A Wife Loved Like The Church

Posts Tagged ‘Frugal learning

The temperatures in Austin have dropped, and I’m already bringing out my fall clothes!

Ok, not really. The temperatures have dropped, giving us low 90’s instead of 110’s. But, with the exception of two mornings this week {when I went outside and it was still in the low 60’s}, I have not brought out any cold weather clothes. However, for the last few weeks I have been working on making a crocheted scarf.

As part of my 30 before 30, I wanted to learn to crochet. While I specified making a pot holder, I decided to go all out and make a scarf after I found some cute yarn at Hobby Lobby.  Here is the end product ::

It’s about 50″ long and 8″ wide. Here’s a better picture to show you the length::

Other than to take these pictures, I haven’t worn the scarf. Which gives me even more reason to want the weather to cool off. I’m super excited to actually wear something that I’ve made. And in public no less!

I got some more fun yarn to make the girls each a scarf for Saint Nicholas Day gifts. So far, those are proving to be even faster projects, since they are quite a bit smaller than mine.

What crafty new adventures have you been up to? 

Visit Alicia at Alicia’s Homemaking for more Try New Adventures Thursday.

{Be sure to enter my giveaway for a copy of The Help}

I’ve always asserted that I am not creative. You know those people who can look at two pieces of fabric and see a beautiful dress? Yeah, that’s not me. Or those people who plan months in advance for their Christmas card, which turns out to be the best card of the season? Again, not me.

But, Jodi at Life and Oh-La-Dee-Dah has been challenging her readers to do something creative, whatever it may be, throughout the day or week. Every time she shows her way fun creations {or re-creations} I think “I really should do something” and promptly think it’ll be too hard. You know, since I’m not creative.

Friday I came across this headband on pinterest ::

{photo credit}

And I found myself thinking “That is so cute, I wish I could do that”, and sighed with defeat. But, the June Cleaver in me decided to toss caution to the wind and just make the headband. If it didn’t turn out, what do I have to loose? Fabric. That’s it.

So I went to town. I grabbed three different sheets of scrap fabric and started cutting, braiding and sewing. I decided to only make one band instead of two, because I’ve found that the bigger the headband the less likely it is to stand in my hair.

Here’s the end result ::

I liked it so much I made one for both girls and another one for me {that is red and black}. Maybe I will take on Jodi’s creativity challenge.

What creative things have you done recently? 

Last night I had dinner with some friends, when they asked if I’d ever heard of Angel Food Ministries. I admitted that I had not, and they proceeded to tell me about the coolest food ministry I’ve heard of in a long time.

Angel Food Ministries distributes food boxes filled with frozen meats, fresh or frozen veggies, canned goods, etc., for a discounted price. It was started in 1994, with the desire to help families afford feeding themselves. Their food packages range in price from $16 to $51. Typically speaking, you save about half your money for the goods received {a $30 package is about $60 worth of food}.

The best part is: it’s open to all families. I love that. I love finding easy ways to save money, while at the same time giving to a good cause. Because the more I buy from Angel Food, the more they can continue to help provide for other families.

While you can order as many packages you want, the distribution is only once a month. I’ve missed the deadline for March, but plan to order a box come April. Now I will say this: I’m sure the food isn’t organic, the meat isn’t grass feed and the mixes they provide are modified in some way. But, shockingly, I’m okay with that. You know why? Because I have a peace about feeding my kids non-organic veggies. And while in my ideal world, we would only eat grass fed beef, right now, our budget won’t allow it. So, I figure, even if the package isn’t my “ideal” it is pretty amazing. And feeding my family amazing food works for me.

Have you ever heard of Angel Food Ministries? Would you ever participate in a food ministry like this?

Visit Kristen at We are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday.

Growing up I prided myself on having no Southern accent. I worked continuously to sound as if I was from any where but Tennessee. Then in the summer of 2002, after spending time in southern Alabama, I realized how deeply I missed my Southern accent. Unfortunately, it no longer comes naturally {unless I’m very tired or very upset} and it seems odd to work on an accent at nearly 30. So instead of drawing out my vowels and slowing down my speech, I’ve devoted myself to other Southern endeavors, like mastering fried chicken, sweet tea, and teaching my girls to say ma’am and sir. One endeavor {which might be my favorite and easiest} is to subscribe to Southern Living. And while, I don’t always make their mouth-watering recipes, when I come a cross one that grabs me by the horns, I know it’s going to be a keeper.

Goat Cheese and Strawberry Grilled Cheese Sandwich

{photo credit}

The original recipe called for more ingredients than I had on hand, so I made a simplified version:

1/4-1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

2-3 strawberries, thinly sliced

2 pieces of bread

Place half of the goat cheese on a slice of bread. Layer with strawberries. Add remaining cheese. Grill on a lightly grease frying pan {or in your George Foreman, like me}, until cheese is melted. Cut in half. Enjoy!


I’ve experimented with other cheeses, and will say that goat cheese is the way to go. It’s tanginess mingles just perfectly with the sweet-tartness of the strawberries. It’s delicious!

What’s your favorite grilled cheese sandwich?

Visit Jill at Diaper Diaries for more Things I Love Thursday.


The idea of a monthly menu makes me giddy with excitement at not being forced to cook every day. To have that bewitching hour, in which my kids always go a little crazy, free to spend time with them instead of cooking. But honestly, the thought of cooking for a day {or two, or even three} makes me less than enthusiastic to try monthly meal planning.

When I was 8 months pregnant with Julia, my mom, Jonathan and I spent an entire day cooking meals to freeze for after Julia was born. By the end of the day, I felt, well like I had spent all day on my feet at 8 months pregnant. And I thought, “Never again”. So, couple that with my nervousness of spending a day cooking with two small children with no back up and you can see why I’ve never attempted it.

Until now.

I found a once a month cook book at Marshall’s. I flipped through it and realized how incredibly easy their menu planning was. And since the book was only $2.99 I figured I had little to loose. The meals I choose were very, very, very simple. Taking chicken, stuffing it in a freezer bag with some oils, juices, spices, ect., and freezing it. Then on the day you plan to use the meal, you take out the chicken, thaw, then bake. I made 8 meals in less than 30 minutes. Seriously. 30 minutes.

I found some amazing deals on meat at my world’s favorite store, HEB. In addition to the meals I made myself, I also scored awesome deals on prepackaged meats. HEB sells prepackaged fajita meats, along with other flavored chicken. They do “quick sales” in an attempt to get nearly expired meat out. It’s totally find, if you use/freeze it within the next day.

Sorry for the bad photo quality! If you can't see it, the meat was originally $6.09 and I got it for $2.43!

I also got some great deals on meatballs {buy the meatballs on sale, get free spaghetti sauce}. By the end, I had my entire month’s meals. I don’t know exactly what I spent on just the meals, since I bought our regular supply of milk, eggs, etc. In total, my bill was $145. Which is wonderful, since it covered all of January’s meals!

Here’s a look at some of the month’s menu:

Beef Stew


Lemon Chicken

Addictive Sweet Potatoes {I made a large batch of potatoes and bean and froze them in separate bags}


There are several other meals, but that’s just a quick overview. I have the schedule made out that we have a certain dish once every other week. I incorporated a one fish and one vegetarian meal a week, because that’s something our family typically strives towards.

Have you ever tried once a month cooking? What did you think?

Top Ten {Tuesday}Despite a heat wave putting a slight damper on the awesome fall weather, I’m still cooking like it feels like fall. I’m a big fan of soups {easy to make during naptime} and of course all the sweets I can eat. Or could eat. Here are some of my all time favorite recipes.

1. Maple Dijon Chicken – This is one of my personal favorites because of the sweet potatoes. It’s a great crock pot meal that is tender and juicy.

2. Baked Potato SoupI’ve been making this recipe for years and it’s amazingly simple {again a crock pot meal}.

3. Spicy Chicken Soup – Jonathan loves this soup. Add in cheese and serve with some hot rolls.

4. Cider Baked Butternut Squash Soup – I just made this for the first time two weeks ago. If you can get past the orange color, the taste is divine {I kid you not}.

5. Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich – A fall/winter staple for me. Easy, perfect for lunch and great with pepper jack cheese.

6. Beef Chili – Chili. Cold weather. Need I say more?

7. Easy Chicken and Dumplings – Nothing like Southern food made easy. Refrigerate biscuits as dumplings. Makes for good leftovers too!

8. Pasta Fagioli – This soup taste just like Olive Garden’s. Hmm… garlic bread sticks.

9. Apple Pie – Can’t make a fall food list without apple pie. I love apple pie. Which might explain my apple orchard obsession.

10. Pumpkin Bread – I use to think I didn’t like pumpkin. Oh, I was sorely mistaken. I LOVE pumpkin. Love. It. And pumpkin bread smothered in butter {or whipped cream} is mouth watering.

Visit Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

I poisoned a squirrel the other day. Hear me out before you immediately shun me as an animal hater. I’m not. Promise. I bought these really cute fall decorations that look like little berries:

Super cute, right?

Apparently, they must taste pretty good too, as I saw a squirrel eating them the other day. I shooed him away and decided to leave out walnuts in case he came back. And he did. But rather than eat the yummy walnuts {like his other squirrel friends did}, this little guy went right back for my styrofoam berries.

The next day I saw a dead squirrel at the end of our neighbor’s driveway. I am not totally certain it’s the same squirrel, but what if it is? Did I inadvertently kill a squirrel- that just so happened to be a baby? {Yeah, I forgot that part. I am a baby squirrel killer! I will never live that down.}

I decided to make amends and offer nuts up to the surviving squirrels. The girls and I picked up a big container of acorns at the park and put them in a dish on the front porch. I even went so far as to make it all cute and fally:

It even matches my fall decor.

Hopefully now I won’t poison any more squirrels with my oh-so-not green berries.

Top Ten {Tuesday} I’m hosting a natural soap giveaway, ending tonight {Tuesday, August 31}. I thought I’d share with you the top ten reasons to use all natural shampoo.

1. Methylisothiazoline, or MIT – Never heard of it? Well, it’s a chemical used in many shampoos that have been linked to neurological damage. Neurological damage. From a shampoo. Crazy.

2. Sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS – The second ingredient in PANTENE Pro-V shampoo is SLS. SLS just so happens to be a proven skin irritant. That we put in shampoo. Then put on our heads.

3. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose – A semisynthetic used as a lubricant in shampoo. Oh, and as a thickening agent. In food. Yum.

4. Mineral Oil – Mineral oil clogs your hair follicles, making the natural release of oils from your head stick to your roots, thus giving you that “oily hair” look {when in fact, your hair isn’t dirty}.

5. Fragrances – I do like me some good smelly stuff, but there is no real FDA regulation of what chemicals make up the fragrances in our shampoo. I don’t like smelly stuff more than my health, that I can tell you.

6. Artificial (Synthetic) Colors – Have allergies to food dyes? Did you know your shampoo has dye in it too? And most of these dyes are made up of coal tar, a known carcinogen.

7. It’s hard to go ‘poo free – Summer of 2008 I stopped using shampoo. {I just heard a collective “WHAT?!“} While it took my hair a while to get use to the change, I loved it. I stopped when I got pregnant with Hannah, because my hair went totally crazy and started falling out. I haven’t gone back to ‘poo free, just switched to all natural shampoos.

8. It’s nice to know what’s on your skin – Just like people want to trace their food from the farm, I like to know who and how my skin care products are made. Eco Natural Soap does a great job of showing you.

9. It’s affordable – A bar of shampoo from Eco Natural Soap is only $3, and when you follow their recommended storing method a bar will outlast a large bottle of chemical shampoo. For $3!

10. You have a chance to win 2 bars of soap and a body balm Want to try out all natural shampoo and soap? Well, here’s your chance to win 2 bars of soap and a body balm from Eco Natural Soap.

You only have until 11:59 CST TONIGHT {Tuesday, August 31} to sign up for your chance to win!

Visit Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

Thanks to Jonathan for setting up my mother’s corner, I have an entire sewing area to work on #2  on my 30 before 30 list, sew a dress. I started working on my first apron and many mistakes and thread later, I have a finished product:

{Notice I have flour all over it? Already getting good use out of it!}

I think it’s pretty cute. I got a big kick out of having an apron with an apron pattern. 🙂 Although, don’t look to closely at the seams. Let’s just say, I still haven’t mastered straight lines.

I’ve started on an apron for Julia and I’m hoping to be done later this week. I’m still not confident enough to even buy the fabric for my dress, but I did pick out some patterns from Hobby Lobby last week when they had McCall patterns for 99 cents. Maybe a few more aprons in and I’ll tackle the dress.

As part of my 30 before 30 I made a goal to sew a dress this year. Funny thing is, I can’t sew. Technically speaking I can. I’ve sewn buttons on shirts, sewn together holes in pockets. And once I made a hotsling with great assistance {read: I sat and watched while my friend made it for me}. But I can’t actually sew. I’ve never owned a sewing machine and the last time I made something on my own I was 12. Sewing my own dress is sounding more and more brilliant.

Earlier this year my friend Rachel gave me her old Singer. Tuesday morning I took the plunge and fired the bad mama up.

Oh, you thought when I said old I meant old as in from the last decade. Or even from the last 4 decades.  No, no my friends, this machine is a classic. And while it isn’t fancy, I actually quite love it.

It took me a while to figure out how to properly thread it. And after nearly an hour of doing what I thought seemed right, I had to call Rachel to come show me how it is really done:

I did a few practice runs to try it out. And you know what I learned? I can’t sew a straight line. Awesome.

But, I won’t let a little thing like straight lines hold me back. I’m pressing on! I’m taking the Windhamettes on an adventure to Hobby Lobby later today to buy pins and then I’m going to start on my first home ec project: sewing an apron. Rock on.

Visit Alicia at Alicia’s Homemaking for more Try New Adventures.

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