Archive for April, 2008

I made my 72-hour and emergency car kits today.  Yeah!  This is a picture of my car kit.  Jumper cables, hand sanitizer, and a flashlight are already in my car.  In this picture, you see the following items:

  • backpack
  • list of items in pack, along with date the items were last replenished/replaced
  • bottled water
  • heating packs (to keep you warm)
  • first aid kit, duct tape, pocket knife, and ibuprofin
  • tissue, ponchos, silver emergency blankets
  • glow sticks
  • granola bars

To learn more about emergency kits, I watched videos on YouTube, and did an online questionaire on www.shelfreliance.com.  After making a list of what I needed (for basic kits), I went to Target, Academy, Wal-Mart, 3 Goodwill stores, and REI.  A pleasant surprise at REI was that I had a dividend that I hadn’t used yet.  I put the items for my car kit in a backpack that I found at Goodwill.  My 72-hour kit (for 2 adults) is in a large duffel bag from my closet.

Instead of using 2300 calorie bars for food, I used granola bars in the car kit and a variety of food that we would actually eat in the 72-hour kit.  Here are some of the items in my 72-hour kit:

  • peanut butter singles
  • corn singles
  • chopped carrots singles
  • oatmeal cups
  • pudding cups
  • Spam singles
  • granola bars
  • individual meals – turkey and pasta, beef and potatoes, etc. (heat 90 seconds in microwave)
  • ponchos,emergency blankets (the silver ones), and a flashlight
  • bottled water
  • first aid kit, waterproof matches, and a pocket knife
  • silverware packets and a mess kit
  • toothpaste and toothbrushes

I’m considering adding clothing, baby formula/bottles/pacifiers (for others, not us), and additional items to the 72-hour kit, but I’m still thinking about it.  As my husband said, “We’re more prepared than we were before.”  As for the shelf life of the food, we plan to make a meal of items as they get close to their expiration dates next year.  Then, if they taste good, we’ll add more to the kit.

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Here is my menu for the week of April 28:


  • Cumin-rubbed pork roast
  • Four-Cheese Lasagna Hamburger Helper


  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Spaghetti

Can you tell that I’m drawing a blank on menu choices this week?  I borrowed 3 cookbooks from the library, but I haven’t looked through them much yet.  I do have plans to bake some banana muffins and blueberry bran muffins.  I bought 6 eggs Saturday (I don’t normally keep eggs unless I plan to bake).  After that, I went back to the store for cocoa and chocolate chips.  I’ve made brownies twice.  Yes, I know they’re not the best thing for my diet!

For more menu ideas, see orgjunkie.com

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This weekend, I embarked on a journey that I don’t normally take:  scrapbooking.  Last year, I made a portfolio with a few scrapbooked pages.  This year, I decided to get a bit fancier.  

I printed out 100 photos (color printer on regular printer paper) at 6 photos per page.  After cutting out each picture, I sorted them by activity/type of photo.  Then, I cut around each photo with fancy-shaped scissors (each group of photos had a different border cut around them).  That’s when things really got messy! (see photos below)

To be frugal, I only purchased double-sided tape dispensers ($4) from the dollar store, as well as some embellishment stickers from the dollar store and Wal-Mart ($5).  Shopping at home, I used my own fancy scissors, personal supply of colored paper, and some sheet protectors that I already had.  I plan to put the sheet-protected scrapbook pages in a binder (I already have one).  I might also add some student work samples, but I’m not sure yet.

I want to add that the pictures below are only of classroom displays and student work.  The majority of my portfolio pages featured my students, but I cannot show their images online for privacy reasons.  I will say that their pages turned out great!


You can see the mess from cutting a pretty border on each picture.  Each pair of scissors on the left side of the table is on top of a group of pictures that have the same border as that pair of scissors.  By keeping the group of photos with the scissors, I was able to make additional trimmings without searching for the same scissor design.


Here’s a close up of one group of photos.  These are of bulletin boards, posters, photos of my classroom bookshelves, and photos of student work.


On the left are some scrapbook pages that are in progress.  I’ve already matted the photos and made space for journaling.  On the right, you can see the scrapbooking book that I picked up at Half Price Books (Teach Yourself Visually:  Scrapbooking by Rebecca Ludens and Jennifer Schmidt).  You can also see the mess of paper that I was using for matting and background pages.

Why are my sewing machine and pins still on the table?  I had enough room to work on my scrapbook, so I just left them there.  Actually, I started scrapbooking on top of a sewing project (a blouse) that was in progress.


Here is a close-up of four pages.  I put a yellow strip of paper vertically on the inside edges, so that there will be a continuation across pages when they are put together in a binder.


This is my sometimes friend, the double-sided tape dispenser.  I got 4 of them for $1 each at the dollar store.  Hobby Lobby had them in a package of 3 for $8.  In the picture above, you can see that the dispenser can put out one piece of tape at a time or several pieces in a row.  It definitely beats using a traditional double-sided tape dispenser.  After I ran out of my pink tape dispensers (after 2 trips to the dollar store that sold the dispensers, not counting the other 2 stores that I went to, which did not sell them), I used glue for the rest of my work.


What a mess!  The blue curly tape is the innards of a double-sided tape dispenser.  After one ran out, I went back along the tape and pulled off any pieces of tape that were left.  In this photo, you can also see the variety of embellishment stickers that I purchased at the dollar store and Wal-Mart for $5.


This photo and the one below are finished pages.  Above left are photos of how I organize books in my classroom.  I have labeled baskets (yes, I have a sticker to label the basket category on each book), such as chapter book series, favorite authors, poetry, etc.  I got the ideas from Beth Newingham’s website.  On the right, I have pictures of how we do vocabulary on the walls.  For each word, we include a definition and a picture/example.


On the left are photos of some of my hallway bulletin boards from this year.  The upper-left photo is of my students’ opinions about a question related to a Time For Kids magazine article.  The middle photo was from December and January, when my students wrote descriptive paragraphs (excerpts from essays) on mittens and winter hats.  The bottom picture is of my students compositions.  They always write their final (published) copies on fancy computer paper (from the dollar store).  It makes them look extra snazzy.

On the right-hand page, I have photos of my gallon guy and fraction friend posters, class jobs display (Each student is assigned a number for the year.  Each job has a tongue depressor with a number on it.  Every week, I rotate the tongue depressors to another spot on the job board.  I use library book envelopes to hold the tongue depressors.  

At the bottom of the right-hand page is a picture of how we store our math, science, social studies, and reading folders/spirals.  Each student has a box with their number on it.  This way, there is some space cleared up in their desks.  Plus, if I need to look at their work after school, I don’t have to dig through their desks.  Before we had individual boxes, we tried putting all of the math folders in a box together, and so forth for the other subjects.  That got too crazy when people all went at once to get their folder.  To further help organize, each subject’s folder is a specific color.  Math is red, reading is blue, social studies is yellow, and science is green.  

Writing binders are stored in a separate box, with each student’s number written on the binding, so the binders can be stood up next to each other in order.  To make the binder box at the beginning of the year, I asked an employee at a large retail store for 2 empty binder boxes.  I glued the 2 boxes side by side and covered the outside with butcher paper.  I keep all of the boxes (folder and binder storage) under the chalkboard rail at the front of my classroom.


Well, that’s it for scrapbooking and classroom organization!  I had a great time getting crafty all weekend.  Now, I have to go purchase my groceries for the week.  At least the lines at the grocery store shouldn’t be so bad, now that it’s later in the day (on a weekend).  

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Last week, I tried to cook throughout the week, instead of cooking everything at once on Sunday, because our food had not been so fresh by the time we got around to eating it all at the end of the week.  It was so stressful to cook after work!  Cooking was the last thing I wanted to do!  Still, I’m willing to try another week of cooking every few days.  I’ve simplified my menu to easy things to cook (more comfort food than anything).  

Here is my menu for the week of April 21:

  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Pizza
  • Chicken fajitas
Lunches will most likely be sandwiches, although I’ll try to eat some leftovers at least a few times.  I’m getting sick of sandwiches!
For more menu ideas, see orgjunkie.com.

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Organizing Coupons

I’ve tried several methods of organizing my coupons.  A store-bought coupon-specific organizer didn’t work, because I couldn’t view the coupons.  Plus the organizer’s categories didn’t match my personal categories.  It made it difficult to filter out coupons when you wanted to see what you had at the store (shuffle, shuffle, shuffle every time to get to a new product that you might want to get).  It was also difficult to find out if they had expired, because you had to shuffle through each one.

I went to a dollar store and purchased a small photo album that would hold about 20-30 photos.  It seemed to work for coupons, because I could seen them, but their wasn’t enough room in the album for all of my photos.  I was having to fold the coupons to fit two to a sleeve, which didn’t allow you to view all of the important information that you needed to see on the coupons.

I went back to the dollar store and purchased a larger photo album that would hold 100 photos.  This way, I had a separate sleeve for each coupon, which was great because I’d often get two different coupon deals for the same item.  The  see-through sleeves were great, because I was able to view the product picture, expiration date, and coupon deal.  (I know that some savvy coupon-cutting ladies use a 3-ring binder with baseball card sleeves, but that’s a bit too big for me right now.  I’m still learning how to use coupons effectively, and I’m only purchasing food for two people.  I’m sure that if I eventually fill up my 100-photo album with coupons, I’ll be out looking for a bigger organizer!)

Here are some pictures of my coupon organizer.

You can see that the photo album is about the length of a pen.  It’s a good size for carrying around the grocery store.  I usually put my grocery list in the first sleeve of the album, so my list is very easy to refer to in the store.  (I divide my shopping list into quadrants according to item locations in the store.  I have 6 boxes on my list:  produce, deli, meats, groceries, dairy, and pharmacy.  If an item on my list has a coupon, I put a circled ‘c’ next to the item.)

Here, I have two coupon deals for cereal on facing pages.  On the left, you save $1 on 2.  On the right, you save $1 on 3.

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Yesterday, I was so hungry!  It seemed that I was eating every 2-3 hours!  Here’s a rundown of what I had to eat:

  • Breakfast:  english muffin with peanut butter and skim milk
  • Snacks (spread out):  yogurt, banana, snack bar
  • Lunch:  turkey sandwich and an apple
  • Dinner:  leftover steak, sourdough bread, broccoli, orange peppers, and onions
  • Snacks (spread out):  peanut butter and jelly sandwich, skim milk, banana
  • Sweets (throughout the day):  3 small chocolates and about 8 peanut M&M’s

I know that I could have added a salad or even more vegetables to help with the hunger.  I may have had some baby carrots, but I don’t remember.

On the way home from work, I was craving a smoothie.  I wanted to stay frugal and not stop at a smoothie shop, plus I wasn’t sure of the exact location of one.  I didn’t have ice at home and I also did not want to clean the blender.  That’s why I didn’t have a smoothie and ended up eating dinner early, instead of snacking, which led me to eat a sandwich, milk, and fruit later that evening.

Anyways, when I was cutting strawberries for a salad, I decided to make some smoothie “kits.”  I put sliced strawberries and bananas with a bit of water in two tupperware containers.  Then, I froze them.  When I’m ready for a smoothie, I’ll put the frozen fruit with some orange or apple juice (I might add protein powder and flax oil as well) in the blender.  Yum!  Here’s a picture of the smoothie “kits.”

To make smoothie kits:  Slice strawberries and bananas.  Add a bit of water.  Freeze.  To make a smoothie, add the frozen fruit with orange or apple juice to a blender and blend!  You can also add protein powder (I like vanilla) and flax oil (for muscle soreness).

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Deseret News has a great article called 101 Ways to Stretch Your Food Dollars.  Click HERE to read the article.

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Here are two recipes that were requested in comments from the April 14 Menu Plan Monday Post.

Cumin-Rubbed Pork Roast

Adapted from Chris Carmichael’s Fitness Cookbook.  (Chris Carmichael was Lance Armstrong’s coach and trainer.)


  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 minced garlic cloves (1 tsp from jar)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt (I use reduced-sodium salt)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Rub on all sides of a 1 pound lean pork loin.  Put the pork loin on a baking sheet at bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees.  I take it out of the oven when it is 156 degrees on the thermometer.  Medium is 160 degrees and medium-well is 170 degrees.

Lemon Rice

Adapted from Light and Tasty Magazine, Dec/Jan 2005

For 4 servings:

Boil 1 cup chicken broth (reduced-sodium) or water

Add 1 cup quick-cook brown rice

Cover and cook according to package directions (my rice cooks for about 10 minutes)

When the rice is cooked (water absorbed), remove from heat.  Add lemon juice (a few squirts from a bottle) and black pepper.

*The original recipe calls for 3 cups broth, 1-1/3 cups uncooked long-grain rice, 1 can (4-1/2 oz) chopped green chilies, 3/4 tsp salt, 1tbsp each minced fresh parsley, cilantro, and chives, 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

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Last week, I cooked the entire week’s dinners on Sunday.  We ate leftovers for lunch today and we still have pasta left!

I went ahead and made a menu and purchased groceries, although I haven’t prepared any new dishes yet.  In fact, I haven’t even cleaned my pots from last week!  My husband has been awesome, because he has been washing everything that can go in the dishwasher (the pots must be hand-washed).

This week, I’m going to try to spread out cooking dinners to at least two different days.  That way, the food will be fresher.

Here is the menu for the week of April 14:

Lunches will be sandwiches.


  • Cumin-rubbed pork roast, lemon rice, and strawberry-mozzarella salad
  • Turkey casserole
  • Chicken fajitas with caramelized onions
  • Shrimp with lemon rice
For more menu ideas, check on orgjunkie.com.

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Today, I rode my bike for 30 minutes around my neighborhood.  I rode right past my church at about 8:30 A.M., finished my ride and arrived home, showered, ate breakfast, and drove my car right back to church by 9:45 A.M.!

As I rode up and down small hills in my neighborhood today, I contemplated a lady’s triathlon that will be held south of town in the middle of May.  On my very first triathlon, I completed a different race that used the exact same course.  I was using a borrowed street/mountain bike, so the hills were very difficult.  They were also quite frightening, because I was ready to walk my bike on the way up, and praying that I wouldn’t hit a bump and fall on the way down.  

That race course has been on my mind recently.  I would like to try a super-sprint (shorter run) triathlon in May, and the lady’s race is a close location (so packet pickup won’t be an inconvenience).  The only things holding me back are those hills…

I keep reminding myself that I now have a proper bike, I’ve done a few triathlons, and I survived that initial race on the hilly course.  Plus, I’ve gotten better at tackling hills in general.  I am a bit concerned about my endurance, because I didn’t exercise much over the winter (back injury).

Advice, anyone?  Encouragement?

I know that I’ll probably end up registering for the race (this is the last week to sign up without raised fees), but I just want to feel more motivated/excited and less concerned.

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I finally got back into sewing again this weekend.  I’ve been putting it off, probably because I’ve been tired.  I guess that I can blame my laziness on allergies.

Anyways, I completed the second blue shirt.  If you remember the first blue shirt (see Sewing Saturday – February 23 and Sewing Saturday – March 22), it did not fit properly.  The neckline was too big.  I had to pin it to my bra, which was a bit difficult, especially when my eyes began to cross.

I modified the neck pattern pieces by shortening them at both ends.  This took in the neckline at the center front/back, as well as the shoulders.  The second blue top fits much better now.

As you can see in the picture above, the neckline of the first shirt (left) is much larger than that of the new one (right).  I tried on both shirts tonight.  The neckline of the old one was falling off of my shoulders.  I’m so glad that I altered the pattern and made a new shirt.  The fabric and colors were great.  The style of the shirt was wonderful, too.  All it needed was a smaller neckline.

What have you been sewing lately? Add your link into Mr. Linky below.  Make sure to mention http://www.learningtobefrugal.wordpress.com in your post.  When you’re done, check out the Mr. Linky site.

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Today, I walked/hiked 3 miles at a local state park.  Luckily, the rain held off, so there was humid, cloudy weather, which wasn’t too hot for hiking.  After work, I went jogging 20 minutes before going up to church for dinner and handbells.  Believe it or not, after I got home, I ended up going for a walk again (slowly this time).  In all, I’d say I covered about 5 miles today.

I’ve definitely earned tomorrow’s rest day!

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