Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Publix trip

I couldn't resist heading back to Publix once I realized that there was a money maker on the yogurt. We don't love the yogurt, but when the store pays me to take it home, well...my love for it increases exponentially. The granola variety of this particular brand is much better than the regular.

All I really needed to pick up at the store was dishwasher soap. But that free yogurt...I decided to figure out a way to get out of the store without paying a single dime. Just because I could. And, I had already hit my grocery budget for the week and didn't really want to go over. So this scheme was completely justified.

My first stop was WinnDixie, however. WinnDixie had the coupon I needed to make the yogurt deal work. I had to work the deal in multiples of three and I was short some coupons. After scoring the necessary coupons from the dispenser, Leelee and I went across the street to Publix.

Our first stop was Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice. D wanted to know why I bought it since we aren't even going to be home for New Year's. It was free. That's my only reason. Thinking of saving it for Valentine's Day or something.

Then, the dishwasher soap. This probably should have been the first stop since I've forgotten to buy it the last few times I've been to the store. There hasn't really been a great sale on this since P&G stopped including the $1/1 Cascade in their monthly coupon insert.

Finally, 15 yogurt. Yup. 15. The kids inhaled them as soon as I got in the door, so I was only able to snag three of them for the photo.

The coupons I used:
(15) .50/1 voskos
(5) $1/3 voskos from publix yellow advantage flyer
(1) $1/2 Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice Printable
(1) $1/1 Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice from Publix All the Trimmings Flyer
(1) $5/$25 Save-a-lot competitor coupon



My total before coupons was $26.17. After coupons, including TAX, my total was....-$2.03! That's right folks, I handed over my coupons and that cashier handed ME back money. Sorry the picture is so bad. I was shaking with excitement! If I did the math correctly, it was a 117% savings if you don't include our pesky 10 percent sales tax!

This was probably the very best I've ever done at the store! I've always come close to getting change back, but haven't actually accomplished it until this trip. I was so excited I called a friend and posted it on facebook. I'm such a dork sometimes :D

Top 11 recipes of 2011

This year I tried many new recipes on my family. For the most part, they were hugely successful. We had a few recipes that have become part of our meal "rotation" and this post is dedicated to the favorite recipes from this year (in no particular order.) If I shared the recipe on this blog, I'll link to my post on it. If not, I'll link to the awesome blog where I found the recipe!

11. Bubbly Mexican Bake


4. Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls (award winning, I might add :D)

3. Lizzy's Pumpkin Pie Muffins (2 ingredients, so easy a four year old can do it!)

2. Apple Sandwiches (the new favorite snack in our house)

1. Cherry Cheesecake Cookies I planned to blog about these cookies but never found the time, They were all kinds of awesome and if I were rating the most popular recipe I tried this year, it would definitely be in the number one spot. I can easily see trying this with any type of pie filling to make fabulous cheesecake cookies all year long. (courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Publix week of 12/28

I haven't had much time to coupon at all lately. We've been living off the stockpile during the holiday season. Now that the big holidays are over, it's time to stock up again. I hit some great sales today, and let's just say...I hope my kids really like cookies! I picked up 30 bags today! My coupon was expiring...yeah, that's my excuse...



In this shopping trip I picked up:

30 betty crocker holiday variety cookie mixes (only ones on sale)
18 one step muffins
15 greek yogurt
1 box saltine crackers
2 boxes cheezits
2 nestle cookie dough
1 box crispix cereal
1 A-1 steak sauce
1 bakers chocolate
2 solo cups (sorry, they're orange not red :P)
1 otria greek yogurt dip (would have purchased 2 but my printer ate the coupon)
6 cans of beans
1 bag shredded cheese

I managed to save $167! My total BEFORE tax was only $30!

That's not too shabby :D

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles

Apple cider is one of my favorite holiday drinks and when I saw that Food Network was featuring an Apple Cider Snickerdoodle in its 12 Days of Cookies this year, I knew I had to make it.

I took a quick glance at the recipe and determined I already had all the ingredients on hand! Picture me in my computer chair doing a happy little dance, like you do in the car to your favorite song when you think no one's looking. I was totally doing that.

Christmas baking really wasn't on the agenda for this year, but with the awesome new neighbors who have been dropping things by, well, I was pretty much guilted in to it. We had no idea we moved in to a real neighborhood with people who came by to borrow cups of sugar bags of cat food. Houses are decorated and tonight, we even went caroling.

The only real problem with me making the cookies was my hand mixer bit the dust. Actually, it caught on fire. Completely burned out the motor. A new hand mixer was on my Christmas list. I gave D that "please-pretty-please-I'll-even-share-some-cookies-with-you" look and he gave me that "you-ruin-Christmas-because-you-want-all-your-gifts-now" look right back. Party Pooper.

Instead, he built me some new shelves (pictures coming later) so I could have easier access to my Bosch mixer. And, basically no real excuse not to use it more frequently for things like cookies.

I began assembling the ingredients for the cookies and hit a bit of a snag. Apparently, I'm out of cream of tartar. That's kind of one of those things that makes snickerdoodles, well...snickerdoodles. Then the second snag...the apples? They're supposed to be dried apple chips. I only had fresh. And, it looks like I was supposed to use fresh apple cider instead of apple cider mix.

Pfffft

In a last ditch attempt to avoid a 10 p.m. trip to Walmart, I looked in my pantry and discovered a box of snickerdoodle cookie mix. My mind began working and I figured, what's the worst that could happen?


This version of the Apple Cider Snickerdoodle was born. I let the boy try one. He said it was just as good as the first one he stole while I wasn't looking. :/

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles

3 packets apple cider mix
2 C hot water
1 box snickerdoodle mix
1/3 C apples chopped
1 egg
1/3 C butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small sauce pan, mix together 2 packets of apple cider mix and 2 C hot water. Bring to boil. Let it reduce to a syrup, for about 14 minutes. It makes about 1-2 T of syrup. Cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, blend together snickerdoodle mix, apples, apple cider syrup, egg and butter.

In a small bowl, mix together about half of the snickerdoodle cinnamon topping and the remaining apple cider powder. If this is too strong of a apple cider flavor for you, add more of the cinnamon topping to the mix.

Roll about 2 t of dough into a ball, then roll in the apple cider-cinnamon mixture.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 9-11 minutes. Let cool about 2 minutes on pan before removing to cooling rack.

makes about 36 cookies


**notes**

Next time (and there will be a next time) I will add more apples. I like a bit more chunky cookie. I am debating on whether to change the cinnamon to apple cider powder ratio. I like it tangy, but it might be too much. If you do try the recipe, let me know how you've found the ratio to be most pleasing. Adding more syrup into the dough may also give a more apple flavor if you don't care for the tangy cinnamon topping.

linked up at:

Tater tots & Jello ** Foodie Friends Friday **

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rockin' Around My Christmas Tree

This is the first year we've had two full sized trees. In the reception hall (seriously, that's what the room is called on the floor plans), we have a 7 1/2 foot artificial tree. I'm not a fan of fake trees, but it was from freecycle so I can't complain too much. In the living room, we have our 9 1/2 ft Fraser fir. In the dining room, we also have the small rosemary kitchen tree our neighbor made.

In the past we've always had Douglas Fir trees. They were the most common trees to have when we lived in Oregon because they were native to the area. We'd pay a pretty penny in this part of the country to have one. Fraser Firs are more common in this part of the country and Costco had a great deal, and I had a gift card...so the tree came home with me. I have to say I'm a HUGE fan. And that's not just because this is the first year we all haven't gotten seriously stuff noses the minute the Christmas tree entered the house. Who knew we were all allergic to Douglas Firs?

The smaller tree is for the kids. On it go all the ornaments they can't break. The girls have redecorated the tree MANY times already. The bonus being they leave the big tree alone.

Our neighbor has a lot of time on her hands. A lot of time. When she gets bored, I end up with really neat things for my house. Even better, we both seem to have a love for all things kitschy, and crafts that are just this close to being a bit creepy, in a cool vintage-y sort of way.

Like this Santa from a dried gourd:


For the kids' tree, two of these


And a set of six of these vintage mini mugs. Santa is totally creepy looking, which is just how I like him.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And, I in my hat

I love hats even though I think they look stupid on me.

Today, I was able to pick up two vintage hats and I'm now in the process of trying to figure out how old they are. I'm using my good friend google. And let me tell you, there is way too much personal information out there!

The hats came in a box and in the box was a receipt signed by Mrs. So and So, Jr. Well, Mr. So and So, Jr happened to own a business and when I googled the name, found his daughter on facebook! Facebook discussion on public groups is searchable via google and her name came up in a post where she identified her father by name. Like I said, WAAAYY too much personal information. Still, I decided to send her a note that I had come in to possession of some hats her mother had purchased, I'm guessing in the late 60s.

Leelee and I decided to try the hats on. I'm not sure which way to wear the blue hat. Either flat on my head or like Leelee is, around her bun. Both look equally dorky.



And then there's the black one that fits down around my head...maybe. Maybe it's supposed to go over the really big hair and stay in place with pins. I'm completely hat challenged.





Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder

D's been feeling under the weather and his comfort food of choice lately has been Chicken Corn Chowder...from a can. While I did get an awesome deal on chunky soups earlier this fall, when you're feeding a large family it's still generally cheaper to make things from scratch. This particular recipe used leftover chicken breasts, cheap frozen veggies, a can of veggies, free chicken broth, cheese, bacon and milk. This recipe made enough to feed my family with leftovers for just under $5 thanks to some great sales!

I have to say, I really think this recipe tasted better after it sat because the bacon flavoring really came out.

Chicken Corn Chowder
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 4 C shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1/2 cup Corn Starch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a crockpot, cover four to six chicken thighs or 2 large chicken breasts with water and cook on high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken and reserve 8 C of the chicken broth for use in the recipe.

Chop bacon into small pieces, then cook in a large stockpot over medium heat. In the bacon drippings, cook onions. Add the chicken, frozen corn and cream-style corn. Combine corn starch with milk and heavy cream and stir into soup.

Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and cheese; stir until cheese is melted.




Friday, December 9, 2011

Candy Cane Craft


I love the look of Candy Canes on the Christmas tree, but I don't love the kids getting in to them and getting sticky all over my house. I also don't love the look of the fake plastic ones from the dollar store.

A solution was found on pinterest and I added my own little twist...or rather jingle to make it just that much cuter.

This is one of those awesome projects that anyone with a proficiency with a glue gun can handle.

The materials:

plastic candy canes
scraps of fabric
hot glue gun
jingle bells

Tear strips of fabric about an inch to two inches wide. Hot glue the bottom of the plastic candy cane and stick it to the fabric about a half inch from the edge. The proceed to wrap the fabric around the candy cane and hot glue the end down when you've got it all wrapped.

Snip a small edge of coordinating fabric, maybe 1/4 inch wide. Rip the fabric, leaving you with a small bit of "ribbon." String the ribbon through the jingle bell, then tie to the fabric covered candy cane.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More paint color ponderings

I am totally in love with the grey paint we chose for the living room. It is so soft and soothing. It's neutral but it's not beige and boring. It brings me to a happy place. It really does! And the living room feels like a home and not just a bunch of furniture tossed in a room together. This is really a first for someone decorating challenged like me.

I'm absolutely LOVING Sherwin Williams Color Collections. It's taking a lot of the guess work out of things for someone who loves color and doesn't have a lick of decorating sense. I'm using the Color Pizazz scheme for the house.

We chose Mindful Grey as the wall color for the living room. Sassy Green for the dining room. And I'm leaning towards Peppercorn for the space between the picture molding and crown molding. Not sure what that area is called but I'm sure there's a proper name for it LOL

Now, I also have to decide what color to paint the reception hall. We had plans to keep the wall paper, but the kids started picking at the wall paper and now it looks terrible. The room is adjacent to the living room, but is separated by the columns. Any suggestions from this palette?

Secret Santa

Well, I did a bad thing this year. I forgot to do one of our family traditions at the beginning of the month. And the kids remembered. Reminded me. And I still forgot. So, D had to organize our secret Santa service project.

I'm always impressed when the kids remember the traditions that involve them doing something for someone else. As much as they are quick to remind us of the things that get THEM some sort of reward, it's so much more awesome to see them excited about doing things for others.

Already there are whisperings about what sneaky nice things they can do for each other. This year, since the older kids have their own rooms, the go to answer seems to be cleaning up a sibling's room, making the beds, doing laundry. Danger girl thought very carefully before deciding she could definitely not do Leelee's algebra homework for her!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Popsicle Stick Snowflakes





My friend Debbie came by to help me make crafts today. My gigantic Christmas tree is sorely lacking in ornaments. The tree is so big, I don't have enough! And, I really don't have it in the budget to drop a large chunk of change on ornaments at full price. I'll wait to buy ornaments for next year...

Meanwhile, the need for cheap or free crafts made me turn to pinterest for inspiration.

I found the instructions for these popsicle stick snowflakes and fell in LOVE. I really want to put them on the columns in front of the house. But...I ended up hanging them up on the walls of the dining room to get them out of the way and I sort of like them there.

I need to make several more if I'm going to put them outside. I'm also going to use the smaller popsicle sticks instead of the jumbo size. The jumbo pack from walmart was $2.50 and made two large flakes. The dollar store has packs of 150, so I could make four skinnier flakes.

And this project was ridiculously easy. You hot glue popsicle sticks together. Eventually, I'll paint these but that's for a time when the littles aren't home.


linked up at:
tater tots and jello

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rosemary Christmas Tree

As if having the giant Christmas tree in the living room wasn't enough, we are now the proud owners of a lovely rosemary kitchen Christmas tree! Our neighbor is a retired florist who seems to be very excited to have someone appreciate her skills as much as I do. She has made us feel completely welcomed in to the neighborhood. Definitely a "borrow a cup of sugar" kind of neighbor.

Today, she brought over this amazing wreath she made for FREE using a tree in her yard:



It pretty much fills the entire front door. I absolutely love it.

Then, she brought over the most amazing Rosemary plant covered in ornaments! She called it a kitchen tree. And, she told me how to do it, and I will now share with you all how to make one :) I'm sure there are some of you that already know about this, but it was news to me!


Materials:
  • Rosemary Plant/tree (you can find these at many home improvement stores ...who knew?) our plant was plucked from the neighbor's yard
  • Curling ribbon
  • extra wide ribbon
  • craft wire
  • mini tree decorations
my tree includes:
assorted mini kitchen tools (spoons, spatulas, rolling pins...found at the dollar store or craft store)
vintage metal cookie cutters
vintage tea cups

Fashion a large bow out of the wide ribbon. Attach it to the rosemary with craft wire. Arrange the larger ornaments on the tree first, attaching them all with craft wire. Be sure to add lots of pops of color.

Next, cut lots of curling ribbon (the kind used to wrap presents) and run it along the edge of a pair of scissors to make it curl up. Strategically (or haphazardly, if you're like me and non crafty) arrange the curled ribbon on the tree.

That's it! The tree does need watering every day, maybe about a half cup of water. The great part of this living Christmas decoration is your house smells AMAZING. Right now you walk into the living room and smell the tree, then walk into the dining room and smell the rosemary. Heavenly! And, you can use the rosemary, too, for cooking. It's one of our favorite herbs to cook with.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh Christmas tree!

That's Leelee standing on a chair next to the tree (duh). The tree is just over 9 ft! We've never had a tree that tall before. And for once, D didn't have to do any trimming of the height to get it to fit in the house. Heck, we could have gone a bit taller, I think.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Photos

I don't usually post a lot of personal family pictures, but I make the exception at Christmas :D I work at the mall doing Santa photos and we have the most AMAZING Santa.

He's super sweet and he's the first Santa Leelee's not been afraid of. She has a dislike of Santa, all costumed characters and clowns. The only reason she likes this particular Santa is because she got to know him as a person by coming to work with me one evening. So now he's not creepy to her! yay!



after we got this done very quickly (like two takes!), the kids got to do funny faces. It was so much fun, this is the one I had to put in a frame for the mantle :D