Friday, November 11, 2016

Fill Your Freezer - Meat

Meat is so expensive. As much as I'd love to cut down on meat and have more vegetarian meals, certain family members wouldn't go for that! So instead, I choose to always have my freezer stocked with sale and discount meat.

All of our discount meat is either 30% off from No Frills or 25% off from Wal Mart. The meat is usually discounted because it's been on the shelf for a few days and needs to be 'eaten' right away. I always check the date to make sure it's still good and then put it in the freezer as soon as I get home and we have never had the issue of meat going bad.

The next thing I love to do, which I am sharing right now because of the upcoming holiday season, is to stock up on sale meat around Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the time to fill your freezer with whole Turkeys and Hams!

Around the holidays whole turkeys are less than half price at around $0.90/lb in my area. This is cheaper than any other meat at regular or sales price. There is usually a limit of 2 per family/customer but since they are on sale at basically all the stores I really could get as many as I wanted. Usually 2 or 3 turkeys is enough for a few months anyways.

So far I have only bought a ham marked down after the holidays once but I'm definitely doing it again! I bought a HUGE delicious glazed ham for about $20 just after last Christmas and cut it into slices. I froze a few slices together in each freezer bag and pulled out ham when I needed a quick meat for dinner or even to fry up with breakfast over the next few months. That $20 ham must have done at least 10 meals.

Due to our recent move, my deep freezer is currently empty and unplugged at the old house and I just have use of my small fridge freezer. I have no idea how people without deep freezers survive! My fridge freezer is so full I can barely shut the door. Thankfully my deep freezer is being brought over soon because I am so excited to fill it with cheap meat over the holiday season. I am definitely most looking forward to a big breakfast with fried ham come the new year!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Clearance Groceries

I quickly stopped in at a local grocery store that I don't normally go to a few days ago. I usually don't go there because it's more expensive, however, I needed hamburger buns, had 3 babies that needed to get out of the house and it was within walking distance! While their regular prices are usually high, turns out they have good clearance prices. $2 well spent!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Frugal Moving Tips

We are currently in the process of packing up our house and moving out into the country and lately it's got me thinking a lot about costs.  I've heard people talk about how expensive moving is way too many times! While buying a new house is definitely expensive, so so expensive, many aspects of moving don't have to be. Today I am excited to share all the things that I am doing to try to make this move as inexpensive as possible.

Some of these may be common sense, but it's our third big move so far and it's the first time I've thought to do many of them!

Don't Buy Boxes

Buying boxes from somewhere like Home Depot will cost you around $1-$3.50 per box. This might not seem like much but if you have as much stuff as we do, that could add a few hundred dollars to your moving expenses. Instead, get yourself some free boxes!

Think Ahead - If you know you are going to be moving in a few months, save any cardboard boxes you get instead of recycling them. I have been doing this with diaper boxes for the last few months. With three kiddos in diapers right now, I've got quite a few diaper boxes laying around. If you don't have any kids in diapers, ask family members and friends who do to save their boxes for you.

Businesses - If you know anyone running their own business, ask them to save shipment boxes for you. Or even a friend working at a restaurant or grocery store could let you know when they have boxes available. If you don't know anyone, call around to stores. We got the boxes for our first move from a Tim Hortons down the road. Also, a friend recently told me that the LCBOs usually have boxes stored in the cupboards near the cash and one of our grocery stores keeps boxes piled near the checkout lines, free for taking.

Food Banks - Food banks often have boxes of food delivered from local grocery stores or food bank distribution centers. In some cases, it is easier for them to give the boxes away than have their volunteers put the time and effort into breaking them down and recycling them. This is where I got all my banana boxes for this move.

Online - Check the free sections of Kijiji or Craigslist, people whp have just moved often give their boxes away. You could even try posting a "Wanted" ad. Next, try writing a Facebook post looking for boxes. A friend may have just recently moved, or even just have some unused boxes sitting around waiting to be recycled.
Banana and Liquor boxes are the strongest!

Don't Use Boxes

Still having a hard time finding free boxes? Maybe it's time to consider not even using boxes... or at least using as few as possible.

Garbage Bags - Garbage bags are a cheap alternative at $0.10 each (depending on which brand you use) and can be used for a multitude of different items like stuffed toys, clothing, pillows, blankets, sheets, towels and so on. They can also squish into places that a big box might not fit, like the front seat of your car.

Suitcases - I have seen people leave their suitcases all stored one inside the other while moving and we've probably even done it ourselves. What a waste of space! Suitcases were literally designed for transporting clothes. This move our suitcases are all filled up with clothing for the new house. Since suitcases are fairly sturdy they could be filled with other non-fragile items, like shoes, as well.

Rubbermaid Bins - If you're going to be purchasing more rubbermaid and storage bins or organizing at your new place anyways than go ahead and stock up now. These are much sturdier than boxes and if you fill them with seasonal items, you probably won't even have to unpack once you get there.

Forget the Bubble Wrap

Linens - Things like blankets, towels and pillowcases have to be moved anyways, why not use them to wrap fragile items. I lined boxes with blankets for any glass items and put different items in
different layers.
This box is lined with a thick blanket since it will hold glass pans. 

Flyers - Save up the flyers before moving. If you get as many flyers as we do, a months worth should be plenty! These are a free, lightweight option for wrapping and protecting fragile items.

 Bags - Even plastic grocery bags make a good barrier for fragile items.

Forget the moving Truck

The need for, and cost of, a moving truck will depend on how far you move, how much stuff you have and what kind of deal you can find. Generally, if you are moving within the same city, it's more cost effective to skip out on the moving truck. 

Multiple Trips - Making multiple trips in your own vehicle is usually cheaper than paying for the gas and rental of a van or truck.

Friends - Gather up your friend. Know someone with a truck or trailer? See if they will help you out for the day. Make it worth their while with some free pizza at the end of the day. If you pile things right, you can fit a lot more than you might think in one pickup truck.

If you feel uncomfortable asking for free help, paying a friend for a few hours of their time is totally fair and still way cheaper than a rental. I don't know many people who aren't looking to make some easy money on the weekend.

Boxes make the best toys!

Between the closing fees, home insurance costs and the purchase and installation of a new woodstove, this new home isn't going to be cheap, but there's no way I'm going to let moving costs make it any worse! I'd rather save that money for new home decor... or at least for the supplies I'm going to need for all the DIY projects I plan on doing once we move!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Foster Baby Milestones - A bittersweet Moment

I love watching babies do all their 'firsts'. The first time that they roll over, smile, sit up, get their first teeth, crawl, say their first word. It is so adorable and so exciting. It's actually kind of embarrassing how excited I get, or is it all parents? It's like we don't know that essentially every other baby on the planet is also able to do the exact same thing at some point in their babyhood. As a foster parent, I not only get to watch my son hit all his milestones, but I get to experience double the excitement with our foster baby.

In the short six weeks that Baby has been here, we have seen him learn how to sit up on his own, learning to crawl, pop two teeth, and now stand up. Every time he does something new I yell for my husband and run for my camera. Of course, I usually miss it! Seeing him accomplish all these firsts makes me so happy. I am so happy that, despite everything going on in his life, he is developing properly and accomplishing all these 'normal' things. I am excited that I get to see them and I am so proud!

But, I am also sad. I am sad that I am the one witnessing these things happen instead of his Mom. I am sad that I'm the one taking videos and pictures instead of her. I am sad that when he grows up and asks about his first steps, his first words, she won't know. Or that her story won't be the true story. I am sad that, despite how badly she wants them back, she isn't doing everything required of her to get them.

I can not imagine missing my babies first anything. I can't imagine saying goodbye to my tiny toothless baby boy one afternoon and then having him show up to visit a few days later with two big white teeth sitting in the front of his mouth. I can't imagine not being the one to cuddle and sooth him through the pain of teething. I can't imagine not being there to experience the pure excitement and overwhelming joy of seeing him grab onto the crib rails and stand up by himself, for the very first time. I can't imagine missing the huge smile that crosses his face when he realizes that he is standing, by himself!

I am lucky to have double the fun watching both babies grow and develop. Each time Baby does something new we get excited, we cheer and congratulate him. It is a happy moment for him and it's exciting for us, but it's sad for Mom. The true definition of bittersweet.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Harvest 2016

So excited to start bringing in the produce from this years garden! I think this is my most productive year so far. The tomatoes are delicious, there are SO many green beans, we have had some HUGE turnips and my butternut squash are starting to look good. Seriously, how do people NOT have gardens??

I can't even express how cool it is to plant some seeds in the spring, water the garden a few times and then literally be able to walk in the back yard and choose fresh vegetables for dinner only a few months later.

I know some people avoid gardening altogether because of the work you have to put into it but honestly, once the garden is dug nature does most of the work. I for real only put a few hours into the garden this whole year. I planned it out on paper, a friend and I spent less than an hour planting, we watered it maybe 10 times and spent a combined total of (maybe) 2 hours weeding. And it still grew! It isn't perfect, but it grew!

And last summer my 6 month pregnant self put even less time in and still had a huge harvest. Seriously, the cucumbers and tomatoes were rotting on the vine because we couldn't eat them fast enough. Since I wasn't able to weed the whole summer or stake the plants, my garden was a mess, but it grew! You had to wade through the bean plants to find the cucumbers and the tomato plants were growing across the lawn, but it grew!

Gardening is definitely the best way to save money on food. You can clip as many coupons as you want but even $0.10 yogurts and $0.50 freezer pizzas can't compare to the abundance of (basically) free food that a few hours of gardening can give you!

If you have shied away from gardening in the past because of the amount of hard work you thought it requires, I am begging you to reconsider! It's never too early to start planning your garden for 2017.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Foster Care is HARD

If you follow me on  Instagram than you may have already seen part of this post, but I figured that there's no better way to start off a Foster Care page on the blog than with the blunt truth; Foster parenting is HARD!

I am so tired. So so tired. So tired of getting up 7+ times a night. So tired of changing 20+ diapers a day. Tired of dealing with 2 year old temper tantrums every time I say no. Of listening to 3 babies crying at the same time. Of stepping on soggy cheerios every 5 seconds. Of constantly responding to phone calls and emails from social workers. So tired of receiving false accusations and zero appreciation.

But you know what else I am tired of?

Children being neglected. Children being abused. Children being stuffed into group homes. Siblings being separated. Children being shuffled from one foster home to another and never feeling like they were loved. Tired of people refusing to foster because of the bad influence foster kids would have on their biological children. Tired of kids aging out of the system without ever finding a forever home. Tired of the stigma that goes with being a foster parent. Tired of hearing that all foster parents must do it for the money. Tired of the assumption that kids who have been in the system can never have a normal life. 

I am so tired. 

Three weeks today since these cuties arrived. We aren't sure how long they're going to be with us but I'm going to push through the exhaustion and continue to love them to the best of my ability for as long as it takes.


I don't want to scare anyone away from fostering, and I'm not saying you have to be an extremely emotionally stable, wise, patient, flawless, rich individual in order to be a good foster parent. In fact, I wish more people realized that they would make great candidates for foster parents! But, you should also know what you are getting into!

 Foster parenting is the hardest job that I have ever, and probably will ever have. Not only is it loud and stressful but it's also both emotionally and physically draining. Take care of a toddler is hard enough on its own. Dealing with a toddlers temper tantrum when a visit with Mom is cancelled at the last minute and he is brought back into your house is frustrating and also heartbreaking. Trying to understand the emotions and confusion that a 2 year is experiencing after a visit with a father that he hasn't seen or heard from in months, is next to impossible. 

Being informed that bio Mom believes you are abusing her children and wants to press charges, after you spend the entire night awake, caring for, rocking, cuddling and changing her sick baby, is definitely not for the weak hearted.  Foster parenting is full of moments of frustration, anger, impatience, hurt, betrayal, and exhaustion....

But then there's the moment when you sit down on the floor to clean up toys and the toddler hops onto your lap, cuddles you and then kisses you on the forehead. The moment that the baby gets back from a visit and his entire face breaks into a toothless smile the second he sees you. The moment you look up from your phone because you hear laughter and find the toddler laying with your 8 month old son, tickling him and blowing on his belly (see below). These are the kind of things that fill your heart with love and make you forget about the multiple tantrums, the yogurt on the floor, the legos scattered across the house and the never ending dirty diapers--if only for a moment!

Foster care is HARD, so so HARD --but it's also worth it. So so worth it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Beginnings

8 months and 17 days. 261 days. 6264 hours. 375,840 minutes. The amount of time since I have posted anything on this blog. Anyway that you look at it, its been a long time.

I have a lot of reasons (aka excuses) for why I have been absent. The best excuse, of course, is that our adorable little baby Eli Timothy Gilbert Larochelle was born on December 23rd, 2015 and I barely had time to shower for the first 6 months since then!

Once Eli calmed down around 6 months, I was ready to relax and take back some personal time.... but God had other plans! In July we took back our status as Foster Parents and I am currently "Mama" to 3 little guys under 2 years old!
Sorry about the quality! Getting 3 littles to sit still for 2 seconds is impossible!
Overall though, it really came down to insecurities. "I can't have a blog, I'm not a writter! Other than maybe a week in 2nd grade, I've never even wanted to be a writter" or "Everyone I know has a blog. I don't have anything new to say. Everything I'd write about has already been written, and written better, by someone else". 

The more I thought about it though, I realized "That's the fun of free internet blogs isn't it? Anyone can write about anything they want. Nobody has to read it f they don't want to". And so, I am back.

 I love being frugal and sharing my finds. Trying out DIY tutorials and sharing which ones actually work. Foster parenting and being open about how difficult it is! If this blog helps someone to save money on groceries, encourages someone to make something from scratch, sparks a desire for fostering in someones heart, great! If not, oh well, it gave me something to focus on for a few hours that didn't involve dirty diapers, legos, spit up or soggy cheerios! 

Check back because I've got 8 month worth of posts to make up for!