Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

I normally don't buy too much on eBay these days.  It seems like people unfairly jack up the shipping price and I end up paying either the same price as in the stores or close to.  Remember those days when buying on eBay was a steal.  I do check it out items I want from time to time.  

Recently, I signed up for daily alerts and received a $2 coupon.  Okay, I thought I can do this. 

Challenge 1: Can I find something for $2 and not pay any extra?  The coupon stated that shipping could not be applied against the coupon. 

Challenge 2:  Find something with free shipping.  I remember a while back looking at coupons on eBay.  I thought, how funny to buy coupons.  I searched the baby coupons that I would use.  Most of these expired in a couple weeks and were in lots of 10 or more.  Okay, I'm not going to use 10 diaper coupons even if I can save $1 per package. But they had free shipping.  So I searched grocery coupons.  Here I found several people auctioning off lots of 100 random grocery coupons, but most were selling at $3 or more.  Most had free shipping. 

Challenge 3:  To bid on one of those lots of coupons for under $2 with free shipping and win.  So, I bid on one and lost.  I actually ended up bidding on four different auctions that were ending within a half hour. I bid on each separately until it ended or I lost.  I eventually won 100 coupons for $1.75 with free shipping.  I was able to use my $2 coupons and didn't have to pay anything.   I figure even if I get a few coupons I can use, I might actually come out ahead. Especially since I'm having a hard time cashing in Internet coupons. 

I'm still waiting for the coupons.  Stay tuned for next Thursday's thrifty post to see what I got!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Drop Biscuits

These are really easy to make and really good.

Drop Biscuits
This recipe is taken from

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp table salt
1 cup buttermilk (cold)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted and cooled for about 5 minutes)
2 Tbsp melted butter for brushing biscuits

1. Preheat oven 475 degrees.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in large bowl.
3. Combine buttermilk and 8 Tbsp of melted butter in medium bowl.  Stir until butter forms clumps.
4. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.
5. Use a greased 1/4 cup dry measuring cup and scoop level amount of batter.  
6.  Drop on parchment-lined baking sheet.  (Biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches.)
7. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes.
8. Brush tops with melted butter.

**While re-reading the directions for this recipe I realized that there is powdered buttermilk.  This would be a great pantry staple to have on hand.**

Monday, February 23, 2009

$5 Dinner Challenge

I've posted this before and thought it would be good for the $5 Dinner Challenge. Check out more $5 dinner recipes here!

Tuna Mac and Cheese

1 box of Kraft Mac and Cheese
2 tbsp butter
½ cup onion
¼ cup green pepper
¾ cup milk
1 can cream of celery
1 6 oz can of tuna
1 cup carrots sliced (you could use any veggie -- I had baby carrots on hand)
½ cup French fried onions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Set aside the cheese sauce packet.
3) In a saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
4) In the same pan, saute onion and green pepper in butter.
5) Return macaroni to the pan.
6) Add milk and contents of cheese sauce packet; stir until smooth.
7) Stir in the soup, tuna, and carrots.
8) Pour into a casserole dish.
9) Cover and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
10) Sprinkle with French fried onions before serving.

**You could make your own mac and cheese to cut cost or make even healthier**

This recipe is also linked at the Grocery Cart Challenge recipe swap.  

Toddler Crafts and More

Here are some activities we've been doing lately.

Kool-Aid Playdough
(I've seen this recipe all over the blogger world and had to try it.  It is fantastic.)
1 cup flour
1 package Kool-Aid (any works, we used grape)
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup boiling hot water

1. Mix dry ingredients in bowl.
2. Stir in boiling water.
3. Mix well.

*Store in air tight container.  We're keeping ours in the fridge.**

Frog Activity
After we made a heart valentine butterfly, my daughter kept looking at it and saying "ribbit."  We glued this pattern.

Sensory Table -- Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I found this idea here and my daughter absolutely loves it.  All you need is some yellow yarn and brown and red pom poms.  It is so much fun!
Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss.  We ate ham a couple weeks ago and my daughter was so proud that she could say ham.  I brought out the old favorite Green, Eggs and Ham and we read it many times throughout the day.  Yep, my daughter who won't sit still for anything will let me read this lengthy story and not get up.  Some might suggest it's not appropriate for her developmentally.  I say if she enjoys it we go with it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gift ideas

Looking for some good gift ideas, check out this Mixes in a Jar.  There are some great ideas!

Goals for the week

This week I'm going to catch up on those little things that pile up.  We were sick for the last week and half and weren't able to get ahead at all.  I like to set short-term goals for myself.  I often make a list for the week (example below) or make a list for the day.  I try to keep it within reason so that I can actually accomplish the tasks.  Sometimes it works, sometimes life gets in the way.  But it really helps if I write down what I want to get done.  That way it is easier for me to plan my day.

Here are some of my goals for the week:
  • Clean toys (gotta get rid of those germs)
  • Rotate books (we have so many and my daughter drags more out every day)
  • Photos: Upload, edit, back-up and put online.  
  • Make Dr. appointments for myself
  • Clean off my dresser (why does it always get cluttered?)
  • Reorganize pantry closet
  • Pay Bills and evaluate savings.
  • Make a couple of games for my daughter
  • Make Banana Muffins
  • Go through boxes that are in basement and find the rest of my craft items.
  • Mail taxes
  • Iron on flowers on my daughter's curtains
This of course goes along with the normal day-to-day routine -- making meals, cleaning floors, attending storytime Monday, cleaning fish bowl, dishes, laundry, grocery shopping etc.

How do you get that stuff done that nags away at you?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Coupons Not Being Taken

I have encountered several occasions when cashiers won't take my coupons.  Recently at Target they wouldn't stack the coupons -- I wrote and cleared that up.  But Internet coupons are getting harder and harder to cash in.  One store I go to will only take one Internet coupon per visit.  So, if I have three separate Internet coupons for three different products I can only use one.  Seems a little pointless to even search for online coupons.  

I have written to several companies whose products I enjoy and use loyally with hopes of receiving manufacturer coupons.  I have received some and figure that's the only way around it.  I also have written if a specific coupon has been rejected and have been compensated with manufacturer coupons.  It just seems like it gets harder and harder to save money.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Hamburger Barley Stew

I found this recipe posted on the Grocery Cart Challenge and thought it sounded good.

Here's the link to the recipe. Oh, and it's crockpot recipe, too.  I really enjoyed it and it felt good on my sick throat.  

Double Ear Infection

My little one had a fever since last Wednesday.  We had a "well" check-up with a our new pediatrician on Friday.  So thankfully she told us she just had a cold. (and that she's in the 98 percentile for height and 16 percentile for weight.)  We monitored her fever and her cold and on Monday night her fever shot way up again, over 102 degrees.  Tuesday I decided we better take her back in.  I'm glad we did because she has a double ear infection.  She never once tugged on either ear. Last night I gave her first dose of amoxicillin and she slept so much better.  Unfortunately after 6 nights with little sleep, I now have a cold.  

Since I'm still new at figuring out what to do for fever and colds, I asked the doctor some questions.

1.  What is the danger with fever and when should we be concerned?  She said that fever alone is not dangerous and can not cause brain damage.  If the fever where to rise too quickly it can cause a febrile seizure.  However this is rare and can't be predicted when it could occur because it happens so fast.

2.  Should we give Motrin or Tylenol for fever?  She said that if my daughter is fussy and has a fever to give either to her.  But if she isn't fussy and playing like normal with a fever, then I can let her be.  

3.  Is there a magic number for temperature when I should call?  Basically, she said to monitor the fever and notice changes.  She said how we handled it was how it should be handled.  If fever doesn't go away or shoots way up fast, then there is a concern.  But a fever itself is nothing to worry about.

Now I know that people have lots of ideas and theories out there about fevers.  This is what my doctor told me.  If you have concerns about your situations, please be sure to contact your doctor.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

$5 Dinner Challenge

I just love reading $5 Dinners blog every day.  As part of the $5 Dinner Challenge, I'm posting a simple, mild and tasty recipe.  Check out more $5 Dinner Challenge recipes, here!

Crockpot Chili
1 lb ground beef ($1.79)
1 small onion (.30)
1 can tomato soup (.40)
1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes (.75)
1 can kidney beans (.50)
1 cup water
1 cup macaroni noodles (.40)
1 mild chili seasoning pack (I use McCormick's) (.80)

Estimated cost $4.94

1. Brown ground beef and onion. Drain.
2. Add soup, beef, stewed tomatoes, kidney beans, water and chili seasoning in crockpot. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
3. Cook noodles one hour before serving and add to chili.

Freezing meals ahead of time

Just recently, I've started making double batches and freezing meals.  Our FoodSaver helps make this a lot easier.  I want to have a week or two or meals in the freezer once spring and summer arrive, so I can enjoy the outdoors without worry about making meals every day.

Current meals I freeze
Cooked Chicken
Leftover roast, steak, ham

I'm going to continue trying to make ahead and freeze more meals.  I'll update as I figure out other meals.  Any suggestions, feel free to comment!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sleep Interrupted

So the last four nights my little 18-month old daughter has been struggling with a cold.  I've been awake more than asleep during the night.  It got me thinking, really what else do you do when you are awake and suppose to be sleeping, of all the things, people and noises that have woke me up in my life.  Thought it would be fun to make a list.

  • Squealing little sisters.  My sisters (when they were young) liked to play this "let's see how long we can hold the same high note."
  • Neighbors fighting, having a party, talking, stomping, etc.
  • A dance club on campus.  Yeah, I chose a dorm that was next to the on-campus dance club.  I feel asleep and often woke up to the beat of a loud base Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  
  • A skunk.  When I worked a camp, I had a friendly skunk, who like to come into my tent and scavenge for food.  I had no food, but he kept coming back.
  • Homesick campers.  
  • Alarm clocks that didn't belong to me.
  • Snoring roommate.
  • Drunk roommate.
  • Hugs from a husband.  Every morning before my husband gets out of bed he gives me a hug.  It usually wakes me up -- that one I don't mind.
  • A baby talking about tacos and the moon.
  • Birds, song birds and otherwise.
  • Lawnmowers.  That was when I used to sleep in.
  • Telephone.
  • Sirens.
  • Thunderstorms.
  • Waves on the ocean.
  • Wind.
Just a sampling of what has woken me up over the years.  I'm sure you can relate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free sample

I normally don't post free sample deals. But I found this one for Arm and Hammer Toothpaste. I love this toothpaste. It really help keep down on plaque build up. I've been using it for more than 15 years and don't plan on changing any time soon. I will admit the taste was a little hard to get used, but after a few weeks I didn't even notice it. Best toothpaste I've ever used!

Click here for a free sample!

For more coupons from Arm and Hammer, go here! There is even a $1 off coupon for toothpaste!

What's Cookin' --Deviled Chicken

I've taken a little break from blogging to catch-up on life. With the packing before the move, the unpacking (almost done, just the basement is left), and trying to constantly entertain a toddler, I decided to keep my to-do list simple this week. Just get the laundry caught up, clean the floors as needed and clean up the kitchen a few times a day. At nap time, I've actually been getting caught up on reading blogs and searching for deals.

Tonight I made Deviled Chicken, which I found on this awesome blog. I particularly like her series 30 Minute Meals Get Real. She chronicles how making dinner with three young children really occurs -- tears and all.

We liked this meal, but this chicken recipe is still our favorite.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Interesting Website

I just found this website Hillbilly Housewife. It has realistic ideas for meals and I love the "make from scratch recipes. " I'm anxious to try the garlic bread sticks. Check it out if you are looking for some new ideas!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's Baking -- Angel Food Cake

This is so good, it's worth the time to beat those eggs. I made this for my husband's birthday last month.

Angel Food Cake
This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated

1 cup cake flour (I used regular and it was good)
1 1/2 cups sifted granulated sugar
12 large egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract

2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp almond extracts
1 cup confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven 325 degrees
2. In small bowl whisk flour with 3/4 cup sugar.
3. Place other 3/4 cup sugar in a bowl next to mixer.
4. Beat egg whites at low speed until just broken and beginning to froth.
5. Add cream. of tartar and salt. Beat at medium speed.
6. With mixer still at medium speed, beat 3/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time until all sugar is added and whites are shiny with foam soft peaks.
7. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and almond extract and beat until just blended.
8. Sift flour mixture over egg whites, about 3 Tbsp at a time. Gently fold in with rubber spatula.
9. Pour into a large tube pan (16 cup capacity)
10. Bake until golden brown. About 50 to 60 minutes.
11. Pop cake out of pan when completely cooled.
12. Drizzle icing on top when cake is cooked.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Toddler the Helper

I stop all day long to let my little 18-month old help me. There are times it would be faster and a little less frustrating for me to do the task myself. But I strongly believe in giving kids responsibility and a chance to help. My daughter often signs "more" after she helps me because she wants to do something else helpful. Today at story time at the library she was one of two kids who helped clean up. I was happy that she was willing to help.

Examples of what my helper does:
Any garbage, she helps throw away
She puts her snacks away (I have her snack shelf in the pantry closet at her level)
She puts her hamper away on laundry day
If there are dirty clothes that need to go in the hamper, she puts them in
We pick up toys often throughout the day
I give her a paper towel and she "cleans" when I clean
She helps me put new diapers away (then climbs in the box)
She puts her cup in the sink
I try to find things for her to carry for me as I put things away

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Still unpacking

I'm very excited that I've almost got our computer/craft room organized. I put shelves in the closet that gives me lots of options to put my crafts in one spot. And I can find them easily. I still need a work table, but we're trying to find the right thing. I also realized that we have tons and tons of books. I've been building my children's library with books from garage sales and Goodwill. It's great to have them all, but it was a challenge to reorganize them again.

My other new challenge in the new house is having the washer and dryer on the lower level. We used to have it on the main level. With a toddler, it's a little hard to get it done quickly, but we seem to be working it out. I seem to do more when she's napping and I can freely run up and down stairs. I also seem to be doing a load or more a day. Hopefully, I will get back into a routine that works soon. In the meantime, I gotta do what works.


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