Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mama knows best- the bottom of the cereal box!

Every Saturday I will be featuring Mama Knows Best series. We as mamas have to be innovative and thrifty all in the same beat. Somehow we find new ways of doing things that save us money, time and maybe if we are really blessed.... sanity!

If you have ever read this blog you know that I hate to waste anything! I try to stretch each dollar as far as it will go. So you know how much I just hate to see 3/4 eaten boxes of cereal. My family doesn't want the bottom of the box b/c of all the crumbies in it. I refuse to throw it away. Its a battle of the wills that results in alot of 1/2 empty boxes in my pantry that makes me reach a new level of crazy. ( Not a far walk I assure you)

I did a little happy dance when I found the following recipe. It uses crushed fruity cereal which is perfect for those bottom crumbies. My kids love them and I am not wasting anything! They look very festive- perfect for a kids birthday party!! I make my own sugar cookie dough to save money but the refrigerated saves time. Hope you and your kiddo's enjoy!

Fruity cookie rings and twists

1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough (Or make your own)

3 cups fruit flavored cereal, crushed and divided

Remove dough ( or make your own) according to directions.

Combine dough and 1/2 cup cereal in large bowl. Divide dough into 32 balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour ( or freeze for 30 minutes)

Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough balls into 6- 8 inch long ropes. Roll ropes in remaining cereal to coat; shape into rings or fold into half and twist. (Be creative! Try making cookies in a variety of shapes in addition to rings and twists: Form the ropes of dough into pretzels, snails, hearts or alphabet letters)

Place cookies 2 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wired racks and cool completely.

Got a great idea? Send me yours at .

Friday, March 13, 2009

A couple of Deals for Friday!

Happy Friday! I don't know about you but I am so ready for the weekend! Here are some deals I have come across this week..... Happy Shopping!

Odd Lots- I just got the Odd Lots preview and it looks like they have some great deals! Some examples are

$1 Campbell soups

$4 Disney Watches

$3 Mens or ladies polo tops

4 for $5 packs of batteries

$30 MP3 player.

These sales start Sunday.

Yankee Candle- has a promo running where all tarts and votives are 1/2 off. ($1 !! ) Use coupon code XF903A1.

Gap, Banan republic and Old Navy - Get 30% off your entire purchase at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy (exp. 3/15, 5% is donated to Teach for America, also valid at Factory & Outlet stores) Thanks K!!

Know of a great deal? Let me know at!

Some Irish Recipes your family will love!

St. Patricks day is right around the corner! Here are a couple of recipes that the whole family (even the picky ones- yes there is one in every family!) will love! I will be posting more each day until St. Patricks day!

Irish cheddar Crisps

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 tsp sugar

3 /4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup cold water

2 Tbs white vinegar

coarsely grounded black pepper

Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking soda in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese, water, and vinegar with fork until mixture forms soft dough. Refrigerate 1 hour or freeze 30 minutes until firm.

Preheat oven to 375. Grease two large cookie sheets. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into paper thin circle on floured surface. Sprinkle with pepper. Press pepper firmly into dough.

Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Place wedges on prepared cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until crisp. Store in airtight container.

Shamrock Smoothies

1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup ice cubes

3/4 cup apple juice

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp orange extract

2 or 3 drops green food coloring

Place banana, ice cubes, apple juice, yogurt, extracts and food coloring in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into glasses and garnish with mints or cookies.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How coupons have made me crazy!

I got a really clear glimpse yesterday of just what I look like grocery shopping. If you are part of the couponing crowd you know what I mean. When you find a great deal, you get excited. With me excitement is visible. ( I am Spanish / Irish after all which is a deadly mix in the emotion department)

This particular shopping excursion I was finding killer deals (.99 Organic milk, free wipes, free sponges, free toothbrushes and deodorants) I would find a manager markdown and then shuffle through my coupons. All the while mind you talking to myself, the Lord, the coupon binder... basically whoever would listen.

It would go something like this....

"Clorox, Clorox, there's one. No that's for wipes. Wipes aren't on sale... hmmmm. AH HA!! I knew I had it!"

I quickly look around, realizing that I am indeed

a.) excited about the new found coupon

b.) Talking quite loudly.

c.) Not really caring b/c I am getting cleaner for .40

I wander along and realize how else coupons have made me crazy. I not only am getting killer deals with my coupons, I am also offering them to people shopping the store! I will see a lady looking at cosmetics for a brand I don't wear. I know I have a coupon for it so I feel like its my shopping lady duty to go up to this perfect stranger and offer her a coupon. Most the time they look at me like I am trying to sell something. Then they stare after as I push away trying to figure out why I just gave them a coupon.

Because I not looking enough crazy, I have to call my friend. ( The supreme bargain shopper ) and tell her the fabulous manager markdowns that I am finding. Phone cradled between my shoulder and ear, flipping through coupons , reporting the deals through the phone... I am sure that people think that I must be some sort of secret shopper. Too bad I am just the nut job in Isle 7. :)

I think people may be steering clear of the isle but I am probably just imagining things, right?

The craziness comes to a head when I get to the register. I closely watch the scanner,making sure things are ringing up for what they should. I then hand over 567 coupons. (Ok I am exaggerating but still ) I wait for the cashier to congratulate me for finding such great deals, having so many killer coupons and saving so much money. She instead lets out a large sigh and slowly takes my pile of coupons. Obviously she doesn't realize how much work I have put into all of this. That's ok. Nothing can spoil this moment.

She gives me my total, prints my receipt and tells me " You saved $103.37 today" HELLO!!! This is my all time most savings. I stand there dumbly thinking that I heard wrong. I stare at the teen who obviously wants me to take the receipt and move along. I say "what?" In which she replies by handing me my receipt and scanning the next persons items. I shuffle to the car and sit in the drivers seat examining my receipt. I somehow manage to make it home.

I am so excited when I get home that I act like we just ran the lottery. By now my hubby knows the drill. I burst into the kitchen, cheeks flushed, waving my arms around and talking very quickly. My kids look a little scared but quickly dismiss me to concentrate on their toys. (They have seen this type of crazy before.) My hubby is a very smart man indeed. Knowing that there is no way to possibly get out of the next ten minutes he resigns to sit in a kitchen chair. I then take the next couple of minutes of his life that he will never get back to show him.... everything.

"Look at this.. I got this free. Totally free! I mean I paid nothing!!! Isn't that great!!"

"I got this for .10 and you love this.. aren't you happy?"

There is alot of nodding, uh-hu's and "That's great's !" I truly married a saint of a man.

On shopping days I always go to bed early. I am worn out. I start to giggle in bed thinking how crazy I must look and how coupons have slowly changed the way I shop. I quickly decide that I would rather be crazy while saving money then sane while in debt. :) If you see me cruising through the grocery store though, you may want to move a couple isles over. Just in case.

Bargain recipe of the week- Giant Eagle!

Bargain Meal of the Week

I love Lasagna but rarely have the time to make it. (My hubby does make a mean lasagna complete with red wine sauce which I need to post another time.) This is a skillet bow tie lasagna that is so easy and yummy that your family will beg for more! I like that it uses bow tie pasta because if you have little ones they can easily eat then with little fingers or forks. Hope you enjoy!

I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand. W/c means with coupon.

Skillet Bow Tie Lasagna

1 pound ground beef (On sale 1.99 a lb) $1.99
1 small onion, chopped (On sale .99 a lb) .20
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (On sale Ragu 4 for $5 w/c $1 off of 2 in Sunday paper 1/18) .75
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (On sale San Giorgio 10 for $10) $1
3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese ( On sale Daisy brand cottage cheese 2 for $6) .75
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the sauce, parsley, oregano and salt; mix well.

Stir in pasta; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring once.

Combine cheeses; drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto pasta mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Total cost of this meal: $4.69

Add Salad (Framers market, fresh express on sale B1G1) .65 Total cost of meal:$5.34

Click on the image to go find more Bargain Meals of the Week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Works for me Wednesday- making walks fun!

My kids have passed on to me with much love, some kind of crud. I am feeling like a truck has run over me, put it in reverse and then did it again. So with that being said, I am keeping my WFMW simple today.

I love spring. I love to see my bulbs start to rise up in delicate spring flowers, the warmer temps and most of all the opportunity to get these kids outside. Every mama knows that outside air + running around= kids that are ready for bed. WOOHOO!

Since it has started to get warm around here, my hubby and kidlets have started our nightly walks. We all love these walks. (And I don't feel quite as bad for that extra helping of food I took at dinner. I am burning it off, right? )
This year my oldest is going to be 3. He is really asking what things are and each walk presents new things to see and learn about. So before each walk we make a scavenger hunt list. Its nothing complex. Very simple, usually 3 things. He gets so excited looking for the things on his checklist. His little face just beams with pride when he hands us one of the items that he has collected.

Last night we had to find a yellow leaf, a rock and a squirrels nest. He learned what a squirrels nest was and looks like. (By the end of the walk, he could spot one from a mile away.) He proudly showed our neighbors his treasures and placed them by the mailbox for all who passed to see.

I know its a simple idea but it really spices up our walks. And this works for me and my little man!

Some great deals at Target!!

I found some awesome deals at Target yesterday! Here are some things that I got:

- Children's shorts, dresses, tops - $4 - 5. (You can't beat that !!)

- Gillette Shampoo for men FREE. This was found on a side cap at my store. Its the combo shampoo/body wash on sale for $2. Use your coupon for $2 off and its free!

- Kid's DVD's - They had A TON of children's DVD's for $4.75. (I picked up two for the kids Easter baskets)

- Dollar bins- I found quite a bit of stuff for Easter baskets.

Sidewalk Chalk, beautiful Peter Rabbit books and coloring books, Sesame street books, Slinky's, stickers....just the stuff that kids will love!

Be sure to also check out the outdoor toys / pool toy section. They have a large selection of outdoor toys for under $2. This year I am getting the kids a pail, diggers and sand molds for their Easter baskets since we will be going to a beach this year.

Happy Shopping!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some fun for St. Patricks Day!

I try to keep things fun by celebrating whatever holiday we happen to be in. ( Mama's know that when kids get bored we tend to get a little crazy. Crazy mama= not good) Here are some fun things to do with your little leprechauns at home this week!

Play shamrock bingo- Click here for making the Bingo cards and call out cards. You can choose, letters, numbers, pictures, words.. whatever you are working on with your little ones !! Use green jellybeans or even make your own Shamrocks out of construction paper!

Make them some shamrock pancakes! - Just some green food coloring added to the batter and some creative spooning does the trick. My babies love these!

Coloring- Here are some printable St. Patricks day coloring pages. Maybe this will keep them busy enough for you to make dinner! Here is one with jokes at the bottom if your little one is into telling jokes :)

Have some game time- Here is a printable puzzle. Here is a maze. Here is the shamrock memory game. Or go here to see them all!

Have a green dinner - I plan on doing this for St. Patricks day with my Shepherds pie recipe. I plan to color the mashed potatoes green, have broccoli and green milk. Hopefully they will be intrigued and not grossed out :)

Attend a parade or free concert- I know living in Dublin Ohio we have plenty O' opportunity. Check with your local chamber of commerce to see if your community is having parades or celebrations. Its a chance to get out of the house and learn about another culture. ( For free most times- woohoo! )

Green scavenger hunt- Send them on a scavenger hunt. (This can be done inside or outside.) The person to find the most green things wins!

Do you do anything for St. Patricks day? I would love to hear about it ! One "lucky" commenter will win St. Patricks day window clings! (I will pick the winner on St. Patricks day)

Meijer recipe of the week- slow cooker cabbage rolls

Bargain Meal of the Week

I am sticking with my Irish theme this week. Meijers has heads of cabbage this week for .19!! (I also use cabbage in my beef vegetable soup- it really thickens it up and tastes great! ) This week I will be making slow cooker cabbage rolls. I hope your lads and lassies love them!

Check out Stretching a Buck deals here to see more deals at Giant Eagle. I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand. W/c means with coupon.

Country Cork Cabbage Rolls

6 cups of water

12 large cabbage leaves (On sale .19) .7

1 lb ground beef (Angus beef on sale 2.49 a lb) $2.49

1/2 cup cooked rice (Zatarain's on sale 10 for $10) $.50

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (On sale Contadina 10 for $10) .75

Bring water to a boil in large saucepan. Turn off heat. Soak cabbage leaves in water for 5 minutes. Remove, drain and cool.

Combine beef, rice, salt, oregano, nutmeg, and pepper in large bowl. Mix well. Place 2 Tbs of mixture in each cabbage leaf. Roll firmly. Place cabbage rolls in slow cooker, seam side down. Pour tomato sauce over cabbage rolls. Cover, and cook on low 8 to 10 hours.

Total cost of meal: $3.81

Add Frozen veggies (On sale Meijer brand 10 for $10) $4.81

Add veggies and garlic bread (On sale Cole's 10 for $10) $5.81

Click on the image to go find more Bargain Meals of the Week!

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday- Shepherd's Pie

Keeping with the theme of St. Patricks day, I thought I would post a recipe for Shepherds pie. It calls for instant mashed potatoes, which is fine, but I use some frozen mashed potatoes that I have made previously. (See my potato post here!) Happy Tuesday everyone!

Shepherd's Pie

1 1/3 cups instant mashed potato buds

1/2/3 cup milk

2 Tbs butter

1 tsp salt, divided

1 lb ground beef

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 jar, 12 ounces beef gravy

1 package (10 ounces) frozen mixed veggies, thawed and drained

3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler. Prepare 4 servings of mashed potatoes according to package directions using milk, butter and 1/2 tsp of salt.

While mashed potatoes are cooking, brown meat in medium broiler proof skillet over medium high heat, stirring to separate meat. Drain drippings. Sprinkle meat with remaining 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Add gravy and veggies. Mix well. Cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until hot.

Spoon prepared potatoes around outside edge of skillet, leaving 3-inch circle in center. Sprinkle cheese evenly over potatoes. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat source 3 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and meat mixture is bubbly.

For more tempting recipes visit Blessed with Grace!

Monday, March 9, 2009

And the Winner is ......

The winner of the Sleepytime Bath Aromatherapy is ...... cdziuba!! I will be sending you a e-mail shortly !

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Menu plan Monday

Last week went so well using my bargain recipes of the week that I have decided to do it again! I think the food tastes just a little better knowing that each bargain meal is under $4-7! Happy Monday!

Monday: Asian chicken pasta salad, egg rolls (On sale at Aldi this week!)

Tuesday: Slow cooker tomato chicken, salad, butter noodles, crescent rolls

Wednesday: Leftovers... if its not movin you can eat it!

Thursday: Stuffed green peppers, biscuits

Friday: Pizza Night!

Saturday: Salsa chicken, Spanish Rice, re fried beans

Sunday: Irish Stout Chicken, potato cakes, green beans
For more great menu ideas visit I'm an organizing junkie!

Bargain recipe of the week- Kroger!

Bargain Meal of the Week

It is actually warm here in Ohio. ( Warm is above freezing to us Buckeyes :) ) In all seriousness, it reached the 70's this weekend. It made me want to grill out! In honor of the warm temps, I thought I would post a grilling recipe! These burgers sound delicious! Happy eating.....

Check out Stretching a Buck deals here to see more deals at Giant Eagle. I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand. W/c means with coupon.

Bacon Wrapped Hamburgers

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (Sargento Cheese on sale $1.99 w/c) .50
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, chopped .35
1 egg .13
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pound ground beef (On sale 1.99 a lb) 1.99
6 slices bacon (On sale Kroger brand 2 for $6) 1.50
6 hamburger buns, split (On sale value brand .88) .66

Preheat a grill for high heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Crumble in the ground beef, and mix together by hand. Form into 6 patties, and wrap a slice of bacon around each one. Secure bacon with toothpicks.

Place patties on the grill, and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Remove toothpicks before serving on hamburger buns.

Total cost of meal: $5.13

Add Mac and cheese (On sale Value brand .39) Total cost of meal: $5.52

Add mac and cheese and salad (Dole on sale 2 for $4) $6.52

Click on the image to go find more Bargain Meal of the Week!

Making a Happy Home Monday- how we decorate!

What totally makes a happy home is family. Period. Your home can be showcase beautiful. I have to say that I would admire the beauty of the decorating but I prefer my daughters hand prints on our front windows. It means that she has been perched there, pressing her tiny, perfect nose to the glass waiting for her daddy. I walk by that glass and smile. Yes, I will clean it off on cleaning day but it doesn't haunt me till I do. Its a reminder to me that she is only little once.

In this vein of thinking, comes my Happy Home Monday. I have chosen to share how we decorate our kids room. I found a bedroom set for my son at T.J Maxx for $19. ( Woohoo!) It was rescue vehicles. It is what he LIVES for! And it was cheap enough to not feel guilty when he wants to change it in five years! We painted a road around the center of his room to look like the road that was on his comforter. ( Its magnetic paint so he can place cars on his "road". )

The real point of this post however is what we hung on the walls. I managed to snag real life pictures of my hubbby putting out fires. (Ok so the pics freaked me out because I don't actually like to think about my husband in danger. I like to think he just goes to the station to hang out with his buddies and cook.)

They were awesome pictures and my son clung to them, wanted to hold them, touch them and I think morph into them if he could. That was his daddy. In a cool coat, hat and boots. The 156'th time I let him see them it hit me.

I blew the pictures up into small poster size pics, matted and framed them. They hang above his bed. Before saying our prayers, he often points up at them and asks when daddy is coming home. My reply is always the same. I tell my boy that other people need daddy tonight. That his daddy is a hero and is saving people. I then tell him that he will be home in the morning. He snuggles into his borrow of covers and whispers "I love my daddy". I couldn't have said it any better.....

That is why I decorate with real life pictures. It reminds me that its not what hangs on our walls that makes this home happy. Its the people in it.

For more happy home ideas check out As for me and My House!

Mama Knows Best! - Kitchen tip

Every Saturday I will be featuring Mama Knows Best series. We as mamas have to be innovative and thrifty all in the same beat. Somehow we find new ways of doing things that save us money, time and maybe if we are really blessed.... sanity! This week its just a simple trick I use to save me time while cooking/ cleaning up dinner!

I love cooking dinner. I hate cleaning up afterwards. Maybe its the food making me sleepy afterwards or the long day catching up with me. Whatever it is, I am just not that motivated after dinner!!

I have figured out that if I clean as I cook, I have alot less to clean up.

At the beginning of cooking, I take a plastic grocery bag. ( One of the millions from the store)

I lay it on the counter, opened. As I cook, I put all the trash in the bag. Its great because I don't leave waste on the counter, and I don't have to keep running to the trash can. When I am done cooking, I grab the bag and toss it in the trash and I am almost done!

You would be surprised how much time it saves in cleanup!! And that makes this mama very happy indeed. ( That with the fact that her lovely husband does the dishes- what a man!)

Got a great idea? Send me yours at .