Thursday, December 6, 2012

http://www.facebook.com/babygizmo Has a wonderful give away! I'm entering to win for my grandchild.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime

Sorry it's been a bit since I posted it's been a bit of a rough start to the summer. Kids with flu, bronchitis, vacation, Vitamin D deficiency oh the list goes on and on. Things are back to normal and I've made a quick meal I think is great for the summertime. Mexican Cornbread!!! Here goes.
Best to use well seasoned 10 - 12 in black iron skillet. Put it in the oven to heat up while pre heating the oven to 450. Brown ground beef, turkey or any ground meat you like. Add onions, garlic salt and pepper, put in taco seasoning and a drained can of pinto beans and a small can of chopped chilies. Now let it simmer and make cornbread. I use yellow meal mix, 1 egg, 1/2 stick of melted margarine, a nice plop of sour cream a drained can of corn and mix with buttermilk til it's a thick consistency.
Once the oven is ready and the skillet is hot pour a couple of Tbsp of oil and then pour about 3/4 of the batter. Spoon the meat/bean mixture almost to the edges. Don't be concerned about the bread rising it's ok but work quickly. Ok now sprinkle about 1 1/2 c of shredded cheddar cheese. Top with the remaining batter smearing with a spoon as needed to cover the cheese. Bake about 20 min until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes while you get you drinks together and set the table. I cut the bread into pie shape servings. I often serve fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden or a salad on the side. Might even use a dollop of sour cream and a spoon of salsa on top. Guacamole would go great with this meal. Leftovers are even better if you can manage to have some : )

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My favorite spring home cooked meal!

I love the spring and all the fresh produce that shows up and my local markets! My favorite meal to prepare this time of year is taco salad. This is what we do. I brown ground beef or ground turkey and season it with a taco flavor packet then I add either a can of rotel or simply diced tomatoes. I let that simmer while I cut fresh lettuce really small shreds, cut tomatoes, onions, and black olives. I pull sour cream and salsa from the fridge and we set out tortilla chips and or fritos. I often open a can of pinto beans and spin them in my Magic Bullet and warm in the microwave. It's much less fattening than refried beans. I have been known to just use the whole drained beans.
We layer our bowls or plates first with the chips, then meat, beans, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, then all the salad fixings with sour cream dollops and spooned salsa! It's soooo good our kids never complain about it and we often eat it twice or three times a month during warm weather!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scrapbook for Kids

I always get bogged down with scrap booking with my kids when we go somewhere special. I'm sentimental about the kids having mementos from vacations and fun days but it can be really difficult to keep up with all the little bits that we want to preserve.  I've come up with an idea that I'm now going to use. I've found lots of little picture holder books and mini scrap books on sale at various arts and crafts stores or in the clearance isle of walmart. I'm taking a little time to let my kid use a Sharpie to Title the book or use supplies I have like foam letters. Then take the empty book with on the outing or vacation. As stickers, movie stubs, museum fliers and other bits are collected they can go right in the book. Later when pictures are developed from the outing we can slip them in and wha la! The memento is complete. If extra embellishments are wanted then they can easily be added on a rainy day.
I think the brown bag scrap books are great for this too but require some prep and may end up being a lot of fuss! Unless of course you have used a rainy day and made some up. The pockets are great for little treasures and will open more than the regular picture sleeves. 
For those treasures that are to big and need attention later carry a bag in your tote, diaper bag or purse.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Savings Just Keep Adding Up!

My local Market has another great sale this week and I've found some ways to take advantage of the savings.
Green and red grapes are on sale for .99 lb!!! That's an almost unheard of price so we just had to think of a way to store them. I decided to take them off the stems, rinse them in a colander and roll them onto a kitchen towel to dry. Once dry we simply put them in a zip top heavy duty freezer bag and stored them in the door of our freezer.
The little frozen bites of heaven make a healthy, quick snack for my family. We do NOT thaw them the texture won't be firm so we eat them frozen and the delight in your mouth on a warm afternoon is better than any Popsicle or Ice cream bar!

Another unbelievable bargain, 3 lb bags of yellow onions for 79c each, I bought three bags! I am taking a little time to peel and chop them and just throwing the diced bits into those handy dandy freezer bags. I press the air out and lay flat in the freezer. Now all I have to do is reach in and take out the amount I need while preparing meals. It really helps to get supper going in a hurry and I only have one crying session! lol. I usually use 3 lbs of onions a month give or take so I could be saving my self from paying full price for three months. I'm thinking I'll run across another sale in that time and replenish my supply before I run out so I won't have to pay full price by "buying forward". That means buying more than I really need at a cut rate price and having enough to use until they go on sale again. Of course I'll leave a few out to use fresh while I can.
Look for seasonal bargains and find ways to store them. Sure it will take a little time to prepare store them but when you add it up I bet it saves time compared to preparing just a little if you do it every time you need it for a meal. 
Happy Savings!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break Zoo Day! 
Price break wasn't bad either!

Our schools are on Spring Break this week so we went to the zoo.
We were gifted a zoo membership for Christmas by our family so we took the money today and signed up for an annual membership. Believe it or not there was a coupon!!! Yes even events and amusements often have coupons. Our family is so great at holidays and birthdays about asking what the kids need or want. We often give suggestions that are non traditional. If  your kid's rooms are like our's they have enough toys and electronics to keep every nook and cranny filled with overflow. Since we are asked for suggestions we try to be ready with ideas that make the givers feel good about how they spend their money and the kids feeling great about the gift. This year when asked at Christmas we suggested that instead of individual gifts we'd like a family membership to the zoo! Grandparents loved the idea of treating the kids to such a wonderful gift that truly keeps on giving all year long and the kids LOVE going.  Here's how the cost broke down. Normal family membership for 2 adults and children under 21 in a household costs 99$. We had a coupon for 10$ off so that took it to 89$. There was a bonus if you paid an additional 20$ you could take a guest with you on each visit. This is really great for us because grand parents, cousins and friends often want to go with us. So for 109$ we get unlimited visits to the zoo, free parking, fast entry members only lines, discounts to special events during the year and a 15% off gift shop purchases. That is a bargain in my book. So now even when we have limited funds we know we can go to the zoo with no further costs!!! With this membership it takes the pressure off of trying to doing the entire zoo in one trip! We did preferred sections today knowing we didn't have to exhaust ourselves  trying to see and do everything. We can go frequently so the  next trip we'll do things we didn't do today. 
Luckily our zoo is very nice and has natural habitats instead of bars and cages so it gets very high marks every year in comparisons to other zoos. There are reptile houses, nocturnal exhibits, African animal sections and much more. Here are a few pictures of our visit. Look in your city for family friendly memberships at museums, amusement parks etc.. You may be surprised at how little you would have to pay over the price of just one admission to get a membership that would give you unlimited or frequent access and discounts that would give your family something to do all year long!
Our zoo also brings in special exhibits throughout the year. Right now there is a dinosaur exhibit and it does cost extra but members get a discount so it was totally worth it. Later in the year they have a butterfly exhibit, there are activities at Halloween and Christmas too!
I love putting captions of what I think the animals are saying!

                                         Whatchu lookin' at?!
                                         Hide ya'll that lady has a camera!
                                         Gimme a kiss!
                                         Yeah this is my park, I'm letting you check it out!
                                         Does my butt look big in this dirt?!
                                                       The humans are just boring me to death today!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Potatoes, Tomatoes and Fruit! Oh my!!
Last night on a milk run to our local grocery store we ran across a couple of unavoidable deals. I mean we just couldn't pass up a 15lb bag of red potatoes for $1.98, tomatoes at .79lb and unbelievable kiwi .99 for a 2 lb container that had about 10 kiwi and also a whole pineapple for .99!!! 
I already have potatoes in the pantry so I started brain storming and googling to find out how to freeze potatoes. I discovered that all you have to do is peel, cut into the desired shapes and blanch them for a few minutes. You run them under tap water and then I dried them on cooling racks and we are throwing them into freezer bags. Now I have french fries, stewing cubes for soup, casseroles etc... and I'm grading some whole smaller ones for hash browns. I'm seriously considering buying another bag but I've got to rearrange the freezer to see what that situation is. Here's a couple of styles drying after being blanched while cooling. Those racks are at least 15x10 the hash browns are in a gallon size bag. I karate chopped the hash browns into 6 sections and laid the bag flat in the freezer so even if they stick I'll be able to break sections off to set in a skillet or thaw for a casserole. What you don't see is a whole batch of cubed potatoes that I cooked and used to made potato salad to go along with supper tonight. Three adults and two children ate on it and there is plenty left over to have later this week. 

I took the fresh pineapple, some kiwi, oranges, a grapefruit, green and red grapes, 2 bananas, coconut and walnuts! The kids are eating it up and everything is fresh but the coconut. There was enough to fill a tupperware salad bowl and another 6x6 container about half way. I cut the whole pineapple but put half back for chicken/pineapple kabobs on the grill tomorrow.

I feel very accomplished to have taken advantage of great deals and put the groceries to such good use! We will eat on these bargains for weeks to come. Preparing the potatoes the way I did will allow me to rush a meal together. I read up on blanching the potatoes and found out that it decreases the cook time when you use them whether you deep fry, bake or casserole them. All the bargains mentioned were purchased at Super Lo Foods.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy!

Visited Whole Foods Market today and learned something I never knew. I spoke to the fish monger and asked what was the mildest salmon he had in the counter. He told me that the Sockeye was always going to be the strongest flavor and Alaskan would be the mildest. Good to know since I am trying to add more Vitamin D to my family's diet.
Last week I learned that  65 - 75% of Americans have some level of Vit D deficiency. According to many sources the best way to get the Vitamin D is to spend some face time in the sun. There is a fine line between how long before you put sunblock on because it will block the needed rays from doing their Vitamin D duty. Best guess I'm hearing is 15 - 20 min is enough unprotected then we need to apply sunblock. Next to sunlight is supplements then diet but there are limited foods rich in Vit D mostly milk, egg yolks, and fortified cereals, then soy tofu, and mushrooms. A good multivitamin is not a bad idea. So get outside and be active it's fun and healthy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

From Jeans to a Skirt!
We simply cut a pair of jeans off that fit in the waist. I cut under the zipper in the front and a couple of inches under the back pockets keeping a relatively even cut. Then we took scraps from other jean legs in different shades and cut rows then sewed the rows together. I made two coordinating panels and cut them both into an A line shape. I used the cut edge of the jeans top and started the A line panel that size on top with a little seam allowance and just cut the panel the length I wanted my skirt to be. Attach the A line shaped panels and seam it up! Wha la! You have a skirt.

Here's a different version using a pant top cut off the same way as above. My girl had a dress that was to tight at the top so we cut the dress off at the waist and attached the cut off dress bottom to the cut edge of the pants top. Wha la! Two more skirts using stuff that some people would throw out.

Nice how the brown pants color match the skirt we attached that was ivory with brown flowers. She paired it with a solid brown top and she looks like a million bucks! This is a great project to teach a kid to sew. Yes it rouge and there's no pattern. It's just plain practical and quick so the instant results encourage the child to learn more. You wouldn't believe the pride that she gained actually getting compliments on an outfit that she helped make!
Kid's Waste Control

I have a few simple ways to cut down on waste in our home. I especially try to help with the kids having a way to not spill or over use expensive products.

1 Kid is old enough to want to shampoo their own hair but not consistently able to portion out the proper amount or not able to keep those wet, slippery shampoo bottles out of the water.
Solution - Purchase a pump bottle! I was able to find a kid's brand shampoo with a pump. It was larger than I was used to but I bought it on sale with coupons so no sweat. I continue to refill it over and over so the savings just keep on coming! Even if the bottle falls in the bath it doesn't spill and the kids know how many pumps they are to use!

2 Kid is to big for sippy cup but spills still happen A LOT! 
Solution- Tupperware lidded drink cups with straw hole. There are also lots of sports drinks that if you rinse out the container your child could reuse them. I even use the Tupperware for myself when I take a drink into my room or work around the computer to avoid costly spills.

3 Two bathrooms only One Product
Solution - Use an empty that is still in good shape or purchase small reusable bottles.
I often buy products in large containers way to over-sized to be left out on the counter or just have one product but need to have some in both bathrooms. If I already have an empty of the same product I can easily transfer some from one bottle to the empty. If it's shampoo I can just add it to the kid's pump. If it's hair gel or lotion I can use a reusable small container. Also if you happen to get travel size products free with purchase don't just toss them out once used. Think about small containers being refilled especially when your kids are learning to use products on their own. 

4 Snacks left open or wasted
I almost never buy snack size chips or cereal! It's just to expensive. But my kids will either not get the chip clip on good causing the snack to go stale or don't close the sack up at all and leave it out or even worse eat the whole family size bag between two little kids :(
Solution - Make portion controlled snacks with zip top bags and have a snack canister/bowl/drawer that the kids can get to easily. I keep the big bag sealed and fresh while the kids can have portion control and freshness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Don't Fight the Curl!
Just a quickie to show you what your little man can look like if he has naturally curly hair and you let it grow out, apply a little Aussie style gel and allow to dry.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Let's talk about coupons!
Ok I am not an extreme couponer but I need to cut my shopping cost down extremely low soooo, I coupon! Now I'm new at this so forgive me if you are more versed than I but let me share the top 10 tips and tricks I've discovered so far.

The biggest and best tip,,,,,wait for it,,,,buy the Sunday Paper to get your manufacturers coupons.

Tip 2 There are really cool people on YouTube that have the sale ads a week before the sales and they also know which coupons are coming out in the paper. Once you see that info you can determine if you want to buy more than one paper.

Tip 3 Every store is going to have a little different sales so it's always good to keep your coupons with you.

Tip 4 Pick a system to keep your coupons organized. I use a rubbermaid shoe box style container. I separate categories with index cards and small envelopes. Some people use a 3 ring binder with baseball card sheets. Use whatever works for you.

Tip 5 Take advantage of online coupons that are printable and sign up for some cool websites that alert you to those coupons.

Tip 6 Learn how each store works it's sales programs. CVS and Walgreen's have really specific set ups with ECB (electronic cash back) and register rewards programs. My favorite store policy for both is that if they have a BOGO (buy one get one free) sale, you can use a coupon for the one you buy and the one you get free so you are doubling your savings. If you find a clearance priced sale you are really going to cut your costs. Which leads me to....

Tip 7 Look for clearance items that you can match up with coupons.

Tip 8 At CVS and Walgreen's buy the item that earns rewards so that you can use the rewards on a separate purchase. I sometimes make a couple of separate purchases in a row to take advantage of the store's reward program.

Tip 9 Buy enough of an on sale item to last you until the next cycle of sales on that type item. Ex.... If deodorant is on sale BOGO and you have 6 coupons buy 3 and get 3 free. You'll have 6 deodorants to last you until it goes on sale again and you can collect more coupons for it.

Tip 10 Brand loyalty is your enemy! It's true for savings. If you are strictly loyal to ABC detergent and you seldom get ABC coupons and the sales don't get put on for ABC that often or the sale is not that great of savings, guess what? You are denying yourself huge savings on other brands that you do get coupons for that do have great sales. It's all detergent, it all cleans clothes, I'm going to save some money and buy what's giving me the best deal!
Now that being said, if you just have to have ABC detergent and it's worth it to you, rewards are a good way to get what you want. Take advantage of the sales and coupons you do get and use rewards to roll over to the ABC detergent.


This is the easiest way to save money consistently in our budget. 13.08$ for over 300 loads is to cheap to resist. The smell of the Fels Naptha is wonderful.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The easiest hair cut you'll ever watch. Simple guides to keep your man or lil man looking sharp.
This is Chloe' getting her Mermaid Braid on!