Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Foods - $20 Shopping Trip

I went to TOP early this morning to use the $5/25 coupon from Sunday's paper. Amazingly my total was exactly $25! Isn't that weird? After the $5 coupon I paid $20 and was on my way!
Sometimes I get crazy good deals, but most of the time my shopping trips look like this with mostly sale items and maybe a clearance deal. I spend around $20 each at two or three stores usually totalling between $50 and $60 per week.
Price breakdown (20% means the $5/25 coupon):
4.5# Pears - $1/lb sale price (20% $.20/lb) = $.80/lb
3# Bananas - $.59/lb regular price (20% $.12/lb) = $.47/lb
Lemon - $.34 sale price (20% $.07) = $.27
4 bags shredded parmesan - $1.25 sale price (20% $.25) = $1.00 each bag
3# bag gala apples - $2.49 sale price (20% $.50) = $1.99
3 cans olives - $.99 regular price (20% $.20) = $.79 each
Stash tea - $2.46 clearance price (MC $.50 & 20% $.39) = $1.57
100 black tea - $1.99 regular price (20% $.40) = $1.59
6 cans tuna - $.67 sale price (20% $.13) = $.54 each
When I have a coupon like this I'll consider buying things at regular price because the coupon makes an automatic 20% discount and it's like I bought it on sale. Today I bought tea and olives because I needed $5 more to reach $25 - I needed both, but would normally have waited for a sale. I was delighted to find the generic TOP items were really cheap and even cheaper with the 20% coupon.
I also have a $7 off $50 coupon at Albertsons that I'm trying to decide if I should use. I could spend $50 including diapers because they are having a good meat sale this week (chicken breast and pork loin for $1.99), but don't know if I want to start off the month using that much of my grocery budget. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resourceful Tip - Paper Clips

Paper clips came to the rescue twice in the past couple of weeks so I thought I'd share those stories with you.

First, we were decorating the tree with our kids and we ran out of ornament hooks. These aren't expensive, but it definitely would have been a downer to only be able to decorate half the tree. DH had the marvelous idea of using a paper clip instead. It worked like a charm and the kids enjoyed bending the paper clips 'open' all by themselves.

Second, we had two events we had to dress up a little for and my wardrobe is severely limited. I was able to find a top on clearance at Kohl's but it required a racer-back undergarment which I don't own. So we applied a paper clip to the problem, sliding it up and down until we found just the right spot to keep all the undercover bits of clothing under cover. I only had to readjust once over the course of a six hour evening and not at all on the shorter night, so I'd say it did the trick.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where have I been?

Dear Friends,

I mentioned Monday that I'd explain my absence in today's post so here we go!

In essence I am trying to keep my priorities straight. Phoebe's birth (9/8) slowed me down more than I thought and I was really excited when I was able to fit blogging in again (late October). Unfortunately I hadn't yet made my daily Bible study fit, too. Mid-November as I was getting ready for our Thanksgiving company I let the blogging go because I was just super-busy. Then DH came down with pneumonia and we all were sleeping later which further cut into my blogging and Bible study time.

Then I decided I'd limit myself to blogging only when I had done my quiet time that day. An incentive to wake up earlier so I could have fun blogging later worked great! It worked so well, in fact, that I thought I'd make blogging come after lots of other things telling myself I could blog only if I got my Bible study, a shower, the homeschool, and the kitchen chores done. Hm. It was a little harder to do all of those things every day and then manage to blog in the afternoons, too. Time to rethink.

I generally have my Bible study in the mornings, before anyone else is up. The house is silent at 5:30 and I can most easily focus on the Lord and pray without distractions. I am in the habit of daily quiet times again, but definitely am not getting up at 5:00 like I used to! I'm lucky to be up by 6:00, but I can still have quiet time alone in my room after DH is up and doing his own Bible study elsewhere.

So now I am trying to blog each morning after I do my Bible study and before the kids wake up. We'll see how it goes. For example, today I wrote most of this post before the kids got up, but now am finishing it after homeschool and playing in the snow. The big girls are in the tub and DD3 is on my lap. The baby is sleeping.

Hope to keep seeing you!

Next week's update will be all the Novemer & December news and goals for January.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Baked Potato Soup - Yum!

We made Baked Potato Soup last night. This is a family favorite, but more labor intensive than most dinners I make. I first tasted this at a work potluck lunch about six years ago and had to have the recipe. It is supposedly a taste-alike for the Black Angus Baked Potato Soup.

4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
4 green onions - chopped
12 slices bacon - cooked & crumbled (I recommend chopping the bacon up and then cooking it)
1 & 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
8 oz. sour cream

First you bake the potatoes for about an hour at 375. I don't generally have 'large' baking potatoes, just medium and small ones that come in the 10# bag, so I usually cook 6 or 8.

When the potatoes have cooled, slice them in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp. Cut the pulp into bite sized pieces. You might save the skins to use in something else.

In a big pot melt butter over low heat, then add flour, stirring until smooth. When it starts to bubble, let it cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly.

Gradually add milk, cooking at medium heat and stirring constantly until the soup thickens up.

Add the potato pulp, salt, black & white peppers, and most of the green onion, cheese & bacon. Everything you've added is already cooked so you're just warming those ingredients up. When it's heated through, add the sour cream.

Serve with reserved green onion, cheddar, and bacon.

This is a really yummy treat we love to make for company - let me know how you like it!


Monday, December 27, 2010

$5 off $25 purchase at TOP and $1 off coupons

I can't believe I'm posting twice in one day. It's a Christmas Miracle!

I just read yesterday's Sunday paper and there was a full page TOP ad including $1 off departmental coupons (seafood, deli, produce, frozen, & dairy) good through Thursday with a $20 purchase.

The better deal was the coupon for 12/31 or 1/1 $5 off a $25 purchase. That's a 20% discount on your $25 of groceries. It also allows me to wait for the new ad to come in the mail tomorrow so I can see what's on sale Friday and Saturday and plan how to most efficiently spend that $25.


Monday Meal Plan

Long time, no write! I have been busy with other things which I'll explain on Wednesday in an update, but I have missed you Dear Blog and Dear Readers! A big thanks to Lee, Lisa, Candace, Kracinda, and any other friend who reminded me that you do read the blog and noticed I haven't posted in awhile.

We ran out of milk yesterday and I wasn't able to get to the store because we had last-minute company for dinner. So I busted out my last frozen gallon this morning so the girls could have their cereal and I know I have to use that gallon in the next couple of days. We also have a well-stocked pantry & freezer because of all the holiday food sales so I'm just planning this week (and probably next week) based on what I've got on hand.

Monday - Baked Potato Soup (uses six cups of milk), green salad
Tuesday - Freezer Meal - Italian Chicken over whole wheat linguine, greek salad
Wednesday - Ham, Bean soup, green salad
Thursday - Turkey Pot Pie
Friday - New Year's Eve party
Saturday - New Year's Day party
Sunday - Christmas with extended family

Monday - Grilled Cheese
Tuesday - Quesadilla
Wednesday - Mac & Cheese
Thursday - PB & J
Friday - Taco Salad
Saturday - New Year's Day party
Sunday - Christmas with extended family

Hopefully I'll write again tomorrow!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Target & Albertson's Deals

I saw a couple of good deals in the paper yesterday I wanted to share.

Target has
  • Campbell's condensed soups and Swanson broths for $.50, Del Monte vegetables for $.45, and at $.79 each are Stovetop stuffing, Betty Crocker potatoes, and Heinz gravy. Combine these with manufacturer's coupons for excellent deals.
  • Carnation evaporated milk is $.89, Ocean Spray cranberry is $.95, and Libby's pure pumpkin is $1.29.
  • A coupon in the ad for a $10 gift card with a new or transferred prescription. It's good for 2 weeks so I clipped in just in case one of my brood comes down with an ear infection, strep, or some other prescription requiring illnes in the next two weeks.
  • Nature Made vitamins for $5. Combined with MCs this is a great deal.

A couple of random factoids:

  • Ocean Spray owns/contracts with something like 95% of the United States' cranberry bogs/farmers. I know this because I grew up near Bandon, Oregon where there are many cranberry bogs.
  • If you are having a hard time finding canned pumpkin this year it's because last year's pumpkin crops (used to make this year's canned pumpkin) were largely flooded.

Albertsons has

  • Double Coupons good through Tuesday. I happened to get two inserts, Yahoo!
  • $.27/lb turkey with a $25 purchase.

This totally beats Fred Meyer's deal of a free turkey with $150 purchase. Remember even a 20 pound turkey is less than $6. You don't have to spend $125 more to get a "Free" turkey when it only cost $5 or $6 to buy it after $25.

Happy Bargain Shopping!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Potluck Tips

Last week I had a MOPS meeting and it was my table's turn to bring refreshments for the group. I usually sign up to bring an egg dish since it's a morning meeting and eggs are cheap, but with the new baby and adjusting to getting out of the house on time I thought I'd better not add cooking/hot food to our morning.

Instead I signed up for a cheese tray because I had two kinds of cheese at home and cheese was on sale that week. Before the meeting, I was also able to find a second sale and in total I was able to prepare a cheese try with 4 kinds of cheese: yellow cheddar, colby jack, white cheddar and pepper jack. All the cheese was $2/lb or less, my price point for cheese, and I feel like I am taking something nice.

Here are my tips for an affordable potluck contribution:
  • If there's a sign-up, do so quickly! You'll be able have your choice of what to bring if you are among the first to make a selection.
  • If the potluck is in the near future, think about what you already have at home as you decide what to bring. You'll save a shopping trip and spend less.
  • If the potluck is further way, think about what is affordable to buy or what you know is on sale or likely to be on sale.
  • Shop for your contribution ahead of time and with an eye on sales.
  • Prepare the food yourself, and make sure you set that time aside. A last minute deli purchase of deviled eggs will cost you!

Here are some of my favorite things to bring to potlucks:

  • Breakfast/Brunch: hard-boiled eggs, egg/potato casserole, cheese tray, home-made breakfast bread.

  • Lunch/Dinner: Dessert! A cake or brownie mix with frosting is under $2 if you buy it on sale, mashed potatoes, fruit or veggie tray (in summer when these prices are low or I can pick from the garden), cheese tray, condiments, cheese/crackers, potato salad, coleslaw, deviled eggs.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

FREE Veggie Tales MP3 Download

Download the Veggie Tales Christmas album, "The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree," to your MP3 player for FREE.

My friend Sarah found this deal on Amazon, but I don't know how long it lasts. At the time of this writing, it's still available.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving/Stock Up Sales

Several grocery stores are having their great Thanksgiving sales this week. They may have some reduced prices the week of Thanksgiving, but this week is the best time to go.

Last night I went to QFC and got all this - including an almost 19 pound turkey and a $6 DVD for one of my daughters for $31.18.

QFC's sale incudes $.50 canned tomatoes, canned chili, canned fruit, whole or jellied canned cranberries, broth, cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, and jar gravy. There are also $.75 evaporated milk and stuffing. These are all brand names and can be combined with manufacturer's coupons. You must buy a combination of 10 to get the deal, but I had a hard time only getting 10! QFC allows up to 30 items so I could have gone up to 20, but I'm really trying to stay under budget. QFC is also running a deal for $.29/lb on a 16+ pound turkey or $.49/lb on a 16- pound turkey when you spend $25 (before turkey).

Albertsons also has a good sale when you buy 10. Prices include $.39 canned broth and canned vegetables, $.49 cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, $.75 canned dole pineapple, $.79 gravy, boxed scalloped potatoes, and 2 - liters of pepsi, and $.99 eggo waffles and progresso soup. These also are brand names that can be combined with manufacturer's coupons with the exception of broth & soup.

Of course, these sales end today on the usual Wednesday to Tuesday schedule. Sorry for the late notice, but thanks to my friend, Lee, for reminding me these are great deals!


Friday, November 5, 2010

$1 Shipping at is one of my favorite internet shopping sites so I was delighted to find out they have $1 shipping through Thanksgiving. The usual price of $2.95 shipping for any amount spent is one of the reasons I like the site and $1 is even sweeter.

Additionally, you can enter code 203028 to save $5 on a purchase of $45 or more.

Maybe I'll get those flannel sheets I've been wanting for Thanksgiving company . . .


Thursday, November 4, 2010

October Wrap-Up & November Goals

October was a busy month! We had DD1's birthday, a 12 day road trip to Disneyland, and a 4 day trip to visit Grandma in Oregon, too.

October was also full of blessings with continued meals to help out after Phoebe's arrival, much appreciated baby gifts and visits with several friends who we don't get to see often enough!

We had some especially cool stuff happen related to Disneyland. First, my aunt made the girls beautiful princess dresses that were a huge improvement on the mass-produced princess costumes. Next, my cousin Rebecca gave the big girls each a visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for their birthdays (DD1's was right before our trip & DD2's is this week). Finally, we were given a coupon book by a stranger as we entered Disneyland about 8PM on our first day there. She said, "This is our last day and we can't use these." Perhaps she chose us because we were a sight with four little kids strapped into their double strollers. When we checked out the coupons the next morning we found a coupon for a free adult character meal and $75 in vouchers for food in the park! DH had been particularly grumpy about our planned meal at Ariel's Grotto ($$$) and we thanked God for providing in this completely unexpected way. It was so much we were able to share the blessing with our family members who also came to Ariel's Grotto!

Goals for October included:

  • Use the clothesline at least once - Didn't manage it, even with these last couple of beautiful days.
  • Start pulling out the garden - Again, didn't get to it. I will need about half a bale of hay in the next couple of weeks though. Anyone know where I can get one and/or does anyone want to share?
  • We planned $200 for groceries this month - I did it!
  • Pay another bit of Timeshare off - We got another 6%. The extra 'found' money this month was from babysitting, a paid focus group, a small amount of interest that has accumulated in various savings accounts, and DH got a raise that we are applying straight to this debt.
  • Get DD1's homeschool rolling again - Check. We did school 4 days last week and are on track this week, too. An unexpected surprise is that DD2 wants to be a part of things, too, so we got her started on a workbook.
  • At least one Resourceful Gifting post - I also did this.

New Goals for November:

  • Pull garden out
  • Clean & vaccum both cars - inspired by something I read that suggested taking care of your cars will help you feel better about their age and ugliness.
  • Groceries $200 - this will be a challenge because of Thanksgiving and because I already committed $60 for bulk food purchases with a friend.
  • Make the budget work to include lots of things that have come up for November without using DH's raise which we've committed to the timeshare debt.
  • Get Christmas cards and baby announcements completely finished before Thanksgiving so I can enjoy the rest of my holiday season.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Lemon to Clean Copper

All of my kitchen pots have copper bottoms and they are impossible to keep clean. Copper cleaner is pretty spendy and I refuse to buy it just to make my pan look shiny. I will however spring for a lemon, so I was excited to read this tip in All You Magazine, December 2009.

"Clean copper and solid brass the natural way: Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle some salt on it. Rub the lemon on the piece you're polishing (don't worry, the salt won't scratch the metal). Rinse the item thoroughly and dry."

I'm definitely giving this a go before all the Thanksgiving company arrives!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meal Swap - Pork Tenderloin with Pears

For the last meal swap I made Pork Tenderloin with Pears for the crockpot. This is a yummy, easy meal and I love cooking with pears!

Here are the ingredients:
4 - 1" thick slices of pork tenderloin (about 1#)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 15-oz can pears with syrup
2 t. minced garlic
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup balsalmic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
1 t. thyme
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper

DD1 was a big helper with this meal. We made seven portions and she divided our Costco-sized can of pears equally into seven bowls.

I put the meat into ziploc bags, then we added the pears, onions, and other ingredients to the bags.

The finished product, marinating in yummy pear juice and basalmic vinegar marinade.

The cost breakdown is a little hard to figure this time because so much time as passed since I purchased the ingredients (pre-baby) and the large amount of spices, so these are complete estimates:
Pork Loin - $1.99/lb ~ over 7 lbs = $15.00
Pears - $6ish for Costco can = $6.00
Basalmic Vinegar - $4.00
7 onions - $3.00
2 cups dried cranberries - $3.00 (bought in bulk $2.25/lb)
Various spices - $1.00?
Total Cost = $32.00 Each meal = $4.50ish
This dish can be cooked in the crockpot for 4-6 hours on low heat or it can be baked covered in a 325 oven for about 2 hours.

Free 5x7 Photo Book!

I got an email advertising this deal via email.
Shutterfly is offering a FREE 20-page photo book in the 5"x7" size. Even with shipping this would make a great little gift for a Grandma or another family member. Don't forget Christmas is just around the corner!

You'll need to enter Promo Code: GT58-DK91-V1KM-C53T1V This code should be good through December 6, 2010.


Monday, November 1, 2010


This is your friendly neighborhood blog reminder to VOTE in tomorrow's elections. If you are an absentee voter and your ballot is still unopened, bust that baby out now. If your spouse's ballot is also unopened, plan to nag him/her tonight until they vote.

Encouraging civic responsibility,


Menu Plan

OK - so my pantry and freezer are starting to bulge again so I'm hoping to focus on using what I have on hand for meals this month, starting this week. The bulk of the grocery budget will probably go toward Thanksgiving food - I'm cooking this year.

I have a lot of bread this week so I'm incorporating it into lots of meals

Monday - Sour cream chicken (chicken in freezer, lots of sour cream)
Tuesday - Burritos (because I accidentally opened a can of refried beans a few days ago)
Wednesday - French Toast (bread)
Thursday - Tortellini (freezer)
Friday - Ribs (freezer)
Saturday - Fajitas (chicken & tortillas in freezer)
Sunday - Burgers (freezer)

Monday - grilled cheese (bread)
Tuesday - PB & J (bread) - packed lunch
Wednesday - Mac & cheese
Thursday - chicken nuggets - packed lunch
Friday - quesadillas
Saturday - tuna melts (bread)
Sunday - PB & J (bread) - packed lunch

Monday - French Toast
Tuesday - Cold Cereal
Wednesday - Oatmeal
Thursday - Bagels
Friday - Oatmeal
Saturday - Cold Cereal
Sunday - Cold Cereal


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Shopping - Double Coupons

I made one small grocery shopping trip this weekend to use the Albertson's double coupons that were in the Sunday paper. There were 4 coupons this week instead of 3 so that was a nice surprise. I spent $16.52 - nothing fabulous.

Cooking Spray $2.39 - Regular price, but I was completely out. Oh well.
Formula - $3.99 ($5 Manufacturer's Check) = FREE + $1.01 Overage
Bananas - $.59/lb
Celery - $.89
Bell Peppers - $.69 each
Green Onions - $.69
Strawberries - $2

Double Coupons:
Ritz Crackers - $2.49 ($1.00/2 doubled) = $1.49 each
Oreos - $2.49 ($1.00/2 doubled) = $1.49
Nestle Cookie Dough - $2.49 ($1.00 doubled) = $.49
Mountain High Yoghurt - $2.50 ($.50 doubled) = $1.50


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Savings Bonds

My goal is to complete a "Friday Project" each week so I can feel more on top of the non-daily housework and chores that accumulate.

This week I read 9 Sunday papers that were gathering dust on top of my fridge. It's not a huge accomplishment, but it's a pile of junk that is no longer driving me crazy. And, hey I have a seven week old - I can start small!

Anyway, I found an interesting article in the August 29, 2010 edition of the Seattle Times that I wanted to summarize for you. It's titled "Web Hunt for Old Savings Bonds Can Yield Unexpected Treasure."

The basic idea is that there are many U.S. Savings Bonds that are sitting unclaimed and you should check and see if your parents or grandparents might have purchased some and never cashed them in. If those relatives are deceased you definitely should have a look on their behalf and those still living might appreciate the reminder that there is money available. You might check for yourself as well if you ever received Savings Bond gifts as a kid. I know I have two floating around somewhere from a library contest and a 'paper carrier of the month' award.

The website to check is, but the online search capabilities are limited to Series E bonds issued 1974 and later.

My checked my deceased grandparents' social security numbers but no luck - Rats! At least I learned something and got a blog post out of this week's Friday Project!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Resourceful Gifting - Gift Stockpile

Back to the Resourceful Gifting Series! I've reordered the planned posts for this series so that topics applicable to Christmas will be coming sooner rather than later.

Gift Stockpile

One way to keep gift prices low is to purchase quality items when you find an excellent price any time of year. These should be general/neutral gifts that you could give to a variety of people.

As Christmas approaches I keep an eye out for small gifts that would be appreciated widely in case I receive an unexpected gift and want to reciprocate or if I inadvertently leave someone off my list (teacher, mail delivery, girl scout leader, swim coach, a gift exchange, etc).

Some things you might consider year-round:
  • Baby Gifts
  • Toys that are age-appropriate for your children for birthday parties they will attend
  • Hostess Gifts
  • Gift Cards (look for good deals around Christmas like a free $5 card with purchase of a $50 card)

Things to avoid include:

  • Any food items
  • Perfumes - really anything with a scent that can sour over time
  • Baby gifts if you don't get invited to baby showers
  • Baby gifts that meet specific needs like preemie clothes or cloth diapers
  • Wedding gifts
  • Toys that are not age-appropriate for the children in your life
  • Fads

In general, a gift purchased with the recipient in mind is much for fun for me to give. However, my gift stockpile has been helpful many times including:

  • A busy week and no time to shop for a gift
  • An unexpected invitation with no gift money budgeted
  • An out-of-town birthday sneaks up on me and I have to send a gift immediately

Having a few things tucked away has served me well. However, I would caution you not to overbuy for your stockpile. Don't go buy 20 packages of Silly Bandz just because you find them for $2 each - your kids won't want to give them as gifts when they lose popularity. Don't buy 15 items from the Gymboree clearance rack just because you have Gymbucks on top of the sale - your friends will stop having babies eventually.

Just keep your eyes open as you shop the sales this season. If the price is right, let yourself buy an item or two for the gift stockpile instead of just the people on your list.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Sales

I've heard about a couple of sales I wanted to pass along to you readers.

First, Small Threads in Issaquah (a great consignment store) is having a 20% off all yellow tags sale on Saturday, October 30th. Costumes are 50% off and Halloween shirts are $.50. There is also a Halloween Bash happening that day for kids from 10AM to 5PM, so if you want to shop bring the kids for the fun!

Next, Plato's Closet in Bellevue is having a sale on Saturday and Sunday. You can take 75% off all orange tagged merchandise. Now Plato's Closet tends to be for a younger, hipper, and skinnier crowd than this mama of four, but I have found some cute shoes and accessories there including a Coach bag. There is a good selection of designer clothing and accessories, too, and I stop in from time to time just to see the handbags.

Any other weekend deals you've heard about?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thrift Store Deals!

I went to Children's Hospital Thrift Store this weekend. This is my favorite thrift store around here because they usually have a higher quality of merchandise than Goodwill and you don't have to sort through so much junk. Also, CHTS has various levels of discounts related to how long the merchandise has been on the sales floor unlike Goodwill where only the very oldest are reduced to 50% off.

Here's what I found:

Pollyanna double DVD - $4.00 (In beautiful shape with nice, shiny discs)
2 wood crafts - $.75/each (brand new stocking stufferes - 25% discount)
Pampers Swaddlers - $2.62 (opened, but had all 36 diapers in it - 25% discount)
3T dress - Just $.50! (for Joanna's 2 year pictures - 75% discount)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Macaronada Recipe

Brooke noticed I had Macaronda on the menu this week and commented, so I thought I'd post the recipe. It's also really appropriate for Brooke because it's an easy vegetarian dish.

I learned to make this while working at Luigi's Restaurant through college and it's a big hit when we have company. It's basically spaghetti sauteed in garlic & butter, then topped with feta cheese.

Luigi's Macaronda

12 oz. spaghetti noodles
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 T. fresh garlic, crushed
3 T. butter

Cook spaghetti. When the noodles are finished, turn on a frying pan and drop the butter in. Drain the noodles. Add the fresh garlic to the now melted butter and stir it until it just starts to turn brown. Add the drained noodles to the pan and let it cook about three minutes, tossing the noodles several times to coat them with the butter and garlic. Divide the noodles onto four plates and top with 1/4 cup feta each and sprinkle with oregano. Voila!

  • I usually use olive oil in place of some of the butter. The butter tastes best and you have to use at least 1/2 butter to sautee the garlic well and not burn it.
  • You must use fresh garlic in this dish. Refrigerated garlic-in-a-jar doesn't do this justice.
  • I sometimes add 2 cups of cooked, diced chicken during the tossing stage.
  • You can adjust the feta amount depending on how much you like it This is also tasty with mizithra cheese if you don't care for feta.

I've never written a recipe before and I almost never measure when I make this dish, so I hope it's understandable!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Meal plan & more shopping

So I thought I was done shopping for the week, but then a great Safeway coupon for Tyson breaded chicken for $3.99 at Safeway. I also had a $10/$50 coupon! Then I updated the budget and was bummed because there only $20 left for the month and I'd have to spend $40 on groceries to use the coupon. I would just get the chicken nuggets.

Then a friend asked me to pick up a few things for her and as it worked out I was able to use the $10/$50 coupon and only spent $19.27 on my own groceries!

I got some great clearance deals at Safeway including 1/2 gallon organic milk for $1.49, Gerber DHA infant oatmeal for $1.09 each can (original $3.19), and an Activia 4-pack for only $.25 ($1.00 and a $.75MC).

The menu plan is weird this week because I'm taking the girls to visit my mom for 5 days and DH is staying home.

Monday Dinner - Macaronada, Salad
Tuesday Dinner - Lasagna (leftovers for DH), salad
Wednesday to Saturday out of town (I've been packaging up leftovers for DH to eat)
Sunday - hamburgers


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekend Shopping - Check Your Receipt!

I had fun shopping this weekend. I haven't had a big shopping trip at Fred Meyer in a long time, and I enjoyed walking the familiar aisles of my favorite grocery store again! I spent $25.11.

Coffeemate - $2.00 sale (1.00 MC) = $1.00
FM preserves - coupon for $1.00 each
Formula - $3.99 sale ($5.00 MC check) = FREE + $1.01 Overage
Tea - $1.19 regular price
Darigold flavored milk - $1.00 sale ($1.00/2 MC) = $.50 each
Yogurt cups - $.30/ ea sale
String cheese - $2.50 sale ($1.00 MC) = $1.50
2# White cheddar cheese - $3.99 coupon
Campbell's healthy soup - $1.00 sale ($1.00/3 MC) = $.66 each
Yogurt Danimals - $1.29 clearance ($1.00/2MC) = $.79/4 pack
Tomato - $.98/lb sale
Organic Apples/Pears - $.78/lb sale
Tortellini - $1.99 clearance

I went to QFC specifically to buy formula they had on clearance and ended up with a bunch of other stuff. I spent $20.05.

Powder Formula - $13.29 clearance ($5.00 MC check) = $8.29
Liquid Formula - $4.49 clearance ($5.00 MC check) = FREE + $.51 overage
Oatmeal - $1.50 sale
Food Should Tast Good chips - $2.00 sale ($1.00 MC) = $1.00
Organic NF milk - $2.89 clearance
Oscar Meyer turkey breast - $1.99 clearance ($1.00 MC) = $.99
Snickers - $.50 sale (B1G1 MC) = $.25/ea

I generally review my receipt before I leave the store but have gotten a little lazy about it recently. I had picked up a sugar-free jam at Fred Meyer that I wasn't sure would qualify for the $1.00 coupon, and sure enough, when I checked the receipt, the discount hadn't been taken off. So I waited in line at customer service hoping for the discount, but alas, the sugar free jam wasn't included on the coupon even though it didn't say 'selected varieties' or anything like that. Oh well. So I returned it.

At QFC I also checked my receipt and I'm glad I did because I was charged for 4 gallons of milk instead of 3. Again, I waited in line at customer service to get refunded.

Because both of my shopping trips had errors in the checking process, I'm recommitted to reveiwing my reciept before leaving. It won't work for me to check it when I get home or even when I'm in the car because there's no way I'm getting four kids out of the car for my $2.00 or whatever. So my new plan, and I encourage you to do this to, is to just leave the chekcout line and step to the side to look your recipt over before heading to the car. You might be surprised at what you find.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

September Wrap-up - Totally late!

Here we are on October 23rd & I'm very tardy in filling you in on my September goals!
  • I hoped to pay down the timeshare a bit more. We did make a small payment, but it was only 3% of the total payoff. That's 43% all together in 3 months though which is still pretty great. It was all 'found money' including babysitting pay, a 'cash back' rebate from our credit card (used to buy plane tickets several months ago, paid off immediately), and grocery rebate check.
  • I hoped to keep up with the Resourceful Gifting posts, but that didn't happen.
  • $160 for groceries ended up $201.25 after we adjusted mid-month to $200.
  • I am caught up on laundry (amazing!) but am not using the clothesline. I am recovered enough to carry it, but it's been cold and my time has been consumed.
  • I did have a quick recovery, but I did too much too fast and had to slow it down a couple of times. I'm 100% now, physically, but we haven't found our new 'normal' yet.

Goals for October (or the last week of it anyway!):

  • Use the clothesline at least once - small, but hopefully manageable if these nice afternoons linger.
  • Start pulling out the garden - I have two weekends to accomplish this one.
  • We planned $200 for groceries this month.
  • Pay another bit of Timeshare off. Again it'll have to be "found money" so I'm going to start searching!
  • Get Eve's homeschool rolling again. We've really been hit or miss since Phoebe's arrival.
  • At least one Resourceful Gifting post.
Wish me luck!


Friday, October 22, 2010

We're Back!

Hello! Baby Phoebe is six weeks old and I thought it was about time I got down to business. Silly me, I thought three weeks would be enough and loaded up blog posts for that time period SO confident I'd be back to 'normal' life by then. Ha!

While the adjustment to Phoebe has been smooth, she does take up lot of time! Sitting down to feed an infant five times a day definitely a time-sucker - and another sucker!

OK - so DH had a good idea for the blog that will make me feel more organized and less overwhelmed. He thought I should try a general schedule that will give me a plan for the week. He knows me so well and how a plan and the possibility (no matter how remote) of accomplishment makes me feel in control.

Mondays - Menu plan
Tuesdays - Kitchen tips or recipes/meal swap posts
Wednesdays - Updates: Monthly, weekly, encouragement & other cool stuff
Thursdays - Non-kitchen tips
Fridays - Article/Series (seriously the hardest part of blogging for me!)
Saturdays - Friday Project
Sundays - Weekend Shopping

I'll of course, be posting about other deals and cool stuff I hear about, too, but this is just a general guideline to help me feel like I can still blog with 4 kids!

Welcome Back to Me!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Aluminum Foil Scrubber

Yes, it's another kitchen tip from All You - I seriously enjoy this magazine for the money-saving ideas as much as for the ridiculous amount of high value coupons it contains.

Anyway, instead of buying steel wool for serious scrubbing, try wadding up a small ball of aluminum foil. Just use your dishsoap like normal and scrub with your foil ball!

I also read online that foil is a good tool to remove rust.

I like this idea to avoid purchasing steel wool and for a tool when you're in a pinch. However, I am not a fan of using disposable products on a regular basis, so I will reserve this one for really tough scrubbing.

Does anyone else remember this famous foil ball?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bulk Peaches & Canning!

I have a friend who is part of a bulk-buying group. In August she contacted to me to find out if I wanted to buy any peaches. They had to be purchased in 25# boxes at a cost of $12 each. I could also buy #2 peaches (which means slightly off color or off size) for only $8 for a 25# box.

Always thinking I can do more than I actually can - I foolishly asked for 75 pounds. Yes, 8 months pregnant and me saying "Sure, I can take 75 pounds - I'll just can them!" Yeah, canning a bazillion peaches when I've never done it before = Fun for Katie.

I got directions from, a great site I've used in the past, and I started in one night after the kids went to bed. Three hours, about 30 pounds, and very swollen ankles later I had only 10 quart jars done. Yeah. This is a photo of the blanching stage. Blanching makes the peaches' skins basically just fall off, then I sliced them up.

A couple nights later I was at my bulk buying friend's house to babysit her kids and I saw that she had made several peach pie fillings that were just in her freezer in Ziplocs. She also had dried lots of her peaches. Note to self: Get a Food Dehydrator! And make some peach pie filling!

The next day I blanched another load of peaches with the help of DD#1 and then I sat at the kitchen table and prepared 7 Ziploc bags of peach pie filling. Won't it be nice to easily make peach pie every couple of months this year? I am looking forward to peach pie in winter! The best part was I got to do most of the work off my feet and DD#1 loved to help peel the peaches and scoop the other pie ingredients into the Ziploc bags.

I finally had to finish canning the last 20ish pounds or risk losing the peaches so one night - again - I did 8 more jars and tossed in a couple jars of green beans, too, since I had the pressure cooker out.

I ended up canning 18 quarts of peaches, making 7 pie fillings for 9" pies, and eating & giving away about 2 dozen peaches over a 10 day period. We all love peaches, so it was a treat to just eat as many as we wanted!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Resourcful Tip - Buttermilk Substitute

A college boyfriend's Grandma gave me a recipe for her Never-Fail Pie Crust many moons ago. It calls for 1/3 cup buttermilk which, really, who ever has on hand other than a commercial baker, right?

Anyway - her simple solution was to pour 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar into the 1/3 cup measure and fill the rest of the way with milk. This has worked every time and is truly amazing pie crust!

Another suggestion I saw recently in All You was to mix 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice as a buttermilk substituion. I haven't tried it myself, but if I was out ouf white vinegar I'd give the lemon juice a shot.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Greek Yogurt

Do you like Greek yogurt? Have you noticed how much more expensive it is than regular yogurt?

Try making your own! The September 2010 issue of All You suggests putting regular yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and chilling overnight. In the morning you'll have rich and creamy Greek-style yogurt.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Untangle Jewelry

Another tip from the All You September issue - If you have a kink or a knot in a piece of jewelry lay it on a flat surface and apply a few drops of baby oil to the affected area. Gently loosen the links with your fingers or straight pins if the chain is too fine or the knot too tight.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Deli Meat Alternative

I love sandwiches - Seriously, a big sandwich with a big glass of milk is one of my very favorite meals.

However, paying deli prices for sandwich meat is not one of my favorite things and I have never done it.

Instead I keep an eye out for "sliceable" meat in the larger meat department cases. Sliced deli meat is about $6/lb on sale, right? In the non-deli meat cases you might find a small turkey breast or ham portion for only $3 or $4/lb. You can take it straight over to the deli and they'll slice it for you - At No Charge!

I actually have my own meat slicer (Thanks Janet & Naomi!) that I received as a gift about 5 years ago. It's not fancy or expensive, but it does the job and I love slicing my own meat & cheese for trays of cold cuts or crackers.

I also love having sliced meat handy for my sandwich addiction and my sandwich is so much tastier knowing the meat was purchased at a great price!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Safeway Shopping Trip $40.86

Saturday night, I was at home sitting on the couch thinking, "I so don't want to go shopping. I'll just go tomorrow, but I'll make my list tonight." As I flipped throught the grocery ads I realized some of the Safeway deals were only good through Saturday! Ugh. But I got myself up and went shopping.

Best Deals:
24 double rolls of Safeway tissue - $8
12 double rolls of Cottonelle tissue - $3.20
Frozen corn, dry black beans, brown rice, salad dressing, marinade, salsa - FREE coupons
Nabisco crackers - $1.00 each
3 - 32 oz creamer - $1.46 each

I had a $10/$50 coupon so I was adding up the groceries as I shopped. When I got to the checkout around 11 there was only one lane open and there's no self check-out at the Redmond Safeway. There were 4 people in line ahead of me with 1-3 items each. Another guy with a 6 pack of beer approached as I did and I asked him to go in front of me since I had so many groceries. Then a gal came up with about 8 things in a basket so I kept my place in line. By the time the checker had finished scanning my items there were 6 people in line behind me and one woman had stormed off mumbling about not having time to wait. Finally, the checker called for another checker and then he scanned my coupons and I was able to pay and leave. I have major coupon guilt, can you tell? I hate that I probably irritated all those people in line behind me, but what am I supposed to do? I wasn't in the express lane or anything.

Thankfully the good deals I got helped me avoid feeling too bad and I was in bed by 12 which is pretty good these days.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Quick Silver Polish

I don't have many silver pieces, and I have a hard time making myself buy silver polish for the tiny amount I do have.

So I was excited to see this tip in All You magazine back in April:
"Use regular (non-gel) white toothpaste to remove tarnish from silver. Squeeze a little paste onto a cloth and rub gently on moistened silver. Rinse the item and polish with a soft rag."

No special cleaning item necessary!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Dual Flush Attachment

Several years ago a friend remodeled her bathroom and got this great dual flush toilet. I was impressed with this earth and budget friendly development and loved that she and her husband had chosen it. The basic is idea is that you push the little button for #1 and the big button for #2. My friend shared that she had noticed a decline in their water/sewer bill immediately after installing this new toilet.

Since that time I have planned to get a dual flush toilet should we ever remodel, but a remodel doesn't come along every day. We still have our standard toilets.

But, guess what I found out? There is a product available that essentially converts your toilet to a dual flush operation! And it only costs about $25! The item I read about is called the "Hydroright Dual Flush converter" and is carried by Home Depot, Ace, and Amazon. It's apparently easy to install, too, with no tools required. It allows you to choose a 1 gallon or 3.5 gallon flush and can save up to 15,000 gallons of water per year.

Here's a link:

I am definitely planning to check this out once we get a handle on our "new normal" as a family of 6.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Corded Phones

We Americans love our gadgets and we waste a lot of energy when we leave our gadgets plugged in.

One of these "energy vampires" is a cordless phone. The whole time it's plugged in, which is 24/7, the phone is sucking energy. A corded phone uses a miniscule amount of energy that comes directly through the phone line. If you have several cordless phones in your house, consider downsizing to just one (that can be used all over the house) and converting other connections to a corded phone.

I have an old corded phone on hand for emergencies and it has come in handy! When we had a weeklong power outage back in December of 2006 we were able to plug it in and call around and find a place to stay. Nothing else in our house turned on including the furnace, pellet stove fireplace insert or cordless phones.

I looked up about this here and here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Blanching Vegetables

Having a vegetable garden has afforded me lots of opportunities to learn about preserving vegetables. Prior to having a garden I had heard of blanching, but hadn't really ever done it to anything other than chicken. So what is it?

Blanching is basically a quick steam or boil that barely cooks food. I learned that if you blanch veggies before tossing them in the freezer it helps retain color, flavor, & texture which certainly would make for more enjoyable veggies in the winter months. This is super easy with green beans and snap peas. Just blanch, put in a freezer bag or container, and that's it. It's a little harder with tomatoes because blanching makes the skins loose and you have to peel them, but I prefer to freeze tomatoes without the skins anyway so it all works out. It's much easier to chop a peeled, frozen tomato to toss into a sauce than one that still has a skin.

Here is a photo of blanching green beans:

I have also employed blanching as part of my freezer meal swap dishes from time to time if I am incuding fresh veggies. For example in a stir-fry or meat & veggie skewers for the barbeque.

Give it a try!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Strong Perfume?

Have you ever spritzed yourself one too many times?
It's happened to me in a rush, and I end up changing my shirt to tone down the scent! Well no more since I read this tip in the All You September issue:

"Dab your wrists - or wherever you overapplied - with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol."

Rubbing alcohol has a scent, too, but it's gone as soon as the alcohol dries so this is really an effective solution.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Albertsons Double Coupons!

I am pretty busy these days now that Phoebe has arrived. I'll be working to regain my balance and find our family's new "normal" over the next few weeks.

In the meantime I've loaded up several "Resourceful Tips" to post automatically so you'll still have something worthwhile to read!

I thought I wouldn't be posting at all, but I had to hop on and share my good fortune with you all! There was an Albertsons double coupon insert in yesterday's paper, but I was so excited to see that I got THREE of them. Whoo! So I can actually use 9 double coupons this week. Now I just have to figure out when to go . . .


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Resourceful Tip - Dispense Less Product

Do you use a pump dispenser for liquid soap, moisturizer or lotion? Try putting a rubber band around the stem of the nozzle to reduce the size of the pump.

I don't remember where I saw this tip, but I thought it was a good one!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Baking Powder

I always get frustrated when I'm baking and find out I've run out of a spice or another imperative ingredient, especially if I've already started mixing!

I was delighted to find this tip in August 2010 All You Magazine for making your own baking powder:
If you run out of baking powder "you can substitute a mixture of two parts cream of tartar and one part each baking soda and cornstarch."

I taped this one to the inside of my spice cupboard door.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Master Bathroom

I never quite finished the Master Bathroom, but I am sick of staring at it as a "draft" in my queue of posts so I'm just going to publish it unfinished.

I cleaned and organized the bathroom way back in June or July but had a couple little things hanging out that kept me from "finishing" and posting about it.

Here's the original list I made:
Scrub all porcelain fixtures
Scour all faucet parts with Comet & toothbrush
Clean light fixture
Bleach spray on ceiling
Wash shower curtain
Bleach shower curtain liner
Dust cabinet tops
Pull everything out of under-sink cabinet and toss or keep
Pull everything out of wall cabinet and toss or keep
Pull everthing off the wall shelf and toss or keep
Scrub floor with green pad (usual cleaning is a swiffer dry wipe.

All of this stuff took me at least three days - one day for washing the shower curtain & liner, another day for sorting & organizing various baskets and bins of junk, and finally another day to clean. I never got to bleaching the ceiling. I did find I needed to do a couple more tasks in the process of deep cleaning.

First, our metal trash can had left some rust rings on the floor. I planned to use Rustoleum to clean those off easily, but I couldn't find my bottle and I haven't bought more yet, so those rust stains were still there a few days ago. Bless DH for cleaning the bathroom and just scrubbing those rusty spots off the floor! Who knew? I was so sure I had to buy special cleaner! But I did glue felt (from girls' craft stuff) to the bottom of the trash can. We'll see if that does the trick. Here are photos:

I also swept the fan cover in the ceiling. It was super dusty, but I never even noticed until I was really cleaning.

It feels good to have this bathroom cleaned & organized, but since it's not a public space it's less satisfying. I have been enjoying the newly organized baskets for two months, but there is no evidence of that deep cleaning anymore. Oh well. At least I know it was really scrubbed recently, even if it only looks normal now.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Using the Freezer Again

I plugged the freezer back in on August 25th. I am super proud of myself that we had it unplugged for almost 4 months, saving lots of energy and forcing me to use up stockpiled food.

After two weeks here's what's already in it:

1 package of tortillas
2 pounds shredded jack cheese
3 pizzas
4 packages of sausage
5 pounds of butter
6 cups shredded zucchini
7 peach pie fillings
8 pounds of broccoli
9 packages of bacon
10 gallons of frozen water (a fuller freezer is more energy efficient)
11 dinners for after Phoebe's arrival
17 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
18 cups of blackberries

Those are real numbers! I realized I had all different numerals in my list, so I put them in order and voila - amusing to me.

Also amusing that I had to go back and delete "frozen" from many descriptions in the above list. Obviously, these items are frozen as they are in the Freezer.


p.s. Tomorrow is the big day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Top Foods $5/$25 coupon on Sunday Times!

You've been seeing me post about all these great coupons I've been getting lately, but now you can have one, too! The Sunday Times had a peely on the cover Sunday for $5/$25 at Top Foods. It's only good through Tuesday so find it and use it quickly!


Meal Swap - Teriyaki Pork Kabobs

I had my meal swap again last week. This time I made Teriyaki Pork Kabobs mostly motivated by the huge number of wooden skewers on hand and the pork loin that has been on sale for $1.99/lb at several stores.

I forgot to take a picture of all the unprepared ingredients, but here's what it looked like when I was ready to assemble The beauty of assembly was that I could sit down for the whole process - at 38 weeks preggo you can imagine how valuable this is!

The first step was to make the teriyaki marinade. Combine:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 T. lemon juice
2 T vegetable oil
2 t. brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground ginger

Reserve 1/2 for basting, & add 1.5 lbs pork loin, cut into 1" cubes, to the remaining 1/2. Then let the meat soak for 1-4 hours.

The recipe I found called for zucchini and red pepper, but I didn't have red pepper nor did I want to go to the store. I looked up several other teriyaki kabob recipes and found that cherry tomatoes and onion were used frequently so I decided to use those with the zucchini.

I wasn't sure how the zucchini would hold up in the freezer so I did a little web research and found that blanching it would do the trick. Check.

As ever, I was very aware of the math needed to put these together. I counted the cherry tomatoes and made sure I made an equal number of zucchini pieces as I was cutting it into chunks. Then I figured out how many skewers I was making and how many of each veggie would go on each skewer. Unfortunately I only had enough to make skewers for the other swap members and didn't put any in my own freezer. I did however cut up and marinate extra meat so as my garden produces more zucchini and cherry tomatoes I can quickly make my own.

Last time I made skewers the sticks were too long for the tins we use and I ended up putting them in Ziploc bags with the pointy ends poking out of the bag and dripping sauce all over. Yuck! This time I got smart and used wire cutters to trim the wooden skewers about 1/2" so they'd fit in the tins. The chunks were too big to put two layers in each tin, so each family got two tins for their 8 skewers.

Here's the cost breakdown:
6# pork loin - $12
2 c. soy sauce - $2
water, lemon juice, veg. oil, sugar, garlic, ginger - $2?
Zucchini - Free from garden
Tomatoes - Free from garden
3 Onions - $2
Skewers - Free (leftover from last time)

Total cost - $18, so each meal was $4.50.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

August Wrap-up

The big financial news for August is that we were able to pay another 23% of our timeshare debt off! That's up to 40% of the total we owed at June 30th so we're making great progress. I'm not sure we'll be able to continue at this rate because of some other big expenses coming up, but we'll keep at it.

Other August goals:
1. $200 for groceries - Ha! Between all my irresistable $5/$25 coupons, buying 75 pounds of peaches, and stocking up on formula I spent $315. We did make adjustments in our budget to allow for this increase, but it's a long way from my original goal of $200. Just think how much more it would have been if I didn't have a garden for produce!

2. Sell 5 things on eBay or Craig's List - Again, Ha! We did sell a brand-new infant life jacket on Craig's List (Thanks to DH for handling that), but otherwise nothing - even with the free listings on eBay (that is still running through Tuesday, 9/7).

3. Use the clothesline 5 times. I was doing well with this until the last week of August. I just hit a pregnancy/energy wall and DH asked me to give myself a break and use the dryer. It did help a lot to stop lugging about 10 loads of laundry a week up and down the stairs, but I miss the sense of accomplishment the clothesline provided!

4. Finish the Spring Cleaning posts - good enough. I will stop feeling guilty . . . NOW! I have one more post that's already scheduled on that topic but I'm not doing any more "Spring Cleaning." Seriously, the weak attempt I made this year is about 90% more than I've ever done before, so I'm just going to feel good about that.

5. Continue the Resourceful Gifting posts - slow, but check.

Goals for September:
1. Pay anything extra on the timeshare debt. Like I said we have some big expenses coming up so the goal is just to put any "found" money toward the timeshare. By "found" money I mean grocery rebate checks, random unexpected cashflow, and any weird savings account balances I can find floating around out there.

2. Keep up with the Resourceful Gifting posts, but don't beat myself up about posting every day. Do what I can and feel good about it!

3. $160 for groceries this month to help make up for last month. Also, I won't be making as many dinners this month as several friends have volunteered to bring meals to help out during my recovery.

4. Just stay caught up on laundry and skip the clothesline. Maybe I'll be recovered enough by October to use the stairs & carry heavy baskets of wet clothes again.

5. Have a healthy baby and a good recovery from surgery! Get on my feet fast and be the Mommy my family needs me to be!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cost Plus Coupon

Hi Readers,

I am not a big Cost Plus shopper, but I received a great coupon in the mail this week that I'll be happy to pass along to the first person to post and claim it.

It's "Save $10 on your purchase of $30 or more." It's good through 9/19/10 and only good at stores, not online.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby Formula Price Point

If you read about my shopping trips you may have noticed I've been stocking up on baby formula recently. This is in preparation for Phoebe's arrival. I don't want to go to the store for a good while after a c-section and when I do eventually get there, I don't want to pay ridiculous prices for formula!

Carly asked about brands I buy so I thought I'd post my general formula shopping strategy.

1. We have been blessed with 3 non-picky girls so far. We don't think this is just lucky, we have prayed for each of them to have good digestion and not to have food difficulties. Praise the Lord, we have been able to feed them any brand without trouble, we haven't had major spit up or reflux issues, and we've avoided gas & colic, too. We are trusting the Lord this will be the case again with Phoebe.

2. In general powdered formula is the least expensive. With liquid formula you pay for the convenience of having it mixed already.

3. Costco has the best price on powdered formula. My pediatrician told me that most formula is the same, even made in the same facilities, but different labels get put on the cans for various stores. I am fine using the Costco brand. It costs about $10 for the 25ish ounce can compared to $15-20 for generic store brands and $22-27 for the name brands.

4. I compare all sale prices on formula to that Costco price point. Sometimes if a store has formula on sale I can combine it with a store coupon and/or a manufacturer's coupon to get it under the $10 Costco price. Usually this is not the case. Clearance prices are a different matter and I can usually get under the $10 with a coupon on top of the clearance price.

5. Coupons are more valuable on smaller packages. This is just basic math - a $5 price reduction has more effect on a price-per-ounce basis on a small package than a large package. That's why you see me purchasing small bottles of formula I would almost never otherwise buy.

6. A Costco can of formula makes approximately 25 - 8 oz bottles. At $10/can that's $.40 per bottle. A quart of liquid formula costs about $6 and makes 4-8 oz bottles. That's $1.50 per bottle! A huge difference for convenience, right? Well, if I use a $5 coupon on a quart of liquid formula, then the price of an 8 oz bottle just went down to $.25 making it cheaper than Costco.

7. Costco doesn't take coupons and the name brands at the grocery stores are significantly more expensive, even with the coupons. I would rather get fewer name-brand bottles at $.25 each (buying small packaging) than a week's worth at $.70 each using the same coupon (buying large packaging). When I run out of coupons and $.25-per-bottle formula I can plan a trip to Costco for my price point.

So in response to the questions about formula coupons and/or checks the answer is Yes! I'd love to have anything you're not using.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Meal Plan & Weekend Shopping $60.87

9 Days left to get stuff done before Phoebe arrives! There is still much to do, but I have been making steady progress with DH's help.

For meals this week I am trying to use up some of the oldest items in the freezer - mostly bits and pieces that I bought on clearance to try out or just weren't big enough for full meals.

Dinner Monday - Sliced Ham, Au Gratin Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Salad
Dinner Tuesday - Ham & Bean Soup (need to use some red beans), Salad
Dinner Wednesday - Chicken/Apple Sausages (random freezer), Corn on the Cob
Dinner Thursday - Pork Chops (old freezer), Cheesy Rice, Salad
Dinner Friday - Ribs (random freezer), Mashed Potatoes, Salad
Dinner Saturday - Pork Loin with Pears & Cranberries (random freezer), Salad
Dinner Sunday - Beef Stir Fry - to use up garden produce & random freezer veggies

Lunch Monday - Leftover Mac'n'Cheese pie, Little Smokies (random freezer)
Lunch Tuesday - Crostini, Little Smokies
Lunch Wednesday - Grilled Cheese & fruit
Lunch Thursday - Cheese, Crackers, Fruit, Nuts
Lunch Friday - Nachos
Lunch Saturday - Whatever Daddy makes (PBJ or M&C)
Lunch Sunday - Leftovers

Here is a photo of my weekend shopping - Total spent $60.87, Total Savings $60.20 (not including formula deals).

Honey Nut Cheerios - Sale price $1.50 ($1/2 MC) = $1.00 each
Powder Formula - Clearance Price $5.00 each!
Liquid Formula - $6.00 each ($5.00 formula check) = $1.00 each
Gallon milk - Clearance Price $1.50
1/2 Gallon milk - Sale Price $1.25 each
Bananas - $.59/lb
Hillshire Farms Sausages - Clearance 1.99 ($1/2 MC) = $1.49 each
Elbow Macaroni - Sale Price $.89 each
18 Eggs - Coupon price $1.49 each
7# Pork Loin - $1.99/lb
Cream Cheese - Sale Price $.99 each
Yogurt - Overstock Price $.25 each
Cucumber - Sale Price $.50 each
Corn on the Cob - Sale Price 3/$1
3# Ground Beef - Clearance Price $2.99
Red Beans - $1.25
Smuckers Topping - Clearance Price $1.51 ($.55 MC) = $.96
Nectarines - Sale Price $.99/lb

I spent more than normal this week, but overall I am OK with these totals because of the huge pork loin and so much formula.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Garden Update - Tomatoes

I have been waiting and waiting on tomatoes this year! I'm not sure what's keeping them from ripening, but I suspect it may be the overall cooler weather. You can see there are many, many tomatoes that are green and growing. In fact, the plants are so heavy that several have fallen over despite their tomato cages - the cages just fall with them!

My solution to this was to pull the cages upright again and to secure them to the fence that runs behind the garden. I twisted a couple of hooks into nearby fence posts and used old pantyhose as a 'rope' to pull the cages upright. You can see this setup in the above photo. I used pantyhose because the material gives a little and is easy to tighten up if I need to. I also used small pieces of the nylons to tie individual stalks to cages and stakes because a) slugs will get to any tomatoes lying on the ground and b) pantyhose is stretchy and won't bite into the plants/cut the stalk.

The cherry tomatoes have been ripening steadily at a rate that we can use. I have been using them in salad, soups, tomato sauce when I made lasagna and I've given a few away. Cherry tomatoes are pretty reliable as far as production goes in my limited experience. The girls also love to help pick these ones and are only supposed to pick the red ones, not the orange. I regularly hear DD#1 telling DD#2 "Not that one!" or "Just the really red ones." or "Oh, No! (*sigh*) That's OK."

I ocassionaly find a large ripe tomato among all the green, but I really have to look! You can see in the below photo where I found one ripe fruit hidden amongst all the green. See that bit of red? Yeah, I was happy to spot it, too.

I was hoping all of these would be ripening by now so I could be harvesting and canning before Pheobe's arrival. As it is I think I'll be blanching and freezing the tomatoes whole instead of canning. We'll see how I'm doing on freezer space in the next month or so.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Kids/Guest Bathroom

This Spring Cleaning was more of a "redecorate" and I'm so very pleased my cousin wanted to come help me accomplish it! She is much better than I am at home improvement projects and actually did most of the work here herself with the removal of fixtures, painting, and shopping with me to find decor items.

I wish I had taken a before picture! The best I can do is show you what the decor used to look like. My Mom-in-Law gave us this shower curtain and matching hangers shortly after we were married. We thought it would be great in the kids' bathroom and it was! I just got tired of it also being the guest bathroom - I wanted something softer for company.

This is what it looks like now.
My first favorite thing: The new shower curtain was only $7. I wanted purple in it, but didn't want to spend money on towels so was delighted that the old turquoise and new purple were both in this curtain. Can you even tell the walls are purple? I got the palest shade I could find.
My next favorite thing: The idea my cousin gave me for wall art was great! We bought a triple frame at IKEA and I put these bath pictures of the girls in it. How fun for their bathroom!

For cleaning I emptied the cabinet, purged, and sorted. The walls and ceiling were all freshly painted so I didn't have to bleach anything, but I did dust the light fixture.

I also picked up these stackable bins at The Container Store to keep the girls' hair stuff under control and have a place for their toothbrushes, toothpaste, and flossers which seem to always end up all over the house and subsequently, in the baby's mouth. Love the new bins.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Resourceful Gifting - Cards

Did you wonder where the Resourceful Gifting series went? You know, the one I said I'd post every Friday but hasn't been seen for oh, a month? Yeah, well it's back - finally!

This installment is to encourage you to send cards of various types thoughtfully and resourcefully.

Our family loves to receive cards. We display them and enjoy them for all occasions including birthdays, holidays, new babies, graduations, etc. Here is a photo of DD#3's bedroom door after her first birthday. Everyone in the family gets to see them and she gets to be celebrated a little bit longer. The bonus to displaying for a few weeks is that even those cards we receive late are enjoyed.

We love to receive cards so much that we also love to give them to other people. Our daughters regularly make cards to send various friends and relatives - some more interesting than others - and our hope is that the recipient feels blessed by being remembered. I also try to send cards for occasions, but truthfully am more often than not too late and end up calling.

Cards don't have to be expensive and your thoughtfulness isn't measured in how much you spent. A $.50 card from WalMart can mean just as much as a $5.95 one from Hallmark. If you make a card your only expense is the $.44 stamp. One of the Grandmas like getting mail from the girls so much that she gave them each their own book of stamps so we wouldn't have to keep buying so many stamps!

Another great option is to send a postcard. A postcard only costs $.28 to mail and should still produce that delight that comes along with receiving "real" mail. It's super easy to make a postcard so don't bother buying one. Basically any heavy paper cut to the correct size will do the trick. One of our favorites is to make them from cereal boxes. Another great idea is to print a photograph on heavy cardstock and just write on the other side. Recently I had some old party invitations that I just cut in half to have birthday postcards (I recycled the half that was printed with the "Date: Time: Where:" lines).

Postcard rules: Must be at least 3.5" x 5" and cannot exceed 4.25" x 6". Must be plain, printed material that is flat (no stickers or raised surfaces). The girls don't like the postcards as much as cards because they prefer glitter glue, foam stickers, and gems to decorate - all of which must be contained in an envelope. Here are some postcards I currently have tucked away for future use:

My one caution is that you shouldn't hesitate to just use the mail and pay for a stamp. I generally try to hand-deliver when I can just to save the cost of a stamp, but on occasion I end up carrying around a card for an extended period and kicking myself that I just didn't drop it in the mail.

A card is small gift and a blessing to give and receive. Send one this week just to tell someone you're thinking of them. You and the recipient will be blessed.