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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pudding Pie

Yesterday, Jonah and I made a gingerbread pudding pie.  I used this crust recipe (which, incidentally, is the same crust I use for my Veggie Pot Pie).  It doesn't specify in that post, but baking the crust for about 20 minutes at 375 does the trick if you need a baked pie crust to fill with a non-baked ingredient like pudding. If you're doing a baked pie, you can just do whatever the recipe calls for.  Hopefully that makes sense.

The pudding part is 2 small boxes of pudding mixed with the 4 cups of milk called for on the box.  Pour it into the cooled, baked pie crust, and pop it in the fridge for a few hours to set.  You could use any kind of pudding for this pie.  We had chocolate, butterscotch, and gingerbread in our cupboard.  Jonah, for some reason, picked gingerbread.  It's actually not that great - it's a weird flavor that we got for free with coupons at some point.  But the making of the pie was a success, so I think we will probably try again with one of the other flavors, hopefully with tastier results.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping

We had to go to CVS last night to pick up a prescription for little Matthew - he has his first ear infection.  Poor little guy.  While we were waiting for the prescription to be filled (which took all of 3 minutes! I was super impressed), I browsed the diaper deals.  I've been purposely staying away from the deal blogs the past few weeks, because I seem to spend more money when I follow them than when I don't, but we also will need diapers for our trip to my sister's in a few weeks.
  • Pampers Big Box: $24.99, get $5ECBs.  Used $2.50/1 box (came with previous diapers purchase) = paid $22.49, got $5ECBs.
  • CVS Jumbo Pack: $6.99, get $2ECBs.  We've found that these don't hold up overnight, but they're fine for daytime.
  • 2 Spoiled Nail Polishes: $0.99 each.  Used two $1/1 Wet N' Wild Product (RP 5/13/12) = 2 free! I threw out all my old nail polishes because they were gross, so now I have a couple!
  • 2 Milky Way bars: $0.75 each, get $0.75ECBs (limit 1).  Used $0.75/2 printable = paid $0.75/2, got $0.75ECBs.
  • Used $10ECBs that I had = paid $20.51, got $6.75ECBs!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli and Mushrooms
Tuesday: Mini Pot Pies (probably the chicken broccoli version)
Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potatoes (bacon, cheese, and veggies)
Thursday: Breakfast Burritos (more bacon. yum.)
Friday-Sunday: TBD

I'm also going to make my own Bisquick-type mix, using this recipe, for the mini pot pies, and probably for pancakes for a weekend breakfast as well.

The end of the week isn't done yet, because we were traveling all weekend, and it's the start of a new month, so I had only planned through the end of May.  But I promise, we will still eat something...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What I'm Reading...

4 Simple Ways To Make Your Kids The Best Of Friends.  I am tucking away the hand-holding in time-outs idea for not too far down the road.  (Motherhood Your Way)

How I Save Loads Of Time In The Grocery Store.  I do this too, kind of.  I do produce, meat, dairy/cold, WIC, and other.  And occasionally non-food, if we're buying more than one non-food item.  It really works! (Simple Organized Living)

Overcoming The Stress Of Having Kids In The Kitchen.  I so agree with this post, but I didn't realize it until I read it.  Cooking with one kid in the kitchen is fine.  Cooking with two kids in the kitchen seems so much harder.  P.S. I love this "Eat Well, Spend Less" series of blog posts.  (Food Your Way)

Ignoring Your Partner After You Have A Baby Happens, And It Sucks.  It does, and, well, it does.  (Offbeat Mama)

That's all for this week.  I'm celebrating family graduations and confirmations and catching up on all the latest from my relatives.  Traveling to get-togethers with two kids is not easy, but it's worth it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Pizza Pockets (plus extra for the freezer)
Tuesday: Veggie Stir Fry
Wednesday: Enchiladas, with the sauce from this recipe  (but with ground turkey, beans, and corn inside)
Thursday-Sunday: The boys and I will be traveling to a few family graduations and parties, so Jesse will be eating leftover enchiladas, pizza pockets from the freezer, and frozen pizzas for his dinners.  Not the greatest, but he likes that it will all be pretty much ready to eat.

Since I'll be gone for a chunk of this week, I wanted to make sure we had an easy meal plan, so I wouldn't have to worry about spending a lot of time on food preparation before we go, and so Jesse would have food to eat while we're gone.  He is a good cook, but he tends to use more expensive ingredients and make tons of dishes when he cooks, so this is my way of staying on budget, and not coming home to a sink full of dishes.  This is also a week where I spent a little extra money on easy snacks for the boys, like goldfish crackers and single-serve fruit cups.  They think "trip snacks" are awesome!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Confessions Of An Autopilot Parent.  My computer is both my friend and my enemy for sure.  (Motherhood Your Way)

SEO Optimize Your Blog Posts Using Keywords.  I don't blog to make money, but this is helpful for those who do.  (Blogging Your Way)

Garage Sale Tips For The Non-Garage Saler.  I love this list of tips for someone hosting a garage sale, from the perspective of someone who goes to a lot of garage sales.  (Organizing Junkie)

A Beginner's Guide To Freezer Cooking.  (Money Saving Mom)

Make Clearance Sales Work For You.  If you don't read any of the other posts linked here, read this one.  Such a smart list of how to effectively shop clearance sales.  (Northern Cheapskate)

Great Idea Of The Day: Make Skull Art With Bookcases.  Go look at the picture.  It's cool.  (Offbeat Home)

How To Talk To Little Boys.  I thought the title of this was misleading, but it's a good post about how boys don't like to read and think it's a "girl thing".  (Offbeat Mama)

How A Second Chance Question Can Make Us Better Moms.  Spoiler: "What can you do differently next time?" Effective for both kids and moms.  (Motherhood Your Way)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trash to Treasure Toy Shelf

A few weeks ago, people started putting large items out on the curb for the annual spring cleaning trash pick-up.  (Side-note: Do we as a society really have that much stuff that we need to do this every year?)  I found this shelf on a family walk, and I knew it would make awesome toy storage, so I carried it the half block or so home.  In a dress.  I'm sure I looked quite ridiculous. 

It also had a couple of brackets and some lovely orange and yellow puppy paw-print fabric on top, but I took those off in the hallway before bringing it into our apartment (along with giving it a good cleaning/disinfecting), so I don't have a picture.  Use your imagination...

I set to work painting in our kitchen, which is rather small, but provided an easier place to clean up if any of the paint dripped, since the rest of our place is carpeted.  So I got to contort myself into all sorts of positions to get into all those shelves. 

I used Valspar Caribbean Blue, a paint sample can that I had gotten in the mail, which came with a little tray and roller, so my total cost for this project was FREE.  Love that!

And then this:

So after letting the paint dry overnight, which was long enough according to the can, we started loading it up.  And the paint chipped like crazy.  So I decided since it was only chipping on the parts that had been white (mostly the shelves), I would just scrape those off and leave them white, and then repaint the top.  This is the first time I've painted furniture, so it was a learning experience.  I realized a few days later that it probably just needed to dry longer, since it was no longer chipping, but since I had already started scraping, I finished that anyways, and then repainted the top.  Based on that, we're going to let the top dry for a week or so before putting anything on it, just to make sure it won't chip.  But the rest we can use:

The boys helped me load up the shelves with all of their big trucks and Little People sets.  They don't fit perfectly, but they are close enough, and now they don't have to hog all the space in the toy box.  I really like how this shelf turned out, and I also like the possibilities it has for craft storage in the future when the kids no longer play with big trucks. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baking Soda Scrub

Several of my mixing bowls have a funky greasy crud on the bottom (probably from sitting in the sink while other things get rinsed around them). 

I decided to experiment using a not-so-secret ingredient:

Baking Soda!
I simply made a paste of a large sprinkle of baking soda and a bit of water, and scrubbed it around with my fingertips. 

It's not perfect, especially around the raised markings on the bottom, but it's so much better!  I ended up doing 3 bowls this way, and they look much nicer.  What fun uses for baking soda have you found?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Nothing too exciting this week - just some recipes we know and love.  Most of the new recipes we've had in the past couple weeks have just been so-so.  I decided to stick with what we know this time around.

Monday/Tuesday: Crockpot Bean & Sausage Stew, Homemade Bread
Wednesday: Veggie Pot Pie
Thursday: Homemade Macaroni & Cheese, Hot Dogs
Friday/Saturday: Church Book Retreat (food included)
Sunday: Waffles, Scrambled Eggs

I'll also be making a batch of Chili and a pot of Tomato Veggie Soup for the freezer for Jesse's lunches over the next few weeks.  Making the soups and freezing them in individual portions worked really well over the last two weeks, so we're going to continue to do that for now.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Overnight Success: How To Be A More Patient Mom.  I'm a totally different person when I've gotten enough rest.  (I've also discovered "enough" is not as much as I thought) (Motherhood Your Way)

Lazy Parenting And The Better Late Than Early Philosophy.  I'm learning that my kids will not learn something before they're ready, even if it is late.  (Motherhood Your Way)

Reader Mailbag.  #4 is pretty awesome.  I had never thought of that before.  (The Simple Dollar)

Container Organization.  I very much agree with the sentiment of this post - I love containers too.  (Organizing Junkie)

7 Reasons Your Kitchen Counters Are Cluttered.  I've been making an effort to keep my counters more cleared off, but there's still too much on them.  (Organizing Your Way)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping

If you've been following along with my attempts to get our grocery money under control, you know I don't have much wiggle room for deal shopping this month.  However, I will pretty much always grab a diaper deal, because we will continue to use these, at least overnight (not to mention a few weekend trips coming up).

CVS is running one of their spend $25, get $10 ECBs promotions, this time on Huggies products.  Normally I would just buy regular diapers, but in the past month I've gotten 2 CVS Pull-ups coupons in the mail, so those were a better deal this time (and Jonah loves when he gets special night-time britches).
  • 2 Jumbo Packs Pull-Ups: $10 each.  Used two $2/1 CVS coupons (mailers) and two $2/1 printables = paid $12/2 packs.
  • Huggies wipes: $6.00.  No coupons.  Sad face.
  • Cherry Coke 12-pack: $3.50.  Used "Get 12-pack of Coke for $0.99 when you buy $20+" that the coupon box spit out = $0.99.  I only buy soda when it's free or very very cheap, like this.
  • Used $4.49 in ECBs that I had = paid $15.14, got $10 ECBs!

Eat From The Pantry Challenge

This is an old post, a few years old, but the idea of an Eat From The Pantry Challenge is still a good one.  We don't have a ton of extras, although I'm sure, like in the post, I'd be surprised at how much I could come up with, but here are a few things I found after just a quick peek, which I know have been sitting there for awhile.

  • A mostly full box of Corn Flakes
  • An open but not used box of Tempura breading (I thought it was bread crumbs, but it's breading batter)
  • A tiny can of tuna
  • A can of tomato soup
  • A box of instant oatmeal packets
  • Rice-a-Roni
  • A bag of black-eyed peas
  • 6 boxes of pudding (chocolate, butterscotch, and gingerbread)
  • 3 cans of creamed corn and 4 cans of peas (on the shelf behind the other stuff)
Some of this, like pudding, you'd think would be easy to make up and eat, and it would be, but I just haven't.  So my goal for the next few weeks is to use up some of these items that have been sitting here for too long.  Some will be easy - eat oatmeal for breakfast.  Some will be...less easy.  I don't like creamed corn, but Jesse does.  Maybe a creamed corn chowder for him to take in his lunches?  These are things I can experiment with, because they're not getting eaten anyways, so the worst that can happen is they flop, and I throw them out.  Hopefully, though, we eat them and enjoy them.

Does anyone have any good black-eyed pea recipes?  How about corn flakes?  What needs to be eaten from your pantry?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Danish Puff Pastries

When I was younger, my mom would make these Danish Puff Pastries as a special treat.  We would see her making them at night around bedtime, smell them baking as we went to bed, and we knew we would get to enjoy them for breakfast the next morning.  The ingredients are pretty simple, and not exactly healthy, but these are delicious!  This is probably my favorite family recipe, from my Grandma Winter.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 Tbsp. cold water
Mix flour and butter until mixture resembles corn meal.  Add water and mix together well to form paste.  Spread on bottom of 13x9 pan.

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 eggs
Bring water to a boil.  Add butter and return to boil; remove from heat.  Add flour and almond extract and stir to combine.  Mix in eggs, one at a time.  Spread over crust.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until brown on top and knife inserted comes out clean.

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
  • 4 Tbsp. milk or cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients to combine.  Pour over hot pastry.  Nuts can also be added as topping.

Every time I smell almond extract, I'm reminded of eating these pastries.  Bake some up, and you'll see what I mean...

Walmart Coupon Shopping

I love when coupons show up in my Sunday paper that I know will get me a free item (in this case, Sun Drop).
  • 5 Sun Drop 2-liters: $1.00 each.  Used five $1/1 (SS 5/6/12) = 5 free!
  • 2 International Delight Iced Coffee mixes: $3.98 each.  Used 2 free product coupons (Facebook promo) = 2 free!  I've been really excited to try these, so I was happy to see the coupons in the mail this week.
  • Land O'Lakes Milk: $3.72, but price matched CVS for $2.59.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: $2.48.
  • Red Onion: $0.50 (these and the tomatoes are for a salad I'm making for the Seminary picnic tomorrow).
  • Total spent: $5.94. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday/Tuesday: Black Bean Taco Salads
Wednesday: Seminary Picnic
Thursday: Homemade Pizzas (sausage, black olives, and whatever else we find)
Friday: Sausage Spinach Penne Skillet (minus the tomatoes for Jonah, and I'll probably just use canned diced for the rest of us)
Saturday/Sunday: Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Casserole

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Managing Your Wardrobe: Pregnancy, Post-Partum, And All Those Sizes In Between.  My wardrobe has been in that "which size am I now?" funk for a few years now.  (Simple Mom)

How To Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt.  I like the visual ideas in this post.  (Money Saving Mom)

If You Want Something Badly Enough, You Can Usually Find A Way.  It's still hard, but you'll do it anyways.  (Money Saving Mom)

7 Ways To Update A Room For Under $100.  It all comes down to pops of color.  (Pocket Your Dollars)

10 Helpful Gadgets For The Frugal Kitchen.  My favorites are my coffeemaker (keeps me from going out for coffee), my slow cooker (used once or twice a week at least), and my breadmaker.  (Northern Cheapskate)

Start A Full-Room Organizing Project With A Blank Canvas.  This is the idea I want to implement when we move in a few months.  (Unclutterer)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CVS and Walgreens Coupon Shopping

After our playdate yesterday, the boys and I did some quick stops for a few deals.  First we went to CVS:

  • CVS Jumbo Pack Diapers: $6.99, get $2ECBs (limit 1).  
  • Colgate MaxFresh Toothpaste: $2.99, get $2.49ECBs (limit 2).  Used $1/1 CVS coupon (red coupon box) and $0.50/1 (SS 04/29/12) = paid $1.49, got $2.49ECBs.
  • 5 Dawn Dish Soaps: $0.99 each.  Used 5 $0.50/1 (P&G Home Made Simple mailers) = paid $0.49 each.  We go through a lot of these doing dishes at least once a day, but the price per ounce is about the cheapest I've found doing it this way.
  • I used $3ECBs that I had, so I paid $8.52 and got back $4.49ECBs.
Then we went to Walgreens:

  • 4 Starbucks Refreshers single cans: $1.49 each.  Used 4 free coupons (PepsiCo insert 4/29/12) = 4 free!
  • 2 Blue Diamond Almonds: B1G1 $3.99.  Used 2 $1/1 (SS 3/4/12) = paid $1.99/2.  Jesse likes almonds for a snack, so I get them every now and then when they're cheaper.
  • With tax, I paid $2.43.
We also stopped at Kwik Trip for eggs (on sale for $0.99/dozen), bananas, and onions, spending $5.62.  So far we've used a good chunk (about half) of our grocery money for the month, but we are now well stocked on toilet paper and vitamins, and we still have plenty of diapers from the bulk order last month. 

I want to try to have a bit of extra grocery money this month to buy some portable snacks for our trip at the end of May to Wisconsin for a few family graduations/parties.  It's much easier to feed the boys single serve fruit cups, crackers, and fruit snacks (special travel treat!) than to do big containers of yogurt or fruits/veggies that we might do at home.