Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Question of the Day: Staying in Budget and Stockpiling

I have a question I need to ask any and all of you out there:

With managing coupons and sales, how do you try to stay in budget while also stockpiling the good sale items, and getting what you need?

This last week, I wanted to take advantage of some great sales at grocery stores on items we use frequently, like: cereal (I think I bought ten boxes), bread, peanut butter, Eggos, salad dressing, etc. Mind you, these weren't items we need next week.

I also wanted to take advantage of some health and beauty items using coupons that expired 6/30/10, that we would be using in the future, as well as some extra sunblock we were getting low on (of course I didn't have a coupon).

Of course, I then added to the list the items I needed to complete meals for the week.

Well, it really adds up, to more than I would, of course, pay in a week for groceries.

How do all these extras fit in, that you don't use on a weekly or monthly basis, but are items you need (like the $33.00 bag of dog food every 4 months or so)?

I'm such a beginning at all of this, but I also think I'm doing a pretty good job so far. I can just see it can be easy to overspend while also trying to save money.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Summer Fun: Water Park

I have had some Big Summer Fun with my son lately, and if you would like to see more that others are having, click on Big Summer Fun!

Yesterday we went to a splash park in town, and boy did he get drenched!

Here he is pouting, after me telling him he needed to share the sprayer. I had to pry his hands off the sprayer!

So much fun on such a hot, hot day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

WILTW: Being an "Older" Mom

Okay, I didn't just learn all this this week, but having spent two days during the week at home with my son, having the days off, I re-learned some things:

1. I think they are lying when they say "40 is the new 30." I sure don't feel as energetic at 40 as I did 30. My hubby just said, "With kids, 40 is the new 50."

2. AMA. That's what they called me while pregnant. Advanced Maternal Age. You see, I was only 37 at the time. I hear at 40 they call it Geriatric. Is that why I'm exhausted at naptime too?

3. Carrying around your son on your back and acting like a horse can lead to back problems the next day. I'm not sure that happens to 20-year-old moms, or even 37-year-old moms.

4. "C'mon Mommy!" While your son can climb up on the slide and go down 10 million times over and over again, when he requests you do too (almost that many times), you end up as sweaty as your son.

5. Cold popsicles still taste good on a hot day after going up and down a slide 10 million times.

6. You might not guess I'm 40, but I sure feel it. I've never had less exercise in my adult life (true exercise) since he was born. Blogging doesn't count either, does it?

7. I might wiser at my age, to be a parent, but I wonder if my patience is actually less? 

8. This one I learned awhile back, you're an old parent if in reaching under the sofa to get a toy, you just hope and pray: A) you don't pop something in your shoulder trying to get it out, or B) your child doesn't jump on your back in your vulnerable state (which could case A also).

9. While it isn't more nobler, is it certainly much easier to be at work than it is to stay at home with your child and truly be engaged (even when you're not engaged too, I think).

10. My list could go on, but 10 is a good number. I am glad I waited so long to start a family, because I have two of the greatest people (my son and hubby) in my life and I wouldn't trade them for the world.
For more things others have learned this week, go see Julie at From Inmates to Playdates.

WFMW: Activities for Toddlers

Lately, I have found some great ideas for kid activities on Teach Mama. 

I saw these great Silly Bandz on her blog and had to order them for my son. He was thrilled when they came in! We had to get the dinosaur ones of course.
What he loved most of all was when I showed him they could go on your wrists. He put all the triceratops on his wrists and had me put on the brontosaurus ones. A little warning (#1), I think 2 1/2 might be a little young. He later wanted to put them around his ankles and up his thigh. Hm....maybe we should have stuck to matching exercises? Warning #2...they don't go well with new scissors. One should put them away before taking out scissors. We lost a brontosaurus to curious fingers. :(

All in all though, I love them. I tucked them away for a little while later when he's older. I could see they'd make great gifts!

Another great thing I found on her blog were lessons in literacy using bottle lids. I saved up some tea lids and have been out looking for good markers. I found some fabric paint, which I thought would work well, but after two days, I found it peels off, so I need to get some different colors of permanent markers I think. I started off with just a few letters, since that is all I had, with those to spell my son's name, CAR, TRAIN, DOG and CAT. He's so into the alphabet though, that he wanted to lay out all his ABC's.

I'm always on the lookout for great children's (specifically toddler) activities if you see any!
For other ideas too, on WFMW go here.

What are some of your favorite activities for toddlers when the weather is so warm?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Super Savings: Walgreens

Money Saving Mom has a great post on Saturdays, Super Savings Saturdays. I'm always anxious to learn something new there.

This week, actually yesterday, I went a little crazy, deciding to shop all the main local grocery stores to get the best deals and stock up, and also take a trip to Walgreens and Target.

My best deal was at Walgreens. I bought the Renu contact solution for $7.49 and got $7.50 in Register Rewards, as well as Herbal Essences shampoo for $2.99 and got $2.00 Register Rewards! I did make a little mistake in that I wanted conditioner too, so I got it, not realizing I wouldn't get a RR for it. Oh well, shampoo and conditioner for $3.98? Not bad...though maybe I should take that second one back and rebuy it? I guess I could have done a second trip. Now, the tricky part is making sure I can get good deals before 7/9/10 to use my Register Rewards.

I'm also on my way to trying just cash for groceries this month (July really-I'm doing my shopping this weekend for July, or so it counts in our budget since it starts next week.) I think it will be easier in the long run when I have to make a return as well because it always comes back as cash and ends up getting spent on something else.

What were great savings you had this week?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Like Sisters to Me

My friend Becca did a great post today, on someone who is so special to her, someone like a sister to her.

I actually have two of these gal pals, gals who I just adore.

One is Deanne, who I've known since...hmm...maybe 1998 or 1999? I was her mentor teacher when she began teaching, and we became fast friends. We almost even moved in together several years later when my relationship broke up and I was considering moving the to big city. (I still moved to a big city, just a little less large). She is so dear to me in every way. I think we can trust each other with deep, deep thoughts.
The first photo is from August 2008, with my son, and the one on the right, on my birthday 2009.
I just adore my friend Dee and wish we could see each other more often. Whenever I see her, my days seem brighter for awhile (not that they aren't typically bright, but they seem extra bright).

My other great gal pal, who I don't see enough of is Amy. I just spent the morning today at her house with the kids, playing in the pool. We used to work together, pre-kids, and I couldn't wait for every day to have lunch with her and catch up. She is someone you can talk to anything, I mean anything, in the world about, and she totally understands, and she's just as open in the opposite direction. It is hard now, with kids, to find the time to really talk, but when we do, it is wonderful!
Here she is last summer with one of her beautiful daughter, and the other, from a bbq at her house a few weekend ago.
I have many other wonderful, beautiful gal pals, and I appreciate them all so much too. Thank you for everything you've all been to be and continue to be!

Girlfriends are a big part of what makes life complete.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Recipe: Grape-Almond Chicken Salad

I found this original recipe  years ago for chicken salad, and LOVE it!
I've modified it a little (see below) and REALLY enjoy it in the summer time.

It is great in pitas, on bread, or just by itself. More than often I don't have almonds, so I'll leave them out.


1 12.5 oz. can of chicken
1/2 c. chopped celery
3/4 c. mayo
1/3 c. or more seedless grapes, cut in half
2 teas. sliced almonds
2 teas. lemon juice
1/4 teas. salt (I add a little more, per my husband's request)
1/8 teas. pepper

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Surviving Wednesday Together: 1st Entry

I just found a new carnival, or meme (okay, what is the difference?) with a great theme:
Surviving Wednesday Together.

Some days feel like just that, survival. I know, as a mom, is it nice to know others out there feel like I do. I thought of that just today when my son tried to scratch me because he didn't want me to turn off Bob the Builder for nap. After a warning, he went to timeout, where I sat with him for two minutes. As a mom, I hate timeout, only because I hate my son being upset. But more than that, I hate the behavior that causes the need for timeout. Couldn't we all just be on our best behavior? That includes me of course. I think sometimes I need a timeout myself. :) is naptime, the best timeout for me.

Works For Me Wednesday: Pantry Storage

In joining in this "saving more by shopping in bulk club", I've had to reevaluate my space, particularly in my large pantry that suddenly became a catchall for all storage other than food. As I started stocking up, I realized it was quite tacky of me to continue putting food boxes on top of our kitchen cabinets, and how important it was to just reorganize.
Here's what became of that endeavor, and I'm really happy with it. It is easy to see everything, reach for cooking or snacks, and inventory for an upcoming shopping trip.

One thing I learned this week though (or actually realized last week), that in stocking up, and learning this way from scratch, it is easy to spend more of one's budget during good sales, so I have to keep a close eye on my grocery budget. This week we had only about $40 to use, so we're eating lots of leftovers from the fridge and being creative.

I also learned from someone's blog to really monitor your receipts-BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE STORE. I came home from Target with a Clean and Clear item marked down to $2.00, and I used a $2.00 coupon on it, excited it was free, minus tax. I came to find out, at home of course, I was charged the full $6.49. So I'm going back. Funny I didn't remember to check in the store. I certainly learned something there.

For more, see Works For Me Wednesday.

What are ways you are saving money lately?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My 3 Month Goal: Cash Only

I am not one for making goals. Not that I can't, but I'm usually pretty good at adapting along the way or just jumping on the bandwagon and doing it. As a parent now, however, it is harder to even find time to think about making changes, much less changing.

So, here it is, and I know many people do it already. I think it is my turn.

For the next 3 months (July-September), I am going to use cash only for:
*my son's clothing and toys

GROCERIES: My friend Chelsea is doing cash only, and I haven't heard much of her experience yet, but I was truly inspired after reading this post by Money Saving Mom. Specifically, this post on using cash only for groceries. She suggests giving it a go for 3 months to try it out. I think that is only fair. I already have a reasonable budget, but I've always used my debit card. I do track my spending, but it never fails that by the end of the month, I am going over budget and I start the next in the negative. I truly believe that I can stay in budget, especially with all the coupon cutting and comparison shopping I've been doing, as well as stocking up, and I think by using cash, I will think about my purchases even more. Sometimes too, we'll end up buying something on the grocery budget (like socks last week), and when my husband gives me cash for it, I forget to use it (like this morning, I had an $8 small grocery pick-up, used my debit card, and wanted to kick myself because I had $9 in cash in my pocket!)

MY SON'S CLOTHING, TOYS, AND GIFTS: This has been a problem area for me. I have a set budget for each of these categories each month, but because these items seem to come when you need them, not monthly, I put the money on my credit card to be there for these purchases, but never really keep track of how much I'm spending, causing my credit card balance to go up. I would like these budgets to work like groceries, in that I either have the money or I don't. I think it will also help me to be creative and maybe preshop for a gift when I see it on sale and have the money for it, or if I don't have money for clothing, go to the resale shop where I have credit and look there for clothing. I just did that a few weeks ago when my son needed some new shorts. I found 4 pair and didn't have to give out any cash. Even funnier, a friend sent an extra pair she bought to him in the mail and he got them a day later. 5 new pair for nothing!

I would love to hear any experience you have using cash only and how it helped you. Also, what do you do to help yourself from overspending?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What I Learned this Week: A LOT!

What did I learn this week?

1. Having a two-year-old is tough. Terrible twos? Understatement. I am anxious for age three. My pediatrician says toddlers aren't human until they reach three. How far away is November 6th?

2. Giving blood isn't so bad. I used to do it all the time. That is, until some of my skin got into the needle and stopped the blood flow 7, yes 7, years ago. It has been that long since I donated, and I'm type O NEG, the universal one. So I went and did it last week, and I'm on the road to recovery, to donating again. I even have my next appt. August 14th. Nevermind the wrap (oops...I typed "crap" first) you have to wear on your arm for 4-5 hours after. Creepy!

3. I am so much less tolerant about creepy things (like blood) since I had my son. Just looking around the Red Cross donation center, I felt woozy. Oh, I shouldn't share that as I want you to donate too!

4. My son thinks he, Daddy, and Mommy have a tail. You can guess what that is. Is it time for privacy now, do you ask? Well, today as I finished my business, he strolls in and says, "Mommy have tail?" "No, mommies don't have tails," I say, only boys do, and Mommy is a girl. I don't know where he learned the "tail" word, but it is pretty funny!

5. I can't wait until November 6th.

Oh, did I say that already? Okay, I know it isn't a magical date, but c'mon...cut me a break. My little sweetheart has turned into someone else's child. Can I have him back please? I suppose I'll be asking the same at age 14, won't I?

What did YOU learn this week? For more, see Julie at From Inmates to Playdates!

10 Things That Make Me Unique

My friend Becca did a post on this theme the other day and I invite you to do the same (let me know you do so I can go read yours too)!

We all have some pretty unique and different things about ourselves that are, well, interesting for others to learn about us.

(For the highlights, read what is underlined.)

1. This one I don't find so interesting, but others seem to. I do not like apple pie. Yes, I am an American, but baked apples? No thank you.

2. Some people know this, others don't. I have a glitter phobia. Yes...I fear glitter. Was I asked to watch a colleague's class this year on the very day she  sprinkles glitter on her students' heads, each class period? Yes. Did I do it? No, some kind student actually ASKED to do it, so I could stand back and watch. Did it stick to the bottoms of my shoes and freak me out? Yes, so I rubbed them a lot on the concrete to try to get it off. What's my problem you ask? Well, once glitter touches you, it never leaves. It only find a new location to lodge itself on your body, only to appear as a sparkle somewhere someone who doesn't care for sparkles finds it. I'm glad I have a son. That's all I have to say.

3. I was an American Tribal Style belly dancer for about 5 years as part of a troupe. No, I will not perform for you. It was some time ago and looks out of place in shorts and a t-shirt. No, I will not dress up for you in my garb either, as you may not truly understand how much I loved it. I really did. See here if you're interested more. I did some workshops with this group. I first saw them perform in San Francisco, and when I joined my classes, had no idea my teacher was trained by the leader of this group. I had to move to a new city, where this type of dance troupe doesn't exist. I also LOVE the music...ah...I think this is truly a core part of me.

4. I can be a girly girl, yet love the rugged outdoors. I used to rock climb and lead tours in the Southwest, and up until I was pregnant, loved mountain biking. Sometimes I feel like two separate people that way.

5. Since I can remember, I never dreamed of my wedding as many women do. I hoped I'd my husband would tall and blond. What do you know? I have a tall (6'6"), blond husband. I didn't even pursue that. It just happened. Another unique thing? We met online and married 2 years minus one day from our first date.

6. I have an extra bone in 6 different places in my body (or so it seems). These bones protrude out (one each) under each inner ankle bone-a pain when it comes to shoes, under each knee bone about an inch down, and on the back of each shoulder. Perhaps they are out of place or perhaps that's what leads me to be double-jointed in my shoulders, something I didn't know until I was laying watching TV as a kid and a friend asked how I was laying that way, propped up on my hands, elbows on the ground, behind my head.

7. I have extra mammary glands. Yep. You might think they were moles from far away, but my dermatologist and a radiologist both confirmed it and said it is more common than you'd think, that when they see them on people they usually don't say anything because it freaks them out. Reason I know, I had a friend in college who had 6 extra ones down his chest. My are close to my armpits.

8. I don't like anything stuck in my belly button. It freaks me out and feels like someone is touching my soul and in a creepy way.

9. I don't like light reflected into a mirror and back in my eyes. You see, our bed is directly across from our bathroom. Our nightstand lights can shine into the mirror and back out again. That irritates me. I have to pull the door closed. I think I have some light sensitivity and am kind of OCD about that.

10. 10 is hard to get to....Um...okay...sometimes during a movie (quite often that is), I am so engrossed looking at the costumes that I miss what people are saying. My first passion and degree was in fashion design and I am really drawn to what designers choose to put people in in films. We just watched a WWII movie last night and I was really attracted to all the uniform detail and how many had to be made. I'm a seamstress at heart and really get into the detail.

What are 10 things that make you unique?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

I made a new recipe recently for company, one I found in Real Simple magazine, the May 2010 issue. I always find their recipes really good.

While at the grocery store, the clerk actually made two suggestions to me:
1) put olive oil in the pot of boiling water so the shells don't stick to each other
2) put the ricotta mix in a ziploc, clip the corner, and squirt it out of the tip instead of spooning.
Great ideas that worked well!

Here's an example of how #2 worked:
(from Real Simple magazine, May 2010)

20 jumbo pasta shells (about 1/2 12 oz. box)-I usually make a few extra in case they break
1 24-oz. jar marinara sauce
2 15-oz. containers ricotta (I used a 32.oz one)
2 c. baby spinach, chopped
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
salt and black pepper
served with salad (optional)

*Set oven rack to the highest position and heat over to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta according to directions; drain and run under cool water until cool.
*Spread the marinara sauce in the bottom of a large broilerproof  baking dish.
*In a bow, combine ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 teas. salt, and 1/4 teas. pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place them on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.
*Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes.

What is one of your favorite things to make for company, and specifically, vegetarian company?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Special Moment

You wouldn't call me the religious sort. But I am one to appreciate those special moments.

Tuesday morning as I stepped back into my bedroom to get ready, I stepped into some amazing sunlight.
It was beautiful. I could see all the dust motes in the air, around, and it was just magical.

I was hoping I could catch it on film, which I sort of did, but in person, it was even more amazing.

What have you seen recently that took your breathe away or made you stop and look more closely?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Works for Me Wednesday: Keeping Receipts

A few years ago, I came upon this method of organizing all of our monthly receipts and pertinent paperwork. I must have read about it in a magazine, most likely Real Simple (great magazine!).
I bought an accordian file with at least 12 tabs, which I labeled each month of the year.

Then we put all of our grocery receipts, bills, car repair paperwork, etc, behind each tab as the month goes on. It is really easy to find a specific receipt if a need to make a return. I also don't put the receipts in there until I have recorded them in my budget for the month.

This particular accordian file had an extra space in front which I like to keep important paperwork that isn't related to a specific month, like prescription information, special notices, etc.

Now I'd hate to have to open it every time I use it, as it would no longer be convenient, so I slide it into an area it can stay open on my "desk" (kitchen counterspace reserved as my desk).

At the end of the year then, and of course the file is FULL, I close it up, write the year in permanent marker along the spine, and put it in a box, along with the others from prior years.

This is what works for me. For other ideas, see We Are That Family.

What works for you for your regular paperwork or budgeting?

Monday, June 14, 2010

What I Learned This Week: Clean Desk, Clean Mind

Okay, I'm embarrassed to share this photo of my "desk" space. I used to use a desk, back in one of our spare rooms, unless I had my son and everything needed to be at a quick reach. It slowly became this on one of our kitchen counters:
 At this point, I started to feel cluttered and stressed internally, having to work in this space every day.

I've learned that sometimes just cleaning up a space can clean up my mind. nice.

What have you learned about yourself and your space?

For other ideas, see Julie at Inmates.

What Makes Me Feel Better

What can make a woman more happy, after a tough weekend with a toddler than one of these?
A cream-filled donut. I write this even before I take a bite. They have no calories right? The person who brought them into work said they are fat free. I believe her.

What do you crave after a hard weekend or day that makes you feel better?

The Rule of Three

My buddy Vicarious Chelsea tagged me to do The Rule of Three.

So, here's a little info, in threes, about me. How about you?

Three names I go by:

Three jobs I have had:
Fashion Design Assistant

Three places I have lived:

Lincoln, Nebraska
Long Beach, California
Sedona, Arizona

Three favorite drinks:
Red wine
Diet Pepsi or Coke
Coffee with cream

Three TV shows I watch:
The Amazing Race

Three places I have been:

Three places I would like to visit:

Three favorite dishes:
Shredded beef tacos
Fettucine Alfredo

Three things I am looking forward to:
Two upcoming trips
Having another day off
My parents returning for the winter

Three people I’m tagging:
Julie from From Inmates to Playdates
Gianna from A Traveling Thought
Julie from Butterfly Mama

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Do You Think? (My CVS trip)

I went to CVS today, had to. My Buy $20, get $4 off coupon expires tomorrow. So I looked over the ad today, and planned my list, including my $12 in ECBs, to try to get the most of what I need right now.
I know the ultimate goal is to save ECBs to buy other things that have ECBs, ultimately paying almost nothing, but I felt trapped by needed to use the $4/$20 by tomorrow and didn't see much I needed in the ad.

I'd like to hear from you, do you think I really ended up saving money or using my bucks in the best manner? (Again, keep in mind I had to go off this week's sale items to use my $4/$20 by tomorrow.)

ITEM 1: Honey Nut Cheerios sale: $2.99, but buy 3, get $3 ECB for future purchase.
I had a $1/2 coupon and $.55/1 coupon, so I save an additional $1.55 on them. I bought 3. (This is a purchase I question because they were only 12.25 oz. boxes that regularly sell for $4.29 there.)

ITEM 2:  Aveeno lotion, something my son and I both use. Sale: $5.99 (I thought usually $6.54 at Target so a good deal, with the $1/2 coupon I had). The ones I use however, were $6.99. I could have gotten them for the $6.54 at Target, but I felt I should buy them to reach my $20 I needed for the above coupon and was able to apply my ECBs too. I bought the 2 I needed.

ITEM 3: 3 Hallmark cards. I had a $1/3 coupon, and had to send out one this week, so it was a must.

All in all, my bill was $12.14 and I saved $26.02. Was this a good deal, do you think?

For more money saving tips, see Money Saving Mom.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shopping Savings

I think I am getting better at this shopping with ads and coupons thing!

Thursday I went back to Walgreens to get those Energizer batteries that I price checked at Target earlier in the week. The AAA batteries (as well as others) were on sale with a Walgreens coupon for $2.99 each. I then had 2 $1/off coupons, so I bought 2 of them, and added a Walgreens $1 off coupon, ending up paying $3.52 for EIGHT AAA Energizer batteries!

Then this week I decided, since I have a little extra time, to split my grocery shopping between Safeway and Fry's, because they both have good deals on things we use, and I have coupons I can add.

Today after work I went to Safeway. Here's what I got:
There are 2 vitamin bottles behind the bananas too. Using combined store coupons, newspaper coupons, and multiple ones I printed online, by purchasing only those items that were on sale in combination with all the coupons, I spent $44.15, saving $50.71. You can't really tell that I have 2 Ritz, 2 Sargento cheese, 4 Nut Clusters, 2 Gallo salami, and 3 Softsoaps (oh, they were only on sale. I didn't have coupons.)

For more savings, see Super Savings Saturday.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Day to Scrapbook

I might not be the world's best scrapbooker or have all the latest accessories (so expensive), but I LOVE IT when I have time to scrapbook. This only comes a couple of days a year, when I have a day off, and I plan nothing else.

Today is one of those days, and my friend Kristin is coming over with her things. (She's the one on the left of me in the photo.)

We're also meeting a bunch of girlfriends for lunch. Ah...what a day!

Here's a page I did last week, in about an hour, and then found I had too many errands to run to do too much more, so tomorrow will be a lot of fun. I have to do Mother's Day, Easter (home and daycare photos) and I think some others.

One way I try to keep up is to limit special events for scrapbooking, and shortly after the event, I'll get the prints made so that when I have the opportunity to scrapbook, I already have the photos. I typically don't print photos unless I know they are going to go to use immediately.

I also don't go out and buy special paper for it, I just stock up when they are on sale (or buy a book of a bunch of papers, which I recently did - see photo above-), and I've got all I need.

What do you do that helps you stay organized with photos and scrapbooking if you do it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Question of the Day: Coupons in Newspapers

Do any of you buy more than one newspaper on Sundays in order to get more coupons? If so, can you tell me are there different coupons in different area papers (say one from your local city and one from your capital city) or are they the same (Smart Source, Red Plum, etc.)?

Please comment. I'd like to know if I should order a second one, or just buy an extra when I see a lot of coupons I can use from the one I already receive on Sundays. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicken Croissant Squares

This recipe is something I grew up with and a favorite. It is great straight out of the oven, or eaten cold as a leftover. I don't have a photo, but trust me. They are great. If you like lima beans (my husband does not), that's what I grew up having served with them.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 20-25 minutes.

3 oz. softened cream cheese
2 tab. melted butter
2 c. cubed cooked chicken (or 10 oz. can)
2 tab. milk
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/8-1/4 tsp. pepper
optional: onions, chives, or pimentos
roll of crescent rolls

Blend softened cream cheese with butter until smooth. Add chicken, salt, pepper, milk and optional ingredients if desired. Mix well.

Separate crescent rools into 4 rectangles. Seal perforations and gently stretch to form 4 squares. Spoon 1/4 of mixture in each square. Bring cornets to center and seal.

Optional: brush tops with melted butter sprinkled with garlic powder. I recommend it.

For more great recipes, go to Life as Mom.

Success at Safeway

I had perhaps my BEST shopping trip (quick trip) at Safeway yesterday. I kept seeing all these blog postings about their buy 8 save $4, which I'd purchased some of last week, and decided to go again, just to buy 8 more things that we will use. I also had a lot of coupons for these items on top of it.

I was able to get $21.92 worth of groceries for $5.04!

This included:

Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie mix (dessert for a bbq this weekend)
2 Nature Valley Nut Cluster bags (a favorite of ours)
Betty Crocker cake mix (4th of July cake later)
Betty Crocker frosting
2 higher priced (Scooby Doo and Sponge Bob) Kraft Mac n Cheese

It was $10.88 in Club Card savings, $5.00 in Coupon savings, and $1.00 in cellfire coupons. If you haven't tried Cellfire, you should click on the link.

What have you saved lately and where?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday: Sandy Kids' Shoes

Ever bring your child home from daycare or the playground, take his or her shoes off (usually on the sofa, right), and LOADS of sand end up on your sofa or floor? On a just-cleaned floor, this can be sooo frustrating.

Here's what I've done to remedy the situation. We stop just inside the door and I take my son's shoes off there, while he's standing up. I even take off his socks and kind of roll them into themselves and set them back in the shoe that is filled with...see below...sand.

At least the sand can be cleaned up from one central location if I spill some, which doesn't happen very often. Then I walk them over to a garbage can in his room and dump out the sand and empty out the socks too(the sand just sticks to the sweaty socks).

Then I throw his shoes in a fabric crate in case any more sand come out. That that doesn't come out in the initial shake seems to settle overnight and be there in the AM.
My hubby jokes that we need to save up all the sand and return it to the daycare. I remarked I didn't think that was a good idea, mixed with all that shoe sweat. Ick..

For more ideas of Works For Me Wednesday, go to We're That Family.

Super Savings: Walgreens and Target

I took my second purposeful Walgreens trip Monday, focusing on those items on sale and that I had coupons for. Here's what I got:
All this for $19.05. Saving $17.19

Cascade: sale $3.99 and I had a .25 coupon. Plus I earned $1.00 in a future purchase = $2.74
Pampers wipes: sale $2.50 and I had a $2 coupon = $.50
Kleenex: sale coupon $.99 for up to 3 = $2.97
Tampax Pearl: sale $4.99 and B1 G1 1/2 off, plus 1 $2 and 2 $1 coupon = $4.48 for both
Maxwell House: sale $5.99 and $1.00 coupon = $4.99
Dawn soap: normal $1.99, plus $.25 coupon with store coupon ($.99 each) = $.74
Plus I earned a $1.00 off on my next purchase.

There were a few things on sale I questioned. Aveeno lotion was on sale 20% off, and I use it. The price seemed high, $7.99 on sale. I also questioned the Energizer batteries for $2.99, so I went to Target after. At Target, the same lotion is $6.84 regularly, so it was good I didn't buy at Walgreens. The batteries, I found, were a good price at 4 for $2.99, plus I have 2 $1.00 coupons, so I'll probably go back and get 2 packs. At least I could use the $1.00 off coupon, because it expires next Monday anyway-a quick turnaround.

When I went to Target I didn't plan on purchasing anything, just look at prices. Oops-while I there I founds some items on sale I typically buy that I picked up:
Comet: $.87 sale
Skippy: $1.79 sale (2) down from $2.09 normally (too bad I didn't have coupons too)
Wet Ones: $1.99 sale (2) on sale (don't know normal price)
and two birthday cards-of course not on sale.
All this was $14.96, and guess what I used? Three $5.00 gift cards I'd gotten from sale purchases over the last week. So I still actually have $.04 left on a card. It cost me $-.04!

For more saving ideas see Wednesday Weekly Shopping.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What I Learned this Week: I don't know HOW to save

Yes. What I learned this week is that I don't know how to live like a poor person on a limited budget. When I first married my husband, we were tight financially and paying off debt. Then, we bought a house, got new furniture, and really were doing well for ourselves. I got my masters, was getting paid more and so was he, and then, we had a child, and this economy hit.

I had a reduction of 15 work days this year, had no raise, enrolled in a more expensive daycare (but worth it), and my hubby's work schedule was cut back to 4/5 days a week of work, for what was supposed to be a temporary situation, but has continued into 2010 as the norm.

Both of us just don't know how to live in reverse, not spending money. We've basically been able to get ourselves what we've needed and wanted for awhile. Before that, we were young and put things on credit (a major no-no, but we didn't know better and had to pay it off). We are having to think differently. How do you do that? Any suggestions?

I'm sure many others are feeling it too, and have been, but it just hit us hard this summer.

Some things to look forward to that will help:

*My son being potty trained (no more diapers!)
*My car paid off in Sept. of 2011
*Daycare cost going down by around $144/month in November
*I have become a good coupon shopper, adding CVS and Walgreens into the mix, slowly but surely. I've even rearranged my pantry to make more space for stocking up when there are good sales.

We're just having to cut our budget bare bones right now. My hubby suggested, "No gift budget." What? What about kids' birthdays? What about Christmas and family we have to buy for?

A question I ask myself. Can I live on a zero clothing budget until November? Silly little things like that that I'm just going to have to do. My hubby even mentioned I should turn off the water in the shower when I'm soaping up. No...not my warm shower! We're even contemplating not renewing our membership to Costco. We're skipping this month's shopping there to actually try to save money. Do you find you spend a lot there?

How do some of the rest of you change your way of thinking in situations like this? Some days I'm good. Really good, and think of how to save....then my old habits creep in and I go buy my son a few new toys because I think he needs the enrichment and creativity they have to offer. Hey, at least it wasn't for me, right? :) No...I need to change that way of thinking too.

What did you learn this week? For more, go to Julie's post.

Question of the Day: Swagbucks

Is anyone out there a member of Swagbucks? If so, what can you tell me about it/them, and if it is worth it to try to save money?

Entertaining a Toddler vs. Getting Things Done

Experienced moms out there:

How do you manage getting your regular chores done and spending quality time with your children?

This is probably one of my greatest challenges. I'm a mom who likes to be engaged with her child, and if I'm not, then I went my child to be doing something educational like: watching an educational show for kids (keeping it to a minimum), doing crafts, building with toys, interacting with me doing reading, or educational things on the computer, etc. My husband reminds me that my child can play on his own, which he is getting better at (he's 2 1/2), but I don't feel like I'm really successful at finding that balance. I just feel like I look like this (but as a brunette) at the end of a weekend day (sometimes even by 9 AM!)

There are bills to pay, things to clean, meals to cook (that's usually when he gets to watch a show, so I know he's safe and occupied), and so on. I'd also love to find downtime for myself during the day that doesn't involve watching a child's show or have to happen during naptime. Is that realistic to ask for? I find I hold off on a lot of things on my to-do list until naptime on a weekend, and then that time is so limited.

I'd love to hear your suggestions. :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

10 Things That Make Me Happy

My friend Becca did a post on this today, and I challenge you to also. What can be a better way to make you smile while making this list?

10 Things That Make Me Happy

1. Spending time with my hubby and Little Guy (my son)
2. Visiting with my gal pal who lives a couple of hours away
3. Getting emails from great friends or family, catching up
4. Having some time to blog or look at blogs
5. Having a cup of coffee and read the newspaper
6. Seeing the joy on my son's face when he goes pee-pee in the potty (true!)
7. Spending time with friends
8. Going to a good movie and eating movie popcorn
9. Eating a fantastic meal with a great glass of wine
10. Having some extra cash (who has that?) to spend on myself

What 10 things make you happy? (At least when you read this, and in this moment.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hardworking Mommy Blog Award

I have received an award from my blogging friend Gianna. Thanks!

My role is now to pass this on to 7 hard working mommy bloggers and grant them the award.

I think these are some of the top hard working mommies I know (and there are plenty others of you out there!)

Chelsea @ vicariouschelsea
Becca @ Our Crazy Boys
Julie @From Inmates to Playdates
Eileen @ The Short Life
Lainie @ her blog
Jerris @ The Brown Beauties
Kendra @ Family Fun

Here are the rules of acceptance:

If you are awarded the "Hard-working Mommy Blogger Award" you need to pass on the love to 7 other Hard Working Mommy Bloggers.
Accept the award (by leaving a comment on the original award post)
Post about the award on your blog (include the image of the award) together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and her blog link.
List 7 other Mommy Bloggers that you want to pass the award along to (no backsies). Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Buddy

I got to go visit my longtime friend who lives about 2 1/2 hours away yesterday, there and back, and a six or so hour visit, all in 12 hours. It was THE BEST!
Here she is with some great food!

We had great food, great conversation, a pedicure for me (french w/ a cute little red flower-in honor of my new blog):
manicure for her, and some shopping, all for my son. I had the time to really look through some neat toys and pick a few out for him that he'd get excited about this summer and be able to travel with on some trip.

I also never get uninterrupted time on the phone so I was able to call a great friend I met when we were pregnant together, on an online site, who I've grown closer to over the years, and with kids, and careers, while we do find time to write quality emails, never are able to talk on the phone. Straight highway driving it GREAT! Thanks for making the time to chit-chat my friend. It was so nice having some personal time.
To great day off with my hubby today before heading back to work on Monday. Have a great weekend yourself!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tackling Walgreens

This week I tackled Walgreens at their sale items, after also hitting up CVS this week. I was able to attempt this with a couple of days off this week. I'm not sure this would be something I could normally do on a weekly basis, but I thought it was the perfect week to try.

Here's what I bought:
-4 Nature Valley granola bars packs at $1.99 each. I had a .40 coupon, a .50 coupon, and a .75/2 coupon, so they came to $6.31 or $1.58/box.
-2 Kotex items at $3.49 each.
*I then received $2.50 in register rewards and a coupon for a free Playtex item up to $5.00

I went back to buy Puffs tissue, something I'd forgotten my coupon for. They are regularly $1.49 each. The coupon was for .99 each, for a limit of two.
I used that coupon to get them at .99 each, applied my $2.50 in register rewards to that, so I only spent .50 on the tissue, AND I got a free Playtex item.
I spent $1.10 ONLY for all of that on my second trip!

I feel thankful that all of this worked so well. I still question (questioning is healthy, right?) that while I'm buying items I will use, I don't necessarily need them now. How does that affect my monthly budget? I do know that I don't need to buy much meat this month, so maybe if I make sure I limit my expenses in this area, maybe I'll be fine.

What is hard is, I want to take advantage of sales, but without:
-going over my budget
-going crazy looking over so many ads and coupons and websites
-losing quality time for my family or myself

My husband reminded me: "There will always be sales."
I also heard from someone the other day: "You can save yourself broke."

I know the balance is up to me, and finding what works for me. I don't want to go so overboard it isn't fun any more, or like I said, takes too much time.

Your suggestions?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Question of the Day:

Question for any readers out there. Do any of you use, and if so, what are your thoughts? It sounds appealing, but I'm concerned about security, what with having to input all your account numbers and such.

I currently do all my tracking in Excel and would like something easier, without paying money for a program.

Any thoughts?

Making Your Life Easier

I just found this GREAT blog (a series actually) on Streamlining Your Life at Life as Mom, a super blog I found. Of course, as streamlined as my life actually is every morning, I skimmed a lot of it, but saved it as a bookmark to dig through later.

Today is one of my days off this "summer" (it is a pretty short break in our school district) without any family member to be seen, and what am I doing? Looking at great blogs! Who can resist, right?

One of my main goals today however, is to do some long-deserved and awaited scrapbooking, as well as a big Target trip and a trip to the consignment store to do some trading and try to find some shorts for my son that he'll just outgrow really quickly. All that, in really, 8 hours. Crazy, but I'm appreciative of the time and quiet, and downtime for me. I find it easier to just wait for a day off to scrapbook so I can spread out my things. It is also easier to do shopping alone, so I can think and make good decisions.

What are some things you do to make your life easier?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

WILTW: First CVS Experience

I want to thank Gianna, a new blogging friend, who suggested I go to
to find good deals. At this site, you can click on CVS, Target, and a variety of others stores and find their best sales matched with coupons.

There is even a link to a "How to Get Started Using the Extra Care Program", which was really helpful. I didn't know there was another coupon printer at the store, and I learned the main focus is to go after the Extra Bucks and try to use coupons on those too.

So, I just returned from my first ever, planned CVS "true shopping" trip (meaning it wasn't just a stop for a prescription or something I needed last minute like flour).

Here's what I got:

$15 worth of Hallmark cards = $3.00 Extra Bucks
*There was a link on the above website for a $1.00 off coupon for Hallmark too, which I left at home. :(
3 Suave body washes 4/$3.00 sale = $2.00 Extra Bucks
Ban deodorant $2.99 sale = $2.00 Extra Bucks
Neutrogena sunblock $7.99 sale/buy $15.00 worth = $5.00 Extra Bucks

side item:
2 Sally Hansen nail polish (the cheaper, $2.99 one) Buy 1, get one 50% off

So, I spent $58.26, but I have $12.00 to use on my next purchases. Did I do all that right, CVS shoppers?

I did realize, in leaving, that I forgot a greeting card for my sis-in-law, but I'd reached the $15.00 already, so I may as well wait for another sale to earn extra bucks and stock up on future cards then, including hers (her b-day isn't until July).

Here's a question I have though, if anyone can help.

How do you balance buying what you need for the month and using sales, where you stock up for the future, all within one month's budget?

Does it eventually balance out? For instance, I now have enough body wash probably through 2010, but it all came out of this month's budget. We've sometimes "carried payments" into future months' grocery budgets if we weren't using them until that time.

For more of What I Learned This Week, go see Julie.