Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Totals

I think this is the first time that I have had my monthly totals done before the new month has officially started.  This month I was working on my panty/freezer challenge and hoping to cut my weekly grocery budget to about $50 a week.  I started out pretty strong but by mid-late month, life kind of got in the way and I didnt have time to make a lot of meals.  Overall though, I did pretty good with the budget and spend an average of $65 dollars a week.    

 I saved $182.67 in coupons, $221.03 in sales for an overall $403.70 in savings..    I got $694.52 worth of groceries for only $290.82. I had a 58% savings this month, so I am happy with that!  I keep track of my totally free items and this month it was 28. 

This month I really did not have time do much shopping at the drugstores or Target so my  other coupon savings is only $36.27.   I have to be honest, my stockpile is pretty full and other than toilet  paper and cat litter I can think of very few things we need. 

Since the kids are on Spring Break this coming week, life will be at slower pace with the kids activies..  I will be in full swing with Operation Birthday, but I hope to have more time to plan meals and use what I already have on hand.  We will see with April brings!!
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Kids eat FREE in the month of April

Every day in the month of April  kids eat free at IHop during the hours of 4 and 10 pm.  You will receive one free childs meal for each adult entree purchased.     To read more about the free meals you can see the Ihop site here.
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April is Autism Awareness Month..

I am going to talk about something near and dear to my heart for a moment.  I want to help get the word out that April is Autism Awareness month.  The reason why it is so near and dear to me  is my almost 12 yr old son has a form of Autism.  He has Aspergers, so he is high functioning, but life has not been without it's many challenges.  One of my closest friends of  23  years  also  has an almost 12 yr old son with Autism.   Two good friends that I have made in the last few years  have children on the spectrum as well.    Autism has become so prevalent that the most recent statistics say that it effects 1 in 110 children.  It occurs much more often in boys than girls .  Almost all of the children I personally  know who are on the spectrum are boys.     There is no known cure for Autism..  Early Intervention  is the best, but not all families can afford therapy and most insurances do not cover it.  Autism is an epidemic and there is just so much that we still need to learn about it. In the month of April remember that if you don't personally have someone on the spectrum in your family with Autism, it does affect someone you know,  a neighbor, a  friend, a coworker.
To find out more about Autism you can read about it  here.
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Last day to print March coupons

Make sure to print your coupons  on today beause it is March 31st and starting tomorrow some of your favorite coupons will no longer be available.
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Book Review- Love at Last Sight

I belong to a book review site called Blogging for Books .   I chose to read the book Love at Last Sight, by Kerry and Chris Shook.  This book is a step by step, day by day guide to reconnect your closest relationships.   They give many great tips on how to change, improve and repair issues with  the bonds you have with others.  At the end of each chapter there is a daily challenge to really learn each concept.     I liked the fact that Kerry and Chris have been married more than 25 years and are leaders of a large congregation at their Woodlands Church in Woodlands, Texas.     I don't know about you, but I find it ironic when some so called relationship experts have a life that is more messed up than the people they are trying to teach.   The Shooks are not like that.  They have a successful relationship and a good spirtual base. This book is definitely worth reading, and it might even change your life.
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Easter Egg Ideas has many new and fun  decorationg tips for your Easter Eggs.  The colorful eggs in the pictures are made from melted crayon.  To see how to make these and many more, check out Family Fun here
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Operation Birthday-Cupcake Tower

One of the requests that my friend had was for me to  either find or make a cupcake tower.   Because of our limited budget, I am not going to spend a big portion on a expensive version.   I hope to check the Thrift Store, and maybe the Home Goods store.    I am also excited, because I just found a great tutorial on how to make my own on the blog  To see her version of the homemade cupcake tower,  check out Annie's Eats here
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Ice Cream Cone Pinata

This morning during my usual daily blog read I came across this ice cream pinata on the fun party planning site Chickabug.  She had linked back to the orginal tutorial on the blog Simply Modern Mom.   I have made pinatas for my children's parties before and they really are not that difficult to make if you want to make your own.     I really like Simply Modern Mom's tutorial on this  party staple.   Check out her blog here to see how she did it! 
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How-To Spring Cupcakes

Aren't these cupcakes precious?  I love the spring colors and themes.  My Cake School Blog has great tutorials on how to make so many things including how to make these spring cupcakes.   Check out here to see how to make your own.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Peep LOVE!!

WOW!  As you know I LOVE peeps!  I am so exited to see this tutorial on how to make Peeps in tuxedos!!  The only way you can make a sugar gooey marshmellow even better it to cover it in chocolate!    YUM!!!!      To see how to make peeps in  chocolate tuxedos check the tutorial here  on
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Shout Out to Randomosity!

Sadie from the blog Randomosity and I post together on the Cafemom Blogging Moms board.  A few days ago she mentioned that she was starting to work in design and offered to help other  the blogging moms.  Since I am not very computer literate when it comes to code etc..,  I jumped at the offer.    She then designed me the super cute blog button you can now see at the top right of my blog.   Blog buttons are icon/links that are like business cards for blog.   I am currently trying to get the code to appear next to my button to be copied so others can grab my button for their blogs.   On Blogger when I post code as text, it keeps referring to another button.  Hopefully I will get that figured out soon.  

As a thank you for her awesome help, I wanted to share about Sadie's super fun blog. Her blog Randomosity has recipes, crafts, tutorials, and more. Make sure to check out Randomosity here
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Operation Birthday

I am excited about where we are in the planning  of  Operation Birthday.  Today I was given the budget and I am ready to start shopping!    Because we have a set budget to work with, I am going to  do as much as I can as cheaply as I can. Follow along and I will show  on tips how you really can have a party on a budget. 
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tip of the Day

I came up with today's tip of the day, when I read a friend's status on Facebook.   She asked if she was the only one who made a list for the store only to forget the list at home.  She mentioned that this happened to her quite frequently.  There were comments made by several others who forget their list too, so I know this is a common problem.    Being the big couponer I am, I never forget mine because I put it directly in my coupon box.   Since most people do not shop that way, that is not always realistic.   I have a really good way not to forget your list at home.  When you are done writing your list, immediately  take a picture of it on your cell phone.    If  at the store you realize you do not have the paper list,  you will  have your phone list for back up.    If you forgot to take a picture of your list yourself, you can always call home and ask someone to take and upload the photo for you.   Now if no one is home or you forget your cell phone, then  you are just out of luck..  LOL!!
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More Party Ideas from Nate..

I am  posting about another great Nate show that I am currently watching..  Today he has Kelly Moore on his show  giving party ideas using things you already have on hand.       One product she mentioned that I have never heard of before is something called Plasti Dip..  She took inexpensive silverware and made them colorful and modern.     I think this product looks very  interesting and could have a lot of uses.    To see more about it, you can read more here.  To read more about this segment you can see it on Nate's website here
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VGs deals this week..

I normally wait until later in the week to do my grocery shopping, but this week I knew I had to go sooner than later..  VGs had FREE products after coupons, so I knew they would be running out soon.    Just as I expected, there were only 2 Purex left on the shelf.  Hopefully they will be getting more in since the sale runs until Saturday..  

I got everything on the table for only $15.78!!    I used $15.74 in coupons, and saved $16.54 in sales.   A total savings of $32.38,  PLUS I got back a coupon for a FREE gallon of milk worth up to $3.59

The cuties are on sale this week for $4.99.  I had a $1 coupon.  Since it said do not double, the cashier couldnt double it. Thats okay though, $3.99 for a 5 lb box of cuties is still a good price.

2 Purex  were FREE!   They are on sale for $3 this week.   If you are a VGs Yes email customer they were even cheaper.   They rang up $1.82 each.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled to price.

2 Colgate toothbrushes were FREE!   They are on sale for $2 each.  I had two $1 coupons that doubled, making them totally free. 

3 boxes of Apple Jacks.   Select Kelloggs cereal is $1.77.   I only had  one $1 off 3 coupon that doubled.   After coupon they came to $1.10 each. 

Tyson chicken strips..  these were a last minute purchase because they would be good for a meal.  They $6.99 (reg $9.69)  I used a $1 coupon that doubled.  Final price was $4.99

Aunt Milles Raisin bread on sale for $2.  I had a .55 coupon that doubled, final price .90 

McCormicks pepper grinder  was $2.85.  I had a $1 coupond that double, final price .85.

The Michelinas wheels and cheese were because I had my teenager with me who threatened to pass out if she did not eat right away.   I gave in and bought them for $1.50.   I felt I made her suffer enough by dragging her shopping with me.   hee hee.. 
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FREE Chips at Kroger

If you like to shop at Kroger, they will be giving away FREE snack size (2.5-3oz ) Frito Lay chips on April Fools Day between the hours of 3 and 8 pm.  While I dont know if I would make a special trip, if you are shopping late Friday afternoon, be sure to check it out. 
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Angry Bird Inspiration

I have to admit.. I have no idea what Angry Birds are because I do not have an Iphone or Ipad.    I have,  however,  seen many great Angry Bird ideas online.   They are  all so cute, I wanted to share what I have found in case anyone here does play Angry Birds. 

Check out this Angry Bird lunch from Mymealbox.   You can see how it was made here at

Cute Food For Kids made this super cute Angry Bird snack from Babybel cheese.  I LOVE her site and her cute ideas.  See how she made it here

Christy from The Girl Who Ate Everything shows how to make Angry Bird cake pops.  These look like so much fun.  You can see how she made them here

One of the blogs I follow is The Party Animal.  She recently came up with an entire Angry Bird party theme.   You can check out her pictures and ideas  here  at

How about Angry Bird Cookies..  These are from the blog AuntyYochana.   You can see these and many other of her Angry Bird sweets  here    at
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80% off

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Supersize Savings on the Nate Show..

I am watching the Nate Berkus show as I am posting this.. Today is a GREAT episode.. Joanie (the Krazy Coupon  Lady) and Heather  from TLCs Extreme Couponing are sharing their coupon savings tips.    While I already know all of these tips, there are many shoppers out there who still are not saving the money that they could with coupons.    You see more about this episode here.
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Butterfly Cupcakes

In  honor of Spring the site Bright Ideas has a new Butterfly cupcake, made from M & M and sugar covered pretzels.    To see how to make them  check out the site Bright Ideas here
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Tip of the Day-Better Pet Photos

In the April 17 Womans Day, there are tips on how to take better pet portraits.   We have 3 cats, a bearded dragon, 2 salamanders, a turtle and a few fish.   The cats have  usually cooperated with picture taking, but I wanted to give the tips a try..      I found a few models that were willing today.  I was unable to find Tootsie, so I will have to try to take her pic later. 

*Turn off your flash..  Flash can scare your animal, and causes red eye in the photo.  Shoot the picture in natural light.  If turns out blurry, set at a higher ISO setting.

I found that this worked well in our kitchen where we have a lot of natural light.   I did get some blurry pics because one of them always moved their head at the last second.  

*Follow your pets lead.  Take pictures of your pets when and where they are comfortable.  They can become skittish if they forced to be somewhere just for a picture. 

Having cats, I know if they do not want to be somewhere they wont stay still. LOL!  I find the best and funniest pictures are when I find them in unusual places. Today I took pictures of Reeses and Milo just hanging around in the sun on the kitchen floor.

*Get on their level to make the picture more personal

I was sitting on the floor while trying to take the pics.  The cats had an curiousity to what I was doing and looked my way.

*Focus on the pets eyes.

I love pics when my pets are looking right at me the best..

Here are some of the pictures I took today

Hmm..  what are you doing mom?  (I wish this wasn't blurry)

What is that you have in your hand?  Let me put my face right up to it and check it out. 

This picture reminds me of a teenager.  He kind of has a look like he is so over the picture taking. 

What's that??? Is that a bird!!!

One of my favorite pictures I ever took of Milo.  Taken at NIGHT with the FLASH..  LOL!

I like this picture of Reeses.  She is relaxed, and looking right at me.

This is Buck, our  3 1/2 yr old bearded dragon.   I turned off the flash and used the light from his cage.

Since Tootsie was not part of the photo shoot today, I thought I would show an old picture.  This was when I caught her sitting on the end of the banister.  Again it was taken at night with the flash..  LOL!
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Staples Deals

This week you can get FREE batteries and $1 printer paper at Staples!
Get 100% back in Staples rewards when you purchase Duracell 20 packs.  In store only,  limit 2

Get printer paper for only $1 a ream after Staples Easy Rebate.  Buy for $5.99, redeem for a $4.99 rebate.  Limit 2.   
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Quiznos Coupons

There are currently printable Quiznos coupons to get any small sub for only $2.99.  To print yours, go to this link here
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Potato Blog

Do you ever have a bag of potatos but not sure what to do with it?  I know I plan on picking up a 10 lb bag of potatos on sale at Meijer this week, but did not have recipes in mind.  I will often throw half the bag away because I did not use them before they went soft.   I just found out that there is website/blog dedicated to just potatos!   There are literally hundred of recipes to try!   Check out the website  here  and the blog Mom's Dinnner Helper here.
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Tollhouse Bunny Cookies

How cute is this Easter bunny cookie sandwich.  This is the newest creation from Nestle Tollhouse.    You can find the recipe to make Easter bunny cookies  here
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bites

My family really likes bacon, eggs and cheese.  Today while trying to think of something quick for dinner, I thought why not make those ingredients and make them into small little bites.  

I got out my mini muffin pan and sprayed it with cooking spray.   I used 8 eggs and milk and made a scrambled egg mixture. 

Since I did not have any bacon on hand to fry, and that would make the recipe much longer I decided to use Hormel bacon pieces.  I also used sharp cheddar cheese.

I put bacon pieces in each of the individual cups.  I then added cheese to the top.   I placed it in a 350 degree oven.   I was not sure how long to cook it so I checked it every 5 mins or so.  

It took 12-13 minutes for the cups to cook all the way through.

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Egg Carton Wreath

Check out this adorable spring wreath I found on Krafty Kat.  She made it out of recycled egg cartons.  This would be a fun craft to make with your kids.   My daughter loves it and wants to make one.  To see how Kraft Kat made this wreath,  check out her blog here
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Homemade Peeps

One thing that I love about this time of year are the boxes and boxes of Peeps that are available.   Chicks and bunnies in a variety of spring colors,  I love them all.  I am so excited to find the Twig & Thistle blog and her recipe for homemade Peeps!  She gives a great step by step tutorial on how to make these sweet treats.  I can make Peeps all year long.. Yea!  Check out how on Twig & Thistle here.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beautiful Pancake Art

I saw Jenni Price's art on a craft site and I had to check it out.  This sweet little fox is made out of PANCAKES!  Wow! I think I want her to be my mom after seeing some of the gorgeous pancake breakfasts she has made her kids.  Most are too cute to eat..  You MUST check out her blog  because it really is amazing what she can do with pancake batter. 
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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

Kara's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball Party was one of our favorite parties.  The theme was definitely original,  and all of the kids had a great time.  

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

The invitations were different from any others we have seen.  I made meatballs from brown cardstock  and added spaghetti colored (off white)  yarn. I had a witty saying inside, but it has been a few years and I don't remember what I said.  Most of the pictures from the party were accidentally deleted by one of my children, so I am only able to share a few. :(

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

We decorated the family room, kitchen and hallway with falling food made from poster board.    We saw the paper pizza in an issue of Family Fun.   We cut out cardboard triangles as the base of the pizza. We wrapped it in brown paper and rolled up the end to look like crust. The saw was colored on with red crayon and marker, and then we added our favorite paper toppings.   We used poster board in a variety of colors to make the other food like ice cream cones, watermelon and other various fruit.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

We made more large food by recycling odds and ends.   We used toilet paper tubes and turned them into  a large bowl of macaroni and cheese.   The giant Oreo  is made from foam board, fiberfill and black poster board.  

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

I made giant M + Ms  to be used in a game.  At the end of the party each girl got one with their treat bag.
They were just made out of felt and fiberfill. 

When the girls first arrived they were each given a craft foam visor.    I had laid out  a bunch of craft supplies like markers, paper, glue etc.. so they could decorate them with their favorite foods.     I also had them sit in our recliner with a felt fried egg on top of them.  The fried egg was made from leftover white and yellow felt. (Sorry no picture, these pictures were some of those deleted.)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

We played pin the cherry on the sundae.   I made the large white bowl and cherries  from poster board, and the ice cream from cardstock.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

Another game we played was  spaghetti tornado (based on the book)  We took several long strands of yarn and wrapped them around our entire play area.  Each girl had their own spaghetti strand that had to freed from the spaghetti mess. The first girl who freed their spaghetti  without breaking it was the winner.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

We also made a falling food obstacle course.  The girls had to run from one side of the yard to the other with a blueberry (ball ) between their knees.  They then put on a doughnut (dollar store intertube) and wore it through the rest of the course.    They picked up an extra large french fry (pictured), and carried  it to the ketchup (a piece of red felt).  Then they threw M & Ms  in a basket that was on top of one their friend's head.  They jumped over the pasta field (swim noodles), picked up the large plastic candy canes, and then limboed under the green bean (another pool noodle)  Oh how I wish I had my pics!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Party

Once back inside,  the girls sat on a red circle tablecloth bought from the dollar store  that looked  like a giant tomato, or a piece of pepperoni.   I had  bought a box of fruit O cereal,  and a bag of pipe cleaners from the dollar store.  Each girl made their own cereal necklaces and bracelets.

My daughter chose spaghetti and meatball cupcakes  from the Hello Cupcake book as her birthday cake.   They really did look like spaghetti and meatballs.

Another treat we ate that was easy to make were these mini ice cream sandwiches.   Add a spoonful of ice cream between two Nilla wafers,  and then it roll in sprinkles.  Kara chose the  birthday cake flavor ice cream.  It was a great relatively no messy way to have ice cream.

When the party was over, they took home a felt M+M, their visor,  and a goody bag full of goodies from the dollar store.

Update #2  I recently found out there is a cookbook that goes along with the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book.  I am adding it here, in case you would like to use it for your Cloudy themed party. 

Updated It has been a few years since we had this party, which was so much fun.  I have found some giant food party items recently on Oriental Trading that would have been a great addition to the decor and games.  I am adding them to this post in case anyone would like them for their own party. These are affiliate links.  I have loved and used Oriental Trading for my own party supplies for many years.  

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