Thank you for stopping by! Here you will find a variety of things as I post whatever happens to be going on in our home - recipes, crafts, homeschool, birthday parties, travels, meals in muffin tins and more! I'd love to know what you think so please feel free to leave comments!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Out In The Snow

I am a little miffed at my hubby right now. Today, I stayed home from church with the kids since we've been sick. Laural still has quite a cough, Micah still has a very runny nose and I have a sore throat and stuffed up nose. Friday night, Laural woke up at 2 AM with a nasty croup cough. So, today, as Steve gets home from church, I was in bed napping while Micah napped but Laural was awake and went to greet her daddy as he came in. A little bit later, Steve came into the bedroom talking about how the snow was perfect packing snow and perfect for going out to build a snowman with Laural. He asked where her snowpants were. I was still in a bit of a cold-medicine induced, sleepy stupor. I answered him and then started asking him why. Well, he already has Laural worked up about going outside to play in the snow. Great.

At this point, I have 2 choices. I could be the mean mom and refuse to let her go out to play while daddy looks like the wonderful guy who just wants to go outside and play with his daughter or I could let her go out and yell at Steve later. Let's just say that Steve is lucky that my voice is nearly gone because he won't be getting the full brunt of my yelling. He will definitely be getting the evil eye though.

She looked like she was having quite the time out there, but she came in coughing as nasty as ever. And of course, since daddy works midnights, guess who gets to deal with the crying sick kid at 2 AM tonight?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Making Artisan Bread

I decided today, to try a recipe I saw on a friend's blog a few months ago for Artisan Bread. It looked so yummy and the recipe seemed pretty easy, but for some reason, I just never got around to making it until today. I am still waiting for the dough to rise and then, it's bread baking time!
Here is my first pic of the process. A lovely bowl of dough. Hurry up, dough! Rise!

Sitting in a cornmeal pool, awaiting a trip to the oven.

Fresh out of the oven. Can't wait until it cools a little! I forgot to cut the top. Oops!

Cut and just begging to be eaten. Micah was not happy that there was bread in front of him that he couldn't immediately have!

Micah loves bread but he also loves having his picture taken so he paused for a moment to say cheese for the camera.

Laural is enjoying her bread.

I was going to make spaghetti for dinner tonight but after having to deal with Laural's injured ear, I opted to go for a "continental" style dinner - cheese, veggies and fruits to eat with our bread.

This bread is a definite winner! We will most certainly be revisiting this recipe, especially since I only made one loaf and there is still dough in my fridge! Thanks to Bobbi at Snoodle Doodles for "introducing us" to this bread!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Recipe: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Here is my new & improved recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup. I've made broccoli cheese soup in the past but it just never turned out like I wanted it to. With this batch, I finally got it where I wanted it. Yay! This is NOT a low fat or healthy version of this soup! ;-)

Broccoli Cheese Soup
(this is a big batch)

5 - 6 cups broccoli florets
2 cans vegetable broth
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
12 oz Velveeta, cubed

In a large pot, heat the broth just to boiling. Add onion, garlic and broccoli. Simmer until broccoli is tender. Whisk flour into milk until smooth. Slowly pour milk mixture into pot, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until it starts to thicken a bit and get bubbly around the edges. Using a stick blender, blend about half the soup. Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses until melted. Enjoy! Garnish with a little cheddar cheese and/or croutons. Serve with some crusty bread or buttery crackers.

A couple of notes:
I used Velveeta in this recipe. I am not big on processed foods, but every other time I have made this soup, it just never tastes the way I want it. I personally love the taste of Velveeta but try to use it infrequently. As healthy as I try to be, I still have my guilty little pleasures. LOL

I made this for a church pot luck. The last time I made soup (Cheesy Potato) for a church pot luck, I ended up with a lot left over and I was hoping that would be the case with this too. I wanted to have some to try freezing for future lunches. Well, all I had left was enough for one bowl! I got rave reviews which made me happy but none to freeze. Oh well. I guess I'll have to make another pot! I am hoping this freezes well. If anyone has any experiences with freezing soups of this sort, let me know what kind of results you had!

Muffin Tin Monday

Today's Theme - Color Series: Orange

This was pretty easy for us since most of Laural's favorite foods are orange. 
Top: Carrot Sticks, Mini Pepper Rings, Orange Yogurt with Orange Sugar Sprinkles
Bottom: Mandarin Oranges, Crackers with Cheese Flowers, Tropical Orange V-Fusion 

Laural decided that today was an undies only day. Silly girl. It's only 44°F today! At least she enjoyed her muffin tin meal!

I had the last of the broccoli cheese soup I made yesterday for the church pot luck. It was so yummy! I was hoping to have a lot left over so I could freeze some for later, but all that was left was one bowl. Oh well.

To see what other kids had in their muffin tins today, click the button below!
Muffin Tin Mom

Monday, February 15, 2010


Months before Christmas, Laural started asking for Pixos. It wasn't really something I wanted her to have but, I had a coupon for it which made it cheap so, for Christmas, Laural got a small Pixos set. I haven't really been al that keen on actually getting it out, but I figured I couldn't put it off forever, so today we broke them out. First, I showed Laural how to work the pen and then I let her have at it. It can be frustrating as a parent, watching your child try to do something that requires a very steady hand for the first time. But, trying to be a good parent and let my child learn to figure things out on her own, I only offered gentle guidance as she attempted to drop the tiny,colored balls onto the tray. It was rough going at first, but she managed to get an entire puppy dog made. It was fun watching her begin to master a new skill. She was very excited when she finished. She attempted to spray it herself, but the water bottle was a bit stiff, so she had a rough time with it. and I ended up spraying it for her. After letting it dry a while, I attempted to take it off the tray but it started to come apart and it was still a little sticky, so I pushed the little balls together and sprayed it again. We let it set for a couple hours, then I unstuck it from the tray (not an easy feat) and sprayed the flip side to make it stronger. When all was said and done, we ended up with a very cute, blue puppy dog and an orange dog bone. Now, I can't help but think about how long I can put it off before we have to do another one. ;-)

Laural uses the big Pixos pen to create her puppy.

The finished product.

Muffin Tin Monday

The Muffin Tin Monday theme this week was Color Series: Red / Valentine's. We used our new red heart shaped silicone muffin tins and filled them with red, pink and white foods which made for a very pretty Valentine's tin. We used the red heart cups I bought a couple weeks ago to go along with our tins.
Top: Red & White Gummy Hearts, Frozen Strawberries, Strawberry Yogurt w/ Sprinkles
Bottom: Red Egg, Heart Shaped PB&J

My happy girl in her pink cupcake jammies, taking a moment from her gummy hearts to get her pic taken..

The red egg was a huge hit with Laural. She loves boiled eggs - the whites anyhow, so I began preparing for this week's MTM by taking a peeled boiled egg and placing it in a cup of water with red food coloring about 5 days ago. Today, the white was red the whole way through. Laural loved her red egg. She wants me to make colored eggs all the time now. Here is what the egg looked like cut in two.

P.S. I have been extremely lax about keeping up with blogging. I've been taking pics of all the things we've been up to in school and with MTM and I've been taking my Project 365 but I just haven't been posting them! This is a post in an attempt to "catch up."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How I Became A Krazy Coupon Lady

I've been using coupons for a long time. But I didn't start couponing until September last year. That's right, I used the word coupon as a verb. In the past, I would use a few coupons ans save maybe 5 or 10 bucks off a $100 grocery purchase and I would be pleased. And who wouldn't be? I mean, saving 10 bucks is pretty sweet. But, there was something I didn't know. If I took some time to really apply myself, I could have a kitchen loaded with groceries for 50, 60, 70, 80 or even 90% off! My average savings on my regular grocery trips usually around 65 to 70% these days. There are several ways a shopper can make the most of their coupon shopping. Some people plan their meals based on what might be on sale that week and what they have coupons for and then buy what they will need for that week. 

Me, well, I stockpile. This only works if you have some space to keep your stockpiles of stuff. I have several cupboards that weren't being utilized as well as they could have been, so I cleared them out for storage. I also use the top of my refrigerator and part of a closet upstairs for paper goods as well as the top part of my bathroom closet for personal care items, like shampoo, toothpaste and soaps. Now, I'm to the point where pretty much everything I might need is already in my house. I plan one trip to the grocery store each week and never have to run out to get something I've run out of - because I already have one or more in my pantry! I do have to add though, if you are a person who has to have a particular brand of everything, the stockpiling method probably won't work as well for you. For example, if, like this past week, you can get Crest toothpaste for 17 cents a tube, but you only use Aquafresh, then you will have to wait until you find a good deal on the Aquafresh to get a stock of it.

Here's how I do it: 

Part ONE - Getting the Coupons

A. Sunday Papers I buy 9 to 12 Sunday papers each week for the coupons. We have 3 major papers in this area: The Sharon Herald, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette and The Erie Times News. I would really love to get 10 just one of these papers but the way the coupon inserts are done, I'd miss out on a lot by doing that. Pittsburgh and Erie only get the Smart Source inserts and every once in a while, the General Mills. The Herald usually gets all of the inserts but they have only about a third of the coupons the other two papers get. So, if I get a combination of all three papers, I get a decent selection of coupons, without spending a load on papers.

B. Internet Printables There are several websites that have coupons just waiting to be printed! The ones I use regularly are: smartsource.com, redplum.com and coupons.com. These have a wide ariety of brands and products. I also go to various manufacturer websites and get coupons there, like boxtops4education.com (General Mills), recessionpayback.com (Conagra) and snackpicks.com (Keebler & Kellogg's). Another way to get printables is to visit the websites for particular products like bagelbites.com or hebrewnational.com.

C. In The Mail Many of the companies I mentioned above will also have online sign ups for coupons booklets you can receive in the mail. I've recently received a Proctor & Gamble and a Conagra booklet with some nice coupons - higher value than the printables and Sunday supplements. Another source of coupons in the mail is through samples. I am always signing up for free samples of anything and everything I can. walmart.com is a good source of samples and most times, they include a coupon with your sample. Many times, these are high value coupons! Signing up for "clubs" is another way to get coupons. I signed up for the Pop Tarts Sprinklings and not only do I get coupons in the mail on occasion, but they also send me full size packs of new flavors of Pop Tarts to try. About a month ago, I got a package that contained 2 of the new Wild Grape Pop Tarts. Yummy!

D. Ebay There are loads of people who sell their coupon clipping services on ebay. Selling coupons themselves is illegal. This can come in handy when you find a really good deal. For example: This coming week at Giant Eagle, V8 V-fusion juice is on sale 2 for $5. There is a coupon out there right now for .75 off 1 and after being doubled, that makes the juice $1 for a bottle. I got 20 coupons from an ebay service for this deal since the juice is usually around $4 a bottle.

Part TWO - Getting Organized

After a few weeks of having my coupons stuffed into envelopes and then digging through hundreds of coupons to find the ones I wanted, I decided it was time to get better organized. I decided to go with the binder system, using collector card sleeves. I printed out some very pretty divider pages from thekrazycouponlady.com for my binder and then started filling up my binder. I also keep current sales flyers, scissors, a pen and envelopes in my binder. When I make up my shopping list, I go through and pull out the coupons I will be using and put them into one of my envelopes. I have included several full sheet protectors in my binder to keep copies of store coupon policies just in case there is any question about my coupons during checkout. This comes in especially handy with newbie cashiers.

Part THREE - Getting The Deals

I could sit down with my ads and binder each week and check each of the items I am interested in to see if there's a coupon to match the sale. I do that sometimes, but most of the time, I rely on others to do that for me. There are several websites devoted to this, some free, some are pay sites. I use a few different sites. The one I use the most is afullcup.com. It's free and it has forums and shopping lists for loads of different stores. I frequent the Giant Eagle and Walmart forums there.

Another site I use a lot is thekrazycouponlady.com. This is another free site. The grocery stores they list there aren't anywhere near me, but they do have match ups for Walmart, Target and Walgreens which are near me. The thing I like best about this site is that they post tons of links to hot coupons along with ways to use them to get the best possible deals. A lot of times, I can't do the deals as they are posted but I can at least print the coupons and wait for deals at my local stores.

I also use thegrocerygame.com which is a pay site. It publishes a weekly list of the sales and coupon match ups for your local grocery stores. I like to use this as a place to print my shopping lists. I think I would use it a lot more if they did a few things differently. For my area, they only have 4 stores to choose from: Giant Eagle, Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens. I really don't use the last three stores very often. The problem with the Giant Eagle list is that they publish it on Sunday but the sales start on Thursdays, so by the time I can use the list, there are only a couple days left in the sale and often, the really good deals are sold out and I have to get rain checks. This isn't too bad, but I've had really good coupons expire while I waited for the store to restock. I'm thinking I will be canceling my grocery game subscription at the end of this cycle. I have no doubt, though,  that this site would be excellent for people who have a couple more stores to choose from and have stores whose sales run Sunday through Saturday. It's only $10 for 8 weeks and then you can add stores for $5 each (for 8 weeks).

There are several blog I follow that post deals as well. Some of them can be found in "Blogs I Like" on the right side. I need to add a few more that I've recently come across.

Part FOUR - Shopping!

There are a couple of things I've learned about the actual shopping part that can help too. First, I try to hit the stores when they have the lowest number of customers. This sometimes means 8 or 9 PM but, it's easier to get the things you want when you don't have to weave around a bunch of other shoppers. You also don't have to worry about people making rude comments about all the time you are taking in the check out - yes, this has happened to me.

I also keep my eyes open for unadvertised deals and clearance items. I always take my coupon binder into the store with me in case I find a great deal that wasn't in the flyer. I don't always get it out, but most of the time, I turn the seat part of my cart into a little desk. I take the seat belt and hook it through the cart to provide support for my binder and then I lay my open binder out across the seat (usually with my coat or purse underneath). That way, I can put my list there and mark items off as I get them and then I take my coupons out of the envelope and set them in a pile as I get each item. It also gives me easy access to the rest of the coupons in my binder should I find a great deal. I know some people feel a little awkward about taking a huge coupon binder into a store with them, but hey, if it can save me a few bucks, I don't worry about what others think.

Before checking out, I profile the cashiers. I look for somebody who looks like they are friendly and in a good mood. These are the ones who are least likely to give you a tough time over your coupons. Another typical cashier type that is usually easiest to deal with is the high school boy. They usually seem to like to keep things moving and will push through a coupon that makes the register beep rather than wait to check on it. At a couple of the stores I frequent, I have my "favorite cashier." At the Hermitage Giant Eagle, that's Linda. She's just so friendly and seems genuinely happy for me when I am saving so much. The teen girls at the Franklin Giant Eagle are my faves too. A bunch of them will gather around to look at my receipt so they can see my savings percentage and then they all get all gushy and "squealy" the way only teen girls can do. It makes my night when I go there.

That's it! It may seem like a lot to think about but after getting organized and into a groove, it isn't difficult at all. It just comes naturally. Like any good thing worth going after, it takes a little preparation and work. I've been doing this coupon thing for about 6 months now and I still get all excited when I walk out of a store with $200 worth of groceries that I only paid about $45 for. It's quite the rush! 

I'll probably add a few things to this as I'm sure there are things that have slipped my mind at the moment, but this is pretty much it. Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Melissa & Doug Giveaway at Riding With No Hands

I haven't blogged about a giveaway in over a month but this one is cute and since we love Melissa & Doug toys in our home, I couldn't pass up the extra chances at winning. :-) GummyLump.com is giving away a Wooden Slice & Bake Cookie Set through Riding with No Hands. GummyLump has lots and lots of Melissa & Doug toys right now and they are on sale for 20% off! Go check them out!, HERE! To learn more about the giveaway and to sign up, go Riding With No Hands,  HERE.

Riding With No Hands

Monday, February 1, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday

I wasn't planning on doing Muffin tin Monday today because I was in the middle of a wicked migraine with the entire works - nausea, light sensitivity, dizziness, etc. It was just about all I could manage to get up to nuke some Bagel Bites for the kids. Laural came out to the kitchen and asked what we were having for Muffin Tin Monday and I told her we were going to wait until tomorrow to do it because I felt so sick. Well, that was enough to break her heart and she went into the living room crying. So, being the softy I am, I grabbed a tin and arranged her bagels in a tin and grabbed a yogurt and an apple sauce to add to it and that was enough to make Laural's day all better again. I'll probably do a tin tomorrow or Wednesday with the week's theme.

Top Row: Strawberry Applesauce, Cherry Crush Cup, Apple Juice
Bottom Row: Cheese Bagel Bites

Click the button below for more Muffin Tin Meal posts!
Muffin Tin Mom


Related Posts with Thumbnails