Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's Cookin' -- Cut-out cookies

I adapted my date cookies recipe to make the most amazing cutout cookies.

Cut-out cookies

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cup sugar

1. Mix flour, baking powder and baking soda through a sifter and set aside.
2. Blend shortening, vanilla, eggs, milk, and sugar until smooth.
3. Slowly add flour mixture to shortening mixture.
4. Chill for 2 hours.
5. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick (use extra flour) and cut with cookie cutters.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

I don't know if it was the recipe or the new cookie sheets I recently received as a gift, but these cookies are just amazing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's Cookin' -- Date cookies

Date Cookies

Cookie Dough
1 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 Tbsp milk (more if needed)
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup water

1. Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla together.
2. Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder in bowl.
3. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture.  Mix well.
4. Chill dough in refrigerator for 2 hours.
5. To making filling, mix dates, sugar, flour, and water in small saucepan.  Heat on low until it reduces and is smooth.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Roll out dough (use lots of flour) to 1/4 inch thick..  Cut into circles.
8.  Fill each circle with 1 tsp date filling.  Fold over and pinch with a fork to form a half circle. Sprinkle with sugar.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.  Cookies with be golden brown when fully cooked.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brush your Corn

I know it's not corn on the cob season, but I was watching a cooking show last week and love this tip.  To get the silk out of the corn on the cob, use a toothbrush.  Genius!  Now I just have to try to remember that next July...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Deal of the Week

I had a couple days off from school and we went power shopping yesterday!  I had to share the best deal I found yesterday at Bed Bath and Beyond.
I saw this roaster with V-rack advertised for $20 with a $10 mail in rebate.   I also used a 20 percent off coupon and received $4 off.  So, I was able to get the roaster for $6.87 after coupons, rebate and taxes.  I can't wait to use it.  I've been using an old broiling pan to make my turkeys that just wasn't too ideal.

Another awesome deal was this small Woody and Buzz Lightyear toy for just $3.98 (originally $12) at ShopKo.  (We just watch Toy Story 2 and our daughter is slightly obsessed so we couldn't have found this at a better time).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Glade Winter Collection - coupon giveaway

I know, I know... Can't think of Holiday scents just yet.  I know.

But as a BzzAgent I was given a chance to try this great new candle from Glade.  Wow!  I just love the smell of apple cinnamon.  These are really fun candles with great scents.  There are candles, oil candle holders, scented oil candle refills and plug-ins refills.  The scents include: Apple Cinnamon, Bayberry Spice and Everything Nice, French Vanilla, Peppermint Crush, Sugarplum Fantasies, Baked Magic and Chocolate Cherry Sparkle.



I am giving away a coupon for $2/2 Glade Winder Collection products to three winners.  I'm guessing these will go on sale soon and be close to free after coupon.  See that's why I'm doing this now -- thinking about the savings.

To enter leave a comment with e-mail contact information by November 5, 2010.  Three winners will be drawn by random.org and will be e-mailed as a winner.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crafty Fun -- Elmer's Products

As a member of BzzAgent, I recently was giving several products to try from Elmer's CraftBond and X-Acto.



Items I received for Elmer's CraftBond include:
  • All-Purpose Glue Stick
  • Permanent Tape Runner
  • Clear Glue Pen
  • Sticky spots
These items range in price from $2 to $9.  They are acid-free and archival safe.  Check out elmers.com/crafters for more information.

Items I received for X-Acto Designer Series include:
  • Zig Zag Decorative Edge Scissors
  • Scalloped Decorative Edge Scissors
  • Corner Rounder Punch
These items range in price from $2 to $20.  There are many other cutting tools available and more information can be found xacto.com.

Now onto the project I worked on.  Now that I'm teaching pre-Kindergarten, I have lots of use for these tools.  I created a class book showing our students making banana muffins.  I used the tape runner and realized pretty quick you can't use it on construction paper.  However it worked great on laminated pieces and photos.  It saved so much time.  I normally use double sided tape, but the tape runner was a much more efficient use of time. I also liked using the corner rounder.  It made the project look really professional.  I wish I could show the actual pictures but with privacy of children's photos I just can't.

The format of the book was very simple.  I used repetitive text on each page.  Sam added flour, Josie added sugar, Anna stirred the batter, etc.  Then about each sentence I showed the child doing the action.  For a class of 15 I only have five pages (back to back).  I simply slide each page into a plastic in a binder.  When I read the "story" to the class each child beamed as their name was read.  Really fun to do!

I plan to use all these tools on future projects with the class and will be adding those zig zag scissors to our art center for the children to practice with.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Deal of the Week

Sometimes I just like to "shop" and see what I can find.  Some of my favorite places to do this are the clearance racks at Target, Walmart and Dollar General.  I don't get to the Dollar General very often, but whenever I shop at the end of season or after a holiday I score some pretty great deals.


This week I bought a package of Huggies Little Swimmers (11 ct, size M) for $1.87 at the Dollar General.  I've never seen that price for swim diapers that cheap.  I also scored a staple remover for 15 cents and a pack of three small memo pads for 37 cents.  Love those cheap deals!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's Cookin'- Taco Salad

I had this awesome taco salad at a function recently.  I searched for a couple different recipes and adapted it to my own tastes (and what I had in my freezer).  Turned out really tasty.


Taco Salad
(original recipe)

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1  package taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 1 (16 ounce) bottle French dressing (I used Kraft Catalina)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (I used spinach)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) package Doritos
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain.
  2.  Stir in the taco seasoning, beans and French-style dressing. 
  3. Fill the dressing bottle 2/3 full of water and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Crush the bag of chips, open the bag, and toss the broken chips into a large bowl with the lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. When the meat mixture is done, combine it with the lettuce, tomatoes, chips and mix well. Then, add salsa and sour cream.

**Note this needs to be mixed together right before eating otherwise the chips get soggy.  I actually made this as a lunch/snack and just kept all ingredients separate until right before eating and just added how much I wanted to eat for that meal.  The recipe can easily be halved.**

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sign up for tips

If you haven't been to (or know about) Mailbox's website lately, I highly recommend checking it out.  I recently signed up for daily tips and have gotten some wonderful ideas for teaching.  I particularly like that their tips are sent by e-mail with a link to their website, and you can quickly read them.  I personally can't stand long winded bits of information.  I like to read it and move on.

Here's a song from Mailbox that I've been singing with my 4-year-old class and they just love it. (So does our 3-year-old daughter):

Catch a Bubble (to the tune of Clementine)

Catch a Bubble
Catch a Bubble
Put it right into your mouth
Catch a Bubble
Catch a Bubble
Put it right into your mouth

**I have the kids pretend to put bubble sticks in bubble solution and blow pretend bubbles before we sing.  I vary it a little by blowing big bubbles slowly and little bubbles quickly.  I also ask them to tell me what color their bubble is or what it tastes like.   So many things you can do to activate that little imagination.**

Monday, October 4, 2010

I stepped on the scale last week

I have blogged a little about my goals to become more fit and healthy.  I began my journey last November (almost 1 year ago).  I couldn't believe it when I stepped on the scale last week, and saw that I officially have lost 20 pounds since I began working out.  I've posted about how much work I put into being more active and the commitment level.  I am very proud of myself.  I weigh what I weighed in college (and that was,ahem, more than 10 years ago).  After having our daughter I thought I would get back to pre-baby weight, but never anticipated losing so much.  I still have goals to stay active, but now it's more for staying active than losing weight.  Changing what I was eating was the key component, especially the soda drinking.  I'll admit in the last month I've been drinking more soda in a week, maybe three or four cans.  But I was drinking two a day, which was a lot of empty calories a day.

My advice for anyone trying to lose weight is to start small, stay committed and change what you eat.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trying hard

Okay, I know it's been a long time since I posted and I sure hope many of my readers are still with me.  The reason I've been behind in blogging is because I have had yet another change in our lives.  The job that I took in August just didn't seem to fit me as well as I had hoped.  I luckily found a teaching position (in the city we live in) to teach Pre-Kindergarten (4K).  It's exactly what I want to be doing and I started last week.  It's only part-time but our goal was to have me teach again and allow our daughter some social time with children.   My job is in a child care center so my daughter is just down the hall in another classroom while I'm teaching.  So I'm at a new job and she's at a new preschool but we are together more.  I struggled with making the change since we just started in August.  But the level of stress that both of us had was more than I had anticipated.  Although at no point was it bad or disappointing.  I reflected on the new position and knew that if I had found the job in July I wouldn't have hesitated.  So, long story, short -- I should be back to blogging regularly again soon.  Hopefully, I can share ideas from my teaching experiences, too.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fun tip

Now that our daughter is 3, it's really fun to let her have a little more independence.  She has a CD player in her room and I just made a CD for her of her favorite songs.  She has a very ecletic taste (like her daddy).  In case you're wondering it ranges for Elton John to Michael Jackson to Hank Williams Jr.  Let me tell you there's nothing more fun than listening to music in your room!

Monday, August 30, 2010

What I did so the housework gets done...

Just a couple weeks ago I began working full time for the first time in three years (since our daughter was born).  In an attempt to figure out how to get the hosuework done so it didn't get too cluttered or overwhelming I made a couple schedules.  My husband is helping a little more than before when he can and it's working out pretty good.

Example of our schedule:


Monday

- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen
- R lunch

Tuesday
- Laundry
- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen
- R lunch
- R bath

Wednesday
- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen
- R lunch
- Grocery shop
- Balance checkbook
- Pay bills
- Clean bathrooms

Thursday
- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen
- R lunch
- Vacuum/Mop
- Dust
- R bath
- R laundry

Friday
- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen

Saturday
- Shopping
- Family time
- Clean house
- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen

Sunday
- Coupon matching
- Meal planning/prep
- R bath
- Laundry
- Make dinner
- Clean Kitchen
- R lunch

Does it all get done?  Nope, it's just a guideline.  I seem to be doing more laundry than planned, but it's not too hard to fit in.  I will say that freezer cooking has been a blessing.  We often spend more time cleaning up than preparing meals each night.  And while not everything we do is on the list, these are the things that almost have to get done each week or I will go crazy if they go too long.  It's really very simple when you look at it, but it took me a long time to figure it out.  You just have to do what works for you.
 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh the artwork

Now that our 3-year-old daughter has started preschool we are bombarded with artwork.  Plus since she's doing so much art at school, she's doing more than ever at home.  What to do, where to put it, what to save, what to toss.

For the most part we display her art around the house at her level.  We've done that for years.  I believe it's the only way to truly appreicate her artwork.

When we started doing arts and crafts when she was barely a year old, I saved almost everything she did.  It was amazing to see her "create."  I saved those pieces in a plastic scrapbook container.  Some of my favoites or her "firsts"(first coloring, first painting, etc), I laminated before putting away.  Now I try to take a good sampling of different type of art she has done.  If it is different than something else she has made, I save it.  I also make sure to date everything.  

Because I just can't save it all, I do take a lot of pictures of her artwork.  I haven't printed them, but plan to save them digitally with her other photos that will give to her someday.  It's a nice way to show her progress.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Again Sorry -- freezer cooking tips

I'm still trying to figure out how to blog now that I'm working full time.  But as promised last week, I wanted to share that breading eggplant, baking and then freezing it works!

Another tip:  I boiled some Farmer's Market potatoes (enough for two meals) on Sunday for about 20 minutes.  Then put them in the refrigerator. Tonight I made my scalloped potatoes and ham and it save me tons of time.  I pre-sliced the ones for the scalloped potatoes and boiled the rest in halves to mash later in the week with meatloaf (which is frozen).

Also, I bought a grocery bag full of corn on the cob for $5 at our local corn fest this weekend.  I had a total of 29 ears.  We ate five ears and I froze more than 18 cups for future use.  To freeze corn on the cob I follow these steps:
1.  Boil corn for 7 minutes in pot of water with 1 Tbsp sugar.
2.  Let corn cool.  Then use a sharp knife and stand corn on end in a bundt pan.
3.  Take corn off cob with sharp knife
4. Freeze in freezer bags in portion sizes that work for you.  I freeze mine with our Foodsaver and in 1-cup and 2-cup portion sizes.   There's nothing like having that corn on the cob flavor in the dead of winter.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Update

So sorry this blog has taken a backseat as of late.  I am now working full time and just slowly getting into the routine.  Our 3-year-old daughter is starting preschool as well and that's been an adjustment for all as well.  My hope is to get back into the blogging swing of things soon.  In the meantime, here's a couple things to share.


  • See the adorable doll cake I made for our daughter's birthday -- note it's dairy-free, egg-free and peanut-free.
  • In my quest for freezer cooking ahead for easy weeknight meals (it's working, too), I tried something new.  You gotta keep trying new things or you just get bored.  I was at our Farmer's Market last week stocking up on all sorts of goodies.  I saw the going rate for eggplant was 75 cents.  That's about half what it is in the stores around here.  So, I breaded the eggplant per my eggplant parmesan recipe and froze it.  Results of that next week when I unthaw and bake.  I'm hopeful for good results.  Then I can bread a bunch of eggplant and freeze for easy, yummy meals.  
  • As far as organizing our life, I'll post a little on that next week.  It's interesting how some things just aren't as important.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Freezer cooking this week

This week was extra busy.  We had a couple doctor's appointments and are planning a birthday party for the weekend.  But I was still able to sneak these items into the freezer.

Vegetable Stock -- I've been saving all the little bits from my Farmer Market vegetables that are so flavorful.  I had three large bags in the freezer that are now turned into veggie stock and chicken stock (see below).  I froze in three 14 oz jars and used the rest later in the week as you will read.
Beef Vegetable soup -- I used a good portion of the vegetable stock to make this recipe. I used some leftover roast (sometimes I use steak) to make this recipe with meat. I saved this in two 32 oz containers and three 6 oz baby food jars for a quick dinner or lunch.  I normally serve soup with grilled cheese or other sandwiches.
Crockpot Chicken-- I seasoned with salt and pepper.  I added 3 cloves of fresh-from-the-Farmer's Market garlic and about 1 cup of vegetable stock.  I cooked in the crockpot for 6 to 8 hours on low.  Once cooled, I pulled the chicken off and froze in 2 cup portions for casseroles or salads.
Chicken Stock -- after cooking chicken in crockpot, I took the meat off the bones.  I put the bones and juice from the crockpot into a large pot added 14 cups of water and vegetables pieces I've been freezing. I cooked it for a couple hours.  Then put in 1 cup containers and froze.  Once froze I put in ziplock bag.  I will use these in many recipes, including boiling vegetables, potatoes, and rice.
Chicken puffs -- froze once rolled up.  Still need to bake.
Ham - I pour a can of pineapple over top and cook in over for an hour.  We ate some that night and I saved two freezer bags of extra meat.  One for scalloped potatoes and ham, the other for a black bean soup.  I also saved the ham bone for the soup.
Pancakes -- I made apple cinnamon and blueberry pancakes and cooled completely.  I stored in two freezer bags.  To reheat, just pop in toaster.  Extra easy breakfast.

Overall, I feel good about what I've accomplished the last few weeks.  It will definitely make dinner time a little easier now that I'll be working during the day.

To see my other freezer cooking weeks go here and here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Amazon Filler


I recently earned $30 in survey money for Amazon gift cards.  I picked out two items I wanted, but still had $2.40 on the gift card.  I really wanted to stretch my buck and use all the money up.  I found Amazon Filler as a great resource.  You simply type in the amount you want to spend a long list of items comes up.  This works well if you are trying to obtain a order of $25 for free shipping or if you're like me trying to use up the last penny on a gift card.  I bought some Sesame Street glitter stickers (for a stocking stuffer) as my filler. There was so much to choose from.  Highly recommend if you a an Amazon shopper (pre-Internet that last sentence would have sounded very odd...)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

$50 Gift Card Giveaway to CSN Stores-- Winner e-mailed! Closed

Does your home need a little redecorating.  You may want to check out the dining room sets at CSN Stores?  Maybe you feel the need to treat yourself to some new kitchen tools.  Or you are looking for that unique gift for the someone who has everything.   You won't be disappointed when you shop at CSN stores with more than 200 online stores to meet all your home and lifestyle needs.  You will find something for everybody from contemporary furniture, kitchen appliances, cookware, shoes, bags, toys, and even pet accessories.  Be sure to explore the Ultimate Gift Finder to find that perfect gift.




I'm happy to announce that I am sponsoring a $50 gift card giveaway to one of the CSN stores.

To enter:

  • Go to CSN Stores and tell me what you would buy with $50.  Leave a comment with e-mail.
  • Subscribe to my blog for bonus entry -- leave a second comment.

Winner will be selected by random.org and emailed on Thursday, June 29.

Good Luck!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This week's freezer cooking

I've been busy trying to spend quality time with our little girl before we start preschool.  And organizing the house has been consuming my time.  Here's an update on my freezer cooking for the week.  Doesn't look like much and it really wasn't much time, but I've had to fit it in between everything else creating a little bit of a challenge.


  • Browned 3 pounds of ground beef -- stored in 1/2 pounds and 1 pound freezer bags.  I'll use these for soups and casseroles.  It saves a lot of time.  Often the meal prep turns into a dump together and heat up instead of a slow wait and messy clean up.
  • Froze lemon juice from two lemons -- stored in freezer bag for future use
  • Banana Oatmeal Cookies -- for quick allergy-free snack for preschool and home. 
  • Tomato paste -- froze in ice cube tray and then put in freezer bag.  I often use just 1 Tbsp of tomato paste as a thickener but hate opening a 6 oz can for just a little bit.
  • Pot Stickers -- just found this recipe and it's so good.
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce -- froze in old jar.
Curious what I did last week, go here!

This week's freezer cooking

I've been busy trying to spend quality time with our little girl before we start preschool.  And organizing the house has been consuming my time.  Here's an update on my freezer cooking for the week.  Doesn't look like much and it really wasn't much time, but I've had to fit it in between everything else creating a little bit of a challenge.


  • Browned 3 pounds of ground beef -- stored in 1/2 pounds and 1 pound freezer bags.  I'll use these for soups and casseroles.  It saves a lot of time.  Often the meal prep turns into a dump together and heat up instead of a slow wait and messy clean up.
  • Froze lemon juice from two lemons -- stored in freezer bag for future use
  • Banana Oatmeal Cookies -- for quick allergy-free snack for preschool and home. 
  • Tomato paste -- froze in ice cube tray and then put in freezer bag.  I often use just 1 Tbsp of tomato paste as a thickener but hate opening a 6 oz can for just a little bit.
  • Pot Stickers -- just found this recipe and it's so good.
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce -- froze in old jar.
Curious what I did last week, go here!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Freezer Cooking -- going back to work!

Earlier this week I posted my beginning phases of getting organized before I go back to work.  I decided during the course of the next couple weeks I'm going to do something extra a day.  By extra I mean, extra organizing of a room or cooking a freezer meal.  I also have a birthday party to plan for our little girl with food allergies and I'm working hard to find a tasty cake and frosting (I've found the frosting!).

As far as my freezer cooking goes, I've taken giant steps this week.  I have cleaned out our big freezer.  I took inventory of what we had for meat leftover from our bulk buying we do each year.  I also stock up on chicken when I see it on sale -- around here that's usually 89 cents per pound or less.  My goal for the next few months is to eat up what we have and slow way down on stocking up.  One thing I've learned since being a stay-at-home mom is that the sales are cyclical and will come around again and again.  I now which stores offer what and often I can guess when.

After taking my inventory I realize I am getting low on ground beef, we have a ton of bacon and 14 roasts.  Plus a few surprises.  My menu planning will take all this into consideration.  I usually will cut up my roasts into to 1 inch cubes and use in several stews or other crockpot meals.

I've read many blog posts about how different people attack freezer cooking.  What I've learned is that you have to do what works for your family.  There is no cookie cutter recipe or plan for freezer cooking.  For freezer cooking I try to make food we really like.  I use a Foodsaver to preseve the food.  I recently got some bags from some windfall money.


What I found in the freezer already

2 packages of Salisbury Steak (sorry no recipe yet)
1 package of Pizza Burgers
Several soups for our daughter
Lots of chicken stock
2 packages of white beans
1 jar homemade spaghetti sauce
Half a package of Ravioli
several leftover meat (small portions for soups or fried rice)

Here is what I've done for freezer cooking this week

  • Many cups of black beans -- I cooked up two packages of black beans in a ham bone (I freeze these for future meals or for cooking black beans).  I store these is 1 cup or 2 cup bags.  I will use these in many recipes and work great as a filler with ground beef.  This is cheaper and tastier than canned beans.
  • 5 lbs of meatloaf -- stored in 1 lb freezer bags
  • Porcupine Meatballs -- I made this the day I made the meatloaf, so I only had to get my Kitchenaid mixer dirty once.  I froze in 1 pound bag.  I didn't form the meatballs, but I think you could make the meatballs, put them in the freezer for a couple hours on a cookie sheet and them freeze as meatballs in freezer bag.  I just didn't have the patience for that.  I figure it takes just a couple minutes to form meatballs, but mixing the meat and cleaning the bowl it's mixed in is the time consuming part.
  • Chicken Pot Pie -- I baked the crust for 8 minutes then added the warm filling.  I let it cool completely before freezing.
  • Chicken gravy for Chicken and Biscuits -- this is the same recipe I use for pot pie, so I just doubled it as  I made the pot pie and froze half separately.  And there you have two similar meals, but still different.


So as of today, I have 11 full meals made.  Beans and chicken stock for recipes.  It's a good start.  I'll keep updating as I go.  Since our daughter will be taking a lunch to school, I have a plan to freeze two soups a month.  This way she will have a variety of soup for lunches.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Going back to work -- Organization...

Let the orderly organization begin!  I feel like Max from Where the Wild Things are, except I want order not chaos.  I will be returning to work in just a couple weeks and there are moments I feel so overwhelmed. Will our daughter transition well?  How will everything get done?  I can't get it all done now and I'm home all day (well not really, our daughter and I are out and about most days). Then there are moments I feel, hey we won't be here all day and there won't be as much "to do."  And I find a sense of peace and calm in that.  But I do think that having a little plan to transition the family to "Mommy working and little one at school" will do us a lot of good.  With support from my husband, I know organizing what will be necessary to be most efficient.

Here's a list of some planning strategies I will be doing over the course of the next couple weeks (along with going to the fair, observing butterflies at the botanical gardens and sneaking in some other fun things).


  • Inventory Freezer and Pantry (it's mighty stocked already)
  • Menu Plan
  • Freezer cook meals for August (I'll try to blog about this)
  • Stock-up grocery trip
  • Checklist of morning routine
  • Schedule for getting laundry, vacuuming, shopping, etc done.
  • List of bills and when due 
  • Plan lunch and snack menu for our daughter's preschool (with food allergies we are opting to bring her food)
  • Re-organize coupons
  • Whatever else can come up

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Giveaway -- Pampers Coupons -- Closed winner e-mailed!

Our little girl is just about completely potty trained.  We are stocked and stocked with Pull-ups (out of habit) and she uses only one or two a day.  I just gave away more than $20 in coupons for diapers and wipes to family who needs them.  Then of course I got three more coupons yesterday.  They expire pretty quick, so I want to make sure they get into the hands of someone who can and will use them.  Sometimes I leave them at the store, but these are pretty high value and I would worry the store workers might take them before a consumer.

With all that said I am giving away three (3) Pampers coupons to one winner (1).

  • $3/1 Pampers Cruisers Diapers and 1 Pamper Wipes (exp. 9/30/10)
  • $3/1 Pampers Cruisers, Swaddlers, Sensitive or Extra Protection (exp. 8/31/10)
  • $2/1 Target Coupon for Pampers Cruiser Diapers Big or Value Pack (exp. 9/01/10)
**Note you can stack the Target coupon with one of the other coupons for a $5 savings**

To enter:  Please leave a comment stating why you want to win.  Please leave link to blog or e-mail so I can contact you.
Bonus entries: Subscribe (leave separate comment)

Winner will be drawn through random.org and e-mailed on July 15.  Good luck!

Note to Self

Note to self:  Don't wear sandals to story time at the library!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourth of July Marshmallows

Go over to my other blog and see this tasty treat!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Exciting news

A while back a mentioned that we were going to make a transition in our family.  I have been applying like crazy to every teaching position in the area, hoping to at least get an interview or two.  Well, a week ago I interviewed with Head Start, a child care center for low-income families.  My interview went great.  I was so concerned that after three years out of the workforce that I would just be jumbled up with "uhs" and "ums."  But something about talking about education and children put me at ease, and I was able to show my honesty and compassion for children.  It was really nice to just be myself in the interview, and I think it translated to the people interviewing me.  It must have.  They offered me a job this week, and I accepted it yesterday!

The position is with Early Head Start and I will be teaching infants.  A received one naive comment that you can't teach infants.  As an educator I was hurt by that comment.  It's that kind of attitude that limits children instead of enriching their growth.  Child development and brain development begin the minute a child is born.  Everything that is learned is a basis for what will be learned in the future.  Many of these children will have a disadvantage based on their home environment so offering a safe and nurturing place to learn is extremely important.  I am excited to share my creativity and have so many great ideas for teaching.  What's really nice is that I have saved all our daughter's infant toys (for just in case I needed them) and I can use those for creating some fun lessons.

As for the adjustment our family will go through, I think it strangely will keep me more focused.  Being a stay-at-home mom has had some challenges.  I miss the social interactions.  I miss having a greater "purpose" in this world.  I miss helping parents and children.  I sometimes feel I spend my day waiting to be interrupted.

I asked our daughter if she thinks Mom can teach babies.  Wide-eyed she nodded her head and said yes.  She is excited for preschool, and I believe our daughter is more than ready for preschool.  She's a little bored right now.  I've slowed down in "teaching" her because she's already so far ahead.  Might have been something to do with all the work I put in while she was an infant.  We think the structure will be good for her.  The preschool is set up so that the children rotate rooms throughout the day and aren't in just one room all day.  That will be great for our active little girl who is constantly needing something new to stimulate her little brain.  She very outgoing, but at times slow-to-warm to new activities.  This will help her practice trying new things all the time.

As far as getting the housework done, we figure we'll just put a schedule together and shoot for getting things done as we can.  Fortunately I've taught myself a lot of cooking techniques during the last three years that will help us with dinners.  Mostly I plan to continue to meal plan a month out and freeze extras of meals as we go.  We'll probably prep most of the week's meals on Sunday, so it will be minimal work after school.  Luckily, the hours are only until late afternoon with no real commute.

With all that said I'm excited to be getting back to work and look forward to a positive change in our lives.

What's cookin' - Potato Salad

Our family has gone through a couple phases where we don't have cable.  Right now is one of them.  We put the money we would have used on cable toward our gym membership.  I find we PBS for not only the children's educational TV but for the cooking shows as well.  When my husband I first were married I started watching America's Test Kitchen.  I've been catching it lately on the weekends (finally found what time it was on).  Last week they made a potato salad with some intersting techniques.  I made it today and all I can say is "wow."


I found the recipe here and tweaked it a little based on our tastes.


All American Potato Salad
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1 Tbsp yellow mustard (used French's)
3 Tbsp pickle juice -divided (used Gedney Kosher Baby Dill)
1/4 cup dill pickles (used Gedney Kosher Baby Dill)
1 small celery stalk, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced (substituted yellow onion)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise (used Miracle Whip)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 hard boiled eggs, cut 1/4 inch (optional)

Directions


1. Peel and cut potatoes in 1" cubes. Place in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook until tender, when a knife slides in and out of cubes without resistance, about 10-15 minutes. Drain potatoes and turn out onto a baking sheet.

2. Whisk mustard with 2 tbsp of juice from a jar of pickles. Pour over hot potatoes and toss with fingers to coat. Spread out potatoes and refrigerate for 30 minutes until cool.

3. Combine pickle, celery, red onion and remaining 1 tbsp pickle juice with salt and celery seed. Add mayonnaise and sour cream and whisk together.

4. Add potatoes and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes longer. Add diced egg and fold to combine.



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thrift Thursday -- JCPenny Trip

I absolutely love when JCPenny marks down their clearence items to 80 percent.  I earned a $50 gift card from My Points and used a 15% off total purchase survey coupon.  I was happy to stretch my "free" bucks.

Here's what I bought:
(2) 4T Pajamas -- 5.09 each
(2) 5T T-Shirts (for next year) -- one $3.05 and one $2.52
(2) Button Down Shirts for myself -- $4.39 each
(1) Pair of Jeans for myself -- $6.09

Grand total after discounts=$32.30 (a grand total of $124.36 saving off original price)

That also leaves me with $17.70 on the gift card.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ditched the Drying Rack

I was starting to hate our drying rack in the kitchen.  We do a fair amount of dishes by hand.  However, we (both my husband and myself) got into a bad habit of leaving the dishes in the drying rack.  It would never get cleaned out until more dishes were washed and then I would get frustrated because I had to put the dishes away before (or while) I was washing the next batch.  It drove me crazy.  I also hated that the drying rack itself needed cleaning often.  It all was just becoming a ball of frustration and extra cleaning.  I decided to do without the drying rack.  Now we just wash the dishes and dry them right away.  It actually takes less time than you would think.  I like how there isn't always something that needs to be put away in the kitchen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What's cookin' - Sun-nana Poppers

I've been a little pre-occupied lately with a few "real world" things lately.  Here's a late What's Cookin'.

I found this recipe in Hungry Girl 200 Recipes for 200 Calories by Lisa Lillien.  She has a whole chapter on using Cool Whip in recipes!  I altered this recipe a little to meet our food allergies needs and changed the name.  It's really easy to make (kids can help) and my toddler loves them.

Sun-nana Poppers
1 Medium Banana
2 Tbsp Cool Whip
1 Tbsp Sunbutter (original recipe calls for peanut butter)

1. Cut banana into slices about 1/4 inch thick. About 20 pieces. 
2. Lay half the pieces flat on a plate lined with wax paper or parchment paper.
3. Mix Cool Whip and Sunbutter together until well blended.
4. Even distribute Cool Whip mixture on one banana slice.  Top with another banana slice to make small sandwich.  Repeat with rest of banana slices.
5. Put in freezer for about 1 hour. Then eat and enjoy!

**These are best to eat right away otherwise they will get mushy.**



For more great recipes go to the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TP -- Stock up price

Ever wonder how to tell is if toilet paper is a good deal or not.  Deal Seeking Mom has a great concept to figure this out!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day Memory

The day before Father's Day, I was wrapping gifts with our daughter.  I told her we needed to hide the presents from Daddy.  I asked her where should we hide them.  She eagerly answered her room.  Okay, I told her.  We "hid" them in her room in a JCPenny plastic bag.  I gave her instrtuctions to bring the bag into our room Sunday morning after she woke up.  (She's always up before us on weekends).  I wasn't really sure if this almost 3-year-old would remember or completely understand.  But sure enough at 7 a.m. I was woken up to the rustling of the JCPenny bag as she proudly carried it into our room as she said "Happy Father's Dad."

So much fun!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Father's Day Poem

I saw this poem and am excited to use it this year on my husband's Father's Day card.  I typed up the poem on white paper and glued it to the front of a piece of scrapbook paper.  We put foot prints on the inside of the card.



Walk a Little Slower Daddy
Walk a little slower Daddy, said a little child so small
I'm following in your footsteps and I don't want to fall.
Sometimes your steps are very fast, sometimes they're hard to see;
So walk a little slower Daddy, for you are leading me.
Someday when I'm all grown up, You're what I want to be.
Then I will have a little child who'll want to follow me.
And I would want to lead just right, and know that I was true;
So, walk a little slower, Daddy, for I must follow you!!
                                                       - Author Unknown


Fairy Dust and Glue

At our house napping and bedtime are very challenging for our daughter.  It's not that she won't sleep -- it's almost impossible for her to wind down without help.  She has always been this way.  She is just a very active little girl.  We used the Supernanny Sleep technique to get over the initial hump of staying in bed at night, which still took months to work for us.

About six months ago I added something to our night time routine.  I dig in my pocket for some (pretend) fairy dust and sprinkle it all over her body.  I tell her it special fairy dust to help her sleep.  She tells me what color it is, and we give a little to her toys she sleeps with, too. Lately the color of the fairy dust has had multiple colors.  Well, fairy dust along wasn't really working, so I now give her some glue that I rub all over her.  It's supposed to help her stick to her bed and pillow.  She tells me what color the glue is, too.  Does it work?  Mostly.  She still peeks out her bedroom window after we close the door (I know because the curtains are messed up when I check on her before I go to bed).  But she doesn't come out of her room anymore after being put to bed.  As an incentive I put a "surprise" book in her room for her to read in the morning.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Slicing Strawberries Tip

If you need to chop strawberries into small slices, simply use an egg slicer.  You will be so impressed how easy it is.



Check out this simple Strawberry Refrigerator Jam over on my other blog!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Giveaway -- Free All Natural Jamba Smoothie Kit -- Closed Winners E-mailed!




Recently I was contacted by Jamba Juice to do a review and host a giveaway.  They sent me three samples of Jamba Juice All Natural Smoothies that you can buy right in the freezer section of your grocery store.  I was excited because the closest Jamba Juice to me is a good 25-minute drive away and the convenience of being able to buy from the store is very appealing.  Following my review, I will give instructions on how you can win one of these smoothie kits!


The Facts



  • The All Natural Smoothies come frozen in three very different flavors-- Strawberries Wild (my favorite), Mango-a-go-go and Razzmatazz. 
  •  Each kit contains two 8 oz serving giving you 100 percent Vitamin C for the day and one whole serving of fruit. 
  • To make simply blend apple juice with smoothie kit.
  • Each of the Smoothie kits are fat free and only 120 calories per serving.
  • No high fructose syrup, no trans fat, nopreservatives.

The Review

The smoothie kits were very easy to make and we all like easy, right.  All I had to do was measure 1 cup of apple juice into my blender and add the contents of the smoothie kit.  In about a minute, I had two smoothies ready to eat.  My favorite is the Strawberry Wild -- I'm just partial to strawberries and bananas anyway.  Normally, I don't drink smoothies at home that have yogurt, but I couldn't tell the difference with these smoothies.  The flavors are clean and sweet.  I really enjoyed having a little treat in the middle of the day that had some good-for-you stuff in it, too.

The Giveaway

The average cost for a Jamba All Natural Smoothies kit is between $2.99 and $3.29.  However, if you want to try one for free, you can enter my giveaway.  I am giving FIVE (5) lucky winners a coupon for a Free Jamba Juice All Natural Smoothie -- you pick the flavor!


To enter:  Leave a comment below stating what flavor smoothie you would like to try! (please leave an e-mail or link to your blog so I can contact you if you win!)

Bonus entries
1)  Subscribe to my blog.  Leave an extra comment letting me know
2) Follow my blog.  Leave an extra comment letting me know.
3) Promote on your blog or elsewhere. Leave extra comment letting me know

Five winners will be selected through random.org on Thursday, June 17 and will be notified through e-mail!

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Blog slow down

    I'll probably be slowing down on blogging a little as the summer is upon us.  Here are some of the fun things we are doing and plan on doing this summer.



    • Parks (there are so many in our city in that we have many favorites)
    • Zoo (free)
    • Library (story time, reading program, special events)
    • Biking (for Mother's Day my husband bought me the piece that attaches the bike trailer to my bike -- ah feels good to be biking again!)
    • Walks (just around the neighborhood)
    • Hiking (free country parks with nice trails)
    • Botanical Gardens (free)
    • Strawberry picking (free plus the cost of the strawberries)
    • Farmer's Market (our daughter is really interested in trying the fresh produce)
    • Sensory Table (I fill with water and bring the bath toys outside)
    • Picnics
    • Swimming (at the pool.  I hope to try a couple beaches on the lakes this summer, too)

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Windfall Money!

    Lately I have been getting lots of survey opportunities from the survey websites I belong to.  I have actually been able to redeem some of those points that accumulate for gift cards.  A couple weeks ago I was asked to do a survery that lasted for three days.  It was pretty easy to do (about a half hour of time each day).  I got $125 gift card to Amazon.  I also had a $5 Amazon gift card from another survey I completed, so I put them together.  I searched Amazon very hard to find something to buy that would be worth it.  I bought a couple toys and some allergy-free snacks!

    Here's what I bought so far:










    I have a $37 balance available on my Amazon account and am cashing in another survey points for a $10 gift card.  I plan to buy Foodsaver bags!

    What would you do with $125 gift card to Amazon?
    (sorry not a giveaway just a question today, but stay tuned for some great giveaways in the next couple weeks)

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    What's cookin' - Easy Sausage Pepper Pasta

    I made this last week trying to use up so deals I've been getting to stock my pantry and freezer.  I had some homemade sauce and peppers in the freezer so the prep was pretty simple.  The taste was exceptional.

    Easy Sausage Pepper Pasta

    1 jar spaghetti sauce or homemade sauce
    1/2 cup red and yellow peppers, chopped
    2 to 3 links Italian sausage
    1 lb pasta, I used penne, but any kind works
    1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese

    1. Put 1/4 cup water in pan and cook sausage on medium low for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned.  You may need to add extra water.  Cut sausage into 1/4 inch slices.
    2. Boil pasta for 8 minutes. Drain.
    3.  Mix cooked pasta, sausage, peppers, and tomato sauce together in casserole dish.
    4. Top with Mozzarella cheese.
    5. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or when cheese is melted.

    For more great recipes check out the Grocery Cart Challenge and Life as Mom!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Week long series on my other blog

    On my other blog Life with a Dairy-Free Toddler, I am detailing meals that my toddler eats.  Even if you don't have special dietary needs, you may pick up an idea or two.  Check it out!

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Winners of Scrubbing Bubbles Coupons!

    All winners have been e-mailed.  


    jaslvg
    amberlowmiddleton
    qingkirsten
    couponsandcakes
    ropp.5


    Winners be sure to e-mail me back!

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Buyer Beware

    Last we our grocery store had strawberries on sale for 98 cents a pint.  I was about to pick up two when I read the sign and it said "Limit 1.  All other purchases 2/$3."   As I finished my shopping I kept looking at other shoppers to see that many had two pints of strawberries in their cart.  Yes, $1.50 each is a little cheaper than normal but I wonder how many people thought they were getting each for 98 cents.  Remember to read the limits on really good deals.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Flour Recommendation -Gold Medal Better for Bread

    I don't have a recipe to post this week, but I did want to share a new product that I tried.



    I've been struggling with bread and roll recipes lately.  They seem to be too dense.  I concluded that it was the flour I was using.  So, I tried Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour and the results were outstanding.  They flour has more gluten making the bread and rolls better.  It's a little more expensive than regular flour, but not much.  And you can use it exclusively for bread and rolls while using your regular flour for all other uses.

    Highly recommend!


    **The views here are my opinion and I did not receive any compensation for them.  I just wanted to share my opinion**

    Sticker Fun

    I've posted in the past about how I believe that coloring sheets are useful for children.  I think the same about using stickers as "creative art."  Lately, to pass the time our daughter has been requesting stickers and paper to stick them on.  She will spend 20 minutes peeling the stickers off and creating stories about what she is sticking.  I have overheard her talking about the animal stickers and how they were going to the "Lamb Look Class."  I asked her what they do in the class and she told me they go swimming and go poopy (we are almost completely potty trained).  So, I argue that yes maybe she isn't creating something from scratch, but she is definitely using her imagination (and fine motor skills).

    Cheap ways to get stickers

    • Dollar Store
    • Junk Mail 
    • Garage Sales (often people will sell partial sheets for next to nothing)
    • Dollar Spot at Target
    • Walmart
    • After the holidays (wait until they go 75% off and use for next year)
    • Teacher stores
    • Michaels (they have a lot of dollar bins)
    • Oriental Trading

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