May – 2010 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

May 2010

Menu Plan Monday – Memorial Day

Menu Plan Monday

Hi everyone! As I sit here typing this I am SO tired and sore because we have been painting our house all weekend! I thought my arms would be what was sore after painting all day yesterday, but it’s my legs that are killing me. Sitting down in the air-conditioned living room is a very good thing, let me just say. We still have a little more painting to do tomorrow to complete everything, but we’re really happy with how the project is turning out so it’s all worth it. I’ll post photos later this week so you can see the before and after.

In the midst of all the painting I slipped away quickly to pick up groceries for the week. Let me just warn you, this week’s menu plan is pretty uninspired (I am trying two new recipes, though… I couldn’t resist!) and simple – in part because of the aforementioned painting, but also because this next weekend I’m doing a garage sale with a good friend. Yup, another tiring weekend. I’m a garage sale junkie, though, so I don’t mind. I’m actually excited! I love having garage sales – it means cleaning out the house, getting rid of clutter, and having some fun money. This time I’m going to use any profits toward fixing up our back porch to make it more friendly for us to hang out and play on. I want to get a comfy loveseat or couple of chairs, and most importantly an outdoor fan. Anyway, I digress. But now hopefully you’ll understand why this week’s menu plan is the way it is. :) Continue Reading…

Friendly Friday 5/28

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other!

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers!

We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love)…

Who doesn’t love to read about delicious food, find new recipes to try and drool over their pictures? At One Crazy Cookie, Tiffanee offers ideas for every meal, from appetizers to freezer meals to desserts, with a dose of money-saving tips thrown in and a menu plan every Monday for inspiration. You can’t go wrong and you’ll love her warm writing style! Now, please excuse me while I go back to yearning for those Cream Cheese Brownie Bites…

Niky at Design It Chic loves everything pretty and chic and fills her blog with an assortment of thoughts and questions, some of which are both humorous but still thought-provoking. I mean, what do you do when your socks rip? Each week Niky shares a little about herself in her answer and you’ll have a great time getting to know her this way. Plus, she’s right – no one wants neighbors who shovel at 5:45 am!

With the motto “One life = 1000 things left to try,” Mayra at In Lovely Heels provides a place to find inspiration. Whether it be for your home, family, sweet tooth or life, she encourages readers to pursue their dreams and surround themselves with happiness. You’ll find great ideas for home decor and fashion, as well as be able to follow Mayra’s wonderful journey to discover her passion for baking. When do I get a Pink Crafty Room?

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday!

Special note: After last week’s first Friendly Friday, we have decided to extend the hours to make it easier for more people to participate – and besides, who doesn’t want a little extra time to be friendly? The linky will stay open until 1 pm EST/noon CST starting this week and, beginning next week, Friendly Friday will be posted at 11 pm EST/10 pm CST. See you then!

Easy Beach-Themed Cupcakes

This simple beach-themed cupcake is great for any party – the kids will love the added bonus of candy and cookies! Plus, who can resist a miniature umbrella?

Crushed Teddy Grahams for sand, Skittles for beach balls, and Finding Nemo fruit snacks for the aquatic life. :)

Christi Review & Giveaway

I’m always on the lookout for unique gift ideas. When Christmas rolls around I like to shop at small local places or surf websites for something different that my friends and family will really love. Many of my friends are now having children, so that means I’m also now on the hunt for unique gift items for their babies and kids.

I was recently given the opportunity to review – a website that offers a wide variety of gifts for infants and toddlers, and the cost of each item includes personalization.

Makaboo Logo

The site is really easy to navigate and is organized by category to make it simple to find just what you’re looking for. You can search by gift type, recipient, occasion, price, or brand. Once you pick your item, you’re able to personalize it and see what it will look like right away. Here’s an example of the Angel Dear Pillow Pal personalized two different ways:

I chose the Angel Dear Lovie to review. J has two different lovies, but C didn’t have one of his own, so I thought this would be perfect. He’s also a big snuggler, so I knew he’d love having it to sleep with.

I’ve seen lovies at some stores around town, but never this many different options to choose from – I really had a hard time deciding! I eventually decided on the owl, because it was absolutely adorable – and unique! Continue Reading…

Menu Plan Monday – 5/24-5/28

Menu Plan Monday

I usually write my Menu Plan Monday posts on Sunday night, but last night we were busy watching the finale of LOST. It wasn’t what I expected! Did you watch it too? I won’t say much about it in case some of you haven’t gotten to watch it yet. Anyway, here I am at 7:30 on Monday morning trying to finish my post before MPM goes live at 8:00! I feel kind of like I’m back in college and I procrastinated on a school project. :)

Before I post our menu for the week, I thought I’d share a really easy way to give brownies a little something extra. Continue Reading…

Friendly Friday – Welcome!

Hi! If you’re visiting for the first time, my name is Christi and I’m the blogger here. As many of you know, Friday Follow ended as of last week. I, along with many of you, had a lot of fun participating in this each week. It was good way to find new blogs, and get a lot of great traffic and followers along the way.

Since Friday Follow is no more, Xenia at Thanks Mail Carrier, Charla at Healthy Home Blog and I have teamed up to create something new for each Friday so that there’s still something fun for us to be a part of every week. We wrote Lynn at Midday Escapades and she’s wished us the best with this new venture. We hope you’ll participate so we can continue to get to know more of the great bloggers that are out there!

We’re calling this Friendly Friday, because it’s all about making friends in blogville. We’ll post the link list each week at 11pm on Thursdays CST. Include your link in our list, and then start blog hopping! Follow the three hostesses first, then visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other!

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation! :) If you’d like to make a Friendly Friday post, you can include the button from the top of this post with a link back to Friendly Friday. Making a post for Friendly Friday can be helpful because then people visiting your blog have a perfect place to leave comments.

In addition, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a wonderful way to highlight some of those each week.

We hope you’ll be a part of Friendly Friday and spread the word to your friends! We look forward to getting to know you and provide a great way for bloggers to support each other.

Since this is the first week, we thought we’d let you know a little bit about each of us:

The Frugal Novice: Like I mentioned earlier, I’m Christi. I’m a 28-year-old Christian wife and mom, and have lived in Texas all my life.  I do advertising sales and design, and do a lot of freelance work on the side. I’m married to Brian, a graphic designer, and we have two adorable little boys – J, who will be 3 in August, and C, who turned 1 in April. My other “baby” is our 6-year-old miniature dachshund, Josie. I love spending time with my friends and family, baking, crafty things, shopping (for bargains), and working on fixing up our 1972 house bit by bit. I’ve had a family blog since 2007 when J was born, but started The Frugal Novice more recently after my mom encouraged me to give it a try. I love blogging and all the friends I’ve made through the process. I started my blog focusing solely on ways to save money, but quickly decided that if I’m going to write I want it to be about all sorts of different things I love, so it’s expanded a little since its start!

Thanks, Mail Carrier: Hi everyone, I’m Xenia. I apologize right off the bat that your brain is wondering how in the world to pronounce my name, but I’ll just blame my mom for wanting me to be unique. Try not to let the X throw you off, it’s Za-knee-a, with the stress on the second syllable. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s nice to meet you! Over at Thanks, Mail Carrier, my wonderful husband, 3 and 1-year-old daughters and I love the vrooooom sound the mail truck makes when it heads down our block. Who doesn’t get excited about receiving mail and wouldn‘t like to know what the best products are that they could have their mail carrier deliver right to their door? I love knowing that the information I give to readers helps peak their interest and hopefully aids them in becoming a better consumer and I take a lot of pride in my thorough, honest reviews of items of all kinds. When we’re not trying out great new products, my girls and I love to spend time with good friends and fit as much laughter into the day as possible. Stop by anytime and say hello!

Healthy Home Blog: Hi!  I’m Charla, definitely the oldest of the three.  In fact, I’m Christi’s mom, and I can tell you that it’s such a blessing to have a daughter who is also one of my best friends.  Here are some things about me: I’m not only a Christian wife, mother of two, mother-in-law, and grandmother to Christi & Brian’s two precious little boys, but also a teacher.    I taught school in the Texas public school system for 19 years, and this past year I’ve been doing substitute teaching, hoping to get a full time teaching job again in the fall.  I was encouraged and motivated by our son (who’s a college student) to start blogging back in the summer of 2007, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sure, the money helps out, but what I value most is the connection to all my blogger friends.  :)  My favorite thing to do? Spend time with family!

Now, on to the fun part – add your link! Thanks so much for being a part of the very first Friendly Friday!


Things I Love Thursday: It’s the Simple Things

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty low-maintenance person. Don’t get me wrong, I like and appreciate nice things, and I have fun shopping (boy do I ever!) but in my day-to-day life it doesn’t take much for me to be happy. Here are a few things that make that list: Continue Reading…

Wordless Wednesday – May 19

I saw this on my way to work one morning, and it made me smile.

Not that I condone graffiti, but hey, at least it was something positive!


Free At-Home Kids Activities


Here are ten activities I plan to do with J (and some with C, if they’re age appropriate for him too) this summer that you might want to try with your kids:

1. Fun with shaving cream: I’ve totally taken this idea from J’s day care. I’m planning to set J and C up in their booster seats at the dining table and then squirt a big dollop of Brian’s shaving cream in front of them to smear around and play with to their hearts’ delight. I’ll probably put some spoons and cups out too so they can play with it like they do with bubbles in the bathtub. Speaking of baths, this activity may be followed up by one!

2. Homemade play dough: I’m planning to let J help me make this, too. I want him to feel comfortable in the kitchen and hopefully grow up liking to experiment in the kitchen like Brian and I do. I love the fact that making our own play dough saves money (we have all of the ingredients on hand already) and also that it’s all-natural. Here’s a recipe I plan to follow – found at


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • food coloring


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a sauce pan and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken, and will eventually look like mashed potatoes. Watch for the dough to pull away from the sides and clump in the center. Be sure to keep cooking the dough until it is no longer sticky!
  2. Put the dough on a clean surface and knead it until it becomes smooth. Divide the balls into dough for coloring.
  3. Make a well in the center of each ball of dough and drop some food coloring in. Fold the dough over and work the dye through until you’ve achieved your desired color.
  4. PLAY! Have fun with the dough and store it in air-tight containers when you’re done with it. And if your kids do happen to eat some, it’s perfectly fine.

3. Story time at the library: I know not every town will have the same availability, but I encourage you to check in to what your town has to offer. Our program is great, especially in the summer. There are times for each age group, so we’ll go once a week for C and once for J. The time includes songs and, of course, stories. We usually stick around afterward to explore some books and play with puzzles. Our library also has a summer reading program, so each week children get a different prize for participating in story time. It’s important to us to encourage a love of reading to our children, and I hope they love going to the library as much as I did when I was younger.

4. Feeding the ducks: There’s a park here in town that has a pond with TONS of ducks, and I’m planning to take the boys to feed them. There are so many here that we’ll probably just stay in the car, roll the windows down, and toss bread out to them. You can usually find a loaf of past-date bread for a really reduced price at the grocery store, so this should just cost around $1.oo to do. We’ve done this before – J and C both thought it was a lot of fun!

5. Memory Game: I’m planning to make my own memory game for J to play – I’m going to cut 3×5″ notecards in half and then glue pictures to them (Note – if you do this, make sure all the cards are the same size). I’m going to put some family photos, and some images of Thomas trains or other characters J really likes. This is a really cheap project. I already have notecards, but if you don’t you can get them for $1.00 a package (or less). I think it’s fun to have the cards customized for your child’s interest, too. J actually really likes letters, so I may throw a few letters and even numbers in to make it more educational.

6. Rice Art: This is an alternative to sand art and is another fairly inexpensive project. Mix 1/2 cup (dry) rice with several drops of food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar until the rice is evenly colored. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the rice has dried – check on it periodically to make sure it doesn’t dry out and burn. Once the rice is done, get an inexpensive container (find good plastic containers at Michael’s, or you could get a glass vase at Dollar Tree) and let your child pour in different colors to make designs. Use a straw to poke the layers for different designs. You can also use this rice to glue on to artwork.

7. Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt: Make grocery trips more pleasant for everyone by turning them into a game. When you come to items on your list that your child would recognize, go to the appropriate aisle and have them help you hunt for the item. I’ll probably do this and have us be getting items to make cookies – then we can get home and make them together. To make it more fun, you could have stickers and a chart for your child; each time they find an item, they get to put a sticker on the chart, and then you could have a small prize for them at the end of the shopping trip.

8. Homemade Placemats: This activity fulfills two purposes – a fun project, but also a potential way to make mealtime more fun. Get a large piece of construction paper (or even scrapbook paper, if you want a square placemat) and let your child decorate with photos, stickers, cutout shapes, markers – anything that is fairly flat. Then use clear contact paper on both sides to seal everything up, or take it to your local print shop to get it laminated. Most churches have laminating machines, so you could also see about paying to do it at your church’s AV room.

9. Bird Feeders: We did this when I was in Girl Scouts and I loved this activity. Get several large pinecones and tie yarn to the stem, making a loop that you can place over a tree branch. Using a spoon (for safety purposes; a knife would be easier, probably, but not exactly child-friendly!), spread peanut butter all over the pinecone. Shake birdseed onto a plate or other flat surface and then roll the pinecone, coating well with the seed. Hang the bird feeders in view of a window, then watch with your children for any visitors you get.

10. Bowling: We usually get soda in two-liter bottles, so I’m planning to start cleaning them out and saving them until I have ten saved up. These will be our pins, and then we’ll use a big ball we got at Target (for less than $3.00) as our bowling ball. If the pins seem too lightweight I’ll use dried pinto beans to weigh them down a little bit. I think this will be a game both C & J can play, since both the ball and pins are so large.

I hope you can use one or some of these to have fun with your kids this summer – and if you have any other ideas I’d love to hear them!


Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe

Before anything else, I have to get this off my chest – I tried tilapia this week… and hated it! I baked it in foil pouches with lemon, garlic, lemon pepper, a little butter, and veggies. The boys and Brian all liked it, but it still had too much of a fishy smell and taste to me. I’m sure part of it’s mental, but I could only eat a few bites. I think I may have to make my foray into seafood through a fried recipe, like Janalyn suggested. Breading might help mask the fishiness. Regardless, I will try again… eventually. :)

On to my menu plan for this week – I’ve got two recipes for you! One is a favorite, and one is new to me too. Stick around till the end of the post, too – I’m doing a cookbook giveaway! Continue Reading…

Friday Follow: TGIF!

I had every intention of posting this last night – the Friday Follow link-up goes live around 11pm Thursday nights, and I usually try to post around that time. Last night, though, I was in BED. Asleep! Brian and I are night owls and are usually up until midnight each night, but neither of the boys have been sleeping well the past week so I am feeling it and am trying to catch up on rest. It also makes it an even more wonderful thing that the weekend is almost here! This is the first weekend in over five weeks that we don’t have something planned – travel, birthday parties, family visiting, etc. – and while we’ve enjoyed everything, it’s nice to have a nothing weekend planned (besides laundry, I guess… can’t escape that, ha).

Be sure and click the image above to find some other great blogs to check out, or even participate in Friday Follow yourself. And while you’re here, check out my great giveaway for a $60 gift card.

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend!


Wordless Wednesday – Sleep

I  awoke after a night interrupted many times by each of my children, and for some reason I had sleep on my mind. :) Here’s a fun collage of some “sleep” photos I’ve captured of the boys. If only I got as much sleep as they do!