Monday, February 28, 2011

Couponing for the Real World Mom

My husband keeps telling me I need to blog about my couponing skills, which I don't think are that great.  I am not one of those people that leaves the store with $100 worth of groceries for $10.  But I got to thinking about it and I think I coupon in a way that is realistic for everyone and I still save quite a bit of money.  

I also help curb my spending by taking out my grocery money in cash every time my husband gets paid.  Occasionally I will have to use my debit card on my last trip of the pay period, but usually only for $10 or less.  If you aren't doing this, I promise it will make a difference.

So let's get started with basics.  It takes time to build a good coupon stash, but thanks to printable Qs, you can have a decent stash so long as you have enough printer paper :)  I use, and various blogs and savings sites that point me in the direction of savings.

Buy the Sunday Paper (and get two), but head over to  first and see what will be in the inserts.  Sometimes I don't have to buy the paper and sometimes there are no inserts, so we aware of that.

Find out if your go to store takes competitor Qs.  For instance, Publix takes competitor Qs like Winn Dixie, Target and some even take Walgreens Qs. 

Get those Qs organized!  It may take using a few different methods to find what works for you.  I use aa small accordian file like this:

Many people swear by the binder method , but that doesn't work for me, it may work for you, try it out :)  I have mine organized into categories and I have an empty pocket for the coupons that I intend to use for that particular shopping trip.  Sometimes I will run across an item on sale and having them organized by category makes it easy to find.

Learn the Rules.  Knowing what you can and cannot do with a coupon can make a difference.  Many blogs and savings sites have a run down of the rules for specific stores.  Remember that at Publix you can use a store Q (and this can be a competitor store Q)  AND a manufacturer's Q on the same item.  So for example, if an item is BOGO you could use a store Q and a manufacturer Q for each item  (4 coupons total) and get a REALLY good deal!

Walgreens - Money Saving Mom

If you do a simple google search you can find TONS more helpful blogs and websites.

I love shopping at CVS for items like laundry detergent, cosmetics and toiletries.  I don't go every week but I always check the ad to see if there are some good deals.  Sometimes it's best to buy something that you may not need at the moment, if you can get a great deal, because it always happens that when you NEED it, its not on sale and there are no coupons.  Just make sure it is something that you need.

I went to CVS on Sunday and I didn't do great, but I didn't do bad either.
I keep thinking I bought something else...but anyways, I got all these items for around $10.  I saved $17.  It's not the best CVS scenario because I wasn't starting out with any EBs and honestly, my Qs weren't the best.  But still its a pretty good trip.

Publix :) - I could go on for days about Publix.  You can save TONS of money at Publix, but don't count out big retailers like Wal-mart.  Make sure you do some price comparison.  For example:  The new Cinnamon Cheerios cost $2.50 at Wal-mart.  They are around $4 at Publix.  If there isn't a BOGO deal going, Wal-mart is a better deal.  Wal-mart tends to have better prices on these kinds of pantry staples, so  if you are low on Qs and the sales ad isn't what you need there are other options.

Take Time to Research.  Take 15 minutes everyday to check your favorite blogs and sites for any deals, printables or matchups that someone else might find that you missed.

Be a Meal Planner - plan your meals with the sales ads in hand.  You will save more this way.  You will also avoid those days where you are too tired and end up ordering pizza.  If you planned for this kind of day you can make soup and sandwiches instead.  And trust me, there is ALWAYS that kind of day.

Food is only going to get more expensive as the year goes on, it's best to save wherever you can.  You will get better at it as time goes on, it does take some time to get the hang of it.  So go get some scissors and clip some Qs and save some $$$

Family Time :)

There is nothing like the impending "doom" of the inlaws coming to make you rush around like a crazy person getting your house in order.  I am fortunate to not have "those" inlaws, so I was thrilled when my father-in-law and his wife, and my brother-in-law came for a surprise visit from New York, but my house was definitely not company ready!

I have had a few ideas rolling around in my head and this was the perfect excuse to get them out of the way and done.  To make for even more fun, MY parents are coming this weekend (my dad is helping with my bathroom remodel) so I had even more motivation to spruce up some things (and keep it clean).

Don't you hate when you buy something pretty for the wall and it sits in a corner on the FLOOR for 3 months.  My pretty plates made it to the wall in two weeks, not too bad!  These plates make me very happy :)

My kids have a SERIOUS stuffed animal problem.  This fab and totally easy tutorial from A Lemon Squeezy Home was a breeze and WOW, I can't believe it worked! This freed up a TON of floor space.  I did it without a fancy trim since we don't really have any sort of theme yet in here, but you could totally add it later.

I am still completely on the fence with no great ideas for a decorating theme for the kids room.  I've wanted to put some shelves up for a while for their pretties and what-nots and these shelves from Joanne were a STEAL thanks to my coupons :)
 I love this frame from Walmart too.  It came with the mat which made it super easy to have a really nice photo display in 5 minutes.
 I made the decoupaged letters, which turned out so cute.
The items on the shelves will change periodically, but I love the idea of their nice things being on display :)

I can't really take full credit because my hubby was the one who had to hang everything :)  It made a huge difference in the kid's room, which has no real rhyme or reason at this point.  It's amazing how a few pictures and pretties can make a room feel bright and new!

What's for Dinner Tuesday :)

This week is going to be slightly chaotic.  My mom and dad are flying down Thursday because my dad is helping the hubs with our bathroom remodel.  Because of this we will be spending a few days at a hotel.  I still wanted to share my recipe and I just know I am not going to have any blogging time after today.  So here we go!

This week's recipe is Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.  It is actually a Weight Watchers recipe, but you can make it full fat too (haha).  In keeping with yesterday's theme on saving...the Velveeta was on sale and I had a coupon, the rice was BOGO as well, but I actually don't recommend the rice.  It was terrible.  Glad it was on sale.

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Cooking spray
8 oz Velveeta Light Reduced Fat Cheese
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup of scallions
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked chicken breasts
6 medium whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
6 medium olives
1/4 cup salsa

I usually omit the red pepper flakes and olives due to family preferences.  I had a huge red bell pepper that was probably going to get yucky soon so I made cut some strips to add to it, ended up being a really good idea.  Don't be afraid to be creative or omit something :)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop up your chicken and cook in some EVOO.  I like to sprinkle some seasoning salt on it just to add a bit of flavor.  My kids aren't huge fans of sauce on their chicken, so I set aside a small amount for them. 

Put your Velveeta and soour cream in a pan and melt over med-high heat, stirring frequently until nice and creamy.

Pour half of the cheese sauce in another bowl and add the evaporated milk to it.  Stir well and set aside.

Add the chicken, scallions and red pepper flakes (if you are using them) to the remaining cheese mixture and stir to coat chicken.

 Place about 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture down the center of the tortilla (I added my red pepper strips too) and fold in both sides to the center.  Spray your dish with the cooking spray and lay in a single layer.  Top with the cheese sauce you set aside and sprinkle with the cheese and olives.  Bake until cheese is yummy and bubbly :)

 Right out of these oven :) Yummo!

I served this with some steamed broccoli and the crappy rice.  The rice went in the trash...

If you make this the fat-free way it is 6 WW points per serving (I enchilada).  I don't know what the Points Plus value would be.  If you have this the full fat way...just make sure you eat the broccoli ;-)


Friday, February 25, 2011

Sneak Peek :)

I recently bought a ton of fabric and have been working on a few dresses to put in my Etsy shop.  

 I love getting new fabric :)
 This one will be going in the shop.  Kinda sad, I need to make another for Isabela to wear.

 I am IN LOVE with this fabric.  I need to get LOTS more.  This dress will most likely be available in a smaller size too.  The fabric is by Tanya Whelan, a new fave of mine :)

This was an experiment, it didn't turn out bad, but the pattern needs some tweaking.  Not the best fabric (I hit the $2/yard rack at Wal-mart for my experiments...look for something similar to this in the store in the future.

It might take me a day or two to get everything up and running, so just keep an eye out for the Etsy box on the right hand side of the screen here on my blog.  I will only be offering a couple dresses at a time and hopefully be getting some new fabric choices, I am even working on trying to do some matching bloomers for all the dresses :)  So make sure to mark my store as one of your favorites and like our page on Facebook as well.  Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday?

I have been SADLY absent from the blogosphere :-(  Between sick babies and just overall craziness, I haven't had a lot of time to do much of anything.  The next few days are going to be a major blogging BLITZ so keep your eye out.

So here we go for another WFDW :)  Today's dinner features a fave savings blog of mine, I Heart Publix.  It is my go-to site for all things Publix and you should too!  For the Italian Days Sale at Publix she is giving away a $25 gift card daily until the 23rd I believe.  I will talk more about saving money and couponing later in the week.

This is a new recipe for me too, so I will follow-up tomorrow with the results.  Almost all of the ingredients were on sale this week, making for a great cheap meal!  

The link for the recipe is here.  I knew I probably wouldn't be able to make the turkey meatballs by hand as tonight is my hubby's teaching night, so I got some frozen turkey balls.  I definitely want to try at a later date to make them ahead of time, I imagine they would freeze well so you can use them whenever.
 Almost everything on sale! Yay!

 Saute up your onion and bell pepper (I added some garlic too) in some EVOO.  Saute until soft.

 Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the meatballs.  Get everything simmering all nice and happy.

Now we're simmering!  

I'm letting this hang out on low for a few hours.  I will add the meatballs about half an hour before dinner time.  If you are making the meatballs by hand, get started on them after you throw the chili together.

It's already smelling good over here so I am excited for some chili tonight!  Will post a review tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day and make something yummy tonight!

Get in the Zone - Catch up time!

I have to say, last week was a bit crazy.  My son got sick while me and the hubs were on a date (poor babysitter) and that led into a most hectic weekend.  I feel like it took DAYS to get that puke stink out!

Therefore, I didn't get to my zone chores like I wanted, which was the kitchen, which needed work BADLY!  So I tackled some problem areas because they really couldn't wait till the next cycle.

Since none of my babies use bottles :-( I went ahead and cleared those out weeks ago.  We used the Dr. Brown's bottles, which if you don't know, work great but have like a thousand parts.  After getting rid of all of those bottles and probably 20 baby spoons and various other baby feeding supplies, I had a whole drawer and a shelf of new space to use!

I feel blessed to have a TON of drawer and cabinet space in my small Riverside bungalow, but wow, I have accumulated a lot of stuff!  It is the most loathsome chore to clean out these cabs and drawers, but it really isn't time-consuming, so just suck it up and do it.  You will be glad you did.

 It's amazing the fun stuff you find when you clean out that drawer of useless kitchen gadgets.  My mom gave me these little decorate spoons years ago, now they have a new home over my ugly stove :)
 Wow! I'm decorating! In my kitchen no less!  Find creative and non-cluttering ways to display a few special items in your kitchen, your kitchen needs pretties too :)
 Ah, a clean and organized silverware drawer...does anyone know how all those crumbs and nastiness gets in your drawers?  No clue, but it's gross!
 My gadget drawer.  Now I don't know how I am justifying the THREE sets of measuring cups and I think I want to order these.  I mean the definition of cuteness!
 I think I've shown you my cereal box storage solution before, but here it is in action in my junk drawer.  This works for any drawer that holds small things, maybe even a makeup drawer :)  It isn't pretty, but its cheap and free storage that really works!
Now just for fun, I bought some more pretties for my kitchen.  I have these in yellow and green and they will go on my "plate wall" which is in progress :)  Note the adorable mouse salt and pepper shaker set.  He has been in my hubs family forever and I am dying to take it to Antiques Roadshow where I am certain they will tell me it is worth $1,000...well not really but it would be fun!

Organizing in the kitchen is really rewarding, because it really does simplify things and make your time in the kitchen more pleasant.  Remember 15 minutes here and there REALLY goes a long way, so get to it!

Now onto this week's zone, the master bedroom.  This is the most challenging room in our house because it has zero storage and since we don't have a lot of storage anyways, it all seems to end up in our room.  But I have noticed a difference since I did the MB last month, so here we go again.  Definitely less dust this time around!

You know the saying "Take a picture, it lasts longer", well here are photos of my clean room, because you know this can't possibly last.

 My hubby's dresser is like the bane of my existence!
 Ok seriously, who were we kidding about having a real plant in the room...much better now.  BTW the gargoyles are not my idea.
 Didn't do a good job make the bed (I think the kiddies just bounced on it) but there is nothing on the chest, so that's what counts!
 My craft area.  Really not that bad, considering my lack of options.  It is what it is and at least I can find everything.  All the de-cluttering over the last couple months has really helped me pare down my stash.
 My dresser and closet.  I asked the hubs for a closet door after taking this photo.

 This is what is left of our clutter situation.  We haven't hung our pictures in our living room yet (I think I said this 3 months ago too), but this little area hides behind my door most of the time.  I am hoping that my in-laws surprise trip will inspire the hubby to PUT THEM ON THE WALL!

Well, that was a lot, but I have posted all of this in the hopes of inspiring YOU to get in those clutter spots and take control!  If you don't use it, you don't need it!  Even if you have 15 closets, you can get a handle on the stuff and make your life more streamlined.  Because after all, you can't take it with you in the end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's for Dinner Tuesday...uh...Wednesday?

Well we were supposed to have this today, but we had it yesterday.  I forgot to pull out my big bulk pack of chicken for Tuesday's dinner and the 1 lb of ground beef was much easier to thaw quickly.  The awesome thing about this meal is that it cooks in 5-6 hours, which worked perfectly since I figured out I had not thawed the chicken around 11:30.

Some of the girls were actually talking about crock pot meals at bible study Tuesday, so this meal is quite suitable, being that it is a crock pot meal :) How convenient!

Today's recipe is Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash from Fix It and Forget It Lightly.  Another thing I like about this dish is that you can fix it in a bind as we all have most of the ingredients in our pantry right now for this.  I just had to buy some ground beef and rice.
Here's what you need:

Hungarian Goulash - Slow Cooker Style
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1-1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 cup water
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cold water

Place meat in the slow cooker and cover with the sliced onions.
Combine garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, paprika, dry mustard, and 1 cup of water in a bowl and pour over the meat.
Cook on low 5-6 hours.

After 5-6 hours, dissolve the flour in the 1/4 cup of cold water.  Stir into meat mixture.

Cook on high for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.

Serve over noodles or rice.  Make sure to add a veggie, a fresh salad would be really nice with this.

I wish I had some after photos, it becomes nice and thick.  My kids were apparently dying of starvation by 5pm and I was rushing getting their plates together.  It came out really nice, the hubs really loved it!

Now on a side note.  I have two small children and it is a known fact that kids like all their food separate and not all mixed together.  They may not be jazzed about a goulash.  Don't let that keep you from enjoying!  Serve for your child with the rice or noodles separate from the goulash.  Only give a small amount of goulash and make sure there are at least two fruits or veggies on their plate too (all in separate compartments).  If you are concerned about their protein intake you can always throw a few canned kidney beans (or whatever bean you have) on the side as well.  We shouldn't be afraid to let them try new things, but make it as not scary as possible :)  

This works for me, it may not work for you, but we have noticed a BIG difference since really sticking to the compartment plate method. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day Fun!

We had a really fun morning today.  A friend of mine invited us to a toddler valentines day party at her house and we had so much fun.  
 Yummies for goody bags.  Don't you love Target!
Cute printables I found online
All ready to go!

I was going to make pink, heart-shaped pancakes this morning for the kids...but alas the only color I DID NOT have was red.  So had to scratch that. Maybe next year.

I did attempt a v-day photo shoot, but of course they weren't quite cooperative.  Still got some cute pics and apparently the fence on the side of the house is a really great background.

 It must have been a plane...
 Playtime at Luke and Bella's.  So much fun!

Hope everyone has had a great valentines day so far!