Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Molly's Money-Saving Digest---January 2010
Some people say that e-books and magazines are the wave of the future. Now I finally understand why. I saw a lady at Physical Therapy the other day lying on one of the tables reading her Kindle ( a digital book reader from Amazon) while they had her hooked up to one of those tens machines. I have a laptop and think it's fun to take it to Barnes and Noble or Panera and work for a few hours, kid-free, but the thought of reading an entire magazine or book off of a small screen never seemed interesting to me. I am one of those die hard give-it-to-me-in-print types of people. I love my Old Schoolhouse issues to death-by-dog-earing. At that moment, however, as I looked at my HEAVY book bag on the floor (it was heavy because who can ever pick out just one book to take? What if I am not in the mood for that book when I need a diversion? Better take five more just to be sure!), I finally got it. I could load ALL of the books I am currently reading onto one book-sized machine that would fit tidily into my purse. Oh my. Now I know what is going on my Christmas wish list. Money for a Kindle.
On to Molly's Money-Saving Digest...I checked and it CAN be loaded onto a Kindle. Imagine that. Being able to "page through" and read any of them any time you are out and about without lugging them all around with you...On the other hand, if you are still currently Kindle-free like me, you can set up a file on your desktop (or where ever) for all of your Digests and refer to them whenever you need to find a recipe or a printable form. One of the nicer features of the Digests is that many of the pages are printables revolving around whatever theme they cover that issue. So, if you have an interest in getting organized, not only does Molly discuss effective ways to get organized, she also provides you with the tools you need to do so, and she lists quite a few links to websites that cover similar issues.
The current price for Molly's Money-Saving Digests is $4.95 at the Old Schoolhouse Store for about fifty pages of articles, recipes, printables, and frugal ideas. This newsletter/digest is published by The Schoolhouse Magazine, with the symbol of Molly Green being used to represent "every woman." Did you catch that I said "symbol" of Molly Green? Maybe I am the only person who didn't already know this, but I was somewhat disappointed to find out that Molly is not a real person. I had imagined her ponytail bouncing (like mine) as she jumped out of her car to race toward the bargain table at yard sales and flea markets (like me), bargaining down an already pretty good bargain (like me!). However, I was pleased to discover that the adorable watercolor of "Molly" was done by talented artist, Kim Spitznaugle, with the intention of representing the spunkiness and creativity we all have to employ as moms, especially in a strained economy. I can be spunky and creative. Cool! There are, in reality, many contributors who share in the making of the Digests. My favorite in this issue was Marmee Dear of the Homemaker's Mentor in the Back to the Basics column. (Please don't tell me she's not a real person either. Is she? Because her last name is Greene, too. No, don't tell me!!)
Seriously, the pie baking lesson by Marmee Dear was my favorite part of the newsletter. It made me want to go flour up my center island immediately and start the dough a rollin'. I will readily admit that I like cooking quite a lot, so this column's clear instructions, appealing pictures, mouth-watering recipes, and country kitchen advice won me over easily. A few weeks ago, I spent every morning in the pursuit of baking the "perfect" fluffy biscuit. It took about a week of adjusting recipes before I was really pleased with the result, so anything that would shorten that trial and error process would make both me and my kids happy (they had to eat the rejects, "perfect" or not)! I absolutely can't wait to try the "fancy topping with pecans." It sounds divine. I think I will look in the cupboard tonight and see if I have anything that can go in a pie, just so I can try this topping. Yum.
The "Summer Fruit Pie Secret" had me thinking ahead to this season's crop of blackberries and blueberries with much enthusiasm. Just today I noticed that the flowers have come out on those prickly vines you love to hate. We finally decided to rid our own yard of the nuisances, since there are plenty along the side of the country roads out here that nobody picks. Last year I could have picked a bucket of berries every day and there still would have been more. Perhaps a future issue of the Digest will have some useful tips on canning pie fillings. Or maybe one already has.
I am definitely in need of the "In-a-Pinch" pie crust. I made an "egg pie" (quiche to grown-ups) about a month ago and thought it was great, except for the crust. Dry. Blah! I never would have thought of using mayo in a pie crust recipe, but I am willing to try. I am willing to bet it will be a good deal more moist than the one I made. I also enjoyed reading about Marmee's grandmother doing the bulk of the baking once a week on Saturdays. I'd love to get to that point, but not just yet. It sure would help with the rest of the week, though. Maybe, taking that step would help me make the next one happen instead of the other way around, if you know what I mean. That's certainly food for thought...
The forms for budgeting, calendars, and lists look useful as well. We are enrolled in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace seminar this quarter and these forms are pretty similar to his basic set of budgeting forms, which we have used since week one of the program. I do have my own templates for some of the other forms, such as the daily to-do list and the calendar, but I thought that the Family Clothing Inventory List was something that I would like to print up and use right away. I have all the kids' shirts stacked in piles on the floor of our master bedroom and the PLAN is to pull out the too small stuff and the majority of the long sleeved shirts to give their drawers a more less-cluttered feel. I keep waiting for all the clothes to get washed so that I can see everything at once. I have finally decided that this is a mistake. In a family of eight, the clothes will NEVER all be washed at the same time. Why did I think that somehow I would be able to accomplish this super-woman like feat?
In any case, in the course of coming to this conclusion I realized that the reason there is so much chaos with my laundry is that there are sometimes (often) too many shirts and pants per child. My habit is to buy shirts as I see them on the 50 cents rack at the local consignment store. Sometimes one of the kids won't grow into an available shirt for a year, but at 50 cents each I am willing to wait. In the meantime, they can use it as a nightshirt! Then we store the shirts by color in large, stackable clear organizer drawers and once a week, one of the kids gets to pick the color for the day. I was expecting extras in the white category, but instead I found I had too many shirts in every category. Oooops. Now I need to weed out the worn out ones (there are shirts in there from my 18 year-old's toddler days...I am all for thrifty, but there is also ridiculous). During the process of folding those many shirts, I noticed that my third youngest is rather lacking in the shorts/skirts department and my fifth youngest needs new shoes. These printable pages would be a great way to keep track of that sort of thing and I could carry them with me when I go to thrift stores and yard sales, instead of passing up good bargains because a child is unavailable for try-on, AND I might save myself some laundry duty time by cutting down on excessive duplication of inventory (ie. clutter).
"Molly's Menu" was one of my favorite parts of the newsletter (did you notice I seem to appreciate food things the most? Hmmm.) Several of the recipes were right up my harried-homemaker-six-o-clock-was-an-hour-ago alley...five ingredients or less, thank you! I shared the newsletter with my second-born, and he wants to try the chocolate chip cake recipe and the vegetable soup recipe on his day to cook next week. Very semi-homemade, yet looks delicious. Being inspired by this menu is one of the reasons that for the last two weeks I have actually done a good job planning (and executing!) a menu. I used to do this all the time, but fell out of the habit when my husband went on crazy shift work for the military. It turns out the kids missed the menu-making and I was presented with a long list of favorite menu-items they wanted me to prepare. I have also done a better job of keeping up with the shopping since making our menus, and the corresponding shopping list based off of Molly's example, so if there is more peace in my home around mealtime these days, I will have to give "her" the credit.
Other features included in the newsletter, but not discussed here, are a Directory of Links to favorite related websites, an article about ways to "Evaluate, Prioritize, and Organize" around your own home, an article about "Feathering Your Nest" frugally (decorating), information and forms needed to teach a lesson on banking to your middle aged children in the Kids Korner (includes mock blank checks and checkbook ledger), and reader tips in "From My Mailbox." I am of the opinion that if you can find one or two things in a publication that really STICK, then it was well worth its price. I found at least three that I am very enthusiastic about, so this one earns its keep. I'll bet you can find plenty to like about Molly's Money-Saving Digest, too.
As an Old Schoolhouse Magazine subscriber, I have seen ads for Molly's Digests before. The main thing that kept me from ordering one the last time I saw the notice was two-fold. First, there is the fact that I am a print-and-carry sort of gal, and the thought of printing all that information PLUS the cost of the Digest seemed more than I could justify. Now I can see that you glean what information you can from an initial reading, then print only what you'd really use, such as the forms, a recipe, or the children's lesson. Second was my inability to choose just one Digest out of the half-dozen or so offered at the time (there are now more than a dozen). Several of them looked like something I and my family would find interesting (Gardening, Making Money From Home, Family Vacations, Photo Treasures) and I just couldn't decide, and then not knowing for sure if I could justify the expense (remember, in my mind I was tallying ink and paper, along with the product cost) and before I knew what happened, I talked myself out of doing anything. Now that I have seen one, I am sure I would like them all. I guess I will have to wait until they do a special and stock up...after I finish saving up for that Kindle to store them all on, of course. =-)
By the way, I checked the Old Schoolhouse Store and found out that there are several specials running right now. One of them is a cd of all 12 of Molly's Money-Saving Digests from 2009 for just $24.98. Sounds like a winner to me!
Visit Molly Green at Econobusters for a link to a free download of Homeschool 101, an extensive e-book about homeschooling. At the same time, sign up for the A Minute With Molly e-newsletter, and receive a free Menu Planning E-book.
I did receive this product for free from TOS Magazine for review purposes. However, that did not influence my opinion on this product. What you read here is my honest opinion about how the product was useful and relevant to me.