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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Getting Back into Couponing

After couponing strongly for a couple of years...I took a break.  Couponing does take a bit of time...and I just haven't had the time to do it...or maybe I just needed a break.  Probably a little of both.  Gardening and preserving food has become much more of an interest to me.  I am loving learning how to can, how to make my own dishwasher tabs...and so many other things.  However, that being said, I decided to coupon during the winter.  By doing so, I can stock up on our toiletries and other necessities for the year.  When gardening gets into full swing...I will stop couponing and devote that time to pulling weeds instead. 

One thing I found...couponing is like riding a bike, once you know how...you never really forget.

Here were my buys for today:

 
 
Rite Aid.  Retail:  $6.49each, on sale for $5.00 each
$1.00 off coupons ~ dropping the price to $4.66
Buy 3 ~ save $5.00 (Ups).  My price:  $3.00 each
54% Savings
 


Rite Aid.  Retail:  $5.99, on sale for $3.99 each
$6.00 off coupons ~ dropping the price to $1.99 each
Buy 4 ~ save $4.00 (Ups).  My price: $.99
84% Savings!
 

 
My best deal of the day did not involve any coupons or stores.
I belong to an online group called "Besties" ~ it is like a virtual
garage sale.  One of the members is an avid couponer and decided
to sell off some of her stash.  I picked up 20 packages of disposable razors.
 
Schick Razors.  Retail $7.99, I paid 75 cents each
91% Savings
 
Bic Razors.  Retail: $4.49, I paid 75 cents each
83% Savings
 
Not too shabby for my first day out in a long, long time!
 

 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy 16th Birthday Cassidy!

I have been busy and have not blogged...but I miss it and decided I needed to start writing/blogging again.  I don't care if my posts are never read...I just love going through the post and reminiscing. 

This week was a big week...my youngest daughter turned 16.  I think because this is the last "big" birthday party I will really ever throw for my kids...I wanted it to be extra special.

I chose the theme "A Night in Paris" to celebrate her upcoming trip to England and France over spring break.  Cassidy wanted seafood fettuccini, caesar salad, salmon (with homemade pesto) and John's rolls (a very favorite or ours).  She also requested formal attire...and our family and friends did not disappoint!

In the weeks prior to, I made and froze mini cupcakes and regular cupcakes, cake pops and Eiffel Tower sugar cookie cutouts for the dessert bar.



I also decided to make a hot cocoa bar since it is very chilly here.  I made homemade marshmallows...something I have always wanted to do.  They were easy to make and delicious...especially melting in a warm cup of homemade hot cocoa.  This hot cocoa bar was both "kid friendly" and had some stronger spirits that adults could add if desired.  Peppermint sticks, mini chocolate chips, whip cream and Andes mints were all a part of the experience.
 
 
 
It was a successful night...most importantly, Cassidy loved it.  I feel very blessed that so many of our family came to celebrate.  Cassidy was also thrilled her two "other sisters" Jenna and Chelsi came to celebrate with her as well.
 
For those interested in making the marshmallows...here is the recipe.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Not blogging...but I am gardening!

I have not been blogging at all.  I have been gardening, crafting, vacationing...but not blogging.  I will also admit to not couponing much at all.  In fact, I just cancelled our newspaper subscription.  So for now...here are some pictures of my garden as of today:

 

This is my potato bed.  I am growing red and purple potatoes.  In another bed I am also getting some "volunteer" potatoes which are probably russets.  I decided not to grow russet potatoes because I can buy them so cheap around here and I wanted to devote more room for other things.


I grew broccoli this year and was pretty successful.  I have a couple of gallon sized bags of frozen broccoli which I will use in the fall and winter to make soup...yum!  Hopefully I will get a bit more before long.  I will also be putting more seeds in the ground soon so I hope to have more in a few months.


Carrots, lettuce, kale and spinach.  I also had radishes here...but we ate those all gone already!  I want to get more carrots in...it's on my to-do-list.


Nestled in with my broccoli is some cauliflower.  It is looking good!  I have never been successful with cauliflower before but I may have done something right this year.  I have closed the leaves over the head of cauliflower to keep it from burning.  Hopefully we will be eating some in the next week or two.


Nestle next to lettuce and kale is the "volunteer" potatoes and some corn.  I tried to start my corn inside this year...didn't work so good.  The seeds that I put directly in the soil outside are looking good.  This is an indian type corn and will be used for decorating...not eating.


I planted a TON of garlic with hopes of making braided garlic for family members...but that was before my naughty dogs dug most of it up.  I will be harvesting most of the garlic tomorrow...and I hope to have enough for me until next year.  I tried growing this same garlic two years in a row...and I am not to impressed.  I will try something new in the fall.


I have a few tomatoes...but not many.  I hope my plants hurry up ~ I have LOT's of plans for my tomatoes. 


I love this section.  I have peas growing up the fence section and the rest is a variety of pumpkins and zucchini's.


Pretty Peas!


One zucchini...I bet there's more to come!


Getting my second round of strawberries for this season.


My greenhouse rocks!  It has two cucumber plans, 3 containers of basil...


and on the other side of the greenhouse I have jalapeneos, red peppers, yellow peppers and cilantro!  It sounds like salsa in the making!














Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our Deck is Ready for Sunshine!

A few years ago we built an addition on to our house which created a covered deck for us.  It is not a huge space but it is covered.  I inherited a wicker set from my grandparents some years back and decided that it would be perfect on the deck.  The wicker set is of VERY good quality but it was meant to be used as indoor furniture...it was not meant to be used by two dirty yorkies who love to cuddle on it.  The cushions were faded out and just looked really bad.  I thought about selling the set but knew I could not afford to purchase a set of this caliber for a long time.  So, all winter, I thought and thought about what I could do to save it...



Here is what the set started out as...pretty tired and sad looking!


I found some very rugged outdoor material on the web on sale and decided to recover it.  The covers can easily be removed to be washed.  I love the color.


Then I had an idea for displaying a great croquet set that I had bought at an auction...for $20.00.  My hubby made me a peg board and painted it the same color as the house trim.


Now the other side of the deck is all tricked out and looks welcoming.


For about $200.00 and a weekend of sewing and ironing ~ we transformed our deck.  By NO means am I confident seamstress...but I just created an easy pattern based on each individual cushion.  The material was expensive but it is very good quality and I have every reason to believe that it will hold up really well.  I am totally in love with this space now.



Friday, April 5, 2013

PAID OFF!

Much of the reason that I have been couponing, menuing, cooking from scratch, etc. is because of our desire to get out of debt.  We have always had too much debt.  For many years we have lived the typical American dream...don't save for purchases....CHARGE them!  The tanking of our economy the past few years have made us reevaulate that notion. 

My hubby does his part by doing much of the household fixes himself and making repairs as frugally as possible.  For example our dishwasher door broke...and he scoured the intenet until he was able to find a part to fix it and he did fix it at a fraction of the price.  Recently our toilet tank cracked.  Instead of tearing the toilet out and getting a new one, he asked around and someone actually had one that they had found in a "bone yard" behind his place of work.  We got the toilet tank for free and it works and looks perfect.  By taking time to find a solution, he has saved us a bunch of money. 

My contribution is trying to buy food and personal products for our household as cheap as possible.  We cook from scratch as much as possible and try to eat out as little as possible (but that is always a work in progress).  I have also tried to stock up and preserve foods that are in season.  I am also starting my own seeds for the garden...and saving in the total cost of the garden.

It is not easy...we are very budgeted and there is not much room for flexibility.  But today...we reached a big milesstone....both our truck and our car are PAID OFF!  The truck was paid off early a while back but today our car was officially paid off.  We put extra on the principal and paid if off about 7 months early.  I cannot even remember how long it has been since we have been without a auto payment...may the last for many more years.


 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Feeling Energetic

I dont' know if it is because it is spring...or if it is because I have been counting calories and limiting the bad stuff...but whatever it is, I have more energy then normal.

My butt, back and shoulders are sore from planting my red and purple potatoes yesterday...but I will blog more about that soon.  I am behind on my gardening.  We have had beautiful weather (up to today) but most days we spent out of town at a volleyball tournament.  I will need to get a bunch of starts going this weekend. 

Tonight I came home and cooked.  Actually, I came home with a good share of our dinner already cooking.  My favorite youngest daughter is home on spring break so I had her make pulled pork in the crockpot.  BUT...I didn't let her make it with bottled bbq sauce ~ rather, she got to make it homemade from a new recipe I just found.  I am going to post the recipe but I am kind of afraid because the website has this scary sounding warning about "duplication of any content...".  However it was adapted from Emeril Legasse and I found it on the Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice blog.  Visit her blog...she has a TON of yummy recipes.


Crockpot Barbecue Pulled Pork

3 tsp. paprika (can use a combination of sweet and/or smoked)
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1½ tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional                                                                        
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1½ cups beef broth
1/2 cup cider or white vinegar (or a combination of both)
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1½ cups sliced onions
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 pounds boneless pork roast

In a large crockpot whisk everything except the onion, garlic and pork together until well combined.  Stir in onion and garlic and add the pork roast (you can cut the pork roast in half first for a shorter cooking time).  Cook on high 4-6 hours or until you can shred the pork easily with two forks; after shredding pork, I continued to cook for additional 1+ hour.

I served the bbq pork topped with fresh made coleslaw all on a homemade roll that I had in the freezer.  I found the coleslaw recipe via what2cook.  I actually found both these recipes on Pinterest...I am becoming a total Pinterest junkie...but I will save that story for a different blogging day. 
 
KFC Coleslaw Copy Cat

8 cups finely chopped cabbage (I used one head)
1/4 cup shredded carrot (I used one carrot)
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used more, I like a thicker dressing)
¼ cup buttermilk
1½ tbsp. vinegar
2½ tbsp. lemon juice

Mix all together.  Taste amazing!
 
Finally, in between getting the pork finished up and making the coleslaw, I made a couple loaves of regular bread, I got some pizza dough into the freezer and made my first ever batch of French Bread.  I got a lot done before 7:00 pm tonight!  I love when I have such productive days. 


This was my first attempt at making french bread...and one loaf turned out beautifully!  The other loaf doesn't look as good but I am sure it will taste just fine.  Right at this moment...my house smells wonderfully of homemade bread ~ no better smell that I know of.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Many Days Until Spring?

The last couple of days have been all about the dirt.  With daylight savings time...I am now able to enjoy some sunlight for a few hours after work ~ loving it!  On Sunday my hubby and I went to the Home & Garden Show at the Everett Comcast Arena.  We were really disappointed with it as a whole.  Normally these shows give us some inspiration but there wasn't much to inspire us at this show.  However, I did not leave empty handed...I brought home 3 plants that they were selling for 1/2 price....unfortunately, I don't know the name of them.  They look pretty though.

On Monday, after work, I planted those 3 plants, did some weeding and tried a new trick to try to get cats to stop using my flower bed as a litter box.  IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!  Those dang cats poop in my flower bed right by the front door...and it just isn't right.  So...I recently read about how lemons may do the trick to break this mean cat behavior.  My favorite blog, 100 Dollars a Month posted about 10 Cool Uses for Lemons ~ and #10 was about sprinkling lemon peels in the area...because apparently cats don't like the smell of citrus! I bought 5# of lemons from Cash and Carry...grinded those suckers up and am praying that it works.

Today (Tuesday)...the wind was howling and the rain was falling but I still got to garden.  I moved my cauliflower, broccoli and onion starts out to the greenhouse.  I think I saved my cauliflower and broccoli...they got very leggy but I transplanted them deep in new containers and I see new leaves popping out. 

I also planted some new vegetable starts:

Stupice Tomtatoes (first round of tomatoes) (from Territorial Seed Co.)
Impatiens ~ Tempo butterly Mix (from Territorital Seed Co.)
Basil ~ Sweet Basil (Ferry-Morse)
Sweet Red Peppers ~ Crispy Hybrid (Burpee)
Early Jalapeno ~ Hot Pepper (Territorial Seed Co.)
Sweet Yellow Peppers ~ Fort Knox Hybrid (Burpee)

Now my bar is filled with the second round of starts...I wonder if other people use their bars for growing plants??!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Day in the Life


Today was the type of day that I cherish.  My family and I were supposed to be in Puyallup early this morning for a very long day of volleyball with my favorite youngest daughter’s team.  Unfortunately my youngest got VERY sick last weekend and missed school almost all week...she barely made it through the early release Friday.  She needs a few more days to recover...so volleyball was cancelled (by me).  I was sad...but excited at the same time.

Here’s what I did...

Woke up ~ enjoyed a couple cups of my “poor mans” mocha and read the paper

Washed Clothes

Couponed and organized the coupons     

Made a batch of bread

While the bread was rising...ran to Fred Meyers and saved major money on some groceries

Got home just in time to shape the bread dough...2/3 of the dough went to making 2 loaves of bread, the other third went into the freezer for pizza night next Friday.

Ran outside to plant 25 Walla Walla starts  

While outside...I cleaned out a flower bed.  My three peonies have broken through the dirt!

Baked the bread

Ate an amazing peanut butter and jelly sandwich...on homemade bread ~ YUM!

Decided to make a crockpot soup with the cheap cauliflower I got at Fred Meyers..."googled" to find a good recipe

Washed more clothes

Went to the Library...had an overdue book and was out of reading material

Went to Safeway...saved 50% on a cart full of groceries.  Feels good to be saving $$ again

Decided to sit on the couch, have a snack and read for a bit...I woke myself up snoring

Finished up the crockpot cauliflower soup...yum and made cheese zombies for dinner (look for recipes in an upcoming post)

Decided to make muffins for the month ~ first batch up, triple chocolate muffins (24 each), next...blueberries with cinnamon & sugar topping (22 each) and finally I made my favorite, pumpkin and cream cheese (22 each)

Worked on this blog while my hubby and favorite youngest daughter watched the high school basketball playoffs.  Our Lake Stevens girls finished 5th in state...they were an amazing team to watch this year.

What I didn’t do today?  I didn’t get to start the quilt that I am making for little Maddi’s second birthday, didn’t go to the gym, didn’t take a shower (I went out in public with less than good looking hair and no makeup...I made sure to not make eye contact with anyone, in case I saw someone I knew).  And now that I am thinking about it, I do believe I forgot to brush my teeth.  Yuk.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cauliflower and Broccoli Seeds in the Dirt


Tonight I got a flat of cauliflower and broccoli planted.  They are watered, sitting on a heating pad and are being “sunned” by a grow light.  Sounds like a nice life to me! 

Last year I lost all my broccoli and cauliflower starts because I planted the starts without “hardening” them off...it was a major brain freeze on my part.  I also planted them later last year...but I just read that in my area (Lake Stevens, WA) they can go in the ground beginning now.  I hope to have them planted in the garden in about 8 weeks.

So far I have two different onion seeds started (about 2 weeks ago) and the broccoli and cauliflower now planted (these seeds also came from Territorial Seed Company).  Now I need to get working on what I will be planting next...I am a little behind on my planning.

Seeds planted today:
Broccoli ~ Hybrid Broccoli Blend...containing four different seeds:  Everest, Express, Southern Comet and Belstar.

Cauliflower:  Amazing

Friday, February 22, 2013

Onions Seeds Planted! Garlic is Growing...


About two weeks ago I planted my onions.  Currently I have about 200 onion starts growing under the light.  I bought the seeds through the Territorial Seed Company.  Here are the two types I decided on this year:
Ruby Ring Hybrid Sweet Spanish Onion (red onion)     
Milestone Hybrid Sweet Onion

I am not sure why I chose two sweet onions...but I do remember choosing them for their storage longevity.  I would really love to not buy onions ever again.
 

             Next up:  Garlic

Last fall I planted 50 garlic bulbs...and all 50 are sprouting.  Love it!  But even better, while I was working in the garden a couple of days ago (when we had the most beautiful day I have ever seen in February) I found a bunch more garlic growing.  I must have left some garlic behind last year.  I dug them up, separated the starts and replanted them...bringing my total up to 73 cloves of garlic growing in my yard.  If it all grows, every family member will be getting a garlic braid next Christmas!

 
  And finally:                                                       

I filled the planter, by the front door, with double ruffled primroses.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a sunny, blue sky day in February (and the fact that I was able to take a vacation day from work and putter in my yard instead).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Christmas in February (for me at least)


It was like Christmas in February today!  Let me start off by saying that this month has been impossible for me to keep on budget with my groceries.  I have not been taking advantage of stocking up on items with coupons so I am paying more and getting less for my money.
We ran out of cheese and sugar last week and I told my family that we weren’t buying any groceries until payday ~ which is the last day of the month for us.  My hubby and I only get paid once a month…and sometimes we need to get creative to stretch the dollars.

However…happy day today!  I received my Costco rebate check in the mail.  Never have I been so happy to see $77.20 in my life.  So off to Costco we went.  Before starting our shopping…we of course had to have a Costco dinner.  4 hotdogs, 3 pops and a churro…all for a whopping $7.60!  Where can three people get full for under $8.00 total?
Next up, my favorite youngest daughter grabbed her phone, brought up the calculator app and started keeping track of the dollars we were spending.  I did not want to go over $77.20

We bought duck treats (for the dogs), bacon bits, powder sugar, brown sugar, 2 gallons of milk, pancake mix, cinnamon, taco seasoning, vanilla, 10# sugar, bananas (can’t go to Costco without buying bananas), granola bars, 2# of cheddar cheese and 2 dozen eggs.

Total Retail:                     $85.96
Coupons Used:            <$6.00>                                        

Rebate Coupon:          <$77.20>
Total Paid:                        $2.76

It was so exciting that we then decided to get a hot fudge sundae (with nuts) at McDonalds for a total price of $3.88 (that is all it cost for 3 sundaes!)  It was a night that was perfect for my frugalistic heart!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Double Coupons at Albertsons

I stayed home today, took a vacation day...the sun is out and the sky is blue and I think I may be battling spring fever.  One of the fun things about staying home during the week...when the hubby is at work and the favorite youngest daughter is at school...is that I can just putter and do my own thing.  Love it!

I have not had time to coupon...and my grocery budget is reflecting that ~ badly.  I am way over budget for February.  It seems like grocery prices have jumped recently.  I cannot believe the price of cheese epecially. 

So with that being said...I thought I had better take advantage of some double coupons that Albertsons has going through today.

Here's what I got:


This was my most expensive transaction...cheese is crazy expensive.  Each 12 count package of string cheese is $6.39.  Right now at Albertsons if you buy one...you get one free plus I had 75 cent off coupon plus I used a double coupon.  The mozzarella cheese (in the center of the picture) normally cost $5.79 (for 8oz)...using a coupon, and a double with the sale price ($3.99)...I got it for $1.99.  The green curry sauce was not on sale and was expensive as well...but I want to try a new recipe and the curry is a necessity. 

With Curry:  Retail:  $36.14    Paid:  $17.56  ~  52% Savings
W/O Curry:  Retail:  $30.35    Paid:  $11.77  ~  62% Savings

Next...


My family loves this Bear Creek Pasta and I love adding this yogurt to my steel cut oatmeal in the morning...yum.

Retail:   $10.87    Paid:   98 cents  ~  91% Savings


And finally:


More yogurt and 4 packs of gum.

Retail:   $9.45   Paid:   Zero, Zilch, Nada  ~  100% Savings!


Now it is time to go plant some double ruffled primroses in my planter, move my strawberry plants and do some pruning.  I love unexpected sunny days in February!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 ~ The Year of Making Homemade Bread

I begged my husband for a new KitchenAid mixer...told him it would be a WONDERFUL Christmas present and to make the deal even sweeter...I promised I would make homemade bread on a regular basis.

Well...I got the KitchenAid!!

And...I haven't bought a loaf of bread at all in the year 2013!

We have gone through a lot of bread flour because the bread is so good...we are eating too much.  However, I see a slow down in bread consumption now that we are 1/2 way through Febrauary. 

I haven't stopped at bread...I now use this bread dough for making pizza crusts, hamburger buns, hotdog buns and hoagy rolls.  The shapes are definately a work in progress...but it still tastes amazing ~ regardless of how badly they look.

The bread recipe I use is one I found while reading a fabulous book titled:  "The Weekend Homesteader ~ a Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency" written by Anna Hess. 

Here is the recipe we love:

1 1/3 cup water ~ warm (baby-bottle temperature)
2 T. sugar
1 T. yeast
1 T. olive oil
2 t. salt (I use Kosher)
3 cups bread flour

In a mixing bowl add sugar, yeast and warm water...let proof for about 10 minutes until it resembles a "foamy mass".  I then add the olive oil, salt and bread flour.  I mix for 8 minutes in the KitchenAid with the hook on low speed.  I sometimes need to add more bread flour to keep it from sticking to the bowl as it mixes.  When mixed, rub the dough with a bit of olive oil, cover with a warm wet towel and let rise until double in a draft-free, warm spot for about one hour.  When done, roll into shape (I push it into an oblong shape and roll up tightly...and put it into a sprayed bread pan.  Let rise a second time until double...another hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  When done, thump on the top of the bread loaf to make sure it sounds "hollow"...that means your bread is cooked all the way through.

My Notes:

1.  I triple my batch when I make it.
2.  For pizza dough ~ after the first "rising" I roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in sprayed   saran wrap and put it into the freezer.  Take it out and thaw it in the fridge about a day before you plan to use.
3.  I have used 1/2 the amount of sugar...worked and tasted fine.
4.  I have used 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 canola oil...again worked fine.
5.  When I make a triple batch, I only use about 5 tsp of kosher salt.


Don't take making bread seriously...have fun with it!  It may take a few batches to get the hang of it...but it is worth it to keep trying. 



Saturday, February 16, 2013

How to Get a Kitchen Aid for 1/2 price (or less)!

Here's how I got my AMAZING...
KitchenAid Professional 600 Mixer
for realllllyyyy CHEAP!
 
Years ago my parents bought me a classic KitchenAid and it was very well used.  Unfortunately it was getting old and starting to give up.  Screws would loosen up, several of the "speed" levels went out so there was no low or high...just a couple levels of medium speed.
 
I also wanted to start making homemade bread on a regular basis...and my old classic just wasn't up to the task.
 
That's when I saw an awesome deal at Kohl's...and I suggested to my hubby that he could make me very happy by allowing me to purchase this so he could wrap it up and put it under the Christmas tree for me.  I also promised him homemade bread.  He is a very smart man...and was very happy to to have me buy my own Christmas present.  I did draw the line at wrapping it...I made him do that!
 

Here is the deal I got ~ Normal Retail Price:  $549.99

 

$449.99 ~ Sales Price
  -89.99 ~ 20% Black Friday Coupon Code
  -70.00 ~ Kohl's Cash (which I turned into $170.00 worth of products)
  -50.00 ~ KitchenAid Rebate
  -24.00 ~ Magazine Refund (see more information below)
  -21.60 ~ Ebates Rebate (see more information below)

Total overall price of my mixer?  $194.40!!!!

**KitchenAid was giving away a two year magazine subscription with purchase...but you could also request a refund of $24.00 instead of getting the magazines...which I opted to do.

**I logged into my Ebates account and then accessed Kohl's so that I was eligible for a Ebates rebate.  Ebates is a great way to make money when shoppoing online.  Learn more by clicking here:  Ebates.

This was the second year in a row that I saw this deal through Kohl's during the holiday season.  It was a great deal...I saved $355.00 by taking advantage of all these opportunities.  The biggest bonus?  I can make a triple batch of bread and NONE of the flour flies out of the bowl. 
 
 
 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Muffins, Muffins and more Muffins

It is hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone!  I have to admit that the best part of Christmas is the week after when I am off work and have the chance to read, bake, clean, organize and cross-stitch...without any time limits.  I love nothing more than puttering around the house!

My favorite youngest daughter has a "team bonding" slumber party with her volleyball team...and I said I would bring muffins for breakfast the next day.  My first thought was that I would run to the bread outlet store and grab an assortment of donuts and muffins but then quickly changed my mind.  I am trying to make more of our foods and rely less on purchased/processed foods.  Plus, I had 6 over-ripe bananas, frozen sliced strawberries I purchased this past summer from a local farmer and everything else needed to make a variety of homemade muffins.  After "googling" all sorts of muffin recipes, I ended up making Banana Crumb Muffins, Chocolate Strawberry Muffins and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.  Yum!  I made enough to send with my favorite youngest daughter and still have a ton to put in the freezer for quick breakfasts.  The recipe below was my favorite:



Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
  
Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
Mix together very well and chill in the refrigerator.  (Chilling the filling helps keep it from absorbing into the muffin mix while baking). 
 
Muffins
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
Mix the sugar, oil, pumpkin, and eggs together very well in a large mixing bowl.  Then plop the flour, baking soda, and spices on top of the blended wet mixture.  Stir well to incorporate and fully mix everything together.  Oil or spray a muffin pan.  Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of batter into the bottom of each muffin and make sure the bottom is covered with the batter.  Next, distribute  approximately 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on the batter.  Finally top more of the batter over each to cover the cream cheese…approximately 2-3 tablespoons.  Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool before eating.