Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?

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The Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum Sale continues through September! Get it now at Amazon!

frugal livingDoes anyone else remember that game/cartoon? The song is now stuck in my head for the rest of the day! Well, I may not be Carmen, but I have pulled a bit of a disappearing act. What happened is life! Like most people, our schedule ramps up in fall with school work and club activities, and I’m trying to regain that whole life/balance thing!

Don’t worry, I’m not gone forever :) I’ll be posting weekly still, although perhaps not daily! I expect to back on my game by the end of October.

I am finishing up the 6th grade Curriculum guide, so it should be out soon (hopefully within a week)! After that, I’ll put the finishing touches on the 1st grade guide. Thank you so much for your patience!

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It’s That Time Again — Fall Cleaning!

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The Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum Sale continues through September! Get it now at Amazon!

Fall Deep CleaningWe’ve all heard of spring cleaning, but this week I am elbow deep in repeating the whole process for fall! I talked about this briefly a couple of months ago, but thought I’d revisit it briefly now that I’m in the midst of it. I like to do it twice a year because that way it’s never too much work at once. I spread it out over a week. I’d be crazy to attempt everything during one day! I post up the daily chore from my master list and everyone pitches in.

Saturday: This was a busy day for me, so I just tackled the laundry side of fall cleaning — washing slipcovers, shower curtains, regular curtains and bed skirts. You know, those things that rarely make it into the weekly wash.

Sunday: Sunday is our regular cleaning day, so I just added in the additional deep kitchen cleaning into my regular routine — Clean the oven, clean the dishwasher, scrub the walls/door jambs/etc. We also washed and vacuumed the car, which I try to do at least twice a year…

Monday: I headed to our basement for Monday. I wiped down everything in the laundry room, swept and mopped the floors, and straightened up the tool shelf. The kids deep cleaned the downstairs wet bar (more of a popcorn and cocoa bar) and washed walls.

Tuesday: Today we’re scrubbing all the upstairs walls (along with ceilings), washing the blinds (we dust them weekly), and cleaning the outside windows (inside are cleaned once monthly).

Wednesday: Tomorrow we hit up any areas that need to be decluttered. I keep a pretty organized house, but the pantry will get sorted, along with our random item (aka junk) drawer, and I’ll declutter any odd thing I see lying about (the magazine holder next to the couch comes to mind). Since we don’t have a major clutter problem, I usually just move room to room and tackle what needs it in each room. I also vacuum the fridge coils and a/c filters.

Thursday: The bathrooms get a deep scrub today, mainly by the boys, while Drew and I clean the carpets both upstairs and down.

Friday: We move outdoors on Friday. Sweeping decks, putting away summer stuff, and prepping the yard for winter. We also change the bedding in the duck pen, empty the pond, and cover garden beds with mulch for winter. This is the one day that takes all day to complete.

Generally, I only spend an hour or two a day on fall cleaning tasks. If you need to add decluttering onto your list, you may need to spread the tasks over two or more weeks to get them all done. Normally, I’d have a day sorting closets for ruined or outgrown clothing, but I already did that a month ago for a clothing drive.

Am I the only crazy person that does both fall and spring cleaning?

 

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Homemade Monday: Simple Pleasures

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The Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum Sale continues through September! Get it now at Amazon!

Frugal funSometimes it’s too easy to get too busy.  Work, school, day-to-day life just piles up and the days slip into weeks and into months. I’m just as guilty of this than the next person. Maybe more so because I am a full-on addict of routines so I sometimes have issues shaking things up a bit!

A few years ago I added a new thing to my weekly planner, called Simple Pleasures. First off, my love language is food. Not eating it, but making treats for others. It’s kind of funny, because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I rarely eat the treats I make! (Now, before hating me, I do have a well developed cheese, nachos, and pasta tooth…) So I make sure one of my weekly tasks is to provide my family with a simple pleasure, often in the guise of an edible treat.

frugal funI might make a cake, whip up a bath of caramel corn, or like last night,  make homemade mocha lattes and a quick batch of sugar cookies. These were a welcome respite for Drew, who has been holed up in his studio downstairs for the last three days because he is up against a deadline.

Start making time for at least one simple pleasure for those you love each week.

  • Make a treat for everyone to enjoy!
  • Schedule an impromptu picnic, at a park or even in your yard.
  • Watch a movie together. Make popcorn for bonus points.
  • Go on a walk with those you love most.
  • Sit and read together, or play a game.
  • Musical family? Sing or play a song together.
  • Get out the sheets and build a blanket fort with your kiddos.
  • Fly a kite, toss a ball, ride bikes or throw snowballs.
  • Lay outside and look at the stars.

The list is really endless. These are the things your kids and you will look fondly back on and remember. Not whether math was done on time, or the dishes were always promptly done after dinner, but these little special things that were done just because they were enjoyable.

When I was looking for inspiration, I thought about the types of things I hope my boys would someday share with their kids or grandkids when reminiscing about me. I realized I didn’t want them to just remember that mom made dinner at the exact same time every night or that mom insisted that all chores are done on Sunday afternoons. No, I want them to tell their kids that their mom always had a cake or other treat ready for them, that their mom would rouse them from their rooms for a card game when they least expected it, or that mom would hold family-wide silly song contests for no reason except it was Thursday so why not.

Please share a few of your simple pleasures. We all need all the inspiration we can get!

 

 

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Menu Plan: Pasta Carbonara

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The Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum Sale continues through September! Get it now at Amazon!

Pasta Carbonara

Who doesn’t love pasta? If you’re like me, you get tired of the same ol’ white or red sauce options.This week I’m going to make a budget and kid friendly egg-based sauce that’s sooo yummy!

Saturday: One pot lo mein

Sunday: BLTs or leftovers, diner’s pick

Monday: Ham and cheese crepes with Parmesan broccoli

Tuesday: Green chili chicken enchilada casserole with cucumber salad

Wednesday: Pasta Carbonara (RECIPE BELOW) with roasted veg

Thursday: Biscuits and gravy with steamed broccoli

Friday: Hamburger stroganoff with sauteed veg

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces pasta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (the cheap powdered stuff works)
  • 6 slices bacon or ham lunch meat (or pancetta if you're rich)
  • 2 tb olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, finely minced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves

Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Dice the bacon or ham, and then cook it and the onions over medium high heat in the olive oil until the onion turn clear. Stir in the garlic.
  3. Whisk the eggs and cheese together. Stir in the reserved (still hot) pasta water.
  4. Mix the bacon and pasta together over medium heat. Stir in the egg mixture, tossing for about five minutes so the eggs heat through. Careful, you want to keep it as a sauce, not scramble them!
  5. Serve as is or stir in some fresh ground black pepper, yum!
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Frugal Wins

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The Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum Sale continues through September! Get it now at Amazon!

I think we finally have our fall rhythm down, between work, school and life in general! I’ve been able to have a few hours each day to myself, which is a win of it’s own. A few other things we’ve been up to:

  1. Made two cards — a thank you for a small gift from my grandmother-in-law, and a congrats card for a friend that scored her dream job.
  2. Just as I was tempted to go buy a cheap wreath form, I remembered an old ugly wreath in storage. I dressed it up and turned it into something completely different for fall. (Details coming soon, how-to style.)
  3. That glass cake stand I scored a few weeks ago is getting a regular workout. I’ve been making a sweet treat once a week. As a bonus, I always have a refreshment to offer when someone stops by for a visit.
  4. I got four new vintage cookbooks for, wait for it, only 92 cents! This includes a ’64 edition of the Betty Crocker one dish cookbook, the ’62Amy Vanderbilt dinner party guide, a cute little German dinner party planner from the 60′s, and a ’49 edition of the Kerr Canning Book.
  5. Son needed headphones for programming class. Mom didn’t have headphones. Mentioned it to neighbor, was given headphones. Yay!
  6. There was a major ham sale on Saturday. I stocked up on enough to last us into the new year, yet I still managed to stay within my usual budget with the help of some creative meal planning.
  7. I cleaned my carpets myself with just hot water and my mom’s carpet cleaner. They look (and smell) better.

What frugal things have you been up to?

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Keeping It Frugal: Teen Birthday Edition

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My eldest son can be a hard nut to crack. He just turned 14, he has few wants, and he isn’t into parties. Not. One. Bit. While his younger brother is a party animal, Brandon prefers to reserve birthdays for the family.

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Me? I love a party. Especially with a theme and lots of planning. Brandon? He’d rather go to a vintage fair with his grandma or hang out with his parents. So that’s what he did!

He had only one request — he wanted me to attempt an ice cream cake. I kept it simple and made a two layer yellow cake and frosted it with store-bought ice cream. Don’t you love the happy birthday bunting I made for it?

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We spent the afternoon at a little vintage fair, and then headed to a local milkshake shop in an old “milk bottle” building for lunch. (Picture not mine)

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Good thing I didn’t plan anything, because his birthday landed on the same day as our summer block party. The block had even arranged for everyone to get a shaved ice!

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We kept the presents simple. I purchased a small Lego set from his wish list, and we also gave hm a multi-tool I had squirreled away after Christmas and I made him his own Lego storage bin/side table for his room. He was thrilled.

All in all, a good time was had by all. I can’t believe this kid is taller than me!

The Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum Sale continues through September! Get it now at Amazon!

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Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum: 2nd Grade Now Available!

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Curriculum SaleI am pleased to announce that the second grade guide is now available on Amazon! We cover reading and language arts, math, science, history, art and options for extracurriculars like music and language.

The guides are not a full curriculum material. The guides provide weekly or monthly schedules, depending on the subject and grade, along with the free resources to complete each week’s studies.

When I first started homeschooling my eldest, I realized how many wonderful free resources were out there. The only problem was finding the best way to integrate them into our school day! My solution was to develop the schedules. These schedules provide a comprehensive road map that turns your free resources into an open and go homeschool curriculum.

I’ve even included blank scheduling pages so you can adapt the schedule system to your own materials and resources!

The Almost-Free 2nd Grade Curriculum is on sale now for $3.99. All grades are available on sale until I publish the last grade level. 6th and 1st grade coming soon!

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Menu Plan Friday: Cucumber Salad

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Cucumber Salad

Half Price Sale Extension on the Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum series— Limited time!

 

The one thing I will miss most from summer will be the abundance of cucumbers — whether you grow them or buy them, summer cucumbers are crisp, large and cheap! Even my youngest son will eat this cucumber salad. It’s just the right blend of spicy and sweet. If you don’t finish it all right away, that’s okay! The cucumbers become almost like pickles after a few days.

Saturday: Fried rice — a fake out take out staple.

Sunday: BLTs or leftovers — mama don’t cook on Sundays!

Monday: Alfredo pasta, maybe with chicken, maybe with sausage, with a side of broccoli

Tuesday: Cornbread taco bake with cucumber salad RECIPE BELOW

Wednesday: BBQ chicken bread and roast carrots

Thursday: Pesto pasta and cauliflower

Friday: Cheeseburger buns and salad

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/4 of an onion -- white, red or yellow
  • 1/4 cup vinegar -- rice, apple cider or plain
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar, vinegar, water and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves -- about 3 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Slice the cucumber into 1/2-inch wide rounds, halving the rounds for especially large cucumbers. You can peel or leave the peel on.
  3. Place the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Set a plate on top the colander to weight the cucumbers down. Let sit for about 45 minutes so the salt can leech the excess water out of the cukes, then rinse them briefly and pat dry.
  4. Finely dice the onion. Stir the onion and cucumber together.
  5. Pour the cooled vinegar solution over the salad and mix thoroughly.
  6. Chill for at least two hours before serving so the flavors mix well!
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A Few Frugal Things

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Half Price Sale Extension on the Almost-Free Homeschool Curriculum series— Limited time!

Turnip Money Frugal Living and HomeschoolThis week I have:

  • Made a simple “faux” quilt as a baby gift. (how to coming next week)
  • Scored a beautiful vintage poetry and art book for 50 cents to use as another gift.
  • Planned a frugal and fun birthday for my oldest son.
  • Enjoyed an afternoon barbecue with good friends.
  • Finished purchasing all our 2014/15 school supplies and books — for less than $10!
  • I made an ice cream cake, for the first time, from scratch!
  • We didn’t eat out, but then we never do, so that doesn’t really count ;)

What frugal things did you do?

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