Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Open mouth, insert foot...my most famous last words were "I don't think we could possibly cut anything else out of our lives."  Well, God laughed so hard he cried...I know that, because it rained (so hard that I wanted to cry)!!!

Remember my gas guzzling tank that died in the middle of car line?  You can go back and read my words, and I quote "Unfortunately, I'm so upside down in my giant gas guzzler, that I'm stuck with it."  The confession...I think I may have been tricking myself into that thought just so I could hold onto something from my former life, even though my whole being wanted to just throw all things of that life to the dogs.  I'm not going to spend too much time dwelling on the fact that any "normal" person may find that statement a little split personality, so we'll just call it spiritual warfare and move on.

Our neighbor had been trying to spare her driveway the pain of holding an extra vehicle and was selling her old minivan.  Whew...that word is still hard for me to say...minivan, minivan...maybe a little easier to write than say.  A little background...for all you Minivan Mamas, I'm that obnoxious girl that has the nerve to swear she wouldn't be caught dead driving a minivan.  I have spent the last six years of motherhood declaring that hell would have to freeze over before I would even consider driving a minivan.  My reasoning...who knows.  Honestly, it's one of those things that could take weeks of soul searching and end up forgetting what in the world it was in the first place that I was searching for anyways.

On with the story...seeing how the hubby had been taking one for the team and sporting his not so desirable, could possibly breakdown tomorrow, replacement for Mr. Smoky, we thought having a "back-up" might keep us from reliving the one car family experience.  So, the minvan made it's way into our garage.  Now, let me tell you about our garage.  It lives a double life.  Like most garages, it houses the necessary outdoor equipment like lawn mowers, grills and rakes.  Then, there's some spill over from inside the house like boxes of Christmas lights, unsold leftovers from garage sales, and such.  By day, it lives the life of a mild-mannered, typical garage.  By night, it looks more like a super warehouse housing lumber, tools, kitchen sinks and more.  Being that the hubby lives in the world of construction, we have to have a place to store all the supplies that are piled in the back of his truck all day.  So, let me tell you, this minivan was so crammed into those four walls, that getting in and out of the house through the garage was quite the task (don't ask why I can't just use the front door...let's just say me and the key had a wrestlin' match, and I won).  Anyways...every morning, with three kids in single file toe (one in front, one behind and one on the hip),  we'd all squeeeeeeze by the minivan and make our way out to the driveway.

Each time I sucked in my gut to barely make my way past my nemesis, I could feel myself warming up to it little by little (or maybe I was just getting heated up from all the stomach exercises).  Until one day...it was like an uncontrollable urge.  I just had to see what was so darn horrible about sitting my pretty, little hiney in the driver's seat of a minivan.  So, I went inside, got the keys and hopped in.  I don't know what I was expecting...maybe, I thought the steering wheel would deliver electric shocks straight to my frontal lobe that would void my mind of all reasoning (as if I hadn't already accomplished that on my own).   Who knows...but, it seriously wasn't that bad.

So...once again, I ate crow and, apparently, hell froze over (missed the headlines on that one didn't you?) or maybe the steering wheel did disable my logic.  Either way, I called up the hubby and delivered the most shocking message he had ever heard (I was beginning to make a habit of this, but this even topped the clothesline call).  I was going to find a new home for my gas guzzler and drive the minivan.    Yep, you heard right...I am a full fledged, card carrying, Minivan Mama!!!!   Apparently, God was going easy on me this time and this adventure killed two birds with one stone.  Whew...one less trial!!  Not only is it a completely stripped down (bye-bye electric anything) minivan, but it's what I call finely aged with 9 years of driving experience...a big experience in humbling for me, AND it comes with great perks...better gas mileage, cheaper insurance and NO CAR PAYMENT!!!!!!!!!  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Fun Little Gadget to Help Save


I am always on the lookout for ways to cut down on energy consumption and save us $$.  Here's an easy way to cut back.  It's called "The Little Gray Box".  It's a water heater timer that you can set to turn your heater on and off up to 3 times a day.

I run my dishwasher in the mornings, and we take showers at night, so we only need hot water in my house from 7-8 am and 7-8 pm.  If the water heater is running during any other time, we're just wasting energy.  To my amazement, in the summer months, the left over hot water from our morning cycle lasted all day.  I seriously thought the timer wasn't working.  Just to test it, I purposely ran the hot water out to see if it would reheat before the next cycle.  So, after running buckets of water back and forth to the plants outside like a crazy person trying not to waste the water I was allowing to gush from the faucet, my conclusion--my husband really did install the water heater timer properly. 

The tank seems to be holding the hot water a little less as we're getting colder, but I am going to try to wrap it with some insulation and see if that helps.  I'll keep you posted on that one.

There has been a fun little side effect too.  We are all a little nervous about getting stuck in the shower outside of heating times, so our showers are getting shorter!!  That was a huge part of the 20% decrease in our water bill.

You can get the timer at Home Depot for around $50.  I didn't check around online, but I bet you might be able to get a good deal using Ebates or Cashbaq somewhere too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

We have PEAS!!

I'm so excited!!!  We got our first round of peas this weekend!!  I'll be cooking them up tomorrow night...I can't wait!!  I'm telling you guys...they are divine...you've got to grow some!!

I got my first lesson in shelling peas.  Just pinch off the end of the pea and peel the dark green edge (stringy thing) off...I'm sure it has a "real" name, but I'm not too versed in the anatomy of a pea pod yet.  One side is a darker green than the other...pull that side...it works better.


Then, pull the pod open and you have peas!!  I have to tell you that it does require a little work, but it is so worth it!!!   I will post a recipe later this week.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

You can get what for FREE???

One car, veggies in my front yard, no dryer...crown me Mrs. Simplicity!!  I thought I had this whole simplifying life thing wrapped up and tied with a big, fat bow...yeah, right...come back down from that cloud Danielle...I was about to find out I hadn't even dipped my toes in enough to even test the simple waters!!

I had always bucked the idea of using coupons.  I'm not sure if it was mostly that I thought it wasn't worth the work or maybe a little bit of the I'm Too Good for That Disease. Either way, I was missing out on something HUGE!!!  Really, $.50 here, and a $1.00 there...big deal!!!  No really, BIG DEAL...and I mean BIG!!

It all started with an article I read about coupons that referenced couponmom.com.   Seriously, I logged onto this website, and felt like I had entered the twilight zone.  I was so confused!!  I like to think of myself as a pretty smart person, but this mountain of information made me feel like I just fell of the turnip truck.  It made my five years in the University of Florida College of Engineering look like a cake walk!!  There were links to grocery store ad match ups, coupon databases, printable coupons, drug store deals and on and on...I had no idea where to begin and it wouldn't matter where anyways, because it all sounded like a foreign language.

I finally found a place to start...grocery store deals.  This amazing woman had actually matched the weekly ads in my area with available coupons.  I found my favorite store and...jackpot!!  Who needs the lottery when you have these beautiful little pieces of paper called coupons!!  Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I could have danced around the house screaming I WON, but my husband may have finally sent me to the loony bin!!!   I think he was beginning to wonder if I had cracked anyways with all my new practices....this would have really sealed my fate.

To put it in a nutshell, the concept is to use coupons with the weekly sales at your stores.  Then, stock-up on the good deals.   I thought buying BOGO's made me a Money Saving Diva, boy was I naive.  Add two coupons in the BOGO mix, and you've got a deal so hot it'll put Mount St. Helens to shame!!

I quickly learned the ins and outs of the couponing world.  I remember being so excited about a trip to Publix where I saved $90 and spent $63.  I didn't stop bragging about that one for weeks or maybe even until I topped it with my best to date saved $113 and spent $17.   As good as that sounds, it's still not even close to what some of these coupon gurus have accomplished!!!

It was time to take it to the next level...drug store deals.  I was so oblivious to the drugstore world that I had never even stepped foot into Walgreens, and here's a good one...didn't even know we had a CVS across the street from our neighborhood (I'm not that insane, it's hiding behind the Publix,  but still, I didn't know it was there).  Whatever you do...don't stop reading now...you can get FREE stuff at drugstores!!!!  Yes, I said FREE!!!  FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE.....FREE!!!!!   I love that word!!  I literally paid $2 for all of my 1st graders school supplies this year because of drugstores.  I haven't paid for a bottle of shampoo, a stick of deodorant, a bottle of lotion, a tube of toothpaste or a toothbrush in months.     

As if all of that wasn't enough, I have actually gotten coupons for $75 off $100 at Old Navy.  I did have to sit up all night waiting on oldnavyweekly.com to reset and torture myself trying to click on a microscopic bird dodging across the background of the screen, but for that kind of coupon, count me in!!!

So, I know what you're thinking...HOW?!?!??!

I'm not even going to try to explain.  Here's my three favorite sites...they are AWESOME and will do all the explaining for me!!:




Feel free to post comments with questions...I know you'll have them :)

Garden Time = Family Time

We did some transplanting Labor Day weekend....sorry it took me so long to post, better late then never :).  All of our little seedlings were getting pretty big, and were ready for a better home.  We had cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, eggplant, bell peppers and radishes...gotta love Florida!!

The kids had a blast helping Daddy...anything that has to do with digging in the dirt.  They love to pick a plant and call it their own to take care of...it's a great way for them to learn responsibility!!  It teaches them responsibility for a living thing and for the environment!!

We used soil from the compost bin and lots of pots.

Small pots....

or, large pots with a couple plants.  These are cucumbers.  They grow beautiful in a pot...another one of those front yard potted plants that you can't even tell is a vegetable.  These five little seedlings have gotten huge and are starting to produce fruit already in only a month.  I'll post them soon so you can see.   

We used the same method as we did with the black eyed pea plants...mix a little fertilizer in the top layer soil and add the plants.


We like the Miracle-Gro Organic...pretty much just chicken pooh.  Some chickens would make this gardening thing so much cheaper, but I'm pretty positive that would really get us kicked out of suburbia!!  We alternate store bought fertilizer with our own compost to keep the costs down.

I am amazed at how fast these little seedlings have grown already!!   We did more transplanting today...I'll post some pictures tomorrow for you to see!!