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Monday, December 31, 2012

Menu Plan Monday


  • PB&J/Soups x3
  • Cheese Tortillas and Fruit x2
  • Eat Out at Subway (we got a gift card for Christmas!)
  • Ham Sandwiches

Monday: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
Tuesday: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches on English Muffin Bread
Wednesday/Thursday: Cheesy Chicken (Wild) Rice Casserole
Friday/Saturday: Black Bean Tacos
Sunday: Omelets and Toast on Leftover English Muffin Bread

  • Apples
  • Homemade Granola
  • Yogurt Tubes (I found two boxes on clearance last week for $0.67!)
  • Christmas Treats (time to finish these off)
  • Peanut Butter Graham Crackers
  • Goldfish Crackers
  • Strawberry Banana Smoothies

2012 Monthly Goals In Review

For 2012, I made a goal for each month.  Some were successful, and some were not.  Here's the year in review:

January: Make one of these note card journal calendars. And then use it. I have note cards, so if I don't get to making it right away, I can at least start journaling.  I did this one! I love how it turned out, and I actually used it to review for our Christmas letter.

February: Deep clean my refrigerator. It's not a glamorous goal, but it needs to be done. Not a pretty job, but complete.

March: Make a spring/Easter decorative hanger for our door. Or maybe finish the one I started last year...After finishing this, I don't love the color combination (I went with what was in the pattern), but I am glad to have completed an unfinished project.

April: Make a reusable Swiffer duster refill (or two, since I have two dusters). These are really useful, and the kids still do most of the dusting for me!

May: Make at least 2 "busy bag" learning activities for Jonah.  I did get a few of these made, although not until July...

June: Get everything packed up, purged, and organized for our move. It's not a big move. Just back into town. But it is still moving, and all the fun that goes with it. Complete!

July: Get our new place set up, and routines reestablished. A new place, plus the busy-ness of moving, will throw everything off for awhile. Complete!

August: Take $10 and go to the dollar store and/or thrift store and find something to take from trash to treasure in a crafty way.  I had high hopes for this one, and it just never materialized.  Maybe next year?

September: Bake myself a pretty birthday cake (or cupcakes, or whatever I'm in the mood for).  I made myself a yummy chocolate and peanut butter cake.

October: Begin planning Christmas gifts for the year. This last year went pretty well, because I planned early, but I still ended up working on quite a few projects well into December. This year I want to figure everything out and set up a schedule so I can spread the projects out more, and enjoy more free time (and baking!) in December.  First half: successful.  I had everything planned with plenty of time to spare.  Second part: miserable failure.  I didn't start working on most of my projects until mid-December, and this was definitely another stressful time for me.

November: Prepare an Advent calendar with fun activities for each day in December. I wanted to do this last year, but didn't end up having time.  I started the Advent calendar.  And it honestly hasn't gotten much beyond what is in those photos.  But I do plan on continuing to work on it throughout this next year, and hopefully it will be done for next year.

December: Create at least 3 homemade Christmas decorations, including at least 1 with the kiddos. Projects are fun!  Fail.  I had lots of grand ideas, and while we did make some treats together, I spent most of my time crafting presents for other people.  There's always next year?

Overall, I enjoyed this method of making New Year's Resolutions better than just having a general list for the whole year.  I did discover that I need to make sure to actually refer back to the list more frequently, because some goals I simply forgot about because I hadn't looked at it in awhile.  For next year, I haven't decided what I want to do yet.  I have no idea how the addition of a new baby in May, plus another potential move to an as-of-now unknown location will throw things for a loop.

I've also thought of doing a monthly goals post instead of one list at the beginning of the year.  It will be more accurate to whatever our current situation may be, but will still give me something to work towards, which definitely helps me keep my sanity as a stay-at-home mom.

How about you? What are some of your goals for this year?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Homemade Christmas Present Roundup

Merry Christmas!  I hope you are all enjoying the holidays with those you love, celebrating Jesus' birth.  I will be back to regular posting next week, but for now, here's a roundup of homemade Christmas presents from both this year and years past:

I do enjoy coming up with new projects each year, finding things that fit each person.  However, I tend to come up with lots of good ideas bright and early, and then not work on them until the last minute.  Someone remind me to start working on these projects before mid-December next year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What I'm Reading...

46 Reasons Why My Three Year Old Might Be Freaking Out. (Jason Good)

Newtown, Loss, And Parenting As Though Tomorrow Will Always Come. (The Happiest Mom)

Hard Water Deposits In A Toilet Bowl. Not as fun as some articles I read and post, but definitely handy. (Home Ec 101)

Luke 2. The reason for the season.

May you all have a blessed Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Lord!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Fleece Block-y Balls

I tried really hard to think of a way to describe these besides "I made some giant balls."  Pardon my second grade humor.  I found a pattern for these fleece blocks, which looked like fun, but I wanted BIGGER.  

For a size comparison, here are the balls with my 20 ounce water cup.  They're big.

To make these, I cut six 15" squares of fleece per ball.  I measured, kind of, but if you know anything about how I craft, or cook, for that matter, I tend to just guesstimate and it usually works out okay.  My lines were not perfectly straight.  Then I cut strips on the sides, five per side, plus cutting off the corners.  (Go look at the pattern I linked if that doesn't make sense.)

I tied them together and realized that maybe 15" was a bit too large, but 10" as suggested seemed too small.  So find a happy medium...

I put a big jingle bell from the craft store in one.  I took the suggestion I found here to put it in a plastic Easter egg first so the jingle wouldn't get muffled, and I filed the rest of that block with stuffing.  The second one I filled with plastic grocery bags, so it makes a fun crinkling noise.  Yay sensory learning!  If I have time, I may make a third one, but that one will simply have stuffing and be quiet.  

These might be too huge for stacking, but they should be fun for rolling around, leaning on, and hopefully shaking until the jingle bell drives their parents crazy  to enjoy pretty music.

These didn't turn out exactly how I had envisioned them in my head, but I really like them, and I hope the cute little girl who ends up with them enjoys them too!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Family Ornaments

Some of my favorite Christmas ornaments are the personalized family ones.  I wanted to make one, not only for us, but also for some of our friends and family.  I still have a personalized one from my childhood that has my parents, my sister, and me (but no little brother!), and I think it's awesome.  

To make these, I grabbed a package of colorful beads and some small, round, wooden beads at the craft store.  I already had the wire on hand.  I cut one strip of wire and doubled it over for the "base" to hang the people from.  I looped each end of the base so I would have something to attach the ribbon to hang it.

Then I cut a smaller strip of wire for each person, threaded on the beads (3 colorful ones per adult, 2 per kid, and just 1 for baby bean), and twisted it around the base.  For those that I knew, I tried to use their favorite colors, or at least more feminine colors for the girls, and masculine colors for the boys.  A pliers helped, but my thumbs still hurt from the twisting.

I had plans to add a little nameplate to the top with "DeDeyne 2012", but I couldn't find anything that looked quite right, so I just left that off.  I still like how it turned out, and I hope the recipients of the other ones I made will like them too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Food In Jars

One of my favorite homemade Christmas presents (both to give and receive) is food in jars.  The mixes are (usually) layered and pretty to look at, while also still being useful and consumable.  This year we made Taco Bean Chili and Cornbread Mix for our pastors and church administrator.  The cornbread mix is the standard recipe I use, which was on the back of the cornmeal package.  Jonah and Matthew even helped dump the ingredients into the jars!

I also included a bag of peanut butter granola, but that didn't make it into the picture.  I printed the directions for the mixes onto labels and stuck them right onto the jars, so they won't get lost.  We recycled some jars that had been given to us last year with other goodies in them, as well as some cleaned out pickle, salsa, and sauce jars that I had saved from the past few months.  This is an easy (and cheap!) present that can be appreciated after the holidays are over.

Monday, December 17, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping

I separated my shopping trip into 2 transactions so I could use some of the ECBs right away and pay less out of pocket.  The cashiers are always very friendly about that, which is nice.  We don't need razors, but my brother's favorite kind is the Fusion one, and I needed something to add to his Christmas present.  They worked out to be a decent deal with the coupons I had, so I bought them.

Transaction #1:
  • 2 Gillette Disposable Razor Packs: $11.29 each. Used B1G1 (P&G 11/25/12) - took off $11.99.
  • Gillette Fusion Razor: $10.79. Used $5/1 when you buy cartridges or disposables (P&G 11/25/12).
  • Used $8.88 in ECBs from previous trips = paid $9.67, got $10ECBs for spending $30 on Gillette products.
Transaction #2:
  • 3 Huggies Snug & Dry Jumbo Packs: $10 each.  Used three $3/1 printables.
  • Used $10ECBs from Transaction #1 = paid $11.00, got $10ECBs for spending $30 on diapers.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday/Tuesday: Ham & Bean Soup, Biscuits
Wednesday: Cheesy Italian Broccoli Chicken Casserole
Thursday: TBD, something with black beans from the freezer
Friday: Dinner with Katy's parents
Saturday: Family Christmas #2
Sunday: Family Christmas #2 Leftovers

One Welke family tradition for Christmas has always been to do an appetizer feast, where each person picks a food and everyone pigs out.  I forget how it started, but it's a fun way to splurge on some of the treats we don't eat very often otherwise. 

Once Christmas is over, I'll be working on getting back into more regular menu planning of all of the meals again, and getting more fruits and veggies back into our diet, which has been pretty carb and sugar heavy lately.  I'm not foolish enough to attempt that the week of Christmas! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Historical Motherhood Series: Rosie The Riveter.  A look at one of the most iconic figures in advertising. (The Happiest Mom)

Overdid The Compromises? 7 Simple, Frugal, At-Home Detox Options.  The bath that draws toxins out of your skin is intriguing, but I think I'll wait until I'm done being pregnant for that one. (Kitchen Stewardship)

90 Clutter-Free Gift Ideas. (Home Your Way)

Why I Don't Bake From Scratch (But I Think It's Awesome If You Do). I bake from scratch a lot, but not always. (The Happiest Mom)

This Is Your Brain On Crafts.  I originally read this article in the November copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine (yes, I'm a little behind), and I liked it, so I tried to find it online. There's a link in this post to a pdf.  Crafting is good for your well-being.  To which I say, well, duh!

The Easy Guide To A Productive You In 2012.  I like the 3-item list idea.  My lists are always super long though. (Work Your Way)

High Fructose Corn Syrup: What Is It? And Is It Really That Bad? We've mostly eliminated HFCS from our diet, except in cereals and occasional condiments. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

How To Train Your Robot: How I Teach Kids To Program Without Computers.  My nerdy side thinks this is awesome! (Offbeat Families)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Tile Coasters

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is creating and giving homemade gifts.  I always try to come up with something personalized that the person will really love and use.  I have seen several variations of these tile photo coasters around the blogs, and I knew I wanted to try them.

  • 4 or 5 plain white tiles ($0.16 each at Home Depot)
  • Scrap felt for feet (so they don't scratch the table)
  • Hot glue
  • 4x6 photos, trimmed to size
  • Mod Podge and a paintbrush
 After laying down some of my favorite comics (love Baby Blues!), I cut out some scrap felt squares for the "feet" for the coasters. 

I also trimmed my 4x6 photos to fit. 

Then I hot glued the felt to the bottom of the tiles.

And finally, I painted on a layer of Mod Podge.  It looks terribly streaky at first, but it does all soak into the paper and dry after a bit.  According to the bottle, you need to wait at least 15-20 minutes between layers, but I waited a little longer than that.

I ended up doing 5 layers of Mod Podge, and then I sprayed them with some clear fixitive to seal them.

Then I wrapped them up with some pretty ribbon and ta da! Homemade present!

Also, please excuse the messiness of my table in the photos.  A lot of crafting and baking has been happening here over the past few days...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Snowman Hot Cocoa Jars

Aren't these adorable? I made these up for some of our nieces and nephews for a little Christmas treat.  They are really simple to make. 

Jonah and Matthew helped me fill the jars.  The bottom one has 1/4 cup hot cocoa powder in it.  The middle one has M&Ms, and the top one has mini marshmallows.  I hot glued the 3 jars together, drew on a Sharpie face and buttons, and wrapped a ribbon scarf around their necks.  Easy!  I'm sure they will enjoy this yummy treat.

HyVee Coupon Shopping

I always love a good cereal deal!  Selected Kellogg's cereals are 6/$10 today and tomorrow at HyVee, with some added bonuses...
  • 6 Kellogg's cereals: 6/$10.  Used $0.50/1 Krave, and two $1/2 various printables = paid $7.50/6.
  • Yoplait Yogurt 2-pack: $2.39.  Used $2/1 yogurt when you buy 4 Kellogg's cereals (peelie on cereal package) = paid $0.39.
  • HyVee Orange Juice: $0.99.  Used $1/1 juice when you buy 2 Krave cereals printable = free.
  • HyVee Ice Cream: $1.48.
  • Tortilla Chips: $1.88.
  • Chili: $1.49. (The chips and chili are by Jesse's request. We got some Velveeta as part of our Seminary food donations, and he's really excited to make it.)
  • Total spent: $12.58.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Walgreens Coupon Shopping

Although the Walgreens diapers aren't our favorites (they tend to leak at night), we need some extra diapers for upcoming travels, so I picked up a few packs since they were on sale.
  • 2 Jumbo Packs Diapers: B1G1 $8.99 = $4.49 per pack.
  • 2 Walgreens Wipes: B1G1 $2.29 = $1.15 per pack.
  • 2 Hershey's Bliss Candies: $3 each.  Used $2/2 printable and $2/2 (Walgreens December booklet) = paid $1 each.
  • Pictures for a craft project (not shown): $0.95.
  • Total spent: $14.91.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Leftover Pork Chops and Potatoes (cooked by Jesse on Sunday)
Tuesday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Wednesday: Church Dinner
Thursday: Loaded Baked Potatoes
Friday: Dinner with Katy's Parents
Saturday: Family Christmas Party #1
Sunday: TBD

We have a pretty easy week this week, as we will be getting ready for the first (of 3) family Christmas of the year.  Along with the treats we made last week, the kids and I also made some yummy sprinkle cookies (pictured above).  They are delicious, and the base would go well for any "kiss cookies" if the typical peanut butter ones aren't your favorite.

This week we will be working on a bunch of our homemade Christmas gifts for family and friends, as well as baking a few more Christmas goodies.  Watch for more to come later this week!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Easy No-Bake Christmas Treats!

Yesterday afternoon, Jonah and Matthew and I made two easy and yummy Christmas treats.  While they did more eating than helping, they both enjoyed helping make these treats.

Peanut Butter Chex Mix

  • 6 cups Chex cereal, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup peanuts or other nuts
  • 6-8 oz. almond bark
  • 1/4 cup M&Ms (we didn't have any, but these totally would have made it better)

Line 2 cookie sheets with wax paper and set aside.  Melt peanut butter and butter together. Pour over 3 cups of Chex cereal.  Add peanuts and mix to coat.  Dump onto one cookie sheet to harden. 

Melt almond bark.  Pour over 3 cups of Chex cereal.  Add M&Ms and mix to coat.  Dump onto other cookie sheet to harden.  After cereal has hardened and dried, break up the larger chunks and mix the two kinds together.  Store in an air-tight container.

Ritz Cracker Sandwiches

  • Ritz crackers (We used 46)
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond bark (We used about 7oz. on 23 sandwiches, but 8oz. would have been better)
  • Sprinkles
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside.  Spread peanut butter on half the crackers and top with the other half to make sandwiches.  Melt almond bark and dip the sandwiches to coat, turning over to get all sides.  Set on cookie sheet.  Top with sprinkles (the kids' favorite part!).  Let sit to harden (10-15 minutes).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Target Coupon Shopping

I love when the coupon deals match up with something we need! In this case, body wash for Jesse and Kleenex for my pregnancy congestion.
  • 4 Right Guard Body Wash: $3.49 each. Used two $3/2 printables and four $1.50/1 Target printables = paid $1.76/4!
  • 4 Up & Up Facial Tissues: $0.99 each.  Used four $0.50/1 Target printables = paid $0.49 each.
  • 2 Cars cars: $1.99 each. These are normally $3.49 each, so I was excited to see a great sale price on a few we don't have yet.  The boys were excited too.
  • Total spent: $8.87.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Dinners for this week:

Monday: Black Bean Enchiladas
Tuesday: Chicken Noodle Casserole
Wednesday: Advent Dinner at Church
Thursday/Friday: Ham & Split Pea Soup
Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner - English Muffin Bread, Eggs, Bacon
Sunday: Meat (whatever I find on special over the next week), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Sunday, December 2, 2012

HyVee and CVS Coupon Shopping

On Thursday I stopped by HyVee to grab some bread and milk and a few essentials, but I also picked up some small bags of cereal that were on sale for $0.59 each.  I used two $1.50/3 printable coupons, which means I paid a whopping $0.54 total for 6 bags.  Yes, they're tiny, but that's still some cheap cereal! This deal goes through tomorrow, I believe.

And today, I went to CVS for the best deals this week.
  • Pampers Jumbo Pack: $9.99, get $4ECBs.  Used $2/1 printables = paid $7.99, got $4ECBs.
  • 4 Hersheys Assorted Candies: 4/$10, get $3ECBs.  Used two $2/2 printables = paid $6, got $3ECBs. This didn't ring up right at first, but after checking it, I was able to get my ECBs after the fact.
  • 4 Halls Vitamin C Drops: 2/$3. Used two $1/2 (SS 11/04/12) = paid $4/4. Not the best deal, but we go through A LOT of these each winter.
I also used $17.32 in ECBs from last time, so I ended up paying $1.85, most of which was tax.  I got back the $4ECBs for the diapers, the $3ECBs for the candy, and $1ECB for my green bag tag. 

What I'm Reading...

6 Tips For Eating Healthy While Away From Home.  These are more for staying somewhere with a kitchen than for, say, visiting family members, but still good tips.  (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Learn From Someone Who's Moved 8 Times. This is a good list of moving stuff (as someone who's moved, what? 13 times now).  I like the idea of labeling the things you pack up last "Unpack this first". That's smart. (Offbeat Home)

Bridging The Gap With My Children's Interests: Why One Geeky Dad Is Learning To Love Cartwheels.  And why I know so much about how steam engines work. (Offbeat Mama)

My Approach To Holiday Traditions: Sit Back, And Let Them Happen.  I had lots of grand ideas (many Pinterest inspired) for things we could do for Christmas.  And we'll probably do some of them.  But I'm not going to worry about it too much, at least not this year. (The Happiest Mom)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

We are eating from the pantry this week until we get paid and go grocery shopping again (I've used up all my grocery money, plus most of a $25 prepaid debit card, but we did manage to have our normal meals, host a small dinner party for Jesse's birthday, cook the dollar dinner at the Beacon for about 30 people, and host Thanksgiving for 12 people, so I'd say that was pretty successful). 

I was able to find some super cheap cereal at Cub Foods yesterday (2 boxes for $1 each and 2 boxes for $0.49 each), so we'll have that and probably this peanut butter bread for breakfasts.

Lunches will be our standard sandwiches, soups, and tortillas with cheese.  I may actually get around to making chili and tomato soup this week.  Or I may not.  It will depend on my mood.

Monday: Sausage Pizza Pockets from the freezer
Tuesday: Mini Turkey Loaves, Green Beans, Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday: Advent Dinner at Church (how is it time for this already?)
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon (these are almost done for the semester)
Friday: Black Beans, Rice, and Cheese (the beans and rice are already cooked and in the freezer)
Saturday/Sunday: TBD, but maybe Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup will become a dinner, or a Veggie Minestrone Soup.  Or we'll have Pancakes.  Something quick and easy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Taking A Pass On Play: How Outsourcing Playtime Helps Me Enjoy My Toddler More.  A lot of the time, toddler playtime isn't that exciting for me either.  But sometimes it's fun. (The Happiest Mom)

Make The Most Of Your Thanksgiving Meal Preparation.  Doing things ahead of time makes
everything easier. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Here's hoping everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving and a fun-filled Black Friday!  We enjoyed time with family and bought each other's Christmas gifts.  Now on to the Christmas season!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Free Card From Treat

Although I do like to make some of my own cards, I also get really excited when I see offers for free cards from some of my favorite photo sites.  Treat is a an offshoot of Shutterfly, one of my favorite photo sites. Treat focuses on greeting cards, and today they have an exciting offer for you: a free card!

I love getting the opportunity to sample a card from a site before I buy any, and today you get that chance too!  Use the code TREATBLOGR for one free card from Treat.  This code is valid today and tomorrow only, so go check it out!

If you haven't ordered from Treat yet, do it now!  Treat offers one-of-a-kind cards for every occasion.  I like to keep a stash of birthday cards on hand for those birthdays that pop up suddenly.  Order a birthday card like me, a Thanksgiving card for this weekend, or look further ahead to Christmas or thank-yous get the idea.  What card are you going to pick?

This is a sponsored post.  I received compensation for writing it, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping

CVS has some awesome freebies this week!  I knew I wanted to get there right away today before everything sold out (and 2 items I wanted were already gone!).  I started with $10ECBs, and did 2 transactions to minimize my money out-of-pocket.  I spent $2.76 total out-of-pocket, and ended up with over $18 in ECBs for next time!  Money making trip!

Transaction #1:
  • South Beach Diet Bars: $4.99, get $4.99 ECBs
  • Children's Advil: $2.37, get $2.37 ECBs.  Used $3/1 CVS coupon machine and $1.50/1 printable.  Both of these coupons came off my total with no problem, even though they were more than the item total.
  • 2 Right Guard Deoderants: $2.99 each, get $2.99 ECBs (limit 2).  Used two $1/1 printables = paid $3.98/2, got $4 ECBs
  • Glade Scented Oil Warmer Kit: $1.25, get $1.25 ECBs.  Used $1/1 printable = paid $0.25, got $1 ECBs.
  • 2 Crest with Scope (2.7oz.): $2.67, get $2 ECBs each (limit 2).  Used $2/2 CVS coupon machine = paid $3.34, got $4 ECBs.
  • Used $10 ECBs from last time = paid $1.36, got $11.62 ECBs.
Transaction #2:
  • Nips Candy: $0.88, get $0.88 ECBs
  • Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: $0.99, get $0.99 ECBs.
  • Powerade: $1.00, get $1.00 ECBs.
  • Sprite 1.25L: $0.99, get $0.99 ECBs.
  • Scooby-Doo Fruit Snacks: $2.00, get $2.00 ECBs.
  • AirWick Warmer Unit: $0.99, get $0.99 ECBs.
  • Hot Wheels Car: $1.00, get $1.00 ECBs.
  • 2 Kleenex Slim Packs: $1.00, get $1.00 ECBs (limit 2)
  • Charmin Single Roll: $0.99, get $0.99 ECBs.
  • 3M Command Hook Sample Pack: $0.99, get $0.99 ECBs. Used $1/1 printable = free, got $0.99 ECBs.
  • Used $10.24 ECBs from first transaction = paid $1.40, got $11.83 ECBs.

What I'm Reading...

3 Tips To Help You Relate Better With Your Husband.  Men and women are different. (Simple Mom)

How To Save By Price Matching (a.k.a. Saving Without Using Coupons) - Part 1, The Story.  (And here's part 2) While we didn't have a huge enough stockpile to have tables full at a garage sale, I do recall once sending a box of donations to Seminary that included enough toothpaste for each student to have a tube. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

24 Clutter-Free Advent Calendar Gift Ideas.  This is a good list of fun things to do in December. (The Minimalist Mom)

Monday Mission: How Many Baby Steps Have You Taken?  We have taken some of these baby steps toward healthier eating.  There are some we will most likely not do.  And there are some that I will continue to research. (Kitchen Stewardship)

I've Started Telling My Daughters I'm Beautiful.  So important. (Offbeat Mama)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Walmart Coupon Shopping

Walgreens has Lindsay olives on sale this week for $0.99.  There is a printable coupon out on Lindsay's Facebook page (enter to win free olives first) for $1/1 Lindsay product.  There was also a coupon on last week, which I had printed as well, but that one is gone. 

Our Walgreens was (of course) out of the black olives, but I took the ad to Walmart and was able to price match and get 6 cans for free!  My boys, who love their black olives, were very excited.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Still a lot of cereal, but I will also be making banana bread tomorrow.

  • PB&J/Soups x2
  • Ham Sandwiches x2
  • Grilled Cheese
  • PB&Banana Tortillas
  • TBD

Monday: Eggs, Toast, and Bacon
Tuesday: Potato Soup with Bacon
Wednesday: Black Bean Burgers, Homemade Fries
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon
Friday: Homemade Mac & Cheese
Saturday: Stir Fry
Sunday: Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches on English Muffin Bread

Soups this week will be Tomato and Chili.  Or I may put off making the tomato soup since we've ended up with quite a few cans of condensed tomato soup from the Seminary food donations, and we'll just eat those.

The big menu planning push this week will be to figure out our side dishes for Thanksgiving.  I always love finding a yummy stuffing recipe (although my husband loves his Stove Top), and I want to do something different than the typical green bean casserole this year.  Off to searching!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping

  • 2 Huggies Jumbo Packs: $10.00.  Used two $3/1 printables (no longer available) = paid $7.00 each.
  • 1 Huggies Pull-Ups: $10.00.  Used $2/1 printable = paid $8.00.  Got $10ECBs for spending $30 on baby stuff.
  • Gold Emblem Chips: $1.00.  Used another $1/1 from the coupon machine from last week.
  • Used $10.00 ECBs = paid $12.00, got $10ECBs!
Also, having big kids in diapers is no fun.  I feel like diapers are such a rip-off when I get 19 in a package.  NINETEEN.  Arg.  At least soon I will get to buy the tiny diapers again, and get like 50.

What I'm Reading...

Announcing Secret Boards For The Holidays! Am I the only one who started planning Christmas presents already?  I'm disappointed that it doesn't apply to existing boards, but still, I am excited about this new feature. (Pinterest)

A Month Of Financial Fasting.  I think this would be an interesting experiment, but I also wonder if we would spend more money the month before preparing for it, and more money the month after to replenish things, thus defeating the purpose. (Money Saving Mom)

Don't Try To "Get Something Done".  I am so guilty of this all the time. (Kitchen Stewardship)

Saying "Yes" To Messes.  I have been making an effort to do more "messy" things with the boys (like letting them play with dried beans, or finger painting, or ripping up paper into tiny pieces that end up all over the floor).  It's tough for my OCD "neat" nature to watch the messes, but it's worth it. (Money Saving Mom)

How To Clean Produce Naturally And Save Money.  Confession: I don't always wash our produce much or at all.  But I probably should, and I like being able to just use vinegar and water. (Kitchen Stewardship)

4 Essential Rules For Raising Amazing Children.  "Mothers are leaders. We can’t just tell our kids where to go, we have to lead them there. …but we do NOT need to be perfect. Read that 10 times in a row. It’s important." (Family Your Way)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Superman Birthday Cake

Tomorrow is Jesse's birthday.  He has asked me to make him a Superman cake for several years, but I hadn't done it yet.  Until now.  I decided to do a Superman logo cake topper, on a yellow cake, with red frosting between layers, and blue frosting on the outside.  

Side note: I use Wilton gel colors to dye my frosting, but even when I use what I feel like is a lot, I still end up with pastel colors and pinks instead of reds.  So I didn't get the Superman blue I was looking for.  But it still turned out pretty well.

First, I printed out a simple logo from a Google images search.  I taped a piece of wax paper over that and onto a cookie sheet.

Next I melted some chocolate chips to make the topper.  Here's a trick I picked up on the Internet somewhere: To fill a ziploc bag with chocolate, open it in a glass and fold it down over the edges.  Then you can spoon the chocolate in without a mess.

I cut a small corner off of the bag and piped the chocolate onto the wax paper.  It worked best to outline first, then fill in and spread out with a spoon.  I think next time I do this method, I will flip the picture so it is backwards, so then the right-side-up side will be smoother (hopefully that makes sense).

After a few hours in the freezer, the logo was ready to go on the cake!  I love it! This was a really easy method, and I think it looks pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Target Coupon Shopping

I posted a little while back that I wasn't going to do coupon shopping as much, and now I feel like I've been posting a lot of coupon shopping lately.  Still, it has been for things that we've needed, AND I've stayed under budget, so I guess it's allowed!  The reason for all the pasta and sauces is that we are cooking the Dollar Dinner at the Beacon this week, and we are doing a spaghetti/alfredo night.

  • 2 Market Pantry Tomato Sauces: $1.00 each.  Used $1/2 Target printable = paid $0.50 each.
  • 4 Market Pantry Alfredo Sauces: $1.32 each.  Used $1/2 Target printable = paid $1.07 each. (I would have printed off another coupon, but I didn't realize the alfredo jars were smaller, so I wasn't planning on buying 4 of them)
  • 3 Market Pantry Noodles: $1.00 each.  Used $1/3 Target printable = paid $0.67 each.
  • 5 Glade Scented Oil Candles: $2.50 each.  Used four $1/1 printables and four $1/1 Target printables = paid $4.50/5, got $5 gift card!
  • 5 Various Fall Brittles (striped bags): 3 were $0.49 each and 2 were $0.39 each on clearance!
  • Ghirardelli Bag Chocolates: $4.99. Used free coupon from Facebook promotion (no longer available) = free!
  • Lindor Truffles: $3.33. Used free coupon from Facebook promotion (no longer available) = free!
  • 2 Reese's Pieces Pumpkins: on clearance for $0.10 each!  We should have grabbed more...
  • Used $13.32 remaining on my $100 gift card that I won (about half of it went to buy ink for our printer a few weeks ago) = paid $1.86 out of pocket and got a $5 gift card!

Light Bulb Ornaments for Iron Craft #22: Unfinished Objects

A long, long time ago, I found a cute ornament project using light bulbs and baby socks.  And I ended up with a few of both of those.  But the materials just sat in my craft stash forever.  So this week, I finally made them.  First, I figured out how I wanted the sock "hats" to fit on my light bulbs:

Then I took them off and drew on my penguin and snowman with Sharpies.  After letting those dry for a few minutes, I added the socks, using hot glue to attach them. 

I still have to thread a ribbon through the top to hang them on the tree, but these ornaments are close enough to done.
They turned out pretty cute, I think.  I also realized that my babies have dirty feet, because there were a couple other socks that certainly would not have worked for this project.

Once that was done, I fixed a few other randoms with my glue gun, since I had it out, and since this is the week of unfinished objects.  My recipe box has been missing one of its flowerboxes for over a year.  

And this little guy just got broken last week, but he still needed fixing.

Much better!

Did you finish any long-awaited projects this week?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I have a confession - we had our Think Outside The Box Challenge month in September, and that went really well, but it was a lot of work.  Combine that with feeling pretty terrible from what has been my most difficult pregnancy so far, and we're back to eating cereal quite a bit.  For now, I'm okay with that.  I still try to bake *something* once a week, and Jesse has been good about making up some pancakes or French toast for us every so often.  All the same, as I was coming up with my newest meal plan, when I got to breakfast, I wrote down "cereal - a LOT". 

  • Ham Sandwiches x2
  • PB&J/Soups x2
  • Quesadillas
  • Birthday Lunches (Jesse's birthday is this week, so one day I'll send him for all of his freebies to share)
  • Sem Wives at Old Country Buffet

Monday/Tuesday: Bean Soup, Homemade Bread
Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potatoes
Thursday: We're cooking the Dollar Dinner - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Chicken Alfredo Sauce, Garlic Bread, and Pumpkin Cake
Friday: Leftovers from Dollar Dinner
Saturday: Friends over for a Build-Your-Own Taco Buffet and Birthday Cake
Sunday: Leftover Tacos

Sunday, November 4, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping

I got really excited for this diaper deal at CVS, so I didn't notice that it's not until next week.  Oops!  I did pick up some Halls while I was there.

2 Halls Drops: 2/$3.  Used $1/2 printable and $1/1 (CVS coupon machine).  Also used $1ECB = paid $0.15 in tax.

What I'm Reading...

10 Things I've Learned In 10 Years Of Marriage.  Smart lessons. (Simple Mom)

Be The Cool Parent, But Don't Believe The Lie.  Thought-provoking view on things. (Family Your Way)

How To Cross-Stitch Custom Designs Sans Computer.  I do this. (Offbeat Home)

Get Spicy! & Organized.  After reading this, I realized that my spices are organized in a way that only makes sense in my head.  And maybe that's okay.  I haven't decided yet. (Kitchen Stewardship)

5 Delicious Immunity-Boosting Foods To Ward Off Cold And Flu Season. (Food Your Way)

On Pregnancy And Miscarriage, Grief And Joy.  (Family Your Way)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CVS and Walgreens Coupon Shopping

I went to CVS hoping to find an Aveeno deal I had read about on the deal blogs to turn my $10 ECBs into $15ECBs without spending much out of pocket, but they were out of the size that made the deal, and it wasn't marked as being part of the deal, so I didn't bother getting a rain check.  The coupon machine did spit out a $1/1 Gold Emblem Chips, which I used to get this bag for free.

Then we went to Walgreens for wipes.

2 Huggies 216-ct. wipes: $5.99 each.  Used $2/1 (Walgreens November booklet) and $0.50/1 peelies on the wipes = paid $3.49 each!  This deal goes until 11/10, so I might stop in and get more, but I have to go regular grocery shopping first and see how much I spend on that.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I haven't quite figured out breakfasts and lunches for this week, although I did end up making waffles this afternoon, so we'll have those for breakfast tomorrow.  As for dinners, here's how this week looks:

Monday: Turkey Enchiladas
Tuesday/Wednesday: Navy Bean Soup, Cheesy Biscuits
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon
Friday/Saturday: Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole
Sunday: TBD

I only had the menu planned to the end of the month, but we've missed a few meals due to other switching around, so I just shifted everything back a few days.  So some of these might look familiar from last week. 

Tiny Prints Contest Winner!

Did you enter my Tiny Prints giveaway?  Congratulations to the winner...
Comment #6, Rachel!  I hope you enjoy your holiday cards!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Coupon Shopping at Home Depot, Lowe's, and CVS

My first freebie is actually from yesterday, but the offer is still good through today, so I thought I'd mention it.  Bath & Body Works is offering a free mini candle with no purchase necessary on their Facebook page.  I picked up a pumpkin one for fall.

Another Facebook offer: Home Depot has a Zombie Mulch game on their page, which you can play to earn coupons.  I had some extra time yesterday afternoon while the kids were sleeping, so I played (it took me 30-40 minutes to earn all the coupons).  You do have to use each coupon separately, so here's what I did:

Transaction #1:
  • Winter shovel: $13.98
  • 2 smallest pots: $0.70 and $0.78.
  • Used $15 coupon from game = should have paid $0.59.  I realized later that I got charged for one of my other pots twice, so this total was $1.84.
Transaction #2:
  • 4 biggest pots: $5.28, $2.98, $1.25, and $0.78.
  • Used $10 coupon from game = paid $0.31
Transaction #3:
  • Christmas lights: $5.48. 
  • Used $5 coupon from game = paid $0.52.
I paid for the extra charges with my Jingit card, which had $22.56 to start.  So no money out of pocket there! The pots and lights I am planning to use for a craft project, which will hopefully be a cool looking Christmas decoration.  Look for that sometime soon!

Next I went to Lowe's.  Earlier this month, they were offering a $10 coupon to new e-mail sign-ups.  I'm not sure if that is still valid, but it's worth a shot if you aren't an e-mail subscriber yet.  Here's what I bought there:
  • Pan organizer: $8.99.
  • 8 tiles (for a craft project): $0.16 each.
  • Used $10 coupon = paid $0.29 on my Jingit card

And finally, I went to CVS, because they were running one of my favorite "buy $30 of P&G products, get $10ECBs" deals.
  • 3 Pampers Jumbo Packs: $8.99 each.  Used one $2/1 (P&G 10/28/12) and one $1/2 (P&G 9/30/12) = paid $23.97/3.
  • Huggies Wipes: $3.49. Used $1/1 (September All You) = paid $2.49.
  • Crest Toothpaste: $2.99. Used $1/1 (P&G mailer) = paid $1.99.
  • Used $0.50ECBs and $5/$30 baby products (CVS coupon machine)
  • Total: $22.61.  Used remaining $19.60 off my Jingit card, meaning I spent $3.01 out of pocket and got $10ECBs!
I am super excited about shopping trips like this!  It takes a little bit of planning, but a chunk of time where I don't have the kids along makes it easier.  Yay for good deals!

What I'm Reading...

18 Signs That You Move Around A Lot.  I can relate to most of these. (Small Notebook)

Five Mindsets That Are Imperative For Frugal Living.  These are all important, but they are certainly all challenging as well. (Money Saving Mom)

Iron Craft Week 22.  The week of the unfinished objects.  I've been doing a terrible job of keeping up with these challenges, but I have at least two projects I can think of (no, 3, I just thought of another one) that fit with this theme.  Perhaps I will try to do at least one of them... (Just Crafty Enough)

A Bright + Organized Entry.  While I don't know that things will necessarily change in our entryway too much, I do have plans to create some sort of mail/bill paying station somewhere in our house, and I found this post inspiring for figuring out what you need, and finding solutions for that. (I Heart Organizing)

Decorating On A Dime: Keepsake Boxes.  I've had these as an idea for a long time, but I have yet to make any. (Money Saving Mom)

7 Tips For Hospitality On A Pastor's Wife's Budget.  For future reference... (Money Saving Mom)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How I Make Money While Staying At Home

I am a stay-at-home mom.  That means I don't get a paycheck to contribute to our family's finances.  However, I do have a few ways I add a little bit to our budget. 

I use Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards, which I use to buy diapers or baby wipes, plus occasional "fun" items, like House dvds or toy cars for birthdays.  Swagbucks is a search engine like Google, which rewards you randomly for your regular searching, plus offering additional opportunities to earn with various activities on the site (surveys, bonus codes, special offers, polls, etc.).  I make anywhere from $10-$25 a month in Amazon gift cards from this site.

Two easy sites to earn a few points on are MyPoints and RewardPort.  While both of these sites offer other ways to earn (which I don't do), the easiest way to get money from them is click-through e-mails.  Each e-mail offers you a few points just for clicking the link in it.  I usually get enough points per year from MyPoints to get two $10 gift cards to various stores or restaurants, and enough points from RewardPort for about $20 in Amazon codes.  These are slower to earn, but the e-mails are pretty consistent, and it doesn't take much time to click through the e-mails once a week or so.

Finally, my newest favorite way to earn is through Jingit.  This is a site that pays you for watching a few short ads and answering questions about them.  I check this site every day, which posts the links for the videos of the day.  For spending less than 5 minutes a day watching ads, I earn $20-$25 a month, which I can load onto my Jingit debit card and use to shop anywhere.

While all of these little bits of income are not going to make us rich, they do help supplement our grocery budget, or give us a little bit of fun money.  None of them takes much work, and I like knowing that I can contribute to our finances, even if it is just a little bit.

Some of the links in this post are my referral links.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (leftover from last week)
Tuesday: Cereal
Wednesday: Oatmeal
Thursday/Friday: Whole Wheat Chocolate Pancakes
Saturday: Cereal
Sunday: French Toast


Monday: Eggs and English Muffin Bread
Tuesday: Pizzadillas
Wednesday: Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Rice Bake
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon
Friday: Sour Cream Beef Casserole
Saturday: Beef Enchiladas
Sunday: Navy Bean Soup, Cheesy Biscuits

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What I'm Reading...

The $10 Of Toys That Replaces $15,000.  Apparently parents will spend $15,000 per child on toys.  I realize it's an average, but that seems so high!  While I wouldn't go with the $10 of toys alone, I would like to think we'll spend far less than $15,000. (The Minimalist Mom)

Be Informed: Grass Fed Vs. Candy Fed Beef.  Cows eat sprinkles.  Who knew? (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Saving Money: Big And Little Wins.  I'm definitely a "little win" kind of person most of the time. (Simple Mom)

I May Be Boring But I'm Not Bored.  "Meal plans excite me. So does my son willingly brushing his teeth. I’m content with and fascinated by things I once thought mundane like having a family no-spend day once a week." (The Minimalist Mom)

Save Time In The Kitchen With A Little Prep Work.  This is what I do.  So I like to read about it when other people do it too. (Easy Homemade)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Target Coupon Shopping

I'm still sticking with my idea of not using coupons unless we needed the items right away anyway, but all of these items were needed.  I had $1 and change left in my grocery money before this trip.  But...I won a $100 Target gift card in a sweepstakes, and it came in the mail this week, so I was able to use that for this shopping.

  • 2 All Free & Clear Laundry Detergent: $3.99 each.  Used $3/2 printable and two $1/1 Target printables = paid $1.49 each!
  • 2 Up & Up Kleenex: $0.99 each.  Used two $0.50/1 Target printables = paid $0.49 each!
  • Mission Tortillas: $2.25. Which is actually about $0.25 cheaper than Walmart.  Who knew?
  • Total spent: $6.72.

Have You Started Your Christmas Cards Yet? And A Giveaway...

There are 68 days until Christmas.  Isn't that crazy?  I've been working on getting things ready behind-the-scenes at our house: working on my Advent Calendar, coming up with a gift list and plans for getting everything done with time to spare (no working on presents in the car on the way to someone's house this year!), and even thinking about our Christmas card picture.

Have you thought about yours yet?  I decided to do a little bit of looking around on one of my favorite photo and cards sites, Tiny Prints, for some inspiration.

For my Christmas cards, I do have a few requirements.  They have to include a Scripture passage - Christmas is all about Jesus' birth!  I like this one (Behold Joy) for the passage.

I also like lots of spaces for photos, usually one family shot and a bunch of the kids, plus pictures of big events from the year since we also include our yearly family newsletter with the cards.  This one (Seasonal Sprinkles) is fun and festive and has lots of photo spots.
And then, I found one I really like.  Bible passage? Check.  Several photo spots? Check.  I still have a little while to keep looking, but I think this one (Born This Day) might be the winner.
We still have to take a good picture, and we are probably going to be late on mailing out the cards this year, because, let's be honest, we're finding out if baby #3 is a boy or a girl about a week before Christmas, and we want to share.  But that doesn't mean I can't get my cards done ahead of time.

And so can you!  Tiny Prints has generously offered to give one of my readers a $50 credit off of their total order.  Now you can get to work on your cards too!  The code cannot be combined with other offers, and does not include tax and shipping.

To enter, just leave me a comment telling me what your requirements are for your Christmas cards. Please make sure to include your e-mail address when you comment so I can contact you if you are the winner.

The comments will close at 11:59pm (central time) on October 28, and the winner will have 24 hours to respond with their mailing information so I can get them their code.

While you're waiting to find out if you're the winner, be sure to check out the Tiny Prints Special Offers page for more good deals.

This is a sponsored post.  I received a Tiny Prints credit for writing it, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfasts (I think I need to go back to assigning these to specific days, because I'm getting lazy and we keep eating cereal):
  • Ham Sandwiches x2
  • PB&J/Soups x2
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Quesadillas
  • Sem Wives at Old Country Buffet on Saturday

Monday: Sausage and Olive Pizza
Tuesday/Wednesday: Bean Soup, Homemade Bread
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon
Friday: Dinner at Bethany (Jesse is helping judge a debate tournament, so we'll tag along for dinner)
Saturday/Sunday: Beef Stroganoff (one of my Grandma's recipes), Cheesy Biscuits (these biscuits are one of our new favorites, and they're super easy!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What I'm Reading...

I didn't spend a ton of time reading the blogs this week, but here are a few posts I did find interesting...

Do You Hate Clothes Shopping As Much As I Do? In a perfect world, I would have time and money to go shopping for great clothes, but since that's not realistic, I think this idea is awesome. (Pocket Your Dollars)

Finding Out The Sex Of Your Baby: Pros And Cons.  We find out. The plan is to keep finding out, until we have both genders. And then if we have more kids after that, it can be a surprise. (Offbeat Mama)

Sour Flour And Grain Bugs: Eaten And Explained.  Kind of gross, but informative. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cub Foods Coupon Shopping

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed the discussion I was having yesterday about coupon shopping, and how I don't really plan on doing it very often any more.  I've come a long way from when I first started couponing and I bought EVERY "deal" I found, but even now, buying only things we'll for sure use eventually, I still spend more on stocking up and end up going over budget because I have things on my list that we need now.  

I'm still going to grab my free inserts when I come upon them, although I'm giving the big coupon box a rest, and switching to the file-by-insert method, so I can just clip the few coupons I know I'll use (diapers, wipes, and cereal), and find any others if I need them for freebie deals that are posted.  It's just not worth the time or money to me to sit and clip them all at this stage of my life.  And what used to be a fun thing to do with Jonah, where he would take the extra clippings and "beep" them like he was doing his own coupons, turned into Jonah and Matthew dumping bucketfuls of expired coupons all over the living room.  That pretty much cemented the fact that we were done.

That being said, the stars aligned for me today: Cub's daily deal was for cereal, which we ran out of this morning.  My pregnancy craving was for chips, which I had expired coupons for (so only good at Cub), and they had a deal on Powerades, which Jesse likes to drink.  Plus, we needed to get milk with one of our WIC vouchers since we were almost out of that too.  So I went.

Here's the breakdown:
  • Cap'n Crunch and Life Cereals: $1.49 each with $10 purchase.  Used $1/2 Quaker items (All You October) = paid $0.99 each (my target price for cereal).
  • 2 Lays chips: $4.29 each.  Used two $3/1 printables (from a Facebook promo last month) = $1.29 each. (The chips that were on sale for 2/$5 were too small of a size.  Disappointing!)
  • 10 Powerades: $0.69 each (booklet coupon)
  • Total spent: $11.97*
*I paid $14.97, but then checked my receipt in the car because that seemed off, and sure enough, only one of my $3 coupons had gone through.  So I hauled the kids back inside to get my $3.  A quarter or something I may have let slide, but not a few dollars!