Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Finals: Saved $55

I've taken the last few weeks off from shopping aside from trips to the Farmer's Market. The sales just haven't been terrific.

This week, I took the opportunity to stock up on soda in preparation for 4th of July festivities.

I spent $35 pre-tax and came home with:

13 bottles of soda @ 50 cents each
5 cat treats @ 50 cents each
organic vanilla ice cream
2 cans chili
2 cans mandarin oranges
frozen veggies
4 boxes of cereal
2 boxes granola bars
12 boxes of pasta @52 cents each

Not too bad, I guess.

I really splurged this week since we didn't really *need* the snacky foods. I ended up being coupon fairy as I had many coupons that were expiring tomorrow. I just didn't need 20 boxes of pasta right now!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pin'Inspirational Thursday!

I'm so excited! I've teamed up with
ArtsyGirl and Jane's Adventures in Dinner to bring you Pin'Inspirational Thursday!

We're now able to have this party on THREE blogs each week, expand AND spend more time with each of you.
Here's even a new funky button

Hope that you snag it and spread the word.
Watch here through the summer for even more fun changes all to better showcase the wonderful you's that share your creativity each week.
Which brings me to the features!
Did you happen to notice;

Turtles and Tails proves that it is 5 o'clock somewhere

Days of Chalk and Chocolate brightens her house and makes even the hottest days seem cool and breezy.

Etcetorize made a cute easy sewing top!

Thanks again so very much and can't wait to see what you've produced!
Alrighty, a couple of things to keep in mind:
Visit and comment on lots of other folks' projects. Doesn't everyone love the feedback?
Please follow your hostesses, it is so nice for us to be able to keep in touch with you.
Please leave businesses for other rad parties and just share your own fabulousness.

Fake cleaning 101

Raise your hand if your house is company ready clean, all the time.

If you raised your hand, you can stop reading this post and go back to your bon bons, k?

For the rest of you, is this a little bit more familiar? - I get more cleaning done in the 10 minutes before someone comes over than I do in a week. 

And how many of you, when doing a big deep cleaning, have kids who demand to know who's coming over?

Yeah...mine, too.

Back when I had two under two, I had to drop something off to another mom/friend pretty early in the morning. Every time I visited before, her house was always pristine. She opened the door a crack and held out her hand for my delivery but I could still into her living room.

It looked like my living room. Like a toy store had exploded. And the sounds escaping her house? It was clear that mom was distracted and all heck was breaking loose.

Another time, my sitter canceled and a different friend who always had a clean house said she could babysit but warned it was laundry day.

Oh. My. Gosh.

It was like a laundry mat EXPLODED in her living room. Piles of clothes everywhere.

And did I judge? You betcha! I had judged and found her worthy of my friendship.

That's when I finally realized you had friends you cleaned up for, and friends you let see how you really live, complete with playdough stuck to the walls.

But, this post isn't really about that. It's about how to really maximize those 10 minutes you spend trying to convince your guest you really do have a sparkling house all the time.

1. Designate a Disaster Room/Closet We've named ours the Closet of Doom. Also known as "Please do not open that door!" Many of my friends have one. It's a very well kept secret. That extra bedroom you claim is a "guest" room... yeah it's your Shove the Junk in there Real Quick Room.

2. Keep the view from the front door clean This trick comes in handy for those who aren't really gaining entrance to the house. Just let them see enough that it looks clean from where they stand.  We do this with our backyard. When the weeds start to grow a bit too high and The Boy hasn't mowed, I send the little ones out to pull weeds in the section visible from the street...just to make sure we're not given a citation from the city.

3. Company Couch Cushions Have one side of the couch cushions for family. The other side from company. The company side is the one without the stains and spills. When the guests leave, simply flip the cushions back to the family side.

4. The Emergency Tub Kids rooms giving you trouble? Place a large lidded rubber tub in each room. When you get the 10 minute warning of guests, throw everything from the floors and flat surfaces into the tub and snap the lid shut. Be sure to go through the bin later. This tip was given to me by a realtor in how to keep a house ready for showings when you have kids.

5. The Tub in an Emergency Ahhh the unconventional storage places. A good friend recently confessed that at a recent party she hosted, she had a pile of stuff and not enough time. It went into her dryer. Don't underestimate the power of stuffing things in places they don't belong and you are 100 percent sure where no one will look. At our house, I have the old pack' n 'play in my's usually full of several loads of laundry that needs folding. So, I cover it with fabric and pretend it's a table. Out of sight, out of mind.

6. If it smells clean, it is clean! Once you've successfully hidden everything, swept and well...let's face it, thought about dusting but never gotten around to it, the final fake out cleaning trick is to spray stinky cleaners near the front door and give them a quick wipe. Then, spray an air freshener. You need to live just a hint of disinfectant cleaner so they are aware the house has been cleaned, but enough air freshener to make it look like you're trying to disguise the smell as a courtesy to your guests.

OK, now you all know my "dirty" little secrets...share yours... please.  ;)

Linked up at:
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Nutella Apple Wraps

We've been in a snack rut.

apple sauce

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sometimes we'll go out on a limb and have cookies.

Yeah, we're living on the cutting edge of snack food this summer.

I found a recipe on a grocery store coupon booklet for Peanut Butter Granola Apple Wraps. It sounded pretty decent, but it could be improved with the addition of Nutella.

Nutella makes everything better.

Except this week, I didn't have Nutella. I had the generic stuff. It was a bit more hazelnut than chocolate, instead of Nutella's chocolate with "are you sure there are hazelnuts in here because all I taste is chocolate."


2/3 C Hazelnut Spread
1/3 C Peanut Butter
1/2 C Granola
Apple, chopped

In a large bowl, mix together 2/3 C hazelnut spread, 1/3 C peanut butter. Stir in granola and apple.

Spoon on to a tortilla, then roll up like a burrito.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bottle Bottom Stamping

I found an awesome pinterest project several months ago and found a great way to make this project my own. Then, the project was almost finished and things came to a terrible end...

but I'll get to the bad part later.

The supplies are found pretty much anywhere around your house:

20 oz plastic soda bottle
an item to decorate

And I decided to use this awesome table I got on FREECYCLE! That's right... this is a freebie project. The kind that you can work on and when your dreams are crushed, your heart isn't totally crushed because you didn't spend money on it.

Once you have your supplies together, place the bottom of the soda bottle into the paint and press on to your surface.

Here's a look at what you'll end up with...It looks like little flowers!

I took a smaller 16 oz bottle and stamped in a different color along the border of my table.

Isn't that CUTE? doesn't look like that any more.

I had the table on my porch. Then, we had a very violent storm.

And the wind came and it huffed and puffed and blew my table right off the porch.

And the rain came and drenched my poor table that was made of what looked to be some sort of recycled wood-like material.

Just imagine for a moment what happens if you left a cardboard box in the rain.

It did that. Sort of warping and bending into not a pretty table any more.


Good thing I found another one...but I have different plans for that one. Ones that don't involve leaving it on the front porch for any length of time...

linked up at:

Cowgirl Up ** Trendy Tuesday ** Jillify It ** Tuesday Time Out ** Too Cute Tuesday ** primitive and proper **Works for Me Wednesday ** Uncommonly Yours ** Wow Me Wednesday ** Homemade by You ** Whimsy Wednesday **Wednesday Whatsits **Wildly Original ** Thursdays are  Your Days** Taking a Time Out ** Thrifty Thursday ** Delightfully Inspiring ** Open House Party ** Creative Things Thursdays ** House of Hepworths ** Treasure Hunt Thursdays **  20 below ** Transformation Thursday**Pin'inspiring Thursday **Creative Thursdays **Made U Look **Flaunt it Fridays ** Home Sweet Home **Busy Mondays ** Debbie Doos Newbie Party ** It's Overflowing ** Cure for the common Monday ** I should be mopping the floors **Redoux **


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sweet Heat Coleslaw

We kicked off summer this weekend by hosting a BBQ for the Elders Quorum at our house. D is a counselor in the presidency and we are the only ones with enough parking and a big enough yard to do a big backyard BBQ.

The weather was perfect. It stayed in the mid80s with the humidity under 50 percent. That may sound awful, but here...that's actually a pretty nice day.

I should have taken a picture of the setup, and I really regret it now...but D arranged the smokers and the BBQs, and the tables in such a way that it gave a great visual of exactly how far out we need our deck to come. That's IF we can get permission from the city to build a deck.

At one point, I counted roughly 50 people in our backyard! And we probably could have held another 50 without a problem. This is the biggest gathering we've hosted so far.

D volunteered me to make potato salad and coleslaw. I hate both. I delegated the potato salad to a friend and bought bagged salad. At the last minute I decided to make a coleslaw after all.

I started with Paula Deen's coleslaw as a base and built my own sauce to give it a bit of sweet heat. Since the really large bowl was almost empty by the end, I'd say it was a pretty big hit.

Start with the basics: diced onion, chopped green pepper, matchstick carrots, and cabbage. Toss in some mayo and the secret ingredient, plus sugar and vinegar and you're good to go! I had to triple the recipe for this crowd. Here's a smaller version

 Sweet Heat Coleslaw

  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 /2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cabbage head, sliced then chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  •  1 T Weber's New Orleans Cajun Grill Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

In  a large bowl, toss together the bell pepper, onion, carrot and cabbage.

In a small bowl, mix together mayo, the New Orleans Cajun seasoning, and sugar. Stir in vinegar.

Add the dressing on to the salad mixture and chill for an hour before serving.

D was surprised by the heat at the end. It doesn't get you at first. It lures you in like a sweet coleslaw, then hits you with the cajun flavors. Definitely not MY grandma's coleslaw!

Linked up at:

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I admit it, I get on food jags, just like my kids.

This time, I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Sarah from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.  Blame can also be placed with Mrs. White from Little Homemade Housewife for participating in the Grow Swap Share blog swap that I participated in last week.  

You see, Sarah shared a recipe on Mrs. White's blog for Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese sandwiches.

I know, right?

I just happen to have a bumper crop of jalapenos in my garden and I just happen to love melted cheese...

So me being me, I just looked at the pictures and at the ingredient list, looked in my fridge and decided I could totally make that with a few little changes. Because I'm a rebel  lazy.


Philly Cooking Cream (plain)
Cheddar Cheese

If you're not me, you'll have a fancy grill and can roast your jalapenos on the grill. If you are me, then you grab a skewer and poke the pepper and stick it into the flame on your gas stove.

 (side note: this is also a great way to toast marshmallows. Don't knock it)

Once the jalapenos are nice and charred, dice them up, then mix into about 1/4 C of cooking cream.

Spread cooking cream on the sides of two slices of bread, then add shredded cheddar in to the middle. Put the sandwich together, butter the bread and well...cook your grilled cheese sandwich in a pan.

These are amazing. Delicious. Super easy to make. And probably not all that good for you.

linked up at these awesome parties:

Wednesday Whatsits ** Penny Pinching Party **Wildly Original ** Mom on TimeOut ** Thursdays are Your Days ** Thrifty Thursdays ** Creative Thursdays **  House of Hepworths ** Delightfully Inspiring **
Pin'inspiration Thursday ** Made U Look ** Catch a glimpse ** Home Sweet Home ** Simply Creations ** Thrifty Things Friday ** Shine on Fridays ** Happy Hour Projects ** Chic on a Shoestring ** Kitchen fun with my 3 sons **

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sponsored Post: Quaker Soft Baked Bars

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Quaker Oats for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Oatmeal is one of my favorite foods. Note, I didn't say breakfast foods. Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast. It's in cookies, bread and foods that masquerade as breakfast but are really just desserts.

My kids also love oatmeal in pretty much every form, as well. Oatmeal in my mind is really a wholesome food.

A challenge to healthy morning eating we face in our family is with The Boy. He attends early morning scripture study during the school year. He leaves the house at 530 a.m. He  eats breakfast, but by 830 am, he's hungry again. If you know teenaged boys, you know waiting three hours between eating is pretty amazing. LOL We usually send him to school with a breakfast snack.

A perfect option for him is the Quaker Soft Baked Bar. With 140 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, plus B vitamins, it's an easy snack for him that will hold him over until lunch. Heck, they'd probably be great as an afterschool snack to hold him off until dinner! Did i mention how much teenaged boys eat?

QSBB Yum Image high res.jpg

The Boy is a huge fan of banana bread, so I have a feeling he'll prefer the Banana Nut Bread option. Me? I'm a sucker for anything cinnamon, so sign me up for the Cinnamon Pecan Bread. These Quaker soft baked bars can also be warmed in the microwave, so it will taste like something warm from the oven. Mmmmm I'm getting hungry!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chicken Chilli Pie

The last few weeks, I haven't been stellar in the kitchen. I've tried several new recipes and not a single one was anything the family wanted to finish, let alone have the leftovers. It was very depressing. I don't like having the same things all the time!

Back in April, I pinned a recipe from Jane's Adventures in Dinner for a Chicken Chilli  Pie. 

Jane has one of my favorite cooking blogs. It's always something fun (and no, she's not paying me to say all these nice things! I just really love her blog!)

Anyhoo, I figured it was time to try a recipe I was sure was going to be a sure thing...with a few tweaks. The recipe has a great foundation: Chilli and cornbread. What can possibly go wrong?

Hey, don't get ahead of me ;)

And for the record, the only thing that went wrong was me not making enough! It was a HUGE hit!

I started with her basic chilli recipe and tailored it to our family's tastes. We like a bold chilli flavor. I also like to add veggies to anything I can. Chilli is a fantastic way to get the extra veggies in without  making it obvious. The Boy has some texture issues and will only eat corn mixed in to things like mashed potatoes and chilli.

Chicken Chilli Pie 

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic chopped
3 T oil
1 T cumin
2 T chili powder
1/2 t cinnamon

2 cans any variety beans (I used chili beans and ranch beans)
1 can corn 
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 C diced chicken breast (can use rotisserie chicken to speed things up)
2 C shredded cheddar cheese

Cornbread mix (I used two cans of Krusteaz one step. That was too much and it took FOREVER to cook. Use one box Krusteaz if you want this done in under an hour with a thinner layer of cornbread.) 

In a skillet saute the onion and garlic in oil. Add seasonings and chicken. Cook until the chicken is done. Then add the beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato paste and heat through.

Spread in a 9X13 pan and top with cheddar cheese. Prepare the cornbread according to the directions, then spread it on top of the cheese.

Bake in 350 oven for 20 minutes (40 if you use two boxes of cornbread).

Linked up at:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Guest Post: Organizing Your Blogs

Today, I'm participating in the Grow.Swap.Share.  I'm posting over at Space For Living about Managing Home and Kids during Summer Vacation.   I'd like to welcome Autumn from Space For Living...

I am so excited to be participating in a blog hop today! A blog hop is a chance to trade blogs for a day and I have always wanted to do one. I love blogs and wish I could keep up with all the various blogs I follow! Since the blog hop is a perfect chance to be introduced to some fabulous new blogs, the question that my organizing obsessed mind keeps mulling over is- how do we organize and keep track of all the blogs we read or would like to read? Chances are your favorite blogs are scattered throughout various "placeholders": bookmarks, RSS readers, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and maybe even Google+. This would be the definition of “virtual” disorganization. If you are longing to corral your blogs and quickly find the sites you love when you want them, then it is time to get your reading list organized! Reader Organizing If we think about blogs like paper articles or magazines the number one rule is to keep like with like. One of the easiest places to organize your blogs is in a RSS reader. RSS readers check the feeds of various sites you subscribe to. By clicking on the feed icon (usually in the top right corner of the page) you can add the blog to your reader. When new content is available it is "pushed" to your reading list. There are oh so many benefits of an RSS reader! You can:
  • scan blogs quickly
  • read the whole post without leaving the reader, (unlike clicking on links in Facebook or Twitter)
  • sort sites by category
  • search all your favorite blogs at once
  • star your favorite posts
  • mark what you have already read
I've noticed that with the RSS reader, a drawback is you still have to go to the site to comment. Also, following your favorite blogs on a social media site does offer benefits, such as networking on Twitter or connecting on Facebook. But for your daily blog reading, a reader is a far more efficient a way to go. More efficient=more blogs to read; it’s a win/win! Have I convinced you to use a reader? One of the most popular is Google Reader. Google reader is super easy to start up if you aren't using it already. Just Google it! Once you have your Google reader up and running, you are ready for step 1 in organizing your favorite blogs.

1. Collect Websites

Make a visit to all of your favorite sites and subscribe to their feeds. Look for the RSS feed symbol. Be sure to edit as you go, just because you once loved a site, doesn't mean you need to keep it on your daily read list. You can also add a Google Reader bookmarklet, a little button on your browser, that allows you to quickly subscribe to any page. It saves searching around web pages looking for the RSS feed button. You can find the Google Reader bookmarklet by clicking on the settings button while in Google Reader, and select Reader settings. It is under the Goodies tab.   Now stay with me, this is the hardest part of the process. Try to have tunnel vision as you come across all the lovely blogs you'd love to meander through. Repeat with me "organizing blogs, organizing blogs, I'll have time to actually read the blogs later." Believe me, I know from experience. It's far too easy to get distracted with all those new posts just waiting for a read. While in Google Reader you can star all the posts you want to read later and have a mega blog browsing session!

2. Create Folders

After subscribing to your favorite feeds, it is time to organize within Google Reader! Or maybe you are starting at this step with an already overloaded reader. Reader Overload Google has given us a few options to create folders.

Batch it up

While in Google Reader, click on the settings icon in the top right corner (right under your lovely name) and select Reader settings. From the tabs, click on Subscriptions. Your list of subscriptions will pop up and select Add to folder… on the right side. From there you can create new folders or choose folders you have created. Need a little visual? Fullscreen capture 622012 95955 PM-001Fullscreen capture 622012 102545 PM-002  

One by One

You can change the folders without going into the settings menu by hovering over the site and clicking the arrow that appears just to the right of the title. Select New folder… (all the way down on the bottom) to create one or add the blog to a folder you have already created. You can also drag and drop blogs into folders too.

Fun Extras

  • Rearrange folder by dragging and dropping
  • Rename the feeds to make them more personal to you
When you are all done you will have an organized reader! Fullscreen capture 622012 101514 PM Here are just a few category ideas for naming your folders-
  • Daily Reads
  • Inspirational
  • Need a laugh
  • Just trying out-a holding place for new blogs you want to try out and see if you like them before making the big commitment of adding them to your folders.
  • Link parties or sorted even further by the days of the week- Example Saturday link parties
The possibilities are endless! And of course, you can always select All items if you want to see all the newest posts at once. Play around with the folder function and see what will work for you. The search function is also super helpful since I seem to always seem to forget where I read about that fabulous craft project I want to try "someday". Looks like I need to create a new folder!

3. Bookmark

Last step is to add just one bookmark for Google Reader. With one bookmark click, you can find all your favorites and settle in for a read. How do you keep up with your favorite blogs? Are you a Google Reader aficionado? Or do you prefer jumping around to different sites to get the full experience? Please do tell in the comments below!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It's about time I got back in to posting my weekly menus. My mom has been messaging me on facebook looking for suggestions and I'm pretty out of ideas, too! I had to turn to my yummy pinboard to figure out what I'm cooking this week!

I also had to check the weather to see if there was a chance it might be cooling off...or whether or not we have any incoming storms to contend with. No such luck on either account. Looks to be sunny and low 90s all week.

Sunday: Chicken soft tacos
Monday: Chicken Chili Pie
Tuesday: Meatballs & Gravy
Wednesday:  Grilling out. Burgers & dogs
Thursday:Sausages, onions & potatoes
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Breakfast

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Finals: $18 spent

This was a slow grocery week. There just weren't really sales or coupons for things we need. However, my kids absolute favorite cereal was on sale, so I ended up buying 8 boxes.

The cereal not only makes my kids happy, but it was a double deal. For every 6 boxes of specially marked cereals I buy, I can enter the codes and get FREE movie tickets!

We've done this for the last few years and it's great to get a bonus for buying something we eat all the time.

The promotion started about a month ago, and we've already earned three movie tickets! That's pretty darn awesome. Five more tickets and the whole family can see the movie for free. Given that we go through 8 boxes of cereal a week, that won't take too long.

The cost of the 6 boxes of cereal, after coupons is just $9, so the same price as the movie ticket. Most people eat cereal, so it's a real win-win.

And for those who are on the WIC program, some of the cereals on this promotion are also available with WIC vouchers. That means if you get WIC, you can really go to the movies for free. I remember those days when we did use WIC and it would have been really nice to get a free date night by taking advantage of this promotion.

8 boxes KRAVE cereal ($1/2 found on cereal box X4)
Nature's Own Bread
Welch's Naturals Grape Jelly (.75/1 hang tag)
4 Pepperridge Farm Swirl Bread (.40/1 X4)
4 Cran Cherry Juice ($1/1 X4)

$5/$30 Winn Dixie coupon

Total spent $18 (pretax) total saved $50) percent savings: 75%

Linked up at:
Southern Savers ** I heart Publix ** Stuff N Nonsense ** Frugalicious Friday ** Chic on a Shoestring ** Maiden D'Shade **