Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ultimate Recipe Swap: Mexican Chicken Skillet

I recently tried this new recipe and it is so yummy that it will become a regular at our dinner table.

Even better, it's quick to make and healthy, too!

Mexican Chicken Skillet

Serves 4

2 chicken breast halves, cut in 1/4" strips
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup bottled salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese

8 whole grain tortillas or hot brown rice

Over medium heat, in a skillet, start cooking chicken strips in the olive oil. When the chicken is about half-way cooked(5 minutes), add garlic. Cook a few more minutes and add pepper and onion. Stir and cover to mix flavors.

Be careful to not over cook chicken. When done, drain chicken through a colander. Return chicken mixture to skillet and over low heat, add salsa and stir. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the mixture, cover the pan and simmer until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Serve on warmed tortillas or hot brown rice with sour cream.

**Visit Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap today for more Mexican-themed recipes!

Stocking The Freezer For A New Baby

My sister is having a baby girl in June and has been working to get everything possible ready before her arrival.

One of the items on her lengthy list of preparations was to fully stock the freezer with ready-made meals and snacks. She regularly does "freezer cooking days" so she is pretty organized and has a good plan already worked out.

She wanted to do a lot more this time though, so I offered to come and help her for a day.

Kathryn had already finished all the raw meat dishes such as meatballs, meatloaf, steak kebabs and hamburger patties so we just needed to assemble casseroles and make a few other things that were on her list.

I brought my big griddle and while she assembled numerous pans of baked ziti and lasagna, I was busy making 6 batches of pancakes.

I made 2 batches each of buttermilk pancakes, banana oat pancakes and a new recipe of chocolate chip-berry pancakes which were absolutely delicious! Her 3 year old son loves pancakes so this will make quick breakfasts for him while she is busy feeding the baby.

We also made several meat and potato quiches,ham casseroles, egg bakes, a big batch of fruit slush and bagged sliced ham into meal-sized portions.

Knox was very helpful in assembling the egg bakes, taste-testing the pancakes and sneaking handfuls of cheese!

We crossed off everything on her list except for homemade hot pockets and several batches of cookies.

At the end of the day, we had 42 meals in the freezer! We were both exhausted but it was totally worth it.

This will be so nice for her in the first couple of months as they adjust to having a new little one in the house.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday: Sheet Protector Recipe Holder

Many of the recipes that I use or try are found printed from blogs and recipe sites online. Thus they are usually on full-size sheets of paper.

I keep a lot of them in a binder for easy storage and use. The only problem comes when I go to use the recipe while cooking. There is no place to set that big piece of paper or the whole binder, for that matter, in my tiny kitchen where it is visible and away from the mess.

I keep a clothespin on the cupboard door handle above my work space and that works well for recipe and index cards. It doesn't work so well for sheets of paper however.

I was preparing supper one night several weeks ago and was using one of these printed recipes. I had the binder on the dining room table and continued running back and forth between cooking and looking at the recipe.

After a few trips, I decided there had to be a better way!

I was just about to tape the piece of paper to the cupboard when I had an even better idea....

I got an empty sheet protector and taped it to the outside of the cupboard door. The sheet of paper fit right in there, of course, and the recipe was right in front of me, yet out of the way of splatters and spills.

I've been using this simple recipe holder ever since. It's so easy to change out the recipes I'm using and so handy for reading a recipe while cooking!

I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before. It definitely works for me!

**Thanks to Kristen of We Are THAT Family for hosting Works For Me Wednesday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

To Do This Week

We were gone over the weekend and now I'm trying to get back on track. In addition to my normal routine of cooking, cleaning and childcare, here's my short to-do list for this week.

Most of these tasks can be completed in a few hour's time, perfect for naptime! And if I'm diligent, I can accomplish one each day. We'll see.

1)Clean and organize pantry.(This was on my list for last week, but didn't get done.)

2)Bake bread and possibly some cookies.

3)Change out seasonal clothing.

4)Pay bills.(Thursday)

5)Sew another skirt.(Friday)

If there's time on Saturday and Sunday, I would like to buy my garden plants and get them planted. Thanks to our friend who came over and tilled up two small plots for me so I can have a bit more of a garden here at home this summer!

What's on your list for this week?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Top Dog!

We took our dog Rock to Petsmart's pet birthday party last night. He's always up for an outing and since we're suckers for free events, especially ones that promise free goodie bags, we loaded him up and off we went!

The first event was to get your pet's picture taken for free. Rock was rather uncooperative. I had hoped to get some good shots with our camera and he just couldn't handle it. He was too excited to see all the people and other dogs.

One game they played was "Musical Sits", a doggie variation of the classic "Musical Chairs". On each round, the last dog to sit was eliminated. We thought it would be fun to let Rock try, mainly because we thought the whole "Musical Sits" thing was hilarious!

To our surprise, he won the game! His prizes included:
--$5 Petsmart gift card
--coupon for a free nail trim
--$50 in Purina coupons(to be mailed to us)

Oh, and we also got our free goodie bag which was loaded with dog food and treat samples!

Wow! At least the dog knows when it's really important to cooperate!

Since none of the store pictures I took turned out that great, here's an at-home picture of our Top Dog shortly after his big win!

**Rock would like to thank the good people of Canine Carry Outs whose Chicken Griller treats made this victory possible!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A New Skirt

I made myself a new "Ruffle Skirt" over the weekend. I had been wanting to make a couple skirts for summer and when I saw this free tutorial, I decided to try it.

I used fabric that I had on hand. I didn't have anything to coordinate for a contrasting ruffle so I just used all of the same fabric. I like how it turned out! Not bad for a $1 piece of yard sale fabric!

The directions were pretty easy to follow and I finished it within a couple of hours. I really don't care for making ruffles-all that gathering makes me a bit crazy- but it looks so cute that I'll deal with it!

The only trouble I had was with the elastic waist. One section of elastic keeps wanting to roll and bunch up. I think I'm going to take it out and try putting it in again, since no amount of turning and pushing it around has helped!

I definitely plan to make another one or two of these skirts. It's really comfortable to wear! Because of the way the directions are written and how you make the skirt/pattern according to your measurements, this can be made to fit any size lady or girl. I'm thinking that my nieces who are 5 and 8 years old would love a ruffle skirt of their own!

I recommend trying this pattern!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Homemaker Monday

On my bedside table:
--The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson

On my TV:
--Fox news

On the menu for tonight:
--Nothing at the moment. We're eating at our regular Monday night meeting and so far I haven't planned to take anything.

On my To Do List:
--get some blog posts ready for this week
--laundry as soon as our new water heater arrives!

New Recipe I tried last week:
--Made up my own barbecue sauce recipe. It turned out pretty good. Now to remember what all I put in it!

In the craft basket:
--A baby shower gift.
--More skirts! I made one this weekend and liked it a lot so I plan to make one or two more!

Looking forward to:
--seeing my sister this weekend and attending her baby shower.
--having my 3 1/2 year old nephew come home with us for an overnight visit.
--getting our new water heater. Cold showers are really overrated!

Homemaking Tip for this week:
--Move things to where they will be the most useful. I moved our paper shredder into the dining room this week after realizing that part of my never-ending pile of paper had to do with the fact that I could not use the shredder during naptime due to the fact that it was in the office. Now I have no excuse! I can shred junk mail as soon as I sort the mail!

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
I could totally relate to An Open Letter To The People In The Fashion Industry Who Design Clothes For Grown Women by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Favorite photo from last week:
Not the most lovely picture you'll ever see but here's a picture of the inside of our water heater after an electrical short caused a fire. We came home from running errands on Friday morning to half of our house filled with smoke! Thankfully it was not any worse!

Lesson learned the past few days:
--Be flexible! (Says the lady whose strong point is NOT flexibility!) We had an eventful weekend with a visit from the fire department due to a shortage in our hot water heater. We spent most of the next night at Urgent Care and the hospital as my husband very likely had a kidney stone. The CT scans came back negative so he most likely had passed it by then. He's feeling better now!

So between no hot water and not much sleep, I've been keeping things really simple. We ate out a few times over the weekend, made simple meals, used paper plates and basically just rolled with it! Things will get done when they get done! It will all work out eventually.

On my Prayer List:
--my husband
--our nation and president

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Ephesians 1. Every believer needs to study this chapter and be reminded of all the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ!

Thanks to Sandra for hosting Happy Homemaker Monday!

Menu Plan Monday

I've got an easy meal plan for this week! It's a short week as well since we'll be headed out of town for a few days to visit my sister and family.

L-Eat at our church fellowship. I took meatballs* and brown rice.

B-oatmeal, yogurt with strawberries
L-leftover meatballs, rice and green beans
D-Eat at church meeting.

B-egg-in-the-nest, oranges
L-tuna melts, spinach salad
D-pork, bean and greens soup*, baguettes

B-oatmeal, smoothies
D-bean burritos(tortillas, refried beans, salsa, sour cream, cheese), rice

B-scrambled eggs, toast
L-leftovers or frozen chicken wings
D- Israeli Spice Chicken, hummus, chips, steamed veggies

B-cold cereal, fruit
L & D- with family

Saturday- with family

B-cold cereal
L- Take 2 spaghetti pies* to our fellowship.

*Indicates freezer meals.

For more menu planning inspiration, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thirteen Things I Say Every Day

Phrases that are heard repeatedly coming out of my mouth:

1)"(Insert child's name), let me wipe your nose."

2)"(Insert child's name), that's enough!"

3)"(Insert child's name), leave him alone."

4)"(Insert child's name), did you take that from him?"

5)"(Insert child's name), let me handle that."

6)"(Insert child's name), no it's not time for (insert actvity)."

7)"Let's do an activity!"

8)"Yes, your mommy will be here soon."

9)"Why am I so tired?"

10)"Rock, leave it!" (Rock is our dog.:-)

11)"Rock, go lay on your bed."

12)"Are you getting enough to eat?"

13)"Let me clean up the kitchen...."

And there you have it. A light-hearted nutshell version of my day!

What are common phrases you find yourself using on a daily basis?

For more Thursday Thirteen lists, head on over to Happy2B@Home!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weigh-In Wednesday

This week was not good on the weight-loss front. But for the sake of accountability and to let you know that I am not perfect,I will chronicle my journey anyways.

I have not been recording my calories. Because of that, I think I can eat whatever I want....

Did ok, but not great!

What's that? Well, in my defense, my asthma has acted up due to spring allergies, so running has been out of the question. However, I could still walk and I haven't really done that either. I know that doing heavy housework and chasing toddlers counts for something, though. I haven't totally been sitting on my heiny.:-)

For all my weakness in the food category this week, I've really been good about staying on track with breakfasts.

Motivation, a busy schedule and wanting chocolate and fast food!

Plans for next week:
Getting back on track with recording what I eat through Calorie Count and exercising again!

Not surprisingly, I gained 3 pounds last week! Arrghh! Oh well, back to the drawing board!

Helpful Hint:
I like using to track my caloric intake and progress.

Healthy Recipe I Tried:

Ginger Stir-Fry Chicken

1 pound raw chicken breast, cut in bite-size pieces
4 T. soy sauce
2 T. sesame oil(I used olive oil.)
2 cups pineapple tidbits, drained or fresh equivalent
8 cups broccoli, fresh or frozen florets
4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. garlic, minced or dried
Salt & pepper, to taste
18 peanuts, chopped(opt.)

Marinate chicken breast in soy sauce for at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Steam broccoli until crisp-tender and still with it's bright green color(about 3 minutes). Keep warm.

Heat oil in skillet. Stir-fry chicken until cooked. Add ginger and garlic. Stir well. Add pineapple; cover and heat for 1-2 minutes.

Add broccoli and toss well. Remove to plate, top with peanuts, if desired.

Serve immediately over hot, steamed brown rice.

**This amount made 2 generous meals for the two of us. We really liked this and will make it again! You can change the meat or veggie to whatever you have on hand or are in the mood for.

Thanks to Jen for hosting Weigh-In Wednesday!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter weekend!

As planned,we spent Friday and Saturday spring cleaning our house. My goal was to clean 6 rooms. We got 4 and a half rooms cleaned. I feel pretty good about it considering that we also bathed the dog and put a new lawn mower together and mowed the lawn!

I started with the kitchen, dining room and living room about 9:30 Friday morning. Andy went right out to mow the grass and I started cleaning all the blinds(spraying them off outside) first because we were expecting rain. I'm glad that we got those things out of the way because it rained hard for a few hours in the middle of the day. Those first three rooms have the most detail for cleaning-bookshelves to clean off, glassware and dishes to wash,appliances to move and clean behind, etc. We worked and worked! By 9 pm, I was exhausted. I still needed to finish a few things in the living room but had completed the kitchen, dining room and most of the living room! Andy went and got dinner at Wendy's for us, because we were too exhausted to try to cook something!

We started Saturday morning by bathing the dog. This is an hour (or more) of our lives that we will not get back! He was most uncooperative this time around. He at first would not even be coaxed into the tub. We finally got him in there and he was fine...until he made a run for it halfway through. Fortunately, we had closed the bathroom door so he didn't get far. Unfortunately, our bathroom is incredibly tiny and with all 3 of us in there, it was rather difficult to maneuver a 60 pound, stubborn, wet dog back into the tub. Eventually, we were done and Rock smelled like a delicious oatmeal cookie dog instead of just stinky dog! Next time we need to install a video camera. :-)

After the dog-bathing ordeal, we were finally ready to start on the house. I had planned to clean the bedroom, bathroom, and office on Saturday. We got the bedroom finished. While washing all the linens, the dryer stopped drying. We do have a clothesline and it was sunny so I hung a bunch of stuff out. It was late afternoon by this time so I had to leave most of it out all night.

We cleaned the worst of the bathroom, which was mostly the dog hair from that morning! The rest of the bathroom will have to wait. I was not about to do a repeat of Friday night so about 6 pm, we called it quits. I made a stir fry for dinner and then finished up a few little things before bedtime.

So I still have half of the bathroom to clean, plus the office and laundry room! I feel really good about what we got done! I'm also not sure I really ever want to do another marathon cleaning spree like that again! It is very tiring!

We had a special service on Easter morning. We came home afterwards and ate leftover stir fry for lunch. My plans were to cook steaks for a nice Easter dinner. Andy's dad called and was going to able to stop in for a quick visit on his way through town. We invited him to stay for dinner so I got another steak out of the freezer. After our lunch, I made a CVS run and then came home and started dinner. I made steaks, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade French bread and then used a brownie mix to make a pan of brownies for dessert! It turned out really nice and it was a nice visit with my father-in-law!

All in all, it was a wonderful Easter weekend!

This Week's CVS Trip

Since I accidentally let some ECB's expire at the end of March, then made a big boo-boo last week in my transactions so that I didn't get any ECB's back, I was pretty well starting from scratch this week!

I had a $3.49 ECB plus a $5/$30 purchase CVS coupon to use so I looked through the ad to see what I could get to generate a few more ECB's while still utilizing coupons to keep my total out-of-pocket expenses fairly low.

There weren't too many outstanding deals but a few FREE after ECB items, so I decided to use those. My goal was to get my total as close to $30 as possible so I could use the $5 coupon. Had there only been one small thing generating ECB's I probably wouldn't have bothered with the coupon. But I knew I could work in some needed items that I would soon be buying anyways, so I planned to get $30 worth of stuff.

I used this list for specific coupon and sale match-ups.

Transaction #1:

2 Pantene shampoo/conditioner on sale 2/$7
1 Softsoap body wash on sale for $4.49
1 Colgate sensitive toothpaste on sale for $3.99
2 Raisin Bran cereal on sale 2/$4
1 Scott 12 pack toilet paper on sale for $6.99
2 Wrigley's slim pack gum at $1.19 each
2 Cadbury eggs at 2/$1.50

Coupons I used:
2- $1/1 Raisin Bran
2- FREE gum
1- $3/2 Pantene
1- $1/1 Colgate toothpaste
1- $5/$30 CVS coupon
1- $3.49 ECB from previous purchase

After coupons and ECB's, my total was $15.07.

I got back $10.48 in ECB's to use for my next purchase. So I essentially got all of that for $4.59. Not bad for toilet paper!

I needed a new toothbrush so I used the $3.99 Colgate ECB from my first transaction and got the Colgate toothbrush that was also FREE after ECB's.

Transaction #2:
1 Colgate 360 toothbrush on sale for $3.99

Paid with $3.99 ECB

FREE plus got another $3.99 ECB back!

I was pretty happy with what I got and that I'm back in the game with ECB's to use next time!

Good Deals At Bi-LoThis Week

I made a quick trip to Bi-Lo over the weekend and wanted to let my readers know of some terrific couponing deals going on right now. These deals are good through tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14.

My store doubles coupons up to $.99 face value so if you have any of the Breyer's $.75/1 coupons from the 4/05 inserts, you can get Breyer's ice cream for $.38 a box! I know some Bi-Lo's only double up to $.60 so check with your local store to see what their policy is.

Our compact flash card for the camera is broken so no picture this week, but here are the highlights of my Bi-Lo trip:

3-Breyer's ice cream on sale for $1.88; used doubled $.75/1 coupon= $.38 each. (There is a limit of two per visit. I got two and on another trip to another store, I picked up a third.)

6-Mento's gum on sale for $.99; used several $1/1 and doubled $.55/1 coupons to get these for FREE.

3-Olay 2-pack bar soaps on sale for 2/$4; used $2/1 coupon to get these for FREE.

2-20 ounce Vitamin Water on sale for $1.00; used $1/1 coupons to get these for FREE.

4-Mueller's pasta on sale for 2/$3; used doubled $.55/2 coupons to get these for $.95 each. ( This was a good price for lasagna noodles as my Aldi doesn't carry them!)

You can see a complete line-up of sales and coupon matches for this week's Bi-Lo sales here.

Hope some of my readers can also take advantage of these great deals!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's Time To Spring Clean!

We've decided to spend Easter weekend spring cleaning our house. We'll see how it goes but I'm hoping to get 3 rooms done on Friday and 3 rooms on Saturday. Most of the rooms are pretty small so some should go fast.

If we do get 6 rooms done in two days, then the only room left will be the laundry room. I usually take a whole day to deep-clean it, so that will be left for another time!

I only did spring cleaning on two rooms last year, so my house is in dire need of a good scrubbing! I don't enjoy the cleaning part but seeing the house sparkle and smelling the fresh clean scent is worth it once I'm through!

--dining room
--living room


I made a cleaning list by room to help me as I clean. I love checking off the list as I go! This helps to keep me focused and not be as apt to forget something!

This afternoon I'm getting a head start on the kitchen cleaning by soaking and scrubbing the stove burners and coils and cleaning the oven(self-clean). If I have time, I may go ahead and wash the kitchen and dining room curtains and windows.

What are your plans for the holiday weekend? Hopefully something more exciting than cleaning!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Weigh-In Wednesday

I missed posting my weight-loss progress last week, so I'll pick back up today.

Food: I've been doing quite well with staying within my calorie limit and eating pretty healthy with the exception of a few days where I've gotten off track. The great thing with counting calories is that I can still have a small dessert or treat on occasion and can work it in to my daily allowance. I just have to make sure that I don't have too many treats! LOL!

Water: I haven't been drinking enough water this week. :-(

Exercise: I've been running close to a mile 3-4 times a week and then walking with the kids or dog the other days. Either way = exercise!

Successes: Staying on track pretty well while I was gone to the women's retreat. The meals provided were generally quite healthy with a large salad served at each lunch and supper. So it was pretty easy to eat right. I ate a bit more sweets and snacks than normal but I had planned not to be too rigid so it worked out well.

Challenges: Staying on track on the weekends and drinking enough water.

Plans for next week: Try to get more water in!

Weigh-in: I'm down one pound from last week. Woo-hoo! Last week, there was no weight loss (or gain), so I'm glad for losing one pound this week! 7 pounds down, 13 more to go! Almost halfway there!

If you're trying to lose some weight or make healthy changes, how are you doing? Let's talk about it in the comments!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Coffee Grinder: For More Than Just Coffee!

When Andy's grandmother passed away last summer, I was invited to go through her little apartment and pick out anything that I wanted. I didn't see anything I really needed but I did pick out a coffee grinder to take home with me.

Since neither of us drink coffee and I am the practical, don't-keep-it-if-you-don't need-it sort, Andy was quite surprised when he saw me carrying an "unnecessary" coffee grinder out of there.

Well, I had read on at least one blog about how a coffee grinder could be used for chopping nuts, herbs, even grinding wheat berries(although I haven't tried that out), not just for coffee beans.

I convinced my husband what a wonderful tool this would be and took it home. And set it on the counter in the laundry room. And left it there. Until about 3 weeks ago.

I was just about to get rid of it since obviously, I hadn't used it!

Then one day 3 weeks ago, I was making meatballs. My recipe calls for oatmeal for stretching the meat. I only had old-fashioned oats which I think are too big to blend in to the meat mixture.

I thought, "Hmmm...wonder if I can grind them up?" Immediately my mind went to the coffee grinder. I pulled it out and plugged it in. I then proceeded to grind the oats to a finer consistency. Smaller than quick oats but not flour.

It worked great!

Since then, I've used it to grind dried rosemary and chop nuts. It works awesome and clean-up is really simple! Plus, it's small and doesn't take up a lot of space in the cabinet.

So if you have a coffee grinder, consider all its handy uses!

**Thanks to Tammy for hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Happy Homemaker Monday

On my bedside table:
--new issue of Southern Living magazine

On my TV:

On the menu for tonight:
I'm taking a big salad to a church meeting.

On my To Do List:
--clean kitchen
--clip and sort all the coupons from yesterday's paper!

New Recipe I tried last week:
--Mexican Chicken Skillet. A Keeper!
In the craft basket:
--I have some different sewing projects I want to get moving on. I need to make time for sewing!

Looking forward to:
--Easter Sunday
--Time to spring clean and sew later this week, possibly!

Homemaking Tip for this week:
--When buying in bulk, separate it into smaller meal portions for easy storage and meal prep! Since I did my big shopping trip last weekend, my refrigerator was way too full. Even though having so much food in the house is a blessing that not every one gets to experience, I still did not want to be hit with a gallon of milk every time I opened the door! Sam's Club did not have my usual 5 pound block of mozzarella cheese, so I bought a 5 pound bag of pre-shredded cheese instead. It was so easy to just measure out 2-cup portions into baggies and freeze for later use. I bought 2 big packages of chicken breasts and immediately put each breast(huge pieces) into a Ziploc bag for freezing. For most recipes one chicken breast is enough for the two of us. They're ready to just pull out whenever I need them.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
--Nothing sticks out at the moment!
Favorite photo from last week:
--No picture worth posting.:-)
Lesson learned the past few days:
--Since the women's retreat, my heart has been more open to God than I can ever remember. It is so wonderful to hear Him speak to me and teach me through daily experiences. I hope I never go back to where I was before!

On my Prayer List:
--my husband
--our nation and president, especially concerning the abortion policies
--that God would bring someone into my life to lead to Him

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Colossians 3:1-2: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."

Thanks to Sandra for hosting Happy Homemaker Monday!

Menu Plan Monday

I didn't use a menu plan last week but instead just planned what we were eating from day to day. This works, but I would much rather have a written menu plan, even if I don't always follow it to the letter!

I did our usual "first of the month" big grocery shopping trip last weekend so the pantry, refrigerator and freezer are full!

B-cottage cheese, pineapple, toast
L-Eat with our church family. I took coleslaw and homemade bread.
D-tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa

B-oatmeal, apple
L-smoked sausage links, leftover coleslaw, homemade bread
D-Eat at church meeting. I'm taking a big salad.

B-eggs, toast, tangerines
L-pizza, salad
D-white bean and veggie soup seasoned with a pork bone(crock pot), biscuits

B-oatmeal, fruit smoothies
L-leftover soup,biscuits
D-grilled cheese, veggies, chips

B-cheese grits, grapes
D-ginger stir-fry chicken(new recipe), brown rice

B-hot cross buns, fruit smoothies, hard-boiled eggs
L-leftovers or peanut butter and honey sandwiches
D-steak, creamy red potatoes and peas(new recipe but looks like something my mom used to make!), salad

B-cereal, milk, fruit
L-tuna pasta salad, veggies
D-egg casserole, fruit salad

**To view more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Super Savings Saturday: Bi-Lo and Super Target Deals

After running this morning, I put on my Friday-go-to-Bi-Lo clothes and headed out to do some bargain hunting.

Here's the results of my Bi-Lo trip:

All this for $26.12 plus I'll be getting $3.99 back from the Sargento Salad Finishers via a mail-in rebate.

**Pace Salsa- FREE with coupon
**Sargento Salad Finishers- $1/1 coupon plus FREE after mail-in rebate
**2 cans Del Monte no-salt tomatoes-$.20 each after doubled $.40/1 coupon
**12 cans Del Monte pineapple- approx. $.50 each after B1G1 free sale plus a $1/12 coupon
**2 Thai Kitchen noodle soup mixes--$.19 each after doubled $.50/1 coupon
**Green grapes-$.99 a pound on sale
**2-2 pound boxes strawberries- marked down to $1.49 each
**2 bags organic sweet potatoes-marked down to $.99 each
**Organic red potatoes-marked down to $.99 for bag
**Organic apples-marked down to $.99 for bag
**Stuffing mushrooms-marked down to $1.49 for box
**1 pound bag fresh green beans-marked down to $.99

I really hit the jack pot for produce mark downs on this trip. And I didn't buy nearly all of it. There was still plenty of marked down dairy, produce and meat for the rest of you!:-) This is the second time I've been to this particular Bi-Lo and each time I've been able to score some good deals on produce. Last time I got a great price on organic chicken. So you can be sure that I will continue shopping at this store! (For my local readers, this is the Main St. location.)

Since I was headed out to do my big shopping trip for the month, these produce mark downs really helped the budget! I was able to mark several items off my list that I would have paid a lot more for regular price.

Bi-Lo has some great sales going on this week through Tuesday, April 7th. You can see a complete breakdown of the sales and coupons here.

I came home and ate breakfast and headed off to Sam's Club for more grocery shopping. On the way, we stopped at Super Target. I had a plan and this is what I came home with:

I paid $3.72 for all of this after coupons. I had coupons for every item.

**Huggies wipes- $.49 after $5/1 manu. coupon
**Johnson's Buddies soap-$.22 after $.75/1 store coupon
**Johnson's Baby Bar-$.02 after $.75/1 store coupon and $1/1 manu. coupon
**4 snack size Cheetos- $.29 each after $1/1 store coupon
**4 snack size Market Pantry fruit snacks- FREE after $1/1 store coupon
**4 Archer Farms mini artisan breads(baguettes)- FREE after $1/1 store coupon
**Betty Crocker Warm Delights--approx. $.50 each after $1/2 store coupon and $.50/1 manu. coupon

You can see Target sales and coupon match-ups here, here and here. . Keep in mind that prices vary by location. For example, the lowest price on Dole Salad at my store was $1.69 instead of $1.19 as on these lists.

We also did our regular big grocery trip today. I got lots of stuff including the two bargain trips you see here for about $150. This should last us for about 3 weeks!

By sharing this, I hope you'll be able to score some deals, too!

**For more Super Savings Saturdays posts, visit Money Saving Mom!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Simple Price Book

When it comes to saving money on groceries, knowing your prices is key.

You don't have to know all the prices of everything in every area grocery store. But you should become familiar with the lowest prices on the items that you buy regularly.

One way to do this is to keep a price book. In this book, you write down prices on each item that you buy, keeping track of sales prices and getting a feel for what the sale cycles are like, thus telling you when to stock up on that item.

Although this works for a lot of people, it was too difficult for me.

A simple price book works great, however! I use a small journal/notebook that fits in my purse. In this book, I have different food items listed. Usually one or two items per page, so it's not too cluttered. Instead of listing lots of regular prices plus store sales prices, I've listed the lowest regular price that I can find on that item. In some cases, the two lowest prices.

For instance, an 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese costs $1.99 at Aldi making the cheese $3.98 per pound. But Sam's Club has a 5 pound block of cheddar for $10.86 bringing the price down to $2.17 per pound. So naturally, if making a trip to Sam's Club, I will purchase cheese there. But, say that I'm in a hurry and I just need one block of cheese for a recipe and I don't feel like driving to another town for Sam's Club for cheese. Then I'll purchase a block at Aldi, since that's the lowest regular price for cheese that I've found.(Unless a quick glance through my sales ads tells me that another store has cheese on sale at a lower price.)

Having this written down really helps me to remember. Continuing on the price of cheese, Food Lion has 8 ounce blocks of cheese on sale 3/$5 this week or $1.66 each. That's a $.33 cent savings from the Aldi cheese. Wow! I should stock up, right? Wrong. Since I'm making a trip to Sam's Club anyways, I'll get the cheese there where it still is $2.17 a pound vs. the Food Lion price of $3.32 per pound.

In my price book, I have written:

Cheddar Cheese
--Aldi- 8-oz. for $1.99= $3.98 per pound.
--Sam's Club-5 pounds for $10.86= $2.17 per pound.

Mozzarella Cheese
--Aldi-8 oz. for $1.99= $3.98 per pound.
--Sam's Club-5 pounds for $8.82 = $1.76 per pound.

Sour Cream
--Aldi- 16 oz. for $.99
--Sam's Club- 5 pound tub for $4.86= $.97 a pound
Sour cream isn't that big of savings at Sam's Club. So sometimes, I get it there and other times not. I often have coupons for Daisy sour cream which will make it nearly free at another store combined with a good sale.

I can tell at a glance what is the lowest price. It's simple, uncluttered and doesn't take a lot of time and effort to maintain.

So that's how keeping track of the regular prices can save you money. After a little while you'll be able to tell at a glance whether or not the brightly-colored sale ads are going to really save you money. You'll know if something is at a good stock-up price. This also helps you to determine whether or not "big box" stores such as Sam's Club or Costco are really going to save you money.

We love to eat and don't get out much so the day that the sale ads come in the mail is a highlight of the week! My husband will read through saying, "Hey! Such and such is on sale for 2/$5! I say, "But I can get that at ___________ store for $1.50 this week!" Good times!:-)

Basically, what I've done is determined my target price. Each person has to do this for their own area as prices and stores vary so much. The target price is the price that I have determined to be the lowest around and therefore the price I want to pay.

A 15-ounce can of Aldi diced tomatoes is $.49. If I see a sale on tomatoes, my first thought is "Is this really saving me money over the Aldi brand?" And then I proceed to figure out the price with buying on sale and with coupons if I have them. If the price turns out to be less than $.49 a can, then I will buy them. If it is a significant savings, I will buy as many as I can afford.

Chicken breasts at Aldi are $2.19 a pound. However, these go on sale quite often at other stores for $1.99 a pound or less. When this happens I stock my freezer so I don't have to purchase them at full price. So I rarely buy chicken breasts at Aldi.

Determining your target prices will take a little time but after a bit you'll figure it out. You'll most likely find that a certain store(or two) will almost always have the lowest prices across the board. In my area, Aldi and Sam's Club are almost always the lowest. I shop at Harris Teeter, Bi-Lo and Food Lion for the sales. If the sales on a particular week are slim, I know that I am getting the lowest prices by shopping at Aldi so that's where I plan to do most of my shopping for basics.

A price book doesn't have to be complicated but rather an extension of my brain where I write down the lowest prices that I've found. This helps me remember prices and identify really good sales which save me money!

**For more frugal and money-saving tips, visit Life As Mom's Frugal Friday!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Thirteen Things I Learned At The Women's Retreat

I promised I would share some of what I learned at the Women's Retreat that I attended last weekend.

The retreat was part of the ministry at Living Waters, which is near Brevard, North Carolina. Living Waters offers many retreats and youth camps throughout the year at absolutely no charge. Yes, you read that right. They provide lodging and three very yummy home-cooked meals each day. This is made possible by donations and love offerings. Each person brings their own bedding, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. I love this concept of not charging for anything and know that many women were able to attend the retreat because of this.

Although I will share a bit more of my experiences in another post, I thought a Thursday Thirteen list would be a simple and concise way to share some thoughts and quotes from the teaching that was given during the sessions. Otherwise, I might go on forever!(As a side note: I've been talking to my husband about what all I learned for the past three days and I'm still telling him new things!)

Most of the teaching from the weekend was related to "The Kingdom of God". A contrast was made between the the kingdom of King Jesus and of Satan/God of the World System. That is where I will start and then the rest of the points will be random things that stood out to me from my notes.

1. In Satan's kingdom, rebellion, confusion, injustice, anxiety,sorrow and destruction reign.
In the kingdom where Jesus Christ reigns, there is authority, order, justice, righteousness, peace and joy.

2."The water of the Word soaks, softens and makes us pliable for His use. When we're hard, we're not concerned about other people. We're soaking in the water of His Word for a purpose-so that we can experience the authority, order, justice, righteousness, peace and joy of His kingdom."

3."Too many know God by a Word or an act; we need to know Him by His ways."
Psalm 103:7: "He made known His ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:"
The Israelites always wanted to see God's acts; Moses wanted to know His ways(be in His presence).

4."I'd much better know Him by the Spirit of His Word, than by the letter of the law."

5."Do not stop looking to the Holy Spirit for instruction. Each person is responsible for hearing from the Holy Spirit. Each person is different and will hear different things."

6."Study the Word for yourself, not to teach others."

7."Give God permission to work in Your life."

8."When you walk in radical obedience, you have sustained confidence to face the difficulties of life."
Hebrews 10:35: "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."

9.Psalm 16:8:"I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
"We tend to set our circumstances before us, instead of the Lord."

10."The askers, chasers and seekers are the ones that get the revelation.
A lot to do with your purpose is revelation. More revelation gives you more purpose."

11."The most powerful two people who pray together are a man and his wife."

12."Everyone can hear God. You can hear God speak to you in your own situation."

13.On the last night, the main speaker, Marilyn Adams gave us a prescription to take with us:
--Personal Responsibility. I will take personal responsibility for me.

--Mentor. Ask God to show me who it is that is supposed to mentor me and ask that person. If I am supposed to be a mentor to someone, ask God to show me that person.

--Take personal responsibility to study the Word.

--Develop a prayer life.

--Develop yourself as a woman.
1.Take care of yourself.
2.Take time for yourself.
3.Develop and nurture your relationship with your husband.
4.Develop and nurture your relationship with your children.
5.Develop and nurture your relationship with your grandchildren.
6.Develop and train your children to take care of themselves.

--Give to your church. Do not give to the Lord and the church and neglect your family.

--Be willing to give to your community. Know the season and the seasons of your life.(If children are small, you are needed at home.)

--Teach your children to eat right. Feed them fruits and veggies and limit the junk food.

I had to pick and choose to come up with only 13 things and as you can see I kinda stretched it to include much more! I have so much that I gleaned from the retreat with so much that I can/will apply to my daily life. I hope that something I've shared here will also inspire you in your walk with God.

For more (actual) Thursday Thirteen lists, visit Happy To Be At Home.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday: How Do You Clean Candle Holders?

Very fitting For April Fool's day, today's Works For Me Wednesday is the Backwards Edition! I get to ask you a question and learn from all your wisdom!

My dilemma today is...

"How do you clean all the wax out of candle holders and jars?"

Please do share!

For more questions that need answers, visit We Are THAT Family.