LONG day. May you not get too spooked tonight.

Um Um Um I hate to Mention It

 Today I woke up and thought what a great day for a walk around my favorite sites, and then I realized I have much work to do! Why?

Because Christmas is in 55 days!

I know Halloween hasn’t even passed yet and here I am thinking of Christmas, but in this house I am not only getting ready for Christmas but both me and Roo have birthdays over the holidays! Can you say stress for this cheap mom!

There are lists to be made, gifts to be made, visiting to be done, don’t forget parties to attend, concerts to listen to and so much more. This time of year makes us get to Jan 3rd( the day after Roo’s birthday) and collapse in exhaustion.

Well NOT this year! Being the wonderful cheap mom that I am I have a plan-  boycott Christmas!

Not really but I think this year I am ahead of the game and will be able to pull off a frugal Christmas, that still exudes the excitement that comes with the season…so for the next 55 days look ahead with me to that great day, and lots of frugal tips along the way.

TIP#1: Decide what about Christmas is important to you and your family. Make this the theme of your Christmas. Christmas is a time for traditions and values to come to a forefront.

Here in our house what matters most is family time! So there will be lots of that as we work, shop and play together this holiday season.

Menu Monday

Menu planning monday

I love Menu Monday that the one and only organizing junkie hosts every Monday and have decided it is one way to help me organize my weeks oh so much better. Menu planning is so important.  If you are visiting her today you even get to welcome her to WordPress!

So what am I cooking this week?  I am a use the flyers kind of gal and what can I buy on the cheap that is still going to give me and Roo a healthy week.

Monday- MacNCheese Tuna Casserole. ( cost$2.30)

We make ours with good ol Kraft Dinner( I loathe the generic mac and cheeses so I buy it for $.49 on sale), tuna( also on sale for $.49), can of peas( again were on sale$.88) and cheese( the blocks were on sale for $4.99). This will be served with a side of salad.

Tuesday-Crispy Salsa Chicken( I have adjusted a recipe from Kraft-It was in there 5 meals on bag section), rice, corn

They say to use chicken breasts, here we use pieces($2.50). as well we don’t use a pouch ( I bought a canister of the Shake n bake spices on sale, put some in a baggie and I get the same result($.25), as well for the salsa I use the store brand which I find is just as good)($1.00).

Wednesday-Frozen pizza and salad and candy!( pizzas were on for $3.99)

Thursday-Meatless Meal-Frogs in a Hole, tomato slices(cost$2.00)

Frogs in a Hole is a dish that my grandmother made for me growing up and is now a favorite of Roos, and we do breakfast for dinner about once a week.

Friday-*eating out*

We are going to the Women’s Show downtown on Friday as Roo has the day off school. So after a day of browsing and having fun we will be using the $40 in Gift certificates I won recently for Gerrad Pizza-they make great pasta dishes too.

Saturday-Hot-dogs and French-fries, veggie($3)

Saturdays are the day for an easy meal, and if we don’t do this one we will do leftovers.

Sunday-Roast Chicken($5), potatoes, carrots and onions.

I cook this on low heat while at church so when we eat home we can have an early dinner.

So how is that a week of healthy dinners for about $30. Now go visit Laura and see what everyone else is cooking.

NewVsUsed

New or Used that is the Question

 

NewVsUsed

New vs Used that is the question? I have been thinking about this especially when it comes to how I shop.Do I buy new out of habit or brand allegiance could I change this and save money.  There are certain things that I buy that have to be a certain brand even if they cost more.  When it comes to these goods, I think it is because I am a smart or should I say, the wise consumer. Now most of what I buy is used.

When it comes to clothing, I buy used mostly. I love the feel of a pair of well-worn jeans. Now who likes to break in a new pair? I went shopping this week at Value Village and used one of the $35 GCs that I won last week at stocked up on a few wants: one was a beautiful silk red blouse($4.99) that will look great over my basic black dress( also a VV find for $7) for the holidays. I love like this and I cant tell you how many compliments I have gotten on my brown leather bag that I got for $3.99. Yes I know by buying clothes second hand you have to bring them home and wash immediately etc., and you don’t have the latest trendy items, but I am a classic vintage gal, so it works well for me.

When it comes to furniture, I buy used, and you can always find great deals either on Kijiji or Craigslist. There is not a new piece in my apartment. Now this means my apartment is a variety of looks but that again is ok with me, but I guess if you are trying to achieve a certain look then you might buy new. As for colors in my apartment, I use throws and pillows to bring things together.

When it comes to electronics unless it has been gifted to me( i.e., my current tv I buy new). My computer was a great deal when I bought it two years ago ( for $349). I got the last one Staples had when they were clearing out stock for me it has more then served me well. My MP3 player was a gift with a purchase I made.

For my music needs, I don’t buy CDs anymore if there is a song I like I can usually get it for free?  I enter and win enough downloads from contests through the year. I have not paid for music in over a year thanks to Rip to Win and the other contests that have netted me 56 downloads in the last six months. If you like music, don’t buy CDs download them it is so much cheaper!

Now if my location ever changed( living in the heart of Toronto allows me to be a walker and TTC user) and I had to buy a car, I would buy used. A car loses much of its value as you drive off the lot.

When it comes to groceries, this is where I skimp a lot without losing quality. Dominion here has the fresh or free policy which nets me about $30 a month in free quality groceries simply by checking expiry dates. I also coupon collect. Save.ca is great for coupons and then there are coupons that line the store aisles.  There are certain foods where the store brand simply will not do. We buy real Kraft dinner and Campbell’s soups only. They are the main stays of our lunches. For cookies, I bake or go to the factory outlet for them. I spend about $200 a month for the both of us and that includes cleaning and bathroom stuff too.

Now when it comes to toys here is where you have to be careful. Our kids come first right! I buy new mostly–mostly at Walmart or Toys R US when on sale. We have bought some toys second hand ( like Roo’s kitchen), a Barbie dollhouse, and the like. We have bought games second hand at garage sales after checking to ensure all the pieces are there. As for books we love second hand and make great use of the library.

So does my use of second hand make me cheaper then cheap? I think it makes me a great consumer and a money smart mom.

rainy day activities

Rainy Day Activities

rainy day activities

Today it is a wet yucky fall day here in Toronto, so what does a frugal mom do with her child on a day like today?

First off Roo loves her computer time. On the weekends, I let her have an hour. Her favorite websites are Webkinz ( Mom rates this a great site with a cheap cost), Champman’s Kids Club( you can even earn stuff they will send you for free), TVOkids and Link to Learning( a great site for educational learning put out by the province of Ontario).

Then there is craft time: I keep an ample supply of craft items on hand, and then we have our recycling bin of course. Roo often raids it for her latest creations. This week she used old bits and pieces to make a webkinz house for her stuffed ones and furniture too.

Another of our favorite activities when we just have to get out of the house is to go to the library to read together. Roo and I both like this as it gives us some nice time together.

Sometimes we go to the mall and go window shop. I am able to gleam as we go some great ideas for Christmas shopping.

Games are another favorite in this house. I have been able over the last to collect quite a few from second hand stores and garage sales ( just make sure you check that all the pieces are there).

We often do family movie time. We can rent from our local store a new release for $1.99 or we have about 50 dvds that we own. I put on the popcorn popper add some real butter and we are good to go. Who needs a movie theatre!

Baking is another way to chase away the rainy day blues and think they are learning important math skills too.

So many things to do, what are your favorite ways to chase away the rainy day blues on the cheap?