Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking Up Some Good Fortune

New Year's Day Meal

Collard Greens seasoned with Ham

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Salad

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar & Cinnamon


Around our house growing up as in most Southern homes, you ate two things on New Year's Day - collard greens for an increase in wealth ($$$) and black-eyed peas for good luck. It's a tradition that I now carry on in my own home.

This year, I'm leaving the collard green cooking to my Momma. She's an expert in the matter and knows how to season them just right. Organic collard greens from Whole Foods, get ready to met nitrate-laden ham meat pieces from Kroger!

I'm handling the rest including the black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas are so not my favorite! I probably only eat them one day of the year and that 's New Years. But I've found a way to fix them that makes them palatable. I basically use a recipe for corn salad (based on a recipe from the Williams - Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook) and just add black-eyed peas. It's light and fresh (no thick, heavy bean juice) and helps to fulfill my New Years requirement.

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Salad

Organic black eyed-peas - soaked overnight, drained and cooked. (If using canned, rinse thoroughly)

1 box of Green Giant boxed frozen corn with no sauce - prepared according to package directions

1-2 diced green peppers (the original recipe calls for one red, one green but we prefer green)

1-1/2 cups diced organic tomatoes

1 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup of olive oil

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a saute pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup of the oil and add onions. Saute a few minutes then add chili powder and cumin. Continue cooking for a minute longer.

2. In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas, corn, green peppers, tomatoes and cooked onions. Toss to mix. Add the cilantro, the remaining oil and vinegar. Toss well to combine.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

Is my first black eye!?!

A fateful meeting between big brother's head and little brother's face while playing. Luckily Daddy was home to ice the little guy down. Momma was too busy freaking out and worrying about possible head trauma LOL! Certainly made for some memorable Christmas pictures.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joy to the World!

The Lord Has Come!

Christmas blessings from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Baby!

Hurry down the chimney tonight!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Merriment

I can't believe it's almost Christmas! Where has the time gone?!? We've been pretty busy around these parts! I wish I could say I'm all done with wrapping, but I can't! In fact, I had to do a little un-wrapping after I remembered it would probably be a good idea to check to see what batteries might be needed for a more joyous Christmas morning! But in the midst of it all, we've taken some time to have a little holiday fun!

The kids & I took the bread "butts" that had gathered in the kitchen (because no one will eat them) and made hanging bird seed ornaments. We used Christmas cookie cutters to cut them into holiday shapes, used a straw to make the hole, covered them in peanut butter and then rolled in bird seed. Reedy was much more interested in eating the peanut butter than crafting. And Clayton thought it was a bit incomplete without the jelly LOL! But I guess the squirrels didn't mind because the ornaments were gone before I had a chance to take a picture of them. And in true frugalicious fashion, I'm toasting the bread scraps from our cutting, to make breadcrumbs for the turkey meatballs for our Christmas Eve gathering!

We turned our attentions outward as we bought together food and personal care items from our pantry to donate to a local rescue mission. Most of the items pictured were free after coupons. It's great that couponing not only allows me to help our family but in turn bless others!

For Ashleigh's teachers, we put together gifts of Apple Cinnamon Spice herbal tea and homemade whole wheat honey graham crackers (recipe from Heavenly Homemakers). We prettied up our stockpile gift by using a plain bags from Michael's craft store (using 20% coupon), red, felt star ornaments from Dollar Tree and raffia (found a huge bag at a church yardsale for .25).

Over the weekend, we drove around town and looked at Christmas lights while sipping chocolate mint milk from Target (I love that stuff!) and listening to my fav Martina McBride Christmas CD. We only got slightly lost wandering down side streets - thank goodness for GPS! When we got home, we took more of the whole wheat honey graham crackers along with homemade marshmallows (recipe from The Homespun Heart) and chocolate chips and made smores - yummy!

Now, I'm off to do more wrapping, cleaning and cooking before the in-laws arrive tomorrow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him praise,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ever Have One of Those Moments?

Originally posted 11/30/07 on my HCW blog

Where you're sitting at a red light and someone is there asking for a donation? It's an awkward sort of situation. Do you look and read their sign? Do you look around and try not to look at them? Fiddle around with things in the car, wishing the light would hurry up and change. I've done all of the above at times. I'd never even seen a panhandler in person until I moved here for college. Think small town girl moves to the big city. In college I was shopping at a little boutique across from campus and came upon man who seemed quite down on his luck, so I gave him $20. I felt really good about what I did until I told Dave (then my boyfriend). He chastised me about how silly it was to give money to someone on the streets, especially $20. I really did think the man would use the money for food. But according to Dave, $20 could buy alot of cheap booze.

Then you get older and you find out there are dishonest people out there. But today I had one of those moments. I had just left the Dollar Tree, where I had bought some Christmas decorations. Got to my car thinking I only had about $2 left to get lunch but discovered I had more in my wallet (don't you love when that happens!). As I go to leave the shopping center I just miss the green light. I see a man standing there with a sign. I wasn't going to look, but I did. With his round face and graying beard, he almost looked like Santa Claus. But there was something about him that just made me know him. I know that makes no sense because I don't know him personally. But he seemed familiar in a way. I looked away, looked at the light, looked at the car in front of me, then went for my purse. There was just something placed on my heart that made giving to him feel like it was the right thing to do. I rolled down the window and stuck out my hand. He walked slowly over to my car and thanked me. I told him to have a good day and I drove away as the light changed.

I'm not sure what made me do that today. It's not like I had alot and what I did give him probably won't be the answer to all his problems. But I think it was knowing that I was okay, that God has provided for me already. That I would eat today, that my pantry was stocked, that I would be warm, that those I love will be taken care of today. But I didn't know if that man could say the same.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - December 15th

Our dinner menu plan for the week...

Saturday - Smoked sausage, potatoes & beans (I've been subbing lima beans for the green beans - delicious change!)

Sunday - Dave & I picked up dinner on our way back from a fun afternoon of Christmas shopping alone!

Monday - My Veggie Lo Mein

Tuesday - Marinated London Broil with organic brown rice & steamed snap peas

Wednesday - Lentil Chili & cornbread

Thursday - Tortilla Soup

Friday - Homemade Chicken Pot Pie (subbing chicken for the turkey in the recipe of course!)

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

My grocery deals from this week...


1/2 gallon NP organic milk (sale 2.56)
7 Daisy sour creams (FREE! sale 1.00 - .50/1Q doubled)
3 Celestial Seasoning teas (sale 1.00 - .55/1Q)
2 Fleischmann yeast strips 3ct (FREE after catalina! sale 1.00 - .45/1Q doubled = .10 ea; received (2) .50 OYNO cats)
2 Honey Nut cheerios cereals
2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereals (sale 4/12 - 1/3Q)
4lb bag organic navel oranges
3lbs organic bananas (sale .61/lb)
1 Eggland's Best eggs (2.59 - .35/1Q doubled)
1 celery bunch (sale 1.00)

Less $4 General Mills cereal promo

Total oop: $20.28
Total savings: $33.11

Harris Teeter (combined trips):

10 Martha White corn muffin mixes (FREE! .50 ea - .55/2Q doubled)
4 Pounce cat treats (FREE! sale 1.00 - .75/1 Q doubled)
2 Smart Balance popcorn (sale 1.49 ea - .50/1 Q doubled)
1 box Knox Gelatin
2 Mission tortilla strips (sale BOGO)
1 green bell pepper (sale .99)
1 Arnold's Natural bread (2.79 - .55/1Q doubled)
1 Nancy's Party spirals (sale 6.99 - $3 e-Vic special)
4 Green Giant frozen corn (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)
2 Green Giant frozen sweet peas (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)
6 Green Giant frozen lima beans (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)
3 Kraft singles (sale 2.00 ea)
2 Beech Nut yogurt juice blends (FREE! sale 1.00 ea - .75/1 Q doubled)
3 gallons HT Organic milk (sale 4.99 ea)

Less $3 Kraft promo

Total oop: $36.95
Total savings: $59.97

Lowes Foods:

3 cans Del Monte 50% less salt corn (sale .67 ea - .30/1 Q doubled)
1 Karo light corn syrup (sale 2.49 - .40/1Q doubled)
1 Smart Balance oil (2.95 - .50/1Q doubled)

Total oop: $3.96
Total savings: $5.92

Plus a trip to Costco for a box of pull-ups --> $30.84

Total oop: $92.03
Total savings: $99.00

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking Back...

Christmas 2004

Christmas 2005

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2008

My how they've grown!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Menu Plan (not quite Monday)

Our Menu for the week...

Saturday - Dave & I enjoyed a five course meal at the Washington Duke Inn (company Christmas party). Filet Mignon was our main course.

Sunday - Take & Bake Pepperoni pizza and Caesar Salad from Costco as we enjoyed a great afternoon with Dave's Mom! The kids loved the train she bought them to place around our main Christmas tree.

Monday - Beef Stew & cornbread

Tuesday - Baked Potatoes with toppings & steamed broccoli

Wednesday - Creamed tuna over whole wheat pasta & steamed green peas

Thursday - Crockpot Chicken with mushroom gravy, organic brown rice & steamed snap peas

Friday - Taco Style Lentils & Rice served in hard taco shells with all the fixings!

What I bought last week...


8lb bag potatoes (sale 3.50)
bag organic tangerines (sale 3.50)
5lb bag organic whole carrots (sale 3.50)
3 gallons Horizon organic milk (markdown $4.69/gal)

Total oop: $25.06
Total savings: $7.47 (doesn't include savings on milk)

Lowes Foods:

2 LF toilet paper (sale BOGO)
1 Dixie Crystals brown sugar 2lb bag (sale 1.50 - .30/1Q doubled)
2 pints blueberries (sale BOGO)
2lb cabbage (sale .39/lb)

Total oop: $8.85
Total savings: $8.59

Harris Teeter (multiple trips - combined):

15 Juicy Juice (sale B2G3F!)
12 Martha White corn muffin mix (FREE! .50 ea - .55/2Q doubled)
3 cans Veg All (sale .75 ea - .35/1Q doubled)
3 packs Perdue boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sale B1G2F!)
2 Ziploc EZ zipper bags (sale 1.69 ea - .55/1Q doubled)
1 Huggies Pull Ups mega pack (sale 13.99 - 2/1Q)
1 Progresso chicken broth (sale 1.84 - 1/1Q)
1 Wacky Mac veggie spirals (sale .79 - .50/1Q DND)
2 Angus London broil (sale BOGO!)
3 packs Angus Stew Meat (sale BOGO!)
1 Bounty paper towels 9pk (sale 6.99)
1 Arnold Soft Natural bread (sale 1.99 - .55/1Q doubled)

Total oop: $47.68
Total savings: $107.88

Total oop: $81.59
Total savings: $123.94!

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Seasonal Decorating (On the Cheap!)

Our path to financial freedom has brought many blessings to our life. For me one of them has been discovering the world of frugality. Cutting out unnecessary and unplanned spending has really challenged my sense of creativity! It's easy to go out and buy something that looks all perfect and Martha Stewart-like. But it's much more fun (and budget friendly!) to craft something on your own using what you already have. The sense of accomplishment when it actually looks good - priceless! And then you can post it on your blog and brag about it like I'm about to do now!

For Thanksgiving, I wanted to create a nice, seasonal centerpiece. So the kids & I gathered leaves, pine cones and berries from our yard. I dug out a plate candle holder and polished rocks from my Asian design phase. Added a large vanilla candle and raffia (on clearance for .62 a bag!) from Big Lots and viola!

I took some of the extra leaves and raffia and made chair swags.

And now that the Christmas season is upon us, I replaced the leaves with extra Christmas bulbs, added my "no tag, name your price" reindeer from last year's Target after Christmas clearance sale and my centerpiece has been transformed from Autumn to Winter!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deck the Halls

And the foyer, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the family room, the sun room, the upstairs walk way and the upstairs bath!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - December 1st

Hope everyone had a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend! Our simple Thanksgiving feast was just absolutely delicious! I've been preparing my own Thanksgiving turkey for as long as we've been married - 8 years. But this year, was the best thus far! Putting fresh sage & thyme underneath the breast skin just added something special and made for great leftovers like Turkey Pot Pie from $5 Dinners - yummy!

Saturday - Autumn Chowder

Sunday - Turkey Pot Pie (for the veggies, I used a can of Veg All and steamed asparagus tips)

Monday - Family Dinner Night at CiCi's Pizza benefiting Ashleigh's school

Tuesday - Dirty Rice with fresh ingredients & corn bread

Wednesday - Soup Night a la Muir Glen Organic Chicken Noodle Soup :)

Thursday - Smoked Sausage, Green Beans & Potatoes

Friday - My Veggie Lo Mein

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

No Black Friday shopping for me! I stayed warm and cozy at home yesterday and enjoyed some relaxing time with the kids. I finally ventured out today for a little grocery shopping!

Harris Teeter:

6 Martha White corn muffin mix (FREE! .50 ea - .55/2Q doubled)
2 Huggies Pull Up Mega packs (sale 13.99 - 1.50/1Q)
4 Swanson chicken broth (sale BOGO - .25/4Q doubled)
1 Arnold Natural's whole wheat bread (sale 1.99 - .55/1Q doubled)
2 gallons HT Organic milk

Total oop: $41.15
Total savings: $18.38


3 KR shredded cheddar cheese (sale 3/$5)
2 KR cream cheese 8oz block (sale 1.00ea)
2 Eggland's Best eggs (2.59 - .35/1Q doubled)

Total oop: $11.01
Total savings: $5.81

Lowes Foods (2 transactions):

1 LF cola (FREE w/greenpoints)
2 LF paper towels (sale 1.29ea)
2 Muir Glen Organic chicken noodle soups (sale 2.00ea - .75/1Q doubled)
3 Green Giant frozen snap peas (sale 1.00ea - .50/2Q doubled)
4 Green Giant frozen broccoli spears (sale 1.00ea - .50/2Q doubled)
4 Green Giant frozen corn niblets (sale 1.00ea - .50/2Q doubled)
2 Green Giant frozen spinach (sale 1.00ea - .50/2Q doubled)
2 Green Giant frozen green peas (sale 1.00ea - .50/2Q doubled)
1 Green Giant frozen lima beans (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)

Total oop: $12.54
Total savings: $29.07

Total oop: $64.70
Total savings: $53.26

Super Savings Saturday is hosted by Money Saving Mom, helping you become a better home economist!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rejoice & Give Thanks!

Thanksgiving blessings from our family to yours!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Simple Feast

Our Simple Feast

Roast Turkey with fresh Sage & Thyme and Pan Gravy

Long Grain Brown Rice

Sweet Potatoes (sliced) with butter, cinnamon & brown sugar

Fresh Green Beans sauteed with garlic

No Bake Chocolate Whipped Pie

Green Jello salad

Image: Vintage Holiday Crafts

Sunday, November 23, 2008


It's Dave's birthday, and we're stuck at home! Sidelined by a radiator replacement on our van. Last year, such an expense so close to Christmas would have been a financial crisis. This year, thanks to our emergency fund and careful budgeting, it's just a disruption to my well thought out plans for the day. At least we have cake!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - November 17th

To help minimize the fuss of putting dinners together during the week, I decided to include soup nights to the menu plan. It seemed fitting especially with the drop in temperature. This week, I tried two new recipes from a new to me blog - Heritage Schoolhouse. Both the Autumn Chowder and Tortilla Soup were delicious! I can't wait to try some of the other yummy looking dishes featured by Mrs. H!


Saturday - Autumn Chowder (from Heritage Schoolhouse)

Sunday - Tortilla Soup (also from Heritage Schoolhouse)

Monday - Leftovers!

Tuesday - My Veggie Lo Mein

Wednesday - Smoked sausage with peppers & onions over organic brown rice

Thursday - Chicken Salad sandwiches on whole wheat (adding diced, hard boiled eggs to the recipe)

Friday - Homemade Pepperoni Pizza (from Tammy's Recipes - Anne Jisca's Easy Pizza dough recipe - using 2 cups whole wheat, 1/2 cup white flour)

For more meal plan ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie, host of Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kroger Mix & Match

Last week, Harris Teeter's four day triple coupon event kept me pretty busy! This week, I was able to turn my attentions to Kroger's Mix & Match promotion. Buy any 10 promotional items and receive $5 off instantly! I love Kroger's promotions because in addition to the instant $ off, you can combine coupons with the sales items for some big savings!

Mix & Match Items:

4 Dial Men's bar soap 3pk -- sale 1.50 - .30/1Q doubled
3-5lb bags Domino sugar -- sale 2.50 - .50/1Q doubled
1 Quaker Old Fashioned oats -- sale 1.50 - .50/1Q doubled
14 cans Carnation evaporated milk -- sale 1.00 - .50/2Q doubled
3 Land o Lakes butter with canola spread -- sale 2.50 - .50/1Q doubled
6 Scotch Brite Nail Saver sponges -- 1.99 - .50/1Q doubled


16lb frozen Honeysuckle White turkey -- sale .39/lb
13lb frozen Honeysuckle White turkey -- sale .39/lb (*Buy a second turkey during the Thanksgiving sales for Christmas. In December, the turkey sales usually aren't as good!)
Huggies Pull Ups Jumbo pk -- 10.99 - 1.50/1Q
8 jars Beech Nut baby food -- sale .47 - 1.50/8Q
2 bags KR shredded cheddar cheese -- sale 1.66 ea

Less $15 Mix & Match savings

Total oop: $41.17
Total savings: $86.11

Super Savings Saturday is hosted by Money Saving Mom - helping you become a better home economist!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whatcha Listening To?

I've been enjoying a little bit of this...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
~ John 15:13 (KJV)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Harris Teeter Triples!

Four days - triple coupons. Need I say more! Just finished up another great triple coupon event at Harris Teeter. I think everyone showed up this time as my fav local couponing site, Savvy Dollar, was featured on the news twice this week promoting the great savings of triples. It's wonderful to see everyone out saving even if it does mean waiting a little longer in line. With today's economy, you definitely have to make every dollar count. And there's no better way to inexpensively stock your pantry than triples!

7 Reynold's baking cups (1.19 - .25/1Q = .44ea)

1 Baker's Joy (sale 2.49 - .50/1Q = .99)

2 Smart Balance popcorn 3ct (2.89 - .50/1Q = 1.39ea)

18 Fleischmann's yeast strip 3ct (FREE! sale .99 - .45/1Q)

1 Pace salsa (2.69 - .50/1Q = 1.19ea)

1 Domino sugar 5lb (2.79 - .50/1Q = 1.29)

3 Coffee Mate powder (1.99 - .50/1Q = .49ea)

6 Campbell's cream of mushroom soup (sale BOGO - .25/4Q = .56ea)

6 Campbell's cream of chicken soup (sale BOGO - .25/4Q = .56ea)

14 cans Swanson white meat chicken (sale 1.79 - .75/2Q = .66ea)

4 Swanson chicken broth (sale BOGO - .40/4Q = .35ea)

4 Swanson beef broth (sale BOGO - .40/4Q = .35ea)

1 King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose flour 5lb (4.39 - .65/1Q = 2.44)

4 Bumble bee tuna pouches (FREE! 1.39 - .55/1Q)

3 Glass Plus (FREE! sale 1.49 - .50/1Q)

2 Pace Picante sauce (2.49 - .50/1Q = .99ea)

1 Synder's Multi-grain pretzel sticks (3.49 - .75/1Q = 1.24)

1 Earthbound Organic mixed baby greens salad mix (sale 3.79 - .75/1Q = 1.54)

8 Arnold's Natural whole wheat bread - no HFCS (sale 1.99 - .55/1Q = .34ea)

7 Kotex pantiliners (FREE! 1.29 - .75/1Q)

6 boxes Martha White corn bread mix (FREE! .50 - .55/2Q)

1 can Veg-All (FREE! sale .75 - .35/1Q)

3 Beech-Nut yogurt juice blends (FREE! 1.39 - .75/1Q)


3 gallons HT Organic milk

2 bags Mission Tortilla strips (sale BOGO)

4 dozen Born Free Cage Free eggs (sale BOGO)

1 Schlitz 12pk ---> for Dave LOL!

2 HT Apple juice

8 jars Beech Nut baby food (markdown .34ea - 1.50/8Q = .15ea)

3 Halloween cookie cutters (markdown .20ea)

Total oop: $85.87


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life Moves On

Well, my guy and gal lost last night. Even Libby Dole is packing up her Senate office and heading home. But life moves on. As John McCain so eloquently urged last night, I will gladly offer President Obama and this nation my prayers as we move forward through these difficult times.

My mother had a huge smile on her face this morning (she's probably not aware I'm a Republican LOL!). I'm sure she never thought in her 74 years of life she'd ever see a Black President. She lived through Jim Crow. Separate bathrooms and water fountains. Segregated restaurants and schools. She's told me the story of when the schools in our area became integrated, my Daddy lost his job. His boss could not stand the thought of Black children attending the same school his children did (side story: As fate would have it, one of my older sisters, who is a nurse, had that man as one of her patients in the hospital. She said when he found out who her father was the look on his face was priceless LOL!). I too feel it's an amazing testament to just how far our country has come. The realization of a Dream.

However, it feels like this election has gone on forever! Has been the subject of too many office conversations and dominated too many talks at home. Time to get back to the everyday matters at hand. Triple coupons at Harris Teeter. PTA meetings, parent teacher conferences and our first report card! Cleveland Browns football on Thursday night and the NASCAR Chase for the Championship, which is down to just two races (my guy is gonna come up short there too). Raking leaves and baking up some seasonal homemade goodness in the kitchen. Yes, that's life!

But as a frivolous aside, I will definitely be checking out Michelle O's hairstyles, makeup and outfits over the next four years!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Monday, November 3, 2008

Thoughts of a Black Republican

I'm a Christian. I'm pro-life. I'm a Southerner, born and bred. I'm Black. And I'm a Republican. At times it feels like Condoleezza Rice and I are the only two LOL! Of course, I know that's not true. But it's not really what most people expect, particularly in this election. My family didn't bat an eye when they found out I was marrying someone of another race. Didn't question why I was leaving the Baptist faith to become a Catholic. But to tell them that I'm a bona fide card carrying member of the Republican party?!?

For me, it is simply a matter of life. I believe in the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. It's a conviction that I've held strongly since seeing the ultrasound of our first child. Even though she did not look like a baby at that point, what stood out to me the most was her strong heartbeat. And I knew at that moment, even though this life was housed within my body, it was God-given. That He alone was the author and giver of life. And while no one party fully respresents my beliefs in their entirety, the Republican party is the best fit for the issues I believe in.

But don't think the historic nature of this election is fully lost on me. There was a time that as a Black child if you said you wanted to be President of the United States when you grew up, it was almost like saying you wanted to be Santa Claus LOL! But now it's not only a possibility but a reality. I hope it shows young Black men there is more to aspire to than athletics or entertainment. That you can be intelligent, well spoken, highly educated, professional, mingle amongst a broad spectrum of people and still have a strong self identity (although there is a number of Black conservatives that provide the same example). And Mrs. Obama demonstrates that Black women are beautiful and intelligent, and not the stereotypical image that is sadly often protrayed of us in the media (again, Secretary of State Rice is also a fitting example).

Menu Plan Monday - November 3rd

Happy November! We had a pretty busy weekend. Errands on Saturday and a wonderful day at the museum with friends on Sunday. Needless to say, no menu prep was done this weekend {gasp!} However, with a day off this week, two homework free nights and a relatively easy menu plan, it wasn't really needed this week {yay!}


Saturday - Chicken with Mushroom & Onion gravy, over organic brown rice & steamed broccoli (A delicious crockpot meal! It was like eating Sunday dinner on a Saturday night!)

Sunday - Pizza Out after a fun day out with friends!

Monday - Marinated London Broil with organic brown rice & steamed veggies

Tuesday - Chicken Salad sandwiches on whole wheat (adding sliced hard boiled eggs to the recipe)

Wednesday - Smoked sausage, green beans & potatoes

Thursday - Homemade Pizza Pockets (my answer to Ashleigh's question of when I was going to buy some more of those Totino's pizza snacks!)

Friday - Breakfast for Dinner! Pancakes with homemade brown sugar syrup, scrambled eggs and bacon.

For more meal plan ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Budget Rx

With Reed's recent breathing problems and multiple follow up appointments with our pediatrician, we suddenly found ourselves making frequent trips to the pharmacy. So we took those prescriptions to Rite Aid and received $30 gift cards for each one.

Now with gift cards in hand, I've been using these in two ways. If you are familiar with CVS and Walgreens, then you probably know about Extra Care Bucks and Register Rewards. Well, Rite Aid has a similar rewards program called Single Check Rebate (read Sue Stock's detailed explanation of the Single Check Rebate program here). If you look at Rite Aid's weekly circular, you'll notice some items are listed with the price after rebate and even FREE after rebate. Those are the SCR deals! And for additional savings, you can even use coupons on the rebate items you're purchasing. With the first gift card, I bought a few of the cold medications that were listed as free after rebate that week. So I will receive a rebate check back on those items for nothing out of pocket! And the beauty of the SCR, is that your receipt information can be entered online. Which means I can then use my actual receipt for other mail in manufacturer rebate offers!

In addition to the rebates, I've also been using the gift cards as a supplement to the grocery budget. There were a few items I needed during the past week in which I didn't have any coupons or there just weren't any real good sales to pair my coupons with. So those items I picked up with the gift card. Saving my coupons for later and helping to keep the grocery budget trim!

I've seen prescription gift cards offered at all the major drug stores in our area - CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. And even big box and grocery stores with pharmacies like Target, K-Mart, Kroger and Harris Teeter. So the next time you find yourself with a new prescription or are in need of getting a new prescription refilled, check out what the drugstores are offering in your area!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blessed Assurance

25"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - October 27th

Seems like I've been busy, busy lately! To the point that I've almost thought about NOT doing my weekend meal prep. We had a fun and full day at the pumpkin patch and we were all just worn out when we got home this evening. And as much as I wanted to just collapse on the couch, I knew with the busy week I have ahead, getting things done now would save me a lot of stress in the days to come!

Weekend Meal Prep:

- Sliced & diced organic yellow onions

- Sliced organic carrots

- Sliced cabbage

- Steamed broccoli

- Chopped two organic celery stalks

- Made 1cup organic brown rice


- Buttered spaghetti squash with green peas & homemade wheat bread

- Had a late lunch after our trip to the pumpkin patch!

- Soup Night! I can't take credit for the soup (thanks Campbells!) but I will probably make some homemade bread to go along with it.

- Dirty Rice from fresh ingredients (using ground pork sausage) and corn bread

- Breakfast for Dinner! Waffles with homemade brown sugar syrup, scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese & bacon

For more meal ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Off to enjoy the sights, sounds and especially the FOOD at the State Fair! And to celebrate being another year older without any gray hairs in sight. Hope I didn't jinx myself :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Menu Plan (not quite Monday)

So it isn't Monday, but the menu plan still rolls on! I'm trying to get caught up at the office after being out for Reedy's unexpected admittance to the hospital. Sunday, I was just worn out and thought about not doing any prep for this week's meals. But my sweet man stepped right in and helped me out after the kids were in bed! It's always fun when we get to cook together. Of course Dave thinks I try to provide him with too much instruction when we're in the kitchen. Maybe I do! I'm working on learning how to accept help gracefully. Even if it's not done how I would do it!

Weekend Meal Prep:

- Dice & slice organic yellow onions
- Chop two stalks organic celery
- Make 1 cup organic brown rice
- Make & freeze whole wheat pizza dough
- Brown 3/4lb ground pork sausage
- Make a gallon of sweet tea


Saturday - Crockpot Tamale Pie

Sunday - My Veggie Lo Mein

Monday - Dirty Rice with fresh ingredients (used ground pork sausage), steamed corn & cornbread

Tuesday - BBQ Lentils over organic brown rice & squash (from a new to me blog $5 Dinners!)

Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner

Thursday - My Birthday!!!

Friday - Homemade pizza (from Tammy's Recipes - Anne Jisca's recipe for easy pizza dough, used 2 cups whole wheat, 1/2 cup white flour)

Grocery Totals - Went a tiny bit over budget this week, but I squeezed in a trip to Whole Foods. Spent $104.25 out of pocket and had sales & coupon savings of $51.15. Check out my deals here!

Visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie for more meal plan ideas!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Grocery Totals

This week, Whole Foods posted a $5 off $25 or more printable coupon on the website (valid until 10/22!). I was so excited because I've been trying to incorporate trips to Whole Foods into our grocery budget. Plus there were a few things I wanted to get from there anyway. My plan was to have $20 left over after the other grocery shopping to devote to Whole Foods. I would spend $25 and use the coupon to make my purchase within budget. Didn't quite work out that way. I only had $17 to work with. So I changed my plan - spend $25, use $5 coupon and $3 in manufacturer's coupons from the Whole Deal newsletter. Once I was at Whole Foods, I asked myself, "Do I really need $25 worth of stuff?" I decided it wasn't worth it to spend extra JUST to use the coupon. Unfortunately, I still ended up $4 over budget (and $4 shy of $25). Oh well! It was a valuable lesson nonetheless :)

Grocery Totals:

Total spent: $104.25
Total savings: $51.15

Whole Foods:

1.7 lb organic bananas
1 loaf Whole Wheat organic bread
1 bag organic dried lentils 16oz
1 bag organic brown rice 32oz
1 organic chocolate soymilk
5lb bag whole wheat flour
organic celery bunch
2lb organic tangerines (sale .99/lb)

Total oop: $21.41


1 KR deli style cheddar cheese (sale 1.66)
4 KR shredded cheese (sale 1.66 ea)
1 Eggland's Best eggs (2.59 - .35/1Q doubled)
1 French's Worcestershire sauce (FREE Q)
3 Softsoap liquid hand soap (sale 1.00 - .35/1Q doubled)
1 Hefty Flex trash bags (sale 5.99 - 1/1Q)
5lb bag organic whole carrots (sale 3.50)
5 Honest Tea organic drink pouches (clearanced .99 ea)
1 KR jelly
2lb cabbage head (sale .59/lb)

Total oop: $29.05
Total savings: $20.00

Lowes Foods:

4 cans Swanson beef broth (sale .59 - .40/4Q doubled)
4 cans Swanson chicken broth (sale .59 - .40/4Q doubled)
2 Full Circle organic whole wheat spaghetti (sale 1.69)
3lb spaghetti squash (sale .89/lb)

Total oop: $9.58
Total savings: $8.58

Harris Teeter:

3 gallons HT organic milk
6 HT apple juices (sale 1.79)
3 Fleischmann's yeast strips (sale .99 - .45/1Q doubled)
1 Campbell's Select Harvest Healthy Request Chicken & Egg Noodle soup (FREE Q!)
6 Green Giant frozen boxed veggies - corn, sweet peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli spears - no sauce versions (sale 1.00 - .50/2Q doubled)
bag of organic tomatoes (quick sale 1.45)
red onion (quick sale .60)
bag of baby bella mushrooms (quick sale .75)
1 Butterball Deep Fried sliced turkey (sale 3.50 - .75/1Q doubled)
1 HT whole wheat tortillas (sale 1.50)
Smart Chicken organic chicken breasts (markdown 6.17)

Total oop: $44.21
Total savings: $22.57

Back Home

Thank you all for the prayers! Reed was able to come home from the hospital yesterday morning. He made it through Thursday night without needing any oxygen! We have breathing treatments to do at home over the next few days, but he is very much back to his old self! As soon as he and Dave got home, Reedy ran from the car over to his tricycle and started playing!

Monday morning we have a follow up appointment with our pediatrician. Since this is not the first time Reedy has experienced the wheezing and signs of respiratory distress, we'll discuss what it could mean long term. But we're so grateful he's back home and on the mend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Been Awhile...

Seems like I've been away forever! I was planning on blogging about a recent trip to Goodwill as a Frugal Friday post, but that will have to wait. This morning, Reedy was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. Last week, he came down with a cold that seemed to have subsided. But yesterday, he started throwing up and as the day progressed, his breathing became labored. He's had a few episodes like this before. So when Dave took him to the pediatrician this morning, we expected they would send us back home to continue what we had been doing like before - Tylenol, vaporizer and fluids. But after the breathing treatments at the ped's office failed to raise Reedy's oxygen levels, they sent him straight to the hospital.

Thankfully, his chest x-ray was clear (no pneumonia). Most likely its some sort of viral infection. His oxygen levels were back up into the high 90s, but the ped said he would probably need oxygen overnight. We're being told he could possibly be released tomorrow. However, the ped wants to see him make it through a night without needing oxygen. So it could be Saturday before he's released.

Please say a prayer for my Reedy Pooh. It was good to see him getting back to his old self - smiling, laughing and talking. But I just wish he was home.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - October 13th

I had to stretch my brain a bit for this week's menu! Besides triples at Lowes Foods, the sales were just so-so. I had to rely mostly on items I already on hand. So here's our so-so, put together menu for the week. For more meal plan ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Weekend Meal Prep Items:

- Cooked 2cups organic brown rice

- Browned 1/2lb Italian sausage

- Diced organic yellow onion

- Made a gallon of sweet tea


- Organic whole wheat pasta shells with cheesy, white sauce & steamed broccoli

- BBQ Turkey Meatballs, organic brown rice & green peas

- Lentil Chili & cornbread

- Tomato & Spinach Pasta Toss with Italian sausage

- Baked Tilapia, organic brown rice & steamed veggies (didn't have this last week)

- Breakfast for Dinner!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Triples at Lowes Foods!

After what seems like almost a year, triples finally returned to Lowes Foods!!! My out of pocket amounts were a little higher than what I'm used to during Harris Teeter triples. But I think I got some pretty good deals nonetheless. My three trips combined:

4 Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes ---> FREE!

1 Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce ---> FREE!

10 Smithfield Low Sodium bacon ---> 2.89 - .75/1Q = .64 ea

3 TN Pride frozen sausage patties ---> 2.00 - .55/1Q = .35 ea

3 TN Pride frozen sausage links ---> 2.00 - .55/1Q = .35 ea

3 Jet Dry Rinse aid ---> 2.38 - .40/1Q = 1.18 ea

4 Argo Corn Starch 16oz ---> FREE!

2 Meow Mix cat treats ---> FREE!

2 Smart Balance oil ---> 2.79 - .50/1Q = 1.29 ea

3 Arnold Natural Soft Whole Wheat bread ---> 2.19 - .55/1Q = .54 ea

4 TN Pride sausage rolls lb ---> 2.00 - .55/1Q = .35 ea

2 Lawry's Steak & Chops marinade ---> 2.00 - .50/1Q = .50 ea

3 Oral B Advantage manual toothbrushes ---> FREE!

1 Eat Smart Veggie Chips ---> 1.24

2 Eggo Buttermilk frozen waffles ---> 2.00 - .55/1Q = .35 ea


1 can Del Monte corn - sale 1.00

1 Pepsi 2 Lt - sale 1.00

5lb bag Gala apples - sale .99/lb

Total oop: $33.31
Total savings: $109.19!!!

In prepping for my first triples shop, I spotted on the Lowes on-line shopping site that Muir Glen diced tomatoes were already free with just regular doubles. So the day before triples, I got 4 cans of Muir Glen diced tomatoes and 4 cans of tomato sauce (did two transactions) for FREE!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
~ John 14:27

As a full-time, work outside of the home mother, evenings can be quite challenging. There's so much to be done, but so little time. After being away all day, I want to scoop the boys up and give them great big hugs and listen to my Mom as she tells me about their day. I want to talk to Ashleigh about school. To hear about what she learned, the new friends she made and to help alleviate any lingering concerns she has about transitioning to big kid school. I wish I could come in, plop down on the sofa, kick my heels off and have the kids gather around me and shower me with hugs.

But the reality is quite different! Often times I come in loaded down with bags from a quick stop by the grocery store on the way home. And the invisible baggage from stress at work. Everyone is hungry and wants a snack, wants juice. The noise level instantly increases as three little ones are now reunited. But not long after playful laughter turns into, "Momma! Ashleigh/Clayton hit/touched/looked at me!" As I'm negotiating peace between the older two, Reedy is managing to comprise the gate blocking the staircase and heading upstairs. Or he's taking his diaper off, giving me a near heart attack by climbing onto the arm of the sofa and/or taking someone's juice cup/toy/pillow/bear and throwing it behind the sofa. Whew! And we still have homework, dinner and getting ready for bed.

Making dinner in the evenings is an important homecaring task for me. Dave works long 12 hour days and I want him to come home to something already made. I've recently taken on the personal challenge of preparing home made meals in an effort to reduce expenses and better our diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables. While planning our meals ahead of time has been such a sanity saver, I still struggled trying to get dinners ready while taking care of the kids. After one VERY challenging week, I had an "aha" moment - prep the meals over the weekend!

So for the last two weekends, I've taken an hour on Saturday to prep for the coming week's meals. I dice and chop, brown meat, freeze dough, so that when I come home during the week, it's just a matter of putting things together. This small step has made such a huge difference in my evenings! There's a sense of peace about my evenings now. Things are still a bit hectic (but what house isn't with three kids!). But it's an improvement in this busy season of my life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - October 6th

Taking time last Saturday to prep for the coming week's meals was a huge success! My evenings were alot less stressful and I was still able to deliver good, home cooked meals after work! Here's our dinner menu for this week along with my weekend meal prep. For more meal ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Weekend Meal Prep Items:

- Soaked and cooked dried organic black beans
-Browned ground turkey, diced onions & garlic
-Diced organic, yellow onions
-Boiled eggs
-Made organic, brown rice
-Made & froze whole wheat pizza dough
-Made a gallon of sweet tea (won't last long!)

Dinner Menu:

Saturday - BBQ Turkey Meatballs & fresh green beans sauteed with garlic

Sunday - Marinated London Broil, organic brown rice, organic NC sweet potatoes (with cinnamon & sugar!) and homemade wheat bread

Monday - Sunday Leftovers

Tuesday - Chicken Salad sandwiches on whole wheat

Wednesday - Baked Tilipia with organic brown rice & steamed broccoli

Thursday - Turkey Chili Mac

Friday - Homemade Pepperoni Pizza (Anne Jisca's Easy Pizza Dough from Tammy's Recipes - used 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup white flour)

Grocery Totals
- I did quite a bit of shopping in a few places this week, including Kmart for the Super Doubles and Whole Foods. So my receipts are pretty scattered about. From my budget spreadsheet, I know I spent $99.86 oop. But I have no idea on my exact savings LOL! I'll do better keeping track this week - triples is coming back to Lowes Foods!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kmart Super Doubles

My trips to Kmart are usually marked by frustration from never being able to find anything in stock, dimly lit stores and unfriendly staff. Which is why I normally only venture there during the after Christmas clearance sales - looking for Martha Stewart Christmas decorations of course! Oh, and that one Christmas Eve many years back when I desperately wanted to take a bubble bath but had none at home. Kmart happened to be the only store open at 8 PM on Christmas Eve. Why I wanted to take a bubble bath at Christmas Eve and set out on a mad hunt to find some at 8 o'clock at night? I don't know LOL!

But the words Super Doubles bought me to Kmart once again! Never would I have thought our Kmart would do anything so cool as to double coupons up to and including $2 off, 4 like coupons with a 75 total coupon limit. But they did! I stopped in yesterday after work since it's right on the way home and surprisingly the shelves weren't cleared. I was a little taken aback by their regular prices though. I picked up the following:

2 Vaseline lotions 3.29 ea - (2)1.50/1Qs = .29 ea

2 Rimmel mascara 3.19 ea - (2)1/1Qs = 1.19 ea

2 Crest Kids toothpaste 2.99 ea - (2)1/1Qs = .99 ea

1 Dove Moisturizing shampoo 4.49 - (1)2/1Q = .49

1 Dove Moisturizing conditioner 4.49 - (1)2/1Q = .49

1 Sunsilk styler 3.00 - (1)1.50/1Q = FREE!

2 GoodLife dry cat food bags 5.69 ea (hmm, I thought the shelf said 4.69) - (2)2/1Qs = 1.69 ea

2 Whiskas multi pack cat foods 4.79 ea - (2)2/1Qs = .79 ea

Just those items before coupons totaled $55.xx! After coupons, I paid $14.03 oop.

Not bad savings and for that I'm thankful. But I just couldn't believe those few items were so expensive! I'm definitely going back for more free Sunsilk and a few other items. And maybe Sunday's coupons will yield other deals as well!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

So Far, So Good!

After struggling last week with getting dinners made in the evenings and wrangling the kids, I'm happy to report this week has been so less stressful! I've been planning my meals for a few months now but last Saturday I decided to take things one step further. I devoted one hour to meal prep for the coming week. And that one hour has made the world of difference in my evenings! I come in from work, make a light snack for the kids, get dinner started using my already prepped items and start on homework with Ashleigh & the boys. It's all the convenience of a boxed meal, but homemade! And Dave gets to come home to a wife that's in a pleasant mood and not frazzled and teetering on an emotional ledge.

Now, I just have to keep it up. I'm so notorious for NOT doing things that will make my life easier.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - September 29th

After last week's challenges of getting dinner made in the evenings after work, I decided to take a new direction with my menu planning this week. I took an hour Saturday afternoon and devoted it to meal prep for the coming week. I browned meatballs, made pizza dough and diced veggies in hopes it will cut down on the amount of time needed to get meals together. Thus making for a less stressful evening. And what a good week to start - homework for Ashleigh begins this week!

Jamie Oliver's Jools' Favorite Saturday Afternoon Pasta

Saturday - Jamie Oliver's Jools' Favorite Saturday Afternoon Pasta with organic salad mix & homemade wheat bread

Sunday - Roast Chicken with organic brown rice & asparagus and onions

Monday - Sunday Leftovers!

Tuesday - BBQ Turkey Meatballs with organic brown rice & fried squash

Wednesday - Lentil Chili & cornbread

Thursday - Homemade Pepperoni pizza

Friday - Fall Festival night at Ashleigh's school!

Grocery Totals - This week I spent $95.02 and had $60.90 in sales and coupon savings. Check out my deals under my Super Savings Saturday post!

For more meal plan ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

After last week's four days of triples, this was a nice calm week of grocery shopping. We've got a few more days before those Lowes Foods store coupons expire. So if you have any of the .75/1 Ziploc coupons, you still have a chance to get some FREE ziploc bags. Electrasol gel tabs are BOGO this week at Lowes. Since Lowes rings up each item at half price for their BOGO sales, you can pick up one box of Electrasol gel tabs for $2.48, use the 2.25 off 1 coupon, for a final price of .23 after coupon!

The Harris Teeter quick sale bin was generous to me this week. I found fresh asparagus, yellow squash and green peppers still in great condition! The green peppers were a great score because they were cheaper than the peppers that were on sale I was planning on buying. Also at Harris Teeter, I was able to combine a good sale on whole chicken (.59/lb) with a coupon for $2 off chicken I got for buying three Wishbone dressings. As I recall, I bought the salad dressing during a triple coupon event, so I think they were .25ea, if not free. So I got a 5lb whole chicken on sale for $2.97 for .97 after coupon! Who says there's never coupons for meat?!?

Grocery Totals:

Total Spent: $95.02
Total Savings: $60.90


6 bags KR shredded cheese (sale 3/5)
8 jars Beech Nut baby food (.47 ea - 1.50/8 Q)
1 broccoli bunch (sale 2.00)
1 Private Selection Organic spring salad mix with herbs (sale 3.33)
4lb bag organic Valencia oranges (sale 2.99)

Total oop: $21.02
Total savings: $12.09

Lowes Foods:

4 White House apple juices (LF store Q 2/3)
2 cans LF diced tomatoes 28oz (LF store Q .89ea)
1 Electrasol gel tabs (sale BOGO - 2.25/1Q = .23!)
4 Ziploc Easy Zip gallon storage bags (FREE! LF store Q 1.39 - .75/1Q doubled)
1 Hormel pepperoni (sale BOGO ---> item rings up at half price)
1 Butterball Deep Fried sliced turkey (sale 2.99 - 1/1Q)
4 Meow Mix cat treats (FREE! sale 1.29 - .75/1Q doubled)

Total oop: $11.70
Total savings: $34.02

Harris Teeter:

3 gallons HT Organic milk (sale 4.99)
1 Hefty kitchen trash bags 40ct (sale 7.99 - 1/1Q)
5lb HT Whole Chicken (sale 2.97 - 2Q = .97!)
1.67lb bag of fresh asparagus (quick sale .84)
2-2pk bags of green bell peppers (quick sale .75ea)
1.79lb bag of yellow squash (quick sale .90)
1/2lb fresh green beans (sale .99/lb)

Total oop: $27.49
Total savings: $12.79

To help in maintaining my sanity, I sent Dave out to Target for a box of Huggies Pull Ups and a box of Target brand wipes - total oop: $34.81, coupon savings $2.00.

Super Savings Saturday is hosted by Money Saving Mom ~ helping you become a better home economist!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Great Expectations

Last night, I stood in my kitchen feeling every bit like a homemaking failure. Why you ask? Because we were down to just three diapers and a handful of wipes. Shocking I know LOL! I laugh now but yesterday it felt more like evidence of my inability to manage my home. I told myself if I was more on top of things, we wouldn't run out of diapers. If I was better at stockpiling we would never run out of the things we use and need the most. How come I can get loads of free cat treats and Ziploc bags but not diapers?!?

After a bit of quiet time and reflection, I realized I was being a bit overly dramatic. After all, running out of broccoli doesn't send me over an emotional ledge LOL! Like most things, diapers are apart of my weekly grocery list. I buy for the week and when those run out, I buy some more. My initial reaction had very little to do with the actual diapers themselves but more to do with the unrealistic expectations I place on myself.

I've come to the conclusion, that I have to learn how to say NO to myself. To realize that I do have limitations and that I can't do everything. That I have to put down my desire to be the perfect - Christian, wife, mother, daughter, homemaker, couponer, from scratch cook, crafter, thrifter, worker, etc - and just do my best. Easier said than done! Intellectually, I know perfection is absolutely unattainable. But it's almost like knowing that makes me want it even more. It's weird, but that's where I'm at right now. So there's lots of room for improvement and growth!

Today, I said NO to myself by making a change to our menu plan. Originally I had planned to make our favorite BBQ turkey meatballs. I've really been working hard at preparing home made meals for dinner during the week even with working all day. But knowing the time it would take to assemble the meatballs once I got home and not wanting to have another evening of rushing to make dinner while keeping Reedy from getting into everything, I opted for a much simpler Breakfast for Dinner tonight. Not the "perfect" home made meal, but it's the best I can do today!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn Treasures

The other day I came across the blog, Inspired Room and her list of 20 Things to Treasure in Autumn. I knew I had to join in because Fall is my favorite season!

My 20 Little Things to Treasure in Autumn

1. My Birthday!

2. The leaves in their coats of red and gold

3. The State Fair

4. Hot apple cider

5. The cool, crisp morning air

6. Cold, starry nights

7. Snuggling under a warm, heavy blanket

8. Pumpkins

9. The smell of Cinnamon and Pumpkin Pie spice

10. Running through a pile of leaves

11. Apple slices dipped in honey

12. Baking delicious homemade pies

13. Candle-lit jack-0-lanterns

14. Chrysanthemums

15. Fall festivals

16. Warm knit sweaters & knee high boots

17. Friday night football

18. Hay rides

19. Decorating the house with fall accents

20. Spending time with my family

Now that I've made my list of Autumnal simple pleasures, I'm making a vow to take extra care in experiencing the joy in each one this year!

Share your list of Autumn treasures at the Inspired Room!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - September 22nd

Family Favorites are in the spotlight this week at Menu Plan Monday!

One of our family favorites is something you'll notice appears on our menu quite regularly - BBQ Turkey Meatballs! As I was evaluating our grocery budget and looking for ways to cut back, I took a look at ground turkey as an alternative to the 93/7 ground beef we used all the time. I was seeing no sales for ground beef but ground turkey seemed to be on sale every week. I was always hesitant to try ground turkey. For me, turkey came in two forms - sliced on a sandwich or whole on a Thanksgiving platter! So if I was going to try it, I figured meatballs smothered in BBQ sauce would be a safe bet.

To my surprise, I loved it! We all loved it in fact. Since then, I've gone on to use ground turkey in other recipes as well. I love how it blends in with the other ingredients and seasonings so well and doesn't have a strong competing taste like ground beef. The recipe I use for my turkey meatballs is based on the Kraft Foods & Family recipe for Manhattan Meatballs with changes to the quantities used and meat.

BBQ Turkey Meatballs

1lb ground turkey (I use fresh or frozen Shadybrook 93/7)

1 cup homemade bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup diced onion

2 teaspoons dried parsley

ground black pepper to taste

favorite BBQ sauce

2 tablespoons oil

1. Combine ground turkey, bread crumbs, diced onion and egg in a large bowl. Season with ground black pepper. Form into golf ball sized meatballs.

2. Heat oil over medium heat and brown meatballs.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place meatballs in a casserole dish and cover liberally with your favorite BBQ sauce (You could also mix jelly or preserves into the sauce as well).

4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Very simple and delicious! And if you're pressed for time, make and brown the meatballs ahead of time.

Our Dinner Menu

- Veggie Lo Mein

- London Broil marinated in teriyaki sauce, with brown rice & steamed sweet peas

- Sunday Leftovers!

- Chicken Salad Sandwiches on whole wheat

- Country Fried Steak with Gravy & Brown Rice, steamed veggies on the side

Thursday - *Family Favorite* BBQ Turkey Meatballs

- Chicken Fajitas


Photos from my first two shops

After four days of triple couponing at Harris Teeter, I think I need another day at the spa! We relaxed the grocery budget this week to take advantage of the deals with triples as well as the BOGO meat sales. Even still we only went about $17 above our normal weekly budget.

I use triples mainly as a way to cheaply boost my stockpile, while focusing on items we use. It's not a deal if we won't use it, don't eat it or have enough of it already!

6 Martha White corn muffin mix (FREE)

5 Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning --- .54ea

12 Quaker Old Fashioned oats 18oz (FREE)

4 Smart Balance cooking spray --- 1.49ea

5 Lipton tea bags 16ct (FREE)

4 Coffee Mate powder --- .49ea

6 cans Valley Fresh chicken --- .82ea

3 Land O Lakes light butter with canola --- .39ea

5 Lysol Dual Action wipes (FREE)

3 Dole Pineapple (light syrup, no HFCS) --- .85ea

2 Dole Peaches (light syrup, no HFCS) --- .85 ea

3 Kikkoman Soy Sauce --- .34ea

6 Meow Mix cat treats (FREE)

5 Edge shave gels --- .74ea

5 Lysol toilet bowl cleaner --- .50ea

2 Pace Pico de Gallo --- 1.00ea

5 Hormel Natural Choice chicken strips --- .85ea

6 Eggo Buttermilk frozen pancakes --- .54ea

3 Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen cleaner (FREE)

2 Purell hand sanitizer (FREE)

Other deals:

6 Mott's Apple Juice --- sale BOGO - 1/2Q

2 Huggies Pull Ups Mega packs --- sale 12.99 - 2/1Q

3-1.5-2lb London broils --- BOGO (each items rings up at half price)

4-1/2lb pks of Angus cubed steak --- BOGO (each items rings up at half price)

2 HT Whole Wheat tortillas --- sale 2/3

2 Arnold Double Fiber wheat bread --- sale BOGO

Received code for free Redbox rental for buying 3 Eggo's in single transaction.

Total oop: $94.70

VIC Savings: $82.53
Coupon Savings: $148.99

Total Savings: $231.52!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Change of Plan

This morning we were all set to run our errands. My Mom had a couple of places she needed to go and I wanted to get some triples shopping in too. I made breakfast, quickly got the kids dressed and loaded everyone in the car. Only to find - a flat rear tire :( In a way, it was a blessing it happened on a Saturday instead of yesterday or Monday, when we were getting out for work and school. I really would have liked to get a triples shop in today and taken my Mom to run her errands, but none of it really needed to be done today. And thankfully, this time triples is a four day event, so I'll have tomorrow to make one last run at some deals. Oddly enough last night I was wondering when I would have time to clean up for my mother-in-law's visit on Sunday. Guess that problem was solved LOL! And we should easily be able to handle this visit from Murphy with little impact to the budget. That truly is a blessing. Guess there was more to smile about today than I thought :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Joy in the Ordinary

Last week in all the craziness, I completely forgot to post my Gratituesday post! The fact of the matter is, I didn't really feel very grateful last week. We were in a rough patch with Ashleigh's adjustment to school, and just so much going on at work. At the end of the day, I felt both physically and emotionally spent.

I struggled to write even five things I was grateful for each day last week in my gratitude journal. By number three, I was hitting a blank wall. There were the obvious things - the health of myself and my family, our home. In Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach says there are some days where you're just thankful the day is over. I was a bit worried because EVERY day seemed like that kind of day for me.

To help refocus and get myself back in the right mindset, I took some time over the weekend to write out my simple pleasures. Some simple pleasures are so ordinary and such apart of everyday life, that it's so easy to miss the joy they bring. The way Reedy smiles, it's truly infectious! He has the tiniest little gap between his two front teeth and his lip curls up in such a way. Just the thought brings a smile to my face. Seeing the lights of Dave's car as he pulls into the driveway at night. I have this big sigh of relief when I know Dave is finally home. That we're all home and all safe. And sometimes because I'm thankful my backup has arrived when the babies are a bit shall we say "challenging". Even a clean bathroom. Tell me I'm not the only one that stands and admires a shiny tub and freshly mopped floors? Even if they are circa 1970's harvest gold LOL!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - September 15th

What a busy (but fun!) week ahead. On Wednesday, I'm headed out for a day at the spa, all expenses paid for by my company! Of course I have a business meeting in the morning, but I think I can suffer through it for the sake of the chocolate souffle pedicure :) And Thursday, if the rumors are true, will begin a four day triple coupon event at Harris Teeter!

Here's our menu for the week. For more meal plan ideas, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

~ Dinner ~

Saturday - Jamie Oliver's Jools' Favorite Saturday Afternoon Pasta with steamed broccoli and cauliflower

Sunday - Homemade BBQ Turkey Meatballs with homemade mashed potatoes (potatoes blended with cauliflower and sour cream) & corn on the cob

Monday - Veggie Lo Mein

Tuesday - Garden Vegetable Pasta (zucchini, squash and diced tomatoes served over whole wheat spaghetti)

Wednesday - Family Fend for Thyself LOL! I will be away at my meeting/spa afternoon/dinner reception and won't get back until late. If I have time on Tuesday night, I'll make up a homemade a pepperoni pizza so all my Mom and Dave will have to do is heat it for themselves and the kids.

Thursday - Crockpot Tamale Pie

Friday - Taco Style Lentils & Rice

Grocery Totals ---> This week I spent $82.37 (including a trip to Whole Foods!) and had savings of $55.74. Check out my Super Savings Saturday & Sunday post for a breakdown of my good deals!