Monday, January 30, 2012

January Wrap~Up

It's been 45 days since my hubby and I have had a paycheck.  We both work for a local school district and get paid each last working day of the month...which in December was the 16th.  The good news is that we made it and tomorrow we get paid!

My monthly grocery budget each month is $250.00.  I ended up spending $264.88.  A little over budget but I am thrilled.  That $264.88 bought $733.13 worth of groceries.  That means by using coupons and sales I saved $468.25! 

This week I didn't do much shopping but I did get 18 packs of gum for free and I bought 4 boxes of Special K Cereal for a total of $2.10 by using the Amazon gift cards I got for free from using Swag Bucks.

And...I had some freebies in the mailbox: 

And...a $50.00 movie gift card that we received from a credit card points program. 

My favorite deal this week:

Bartell Drugs has almonds on sale.  In your 1/29/12 Sunday paper you should have received a $1.00 off coupons...making this can of almonds 79 cents. 

Blue Diamond Almonds
$1.79 ea.
Reg. 3.49
6 oz. cans. Including Natural

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Tonight we tried a new recipe ~ Albondigas Soup.  We call it Meatball Soup.  Last week I made up some meatballs which I threw into the freezer and my pantry is stocked with chicken and beef it was a perfect night to make some soup.

Let the prepping begin.  I chunked up 3 potatoes and finely chopped up some celery.  Instead of chopping up carrots...I shredded them.  For some reason I hate eating cooked carrot chunks...but shredded is fine.  In my dutch oven I have sauteed up some chopped onions and minced garlic.

This really isn't a very flattering picture...but it tasted good.  This picture shows the meatballs and cilantro that I added.  I also added some chili powder, dried oregano, and additional pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.  I like my soups to be hearty in flavor and the original recipe was too wimpy for me.

I needed something to go with this soup and found some leftover biscuits that I split in half and buttered (with a great Tuscan flavored butter spread) and toasted.  Then I topped with a bit of shredded cheese and popped them back into the oven for a few seconds to melt the cheese...delish.

It was nice having dinner with my hubby...he is working a side job and will be gone during the weekends for the next month or two.  I had this soup cooking when he got home and the first thing he said..."I knew the house would smell good when I got home".  Is that the greatest compliment or what!


Albondigas Soup (or as we call it ~ Meatball Soup)
1 lb. ground beef
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch salt
1 pinch onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
4 (14.5 oz) cans chicken or beef broth
2 large carrots, shredded
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
 Place the ground beef, ½ the cilantro, ½ the chopped onions, ½ the garlic, garlic salt, and onion powder into a bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix gently until combined.  Form the meat mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs.  Cook the meatballs either by frying on a stove top or baking in the oven.  In a dutch oven (or large pot) spray with pan spray and cook the remaining onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.  When onions and garlic are cooked, add the chicken and/or broth, carrots, celery and potatoes.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are nearly tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the meatballs and the remaining cilantro; simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Season to taste…I added more garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, chili powder, and pepper to create a bit more spicier broth. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tomorrow is Friday!

Between Christmas break, Martin Luther King Day and a few days off due to snow...I forgot what it is like to work a full week!  I am back to having too much to do and not enough time to do it!  Thank goodness my hubby and I still have a I really am not complaining (much).  Here is what I have been up to the past few days or rather....what my hubby has been up to.

I mentioned to him that I would like a grow light.  He said he had a light and I found a plan and a very short time later....wa~la!  I have a grow light!  Now I just need to get some starts under that grow light.  I really love that my hubby supports me and my wild schemes...he is a good guy!

Next up...a little couponing.  There is 5 more days of January and no more grocery money.  How do I buy the last two gallons of milk that I need?  Well...I go to Rite Aid & buy 3 packs of UP2U gum that is on sale for $1.00.  I have (3) $1.00 coupons off each pack of gum and get them all for FREE.  But that is not all...for every three I buy...I get a $1.00 UP coupon.  After doing a couple more of these deals tomorrow, I will have $5.00 in UP coupons which is enough to buy 2 gallons of milk.  That is how you coupon and stretch your budget!

Retail:  $17.88  Paid: 0  
100% Savings PLUS $3.00 in UP's

I have a new photo stylist...
my favorite youngest daughter!  She took two different pictures and would like a vote...which one do you like best? I think the heart shape is fun but the other picture fits my personality better (a bit uptight maybe).  Click on the comment section below this post and vote for which one you like.  She would love your opinion and we will even put your name in for a drawing and send you a couple packs of gum!

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gardening Season has Begun!

Today I played in the dirt a fingers loved it!  I planted some Walla Walla Sweets and some Red Bull Hybrid onion seeds.  I have always bought my onions as this is a new experiment for me.  I placed them on a heat pad and I hope to see them emerge in a couple of weeks.

My seeds arrived this week from Territorial Seed Company
Thanks my favorite oldest daughter for a great Christmas present!

Bought a couple of bags of seed starting mix...getting closer to planting those seeds!

Ohhh..isn't that some purtty dirt?

Here's my Walla Walla's...every Washington garden should have some of these growing.

And here are the red onions.  Not sure how these will turn out but I got them for their long shelf life...which the Walla Walla's do not have.

And here they sit, in the sunniest spot I have with their bottoms being gently warmed by the warming pad.  Grow babies grow!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pizza Night Pumped up a Notch

Friday is pizza night.  Usually I have frozen pizza dough in the freezer (that I buy super cheap from Winco) and we make pizza.  Sometimes I want pizza that's a little different.  This Friday's pizza night was reallly good and different:

Spaghetti sauce mixed with pepperoni, ham, olives, mushrooms and onions.

On top of the spaghetti sauce mixture, top with shredded cheese and the "crust".

Finished product.  Delish.  My hubby gave it the "keeper" status.

Upside Down Pizza
Toppings of your choice:
Black Olives
Use any or all of the above items and mix with 15 ounces of Ragu pizza or spaghetti sauce.   Spray a 9x13” pan and dump the topping and sauce mixture evenly into the pan. 
Top mixture with 16 oz. of mozzarella cheese (cheddar and parmesan can be mixed in as well).
Prepare Crust:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. olive oil
Top the toppings and the cheese with the crust and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is done.  Enjoy!

A Tasty Treat

Friday was another snow day!  I decided to stay home with my favorite youngest daughter and enjoy what will most likely be the last snow day for the year (I hope!).

First off  ~ catch up on blogs.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs: and she had a fun recipe for making snow cones.  I had Kool Aid and I had about a foot of I made it.  It was enjoyed by all of us!  I actually couldn't believe I had any Kool Aid...and actually dug up 3 packages.  My favorite youngest daughter chose grape.

A big bowl of snow from the front yard (the back yard would be to dangerous since it is our dogs play ground!)

The finished syrup...yummy and grapey

And my baby enjoying the final outcome.  It was pretty tasty!

Snow Cone Syrup
1 Packet Kool Aid
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
Combine the Kool Aid, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Stir until sugar and Kool Aid are dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool.  Once cool, spoon it over the non-yellowed snow.  Enjoy!

Couponing This Week

This week I used up a Rite Aid UP reward, a Rite Aid rebate check and a $5.00 coupon from Albertsons...which helped to streeeettttch my budget.  I did go over my budget but it shouldn't be too much ~ only a week and a half left...and I am counting down the days.

Fred Meyers ~ Tuna
Retail: $3.16   Paid: $1.36 ~ 57% Savings

Rite Aid ~ 3 gallons of milk and dishwashing soap
Retail: $12.06  Paid: $0  ~  100% Savings!

Albertsons ~ 2# cheese, sour cream and popcorn
Retail: $10.77  Paid: $5.77  ~  46% Savings

I might need a couple more gallons of milk and a bit of veggies but other than that...I shouldn't need anything else to get through the month.  We have not had a paycheck since December I am pretty amazed that I have stretched my budget for this long. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stockpile Cooking

Tonight for dinner I made chicken enchiladas with white sauce...and made my hubby VERY happy!

The pictures don't do this dish justice...but take my word for it ~ delish!

Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce
2 whole chicken breast, cooked and cubed (or shredded)
1 pound of Monterey jack cheese, grated (or any cheese you have on hand)
1 (3 oz.) can mild chopped green chilies (I used the 7 oz. can)
2 cans cream of chicken soup (or whatever cream soup you have on hand)
1 pint sour cream
½ pound cheddar cheese, grated
1 dozen flour tortillas

Mix together green chilies, sour cream and cream soup.  Spoon some of this mixture on the bottom of a greased 9 x 13” pan.  Top with tortillas.  I cut the tortillas in half and use enough to cover the bottom completely.  Place chicken on top of the tortillas and a couple spoonful’s of the cream sauce.  Cover with ½ the shredded cheeses and then top with another layer of tortillas.  Spread the remainder of the sauce on top of the tortillas and top with the remainder of the cheese.   Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. 

NOTE:  tonight I made these using a combination of chicken and leftover turkey.  I added a sautéed onion as well.  I used an Italian blend cheese in place of the Monterey jack…since that is what I had and I used less of the cheddar cheese.  This is a great meal to make using items that are on hand as well as using up leftovers.

Snow Day!

It just keeps snowing and snowing and ...

Remember last week when I blogged about these two trees loaded with buds...what does snow do to buds?

My favorite youngest daughter venturing out to measure the snow in the yard...

In her shorts...

9" inches so far and it is still coming down!

My favorite oldest daughter, with my favorite son-in-law along with my favorite youngest daughter...

They are going off in the a car...which really makes their mommy scared!

Just love these kids!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More Double Coupon Deals

Even though the ground is covered in snow...I sweetly asked my hubby to drive me to Albertsons again to take advantage of the last day of double coupons. went smoothly and I did not cause any embarrasement to my hubby..hahaha!

(3) Ken's Salad Dressing
Retail: $12.87  Paid: $0 ~ 100% Savings!

(3) Barilla Penne Pasta
Retail: $6.57  Paid: 80 cents ~ 88% Savings

(1) Ken's Salad Dressing and (2) Stayfree Pads
Retail: $11.07  Paid: 17 cents (SST) ~ 98% Savings

My gosh...I got $30.51 worth of groceries
and only paid 97 cents...amazing!

And now...a moment for some Spring thinking:

I got a delivery today of some gardening supplies!  This entire order was free due to my mother-in-laws wonderful Christmas present to me.  Now I am just waiting for the seeds that I just ordered (which are a Christmas present from my favorite oldest daughter) and then I can get my onion seeds going.  So...there may be a foot of snow on the ground but there is a whole lot of gardening going on in my head!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

The snow keeps on falling and at this point there is no end in sight.  Local schools are already posting that tomorrow (Wednesday) will be a no school day.  I plan on staying home as well and work on some quilting! 

Tonight we made a favorite dinner for my hubby and I...
Turkey Lettuce Wraps.

Sweating the onion, jalapeno, garlic and fresh ginger...

Adding the ground turkey and cooking until just about done...

Top meat mixture with a sauce containing soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce...

And ready to eat!

A favorite for all except for my favorite youngest daughter...
she had to be force fed!


Turkey Lettuce Wraps

2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. fish sauce
½ large onion (or a small onion)
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger
1 small jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 pound lean ground turkey
Bibb, Boston or Iceberg lettuce leaves
1 carrot, shredded

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, and fish sauce.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  In a food processor, pulse onion, ginger, jalapeno and garlic until finely chopped.  Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat; once hot, add onion mixture and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add turkey and cook until crumbled and almost cooked through ~ about 5 minutes.  Add soy sauce mixture and stir until meat is completely cooked, about 2 minutes more.  Serve in lettuce leaves and sprinkle with shredded carrot.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spending Very Little

Today there were Albertsons doublers in the paper!  By matching up sale items with coupons...and then doubling them ~ I was able to get some rock bottom prices.  Rock bottom is good because I have VERY little left of my monthly $250.00 budget.  The good news is that I have enough yogurt for us to live on for about an entire month!

Yesterday morning (Saturday) I dragged my favorite youngest daughter out to go shopping with me.  She has been home sick since Thursday and I wanted her to get some fresh air.  Unfortunately, she in turn made me regret that decision with her unappreciative attitude!  I actually felt sorry for her by the time we made it to Albertsons, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Winco...she was realllllly worn out.  On top of her attitude...snow was starting to fall pretty rapidly.  Wasn't it just six days ago I was out in my yard, without any heavy clothing, having a Spring Fever attack? in western Washington.

Today (Sunday) finds us with several inches of snow on the ground.  It is beautiful but I do not care to drive in it.  I felt bad asking my hubby to drive me to my Albertsons double couponing trip...but finally I couldn't stand it any longer!  At 7:00 pm I asked him to drive me and he actually pushed the cart through the store.  Thankfully couponing went smooth and I didn't have to cause him any couponing embarrassment!

Really needed to stock up on some dishwasher soap.
Retail: $11.03 Paid: $3.93 ~ 64% Savings

Next up ~ almost free toothpaste at Safeway!
Retail: $12.35   Paid $1.35 ~ 92% Savings

Albertsons Doubler #1
Retail: $11.07  Paid: $0  ~ 100% Savings!

Albertsons Doubler #2
Retail: $18.04  Paid: $1.00 ~ 94% Savings

And...Albertsons doubler #3
Retail: $14.69  Paid: $3.42  ~ 77% Savings

It took three separate transactions at Albertsons but I was able to purchase $43.80 worth of food and only paid $4.42...that is just amazing to me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weight Watchers

I have three major goals this year:

  • Spending only $250.00 per month on food, toiletries and paper goods
  • Creating a bigger and better vegetable garden
  • and most importantly, work on becoming healthier
I have always, always struggled with my weight.  About 10 years ago I lost 100 pounds with Weight Watchers and then gained about 70 pounds back.  Five years ago I had a lap band put in...while I try not to ever "regret" decisions ~ I wish I had not done this.  I did lose 80 pounds. weight has crept back up and I have gained 50+ pounds in the last couple of years.

I have had most of the "filling" taken out of my lap band due to pretty severe acid reflux issues so the band no longer offers me any "resistance" or the feeling of fullness to foods that I eat.

Time for Weight Watchers and a new attitude about food.  I join WW last Thursday and officially started yesterday ~ Friday the 13th!  I am not ready to announce my current weight or how many points I can eat per day...but I will share more as this journey moves along.

Here is what I ate for lunch yesterday:

Tuna (with mayo!) on w/w bread with some lettuce and tomaotoes.  A carrot and some sweet/salty mini rice cakes rounded it out.  It was good and filling. 
11 points plus.

Here is my new favorite kitchen gadget ~ TopChips chip maker by Mastrad.

It really works.  You cut up the raw potato (can be peeled or unpeeled), place it on this platform and cook in the microwave for about 3 1/2 minutes.  When done, you get crispy potato chips without any oil.  We do lightly salt the potatoes prior to cooking.  Yum!  I can have a whole potato worth of chips for about 3 points.  Ahhh...heaven!