Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Buying in Bulk

Mr. Free and I love Costco.
It is a magical place full of huge boxes and portions along with free samples and delicious churros.

So here is why, we the Free household of 2 buy in bulk:

1. It saves money
Disclaimer: You need to check your prices...sometimes bulk is more expensive! You have to do your homework!
2. It saves time
Instead of running to the grocery store every month for toilet paper, you are stocked for 3 months!
3. It saves gasoline
Again, instead of needing to run out for something monthly, you can now go every couple of months....saving gas! And the environment!
4. You are prepared
In buying things in bulked and having a good home storage system, you rarely 'run out' of something. This is nice especially during winter or bad weather.
5. It's fun.
Come on...who doesn't love lugging around a massive 50 count toilet paper box?!

Even though it is only the 2 of us, we have found buying in bulk to be quite beneficial.
But Jenny! Your kitchen is TINY! You have no pantry!!!! You may be asking....

Well, we came up with a solution.
I'll blog about that tomorrow. : )

Anyways! When we go to Costco, we only buy what we actually use and what is actually cheaper than the regular grocery store.
We get those things, store a couple in our food cupboard and store the rest.

We also get to Trader Joe's once every couple of months and we will stock up on things we use there as well.

Oh how I love Trader Joe's. Their prices are amazing and its just a fun place to shop! You can find such unique food. But alas...you are 3 hours away. : (

While at the lake this weekend, we stopped at an Amish Bulk store, and boy was I in heaven! Most of their prices were fantastic!!!
Their stuff comes packaged like this:

Sorry for the blurry pic. Gotta love camera phones!

Remember those glass jars I got from the thrift?
Here they are in full use!

These are storing our: UltraGrain flour, Whole Wheat Flour, organic popcorn kernels, brown rice, almond meal and chocolate whey protein.

We stopped again at the thrift to get some more! They look so pretty!

So Readers... do you buy in bulk? What do you normally buy? How do you store it all at home?

P.S. If there is any interest, I can certainly give you a sneak peak at what we normally buy in bulk. But I didn't want to completely bore you with the details if no one is interested! : )

Monday, June 28, 2010


Sorry for my lack of posting lately.
Life has been insane.
And I'm not even working right now!

Last Thursday Mr. Free and I headed out to St. Louis to see our sweet twin nieces come into this world.
They are beautiful and mama, papa and babies are all healthy and well!

Disclaimer: I know this pic is horrible of me...and not the very best of Mr. Free either (but of course, he always looks uh-mazing). It's the only pic on my computer of us with the girls.....

We also spent the weekend at the lake with 16 friends. It was a blast!

But right before we left we finally closed on our sweet little home.

Right now, Mr. Free and I are especially motivated to customize our home to suit our style and needs.
There will sure be plenty to blog about!
Right now we are looking at the best options for our basement.
With 900 sq. feet of unfinished space, it is sure hard to ignore.

Currently Mr. Free and I are planning on building a massive shelving unit under our stairs down there to make a place for everything.

This will also separate our laundry area from the rest of our basement.

That's all I will go into for now....just wanted to update and let you all know we are still alive.... : )

Comment if you still read this! Any requests for future posts?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Small Space Make-Shift Pantry

Like I've mentioned before, our kitchen is smaller than most people's closets.
We have no pantry.
We have 5 overhead cabinets. (7 if you include the little ones above the sink).
2 for plates/glasses, 2 for tupperware( the little ones), 1 for baking supplies, 2 for food.
This isn't enough.

So, I got creative.
The door to our basement is right next to our kitchen.

Disclaimer: One of my goals is to paint all our doors white....they just look so fugly as-is. Maybe even new knobs. Since we have a ton of money. : )

I ventured to Wal Mart and got some wire bins.
And then screwed them into the backside of the door, facing the basement.
This way I can open up the door, and it's like a tiny micro pantry!

I need to add more, just haven't gotten around to it.
What do you guys think?
Anyone else have an small space food storage solutions?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Organization: Glass Jars

After seeing this photo:

I knew I wanted to organize my food cupboard with glass jars.
Isn't it gorgeous?!

Well, I went shopping at Target and decided to check out how much their glass containers were.

$13! For one!
Too much!

So, I checked out Wal-Mart
$13 for 3.
Better, but still too much.

I then went to Old Time Pottery.
None were the right size.
Either too teeny or too massive.

Alas, I found a great deal online!

$2.99 each!
But, did I mention they were from IKEA?
That glorious store that is no where close to KC?!
Whose shipping is outrageous?!

So yeah..... no luck.

Today I decided to venture to my favorite thrift.

7 jars for $7!!!
That's what I'm talkin' bout!
Their prices ranged from $.25 to $1.98.
They will be perfect for holding the bulk items we have started buying at Whole Foods.
And it'll look so pretty!

While I was there I also spotted this red lantern for $1.98 that I thought would be perfect out on our deck.

Not too shabby!
Well, I am off to go stick the containers in the dishwasher. Organizing the kitchen is my project for next week. These will sure come in handy!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

So much goin' on.

Sorry it's been awhile for an update! I try to be quite regular, but life has gotten in the way!
Alright...let's rewind.

Friday, Mr. Free and I headed up to Iowa to look at a car we were interested in on Craiglist.
We had it inspected, carfaxed, test drove it and bought it!
We got a 2008 Mazda5.

So far we love it! It gets great gas mileage (30+!) and seats 6! We love that we can haul all of our friends!
Mr. Free has enjoyed shining it up and makin' it perdy.

We have sold both of our former vehicles and bought both of our new vehicles (the Mazda and our Scion xB) on Criagslist. If you have any questions, leave me a comment! We have had great experience with it!

Next item.
For the last couple of years I have been slowly going gray.
Yup. In my early twenties. (Thanks Mom.....)
So, I took the plunge today and got my hair done.
I got highlights.
I dyed my beautiful red hair.
OK....it's not beautiful. But I actually had come to terms with being a ginger, then my hair turned on me and became wirey and silver. Not.cool.
So here is the before:

And after: (poor quality picture brought to you by PhotoBooth)

See the blonde?
Much better right?!

OK.....so here's the rest of my week:
* Tomorrow: Finish foundation work.Finish guest room. Do blog post bout it. Go to grad school. Blech.
* Wednesday: Final appraisal on house. Pack for weekend. Close on house. Yippee!
* Thursday: Head to St. Louis to see our sweet nieces be born!
* Friday: Head to the lake for the weekend with our friends!
* Sunday: Head home to reality.

So.....I may be a bit sporadic and I apologize. There is just so much going on, it makes my head spin.
But come Wednesday we will be home owners! We have some great and thrifty plans to keep updating our home! Stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What I'm loving right now...

My new Almond Candle from Covington Creek Candles

It smells *just* like Method's Wood for Good wood floor cleaner. Every time I mop, Mr. Free and I both say, "I wish we had a candle that smelled like that!". I found it! You can order from them through Etsy. They have probably 50 different scents!
They are soy candles (which means they burn cleaner) and are made from all USA ingredients. They also include a tube of organic all-natural homemade peppermint lip balm with your order! It is amazing!!!

Tom's of Maine Crystal Confidence Deodorant

In our effort to live as naturally and simply as possible, I re-evaluated my deodorant. I normally buy the $.97 Suave deodorant and anti-perspirant. As I did more and more research about the possible link to breast cancer and other hormone disorders due to the aluminum and parabens in conventional anti-perspirants, I decided to make the switch. So far, in the Missouri heat, Tom's has done wonderful! The price isn't horrible either... $2.49 at Target.

Big flower rings

I used to be very monogamous to my ring wear-age. I always thought I would ONLY wear my wedding ring. Another ring would just distract from the beautiful ring my dear husband gave to me.
Well....after 3 years, I'm thinking of branching out.
These gorgeous and fun rings would look so cute on my right hand....


If you've been following my blog, you've seen my recent organizational kick.
I found a great new-ish blog called I Heart Organizing.
Her pictures are beautiful and definitely inspirational!

Real Simple magazine

I snagged one of those $5 yearly subscriptions to it on Amazon a couple of months ago. I LOVE getting magazines, but they are usually so expensive! At $5 a year? The Free household can afford that....

iPhone 4

They are simply amazing pieces of machinery. Mr. Free and I watched the 2 hour keynote speech about them and fell head over heels. We then promptly went around the house and scrounged up items we no longer use to sell on Craigslist for our iphone fund. We just about have enough! We haven't had iphones before, but we are totally stoked!!!


Now that it's warm, and I'm a 'bigger' girl than I've ever been....sundresses are the perfect solution. They are cute, keep you cool and hide problem areas. Woohoo!

b:2 a Burger Boutique

I can safely say that this is one of our favorite restaurants. From their gourmet burgers, to amazing truffle fries and our favorite milkshakes in town, its definitely worth a stop. If we weren't on such a tight budget, we would be there weekly...
I totally know I've mentioned them before, I'm just super hungry and a burger sound uh-mazing.

Alright Readers, what are you loving right now?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Random Room

So, I had this room that I prayed no one accidentally walked into when they came over.
It was our 'random room'.
A purgatory of stuff that wasn't quite destined for the basement or trash can yet.
Yesterday they met their final fate.

Here is the embarrassing before:


And the much better after:

I relocated the rug from the basement, and brought up the sewing table as well.
We moved out the desk to the guest room for our long-term guest to use.
I purged, purged, purged.
I made a photo wall of various photos and frames we had along with the mirror that was my great-grandmothers.
I was going to take down the guitars, but I decided to keep them up. Meh.

This room now has a purpose!
It has an identity!

It holds our sewing table, so I can now do my sewing projects.
It also is where I store our cards. So when we have a birthday or event, they are comfortably nestled on our bookshelf.
This room also houses our photos and scrapbooks.
It is also where our professional books are located.
It's also where we keep our DVDs.

This is also where we keep the litter box and cat food/water, as well as where our pets sleep (2 dogs and 1 cat) at night on that huge pet bed.

Yay for organization!!!

What do you think?

Only 2 rooms left to organize! woohoo!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010


There is a lot going on in the Free household this week.

1) We are getting a little foundation work done on our home. It is minimal...we are just having our I beam lowered about a 1/4 of an inch to catch it up with the settlement our house has had over the last 50 years.

2) We are hopefully closing on our house this Thursday! This obviously depends on the repairs and that they are done by then. Come Thursday evening we may just be homeowners!

3) In being new homeowners, Mr. Free and I have long felt that our home is a place to minister to others. We wanted people to feel welcome here anytime. 24/7.

A couple of weeks ago the opportunity arose to take in a college student who needed a place to stay to just get on their feet until they could get their own place in a couple of months.
Mr. Free and I both prayed about it and decided that it was something we wanted to do.
We have the space, we love people, why not?!
Now, we understand that this situation will bring some challenges, but Mr. Free and I have already been discussing house rules and the like.

In this new, temporary season of life, it has made me realize how much organized I will need to be with another person living here!

I've always 'meal planned' but I was pretty loose with it. Now it will be vital.
I've also been developing a chore chart and laundry schedule so that our house will work like clock work.

If you all could be praying for us during this new time of life, we would sure appreciate it.
Also, if you have any tips on running a smooth household with more than 2 people, that would be wonderful as well!

Some members of our church have offered to help with a monthly stipend to help with extra expenses in taking in an extra person. That will be a huge blessing as that was our main concern. Please pray that our needs are met.

This house, as little as it may be, is definitely not for 'us'. It is to be a place of comfort, refreshment and encouragement for anyone who enters it.

Friday, June 11, 2010


The Free household loves Craigslist.
Loves it.
We use it a lot.

It is such a great tool and marketplace to both sell and purchase.
And we have had a lot of success with it.

Here are some items we have sold:
2 vehicles
Air conditioner units
Home decor
Area rug
Video Games
Packing materials

Things we have bought:
Our Scion Xb
XBox Live membership
Xbox hard drive
Landscaping materials
Wheels for our Xb
Video games
Motorcycle accessories

*Knock on wood* we have had zero issues and have gotten great deals.
Some people complain that their stuff just doesn't sell, so Mr. Free told me his strategy for selling on Craigslist.

Mr. Free's tips for selling on Craigslist:
* Be ready to part with the item. You have to price it to sell. Sentimental attachment will cause you to want to price the item higher, and in turn wont sell.
* Research the item you are selling and if it is being sold by others on Craigslist, to get a price point. If no one is selling that item on Craigslist, check Amazon or Ebay for a starting point.
* Be prepared for haggling. Use your judgement in lowering the price, but many people buy from Craigslist to haggle. We usually price things to give some haggling wiggle room. If we have a lot of interest in the item, we usually will stand firm in our price though.
* If you do not want to haggle at all, be sure to write FIRM after the price in the post.
* If your item hasn't had any interest in a week, lower the price.
* Always post pictures. Take good quality pictures as well. The item needs to fill the frame. People want to see what they are buying. Also make sure item is squeeky clean before taking pictures. You want it to look brand new.
* If there is several features about an item, list it out vertically. It is easier for the buyer to see and looks more impressive.
* Recommend great ideas for the item you are selling. Mr. Free likes to point out that the item would be a great gift for certain holidays.
* Always highlight that the item is from a non-smoking home.
* Always do CASH only and LOCAL only. You will get scammers e-mailing you asking if they can send a check or wire money. This is ALWAYS a scam.
* The last thing he always puts in a post is his contact e-mail and his cell phone/text. Buyers like a variety of ways to contact you. If you are uncomfortable with that, by all means just do e-mail.
* Lastly, if at all possible bring a friend and meet at a public place. This ensures your safety. Having a weapon on you also isn't a bad idea. Again, we have never had any issues at all, but it doesn't hurt to take extra precautions.

Does anybody else have any other tips for buying/selling on craigslist?
Any questions about Craigslist for Mr. Free?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why I'm being Susie Homemaker this summer...

This summer I've been very motivated.
I have been working hard to get our home in tip-top shape.
Here's why.

2 summers ago I didn't work.
I had just graduated college, and had my teaching job lined up for the fall.
So I took the summer off.
What did I do that summer?


Well, not nothing.
I slept.
I went shopping.
I watched TV.
I perused the internet.

This created a lot of tension in our marriage.
I was young, dumb and selfish.

Mr. Free worked hard all day at a job he hated.
He did this to provide for us.
For me.
He came home tired.
What did he come home to?
An unkept wife in an unkept home.
This frustrated him to no end.

Don't get me wrong.
He knew I deserved some 'me time'.
However....not 3 months straight of it. : )

During our engagement, we read 'The 5 Love Languages' by Gary Chapman.
A very interesting read.
I learned that Mr. Free's 'love language' is Acts of Service.
Mine is Quality Time.

He knew I loved him by me helping around the house.
When I would do the dishes, mop the floors, clean my underwear off the floor.
All those things showed him I loved him.

That is not my love language. So I didn't think much about it.
Looking back now, I am sad and ashamed almost to how I spent that summer.
That time could have been spent blessing my husband and our home.
Instead I wasted it to be self-indulgent.

But I look back and have learned a lot from that.
This summer I am very blessed to have this time off, and have declared that I will use this time to be a blessing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Free!

Mr. Free-
3 years ago we said 'I do'.

It's so hard to believe it has been 3 full years!
We are going into our 4th year of marriage!

It has been a blast.
You have shown me so much.
You have shown me how to live life to the fullest.
You have shown me how to live out my faith for others.
You have shown me how to love others.

You are an amazing man and I am so thrilled you chose me to be your wife.


Your adoring wife. : )

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our closet- done!

Our closet is NOT big. It is the biggest in the house though.
So, for the last few months I had just crammed in as much crap as I could.
And it was not working.

So today, I crossed something else off my Summer List.

Here is the awful before:

And the MUCH better After:

No, it isn't amazingly beautiful.
But it is functional.

Mr. Free and I both share this closet, so I think it is set-up (and purged!) to be much better.

I have been dreading this task, so it feels so good to check it off the list!
The next project that will not be fun is the kitchen cabinets.
Luckily I hardly have any, so it won't be too bad. : )
Now that's looking at the glass half full!

I hope everyone is having a great summer, whether you are at home or at work. This is a beautiful time of the year!

P.S. If you are in the KC area and would like to buy some of my homemade bread, I would LOVE to bake you some! Currently I am offering white or ultra-grain bread for $2/loaf
or Garlic Parmesan for $3.50/loaf.
Just leave me a comment or an e-mail!!

I'm having wayyy too much fun at home. : )

Monday, June 7, 2010


So, I've already reached some of my summer goals in the first week!
I've also lost 2 pounds!

Thus far I have:
Made homemade jelly

This weeks goal is our bedroom.
It needs to be organized and simplified.
Today I'm going to start on the closet.

To help me get motivated, I love looking at pretty pictures.

Transitional Master Bedroom contemporary bedroom

Beautiful crisp white, blue and green bedroom contemporary bedroom

Master Bedroom contemporary bedroom

Glam Master Bedroom eclectic bedroom


Time to get to work!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Homemade Bread

I've been venturing to the Farmers Market weekly to pick up some fresh-made whole wheat bread.
It was sooo tasty and I loved that it didn't have any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.
But at $3.50 a pop, it was adding up.

I have this abundance of time right now, so I figured why not make my own bread? Just like the olden days.
So this morning I awoke before my husband, put on a pair of high heels and pearls and headed to the kitchen.
Ok, all of that was true minus the high heals and pearls. I NEVER wear heels. Ever.

Yesterday I ventured to Costco to get some ingredients I knew I didn't have.
Whole grain flour and yeast. I figured buying in bulk would be much cheaper and save me from having to run to the store to get more ingredients.

At Costco the only kind of whole grain flour they had was Eagle Mills All Purpose blend of White and UltraGrain flour. It supposedly looks and tastes like white flour but contains the goodness of whole grain.

It was $5.99 for 20 lbs. With the recipe I have it will make approx. 23 loaves.
I also bought 2 pounds of yeast from Costco for $3.69. This should yield approx. 76 loaves.

The ingredients are:
3 1/4 c. flour ($.26)
1/4 c. honey ($.20)
1/4 c. milk ($.09 Shatto milk)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast ($.05)
1 c. water (free-ish)
1 1/2 tbs. butter, melted ($.25)
1 tsp. salt (already had)
Non-stick cooking spray (already had)

Price per loaf: $.85
That is a weekly saving of $2.65 or a monthly savings of $10.60.
Yearly that would be $127.20.

Not too shabby!
I perused the internet for awhile and found a recipe I think I could modify to my liking. It seemed simple enough.
So here it is.... pics and all.

The ingredients
My surprisingly powerful $15 Stand Mixer from Target. With dough hooks.
Put 2 1/5 tsp. of yeast in the bowl with 1 cup warm water. (Not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
Mix them together until the yeast is completely dissolved.
Next, add in the melted butter (cooled off a bit), the milk, the honey and salt. Stir it up.
Add in 2 cups of flour and start mixing with the mixer.

Add in 1/4 c. of flour at a time until the dough is just barely not sticky to the touch anymore.

Let the stand mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes.
Spray a bowl with non-stick cooking spray and place the dough in that bowl.
Put the bowl in a warm place.
I put mine on top of my gas stove set at 200 degrees.
Cover for an hour and let it rise!
It should double in size!
Punch it down, then place the dough on a well-floured area.
Stretch the dough out to a rectangular shape.

Roll it up.
Place it in your well-greased bread pan.
Cover again for another hour in a warm area.
It should fill the pan.
Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Ding! Bread is done!
Let it cool completely before slicing.

Not so bad after all!

You can make more than one loaf at a time, and can freeze the dough if you'd rather do that for the next few loaves.

Homemade bread is a bit time consuming, but for most the process you can do other things since it is mostly just rising! A great time to do housework, read a book, sleep or write a blog entry!

Please let me know if you've tried it or have another great recipe!
My next goal is to make homemade jam. Mmmm.....

P.S. I am eating a slice now with Shatto butter and cherry preserves. Oh my....SO delicious!