Dec 31, 2009

Goals for the new year...

What a year it's been! Moving, job security/insecurity/security, financial ups and downs, a new addition to the family, and lots of lessons learned (and money saved!) along the way - I'm so glad you all decided to come along for the ride! Hard to believe we're at the cusp of another new year so soon...

Erin over at 5 Dollar Dinners and a group of fabulous mommy bloggers have gotten together to create a new online community called Savvy Blogging - where experienced bloggers and new bloggers can go to learn, grow, and improve their skills! I am definitely on board with that, and when I saw they were doing a link-up for New Years goals, I had to add my two cents. (Did you know that writing your goals down drastically improves your chances of acheiving them?)

So here are some of my goals for the coming year:

1. Find and stick to a blog posting schedule I can live with. I am SO guilty of overcommitting myself! I want to be the blogger that posts several times a day, always with something witty and/or insightful to offer. But here's a reality check: I have a toddler and an infant, plus a husband with ADD and diabetes to manage. We both work outside the home, with busy schedules. And the laundry still won't do itself! I need to be realistic about what I can do in a week, and then stick to it - for myself and for my readers!

2. Finish the reference posts I've been putting off. There are many great frugal shopping blogs out there, and we all have our own methods for saving and shopping. I need to put my own methodology out there, because while it may be similar to some, there may be something different I'm doing that will help someone get closer to their own shopping goals.

3. Post all of my grocery shopping EVERY week. I know when I'm in budget, but it's not enough to just say that I've met goals...I need to show how I do it consistently! I plan to add a running monthly and yearly tally in my sidebar too.

4. Attend at LEAST one blogging conference! Having been to faith-based conferences, work conferences, and even our yearly trip to the Comics Convention, I know how powerful and motivating it is to meet en masse with other like minded folks. Time to get more deeply connected to the blogging community! I just need to find the right one, with a good mix of networking and learning opportunities.

5. Really sit down and figure out how to work ads, affiliate relationships, and other monetizing avenues into my blog without compromising it. Sure, I would love to make some pocket change from what I'm doing, but I don't want my blog to be a billboard with content as an afterthought. I need to figure out how to make monetizing work within the framework of my vision.

6. Finally buy a for-real domain name...this is long overdue, I know. But nowadays, it's a necessity, and I need to get on the train already!

7. Have the opportunity to write this post for 2011! 'Nuff said :)

Happy New Year!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 28th, '09

How's your house recovering from the holiday rush? I confess, I haven't actually seen the floor of my living room since Friday...but we're slowly finding a place for everything. Our parents like to spoil their grandbabies :)

In spite of the busyness of last week, we still stuck to the menu plan - the Chicken Fajita Soup and Cinnamon Rolls were VERY tasty - those cinnamon rolls are to DIE for, and I'll be making them as long as my arteries hold out :) I also ended up throwing some leftover sloppy joe in with the Mac & Cheese, which was awfully good!

This week and next I'm struggling with the menu plan - usually I save the bigger cooking for nights when we're all home for dinner, but for the next few weeks one of us is working every night. I have a tough time justifying more than easy meals or leftovers when it's just the toddler and I, and I'll have to get over that or we'll be eating nothing but pizza and grilled cheese all week! I am missing my OAMC meals that's for sure - so on my agenda is to be more diligent in making freezer foods!

Here's what we'll be (hopefully) dining on this week, don't forget to visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for tons of ideas and menu posts!

monday - Frozen shrimp stir fry meal ($4.50 for 4 servings)

tuesday - Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings with added veggies ($4.29 for 4-6 servings)

wednesday - Cheesy Kielbasa Bake - OAMC meal, half batch ($6.87 for 8 servings)

thursday - Leftovers (free)

friday - Italian Sausage Hawaiian over rice ($4.90 for 4 servings)

saturday - Leftovers (free)

sunday - Dinner at the in-law's (free)

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note to wish you all a very Happy Holiday! We are in the throes of Christmas preparations, so I will not be posting until after Friday is behind us and the Christmas cookies are all eaten :)

Eat a lot, laugh a lot more, and have a very Merry! :)

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 20, 2009

Gorton's Seafood - winner!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter my Gorton's Seafood Giveaway! I hope you all enjoyed visiting the Gorton's website and checking out the great recipes and tips!

The winner of the calendar and sudoku games is:

Deb K said...

I signed up for Gordon's Newsletter too :-)

Congrats Deb! She has been emailed to let her know she's won!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 18, 2009

30 free 8X10 collage prints at ArtsCow has put out a coupon code good for THIRTY free 8X10 photo collages! (If you aren't a member yet, be sure to sign up - you get 100 prints free every month for a year just for signing on!)

Just log into your account, and go to the "Credits and Discounts" section - validate the coupon code XMAS8X10 and 30 free collage prints will be added to your account, to be used between 1/1/10 and 3/30/10. You'll have to use all 30 collages at once, but you do NOT have to get 30 of the same print, as long as there are the right number of items in your cart - this is a FANTASTIC credit to use for digital scrapbooking, you can do 30 pages of layouts for only the cost of shipping!

Have you tried yet? We actually used their service to get photo books as Christmas gifts, they shipped REALLY fast and were gorgeous! I was impressed, and will definitely be using them in the futureTheir photo editing tool includes scrapbooking kits, and they let you download additional kits, many for free!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Christmas sale at - 80% off! is offering gift certificates at 80% off again! That means $25 GC for just $2! This offer is good thru Christmas, 12/25.

Just visit, choose the GC's you want, and enter the code SANTA at checkout - the discount will apply to everything in your shopping cart, in any dollar amount! These make great holiday gifts, and at 80% off you can afford to treat everyone on your gift list!

Be sure to read the fine print, as most restaurants place some restrictions on GC use. This is a great way to get early gift shopping done, or to try out new restaurants without breaking the bank!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 15, 2009

Another DIY moment - homemade baby cereal!

It's official. My friends are convinced I've gone off the frugality deep end!

Baby O (aka the Noob) had his 4-month checkup yesterday - and aside from weighing in at a WHOPPING 16lb, 9oz and 26 1/2 inches, most notable was that our pedi gave us the green light to get him started on solid foods!

The thought of paying $3.50 or more a box for the Gerber cereals was making me sick to my I did a little poking around online, and discovered how EASY it is to make homemade baby cereal! The most helpful site I found was, they lay out recipes for oatmeal, barley and rice cereals and offer lots of good tips about choosing grains, storing cereal, and preparation. There are also some great recipes for mixed cereals!

Turns out all you need for easy, CHEAP baby cereal is your WHOLE grains (rolled oats, whole brown rice grains, whole barley), a food processer/blender/coffee grinder, and water! (a note: you should NOT use Instant oatmeal, and rolled oats are preferred over quick oats as they have been through less processing)

Homemade Infant Cereal

1/4 cup whole grains (rolled oats, brown rice or barley)
1 cup water

Grind 1/4 cup of your whole grains in the grinder/food processor. The end result should be powdery and smooth with no visible large pieces. While grinding, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Once water is boiling, whisk in grain powder slowly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for appx 10 minutes. KEEP WHISKING!!! This will prevent it from clumping and burning.

Allow to cool, stir in breast milk, formula, or fruit as desired and to make cereal the desired consistency.

That's IT!

The cooked cereal can be stored in the fridge for up to 72 hours or frozen, so it's easy to make ahead of time. And of course, if you're already making hot whole grain cereal for your family, you can just puree your already-cooked breakfast for the baby!

Cost for an 8-oz box of Gerber cereal: $2.50 to 3.50 ($15-$21 for 42 oz)
Cost for a 42-oz canister of Rolled Oats from Price Rite: $1.79

Savings: $13.20 or more!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Quiznos - coupons AND a little holiday charity

Need a little pick-me-up while you're doing your holiday shopping? Quiznos has published some sub coupons to make it a little easier on your wallet! Get a free drink and chips with your sub purchase, or get $1 off a regular Double Cheese Cheesesteak.

Speaking of Christmas shopping - if you need some last-minute stocking stuffers, Quiznos gift cards are a great idea - AND for a limited time, 10% of every individual gift card purchase made online will be donated to CARE. CARE empowers women and families in the fight against poverty in over 65 countries around the world. Stuff those stockings and do a little good in the process!

And if you've got an office party to plan for, a holiday gathering, or just a big crowd to feed, don't forget that Quiznos does catering too! Use these catering coupons to save some cash.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 14, '09

Hallelujah! The leftovers have left the building! :)

We actually made it through the entire week AND the massive amounts of leftovers that were piling up. I feel good because I know that nothing went to waste! It actually prompted me to take a hard look at the recipes I post, and set up links between recipes that make good use of leftovers. It'll take a while, but it's now on my 2010 projects list!

We are in for another busy workweek, that's what happens when your husband works in retail - so that means only 1 night this week we'll both be home for dinner. We did a lot of baking at my mother-in-law's this weekend, so I don't know how much I'll do on my own outside of what's on the menu...that depends on how often the Boy Wonder begs me to break out the mixer :)

Here's our table for the week, don't forget to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for tons more menus!

monday - Fish sticks, tater tots, green beans ($5.50 for 5 servings)

tuesday - Crockpot Sloppy joes on burger rolls, mixed veg ($9.86 for 4 servings PLUS about 8 servings worth of leftovers!)

wednesday - Homemade pizza ($2.95 for 6-8 servings)

thursday - Veggie Lo Mein ($2.90 for 4-6 servings)

friday - Chicken Fajita Soup, Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (cost to follow)

saturday - Stovetop Mac & Cheese with salsa ($4.39 for 6 servings)

sunday - Holiday party at hubby's work! (Free)

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 12, 2009

Shaws sales and coupon matchups - 12/11-12/17

You may have noticed that the Shaw's circular this week includes a coupon for the "Pick 4 for $19.99" sale - I just want to say how much I DISLIKE this promotion when it happens, it's so rare that the stuff included in the sale is actually worthwhile. Here's the thing: you are paying $5 per item - so unless you're getting at LEAST 3-5 pounds of meat, it's not really a deal. If you decide to go for it, here are the guidelines I'd use:
**Perdue Roasting chicken - 5lbs or more only (avg $1/lb)
**Fresh ground beef - 2.5 lbs or more (avg $2/lb)
**Fresh Ground turkey - 3lbs or more (this says it's for 3lb package - $1.66/lb)
**Frozen Chicken leg quarters - 10 lb bag ($0.50/lb - GREAT DEAL)
**Perdue Breaded chicken - 32 oz bag use $1/1 Perdue coupon from 10/18 RP

Nothing else on their list meets my criteria - I'd suggest stocking up on the leg quarters and ground turkey.

UPDATE: Went to my store today - when I asked where the Perdue chickens were, they showed me but said they weren't stickered with the "pick 4" label because they were "over the weight limit" and the register would just take $5 off my total order. WHAT??? I asked to speak with a store manager, who said they would honor the sales flyer regardless of the price (apparently they received the wrong chickens, but as he said, "that's our problem, not yours"). BUT YOU MAY RUN INTO A PROBLEM. If you do, have a sales flyer with you and point out the following:
- The exact wording states "pay only $19.99 for 4 packages in a single transaction REGARDLESS OF INDIVIDUAL PACKAGE PRICE". They cannot impose their own rules about weight limits or price caps.
- The flyer makes NO mention of restrictions, "while supplies last" or "limited quantities". So if they don't have the product you want, you CAN ask for a rain check.

They also have a P&G catalina deal - buy $15 worth and get $5 OYNO (about 33% off the list price). Here are some coupon matchups to sweeten that deal:

Progresso classic soup or bread crumbs - $0.99
-use $1/2 bread crumbs printable
-use $1/2 bread crumbs printable
-use $1/3 soups printable
-use $0.75/3 soups printable
-use $1/4 soups coupons from 10/25 SS, 11/8 SS, 12/6 SS

Green Giant frozen boxed veggies 7-10 oz - $0.99 (limit 6)
-use $0.60/3 coupon from 11/15 GM (may double, YMMV)
-use $0.50/2 Boxed veggies printable
-use $0.50/2 boxed veggies printable

Gold Medal Flour - $1.99
Chex Mix - $1.69
-use $0.50/1 printables here, here, and here
-use $1/2 coupon from 10/25 SS
-use $0.50/2 coupon from 11/15 GM

Other deals this week:

Boneless Chicken breast - $1.79/l

Dannon Light&Fit yogurt - 10/$4

Prince Pasta - 10/$10

Swanson broth - $0.69
-use $1/6 coupon from 11/8 SS

Chex Cereal - $1.50 each WYB 3
-use $1/2 printable here and here
-use $1/2 coupon from 11/15 GM

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Stop and Shop sales and coupon matchups 12/11-12/17

Did you shop enough at Stop & Shop over the last few weeks to earn your Holiday Reward coupons? If so, don't forget the coupons are only good through December 25th, so be sure to make the most of them!

Here's what I found worthwhile this week:

Boneless Chicken Breast - $1.99/lb (3lb or more)

Select GM Cereals - 2/$4
use $1/1 GM cereal printable
use $0.55/1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch printable
use $0.75/1 Cocoa Puffs printable
use $1/2 GM cereals printable
use $1/2 GM cereals coupon from 11/8 SS
use $1/3 GM cereals coupon from 11/22 SS
Net Price: $1.00-$1.66 each

Prince Pasta - 10/$10

Pillsbury cake or brownie mix - 10/$10
use $1/2 brownie mix coupon from 11/8 RP
Net price: $0.50/ea

Nestle Toll House Morsels - 2/$4
use $0.50/1 coupon from 11/1 RP

Dove products - buy $10 worth, get $3 off your order instantly
Deal scenario:
Buy 1 Dove body wash - $4.99
use $1.50/1 Dove body wash coupon from 10/4 RP
Buy 2 Dove Shampoo, Conditioner or styler - $2.99/ea
use $1/1 Dove hair care coupon from 10/4 RP
use $1.50/1 Dove conditioner coupon from 10/4 RP
Net price: $4 for all 3 products!

Propel Fitness water - $0.88/ea
Powerade - $0.88/ea

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 11, 2009

Sneak a little extra "healthy" into your kids' diet!

My toddler is a HUGE pasta eater. And like other moms, I struggle to make sure he's eating balanced meals and getting everything he needs nutritionally - but it's hard when he picks around all the meat and veggies to scarf up the pasta! So when Mom Central offered to send me a box of Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta to try on him, I took it!

Ronzoni Smart taste looks JUST like regular white pasta - but it's been fortified with extra calcium and fiber. It's also got NO sodium or preservatives, and is lower in fat than regular plain pasta. I served it twice, once with an Italian Chicken dinner and once with shrimp scampi. BOTH times, the Boy Wonder ate all his pasta! We noticed that unlike traditional "whole grain" pasta, the Ronzoni Smart Taste doesn't taste any different than regular pasta, so it's easy to use without changing the flavors of my usual dishes.

The Ronzoni folks made this fun "Supermom" video spoof, with more than half of us worrying about getting our kids the proper nutrition we can use a good laugh!

Overall, we were definitely impressed with Ronzoni Smart Taste! I'd definitely recommend it, especially for moms whose kids don't like the "healthy" pasta - they'll never know...hee hee! For more nutritional info, and for a $1 coupon, be sure to visit the Ronzoni SmartTaste webpage!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Ronzoni Pasta and received a sample of Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta to facilitate my review and a $20 thank-you gift certificate. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. This review reflects my honest opinion based on my experience in using the product, and this post was not edited or reviewed by anyone

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 10, 2009

TOT Thursday - Storage worth the cost

Business folks are familiar with the phrase "you have to spend money to make money" - and in one particular area the same concept can apply to money saving at home. It seems counterintuitive, but a minor investment now can save you TONS of money on groceries in the coming months! Here's what should be on your shopping (or Christmas!) list THIS MONTH:

Figure out where you can fit one more appliance, and get yourself a stand-alone freezer! They come in many sizes, including small units that will fit into an apartment setup, so there's no reason not to take the plunge! Yes, it's an investment - but the money you save by being able to store food for long periods will more than make up the investment within the first year you own it.

The biggest reason I can keep my budget so low is that when freezable food goes on sale, I buy A LOT. I package into meal-sized portions (or make freezer meals) and sock them away in my chest freezer. I NEVER pay full price for meat, cheese or bread, I can take advantage of the bounty from other folks' gardens, and I can OFTEN skip grocery shopping altogether because I've stocked up my freezer during the really big sales.

The savings add up - I buy boneless chicken breast only when it's $2 or less (usually less) per pound. Regular price is around $4.50/lb here...and we eat at LEAST 75 pounds of chicken a year. That's a $187 savings just on chicken!

Why not just use my fridge freezer? Aside from having more space, a chest/upright freezer will keep food much colder (you open it less often so it holds its temperature better and keeps food at more consistent temps). That means food will last even LONGER than in a regular fridge freezer.

So instead of the Wii, get a Frigidaire - and reap the savings all year!

get more in-depth info on freezing and freezer cooking here and here

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 9, 2009

Disney on Ice Giveaway! - CLOSED

Attention Boston and Providence peeps! (and anyone coming our way this Christmas)

Disney on Ice:100 Years of Magic is coming to Boston from December 26th thru December 29th at the TD Garden - and thanks to the fine folks at Mom Central, you can get a family 4-pack of tickets for just $44 (additional tickets for $11 each, but you must buy a minimum of 4)!!

Disney on Ice presents 100 Years of Magic: 65 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and all the Disney Princesses. Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

I used to love going to see the Ice Capades when I was a kid, there was something magical about the way the performers moved on the ice that stuck with me. I can't wait for the look on the Boy Wonder's face when he sees it for the first time! We're really excited to go since this will be his first big entertainment event.

Just go to, purchase at least 4 tickets, and enter the promo code MOM at checkout - you'll get weekday tickets for $11 each, or $4 off Friday night and weekend shows!

Mom Central has been kind enough to offer me a family 4-pack of tickets for opening night (Dec 26th at 7pm) to give to one of my readers! You don't need to have a blog to enter, but you DO need to be available for opening night.

To enter: Leave a comment telling me what your all-time favorite Disney character is! Make sure you include your email address so I can reach you if you're chosen.

For additional entries (leave a comment for each entry):
- Follow me on Blogger or subscribe to my feed (1 entry)
- Subscribe to my blog via email (1 entry)
- Follow me on Twitter @scorbett and tweet this contest - you can tweet once per day. Feel free to copy and paste this text:
Disney on Ice 4-pack tickets giveaway at The $200 Mission - (ends 12/15) @scorbett

Contest will end at 10PM EST on December 15th. Winner will be chosen via and will be notified via email. Winner will have 24 hrs to respond before a new winner is chosen.

alt="MckLinky Blog Hop" longdesc="" />

target="_blank">Click here to see the entire Giveaway Blog Hop List....

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It! for 80% off! is offering gift certificates at 80% off again! That means $25 GC for just $2! This offer is good thru 12/14.

Just visit, choose the GC's you want, and enter the code SHARE at checkout - the discount will apply to everything in your shopping cart, in any dollar amount!

Be sure to read the fine print, as most restaurants place some restrictions on GC use. This is a great way to get early gift shopping done, or to try out new restaurants without breaking the bank!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!

Dec 8, 2009

Gorton's Seafood - Review and Giveaway-CLOSED

I have to admit, I'm not a huge fish eater. Which makes me a kind of heathen among the New Englanders, but I blame my childhood in Colorado :) And since I'm picky about my fresh fish, I'm even more finicky when it comes to the frozen variety. When Gorton's offered to let me try a few of their products I was curious, but definitely cautious.

We first tried the Potato Crusted Fish Filets - hubby, who doesn't normally like fish, raved about the flavor. As for whether "kid-friendly" can be applied to something more than fish sticks? My two year old DEMANDED more - he ate a full sized portion instead of the half-portion we gave him. We also tried the Lemon Butter shrimp - I sauteed them with broccoli and garlic, and served over pasta. Yet again, my toddler ate everything on his plate! The shrimp were tender, and the sauce was good but not too salty. Overall, I was impressed! Gorton's does tend to be a little pricier than I like to pay, but you are actually getting better quality product for the price.

I was really excited to see that the Boy Wonder liked both dishes so much - seafood is rich in Omega-3 fatty acid, which has been shown to promote healthy brain development (like he needs more help in becoming an evil supergenius!) Gorton's is really helping promote fish as a healthy part of kids' diets, and even has a whole section on their website devoted to kid friendly meals and tips for picky eaters.

Want to try some of Gorton's products on your family? You can head over to for a printable coupon right now!

Gorton's has graciously provided a 2009-2010 calendar (featuring over $10 in coupons and some beautiful pictures of Gloucester, MA) and two Gortons pocket electronic Sudoku games for one of my readers!

For your first (mandatory) entry, visit the Gorton's website recipe section, and let me know in a comment what recipe you'd most like to try!

For additional entries: (leave a comment for each!)
- Subscribe to my blog via email
- Follow me in Google reader or in an RSS feed
- Become a fan of Gorton's on Facebook
- Subscribe to the Gorton's Newsletter
- Follow me on twitter (@scorbett) and tweet this contest! One entry per tweet, one tweet per day. You can use the tweet button at the top of this post, or copy and paste the following: It's no fish tale! Gorton's Seafood giveaway at The $200 Mission @scorbett ends 12/18

This is a sponsored post and giveaway, and I did receive compensation in the form of free product coupons and a set of the giveaway prizes for this review. The sponsor also provided the items to be awarded in a giveaway. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. This review reflects my honest opinion based on my experience in using the product, and this post was not edited or reviewed by anyone.

alt="MckLinky Blog Hop" longdesc="" />

target="_blank">Click here to see the entire Giveaway Blog Hop List....

Add to Technorati Favorites
Stumble It!