Friday, December 17, 2010

Nutrient Dense Snack Bar

Larabars are a great snack for you if you want a nutrient-dense treat without all the chemicals and preservatives. Unfortunately, they can hurt your pocketbook if they are a habit. Suffice it to say that they can be habitual. My youngest loves them and they are good for him, so I find it hard to deny him of one of the few "treats" he can have. He needs the protein and Omega vitamins to balance the chemicals in his brain and he craves the sweet taste of the antioxidant rich fruits. These bars are quite easy to make, particularly if you create the raw version I have outlined below.

Energy Bar (lara bar clone)
1/4 cup raisins(or dried apricots)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cashews, walnuts or almonds or combination of them
1 T raw, organic coconut oil
1/2 to 1 T raw honey
1 T flax seed
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. I do this in my mini food processor, which is much easier to clean afterwards. Combine until nuts are finely chopped and ingredients are binding together(they will clump together in the food processor). Spoon out onto a sheet of waxed paper. Press flat into a small rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. I pop mine into the freezer to slightly harden and then slice it into three equally-sized bars. One bar makes a great snack and is packed full of nutrition. You can vary the recipe in a variety of ways by adding different dried fruits, including coconut or changing the nuts to peanuts, adding goji berries or different seeds and you can also roll the mixture into one-inch balls and roll in carob powder for a dessert-like version. Try this recipe to get an idea of the consistency and then mess around with the combinations and see what you like best.

I'm Going Caffeine Free

I recently read a post on one of my favorite sites to visit, Food Renegade. She is challenging her readers to break the coffee habit and her logic is difficult to challenge. She describes her experience with the morning java habit and she's describing what is happening to me. I don't eat much. I am careful about what I eat and I rarely over do on the no-no's of too much fat or sugar or dairy. But I have noticed recently that I eat breakfast later and later, crash in the afternoon(though I fight through it) and also feel like my metabolism is slowing. My waistline can attest to this phenomenon. She argues that caffeine is the culprit for this problem. The main source of this morning caffeine jolt? Coffee.

Coffee can be justified by any coffee-lover(just ask me how). There are numerous studies touting the benefits of coffee; a quick web search will illustrate that. The Mayo Clinic site says some benefits include its protection for people with Type 2 Diabetes, ands its help in prevention of disease including Parkinson's and even liver cancer. Coffee is also high in antioxidants. That is one statement that I have jokingly heard from people, including myself, justifying that third cup-o'-java in their day. But I don't take issue with the benefits, particularly when its being drunk in moderation. While there are plenty of bad things that coffee can do for you, the root problem is the caffeine. None of us want to admit it, but caffeine is a drug and it is addicting. Two cups of coffee during the day is considered a safe amount of caffeine for the day. And we are talking about a cup, not the mugs and jugs that are available to drink out of. Two 8oz cups clock in at just under 300mg of caffeine, but anything over that in a day is considered heavy consumption. At that point it can cause a myriad of symptoms including heartburn, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, rapid heartbeat, irritability, anxiety and headaches. For women, an additional problem is that caffeine causes your body to excrete calcium. Its hard enough getting enough calcium IN without excreting it. Caffeine causes your adrenal glands to work overtime as well and they already have plenty to keep them busy if you eat the standard american diet. Regular coffee feeds an unnecessary addiction to a chemical that just isn't good for our bodies. Most of the aforementioned antioxidant lovers wouldn't be happy with decaf, I am fairly certain of that. Thats because of what the caffeine does for them that they partake in the warm and comforting liquid beverage that is coffee. I have eliminated caffeine from my diet before. It is no fun, especially the first few days. You will find it takes 36 to 48 hours before your body adjusts and you actually start to feel better for having quit. So while getting off the caffeine is no easy task, the end result would be a good thing.

Another reason to get off the coffee-wagon is the condiments. First off, raise your hand if you think a Mocha Latte is coffee....WRONG. A mocha latte at Starbucks is a 360 calorie morning donut! But maybe you are a "coffee purist" like my mom. She can drink it with only lowfat powdered milk, which isn't too bad, but if you add milk or cream or even the dreaded sin: non-dairy creamer, you are most likely adding fat or even trans-fats to your coffee. Then there is the sugar/sweetener twist, adding calories or chemicals to the mix. Black coffee is the best way to go. If you drink a moderate amount, it will not hurt your stomach(or cause heartburn) and will give you the benefits that coffee offers without the harm. There are people that can drink coffee black, eliminating these two no-no's, so if that's you, refer back to point number one and drink decaf after cup number two :)

The other negative aspect of coffee for us right now is cost. If you like good coffee and you are wanting shade-grown, free trade, organic coffee, you're gonna pay for it. Not a lot of coupons out there for good coffee, so I usually end up purchasing the cheaper brands. I don't like doing it because I believe that farmers should get paid fairly for their work and I think that destroying forests for more fields of sun-enriched coffee are unnecessary when you can grow it in the shade. However, I personally can't swing $30 a month for coffee beans if I can't even swing the electric bill! So in drinking cheap brands of coffee, I am half-way to quitting anyway because its really not about drinking it for the taste anymore. Its the number one addiction in America that's calling me to the coffee pot most mornings.

The call of the Food Renegade is to try quitting coffee for 30 days. Its not a New years life-time commitment. Its a trial. A test to see if you can kick the habit. Most habits can be released from your repetoir with a mere 21 days of abstinance, so the extra 10 are a bonus. I am willing to try it. I can drink herbal teas to warm my bones, or maybe apple cider or even hot lemon water with honey. I am willing to see if I can do it, merely for the challenge, but mostly for my health. Will you join me?

I'm going Caffeine Free!
Need help?
Here is a post telling how this blogger got off caffeine without any symptoms.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

taking suveys

One way I extend the budget is by taking online surveys. Survey Savvy is taking applications for new survey takers. You earn cash for taking them and its very easy to do. You work when you want and ignore them when you don't. They come by email and they pay when you qualify. Typically you are prescreened with some questions to see if you are what they are looking for. if you are, you go to the paying portion of the survey. If you aren't, you only wasted 2 or 3 minutes and you are entered in a drawing for gift cards or other rewards. Check it out here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 Coupons

$0.40 off Betty Crocker Cookie Mix
$0.50 off Pillsbury Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crust
50% off Olan Mills portraits
$1.00 off any 2 Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water
$1.00 off Any Filippo Berio Olive Oil
$1.00 off General Mills cereals
$0.55 off any 1 package of Black Creek cheese
$1.00 off Chex cereals
$0.35 off Pillsbury Grands! Jr biscuits
$0.55 off Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough
$1.00 off Sundown Naturals/Marvel Heroes Vitamins
$1.00 off Pillsbury Refrigerated Holiday Cookie
$1.00 off Pillsbury Sweet Moments
$0.50 off Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters
BOGO Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush™ Max Refill
$0.40 off Pillsbury Italian Meal Breads
$0.75 off Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits
$0.55 off Honey Nut Cheerios cereal
$2.00 off on any one (1) bottle of Sinus Buster
$1.00 off Muir Glen products
$0.40 off Pillsbury of Grands! Sweet Rolls
$0.50 off Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls
$0.55 off Pillsbury Simply... cookie dough
$0.50 off Bisquick Baking Mix
$0.30 off Refrigerated Pillsbury Grands! Biscuit
$1.00 off Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough
Buy 2 WHISKAS Entrées,Get Any 1 Free
$2.00 off on Any Whiskas Bag or Any Multipack
$0.50 off TWO (2) Milky Way Brand Bars
$5.00 off Waterpik SinuSense Neti Pot products
$2.00 off TWO (2) boxes of WONKA Exceptionals
$1.00 off Wonka product
$1.00 off ONE (1) box of WONKA Exceptionals
$1.50 off NESTLÉ Jingles
$2.00 off any LISTERINE WHITENING Rinse
$2.00 off Any Aleve 80ct or larger
$10.00 off Waterpik SinuSense™ Water Pulsator
$2.00 off Waterpik SinuSense™ 60ct. refill pack
$1.00 off On Any Two Intense Dark™ Bars or Bags
$1.00 off on any size Truvia™ natural sweetener
Buy One Get One Free LIFESAVERS 2oz pouch

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doing More with Less: Survival of the Holidays

Week 3: As we approach another holiday season jobless I am having to rethink my strategy again, to make sure that I keep spending under control while still keeping the season in perspective.

Its not about stuff
While the commercial machine revs up for what is usually the biggest spending season of the year, its hard not to get excited about all the deals that are out there. Televisions and computers for $300 can get a person pretty excited, especially when you are a techno-nut like me. Having a computer dinosaur from 2005 is still a blessing...and I keep telling myself that when I have to reboot it each and every time I accidentally let it fall asleep. But its even harder when you have kids that you want to shower with gifts. Now don't get me wrong, my kids for the most part would never dream of asking for piles of the latest and greatest.  Especially right now, when they know we are having such a hard time. I know they would love to have the latest phone or laptop and my son would just about fall over for one of those huge Lego star wars ships, but they also know it probably ain't gonna happen unless momma finds a *really* good black friday deal!

Finding the right deals
Black Friday kicks off the "last minute" shopping for me. I collect gifts all year long. From clearance items to special markdowns, I am always thinking birthday and Christmas, so I already have gifts lined up for special people in my life. However, Black Friday is my real focus as I can usually find some insane deals on the one special thing that each of my loved ones really wants. I like to use special sites like Black Friday ads. Here, you make a user account and you can create lists of what you want and then print them out and take them with you as you shop. You can comparison shop what is going to be in the paper on Thanksgiving Day, now! Its a wonderful tool that I have used for years. I make sure I know what those special things are that each child really wants and then I look for the deals. Sometimes I can get exactly what they want at an amazing price and other times, I completely surprise them with something they never dreamed of asking for because it was too expensive.

I also make gifts. There are tons of great blogs and websites out there with sewing ideas, patterns, craft ideas and recipes. Last year I found some marked-down fuzzy fabric and made pillows for my girls' rooms. I sewed mittens with matching scarves and made herbal pillows to heat and help warm their beds. I was able to get all the materials with discount coupons and through sales and materials that I had on hand. These little extras are what make the holidays special.

I use extra ECB bucks and WAGS bucks to get stocking candy and a few odds and ends. Once I have rolled all the extra ones over for deals, I usually have some that I know will expire over the Christmas/New years holiday week that I won't use. So they go for extra goodies that I wouldn't normally buy.

The key in all of this is to not get what is outside of your budget. 

  • Set your spending limits it up front, make a list and stick to it. 
  • Don't use credit cards-unless you pay it off IN FULL each month

If you can't get it with cash or pay for it when the bill comes, don't get it. Paying for Christmas in June doesn't make it a deal because you have certainly paid more in interest than if you had bought the item at full price! If  a person's(aka child's) Christmas is going to be ruined by the fact that they didn't get something you cannot afford then the bigger issue might be the fact that their Christmas was ruined by lack of "stuff." What an awful expectation to have to continually fulfill year after year. Especially in this economy!

Making the meals
Even the Holiday meals can end up being extremely expensive if you aren't careful. Coupons for holiday cooking are in abundance this time of year. In fact, this past Sunday had four coupon circulars in it. Hundreds of dollars in savings there for the clipping.

For Convenience Sake: While I am all about getting a ready-made pie crust if I can for free, I will make one from scratch if I can't. I already have those ingredients in the house and purchasing one, while convenient, when added to all the other "convenient" items is not very frugal. I'd much rather save a dollar here and there and then use those dollars to add something under the tree for my kids. By planning carefully, I can have most of my holiday cooking done ahead of time. Broths are canned year around, flour is already available, oil may have been purchased the last super doubles I shopped at Harris Teeter. Pumpkin was baked after I located some free uncarved pumpkins after Halloween. Butter is easily frozen and when its on sale, I buy extra and stack it in the freezer. Did you know you can butter too? Did you know you can make pie crusts and freeze the dough for later use? You can also save some more dollars just by thinking ahead:

  1. Save the heels from loaves of bread and your scraps of cornbread and use them to make your stuffing. Store them in a resealable freezer bag and keep adding in the months prior to Thanksgiving and save the expense of buying bread crumbs that are loaded with additives and preservatives.
  2. When you see onions on sale, you can chop and freeze them. Not only are they great for all the broths, stuffings and other recipes, but you can use them year around for other things. Don't forget to cut off the bottom 1/4" with the root to plant in the garden. You will see spring onions coming up next year.
  3. Take home extra pumpkins after Halloween, half and remove the seeds. Place in large baking pans in the oven and roast. Freeze the thickened, cooked pulp for pies.
  4. Never throw away the celery that is starting to go limp. Rehydrate in a vase full of cold water and then chop and dry or chop and freeze for use in recipes. You can also freeze the hearts and leaves for stock.
  5. When thawing your Turkey, save the neck and make your gravy stock for that. Boil it with some celery and onion for several hours and then cool over night Lift off the fat and strain you have the perfect liquid to flavor your stuffing and make gravy. No buying broth or chemical-laden gravy packets.
  6. Buy cranberries and freeze them. They last a LONG time and when they are on sale, you can buy a bunch. Make your cranberry sauce from scratch. Its delicious and so much better for you!
  7. Powdered milk is a great substitute for milk, evaporated milk and cream when cooking and its not nearly as expensive. I find even the generic store brands, like Food Lion's brand, work fine. It won't substitute for whipping cream if you are whipping it for pie topping, but it is great to add flavor to gravies and for making a cream sauce for vegetables or casseroles.

All in all, if you plan the menu and bake things ahead of time you can do it for a fraction of the cost of buying prepared foods and it will be so yummy and so rewarding. And if you have a family with dietary needs like I do, the benefits are even greater! Start your cooking the week before. You can assemble casseroles and freeze them, make gravy base and refrigerate it. Saute onions, chop celery and freeze them. So many time-saving things you can do and all of it lowers the budget and makes putting a fantastic meal on the table possible without breaking your bank or your back!

Remember what its all about
My kids know we are going through a tough period in our lives. Lots of families are and they know that too. They know we can't do a lot of things we used to do. We don't know when it will get better and we don't even know how God will provide for us some months, but we do know God will and He loves us and we are in the palm of His hand, even in this. They know we will have a hot meal on the table and their daddy and mommy are here and in love with each other and with them, and that they are blessed to have their Granny living with them as well. They know the fire will keep them warm and we are destined for marathon Holiday movie nights with popcorn and hot cocoa. We will eat lots of cookies and breads and see our friends.

We will decorate a tree and we will exchange gifts. Gifts we make, and gifts we bake, gifts from generous family members that can't be with us and gifts from loving friends that we are so grateful for. Gifts that I find when I use points from Swag Bucks, or from surveys I take or gifts using coupons or rebates or deals I find on Black Friday. We know that God will provide all we need and even some things we want in one way or another and so we have no worries. I hope that you and your family have a  blessed holiday season and that something I shared here helps you. God bless you all!
Retro Momma, Vintage Wife

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Coupons

The Loreal make up coupon may be helpful as I heard that there is makeup at CVS on clearance. May make for quite a deal!
Redplum coupons:

Save $0.75 on any TWO (2) packages of Hillshire Farm® Lit’l Smokies®
SAVE $1.00 when you purchase any THREE packages of Kellogg’s® Cereals (10 oz. or Larger, Any Flavor, Mix or Match)
SAVE $1.00 on ANY L’Oréal Facial Cleanser
SAVE $2.00 on ANY 1 L’Oréal Cosmetic Face Product
SAVE $1.50 when you purchase any THREE packages of Kellogg’s® Apple Jacks®, Corn Pops®, Froot Loops® and/or Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® Cereals (8.7 oz. or Larger, Any Flavor, Mix or Match)
SAVE $2.00 On any Excellence or Excellence to-Go shade.
SAVE $0.50 on any flavor of Stash Tea
save $0.35 on any ONE (1) package of Hillshire Farm® Deli Select® Lunchmeat (8 oz. or larger)
SAVE $1 on TWO (2) 2-Giant Roll or larger packages of Sparkle® Paper Towels
SAVE $1.00 On ANY Nature's Bounty® Your Life® Multi
$1.00 OFF ANY TUMS® (24 ct. or larger)
Save $0.55 On ANY Tennessee Pride Product

And from
$3.00 off Pass the Popcorn!
$5.00 off on ONE (1) RREMBRANDT Kit
$1.50 off Glade Automatic Spray Refill
$2.00 off 2 Welch's Sparkling Juices
$2.00 off any NEW Expo Washable Marker product
$1.00 off Burt's Bees NEW Natural Lotion
$5.00 off Enfamil Newborn or PREMIUM Infant
$1.00 off any ONE Welch's 100% Juice 10 oz. 6-pack
$0.50 off on any ONE (1) Gorton's Item
$3.00 off Any TWO (2) HUGGIES Snug & Dry Diapers
$1.00 off TWO (2) pints of Starbucks Ice Cream
$1.00 off one (1) bottle of Pine-Sol Cleaner
Buy Two Get One FREE DOVE Chocolate Singles Bar
Buy One get One Free bag of BUTTERFINGER Snackerz
50% off Online, Animated Picture Storybook

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spaghetti Pie

1 (6 ounce) package spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 pound lean ground beef(optional)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup ricotta cheese or cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook and drain spaghetti. Stir in butter, parmesan cheese and eggs, while spaghetti is hot. Form spaghetti mixture into a crust in a buttered 10 inch pie plate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a skillet cook the beef, onion, green pepper and garlic. Drain off the fat and stir in the spaghetti sauce and oregano. Heat through.
Spread ricotta or cream cheese over the spaghetti crust then pour in the beef and tomato mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top of the pie then bake for 5 minutes longer, until cheese melts

Spaghetti Sauce

I love spaghetti sauce, but finding sauce that is made without corn syrup is often hard. Almost all of them have sugar and while a little is fine, I don't want it to be a top ingredient and for me, the less refined the better. After a summer crop of tomatoes has been canned, there is nothing better then a fresh-made spaghetti sauce served over pasta with a hunk of crusty fresh-baked french bread. Tonight we had chicken parmesan. This is a great dish that is fairly easy to make.

Spaghetti Sauce
2 quarts of canned tomatoes, with liquid
1/4 cup dried onion(3/4 cup fresh, finely chopped)
1 T dried basil
1 tsp powdered garlic(6 cloves fresh, minced)
4 T olive oil
1/2 cup red pepper sauce(or pureed roasted red peppers)
1 T sucanat(optional)
Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. You may want to add salt to taste.

Baked Chicken Parmesan
8 pieces of boneless chicken breast(or breaded patties)
1 pkg of whole wheat spaghetti
1 quart(4 cups) of Spaghetti sauce(see above)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup fresh mozarella

Start by baking the chicken till about 10 minutes shy of being done. Usually a 4oz piece of chicken takes about 30 minutes to cook, so cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I place the boneless skinless breast meat in a lightly greased baking dish. If the breasts are fresh(not frozen), you may want to add a little water to the pan so they dont get dry. If you are using packaged breaded filets, follow the manufacturers directions.

In the meantime you can be making the spaghetti sauce if you haven't already done so. This sauce gets better as it simmers, so if you can make it earlier in the day, do so.

Cook your spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.

Spoon about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 11x17 baking dish. Spread the cooked spaghetti on the bottom. Layer with the partially cooked chicken breast. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan sauce and then place thick slices of mozzarella on top of each piece of chicken. If you are using shredded cheese, concentrate the bulk of the cheese onto of each piece of meat. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until chicken is completely cooked and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Coupons~

$10.00 off Any One (1) 27 oz Tub of GREENIES
$0.50 off LAND O LAKES Spreadable Butter Product
$1.00 off on one Reser's Sensational Sides item
$0.55 off any Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleanser
BOGO 18.5 oz bottle of Gold Peak Tea
$1.00 off Wonderful Pistachios
$0.35 off HERSHEY'S Milk or Milkshake
$0.50 off any Two LAND O LAKES Butter Products
$0.55 off HORMEL™ COUNTRY CROCK side dishes
$0.55 off any two HORMEL Chili
$0.75 off Hormel Chili Master chili
$2.00 off on any one (1) HORMEL Party Tray
$0.75 off any Quorn™ Foods product

Red Plum Coupons

SAVE $1.00 On Any TWO packages of Murray Sugar Free® Cookies (4.44 oz. or Larger, Any Flavor, Mix or Match)
$1 OFF any ONE (1) PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX® Treats For Dogs 5.57oz or larger
SAVE $3 on any Maybelline New York foundation
$1 OFF any ONE (1) PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX® Treats For Dogs 5.57oz or larger
$0.55 OFF Any Endust® Product
SAVE $1.00 on any two (2) Goya® Rice Mixes
SAVE $0.75 on any Sara Lee® Frozen Dessert
SAVE $0.25 off any ONE (1) McCormick® Spice or Extract
SAVE $1.00 on Osteo Bi-Flex® Liquid Joint Aid (Valid on 6 pack only. Individual 8oz bottles not sold separately.)
SAVE $0.55 off any ONE (1) package of Hefty® Waste Bags

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flu Tonic

Its that time of year again. Time to make the flu tonic. A killer combo of all that's hot. It seems to scare the virus out of you and appears to be effective on a host of other viral, bacterial and fungal invaders.

Its fairly easy to make too. I made mine this weekend.

In a large glass jar, combine equal parts of the following:
Fresh chopped, hot white onion
Fresh chopped, garlic
Fresh chopped, horseradish root
Fresh chopped, ginger root
Fresh chopped, cayenne pepper(or other hot pepper like habanero or scotch bonnet)

All of these should be fresh and organic if possible. You can use dried, but only as a last resort. I use my food processer to make this quick and easy and usually use a cup of each ingredient.

Place all of the ingredients in a large jar. The jar should be about 3/4 full. Pour raw, organic applecider vinegar over the ingredients until completely covered. Place a plastic lid on top(metal will corrode) and shake. Add more vinegar up to the top, making sure the liquid is completely covering everything. Set in a cool, dark place.

Every day, shake the jar well. Do this for two weeks. Then strain the liquid through a piece of cotton muslin or thick cheesecloth. Bottle and label the tonic.

For ordinary infections 1 dropperful(2ml) 5-6 times a day is adequate.

Dosage for flu is 1-2 T two or more times a day. Gargle and swallow. Do not dilute.

This is spicy-hot and powerful and is completely non-toxic. No food dyes and chemicals that you need to worry about. It is safe for children although they don't need as much. If you look at the properties of the ingredients, you can see how it would be effective in helping your body clear out the germs. I have read that some refer to similar combinations as a natural antibiotic. I can attest to the fact that garlic and onion are number one on my food list when there is an illness in the house.

Remember it is always smart to do your own research on anything you make and plan to take as medicine. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Its time for Hoopla!

hoop·la   [hoop-lah] noun Informal-1.bustling excitement or activity; commotion; hullabaloo; To-Do

HOOPLA from Biltmore Baptist Church on Vimeo.

This is for the entire family. Its free. All of its free. The kids get tickets for jumping and playing on inflatables, eating food and there is more candy than any one child could ever hope for. If you haven't seen the NC mountains this fall, this is the day to come. The weather is perfect and the fun doesn't start until 3pm. Some come on down!


Upromise is a no-brainer if you have kids that you intend to send to college. Simply register and set up links to your shopping cards and credit cards and get points without even thinking about it. You can move your earnings into a college savings account where it will grow even faster and when your little ones reach college-age like my baby has, you can pull it out and use it for tuition. What could be easier?

Monday, October 25, 2010


I love fall. The crisp air, the colorful leaves, the scurrying of critters collecting food for winter. Its new and exciting after the long, hot summer. As I sit on our front porch and look out at God's creation I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds me. It takes my breath away as I think about it and write this entry now.

With fall comes the desire to bake...even more than usual if that is possible. The warmth of the oven is a welcome event when the kitchen is cold and the rich, deep flavors of cinnamon and ginger seem to bring on thoughts of thanksgiving and Christmas. I have actually been known to long for a wood fired oven...something about it seems so homey and practical. But I will "settle" for electric and plan to bake my afternoon away regardless of my heat source.
I usually dig out old recipes and start menu planning for the coming month. There is a renewed interest in this when my options change with the seasons. Pasta salads get put away and out come the soups, chowders, casseroles and oven-roasted delicacies. Today being Monday, is a stay at home day for me. In addition to the cooler weather, today it was raining. This is an open invitation for baking. First I made a loaf of bread, then bagels, then ginger cookies using a recipe from our pastor's sweet wife. I could have easily continued, but I would have to grind more flour. So I started a crock pot with dinner and then for lunch there is soup...

Potato Soup

5 slices of uncured bacon or a chunk of ham
3 T. butter
1 large onion chopped(or 1/2 cup dried)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
10 peppercorns

1.5 lbs of potatoes, washed and chopped
2 quarts of chicken broth(I used home-canned, salt-free)

1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sharp cheese, shredded
sea salt

In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon until cristp, or saute the ham until starting to brown. Remove the meat to a small bowl. Add the butter to the drippings and then saute the onion till its translucent. Add the garlic and continue to saute until they are both starting to brown and caramelize. Chop up the reserved meat and add back to the pot. Add the potatoes and the broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and let simmer for an hour or until potatoes are tender. When tender, you can mash some of them with a potato masher to thicken the soup.

 Continue to cook until the desired consistency. Add the sour cream and cheese stirring until well blended and cheese is melted. Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coupon Adventures 9/28

This week at Walgreens, there were enough deals to make me want to drive on over and pick them up. This doesn't happen much as the nearest store is a solid 25 minutes from my house. 
Now I normally wouldn't bother with .99 toothpaste, but my supplies are dangerously low and with Operation Christmas Child boxes around the corner, I need to get my stock up. The razors, particularly the fusion are a fav of my DH, so there again, not typical for me to spend anything on them but he's low as well. All in all, a good trip and I will split it into two shops so I don't end up with a pile of WAGS bucks to try to spend in the next month. That is NEVER a good idea.

Hyland’s Cold N Cough 4 Kids – $4.99Buy 1, Receive $4.99 Register Rewards
**$1.50 off 1 Hyland’s Cold ‘n Cough 4 Kids printable coupon 
Pay: $3.49, Receive $4.99 Register Rewards
Final Price: 
$1.50 Money Maker!

Fullbar Fit Appetite Control Bar – $1.99Buy 1, Receive $1.99 Register Rewards
Pay: $1.99, Receive $1.99 Register Rewards
Final Price: Free!

Vicks Sinex – $6.00Buy 1, Receive $2.00 Register Rewards
**$4.00 off 1 Sinex product - 9/26 P&G
Pay: $2.00, Receive $2.00 Register Rewards
Final Price: Free!

Emergen-C, 10 pack – $3.49Buy 1, Receive $3.49 Register Rewards
Pay: $3.49, Receive $3.49 Register Rewards
Final Price: Free!

Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion – $5.99Buy 1, Receive $5.00 Register Rewards
Pay: $5.99, Receive $5.00 Register Rewards
Final Price: $0.99

Gillette Fusion or Venus Razor System – $9.99Buy 1, Receive $4.00 Register Rewards
**$3.00 off 1 Gillette or Venus, Mach3 or Sensor3 - 9/26 P&G
Pay: $6.99, Receive $4.00 Register Rewards
Final Price: $2.99

Crest Clinical Toothpaste – $3.99Buy 1, $2.00 Register Rewards
**$1.00 off 1 Crest Pro Health Toothpaste - 9/26 P&G insert
Pay: $2.99, Receive $2.00 Register Rewards
Final Price: $0.99

Colgate Clinical Toothpaste or Colgate ActiFlex Toothpaste – $3.99Buy one, Get one free store promotion
**$1.00 off 1 Colgate ProClinical Toothpaste coupon - 9/26 P&G coupon insert
**$1.00 off 1 Colgate Pro Clinical Toothpaste printable coupon 
Final Price: $0.99 each

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


As we stumble through life these days, I know our friends wonder how we stay sane. Its entirely due to our faith in God's provision. When my sweet husband was laid off in 2008, we wondered how we would survive. It has only been by God's hand in our lives. We have been through some pretty rough patches in the last 26 months. We will get through this and I am sure there will be more patches along the way, but through it all, good days and bad, God has been here watching over us. Blessing us with little reminders of His care of us.

One of the scriptures I lean on is Psalm 91:4 "He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge."  Some days I literally hide there. I know its not for me to understand why our savings are dwindling away and there is no work for my very talented husband. But yet, we had the savings. God instilled in us years ago to get out of debt and put money aside when it would have been far more tempting to get a newer car or upgrade the carpet. But we didn't "need" those things and while we squirreled away money and I learned to refine my couponing skills, we were oblivious to what God was preparing us for. He prepared us for today.

When we found out that our move here was going to lead to unemployment we were very confused. We had felt that our move to this area was by God's hand. We were brought here for a purpose. But how could the purpose be unemployment? That certainly doesn't make sense in my mind. But His ways are not my ways and He prepared me for what was coming: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you!" Deut 31:6.  I knew, we knew that were not being left here to lose everything we had worked for. We began to cut back on spending, scrimp on luxuries and think carefully about each purchase. As we looked hopefully toward spring of 2009, we thought surely a new position would open up. But that was not His plan. Try as we might to figure it out, to fix the situation, we were set to go another winter without work. During this dark winter He gave me "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God' will not need to fight in this battle." 2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17. To me this said so clearly that all my efforts and political activity and all the phone calls and resumes were not going to make it come to pass before His timing. He is never early and He is never late as a dear friend reminds me on a regular basis. As unemployment came to an end, my deepest fear, He gave me further strength and resolve that I can do this with Him and He will provide.

We continue to live carefully and on less and less and do without what others might see as so much. And yet almost daily He reminds us that we have so much more than others and that He can provide even our smallest wishes, like box turtles and a free sack of vegetables. Mysterious checks in the mail or love offerings from other churches. Even a trip away from home with my husband or a paid hospital bill. We have learned not to question it but to receive it as a blessing from Him through others.  As we wait with baited breath for the job He has for my husband, we know we are in His hands and he cares for us so deeply. So we set our eyes on Him and look eagerly for His guidance and expectantly for what He has planned.

God is so good!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let the People Think!

In the words of Elmer Fudd, this is verwee, verwee scarwee...

Really? Are the sheeple really not even sure why they are there? Did someone hand them a sign and they don't even know why they are carrying it? Freedom of speech is a right! Do we whittle it away with nothingness? Lies? Things  we don't believe or even understand just because we can? The thing I don't understand about all of this is how people seemingly just accept a party line without discovering what the truth is. In the words of one of the protesters "Truth is a Trap."

Before you vote in November I beg of each and every one of you to pursue the truth. Don't take a statement from one side or the other as fact. Find reputable sources and plot out the agendas, the reasons for statements. Vote your conscience not your pocket book. We live in a great country and we have the power to restore government to the people. Please do your duty!!


While I'm on the subject of rebates, I thought I would mention that rebates truly are a great source of "income" in today's economy. Whenever I am walking through the grocery store, I keep my eyes open for rebates. Usually on special displays, pads of rebates are available with a required purchase. A lot of alcohol rebates do not require a purchase of alcohol, so I usually find the best rebates near the beer aisles. The rebate might be for $6 off meat, or $5 off a deli tray. If you have purchased that item, you can mail in the receipt and the form and get a check back in about 6-8 weeks.
This is why I save all my receipts from the store. I keep them in a file folder for several months. When I happen to find a rebate form, I look through my receipts to find one that fits the rebate. Today I mailed out 6 different forms. I will get back about $40 in rebates. Most of what I purchased was on sale and with coupons, which further multiplies my savings. The rebates come back almost like little Christmas presents throughout the year. Its definitely worth your time if you follow these simple steps:

  1. Keep all receipts from all your shopping
  2. When you fill out a form, copy the form and receipt (and any required UPC's) so you have pertinent contact information.
  3. Make sure you follow all instructions on the form
  4. Write when you mailed the form on the copy and file this with your bills.
  5. Periodically check on the status of rebates. If it has been 8 weeks and you don't have your check, call them. If you get the check, remove the sheet from your files so you know you got the money.
  6. If you get notified that you did not qualify, call them. The number is usually on the form you mailed in and should be on your copy. 9 times out of 10, by calling, I get the rebate check anyway.

I would say the hardest thing about finding rebates these days is the number of people that take the entire pad and resell them. This makes it very difficult to find rebates sometimes. I find it extremely selfish and just like other unethical methods of couponing, will eventually result in everyone being punished for the deeds of a few. If you find a rebate, take one for yourself and maybe one for a friend or to trade, but please don't take the entire pad. Let others enjoy the pleasures of rebating as much as you do.

EBates earn you cash!

I discovered Ebates a few years ago when I had developed the habit of looking for online coupons whenever I was shopping on the computer. Usually I was trying to find a free shipping deal or % off my total purchase. By going to Ebates before I shopped, I often found coupons and then the bonus of a rebate in cash back to me for shopping through their link. Last month, with a few simple purchases through Barnes and Noble bookstore and Home Depot I earned $13.00. I was already going to shop at both places and by visiting the site through Ebates, I saved money using free shipping coupons and then also received the additional cash back.
Its very easy to join. Go to Ebates and sign up. Then, when you are going to be shopping, go to their site and look for the store you want to use. Click on their link to the store and they track your purchase. If you complete a sale, they will then process a rebate for you. If you are using an email coupon, use that link and when  you have the items in your cart, go to ebates in a different window and then find the store and use their link. The items should be in your cart and now you have the additional rebate.

Happy Shopping!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Coupon Adventures 9/1-CVS

 Emerald Cashew Snacks – $1.00
**$1.00 off 1 Emerald Nuts coupon from 8/15 Red Plum Sunday newspaper coupon insert
Final Price: 
Wheat Thins (small pkg) – $1.00
**$1.00 off 1 Wheat Thins printable coupon on facebook here
Final Price: 
Campbell’s Condensed Soup – 2 for $1.00
**$0.50 off 2 Campbell’s Soup printable coupon here
Final Price: 
$0.25 each
Crest or Oral B Pro Health – $3.97
Buy 1, Receive $2.50 Extra Bucks: Limit 2
**$1.00 off 1 Crest Glide Floss coupon from 8/29 Proctor & Gamble Sunday newspaper coupon insert
**$1.00 off 1 Crest Toothpaste coupon from 8/29 Proctor & Gamble Sunday newspaper coupon insert
Pay: $2.97, Receive $2.50 Extra Bucks
Final Price: 
Glide Clinical Protection Floss, 38.2 yd – $3.97
**$1.00 off 1 Glide Floss coupon from 8/29 Proctor & Gamble Sunday newspaper coupon insert
Pay: $2.97, Receive $2.50 Extra Bucks
Final Price: 
Listerine or Reach Mouth Wash – $3.97
Buy 1, Receive $1.00 Extra Bucks: Limit 2
**$2.00 off 1 Listerine Mouth Wash printable coupon here
Pay: $1.97, Receive $1.00 Extra Bucks
Final Price: $0.97
Nature Made Cholest Off, Flaxseed or Fish Oil – $7.99
Buy 1, Receive $4.00 Extra Bucks: Limit 1
**$3.00 off 1 Nature Made CholestOff printable coupon here
**$1.00 off 1 Nature Made Fish Oil printable coupon here
Pay: $4.99, Receive $4.00 Extra Bucks
Final Price: 
Schick Manual Razors or Refill Cartridge - $9.99  Buy 1, Get 1 free automatic store promotion
****$4.00 off 1 Schick Quattro for Women Razor, Refill or Disposable printable coupon here
**$5.00 off 1 Schick Hydro Razor coupon from 8/8 Smart Source Sunday newspaper coupon insert
Final Price: 
As low as $0.99 each (when you buy 2)
Venus Embrace or Breeze Razor – $9.99
Buy 1, Receive $5.00 Extra Bucks: Limit 1
**$3.00 off 1 Mach3, Venus, Sensor3 or Custom Plus Razors coupon from 8/29 Proctor & Gamble Sunday newspaper coupon insert
Pay: $6.99, Receive $5.00 Extra Bucks
Final Price: