Friday, November 12, 2010

Loaded Potato Soup

I love, love, LOVE a thick, creamy potato soup!  Every recipe I've ever tried, though, has always been too thin or too bland.  I finally came up with the perfect (for me) recipe and thought I'd share.  Pair this with a big chunk of crusty bread and enjoy!

Loaded Potato Soup   (serves 8-10)

5 lbs. red potatoes, unpeeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
6 cups half and half
16 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
garlic salt
tabasco sauce
bacon, cooked
chives, chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded
swiss cheese, shredded

  • Boil diced potatoes until nearly cooked all the way through.
  • In a large pot, melt butter and add flour, stirring until smooth.
  • Over medium-low to medium heat, add half and half.
  • Stir until it begins to thicken.
  • Add Velveeta and stir until melted.
  • Drain potatoes and add to Velveeta and cream mixture.
  • Add garlic and tabasco to preferred taste.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with cheeses, bacon crumbles and chives.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Clutter is the poetry of our homes.  It is an intimate view that is not always perfect - a few dishes in the sink, books piled next to the bed.  Everything in its place may give a certain satisfaction, but a lived-in room exudes comfort and warmth."

-Mary Randolph Carter, author of A Pefectly Kept House Is the Sign of a Misspent Life
(found in the November 2010 issue of Country Living magazine)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feeling Crafty: Fall Wreath

We're hosting a wedding rehearsal dinner at our house at the beginning of November and have been quickly hacking away at a huge list of projects (knock down a wall here and there, drywall over this and that, tile some floors, finish painting, etc).  Between all of that and the wonderful change of seasons, I've been feeling super crafty!

When I saw this tutorial at Jones Design Company, I knew what my first project was going to be!

Here's my version:

I'm in love!  So cute!

Jones Design Company has so many cute projects (especially if you have little girls like I do)!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Family Pictures

It's has been a crazy exhausting hot busy summer.  I'm looking foward to that beautiful Fall weather just around the corner.

Just wanted to stop by and share our family pictures that we had done last month.  They were done by George and Elizabeth Atchley at Windows By E.  Not only did we get amazing pictures (that still make me cry every time I watch the slide show), but we had a fantastic time with them!  My kids didn't whine or cry once during the whole session!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This Is Why I Love Summer

The food.  Fresh fruits and veggies.  There's nothing better!
We'll be making a lot more things like this homemade-from scratch Cherry Pie over the next few weeks!  Yum!

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Table Makeover

Here is another inherited table that I made over (again, I forgot to take the "before" picture).  I think I'm really getting this glazing technique down already!  I may just glaze my whole house by the end of this...

When I read about a glazing technique at All Things Thrifty I knew I had to try it - like, now!  Isn't that chair gorgeous!  I'm drooling...

So, me, my trusty sander and my super spray paint got to work.  In all of my excitement I forgot to take a "before" picture.  Here's how it turned out:

Not perfect, but that's the point - right?  I'm happy with it.  I'm off to try my second piece.  It's going to be blue!  Once I get MUCH better at this I plan on doing my kitchen table and chairs kind-of like this, but with the chairs in lighter colors.  I'm so excited!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Can $1 Buy You?

How many times have I said, "Oh, it's just $1..."  I'm kicking myself now!

This is what .90 bought me at Target, Walmart and CVS today:

11 Packages of Pampers Wipes
10 Sobe Lifewaters
3 Old Spice Body Washes with travel size deodorants
and 1 refill pack for an Off! Clip-On

 And while I have you - here is a new picture of our garden:
 As you can see, it's taking over our backyard grown a lot!

Here is some of what we've gotten to pick this week:
There were a few more squash, zucchini and tomatoes, but they were eaten almost immediately.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fireplace: Keep It or Toss It?

I love fireplaces - the smell of the fire burning, the cozy warmth and soft glow.  There's nothing better.  I just don't like my fireplace.  It doesn't burn wood, just expensive gas.  It doesn't warm the room, it makes it uncomfortably hot in just minutes.  And then there's that UGLY hole above it.  Ick!

(Sorry for the dark, fuzzy picture.)
I know I could cover up the hole and I love having a mantle to hang stockings on at Christmas.  If we removed the fireplace, though, we would have a lot of extra floor space.

Since I'm having a hard time deciding what to do, I thought I'd get some other opinions. 

Should I keep the fireplace or get rid of it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Going Green = Big Savings

Over the past year we've made some changes in our house that are both environmentally friendly and economical. 

  • We don't use paper towels.  We use wash cloths and towels.  If I can get a roll for free I will use it occasionally when I'm cooking, but for cleaning, I stick strictly to things I can throw in the wash and re-use.  One roll of paper towels last us 2-3 months.

  • We don't use paper napkins.  I buy cloth napkins when I can find them on clearance (about 1.50/pack).  Then I just toss them in with our daily load of laundry.  Our girls get excited about using "fancy" napkins too.

  • We use Tupperware instead of plastic bags whenever we can. 
Just these three things save us tons of money every year.  What are some tips you have that are environmentally and economically friendly?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our Garden

Here is a peek at our little garden:
It has been thriving with all of this rain we've been getting! 
We've got 3 different types of tomatoes, green beans, okra, squash, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, basil and a lemon tree all planted in fabulous organic soil from j3organics.  We're already seeing some tomatoes growing! 

You may have noticed that we don't have that pergola built yet.  All of that great rain has kind-of slowed down our project.  There is a nice pile of lumber to the left of these pictures waiting to be put up.  Fingers crossed for a few straight days of sunshine soon!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why Buying in Bulk Isn't Always Better

Buying in bulk seems to be a pretty popular way to save money.  If you buy the big bag it is generally supposed to be less expensive, right?  Not always.  It's very important to compare the prices per pound, ounce, etc. and to check and see if a coupon can help you save even more money.

Example:  A 20 pound bag of Mahatma Long Grain Rice is on sale at Publix this week for 7.99 a bag (reg. 12.99).
                 A 1 pound bag is priced at 1.19 each.  You definitely save money buying the GIANT bag - if you don't use a coupon.

I had some .50 coupons (which double to 1.00) the each of the one pound bags below, making them .19 ea.

So, I could have bought the big bag for 7.99, making it .40 per pound.

Instead, I bought 1 pound bags and used my coupons making it only .19 per pound and cut the price of the rice in half!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Friday!

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Decorating On A Budget

I adore all things Pottery Barn.  Especially this little Daisy lamp shade that would go perfectly in my girls' room.  I didn't adore the $100 price tag.  Yes.  Each shade - just shade- costs $100.  Gag!

So I had to get creative. 

I got two of these super cute blue lamp bases from Pottery Barn Teen for just $20 each on clearance. 

I had two small lamp shade that I got for $4 at a Lowe's clearance sale last summer that I saved specifically for this project.  They were a little dirty and the colors didn't match.

Then I got some daisy sprays at Michael's on sale with an extra 15% off.

Then me and my trusty glue gun got to work.

I think it turned out adorable!  Not exactly the same as the Pottery Barn one, but still very cute!  And this entire lamp only cost me $31!  That's a big difference from a nearly $200 lamp and shade!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Deals and Freezer Cooking Coming Up!

I kind-of disappeared for a while there!  Sorry about that.  We've been pretty busy around here.  I'd like to say things are slowing down a bit, but they're just getting started.  June is crazy busy with all kinds of fun!

It's been a great start to the week already, though.
These are all of the great deals I got at CVS and Publix today!  Would you believe it if I told you I paid under $50.00 for ALL of that?  It's true! 

You're looking at free floss, bleach, toilet paper, batteries, Shedd's Spread, q-tips, snack cheese and more!  I only wish I could have gotten a clearer shot so you could really see everything.

It's the first of the month (well, tomorrow is) and that means it's time for another freezer cooking!  This one is going to be a little different.  Due to an excess of meals from last month still in the freezer (over half of the meals are still in there) and a HUGE lack of good deals on meat, I'm going to primarily be baking this month.

We'll be doing a variety of muffins, biscuits, pancake and bread mixes, hamburger and hot dog buns, and maybe something a few things sweet.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Having A Garden in a Small Backyard

Yep.  That's what we've been working on this week.  My dear, sweet husband has built a box garden for me.  And after he did that and filled it with wonderful organic soil, I decided that my box garden would be even prettier and more productive with a pergola built over it.  At first, there was excitement over this idea and then a lot of grumbling when we realized it would have been much easier to have had that idea before we filled the box with dirt.

But my dear, sweet (can't emphasize that enough) husband (who is so patient with my GREAT ideas) is working on getting it built.

I've got all of my Buy-One-Get-One Free Organic plants from Home Depot and my free Topsy Turveys that I got with reward points and some free seeds a friend gave us.  Now, if we could just find time to get it all in the ground (like I should be doing now).

Pictures soon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Are You Using Your Swagbucks?

This week is "Winning Moments Week" at Swagbucks.  The number of times you are able to win are doubled (at least) this week!  I normally win only about twice each day and I've already won BIG numbers this morning. 

I love saving my Swagbucks and redeeming them for Amazon giftcards (a $5 giftcard is 450 points).  I've gotten cookbooks, HDMI cables and more for free all from using Swagbucks to do searches instead of Google.  If you wanted, you could save all of your Amazon giftcards and use them to take advantage of the amazing deals on Amazon at Christmas time!  You could potentially get all of your gifts for free and never have to leave your house!! 

Half-Priced Frappuccinos at Starbucks

I don't normally post things like this, but I'm so excited I had to share!  May 7-16, between 3 and 5 everyday, Starbucks is offering their frappucinnos at half price!  Their strawberries-and-creme fraps are amazing!  You may see me there every day!

Find out more HERE.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Another Great Success!

I still have about 4-5 more meals to add to all of this, but we are pretty well stocked for the next month (or two)!  I started at about 8 am Sunday morning hoping that doing this on a weekend (when my hubby could help watch the kids) would save some time.  Didn't quite work out that way.  I finished 21 meals on Sunday, fixed a few more on Monday and I'm about to finish up the rest tonight.  Here's the list of what we have so far (what you see in the freezer):

1 Jambalaya Bake
2 Chicken Tetrazzini
2 Hamburger dinners
1 French Stuffed Potatoes
1 Chicken Pot Pie
1 Chicken Broccoli Casserole
2 Barbecued Chicken
2 Creamy Enchiladas
1 Smothered Burritos
1 Beef Stroganoff
1 Meatloaf
1 Caraway Pot Roast
2 French Bread Pizzas
1 Taco Pie
2 Chicken Supreme
2 Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
1 Chicken Scampi
2 Upside-Down Fettuccine Bake
3 Barbecued Chicken for Sandwiches
2 Chinese Chicken
Total = 31 meals

I got most of these recipes from two new cookbooks that I just bought:  Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites and Once-A-Month Cooking both by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg.  Many of these are fairly large meals and will last our family 2+ nights each.  Once I'm done tonight, we should have at least 40 meals that will last us two months!

I did have to spend about $180 at the store to get all of the ingredients I needed.  That definitely is a large chunk of our budget.  Since I already have most breakfasts taken care of, though, that only leave produce, a few lunch and snack items and milk on my grocery list!  We're shooting for a $250 grocery budget this month and I'm aiming for $200 next month!

I still plan on doing a freezer cooking day at the beginning of June to add a few more dinners to the stock, but I plan on focusing on breakfast, lunch and snack freezer items.  I'm excited to see what I can come up with!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Decorating On A Budget: Use What You Have

Inspired by a post at The Inspired Room, I wanted to try something a little different in our kitchen - I took the doors off of a section of cabinets.  After scrounging around the house for a while, this is what I came up with:

I had bought the jars a year ago for a project that I never got to.  I monogrammed them with B's that I got for free when I ordered a gift from The Simple Stencil and then filled them with chocolate morsels, marshomallows and pecans (great way to make more space in my pantry).

I placed my growing collection of cookbooks neatly on two shelves, used the two tins for hidden storage, put the flowers from my front door in a pretty pitcher and added some pictures of my girls and a few other little things I found around the house and Viola! - Free, instant makeover!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Publix Deals This Week

This picture is from just one of my trips to Publix over the weekend.  I spent $13 and saved over $50!  I got paid to get the Scrubbing Bubble, the popcorn was free, the Dentyne = .14 each, the Ricotta Cheese was just .59, the Parmesan Cheese was .99 and the Smart Taste Pasta was just .25 each!

Unfortunately, I still have not gotten to my Freezer Cooking for the month.  And seeing as how the month is almost over, it doesn't look like it's going to happen.  I was fully prepared to get some meals done over the weekend, but the 10 lbs of ground beef I bought to cook with spoiled over 2 days because the temperature on my meat drawer was set to the vegetable setting.  Very sad moment for me.

On the bright side, I still have enough to cook for the rest of the month with grocery money to spare.  And by May 1st I plan to be ready for a HUGE Cooking/Baking Day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My First "Pretty" For Our New House

These make me smile. You'll have to ignore the sad lack of color on our walls, but I could wait until they were painted to show these off! So pretty!

Melissa at The Inspired Room had these on special at her Open Sky a couple of weeks ago. She has some super cute ideas for different ways to use these. I had been saving money from rebates and rolling coins just for these! I put them by the front door for us to hang our keys on. The only problem is I think our keys are too ugly for them! I'm going to have to find a way to prettify all of our keys (my husband is cringing as I write that).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Enjoying the Weather

We seemed to have completely skipped Spring this year! We went from snow one week, to 85 degree temperatures the next. We have been taking advantage of the nice weather (before it get too hot) and spending as much time outside as possible.

Our favorite new way to do that: Eating dinner outside!!
Winston especially enjoys being outside!

It's the perfect time of day - not too hot, not too sunny!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Freezing Meals Experiment Results

March is over and our freezer is much less full than when we began. Was my little experiment successful or a complete failure? Here are my results:

Did we save money?
Yes and no. We were still around $300 for the month, but only because I went crazy stocking up on cleaning supplies and Tide laundry detergent and Downy fabric softner (this is the first time EVER that we've been able to afford to use fabric softner!) I think I counted 7 bottles of Tide this morning! However, we did save money by not eating out nearly as much as we were before. If I didn't feel like cooking, I didn't have to! There was already something waiting.

Did it save time? YES!!!!
My kitchen has never been easier to keep clean. I ran the dishwasher every 2-3 days (sometimes still have empty). My counters and floors were cleaner because I wasn't pulling out ingredients to cook every day and night.

Over all, I feel like it was a great success. I did find a couple of recipes that I wouldn't use for freezing again (Tacos in Pasta Shells). We still have about four meals left and even got to share some with others during the month.

I'm getting ready to whip up some more meals next week and shooting to stay under budget for April!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Loyalty Programs - A Great Way To Earn Extra On Things You're Already Buying

I've already mentioned a few ways to make extra money doing things you're already doing: doing internet searches through Swagbucks and doing online shopping through sites like Ebates and Cashbaq.

But did you know that customer loyalty programs are also a great way to earn a little extra? Here are a few of my favorites:

Pampers Gifts to Grow - I have earned free diapers, gift certificates to, and free Cheerios just from entering codes from diaper and wipe packages

Disney Movie Rewards - Just from entering codes found on the inside of dvd packages or mailing in movie tickets, I earn great coupons for new movies (like $10 off a blu ray movie), free movie tickets and 2 free princess phone calls to my girls! And I haven't spent any points yet! I'm saving those for something big like tickets to a broadway show in New York or a gift certificate for a Disney vacation!

Huggies Enjoy the Ride Rewards - Much like the Pampers program, you enter codes off of diapers and wipe packages. I've just started using this program and earning points, so no prizes yet. Boy am I kicking myself for all of the points I threw in the trash for the first year of Ella's life, though!

Tropicana Juicy Rewards - I just discovered this one yesterday and one point earned me two "Buy One Get One Free Orange Juice" coupons! You can get great coupons for family activities (bowling, theme parks, etc.), lessons and classes (dance, karate, etc.) and much more! If you already drink Tropicana, it's definantly worth looking into!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Depot: Saving Money on Groceries

If you haven't already joined, head over HERE and register for the Home Depot Garden Club. They send out some great coupons once or twice a month. So far this month I've received coupons for "Buy One Get One Free Orchids" (I adore orchids) and "Buy One Get One Free House Plants"."

I also received a fabulous coupon for "Buy One Get One Free Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags 100 ct." I went to check out the prices on these HUGE boxes of trash bags expecting them to be outrageous. I ended up scoring these for under $6/box of 100! To put that price into perspective, Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags 38 ct. are on sale at Target this week for $6.

I'll be shopping Home Depot for bulk cleaning items more often! I'll also be checking out Lowes to see if there are deals there!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Getting Organized (Again)

Is it just me, or do you all find that getting organized and staying organized is consantly happening? I haven't found that happy place of being perfectly organized. I'm constantly trying out new "systems" or discovering new areas of my life that need organizing. For me, it's overwhelming.

My mom bought me a book for Christmas, Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide To Simplify Your Space and Your Life by Jennifer Ford Berry. Unforunately, my book was misplaced in one of my many hidden piles of clutter until recently.

Now that it's been recovered, though, I've decided to try it out.

I've already been working on Weeks 1-4 (Organize Your Mind, Your Schedule, Your Cleaning Schedule, and Your Priorities) Earlier this week, Life As Mom offered some fantastic free downloads to make your own planner. I've been adjusting these to fit my own schedule.

Already, I'm feeling super motivated. With my new, simplified cleaning list I got more done this morning than I had been doing in a full week! And my downstairs is looking MUCH better!

Every Monday I'll be blogging (with pictures) about my progress and solutions I've found.

This Monday we'll be organizing papers (my most dreaded task). I wonder which pile I'll start with...

Rainy Day Fun

It has been raining cats and dogs here this week. After all of the beautiful weather we had last week and all of the outside fun, we're all feeling pretty cooped up and BORED!

Here are a few things I save for yucky, rainy day:

Build a fort - You can use the kitchen chairs and quilts or the couch cushions. Either way, you've got DAYS worth of fun right there!

Bake something - cookies, cakes, ect. (maybe all of them) If you make too much you could always share with your neighbors!

Movie Time - stay in your jammies, pile in the bed (or make a big "bed" in the living room) and watch your (or you kids') favorite movie with a big bowl of popcorn

Decorate - Ella loves this one! Let the kids make decorations for the current holiday and decorate the house with them.

Play Games - Only one of my girls is old enough for board games, so we end up making up games that both of them can play. Put the laundry baskets and tupperware to use and see what you can come up with!

Have a Parade - Don't have instruments? Anything noisy will do! March around and be as loud as you can.

What do you do on a rainy day?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deal For All You Parents and Label Lovers

I saw BumpyName Orbit Labels advertised in a magazine while I was pregnant with Ella. Being the new mom that I was, I had to have all of the newest baby things (you know, all the things that end up stuffed in the closest two months later). So, I ordered some of these labels with her name on them. Turns out, these actually are pretty cool. They can fit on bottles, sippy cups and snack cups. I loved that I could drop her off at the gym daycare or the church nursery and her name was already on the cup and it was easy for everyone to spot. I loved them so much that I just ordered more for Claire!

Right now you can get a great deal on these (and any other product on their site)!

If you place a $20+ order you get a free subscription to Parents Magazine. If you'd rather not have the subscription
(this magazine is pretty easy to get for free often), then you just print off this form (click on the big yellow banner at the top of the page). Mail it in and receive a refund for $9.97!

My order
total was $20.90 + shipping - so that was half off!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Once A Month Cooking: Does it work and is it worth it?

At the beginning of the year I decided to raise our grocery budget from $200 to $300 per month - a little splurge after Matt got a a new job. After just a couple of months spending that much, it makes me cringe looking at our final expenses. We're not really eating better food - just more junk. So, I decided to cut the budget back down to $200. Then I started think about cutting it back even more - just for fun (yeah, I know I'm slightly nuts).

I've been following two of my favorite blogs, Money Saving Mom (who feeds a family a 5 for only $40/week) and Life as Mom, for over a year now. They both regularly post about stocking their freezer with meals to eat over the next month. This month I decided to give it a try to see if it saved us any money.

Sunday, I made my grocery list. I picked some of our family's favorite dishes and a couple of new ones.

Monday, I went to the store. Luckily, I got to go alone. It would have been a quick trip if it hadn't taken me 30 minutes (literally) to check out. Long story... Anyway, I spent $87 on everything.

Tuesday, I got down to business. I put a movie on for the kids with a giant bowl of popcorn hoping that would keep them out of my hair and out of trouble for a little while. No such luck. They were under my feet the whole time. I had hoped to finish all of my cooking in 4 hours. It ended up taking 5.

I ended up with all of this:

1 Chicken Spaghetti
2 Chicken Pot Pies
2 Tacos in Pasta Shells (recipe to follow)
1 Chicken and Spinach Enchilada (new one - I'll let you know how this one is)
4 Chicken Salad (we like to eat this on yummy butter croissants with cucumbers)
1 Chicken Fajita
1 Pizza Casserole
1 Buffalo Chicken Pizza
2 Red Beans and Rice

I was hoping to add some hamburger patties and Brown Bag Burritos (for lunches) to the mix. I'll have to work on those next week, though.

So, was it worth it? I think so! I made all of that in just 5 hours. I was spending about an hour each day thinking about and preparing for dinner then I had to spend 30 minutes cleaning up afterwards (at least). Even if I had my menu planned, there were days that I just wouldn't get around to making dinner in time. So we were eating out at least twice every week (probably more). Now, all I have to do is grab something out of the freezer and pop it in the oven! AND (as if that wasn't enough already) all my clean up is already done! I only had to get the cutting board, knives, bowls, pots and pans out once! I'd say it is going to save me an enormous amount of time and money!

We have $113 left for our monthly budget and all I have to think about is milk and lunches! With some careful planning, I'm hoping we can get our budget down to $160 per month and eat just as well or better than we were before!

I'm going to do a big Baking Day next week to work on adding some breakfasts to the mix (tried doing that yesterday, but the kiddos needed some attention after being so neglected the day before). I'm hoping to eventually pre-make some lunches, too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Have You Tried Swagbucks?

If not, you definantly should. I've been using for all of my internet searches (instead of Google) for a while now. I've earned multiple giftcards to and already!

I only use a few times per day and usually earn between 1 and 5 points each day. Jenny at Southern Savers has really figured out how to make the most of the program, though! Check out her post here on how to get points fast!

February 25th (tomorrow) is's birthday, so be on the look out for a lot of extra points going around that day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Great Deals on Diapers and Wipes!!

Wow! Just as we were getting low on diapers and wipes these two deals come along! I've been doing a happy dance all morning over this!

If you need wipes, you need to run (seriously, RUN) to CVS right now. This BIG refill packs of Huggies wipes are ringing up 2 for $5.00 (same price as the little tubs) right now. If you got any of the home-mailer coupons (I haven't since we moved) start stocking up on super cheap wipes. These deals are hard to come by.

If you need diapers, check out If it's your first time to order with them, they're offering a great deal right now. Put at least $49 worth of products in your cart (I did an extra large case of Pampers and a jumbo size of Pampers Easy-Ups). Use code FUNATHOME to get $10 off your order. Then print off this form to receive a refund for $14.97 (unless you really want the magazine subscription). I've also been saving my Pampers Gifts to Grow points for a while and cashed them in for a $10 gift certificate to (=1000 points).

So, I paid just under $35 for all of those diapers and I'm getting $14.97 back! That makes it right around .11 per diaper! Just did anothe happy dance!

If you go through Ebates you can get 1-4% cash back. I've never used the two sites together, so I'm not sure how they determine how much you get back. But it's still a fantastic deal without that little extra!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Deals of the Week - Publix 2/3-2/9

Wow! Publix is really pulling out the stops this week! I haven't seen this many fantastic deals in a while!

My favorites of the week are:

Smithfield Bacon for 1.65 per package after .55 SS 1/31 or printable

Heluva Good! Dip - free to .05 after printable

Kraft Deluxe Mac and Cheese or Velveeta Shells and Cheese for .50 each after printable

Edy's Ice Cream for 1.65 after 1.00 SS 1/31

To see a complete list of deals and coupon matchups for this week check out Southern Savers.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tuesday Totals and Weekly Menu

I'm super excited about the deals I got this week! Publix was so great this week that I went 3 times! I couldn't stay away! And, not only did I get some great deals on groceries, but I got $159 worth of spring/summer clothes at Osh Kosh for only $19! One adorable tank top I got for Claire was marked for only .01 (yes, a penny)!

Here is a picture of most of what I purchased (Target and Publix):

The major stock up items for the week was Rotel and Electrasol/Finish. We ended up with 20 cans of Rotel! And I paid about $1 for all of them!

Publix Total Before Sales and Coupons: 111.84
Total After Sales and Coupons: $56.95

Target Total Before Sales and Coupons: 31.11 + tax
Total After Sales and Coupons (and a rather messy price adjustment on items that rang up wrong and a missed coupon) : 1.04

On the menu for this week is:

Breakfast: cereal
homemade cinnamon rolls
fruit plate with toast

Lunch: egg salad sandwich
"Variety Plates"
leftovers (we have alot leftover from this past weekend)

Dinner: Chicken Madiera with Asparagus and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Jambalaya Bake
Chicken Pot Pie with Macaroni and Cheese
Chicken Spaghetti - click to see recipe. This is a family favorite!

This is a short week for us because my sweet honey is taking me on a little trip this weekend (part of my Christmas present) to see Wicked. So I won't be making quite as many meals as usual. This makes enough, though, that we should have a few leftovers when we get home still.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Got The Camera Working!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Totals and Weekly Menu

Still no pictures due to losing my USB cord during our move. I'm hoping to have that problem fixed by the end of the week.

We have upped our 2010 grocery budget to $300 per month (from $200) so that I can experiment with my cooking a bit more. I've been attempting to get fancy in the kitchen lately and found that it was a little harder to stay on such a low grocery budget especially after incidents like last night's "omelet disaster." Omelet 1 ended up on the floor. Omelet 2 ended up half all over the stove and half just a mess in the pan. Then we were out of eggs.

The new 10% sales tax is also taking some getting used to. After having 0% sales tax in South Carolina, I realize what a large chunk 10% really is.

So, I shopped at Publix, Winn Dixie and CVS this week.

Publix Total Before Sales and Coupons = a little over $190
After Sales and Coupons = 98.53
Receiving $15 in rebates and 4 free packs of Dole fruit cups

Winn Dixie - just bought shrimp = 5.49

CVS Total Before Sales and Coupons = 32.15
After Sales and Coupons = 2.20 (just sales tax)

Weekly Grand Total = 106.22

Monthly Grand Total Saved = 415.48 (58 % savings)
Grand Total Spent = 299.69 (Whew! That was close!)

On the menu for this week is:
Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Yogurt Parfait (yogurt, fresh fruit and rice krispies)
Eggs (Boiled or Scrambled)
Sourdough French Toast

Lunch: Variety Plate (fresh fruits and veggies, cheese, crackers, etc.)*
Cheese Quesadillas
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Macaroni and Peas

Dinner: "Olive Garden" Fettucine Alfredo with Broccoli
Omelets with Bacon and Cheese
Brats with Potato Fries
Lemon Pepper Shrimp with Fried Rice
Jambalaya Bake

*A "Variety Place" is just a plate of whatever sounds good - carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes with dressing and bologna and cheese on the side are typical favorites

Tried the Blockbuster Kiosk at Publix finally. Very cool and much cheaper than a video store! The only catch is the movie is due the next day. It was no problem since hubby was driving by there on his way home from work, though. We'll definantly be doing that again!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Play to Your Strengths

When my husband and I got married I was a complete neat freak. I would stay up until midnight cleaning and making lists (and then re-making the same list because the first one wasn't neat enough). Many homes and two kids later, you would never know that neat freak ever existed. You can hardly walk through 2 1/2 rooms of our house because they are stacked to the ceiling with boxes (two months after moving in) or covered from wall to wall with Christmas ornaments (a month after Christmas). There is always at least one large section of counter top in the kitchen covered and stacked a mile high with paper. The laundry is VERY rarely ever all put away.

I've struggled and struggled with the guilt of not being able to keep up with the housework. After all - I'm here all day. What else do I have to do? A stay-at-home mom's house should be spotless at all times, her kids in crisp clean clothes, and scrumptious hot meal on the table every meal - right?

This week I had an epiphany. I am the only one ever complaining about the mess and I am the only one that it appears to bother. And nobody is great at everything. I started thinking about the things that I DO get done and that I do well.

The list of positive things doesn't necesarily outweigh the list of things that I don't get done every day/week, but they are all of the things that are most important and mean the most to our family. We would rather spend evenings together as a family having fun (since that is the main time my husband gets with us during the day) than scrubbing the kitchen down and washing every dish in the sink. I don't mind the HUGE mess that my girls make when I let them help me in the kitchen. We laugh and sing and dance in the mess and make memories that they will smile about 30 years from now.

I mentioned my thoughts to my former-football player husband to get some feedback. He said, "Play to your strengths."

So, when I make an amazing dinner that we're all sitting around the table enjoying, I'm not going to look around at the cluttered kitchen and feel guilty. I'm going to take pride in the dinner that I spent alot of time working on. And when we're eating grilled-cheese sandwiches, I'm going to be happy knowing that we got all the laundry washed and folded (and some of it put away) that day. Have fun with what part of being a mom/wife that you're good at and enjoy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting Your Office Supplies for Cheap

This past November I decided to try out the Office Max Perks program. At the time they were offering a deal on printer paper, manilla folders and bankers boxes. I bought $51 worth of items and was supposed to receive $51 back in store giftcards.
I did end up e-mailing customer service when my account was not showing credit for my purchases. It was no big deal. They e-mailed me a few days later saying a giftcard was in the mail!

The timing of all of this couldn't have been more perfect. I just ran out of ink last week and have been looking for a deal to replace my cartridges.

This week Office Max is selling HP ink (just what I needed) for Buy 1, Get 1 Half Off! They are also offering full rebates on printer paper (item #21403152 Limit 2), 12 pck. sharpies (item # 10000722 Limit 3), and envelopes (item # 21092826 Limit 3). Go through Ebates and earn 3% cash back on your purchase (and get a $5 bonus if it's your first time signing up)!

I bought 4 ink cartridges, 2 boxes of printer paper (10 reams each), 1 box of sharpies and 3 boxes of envelopes. Using my $51 Office Max giftcard from my previous purchase, I only had to pay $154.37 for all of that and I'm receiving $102.63 back in giftcards and cash (using the MaxPerks program and Ebates)!

Click HERE to find out more about the Office Max Perks program and to sign up!

Teaching Toddlers

Towards the end of 2009 I decided to start "homeschooling" my girls (3 and 18 months). I ordered some materials and planned to dive in at the first of the year. After one day of teaching (actually, it was more like 20 minutes) I realized that I was not quite as prepared as I thought I was. We took a break to regroup and we're back to it this week. Inspired by Claire's favorite show, I decided to take things super slow and focus on one letter of the alphabet each week.

This week we kicked things off with the letter "A." We started off this morning with a viewing of "Alice in Wonderland. I know, I know. Not very inspirational or creative. But I had a number of chores to catch up on from this weekend that we skipped. The rest of my plans this week include simple things such as looking for the letter "A" in all of the books that we read, looking for objects that begin with "A," and practicing writing "A."

None of these things seem like a big deal, but I'm hoping that incoorperating these little lessons into the things that we are already doing everyday will pay off big in the long run.

Free Blockbuster Movie Rentals

I've just discovered that our local Publix has a Blockbuster kiosk! I plan on trying this for the first time tonight when I go to do my grocery shopping. Head over to Southern Savers to get a list of codes that will give you free rentals!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Town! New Year! New Blog!

Last time you visited I was apologzing for not being around much and promising to be back to blogging soon. As you can see (with my last post being October 7th), that didn't happen. We were supposed to close on our old house and move into our new house on October 20th. Part of our closing agreement with the buyers of our new home was that we would be out of our house before closing because they needed to move in that day. So, all of our furniture was in the moving truck, power and other utilites turned off, and we were driving to Birmingham when we received a phone call saying that there was a problem and we would not be closing the following day. Eek! Long story short - we finally closed on Novemeber 30th (nearly 6 weeks later) and got to move into our new house a few days later. We finally have internet and I'm back - for real this time!

So, with all this newness in our lives (new town, new house, etc.) I wanted to start fresh again with everything including this blog.

This week I'm going to be focusing on getting organized. Now is a great time to clean out your coupons and get caught up on any coupon clipping you might be behind on. The majority of last year's coupons expired on the 31st.

If you're trying to get your budget organize HERE is a fantastic spreadsheet to help you keep up with your grocery expenses/savings.

I'm also going to be reorganizing/unpacking our "office" this week. With tax season right around the corner, I want to make sure all of our paperwork is back in it's place so that filing our taxes is a quick and painless (or just less painful) task.

You may notice that all of my previous posts are missing except for one. I was running out of blog memory (too many pictures posted) and decided to just start from scratch.