Friday, October 2, 2009

Money Mantra #8: Admit Your Money Mistakes

John Powell wrote, "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." When you are trying to live cheaply and cheerfully, there is no question that stumbling blocks will be a part of the budgeting and spending cycle. Everyone has their weaknesses in saving money, whether it is "needing" the newest shoes, a penchant for too many lipsticks, overspending on eating out, or indulging in an electronic gadget that isn't as useful as it should be. In order to overcome your money missteps, I propose making a "no buy" list and keeping it in your wallet.

Mine would read: "No black t-shirts, no stationery, no seasonal items, ...".
By keeping a no buy list, I am identifying where I spend money that isn't needed and reminding myself of my past errant purchases. When I can avoid my money mistakes, I can move those dollars toward something else on my "to buy" list.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What are your "soft spots" in your spending? How do you avoid these money mistakes?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Favorite Things: Ikea Playroom Rugs

If you are looking for a colorful, durable rug at a great price, make a trip to your local Ikea. We've found great rugs for our playroom and bedrooms for under $50. Just recently, my husband found a super cute, square rug with a faux quilt sampler look for our daughter's room for only $24.99. After all, rugs don't last forever when you've got soccer cleat tracks, crushed goldfish, and baby lotion competing for space. At under $50 a piece you can get two rugs per room per year and not stress about the stains and every day accidents.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What cost effective floor covering solutions have you found?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Favorite Things: KidBean Wooden Toys

Last year, I stumbled upon this website when looking for a quality, wooden doll bed for my daughter's favorite friends. Not only did I find a bed for "Annie, Caroline, and Clara" and sometimes an errant stuffed animal, I truly bought a toy that my daughter will be able to pass on to her children. Last, but not least, I experienced excellent customer service and got the item at a very fair price. If you are buying gifts for a little person in your life, I highly recommend KidBean. Nothing cheap in the construction but all cheerfully created items that will last for years to come.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What are your favorite wooden toy websites or stores?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Barefoot Contessa Pea Soup

This soup is by far the easiest and tastiest soup that I make on a regular basis. It's a perfect make ahead starter for a dinner party as it stores well in the refrigerator.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (I use the Safeway Organic and it is just fine!)
5 cups freshly shelled peas or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas (Trust me, the frozen ones are great!)
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche (I use Daisy sour cream!)
1/2 cup freshly chopped chives
Garlic croutons, for serving (You can make your own from a day old baguette.)


Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are tender. (Frozen peas will take only 3 minutes.) Off the heat, add the mint, salt, and pepper.
Puree the soup in batches (or use a stick blender). Place 1 cup of soup in a blender, place the lid on top, and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the venthole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed. Whisk in the creme fraiche and chives and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with garlic croutons.

Cheap and Cheerful Challenge -- October: Give a Treat to Someone Else

Cheap and Cheerful's challenge for October is to give a treat (not a trick!) to someone else. Whether it is donating a costume to the AKS Foundation, buying canned food for the needy, or even just paying for the car behind you on a toll bridge, we can all make an effort to share with those around us. If you want, post a comment here about your chosen action. Who knows? You might inspire others to do the same.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Deal of the Day: Colorful and Fun Memory Games

I've written before about great birthday gifts for under $15. Here's my latest favorite to take to preschool parties. It's a sturdy set, with beautiful graphics of international children. You can find it here with free shipping. There are several other themes (animals, candy) made by the same company and offered for the same price. Now if I can only talk my own kids into replacing our very worn "Dino Match" game.

Beg, Borrow, and Steal: Printable Fun

Need something to keep little fingers busy while you cook dinner? Here's my favorite free printables page. Bookmark it and print away!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Deal of the Day: Christmas in September?

I've been casually searching online for Christmas outfits for the kids. My parents get them a nice outfit each year as a gift and I love gathering ideas and then showing the options to my Mom. I ran across a bit of interesting "comparison shopping" that I thought others might like. First, look at this. Adorable, right? I'd love a "nutmeg" dress myself. But then look at this. While it does not come in nutmeg, it's an adorable velvet dress for under $20. I don't know about you buy with the $60 savings I could get shoes, tights and a sweater, too. Do I sound like a Ross commercial?

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Have you found similar items at very different prices? Share your finds here.


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