Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Business cards have been ordered!

So today I got a bunch of emails advertising a deal through for 250 free business cards (just pay shipping of $5 or $6).  I've been thinking about ordering business cards for a few months now and decided this was the deal to try it out on.  In case you're wondering, no - I have not opened a small business account!  There is nothing about my blog that is a business.  Some day, maybe.  But for now, it's just an outlet for me to keep in touch with family and friends and help others with money saving tips, recipes and other ramblings. 

Recently, I have found that when I talk to people about the blog, it's annoying to have to dig for scratch paper in my purse to write the web address down.  Solution?  FREE Business Cards!

I'll probably still have 200 a year from now, but oh well.  I'm excited : )

Monday, February 21, 2011


I've posted about this before, but we ended up having this again tonight and wanted to repost the idea because of how easy and how good it is.  Not to mention, it's loaded with protein and veggies!

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. of milk
  • 3 pieces of crumbled turkey bacon (or other lean meat of your choice like thinly sliced ham)
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheese
  • Additional Veggies: I add all sorts!  Tonight I added left over corn, yellow pepper, green pepper, mushrooms, green onions. I've added spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, black olives, yellow onion and other things before.  It's basically whatever is in your fridge!
  • Seasoning adjusted to your taste (I like all spice seasoning)

Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl.  Add milk and whisk together.  Add other ingredients in.  Season if you prefer.  Pour into microwave omelet maker and cook on high for 3 min. and 15 seconds.  Serve with slice of whole wheat toast and 2 extra strips of bacon.  Additional fruit also makes for a nice plate : )

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Menu 3.0

What brings you your sense of calm?  Is it veggin out in front of the tv, working out and hitting the treadmill, or maybe it's shopping mindlessly at the mall?  Well, I've tried all previously mentioned tactics and found that they offered some sort of immediate relief, but it wasn't long before I was feeling overwhelmed and out of energy again.  What has seemed to work with more of an impact for me is menu planning (and blogging of course ;).  And there you have it folks, I'm officially a NERD!
Hear me out though, there are valid reasons for this:
  1. I get to use all of my planning skills to work within a budget, capitalize on ingredients that we already have and throw in a little creativity because we're trying new recipe items that we haven't tried before
  2. It involves cutting coupons to get the best deals on the groceries that make the meal
  3. Eating in is better on the budget than eating out (and trust me - we've tried the other way giving it a full run for the money!)
  4. I have to care about nutrition or I'll end up right back where I started a few years ago
  5. Nothing brings me a bigger sense of calm, especially after an insane day at work, to come home and know that our meals are planned - all ingredients are accounted for and on average, I know how much time it's going to take to whip up dinner.  Not I said planned, not pre-made or "easy out of bag".  We owe ourselves that 30-40 minutes to make a good dinner, right?  Lord knows, I give at least 30 minutes of my day to someone else every single day... I should be willing to do the same for myself and our family! 

Here's how I go about making our meal plan.
  1. I take 2 week chunks and list out all evening activities (It's looking like our current menu will last us 3 weeks, hence the 3.0 post title).  Lately, there have been a ton of late nights with our work and school schedules.  I make special note of  those nights that we need leftovers or something easy.
  2. I make a list of all protein based items we have in the house (checking the deep freeze is important)
  3. I make a list of items we have that are going to expire or go bad in the next couple of weeks.
  4. I look for recipes using the protein as the main ingredient.  I try to keep in mind what we have on hand and what items we'd need to buy.
  5. I pull together a list of 20-24 possible recipes.  
  6. Then I consult the cupboards to see what we have and what we don't.  This narrows the idea list down by about 4 or 5 each week.  My rule of thumb is that if I need more than 4 ingredients (assuming our cupboards are relatively full) then we don't do that recipe.
  7. Run ideas by Ryan (this usually narrows down the list by at least another 5!)
  8. Finally, I consult the coupon organizer to find out what has good deals and how to make our meal plan budget/waistline conscious.
  9. Make a sub-menu for lunch and breakfast items to round out my grocery shopping list.  Again, consulting coupons and considering leftovers.
Taking a big leap of faith putting my hyper organized life out there... anyone else function like this?  I'm lucky that the person I married does, so all is good in our hood ; )  However organized I am - I still procrastinate with the best of them.
So this brings me to the end of my posting escapades from today...  Below is a list of what recipes I need to post (already made) and what recipes are coming (will post after this week when the cooking is done and before I tackle the new list!)

Recipes to post that we made this past week:
  • Deconstructed Lasagna
  • Turkey Meatloaf
  • Chicken and cheese quesadilla
  • Chicken Stir fry
  • Pot Roast
  • Breaded pork cutlets with asparagus
  • Smothered Cheese burgers
  • Beef and Cabbage Stew
Recipes planned for the next week and a half:
  • Garlic Roast Pork with Sauteed Peppers
  • Cuban Sandwiches
  • Fettuccine with beef and mushroom ragu
  • Tuna Melts
  • Omelets
  • Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas
  • Grilled Chicken and Delicate Mustard Herb Sauce (the word delicate almost made me skip this recipe - I thought it sounded ridiculous!)
  • BBQ Pork Sandwiches
  • Sweet and Salty Pork Stir Fry
  • Curried Chicken and Cauliflower Soup
  • Soup with whole wheat rolls

Spice up your night with Kung Pao Chicken

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!!!

Looking to spice up your night?  We did on Monday night... no, people - minds out of the gutter.  We spiced things up with this great new recipe.  Now we LOVE our asian food.  I've been craving sushi (only a California roll - I am from Iowa people!) since about 2 months out from surgery.  We often find ourselves at Cafe East in Lancaster when we're in the mood for someone else to do the cooking and I need a sushi roll.  A few things have lessened our trips there lately: 1) we moved! 2) E-town now has a fresh sushi bar at work - crazy expensive, but so good!  My cash budget allows me to get it once a week 3) we can now make something just as yummy at home.  Sorry Cafe East - we still love you, we just won't be there as much!

Kung Pao Chicken:
Water not pictured.

1 lb. of chicken breast - cut into small pieces
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. of splenda
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
4 large green onions, sliced thin
1 packet of Sun Bird Kung Pao Chicken Seasoning
1 bag of uncle ben's 90 second rice (jasmine would give it the most authentic Asian flavor, but pick what every one you'd like)

Blend contents of seasoning packet with water, soy sauce and splenda.  Set aside. In large skillet or wok, cook chicken pieces in oil until well done.  Add peanuts to skillet and stir fry until browned.  Add green onions and stir fry.  Add sauce mixture and stir over heat for 1 minute.  Make 90 second rice in microwave and serve together.  

For dessert, we had sugar free jellybelly jelly beans.  I had 9, 1 of each flavor.   And Ryan had 9 of the black ones - I can't stand those!
Look at that poor little guy on the right... at least Ryan enjoys that flavor!  For anyone watching their sugar alcohols, 9 is my max of these.

My version of Kettle Corn Popcorn

We were both wanting some sort of a sweet snack this afternoon.  We're tackling laundry, dishes, our laptops and the Daytona 500 - love these low key afternoon's.  I'll continue to stay in denial about how much work I have to get done before tomorrow morning.  I'm feeling like the oh crap moment will probably hit around 8pm this evening after dinner and I see an all-nighter ahead of me.  Anyway... I digress!  I honestly can't remember where I got this idea from, it might have been from my weight watcher days, I might have read about it in a magazine OR I just came up with it on my own because we're both craving a sweet snack.  Regardless of where it came from, it's delicious and easy.  The 2 things that make any sort of recipe go to the top of my list instantly!

1 bag of microwave popcorn
1/2 tbsp. of cinnamon - divided
8 packets of equal

Pop popcorn in microwave.  Shake into large bowl.  While popcorn is still hot, sprinkle with 1/2 of cinnamon mixture and 4 packets of equal.  "fluff" popcorn in bowl by lightly tossing it.  Once the popcorn on top of the bowl looks plain again, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and 4 packets of equal.  Shake until well mixed and serve.


Random Deals to Share

These deals all happened in the last 2-3 weeks (I got behind on posting... sorry!).  These sales should come around again - so keep your eyes peeled.

I've mentioned before,  and I'll mention again, that K-mart runs double coupon days (up to $2) every once in awhile.  This last time they ran their sale for the full week - not just a day or 2.  I was able to get some great things 4 out of the 7 days (work prevented me from going the other 3 days, otherwise I would have been there!)  The key to shopping this sale successfully is: 1) have your rewards card membership with you 2) bring along $2 coupons (they'll be doubled to $4) 3) look for items that are over $4, but as close in price as you can get them 4) be prepared to spend $25 per transaction each day before coupons.  So get the total as close to $25 as you can ($25 or more counts) and then be prepared to pay between $5-$10 total after coupons.  Each person is limited to 5 coupons per day on these sales.  Below are 2 pics from my trips:
Total: $5.64 for this run.  Would have been close to $30.
Total: $8.61 (needed the burts bees to put me over the $25 mark for my total.  Would have been close to $30)
CVS/RiteAid/Kmart from 2 weeks ago - crazy shopping day, but good deals over all.  Paid less than $50 for everything below (K-mart up'd that more than anything).

Rite Aid & CVS from 1 week ago.  Less than $30 spent overall.

Pet Smart from 2 weeks ago (although we just got a very similar deal yesterday.  10 bags of dog treats for $15 total was the deal yesterday - not pictured).  The deal pictured below is 1 bag of dog food and 8 bags of dog treats for $14.  Our pup is officially stocked for the next 3-4 months!

And finally, this one CRACKS me up!  We were out running errands all day last weekend and needed some food.  We went through the drive through at Boston Market (affectionally referred to as BM by Miss Slater!)  I had a coupon for $1 off that we planned to use, but the meal we ordered wasn't covered by the coupon.  The lady felt bad for us, so gave us "another" discount... turns out a 28 & 29 year old got the senior discount!  HAHA!  Hey, I'll take it.  I didn't ask for it, I clarified that we CLEARLY didn't qualify - but she said she wanted to do this for us.  Enjoy the picture proof below : )

Snow storm what???

Alright, we live in PA - so we're not going to get slammed with a snowstorm like some areas of the Midwest are getting this weekend.  But we did have 2 snow storms this year and I took a few pictures to "document" what constitutes as a snow storm out here.  My favorite part of getting this much snow - Bentley gets suited up in his snowsuit.  Yes, our dog has his own snowsuit.  And yes, his name is embroidered on the side of the neck area... but get over it!  He is 6.5 pounds and needs an extra layer to not freeze when he's doing his business.  I searched high and low for a snow suit that had 4 legs for dogs.  So many of them only have the front little arms - because of Bentley's fur and how the snow sticks, we need to get as much covered as we can.  It's essentially a onesy for a dog.  Alright, it's out there... I'm prepared for the comments but will stand firm that it is seriously one of the best things we've purchased for him!

Want one for your pup?  I used  The woman's name is Vicky and she was able to customize so many things for us.  I got to pick the color, give her his exact measurements and pick the color of his name being embroidered (I wanted to make sure it matched is collar and leash... of course!).  We ended up paying about $40 for everything (including shipping).  Let me tell you, this is about half the price of what something would cost from PetSmart or Petco - and those are not customized. I can't recommend her service enough.  A great idea for a gift of a new dog owner too.  But maybe a gift certificate if it's a new puppy - they won't be that size forever!
The little guy wanting to go out and play in the snow...
All suited up in his snowsuit - ready to go! (Tail and feet still stick out)
The backyard - we lost quite a few branches from these trees about half way through the day.
The other side of the backyard with the garage... yes, all trees are still standing - thank god!
The poor neighbors are snowed into their lot!

Super Bowl Consignment Sale

What'd you do super bowl weekend???

Yes, we had the game on and had Miss Dixon over.  But the highlight of the day for me was this awesome little sale that our consignment store (Now Wear This) does around here every Super Bowl Sunday.  They run the sale from 11am-5pm.  I've never gone before (because we didn't live that close the other years), but had I known the AWESOME deals - I would have been making the trip every year. 

Let me try and set the scene for you.  I go at Noon on that Sunday thinking I have plenty of time.  I get there and there are cars parked along 743! (For those of you reading that aren't from here or don't live near by, it's a busy highway stretch that goes out of E-town towards Hershey.)  I lucked out and got a "real" parking spot because someone was leaving.  This store has plenty of parking so I was totally caught off guard.  Let me just say, the staff at the store was extremely professional and nice and oh so helpful for a mega shopper like me.  I've been consigning my clothes there for the last year and have had a great experience all around.  They are REALLY strict and will only take name brand items that are in season and in excellent condition.  I can't stress this enough - excellent condition is a must have, it's what keeps me shopping there time and time again. 

Shopping like this is a true trip because nothing in the store is the same and I'm in just about every size they have in there.  Let me explain...
I can still wear Size 14w. pants from the plus size section.  In dresses and suits, I can wear anything from a M - XL or 12-16 (putting me in both sections again). Depending on the bottoms, I wear a petite or regular cut - so I'm looking through 12-16 in "regular" sizes in skirts, capris, jeans, pants and khakis.  Tops, I can wear anything from a 10-14 or M-XL depending on the cut or style.  Then I shop the accessories and the shoes.  And by the time it's all said and done... I have amassed a HUGE amount of possibilities that I take with me to the dressing room to try on (there was a bit of a line, but I didn't complain -I knew I'd be causing that line by trying everything on!)

I walked away with 14 items for $150 bucks. Over 1/2 of the items had never been worn and still had the original store tags on them.  The sale was 20% off everything in the store (no exclusions) and 30% off "winter" items.  Strangely enough - one of the "springiest" things I got was the only thing considered "winter".  Whatever, I'm not complaining.  13 items at 20% off and 1 item at 30% off for already low consignment prices makes me a happy happy girl.

Pics of the awesome finds are below (I've also thrown in 2 pictures of Kohl's finds from that weekend too!)
Black jumper and multi-colored cardigan - wore this to work last week, it was a hit! Dress was new with tags.
Spring/Summer wrap dress - super flattering and J-Crew sweater.  Ryan said I am channeling Jackie O. in the sweater, but I like it!  Sweater was new with tags.
Black Pencil Skirt, Black dress slacks and v-neck, long style shirt.  Skirt and shirt, new with tags.
Flower child button down shirt - very light weight, will be perfect for warm spring days, green and white sweater set with matching shell (this is what was "winter" and light pink cardigan.  Flower shirt and green and white sweater -new w/ tags.
Black baby doll dress, will be cute with boots and tights next season if necessary and red spring/summer sun dress.  Both new with tags.

Hard to see, but Dark Purple coldwater creek blazer.  (New with tags 89.95, I scored it for less than $20!)

Starting Top Left: burgundy pumps from kohls, nine west open toe sandals from consignment, brown leather shoes from kohls and naturalizer black flats from kohls.  Total for all 4 pairs of shoes: $50 : )

Kohls deals: Chaps skirt for $9 and Chaps sweater for $4.  booya!
Debut of first outfit from deals:
Total outfit cost: $35 (this includes, tights, shoes, sweater and jumper)

New coupon organizer and props to

I recently purchased a new coupon organizer.  About 4 weeks ago it arrived in the mail and I am a very happy girl!  Was the binder system hyper organized, yes.  Was the binder system too cumbersome and heavy to get used on a regular basis - yes and yes!  So I did a little SWOT analysis on my coupon organizing system and came up with this:  I need something that lets me organize by section, something that doesn't weigh more than my dog AND something that is a little less embarrassing to carry into the store with me.

And this, my friends, brings me to my new friend: The MEGA coupon organizer.  I bought this from a woman (Deb) on  If you're unfamiliar with etsy, it's a website to buy handmade goods and support artists without all the store mark-ups or prices.  I love it because often the artists are willing to customize what you order.  Deb, also known as GlowGirl, was absolutely amazing to work with.  She was working for over a week on a removable strap system - but we ended up scratching that because I knew I'd be packing mine full and we were worried about the weight.  She had it shipped right away and was awesome about keeping in contact throughout the process.  She was recently featured on Etsy, so her sales have boomed - but through it all, she was so great.  If I order another one, I'm going to get the Autumn Paisley pattern - I couldn't make up my mind.  I've been using the new organizer for the last 3 weeks and it's been great so far.  Thank goodness I got the MEGA one - mine is already busting at the seems!

Want to see another great artist on  Check out my sister's site and then also check out her blog - this girl is doing some cool things with her business, Chicken Scratch Studio and she'll let you buy any of it, I'm sure!  ; )

Here are pics of my little beauty:
Packed full
Yep, we got a work out with today's shopping trip and the coupons we needed to score some awesome deals!
Love this feature of the bag - it lets you attach it to the cart so all your coupons are easily sortable.  I normally hook mine to the "kid" seat, but this Giant cart has a crazy Realtor advertisement that wouldn't let me attach it.  And no, I don't keep drugs with me to shop!  That's my little case for paper clips to keep all my deals pulled together!

Deals Deals and more Deals!

Eeekk - where has the time gone?!? 

I've been ramping up the recipes big time.  I've also been staying on top of coupons and deal shopping.  In addition to that, work has been absolutely insane and this week I start teaching... so there you have it.  My explanation for no posting in the last 20 days.  I've been documenting through pictures knowing that I wanted to post as soon as I got a moment.  I really don't have a "moment" today as my lesson plans and classwork is calling - but I just can't take it anymore!  I have to share!

These posts are deals I just got today (2/20)  I thought the sooner I got this posted, the better in case anyone else wants to get in on the deals.

First we have Rite Aid.  HUGE deals this week!  Yes, you'll notice that there are some items that are "unusual" for a non-mom.  But there are no expiration dates on any of these products and they make GREAT additions to a baby-shower gift package if I don't need them myself!  They were FREE, so I wasn't going to pass that up.  Visit the Johnson and Johnson website for coupons.  Total paid for everything pictured: $2.56 (that's including tax).  I even got $24 in Up Rewards to use by March 12th - can't wait to cash those in!
$2.56 total!
This is what the EMPTY rite aid parking lot looks like at 8:55am while I wait for the doors to open... how embarrassing!
Then we have CVS.  Not "great" deals, but still good enough because we use and needed almost all of it.  Because the majority of the purchases were grocery like items, I took this out of our weekly grocery budget. (That budget is looking healthy this week because of the 2.5 week menu plan I came up with last week... post to come on that).  Total spent: $23.12.  Earned $9 in Extra Care Bucks.  Total bill would have been over $80 had I paid full price, so I'm still feeling pretty good about it.  I think the Rite Aid run 20 min. before set the bar pretty high ;)
4 - 2 liters, 4 boxes of wheat thins, 2 cans of black olives, 20 ct. Purex 3 in 1, 2 John Freida Volumizing Products, 3 - 12pks of pop, Colgate toothpaste, 9oz. bag of black jelly beans and 1 bag of mini cadbury eggs (last 2 for Ryan :)
If you want to know the specifics of any of this weeks deals, send me a message or leave a comment and I'll let you know what coupons I used and how I did it!