Sunday, March 29, 2009

Meal Planning -- Sunday Night

Recently, it seems that our weekends are crammed full of trying to get lots done while staying on our toddler's schedule.  And trying to cram in a full meal and clean-up on Sunday night just seems too exhausting for the end of the weekend.  So, I have planned meals for Sunday that are simple, quick and require few dishes.  My goal is to use food that I freeze ahead for these meals when we can. This Sunday night I had enough time to make cookies while my husband and daughter gave the dog a bath after dinner.  

Here are some examples of simple, Sunday night meals.
Do you have simple stand-by meals that you make for the weekends?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yogurt coupon giveaway

I'm giving away a $1.50 coupon for Yoplait's new Yoplus yogurt to anyone who wants one.  All you need to do is leave a comment (or send e-mail here) and include an e-mail address.  They are online coupons that get e-mailed through Pssst.  If you are interested in trying new products, check out Pssst with General Mills.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good Guide

Wow!  You have to check out this website.  I saw it tonight on the local news and it's really interesting.  It's called Good Guide.  It rates products from health and beauty to food.  I was amazed at some of the ratings for items such as Gerber baby food.  The site just recently added 5,000 foods, but has over 70,000 other products listed.  It rates the products on environment, health or nutritional value, and social impact.  Very interesting.  The news showed a nutritionist that uses this site to help people find better foods to eat.  

Go ahead, type in some things in your pantry into the search at the top and see what happens.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shop Smarter, Not Harder

When I was teaching we would tell kids to think smarter, not harder. Well, lately I've been trying to shop smarter. And even thought it's actually been a little bit of a challenge, I've been saving a lot of money.  The goal is to make it easier not harder in the long run.  Here are some examples of how I've been shopping smarter to save money lately.

1.  Reading blogs.  Blogs such as Money Saving Mom, Deal Seeking Mom, and Couponing 101 are great resources. These blogs all give strategies for deals that are out there.  I've stocked up on applesauce and cream soups at Target recently after reading and informing myself of deals.  I literally paid pennies for these products.  I wouldn't know those deals were out there otherwise.

2. Buying less product for more savings.  This one has a been my biggest challenge.  I normally use the strategy buy in bulk.  Here's an example of a recent transaction where I bought less and saved more.   I recently used a $2 register reward at Walgreens on two 10 oz bottles of Palmolive dish soap along with a 99 cent coupon for each.  The cost was free.  Normally I wouldn't spend $2 on 20 oz for dish soap, but I didn't pay $2.  I got them free.  

3. Buying generic medicines.  Target brand ibuprofen was less than half the cost of Advil a while back.  Couldn't see why spending so much more.  It works the same.  Also I've taken Zyrtec for nearly 10 years now for allergies.  I use it during the spring, summer and fall as needed.  In the past when I didn't have insurance I paid $75 for 30 pills.  With insurance the co-pay was $10.  Now that it is an over the counter drug, it costs about $20 for 30 pills.   I bought the Walgreens generic brand Wal-Zyr for $20 for 60 pills.  Unless you know a generic doesn't work for you, I highly recommend saving money this way.  

4.  Shopping at more than one store.  This can make shopping a little harder.  But if you know the products that are cheapest at each store, you really can save a lot.  I shop at two grocery stores (and not both each week).  One grocery store sells apples for 99 cents a pound, while the other sells them for $1.50 a pound.  Milk is another product I buy a the cheaper grocery store.  My daughter's soy milk can cost from $2.75 to $3.59 for a half gallon between the two stores. I also scan the ad at the more expensive grocery store and only buy the cheapest things there.   Having a plan works better than just shopping.

5. Utilizing Double Coupon Days.  This is actually on Wednesdays at the expensive grocery store, which doesn't always mean a better deal.  But, by looking at the ad this week I saw that cream soups were on sale for $1 each.  No way I would I buy a cream soup for $1.  But I had  a $1/2 coupon and used it on double coupon day.  So I got two cans of creams soups for free. 

So, my latest strategy is to find what works best for us, spend some time educating myself on deals, and buy less to save more.  Sometimes it's a lot easier said than done.  Some weeks it feels like a full time job in itself.  I think mostly because we just moved and we have so many different options to choose from.  I'm confident it will even out soon and it will be less of a challenge. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's baking -- 30 MInute Rolls

I've seen this one on many websites, so I don't know who to credit. I do know that we love these rolls. They are very simple to make and freeze really well. I made 3 dozen today and froze them all. They work great with meals that just need a little extra food, such as soup.

30 Minute Rolls
These rolls take me longer than 30 minutes to make, mostly because they take about 20 minutes to bake in my oven. But they are easy to prepare and taste fantastic.

Mix in a large bowl
3 1/2 cup warm water
1 cup oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey
4 Tbsp dry yeast

Then add
3 eggs

1 Tbsp salt
10 to 10 1/2 cups flour

Kneed for 5 minutes. Shape into rolls. I use a 1/4 dry measuring cup and drop them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let rise for 10 to 20 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes (mine always take longer).

This website has the conversion for a dozen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dramatic Play-- Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the obvious and most used types of dramatic or pretend

I have our play kitchen stocked with pans, bowls, a wooden spoon, a towel, an old Everyday Food, and of course food.  When I finish using a cardboard box in the kitchen I tape it shut and give it to my daughter.  Examples of boxes in her kitchen are for cookies, Jello, crackers, taco seasoning (a favorite of my daughters), and noodles. I also gave her an old spice container that she uses all the time to "cook."  It's a great way to pretend with items from her "real" world. I also like that it doesn't cost me anything and if she breaks them, we are not out any cost.  

So, think twice before you throw something away.  Can your child use it for pretend play?

Freezing meals plan

In my plan to spend less time making meals, I've started freezing meals.  I realized that we have a ton of ground beef from the quarter cow that we bought in December.  My new plan is to freeze browned ground beef to save time.  So every time I make a meal with ground beef, I'm going to make up a couple extra and freeze them with the foodsaver.  That way I can make meals a little quicker that have ground meat in them.  Or if we have a schedule change and need a quick meal, this will help.  

Here are some of my meals that I make with ground beef.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Apple Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

These muffins are really good and nutritious.  My daughter loves them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Toddler Activity -- Birds

We did this earlier this week. It turned out to be a bird day. I opened my daughter's closet and asked her what she wanted to wear. She picked a new bird shirt. We happened to be going to the pet store and saw birds that morning, too. We also took a walk later in the day and did some bird watching.

This is the project that we did. Super easy and really fun.

1. I printed this pattern here. I printed page 2 on colored paper.
2. I cut out the pattern (older kids could do this themselves).
3. My daughter picked out which feathers she wanted to glue on.
4. Then we glued feathers onto the birds. I put glue on the feathers for her and she placed them on the bird.

For more toddler craft ideas that we've done recently, go here!

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Bacon

Oh, it doesn't get much better than this.  This recipe was so easy and tasted so delicious.  I found the recipe in my "Everyday Food" magazine (Martha Stewart).  But I did change it a little by marinating the shrimp, first.  

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Bacon

Coarse salt and ground pepper (I skipped this because the bacon is so salty to begin with)
12 oz spaghetti
2 strips bacon. chopped
8 oz large peeled and deveined frozen shrimp thawed and halved horizontally 
6 scallions, chopped (or green onions)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Optional Marinade
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, whole
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 (optional -- my addition to the recipe)  A couple hours before cooking this dish, unthaw shrimp in cold water and devein.  Place shrimp in plastic bag with lemon juice, garlic clove, olive oil.  Seal bag and keep in refrigerator. Pat dry before cooking. If you skip this, start with step 2.

2. In large pot cook pasta.  Drain when done and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
3. While pasta is cooking, fry bacon in large skillet on medium until browned -- 6 to 8 minutes.
4.  Put bacon on paper towel using slotted spoon.
5. Add shrimp, scallions, and garlic to skillet.  Cook, stirring frequently until shrimp are almost opaque about a minute.  
6. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and bring to just a boil.
7.  Add shrimp mixture and lemon juice to pasta.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Thin sauce with pasta water as needed. 
8.  Sprinkle with bacon on top.  

**This one makes the list of meals I need to make my in-laws when they come to visit.**

For more great recipes check out the

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Coupon Giveaway -- closed winner e-mailed

I have several coupons that I would like to giveaway.  The coupons are listed below. All expire 4/25 or later unless noted.

  • $1/1 Downy Ultra Totalcare 
  • .25/1 Progresso Light Soup (exp. 4/4)
  • .50/2 Progresso  Any flavor (exp. 4/4)
  • .35/1 Tortino's Rolls snacks
  • .55/1 Purell 
  • $1/1 Tylenol Cold and Sinus
  • $1/1 Tylenol Extra Strengh
  • $1/1 Tylenol PM
  • .50/3 Boxes of Scotties or 1 multipack
  • $1/1 Any L'Oreal Moisturizer or Treatment
  • .75/1 Any Finesse product
  • $1/1 Any Listerine Whitening
  • BOGO Any Starkist Creations or Starkist Pouch (I'm giving away 4 of these)

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment with your e-mail or you can e-mail at  Good luck!

Winner will be e-mailed on Wednesday, March 25.

Be sure to click on the Snuggle Bear on my sidebar for a $2 coupon!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Hamburger Barley Stew

This is a great and easy recipe for the crock pot.  I even froze some for quick lunches for my daughter. 

Recipe for Hamburger Barley Stew can be found here!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Toddler Ideas

To continue with more ideas and activities for toddler, here is today's post.  Be sure to see Monday's post here!

To find some of my toddler snack ideas, go here.
In our sensory table we have Easter grass and carrots.  I picked up plastic carrots at the Dollar Store.  They were buy the plastic eggs.  They make all sorts of "eggs" in different shapes and sizes now.  
We created this sheep a week ago.  It was a lot of fun.  To see the instructions visit Ramblings from a Crazy Woman.  She's got great ideas posted almost every day.

A little sidetracked this week

Since I really haven't been posting as many activities and ideas for toddler, I'm going to do a little extra each day this week.  I also think planning ideas for kids takes some organization and thought.  So what better day than Organizational Monday to start.  
Here's an easy activity that could be done several ways. Print Shamrock here (just print the large one).  Have children paint or color the shamrock. Cut out and place around the house.  

Other variations for older kids would include printing it on green paper and have the kid's turn it into an animal.  Also for older kids, let them cut the shamrock out. For more shamrock ideas go here!

I had been looking for an easy way to place matching games on the wall without having to tape large pieces of paper to the wall each time.  I finally figured it out.  I bought a square dry erase magnetic board (on sale at Target) that is blue.  We screwed it to the wall at my daughter level. My husband used mirror clips to keep it in place and secure. With a little Goo Gone, I should be able to change the shapes without little extra work.  

Right now I have shamrocks on it.  The concept here is big and little.  There are three little shamrocks and two big.  

1. Print shamrocks on green paper (use the second and third sheet).  You want to print two of each size you want. So you have a pair to match. For example I printed 9 small shamrocks and 4 large shamrocks.
2.  Cut out shamrocks.
3. Laminate each piece.
4. Tape one of the pair to the board.
5.  Place velcro on the shamrock on the board.
6.  Place velcro on the shamrock to match.
7.  Talk about little and big (or small and large -- whatever words you want to use)


We sing the ABCs song all day long.  My daughter is very interested in the alphabet and knows a lot of her letters and sounds already.  Thanks to Sesame Street, Leapfrog phonics devices, foam alphabet pieces and reinforcement from us.  We're not pushing it, but encouraging it.  I realized I didn't have anything hanging up that had the alphabet on it.  I came up with this idea to help her learn the order of the alphabet.  I took it from another idea I posted here.

1. Laminate a piece of paper (color of your choice).
2.  Use foam alphabet letters and place in order.
3.  This enhances the order and lets her touch the letters, too.

Stay tuned for more this week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Herb Butter baked fish

I had picked up some cod for a pretty reasonable price a couple weeks ago. And made this recipe tonight and it was so delicious. I recommend it for any white fish you would make! I paired it with this potato and spinach recipe. I used red potatoes for the potato and pressed my garlic through a garlic press. It was a yummy meal!  

For more great recipe ideas check out Grocery Cart Challenge!

(found on

1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. crushed saltine crackers
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. frozen haddock or cod fillets


1. Combine cracker crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, salt and garlic powder.
2. Dip fish fillets in melted butter and then in crumb mixture.
3. Arrange fillets in baking pan.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until fish is tender and flakes with a fork.

Check out more of my recipes!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

Yesterday, I spent $98 on groceries and P&G products.  It was double coupon day (5 coupons doubled up to $1) and there were some other great deals.  I save $41.33 total after coupons and in-store deals.  Some deals included two gallons of milk for $1.88 each and chicken breast $1.88 a pound.  I got some other things that we use a lot on sale, too.  So it was a big stock up.  With the P&G products I received a $5 register reward for purchasing $25 worth of products.  

This week I received this P&G book of coupons and a book with $12 off Pepsi and Frito Lay products.  Both were rebate books that I filled out early Feb.  Definitely will pay off!  I used four coupons yesterday from the P&G book! Next week the store has Pepsi on sale.  So with my $5 register reward and coupons, I won't have to pay anything!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Crock-pot Roast recipes

Here are a couple ideas to do roast quick and easy.

Crock-pot Roast
1 can beef broth
1 roast

1.  Put in crock-pot on low for 4 to 6 hours.
**Beef bullion could be use with water instead**
Crock-pot Roast
1 packet French Onion Soup (I use less than half because it's too salty for me)
1 can beef broth
1 roast
1 small onion (optional)

1. Put all in crock-pot on low for 4 to 6 hours.
3 Envelope Roast
1 cup water
1 packet of Italian Dressing
1 packet dry gravy mix
1 packet ranch dressing
1 roast

1.  Put all in crock-pot for 4 to 6 hours on low.
**I use less than half the packets for this and save the rest for future roast meals.**

Monday, March 9, 2009

Product Review -- Parents Young at Art

We love this toy -- Parents Young at Art.  My daughter got this for Christmas and it is so much fun.  I like that she can draw without having to bring out the crayons.  She is very good about putting the magnet shapes back in their spots, which makes it like a puzzle.  If you have a toddler, this is a fantastic toy.  We draw Abby Cadabby and my daughter loves to erase her and say "Abby go."  It has enhanced language and fine motor skills.  And it is fun!

Summer Goal

I'm putting this under Organizational Monday because I think this will require some organization, especially since it is completely new to me.  In the house that we just moved into, the landlord has 10 garden beds in the backyard.  We love fresh veggies, so we are going to plant vegetables this summer.  I have never done this, but my husband has.  I have pretty strong allergies and am a little concerned with doing the "gardening," but we are starting to get some suggestions to help with that.  Mulch cuts down on some weeds. 

We started listing all the vegetables we would like to plant last night.  I also would like to plant a strawberry plant because those are my favorite in the summer and are so hard to find.  I really think my daughter will enjoy watching the plants grow, too. I bet that growing vegetables will also lead to canning -- another thing I've never done.  I think it would be great to have fresh veggies frozen or canned for the winter.  And I think it will save some money, too.  If you have any suggestions or references, pass them my way.  

Oh, and if you aren't reading my other blog, you will want to hear our good news!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Yesterday we walked for an hour

We took two walks yesterday.  The temperature got just above 50 degrees.  A cold 50 degrees with all the snow melting and damp air.  But warm enough to get outside and walk.  My daughter was bundled up in her winter jacket, hat, mittens and of course sunglasses. 

We took a journey around our new neighborhood.  My daughter didn't need any toys to occupy her in the stroller -- just a list of things she hoped to see.  The list included: squirrels, puppies, kitty, cars, trees, people, kids, and airplane.  And we saw all of those and more.  She even thought she saw a cow in one house.  It was just a black and white blanket, but she was convinced and even said "moo" to let me know what she thought.  It took us about 6 minutes to walk to one park and then we walked to the other one and it took us 5 minutes to walk home.  It will be great this spring and summer to have a destination to our walks.  In the afternoon my daughter sat on the swing for a few minutes, but didn't seem to like it as much as she did last summer.  I'm betting that will change.  

Let's hope the weather warms up soon.  We love to be outside!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

eBay coupon update

So last week I shared how I received 100 coupons using a $2 coupon on eBay.  Lots of the coupons were not helpful.  But so far I have used these:

  • $2 off toothbrush
  • $2.34 off kid's toothbrush (BOGO)
  • $1.50 off Nyquil

She did include several P & G coupons and the local grocery store has a sale this week on a few of the items.  I plan to go next Wednesday to double to coupons.  If I spend $25 then I get a $5 gift card in return.  So all in all I have come out ahead.  Oh and the products I did buy are those they we use.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yummy Rolls

I had to pass this recipe along. They are so good. And really easy to make. I found this recipe on Cooking During Stolen Moments.

Cheddar Pan Rolls

What's Baking -- Pumpkin-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

If you were like me, you picked up a couple of extra cans of pumpkin after the holidays. I'm just now getting to use them up. Today I made these cookies.

Pumpkin-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup raisins

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

COMBINE flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

BAKE for 14 to 16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and set in centers. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For more great recipes, check out the Grocery Cart Challenge.

Alternative to google eyes

I love using google eyes to enhance projects.  But I worry once they are hanging up that the eyes will pop off and a curious 
toddler may choke on them.  I came up with this idea for an easy way to make eyes for a project.

1.  Use hole reinforcements as the white part of the eye.  They are sticky, so this helps.  They are also cheap.  I bought a pack on sale for $1.04 a few years back -- it has 480 holes.
2.  Use black paper for the eye ball.  Scraps work good for this.
3. Cut a small piece out of the black paper that is smaller than the sticker but covers the hole.
4. Stick the paper to the back of the sticker.  Be sure to keep enough of the sticky part so you can stick the eye to the project.  

Monday, March 2, 2009

$5 Dinner Challenge - Chicken Soup

Here's a cheap alternative to canned chicken soup.  I like using ingredients I have and I always have these ingredients around.  For more $5 dinner ideas, go here!

Chicken Soup
1 lb chicken breasts
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 celery stalks chopped
1/4 cup peas or corn
2 can chicken broth
1 tsp pepper or more to taste
3/4 cup to 1 cup noodles (depending what you use)
1 to 2 cups water

1.  Cut chicken in bite size pieces.
2.  Boil chicken in pot of water for 15 minutes.
3.  Put broth, cooked chicken, carrots, celery, peas (or corn), pepper, noodles and a cup of water in pot.  Cook on stove on low for a couple hours or cook to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

**You can substitute chicken bouillon for the broth or use 3 can of broth instead of water**


As a still new stay-at-home mom, I've found one thing that works for me.  

Make tasks short and manageable.

For me that means, only folding a load of laundry at a time.  And it should only take me 5 minutes to fold and put away.  If laundry piles up then, it just overwhelms me and it slows me down because it takes longer.

It also means that the dishes should only take about 15 minutes during the mid-day washing and about a half hour at night.  I hate having a messy kitchen and if I had to do all the dishes at once it also would become overwhelming.

I try to vacuum and mop every other day.  I have a couple different options to do this.  Again if that is long overdue, than I spend more time scrubbing than I would like.  I can usually mop during my daughter's nap time and it only takes about 10 minutes to do the whole house.  

Cooking is a little different story since I make lots of things from scratch.  However, I have found that starting in the morning makes it less work in the later part of the day.  

The reason why I like to make my tasks manageable is because I am home to be with my daughter.  I would much rather spend 20 minutes reading stories than doing laundry.  I think sometimes stay-at-home moms lose sight of why they are home -- to be with the kids.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Yesterday I spent $36 on clothes for my daughter and a new purse for myself at Kohls.  

Here's what I got:

3 long sleeve shirts (for next fall/winter)
2 pairs of pants (next size up) 
1 winter dress 
1 summer dress  
1 purse (originally $40, I paid $15)
2 Valentine napkins for my daughter's play kitchen 


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