Monday, March 31, 2014

Kelloggs Family Reward Promotional Points!!!

There are a few promotions that I just got in my e-mail from Kelloggs Family Rewards.  If you already have an account, make sure you check your e-mail.  There is a Spiderman code which enters you for one Spiderman point towards that promotion and gives you 50 points too!!  If you share that through facebook, twitter or even e-mail, you get an additional code worth 20 points which happens immediately.

There is another promotion for April Fools Day where you find all of the strange things in the email and then you press the button at the bottom and you get this code:


The email said that it was worth 100 points but I got 150 in my account so who knows!

Click here to log in and enter points for yourself!  Make sure you check the email because there are also a few new coupons to print!!

Menu Plan Monday 3/31

Monday- Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes
Tuesday- Chicken Tacos with saffron rice
Wednesday- Pizza Grilled Cheese with dipping sauce
Thursday- Worcestershire Chicken with white rice
Friday- Sausage Tortelloni with garlic bread
Saturday- Leftovers/Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Sunday- Burritos/Chicken Fingers and Chicken Nuggets with Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

A new month is already here (well, almost since it is tomorrow).  I felt so on top of things because I printed out the menu so far ahead of time and I got over a dozen things on the calendar and then I didn't get back to it.  It sits next to me about half filled in with lots of spaces.  I hope to finish the rest of the month's plan today since it is the last day of the month so that I am ready for the coming month. It will help me plan for what we need for groceries in March and what deals I have to keep my eyes open for.  We have lots in the freezer and the cupboards still so I am hoping for another low month with the addition of a few staples, we should be all set. 

Do you plan your meals by the week or the month?  Do you get to dinner time and wonder what you are having?  I love to plan ahead and have something to look forward to and know that I have everything in the house to make it when dinner time rolls around.  I do lots of posts about how valuable planning meals is in saving time and money so I do feel like I am repeating myself but I wouldn't go back to not knowing ahead ever because my life is so much calmer now that I plan (and if you have kids you know calm is what you need around the dinner hour).  Hope you are planning some meals and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekly Goals 3/30

My son is on the mend and as always, my mom body waits until he feels better to send me down the terrible road to sickness.  Although there is nothing worse then feeling sick at the same time as your kid and trying to take care of them when you don't want to get out of bed....I just thought I missed this cold but I was wrong.  Feeling yucky and getting nothing done!  Do you know the last time I went to exercise because I don't!!  I really need to get things back together and get on a better schedule so that I can stay healthy with summer coming up.  Hope that you are not fighting off any of the horrible colds going around because it is not fun!

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family - You get to spend lots of time together when people are sick which doesn't seem fair but we were all stuck in the house together for a few days sharing our germs.  We are planning on a much healthier and fun week next week.
  • Library program- Cancelled because of sickness
  • Playdate with friends after school (another mom and I are switching days picking the kids up from school so we get one day with no kids for most of the day and then another where the kids entertain each other so it is the best of both worlds so this should be her free day)- Cancelled because of sickness
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday- Got them on Friday after work
  • Cut coupons (two inserts)- Cut one.  Does that count as half credit?
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I did great shutting off the computer whenever I was out of the house and at night this week.
  • Teach couponing class- Cancelled because of sickness
  • Subbing at school one days- I ended up in the office one day and subbing the other day
  • Post additional coupons for sale to ebay- Cancelled because of sickness...haha!  I just didn't get time with having my son home sick and then getting sick.
  • Finish reading Janet Evanovich and Happy Family book (reading both)- I finished two Janet Evanovich books and returned one to the library but my son fell asleep on the second trip to the library.  I read a bunch more of the Happy Family book but haven't finished it yet.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I kept the kitchen pretty clean until the end of the week where it looked like a bomb went off because I made applesauce bread and pound cake and lost all of my energy to the sickness that I thought I missed.  Here is hoping elves come in the night and clean :)
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- Early in the week I got the kitchen all cleaned up and one night we did leftovers so it was easy cleaning but the rest of the week still had a little clean up in the morning.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family) - Done
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Done
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week - Done but only a little
  • Participate in blog hops to share posts with others- Done
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family 
  • Register my son for Kindergarten!!!!  I can't believe it is already here.
  • Playdate with friends after school (another mom and I are switching days picking the kids up from school so we get one day with no kids for most of the day and then another where the kids entertain each other so it is the best of both worlds so this should be her free day)
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday
  • Cut coupons (two inserts from this week and one from last)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Teach couponing class for moms
  • Subbing at school three days
  • Post additional coupons for sale to ebay (?)
  • Finish reading Happy Family book
  • Find next book to read
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family) 
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week 
  • Post Month End posts for Reading, Cooking, Budget and Coupons
  • Participate in blog hops to share posts with others
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ten Big Ones Book Review

Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum, No. 10) (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich was the next in my pile to read.  I went to the library with my son and got the 9th book in the series and they didn't have the 10th but as I was walking by the large print area, I spotted number 10 so I grabbed it.  Sorry to those of you who needed the large print version but I just borrowed it for a little bit.  I was super excited to read it and with the huge font, I could read it from much farther away so this might be a new trend!

Stephanie Plum, unlucky bounty hunter, goes to the corner store to get nachos with her friend, Lula, who decides to prove that she is a good shot so she aims for a bottle and shoots a hole in a bike tire.  A masked man comes running out of the store and the getaway vehicle was the bike which now doesn't work.  She sees the face of the man who robbed the store when he is trying to figure out how to get away which makes her a target. The violence that occurs as a result is scary and dangerous.  Stephanie is forced to hide out and she goes looking for the safest place she knows, Ranger's bat cave.  You won't believe what she finds!

I read it faster then the last and was really sad when I got to the end because I didn't have the next in the series waiting for me (but I did have a pile of other books so don't worry about me).  It was another great story and possibly the most stressful with the situations that Stephanie gets herself in the middle of and how she gets herself out of them.  Since there is another book in the series, I guess I always assume that she is going to get herself out of the situation that she is in but you never know!  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore and see what you think.  It is a page turner just like all of the other books in the series so I hope you enjoy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Month End Coupon Printing and Organization

Can you believe that it is already the end of the month?  I am not sure where the time has gone but that is what the calendar says!  Of course, don't take my word for can check your calendar too. Remember to print coupons because some go away at the end of the month....also remember to check back in a few days and see what new ones have appeared!!

Check the following sites:
This is a good time to remind you to clean out all of the expired coupons and put them in the recycle bin!!  I try to remember to clean out my coupon basket but I usually end up going to the store and realizing that so many are expired that I can't find the ones that I am looking for before I get organized.  Make sure that you get cleaned up so that you can find the coupons you need to save money!!  I love to do this a few days before the end of the month to make sure that I don't miss using any that might expire at the end of the month.

Make sure you don't miss printing a coupon!!  Keep this list for next month 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.  Hope you all had a wonderful month and I look forward to hearing all about it!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: 25 Things I Have Done This Week to Save Money (with recipes)

I go through every week and give little tips to help you save some money and I try to make them different because it makes it interesting for you to read and interesting for me to write but I was thinking about what to write about this week.  I decided to tell you what I did to save some money this week so I wanted to share my list.  These may or may not be in the order of the week because I am writing as they are coming to me.

1.  Made homemade rolls- I am going to tell you that it isn't that hard to make them because I use my bread machine and pop in the ingredients and let the machine do all the work but it wouldn't be a ton harder to do it by hand either.  We really love the homemade rolls which we use for our salsa sloppy joes, french dip sloppy joes and hamburgers.  My husband said tonight how great the rolls were and I think that it makes the meal that much better.  It does take a little extra time for me to make sure that I get them made but the one batch makes between 12-16 rolls depending on the size.  We only use about 3-4 depending on the meal so that lasts for at least 3-4 meals when I make them.  I freeze the extras and we heat them up when we make the next meal with them and they are still as fresh as ever. (recipe here)

2. Make loaf of homemade bread for the week- I make our bread for sandwiches every week.  I should go back and see how long ago was the last time that I bought bread from the store.  I realized that this only saves a little bit of money each week but it also means that we are eating just a little better and not eating the preservatives found in the store bought bread. (recipe here)

3. Made chicken broth from frozen veggies and chicken carcase- I try to save all of the bones from my chickens and the juice to make broth because it is so much more flavorful then the store bought ones and it is cheap and easy. (recipe here)

4. Eat Breakfast at home- We all eat breakfast every morning before we leave the house for school or work so that we don't feel the need to stop and get something while we are out.  My husband likes oatmeal every morning so I stocked the cupboard full with his favorite oatmeal.  My son switches between oatmeal and cereal usually and sometimes mixes in a peanut butter sandwich.  I prefer cereal mixed with granola or a baked treat like muffins.

5. Pack Lunches at home- I pack a lunch every morning for my husband, son and myself depending on where we are going.  Sometimes my son and I will eat at home but more often we are out and about.  I try to pack a variety of items so that we have a good lunch and snacks through the day.

6. Pack Drinks- We all have a different size of the same water bottle from Rubbermaid.  My husband has the big one, I have the medium one and my son has the small one.  I put ice water in the container for my husband for him to drink at work.  He is lucky and can refill at work when he finishes his but if he couldn't I would send a second container for him.  I pack myself a reusable cup in the morning with my ice tea and my Rubbermaid container goes on ice in a lunch bag so that I can refill my cup through the day as it gets low.  My son gets his filled with water and sometimes gets filled at water fountains or other things while we are out.  In the summertime, I pack him two or three waters because he drinks a lot more.  We never stop to buy convenience drinks at the store because that could be as much as $6 for the three of us and I would rather spend that on other things.

7. Went to the library to get books for my son and for me- We love the library and since you can get up to 50 books and other items for check out at the same time, my son and I are often fighting for the books we get to check out but he got some fun books that he picked out and a few more about space that he couldn't live without.  I got a few more mystery novels to read.  Reading is the greatest form of entertainment and it can be done for super cheap because of our great local library system.  I have even checked out DVDs and other movies that we have watched at home and saved lots of money.

8. Went to a Kids Gym Open House followed by ice cream- This one might have been a letdown but most Opening events are really fun and we actually got to play soccer inside on a turf field which was interesting and something we don't get to do every day so it is great to take advantage of free things in your area.  Afterwards, we went to Dairy Queen with a gift card that my son got from participating in a reading program and got a huge cone and a Orange Julius for $1.23 after gift card and our family had a fun day out that we normally wouldn't have splurged on.

9. Went to a Library program- We love our library programs and they cover all the basis from storytime, doing crafts, bands and music, puppet shows, and more. We went to a storytime and enjoyed all of the stories.

10.  Downloaded free activities from Teachers Pay Teachers- My son loves activities and asked for more activities every day so I went online and pulled down some activities about space which is his current love.  All of the activities that I chose were free so that saved tons of money because I got educational materials for my son that kept him happy and entertained and spent no money.

11. Made Responsibility Chart for items around the house- I decided that I was done with the morning struggle to get out of the house and I made my son a chart of all of the things that he needs to do in the morning so that he can leave the house.  It was with all the things that we already had around the house so if it works, it saves me time and energy every morning and if it doesn't then it cost me nothing.

12.  Run the washing machine and dishwasher at night while we are sleeping- There are supposed to be peak energy hours and non-peak so if you do the energy taking items at night then it is supposed to work out cheaper on the electric bill.  I am not sure if it works but it also means that all the work is done while I am sleeping and I can empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning or put the stuff in the dryer.  I don't have to wait for the cycle to finish.

13.  Got two brand new books in the mail-  I am a member of three different blogging to get free book organizations and there are ups and down of all of them but the great thing is that I get free books for just clicking on the titles that I might be interested in and I get to keep them when I am done.

14.  Enter Pampers Points online- If you don't have an account, it is a great way to enter in points and get free stuff.  I have gotten a puzzle and a hippo nightlight through points that I enter online.  I don't have diapers anymore but there are free points that pop up from time to time and I enter in the information from that and I have gotten free stuff for my son.  I also do the Huggies points which we used for a potty seat and another toy which we ordered online and it was shipped to our house for free.  I love to get things for free so these points sites are great to save up and use for holiday gifts or things for baby showers if you don't have your own kids.

15. Made Banana Bread- I had some bananas that were going bad from my parents visit so I used them to make banana bread.  We love banana bread here so it goes quickly and it is a great treat. (recipe here)

16.  Made Homemade Pancake Mix- We love homemade pancakes and waffles and I keep a tupperware container of the mix ready to go on the counter.  It is super easy to make and cheaper then buying a box in the store.  Plus I can mix it up whenever we need it with things already in the pantry. (recipe here)

17. Paid Homeowners Insurance- What?  How did that save you money?  I paid the total balance and my insurance company gives me money back at the end of the year.  I just got my check for $180 last year and deposited it in the bank so it adds up to a lot of money.

18. Got together all our taxes to file- We hope to get back some money this year and that would be a great jump to our savings account so hoping that we can get that direct deposited soon after filing!

19.  Stained Yogurt and made smoothies- My son loves the little smoothie containers with the monkey on the side and he could drink 3-4 in a sitting so I buy the 6 pack and then instead of letting him drink them in two sittings, I strain some strawberry yogurt that I got for free to take out all of the seeds and mix it with a little apple juice to make it the same thickness as the smoothie and refill the container.  He gets one and as many refills as he wants for the same price!

20.  Printed out free calendar from the Internet- I use a printed calendar every month to make my menu plan.  I used to use a free calendar that I got from Pillsbury or Betty Crocker and I missed the sign up window for both of them so I came up with another free method for doing a monthly menu plan.  I have to download and reformat the calendar before printing and using it so it takes a little bit of work up front.  I will work on the draft of the menu plan starting this week and fill the rest of it out going into the beginning of April because I always need a few passes at it to fill in all the spots.

 21. Worked as a substitute teacher at my son's preschool- How does this save money?  Isn't this something I do to make money?  Well, I get a small paycheck for doing it which goes into the bank to pay for some things like groceries and other things that we need.  I also get to send my son to lunch bunch that I would otherwise not do and he seems to enjoy.  It normally costs $10 a day so that was extra money that I didn't have to spend because I am working at the school.  It is a great perk that has sent my son to lunch bunch a few times this year with his friends.

22. Baby Kid Sitting sharing- I guess you can't call it babysitting now that they are getting so big!  Another mom and I are switching time that we watch each others kids so we get one afternoon a week where we have two kids and they get to play together and then another week where we have none so that we get to do something by ourselves for a few hours.  She went to a doctors appointment and I got to take a nap and make rolls.

23. Got the free local paper to get my coupons- I love our local paper and the fact that I can get coupons from it so I am excited every week when I can get the local paper and get all of the coupons that save my family lots of money and let me continue to be a stay at home mom.

24.  Made Special Treat- I decided to make some cookies because we needed some sweets for the week and I had a little extra time to make something because I wasn't working as much!  We love having goodies but we don't buy any of that stuff at the store anymore.  It saves a little bit of money getting a lot of junk food and it means that if we want something that I have to make it from scratch.  It takes a little bit of time and saves a lot of money.

25. Eat all our dinners at home- I make the menu at the beginning of the month and try to make some favorite meals that are spread through the month and I always have a back up in case we have a busy day and I can't get it done because take out for convenience is not an option for us.  We get take out once a month and we want to enjoy it so we don't want to do it because we are stressed and overworked.  We

What have you done this week to save money?  Can you think of some things that you can do next week to save a little more?  There are always things that can be done to save a little more.  I could have hung the laundry out to dry on a line and I could have put a bucket in the shower to catch the extra water to water the plants.  I try to do as much as I can but there are always some trade offs that have to be made in order to fit everything into the time you have available.  I hope that you try a few more things to be thrifty this week. Who knows, maybe those new attempts will become habits like they have for me!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Harris Teeter Super Doubles Trip!

I have a sick son at home and haven't had time to prepare but Super Doubles waits for no one.  I got a whole bunch of stuff with very little planning and only one rain check so it can be done!

I got some great deals including free Annie's Mac and cheese, Coconut Milk Creamer, Olay face wash, Glass Snapware containers, Suave Kids Shampoo, Rice Dream Milk, and Tide.  I paid a $1.25 for each Cheese Its with a printable coupon that I had in my folder.  I also got another box of Triscuits which were $1.14 after sale and coupon and I got another $1 back from Checkout 51.  I got the sausage for $0.82 which was a great deal.  The most expensive things were the vitamins ($1.99) and milk ($3.69).  I used two of my catalinas from the last time I was at the store to pay for most of the rest of the groceries so it was super cheap even with my very bad planning, I think that it turned out great.

Total Retail $89.88
Total Savings $86.98 (including rain check)
Total OOP $2.90

What do you think?  How did I do? They were already out of some stuff and I didn't get any rain checks since I was wandering around still trying to figure out what I wanted to get and didn't write anything on a list.  Oh well, there is the rest of the week and I am hoping to get some other deals after I figure out what I am supposed to be getting :)  What are you getting??

Kids Wednesday: Learning about the Planets with fun books and activities

My son went on a school trip to the planetarium and came back wanting to learn everything about space so we went to the library and found the section on space books.  He picked out a few and I picked out a few.  I had to make a trip to another library to pick up more so we had tons of great books.

We got some that there stories like these about space and the stars.  It was nice to mix those with the more factual books.

Then there was a series of books that  just loves which are the True Books (those are the ones with the blue outlines around the outside mostly).  We picked out a book about most of the planets.  We went to the library to look for a few more planets that we were missing and we couldn't find them so we are going to put them on reserve.

Go with whatever is interesting to your kids right now and get everything you can on the subject to foster their love of reading and love of learning.  He is so excited to read these books and remembering tons of facts about all of the planets that he learned through his trip and reading these books.  I was stumped on what we were going to do as activities to go with these so I looked online.

I started with Teachers Pay Teachers to find some about the planets. One of my favorites for the young kids is the Planet Book.  It has a page for each of the planets and is a great place to start talking about the information and learning about each planet.  It can be set up starting with which ever planet you want and put together in whatever order you would like and only give them the sheets that you want to work on for that day so it is perfect to read one of the books about the planet and then fill out the page from the book.  Download your own here.

There is another Getting to Know the Planets which is a great resource because it has information, quiz and a great project to make the planets into a hat.  It is a great find with lots of great facts and knowledge.  If you would like to download it too, click here to find the file.

There are some cute posters that you could hang up when doing the planet activities and use them to put the planets in order to add different facts underneath.  They can be found here.  I don't normally use them but if my son is still into the planets then it might be fun to hang them in his room.  They are bright and colorful!!

There are a few coloring sheets for the different planets here.  There is a game for older kids which can be found here and adapted to younger kids here.  It is a huge file with lots of information so be prepared because it takes a few minutes to download.  It is a zipped file with power point so you can change any of the questions you need.  I found a matching activity where you match the color planets with the black and white ones here.  There is another great resource with cards that you can cut out with facts about each planet so you can match the facts and the planets or make posters here.  There is another sheet with the distance from the sun (be aware that it doesn't have the answer key so you need to figure it out before giving it to the kids) but check it out here.  Great questions with answer keys for lots of planet fun information here.

I hope that you can find some fun things to do with your kids while learning about space.  There is so much to learn and so many different topics you can cover while doing tons of learning starting at any age!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

To The Nines Book Review

To the Nines (Stephanie Plum, No. 9) (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich was the next book in the series that I had put on hold to read another set of books.  I decided to pick them up when I was at the library because I wasn't as interested in the books I was reading so I might as well try to go back to the entertainment of this series.  I was happy to get back to this series!

This book was about the main character, Stephanie Plum, who is a bounty hunter who always gets into trouble.  Her boss posted bail on Samuel Singh, an illegal immigrant, who disappeared.  Stephanie and all of the other bounty hunters were on the search for Samuel with very little to go on.  He seemed to have a boring job at TriBro testing cogs and gears but spends a lot of time on the computer.  Stephanie gets a lead in the case which takes her and Lula and Connie to Las Vegas.  If you think that her life is interesting in Trenton, you should see all that happens in Vegas.  There are continuous threats on her life and she is always getting into a crazy situation.  You have to pick up this book to find out what happens but just want to let you know that nothing blows up this time!

I hope that you pick up this entertaining series and see what you think if you haven't already.  I have already read the first nine books in the series and can't wait to read the rest.  I don't know why I waited for so long to start this series again but it makes for a nice start to the week and entertaining read while my son has been sick.  If you are interested, make sure you check out these books at the library or bookstore.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 3/24

Monday- Asian Marinated Chicken with white rice and garlic green beans
Tuesday- Breakfast for Dinner
Wednesday- Philly Cheese Steak Pasta
Thursday- Chicken tenders with mac and cheese
Friday- Chicken Caccitore with pasta
Saturday- Leftovers/Cheesy Pizza Bites
Sunday- Grilled Hamburgers/Breakfast for Dinner or Leftovers

So this month has been really busy for me working 9 days (okay I know that people working full time just threw up their hands in disgust but it was a lot of time for me out of my normal schedule) and lots of things going on so there hasn't been a lot of free time or time to shop or cook.  This is my least busy week with only one day working and one day teaching a couponing class.  I am going with easy meals that are easy to throw together at the end of hard day even though this should be an easy week because I am going to try to catch up on some cooking, baking and cleaning while I have a few days where my son is in school and make it exercise class (crossing my fingers).

I can't wait for nice weather because we are going to be doing a lot more grilling and a lot less cooking in the kitchen.  It makes for a lot less clean up so I am getting excited even though I hate the heat of the summer months.  I am hoping for at least one month with good weather before it gets too hot!!  Do you like grilling?  Are you excited that grilling weather is almost upon us?  What do you have planned if you have a busy day?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekly Goals 3/23

So tired and got so little work done on my blog last week between my parents being in town and my three days at work.  I barely got up a post on Friday and it wasn't what I was planning.  I didn't have much to talk about on Saturday because there were so many other things to do so blogging has taken a little bit of a back seat to all of my other stuff and I am sorry.  I hope that you aren't disappointed to not find the number of posts I normally do in a week but I am trying.  How did your week go??

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family with grandparents before they leave- My son had a blast with his grandparents here because they would buy him anything that he wanted and play anything he wanted.  He had them on the floor doing puzzles and reading more books then I could count.
  • Birthday party for my son's classmate- He had a great time at the gymnastics party and came home saying that he wanted that kind of party when it was his birthday party which he did after the bowling party and every other party he has been too.  I think that he just likes parties!
  • Playdate with son's friend from school- I dropped my son off at his friends house after school and they got to play for a few hours and he had a blast and I got to clean up the house a little while he was there.
  • Playdate with friends after school (another mom and I are switching days picking the kids up from school so we get one day with no kids for most of the day and then another where the kids entertain each other so it is the best of both worlds so this should be her free day)- I took her daughter for a few hours while she went to the doctor and then she took my son for a few hours the next day and I took a nap!  Yup, I did barely anything productive with my time but put the dough in the bread maker to make rolls.
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday- It took a lot of remembering but I grabbed what they had at the library and we stopped at Giant to get the rest that we needed.  I got all of them and even recycled the papers that we didn't need so it was super successful.
  • Cut coupons (two inserts)- I had my parents help me separate papers and I got all my coupons cut.  It was entertaining to see them sort because they were flipping their hands over each other trying to figure out where to put things....there was luckily only one mistake which I caught before cutting the coupon in half.  It was nice to have help on sorting them.
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I shut off the computer every night and every time I left the house so it was off a lot of the time.
  • Subbing at school three days- I worked three days this week and got in a little bit of routine which does make things easier but it still doesn't leave a lot of free time without my little helper.
  • Post additional coupons for sale to ebay- I didn't post anything this week because my parents were in town and I didn't want to be running back and forth to the post office every day with them in town and then I was working.  I was a little sad to not get things up but I hope to work on it this weekend.
  • Finish review book- I had to go back and look to see which book I was talking but but I did finish it and posted review.
  • Read next movie book- I got the next movie book out of the library and it was huge which should have motivated me to start on it right away but it motivated me to start on another book instead because I couldn't carry that one back and forth to work all week because my bag is always so packed.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I cleaned the kitchen all week and kept the kitchen as clean as possible with all of the traffic in it with extra guests.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- My husband fell asleep on the couch so I decided to go and clean the dishes on Thursday night watching some of the TV show in the kitchen at the same time.  I got all the dishes cleaned and baked my rolls in the oven at the same time.  I was super excited to have an easy morning because I also got all of the lunches mostly ready and then just had to get the refrigerated stuff in the morning.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family) - I got most of my posts up before time but didn't have them all done ahead so it was a little hard to try to finish some in the middle of doing a million other things.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- I don't know if I got any books finished this week so I had to check my posts to see what the last book I reviewed was before I realized that I did finish and review my book for Blogging for Books.  It was good but I guess it seems like ages away.
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week - I got my Monday and Wednesday post done by Friday night so I was making bring progress but I had nothing else done so it was my mission to get them worked on Saturday.
  • Participate in blog hops to share posts with others- I honestly don't have a clue what I have linked up to this week but I don't think that it was much early in the week so that leaves going back and figuring it out.
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- I got them all posted on time with a little extra work at the last minute that I am not usually doing.
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family 
  • Library program
  • Playdate with friends after school (another mom and I are switching days picking the kids up from school so we get one day with no kids for most of the day and then another where the kids entertain each other so it is the best of both worlds so this should be her free day)
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday
  • Cut coupons (two inserts)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Teach couponing class
  • Subbing at school one days
  • Post additional coupons for sale to ebay
  • Finish reading Janet Evanovich and Happy Family book (reading both)
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family) 
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week 
  • Participate in blog hops to share posts with others
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Making a Responsiblity Check List for the Morning

How many mornings do you have to repeat the same things over and over to get your kids out the door?  I know that I have turned the steps into a song so that my son can sing it over and over again to remember what else he has to do but I would like to take a little of the fight out of the morning routine so I made a chart from the ten things that we need to do in the morning to get out of the house.  I am hoping that this makes the process a little easier so I thought that I could share if you wanted to make one of your own.

Get a file folder (ours just happens to be red) and a list of responsibilities written out (or typed).  I used a font that had a "normal A" as my son says instead of the "fancy a" with the line over it so that I didn't get a discussion about that so make sure you choose what works for you.  If you have younger kids, use words with pictures to make list so that they can "read" it themselves.  If you only use pictures, you could probably cut the folder in half and not use as much of a flap.

Then, get glue, rulers and scissors.  I used the glue stick for the paper and white glue for the magnets.

I grabbed two magnets that we had under the sink that we got for some freebie awhile ago.  They are the thin magnets and were already stuck together so I didn't have to wonder.  I put them together and cut into 10 piece sets which is how many I needed.  You could always buy magnets but it is much better to cut up the ones that you get from the local real estate agent or doctors office so keep your eyes open if you don't already have a pile of them like we do.  I cut out the papers and lined everything up to make sure it fit.

I measured the one side to 10 mostly equal parts to see what it would look like and then I cut them across.  After finishing it, I used the white glue to glue a magnet in the middle of each section.

On the other side, I used the glue stick to glue the responsibilities on using the cuts in the other side to guide my centering.

I flipped the folder over and attached the DONE! to flaps on the outside of the folder.

I had to be patient and let it dry because all the white glue was still wet but when it is totally done drying, I still need to attach the other line of magnets so that they are touching.  They don't have to fully connect so I think that it should be pretty easy to eyeball but hard to do when the other side is still wet because they get stuck and pull off.

I can't wait to test out the chart on Monday morning and see if it gets us out to school with less fighting in the morning.  I am also crossing my fingers that I can change the last one for the summer time and not have to make a new chart!  Hope you try it out too and see if it works for you!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Two Thirds Through the Month Shopping Update

I did my one third of the month here before I had family come and visit.  I did four transactions on the first day and ended up having to get a evic zvr back and a return.  The next day I went back and only did one because it was a little overwhelming the first day.  There were lots of transactions in a short amount of time but super excited because they all went really well.  Below is everything that I have gotten this month and the total spend and saved.  If you want more details on each transaction, click on the title and there is a breakdown of the entire trip.

Harris Teeter $0.18  

I had a evic promotion for the 10 oz steamables so I got these yummy edamame but the promotion didn't come off so I went to customer service and I got the money back.  I got the yogurt to get the General Mills promotion.  I got the Oscar Mayer protein pack which was a money maker with a evic zvr coupon.


I got a bunch veggies and the Crisco before the coupons expired.  I also grabbed the Oscar Mayer Bologna so that I could use my other two coupons.  I had to grab the yogurt to get the General Mills promotion again.

Harris Teeter $1.30 

I added some more stuff to the cart to get the General Mills promotion including the 4 Hamburger Helper, Liberte Yogurt, and Progresso Recipe Secrets.  I added free Vidal Sassoon and the money maker of the Snickers.  I splurged and got the lemon because they were $0.60 each but I wanted the zest to make muffins (they were yummy).

Harris Teeter $1.16 

I grabbed some sweet and low for my mom's visit and then a bunch of other treats to get the General Mills promotion again!!

Okay this trip was a strange one because I got all of the items and my zvr for the Suave lotion didn't come off.  I saw that immediately and went to customer service to get the credit and didn't really pay attention to my receipt any further because my mom was with me and I was supposed to make a quick trip to the store.  When I got home, I realized the cheese wasn't the sale price I thought it was going to be and the zvr for a different kind so it didn't come off, even thought I thought I read it at least three times....see even I mess it up and the great thing is that you can return it.   So I did and I got the money back on my credit card.  With both cash backs and the General Mills promo coming off, I ended up making a profit on this transaction.

Aldi's $1.32
We went to Aldi's and my mom kindly paid for the rest of the groceries since she was staying with us for a week and she got a bargain on butternut squash for herself.  I really don't know what we got but some oyster crackers, pepperoni, and yogurt drinks all for my son.  I think that I also threw in a head of lettuce.  After we left, I realized that I forgot a bag of pretzels for my son and I ran back in and got a bag. 

 Harris Teeter $1.01

Super glad that I got to make one more trip to the store to get a few of the sale items before they ended including the tissues, yogurt, tea, and simply potatoes which were free after coupon.  I had another box of tea and then the other coupon would not work so she took off the so I grabbed two milky way and handed her another coupon from my basket but we were still in the negative.  UGH!  No more coupons for candy bars so I had to run into the store to get something else.  I should have been more prepared and I would have know that I could have grabbed some noodles which were cheap with coupons expiring but I grabbed a box of triscuits and my total was still pretty low for all that stuff but I didn't really need to grab a third box of Triscuits even though I love them :)

Total Retail $300.19
Total Savings $280.78
Total OOP $19.41

What a great month so far!!!  I still have a $10 Giant credit and $5 for Harris Teeter so there are a few more things to get for the month and not that much more money out of pocket.  It might be the lowest month yet!!  We will wait and see.

I also got $4.74 already put into my Saving Star Account (and more pending to go in soon for at least $1.00 for the Friday Freebie).  I now have $6.50 in my Checkout 51 account which $4.00 was from this month (you can't get pay out until $20 but it is still building)!  I think that I was supposed to do something with Ibotta but my iPad won't open it and I have to use my husband's phone so I haven't gotten to even look to see what I was supposed to do so if that passed then I am probably going to miss that opportunity unless it is still there.  Either way I am leading to a great month!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Freezer and Pantry Challenge with a little meal planning

Many people feel that their grocery budget has gotten out of hand and don't know what to do about it.  Does that describe you?

I love couponing and saving lots of money on everything for our family but as a lot of my new couponing friends can attest, it is a lot of work.  If you want to try a fast start to saving a little money, take a challenge to eat out of your pantry and freezer.  Whether you want to kick start your coupon savings or skip couponing all together, you can make a plan to try for a week or a month but every day helps.  Don't think that you can do it?  Start with the first two steps and see how long your lists are!!

1.  Go through your freezer:  Write down everything you have in groupings of meat, veggies, and other so that you know everything in the freezer.  If there is anything you can't identify, throw it out (or defrost and throw out if you can't figure it out after it is defrosted, you better throw it out!!!  We all have things that we put in the freezer and didn't label but it is a lesson for next time because you will remember to take the few seconds needed to label so that you can use that item again).

2.  Go through the pantry and cupboard: Write down everything you have and if you have things that are expiring soon, put it on the counter to force you to use it first.  If there is anything that is expired, throw it out.  If there are things that you don't think that you are going to eat, donate them.

3.  Make a Meal Plan: It is really easy to sit down and make a meal plan with the items that you have around the house.  I sit down with my calendar and my lists at the beginning of each month and spread my meals through the month so that we aren't eating the same thing every week.

For example, pasta is my easy meal so I make it on Friday after a long week.  The first Friday of the week will get Olive Oil Spaghetti, the second Friday will get Sausage Tortelloni, and the next will get Chicken Cacciatore.  We are using the spaghetti for two different meals and it doesn't feel like we are eating the same thing even though it came from the same box.  We do breakfast for dinner a few times a week so I put one and skip two weeks and put another.  It helps to spread out the meals that you know you already have and then start thinking.

The next step is to look at the calendar and see that I need a meal on Monday.  I look and see that there is chicken in the freezer and rotel in the cupboard and some rice.  I get on the Internet or look through my cookbook.  I could marinate the chicken in half of the rotel and use the other half to make a Spanish/Mexican style rice.  If I didn't think or plan ahead then I would be eating plain chicken with white rice so a little planning and creativity makes for a much tastier meal that doesn't cost more.  Do you have a few tortillas in the house?  You just made spicy chicken tacos and rice.  The possibilities are endless.

When you get down to the end, think outside the box.  Even though you always eat stuffing with pork chops, if you have stuffing you should look into a meal with chicken.  We get into ruts as we cook dinner and don't try anything new but it helps to try new things and we have come up with a lot of family favorites through my experiments.  I have to be truthful and there have been some failures but much less then the successes and I wouldn't change this adventure for the world.

Do you know how much money this will save you?  We don't waste food anymore because there is a plan for the items in the house and I use the things that I have.  If I open a container of spaghetti sauce, I plan to use the other half of the jar later in the month before it goes bad.  If I buy a big container of green beans, I am going to plan two meals around it.  If I buy yogurt and it is getting close to the end, I will make scones if we aren't going to eat it.  There are so many different ways to use things and find a use for everything in the house.

Take the challenge and go for a week with only the food in the house and see what you can make.  There are tons of foods lurking in your cupboards just waiting to get used and you are probably going out every week getting new food without cleaning out the cupboards first.  I think that you will be surprised at how many new and different things you can try.  If you have a busy week at work, don't try this that week!!  Start when you can put a little more thought into making meals so that you don't give it up because of the stress at work and just buy pizza.

If you spend $200-$400 per week on groceries then doing this for one week a month will save you this much money.  If you plan your meals for the month, you will add more to the saving because you can't believe how much it saves to know that when you decide that you are making Chicken Marsala that you have all the ingredients already in the house and don't have to stop at the store on the way home.  If you plan ahead to get all of the things that you need for the week (or month) so that you don't have to make extra trips to the store, you will save a bundle!!  I know when I go to the store that I don't need another head of lettuce because I planned the meals in a clump that were going to use them before the produce went bad.  I hope that you try because in the long run it will save you time and money (and a little sanity around dinnertime).

A little planning goes a long way!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kid Wednesday: D for Daisy and Dinosaur

This week is a D week at school and we started the week with a horrible snow storm so I decided that I would do some quick work so that I would have some fun activities to do while we were stuck inside.

My mom suggested we do a daisy and I said what do you want to do with it?  She went to bed and left me to figure it out.  It was quick work to figure out how to make a daisy educational. My son cut the stems from some scrap paper.  I cut out the yellow circle middles from some other scrap and the leaves from the rest of the green.  The white petals were just regular paper and not construction paper so you can use what you have around.  We attached the stems, centers and leaves first and I wrote the math problem on the center.  My son picked out petals and attached them.  After he was done, he added the numbers and wrote the answer on the leaf.

The finished project had four daisies but I would suggest doing three but my son really wanted four so we worked with the paper that we had.  At the end, we looked up daisy in the dictionary and my mother wrote it at the top and my son wrote it below.

Since the we had the dictionary out, he moved on to playing with his Children's Dictionary.  He had a great time looking up words but mostly in the Z section which was last week's letter.  Then, he looked in the back at the map of the United States and the country flags (he liked Japan and shared it with everyone at dinner). He had to move grandpa's phone out of the way because he was sitting at grandpa's spot at the table.

He circled the upper case and lower case D's on the paper and then counted them and wrote the number on the paper.  It was great practice because he is still working on 3's and S's and stopping to think which ones he wants to use.  This page was one in the big book of different activities including this and some more we did below (found here).

When he was ready for another activity, we made a D book.  He cut up all of the paper to match the pictures and the words.  He was really excited to cut and glue all of the pictures on and got sad that there was one word and one picture that didn't have a match.  He put them on the page and wrote the word on the one and drew a picture on another one.  If you want to download your own, click here to download.

He was excited to put it all together and staple it.  We have a little stapler which he likes to use because it is his size and it has colored staples.  We ran out when he was stapling and he picked green staples so he was even more excited to be able to mix up his colors.

We did another coloring activity where my son colored the letter D per the directions.  The spaces with D were colored in blue and the other letters were colored in red.  It made for a pretty picture. Also included in the big packet of activities found here.

The next day we did a D shaped dinosaur.  I decided to work with some different sticky medias because we are always using the glue stick and not using other things like white glue and tape.  I tried to have my son make a collage which he ended up looking more at the different things that he wanted out of the different magazines so he got distracted.  We got back on track after a little bit and he taped the spikes and feet on and then decided that he wanted to write that it was a T-Rex and different D words on the dinosaur so it was our creative dinosaur.  After he was all done, he added some glitter glue and let it dry.

We did some other activities where you had to pick out the D pictures on the sheet.  There was one where you had to write the D on the picture and others that you had to circle the picture.  He had some fun with doing those but there were some pictures that took a debate about what there were plate versus dish.  It is also in the big packet of information found here.

There was a quick activity of sorting the D words and non-D words into the different columns.  This barely gave me enough time to pull out the next activity that we were working on but it is nice one because you can do it more than once if you want.  This is also found in the large activity packet here.

There was another D sheet that we used on a previous letter where my son traced it and then outlined it in glitter glue but this time he only wanted to trace it so that is all he did.  This and other letters can be found on First School's website.  There isn't a way to link to it without linking directly to pdf but here is the page with all of the letters.

There is one other fun one that I have planned for later in the week which is the B and D dice.  My son loves the dice so I am going to save this for when we have a friend over to play who also likes to play games.  Of course, there are a few friends coming who like to play games so we will see when this one comes out and it might be more than once!  You can download it here and have all the fun of graphing letters too!

Want to sort D's and B's with a little bit of snowman help?  Here is a sheet that is perfect!

There is an alphabet board game that you can print out and have the kids color so that you can play a fun game that they had a hand in making.  Feel free to download it here.

We are also reading a few books for D week.  Since I did a dinosaur activity, I figured that it would be a good dinosaur book, Oh, Say Can You Say Di-no-saur? (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Bonnie Worth.

They were going to do a dog activity so we decided to read Go, Dog. Go! (I Can Read It All By Myself Beginner Books) by P.D. Eastman.  Both of them are Dr. Seuss book so even better to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday month with more of his books.

We also got another new book for my son's birthday which we have only read once so it seemed like a good one to read again.  Chick-o-Saurus Rex by Lenore Jennewein and Daniel Jennewein was a fun book about a very special dinosaur.

There was another one that we read before which would be fun to incorporate in to bring in the math ideas and is about dinosaurs.  There are plenty of other D books that you could read because it only takes a little stretching of most of the titles or characters to link them to the letter D!!! Even though Clifford starts with the letter C, he is the big red Dog and you could bring him in too if that is one of your kids favorites.

There are so many cute activities out there on pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers (remember there are tons of free activities and you don't have to be a teacher just sign up for an account).  I know that I downloaded a bunch and printed a few because I didn't know how much time I would have to work this week because of snow delays.  We did get some done on Monday since our other activities were cancelled because of the snow.  We are going to do a few different activities through the week after school or in the morning before we leave. Hope you have fun learning D week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Stillness of Chimes Book Review

I didn't know much about this book when I picked it from Blogging for Books but I knew that I read the previous book (review here) by the author and she was a great writer.  I was really looking forward to her next book even though I didn't know what it was about.  I got it as soon as it was available and waited for it to come.  A Stillness of Chimes: A Novel by Meg Moseley was on my list of books that I was excited to read when it came out even though I had no idea what it was about and I wasn't disappointed!

Laura Gantt came home to deal with her mother's funeral and all of her families possessions after her mothers unexpected passing.  When she arrives home, she hears rumors that her long ago drowned and presumed dead father was still alive and wandering around town.  She is having a hard time dealing with the fact that she has no family left so holds on to the unlikely possibility that her father is still alive.  During this trip home, she reconnects with her childhood best friend and boyfriend, Sean Holloran, who helps to protect her against his father and a mysterious intruder.  In order to find out all of the twists and turns, you have to read it yourself.

This was a great book about dealing with family tragedy and growing stronger.  There is a lot of interesting twists and turns through the book that show you the friendships and bonds that even though life long friends haven't been together in a very long time, they are strong and supportive.  The friends that Laura has in the book stand with her through the amazing things that are uncovered in her mother's journals and possessions.  I love Meg Moseley's writing because it really makes you feel like you are in the middle of the character's lives.  I felt for all of the characters and learned all about their lives through her great writing.  I hope that you check this out at your local bookstore or library.

If you want to find out more about Meg Moseley, please check out her website here.  There is more information about her available here with links to each of her books, as well as a few other authors you maybe interested in if you like her work.

If you are a blogger and interested in learning more about the Blogging for Books, please check them out here.  I found out about the program through someone else that was blogging about the book that they just read.  Since I have a love of reading and all things books, it seemed like a nice program to try.  If you are already active with the program, please tell me how you like it.  I look forward to trying out some new books soon.

*Please note that I was provided a free copy of the book through Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program for my honest opinion of the book.  My review is also posted on Amazon and the Blogging for Books website.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 3/17

Monday- Herb Butter Roasted Chicken with herb rice or stuffing
Tuesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Pizza Grilled Cheese with homemade pizza dipping sauce
Thursday- Chicken tacos with saffron rice
Friday- Olive Oil Pasta with garlic bread
Saturday- Leftovers/???
Sunday- Leftovers/Homemade Pizza

I worked my magic on another week using things from the pantry and freezer with a lot of yummy meals.  My parents leave at the beginning of the week so I moved over to some of our favorite meals as a treat to us.  I have no idea what we are going to do on Saturday night but I will make sure that I have something for dinner.  There are lots of options but nothing sounding super tasty and I would like to try a new meal.  If it happens, I will post the recipe but if not we will be digging something from the freezer.  Do you have meals that you make when you aren't in the mood to make anything else?  Any family fall back meals?  I usually make Olive Oil pasta but that is the night before so we might just end up with leftovers but crossing my fingers that by then I will come up with a new recipe to try.