Freebie Friday!

file000845666076

This week, there are a bunch of cool freebies and deals. I’m digging all of the free Magazine subscriptions!

Samples:

Magazine Subscriptions:

In-store Events/Freebies:

Deals:

 

Mid-Year Hustle Update

file000520067405.jpg

It’s June- The middle of the year, time to review how much I’ve made on my side hustles so far this year. To be fair, I did just complete a semester of college, so it’s probably not as much as I could have been making.

I’ve only included the hustles I’ve made money with in 2019. A complete list of all my money making hustles can be found here.

Radial Insight So far in 2019, I’ve earned a little over $25 in Amazon GC (which is my preferred method of payment, besides cold, hard cash)

PaidViewPoint– $33 via Paypal, plus I’ve done 2 studies where they send me a product to try out and fill out a survey about.

Field Agent $120.30 (via EFT) to date! This is one of my favorites. You choose the tasks you wish to do, and you can do as many as you are able to complete.

SBKC $50 via online Visa GC. I’ve been doing this for one for about 9 or so years. It’s dead simple.

Focus Groups $300 I’ve only done two this year, but I’m scheduled for one next Friday that pay $200!

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk  I really need to do more of these tasks- $10 in Amazon GC total.

Mypoints  $75 in various gift cards and Paypal payouts. I do 99% of my online shopping through Mypoints.

Misc. surveys $340. Here are a few of the survey companies I use: InBox Dollars, Reward Survey, Survey JunkieVIP Voice.

Swagbucks– $10 Amazon GC I don’t use Swagbucks as much as I used to. They have tons of surveys to do to earn points.

And from my list of Money Saving Apps:

So, my total for the year to date is: $1073.30. I use this money to pay for activities with the kids, special treats, and date nights.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your side hustles!

Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m done with college! Now I’m back to all of my frugal habits, I’m no longer even more pressed for time. I’m stoked to be able to get back into my groove of cooking healthy food, exercising, and keeping up with the kiddos!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

This weeks meal planning goal is to eat up what we’ve got in the pantry. I’m finishing the pantry inventory this morning after my coffee. I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Chicken Soup (using the roasted chicken I made the other night)
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti (I’ve been buying this kind because it’s high in protein) with bolognese sauce, steamed veggies
  • Wednesday: Madras Lentils, riced cauliflower
  • Thursday: Nugget Night! The big kid is a vegetarian, so I make him Chick’n nuggets, and the rest of us have chicken nuggets or another variety of meatless nuggets. The Buffalo Chick’n nuggets are popular among the grown-ups. I serve carrot sticks, and apple slices on the side.
  • Friday: Homemade Pizza Night- I’ll be making a few extra crusts to toss into the freezer.
  • Saturday: Burgers- We’ve got a bunch of meatless burgers floating around the freezer. The kids will probably have the Veggie Burgers from the 99 Cent Store (Chef Ernesto- they are like potato cakes with other veggies in them- they are super good with cheese and salsa) or grilled cheese. Served with applesauce- we have tons of it.
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Oh, and I’m making cookies this week! These cookies to be precise!

Eating Healthy on a Budget: It Can Be Done!

f40fab9210aee93a83df63133f5de09bSunday Night I went to the grocery store to pick up milk, bread, and a few other things.

I spent $42 and it was not all that much stuff. While I was waiting in line, the lady behind me in line was going through her coupons, and her grocery list. We got to talking, I showed her the store app, where she was able to find a few more coupons. We started talking about how expensive it was to eat healthy, and I confessed to her that this was not my weekly shopping trip, I was just picking up stuff that I only buy at Food4Less:

  • Milk (it’s cheapest at FFL),
  • A specific kind of higher protein bread (it’s the cheapest place to buy this type of bread and has no High Fructose Syrup),
  • A specific kind of popscicles
  • 5 lb bag of bananas (cheapest place to buy that many bananas)
f834221cdcc1ced5355d01adda45f107.jpg
This doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

And I picked up a few other misc. things that we needed and were on sale (cheese, oranges, and a 5 lb. bag of Gala apples), and a 2 liter of diet Cherry Pepsi and a jar of maraschino cherries (Mama needs a cocktail sometimes, OK?).

She asked about my grocery budget and where I shop the rest of the time. I told her my shopping strategy, after I make my grocery list:

My Top Ten Deals at 99 Cents Only– Start there for fresh produce. Salad, carrots, celery, berries, pineapples, zucchini, squash (all kinds), onions, potatoes are all types of produce that are regularly stocked. They usually have other interesting seasonally available produce too. They also have great sauces, condiments, herbs and spice blends.

Keep a Price Book- I know the best place to buy Milk, cheese, bread, and butter. I keep my price book in my phone now, but I used to use a little spiral bound notebook that lived in my purse.

Stock up on food that you will eat frequently when it does on sale. I’m not talking about fresh produce that can’t be kept (like lettuce), but if you find a good deal on strawberries, for example, chop and freeze some for smoothies or baking, make fruit leather, or dry some (they are really tasty dehydrated). Bread can be frozen, so can butter! Canned goods, shelf stable foods are perfect for stocking up. I also like stocking up on chicken when it’s on sale. I can butcher a whole chicken in a few minutes, and I frequently will break up large packages of chicken breasts into meal sized portions, season them, and put them into the freezer. Learn more about meal prep here.

For our family, meal prep and meal planning saves us a lot of time and money. There are always multiple choices for each meal at our finger tips, so the allure of getting food from take-away is gone. I always have a batch of pizza dough in the freezer too! I make two batches once a week- one for the freezer, and one to go in the fridge that gets used within 1-2 days of making.

Use Cashback/Couponing Apps. Here is the list I use frequently.

Here is an article I wrote a few years ago that has more tips on how to get “Extreme” savings without being an “Extreme Couponer” (which by the way isn’t even possible anymore thanks to that stupid TLC show and coupon abuse).

It doesn’t matter what your food budget is, you can still eat well! It may take a little prep work each week, but the health of your family is worth it, right?

If you are on a very tight budget or are facing food insecurity, here is a list of San Diego based food resources that offer healthy food.

Family Binder: Important Info at Your Fingertips

The other day I was talking to a friend about how we store all of our information now that my computer is on the fritz/being repaired.

I mean, Most people have everything stored on their computer or on the cloud/external drive, which is great, but if your computer goes out… Are you really going to access everything via your smartphone? That was my plan originally, but after like.. oh, say 8 hours of that, I posted on Facebook, asking my friends if anyone had a spare computer or laptop I could borrow. Because don’t you know it, the computer died… 2 days before school started. When I was taking an ONLINE CLASS!!

My friends Michael and Amanda are generously loaning me their laptop, and it’s much easier to do homework and write.

IMG_3895So, how to store all the important stuff… I’m bringing back The Family Binder. It’s a 3 inch binder, with section dividers, heavy weight page protectors, and plastic folders. We’ve has one for a long time, and as we moved more to paperless bills, it got used a lot less, and became a good way of storing a copy of our monthly budget, important papers, passwords (so many passwords, you guys!).

As you can see I’ve decorated the front of the binder with photos, the Brandon Bird SVU Valentine’s Day card Mr. Husband got for me years back, sonograms of the kiddos. You can make it as plain or fancy as you’d like.

IMG_3901I use some of the pages from the household notebook section of Organized Home.  I love the holiday printables from Organized Home the best. I’ve been using them since 2010, and they really help us stay on budget and keep track of all of the shenanigans that the holidays bring!

Additionally, I have extra sections for vacation planning, important papers (marriage license, vaccination records, copies of prescriptions/ list of all of our medications, birth certificates, kids social security cards, insurance id cards/policy information, and a copy of the deed to our home), and vehicle maintenance. IMG_3896I have a folder tucked in the front pocket of the binder for the big kids educational/medical stuff like his most recent IEP, Regional Center correspondence, and copies of his medical diagnostic paperwork.

I know a lot of you are reading this thinking that most of this information can be accessed online or via your smartphone, but think about when you will most likely need to access this binder… In an emergency. Not the time you want to drain the battery on your phone trying to figure out what your homeowners insurance policy number is, or your insurance agents phone number.  I also keep notebook paper in the back, in case of an emergency. If nothing else, it’ll keep the kids entertained!

If you want to make your own Family Binder, you can put as much work into it as you’d like. I made ours while I was pregnant and nesting with the big kid. So I went to town with with laminating sheets, scrapbooking stickers, decals, paper, and all kinds of doo-dads. I even made a family binder for my Sister-in-Law and her husband when they got married.  Just make sure that you store extra empty page protectors in the back- you never know when you’ll need to add more information!

I keep ours in a safe, easily accessible location, in case we need to leave the house. Living in San Diego County, it will most likely be a wild fire that causes us to leave home. We live too far inland and up high enough where rising flood/excessive rain water won’t touch us.

Talk back: If you have a family binder, I’d love for you to share photos in the comments or post pics on Instagram and tag me: @hewesfamilyfun  using #familybinder.

 

First Week of College, and Beyond!

b6f6f1732d17e562c91f423e089bd0b7

I survived the first week of college! After ::cough 17 years cough:: a long time, it’s quite an adjustment getting back into the swing of studying, doing homework, and all of the other things that go into being a mom, wife, blogger/Influencer, and special needs advocate for my big kiddo.

I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me, and the family adjust to the change.  It’s just two classes, but that’s 10-12 hours a week of studying, reading, and homework outside the classroom, and that time comes out of the time I previously spent with the kids, working on the blog/social media, petting the cat, ya know, mom stuff.

Bitty is now going to preschool two days a week. Our city’s Parks and Rec department has a drop off preschool two days a week. It’s approximately $150 for 8 weeks, which is a great price, and she is in a class with 13 other kiddos her age, several of them she knows from her daily visits to the local YMCA Child Watch. While she is at preschool, I have three hours to work on school work. It’s amazing to be able to read and work on my homework in peace. If you need a few hours to get work done, check your local Parks and Rec department for this type of preschool.

Family: As someone who has family nearby, having my family able to help out with school pick ups and therapy drop offs, it is a Godsend. My parents, brother and sister-in-law have really stepped in and helped us with the kids and house. Last week Miss Sally (my car) needed new front and rear brakes, and two new tires. Thanks to my Sister-in-law, niece, and my parents I didn’t have to walk home with Bitty (5 miles with a 3 year old- No thanks) or call an Uber.

Schedule: As a family, we have a shared calendar on iCal, in which I put all of the kids appointments, weekly commitments, birthdays, deadlines. In addition, I also have a calendar (this one) in the master bathroom on my cork board. Yes, I have a cork board in the master bathroom next to the vanity, so we can see whats on the schedule for each day.  Having everything in the palm of my hand (on my phone), and in a place that is visible to us (calendar) has really helped keep us focused and on task.

Remembering my Skill-Set: I’m not reinventing the wheel here. To maximize my productive time, I make sure to use my previously honed skills: Meal Planning, Meal Prep, setting out everyone’s clothes the night before, making lunches the night before, organizing areas of the house to help us get out of the house in the morning on time.

So while you may see less blog posts until I get in the full swing of it all, but I’m still posting on Social Media like a madwoman.

I want you all to know that it doesn’t matter what your age, if there is something you want: College, new job, more time with your family, vacation.. Do it! Change can be scary, but believe in yourself and have a plan! It might be rough at first, but stick with it.

Enough motivational speaking from me, I have homework to do!

Talk Back: What have you done recently that moved you out of your comfort zone?

Recipe: Stuffed Squash

IMG_2640.jpg
This is a very hearty dish! Perfect for cold winter nights!

On Sunday, we made dinner for a friend. She’s a vegetarian, and we wanted to make something hearty, filling and nutritious. After searching for a few stuffed squash recipes, and hitting up the grocery store, I picked up a butternut squash. Originally I wanted a acorn squash, but most of the stores were wiped out from Thanksgiving.

IMG_2635.jpg
Fruits and veggies cooking in stock. Juicy Gems add a nice tart aspect to the dish.
IMG_2636.jpg
The Chopped Squash “guts”

We chose ingredients that were healthy and worked well together. This recipe is naturally vegan and Gluten free. There is an option to top the squash with poached eggs, if you want a little more protein.

This recipe is a little more work than my usual fare, but it’s really tasty and makes A LOT.  To save time I used one of the bags of Mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah)I had prepped and froze last week. If you don’t do prep cooking, check your local grocery store freezer case for frozen mirepoix.

I get all of my spices from Penzey’s. They have 67 stores across the country, and you can order from their website too. They frequently have coupon codes for free samples or shipping when you place an order- It’s worth a google search!

You can serve this as a main dish or a side.

Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 small Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups onion, diced (I used a sweet onion)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounce can approx.)
  • 1 ounce pouch of Juicy Gems dried pomegranate arils
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp. French Tarragon
  • 1 tsp. Rubbed Sage
  • 1 tsp. French Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 T. Air Dried Shallots

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.51.56 AM.pngScreen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.51.50 AM.png

 

Directions:

  1. Cut Squash in half, remove seeds/membrane. Brush with oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 425 for 30-45 minutes, until squash is fork tender.
  3. While squash is cooking, In a large pan, melt butter, and saute fruit, veggies, and spices/herbs. Cook over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Add garbanzo beans, arils, and broth. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or so, or until broth is mostly absorbed and garbanzos are tender.
  4. As the stuffing cooks, once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out about 1/3 of the squash. You want to create a cavity for the stuffing. Set the “guts”  aside- You can chop it up and add it to the stuffing, or serve it on the side (I just ate it with butter while the stuffed squash cooked).
  5. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, and fill the cavities with the veggie stuffing. Top with more salt and pepper, as needed.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish. For added protein when served as a main dish, top each portion with a poached egg. Not sure how to poach an egg? Alton Brown has a great tutorial here. 

 

Talk Back: What is your go-to Vegetarian dish? 

IMG_2639.jpg