Monday, February 28, 2011

What's for dinner tonight?

I found this recipe for homemade Mac and Cheese on   It looks pretty easy to make and has good reviews.   We have a busy night tonight so this might be a good make ahead dish.
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Last day to print February coupons


Make sure to print your  February coupons because it is the last day of the month and after today they reset.  Some coupons that you have been planning to print might no longer be available tomorrow
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Homemade Donut Holes

Ever want to try and make your own donut holes?  My kids LOVE them.   There is a simple recipe in the Feb 27 USA Weekend.   If you go to the link on thier website, you can also see a video on how to make them.  If you would like to give this recipe a try,  you can see the video and recipe here.
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Up to 93% clearance prices at Celebrate Express

Celebrate Express
Celebrate Express is curently having a sale with up to 93% off in their clearance sale.    Use the code 35SAVE to get the savings.   FREE Shipping on orders over $50.  
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March is Craft Month

FREE Make It and Take It    Dr. Seuss  Bookmark  Family Event,   March 2 10 am-noon,  Ages 3 and up welcome

FREE Make It and Take It    Paper Baby Booties  (perfect for baby showers)   March 3 6pm-8pm , Adult craft

If you take a Wilton 4 week class during the month of March,  you will receive 50% off of tuition.   If you have been thinking about taking a class, but have not done so yet, this is the perfect time to give it a try. 

You can see more information here.,default,pg.html
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pantry/Freezer Challenge Update

Just a couple more days until I start my pantry and freezer challenge.  I took inventory of what I have in my pantry and freezer so I know what type of recipes I need to start planning.  In the next few days I will be coming up with 15-20 recipes to use up my extra stockpile of food. 

Items I have the most of...

smoked sausage
canned tomatoes
salad dressing
boxed potatos
stove top stuffing

I do already have a few recipes in mind

tuna noodle casserole
meatball casserole
french toast casserole
pasta dishes
homemade potato salad (to use that 10 lb bag of potatoes I just bought)

I think this is going to be  a fun challenge..

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Organization Project #4

Its been a few weeks since I have completed an organization project.  I dont know if this is #4 or #5, but that doesn't matter.  I was able to accomplish something that has been on my to do list for a few YEARS.  We have lived in this house for over 7 years, and I dont think I have totally cleaned out the lazy susan since we moved it.  I have been tired of not being able to find things or items falling on to the floor from being shoved in on top.  Kara and I cleaned everything out and there was so much stuff it took over the entire counter and party of another.
I took this picture because the cabinet was totally empty and I wanted to remember the moment. 
I threw out 3 bags of expired items! I had a spice rack in there with spices from 1993!  I took that out and plan on refurbishing it into something for the craft room.   The top shelf is for spices, liquids and packets.   The bottom shelf is not strictly for my baking items like chocolate chips, decorations extra flour.  It will be much easier to find things and hopefully it  won't take another 7 years for me to clean it out again.
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Rango Cupcakes

Check these out! Rango is a new animated Johnny Depp movie  that is about to be released.  Rango is a chameleon that  becomes the sherrif and saves the day.  If you have a child who loves lizards or have a Rango  themed party, you might want to try these really cute cupcakes.    They are featured on the blog Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.   To see her picture tutorial on how to make these cupcakes,  check it  out here.
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What's for dinner tonight

My son LOVES chicken cordon bleu.  I just saw on the Betty Crocker site this recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu chowder.  Yum!  It looks quick and easy and it is a definite must try.  I am currently out of swiss cheese but will make this as soon as I get some.   

To try this chowder recipe, you can find it here.
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Tips for making deviled eggs

With all the great egg coupons and  sales in the past few weeks,  I realized today I had plenty of eggs for a special treat.  We LOVE deviled eggs in our family, but I dont make them often.  I need to start making them more often especially because the tips I am going to share with you helps to make the process of making them quick and easy. 

Tip #1    To make the perfect hard boiled egg,  place the eggs in COLD water in a single layer.  Make sure there is enough water to cover each egg by an inch or two.   Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the burner.  I have heard to cover the pot at this time, but I don't always do it.  Let them cool.

Tip #2 Use older eggs, not fresh eggs for much easier peeling

Tip #3  To get the egg yolk to a fine consistency,  use a potato masher instead of a fork.
Tip #4   An easy and neat way to fill the eggs is to use the baggie method.   I love using this method when making cupcakes as week.    Fill a baggie with the deviled egg mixture and cut the tip of one corner.
Gentily squeeze the mixture into the egg white
The baggie method makes it much easier for helpers in the kitchen to help without the giant mess.

Eat and enjoy your eggs!
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Mini Cheesecake for Spring

I found another great little treat to welcome spring or Easter at your next get together.  How about a spring themed mini cheesecake?    This recipe was found on and you can see it here.
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How to make a rainbow cake

I  just came across this adorable rainbow cake on the  that is perfect for many occasions.   With spring hopefully around the corner,  it would be great for a welcome spring party.  If you had a little black pot on one side, it could be an end of the rainbow cake for St. Patricks Day.   If you had a young girl who loves all things girl, it would make a great addition to a girl themed party.    What I really love it is that not only does it have a rainbow on the cake but IN the cake as well.    

If you would like to see how this cake was made and maybe make one of your own, make sure to check out the Idea Room Here

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My Pantry and Freezer Challenge

** This is not my pantry.  I only wished mine was that big or that organized.. 


I have been reading a lot lately about people trying to do a pantry/freezer challenge.   Basically what that is when  you try and use mainly food from your pantry and freezer for an entire month.   With my freezers full, and my pantry and extra shelf stuffed full of food,  I think the month of March might be the right time for me to try the challenge.    I know I have food in the back of the pantry and freezer that I forgot that I had in there.  This weekend I am going to take inventory to see what goodies I have to use to make a meal plan.    With our busy schedule, I am not going to be unrealistic and do this every single day.     I  do  plan, though,  on trying to make 3-4 recipes/meals per week.  There are days when we just have a frozen pizza or go through the drive thru.    I already have some recipes in mind that I am going to use during the challenge.   I will see be shopping for perishables,  lunchbox items and exceptional deals, but my plan is to cut way back on the amount I spend on food in the month of March.    Anyone else up for the challenge?  
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VGs deals

I went to VGs to get a few of their deals this week..

Eggs on sale $1 a dz. I used .55 of 2 coupon that doubled, final price .45 each.

3 Oscar Mayer Carving Board, on sale $3.29.  I used three $1 coupons that doubled, final price $1.29

2 bags of Sargento cheese on sale $2, I used .55 off 2 coupon that doubled, final price $1.45

Kikkoman Soy Sauce $1.99, I used $1 coupon that doubled, final price FREE

Wishbone Dressing, on sale $2.  I used a $1 coupon that doubled, final price FREE

Simply Orange OJ,  $3.24.  I used a $1 coupon that doubled, final price $1.24

2 bags of Tostitos on sale for $3.  I used two .55 coupons that doubled, final price $1.80 each

2 boxes of Wheat Thins on sale for $2.34, I used a $1 off 2 coupon that doubled, final price $1.34 each

4 boxes of Zatarains on sale for $1 each.  I had a $1 off 4 coupon that doubled, final price .50 each. 

2 boxes of Reynolds Slow Cooker bags, on sale for $2.49.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled, final price .49 
Grapes $1.18 a lb.  (they are not pictured because I had forgot them in the car and did not realize until after I took the pic)

I saved $24.39 in coupons, $16.18 in sales for a $40.57 savings.   I only spent $20.76  today
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Meijer Deals

This week was a light week for me.   I didn't need a lot and only went with specific things in mind. 

Meijer 10 lb bag of potatos $3.49
2 boxes of Carpi sun $1.77 each
2 bags of Dole Salad $1 each
baby carrots $1
avacado $1
6 boxes of Meijer brand mac and cheese .50 each
small jar of relish .89

6 pk of Air Heads $1.20, used .50 coupon that doubled, final price .20 each
2 cans of Campbells Tomato soup, on sale .59 each, used .40 off 2 printable coupon that doubled, final price .19 each
3 boxes of Lean Cuisine, on sale $2 each, used $1 off 3 coupon, final price $1.66
2 boxes of Stouffers on sale for $2, used two $1 off coupons, final price $1 each
3 Aunt Millie Bread,  buy 1 get 2 FREE

I also used a $3 off your next order catalina

I had $8.80 in coupons, $13.96 in sales for an overall savings of $22.76   I paid $22.75, savings of exactly 50%
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More Target Deals

I went back to Target today to get some more frozen food for the frozen food gift card deal.   I read online that if you buy 10 Smart Ones and 4 Tonys Pizza, you would actually get an awesome deal because of the coupons that are available right now.   I had a $5 off 10 Target coupon and a $4 off 10 Smart Ones coupon.  I would have picked up 4 Tonys pizzas on price cut for only $1 but they were totally out..   I then saw they had some Michealinas Wheels and Cheese that my kids love for only $1.04. so I picked up 4 of them.   After coupons and gift cards  the 10 Smart Ones and 4 Michealina only cost $3.16!

Another great deal I found was the 56 load All reg $8.99 on clearance for $4.48.  I had a $1 coupon, so final price was $3.48  or .06  a load of wash/

I picked up another FREE Quantum on sale this week for $2.50.  I used the $1.50 Target coupon and a $1 man. coupon

I also picked up another .04  pack of Dentyne.  Its on price cut this week for $1.79.  I had a $1 man coupon and a .75 Target coupon. 

We needed the milk and at only $2.14 a gallon, one of the better prices in town this week. 

I spent only $18.59 and got back $10 in gift cards. I used $14.25 in coupons.   I could have rolled yesterdays gift card to save even more money, but I think I am going to save them all year to use at Christmas again.  Last year I had over $200 in gift cards which really helped the Christmas budget.  


I did have the chance to look around the store and I found a lot of great clearance in several depts..

Aerobeds  50% off, were $149.99, now $79.99

Several brands of diapers 15% off

Liv Dolls 50% off
Tinkerbell childrens skates 50%
Crayola  Color Fillz 50% off, was $14.99, now $7.48

Fireplace Screens 50%
Electrc Radiators 50%

Sterlite 3 drawer units 15% off, were $24.99, now $21.24

Oster Warming Trays 30% off, were $29.99, now $20.99
Waring Pro Blenders &  Juicers 30% off, were $54.99, now $41.98
Seal a Meal Vacuum Sealer 50% off, was $49.99, now $24.98
Kitchen Aid Immersion blender 30% off, was $49.99, now $34.99
Chef Mate can opener 50% off, was $6.38, now $3.18
George Foreman Hot Zone Griddle 30% off, was $49.99, now $34.99  with a $10 MIR form on the box

Many stationary items 30% off

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Rite Aid Deals


I had $7 in Up rewards that expired today.  I was also in need of more coca cola which happened to be on sale with and have an Up reward this week.    While looking around the store I noticed that select Oral B and Arm and Hammer products were also on clearance for 75% off.. 

This is what I got..

3  12 packs of coke on sale $3/$9.99 and a $2 Up reward.   I  did have to pay the can deposit of $3.60.

2 boxes of Easy Mac on sale 2/$5 (my kids LOVE Easy Mac)
1 Hormel Compleat on sale for $1.99.  I also used a .55 coupon
Arm and Hammer  Spin Brush reg $8.99, on clearance for 75% off..  She rang it in manually at $2.25.  I also had a $1 coupon, final price $1.25
2 Oral B Indicator Toothbrushes reg $2.99,  on clearance 75% off. She rang them in manually at .75 each. I had a $1 off 2 coupon making them .25 each.

I spent $15.01  out of pocket and got back $3 in UP Rewards.    Full price this order would have been $46.41 plus tax.  Approx 70% savings..
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Homemade Binoculars

I found another crafting blog with some really great kids crafts.  The binoculars in the picture are made by    My son and I made binoculars a few years ago for a safari party.  They were a simlar concept but not as cute as these.    If you would like to see how to make these felt binoculars that would be great for many different party themes or a spring craft you can see how here.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Slow Cooker Lasagna Tutorial and Review

I was excited to see that I had all the ingredients for this recipe on hand. 

2 jars Spaghetti sauce
Lasagna noodles
1 pkg sausage
ricotta (though I did add some cottage cheese too, because I was a bit short)
3 cups Mozzarella cheese (I mixed half mozz and half cheddar)
Dried Parsley (which I did not use)

The first step is to crumble and brown the sausage.

If you do not have a crock pot liner, spray with cooking spray.  Add the sausage to the pot.  Break up the noodles into 2 inch pieces.  Add in the ricotta, 2 cups of the cheese, the sauce and parsley.   Cook  on low for about 4 hours.  I mixed it a couple of times.    Add the last cup of cheese a few minutes before serving. 
This is what it looked like at serving..  A pot of saucy, cheesy yumminess..
This recipe tastes just like the time consuming oven version but so much easier to make.    This was a HUGE hit tonight and has definitely been added to our family meal list
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If you are in a northern state like me who just got even MORE snow this winter,  you are probably missing the warmth and colors of spring as I am.  I  saw these cute colorful tissue paper trees that could help it feel like spring, even though we are under a foot of snow.     These little beauties are made by Carolyn of  They would look great for Easter decorations or for your springtime parties.    If you would like to see Carolyn's tutorial,  you can see it here.
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How NOT to throw a party on a budget

TLC is at it again.  Not only are they airing shows about extreme couponing, they are now going to premiere a show about extreme children's parties.   Tonight at 9:30 pm they will be showing the show Outrageous Kid's Parties.  I LOVE throwing kids parties but try it keep it as inexpensive as possible.    On this episode Grace is turning 6 and her mom is having a $15,00  fairy tale party with a 150 guests..   I can not even imagine.     I am going to watch an see if any of their extreme ideas can be done on a very small budget.  If you would like to see the video promo for the show you can see it here.
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What's for dinner tonight?

I  am excited about this recipe.  This is slow cooker lasagna from the Bob Evans website.  I signed up on for their mailing list to get a Buy 1 Get 1 free Bob Evans side dish coupon.  I checked out their recipes and saw that i had all of the ingredients on hand to make this tonight.  Since we are pretty much snowed in, it was not like I was going to go to the store anyway.  I am currently underway to making this recipe and will be updating in a post with pictures later tonight.   If you would like to see this recipe before I post my tutorial, you can see how here.
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New Fridays Coupon

The other day I metioned that  Fridays is one of the best resturants for saving money.  They  just released another new $5 off $15 coupon.  This coupon is good through March 7.  To print yours go to this link here.
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Digging Out and (NOT) Doing Deals

*** This picture is not of anyone  I know, but a familar site where I live right now.

We got hit with another big snow storm last night.  This one actually gave us more snow than the blizzard a few weeks ago.    I do hope to get out and do a few deals today that are through today only.  Hopefully I will be posting  them very soon..  

Update..  I did not actually make it out to do  any  deals.   The roads are very bad, and my car got stuck at the end of the sub. Luckily I  was able to back out and get free.  I went to the corner gas station and put  a little bit of gas in my car since it was almost empty, turned around and went HOME.   The only deal that I will miss out on that I really wanted to do is the Staples FREE paper rebate that is was only through today.  I should be able to do everything else tomorrow. 
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

High Value California Pizza Kitchen coupon

LIKE California Pizza Kitchen on facebook and print a $1.25 coupon.  There are not size restrictions and this coupon is good until 3/22.
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New Target coupons to print has added over 50 new coupons to their website today.  They also formatted their coupon site to include more per page.  Be sure to go to to print yours.
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My Top 10 Coupon Tips

1.  Think of coupons as money.  Those little pieces of paper with numbers on them really do save a lot of money if you USE them.  You would not throw money away,  why throw coupons away on things you buy and use. 

2. The easiest way to use coupons is if you have a filing system.  There are many different types of systems out there and you will need to figure out which works best for you.  My personal perference is the alphabetizing shoe box method. 
I bought a plastic shoe box either at Target or the Dollar Tree. I have plastic ABC inserts in the box. As I cut out my coupons (or pay my youngest daughter $1 an hr) I file them quickly and easily by the first letter of the product. 
Here is a picture of the dividers close up.  The coupons are a little messy at the moment but they do stay in the proper place.  I have all of my Target coupons in back and my catalinas in the front. 

3.  To save the most money, match your coupons to what is on sale each week.  Manufacturers  want you to use them right away even if the product is not on sale, but if you hold on to them for a few weeks,  the item will most likely go on sale. 
4. If you have multiple stores in  your area and the time to go to more than one,   use your coupons to buy the loss leaders at each of the stores. I often stop at 2 grocey stores and 2 drug stores depending on who has the best sale.   In this picture I pulled out the coupons I wanted to use at each store and put them in a separate paper folded in half.  It saves time at the store if you have the majority of your coupons ready.  I still take my box with me for deals that I find in the store.

5.  Many stores now have their own store coupons that  you can use WITH a manufacturer coupon.   You can find and print store coupons for Target ( Meijer (, Walgreens, (  and Rite Aid ( and more.    CVS has store coupons that print out at the store from  their coupon machine if you have and Extra Care Card.    Walgreens and Rite Aid also often print coupons in their ads that can be used with manufacturer coupons.

6. Keep your eyes open for coupons everywhere, they can turn up almost anywhere.    In addition to coupon inserts,  they can be found online,  on the store shelf,  peelies on the product, hang tags on the product,  in the box or bag, on the box or bag, in the mail, and from the register at check out.     Check out your favorite products websites and on facebook, they often have coupons that you can print.    Use coupon printing resources such as and red (both found on my website).   You can also print coupons at,  and     When shopping at your favorite stores you will often be asked to be on their mailing list.. SIGN UP because you will start receiving coupons in your email.  

7.  Another great resource for coupons are Val Paks and coupon magazines that come in the mail.  You will often find coupons for your favorite resturants,  hair salons,  oil changes and more.    Your favorite resturants also have websites and facebook pages with coupons to print before you go eat.  Join their rewards programs to have even more  coupons sent to you.  Fridays Earn More Stripes program is one of the best ones out there.  

8.   Use online coupon code sites when shopping online.   Use sites like Ebates
Shop at Home
or   to find coupon codes and to earn cash back when  you shop online

9.  Many stores now give catalina coupons when  you buy certain products each week.   Some of the catalinas are manufacturer coupons that can be used like the ones from the inserts.  The best type of catalinas are money off your next purchase.   Walgreens give Register Rewards,  Rite Aid give UP rewards,  CVS give Extra Care Bucks.   An example of of an  OYNO coupon is what I received  at Meijer this past week.  I bought 2 Gain Fabric Softener Sheets on sale for $3.99.  I had two $3 off Gain coupons, making them .99 each   Meijer had a promotion that if you bought 2 Gain products you received a $3 off your next order coupon.  I MADE money by buying those Gain products.  The only catch to this type of coupon is they usually expire in 2-4 weeks.  I consider them FREE money, so I  make sure to use them on something else that I need before they expire.

10.  Keep track of your progress.  As you see your savings grow, it makes you want to keep saving. 

I keep track in a notebook.  At the top I keep track of my grocery savings in coupons  and sales. I also keep track of my actual grocery spending. On the bottom half of the page I keep track of all other coupons at resturants, Target,  drug stores etc..     In the month of Jan.  I used $197.57 in grocery coupons and $191.67 in other coupons.    I also  earned $49.98 in catalinas that I used toward more items.   Using coupons in the month of Jan,  was like "earning"  $439.22.    Couponing is definitely worth it to me. 
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

1 bag, 5 meals

I just found a great feature on the Kraft Recipes website.   They have a 1 bag, 5 meals menu  to help simplify dinnertime.     A sample week includes tuna cakes, egg & veggie bake, ravioli bake, pasta primavera alfredo and homestyle mac and cheese.    To find out more abou the 1 bag, 5 meal plan you can see it here..
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Mall Shopping on a Budget

My daughter has been saving her money and gift cards from Christmas and her birthday.  Today we had the chance to go use them.   Because it is Presidents Day weekend, it seemed like there were a lot of great sales. We also had a coupon for free jewelry at Charlotte Russe.   I am very excited that my daughter was able to saved $130 on the items in the picture.  This is how she did it..

First stop..  Charlotte Russe        If you LIKE them on Facebook, you can print a coupon for a FREE piece of jewelry from their 2 for $8 collection.     

The gray shirt was reg price at $14.50 but today it was on sale for $10.   She got the ring in the 2nd picture totally FREE with the facebook coupon.  She got the heather knee highs for $6.50.   She spent $17.49 and saved $12.72.

Next stop was Hot Topic.   Today they had an extra 50% off of all their clearance prices.  Their regular prices for tee shirts is high, so this was a great time shop.

The red Scott Pilgrim tee was $22.00, marked $10.98 and with the extra 50% only $5.49
The yellow tee was $20.00, marked $9.98 and with the extra 50% only $4.99
The fingerless gloves were $9.99, marked $4.98 and with extra 50% only $2.49
The necklace was $12.99, marked $5.49 and with the extra 50% only $2.99

She spent only $16.92 and saved $50.90 

The next stop was Pac Sun 

Pac Sun also had  an extra 50% off their lowest marked price.   
The black top was reg. price $39, on sale for $22.99 and today with the 50%  only $11.49
The white top was reg. price $29, on sale for $19.99 and today with the 50% only $9.99

She spent $22.77 and saced $49.31

Last stop was Forever 21.  She had a  $50 gift card to spend there.   They have the best regular prices and is also where she always finds several things she wants  to buy.

The denim sweatshirt jacket was $26.90, marked down to $12.99
The green striped sweatshirt was $19.80
The jeggings were $9.50
She LOVES their accessories dept.  She found hair bows and an owl necklace for $1.50 a piece and bracelets and nail polish for $2.80 a piece.    

She spent $53. 94 and saved $14.75

Full price her shoppig spree would have cost $238.81 but she spent only $111.12.    Way to go!!
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VGs deals this week.. lots of freebies!

 I bought everything in the picture for only $34.26.  I love shopping there now that they double to $1.

I got everything in this picture totally FREE!
This is how I did it.  VGs now has a YES rewards card that is free to sign up for.  Each week you shop there an have a pre coupon total of a least $50, you earn YES points.  The points can be exchanged for free food.   The FREE milk was because of a milk club program, where you buy 6 gallons during a given period and #7 is free.   As you can imagine with 3 kids, that was not a problem.  I also redeemed 200 YES points and got the potatoes for free as well.

Activia Yogurt was on sale for $2.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled 
Muellers Pasta on sale for $1.  I had a .55 coupon that was adjusted down and doubled by the manager
Quaker Oatmeal Squares on sale for $1.99.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled and adjusted to $1.99
Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Sauce reg price $1.99.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled and adjusted to $1.99

The pepsi max was free because I had a coupon for a free pepsi max when you buy a bag of Doritos. The Doritos were on sale for only $2.50 this week. 

I had $20.25 in free items!

I got everything in this picture close to free.. 

Franks Red Hot BBQ wings sauce, reg $2.79, on sale for $2.35.  I had two .75 coupons that doubled, final price was .85 eacg

Duncan Hines Glazes, reg price $2.49.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled, final price. 49 each

Kraft 2% cheese, reg $3.99, on sale for $2.39.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled, final price. 39

 Some other super deals to note.

Maries Salad dressing, reg $3.99, on sale for $2.99.  There were $1 peelies on the jars! When those coupons doubled, final price was only .99

Daisy Cottage Cheese, reg $2.79, on sale for $2.59. I had a .75 coupon that doubled, final price $1.09

Pasta Roni on sale or $1 a box.  I had a buy 3 get 1 free coupon that doubled to $2.   Final price 4 for $2 or .50 each. 

On this trip I saved $39.44 in coupons, $33.51 in savings for a total of $72.95.   A 68% savings!

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