Friday, October 30, 2009


Search & Win

I’ve been using Swagbucks as my search vehicle for well over 6 months now. It’s a site where you search the web, click through to purchase products from affiliated vendors and trade in old electronics to earn Swagbucks. With Swagbucks you can purchase items and best of all redeem your earned bucks for gift cards. So far I have earned $20.00 in Amazon Gift Cards just by simply using Swagbucks as a search vehicle – and it’s all FREE!!!

Click on the icon above for more information or to join Swagbucks and start earning some swag cash!

Blitz It Friday - The Baking Cabinets

Grab My Blog Button!

It’s Blitz it - Friday at Organized Everyday and I’m pleased to be able to join again this week and share my accomplishment. Last week I did a whole house blitz and honestly it made the house a very nice place to be for the weekend. Because of that I’ve decided to change my housework day to Friday. So yes I’ll be blitzing through the house again but that’s not too exciting to post about every week. Instead I’ll find a project each week that needs a little attention and tackle it for my blitz post.

This week I blitzed through my baking cabinets. I’ve been baking more from scratch, and with the upcoming holidays I really needed to purge and inventory. I tossed a few ancient items that were stuffed in the back and sorted things that had been put back all willy-nilly.

I have quite a bit of molasses, three bags of flour and tons of sprinkles. I need to stock up on sugar, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, chocolate chips and yeast. The cabinets look much nicer and I moved a few items that I use frequently for easier access (I’m only 5 feet tall and as I’m getting older I don’t like climbing as much!). The next cabinet that I need to deal with is the coffee/medicine cabinet next to the sink. Every time I open that cabinet something falls out – usually into the sink. I know my husband would appreciate a blitz on that cabinet as well.

Here’s the before and after shots of my baking cabinets:





For more blitzing inspiration and to read Organized Mommy’s blitzing methodology check out Blitz it - Friday #29 at Organized Everyday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monthly Grocery Challenge - November - How Low Can You Go????

How Low Can You Go?????

With the holidays approaching and the need to find extra funds to purchase gifts I’m going to ratchet down my grocery budget for November. I’m aiming to keep my spending at $250 for the entire month and divert the extra funds towards holiday gift shopping. The key to making this work is to not increase other areas of spending – especially the eating out/takeout categories. We won’t be hosting Thanksgiving either so that will be a cost savings as well. We will be away on vacation for a week over Thanksgiving so I do anticipate extra miscellaneous spending. I’m hoping to accommodate some of the extra vacation spending by selling off some items on eBay and Craigslist.   I already have a few items posted and will be gathering more to list this weekend.

We just got a BJ’s Club Membership and my first shopping trip of the month is going to be at BJ’s. My plan is to go on Monday of next week. What I didn’t realize before is that BJ’s offers club coupons every month that can be stacked with manufacturers coupons. I have a price list of my regular purchases that I will bring and I did take some notes when we were there on some prices I felt were better than the supermarkets I frequent.

Prior to my shopping trip I want to inventory my pantry and freezer. Then I’m going to make a list of meals that I can prepare for the month using what I have and noting what I need to purchase. I did a good job stocking up this month, and while I want to minimize my spending I also don’t want to deplete my whole stockpile and have to re-stock in December at the height of holiday spending.

What does your November grocery budget look like?   The next couple months are tough between holiday entertaining and gift purchasing.   Do you have any plans or ideas on how to accomplish both goals without busting the bank?   I'd love you to share them here!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Free Candy Christmas Wreath e-Book from Living on a Dime

The folks at Living on a Dime are offering a FREE e-book on how to create a Candy Christmas Wreath.  I think my kids would love making and having one of these on our wall for the holidays.  Tawra recommends taking advantage of post Halloween candy sales - I'll be scouting out the deals on candy this weekend.   Go here to download your copy today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Organized Christmas - 6 Week Countdown to Christmas - Week One Get Organized

I’m following Cynthia Ewer’s Organized Christmas Countdown at Organized Christmas. This is Week One – Get Organized Week. I will be posting weekly updates on my holiday planning and accomplishments. If you have any tips that make your holiday planning, shopping, baking, entertaining or decorating easier and less stressful I’d love to hear from you.

The tasks I’ve completed so far are:
Print out my Christmas Planner Pages and Calendar Pages
Started populating the calendar pages with pertinent dates
Christmas label list is already completed on my laptop
Gift Idea List is started

Other tasks I need to complete this week are:
Compile photos for the Grandparents Photo Calendars
Blitz through my Baking Cabinets, Toss, Inventory and List Needs
Purchase Holiday Postage Stamps
Work with my daughter on her gift creations (secret stuff!)
Inventory the Gift Wrap, Tags, Bows, etc stash

I’m holding off on purchasing Christmas cards right now as we generally do photo cards. We will be heading to Florida for Thanksgiving and the family will be going to Disney (SHHHH…..the kids DO NOT know this so for my real life family and friends don’t say anything!!!!). I think a family photo from Disney would make a great Christmas card.

Check out the countdown at Organized Christmas and join me in planning a great holiday season.

Links I Liked

Here’s a few links to posts I’ve read over the past week that I really enjoyed:

Blitz-It Friday #28 at Organized Everyday
Blitzing is a great way to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Check out Organized Everyday for the Organized Mommy’s blitzing methodology. I find that blitzing helps keep me focused and helps me get a lot done. When I think I have all day to get things cleaned up I end up noodling around and not accomplishing too much. Organized Everyday is a great site for tips on de-cluttering and organizing your home and life – yep even organizing your kids and husband!! My sidebar has a link to this blog with the most current post noted.

Kids, Chores, and Routines – A Simple, Yet Crucial Part of Family Management at Life as Mom
FishMama at Life as Mom has a neat visual way to remind kids of their daily chores – check It out.  My sidebar also has a link to this blog with the most current post noted.

The Organized Christmas – Christmas Countdown: Six Weeks to an Organized Christmas
Cynthia Ewer from Organized Home has a free six week Christmas Organizing Plan on her website. The site has weekly planning themes, daily inspirational messages as well as free printable forms to help get and keep you organized. I am getting started today with my own planning using Cynthia’s site. We are going to Florida for a week over Thanksgiving and I’d like to have most of my holiday tasks completed by then. I’ll be putting additional links up to this site and posting my progress weekly and  – want to join me?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Creating Leftovers for Lunches

My menu planning focus this week is to create leftovers for my husband’s lunches. We don’t have any deli meat and I’m not grocery shopping again this month. He has access to a microwave and since he works outside he enjoys hot and hearty lunches. Hopefully my plan will satisfy him.

Notes from last week – the Honey Baked Chicken went over well – the Pork Chops with Apples and Thyme did not. My husband asked me to find the last recipe I used for the Thyme Pork Chops so we’re giving that a try again this week. Wednesday and Thursday are busy evenings in our house this week so hopefully my choices will be easy to put together ahead of time. I am also going to make Chicken Stock, Blueberry Bread, and Quiche for the freezer.

Here’s what I’m putting on the table this week:

Sunday: Roast Chicken, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Corn

Monday: Asian Grilled Chicken Breasts, Salad, Rice

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie with Bisquick

Wednesday: Ham and Noodle Bake, Corn

Thursday: Crockpot Beef Stew, Rolls

Friday: Thyme Pork Chops, Sweet Potato, Green Brocoli

Saturday: Halloween – Take Out/Eat Out at Friends

For more great menu ideas as well as links to recipes check out Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Here Comes The Tooth Fairy

Yes here she is - my oldest child, only daughter has lost her first tooth...sniffle...sniffle....  When the bus pulled up to the driveway this afternoon she had a big cheshire cat grin going - I couldn't figure out why until she leaped off the bus and showed me the tooth.

Of course now we have to figure out what the going rate is for the toothfairy - Any ideas???

Blitz It Friday - Trying to Catch Up

Grab My Blog Button!

Today I'm joining Blitz It Friday #28 at Organized Everyday. I'm behind on housework and really don't want to spend the whole weekend trying to accomplish things with both kids and my husband under foot. So here's my plan for today and what I've completed so far:

For Blitz It Friday I am working on the following:

Balance Checking Account and Update October Budget
Put Away 3 Laundry Baskets of Clean Clothes
Clean the Hall Bathroom (except for the tub/shower)
Vacuum Bedrooms, Kitchen, Living Room, Playroom, Stairs and Bathroom
Pick Up Playroom
Separate, Wrap and Freeze Meat purchased Thursday

Blitzing is a great way to forge ahead on getting a lot of tasks done in a small amount of time. The key for me is to limit my distractions - ie computer, tv, noodling, etc. If I set myself a deadline and have a list of things to accomplish I can usually get most of it done. Granted today I'm blocking out a large amount of time to getting things accomplished but often times with even 15 minutes to spare you can tackle at least one thing that has been bugging you.
Check out the link above to Blitz It Friday at Organized Mommy has lots of info on her blitzing methodology and some great inspiration to be gained from her previous projects.
Next week I plan to tackle the baking cabinets for my blitz. Stay tuned until then.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I made a batch of these the other day. I buy bananas at Aldi in a large bag and we never seem to get through them before they get too ripe. When they are very ripe, I peel them, pop them into a Ziploc bag and put them into the freezer to use for baking. As they thaw they get all mushy so you don’t even have to mash them.

Here’s the recipe I used with my own tweaks added. For starters I reduced the sugar from ¾ cup to ½ cup and added vanilla, cinnamon and the mini chips to the recipe. Also I generally make the mini muffins as my kids like them better than the large muffins.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 Large Muffins or just about 4 Dozen Mini Muffins

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 3 large bananas, mashed
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/3 cup butter, melted
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Add chocolate chips Scoop into muffin pans.
3. Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

After the muffins cool, I put half in a container for us to snack on immediately. (and I mean immediately as they are already gone!) The other half I freeze on a plate then transfer to a Ziploc bag to dole out for lunches and on the go snacks. The mini size muffins are perfect for the kids – they will have 2 for a snack – no waste and a yummy treat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monthly Grocery Challenge

October - Stock the Pantry and Freezer for Under $400

Today was my Shaw’s shopping trip. I spent more than I had intended but I grabbed some great deals including Marked-Down Meats, Sylvania CFL Bulbs, Healthy Choice dinners, Flour, Green Giant Steamer Veggies, Wheat Bread BOGO, Prego Sauce and even Beer for DH. I also got $11.00 in coupons to use on my next grocery trip.

My total today came to $125.19. I had $60.79 in Preferred Customer Savings, $25.18 in Manufacturer Coupons, $19.20 in Shaws Store Coupons and $4.30 in bottle returns. I achieved a total savings of $105.17 today – not too bad if I do say so myself.

Total spending for the month comes to $383.06. I’m done except for milk and produce next week which I will use the $11.00 in coupons towards. So it looks like I will be coming in under my $400 dollar target for groceries this month. I was able to stock my pantry with soups, pasta, flour, tomato sauce and lunchbox snacks. My freezer has a ton of meat as well as bread, frozen meals, and frozen veggies.

I'm pleased with my efforts this month. I know that menu planning helped a lot as I used what I had and what was on sale. We also reduced our eating out/take out spending quite a bit this month by having meals planned. Next month we will be gone for a week over Thanksgiving so my spending should be reduced. I need to look at my calendar and come up with my challenge for next month. I'm thinking of budgeting $250 for the month so that I can start my holiday shopping using some of what I would have spent on groceries.

How have you done so far this month on your grocery budget? Any goals for next month?

For more inspiration on grocery savings, steals and deals check out Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Money Saving Mom's "Becoming a Work At Home Mom" Series

Crystal at Money Saving Mom has Part 1 of her Work At Home Mom Series posted. Check out Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: In the Beginning…(Part 1). While this post is mostly an intro, it does give you background on Crystal and her husband’s journey to multiple income streams. Crystal is a respected blogger and definite mentor in the on-line work at home world. I’m looking forward to learning more from her series. I also hope to share here at Finding My Way at Home, my own attempts to increase our household income using alternative means.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Links I Liked

Here are a few links to posts I've read over the past week that I've enjoyed. Hope you do as well:

Embrace Plan B at I’m an Organizing Junkie
Laura has some heartfelt words about battling perfectionism, stepping out of your comfort zone and being 'OK' with the current situation even when it goes against your plans.

Review: The Simple Living Guide at The Simple Dollar
Trent has a review of Janet Luhrs book "The Simple Living Guide" that has inspired me to check out this book further.

Guest Post: Maximize Your Freezer's Potential and Minimize Freezer Burn at Money Saving Mom
Amy from The Finer Things in Life writes a guest post on Money Saving Mom about how to package meals for the freezer. Great tips for those of you who try to do bulk cooking.

Feel free to leave comments on any great links you've found or links to your own posts that you think myself or my readers would enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 19th

I never got the recipes posted last week that I intended to post – I’ll try to do that this week. The Rosemary Chicken and Sweet Potatoes is just soooo yummy!!! Shepherd’s Pie is one of my husbands favorites and it even got a thumbs up from little miss picky eater. The Pork Fried Rice I made on Sunday was very good – of course it’s one of my ‘throw together’ recipes so who knows if it will be as good next time.

On the menu at our house this week is:

MondayHoney Baked Chicken, Rice, Salad

Tuesday – Grilled Sirloin, Baked Sweet Potato, Broccoli, Rolls

WednesdayPork Chops with Apple & Thyme, Pierogies, Green Beans

Thursday – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (meat is leftover cubed steak in freezer and I’ll make my own tomato sauce), Salad, Homemade Bread

Friday – BBQ Pork Sandwiches (from leftover Pork Chops – the apple is a nice touch with the BBQ), Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Coleslaw, Carrots & Celery

Saturday – Leftover Buffet/Breakfast for Supper

Sunday - I’d like to do some kind of roast this day – pork, beef, chicken or turkey. I’ll finalize which meat based on what I can get for the best price when I shop on Wednesday. My plan is to get some leftovers and lunchmeat out of whatever meat I cook on Sunday.

Hopefully my family will enjoy the meals I planned for this week. The Honey Baked Chicken has gone over well in the past and we haven’t had pork chops or pierogies in a while. I’m also planning to bake banana mini muffins for the lunchboxes and need to make up a batch of waffles for the freezer.
Need ideas for your menu? Check out the great links and recipes on the Menu Plan Monday post at

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Don't Know How They Do It

3 of "My Boys" for the Day

Yesterday I babysat for the boys next door. After getting my daughter and the two oldest boys on the bus, my son and I went over for 8am to get the other two boys. The morning was spent between their house and my house, doing a little bit of cleaning up and baking while the boys played. At lunchtime one of the boys came home from kindergarten. I fed them lunch, put the baby down for a nap and took the other three outside in the front yard for about 20 minutes. My daughter and the oldest boy got home at 3:30. Everyone had a snack and we all went out for a while again. The older kids stayed out while I brought the baby and the two littlest boys inside.

We walked back to our house just before 5:30pm and I immediately got supper started. My husband was working late and then going to his dart club so I had all the parenting, feeding, homework, and bed readying duties myself. WOW was that tougher than I had realized. I’m used to having those responsibilities when he works late but never after working myself. I’ve been a stay at home mom since my daughter started school and have been able to work my schedule to accommodate everything else that needs to get done. (uh oh….I need to get ground beef out of the freezer this morning for dinner tonight….sorry brain wanderings there)

Last night made me very thankful that I am able to stay home right now and that most nights my husband is home to help with homework, bath and dinner cleanup. It also gave me a great deal of compassion for the women out there who work all day and then come home at night to do all the things that I’m able to do during the day. Let’s just say I’m a little bit in awe…..

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monthly Grocery Challenge

October – Stock the Pantry and Freezer for Under $400

I shopped at Aldi on Sunday and spent $67.82 – definitely a little bit more than I wanted but I also had my husband and the two kids with me. Shopping with DH always adds up to more – even more so than just shopping with the kids. Regardless, I’m pleased with my purchases and with the abundance in my freezer and pantry.

My Aldi list had a few staples that I had run out of like Baking Mix, Butter, Flour, Frozen Juice Concentrate, Minced Garlic, Shredded Cheeses and Canned Tomatoes. I also grabbed a few items for this week’s menu plan – Sweet Potatoes, Brocoli, Fresh Mushrooms and Biscuits. My usual buys at Aldi included Milk, Eggs, Bread, Bananas, Flour Tortillas and English Muffins. The kids got a treat of Corn Dogs and DH grabbed a bag of Pistachios.

My total grocery spending for the month comes in at $250.99 as of yesterday. That includes my stop at the convenience store for milk (and the piece of chocolate that DS begged for me when we were there). My game plan for the rest of the month is to buy only essentials and use the rest of my budget towards stockpiling with loss leaders and coupons. Look here to see my previous Monthly Grocery Challenge post

What’s your grocery budget look like this month? Are you able to work the sales and coupons to maximize your dollars? Have you gotten any great deals? Share your knowledge and accomplishments here!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 11 - Busy Week!

It's Sunday here in our house but lately it seems that it's the better day for me to start our menu for the week. The Crockpot Ribs were very good but I didn't have boneless ribs which I think would have made the recipe better. We didn't eat all the ribs so I cut the meat off the bone and popped it into the freezer. The meat from them is the 'pork' in my Pork Fried Rice tonite.

It's going to be busy around here this coming week. Monday is a holiday and DD has a playdate, Tuesday DD has no school, Wednesday and Thursday I am babysitting for the neighbor boys, Friday evening we are having company, Saturday DD has a birthday party in the afternoon and then both kids are sleeping at the grandparents as my husband and I are going out. Sunday DD and I have a baby shower brunch to attend. I tried to plan my menu with things that would accomodate our busy schedule days as well as a few things we haven't had in a while. We're needing a little more variety around here. Menu planning with fussy kids is so difficult though!

Sunday - Pork Fried Rice (I wish I had a real recipe for this but it is usually a leftover/kitchen sink put together - sometimes better than others), Kids are having frozen corn dogs and leftover mac & cheese

Monday - Grilled Steak, Rice Pilaf, Salad

Tuesday - Baked Rosemary Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, Brocoli, Biscuits

Wednesday - Pasta with Brocoli & Sausage

Thursday - Shepherds Pie

Friday - Homemade Pizzas

Saturday - Eating out, Kids eating at grandparents

I will post a few recipes later today as I can't find the links for them. For more great menu and recipe ideas check out Menu Plan Monday hosted at

Friday, October 9, 2009

Secrets of a Super Saver

Lisa Palmi, 20 year stay at home mom and fellow Dollar Stretcher Forumite, has recently published an informational download on her secrets to saving 60% - 90% off your grocery bill. As most moms know, the grocery bill is one of the largest expenses of a growing family. Lisa’s download details how to utilize coupons, rebates and store programs to maximize your grocery budget. I consider myself a relatively smart shopper and user of coupons, however there were quite a few new tricks I learned from Lisa’s publication. Some of the information Lisa teaches about are:

Coupon & Rebate Sources
Coupon “Stacking” Tips
Doubling Bar Code Secrets
How to Get Paid to Purchase Products
Store Sales Cycles by Month

My favorite part of Secrets of a Supersaver is that Lisa shares her methods for organizing coupons, planning shops and transactions and maximizing the value of your coupons.

The Secrets of a Supersaver download is being offered for $7.00 through the follwing link . Click Here to Purchase.

As part of a special promotion, anyone who purchases the download via the link above will receive 3 entries in a random drawing for a FREE COUPON ORGANIZER.

You may also receive 1 entry in the drawing by viewing Lisa's site via the link and then returning here to Finding My Way at Home and leaving feedback in the comments section of this post. This drawing is valid today through October 31st. Winner will be announced on November 1st.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Money Saving Mom's "Becoming a Work At Home Mom" Series

Crystal at Money Saving Mom is doing a series on becoming a work at home mom. She's gotten an overwhelming response to her introduction for the series. Check out this post at Money Saving Mom and keep an eye out here for future links to this exciting series.

I have to go Pee Pee - Toilet Training Fun

I hear this statement yelled to me multiple times a day. DS is doing a very good job a toilet training but wow does it take a lot more focus, time and patience than I realized. I waited until DD was in her third week of 1st grade and our schedule slowed down to give it a try. DS had just turned three and got big boy underwear for his birthday so he was psyched up to wear them. The first day we went through 3 pairs of underwear by 10:30am and we went back to the pull-ups. Each day got increasingly better and after 3 weeks he has very few accidents and even manages to have a dry pull-up most mornings.

That said the things that drive me crazy about this whole toilet training business are:
• Constant little boy nudity – he has to have shoes, socks, pants off to go and then decides that he prefers not putting any of them back on
• Sitting on a wet toilet seat – yes I have boycotted using the same bathroom but DD gets caught sometimes
• Having to check out every public bathroom wherever we are
• Needing the diaper bag for every outing just in case

It’s interesting though that the methods used for my two children were vastly different. DD was in daycare and started toilet training at the age of 2. It was a big deal to get all the little kids to ‘try’ even if they were still wearing diapers. And frankly I wasn’t the one doing the training so I wasn’t sure if it was the best method.

With DS I never once got him to perform on the toilet. He would sit there, read books, sing, fill the toilet with paper and flush but nothing else. It basically took the cold turkey method to get him trained and it delivered much quicker results than the method used with DD. Also DS is staying dry at night – something which took DD another year to accomplish after being day trained.

Check out the book below Mommy I have to go Potty by for more information on tips and tools to toilet train your child.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Update on Summer Learning Adventures

I’m laughing at myself about my overly ambitious goals for providing the kids, mostly DD, with learning adventures this summer. We did accomplish some of the goals but most of the summer was spent trying to keep them amused, keeping them from pummeling each other, and trying to find a few moments of peace and quiet for myself in between the mayhem. Where on earth did I get the idea that I was SuperMommy???

The goals we accomplished for the summer included:

• Completion of the Summer Reading Challenge and getting to attend a special Magic Show at school as a reward
• Tying shoes
• Great improvement in telling time
• Starting to comprehend money, coin values and overall money concepts
• Both kids completed Swim Class

So now DD is in 1st grade all day and it’s just me and DS at home. Which means my next task is to figure out how to ensure he’s learning at the appropriate rate since he isn’t currently in preschool or daycare. Somehow I think my plan might be a little more ‘reasonable and achievable’ this time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 5th

Overall I did really well sticking to last week’s menu plan. Monday’s Honey Mustard Chicken wasn’t that great but since homemade bread was on the menu for Wednesday that night was a big hit. Friday night ended up being tomato soup and grilled cheese as DH was working pretty late and the London Broil wasn’t worth wasting on the kids. The tag sale on Saturday was cancelled due to rain so I did the London Broil that night instead of Friday.

What I like about menu planning is that it gives me options for the entire week. If I choose to rearrange the order of my plan because ‘life’ got in the way one day, it is still easier than being clueless. I also find it helps keep my grocery spending in line as I plan around what I have on hand. Yes on occasion I will go grab something extra as I have an idea that just needs a little something I don’t have in stock. But overall menu planning seems to reduce my stress level and my grocery budget.

Have you given menu planning a try? What works for you and what obstacles do you find yourself fighting to overcome when it comes to creating and sticking to a menu plan?

Here’s what on the table at our house this week:

Sunday – Dinner at a Friend’s House
MondayCrockpot Ribs, Salad, Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday – Sirloin Tips, Noodles, Brocoli
WednesdayChicken Baked in Cream of Chicken Soup , Rice, Green Beans
Thursday – Dance Class Night and Dinner Out – DH hasn’t been to DD’s dance class yet this year so we’re all going to go watch and then head to THE 99 RESTAURANT for dinner with my $5 off coupon.
Friday – Ham Steaks, Pasta Alfredo, Broccoli
Saturday – Hamburger Helper Beef Pasta, Green Beans (ok, yes my family likes some HH once in a while. I keep them on hand and when I buy ground beef I separate it into ¾ lb packs to use for HH or to toss into pasta. I’m not a super chef – I do what I need to do to get my family to eat, provide something quick and easy, and keep my budget in line.)

For more excellent ideas on menu planning check out the Menu Planning Monday thread on

Chicken Baked in Cream of Chicken Soup

4 Split Chicken breasts – Skin removed (boneless would work as well)
½ Stick Butter/Margarine Softened
Flour (enough to make a paste with the butter)
1tsp Poultry Seasoning (more to taste)
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
½ Can Milk
½ Can Water

Place chicken in a greased baking dish. Combine butter, flour and poultry seasoning to make a paste. Make patties out of the paste and place on top of each chicken breast smoothing over as much of the chicken as possible. Combine the soup with the milk and water in a separate bowl then pour over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes (or until chicken doesn’t run pink).

Sorry my recipe isn’t precise but it’s one of my grandmother’s that was never written down and I’ve always sort of ‘wung it’. The butter and flour mixture makes a nice crusty yet soft topping on the chicken. This was one of my favorites as a kid.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Faith and Friendship

A lot of the homemaking blogs out there are written by women of Christian faith whose beliefs and family choices are very different from mine. While I have gotten some wonderful advice, great recipes and even spiritual inspiration from these women, my own personal faith might cause contention if we were to discuss it. That said, I respect their choices and their convictions to follow their faith.

What I’ve found in real life though is that sometimes people of different faiths and beliefs have a hard time bonding as friends and neighbors. I am honored to have made friends with two women of vastly different spiritual and religious beliefs – and our friendship flourishes not just in spite of our differences but often because of them. We are friends and neighbors, our children romp through all our yards and through each other’s houses. We share sorrows, joys, aggravations, meals and cocktails – often all in the same evening with at least 8 children underfoot. Sometimes our discussions get very philosophical and with grace and respect we question and explore each other’s faiths and practices. I’ve learned so much about these women and so much about the spiritual paths they have chosen. I’ve also found that I’ve added components of their beliefs into my own because they resonated within me as ‘right’.

I’m raising a glass, wishing on the moon and bowing my head to thank god/goddess and the heavens to have gifted the three of us with each other.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monthly Grocery Challenge

October – Stock the Pantry and Freezer for Under $400

My grocery goal this month is to utilize loss leaders, coupons and shopping at Aldi to stock my pantry and freezer while providing my family with well balanced meals. Both DD and DH bring lunch each day and I need to provide snacks for home and on the go. Since October is a 3 paycheck month (and we used a lot of the pantry at the end of September) I am setting my budget at $350 but if I find some good deals I am willing to push it to $400.

My first week of shopping utilized CVS for ECB deals and Shaws for loss leaders – both with coupon stacking. The balance of my shopping this week was at Stop & Shop where I had an additional 5% off my entire purchase coupon. I estimate I spent approximately 1.5 hours planning my trips – this included coupon cutting, sorting, reviewing adds, matching coupons to both sale items and my needs list as well as searching for additional coupons on line.

My total spending so far for the month of October is $171.32 – approximately half of my budget for the month. However my freezer is now pretty well stocked with meat and the pantry is in good shape as well.

Here are the details of my shopping this week.

CVS - Total spent $32.94. I think this was one of my best CVS trips lately. The clerk knows me and she asked if I could take her shopping list for her. I think she gets as big of a kick out seeing how much I can save as I do.

Transaction #1
Dawn Dish Liquid – $1.00 Each – Quantity 5
Charm in Ultra 16 Roll – $10.00 Each – Quantity 2
Gillette Fusion Razor – $9.99
Thermacare Back Wrap – $6.99

For this transaction I used $7.20 in Manufacturer coupons, $4.00 in ECBs and a $5.00 off $25 Purchase CVS Coupon for taking the Flu Test (see Money Saving Mom). Total for this transaction was $27.33 and from it I earned $16.00 in ECB’s

Transaction #2
Hellman’s Mayo – 2 for $6.00
CVS Honey Wheat Pretzel Braids - $1.00 Each – Quantity 2
1 Gallon 2% Garelick Farms Milk – - $2.69
1 Dozen Eggs – $1.05
Speed Stick Deodorant – $1.99 Each – Quantity 3
CVS Floss Picks – $2.49
Gillette Body Wash and Shampoo – $4.99

For this transaction I used $4.00 in manufacturer coupons and the $16.00 in ECB’s earned from the previous transaction. Total for this transaction was $5.61

SHAWS - Total Spent - $30.97
10lb Bag of Frozen Chicken Leg Quarters – $2.99
Split Chicken Breast - $.99/lb – 4.23
Hamburger Helper – 10/$10 – 3 Boxes
Nestle Chocolate Chips – 2/$5
New England Coffee – $2.77/each – Quantity 2
Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta – 10/$10 – Quantity 2
Campbell’s Healthy Harvest Soups – 2/$3 – Quantity 2
Kelloggs Yogo’s – $2.22 each
Huggies Pull-ups – $9.99
Animal Cookies (the grocery life saver with a 3 year old) – $1.00

For this transaction I had $8.00 in coupons.

STOP & SHOP - Total Spent - $107.41
12 Pack Heineken Light – $13.99
6 Pack Italian Rolls - $2.49
3 Loaves Wheat Bread - $4.99
10 Dannon Yogurts - $.40 Each
3 Pack Yeast - $1.99
2 6 packs of Yoplait Trix Yogurt – 2/$5.00
Honey Ham Lunchmeat – $5.99/lb
Turkey Breast Lunchmeat - $6.99/lb
Sliced American Cheese - $4.99/lb
3 Boxes Fruit Snacks – 2/$5.00
5 Cans Delmonte Vegetables – 10/$10.00
5 Cans Creamed Soup – 3/$4.00
5 Cans Chicken Broth – 5/$5.00
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel - $2.00
3 Cans Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate - $1.19 each
2 Packs Hotdogs - $.99 each
Ground Beef - $1.99/lb
Cube Steak – Marked Down
Italian Sausage – Marked Down
Beef Round Sandwich Steaks – Marked Down
2 lbs Baby Carrots - FREE
3lbs Granny Smith Apple - $3.49
Mini Raisins – 14 Pack - FREE
3lb Yellow Onions - $1.79
Grape Tomatoes - $2.50
Romaine Hearts - $2.99
Vanilla Extract - $3.99
Nature Valley Nut Clusters - $2.99
Keebler Crackers – 8 Pack - $2.00
Juicy Juice 8 Pack Juice Boxes - $3.00
Salsa - $1.50

My total before any savings was $162.56. Stop & Shop Card Savings including my additional %5 off were $46.44. Coupon savings were $9.55 – for a total savings of $55.99.

Overall I’m pleased with my shopping this week. Although now I have a lengthy date with my Seal A Meal this afternoon to get all that meat wrapped and into the freezer.