Monday, April 28, 2008

We Did It! Unplugged Week is Over

We made it a whole 9 days without watching TV! In many ways it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

My oldest did perfectly! So did my husband, baby and I.

My 4 year old was out of preschool for the whole week. She watched about 2 hours of movies on Wednesday. So she made it 4 days before that and 4 days after that.

I still count us as successful!

Home Decorations for Cheap!

I love containers. I used to have quite the collection. I've gotten better about only keeping containers I need and will use. However, I did have a few containers waiting to be turned into something useful. Here is what I did!

The tall glass canister was a gift many years ago. I loved the glass container so much I have kept it with the intention of doing something with it. Well, as I was trying to decide what fun things to do to it I realized it would make a perfect sugar canister. Now it is on my counter with sugar in it.

I bought a square lampshade at a thrift store a couple years ago. I thought it was really neat and it was super cheap. I had seen a really cute idea in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine where they put a whole bunch of little colorful eyelets in the shade. I always wanted to do something similar. FINALLY I did it! I put a few black flower grommets in it using the Making Memories Grommet Setting Tool. It was a little hard to get it through the tough plastic layer, but I'm fairly pleased with the results.

The black canister was purchased about 13 years ago to hold utensils. I haven't used it for that since moving into our house about 3 years ago! So, I decided it would look cute with some ribbon around it and a white rub on flower. The flower is from Stampin' Up---my non-thrifty annual splurge. I got the inspiration from the Stampin' Up mini catalog and Michael's craft store.

The paint can was a gift for teacher appreciation week several years ago. I always thought it would be fun to re-embellish it. I decided to coordinate the colors with our tv/playroom. Or at least, what I would like the colors to be! It is currently holding colored pencils. I used Stampin' Up scrapbook supplies to embellish it. I should have used a different background paper because it is hard to read the word "friend."

Do you ever find old things around your house and make them new again?


I started making this Granola Mix a few weeks ago and my family loves it. The recipe comes out of this Make-A-Mix Cookery cookbook written by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward and Madeline Westover. It was written 30 years ago and has since been republished. They also came out with a second cookbook titled More Make-A-Mix Cookery which I totally want to buy!
Anyway, this granola is pretty healthy. The recipe makes a HUGE batch so I cut it down to 1/4 of the original. I bake it on my Pampered Chef bar pan and it comes out perfectly every time.

Here is how I make it:

3 Cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 Cup sesame seeds
1/2 Cup sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup wheat germ
1 Cup chopped walnuts and/or almonds
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/3 Cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 Cup water
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons honey and/or agave nectar
2 Tablespoons molasses
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
raisins or other dried fruit if desired

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl combine oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ground flaxseed and nuts. Blend well. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, oil, honey, molasses, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Heat until sugar is dissolved, but not to a boil. Pour syrup over dry ingredients and stir until well-coated. Spread onto a 13"x9" baking pan or cookie sheet with sides. Bake 20-30 minutes, stirring accasionally. Bake 15 minutes longer for a crunchier texture. Cool. Add raisins or dried fruit, if desired. Put in an airtight container. Label. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe

We love Hawaiian Haystacks around here. We eat this meal at least once a month, usually 2-3 times. It is a great recipe to use when company is coming. It feeds a lot and most everyone can find something they like in it. We use organic brown rice from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, but you can use any rice you like. For company, I recommend doubling the recipe. It is somewhat flexible, you can add more broth/water or chicken depending on the consistency you like.

Hawaiian Haystacks

2 (10 3/4 oz) cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken broth or water
2 cups diced chicken
4 cups cooked long-grain rice

Combine soup and chicken broth in a medium saucepan to make gravy. Stir to blend. Add chicken. Simmer about 8-10 minutes, until heated through.
Layer on plates-first stack rice, chow mein noodles and chicken gravy. Add toppings as desired.
Makes about 8 servings.

Topping choices
chow mein noodles*
diced or sliced tomatoes
chopped celery*
diced green pepper*
chopped green onion
pineapple chunks or tidbits*
shredded cheddar cheese*
slivered almonds
shredded coconut

*These are the toppings we always use. But, if we are out of something it really doesn't make that much of a difference to us.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meal Plan Monday 4/28

I'm going to try to really work with what we have this week. We have a lot! I just want to get some peppers and lazagna noodles, but I know I'll be tempted to get a few other deals. We'll see how that goes. Luckily, the sales aren't all that interesting this week!
I'm still trying to stay off dairy. I hate it! I am a cheese lover and with dairy being in sooo many foods and recipes this is HARD. I haven't noticed any difference in my baby, but he is teething and has a cold. Yuck!

Monday: Barley Vegetable Soup

Tuesday: Breakfast 4 Dinner

Lentil Soup

Thursday: Hawaiian Haystacks

Friday: Birthday Party-Mom's house

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Lazagna

Other things I will make this week: Birthday cake, blueberry muffins, vanilla pear jelly, spiced carrot zucchini bread

To see other menu plans, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Awesome CraigsList Score!

I was looking at Oompa Toys at their awesome Kettler tricycles yesterday. I decided I wanted one for my soon to be one year old. On the wishlist it went, knowing full well I'd never buy one.

Then, I went over to Craigslist to see what was out there. There were several listed! The one closest to us was listed for $35!!! Even better. This is a tricycle that retails for around $200.

We called and were told that 9 other people were ahead of us. :( I was sad. Then, we got a call right back saying that if we could come and get it before the day was over it was ours!!! I guess they got stood up and we were the easiest number to find. What luck!

So, my beautiful little boy is getting a tricycle for his birthday. They have already tested it out since it was a little hard to hide. My 4 year old daughter loves it, too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Denver Botanic Gardens

Today we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens with our playgroup friends. It was a FREE day which is awesome. We haven't missed TV at all this week. Activities like this make it easy.
There were a ton of people and we had to park several blocks away, but it was not a big deal. Lots of strollers and wheelchairs everywhere.
The kids enjoyed playing in a sandbox, rolling down a hill and walking through a tropical rain forest.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 4/21

This week should be interesting. We will be going TV free all week and I'll be limiting my computer time. That should mean more time to cook, right? We'll see about that!
I am trying to eliminate dairy from my diet this week to see how it effects the baby. My husband is planning to do some sort of elimination diet where he drink water with lemon and lime and a couple other things. HA! We'll see how long that lasts. But, it will make dinner difficult. We might be in for lots of leftovers. ;P

Monday: Leftovers-Potato soup for the kids, lots of fresh produce

Tuesday: Tacos with homemade refried beans, Mexican Rice

Chicken, rice, veges

Thursday: Turkey burgers on homemade buns, salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, canned pineapple

Saturday: Turkey meatballs, brown rice, fresh veges

Sunday: Vegetarian chili

Other things I will cook this week: Sourdough Bread (2 loaves), cookies

To see other menu plans, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

National TV Unplug Week!

My family is participating in National TV Unplug Week this week. I am very excited about it and I've been looking forward to it for a few weeks now.
We already have been doing TV free weekends since February with great success. We get a lot more done and enjoy doing things together more.
As part of this unplugged week I will be spending far less time online. I could do without TV just fine, but the Internet is my weakness.
We put together a schedule of activities and things to accomplish this week. We are lucky that the weather is supposed to be nice so we can go to the park and take walks when boredom hits.
Here are some of the things we plan to do:
*Botanic Gardens-Free day!
*Pirate Ship Pool (community center)
*Chuck E Cheese (just play, free tokens and coupon)
*Yard work
*Grocery store
*Michaels-free crafts on Saturday + buy a few crafts for home
*Cub scouts-Pack meeting

Have you ever done a TV free week? Are you unplugging your family this week? What are some free or cheap entertainment ideas you have done together?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 4/14---a little late

The menu planning is getting easier. We have started to change our eating a little bit around here. My husband and I are counting calories! I'm trying to gain weight while he is trying to lose. Sounds crazy, right?
We are trying to eat more protein which is a struggle for me. We tend to eat very little meat. Good thing I got a deal on tuna a couple weeks ago! Tuna salad will be on the lunch and snack menu a lot.

This week is a busy one.

Monday: Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Tuesday: Chicken, yams, veges

Women's Group Meeting/Dinner---leftovers

Thursday: Meeting/Dinner----leftovers or macaroni & cheese

Friday: Church Family Dinner & Dessert Auction

Saturday: Cranberry BBQ Turkey Meatballs, brown rice, canned pineapple

Sunday: Chili & cornbread

Other things I will cook this week: Sourdough Bread (2 loaves), beet puree, yam puree

To see other menu plans, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Super Savings Saturday!!! Walgreens

Well, I don't have a photo today. I sent hubby to Walgreens last night so we could take advantage of the $5 coupon. We did really well!

*2 pkgs Pull-Ups
*4 tweezers
*2 nail clippers
*nail polish
*4 small lotions

We spent $21 and saved $24! We got a $10 Register Reward and have just under $7 in rebates. It worked out well that I had a raincheck for the tweezers and clippers making them free!

See how others did on Super Saving Saturday at Money Saving Mom.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Walgreens Coupon! $5 off April 11th

Just saw this great deal on Money Saving Mom.

Print your $5/$20 coupon here to use at Walgreens tomorrow (Friday, April 11, 2008) only.

What a great deal! For maximum savings you can use it to buy the current best deals.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Financial Check Up

March went pretty well. We have been following Dave Ramsey since January 2007 and it has been going great. My husband really didn't know that is what we were doing until this year. lol

We went over on the grocery budget. I just took money from the misc category to cover it. I just had a hard time passing up deals plus our freezer was pretty depleted. I am still in stocking up mode, but think that by next month I will be able to lower my food budget and stick to it.

Our mini van needed repairs. We spent $750 to fix it. YIKES! Before Dave Ramsey this would have been devastating. We used half from savings and half from our budget that would have gone into savings. Phew!

We were able to stay under on our dining and entertainment budget. We only spent a couple dollars of the $50 we allow. We also were under on our allowances. We did spend most of our clothing budget, but got a lot of great deals.

It feels so good to have money in the bank for emergencies and pay cash for the things we need. We are truly blessed.

Check out how others are doing and gain some inspiration at Money Saving Mom!

Monday, April 07, 2008

My New Master Closet

I am thrilled with my new closet! Last week I purchased a closet organizer at Costco for $59.97 plus tax. It is the bomb!

I had seen it a couple months ago and when I went back to buy it it was gone. I was devastated. So, when I saw it again (this time for $8 less) I jumped on it. I originally had budgeted $800 for a custom closet early next year. This saved me over $700 and many months of waiting.

I couldn't wait to install it, so I did it myself on Saturday. It was very easy and my kids had fun helping me. It is adjustable to allow many different configurations. Did I mention how much I love it?!? It can with 3 shelves, 3 rods and 2 basket drawers along with the vertical poles.

Now I just need to get wooden hangers from IKEA. My mom is going to California next month, so I'll see if she'll get them for me. :P I especially need to get pants hangers so my husband has a better solution for his pants.

This project goes along perfectly with Organizing Junkie's April Monthly Organizing Round Up! I am so excited to participate. I've been decluttering for what seems like forever. I thought I had my master bedroom done, but when I installed the closet I found even more things to get rid of!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 4/7

Well, last week went pretty well. I did not make Monday nights planned meal, opting for a Bertoli frozen meal instead. The rest of the week was switched around a little, but I did it! This week I know not to put a time consuming meal on Monday night. It felt really good to focus on meals that used ingredients I had on hand. I also enjoyed making so much from scratch.

So, without further ado, here is this weeks menu.

Monday: Spaghetti, peas, sourdough bread

Tuesday: Chicken, scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob

Tacos with homemade refried beans, Mexican Rice

Thursday: Split Pea Soup, oyster crackers

Friday: MorningStar corn dogs, tater tots, mixed veges

Saturday: Homemade Pizza, canned pineapple

Sunday: Leftovers or sandwiches

Other things I will cook this week: Sourdough Bread (2 loaves), granola, baby food (peas)

To see other menu plans, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Super Savings Saturday!!!

Wow! The King Soopers deals were awesome this week! I am going to go back for more.
My King Soopers is running the mix & match buy 10 get $5 off sale this week.

I spent just over $20.69 and saved over $111. I got 49 items. I am so happy and excited. I was able to get so much for free it is astonishing.

We found organic milk and whipping cream in the clearance section. I had coupons to match from here and here so we got a gallon of Organic Valley milk for $1.69 and the little cartons of Organic Valley whipping cream for $0.49 each! I'm officially in savings heaven!

The Knudsen sports drinks were 10/$10 and I had coupons that doubled to make them free. I also got a few more free Clif Kids bars. Yeah, I'm addicted to free stuff.

Oh, I also got my $0.40 bag credit for bringing my own bags. I love bag credit.

Check out what others have saved this week at Money Saving Mom!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Homemade tortillas and refried beans. YUM!

I am a day behind on my Meal Plan. But, I am sticking to it a lot better than I thought I would. Yay!

Tonight we had homemade tortillas and refried beans for our taco & burrito night. They turned out really well!

I used two recipes from I love that site!
Here is the flavored tortilla recipe. And here is the refried beans recipe. For the tortillas I used red pepper that I had previously pureed and I had to add a bit more water (1/4 C).
With the refried beans, I used dry pinto beans instead of the canned beans. I omitted the salsa and cheese since we were putting them in burritos. I think I made about 5-6 cans worth! I also had 1 1/2 cups to puree for the baby and large amount to make chili with later.

The best part about making this all myself is that I used primarily organic ingredients and nothing artificial. For the shortening I use Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening. It works great and I frequently find it on sale and printable coupons.

I am very pleased with how everything turned out. From now on I will keep refried beans in the freezer so I don't have to make them from scratch each time we want them. I have been wanting a tortilla press and hope to find one at a garage sale this year!