Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'm Just Sayin...

OK-I know I have made this point before, but I am feeling the need to make it again...

I went to Walgreens today and spent $2.87 + tax on all of this and left with $10 in Register Rewards (which is a coupon you can use on anything at Walgreens). The value of all of is this $44.33 so that is a savings of $41.46

I went to CVS yesterday and spent $4.78 + tax for all of this and left with $5 in Extra Care Bucks (which is like money to be used at CVS). The total value of all of this is $91.44 so that is a savings of $86.68.

So my point is not-WOW! Look how much stuff I got! My point is LOOK AT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SPEND! Grocery stores and drug stores GIVE STUFF AWAY! If there is the slightest wish in your heart that you could find a way to save some money, this is where to do it-On your grocery and personal care bills. I went to the grocery store the other day and I got $200 worth of groceries for $60! Right now at Publix you can get 4 cans of Progresso Soup, a big box of Premium Saltines, 4 cans of Pilsbury biscuits, and 4 reusable grocery bags for $3.09. I mean seriously!?!
It's done with a combination of sales, coupons (yes, coupons. For heaven's sake-its just like free money!), and working the stores' loyalty programs. Does it take some work? Yes, it does. But even if you think you don't have the time to get it all together there are SO many websites and blogs out there that do all of the work for you and just tell you (for free!) how and where to get the best deals. Also, once you have shopped like this for a while it just becomes second nature.
Look-If they sell it at CVS or Walgreens-you shouldn't pay more than a few cents for it ever again! (I am super sorry to those of you who do not have access to these stores, but I'd encourage you to check out your local drugstores and see what kind of deals you can find.)
Ok so you might ask--8 deodorants?? Yes, 8 deodorants because I paid $1.43 for them and got back a $10 Register Reward which I will be able to combine with my left over $3 register reward and my $5 off Enfamil formula coupon and pay $6 for a can of formula instead of $24. But, how long will it take you to use 8 deodorants? A super long time considering I don't use that kind of deodorant (I mean, deodorant is really one of those things where you gotta go with what works for you), but I know of a few different people who could use a bag of toiletries and a couple of local organizations who would love the donation.
How to accomplish all of this? Just go here. Jenny at Southern Savers has done a fantastic job of outlining how to shop at the different drug and grocery stores and how she handles coupons among other things. I was blessed beyond belief back in the early Spring to be able to sit down and talk for a long time with a wonderful woman who has been shopping this way for close to 20 years. She shared all of her wisdom and time-tested methods and tips with me and it truly has changed the way I view money, my job in my family, and of course shopping. So I'm always happy to share what I have learned with anyone at any time. I am directing you to Jenny only because she has already done all of leg work.
A lot of people seem to not consider shopping this way because either they think it takes too much time, or that you can't get good products, or maybe they're just too cool for it, but none of that is true! Just give it a try-see how much money you don't spend and you will not want to throw money away ever again!
Like I said--I would love to help or answer questions or heck even go shopping with you if you are in the Bham area.
PS-shopping at drugstores like that can be addicting (no, seriously--just search some blogs and you'll see what I mean) and that's never good, so I encourage you not to look at it as a game, but rather a way to maximize your dollar.

Hot Mexican Soup Brings Me Back

I've had several request for this recipe lately so I figured this would be a good way to deliver it to all at one. Daisy Martinez contributed the original recipe to the September issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. We have made it probably 10 times and have changed it a bit to suit us. She calls it Mexican Chicken Lime Soup, but that just does not tell the truth about this soup. It has some HEAT! Hot Mexican Soup just seems to be more fitting to me. It is soooooo good and there is something very comforting and healing about it. But just a warning-it may not be for the small ones in your family. We haven't tried it out on ours, and even though he likes spicy food, i think this may be the wrong kind of heat for him. But don't be scared off by all of my talk of hotness...I don't like a lot of spicy heat and I LOVE this so I encourage you to give it a try. Ok here is what we use:

Extra-virgin Olive Oil
3 bone in, skin on chicken breast
1 onion finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (this is where the heat comes from. You can find them in the ethnic aisle at your grocery store)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
1 avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise
tortilla chips

First let me talk about the chipotle chiles. The original recipe says, "two canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce." However, the first time I made it I read, "two CANS chipotle chiles in adobo sauce." Tragic mistake that led to inedible soup. So be warned-Don't use TWO CANS! You do have two options as to how you want to use them though. You can take two chiles out of the can, chop them finely and then also take out two Tbsp of sauce and throw all of that in the soup. Or you could just throw the whole can of chiles and sauce in the food processor or blender, make a puree and use two Tbsp of that and keep the rest in the fridge for something later. We do the later.

Here's how ya do it:
Put the chicken breasts in a baking dish, cover them with lots of EVOO, salt, and pepper and bake them at 350 for about 40 minutes. When they are done take the skin off and the meat off the bone and shred the chicken. It will probably need just a tad more cooking.

In the pot you use for your soup, heat about 2 Tbsp of EVOO over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion begins to brown-about 7 minutes or so. Add the shredded chicken and cook a little more. Stir in either your 2 chopped chiles and 2 Tbsp of adobo sauce, OR 2 Tbsp of puree. Then stir in your chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
To serve place several slices of avocado in each bowl and pour in the soup. Top with tortilla chips.

The whole thing will take less effort than it just took to read all of this. Give it a try-if you don't like it bring it to us...we'll eat it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm back...I think.

So obviously I have taken a vacation from the blogosphere. I, however, am contemplating my return and this is my first step. I have many a clever thing to say right now, but it is 1 am and I am in desperate need of some winks. So...encouragement welcomed...I'll be back.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Home Again, Home Again! (I'm doing a jiggity jig!)

I don't know how it has been so long since my last post! The past month has been a blur with returning to work, but I'm officially in my last couple of hours as a government employ! At 3:00 I will be finished with the '08-'09 school year and on my way home to my family and there to stay! I can't begin to describe how excited I am to know that I don't just get two months at home with my children, but rather unlimited months! So I imagine that I will be better at keep up with this here blog, but we'll see...I'm so excited about the possibilities. Any advice for fun, cheap or free activities for the kids are welcomed!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Amoretti Go check out her blog! She is hilarious, insightful, and she gives away the coolest stuff! She is also the maker of some totally adorable and unique dresses and skirts for little gals--and-- "The Skirty!" Go find out what that is and win one!

Recipe Swap Wednesday: Southwestern Sloppy Joes

This is a Weight Watchers recipe and comes along with my recommendation! You can find so many fantastic recipes there and it really helps you to learn how to cook and flavor your food with things other than fat.
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 lbs lean ground turkey
7 oz can mexicorn, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed

Heat the oil in a large skillet then cook the onion, garlic, and jalapeno until soft (about 4-5 minutes). Add chili powder and oregano and cook about another minute. Add the turkey and corn and cook until the mixture in nearly dry, about 4 minutes. Stir in the salsa and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and the turkey is cooked through (4-5 minutes).
We eat this on Arnold's Sandwich Thins with a little bit of sour cream on them!

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recipe Swap Wednesday (we'll see how long this lasts)

I've had a lot of recipes I've wanted to share lately but haven' I figured if I set aside Wednesdays to post them, maybe I will be able to keep up with myself...but...we'll see ;) Also, I would love it if you would leave a comment or a link to your blog with your favorite recipes!

This is my 'tweak' from the Neely's Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken. Any time my husband grills chicken breast, I get him to grill a few extra pieces and then I slice them up and toss them with this pasta:
1 lb dried penne
5-6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Tbs parsley, fresh, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the Pasta, drain, set aside

Heat olive oil in a saute pan or dutch oven, add sliced garlic, red bell pepper, and red pepper flakes. Saute until fragrant and peppers begin to get a little soft. Add the cooked pasta and chicken to the saute pan or dutch oven and mix it all together. Pour mixture into a serving bowl (or you could leave it in your dutch oven). Pour on the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the parsley on top (you could definitely use dried if you don't have fresh). Before serving top with Parmesan.
Serves 4-6


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Helpful Blogs

Our recent efforts to be better stewards of our money have been helped out by a few women who take the time each week to share the wisdom they have been given. Here are a few blogs I would recommend that you take a minute to look at. (read her guides to shopping at Walgreens and CVS. If you have any questions about it feel free to email me!) (She lives in Nashville and has such an encouraging perspective on her roles within her family) (She finds just about every deal there is to be had each day)

I hope this helps you to navigate this crazy blogging world and that you find some helpful info!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

He Works Hard for the Money...

...So I am going to work hard to spend it wisely and here is one of my most recent attempts. I am taking a cue from the Duggars of the TLC show "17 Kids and Counting". They have offered me a bit of inspiration lately. Not because we are planning to have 18 children, but I'm incredibly impressed by the way they have managed their money. So when I heard that they make their own baby wipes I decided I would try it out, because with 2 in diapers we go through a lot and this would just be a small way to save some money. I'm very pleased! I will certainly continue to do this. So here is the how to taken from the Duggars.
-One roll of Bounty paper towels
-One-gallon ice-cream bucket (or I used a cylindrical Rubbermade container)
-Two cups water
-Two tablespoons baby oil
-One tablespoon rubbing alcohol
-One tablespoon baby bath (optional, though I did use it)
Cut a whole roll of Bounty paper towels into thirds. (The Duggars found that Bounty is the only brand that works...I trust them. Use an electric knife for best results.)
Place one of the halved rolls vertically into an empty and thoroughly cleaned one-gallon ice cream bucket (or whatever container. You could probably use your wipes warmer if you have one, though I'm not positive because I haven't tried). In a large measuring pitcher, mix two cups water, two tablespoons baby oil, and one tablespoon rubbing alcohol. (and one tablespoon of baby bath if preferred.)
Pour the liquid over the halved roll of paper towels in the ice cream bucket, and soak for 30 minutes. Remove the cardboard center. Feed the top corner of the paper towels, starting in the center, through an X-shaped slit you've cut in the lid of the ice-cream bucket so you can pull out and tear off one "wipe" at a time.
My next endeavor, taken from the Duggars, is homemade laundry detergent. I'm thinking I will try this tomorrow so I will let you know!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Instant Frozen Yogurt

This may be nothing new to any of you, but I did this completely on accident the other day, and well...I've done it on purpose three more times since. Mac can take down a homemade smoothie, and he has gotten into the habit of asking for one almost every afternoon. "Yummy Fmooie?" he says, meaning, "Can I have a yummy smoothie?" So I stored up some sliced fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice cubes in the freezer for a quick mix with some plain yogurt in the blender. Well you may have known this, but blending frozen fruit with yogurt comes out of the blender as frozen yogurt. Of course this sounds like common sense, I just never thought of it. So give this a try because its a great treat for little ones and big ones alike!
1/3 cup sliced frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen sliced bananas
2 cubes frozen orange juice (I squeeze it fresh and freeze it in ice cube trays.)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I use low fat, but whatever you like)
A touch of honey for sweetness

Blend it all up and there you go! It makes two large servings that are hardly any calories and good for you to boot!
You could make this with any frozen fruit you like. My next try is going to be some frozen pineapple chunks with some frozen cubes of coconut milk. If you know some reason why this would not work, let me know...otherwise, I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Slow Cookin' Goodness

Don't know about you, but I love using my crock pot. It just does the trick, and if you haven't gathered, my favorite kind of meals to eat and make are the kind where everything is all mixed together in one pot or bowl of goodness. Here are two of my favorite one pot, slow-cooking recipes I have found of late...

Slow Cooker Lasagna
1 lb uncooked lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted are sometimes hard to find, so plain will d0)
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like the heat)
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Parsley (fresh or dried)
1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
6 dry lasagna noodles, no-cook
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, (Romano is good)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes; simmer 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Mix in parsley (just eyeball it)
Spoon 1/3 of beef mixture into a 5-quart slow cooker. Break 3 lasagna sheets in half and arrange over beef mixture; top with half ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer and finish with remaining 1/3 of beef mixture.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low setting for 4-6 hours. Remove cover; turn off heat and season to taste if desired.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over beef mixture. Cover and set aside until cheese melts and lasagna firms up, about 10 minutes. Yields 1/6th of dish per serving.

Cuban-Style Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (about 1 lb)
1 pound lean pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes, with green chilies
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 medium scallions, chopped (green parts only)
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Place potato, pork, tomatoes, garlic, orange juice, scallions, salt, cumin, and pepper in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low setting for 7 hours
Stir in lime juice and cilantro; cover slow cooker and cook for 5 minutes more. (I like to throw in a little Louisiana hot sauce here as well...but be careful- it brings the heat!)
Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My husband is building a garden in our backyard. I had planned on visually chronicling our vegetatious adventures, but my camera has suddenly decided to stop working. So to paint a picture for you, we have a big pile of dirt in our backyard. It is good dirt though (can you picture it?). And it is surrounded by logs. But in any case, does anyone know anything about gardening? Because I don't know the first thing and I could certainly use some help. One of Jonathan's fantastic clients has offered to teach me all about canning vegetables, so look forward to that being an interesting endeavor. Any words of wisdom on all things gardening and vegetables is appreciated.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For Meg

My Sweet friend Megan came to visit us when we were in CS over the holidays. Mac hadn't seen her since he was a few months old and she was the first "new" female that he would have anything to do with all week.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Successes in the Kitchen

If you know me well, you know that as much as I love to cook, I'm not always great at it. Baking I can do-always have been able to, and always loved it. Regular ole week night meals on the other hand-hit or miss. But I'm getting better! The problem is I always thought cooking was boring until sometime late in college, and then it was up to the Food Network to teach me everything I needed to know. Fortunately my husband is a fantastic cook so he has provided us with many restaurant worthy meals, and also taught me a lot about cooking. So its taken a lot of time to get here and now my successful meals are certainly a celebration, and I've been celebrating a lot lately! So I thought I'd share some of the better meals I have made over the past couple of weeks. I promise not to post any that are not also husband approved (and husband has high expectations of food!)

Cuban Black Beans and Rice
8 servings
-2 cups uncooked white rice
-2 Tbs olive oil
-2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
-1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
-1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
-6 cloves of garlic minced
-2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes, drained
-4 Tbs sherry cooking wine
-2 tsp ground cumin
-2 tsp ground coriander
-2 tsp dried oregano
-2 tsp hot pepper sauce (I use Louisiana)
-4 15.5 ounce cans black beans, drained
-black pepper

1. Cook rice according to package directions (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the PAMPERED CHEF RICE COOKER . It is in my top 5 kitchen essentials!)
2. Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, cumin, coriander, oregano, and pepper sauce; cook 2 minutes. Add the beans, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with the pepper and serve with rice. Top with a little sour cream. (A serving is about 1 cup beans of 1/2 cup of rice)

Turkey Taco Soup
-a bit of Olive Oil
-2 lbs Extra Lean ground turkey (I promise you can not tell the difference between this and regular ole ground beef in this soup)
-1 onion, chopped
-A couple of cloves of garlic minced
-1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
-1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
-1 can each of:
white corn
yellow corn
pinto beans
red kidney beans (new orleans style are best if you can find them)
-rotel tomatoes
-1 small can of tomato sauce, when empty filled with water.

1. Heat olive oil and stir in onions and garlic. Add the ground turkey and cook through.
2. Add all other ingredients, stir and simmer for 30 minutes.

Easy as pie! Serve with some Mexican blend cheese, sour cream, and maybe fritos.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh How Blessed We Are

My Mother-in-Law taught Mac that we have to be quiet around the baby. He thinks this applies to the baby as well...he also thinks that his finger goes on his noes instead of over his mouth.
This is the fam the day after Lily was born. Mac could not quit staring at her.

I was so worried that he would not take the whole thing well, but he did great! He can melt a heart!

So this is definitely one of my favorite pictures of all time. Mac has continued to be this sweet to Lily her whole little life. Let's hope it lasts...