Friday, February 29, 2008

Snowflaking my envelopes

The way my hubby gets paid, once a month basically, makes it really great for paying bills. One commitee meeting, everyone gets paid, the end. It's makes it a little more tough on our envelope system. I get paid sparatically through the month, and always different amounts. Yes, always. I basically know how much I need to contribute each week and anything on top of that goes to snowflake our envelopes, or in a perfect world, snowflake our debt. We still agree on how much we are going to spend each month on food, gas, blow, etc, we just don't fully fund the envelopes at the same time that we pay our bills. Is that cheating, Dave Ramsey? I hope not because it is working for us, better than any other system we ever tried to put in place before. Tonight I am working an extra shift simply because we want to be ahead of the game instead of trying to catch up. What do you do for that little extra cushion? Comments will be read and appreciated!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pantry Shopping

It's always amazing to me when I "shop" from my pantry. I decided to make tostadas for dinner. Then I discovered that I didn't have any mexican rice. Instead of scrapping dinner all together or settling for Hamburger Helper (blech) I used my noodle and got on and found a recipe for mexican rice that used ingredients I had in the pantry. Dinner is saved! I have made numerous things from allrecipes just so I wouldn't lose an item or to replace an item I usually buy. Hooray for pantry shopping! ( I will post the recipe after I see if we like it. It's in the oven now.)
UPDATE: Good news, we liked it. Hope you all enjoy too.

Simple Mexican Rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup uncooked short-grain white rice (I used Minute Rice)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste (I used tomato sauce)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is translucent. Stir in the chili powder and cumin, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the rice, chicken broth and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Transfer to a 1 quart casserole dish, and cover with aluminum foil or a lid.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 must have some good coupons

" must have had some good coupons." That is what my friendly cashier said at Target today. I don't know what my total before coupons was (no subtotal) but I got:
2 Morningstar Corndogs (.99 each)
2 Morningstar Chik'n Nuggets (.99 each)
20 string cheese (.04 each)
1 bag Flat Earth Chips (FREE)
Electrasol (needed) (.50 off coupon)
Oreo's (needed, wait, wanted) (clearance for 1.50)
Abby Cadaby backpack for Peyton (dollar spot- entertainment while I coupon, worth it!)
all for $11.51!

And I got a raincheck for the bed set I've been eyeing for a few months. I was actually HOPING they would be out of it so I could get a raincheck. That way I have 45 days to finish funding my bed set envelope!

What a great savings day!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Free Movie Monday!

Today you can go to any Redbox and use a promo code to get a free movie! Our Redbox is at WM Neighborhood Market but there is also oe at McD's. I've also heard Albertson's have them.
Today's code is 26LBYS.

Tonight's dinner will consist of steak, baked potato, asparagus and salad. How are we having a "fancy" dinner like this on our hamburger budget. Well, thanks to some nice people who want my hubby to do business with them, my hubby had a steak lunch brought to him today! Being the super sweetie that he is, he saved the steak to bring home, and ate the salad for lunch today. Lucky for us, the girls think steak is "gross"!

I was on last night for HOURS! I had no idea that Target had such great grocery bargains. I'm a sucker for forums so I spent the better part of the evening reading different posts about Target deals. There is a whole couponing world out there that I am just discovering. Watch out!

On a side note, positive thought would be appreciated. My mother had surgery today and she is going to be recovering for a few weeks. Everything went great but it is a stressful time for our family. Keep her in your prayers, please. Thank you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

CVS 2/24- update

My transactions had to change a bit and I thought I would let you all know why. I couldn't find the children's aspirin ANYWHERE. At first I figured they were out. I found the store manager and he took me to the "low dose adult aspirin". He said the children's aspirin had been changed to adult low dose. This sounded strange to me so I asked the pharmacist if it was okay to give the low dose aspirin to my 3 yr. old. He told me that aspirin is not a very good product, in general, for children. To quote him he said it's still around because of history and if they tried to pass it through the FDA now it probably wouldn't pass. SCARY! Needless to say, I put it back. If you give aspirin to your kids I don't want anyone to be offended. I just wanted to pass along the info I was given. =)

Here's how I did my transactions instead. Starting with $5 ecb.

Transaction 1

Scott Paper towels 4.99
Stayfree 2/$10
Phenom Razor 9.99
-1.00 scott coupon
-2.00 stayfree coupon
-4.00 phenom razor coupon
-4.00 off/20.00 cvs coupon
-5.00 ecb
oop total 9.83
ecb earned 8.00

Transaction 2

Nestle Crunch eggs 2.50
" " Butterfinger eggs 2.50
5 easter sweet tarts 4.95
butterfinger candy bar .50
softsoap handsoap 1.49
sunlight dish liquid .77
childrens ibuprofen 4.29 (in place of all that aspirin)
-8.00 ecb
oop total 9.31
ecb earned 5.00

I spent more oop this way but I would have never used that aspirin after talking with the pharmacist. Share any good deals you found this week!

CVS- Sunday 2/24

OK so I have officially lost it. My CVS did not have an ad last week so I have had MAJOR CVS withdrawals this week. I woke up at 7:30 this morning ready to run out and get my paper to see if CVS had an ad. Much to my delight, they did!! Here's how I plan to spend $10 at CVS this week. FYI- My CVS seems to run out of the really great deals by Sunday afternoon. I try to check out on Saturday because they have copies of the upcoming sales ads. That way all I have to do is clip my mfg. coupons. I have $5 ecb to start with this week.

*I used the ecb I had earned 2 weeks ago last weekend for milk, 75% off Valentine's and juice. All for .02!

Transaction 1

3 CVS Children's Chewable Aspirin 5.37
-$5 ecb
ECB earned 5.37

Transaction 2

2 CVS Childrens Chewable Aspirin 3.58
Phenom Razor 9.99
Stayfree 2/$10
-$2.00 Stayfree coupon
-$4.00 Phenom coupon
-$4.00 off/$20 CVS coupon (available on iheartcvs)
-5.37 ecb
OOP 8.20
ECB earned 11.58

Transaction 3
Nestle Easter Candy 10.00
Softsoap Handsoap 1.49
-11.49 ecb
OOP 0.00
ECB earned 6.00

Transaction 4 (Things I need!)

Scott Paper Towels (8 pack) 4.99
Sunlight Dish Liquid .77

- 1.00 Scott Paper Towel coupon (from Scott Website)

ECB 4.76

Total OOP for the day- 8.57

ECB left for next week- 1.00 (I like to have more than this but I don't have a great CVS budget this week.)

If anyone sees a better way to do this please let me know.

*OTHER COUPONS- Target has free string cheese again. for use in the pizza crust recipe from last week. You can make stuffed crust pizza!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Use what you have

I have noticed on a few other ladies blogs that February is "clean out the pantry" month. Since it is now almost the end of February, I missed the boat. Since our budget will be decreased for the month of March, I think I am going to make March my pantry and freezer month. The point of this is to use what you have, and cut your grocery bill in the meantime. I have been watching my perishable items more closely and using them before I lost them. Peyton LOVES blueberries- the first couple of days after I get them, then she doesn't like them anymore. (If you knew my daughter you would know that she "LOVES" everything. Mama, I LOVE Barney. Mama, I LOVE chocolate milk. Mama, I LOVE this. Mama, I LOVE that.) I got a super deal on blueberries and mushrooms a couple of weeks ago at Aldi. I will include a couple of recipes I found on

To Die For Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

These are easy and delicious! I made mine with the crumb topping but to be honest I thought it was too sweet. I think next time I will make them without the topping.

Chicken Lo Mein
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into thin strips
5 teaspoons white sugar, divided
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (I used 1 tbsp regular vinegar and 2 tbsp white cooking wine)
1/2 cup soy sauce, divided
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (12 ounce) package uncooked linguine pasta
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root (After reading the reviews, I omitted this ingredient)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (Regular musrooms, sliced for us)
6 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces (I sliced up a white onion instead)
In a medium, non-reactive bowl, combine the chicken with 2 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce. Mix this together and coat the chicken well. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
In another medium bowl, combine the chicken broth, water, sesame oil and ground black pepper with the remaining sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with some of this mixture and slowly add to the bulk of the mixture, stirring well. Set aside.
Cook the linguine according to package directions, drain and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned. Transfer this and all juices to a warm plate.
Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the wok or pan over high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, mushrooms and green onions, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the reserved sauce mixture and then the chicken. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved noodles and toss gently, coating everything well with the sauce.

I made some changes according to what I had on hand. I also did not put chicken in mine as I made chicken fried rice to go with it. Next time I will go ahead and make it with the chicken. Even the kids like this! I also made egg drop soup to go with the lo mein and chicken fried rice. Maddy and Peyton each had 2 bowls! Of course, I let them drink it out of their bowls with crazy straws so that may have something to do with it!! Making this meal saved us about $25 that I would have spent on take out, and it was JUST as good!

I plan on doing inventory on my freezers and pantry tomorrow, after cleaning house and doing laundry. I live such an exciting life. I would love to be able to only buy meat and dairy this month! Until tomorrow..........

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Four letter word? SALE.

My favorite four letter word-SALE! One of my favorite chidren's stores is promoting a sale this week. It shall remain nameless as to protect the innocent, but I'm sure you have one in a mall near you. What is it about that word sale that makes you think OMG I may miss out on something if I don't get it NOW! I try to limit the baby's clothes, now, to a few, 3 or 4, nice outfits and then mostly play clothes. She's 3. She doesn't care as long as she's covered. She always looks darling (I am biased!) but it's not like when she was first born. The child's closet was busting at the seams while all of my clothes were old and covered in spit up. Unfortunately at the time of her being dressed to the nines I got on many e-mail lists from designer childrens clothiers. I don't take myself off, simply because I do love to look at the pretties. The only time I run into trouble is when they have a sale, or worse, a clearance. By the time it's gets to clearance prices, I don't even especially like the clothes but the prices are closer to reasonable so I feel like it's okay to buy them. Then they sit, with the tags, in her drawer b/c the outfit from Target I paid full price for I like better. Is $10 for a pair of PJ's REALLY a good deal, or is it just cheaper than the $20 the store usually charges? Trust me I can justify about anything when it comes to the kids but I am staying away from this "sale". No more clothes for anyone until spring!!

I have missed listing meal plans for a couple of nights this week. One that I know I missed is one of our favorites so I know I'll be able to post it later. It's Maddy's favorite and she is THE pickiest eater. It's rare I make something that the entire family will eat. I will post it next time I make it.

Last night, I'm ashamed to say we had Hamburger Helper Lasagna. It was actually pretty good. I am not a fan of HH, but hubby loves it. He was raised on the stuff, I was raised on meals from scratch, nothing powdered. HH is great for a quick meal, I just try to have it in moderation. You can feed your family quickly and inexpensively and still not eat from a box.

Tonight we will have baked bagel club sandwiches. These are a fave of mine. REALLY fast, but hot and hearty. Serve with carrot sticks, cucumber and dip and a pasta salad!

Pre-sliced bagels (1.19 at Aldi)
deli style turkey lunchmeat
deli style ham lunchmeat
cooked bacon (I always cook the whole package when I make it for Sunday breakfast)
Swiss cheese slices
Colby Jack cheese slices

Pre heat oven to 400. Layer bottom of bagel with turkey, swiss, bacon, ham, colby jack, and top with other half of bagel. Wrap in foil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Crazy Busy Day

Yesterday was a crazy day. Peyton was still under the weather, but a little better. Since I don't have any large items of my own to sell (per Dave Ramsey) I decided to help my parents. They have been paying rent on 3, yes 3, storage units for WAY too long. A few months ago we had habitat for humanity come and pick up the contents of one storage. 1 down, 2 to go. I am happy to say we got the second one cleared out yesterday! That saves them $200 a month! In addition, I listed an AC unit for them on Craigslist and it sold for $500!!!! It's been sitting for 2 years. My mom was excited to pay an extra car payment.

This brings me to a new term I happened upon today called "Snowflaking". Go to to read all about it. What do you have to sprinkle on your debt snowball?

I broke down and went to Aldi today. We needed a few things, juice, bagels, etc. I spent $20.41 out of our food envelope but got a LOT of stuff. Have you seen their prices on bacon? WOW! We love bacon and I think of it as a splurge item but it is more than half off supermarket prices, for center cut. I didn't buy any today b/c we still have some, but I definantly will next time.

With yesterday being so hectic, it would have been a perfect fast food day. Instead it was a crockpot day. Sometimes saving money is as easy as planning ahead. I threw this recipe in the crockpot before I left for my mom's. It was a new one but it turned out yummy. The name makes it sound different than the taste of the outcome but I haven't come up with a different name the describes it better. It almost has a queso flavor. We wrapped it up in flour tortillas and had mexican rice and tortilla chips and salsa with it. Lots for leftovers!

Santa Fe Chicken

1 15oz can of corn
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. salsa

Stir together and add 4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. Cover with an additional 1/2 c. salsa.

Cook on low for 4 hours, 3 hours if chicken is thawed.

Add 1 brick of light cream cheese. Stir and cook for 1 more hour.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Murphy's Law

Just when you think you're doing so well, there's Murphy holding the door for you. Today it was at the doctor's office. We have new insurance and our co-pays are $30 instead of the $10 it was with our old insurance- ouch! After prescriptions, I am $2 in the hole for the day! Even with the $4 WM generic plan. I had my forty dollars ready to deposit and it was gone before noon. However, we did make an extra car payment last night! Thank goodness for the emergency fund or I would be in trouble today.

I did resist the urge to go check out the "Mega Meat Sale" as I have plenty in the freezer. I realized as I was waiting for our medicine I was only going to go because we had been stuck in the house all weekend and I was BORED. How many times have we spent money from boredom? It was my goal to NOT go to the store until the 10th of next month and here it is only the 18th. I will be glad when it's nice enough to go to the park. The kids get to burn energy and I don't spend any money.

Speaking of fun things with kids, I will include the recipe for the day. My girls LOVE to bake and "help" in the kitchen. I am a CONTROL FREAK, OCD Mom, whatever you would like to call it. It's very hard for me to let them just have fun. Who cares if it gets messed up? I don't know why I am wired this way. Character flaw, I guess. Anyway, Saturday night we made homemade pizza. The baby, Peyton, got to pour everything in the big bowl. Maddy helped me knead the dough and then Peyton helped roll out the crust. I did the sauce and cheese and the girls put out pepperoni until the package was gone. It was so much fun for all of us. Daddy was very impressed with his 2 little chefs, and dinner ACTUALLY got eaten, with no complaining. After figuring the cost, it was about the same as a hot and ready $5 pizza but we created a memory and dinner at the same time. Much cheaper than Disney World!!

Pizza Crust Recipe (Courtesy of Beans and Rice blog)

1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105- 115 degrees F)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
Dump onto a floured surface.
Kneap into a smooth dough. (five minutes or so)
Roll out and press into a greased pizza pan or baking stone.

Add toppings.

Bake at 450 degrees F 12-15 minutes until the crust looks crispy and lightly browned.

If you have never made dough from scratch, as I had not, it takes the full five minutes to get the dough smooth. It will be gummy and sticky and yucky until then. Don't give up! It really is delicious!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day One

The point of this blog is to help others on the quest to living frugal, without feeling like your giving anything up. I have been inspired by others blogs and learned helpful hints and I hope to do the same for anyone who stumbles along my little page.

I am a mom to 2 girls, 3 and 10, and wife to a very understanding hubby. He laughs at my frugal finds, only because the level of joy I get out of saving money can be hysterical! We are fortunate to not live on a fixed income but we are in the process of getting out of debt (who isn't these days?) and every penny I save can go to the greater good of financial freedom.

I hope to include great deals, recipes, coupon links, blog links, ideas to keep kids entertained and not break the bank, and more.

I look forward to helping other mommies and learning things myself along the way!