Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Goals 4/30

It seemed like a really busy week and I don't think that there was much on the plans but it certainly went quickly.  I tried to get the most done that I could ahead of time on my blog because I was fighting with a computer issue for most of the week.  Life is hard when you don't have your computer.  The good news is that with posts scheduled ahead of time, things were going up everyday even if I didn't have my computer.  I would save pictures and information and then work on the post on another computer.  Twice as much work with nothing more to show for it :)  But the good news is that I think that I got everything done on my list so mission accomplished.  Looking forward to next weeks goals!!

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Go to Playdate to make clay-dough- We had a great time playing with playdough with friends
  • Go to Library for storytime- Storytime is always fun and we got to check out more books
  • Weekend with the family- My father was in town for the weekend, my cousin was here, and my sister in law stopped by so it was more extended family time then I expected but we had fun.
Personal Goals

  • Read at least half of Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home by Pamela Stone  Finished half of the book by Wednesday and continued until the end (with a short intermission to read another book)
  • Cut Sunday coupons and file- Finished before the week started but then I got coupon inserts from my friend and my mom so I still had a ton of cutting to do in order to catch up.
  • Get Hair Cut- Done but badly... why does this always happen to me?  My husband says that I should start crying to make the hairdresser feel bad.  I told him that is hard for me because mostly I am just mad and not sad.  Wish I could switch the emotions but still angry about the haircut!!
  • Late lunch with Sister In Law Done
Home Management Goals

  • Clean dishes, counters and floors 6 days a week-  I was pretty happy that I could keep up with everything this week but it was mostly because my husband helped with dishes a ton so it wasn't as much to do in the morning.  I am thinking about adding doing dishes once at night instead of in the morning to make the next day start better.  Do you do dinner dishes right after the meal or do you spend time with the family?
Blog Goals

  • Finish work on menu bar on top of screen- all buttons up and working and now I can add a few more if I want like the About Me that my husband added on Saturday.
  • Start working on AdSense to see about ad space on the page- My husband looked it all over and we signed up for it but I guess it takes 48 hours to start
  • Schedule 4 posts ahead of time- I did at least 7 posts ahead of time which was good because my computer was up and down all week so it was hard to get on everyday and do post which is one of my goals....even though I forgot to post it.
  • Post Meal Plan Monday with new logo (made by my cousin- THANKS!!)- Done.  Sadly, I read the terms of the images that she used and if I put ads on my site, then I can't use it anymore.  How do other people have all this great art work on their sites?  I guess I will have to figure it out.
  • Download Picasa and try it out- I tried it out and I don't really like it tons so I am going to try a little in power point.  I found another site that gave directions on making banners in power point but I am not sure about that either.  At least they have some pictures to work with already in the program so it will be something to start with.
This week:

Family Goals
  • Go to new park with my son
  • Go to playground meetup
  • Playdate with son's friend
  • Go to library storytime
  • Take my cousin to the airport
  • Enjoy weekend pot luck with friends
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 6 days of the week
  • Wash dishes one night so that kitchen is clean the next morning
  • Get house ready for pot luck BBQ at the house on Saturday
  • Make treats for pot luck BBQ
Blog Goals
  • Update running book list with books that I am reading for May
  • Download pictures of book covers on May and June reading lists and do draft posts with links
  • Schedule at least 5 posts before the date of publication
  • Work on AdSense and figure out how to use it
  • Update my About Me page that my husband put on the page
  • Post Menu Plan Monday and Weekly Goals
  • Post before and after of coupon basket project

Menu Plan Monday 4/30

Monday- Original Spiedies with rice
Tuesday- New Recipe if I can find it with Ricotta
Wednesday-Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wraps with mac & cheese
Thursday- Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes
Friday- Chicken Paninis or Chicken Quesadillas
Saturday- Leftovers and Burgers/Chicken Pizza
Sunday- Wedge Salad/???

I planned most of the month of May but I am still missing nine meals for the rest of the month.  I am hoping to move things around to use the items on hand so that I don't have to get anything else for the month.  I am trying to use up the stuff in the freezer and defrost the freezer at the end of the month. An added bonus is to clean out some stuff in the pantry and reorganize.  Here is hoping that I can do that!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rachael Ray 365: No Repeat Book Review

Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats--A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners (A 30-Minute Meal Cookbook) was a book that I got for my mom and dad at the library book sale last weekend!!!  I decided that I should take a look and found a bunch of yummy recipes.
If you like the recipes that Rachael Ray does on her show, you should check out this book.  I am really interested in making two different recipes for chicken fingers.  I wrote the list like I always do when I read a cookbook and I found 63 recipes.  I read my mom the list and she said that we like chicken too much :)  I bought this book for them but I need to make a note of a few recipes so that they can make them for us the next time we visit!!

The plus is that there are tons of great recipes.  The minus for me is that some of the items aren't things that I always keep around the house.  I know that this is a weird compliant for a cookbook but I am mainly looking at meals that I can cook with items that don't cost a lot of money and that I have in the freezer and pantry.  Overall, I would make some of these recipes on special occasions and look forward to trying a few new one soon!!!

I hope that you pick up a copy at your local library or bookstore and let me know what you think!!  Sorry that I can't loan it to you because it will be going home with my dad this weekend :)  Time to take some notes!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Opting Out Book Review

Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home by Pamela Stone sounded interesting when I ran across it on the shelf.  Since I and many women I know have left the work force to stay home with their children, I was interested in hearing what this book was about.  There seems to be so many judgements of moms who stay at work and then other judgements about moms who stay home.  I wish that groups of women were more accepting of other women but it has never been the case so I am not surprised that woman pass judgement on others based on decisions that they make in their lives. 

I opted out!!  I worked full time and watched my son full time but my life was getting too stressful.  I had to make a choice or I was going to loose my job, husband or my mind.  The first choice I made was that I was going to do what made me happy.....  after two years of doing it all, I couldn't figure out what was going to make me happy.  After long internal debate, I decided to stay home with my son because I couldn't imagine 50 years from now being sad that I missed the sales deal from a customer but missing my son walking, talking, and learning new things seemed heart breaking.  I have been more happy over the past year spending quality time with my son.  I have talked to other mothers that are worried about a gap in their resume or loosing work skills but I don't think about that.... rather I think about how sad it would be to miss some of the great things that I have done with my son.  I can't ever have those times back if I miss them but there is always another job!!  Enough about my life, back to the book review.

First, I think that people should note that this is written by a sociologist... that is what I went to college to be :) But what that means is that book reads like a college thesis instead of a funny uplifting, motivational book. 

The author used women's first and last name throughout the book but said that she was flipping some of the details to maintain their privacy.  I think that it would have been less confusing to give the person just a first name to remember through the book.  Have you ever read a book with crazy Russian names that you can't remember which character was which (short flash back to the Jungle in high school)?  These names weren't that complicated so that you couldn't remember one throughout the book.

The subject was only married mothers who had an ivy league education and left their job to stay home with their kids.  I find that made an unrealistic cross section of the American public which lead to less talk about making ends meet then staying home because they were stretched too thin.  It might have been the author's intention but I think that it simplifies the decision of staying home when the wives/mothers don't have to think about how to pay the bills.  I think that most American women have a few other factors that weigh on them.

I totally agree with the conclusion that the corporate world is not family friendly.  Although giving family or maternity leave, the corporate world does not make things easy for mothers to come back to work.  If you want to read the article referenced in the book, please check out this web page.  I feel like there are better examples out there in foreign countries that the author should look at in order to determine if the United States will ever be able to be more family friendly.

Normal day, mom has to leave the house before the kids are off to school and she doesn't get home until they are ready to be tucked in bed.  I had a more flexible schedule and the more and more strict it got, the easier it was for me to leave the company.  Many companies boast having family friendly policies and then don't practice what they preach.  Often the policies used by direct management differ from the corporate ideas.  The statement voiced in the book and that I have heard at every company that I have worked for was "We can't do it for you because then everyone would want it."  We can't do part time or job sharing because then everyone would want to do it.... really, is everyone unhappy working here?  Seems like you have a bigger problem to address than just me Mr. Corporation.  With commute, a normal work day was 12 hours away from the house and working for at least a few hours every night and most professionals are putting in a 60 hour week on a job that claims to be 40 hours.  If companies want to keep qualified women, they will have to figure out new policies to have more productive employees that want to stay and work.

I recommend this book because it really was thought provoking and touched on a lot of great subjects.  Many things will ring true with all women, even though this book is directed at older, white, ivy league educated women.  I hope that you will take the time to check it out at your local library or book store.  Please let me know what you think!!

Month End Coupon Printing

It is time again for the end of the month coupon printing so make sure you don't forgot :)  There is a new coupon for Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice on so I made sure to print it already!!!  I have those on my list for Giant next week.

Check the following sites:
Make sure you keep this list for next week too because the new coupons are normally loaded at the beginning of the month so it is a great time to go back and check.  Please let me know if there are any other coupon websites that you like to visit and I will gladly add them to the list.

The Lazy Couponer Book Review

I was searching in the library database to find some new books that they had coming in and this one popped up.  The Lazy Couponer: How to Save $25,000 Per Year in Just 45 Minutes Per Week with No Stockpiling, No Item Tracking, and No Sales Chasing! by Jamie Chase so I put it on hold awhile ago.  It just came in the other day.  I broke the cardinal rule of library books and started reading it in the driveway because my son fell asleep in the car on the way home.  I couldn't stop reading when I started so I finished in a day or so.

I think that it is a great book for people looking to start couponing and who want to learn quickly and easily.  There are a lot of good points in the book to make saving money easy for everyone.  I have been couponing for 3 years so most of the topics were about things that I already knew... not that a refresher course isn't good for everyone.  It gives detailed chapters in logical order:

Chapter 1: Couponing A to Z- learning the couponing language
Chapter 2: Getting to know Coupons- store coupons versus manufacturer coupons
Chapter 3: Finding coupons- all the different sources to get coupons
Chapter 4: Using Coupons- making scenarios and stacking store coupons with manufacturers
Chapter 5: Understanding Catalinas- coupon machine at stores that prints out directed coupons
Chapter 6: Shopping for Groceries- different coupon policies and how to use them
Chapter 7: Redefining Drugstores- getting great deals on items people don't normally by at the drugstore
Chapter 8: Navigating Supercenters & More- Gift cards at Target, Overage at Walmart, and other stores
Chapter 9:  Making Time Work for You- don't spend too much on time to save little money
Chapter 10:  Keeping Organized- different methods of storing coupons

I have a few things that I disagreed with on Jamie's couponing methods.  First, she doesn't cut her coupons so in order to get ready for a shopping trip, she cuts them.  I prefer to cut and file my coupons ahead of time so that I can pull a coupon as needed when shopping.  I know my coupon basket is really heavy and a little mess (hopefully posting before and after cleaning it soon).  The good news is that the coupons aren't ever at home :)

Second, I prefer to have very little out of pocket (OOP) at the drugstores and make sure that I do multiple transactions in order to save the most money.  She prefers to save time and does her drugstore transactions as one or maybe two.  I find that more the rule than the exception to be able to maintain my budget.  It also helps to not have $20 or more ECBs that are expiring at the same time.  There is nothing worse then loosing money you worked so hard to make because the ECBs expired.  She also subtracts the ECB that she receives back from a transaction from her total so that most of her transactions are money makers.  When my mother-in-law started couponing, I warned her not to double count the ECBs.  If you buy something with the ECBs, you can't count them when you get them back.  Here is an example from last weekend:

Always Pads    $3.99
2 Hershey Bars $2.00
-$1 Always Man coupon from P&G 4/1
-$1 Always CVS coupon
-$1 CVS coupon
-(2) $0.50 Hershey's CVS Coupon
-$2 ECB from previous purchase

Total OOP $0.03 tax only
Get back $2 ($1 for Always and $1 for Green Bag Tag)

In my math, I don't count this as a money maker because I spent $0.03 and got back $2.  I refer to it as rolling ECBs to use for the next purchase.  Using $2 ECBs and getting $2 ECBs back just make it easier to save money next time I go in to CVS. 

Lastly, she disagrees with stockpiling stating that "stockpiling is like a gateway drug to hoarding."  I believe that stockpiling has saved my family money and will continue to do so.  I believe that Extreme Couponing has shown people the most extreme stockpiling.  I don't have a garage filled with shelves of things that I don't use or so much food that it is going to go bad before the expiration date.  I have enough on hand to last my family a month most of the time.  I did get too many "deals" when I started so I have tons of personal care products to last a much longer time but that has allowed me to maintain a lower monthly budget by only getting things when they are close to free.  I have also given lots of great deals for birthdays and Christmas so that I don't have a big out of pocket cost because I set aside some all year in the monthly budget.  I think that stockpiling works... I would even say that someone who didn't want to coupon could stockpile to save money.

Even though I was critical of the items that I didn't agree with, I think that this book was great and I would highly recommend it for anyone starting out.  Remember that there are tons of different ways to do anything but this book gives the basics so that you can learn your own way through the process.  I hope that you pick it up at your local library or bookstore and enjoy it.  Look forward to hearing how you liked it!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Harris Teeter and Aldi's Shopping Trips for the week

After super doubles last week, I didn't have a lot on the list for this week.  I did want to go to CVS and get the great deal on the Olive Oil and roll over my ECBs to make sure that they weren't close to expiring.  I got Olive Oil, Always Pads, and 2 Hershey's bars (which I said were for my son and I ate...oops) and paid $0.04 (or $0.05 based on the machine eating the penny) and saved $17.38 (posted earlier).

I went to Aldi's on Wednesday to get more bread and lettuce.  They were out of lettuce and it was priced higher then the last time I was there at $1.29 so I wasn't heart broken.  I grabbed a loaf of bread and brown sugar and spent $2.44.  By the time that I made it home, I forgot to take a picture so I figure that you can picture it instead of me taking a picture of the half eaten loaf of bread :)

Through the week, I went to Harris Teeter a few times and got a bunch of cereal- 9 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats and one box of Honey Bunches of Oats.  I also got 4 boxes of Tetley tea to replenish my tea stock (being very sad that I "shared" some of my tea coupons with my parents when they were in town last time so I could only get 4).  I also got one package of bacon even though it was more expensive then I wanted to spend at $1.94 after sale and coupon.  I bought some hash browns last week and I am trying to get together the ingredients to make a potato soup that my friend made... now I just need to get the recipe from her so I can figure out what else I need :)  There are two purple bananas per my son's request that he wanted up front, known to other people as Gerber Banana with mixed berries.

I got the last two dishwasher magic from the clearance bins.  I think that I need to take my coupons on the road and find some more at other Harris Teeters because it looks like they are no longer carrying it!!!  This would be heart breaking because I love the stuff but a few more in the stockpile pantry, then I might be all set.  If you have never tried the stuff- IT IS AWESOME!  You put it in the silverware container in the dishwasher and run a cycle.  It cleans out all the gross hard water that builds up inside your machine and makes it pretty again :)  Okay, it is supposed to make it run better too!

Total OOP was $15.32, savings $54.91.

Altogether I spent $17.80 for the week and saved $72.29.  The total without sales and coupons would have been $90.09. 

Another reason why I am glad that I started couponing because I get some much more for the month to feed my family and still stay under budget.  I have had a tough time staying under the $160 monthly budget although I have been really close except for my chicken stock up in January.  January $204.51, February $160.57, and March $166.59.  This month, I am at $104.85 with only a few more days left.  On average, that makes my monthly total $159.13 for the year so I am pretty excited to be under budget on average :)  I don't have any other planned shopping trips this month but who knows where the weekend will take me!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This is a fun alternative to making chocolate chip cookies because you spread it all in one pan and don't have to worry about checking on cookies every few minutes.  I got this recipe years ago from the back of a box of Blue Bonnet Margarine and my husband (then boyfriend) loved it.  I haven't made it in ages so I thought I would pull it out and try it again so that I could share it with you.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c margarine
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c semi sweet chips (can also add peanuts or other nuts to taste)

1.  Blend margarine and brown sugar in a large bowl.

2. Add egg and vanilla, blending until smooth.

3. Add flour and baking soda.

4. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Spread mixture into lightly greased 6x6 pan.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

I cut this size pan into 8 servings so just know that it isn't a great big dessert but it is a super yummy one.  It would be great topped with ice cream or hot fudge sauce too but perfect served by itself.  I hope that you try this recipe for yourself soon!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wedge Salad

We had a special fun dinner the other night with the new Kraft Fresh Taste Breading (my new "recipe" of the week).  I decided since that was in to bake chicken with the breadcrumb mixture and baked potatoes that we would start out with a wedge salad...compliments of Aldi's and the super great deal on iceberg lettuce and Harris Teeter's great deal on Marie's Lite Blue Cheese Dressing.  My mother in law raves about this whenever she goes to Outback and we have never had it.  I cut the lettuce in quarters, put it on the plate, topped with dressing, cheese, and fresh pepper.

It was so great that I sort of forgot to take pictures of the rest of the meal.  I guess I lost my brain cells but the rest of the dinner hit the spot as much as the starter course.  I used up the last of the Russet Potatoes for our baked potatoes and they were amazing.  Last but not least, the chicken tenders were coated in the mixture of Kraft Fresh Taste which is cheese and breadcrumbs.  We had the Rosemary Garlic flavor which was a great choice for us.  I saved half of the mix by coating the chicken in another bag because I knew that I wasn't going to use it all.  I will most certainly take pictures and give you the details the next time that I make the yummy chicken with the Kraft Fresh Taste.  I hope that you try a yummy fresh wedge salad with your next meal (and also try the Kraft Fresh Taste

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mexican Egg Rolls

After long debate on the name of this yummy lunch creation, I went with the easiest one.  The Mexican Egg Roll.  I used egg roll wrappers that I got with coupon during last super doubles and leftover Mexican rice from a few nights before.  I grabbed some grated cheese- a little from the fridge and a little from the freezer.

Then my cousins magic ingredient that she purchased before the Super Bowl with a coupon provided by the coupon fairy (that's me).  We ate one right away and saved the other for just such an occasion.

1.  Lay out the egg roll wrapper on a cutting board or other flat surface.

2. Scoop main ingredient into shell.  In my case, it was a Mexican rice with meat.

3.  Top with grated cheese.

4.  Top with extra special cheese dip.

5. Wet the outside edges with water.

6. Fold top sides over

7.  Fold end in like a triangle.  Use more water if necessary to create seal.

8.  Close other end.  Seal around top seal and sides making sure there is no stuffing coming out of the wrapper. 
 9.  Heat up oil in pan and add egg roll seam side down.

10.  Flip in pan to brown other side.

11.  Take out and drain on paper towel covered plate.

12. Eat and enjoy.
Dipping optional :)

I love the crispy outside of the shell and the creamy inside with the cheese!  I highly recommend trying this yummy lunch or dinner treat with any leftovers to make a new creation.  It is also great to start from scratch with a new idea.  It is a super cheap way to feel like you are eating meat but not using a lot on the meal :)  Another great tip for how to stretch a budget.  Hope that you try it for your family soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aldi Trip Last Week

I was having so many computer issues last week, I forgot to post my Aldi's shopping trip.  I would love to live closer to an Aldi's to go more often but I only get to go when I travel all the way out to see my sister in law at work but a great bonus to the trip :)  I had a semi-exhausted three year old with me so I didn't get a chance to look at all the great deals that they had in the store this time but I got to grab the loaf of bread that we needed.  The lettuce was $1.19 last time and only $0.89 this time.  I decided to go crazy and buy two!!  Total OOP was $2.74.

As I was paying the cashier, Dylan saw that I was using cash and asked if he could have all my coins for his piggy bank.  I told him that I would give him a coin but I needed to pay the lady first.  She laughed (because who wouldn't) and given another second I was afraid he was going to start asking others in line for their change.  I gave him a penny after putting all the groceries in my reusable bags.  He promptly lost it in his seat and I gave him a second one... also lost by the time we got home.  I am hoping to find them in the car and cross my fingers that he didn't eat them or something else crazy!!  Anyway, a successful trip to Aldi's minus my missing two cents :)

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip #6

I just had a few things in mind but to mix it up, I went when they were stocking the shelves at night.  A little creepy to be shopping at almost midnight but they had everything that I wanted actually on the shelves.  I don't think that they can keep up with the volume any other time except when there aren't any people in the store.  I went awhile ago at 3 or 4 am and they had stocked the shelves then and they weren't already emptied.  I got 9 Nissan Noodles, 6 Yakisoba Noodles, 2 Ortega, 2 Glass Plus, and 2 Barilla Whole Grain pasta.

I thought my total should have been under $2 with what I got but it was a little over.  I assumed that I made a math error in my late night brain.  I didn't realize until I got home and got into bed that it was because one of the coupons didn't double :(  I should have looked at the receipt since that is rule #1 but I totally forgot!!!  Total OOP was $2.23 (savings $25.99)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday CVS Trip 4/22

I decided that I was going to go to CVS this week after skipping last week.  I had a plan and I was crossing my fingers that it would work.  Of course, plans change when you get to the store and magic coupons come out of the red box.  I got $1 off Always Radiant and $1 of any pads coupons so instead of getting the cards as planned, I decided to get the always radiant which required an extra trip to the car to get the coupon :) (from 4/1 P&G)

First transaction was one Filippo Berio Olive Oil with $1 printable coupon and $3 extra care bucks, final OOP $0.01.  The second transaction was more complicated but I needed an extra dollar of stuff in order to spend the $2 ECBs that I had and not pay any money out of pocket which is always my main goal at CVS.  I looked through the Easter candy which was my idea going in for a filler but there wasn't anything that I wanted and it was still only 50% off so things weren't super cheap like I needed for fillers :(  I did also get a coupon for $0.50 off the Hershey's Air Delight chocolate and they were $1 if you bought two so I bought two and used two coupons which put me in a perfect place to have only tax out of pocket!!  The final total was $0.03.  I put a nickel in the self check out machine and it only gave me back one penny.... I can't decide whether to count that as $0.03 for the actual cost or $0.04 for the actual OOP.  This one is leaving me stumped?!?!  Anyway, saved $17.38 on both transactions so it was still a great trip for very little out of pocket.  I got back $2 ECB ($1 from Always and $1 from green bag tag) to use for next time.  I hope that I can make that money goes as far as this week's did.  Looking forward to the challenge during the next CVS trip.  Hope you found great deals at CVS this week too!!

Weekly Goals 4/23

Here is week three of my weekly plans :)  I am not sure if it sets the ideas in my head at the beginning of the week but it does seem to help with my goals throughout the week even if I don't look at them again.  I try to get most of it on the calendar and into the plan when I am working out the post over the weekend so that might help too.  It is way better then just having a to do list (even though I still do one of those too).  Hope your week goes the way you plan :)

Last Week:

Family Goals
  • Go to a new playground with son- he loved this park and the next day said he wanted to try a new park... still not sure if he wanted to go to another new park or if he thought this was called a new park :)
  • Playdate for son and friend- it was good to see our friends again since we had missed them.
  • Go to Storytime with son-  Extra bonus because we also saw a friend from school there so we are hoping to get together with them again soon.
  • Go to see sister in law during lunch break- He had a blast and enjoyed laughing for all the people in the lunch room and the graham crackers :)
  • Spend weekend with the family-  Lots of fun!

Personal Goals
  • Read half of The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (13) by Alexander McCall Smith (hopefully finish it because it is due on the 20th)- finished it and posted review
  • Cut Sunday coupons and file- done
  • Get haircut- she was on vacation so I am going next week... plus then I found out about Harris Teeter super doubles and got very busy, very quickly.
  • Dentist appointment for filing :(-  they cancelled the appointment for the second time.  I now have to wait until May.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors 6 days (taking a vacation on the weekend)- Actually took a vacation on Friday with all the things that we were doing but did clean everything 6 days
  • Weeding and mulching front landscaping-  I think that I get partial credit for this because my husband did it on Saturday but I didn't... oops! 
Blog Goals
  • Post 5 out of 7 days during the week (taking a vacation on the weekend)- Posted every day because of Super Doubles and all the shopping trips.
  • Schedule a post ahead of time to post over the weekend-  Post on Top 12 Free Personal Care Items
  • Post a recipe for something on blog during the week...still looking for recipe to make- I was planning on making something new this week since I thought Super Doubles was next week but since it was Super Doubles, I wasn't home too much to make any fun new recipes.  I did try the Kraft Fresh Taste Chicken Tenders with wedge salad and Mexican Fried Hot Pockets so those were sort of new even though not really recipes.  Post coming soon!!

This week:

Family Goals
  • Go to Playdate to make clay-dough
  • Go to Library for storytime
  • Weekend with the family
Personal Goals

Home Management Goals

  • Clean dishes, counters and floors 6 days a week
Blog Goals

  • Finish work on menu bar on top of screen
  • Start working on AdSense to see about ad space on the page
  • Schedule 4 posts ahead of time
  • Post Meal Plan Monday with new logo (made by my cousin- THANKS!!)
  • Download Picasa and try it out

Menu Plan Monday 4/23

Monday- Italian Chicken with herb rice
Tuesday- Tacos
Wednesday- Shake n Bake Chicken with mac & cheese and/or stuffing
Thursday- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Friday- Orange Poppyseed with fried rice
Saturday- Meatball Sliders with pasta/Chimis or Burritos with saffron rice
Sunday- Leftovers/??

I have to catch up with what is in the freezer and the fridge to figure out what needs to be eaten soon.  If there is something that I find, then we are going to have to change it out for some night this week.  I did clean out the fridge over the weekend to make sure that I could fit all the great buys from Harris Teeter in so I don't think that there is anything but some asparagus ends that I was going to try to make a veggie broth with and a zucchini that is going to finished before Monday :)

Hope that you have a great week and yummy meals :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip #5

It seems that last time was a fluke and I am back to multiple checks out again.  This can be easily explained because my computer stopped working.  I was trying to get everything together and be ready to go to the store first thing in the morning but it didn't.  I had a child free moment so I figured that a small trip to the store was better than none at all so I took it.  I grabbed everything that I had a coupon for which wasn't a ton of stuff (pictured below). 

I got 4 Windex, 4 Uncle Ben's Rice, 3 Nissan Noodles, 2 Neutrogena Hand Lotion, 2 Lasagna (with rain check), 2 Country Crock, 2 ICBINB, and Ricotta Cheese.  Total OOP $13.80 (savings $46.30)

Last time there was a sale on another brand of Ricotta Cheese and a coupon but I decided not to get it because I didn't know what to do with it.... well, I found a million and one recipes for it and I was sad I didn't get it.  Now I have to go back and find the recipes again.  I wonder if it freezes well if I can't find the recipe that I was looking for?  If not, I will have to make something up before the end of the month.  So the good news is that I have product but now to find the recipe.  Next step, some sort of organization for my recipes by ingredient!!!

Later in the afternoon, my son and I went to the store to get a few more things left on the list that I finally got a computer up and running to find and print.  I got 2 Glass Plus, 4 Uncle Bens, 2 Scharffen Berger Chocolate, 2 Hillshire Farm lunch meat (evic special pricing), Hillshire Farm Grilled Chicken, and 2 Rudi's Organic Bread (evic special pricing).

The total OOP was $9.83 (savings $35.21).

Total for Day
Total OOP $23.63
Total Savings $81.51

So far the highest day total but I think that I am close to done.  I have a few more noodle coupons to use up but I am going to go with my Sister-In-Law once and my cousin another time so hopefully I will be there for support for them and not be getting too many more things for myself.  Mostly because I don't know where I am going to put them :)  We are going to try to eat our way through some of the

Top 12 Personal Care Things I Get For Free

I read a post on the "Top 10 Health and Beauty product I buy" on Our Frugal Happy Life.  The prompted me to think the opposite... so I guess I was having a contrary day.  What health and beauty items do I not pay for anymore because of couponing?  In putting together a list, I always think that I can't come up with ten things and then I come up with more!!!

Since couponing, I have found that I can get some really nice stuff free.  The deals vary by store and some are getting a little more scarce but are still close to free when they happen.  Things have changed in the past year, whether it was the economy or whether it was the influx of new couponers from the Extreme Couponing show (feel free to watch this episode in case you haven't caught it yet with my favorite, Tiffany and least favorite, J'aime or another one).  Either way, having a stockpile of a few items is always great because then you can hold off until you see the next sale to get items for free or nearly free.

Top 10 Free Personal Care Items

1.  Dental Floss:  We used to get this really nice Glide dental floss from our dentist but he started giving out a new mint one that I don't like.  My husband likes the cinnamon or spearmint Reach dental floss.  There are always coupons out for them so I get them free or make money on them every time I get them.  If they cost even a few cents, I put it back on the shelf.

2.  Toothbrushes:  I used to use the one that my dentist gave me during my six month cleanings but now I can afford to change brushes a lot more often because I used to get brush free but more recently I haven't seen the toothbrushes included so I guess that is a sign that I will have my stockpile to last me a long time until the next deal is coming.

3.  Toothpaste:  Not sure how much toothpaste one family can use but I have a ton.  Both my husband and I prefer Crest and I can usually get the Crest free if I wait for the deals.  I also get Colgate because my extended family is not as picky.  My mom told me that they haven't bought toothpaste in years now because they just get my "extras."

4.  Shavers:  There are so many coupons and savings with drugstores and others that I haven't had to pay for a razor since I started couponing.  I have tons of them to last for a long time.  The other great thing is that I am using much nicer shavers then when I had to pay out of pocket for them.

5.  Shave Gel:  I have gotten a few shave gels for super cheap and near free.  This is one of the deals that seems to getting fewer and farther between.  I really enjoy the Skintimate Cream Shave Gel which is normally around $5 at CVS.  I have gotten a few at a good price but don't have any stockpile left of this one so I will have to go with a few different travel versions to hold me over to the next bargain on my favorite one :)

6.  Soap and Shower Gel:  I have gotten so many different types of shower gels and soaps.  I use the ones that I like and give friends and family ones that I think that they will like.  I had some medical issues and the doctor suggested only using soap with no scents and colors added so now I don't even get to use the fancy ones that I have gotten.

7.  Pads/Tampons:  I have an under the bed box filled with all of the femine care items that I got for free.  I just pull out another box when I finish one and replenish when I get them for free again.  This is one of my favorites because there is nothing like spending money on something you are just going to throw in the trash. (Don't get me started on the cost of trash bags!!!)

8. Mouthwash and Fluoride Rinses:  After I got pregnant, my teeth started giving me a lot of trouble.  For the last three years, I have used a lot of fluoride rinses :)  The great news is that I had a huge stockpile of different kinds to try.  I have used lots and not made a dent.  This is a hard one because they do expire and it is hard to track how long a bottle lasts because they are all different sizes.

9.  Eye Drops and Contact Lens Solution:  I have gotten tons of these free and I don't even use them.  My cousin and sister in law both use them so they are taken care of for years at a time.  I usually only get them when they are moneymakers since I don't use them but I do get them if someone tells me that they need some more :)

10.  Lotions:  I don't use a ton of lotions but I get what I need for free.  I have gotten really great brands like Eucerin, Keri, Aveeno, and others for free.  My grandmother prefers Aveeno so I save lots of those for her.  Other family members have their preferences and I share with them when I have something that I think that they will like.  My mom prefers St. Ives and I have never gotten their lotion for free so she has had to settle for some of the other ones.

11.  Hair Products:  I don't use a lot of hair products but I get them for my cousin, mom and sister in law.  I put together a pile for each of them so that the next holiday, I just pull some stuff out of the pile so that I have their gifts all together.  I got some fancy root lifter for my mom which was normally $7-$8 for free and gave it to her for Christmas.  The great thing about the gift is that they would have had to pay the full price so it is a super great gift because they probably wouldn't have spent that much so it is a special treat.

12.  Air Fresheners:  I get tons and tons of air fresheners with coupons and promotions.  The fancy air fresheners that auto sense when you pass them.  In a million years, I never would have bought them pre-couponing so they are a special extra.  I put one in the basement near the laundry so that even if it is stinky, it always smells good.  I have heard other bloggers put some of them in their cars so I know that there are a ton of uses for them, especially when gotten for free.

The best part about getting stuff you need for free, is that it frees up room in the budget for other things.  Some families use it to make ends meet but for others, it helps them to be able to afford more non-coupon groceries, vacations, or meals at restaurants.  The great thing is that you can do with it what you want and get the deals you are interested in or that meet your families needs.  I am going to have to think about the personal care items that we are specific about that we set aside room in our budget for and let you know that soon!!

Cinnamon Rolls for Breakfast

I decided that I would try to make some Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast again.  I thought that I would make them ahead of time and not wait until the last minute but I waited until the last minute yet again.  You would think that I would learn my lesson that staying up late and doing them is more stressful but not yet!!  This is going to be my third try at the recipe (first was Christmas morning and the second was for my husbands birthday).  Hopefully third time is a charm right?

Anyway, I changed around some things.  First thing was that I measured the water and liquid measured the shortening.  In case you didn't take home ec with a great lady like I did and learned this method.  I put 1 cup of water which is what the recipe calls for and then I added shortening until the measuring cup said 1 1/2 for the extra 1/2 of shortening.  The final product looks like this:
In order to make it liquid, I put it in the microwave.  Sadly, I put it in too long and it exploded... oh well, add a little water and put it in.  Then I turned to wiping down the microwave but luckily the machine was ready to do all the work.

Then, I added everything to the bread maker and made sure it was mixing together and scrapped down the sides for any built up flour after it was mixed together. 

I added a little water because it looked too hard and then it mixed together and looked much better.
Then I set out all my other ingredients so that I would be ready to put the rolls together when the dough was completed. 
Now, I am off to bed to get a few hours sleep before it is time to make the rolls.  I hope that you try to plan ahead and make these yummy rolls for your family.  I am here if you need help while in process unless you make them at 1:30 am like me :)

The great news is that they turned out great!!!  They rose a ton and cooked up beautifully.  A little swishy in the center so we ate around the outside and cooked the inside ones a little more.  A yummy start to the day!!  They aren't that hard if you plan ahead and don't start at 1:30 in the morning.  I might have to make them again soon :)

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup water
1/2 c melted shortening
1 beaten egg
3/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 cup flour
6 tbsp sugar
1 package Rapid Rise Yeast

Add to the bread machine in the order listed (or as recommended by your bread maker manual) and set to dough cycle.  Check after incorporated and make sure that it is a soft ball.  If not, add water by tbsp to bread and wait until it is incorporated.

When the dough has risen, roll out into a rectangle.  Top with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.  Roll up and cut into rolls.  Line pan with butter and brown sugar.  Place cut rolls vertically in the pan (yup- direct quote from the recipe card).  Cover with plastic and damp towel (I didn't use plastic wrap).  Refrigerate (I didn't because I only had a few hours until they were going to be baked).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


I also make a cream cheese frosting ahead of time and put it in the freezer.  This is great because you can put on as little or as much as you want.  I have been using the Philly Cooking Cream which is great and I got it for free with coupons and put it in the freezer until I was ready to use them.  It makes a glaze instead of thick frosting so it soaks into rolls.  I put the whole container of Philly Cooking Cream in the mixing bowl and I add some butter/margarine and tons of powdered sugar.  I mix it and add stuff until it looks good.  I don't really think that it can be messed up so I just make it up each time.  Tasting while cooking is both yummy and necessary :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip #4

My first trip to Harris Teeter for this Super Doubles where I got all my stuff in one transaction!!!  Are you as excited as I am???  I got tons of great deals so I decided to list them all out for you with the sale price and the final price underneath. 

Uncle Bens Rice Cups $1.00 each
FREE after coupons

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter $2.49 each
FREE after coupons

Tums Freshers $2.99 each
FREE after coupon

Neutogena Hand Lotion $1.50
FREE after coupon

Pure Protein Bars $1.50 each
FREE after coupon

Always Pantylines $2.99
FREE after coupon and Evic coupon

2000 Flushes $2.07 each
$0.07 after coupon

Country Crock $2.15
$0.15 after coupon

Marie's Blue Cheese Dressing $2.50
$0.50 after coupon

Smuckers Jelly $2.00
$0.50 after coupon

McCain Purely Potatoes Hash Browns $2.69
$0.69 after coupon

Healthy Choice $2.50 and $2.69
$0.50 and $0.69 after coupon

Total OOP was $2.14 (saving $61.45)

Might be the best trip for this Super Doubles only because I did it in one trip :)  Okay, also because they had stock of everything on my list!!!  Crossing my fingers that the rest of the trips go so well!!!  Hope your trips are going well too :)  Please let me know!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip #3 plus and plus

I really should have been prepared for how crazy it is to shop with an over tired 3 year old but it is always surprising.  We went to the bathroom before starting shopping but I didn't insist enough to change little man's pull ups!!!  Big mistake because we ended up with leaky pants.  So the first check out happened with ICBINB, Always, Windex, 3 Tum Freshers, and 2 Ramen Noodles.  Quick check out because you can't go into the bathroom with unpaid items and it seemed like more work to unload and reload everything and then pay but who knows.  The total was $1.03 (savings $19.73).

I thought I was going to grab some more things but after trying to get a new pull up on and back in the cart, he showed me that he was done with shopping.  I grabbed three more Tums Freshers and paid $0 (saving $8.97).

After my husband got home from work, I told him that I was leaving to take my "break".  Although I did offer to take my son (fingers crossed that he said no) and my son said that he wanted to stay and play trains.  Off to my grand vacation of super double bliss!! 
I was mainly getting lunch meat for my husband since we were almost out.  Then I had a coupon for free grilled chicken breasts when you bought two lunch meats.  I decided to get the Minute Maid Coolers even though they were a little overpriced at $3.19 so after coupon they were $1.19 (Wal-Mart was $0.97 after coupon but I wasn't planning another trip back there soon).  On the way to the freezer section, I passed the Grande Chips and saw a sticker on the front for $1.50 off ground beef.  The even better news is that it started with a 5 so it doubled.  I grabbed the chips and continued to the freezer.  I just added two $1 Healthy Choice Evic Coupons to my card so I got one of each of the kinds and used a $1/2 coupon so they were $0.50 for one and $0.65 for the other.  I grabbed two Pure Protein bars (free after coupon) before heading back to get some meat.  After a long conversation with the butcher, I got a package of ground beef that was about 1 1/2 pounds for $0.51 after coupon.  There are way too many kinds of ground beef but the one that was on sale was freshly ground... literally, I stood there while he ground it in the walk in fridge.  I knew that my total was going to be high but I had a $1.50 catalina towards the cost.  Final Total OOP $10.23 (saving $29.85).

Here is to hoping that I make it with one check out during Super Doubles and not three!!!

For All Three Check-outs:
Total OOP $11.26
Total Savings $58.55

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip #2 (plus more check outs)

I was a little bit more prepared for this shopping trip but not by much!!  I still didn't have enough time because I had packed my week so full with activities since I wasn't expecting Super Doubles.  I got a bunch of things that I wanted to get as shown in the picture below before my time was up and we had to go on to the next appointment.  I was super excited to get so many great deals and still find things in stock.  I used a rain check for the Smart Balance and everything else was on super sale.  The total OOP was $0.21 (savings $39.82).

Since I didn't use all my coupons during the first trip, I decided to go back and use the rest when I had more time.  They were out of the ICBINB tubs so I got two spray butters instead.  I rearranged things a million times because I couldn't decide what to get with my last few coupons and I didn't want to miss out on any deals but below is the picture of what I finally decided on.  I got 2 ICBINB, 3 Smart Balance, Smart Balance Butter, Smuckers, Pompeian Olive Oil and Tums Freshers.  The total OOP was $0.80 (savings $31.11).

Both trips:
Total OOP $1.01
Total Savings $70.93

I am so excited to go again and see what else is in store for me.  I have more appointments packed in tomorrow so I don't know when I am going to get time... hoping to do it all in one trip this time and not have to keep going back and forth but I might have high hopes :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip #1

So I didn't even know it was Super Doubles today but I pulled it together when I saw the ad in my e-mail at noon because I had to pick up my son at 1:00 from preschool.  I grabbed everything that I could as quickly as I could and ran to the check out at 12:40.  I probably should have set an alarm on my phone so that I wasn't so crazy worried but I was too busy to do that since I was cutting coupons at red lights on the way to the store!!

I used a rain check for the Smart Balance Milk so it was free!!  Then I got the free Smart Balance Butter with the purchase of the milk.  Gold Peak Tea was free after coupon!!  Can't Believe It's Not Butter also free after coupon!!  Neutogena Hand Lotion free after coupon!  Pure Protein Bars were a moneymaker with a $1.00 evic coupon on top of the free bars after coupon.  The Country Crock and Smart Balance Butter were not that much but the overage covered most of the cost.  The total was $0.84 (saving $46.37).

Since I ran out of time, I didn't use all my coupons.  I went back after I picked up my son but he was exhausted with eyes closing while we were in the car.  I had to ask him question to stay awake until we made it to the store.  Getting restless, he started trying to get out of the huge race car cart so I grabbed two I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and headed for the door.  I had a few other things that I needed to get but it was impossible to keep him in one place while I was looking since I was so unorganized still.  It was $0.06 OOP (savings $6.58)

Good news, my son fell asleep in the car so I put him in his bed when we got home and went to work getting organized.  It is so unlike me to not know when Super Doubles is coming but I looked at the beginning of the week and didn't see any mention that it was confirmed so I was caught off guard with the great news.  I went through my files and recycled the expired coupons and filled the new printed coupons.  I made long lists of everything that I am going to get for the rest of Super Doubles!!!  I am so excited that this sales fill exactly what I need to stockpile- milk and butter.

For Both Trips:
Total OOP: $0.90
Total Savings: $52.95

I love Harris Teeter and I love Super Doubles!!!!!!