Nov 30, 2008

Less Bookworm, more bookparasite...

I get to out-nerd a nerd :)

Keely over at The Un-Mom just tagged me with a little 'Bookworm' meme. The rules are:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 56.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one. Pick the Closest.
6. Tag five people to do the same.

I had a similar problem to Keely's....most of the books within close range are of the Sandra Boynton/Dr. Seuss ilk...not really long enough to earn a place in this game. And yes, the only adult readables within grabbing distance of my perch on the sofa are...drum roll....graphic novels. Nerds 'R' Us, folks.

Anyway, here's my contribution...don't ask me "Y" ;)

"You can call me V.
The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore I can lack nothing: He shall feed me in green pasture and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort"
"Phone Bunny Etheridge. Get him out of bed. And whatsizname at the Finger."

And for this little adventure, I'll tag the following folks...
Kadi at Womb at the InnSane
Jen at Cheaper than Therapy
Lydia at On the Verge
Kelly at The Neurotic Mom
Tena at Punky Monkey's

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 1st

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanskgiving...and for those who braved the Black Friday crowds, I hope you escaped with all of your appendages still attached.

We're doing really well sticking to the menu - this past week was easy because there were so many nights we planned for leftovers or eating somewhere other than home. But all of the recipes were successful, especially the Oatmeal-Cornflake cookies...I ended up baking SIX batches before the week was done. I scored some cranberries on sale and chopped two cups of those in the food processor for some of the cookies - they didn't add a lot of flavor but made them look VERY Christmasy! I was thinking chopped dates and nuts might be pretty good too...

Here's our plan for the week - don't forget to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more inspiration and to post your own menu! Also - I've added a MPM calendar in my sidebar - let me know what you think!

monday - Leftovers night - free!

tuesday - Autumn Chowder, homemade rolls ($4.85 for 6 servings)

wednesday - Homemade Hawaiian pizza (with pineapple and bacon) ($3.74 for 8 servings)

thursday - Slow cooker chicken and dumplings using these biscuits for the dumplings ($3.16 for 6 servings)

friday - Ham and cheese oven omelette using this recipe and leftover ham, toast ($3.15 for 6 servings)

saturday - Chicken leg quarters from this sale with Italian dressing marinade, veggie, rice ($4.23 for 4 servings)

sunday - Dinner at the in-laws! Free night!

Nov 29, 2008

Shaw's Deals

If you live near a Shaw's, this week is a GREAT week to stock up your freezer! Shaw's is running a two day meat sale on Sunday and Monday only...I'm planning on being there when they open, as the flyer states "while quantities last", which means they won't do rainchecks if they run out. Here's my game plan:

Fresh Chicken leg quarters - $0.49/lb - 3 pound packages, I will be picking up 4 packages.

Shaw's fresh Italian sausages - $1.99/lb - usually in 1 pound packages. I still have 3 pounds from the last time I bought at this price, so I'll probably only get 3 more.

Shaw's 80% lean ground beef - $1.99/lb - any size package. I haven't seen it at this price in a long while so I will probably pick up 8 pounds. Some will be made into burgers, some will be browned and frozen, and some I will put into meatloaf-sized portions.

Eye Round Roast - Buy One get one free - Whether I buy or not will depend on the price. If it's more than $5 per pound at regular price, it's more than I'm willing to pay. I'd love to see these in $5 roast sizes, then I will definitely buy two!

They are also running a promotion where you spend $20 on selected P&G products, and get a $5 catalina off your next purchase plus 5 free Redbox rentals - a total $10 value! This is a great way to use up the last of your P&G coupons from the November insert that will be expiring on Sunday. Just a few examples:

Dunkin Donuts coffee - $5.99 per bag, use $2.00 off 2 P&G coupon
Folgers Coffee - $5.99 per canister, use $1.00 off 2 P&G coupon
Crest Pro Health Rinse - 2/$7 - use two $1.00 off 1 any Crest Rinse P&G coupon
Herbal Essences hair care - Buy one get one free - use $2 off 2 P&G coupon
Puffs Ultra facial tissue - 5/$5 - use $1 off 3 P&G coupon

Head over to CouponMom to see the actual discount amounts and applicable coupons!

Nov 28, 2008

I've been buzzed!


Erin over at The Mom Buzz gave me a fly-by today! If you haven't checked her site out - you are missing the party...she does great reviews and giveaways, and she highlights awesome mom blogs...I'm honored to have been considered "Buzzworthy". Thanks Erin!

She reminded me of something though...I finally found some archived copies of my "Bricklaying" series, and I will be re-posting those over the next few weeks, along with a few other key posts from the old site that I managed to recover. So keep watching! And as always, if you have questions or suggestions just drop me a line :)

Black Friday at CVS

I don't usually do anything with Black Friday shopping, I just don't have the patience for the mad rush of it all. But CVS's Black Friday sale started ON Thanksgiving, and there happened to be a 24 hour CVS on the way home from my Dad's house, so I figured I'd see what I could do. I was pretty proud - I knew what I'd buy but didn't really plan out the transactions until I got to the register!

Here's how the transactions went down:

Transaction #1
1 Energizer Max 16 pack AA batteries $10
1 Energizer Max 16 pack AAA batteries $10
1 20 oz Pepsi $1.59 (hubby was thirsty and waiting patiently in the car!)
used: $5/$25 coupon - the kid at the register put it through even though I didn't quite make $25
used: $6.98 ECB's

Total OOP: $10.06--Total ECBs $10.00

Transaction #2
1 Aussie shampoo $2.99
1 Aussie conditioner $2.99
2 BIC Soleil razors $5.99 each
used 1 Aussie coupon $1.00
used 2 Bic Soleil coupons $3.00 each
Used $10 ECBs

Total OOP: $1.01--Total ECBs $17.96 (11.98 from the razors, $5.98 from the Aussie products)

Transaction #3
1 Cover Girl Smoothers Pressed Powder $5.99
1 Cover Girl Smoothers foundation $7.99
1 Garnier Nutritioniste cleansing towelettes $5.99
2 Hershey bars 2/$1.00
used 2 Cover Girl coupons $1.00 each
used 1 Garnier skincare coupon $1.00
Used $17.96 ECBs

Total OOP would have been $0.01 but the kid at the register was so excited for me, he grabbed a penny out of the give one, take one dish---Total ECB's $19.97

Grand Total OOP: $11.07
Total saved: $59.72
ECBs to roll over $19.96
Total profit - $8.89

I could have done even better, I had a couple of Energizer coupons at home that were on the kitchen table instead of in my binder, and I only had 1 Aussie coupon because I didn't buy an extra paper that week. This sale runs through Saturday, and then we're into the new sales flyer and December ECB deals!! Yay!

Nov 25, 2008

MomDot Blog Party - Day 10

It's DAY TEN at the MomDot Blog Party! Today is brought to you by Organic Blankees (Natural fiber blankets - even couch size!), Huddy Buddy (Sweet tees for the kiddos), and BabyLegs (I LOVE THESE!!! Leg/arm warmers in awesome designs!)

Yeah yeah, I know...I skipped Day 9. I never really got any weird gifts and I've been lucky enough to never have to regift anything (except when we would do Yankee swaps, where regifting is Standard Operating Procedure...Billy the Big Mouth Bass has made many an appearance). So I'm starting up again with today's question:

Day 10: Do you decorate for the Holidays? Do you have a themed Christmas tree? Share pics! Do you think there is such a thing as OVER decorating?

I mentioned my unhealthy addiction to Christmas in my first blog party post. So asking me if I decorate for Christmas is like asking Martha Stewart if she can do something useful in the kitchen. Duh. By next week this time, the Christmas tree will be in its rightful place, and I will be plotting the ideal placement for the miles of lights, garland and other foofery that adorns my house this time of year.

Since we live in an apartment, I haven't yet graduated to the level of lawn displays and outdoor lights, but I make the most of what I've got. Every room has a touch of Christmas to it. I have a village, a manger, and a trio of Santa-head mugs that belonged to my mom. Every Christmas card we get finds a home along the archway between our living and dining room. And everyone - yes, EVERYONE - gets a santa hat.

We definitely don't have a themed tree - someday I would love to do that, but I have so many ideas for trees I'd need a LOT more room to put them up!!! Our decorations range from homemade ornaments from my and my husband's elementary school days, to commemorative ornaments (anniversaries, baby's first, yearly keepsakes), to goofy stuff that only has meaning to us (we have a slave Leia on the tree. 'Nuff said.) I like it that way though - looking at our tree is really a window into our family and our personalities!

Do I think decorating can go overboard? Of course I do. If you can't walk through your yard without tripping over a plastic glowing statue....if your house can be positively identified from space...if tiptoeing through your living room threatens to cause an avalanche of figurines, stuffies, and/or village houses...if your house is so decorated that the color red is actually burned into your retinas...if you are finding fake snow in your underwear....

Other than that, you're good! :)

Black Friday starts early at Amazon!


You read that correctly - is starting its Black Friday specials early!!! Just visit their special Black Friday sale page and start raking in the goods!

They will also be featuring special Gold Box hourly deals from midnight to 11PM PST so check back often!

Nov 24, 2008

Redbox Monday!

It's that time again! Redbox has another free rental code for today...


Go to any Redbox kiosk, choose "rent with promo code", choose your movie, and enjoy!

Code is only good until midnight tonight, and movie must be returned by 9PM on Tuesday.

Here's a few of the new releases available:
Tropic Thunder
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Get Smart
Hellboy II (probably what we'll be watching!)
Kung Fu Panda
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Happy viewing!

Menu Plan Monday - Nov 24th

Happy Thanksgiving! (my condolences to the turkeys...I will enjoy eating you...nom nom nom...)

I love Thanksgiving for two reasons: first, the family gatherings - we are doing a little house hopping but it's worth it. Second - the LEFTOVERS...Thanksgiving is the yummy gift that keeps on giving, and I'm already trying to plan out ways to maximize the stuff that will inevitably come home with us :)

Our menu went well again this week - we FINALLY used the last of the chili in the burritos, but I will be making it again VERY soon - it got better with time! The Sausage and Penne was another huge hit, and is doing its duty as lunch/leftovers :) I made 10 cups of chicken stock from the roast chicken, and froze about 2 cups of leftover chicken meat to use sometime in the next few weeks!

I'm off the hook for Thanksgiving cooking, but I found a SUPER easy recipe for Oatmeal-Cornflake Cookies...They are yummy, easy, and I am going to make a triple batch to bring along!

Here's the rest of our week at the table - and don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie to tour everyone else's table...hope you're hungry :)

monday - Pork Chops with Mushroom Sauce, veggies, rice ($6.40 for 4 servings)

tuesday - Leftovers night (need to clean out the fridge!) - Free!

wednesday - Honey Balsamic Chicken drumsticks, veggies, leftover rice ($3.40 for 4 servings)

thursday - THANKSGIVING! - (about 3 bucks for 3 batches of cookies!)

friday - Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli (Romano's Macaroni Grill boxed - from this sale) ($5.03 for 4-5 servings)

saturday - Turkey N Biscuit Bake ($6.31 for 6-8 servings)

sunday - Going to the Edaville Railroad Christmas lights display, dinner out with family.

Nov 22, 2008

MomDot Blog Party - Day 8

Welcome to Day 8 at the Blog Party from MomDot! Today's sponsors are: Koshas (stylish yoga belts), Leapfrog (yes - THE Leapfrog...Leappads, Didj, it!), and Soda Stream Soda Club (kits for making your OWN soda at home!)

Day 8 - Do you shop on Black Friday? What time do you start? Do you finish all your shopping on that day? What’s the best deal you have found? What’s your shopping strategy?

I will admit I am woefully ill-equipped to even answer this question. I can just barely tolerate the mall during the when the insanity of Christmas takes over as the last of the turkey is settling in my stomach, I'm more inclined to hide under my covers than venture out.

My sister-in-law is the Black Friday shopper in our family. She started plotting her strategy last week, and once the dessert dishes are cleared from the Thanskgiving table she will run out to her car, and return with armloads of flyers to get her hardcore planning done. She will get up at 3AM, brew a huge pot of coffee, and hit the road with one mission: Stuff her little Corrolla as full as it will get before her daughter gets up for breakfast.

I admire her gusto, really I do. If I were inclined to make any major purchases for Christmas I'd probably fall under her tutelage and learn her ways :) I'm lucky that the Boy Wonder is still young enough to get me off the hook for big ticket items, but I am fully aware that it won't last. Soon I will be joining the masses and zombie-walk through the pre-dawn hours in search of that video game, that MP3 player, that one thing he MUST have. I just hope the coffee's REEEEAAAL strong...

Nov 21, 2008

The Goodie Bag

The Goodie Bag is back! Reach in and see what you find.... :) has extended its 80% off sale!!! That means you can STILL get $25 restaurnat certificates for just $2. Just enter the code SURPRISE at checkout and enjoy the savings! This is also valid on the Dinner of the Month club.

From Neutrogena - Get a Facial Cleansing Cloth Sample. Click Here

Free sample of Glad Bags HERE

Don't forget to get your weekend grocery coupons from my toolbar at the top of my blog! Pay a visit to - there are a couple of turkey coupons and more Pillsbury offers!

Fruit Roll-ups


Holiday photo cards

Christmas is just around the corner.

*deep breath*

Every year it seems like my Christmas Card list gets longer and longer...and with the Boy Wonder changing on a DAILY basis, everyone wants to see updated pictures. Last year I finally caved in and sent out photo cards for the holidays, and boy were they a hit!

There are so many services out there offering photo cards, but I am sticking with They did our cards last year, and when we got married I got my prints through them. I did some shopping around for the holiday cards this year, and their prices are by far the best. Here was the price comparison I did, on basic 4x8 photo cards
  • Kodak Gallery - Their cheapest sets say "starting at $4.99", but that's only if you buy 20 or more sets (200+ cards). For my 50-60 cards, I'd pay $5.99 per set of 10, or $0.60 each.
  • Snapfish - Same thing here. Their site shows their cheapest cards "as low as $0.29 each", but that's only if you buy 240+ cards. WHAT??? I'd pay $0.55 per card for what I need.
  • - No savings here. Their CHEAPEST price (for 100+ cards) was $0.53 per card.
  • Shutterfly - You have to buy 200+ cards to get their lowest price of $0.36 per card. I would pay around $0.50 per card for the amount I need
Mpix, on the other hand, is $0.45 per card regardless of how many I buy. They have a large collection of templates, including 2- and 3-image setups. They also have a DIY option for people with good Photoshop skills - Create and set up your own card, and Mpix will print them up for $0.42 per card up to 100 (prices decrease per 100 cards).

The quality is great - our cards were very good quality last year, and when we pulled the extras out this week the picture hadn't faded at all. Because they are a professional photo processing outfit, they can do some corrective work for you (extra cost) and every picture is printed on professional grade paper. They have tons of other photo products....worth a browse! I used their free downloadable software to create my wedding album, it's very user friendly and great for folks like me who don't do digital scrapbooking (yet).

Their turnaround time is fast too - your order is usually completed within 48 business hours, then shipped according to the method you choose. Shipping cost ranges from $5.95 for USPS Priority Mail to $12.75 for Fedex Next Day.

Happy Holiday carding!!

Nov 20, 2008

Shopping and junk

Keeping up with the MomDot blog party has been great for making sure I blog every day - but I feel like I'm neglecting updates on the REAL mission here!

The last 2 weeks have been big stock-up weeks for the dry pantry - between the General Mills sale and the week that followed it, I could probably eat out of my pantry and freezer for months! We finally did some basic food shopping this afternoon, but up until now the only thing I bought since shopping last Monday was a gallon of milk. $2.99 spent in ten days is pretty darn good!

And really, the only reason we went to the Price Rite was because DH was out of diet soda (He's not a big milk or water drinker, and being diabetic kinda limits his other I cut my losses and make sure he has plenty of diet soda on hand), but while we were there I figured I'd get a headstart on next week's shopping. We spent $23.00 but other than the soda, eggs, bread, some bananas and the Boy Wonder's yogurt, everything else was baking/cooking supplies that will get used in small amounts over the next several weeks.

This time of year, you're going to see a lot of baking supplies on sale - The flyers have had a LOT of coupons for basics (cornflour, sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk), and the manufacturer sites are putting out some great coupons too. You can get coupons for TollHouse morsels and Libby's pumpkin pie filling at Nestle's Very Best Baking site (just make sure you register). And there's a coupon for $1 off Arm & Hammer Baking soda HERE. Since I'm trying to make as much in my own kitchen as possible, I'll be padding my stockpile with baking staples now so that I can sail through the early part of next year when the prices go back up. I'm planning to budget an extra $30 this month and next month just for staples, we'll see how that goes :)

I'm working on re-posting some of the "Bricklaying" articles from the old blog....I might have to rewrite the last two since they weren't archived yet, Google Cache managed to save the rest of them :) I got really good response to that series, so I want to continue it - if there are topics you'd like to see, send me a message or leave a comment!

MomDot Blog Party - Day 7

Lucky DAY SEVEN at the MomDot Blog Party!

Today's Sponsors are: Sillymonkeez (fun teeshirts, pet products and more) and My Baby Bump (maternity wear with attitude)

Day 7 - Who's on your naughty list? Who's on your nice list? Why?

On the naughty list? One of the managers at work. You don't need to like me, but you do need to treat me like a professional...instead I am faced with a situation that feels more like the girls locker room in high school than a medical unit at a major area hospital. So not cool. The good news, her boss's boss likes me, so she can just get on my nerves and not much more.

On the nice list....that's a tough one. The Boy Wonder, obviously because he's the most awesome little guy. My Mother-in-law for being the amazing, caring, generous woman that she is. My own mom passed away 10 years ago, and my MIL has taken up the gauntlet and treats me like one of her own kids. She even kinda reminds me of my mom :) My bestest best friends, for putting up with me for the last 20 (what???) years. We still have tough roads to travel, but we are doing it together! My husband, for being willing to put up with me for the REST of his NATURAL LIFE. That is one brave dude :) My landlords, because they are the BEST landlords ever...I've never rented from anyone who gave ME a Christmas gift. Or been willing to drive out and unclog my sink on a Sunday morning. And my Daddy....we haven't always had the best relationship, after Mom passed away he put a lot of his hurt and anger on me because I look just like her. I prayed for years that we would reconcile. God gave me patience to wait for the right moment to open up communication again. We are now closer than ever, and THAT is one of the best gifts I will ever receive.

Listen to your momma...

I work in a local hospital, and when the Boy Wonder was an infant, folks were constantly asking me if I was worried about him getting some weird illness or infection because of my exposure. I played it off that breastfeeding made him superbaby because he got my antibodies....while true, it's not the whole story.

Certain strains of bacteria and viruses are stronger than ever. And whatever immune system superpowers I may have passed on to my little guy, things like MRSA (Methicilling Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) are a genuine cause for concern. Essentially, it's a strain of the Staph bacteria that has grown resistant to our common antibiotics. When we get a patient who has tested positive for MRSA bacteria, they have to be put in a room by themselves or with another MRSA patient. They have to go through treatment with much stronger antibiotics (which can cause side effects like nausea), and their hospital stays can sometimes be longer than they should be. It is a contact-transferred bacteria, meaning it moves via skin-to-skin contact or by touching something after it has been touched by a person with MRSA.

I'm not one to live in constant fear of the things I can't see, but because of what I see at work I do follow a few simple rules at home that will help protect my family. And most of these things are the same rules you should follow to stay healthy through cold/flu season and keep from getting less serious infections - so do what momma always said.... :)

  1. WASH YOUR HANDS - if you use soap, keep scrubbing until you've sung through "Happy Birthday once. Or, use a hand sanitizer. Wash anytime after you've touched a public surface, sneezed or coughed, used the restroom....the usual.
  2. Use a disinfecting bleach solution on hard surfaces. Bleach kills the bacteria.
  3. Cover your open cuts. Get some cartoon character Band-aids if it makes it more fun :)
  4. Sharing can be BAD! Don't share drinks, eating utensils, personal care items.
  5. Don't share surfaces either. Keep some kind of barrier (towel, clothing, etc) between your skin and public surfaces. Yeah, those toilet seat covers are OK too.
Get educated! Visit for more information.

Nov 19, 2008

MomDot Blog Party - Day 6

On the SIXTH day of Christmas, MomDot gave to meeee.... :)

Today is sponsored by: Flying Colors Baby (adorable duds for the kiddos), Uncommonly Cute (totally hip baby tees), and Lollipop Book Club (Books and a book club for the wee ones!)

Day 6 - Favorite holiday memory from YOUR childhood

I really had to think about this one - not because the pickings were slim, but because I had the great fortune of having a truly rosy childhood. And I learned how to love Christmas from my mom, Mrs. Claus herself.

I already told you about the Christmas morning stocking, but another Christmas tradition of my mom's that I LOVED was the scavenger hunt.

Every year (once we were old enough to play along), she'd come up with a new present hunt. We got stuff under the tree, sure (many years she wrapped socks, stuff for school, etc..but we always had a LOT to unwrap!). But there were always one or two "big" presents for each kid, and one "family" present. So she would create these scavenger hunts that would lead us to our big gifts, then the family gift. We would get excited to help each other find our presents...and every year the hunt was a little different!

One year, there were clues hidden in the Christmas tree. Another year, they were inside walnut shells (which my dad laboriously glued back together). One year we had to follow a string of yarn all through the house. Stuff like that added to the excitement of Christmas morning, brought us kids together, and made for great stories to tell :)

Wonder Wednesday!

OK. I think this is THE COOLEST award I've gotten so inner nerd did a "woo hoo!" when I saw that Felicia over at Go Graham Go! gave me this WONDER WOMAN award!


Felicia not only does great reviews, she's also starting up a new site with free blog layouts...I met her through Entrecard and she's been a great blogging buddy! I'd pass this award right back to her if I could, but where's the fun in that?

I am passing this award on to Lauren at Restored 316 Designs for the AMAZING blog layout she did for me, Keely at The Un-Mom just because she rocks, and Dana at The Homesteading Housewife because she's a frugal, farming, fabulous supermom!

Nov 18, 2008

MomDot Blog Party - Day 5

Welcome to DAY 5 at MomDot's Blog Party! Today's Sponsors are: BabyPop Designs (Superhero capes and other sweet kids' apparel) and Chic Covers (seat covers, cart covers and more!)

Day 5 - Do you volunteer during the Holidays? What organizations do you donate your time to? How do you teach your children the true meaning of the holidays?

I have often been overcommitted. I love volunteering for things, and offer to help any chance I get. Before we moved, I was hands-on in just about every activity my old church offered up. I've cut back considerably, mostly because we moved and I only recently found a church that I was happy with, so I'm still figuring out the inner dynamics there.

But as good as I usually am with donating my time during the year, holidays seem to hold me back more than they drive me. Schedules are crazy, the whole season is a frantic one, and things like volunteering fall to the wayside when I feel like I barely have enough time to breathe. Right now, we donate presents to Toys For Tots and Angel Tree Ministries, and we make a monetary gift to Heifer International. I perform with my old worship team at the local Juvenile detention center and the Salvation Army recovery center. When the kids get older, we want to find a way to volunteer as a family, either with the local soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity, but I think that's a ways off for us.

I hope that teaching my kids the true meaning of Christmas goes far beyond just the holiday season...the Boy Wonder is little now, but if I can foster a sense of appreciation for the blessings we have, and a spirit of giving ALL the time, I'll consider my efforts a success :)

Freebies (a little early!)

Pillsbury is offering a $10 coupon book when you sign up for their newsletter - these will go FAST so sign up HERE!! You'll get the coupons, recipes , and meal ideas!

And a few other freebies that are still available:

Betty Crocker THREE DAY BLOWOUT is having an AMAZING three day sale - from now until Thursday Nov 20th, you get 80% off your purchase by using the code SURPRISE at checkout! That's a $25 gift certificate for TWO DOLLARS.

These make great gifts - we bought a bunch for the adult couples this year because they were so cheap! Once you purchase your gift certificates, you will have them loaded on your account. From there you can print them out or email them - I prefer to print them out on light cardstock. The system will keep track of when they are used. There are participating restaurants all over the country, making this a great gift option for out-of-town friends and family. A few things to be aware of:

- Be sure to read the restrictions. Some restaurants have minimum food purchases before you can use the certificates, some restrict the time of day they can be used.
- Some restaurants limit the amount of GC's they offer through, so buy early before they run out!
- Be willing to look for places that are a little bit further area only has two restaurants participating, but if I'm willing to drive about 40 minutes in any direction, I can find TONS more...and at these prices it is worth the drive!

Nov 17, 2008

MomDot Blog Party - Day 4

It's DAY 4 of the MomDot Blog party! Today's sponsors are: Bottlewise (Wine travel bottles! What a great idea!) and GlowMama (Tasty AND healthy beverages!)

Today's question is:

Day 4 - What is your favorite Holiday recipe, describe your Holiday table, biggest holiday cooking disaster

I'm lucky in that pretty much all of the holiday meals are hosted by OTHER people...I usually try to bring a dish, but most of the responsibility is shouldered by either my folks or my in-laws. So far, I have avoided being the bearer of bad food and we've had no major disasters in the kitchen. One of these days (when my husband's comedy career earns us that 45 room mansion!) I will probably host the festivities....and I'm sure I'll have plenty of horror stories then!!

I *do* however, deck out my house (and table) for the holidays! I am a big fan of candle arrangements, mostly because it's really easy and cheap to do something that looks very elegant. My go-to centerpieces are:
- Three or four pillar candles in varying heights, arranged on a glass plate (I've used pie plates!). I get either baby pinecones or use glass beads around the base, and I wrap part of the candles in sparkly ribbon. I get the ribbon at the dollar store.
- a glass bowl with floating candles. I have a couple of shimmery snowflake candles that I picked up in an after-season sale a couple of years ago, and I have clear glass beads that I can put in the bottom of the bowl. I have also used plain white floating candles with cranberries in the water. The produce section can actually be a great place to look for centerpiece items!

My favorite holiday recipe was always my mom's kolacky - Polish jam cookies! She used to let me press the dent into the dough and spoon the different jams in.

Kolacky (Jam cookies)

2 packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups unsalted butter
4 cups flour
1 egg
1 egg white
various flavored jams (we used apricot, raspberry, blackberry)
Powdered sugar


- Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- In a large bowl, mix softened cream cheese and butter until well blended. Mix in the flour 1 cup at a time. When the dough is stiff, turn onto a floured surface and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue to knead an additional 5 minutes after all flour has been added.

- Roll the dough out to about 1/4" thickness. cut into 3"x3" squares. Press a thumbprint dent in the middle of the square and put about a teaspoon of jam in the center of the square. Fold in two opposite corners of the square and pinch to seal. Place about 2" apart on an ugreased cookie sheet and brush with egg white.

- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Menu Plan Monday - Nov 17th

Here we are, T-minus one week until Thanksgiving and I'm LOVING the fact that I don't have to cook this year! Usually I bring a dessert or side dish, but we are going to my dad's for dinner and my in law's for dessert, so we get off the hook because we're house-hopping :)

Last week's menu went really well - the Obama Chili was FANTASTIC, and the leftovers were just as good. I am using up the rest of it this week but I've already got requests to keep it in heavy rotation. The Caraway Pork Chops were pretty good, but I think I'll cut the amount of caraway seeds in half next time - the flavor was REALLY strong. We did a bit of stockpiling the pantry last week, so I tried to put together a menu of ONLY stuff we had on hand for this week - especially good knowing that I have to buy diapers and TP this week!

Here's our game plan...Be sure to check out all of the other menus over at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more yummy ideas!

monday - Veggie soup from the freezer, grilled cheese sandwiches ($1.20 for 3 servings)

tuesday - 7 layer casserole ($6.63 for 6-8 servings)

wednesday - Sausage and Penne bake ($7.45 for 8 servings)

thursday - Mimi's Sticky Chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies ($6.31 for 10+ servings, plus TONS of leftovers)

friday - Burritos made with leftover chili, rice and cheese ($1.70 for 4 servings)

saturday - Homemade cheese pizza ($2.30 for 8 servings)

sunday - Leftover night! (FREE!)

Nov 15, 2008

MomDot Blog Party - Day 3

It's DAY THREE of the MomDot Christmas Blog Party!! Today is sponsored by Appledonia, Hippos Toes, and My Bag.

OK, OK....I know I'm a little behind on the Blog Partying. Blame the Powers that stole my old blog site!!! :)

If you don't already know, there's a big bloggy love-in going on over at MomDot from Nov 12th-Nov 27th! You can read up on the fine details HERE, but in true Dottie fashion this blog party involves two things - giving linky love to other blogs, and PRIZES :)

Friday was officially Day 3 of the party, so I missed the first two days. But since I'm loathe to leave out any juicy details, I'll do an abridged version of the first two...

Day 1 - Introduce your family, share a past holiday photo
This is an easy one. My happy household consists of DH, myself, and the Boy Wonder, currently checking in at 20 months old but he thinks he's one of the big kids. Both of us come from families that get a little nutty about Christmas :)

Here are a couple of pics from last Christmas, BW's first!

Day 2 - Talk about your family's holiday traditions
Well, as mentioned before, we are Christmas-holics that come from a long line of Christmas-holics. There has to be a support group somewhere for us. My tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving and sometimes comes down by the end of January. I had one tree that finally met the curb just before St Patrick's day.

We are still figuring out how to meld our Christmasy superpowers...but here's a favorite tradition from each side of our family that we are carrying on to our kids:

- From DH's side, the "fantasy" christmas list. Every year, each person makes out their wish list to post on my mother-in-law's fridge. The list does always include a few actual gift wishes, but the bulk of the lists are for "fantasy" gifts. Sometimes they are poignant items (end to the war in the Middle East, help for the needy)...but often the items are truly ridiculous. Last year my brother in law asked for the keys to Gillette Stadium. My sister in law wanted a swimming pool full of orange Skittles. I asked for a Llama. :-)

- From my side, the Christmas morning stocking. This was a ploy by my mom to earn her a few extra minutes of sleep on Christmas morning. As kids, we knew that we had to get right to sleep because Santa didn't just leave presents under the tree, he brought our stockings from the mantle and laid them at the foot of our bed. I can still remember getting excited when I first woke up to feel something heavy on my feet and realizing it wasn't the cat :) There were always little toys, treats, a piece of fruit to eat before breakfast, and usually something that my brothers and I could do together - like puzzle books or little games. We used to gather in one of our bedrooms and compare our loot. Truly good times :)

Day 3 - Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Do you budget for the holidays? Do you always stick to your budget? Share with us any budgeting tips you may have!

I don't look forward to Christmas shopping. Any other time of the year, I can troll the malls with the best of them...but come the holidays I would rather poke myself in the eye with a rabid weasel than go near the shopping hotspots. My sister in law is the quintessential holiday shopper, she starts planning her Black Friday purchases as soon as the flyers come out. She gets up at 3AM to be first in line at the store. I wish I had that kind of gusto, but it's just not my game.

A few years back, I made a couple of changes to my holiday shopping habits:
- I come up with one homemade gift idea that can be given to all of the adult members of our families. I personalize the individual gifts along the way, but I decide on one base project. I have done cookie mix/brownie mix jars, soup mix jars, crocheted hat and mitten sets, herb-infused olive oil in decorative bottles. I start gathering supplies after Labor Day and chip away at the projects through November. By Christmas I'm good to go.
- I shop at thrift stores and consignment shops for toys wherever I can. The thrift stores here don't get into as much of the Christmas hype and I always find a wealth of stuff for the wee ones. We also make sure to donate back at least one toy for each one we are buying for our little guy. I do look out for stuff at yard sales over the summer too, I've come across unexpected prizes many times...the biggest challenge with yard sale holiday shopping is STORING it until Christmas!
- For those gifts that I just can't get at the thrift store, I online shop. Around this time of year, most online retailers do free shipping deals, and it's pretty easy to find discount codes. A few of my favorite code sites are Retail Me Not and DealCatcher. This year I am going to give eBates a try, they give you a percentage back on your online shopping AND you can use discount codes.

We try to budget for about $50 per family that we're buying for, and $50 for our own kiddo. Hubby and I exchange one gift with each other, and we use some of our Christmas budget to pay for our annual trip to the NY Comic Convention :) Most of the time I'm pretty well under that budget, because I make so much myself and shop secondhand. I also don't have teenage children in the house! My condolences to the parents of older kids...I hope that Best Buy is good to all of you this year :)

Be sure to check out the other posts for Day 3 of MomDot's Blog Party!!

My Shaw's haul!

I have been waiting TWO WEEKS to write this post, and let me tell you it makes me giddy just thinking about reliving this shopping experience with you :) It's a sad (silly) day when looking over my grocery receipts cause my heart to race....

Last week I hit HUGE at Shaw's. The situation at Shaw's was really a perfect storm of sorts - the week previous I had done REALLY well with a General Mills promotion (see this post over at The "Cents"ible Sawyer) that gave you $15 off your next transaction Catalinas for spending $30 on selected items. My store gave out several $5 Catalinas instead of one big one, so I actually made out better because I could use them in multiple transactions.

My lesson learned for this shopping trip:
1. If you have multiple transactions, do your best to go to the store at off-hours or pick a line that isn't too long. Courtesy towards your fellow shoppers goes a long way :)
2. Organize your transactions and coupons BEFORE you get in line. I had five transactions and I pulled my cart over before hitting the registers to organize. Result - I only spent an extra minute in line vs if I had done it all in one lump.
3. Don't be afraid of cashiers who get snippy about processing multiple transactions. YES you can break your transaction down. NO you do not have to leave and get back in line for each one. YES the manager will back you up on this.

Now on to the good stuff :)

I had about $30 in Catalinas going into this trip, plus printable and circular coupons

Transaction #1
4 1-lb packages of store brand butter (on sale $1.88 each)
used one $5 off catalina
total OOP: $2.52**total saved: $9.44

2 Bottom Round beef roasts (on sale $1.99/lb) - total 5 lbs
used one $5 off catalina
total OOP: $5.30**total saved: $16.41

Transaction #3
12 Birds Eye frozen vegetable boxes (on sale for $1 each)
used one $5 off catalina
used four $1 off Birds Eye manufacturers coupon

total OOP: $3.00**total saved: $20.34

Transaction #4
6 Campbells Select soups (on sale for $1 each)
4 Coffeemate flavored creamers (on sale 2/$3)
1 Columbo plain yogurt 32oz (on sale for $2.19)
used one $5 off catalina
used two $1 off Campbell's Select coupons
used four CoffeeMate coupons (2-$1.50 mfr, 1-$1 mfr, 1-$1 store)
used one $0.50 Columbo coupon (doubled)
total OOP: $1.19**total saved $27.54

Transaction #5
2 Spice Island spices (on sale $1.50 off)
used one $5 off catalina
used one $1/2 blinkie

total OOP: $2.98**total saved: $9.00


Nov 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Nov 10th

Yes, I know this is super late - after all the issues with my old URL (and if you were subscribed to the OLD $200 Mission, be sure to subscribe here and follow me in blogger!) I wanted to make sure this week's menu got posted before I was up against the new week! Plus I HAD to pass along a couple of great recipes I found.

Here's what we've been having - be sure to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more fabulous menus!

monday - Bee Rocks from the freezer stash (FREE!)

tuesday - Obama's Chili and homemade cornbread - ($8.97 for about 10 servings)

wednesday - Java Beef roast (will update a link to the recipe), veggies, potatos (cost to follow)

thursday - Kielbasa and Pasta supper using broccoli and tricolor rotini ($4.00 for 8-10 servings)

friday - Tacos using leftover Obama chili ($2.50 for 5 servings)

saturday - Caraway Pork Chops, homemade rolls, veggies and taters ($6.50 for 4 servings)

sunday - leftover night, or dinner at the in law's! (FREE!)