Frugal Fixin’s: Garbanzo Stir Fry

Who says a plant based, whole food diet is expensive? Most of this stuff you probably already have! You can serve it over rice or noodles, or eat it alone! It’s a great, filling meal!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed ($.68 at Wal-Mart)
  • 1 large zucchinni, halved and sliced ($1.53 at Wal-Mart, probably cheaper in summer!)
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or 2 medium tomatoes) ($1 at Wal-Mart)
  • salt, to taste
  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Stir in oregano, basil, garlic, pepper, and onion. Add garbanzo beans and zucchinni, cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  2. Stir in cilantro, cook three minutes. Place chopped tomato on top, cover and let steam for 3 minutes. Don’t let the tomato get mushy. Stir altogether.

Here’s the nutritional information:

Serves 4, 167 calories, 4.7 grams fiber, and 4.6 grams protein

I added salt to my original bowl, but not to the entire pot. Do whatever works best for you for seasonings. I felt it needed salt, but some may not.

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The Challenges and Advantages of my Plant Based Diet Project

Today is a tired day. I’ve been tracking my food and progress for about a week and a half now, and I’ve found good and bad. Because I am a ‘lister’, I made a Pro/Con list. Of course I’m still testing this diet to see if it’s good for me and my body type, and sometimes listing the good and bad can help me keep perspective.

Challenges:

  • Detox/Withdrawal. I’m fighting dizziness and headaches daily for the past three days. Could be a hormonal thing, but I am also recognizing the symptoms of withdrawal like I had before with my South Beach Diet. Luckily, it lasted two weeks, so maybe this will be short-lived as well.
  • Eating Enough Calories. I am eating a lot more during the day and I am always hungry. Sometimes I wake up at 4 am to make a bowl of cereal to hold me over until I wake up at 8. I am not trying to count calories for a diet standpoint, but, I am having a hard time going past 1300. I think as I learn how to eat this will even out, and I think, at least for now, I’ll hold off on my heavy workouts, and keep things low impact.
  • Need to think before I eat. This actually isn’t horrible. Thinking before eating is pretty wise…whether you do plant-based or not. But it is inconvenient. Until I learn more things to eat, especially snack wise, I need to plan. Also, I need to always carry a snack in my purse, because, I AM ALWAYS HUNGRY!
  • Potlucks. We meet at community group once a week, and everyone brings a dish. Now I see how my husband fared. It’s hard! Last week was Mexican themed, and the taco salad, chicken enchiladas, and everything looked and smelled so good! I ate my overly spiced rice and salad and was content, but that cheesy goodness was tempting.
  • Chocolate. It’s not vegan. And the kind that is, is expensive. And I’m cheap, I mean ‘frugal’. 🙂

I can’t list my complaints without listing the advantages. The ‘why’ of my project. So here they are:

Advantages:

  • Financial. So far, it’s been easy on my wallet. And altho my shopping trips are more frequent (with fresh produce), I buy less at my shopping trips, so it’s an easy errand.
  • Sweet Tooth. I love that my sweet tooth is gearing away from the processed junk I ate before, and is more geared towards fruit. Today I woke up from a nap and immediately wanted a smoothie! And speaking of smoothies…
  • I have NO guilt making homemade smoothies or eating potatoes on a daily basis. Those were foods that I’d given up before, because they were ’empty calories’, ‘carbs’, and ‘sugary’. Now I don’t make a giant smoothie, and I only use 100% juice and frozen fruit. I still do things in moderation, but it’s nice to have that freedom.
  • Coffee?? Yes, I still love my morning and afternoon java. But I don’t need it immediately after I wake up. I can eat first (and have done so). Then I have a relaxing cup of coffee while schooling Liam. This is nice; I’m no longer a zombie. (Note that if I have taken Nyquil the night before, then yes, I am still a zombie in the morning! That’s about it tho!)
  • PMS and Period Benefits. Ever since I had my tubes tied, I’ve had horrible periods, where I can’t go anywhere or do anything for two days. Without getting into too much detail, it’s not too bad this time. Apparently, a test was done on 33 women who suffer painful periods. They put them on a plant-based whole food diet for two cycles. They saw significant reduction in menstrual pain intensity and duration, and their periods were shorter. Also, because of the fiber, their bloating wasn’t as bad. (www.nutritionfacts.org/2014/04/17/treating-menstrual-pain-with-diet/)
  • Easier to stay in my calorie goal for the day. I had noticed before I was always mentally calculating how much I ate and, lately, was disappointed in how much I had eaten calorie wise and that I had to stop. Or I’d just continue to eat and ‘do better tomorrow’ (and I said the same thing the next day! Ha ha!!) Now I don’t feel the pressure to count calories, except to ensure that I’m eating enough.
  • More energy. Despite my headache/dizziness from the withdrawal, I do have more energy. I feel more productive, and clear-headed throughout the day. I expect this to increase as the detox symptoms subside.
  • Additives, Growth Hormones, Cholesterol, and Ethics. Not in a ‘tree hugger’ way, but I’m glad that I can find alternative ways to eat and enjoy food. Note my kids are still carnivores and I don’t beat anyone up who eats meat! As for cholesterol, meat is the only food that has it; plants do not. Also, by cutting out dairy, I’ve cut out the extra hormones that are in store-bought milk. So I feel like I’m eating cleaner.

All in all, the challenges I’m facing a week and a half in are temporary. As I learn how to do this diet, what to eat, what to avoid, how much to eat…those things should fade. The advantages I’m seeing are far outweighing the slight inconvenience I’m experiencing now. And I’m finding so many healthy recipes online! I’m actually having fun trying new things! (What? I’m having FUN cooking?? But I HATE to cook!!!)

Tomorrow I’m posting a recipe I tried last night. It’s delicious and super frugal and healthy. It will probably be a staple in my house! And, even for my meat-loving friends, if you ever did a “Meatless Monday” dinner theme, or are entertaining vegetarian or vegan friends, this is a cheap go-to meal! Trust me, the first time I had my vegetarian sister and her husband over for dinner, (years ago) I wanted to make them a meal that they would enjoy. I knew tofu was an alternate for meat for vegetarians, so I made them tofu, and it was horrible! This is much cheaper, and yummier!

The Heart of Our Clutter

Today I tackle the task of going through my son’s dresser drawers. Remember when I found 6 garbage bags full of clothes in the attic? Well, combine those ‘new to Liam’ clothes to his existing wardrobe, and his drawers are overflowing, so much so that he can’t get or put away his clothes, so I have to do it for him. Which is not a good lesson in responsibility, not only that he is unable to do his chores, but also in the excessive amount of clothing that he has that will not be worn.

The other day I went through my own closet and got rid of a bunch of clothes. I still have drawers to go through, which are also, overflowing. Much of what I had clothing wise I didn’t even really like…it was more of a, “what if I need it someday? what if I gain weight and need this size? what if I lose weight and need this size? I don’t really like this shirt, but what if I paint the bedroom and need painting clothes?Basically, what if…what if…what if!”

With Liam’s wardrobe too, my thoughts are quite similar: “What if we need to attend a funeral or wedding? He’ll need a nice outfit. What if we get family pictures done and everyone is wearing red. He’ll NEED this shirt. Or what if it’s blue? He’ll need this shirt too.”

Here is the heart of the issue: Do I trust God? Do I trust that He is enough? Do I trust that He will supply whatever we need, whether red or blue shirt?? I know this is silly in regards to clothing, but, is it? Is it really? If I’m holding onto something in fear, then I’m trusting in that item more than the God who supplies the items. 

This is what Jesus says about such things, as clothing:

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

I’m thankful that Jesus saw beyond the issue. It isn’t really the clothing, or the food…the deeper question in our hearts is, “Is God enough? Will He provide?” I love that He specifically addressed clothing and food. You see, I used to hoard food. I just bought and bought food because I thought, “What if I need food and can’t get out to get it?” Or the even more scary, “What if I run out of money and can’t get it?” Again with the ‘what if’s’.

I think it’s helpful to remember the times when God was enough…when He provided. I remember money being tight and not having much in food, and God provided groceries. My family and I were never without. Oftentimes, He provided healthier options than I could of afforded as well! Also, I can not remember a time ever needing an outfit or a clothing item for myself or my family and not having that need fulfilled.

So, while decluttering, what am I to do? Should I not plan ahead? Wisdom and balance are key. So yes, keep one pair of jeans that are a size larger, and keep one pair that are a size lower, just in case. Donate the rest. If you get to that point where you need the other size, God will make a way. Trust that He is enough. 

Declutter Tip #4: Find a Friend

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“Do you really need six antique cameras?”, my friend, Melissa asked me one day over coffee.

“Um…yeah. Photography is my thing. I love it. The cameras show the history of it….” I trailed off.

“Couldn’t you pare down to just three?” she challenged.

Could I?

Well, I did, because when I heard myself reasoning why I wanted to keep ALL of them, some old and falling apart, not as beautiful as the ones I kept, I sounded silly. So I kept three.

This week I was looking at the three of them and pared even more. These two (pictured above) are the ones I REALLY love. They are the ones that are beautiful, and show the history. The one is an accordian camera from 1945. The second is a Brownie camera, one of the first portable cameras ever made, from 1920.

The truth is, the other cameras, I collected, not so much for their beauty or the history, but because they were old cameras. I didn’t love them or need them, they were just taking up space.

If I hadn’t enlisted the help of Melissa that day, I’d probably still have the six cameras, if not even more.

The key to enlisting the help of a friend is to find a friend who is not attached to your stuff or their stuff. Melissa is great because she realizes that some things hold memories or I absolutely love, and won’t push me to part with those things, but other things she gently challenges me to go beyond the clutter and shows me how the space can be better utilized without the item there.

So before you tackling decluttering, especially things that you collect, maybe you can invite a friend over for coffee while you work. Then you can explain to your friend why each piece is important to you…and really listen to yourself as you explain it. You will know whether the item is a keeper or not, by the look in her eyes, and the words that you speak!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Vegan Style

If you have known me (or followed me on facebook) for any length of time, you KNOW I love my Roasted Red Pepper soup! It seems I’m always posting pix of it on cold winter days, as I anticipate eating it! My original has chicken, chicken stock, and half and half in it, so, with keeping in my challenge, I wanted to make the soup vegan, so I didn’t have to give up all of my comfort foods.

And I did.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 medium red potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 (6 oz) jars of roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in large soup pan, add celery and onion. Cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook one more minute.
  2. Add flour and quickly whisk vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add potatoes, and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are done.
  4. Add soy milk and roasted red peppers, and stir. Heat through.
  5. Add oregano, salt, and pepper.

In my recipe photo above, you will notice carrots. I did add carrots in my first try of this recipe, although, I omitted it from the recipe from here on out because I felt like the carrot flavor was competing against the soup flavor. But, if you are curious and want to try it, just add the carrots at the beginning with the onion and celery. It wasn’t bad, just not for me. The great thing about soup is you can add or take out of it whatever you want, making it an ideal meal for you and your family!

Nutritional Information:

  • Serves 6-8
  • 156 calories (based on 6 servings)
  • 29 g carbs
  • 3 g fat
  • 4 g protein
  • 5 g sugar

A Vegan’s Grocery Cart

I went shopping yesterday for the first time and walked right past the meat aisles. I was excited for a chance to shop (without children!) and see just what I could find at my local store (Wal-Mart) that would fit my new dietary needs.

There wasn’t much, honestly. I’m still on the hunt for a vegan chocolate substitite. (they are in production, but no where local that I’ve found and very expensive.) There is also a vegan ice cream Soy Delicious, that I’m currently hunting down.

I will admit that I had broken down and had some milk chocolate the past few days. Not a lot, just a few squares of a Cadbury bar that I had already bought. And honestly, shortly afterwards, each time, I got a dull headache. Nothing horrible, but I wonder if there is a correlation that I never noticed before.

Anyways, here are some things I put in my buggy that are new residents in my pantry. Also, please note, not pictured are other things I bought: fresh veggies, leafy greens, fruits, potatoes, etc.

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Ok the Earth Balance vegan butter, I’m ecstatic for! I made lima beans the other day and they were in need of a little flavor! This is made from healthy oils, all plant-based. It’s definitely not super healthy, at 100 calories/tbsp, but it will help when I need something. It’s also non-GMO, gluten-free, and was only $3.68/a 15 oz container. Yay!

I am loving the Almond Milk. It makes a great coffee creamer and sweet milk to put on my cereal. I don’t even have to add sugar to my Rice Krispies! It’s 60 calories/8 oz cup, so I don’t feel guilty about it either. At $3/carton, it is pricier than a gallon of milk, but with only me drinking it, it will be cost-effective. (Adam doesn’t like it).

I found the smaller Soy Milk in the cereal aisle. It is not refrigerated until you open it. Being that it’s not flavored like the Almond Milk, I’m going to use that in recipes that would call for milk, like my Roasted Red Pepper Soup (a modified version coming up soon!) It says that it cooks just like milk. So we’ll see! At $2/carton, it is worth a try!

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I always buy beans, but more have made their way to my cart. I’m working on a recipe I found of Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Chick Peas! Maybe I’ll try it this weekend with the snow we are gonna have, sounds like a great ‘cuddle on the couch and watch a good movie’ snack!! I prefer canned beans because they are quicker to prep. However, I did learn that even with canned beans, you should drain and rinse them to get the salt off.

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Again, rice is a common staple in my house. The Zatarain’s cook quicker and are already flavored. Ideally, to go more ‘whole food’ I would need to eat more of the brown rice, which I plan to, but the Zatarain’s are for when I’m in a pinch. Which I usually am, remember, I hate to cook! Rice is cheap. The brown rice was $1.38. The Zatty’s was about the same price, but for much less rice. Also, not pictured, is whole wheat tortillas. I cannot eat these because of the sulfates, but they are great to wrap beans, rice, or anything else in.

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So, I’ve been hearing for years the buzz about quinoa and couscous, but have never found them! They are in the rice aisle at Wal-Mart! You should have saw me! I actually said out loud excitedly, “Quinoa!!!!” The people in the aisle with me must have thought I was a loon! Anyways, I haven’t tried these yet, but I’ve found several recipes that call for them. I’d like to find these in bulk, cheaper. The quinoa was $4.78, and I figure 2-2 1/2 meals out of that bag. The couscous was $6.88, but they had cheaper (and smaller) boxes at $2.50. I should have gone that route, but, this one came in a nifty container. (yes, I’m a sucker for packaging!) Still, with the price of a lb of lean ground beef ($5.28) or a 3 lb bag of chicken breasts ($7), it actually is slightly cheaper.

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I was looking for vegetable bouillon, but could not find. I did find stock tho, and this will work til I find what I am really looking for. This will replace my chicken and beef stock that I use in soups, and also, I may cook rice in it to flavor it. I think it was like $2.

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Ha ha, junk. Well, kinda. The mints are my ‘thing’, every night I watch TV and eat three mints. I don’t know why, it’s what I do. And yes, only 3. Unless I’m feeling dangerous and eat 4. LOL. They are definitely not healthy, peppermint oil and sugar, but they ARE vegan! The peanut butter Smart Balance is new to my buggy. It’s natural, and is healthier than what I used to buy (whatever was cheapest on the shelf). I’ll probably use this for cracker or apples or something. It was $3 for this jar. Still, what I would have bought was $2, so I only spent a dollar more.

I talked to my sister (a vegetarian for all of her adult life), and she gave me some tips. Lots of beans, and green, leafy vegetables will ensure I get lots of iron and protein. I worried that I wouldn’t find a lot of menu ideas, and she encouraged me that I would if I looked online, and I have been finding a lot! She also suggested tofu, which I had tried a few times and didn’t like it. She said the key is to season it well, and that there are different kinds of tofu (firm, mushy, etc.) That may be another thing I experiment with on this journey. She also suggested kale chips, seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt.

For the past few months, Adam has been eating mainly potatoes and rice. While I feel the freedom now to eat more of those things, I’m excited to add some variety to our meals. I’ve actually been taking this challenge on as a hobby, finding what will work for our family.

Day 1

Morning

I had intended to start next week, but Adam picked up Almond Milk from the store today and I figured, “eh, let’s start today.” I actually put the almond milk in my coffee, and it’s not bad. It’s sweeter than regular dairy milk, but not as sweet as my flavored coffee creamer. Which is nice; I don’t feel like I’m drinking a bunch of sugar for breakfast.

My menu today: cereal and almond milk for breakfast, grapes a little later on, salad with roasted red pepper dressing and a side of 1 cup of yellow rice for lunch, snack of cucumbers, and pistachios, coffee, and potatoes and lima beans for dinner. Finally, a snack of cereal with almond milk again. My sweet tooth is kicking in!!  And of course, drinking water.

Last night I watched Vegucated on Netflix. I don’t know why, but I’m on a documentary kick. It follows the lives of three meat and cheese loving Americans and their transformation to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. In all cases, weight was lost, blood pressure decreased, and bad cholesterol dropped.

My kids are not doing this challenge with me. They may eat less meat on account of it (only because I may have a tired day and not want to prepare two separate meals), but I think really this kind of decision is one that they need to make on their own.

Evening (How did I do??)

I did ok! I stuck to it, except I ate three (small) squares of a Cadbury chocolate bar. Sometimes a woman just needs some chocolate! I found out tho, that there is vegan chocolate, or I can use semisweet chocolate chips. Since I can usually just get by with a small amount of chocolate, the semisweet chips may do the trick and be more economical. I also found vegan butter, cheese, and other snack items while watching Vegucated. Now I hope to find them in our local stores!! May not be so easy in my neck of the woods, I’ll keep you posted!

When I cooked dinner for Liam, I cooked burgers for him, and I ate extras of the lima beans and potatoes. It was odd for me to not use butter in making the lima beans, and they did seem a little dry. I will try veggie broth the next time I make them, or a vegan butter alternative if need be.

I did have more energy. I felt very motivated and productive. I also felt more happy. I did notice that my calorie intake was lower than usual (1320), I am used to about 1500 or 1700. It is odd that I am much more energetic than usual with less calories.

Food Challenge, Beginning Stats and Fears

For the sake of the challenge, I post these stats. These are based on the five things I’m testing while doing this challenge.

1. Money Saved: Currently, I spend about $550 per month on groceries for my family of five. Give or take. Sometimes, we go over. Keep in mind that my older two children are here on a part-time basis, so in the summer, my grocery bill is much higher.

2. Doable? Realistic? Currently, my cooking is minimal because I hate to cook. I do cook, but I do not cook big meals. Usually, it’s just Liam and I, so I cook a lot less. And I don’t cook for Adam, partially because I have no idea HOW to cook for Adam. Truth is, my fear is that I will have to cook two meals for each meal: one for myself and Adam, and one for Liam and the other kids. And if you know how much I hate to cook, then you know how I’m not looking forward to that!

3. Weight: Currently, I am at a healthy weight. I have a few lbs that I can lose to be ideal, and I definitely have some toning to work on (especially in the belly area), but I am not overweight at this point. I have also used a tape measure to measure around my waist and hips, so I’ll be recording that as well. I have definitely gained a few holiday pounds that I need to get rid of, and I could definitely tell around my midsection.

4. Energy Level: I’m pretty sedentary. I do work out on most days for a half hour. Workouts consist of a walking workout on YouTube, a walking DVD (I like walking, it’s easy!) or playing Just Dance. When it’s nicer out I like to cycle, but it’s not always conducive to my lifestyle.

5. Mood.  I do struggle with depression and the winter blues. I’d like to be happier. I have no reason to be unhappy, so….maybe changing the diet will help!

My fears on doing this challenge:

1. Low Iron or other vital nutrient.

2. Weight Gain.

3. Low Energy.

4. Not realistic. (making two meals per meal, and the challenge of finding vegan dishes.) Possibly MORE expensive. 

I’m trying this challenge for a month. Today is Day 1. Keep posted and I’ll fill you in on how my day went! I won’t post every day on this challenge. Since I’m doing two different topics at once on here, I’ll do each one once/week. That way I don’t overwhelm you! 😉 But I will reblog tonight on how my day went, so be watching! 😉

Food Challenge

I guess I love a challenge. I don’t know. My decluttering challenge is still on and going strong, but I am adding a mini-challenge as well.

Food.

For the past seven months or so, my husband has become a vegan. Not only so, but something called a “starchavore”. He loads up on rice, potatoes, veggies, and fruits, and has completely given up meat, dairy, eggs, cheese. He has also limited his fat intake (He still uses PAM cooking spray at times and uses coffee creamer, but he doesn’t drench his potatoes in oil…that kinda thing.)

He has a lot more energy, has lost weight, and is very passionate about his new lifestyle.

I’ve always thought that starches, like potatoes and rice, were a woman’s worst enemy…but, I’m curious to see how this kind of diet would react in a woman. Two reasons, really. One, frugality. I’ve already cut my grocery budget by Adam taking on this new lifestyle, and I’m anticipating saving even more per month with this. Two, if it works and I lose weight and have more energy, it will debunk the theory of potatoes, rice, and the like are hazardous to your waistline. We shall see. What’s the worst that can happen? I can gain a few lbs and go low carb, right??

Within this challenge, I’m testing five things:

1. Did I save money? How much?

2. Is it doable? Realistically, for a busy mom? And how do I incorporate this kind of diet and still yet feed my children meat and dairy?

3. Did I lose weight? How much? or, did I gain weight?

4. How is my energy level?

5. How is my mood?

So we have two challenges going on at once on this blog! Confusing, huh? Got to keep it fun!! Stay with me as I declutter, and figure out this food thing!!

Declutter Tip #4: Doubt Yourself

This fall, I realized I had to buy Liam a winter coat. I knew I had saved some clothes of Troy’s for him in the attic, but I was CERTAIN that the only clothes I had for Liam now were size 10’s, and that the size 7’s and 8’s were already in his closet. And there wasn’t a coat in the closet.

Last weekend, on a whim, I decided to empty out my attic. This is a big feat because I HATE my attic. It’s full of insulation, and who knows what critters. What spurred on the cleaning was I had to return my Christmas gift wrap, and that’s when I noticed it: a bag that said, “Liam, size 8”.

Size 8? There’s MORE! I was excited, until I found six bags, ranging from size 6- size 12.

And what do you think I found in one of the bags?

You guessed it: a winter coat. In fact, I found three of them!

So, after I updated Liam’s wardrobe with Troy’s old (but stylish) clothes, I decided that I couldn’t possibly sell all of the clothes. I ended up returning two bags to the attic, one a size 10 and one a size 12. I decided to pare down my Sell Pile of clothing to only the nice stuff, like kids’ jeans and winter coats. Things that I would buy at a yard sale. I now have four bags going to the Mission and one to sell.

And these are 33 gallon garbage bags. ha ha.

I wish I would of double checked myself back in the fall. I could of saved some time, money, and stress, and Liam would still be warm in a winter coat.

Altho, if you have seen him in his bright orange winter coat that HE picked out himself, you will agree, he is a cutie! 🙂

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