OK, fine. It wasn’t for science. It was to save money. I just couldn’t come up with a better title.

This blog post is for ladies. If you are a dude, you can take your dude bits right outta here. Unless you have a lady in your life and you are comfortable talking to her about saving money on her menstrual cycle, then you can stay. And also you are a good sir.

Ew, right? No one LIKES this time of the month. And you know what makes it worse? Spending $20 a month on supplies to get through it. I saw on the internets these things called THINX (absorbent underwear), so I figured I’d try out those bad boys and see if I could get through my monthly cycle unscathed and never pay $20 for the supplies I need again. Then, I was poking around and heard about Chrissy’s Cloth (homemade cloth pads), and I figured I’d buy some of those and try them, too, and compare all of the things and see how it goes and bloggy blog about them. So…..let’s math, and then review.

I’d say I have a good 15 years or so of dealing with this nonsense before my ovaries dry up. So, 15 years x 12 months x $20 a month = $3600! O.M.G. And just think, if it goes LONGER than 15 years, or if you’re younger than me (I’m 36) and have tons of years to go! THAT IS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, PEOPLE!!!

THINX are unnapants that absorb ick. They claim to feel like regular underwear and keep you dry feeling and absorb the same as tampons. We’ll see. They have a bunch of absorbency levels, from the heavy hip huggers to the ultra light thong. For THINX, the more you buy, the bigger the discount. If you purchase 7 pairs or more, you get a 20% discount. I figure, you’d probably need 2 pairs for light days, 3 for medium/heavy, so I’d say 20 pair oughta do it for a 7-day cycle, 6 total pair for light, 10 for medium, 4 for heavy. Total for that (free shipping. Nice!) is $520, so, lots smaller than $3600, and that’s all you’d ever need. A savings of over $3000!

So, I bought a pair of the hip huggers for $34 to see how I liked them, if they worked, and if they were rad enough to take the plunge and save myself 3 grand over the next 15 years.

The Good: They feel like regular underwear. No bulky pad feeling. Which made me feel like maybe they wouldn’t absorb very much, but that was proven wrong, too. I wore these on a heavy day, and they lasted a couple of hours, or about the same as a super plus. Another positive is that they were cute. They have lace at the top, so if you wanna feel sexy during your free monthly pregnancy test, hey…there you go. If you’re into that. I’m not, but no judgement, you kinky ladies. Also, you know that icky wet feeling when you’re wearing a pad? These don’t do that. I felt perfectly dry. There’s something in these that makes it immediately wick away the ick, so it’s not sitting on top of the unnapants.

The Bad: User error. I bought a small, which is what my size is. Except everyone knows we gain 67 lbs during that week of the month. So, they were too small, making them slightly uncomfortable. A size up would have fixed this, though. Another negative is that, like cloth diapers, you need a few other accessories. Namely, a wet bag of sorts. I so happened to be out and about when I decided these had had enough and needed to be off of my body. Except…uh…WTF am I supposed to do with this crap? I’ll cloth diaper the heck outta myself to save money, but I can’t abide by carrying around an adult diaper bag for a week. Also, they LOOK like they are leaking, even though they aren’t, but it still made me nervous. I may have changed them before they needed because I could see spillage out of the side of the absorbent pad, and I was paranoid that it would get onto my clothes. It never did, though, and I can’t explain why. Maybe magic or something.

Overall, not too bad. They were comfortable and can save me a lot of money, but they are difficult to take care of when out and about, and I don’t want to have to carry around a diaper bag to keep my underwear in.

Next, I bought a set of Chrissy’s Cloth. A set of these is $20 and comes with 1 liner, 1 medium pad and 1 heavy pad. I’d say you’d probably need 6 sets for a 7-day cycle, so that’s $120. WHAT? That’s amazing and HUGELY cost efficient.

The Good: They are customizable and freaking adorable. You get to pick your fabric, and she has a ton to choose from. I’m sophisticated about my bloody bits, so I chose a pink/grey theme.


Ignore my weird mauve carpet. My house was built in the 90s. If you are less sophisticated, you can pick Star Wars or Dr. Who or neon butterflies and the like. I’ll just be over here with my pinky in the air.

Anyway, they are cute, and she has lots of fabrics to choose from. Also good, these things are absorbent as heck (more magic). Much more than the THINX. The shape is also a huge plus. Unlike regular disposable pads, these are wider at the ends for more coverage and less shifting. Plus, the wings SNAP on instead of having sticky tape, making sure that everything stays in place and nothing goes off the sides (a fear with the THINX). These are bulkier than the THINX, but I still didn’t really feel that I was wearing anything. Disposable pads are always shifting and uncomfortable, sticking to me and folding up on themselves. These don’t do that, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything. Like the THINX, these also wicked away the ick via some sort of wizard spell and didn’t make me feel gross.

The Bad: Again with the on the go issue, though these are smaller than THINX, and Chrissy has these that she sent:


Those are little tiny wet bags that can hold the dirty pads when you change them. They are small and discreet (the large one can hold 3 pads but is still smaller than a regular-sized diaper wet bag). So, you don’t have to carry around an adult diaper bag.

That’s the only negative I can find for Chrissy’s Cloth, and she found a way to solve the problem.

Both products need to be rinsed ASAP when you change them. THINX show less stains than the mama cloth, but you can use stain stick, etc. THINX also get soaked when you rinse, and the mama cloth doesn’t, which just proves how dang absorbent it is. I ran tons of water over it to rinse it off, and the back of the pad never got wet. To wash them, I just threw them into the washing machine on a rinse cycle, and then put them in the regular wash with my other clothes. Both products come with instructions for care.

After the comparison, due to price, super absorbency and convenience when on the go, Chrissy’s Cloth is the better choice. I’ll be ordering 5 more sets, plus a cute little zipper pouch from 31 to hold my stash in nice and neat in my bathroom, so total will be around $150 for everything, saving me $3450 in the long run. WIN!

Since $150 is still a lot of cash up front, head on over to my money-making from home tips to see how to finance your stash fast!

Thanks for reading! More money-saving and money-making tips to come! Feel free to share!

P.S. YOU KNOW WHAT WOULDA BEEN A GREAT TITLE!? “Save thousands of dollars. Period.” Shoot. I’m attached to the original title now. I nurtured that and cared for it until it grew into its own being. I can’t abandon it now!

Budget Meals – Week 2

We ate 2 days of leftovers and 5 new meals this week; 4 hits and a miss. I keep forgetting to take photos of the actual food because Mom Brain, so you’ll have to make due with the Tastefully Simple stock photos, which look MUCH better than mine. A professional photographer I am not. This week the Bot started martial arts, so my schedule was ca-raaaaaaaazy as I get used to 2 more classes a week at the ninja school. So, having these meals was freaking AWESOME (mostly).

Meal 1: Ultimate Steak with Balsamic Vegetables


I ended up using super thin, low-quality steak for this bad boy, and it was STILL phenomenal. Ultimate Steak seasoning is probably one of the better seasonings that came with this, and it goes in a ton of the recipes. I also LOOOOVE me some balsamic vinegar. This was probably my favorite of the meals we’ve eaten so far, and it was really easy. Steak on the broiler, saute the veggies, drizzle with vinegar, done. I’d probably add some fresh mozzarella next time for extra yum.

Meal 2: Cilantro Avocado Turkey Burgers


I did not have high hopes for these because turkey burgers. Turkey burgers are effing gross. TURKEY BURGERS ARE FOR FOOLS!

Except these. These were exceptional. The texture was a little weird, but the seasoning in the turkey made them awesome, and the red pepper hummus mix has been a diamond in the rough of these meals. That stuff is INCREDIBLE. It’s been in 2 of the meals we’ve made. The smell of it is addictive. For this recipe, you just pop the burgers on the grill and then mash up 2 avocados with the red pepper hummus mix to use instead of mayo to make it healthier. This recipe was a HUGE surprise in a good way.

Meal 3: Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup


This was a “thaw and put in crock pot” meal. I didn’t eat it, but my family really liked it. I can’t stomach black beans. My husband said the seasoning was REALLY good.

Meal 4: Tuscan Beef Stew


FLIPPING INCREDIBLE. Again, crock pot and go. Easy to take to work with me, too, and even though I had to eat half of it cold because we got busy, it was still amazing. The artichokes in this thing…just yum. Yummy yum yum. And also, yum. My favorite so far.

Meal 5: Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips


This meal sucks. It failed on both taste and convenience. Dang thing took me over an hour, as I had to make seasoned flour and an egg wash and a coconut bowl to roll them in while having a three-nager under my feet and in my face. It was a mess. There were a ton of dishes. And it didn’t taste good. The hubby was much less offended by this than I was. There was just TOO MANY flavors. You season the flour with 2 seasonings, then season the chicken with 2 seasonings, then salt and pepper, and plus the coconut flavor. Just way too much. MISS. But, it’s one miss out of 10 meals, so I’m still happy.


Budget Meals Week 1 Reviews

Soooooo, here we are one week out of my groceries on a budget freezer meals. Remember, my meals had to do 3 things:

  1. Be inexpensive (under $300 a month, which was accomplished).
  2. Be convenient (less than 30 minutes in the kitchen at dinner time to give me time to learn to play the ocarina).
  3. Taste delicious!

This here bliggity blog is where we find out if numbers 2 and 3 are working, so….here are our first 5 meals. Meals 6 and 7 were leftovers and dinner out when we were out of town watching Big Man get his black belt because he is awesome. I’ll post the link to the recipes on the TS website next to the meals so you can see how they were made.

Meal 1:  Creamy Salsa Chicken


I made this the day I made the freezer meals. It was SUPER simple. Throw ingredients in crock pot, turn it on. So, convenience wise, big thumbs up! My family really liked this one. The husband wanted a spoon to finish off the salsa gravy. SUCCESS!

Meal 2: Easy Meatballs and Garlic Cheddar Biscuits


My daughter asked for seconds of the meatballs. She’s 3, so that’s a big deal. She can’t fit much in her tiny tummy. As for convenience, the meatballs were easy. Thaw them, bake them in muffin tins, done. The biscuits were not a freezer meal but something I made with the “and more” portion of the 30 meals and more that I got from Tastefully Simple. I combined 4 ingredients, mixed it in a bowl and dropped it on a cookie sheet to bake. The end. This one did take all of the 30 minutes to cook in the oven, but only 5 of that was preparing the meal. SCORE.

It also took a little time because this had to happen: *ring ring*

Husband: Hello?
Me: Oh, hi…the oven is on fire. What do I do?
Husband: That’s not the greatest. Don’t open the door and let oxygen in there, and it will die down. Perhaps we should clean it?
Me: Perhaps.

There were French fries at the bottom of the oven apparently. They are now extra crispy, and my cheddar biscuits had an amazing smoky flavor.

Meal 3: Pizza Casserole


This one was a hit with the family, too, and BONUS, there are at LEAST 3 more meals out of this.  This one was so easy I didn’t know what to do with myself. Thaw it and put it in the crock pot. Since I put my meals in the fridge to thaw 2 days in advance, this took less than a minute. There were so many things that I could have done with that time, it was hard to choose! Do I learn Japanese? Take up croquet? Knit a toilet paper cozy? I DON’T KNOW! In the end, I took an hour and went outside to play with my kids in the leaves.



Meal 4: Ginger Orange Sriracha Stir-Fry


SPICY! This was really good, and, again, we have leftovers for the husband of the year to take to work.  This one took around 15 minutes, since that’s how long it takes to make rice. You make the rice, then cook the chicken in oil, then cook the veggies in oil and add the sauce, then mix it all together. The end. Eat and be happy because this is so, SO good. I don’t tolerate spicy at all. I just don’t like it, and even I loved this one. And it had the added bonus of easy portability. This one was made on a day that I had to work in the evening, and I just had to pop it into a Tupperware dish and go about my merry way.

Meal 5: Easy Chicken Noodle Soup


This is another thaw and reheat on the stove kinda deal, but I had a little mishap, so….

I put this in the freezer before it was all of the way cooled, and it kiiiiiiinda produced condensation and stuck to the bags in front of and behind it. So…when I went to pull it out, the whole top of the bag came off. So, I had to find a way to thaw it without broth going everywhere since I now had a giant cube of frozen chicken soup instead of a giant cube of frozen chicken soup in a bag. So, I turned the stock pot on low heat and put the cube in it and slowly thawed my soup while removing the rest of the plastic bag as it thawed out. This process took a LOOOOONG time.  Over an hour, as I kept having to go back and check to make sure I wasn’t melting plastic bag into my soup.

The result, however, was ASTOUNDING. Seriously, the best chicken and noodles I have ever eaten. I changed the name, because the way I had to thaw it reduced the soup portion to a thicker sauce instead of a broth, which made this meal much more hearty. We ate more of the cheddar biscuits on the side with this, and again, super portable for work. I can’t WAIT to eat those leftovers, they were so, SO good.

The first week of meals did EVERYTHING I wanted it to do! With the money we are saving, we’re gonna get out of debt, and I think go on a cruise from Australia to Fiji (one of the husband’s dreams)! With the time I am saving, I’m going to learn a dozen languages (my dream)! So much win!


The Grocery Budget Challenge – A Family of 5 for Under $300


^These here freezer meals are what this post is all about, dearest readers! Look how pretty! And organized! Each with their little recipe cards stapled to the top (Above the seal. Don’t make the mistake of stapling stuff to a bag full of liquid. Trust me.) All ready to just thaw, heat and eat! I will spend less than 20 minutes per evening preparing my family meals for the next month and a half. WHAT WILL I DO WITH ALL OF THAT EXTRA TIME?!?! Perhaps I’ll take up knitting! Or the trombone! Or recreationally singing show tunes! I CAN DO ANYTHING!

I’ve set myself a challenge this month to spend $300 or less in groceries for my family of 5.  I’m a frugal maven, and even with my couponing and sale watching, our grocery budget has creeped to between $500 and $550 a month. INCONCEIVABLE! However, as well all well know, grocery costs are on the rise, and even with my coupons, that’s crushed my budget. So, I need a new plan. Then, my Tastefully Simple rep messaged me about their 30-meals plan, and I perused and though, hmmmmmmm….Mayhaps this is a good idea. It’s $200 for 30 freezer ready meals. It comes with a recipe plan, all of the spices/sauces you need, and a premade grocery list. Every single one can be premade and popped into the freezer for quick preparation. I have 6479 jobs, plus my husband works full time, we’re a sports/dance family, and we have a son with special needs, so we’re at therapy appointments for forever and ever. This means, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

For this new plan to work, I need it to do 3 things:

  1. Be inexpensive ($300 a month)
  2. Be convenient (less than 30 minutes in the kitchen per evening)

First, let us math. Thirty meals for my family will last a month and a half, as we will almost always have leftovers, plus Thanksgiving where we’ll be eating elsewhere. The Little Man is only here on weekends, and the Bot is 3 and doesn’t eat much, though the Big Man does kinda cancel that out because he eats more than all of us combined. WE CAN’T AFFORD A TEENAGER, AND HE’S ONLY 11!  Anyway, these meals will last us around a month and a half.  Since I want the budget to be $300 a month, then a month and a half gives me a budget of $450 to make all 30 of the mealy meals.

The 30 meals from Tastefully Simple is $200, but my rep had a code for $40 off, and it happened to be an old code that actually took $50 off, so we’re off to a great start (my consultants have more of these $40 off codes, too, so if you want them, let me know!) With shipping, my 30-meal plan was only $188 roughly, so I’ve got $262 left in my budget to shop my pantry and freezer, plus the grocery, to finish these meals in $450. This will also give us all of our dinners for Nov/part of Dec, so NO EATING OUT! That will save us a ton, AND some of the leftovers can go with us for lunches, so no eating out while at work, either. CHA-CHING!

I chose Tastefully Simple because I’ve been buying their sauces and seasonings for a long time and using the recipes on their website, and they’ve never let me down on taste. I don’t sell Tastefully Simple, and I’m not being paid or anything to promote them. There are a lot of companies out there that do freezer meals. I just chose TS because I liked the price tag and because they’ve proven delicious.

I will say, if you have read my other money saving tips, you know I’m a couponer and a food storage type person. My pantry and freezer are pretty stocked, so if you’re looking to try this, you may need to invest at first to get a food store up. My food store has taken me a while to get, though it is a little depleted due to financial emergencies that we’ve had come up, so I skipped the market and used our storage for 2 months (that’s what it’s for!) Anyway, how I get my food store up is to STOCK UP when stuff is .25 or less at the store, plus the Mormon storehouse to get rice, sugar, flour, etc. in bulk, plus I buy up any Manager’s Special meat and bread I can find in the store and immediately freeze it. The cost would go up A LOT if I had to purchase all of the meats and dry goods that these meals take. As it is, I had over half of the stuff in my freezer and pantry already, and that will now all need to be replaced slowly as the stuff comes cheap.


Wednesday 10-28, my Tastefully Simple order comes in! YAY! This was $188 of my $450 budget. I am way too excited to get started! You get all of this!


Can you see that (click on it to make it bigger if you can’t, but it really was a rhetorical question)? It’s a TON of stuff! In fact, it’s MORE stuff than you need! Ok, so let’s take this step by step.

STEP 1: Take inventory! The order also came with this:


That’s 3 recipe booklets, a meal-planning sheet and that white one on the bottom left is the grocery list, split up into 6 pages of 5 meals each. That’s where I’m starting. It’s got check boxes, and who doesn’t love a good check list? CRAZY PEOPLE, THAT’S WHO! So, I’ll go into my fridge and pantry and freezer and check off all of the stuff I’ve already got. I’m going to be cooking everything on Sunday (today is Friday), so I went ahead and set the meat to thawing in the fridge over the next 2 days. Side note: I just dropped a 9.5 lb frozen pork loin on my foot. I don’t recommend this step, as the doctor bill from a broken foot completely negates the money you’re trying to save. Also, oooowwwwwwww. This step took me 10 minutes (inventory, not dropping a pig on my foot), so it’s good on the convenience level. If my freezers were both on the same floor of the house, it would have taken even shorter (and been less painful re: foot). Rad.

STEP 2: Make the grocery list! This one’s a big step for me, though it is made a ton easier by the premade list TS sent me. I just put all of the stuff that doesn’t have a check mark on the list and do my normal sale/coupon matching from Bargains to Bounty. This step took me about 30 minutes, which HOLY COW. I usually take an hour to make my stupid grocery list. I HATE grocery list time. Though, both fortunately and unfortunately, I suppose, a lot of the items are fresh produce and meat (yay) so no coupons for them (boo). I think I ended up with $1.50 in coupons and $1.00 in Ibotta rebates when all was said and done (plus, there were 150 Shopkicks at Kroger today). Gonna have to rely on produce/meat sales for this bad boy.

STEP 3: Hit up the grocery store. It’s D-day time. How much of my $262 budget did I spend? Time to find out.


BAM! $156! Shattered that budget. I even bought a few snacks and drinks and some coffee coffee coffeeeeee. I’m estimating that I’ll be spending another $50-75 or so when we run out of things like bananas and milk and lunch meat, etc. So, that’s a grand total of $419! I still have $30 to play with! I could buy Hot Wheels!

STEP 4: Cook it all! This step took me 6 hours, and some improvements could have been made for sure, and as it went, I saw where I could also improve the budget. I’ll put those down there in the tipsies. Most of these meals were “put stuff in a bag, label it, freeze it”. It was awesome, but I quickly realized that I did NOT have enough bags. You need lots and lots of gallon and quart-sized bags.


Whew. Halfway done.

STEP 5: Eaaaaat! Our first meal was the Chicken and Black Bean Salsa slow cooker meal. Basically, put chicken, half a jar of TS Corn and Black Bean Salsa and a can of cream of chicken soup in the crock pot for 6 hours. Conclusion? Tastefully Simple delivered again! Even the 3-year-old cleared her plate, and the husbandito needed a spoon to finish the sauce off of the plate once he had run out of chicken and potato. Next time, I’ll make rice with it and soak the rice in the salsa gravy.


Overall, GREAT SUCCESS! It met all 3 of my criteria. This is the first we’ve eaten of them. I”ll continue to review the meals and share the ones we’ve made. The plan is to review the week’s meals on Sundays, but…I’m forgetful and busy, so I’m not promising things.

TIPSIES: There are some improvements I could have made, though. This was my first try, and…mistakes were made. Even more besides dropping a heavy piece of meat on my foot. There was this fiasco:


TIP 1: Note to self (and readers): 45 seconds is too long for a stick of butter to melt in the microwave. Second, I grabbed the wrong seasoning packet at one point, so my pot roast did not get a packet of garlic and herb cheeseball mix 😦 I went ahead and seasoned it with stuff from my pantry. I accidentally grabbed that garlic mix instead of the sriracha ranch mix for some cheese-stuffed pork burgers, which is OK, because garlic tastes just fine in burgers. So, more careful next time. That was around hour 5. Soooooooo tired.

TIP 2: That brings me to my next tip. Take 2 days to cook. I hung the recipes up on my whiteboard and made them one at a time. That meant that I was making 2 cups of chicken broth for one recipe and then another 4 cups for another, but not at the same time. Next time, I’ll spend some time consolidating the ingredients list and spend the first day browning all of the pounds of meat, shredding cooked chicken, cutting chicken into pieces, and making lots and lots of broth. Anything that needs heated. I spent a LOT of time today waiting for stuff to cool.

TIP 3: Wait for everything to cool off before freezing. I learned this last time I did freezer meals. If you seal up and freeze a hot dish, it will steam up and create water in the freezer bag, and then when you cook it, it will taste bland and watered down. So, if I cook everything that needs heated the day before, it will be cooled and able to be frozen the next day when adding the other ingredients.

TIP 4: I wasted money, you guys! I HATE wasting money! It was due to poor planning. I went ahead and bought EVERYTHING for the 30 meals that was on the grocery list, and it turned out that I didn’t need a lot of it, yet, until the day we eat. Like lettuce for the lettuce wraps, sour cream and cream cheese, etc. Things that don’t get frozen or garnishes. I could have waited to watch for better sales and coupons for that stuff and saved a little cash. I go to the store every 2 weeks for milk and stuff we run out of, and that stuff could have waited. I ended up having to re-arrange the meal plan to eat stuff before I had planned so that the fresh produce that it needs doesn’t go bad. So, I’ll plan better next time, and I think I’ll get the number even lower!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with this plan. There was one negative. Tastefully Simple sent me WAYYYYYYY more mixes, spices and sauces than I used, including desserts. I don’t make desserts every day, so I would have liked a plan that was cheaper and only included the meals I was making. I don’t think there’s an option to buy the meal cards, planner, grocery list, etc. without buying the 30 Meals and More plan, so I didn’t know that I was getting a ton of extras, some of which I likely won’t use.

Though, another big positive is that there ARE extras of the seasonings, etc. I could easily make MORE of these meals because I still have a ton of the seasonings and some of the sauces left, so all I need for those is the meats. More money savers! Next month, I can save by buying the 10 Meals and More plan instead of the 30! I think this has been an incredible investment for our grocery budget.

The last big positive is that my consultants are AAAAAAAH-MAZING! I’ve been purchasing TS for a while. I have 2 consultants because I’m a jerk and not loyal. I alternate back and forth between the two, and I’ve never been disappointed. If you don’t have a TS consultant, and you wanna try this for yourself, please use the links below. I hope you enjoyed the new novel! Please share!

Kelly’s Tastefully Simple

Amy’s Tastefully Simple

How a SAHM Paid For Disney From Home


Hey, y’all! I get a lot of questions about how I save money and earn money from home, and I feel like I’m putting this information out there a few times a month, so I figured I’d write a whole blog on it and just share that instead of rewriting it to all of the folks that ask me about it. Because I’m efficient. So, here it is: HOW TO MAKE A LIL MONEY FROM HOME! This isn’t gonna make a full-time salary at all, well, not most of it. There are a few things you can do on here that CAN turn into a full-time job, and I may actually do that when the Bot goes to school, but for me, I’m working with her by my side, and that’s not conducive to an 8-hour day. Whenever we go out, I have to take approximately 3 snack breaks and 466 potty breaks, so it takes me a long time. However, if you are reading this, and you don’t have a toddler (or aren’t incontinent) then you will be able to do these things much faster than me; therefore, you will make more money. One more tip, there is a LOT of information here. I use ALL of these techniques, which means that my organization level is Master. If I were an organizational tool, I’d totally be a Trapper Keeper. If you’ve got the organization skills of a bottomless pit (otherwise known as my pantry), then maybe take it a little slow, yeah?

First step is to set a goal. How much do you wanna make? Anything you are saving for? My goal for this project was to take my kids on 3 separate vacations (one mom/kid vacation for each of them). I set the goal in January, and here it is the end of March, and I’ve made enough to pay for two of the vacations, one of them a full on Disney World vacation complete with airfare, a princess makeover, and dinner with Cinderella.

One more thing, none of these will cost you a dime to enroll in. Every single one of them is legit, and I’ve been paid from each one. I wouldn’t screw y’all over by posting sites that may be scams that I haven’t tried. Because I like you. And I’m not a douche canoe.

Most of my cash comes from selling Mary Kay. “But Karen,” you are saying, “Didn’t you JUST say that all of these are free to join? Are you THAT forgetful? I thought you said you are a Trapper Keeper!” Yes, Mary Kay costs $99 to join because it is a business opportunity. However, I do have a way to make it free. It does take working a home, basket or FB party to do it, but it can be done. If you’re interested in that, just message me.  If you join my team and listen to my spiel about what to do, you’ll succeed. I do very well with Mary Kay, and I know what I’m doing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I also coupon. With the exception of essentials and fresh produce, I don’t buy ANYTHING at the grocery store that doesn’t have a coupon and isn’t on sale. And, not or. If it’s not both, it doesn’t get bought. I get my coupons from the newspaper and online. When I pull the coupon booklets out of the paper, I write the date on the top of them so that I can find them easier when I go to Bargains to Bounty. Bargains to Bounty will match up sales and coupons FOR YOU. Go to the match ups tab at the top and pick your store. I shop at Kroger because I find that they have the easiest coupons to use. Kroger has digital coupons. No clipping, no printing. Bargains to Bounty will tell you when there is a Kroger digital coupon on a product. They will also tell you where to find printable coupons and give you a link to click. They will also tell you if Ibotta (discussed later) has a rebate, and if a product has a coupon from the newspaper, it will tell you if it’s from the RedPlum or Smartsource and which date, which is why writing the dates on the top of the inserts is important.

I make a list, and I do not deviate from the list. I also stock up. If something is at a really good price, who knows when it will be on sale with a coupon again, so I purchase as many as I can. I also only shop twice a month, instead of weekly, and once we run of out stuff, we’re out until the next shopping trip, with the exception of perishables that don’t last two weeks. We have two big chest freezers, and I only buy meat when it is on manager special, and I’ll buy as much as I can to stock the freezer. I also will find manager special bread for .39 and will buy all of it that I can find and freeze it. Milk freezes, too, but I’ll only do that if I can get it free, as it thaws weird, and no one wants weird milk. Unless it’s free. If it’s free, then you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Because free.

If Bargains to Bounty sends me to Coupons.com for an online coupon, I will get that coupon from Swagbucks. You get 10 Swagbucks for each coupon you use from that site, so that’s like adding another 10 cents off to each coupon. Swagbucks has LOTS of ways to make money from home. You can take polls and surveys, watch videos, sign up for spam emails (I have an email account that I never check specifically for spam), complete fun little tasks where you spell check websites, etc. Swagbucks gives you points per item you do, and 2500 points will get you $25 into your Paypal account, or you can use 500 points for a $5 Amazon card. In years past, I have dumped all of this money into Amazon and paid for all of our family Christmas with it. I also paid for a 40″ flat screen TV for our bedroom completely with Swagbucks one year.

Other survey for cash sites that I really like are Opinion Outpost and Surveys4Moms.  These both pay cash into your PayPal account. I just finished a research study on OO that paid me $225 in Amazon codes, too, which I then sold for cash. That completely paid for one of my plane tickets to Disney. VIP Voice also does surveys for points, but I haven’t figured out how to get money out of it, yet. You can bid with your points for prizes (including cash), but I haven’t had a chance to play around with it very much. I have reached level 5 in surveys and have a lot of points. I just haven’t had the time to see how to cash them in the best way, yet. Though I do like that it gives you points even if you don’t qualify for the surveys. Most places don’t give you anything if you don’t pass the prescreening.

Ibotta is awesome. Ibotta is a rebate app that works like coupons, but the bonuses make it worth much more. When there is an Ibotta rebate, you open the app and scan the product, then you take a photo of your receipt, and they put the money into your PayPal account when you cash out. There are bonuses available, so if you redeem a certain amount of rebates in a month, you can earn a few dollars more, or if you buy 3 separate juices on a transaction, you get an extra dollar, etc. The bonuses change all of the time. This app is a lot of fun.

Shopkick is another app that I have a LOT of fun using. I like scanning things. This app pays in gift cards, which I then sell for cash usually. Though, at the moment, I’m only a few points away from earning a $100 gift card at the Hyatt, which I can use for Big Man’s vacation stay. They also have Target, Starbucks, JC Penney, Best Buy and a whole lot more. Shopkick gives you points for walking into stores and scanning items using their app. A lot of the stores also have kicks for purchases. The trick here is to ONLY BUY STUFF THAT YOU’D BUY ANYWAY, just like coupons. If you’re walking into JC Penney and spending $100 on stuff that you weren’t gonna buy anyway so that you can get 2000 kicks, well…you didn’t save any money, yeah? However, I know that Big Man is a weed and no longer fits in any of the summer clothing that I bought for him last year. Therefore, he needs new school clothes. I will specifically go to places where Ibotta or Shopkick gives me rewards in order to restock his closet with the things he needs. Old Navy will give me kicks for purchases on Shopkick, plus bonuses if I spend so much, so I will buy all of his shorts there. Ibotta has a rebate for Aeropostale for $5 off of a purchase, so I will get his shirts there. That $5 rebate will push me over my level 3 teamwork bonus for March on Ibotta, which will then earn me another $2. So I’m stacking all of the cash and getting the stuff that the adorable adolescent giant person needs!

I also do MYSTERY SHOPPING! Mystery shopping is a ton of fun, but really difficult if you’ve gotta little kid with you. Most companies don’t allow you to take your kid with you unless it’s a kid-centered shop (like a toy store). So, for these, I’ll calculate how much I’m making and if it’s worth paying a sitter for the day, and I’ll subtract that from my expenses. All of these earnings and the Scentsy earnings are submitted on a 1099 at tax time, and I have an envelope where I keep track of my mileage and other expenses. All of these companies pay via PayPal, direct deposit or check.  Some of them don’t require you to purchase anything, like the banks, which are my favorite. You just walk into a bank and pretend to be interested in finding out more information, or even better, call them and ask them to mail you information, and then you fill out a survey online about your experience and wait for a check to get paid. Some of them are phone call only shops, which are super easy. Some of them are purchase to reimburse shops. I will never pay for an oil change again. These are my favorite companies. I’ve been paid from all of them.

Intelli-Shop is my absolute favorite.

Bestmark pays quickly.

Maritz also pays super fast, but don’t do the bank shops here unless they are bonused to be more than $15, as Beyond Hello does these exact same shops for the same bank for $15. Beyond Hello is slower on payment, though.

Reality-Based Groups will do shops for valet parking, which pay well and are super easy. They also do some fun vintage store shops.

Regal Hospitality Groups does hotel shops. These pay VERY WELL, and they are VERY DIFFICULT and detailed. You also have to pay for the hotel stay, and they will reimburse you. It takes 90 days.

Shopper’s Critique does some super easy retail shops.

Mintel has some high-paying shops including earning $500 to get a new credit card and report any communications from the card company for 6 months. I believe they also periodically have shops where you get paid $50 to test-drive a Porche.

And the last thing that I do to make money from home is blog! If you love to write, then this one you can do. It’s difficult to get published, but here’s a list of blogs that pay FreeLance Blogger. I write something and then look at the sites to see if it fits the “voice” that they use. If it does, I’ll submit it and see if I can get paid for it. If not, I post it here!

That’s it! It’s a LOT, and it takes me quite a lot of time to do it all, but, hey, I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

Editing to add this adorable picture of The Bot the second they revealed her new princess makeover.  THIS is what I paid for 🙂 Look at that happy face!



Have you seen this hashtag?  If you haven’t, you may want to check it out before reading this here bliggity blog so that you know what in the heck I’m even talking about.  I’m glad the movement finally has some feet, but good Lord WHY do we even have to say it?!  So here’s my take on it, as a woman, as one who walks this path every day of her life, as someone who has been preaching #yesallwomen for over a decade.  Because I’m fired up.


I’m fired up after being harassed, again, for the ten thousandth time, by a man because I dared to be a woman out in public.  I’m fired up because there’s NOTHING I can do to stop the harassment.  There is no response that these particular men will accept that doesn’t get me either followed around and called names or hit on.  There’s nothing I can do that will allow me to carry on my daily tasks in peace.  I’ve been down this road 100 times.  We all have.  #yesALLwomen


I walked into the grocery store (Yes, ladies, the grocery store isn’t even a safe haven for us, and for the most part, it’s only full of US.)  I saw the man hovering by the front door as I approached.  I saw him eyeballing me (by me, I mean my ass) the second I got out of my car.  I had a decision to make.  A decision I have to make every time I see this look in some dude’s eye and I know he’s going to “hey, girl” me while looking at my breasts as though I am privileged to be ogled by such a specimen.  Do I feel like being called a bitch today?  If not, then I’ll have to be polite and say “hi” back when he tries to make contact.  I know the consequences of this are that he’s going to try to get in my pants, because CLEARLY I have shown interest in his penis with my polite response.  I can also choose to ignore him, meaning he will then call me a bitch or, most likely, since he appears to be doing nothing in particular, follow me around in order to make sure I know that I’m missing out and that I’m a stupid whore.  After assessing the situation, I chose the polite version.  The guy wasn’t doing anything, so I knew that no matter what, he was going to follow me (he did), but he was also alone, so he didn’t have anyone to impress, so maybe I would get off easy.


No such luck.  His four buddies were waiting for him inside the store.  Let the ignorant games begin. *sigh*  I just want to get my groceries and get out of here.  My kids are on summer break and have been at one another’s throats all day, so I wasn’t gonna drag all 3 of them to the store, which meant I had to go after bedtime.  It was late.  I was tired.  Just let me get my milk and eggs and be on my way, MFer.


He stalked me through the produce section leaning back and making disgusting spittle noises and saying “damn” over and over.  Wonderful.  He sounded like the Bot when she’s stuffed too much apple sauce in her mouth and she’s trying to slurp it all back in.  I flourished my wedding ring.  His buddies laughing at my obvious discomfort.


I yawned as I walked down the juice aisle.  It’s 9 pm and I’m 30 minutes from home loading up on Juicy Juice after what amounts to 2 months of OT for a stay at home mom (summer BREAK?)  A dude in the aisle says, “You look tired!”  He’s making eye contact and smiling pleasantly and NOT staring at my ass when speaking to me. SWEET!  So I smile back and say, “Yeah, just trying to get this done.  Summer break isn’t a break for moms.”  He chuckles a little and tells me to have a good night.  Too late.  I realize that jerk face is right behind me and has seen me talking to another dude.  His heckles are raised, my friends, and raised heckles are a terrible thing to waste.  Polite, non-leering man received some of my attention; therefore, touch my penis mcgee has decided that I owe him some as well, only he’s not going to make normal conversation and let me go about my business, OH NO! He is not.


I could barely understand most of his mumbles as I nodded and inched away through ten minutes of questions on whether I am married (yes, you eyed my ring several times), and “how married” as though there are degrees of married (hint: there aren’t.)  There was something about working on the railroad and a Mercedes and a Jaguar and he has 5 kids and here are their names tattooed on his arms and he’s divorced and whatever.  And then, “it’s too bad you’re married, or you could get my number.”


O.M.G. Seriously? No one is THAT douchey!  I almost wish we were in the pharmacy department so that I could grab a box of douche and physically hand it to him while walking away.  He tried 3 more times to get my number, saying I may need someone to talk to.  Really? Are you a psychologist? Because I think I need one after talking to you.  I also probably just got crabs by being in your vicinity, so thanks for that.


I wish I could say this was an isolated incident.  But it’s not.  I deal with this a few times a month.  Can I walk down the street without being cat called out of a car window?  Can I take my baby for a stroll or walk a dog or even get the mail without at least weekly harassment from a man in a passing car?  Nope.  I can’t.  Not at my biggest, not at my smallest, not even when I gave myself a hideous boy haircut and wore only men’s clothing.  I can’t walk down the street without being cat called and having inappropriate comments about my body. Because I am a woman. In public. And so I deserve it somehow.  We’ve all experienced it.  #yesALLwomen


And there’s nothing we can do to stop it.


Or is there?


Dudes.  My good men out there.  Hear my plea!  TEACH YOUR SONS THAT THIS IS NOT OK!  Cat calling women is NOT ok!  We don’t LIKE it.  It’s NOT a compliment.  Call it what it is.  It’s showing off.  Because no man alone in a car cat calls women.  It’s the man in the passenger seat making a woman uncomfortable for the benefit of his car full of friends who find her discomfort amusing.  GOOD DUDES, if your friends are cat calling women or harassing them in the grocery store, or the library or the bar, then tell them to CUT IT OUT!  When you stop making them feel like the coolest POS in the room for it, THEN things will change!  When you see your buddy staring at a woman’s breasts while she’s obviously uncomfortable and not interested, a, “Hey, man, let’s go over here and grab a beer, you’re making her uncomfortable” would do the 50% of us with a vagina a heck of a lot of good.


Teach your sons that it is perfectly OK if a woman isn’t interested in him.  There are 3.5 BILLION of us on this planet.  One of us is going to like him.  Teach him that going back to his buddies and calling her a bitch because she DARED to shun his affections is completely inappropriate.  Teach him that if his friend is rejected by a woman, that’s ok, too, and if his buddy comes back and calls her names, to STAND UP FOR HER.  She has every right to not be ok being leered at and hit on or have her marriage or relationship questioned.


Stop letting your friends follow women around and eyeballing their bodies or making comments about their bodies, especially when the woman is just trying to go about her day!  Stop laughing at our discomfort!  Stop making your pal feel like the more uncomfortable he makes us, the cooler he is.


HELP US!  WE can’t change this alone.  We need your help.  Man the eff up and do something about this!


If you’ve got the stomach for something a little more graphic, click and watch this.  Welcome to a day in our world.



Experiment results!

So, I wrote this AGES ago….and apparently forgot to actually push the publish button.  Go, Mom Brain!  I was wondering why it had no views.  My intelligence is UNMATCHED in the human world!

So, I was inspired by Allison over at MotherhoodWTF to see what happened when I didn’t nag my family to pick up after themselves.  And by inspired, I mean I copied her idea exactly.  Here are the (surprising) results of that experiment.


A recap of what it looked like before, when I had cleaned it of everything that did not belong on it.





Look how much win this is!  I only added a book, a couple of pencils, and stuff that belongs on the desk because the desk is for paperwork, and it is paperwork!  GO, TEAM NO NAGGING!


When it was clean:



The progression: Day 1



Day 2:



The pile of crap just…SPREAD OUT! AAAAH!  Also, bread.  There is no need to pick up things that you have gotten out to use when Karen will just beg and plead with you ten times to put it away.  Or will she?




After 2 days:


This was another surprise for me.  Not much damage, when, in general, when I’m Naggy McNaggerson, this room is a DISASTER of toys and pillows and blankets all over everywhere.


Before.  Really.  This is the “clean” version.




I HATE these stairs and all the stuff that collects on it.  There is NEVER not anything on the stairs to be tripped over.  DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND?!  I am a hovering helicopter parent, and I have nightmares that they trip on the stairs and break a tooth and get an oral infection and DIE!!!!!




After:  I decided to take lots of pictures of this for reasons unknown to me.




This is what made my eyeballs twitch for the two experimental days.  Because I knew that ketchup needed to be refrigerated and I would have to throw it away.  I just kept whispering to myself, “It’s already almost gone anyway.  I also knew I was going to hear, “But it’s staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale!!!!!” the next time he wanted to eat that cereal that he left on the table for two days.  Open, of course.

RESULTS:  I learned two things.  One, when I don’t nag, they actually pick up MORE than usual!  CRAZY!  My house did NOT become an unacceptable level of filthy.

Two, and this was the one that surprised me most, I didn’t mind so much (other than knowing I was going to have to toss perfectly good ketchup. I made them eat the stale cereal.)  Also, we were so much happier without me nagging.  We enjoyed our mess and did fun things instead of me repeating myself over and over and getting angrier and angrier and then yelling, as that’s the only way things get done, or so I thought.  Turns out, if I don’t yell or even ask, they clean up after themselves on their own, just not right away, as is my preference.  I was a LOT calmer and less stressed, though it does suck to clean all the things as my job during the day and have stuff explode on it the second they walk in the door.  However, I am, in general, a museum liver (not to be confused with a cow or sheep liver), and that’s just not possible with three kids.  Anyway, no nagging means winning.  We were fun and happy, and only a little messier than usual.




Karen’s No Nag Zone

Allison over at Motherhood WTF has been conducting experiments on what happens to her family’s items when she doesn’t nag them to pick them up.

Inspired, I am hereby conducting an experiment.  It’s called “What happens when Karen doesn’t nag her family to clean up after themselves.”

This family knows that they are expected to clean up their own stuff.  I only clean up after me and the baby, and sometimes Eric when he is busy doing other things like working or taking care of the children or making dinner, what have you.  Still, he cleans up after himself 99% of the time.

However, I HATE HATE nagging.  It’s sucking my soul dry.  I am sick of seeing things sitting where they do not belong and constantly saying, “pick up your ____.  You know it doesn’t belong there.  You know where it does belong.  You have two huge bedrooms upstairs and a huge playroom downstairs to play in.  The toys do not belong on this floor of the house.  Your socks don’t belong in/on/under the couch/car.  Pick them up.”  They know what they are supposed to do.  I’m not some magical being (like a wizard or a cat) who can see things out of place that others cannot.

So I’m not going to tell them to pick it up anymore.  I’m done.  I’ll vacuum AROUND all of their shit instead of picking it all up and placing it on the bottom of the stairs with the implication of “this is yours, take it upstairs.”  And then watching it sit there and pile up for 3 weeks before saying, “Pick up your stuff on the stairs.  You’ve walked by it 2000 times.  You know it is yours and doesn’t belong there and that stuff on the bottom of the stairs means TAKE IT UPSTAIRS WITH YOU THE NEXT TIME YOU GO UP!  If you don’t pick it up, I’m throwing it away.”  That’s the ONLY time stuff gets picked up around here.  When I tell them to (at least 3 times.  It never gets picked up the first time I ask.) and then when I threaten to take away tokens or throw stuff away.

I’m done.  I’m going to take photos of the 5 problem areas here.  The first set are what they look like after I’ve finished my daily housework and before the kids get home from school.  The second set are what they look like when the kids go to bed tonight, without me saying so much as “pick up your homework and put it in your backpack” or “please get those stinky socks off the floor. The baby is eating them.”

The third set of photos will be of what the areas look like tomorrow morning after the kids get on the bus.  And a fourth set will be Thursday night after they go to bed.  Two days.  How messy can two boys be in two days without me nagging constantly to do what they are supposed to know how to do on their own?  STAY TUNED!  I’ll update this post with pictures as soon as I go all MSPaint on them.

Photo set 1.  The before:

This is the desk in the kitchen where I pay the bills.  The kids’ chore list is on the fridge by day.  If they complete everything on the list without me nagging, they earn a token.



This is the kitchen counter.  Notice how it is not full of dishes.  Notice also that pile of crap in the corner that I have been nagging and begging to be picked up since Christmas.  Eff that pile of crap.



Living room.  I.E. toy collection space, though I do keep a few baby toys here, since this is where the Bot hangs out all day.  Notice how the pillows and blankets are neatly on the couch.  This will likely change to strewn across the floor.



The bane of my existence.  Predicted outcome is that the hamper will go upstairs and the rest of the stuff will not.  It may multiply.


The kitchen table.  A formidable opponent for school papers.


The Wonderful World of Dennis the Hitchhiker

So, there’s this hitchhiker I met in high school.  We’ll call him Dennis.  Not to protect his innocence, but because that’s his name.  I didn’t meet him when he was hitchhiking.  I met him at the counter at a diner.  I only know that he’s a hitchhiker because I see him hitchhiking all the time now.  He always starts out in front of the police station here in our little town.  He’s wearing the same sports coat every day that he was wearing when I met him 15-20 years ago.  Even when it’s 103 degrees outside.  It’s a corduroy blazer.  It’s very important to look professional when thumbing for rides in front of a jail in 103-degree heat.

In another time in my life, maybe I would pick him up.  But now I have children and a distinct want to not be murdered, so I don’t.  I would pick him up because I want to hear stories he would tell.  Since I won’t really pick him up and hear his real stories, I’m just going to make up some fake stories that he might tell me and post them here from time to time.


To recap:  Dennis is real.  His stories aren’t.


Here’s some stuff I imagine Dennis might say to folks who gave him a ride:

Hey, there.  I’m Dennis.  Thanks for offering me a ride.  I’m headed up to the south side landfill to dispose of this human toe.  A body was found, and I can’t keep this trophy anymore.  It’s a bummer.  It’s one of the better toes in my collection.  I’m pretty sure she used Jamberry nails on this thing.  The polish has definitely lasted a lot longer than some of the other painted toes.  Though, this isn’t as great as that toe with the diamond toe ring that I got in 1974.  I’ll be really crushed when that body shows up.  Unfortunately, due to decay, the ring has gotten a little large for the toe.  Perhaps I should get it sized.  Can you drop me at the jewelry store, first?  The one next to the dry cleaner.  I need to get my sports coat cleaned.



Eats Shoots and Leaves

There’s a stop sign down the street.  Someone spray painted the word “fags” on it.  I’m not quite sure what they want to stop them from doing.  They already can’t get married, procreate, adopt kids, get survivor or tax benefits.  Dang.  What else do you wanna take?  Unfortunately, I think they want them to stop existing.  That’s nuts.  Asking us straight folks to stop making babies, vandals?  You crazy.

Maybe I’ll go paint a comma on it and take “fags” back.  So it will be all “Stop, fags”.  Yeah.  I’m talkin to you!  Everyone that stops at this sign is a fag.  Everyone.  So now it’s not derogatory, ’cause you’re talkin about yo’self.  Boom.  Now fag doesn’t mean homophobic slur.  Now it means, “safe driver”.  Fags for life.  Don’t text and drive.

In all seriousness, I wonder if Martinsville has a mayor’s action line.  I’d like to get a new stop sign down at the corner.