Monday, August 18, 2008

A rare family shot!

A very kind elderly man, whom we didn't even know, had noticed I wasn't in a lot of he graciously offered to take a picture of ALL of us. As quickly as this man came and took the pictures he left. What an angel he was! I didn't even get to properly thank him. God sends us unexpected blessings! It was awesome that in todays world that someone takes the time to help a complete stranger get a rare family photo. What an angel in disguise!

Family Fun!

This Saturday we went to the Biltmore House. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the house, but I can share some we took on the outside!

Wild week last week!

Gosh! Last week was crazy! Trent getting ready to go back to school and Autumn having a friend over threw my schedule out of whack. But, this week should be calmer. I am going to organize my coupons, make a menu plan and a shopping list today.

On a entirely different subject, I cleaned out my jewelry box last week. I found lots of earrings that did not have a match, some broken rings that I forgot I even had and some broken necklaces. I called my local jeweler and asked if he knew who I could possibly sell these things to for the gold and he quickly responded that he would take them. I stopped by and he weighed and tested each piece and gave me $58! Easy money for things that I could not wear anymore! So, check those jewelry boxes!!

Autumn and her playmate playing with play doh!

Isn't my little rugrat cute?!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Eyes open!

What a beautiful day outside today! Autumn and I got out fairly early to enjoy the day....well, if you call pulling weeds, enjoying the day! Our poor grass is brown and crunchy from the drought, but the weeds are growing and green! Go figure!

I found myself thinking about how Good God has been to us. I think I tend to overlook the blessings in my life! Pastor Mark mentioned in his sermon yesterday, that life gets so busy or we just get so wrapped up in ourselves that we miss what God does in our lives. The miracles that He gives us day in and day out. I watched Autumn play and began to thank God for her! I began to thank Him for my son and husband! Friends and family! My home! The food and other provisions that He has given! None of these are small things! Other people in this country and other countries are going through hardships and facing difficulties. Now I'm not saying that I am not facing any difficult situations! I am! But, instead of dwelling on those hardships; I am going to start looking at my blessings! My hopes is through any difficulties or hardship in my life that I will be able to learn and grow from them. But, not to focus on them, instead to focus on the many blessings and miracles God has graciously given me!

And so I start this week with a new outlook! A new appreciation for things lost or overlooked! I will open my eyes to see all the wonderful things that God has supplied, all the precious people that He has placed in my life. The sunrise (okay, who am I kidding....) the sunset, the flowers, butterflies and birds....just look around! So much to see! To admire! To be thankful for!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quick and Healthy Muffins!

Okay, yes! I am stuck on the food theme right now. Yes, it is true that this recipe is chocolate! You have to understand! Chocolate and I have been through a lot! Chocolate is always there to comfort me, to make the good times better and to make the difficult times easier to bear! I have a special relationship to chocolate....nothing can divide us! But, I must admit....chocolate does have a wicked side...a waist expanding, no longer can I zip my pants side. So, when I found this recipe on Weight Watchers....I gave it a whirl. I will admit, I was a little skeptical on how it would taste, but honestly after the first bite, all my fears vanished instantly! (Just like the muffin!)

The recipe is a little complicated....are you ready for the list of ingredients?!

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 can of pumpkin

Yep, that's it! Now you just combine the cake mix and canned pumpkin. Mix well, it does take quite a bit of stirring to mix it all together and it will be thick. Then just oil (I use the cooking spray) your muffin pan and fill half way full. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for around 20 to 25 minutes. The muffins are super moist and it will be hard to do the fork test to see if they are done. Then let cool in muffin pan for around 10 minutes and remove. No oil! No egg! No calories! OKAY! I lied on the last one....but it is a healthy alternative and they freeze well!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chocolate No Bake cookies


1 Stick of butter
2 cups Sugar
3 TBSP of Cocoa
1/2 cup of milk

Bring to a rapid boil. By rapid...I mean this:

Set the Timer for 5 minutes and stir your little heart out so it won't burn!
Once 5 minutes is up, turn off burner and stir in 3/4 cup of smooth peanut butter and 3 cups of instant oatmeal. Mix well. I use a teaspoon and drop on wax paper. Let cool. This recipe depending on how large you make the cookies makes around 20 to 24 cookies.

I'm now trying to wipe the drool from the keyboard...I better go grab a couple out of the refrigerator to make sure they still taste as yummy as they did an hour ago!

Menu Plan for the next two weeks!

I guess I will start off admitting that I was no where near as organized as I should have been this go around, but I managed to do okay. My total was $156. I had some extras in there that I hadn't expected. I bought Trent a new lunch bag and a jar thermos for lunches at school. I really didn't find any really good sales in the meat departments. I was rather disappointed. But, on the bright side...I WILL do better. My goal is to cut this amount of money down to $100 every 2 weeks for our family of 4. I really think I can do it!

My menu plan consists of the following:

Freezer dinners (pre-make and freeze)
Tater Tot casserole
Cheesy Chicken Bake
Chicken casserole
Meatballs (2 batches)

Dinners to be made the same night
Breakfast dinner (eggs, biscuits, turkey bacon and gravy)
Salmon Turnovers (new recipe from Happy Housewife Blog)
Mexican Casserole
Homemade Pizza
Baked Spaghetti
Pigs in a Blanket (Hot Dog wrapped in crescent rolls)
Chicken Pot Pie

Breakfasts will be Muffins, poptarts, yogurt and homemade oatmeal bars

Lunches will be wraps and salads.

Snacks are Chocolate No Bake Cookies, brownies, pudding, jello and fruit.

Gosh! Fruit and veggies are getting expensive! I really hope I can find a local produce stand that has better prices than what I'm finding at the grocery stores. My poor pitiful garden didn't do well. I guess between the heat and rabbits it has seen better days. I am getting a couple of cucumbers and tomatoes. But, my squash is a total wash! Fingers crossed that my okra will produce well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ugh! Overloaded Brain!

Okay! I just need to breath! Okay, not helping....chocolate! That's what I need chocolate! It settles the nerves and makes you think clearer! Right?! Work with me here people!!

I am a little overwhelmed with finding the sales to match the coupons AND trying to come up with a menu plan to fit the coupons that are for the items on sale! Ugh! I dare you to say that 3 times fast!

Alright! Alright! I am a little bit of a drama queen! It is becoming clearer with each bite of chocolate I take!

After reading a lot of blogs from women that clip and use coupons...I have discovered some things that I am doing wrong!

1. Using coupons for items that are not on sale. Yes, you save money, but imagine how much more money you would save if you waited for that item to go on sale.

2. Throwing out coupons that I think that I would never use because the price is higher than what I normally buy...even with the coupon! This one goes back to waiting for the items to go on sale. (Something I never paid attention to before!) Usually stores will wait a couple of weeks after the coupon has come out before that item goes on sale. Thus, you wait!

3. Throwing away expired coupons. Military families can still use these coupons! I believe it goes 3 months after they expire, they can still use them. My fellow blogger "Happy Housewife" alerted me to this! Her website is on my favorites!

4. Don't just use coupons because you have them. If the item with the coupon and on sale is still higher than what you pay for another brand, why would you use it?!

5. Okay, currently, I have 5 tubes of toothpaste stockpiled. Now I know what you are thinking....a bit wasteful for someone who says they want to save money. First, we will ALWAYS use toothpaste! Second, I don't think I paid over $.75 for each tube (thanks to CVS!). Third, think outside of your household. Christmas is coming...we do shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan's Purse. Also, items like toothbrushes, razors (Trent loved getting those in his stocking!), deodorant, body lotions, chapsticks and face cleansers (for the older children, of course!) can be wonderful stocking stuffers. Then there are the shelters that could always use these items. So, if you can get something for free or practically free...think about sharing outside your household!

6. STICK TO YOUR BUDGET! Don't go over your set budget just to get a "Deal"! Very hard for me to do. But, how wise is it to spend money on something you could really do without just for the sake of getting a deal?

I'm sure there are other wise and helpful tips out there. If you have them, please share! The more knowledge we have, the more power!

Now...I guess I will get back to my sale searching, coupon clipping and menu planning. After another piece of chocolate...or two!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Another Awesome CVS Trip!

When we got home, I had Jeff swing by CVS! Yep, I'm bad! Lol! But, I got the above for the grand total of $.43!!!

1 bag of Peppermint Lifesavers
1 bag of Tropical Lifesavers
1 3 pk. of Orbit Melon blast gum
1 3 pk. of Orbit Bubblemint gum
1 CVS sunblock chapstick

Not bad, if I say so myself!

Enjoying the Yummy Funnel Cake

A day at the Fair!

Today we went to the Burnsville Craft Fair. It was a good hour and 15 minute drive, but with 250 booths well worth it! Once we got there it looked a little like rain, but it quickly cleared up to be a VERY HOT day! Luckily, I packed some water and snacks for us to enjoy! (More frugal than buying there! Or as my teenage son would say..."Mom you are cheap!" lol!) But, that didn't stop us from splurging and buying a funnel cake! MMMMM, funnel cake! Yummy!

We saw candles being made, wool being spun into yarn, and glass blowing. They had an exhibit of civil war weapons and clothing worn back then. It was interesting.

Then we went to Spruce Pine and Little Switzerland. Ugh! The curves on that road....let's just say, I was very tempted to hang my head out the window like a dog! I was getting so car sick! How Autumn fell asleep, I will never know!

All in all, it was a really nice day...when my son didn't whine about being hot...or bored...or the crowd! I guess as a teenager, a craft fair isn't really high on your list of things that you want to do! But, hey! He got a funnel cake out of the deal! He can't whine too much!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Oh! The Simple Things!

My daughter has SO many toys! But, she finds the most enjoyment out of just playing with the simple things. A bucket, an empty bottle and a small shovel thrown in with dirt and some rocks and she can play for hours on end! I often find myself wondering why I feel like I am neglecting her and my son when they don't have the "latest" in gadgets and gizmos!
I have been examining my life and the things that I allow to come in it. I have been so materialistic about so many things! It breaks my heart to see where I am in this. How many toys are too many? How many clothes do we really need? When does it ever stop?! We always want more, bigger and better instead of being content and thankful for what we have!
My sweet little Autumn is so happy and content with her dirt and rocks. Even my teenager; Trent; is just happy being outside riding his bike. Why do I try to complicate things? I have let the world poison my mind into thinking that I cannot be happy without the "latest" in all things. Or if I don't have a pair of shoes and purse to match every outfit!
I think those that do mission work in other countries truly have the grasp of how blessed we really are. I pray that I start seeing things differently, stop wanting "just because someone else has it". I want to stop feeling inadequate because I don't "have" certain things. I don't need 50 pairs of shoes! I don't need the newest car! I don't have to dress in designer clothes! My kids do not have to have every toy!
I thank God for what I have! He has blessed me so much! Instead of being ungrateful...I need to stop and enjoy! Stop and notice and appreciate the simple things. Now if you will excuse me.....I have some dirt to play in!

CVS Deals Today!

This morning I loaded up the kids and we ran errands. Part of those errands was a CVS run! The above is everything that I got for the low, low price of $11.60!! It was orginially a little over $30, but with coupons and ECBs I got the total down by a little more than 50%! I plan on going back the first of next week for another shopping trip!! I saw a sneak peak of the next week's advertisements on! Of course, I would like to cash in again on the Schinck Intuition razor! I had gotten the last one at my local store! So, it may call for another trip tomorrow to another CVS!! I also received a coupon for a FREE sunblock chapstick and I have a coupon for $2 off CVS brand skincare. I buy the pump hand soap for $1.99, so after the coupon I get the handsoap for free. I did that today also! The lifesavers are buy one get one free...and then it counts on buying $10 worth of the candy and receiving $5 in ECBs!

Okay, so here is what I got (in case the picture it's hard to see):
VO5 Hair shampoo $.75
VO5 Hair Conditioner $.75
Schick Intuition razor $3.99
Colgate Advance Whitening toothpaste ( $1.77 -$1.50 coupon= $.27)
Colgate toothbrush ($1.77 -$1.50 coupon= $.27)
Childrens Advil ($5.79-$1.00 coupon=$4.79 and earned $5.79 in ECBs)
Clean and Clear face cleanser $.99
CVS After sun lotion ($2.99-$1.00 coupon=$1.99)
CVS Brand pump handsoap ($1.99-$2.00 coupon= $.01 overage)
Dove Deodrant $1.99
2 pack of Pental pens $1.99 (Buy one get one free)
4 Bags of flavored Lifesavers(Buy one get one free and got credited my candy account $4.38 just need $5.62 more to receive $5 ECBs)

I had $8 in ECBs to use! Earned $5.79 ECBs!

If you guys aren't doing the CVS really need to think about doing it. It saves you a TON of money!