Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Shades the Thing


A blue by any other name is still a blue


Honey, the wall color is different, even if you don't think it is.

 Sometimes just the right shade of paint can make a big difference in the feel of a room. I've never really cared for blue is a wall color before, but D really liked the blue in the dining room.

I just wasn't feeling that particular blue.

To me, it screamed baby nursery blue

Really hating the spoilers in the picture, but ...

it's totally not the same color.

It's a darker blue with a hint of purple. Reminds me more of a periwinkle.

The change was very small but it was absolutely the right change. The room gets a lot of natural light and I could go a darker shade without the cave feeling.

As a matter of full disclosure, we also replaced the flooring in the dining room. I mean, D was already tearing up the bathroom floor...what's doing one more floor space on the weekend?

This is the before..

That's vintage right there. I really wish we could have saved it.

But someone decided it would be a fabulous idea to pound hundreds of nails down from the linoleum (real asbestos backed linoleum) directly on to the 2 inch thick hardwood floors!

Feel free to sob along with me.

That meant we couldn't even get to the hardwood floors without going through a horrendous and expensive process.

We went with a cheap option for now: subfloor and vinyl. Tile is out of the question because houses like this tend to shift and that would mean cracked tiles, which would essentially just be throwing money away.

We're still trying to decide on more permanent floor options, but for now, it' works. The foot molding will go up soon and I'll do a proper reveal of the dining room changes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


i do plan on posting more house updates soon but i managed to injure my right hand "long finger" as the doctor calls it and I'm in a splint. no idea what i did but it hurts to move. meanwhile i look like im giving everyone a not so friendly gesture LOL

and its wicked hard to type with. A

And I filling out paperwork really stinks when you are doing it with the non dominant hand.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What DO you do with all that cereal?

One of the big questions I get asked is what we do with items in our stockpile. Today, I picked up 28 boxes of cereal for $28. This will last us about a month.

The obvious answer to what we do with the large quantities of food we buy is eat it of course!

But, there are days like today where we get a little more


The fun isn't just for the little kids


BTW: to get the cereals at this crazy low price, I took advantage of the Publix 50% off ALL Kellogg's cereal sale, and used several high value internet print coupons, plus two competitor coupons for $5 off total purchases.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A year's supply of tomatoes

There are only a few things I stock up for in preparation of the zombie apocalypse:

tooth paste
tomato products
Cracklin Oat Bran

The first two, mainly because I hate shopping for them. The cereal is because it only goes on sale twice a year at Publix and it's D's favorite.

Today was stock up on Diced Tomatoes day. I snagged 30 cans of tomatoes for a whopping $7! The breakdown is just about 25 cents a can! That's 85 percent savings for those doing the math.

Tomorrow, I go back to Publix for the cereal. It will only be about 70 percent overall savings, but Cracklin Oat Bran is special.  It never has a coupon for it and it doesn't go on sale by itself unless its part of Publix's 50 percent off all Kellogg's cereals. And I have a coupon for $1/3 Kelloggs cereals that expires tomorrow.

This is where tracking the sales really comes in handy. I knew these two big sales were coming up so I made sure to snag those particular coupons to match with the sale even before the sales were announced. I don't normally track cycles but these two, I remember.

I also did a  happy dance in WinnDixie today and texted a friend to let her in on a deal on Angel Food cake: Another product that is rarely included in sales. I snatched up the last three boxes for just $1.25 each! It would have been a better deal, but I hadn't been able to get my hands on the great cake mix coupon from two weeks ago. Oh well...There will be other deals :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Home Deposit

Project difficulties should be based on how many trips to Home Depot or Lowes it takes to complete.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The hole problem

It started out a simple enough problem: Some previous owner had cut a hole in the bathroom linoleum and just left it. Our plan was to just patch up the hole.

Easy Peasy.

We decided to remove an entire section of flooring and just deal with mismatched floor until we had the time and money to do a proper renovation.

Then, we found the hole problem. And it was much worse than we thought.

The wood is our original hardwood floor. The shiny is the duct work insulation. If that insulation were missing, the hole would show right through to the dirt under the house.

Not good.

This wasn't going to be an afternoon quick fix. That eventual bathroom renovation was happening now. And I had a whopping $350 budget to work with.

Begin hyperventilation.

My awesome husband could have gotten it all done Saturday, but then Danger Girl broke her finger...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fun and Games

It's always fun til someone loses an eye.

Or breaks a finger.

I always knew Danger Girl would be the first broken bone. And, if the doctor hadn't chosen to super glue her foot together when she was three, Danger Girl would have been the first stitches, too. She also holds for first dislocation and is the overall winner of most ER visits. In fact, she has more ER visits than all of the other kids combined.

A listing of the ways she has managed to hurt herself would make for interesting reading. How many kids can boast to having a nostril sliced clean through by walking in front of a swing? Or having a foot impaled on a toy after jumping off a dresser in an after bedtime Olympics? Surprisingly,  the "don't run with that in your mouth" injury goes to Little B. Lacerated uvulas bleed like you wouldn't believe.
Danger Girl and Leelee are continuing a family tradition curse of older sisters breaking bones of younger sisters. I swear I was a good kid. These genes are totally coming through D's side of the family.

One and a half inch thick solid oak doors pack a mean punch, even more when slammed by an irate older sister.

I'll spare the actual injury pictures. It was pretty gnarly. I thought she needed stitched. Then I looked at the under side of her finger which had turned an unnatural purple color. It didn't take an X- ray to figure out it was broken.

She thought it was pretty darn cool by the end of the night.

The good news from the orthopedic surgeon is she doesn't need surgery. She could have used stitches, but that would involve ripping off her entire fingernail to get to where the worst of it is located and he didn't want to put any more trauma on her. Danger Girl also got a proper splint but is far more proud to show off her humongous finger wrap.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Toastachos recipe

When I found this recipe in the latest issue of Rachael Ray's magazine, I didn't see what made it "TOAST"achos instead of a loaded tostada. After trying the recipe, I still don't. It wasn't a bad recipe. But it wasn't "ohhh wow this is so good and unique."

What makes this look a little fancier is that you take the corn tortillas and fry them yourself instead of buying premade tostada shells. This is a money saving option, but not one that I think is a real deal breaker. Save yourself some time and buy the premade shells if you can find them.

I also didn't make the cheese sauce as directed. We had quite a bit of rotel cheese dip leftover from the Super Bowl party. I wasn't making cheese sauce when I had fake cheez sauce already.

The kids were really "meh" about this recipe. I mean, they love tacos but for whatever reason flat tacos just didn't work for them.

But gosh, doesn't it look so pretty?

Here's the Original Recipe. 

And here's what I did:

Fry corn tortilla in oil.

Brown ground beef and added my own homemade taco seasoning. Added two cans of tomato sauce (instead of a can of paste and beef stock).

Topped with baby greens (the recipe really needed more green veggies), ground beef mixture, cheese, avocado, sour cream and black olives.

We probably won't have this recipe again. It just wasn't big enough of a hit to make it in to the regular rotation;. It's too bad because I really wanted to love it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Clearing the Shelves for Charity

Normally, I don't advocate shelf clearing. It's not nice.

But, I broke my coupon rules this week and cleared a shelf completely in the name of charity.

Danger Girl's school is doing a pet supplies drive for our local humane society. I had a stack of coupons for kitty treats. And the right sale came up.

The first day, I bought up about half the shelf. I just couldn't bring myself to take all the treats. So I went back a second day. I took Danger Girl to the store the second where we snatched up 14 bags of cat treats and a bag of dog food  (and a few other goodies) so we could hit our total to use another $ off total purchase coupon.

She was able to bring in 44 bags of kitty treats, plus the one bag of dog food. Danger  Girl wasn't able to carry it all in by herself.

The retail price for all of this was approximately $85 and we spent $10.

/Danger Girl is a big animal lover. She wants to be a vet when she grows up. I knew this particular project was very important to her, so it was important to me to get the most we could (for the least amount of money of course!)

I'm anxious to see how much her class was able to gather together for the humane society!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

please update your bookmarks!

I took the plunge.

I thought I was going into the deep end. So I closed my eyes and just ran out in to the water.

Turns out I already knew how to swim and the water wasn't all that deep.

It took me about 30 seconds to buy http://www.addhousewife.com

So please update your bookmarks!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New member to the family

Sometimes when people move, they leave behind pets.

It sucks.

And I don't get it.

Josie joined our family when someone left her behind after a move. The kids had left the shed open and it was like a homeless shelter for kitties. And when Josie got pregnant and the kids left the back door open, she moved her babies inside the house without us knowing and then refused to leave.

Cats are devious like that.

A little more than a week ago, we were clearing out the rental house and her a very loud meow. As soon as we opened the door, this black and white cat darted in and went straight to where the cat food used to be. I know this because there was cat food all over the floor in that spot.

I texted the renters. Why yes, their cat had escaped before they moved and they couldn't find him.


I couldn't leave the cat behind.

The last thing anyone needs is an unneutered male cat in the neighborhood.

So we brought the cat home with every intention of taking it to the humane society Monday morning.

Then, the kids started in. "Mommy, please can we keep him?"

And when I went to the store to buy Josie a new food dish, D stuck an extra one in the cart.

The nail in the coffin was when Leelee named him.


Monday morning, instead of calling the humane society, I called to make an appointment to have him neutered. I feel like Bob Barker. Please have your pets spayed or neutered.

photo: BTWactually

Josie is not happy Steve is here. Not happy at all. She's a very dominant female and Steve is a young up and comer. He doesn't understand he's supposed to cater to her every whim. In fact, he keeps starting stuff with her. Josie hasn't had anyone actually challenge her authority before. 

We thought we had peace talks going on the other day.

Given recent events, I think the talks failed. Josie is pissed. Especially at Leelee. She hisses at Leelee all the time since Steve chose her as his human slave. 

Hopefully things will settle into a nice routine with Josie and Steve learning to at least tolerate each others' presence.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Despite a productive weekend with projects and a yard sale, things have come to a grinding halt here. I'm sick. Half the kids are sick. And the healthy ones are driving me out of my mind.

So I'm trying in my haze to figure out what we're eating this week, when right now, nothing sounds good.

Sunday: Super Bowl Foods
Monday: Ham & Stove Top
Tuesday: Toastachos
Wednesday: Chili Dogs, tots
Thursday: orange BBQ pulled pork sammies
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Chicken Spaghetti

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saved a Dresser

When my step sister moved in to the rental house, she was short a dresser and I offered to let her use Punky Brewster's old changing table/dresser.

Then, they moved and left many things behind and this is what the dresser looked like when I picked it up from the empty house. Well, this is what it looked like AFTER I started priming it! And yes, that's spray paint.

I picked my stomach up off the floor and set to work. I'd need a lot of primer for this. Spray paint doesn't prime over easily. I used two coats of primer and still had some bleed through! If you are thinking of painting something wood, please don't use spray paint. If you change your mind later, you'll have a lot more work cut out for you!

Around the DIY blogland, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is all the rage. Or well, it's all the rage on the projects I love. Like this one for a revamped Table and Chairs and homemade chalk paint recipe I found on pinterest! The Annie Sloan paint is pricey and not available in my area, so it was definitely a DIY to the rescue moment.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 C Plaster of Paris
1/2 C Hot Water
1 1/2 C paint

Mix together the plaster of paris and hot water, then add in your paint! Voila!

After painting  you do need to add a light coat of wax then lightly sand.

For this project I used Sherwin Williams Exuberant Pink and Peppercorn. Peppercorn is totally my new favorite paint color. It's being used all over my house!

And then we have the final product!

Please excuse the missing knob. I can't get the old screw OUT so the new knob can't go on yet.

 I also added these cute little dragonfly stencils for an extra hint of color for Punky Brewster. She wanted a bit more girly. I loved how it was more rock n roll than pink fluffy princess. Naturally Danger Girl said she's totally cool with me redoing her dresser in the colors as long as I keep it rock n roll.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Totals Winn Dixie

This is the post where all the naysayers about saving money on produce items can just...well, go away.

I did a happy dance in the produce section when I found $1/1 blinkie for the Dole salads that were BOGO. It was $3.79 for two, plus $2/off! so just 90 cents each bag! The avocados were BOGO. I missed out on the avocado coupon that was out, so that could have been even more savings. The limes weren't on sale, but the bananas were just 39 cents per pound since they started to turn already. My kids like eating the bananas at that stage, so it's really a great way to save.

I also scored an awesome deal on a few clearance items, including some Kikkoman Curry sauces that were 75% off! No coupon needed!

4 bags Dole Salad ($1/1 X4)
4 cans chicken ($1/2 X2)
2 Taco Bell sauce (.50/1)
2 Pace Picante Sauce (.50/2)
2 Avocados
3 limes
1 cup cake liner
4 lbs bananas
2 Krusteaz Crumb cake ($1/2 peelie)
4 Kikkoman Curry Sauces (75% off!)
Dean's Honey Mustard Dip (dairy markdown 50% off)
Stonyfield Yogurt (dairy markdown 75% off)
YoBaby Yogurt (dairy markdown 75% off)

$5/30 Enjoy the City Coupon

My total before coupons and sales was $85. After coupons and sales it was just $24!

And I had lots of non coupon items. That's where it really pays to use the $5 off coupons that WinnDixie prints out or the City Coupons...When I shop, I consider it $5 in "free" produce, dairy or meat.

Friday Totals CVS

I don't normally do the whole drug store shopping thing. I did when I first started couponing, but quickly acquired a year's supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, etc. I don't really care to store more than a year's supply of anything, so I dropped off the drug store scene.

Then there are the every so often crazy food deals that beat the regular store. That was the case this week at CVS. I paid just $16 for all of this:

6 DiGiorna Pizzas ($3/2 tearpad from WinnDixie x 3)
3 12 pk pepsi products

Used: $1 green bag tag, $3 American Greetings reward on the soda, which brought that total to $6.60 AFTER taxes.

I then received another $4 reward which I applied to the pizzas...for a total of $10.07 AFTER taxes.

It came out to just about 80 percent savings! I didn't get any rewards back from the pizza except thanks from the family.

I also always buy cheese pizzas and we top them at home. It's just easier that way.

Fireplace Facelift (in progress)

Leelee's fireplace needs a facelift. Yes, her bedroom has a fireplace in it. At one point it was probably functional. It hasn't been in a very long time. Someone, in the mid 80s did some sponge painting. That's the last bit of updating it's had. Definitely not something a teen girl wants.

The walls in her room are a warm yellow/deep cream. It's called Banana Cream Pie. Her bedding is dark brown. And the accents are teal, green and orange.

Now, I need some help with the colors. She's selected this color for the mantle.

That's araucana teal from Martha Stewart.

And then for the surround:

So now I need to figure out what to do with the insert. Stripping the paint is not something I really want to tackle. Do I leave it that pale minty green? Paint it another color from her room? Maybe oil rub bronze it?

Then there's the floor in front of the fireplace. It's wood. It was painted and then had  a crackle effect added to it. I have an idea on what I want to do...but it's a lot of work.

Advice? Color suggestions? I'm doing this solely with paint because it's an upstairs fireplace. I don't to do any tiling or fancy stuff!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Making Dinner Special

With six kids, meals are something I like to keep a tight control over. By menu planning, I can really keep costs down. But it's not just about the costs, it's about controlling the chaos. And there are some nights, that despite careful planning, the chaos starts to take over...that's when I like to turn to back up plans.

When I was contacted about trying the new Bertolli Meal Soups, I was very excited. I am a big fan of soup, but it's not something I get to use as a dinner very often because D doesn't like it. The new Bertolli Meal Soups come in four varieties: Chicken Minestrone, Roasted Chicken & Rotini Pasta, Tomato Florentine & Tortellini with Chicken, and Tuscan-Style Beef with Vegetables, all of which sounded super yummy to me. Meals for two don't go very far in a house of 8, but  that meant this was going to be a rescue meal for me...for one of those Calgon, take me away sort of nights.

As dumb luck would have it, that chaos night came a lot sooner than I expected. The day started at 5 am with Little Miss and her puking alarm clock. D called in sick to work because The Boy had a doctor appointment and I couldn't take Princess Pukesalot. Oh, and I had to take Steve, our new rescued kitteh in for his neutering appointment. It was already shaping up to be an oh-so-fabulous day.

The Boy is on the autism spectrum and most of the time he does really well. Today, not so much. He had to get blood work done. It took a valium (for him, not me...though by the end of the appointment, that was starting to sound really awesome) and four nurses to hold him down. The appointment was at 10 am and we didn't get home til just about 3.

I had to pick up Danger Girl from school at 330. I had a few minutes before I had to run to pick up Little B from school, race over to get Steve from the vet, run back home...and it's after 5. The Boy is still feeling really off thanks to the valium. Leelee is supposed to be at the Food Bank at 615. Little B and Danger Girl at the church at 630.

Somewhere in there, I'm supposed to prep dinner, make sure homework is done and...not go stark raving mad. I threw a quick meal together for the kids, but I really just needed something for ME. Time for some Bertolli Roasted Chicken & Rotini Pasta.

The first step for making this mealtime special for me was making sure I didn't have to put in a ton of effort. I spent the whole day giving to everyone else, I didn't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. This was done in less than 10 minutes, including my dessert!

What I noticed right away about this soup was the amount of veggies. So many soups lack in the veggie department. And because the soup was frozen, the veggies weren't overcooked and mushy.

My second step to making a quick weeknight meal special is to choose special ingredients. This time of year, that means picking up an out of season treat. The strawberries in Florida are arriving in the stores now. It's the perfect first step for dessert.

I hulled the berries them stuffed them with chunks of chocolate. Then, roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

Melt in your mouth Inside Out Roasted Chocolate Strawberries.

I was a good girl and ate the delicious bowl of soup first.

Check out the chunks of veggies! You can't get that out of can!

I was also a nice mom and shared the strawberries with Punky Brewster.  Then I sat down and enjoyed a nice cup cocoa. Just because the dinner went together in a hurry, doesn't mean you have to eat it in a hurry. Taking the time to enjoy the taste of the food is a big part of making dinner special on the weeknights.

Want to know more about the Bertolli Meal Soups?
Facebook: facebook.com/Bertolli
Twitter: twitter.com/Bertolli
Website:   villabertolli.com

I was compensated by Bertolli to participate in the Weeknight Meal Special Challenge. All opinions and thoughts on the product are mine.

Wordless Wednesday sleepy time

I love that Punky Brewster still naps. Not sure what she's going to do when kindergarten starts. Danger girl would collapse by 7 on school nights. I'm not sure Punky can make it that long!