Posts Tagged ‘No Spend Challenge’

Day 17: Play Date Heaven

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I packed my coffee and a lunch for two. Emily and I headed over to my friend Jessica’s house for a fun play date and visit with our friends. Emily was pretty tired when she got home, but we made it home in time for…


Another play date with another great friend. I actually met my friend Renee (@ReneeCrabtree) through Twitter, if you can believe it. She was my first friend that I made virtually that I met up with in real life. She saw me tweeting about knitting and said she wanted to learn. I offered to have her over and teach her and we have been friends ever since. And her knitting? Amazing! She has been doing lace patterns and whipping up things I haven’t even dreamed of trying.

Best of all, she is a work-from-home momma and has two kids around the same age as my children. It is so good to have a friend who can understand the trials of working from home and juggling the children. I am very thankful for my friendship with her and look forward to our knitting dates more than I can say.

Good friends. Good coffee. Good yarn. What more can a girl ask for?

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!

Notebook Experiments: Can I Make Pretzels Like Auntie Anne’s?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Experiment: Can I make pretzels like Auntie Anne’s?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 01.29.09

Materials Needed: Please see maya made for the full instructions.

Results: Remember when I mentioned that I totally failed on a notebook experiment? Well, this is the experiment that I did not end up doing well.

I thought it would be fun (my husband would say ambitious) to make my hubby some heart-shaped pretzels for a special Valentine’s Day treat. One of his favorite things in the world is soft pretzels and I thought this would be a wonderful way to show him how much I loved him, particularly during our No Spend Challenge month. I mean, what says I love you more than baking for someone?

The first mistake I made was not using the recipe that maya made had used. I actually used this recipe and used my bread machine to make the dough instead of the stand mixer. The dough was difficult to roll out and kept balling back up together.

After finally maneuvering it into a heart shape, I then had to try and put them in the baking soda solution. My mistake, throwing in too many and leaving them in far too long. When I took them out, I started to wonder if it would have been better not to have put them in the solution.

I’m all like, what in the hay happened to these pretzels?
At this point, I keep pressing on. After mixing dough, shaping dough, dipping dough in baking soda solution, letting dough rise, and getting ready to bake them again there is no way in heck I was going to do that again. And my kitchen was the biggest disaster you have ever seen-flour everywhere, dirty pots and pans, baking soda spilled all over my stove. I was worried, but I was going to wrap up this horrible idea of a project.

Delicious? This picture might be deceiving!

I took the hot pretzels out of the oven. The bottoms were brown, the tops were still doughy. I stuck them back in for two more minutes and melted butter. Yup, another pan! I brushed the butter on top and ran one down to take a picture of it. It actually looked yummy! I gave my husband the first one and he devoured it. He ate a second. Maybe I was a success.

Then I took a bite and I literally spit it on my plate. It tasted like baking soda through and through. Meanwhile, Emily has happily ate almost the entire pretzel and then suddenly looks at me with utter disgust and hands her pretzel back to me. “I no like this, mommy.” I think the cinnamon and sugar threw her off from the disgusting taste.

I didn’t cry as I surveyed the damage in my kitchen and hurled the poor excuse for pretzels in my trash can. It is the thought that counts, perhaps, but I shall never think this thought again.

Conclusion: I will never ever make pretzels again. I will leave this task to the highly trained people at the mall and I will pay six dollars (or whatever outrageous amount is charged) to have someone else do this for me.

Call me lazy, but some things are better left to the professionals and this is one of those tasks I can’t see myself repeating.

If you have made pretzels before, please feel free to share your tips! What has been your biggest cooking disaster?

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!
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I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Wednesday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster’s blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can’t wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

Day 16: Playing in the Kitchen

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009




While Emily played with some of her homemade play dough, I worked on making dinner and tidying the house. Of course, there is no fun in having a meal and not sharing it with someone else so I called my parents to see if they would like to join us for dinner. I worked on making my Rotini with Turkey Meatballs, garlic bread, and even managed to make some Oatmeal Muffins (still testing recipes, but I promise to share a really good one when I find it!)

They were so excited to get to spend time with their grandchildren and we looked forward to sharing a meal with them. Sometimes the days feel longer without me running around so much and having some company during the evening helps to break up the length of the day. Best of all, we can spend as much time as we want together while relaxing in our own home. No waiter to give us the boot and I won’t even ask for tips!

This No Spend Challenge just gets better and better.

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!

Day 15: Birthday Parties Without Spending a Dime

Monday, February 16th, 2009


We received a birthday party invitation this month and I was a little worried what we could offer to the birthday girl. I am always thankful for my small stash in our gift closet when times like these arise, and headed straight to my closet for this occasion.

In the stash of gifts, I found a book, a few homemade hair bows, and a cute little iron-on transfer for a t-shirt to give her. If I had been more ambitious that morning, I would have definitely made a container of play dough, but my time was limited that day.

The kids had an amazing time at the party and our hostess provided pizza and cake which was a special treat for the kids. The children played until they were near exhaustion and I heard barely a peep on our way home. Sweet quiet!

I now realize that I don’t need to go so overboard with party gifts and that my simple gifts can be just as much appreciated.

Day 14: A No Spend Valentine’s Day Celebration

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

I will admit that I really did not feel like cooking this Valentine’s Day. I spent the entire day working on a Notebook Experiment (which I will share with you on Wednesday and which I failed miserably at) and I was tired of cooking and cleaning up the kitchen.

I really didn’t want to eat out of the pantry though so I threw the ingredients in the bread machine to make my pizza dough and cut all of the little pepperonis into hearts to make the kids smile.

I called the kids to the table and no one commented on the hearts.

“Ethan, look! Mommy made hearts for you & sissy for Valentine’s Day? Do you see them? Aren’t those cool! It’s because I love you so much!”

He started to smile and then pointed to one on the pizza, “That one isn’t cut right. It looks like a circle.”

Regardless, they all enjoyed the homemade pizza and then we spent the evening playing on the Wii together as a family. The rest of the evening was spent sacking out on the couch with my sweetie and savoring those quiet moments after the kids go to bed.

Maybe we will go out next year… or maybe we will do this same exact thing again, minus the cooking marathon!

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!

Day 13: Giving To Others When You Have Little To Give

Saturday, February 14th, 2009


Do you ever feel like you can make very little impact on someone because you don’t have the money to do it? I can admit that I feel that way often. There are so many around me that are affected by job loss, medical problems, and depression. Many times I feel so helpless to these situations because I don’t have the financial means or connections to help someone out of these situations. It has been weighing very heavy on my heart these days.

I had planned to make a meal for a girlfriend who just had a new baby. It is such a joy to get to bring a meal to a new momma and know that I helped make her day a little easier. Our mom’s group provides meals to new moms and I try to sign up as often as I can because it is one thing that I feel so good about doing and nothing brings me more pride than cooking for others.


When I got home, I was tired. It was a long day of running around, returning email after email, and fielding phone calls. I put on a pot of soup for our supper and heard a knock at our door. It was my neighbor and she had come over to see if Ethan wanted to come over and play. The children immediately made themselves at home in my house and I told her to head home and they could play here instead.

As she stood in my kitchen she said to me, “Wow, something smells so good!” While the kids played, I hurried up to make the soup and put it in a jar to run over to her house. She was so surprised and thankful and it was a great reminder to me.

You don’t have to have a lot to make a positive impact on someone else. What seemed like a small gesture to me means a lot more to someone than you might think.

We are so hurried, so busy, so tired. I know I often feel like I have nothing to give anyone. I realize now that a woman of small means can still give with her whole heart and make a big difference to someone else.

Day 12: Shopping Day is Finally Here

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I never did use my free coffee coupon at the airport and decided to save it as my reward for good grocery shopping. I love to give myself a little reward for staying on budget. It is usually a giant Diet Coke for a $1 at McDonald’s, but I thought I would use my coupon instead and stay true to the challenge.

The grocery shopping took much longer than I had anticipated though so once again I find this coupon is still waiting for me for when I need a little pick-me-up.

I budgeted $250 for groceries and I spent $219, leaving me just enough for our milk money for the rest of the month. I tried to cash on the coupons that I have been hording for a rainy day. I hope that we can stay on budget and I can prove to myself that with good discipline and thoughtfulness that we can put away more money than we thought.

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!

Notebook Experiment & No Spend Day 11: Be My Valentine

Thursday, February 12th, 2009


Due to the MomAdvice Simplified podcast airing on Thursdays, I am going to be moving our Notebook Entry and Notebook Experiments to Wednesdays instead. I hope you will understand and will come back on Wednesday for these entries. Thank you so much for your patience!
Experiment: Can we craft up some Valentines?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 02.12.09

Materials Needed: Please see the long thread for the full instructions.

Results: Today’s Notebook Experiment & No Spend Challenge picture are one and the same. Since we are not spending money this month, we have had to get creative with our Valentine’s this year and are making them at home.

I loved the round-up of cute homemade Valentine’s on the long thread and we decided to download and print the ones that she made available on her site. Unfortunately, we don’t have a color printer so they are not nearly as cute, but they were free, which makes them the best kind of little love notes in the world.

Conclusion: This was a fun and free activity that I could do with the kids. Ethan is so excited to give them to his friends and I am so happy that we saved some money in the process. Thanks to the long thread for sharing such a sweet and fun little template!

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!
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I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Wednesday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster’s blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can’t wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

No Spend Challenge Day 10: Caring For What I Already Own

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Yesterday I escaped the house and avoided all of the things I needed to do. Today, I began to tackle the mounting projects that have been looming. I whipped open the windows to circulate some fresh air into the house, tackled a few spring cleaning items, and tried to get our house back into shape. There is still much to do, but I got a good start on things.

I will admit it, normally I would have left to escape. Not necessarily to shop, but definitely to do something to get away. The No Spend Challenge has brought to light the fact that many of the busy things I do are just that… busy things. With no reason to spend, I can focus on taking care of the things I already possess. That is a good feeling!

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!

No Spend Challenge 9: Opening Pandora’s Box

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

The laundry is laying in piles. The suitcase left unpacked. The bills lay in a stack. Do I address any of them today? Nope! I am sitting at my computer trying to play catch-up since I didn’t have my weekend time to work.

I headed to my best friend’s house this evening and left all the piles and to-dos for another day. She made me an amazing dinner that I didn’t have to prepare. The kids played, we sipped coffee, and I knitted a little. Our children ran around until their cheeks were pink and they were sweaty and out of breath. And we sat at her kitchen table and gabbed until bedtime.

I headed home to do my work and put on my favorite free radio station- Pandora. This is a picture of what it looks like on my computer. Can you guess which radio station is my husband’s in this shot? I bet it will make you giggle! He might murder me for pointing it out, but I can’t resist!

A little catch up, a little Adele, a little quiet. The best things in life truly are free!

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Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.

To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!