Infused Vinegar, Party Fun, + Cookie Bars

My hobby is the study of frugality, personal finance and simple living.  I love to read articles and books on the many ways people make ends meet.  But I don’t just want to make ends meet, I want us to enjoy ourselves in the process.  Here are some fun, frugal activities we have enjoyed this MLK holiday weekend.

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We went to the park and met friends today.  I wanted to go to this park because last time we were there I noticed there were tons of lavender bushes with very fragrant blooms.  I took a bag and scissors and collected enough lavender to make a lavender-infused vinegar cleaning solution and a lavender-infused oil.

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Miss PD was invited to a birthday party at an all inclusive play place (games, rides, buffet).  I took Miss Petrie to help me keep an eye on Miss PD.  The party hosts were very generous and each child got an unlimited play card.  We had never been to this place before, but it was fun and was a great way to spend an afternoon.  I don’t mind taking the kids to parties, so we have been able to enjoy many new experiences over the years at these events.  For the cost of a birthday gift.  A birthday gift picked out from the gift closet, purchased at a deep discount.

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Every time cake mix goes on sale for $1 or less, I stock up.  There are so many quick desserts I can whip up with cake mix.  Cake bars are my new favorite.  We used mix-ins we had from the holidays and what we had on hand.  One pan has orange-cranberry-walnut bars and the other has M&Ms and chocolate chips.  Total cost: about $1.25 per pan (I include the cost of the eggs and oil).

I use the cost to happiness ratio to help me decide if something is worth the cost.  All of these activities had a free or low cost, but brought us lots of enjoyment.  The girls were so excited to enjoy the novelty of a play place and all its games and rides, but they were excited to meet friends at the park, too.  And I got to pick the lavender I had wanted for my cleaning solution.

And while we enjoyed our cheap park and lavender picking morning, Mr. Petrie had some expensive dental work done.  And we were able to pay the hefty co-pay with cash.  Making a choice to engage in inexpensive, yet still meaningful, activities has allowed us to afford other necessary expenses.

Teacher Gifts

Since Miss PD started preschool this August, we now have seven teachers to give holiday gifts to.  Albertsons grocery store had a Rachael Ray dish promotion and I collected stamps all fall to use for teacher gifts.  The dishes were bright and high quality and I knew they would really make my homemade baked good stand out!  I was able to get two lime green dinner plates, a red salad plate and a large, cobalt blue coffee mug.

We gave Miss PD’s teachers a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread on a lime green plate.  They looked surprised by the beautiful plate and I felt good giving them a thoughtful, bright gift.  We gave Miss Petrie’s main teacher the blue mug filled with homemade chocolate chip cookies and a Starbucks card.  Miss Petrie’s lacrosse and fencing teacher got the red plate with chocolate chip cookies.  The other teachers got chocolate chip cookies in a Christmas box.

I struggle with what to give these special people, but I figure that the thought really does count for these holidays!

Christmas Menu Musings

I’ve been thinking about what we can eat on Christmas day.  Here are some potential menu ideas that will utilize food we already have.

  • I got two free turkeys before Thanksgiving and we still have one, so it would be prudent to use it.
  • I also have a leftover box of stuffing and most of the fixings for green bean casserole (note to self, buy fried onions).
  • I need to buy potatoes for mashed potatoes.
  • A fruit platter with cream cheese fruit dip would be a nice addition.
  • I will make gravy from the turkey drippings.
  • Red or green chile are delicious with the turkey.
  • For dessert we can have a selection from the myriad of treats Mr. Petrie bakes.

I enjoy a hearty holiday meal, but I don’t want to make anything very complicated.  This menu is similar to what we made for Thanksgiving and that didn’t take us a ridiculous amount of time to make.


Merry Xmas from Casa Petrie

From our house to yours


Hello Friends!

I miss my little blog, but real life has taken precedence over my virtual life.  As I go through my days, I keep thinking of little things I want to write about and that tells me that it is worth my time to blog, if only every so often.



My little garden gnome, Miss Petrie Deux.  :)

Have a great day,

Mrs. Petrie

Happy Birthday Miss Petrie Deux

How can my “baby” be 3??  Miss PD is amazingly energetic, funny, and inquisitive.

The girls in Miss PD’s room. They are wearing their matching horse pajamas.

I like to joke that Miss PD is a puppy housed in a human’s body.  She loves to run and jump and dance.  She whistles to songs on the radio.  She gets up from the table while we’re eating a meal and tells us to watch her dance.  When she’s done she tells us, “Clap, guys!”

Miss PD has the most amazing hair. It is SO curly. No one in our immediate family has hair quite that curly. I am still learning how to tame her mane.

I have learned a lot from being Miss PD’s mom.  She is very different from her sister.  Some things that worked brilliantly with her sister don’t work as well for her.  Other things have been better with this child.  But one thing I now know is that kids are their own people and it’s my job to accept quirks and encourage the good stuff.

Happy birthday, my little pup!



I Scored on Cheap Veggies

Miss Petrie goes to school in an industrial/transitional area of Albuquerque.  It contains lots of businesses and one of the places I frequent near her school is a produce store that gets overstock from major retailers like Target.  Last week I scored veggie platters for $1.99 (usually $13!!), a bag of onions for $0.99 and steamable bags of little potatoes for $0.99.  I also bought two pounds of blueberries for $4, which is cheap this time of year.  I also bought 2 pounds of strawberries for $0.99 per pound.

As soon as I got home I processed all the fruit and veggies into baggies in order to freeze them and partition them out for recipes and lunches.  The veggie platters came with dressing, too, which is a bonus as it doesn’t expire until April.

As I went to pay, I used my store punch card and ended up getting $3 off.  I felt like I was robbing them when I left with five bags of produce for just over $12.  It’s not always convenient for me to go to different stores for all of our food needs, but I do get some killer deals at these little out-of-the-way places.

Enjoy your weekend.

Happy 2013

Happy 2013!  I hope you had a great holiday season.  Mr. Petrie and I took our first ever trip- by ourselves.  The kids stayed with my parents and had lots of fun.  Now they periodically tell me in a wistful voice how they miss the undivided attention of their grandparents.

I don’t really have any resolutions, because our family is continuing to move slowly forward.  I feel good about what we are doing for ourselves: gardening, cooking from scratch, I continue to work on my graduate classes, living frugally, working on our house, exercising, amongst other things.

I have been taking pictures and thought I’d do a quick picture-o-rama.  :)

We saw robotic dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.


I let the girls pick their costumes from their play clothes. Miss PD was a princess. Yes, her crown says “Birthday Girl”. Miss Petrie was a vampire princess.

Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and bread. We had pie for dessert.

Fall hiking at the Petroglyph National Monument.


Miss PD in a poncho made by Grandma P.


I searched high and low for a little writing desk for Miss Petrie’s birthday and finally found one. I painted it white and now I need to get new girly knobs for the drawers. Pictures soon.


Radishes from our winter garden.


Miss PD running through a puddle on a *very* cold day.


Christmas morning and a roaring fire…on the tv.


Mr. Petrie makes us a “Christmas Braid” every Christmas morning. So tasty.


Miss PD in a princess dress on Christmas morning.


Mr. Petrie and I enjoyed the beauty of the Gila Wilderness on our trip.


We’ve been busy!  Have a wonderful weekend.

Miss Petrie Turns 7 (!)

I can hardly believe my girl is seven.  She is getting so big and passing so many milestones, I feel like if I blink I will miss something.

We had a weekend of celebration, starting with a new desk for her room.  It’s a tiny writing desk.  Unfortunately, it’s a yucky golden pine color, but we plan to paint it white and add some fancy knobs.  She opened presents, we ate fancy pizza and cake and she will open m0re presents today.  We also took a birthday treat to her school.  We took Princess Popcorn (popcorn, candy, marshmallows) for each child.  Most kids were ok with that, but a few kids asked me when we were bringing out the cupcakes. It made me chuckle.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our family is looking forward to lots of good eating over the holiday.  I’ve already prepped the potatoes and yams by pre-cooking them in the oven and I have the turkey in the fridge defrosting.  On Wednesday we plan on making mini pecan pies.

I’ve been collecting food for the Thanksgiving feast for a few weeks now.  I finally finished my shopping on Monday, when 20 pound turkeys were $10 at the grocery store I frequent.  I purchased lots of good sandwich fixings for leftovers.

Sorry I’ve been so spartan on Casa Petrie as of late.  I’m taking a graduate class and two projects were due this month.  Whew!  I’m exhausted.

Enjoy your holiday.