Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Dish Meal: Baked Pasta E. Fagioli

Here is a great recipe for Baked Pasta E. Fagioli.  I love a recipe that can be a complete meal.  There are veggies, carbs, protein and dairy.  This meal is not only delicious but very hearty.  We love this recipe and it is one of only a few ways I can get my family to eat spinach. (myself included)

Here are the ingredients you will need.
* 8 ounces penne (small) or elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
* 1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes in puree (whole or pre-chopped)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 celery, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 2 (15 ounce) cans navy beans or white beans
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* black pepper, ground
* 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
* 1/2 cup romano cheese, freshly grated

We used macaroni noodles and the only other change was using fresh grated Parmesan cheese instead of Romano. You can get the complete instructions here.

Linked to: Funky Junk Interiors, Keeping it Simple, Hope Studios

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hearty Breakfast: Baked Pear and Walnut Oatmeal

I found this great recipe at Beauty and Bedlam and tweaked it just a bit to fit what we had on hand.
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 2 cups Scottish Oatmeal
  • 2 Pears diced
  • 1 cup chopped Walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Bring milk, sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon to boil in a heavy pot.  Add the remaining ingredients and bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes in buttered casserole dish.

This was plenty sweet enough for my husband and I however the girls both thought it needed to be sweeter.  They scooped their serving into a bowl and then sprinkled some sugar and drizzled some milk over top and they loved it.
This is a great hearty breakfast and something a little different than norm.

Linked to: A Vision to Remember, Mad Skills Monday, My Back Yard Eden

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yummy Kielbasa and Potatoes

This makes for a very easy dinner.  The amounts in my recipe are just enough for our family of 4, with no left overs.

5 medium potatoes
1 Kielbasa link
2 TBS Canola or Extra Virgin Olive oil
Cooking Spray

I spray a 9X13 pan down with the cooking spray.  I then wash and cube the 5 potatoes and layer them on the bottom of the pan.  I take the Kielbasa link (these are about a foot long) and slice it up on top of the potatoes.  I drizzle the 2 TBS of oil over the top and then sprinkle on some Garlic and Pepper.  Sometimes I dice up an onion in the pan also.

I cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Then I remove the foil and stir the potatoes and kielbasa.  I put it back in the oven for 20 more minutes or until the potatoes and kielbasa are starting to brown.

This is super easy and everyone in this house loves it.  Serve with your favorite veggie and maybe some bread and you have a hearty meal.

Linked to: C.R.A.F.T., Nikki's Nifty Knacks, The Thrifty Home

Friday, December 24, 2010

Frugal Tip #5: Cutting Back on Cleaning Supplies

First off I'd like to say that I am not recommending that you don't clean or never use any cleaning supplies.  :)  I am just suggesting that you consider what supplies are most important and see if there are any changes you can make.

About 2 1/2 years ago, when I had my very first blog, I made some real changes about what I used to clean. I quit buying every single product known to man and began to simplify.

Now I mainly use Vinegar, Baking Soda, Bleach and Dawn.  On an occasion I pick up another ingredient if I am wanting to make a specific cleaner.  There really isn't much that I can't get done with one or some of the above items.

TipNut has recipes for just about every cleaner imagineable!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Whole Crockpot Chicken

One of my families favorite meals starts with a Whole Crockpot Chicken.

When I can find whole chickens for 99cent/lb or less I try to grab a couple that are around 4 or 5 lbs.  I like to keep several of these on hand in the deep freezer.

Sometimes I do cook one and then shred all the meat so that it can be used for sandwiches, burritos, pasta, soup or some other recipe.  However the favorite in this house is to serve the chicken meat as the main dish along with a couple side dishes.  If I make a 5lb chicken my girls will devour all the meat before the night is over.

So how do I make my crockpot chicken?

I take a 4-5lb bird that has been thawed and lay it in my oblong shaped crockpot.  I take out some salad dressing we have on hand and drizzle it over the top of the chicken.  Dressings that I have used include Italian, Vinagrette, and variations of Italian and Vinagrette (ie.  Italian with Parmasean, Balsamic Vinagrette, etc.).  I imagine there are other dressings that would taste good these are just the dressings we tend to use.

For my crockpot I cook on low for 7 to 7 1/2 hrs.  My older crockpot I had to cook 8+ hrs so I suggest that you check on your chicken around the 7+ hr mark.

After we enjoy our delicious chicken I make some homemade chicken broth to stock up in the freezer.

Linked to: Blue Cricket Design, Nikkis Nifty Knacks, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I am the Parent of a 15 Year Old!

Thursday was Emeri's 15th Birthday! I am still wondering how it is possible that I have a 15 year old child.  How did this little sweetie grow up so fast?
It almost dosen't seem real.

On Tuesday Emeri missed school to go out for the day with my Mom, sisters and I.  At 13 we stopped doing the family birthday's and instead they get to miss school and go out to lunch.

Emeri got money from us and from my Mom and sisters and she spent it all to get an iPod touch. 

On Thursday, her actual birthday, school was out for an ice day.  I made dessert pizza for breakfast and Nachos for supper.  Not healthy but birthday wishes were granted.  :)

Then last night she had 3 friends stay over night.  This was so much better than Jonah's quite crazy slumber party back in August.   I made it a point to make sure we had plenty of food/snacks and I even gave in and bought paper plates and solo cups....something I haven't had in my house in a looooong time. 
Last night's party went soooo much smoother.  It was actually fun and I got a good night sleep.  The girls had a blast and we ended up with left over food.   I would rather have left over than not enough.

Today we will head out to get Emeri's hair cut and let her spend the money her friends got her.  Then all the birthday festivites will be over.

Having a 15 year old is  scary however next year will be 16 and that scares me more!  :)

Linked to: A Silly Little Sparrow

Friday, December 17, 2010

Enter to Win a $500 Target Gift Card and More Wicked Fresh Prizes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Toms of Maine. All opinions are 100% mine.


If you have not had the opportunity to try any Tom's Of Maine products they offer toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, dental floss and soap that are naturally made.  You can actually look at a list of all their ingredients on their website and it tells you exactly what they are and what the ingredient does. 

We  have tried a few of their products and the favorite in our house is the Wicked Fresh mouthwash.  My girls have gotten to the age where they no longer want fruity or bubble gum flavored mouthwash but most of the minty ones really burn their mouths and they don't like that at all.  The Wicked Fresh mouthwash does not burn and that is a plus in our house.  Dental Care is very important to us,  we just got one child out of braces and are waiting to see if the other one will need them.  After spending that kind of money for nice teeth we do what we can to keep them that way.

Right now Tom's of Maine is running an awesome contest! They are giving away a $500 Target gift card and other Wicked Fresh Prizes. To enter just visit  the That's Wicked Fresh contest page and tweet your favorite #WickedFresh experience.  You will also need to follow @TomsofMaine on twitter to be entered.  For a Bonus entry you can "Like" Tom's of Maine on Facebook.

click here

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Christmas Decor at Pier 1

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 Imports. All opinions are 100% mine.

This year our Christmas decorations are quite modest.  Our tall Christmas tree died on us so we were left using an old 4ft which has since decided to only light up on the top and bottom, not in the middle.  It's obvious that next Christmas we will need a new tree and at this point I can't decide if we will buy a new fake one or if we will get a real one.  Growing up we always went out and cut down a real tree but I have never had a real one since I have been married.  My sister has had a real one the past few years and they have been gorgeous.

Besides a new tree I am looking to just get a lot more decorations in here. Pier 1  has some things that I really love!  This Angel Stocking holder would look amazing on the top of our entertainment center, of course we would need two, one for each of the girls' stockings.


I also love this terracotta version of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus.  It would make a great centerpiece on either the coffee table of top of our short bookcase.  I love representing the meaning of Christmas through decor in our home.

I am pretty sure I could complete most of my Christmas shopping at Pier 1, not only for the decorations but they also have tons of holiday gifts to choose from.  And if you haven't had a chance to donate to Toys for Tots this season and would like to you can drop off your unwrapped toy at Pier 1 or even make a cash donation at the register.  If you don't have a Pier 1 close by or life is just too busy right now you can "Like" Pier 1 Imports on Facebook and for every new fan they will donate $1 to Toys for Tots.

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Our Favorite Easy Meatloaf

Meatloaf is not something we eat very often but every once in a while I get the craving to make Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Growing up my Grandma and Mom used a recipe for meatloaf that included adding in a can of vegetable soup.  I always loved that recipe however the recipe I use is quite different.

When we first got married I received one of the big red  Betty Crocker cookbooks for our wedding shower.  One night I decided I wanted to make meatloaf and came across a recipe that was almost exactly just like this one.

• 1 1/2 pounds ground beef - I used ground round
• 1 cup skim milk
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except ketchup in a large bowl, and mix well. Place mixture into an ungreased loaf pan or shape into a loaf in an ungreased baking pan. Spread ketchup over the top of the meatloaf. Bake uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until no pink remains at the center of the meatloaf.

I only made a couple minor changes to the recipe. It was yummy with homemade mashed potatoes and green beans.

Linked to: Someday Crafts , Saturday Mornings

Visit Branson this Holiday Season

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hilton Branson. All opinions are 100% mine.

Traveling around Christmas time can truly be so magical.  For the first time this year we are taking  a Christmas vacation leaving the afternoon of the 25th.  We pondered for the longest time trying to decide what our destination would be.  Since it will be winter we did decide to go for mountains rather than heading to a beach somewhere. 

A lot of places have special events during the holiday season and the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel is on the top of that list.  If you are planning a weekender with the family you still have time to spend this weekend with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  Old Saint Nick is visiting Branson and will be at the hotel in the Level 2 Steakhouse to visit with the children and take pictures on December 18th and 19th from 9-11am.  He will also be available in the lobby for family pictures from 4:30 to 6:30p.m.  If Mrs. Claus is who you want to see she will be having story time from 5-7pm by the Christmas tree in the lobby through the 18th. 

Not only does the Hilton offer so many fun and exciting events but they often offer special rates.  Now through December 30th you can get special room rates up to 50% off in-season room rates both at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel and the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing.

If I was able to run off to Branson this weekend I would be doing some last minute Christmas shopping for myself.  Places to shop and eat are in abundance and they would most definitely keep me busy for the entire weekend.

Have you been to Branson?  What was your favorite thing about it?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Frugal Tip #4: Adding Homemade Soup to Your Menu

This one only works for us for part of the year.  As the long as the temperature outside is 50 or below I can add a soup/stew/gumbo to our weekly menu plan.

Right now cold weather is in full swing so we will have some type of soup, stew, gumbo or chili once a week.  Homemade soups can be so easy and very inexpenisive.  Sometimes I use a recipe and other times I just toss in things that we have left over.  Like meat, veggies, beans or rice.

Soup is one of the ways we are able to cut back on meat.

The particular soup above I made a couple weeks ago.  It was just one of those "toss some things together" kind of soups.

2 Cups of Homemade Chicken Stock (free)
2 Cans black beans rinsed and drained ($1.20)
1 can of diced tomatoes (49cents)
1 bag frozen corn (50cents)
1 pkg Old El Paso Beans and rice mix (50cents)
garlic powder, onion powder, pepper
Water to cover

I simply put this all on the stove and simmered for about an hour and a half.  Served with a sprinkle of cheese on top.

The entire pot cost only $2.69,  we used about 1/2 a package of shredded cheese which cost me $1.50 for the entire package.   I served it with corn bread that cost me 50cents for the package.

Dinner for 4 came to a grand total of $3.94 plus there was enough left over that I ate this for lunch the next two days.

Here are a few soups/stews that we enjoy:
Leak and Potato Soup
Potato and Broccoli Soup
Healthier Cheeseburger Soup
Hearty Chicken and Rice Stew
Mexican Soup

What is your favorite homemade soup/stew/gumbo?  Leave a comment and a link if you have one.  :)

Linked to: A Thrifty Home , We are That Family, Trendy Treehouse

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day: December 2010

Usually it seems that we get the majority of our snow after Christmas. However today we have our first snow day of this winter.  The actual amount of snow hasn't been really bad but the wind has been horrendous and the snow keeps getting blown all around.  So the road crews get the roads (main roads) cleared and then the snow is blown back on them.  The picture above was taken about 3 hrs ago and we have had continuous snow since then, however by no means a blizzard.  :)

Since we live in a rural area and there are lots of kids to be bussed that live on back roads they have called off school for tomorrow.  My girls are thrilled to miss school.  I am thrilled that I get to sleep in tomorrow.

For now I am going to stay cuddled up in my warm house.  I am thinking of making some homemade waffles and bacon for dinner then curling up and watching some t.v.

Have you had snow yet this winter?  Do your schools call off for a snow day very easily or does it need to be a blizzard outside?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emeri's Madrigal Dress for 2010

This is Emeri's freshman year and it is her first time being in a Madrigal Choir.  Some of the parents were renting costumes but the rentals were $70+ and you had to drive almost an hour one way to the rental place.  So I looked at some of the previous years pictures of the event and then went on a search online.

I found this dress and really liked it and definitely liked the price:

It was only $40 shipped!  I ordered a medium instead of a small not knowing if the sizes would run small or not. 

When the dress arrived I did have to take both sides in an inch then I had to bring the hem up about 3 inches.

I decided I did not like the ric-rac that was outlining the design on the chest and the waist line.  So I went to Walmart and got some shear black ribbon that was 1  inch wide and some shear gold ribbon that was 1/2 inch wide.  I changed the embellishment on the front of the dress as well as on the headpiece by handsewing on the ribbon (and using the glue gun a bit).

For a total of $50 the dress came out great!  Plus she will wear it in next years Madrigal as well, then we can get a new one for her Jr year.  That price really beats the rental price.

Linked to: Fireflies and Jellybeans, Today's Creative Blog

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cherry Coconut Bars

Besides the Corn Casserole I also brought a couple bottles of soda and some Cherry Cocunut Bars to Thanksgiving dinner.

Despite the fact that these don't look so great in the picture they tasted so good and I didn't come home with any.

I actually got the recipe on the side of a box of Krusteaz Snickerdoodle Cookies that I had gotten at Kroger for 99cents.


1 Pouch Krusteaz Snickerdoodle cookie mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup shreddd coconut
1 pouch cinnamon-sugar topping (in the Krusteaz box)

Preheat the oven to 350.  In medium bowl, stir together cookie mix, butter, egg and cherries until dough forms.  Press into a lightly greased 8X8 pan. Sprinkle coconut and cinnamon-sugar over top of dough.  Bake 24 - 26 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting.  Makes 16 bars.

Linked to: Somewhat Simple, Life as Lori

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of 2010

This past weekend was tree putting up weekend.  We usually do it over Thanksgiving, so Saturday was our day of choice.  For the past 3 years we have had a 6.5ft pre-lit (colored lights) tree.  We have ornaments galore. The girls each have their own box and I even have ornaments from childhood.  However this year I planned to put the larger tree in the living room and put this teeny 4ft tree from our previous, much smaller house in the girls room.

At the after Christmas sales I had gotten several gold decorations at 90% off and decided I would do a mainly gold tree with a little color.  Then I would let the girls put up the little tree in their room with their own ornaments.  This was going to be the last year for the 6.5ft tree.  Since I have 9ft ceilings and my living room is 23 1/2 X 13 I think we can definitely go for a bigger tree.

So we got everything brought up from the basement and got out the living room tree, plugged it up and nothing!  No lights!  So I messed around with the first section, nothing.  Then me and the girls tried fiddling around with the second section,  no flickers, nothing.  This tree was not lighting up.  Seriously.....I was determined I was not buying a new tree until after Christmas.  There was no way I was paying full price.

When we determined we couldn't get it to light up at all we brought out the little bitty Charlie Brown tree.  Of course it lit up so bright it's nearly blinding.  I had to bring up a skinny table to set it on and we decorated it the best we could.

Without the table it wouldn't even be able to be seen out the window.  Oh and I had bought a brand new glass and gold star to go on top of the tree and let's just say this little guy can't hold it up.  :)

Oh well, it's not the end of the world and we actually used this tree for a few years in our last house.  Our living room was teeny and we only had 7ft ceilings.

As for the rest of the decorating...I do not really put out a whole lot of decorations but I have a few things I like to set out around the living room.

This teeny Nativity is actually sitting at the base of the tree.  Jonah bought this for her Daddy one year for Christmas.

This Nativity was given to me by an old friend.  The wood used to make it came from Bethlehem.

This last Nativity came from my Mom a long time ago.  I can't remember if she got it for me before I was married and I had it in my Hope Chest or if she got it the first year we were married.   Anyway, It is missing several animals.  As soon as Jonah got big enough to play she was always wanting to playing with the animal, toddlers and ceramic animals do not mix.

Even so we put it out every year.  :)

After Christmas is over I will definitely be searching for a new tree.  I would like at least a 7 footer that is fat.  I guess we will have to wait and see.

Do you have your Christmas tree/decorations up yet?

Linked to: The Girl Creative

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Paula Deen's Corn Casserole

For Thanksgiving we had to be at my Aunt's at 5pm for dinner.  I took a side, a dessert and a couple bottles of soda.  I discussed here how our family does a potluck of sorts for Thanksgiving.  Anyway, until thursday evening I had never ever tasted corn casserole before, let alone made it.  I actually had once watched Paula Deen do this recipe on tv and thought it looked delicious.  My version was only changed just slightly.

The original recipe is here on the Food Network website.

  • 2 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (I used Martha's white, it was what I had)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cups shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, melted butter and shredded cheese. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Because I had a pretty good drive to get to my Aunt's I didn't know how the cheese on top would hold up so I opted to mix the shredded cheese in with all the other ingredients and let it melt inside. I also didn't have creamed corn and this idea was last minute so I made it with just regular corn. 

It came out really good!  It had more of a cornbread texture, probably because it didn't have cream corn, but it was like a loaded cornbread.  Yummy and the pan dissappeared. 

Did you try out a new recipe for Thanksgiving? I would love to hear about it.

Linked to: House of Hepworths

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Roast Garlic Mashed Potatoes

8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup olive oil
4 russet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated 2 tbsp.
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put the garlic and olive oil in a heavy saucepan over lowest possible heat and simmer until soft; 30 to 40 minutes.
Drain off oil (reserve for marinades or vinaigrettes).
Puree garlic; set aside.
Meanwhile, prick potatoes with a fork and bake in a 400°F oven for 1 hour, or until soft. While still hot, peel and mash, or pass through a potato ricer.
Melt butter in heavy cream; whisk in puréed garlic.
Stir into potatoes.
Stir in cheeses and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon into a gratin dish.
Place in a 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Hoping You all Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Image Source

I am sure that most of you have a very busy day ahead of you, as do we.  I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boudreaux's Butt Paste

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have a niece who is an extremely sensitive child, not as in her feelings but her skin.  It wasn't that long ago that the child had a serious case of hives that lasted just a little too long.  She endured many doctor visits, had to take steroids and eventually they went away.  Now her mother has to carry an epi-pen every where they go because they never discovered what caused the hives.  However this is not her first run in with serious rashes.

As a baby she would get horrible diaper rashes.  No matter what my sister did such as, changing the diaper immediately as soon as she noticed any wetness or trying numerous creams and powders kept these rashes away.  Finally my sister discovered Boudreaux's Butt Paste and something amazing happened, my nieces rash cleared up.  It is the only thing that could keep her rashes at bay.

Since then everyone in the family knows where to go to find the best diaper rash ointment. Boudreaux's Butt Paste is  Pediatrician recommended.  It goes on and cleans off easily, comes in convenient sizes including a handy travel size.  It has a pleasant scent and treats diaper rash and soothes irritated skin.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

2 lbs. sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
2 eggs, beaten 2 oz.
margarine, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Will be very soupy.
Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

How Far are You Traveling for Thanksgiving?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NAVTEQ. All opinions are 100% mine.

This Thanksgiving we are heading to my Aunt's home to celebrate. It is about an hour and fifteen minute drive which is not too bad.  I am very thankful that we do not have a long trip to get to our holiday destination because there is enough stress just trying to get prepared for the event.   However I am sure that there are many of you who do have a long trip to make for Thanksgiving.

For those of you heading out on a long drive this week who have an in-dash GPS system stop by the NAVTEQ store before you head out to get a map update .  There is nothing more frustrating than having your GPS system send you down a road that no longer exists because your system is out of date.  I have been in this situation a couple times and it's not at all fun.  No one wants to have to stop and ask for directions or buy a map when you have GPS.  Not to mention that you don't want to show up late, that could mean less food or even missing the game.

I hope that all of you have safe travels this week.  Leave a comment and let us far are you traveling for Thanksgiving?

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frugal Tip #3: Signing up For Online Freebies

If you have ever read my other blog then you probably already know that I am a huge proponent of free!  I love freebies, getting things for free with coupons and getting Free Samples by Mail.  Taking just a little time out of my day to search out some freebies has definitely helped to chip away a little more at my budget.

Over the last couple years I have been able to get a lot of free things by clipping coupons, watching the sales, signing up for Free Samples and checking out some great websites.  Sometimes free samples are larger than you expect or come with a coupon.  I have actually received a free sample twice that came with a "Free Product" coupon, now that was pretty cool.

The important thing to remember when searching out the freebies is that time is money so if you are spending all day long to find a few freebies you are not helping yourself at all.  Instead visit a website or two that can keep you updated on what freebies are available at the moment.  For instance has information on free samples by mail, free music, free software, free online games and Free Movies Online.

Also I highly recommend keeping a seperate email account specifically for freebie sign ups.  This will just keep your main inbox from being innundated with offers.

How many of you like to sign up for freebies?

Open Faced Sloppy Cheeseburgers and Homemade Fries

I actually got this idea from a recipe site and I didn't save the page so now I can't find it.  If and when I do I will link to it.

This was our dinner last night and it was a hit with everyone.

Open Faced Sloppy Cheeseburgers (fed 4 with no leftovers)

1lb Ground Round
1/3 Cup Thick and Chunky Salsa
4 heaping TBS Ketchup
2 heaping TBS Mustard
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Garlic Powder

Brown and drain the ground beef.  Add in each of the above ingredients and blend well.  My ingredient amounts differ from the original recipe.  I personally just started adding a little bit of each ingredient until I liked the way it tasted.

Once it was heated through I scooped it over a halved steak roll.  I think sourdough, hamburger buns or your favorite type of roll would work well with this.  Then I added a slice of american cheese on top and put it in the oven to melt.

These were very yummy, everyone in the house scarfed them down! 

Homemade Fries (these are a favorite around here)

I peeled 6 medium potatoes and cut them by hand into fry like slivers.  I sprayed a cookie sheet with canola spray then layered the potatoes on the pan.  Then I lightly sprayed the potatoes with the canola spray and sprinkled garlic powder on them.  I baked them on 400 for about 50 minutes.

This made exactly the right amount of food for our family of 4.  My hubby was able to have 2 sandwiches and the girls and I had 1 each.  The fries were split four ways and there were no leftovers.

If you have a bigger family or teenage boys I suggest doubling or even tripling the recipe.

Linked to: Somewhat Simple, Fireflies and Jellybeans

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Fall is absolutely by far the most wonderful time of the year for me!  Spring is great because the warmth comes back around after what seems like a forever winter.  Summer is nice because it is warm the whole time and the kids are out of school.  Winter is even lovely especially because Christmas falls smack dab in the middle of it. However Fall is my most favorite season and it seems like this year the outdoors have been more beautiful than ever.

Our fall weather has been just a little warmer than usual this year and I LOVE this time when we don't have to run the air conditioning or the heat.  I LOVE just having the windows open and all the fresh coming in.  I LOVE seeing all the foliage turn colors and I LOVE bon fires, hayrides, and everything that comes with fall.

Sadly our fall is ending!  The pictures above were taken last weekend, probably our last warm day for a long while.  The cold has already blown in and the heat is on.  I am thankful that we spent this last beautiful day outdoors and enjoying my favorite season.

Yet I can't be too sad.....not only is Fall a wonderful time of year but right after it we get to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with all our extended family.    I am looking forward to the upcoming Holidays followed by Spring and Summer which will eventually bring me back to my favorite....Fall.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nescafe Dolce Gusto - Coffee at it's Best!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nestle Dolce Gusto. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am a big coffee fan!  It is my preference to enjoy the different flavors of the hot and cold coffees you can get in the specialty stores at the mall however most of the time I am drinking my coffee at home.  Obviously if I went out every single time I wanted a cup of coffee I would be broke!  So instead I wish that I had the equipment I needed at home to get a perfect cup of cafe type coffee every time.

The NESCAFE Dolce Gusto can make 8 different varieties of coffee such as Caffè Lungo, Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Mocha, Caffè Americano, Iced Cappuccinoand even a rich Hot Chocolate.  To me this is the coolest thing because I am such of fan of many different varieties and flavors.  I can just imagine my very own "coffee shop" in my kitchen, how cool would that be?!

Krups models can be found in Canadian stores such as The Bay, Home Outfitters, London Drugs, Sears and fine kitchen stores across Canada.  The TFal models can be found at Walmart.  These machines come in creamy white, sophisticated black and candy apple red which would definitely be my first choice. 

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Cranberry Chutney

Image Source

1 Package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Teaspoon cumin
In medium saucepan, over high heat, combine cranberries, vinegar and sugar; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, and cumin
Simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently.  Cool before serving.

Linked to: Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Lucky Star Lane, Life as Mom

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Dream Sofa Set!

I am pretty sure I have mentioned before that I am in desperate need of a new sofa set!  What we are using now was given to us a long time ago.  The structure is okay but it looks pretty sad.  Last year we went out shopping for at least a new couch and I couldn't decide on anything so I ended up just getting matching slip covers for the couch and recliner.  This works for now but I am really hoping to get a new set sooner than later.

If I had the option to choose any sofa sets that I wanted  I would definitely go for something in a red leather.  This would really be my dream sofa set! However  I would have to repaint my entire very large living room since it is painted green and right now I have too many undone projects as it is.  So instead I would more than likely go for something neutral in the brown family.

At you can find living room furniture, bedroom furniture, kids furniture, kitchen furniture and more.  They have a nice website that is easy to navigate, they offer secure payments and tax free purchases.

Frugal Tip #2 Cut Back on Meat

Before I started using coupons I spent a little too much on meat! I never considered how much something cost per pound.....I just bought what I wanted. That was definitely a good portion of the reason why my grocery bill was so high!

These days I make it a point to stock up on meat when I can find it at rock bottom prices. If I can't find it on sale I don't buy it. When it is on sale I make sure to get as much as I can fit in my budget.

Also when I am cooking these days I make it a point to use less meat in general.  If I am making soup, stew, a casserole, spaghetti sauce or something of the like I only use 1/2 - 3/4 lb of meat.  Then I bulk the meal up with more veggies, maybe some rice or even lentils.   If I am making taco meat I often do 1/2  ground beef and 1/2 rice or lentils.

Sometimes however we go meatless!  This is something I try to do at least once a payday.  It is pretty painless especially when you are able to find a few meatless meals that your family loves.  Having a meatless  dinner now and again can make a change in your grocery bill.  It may be a small change but when you start implementing several simple things the money saved starts to become very apparent. 

Here are a few of my families favorite meatless meals:

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole

Does your family ever eat meatless?  Do you have a favorite meatless recipe?  If so share in the comments.

Linked to: Coupon Teacher

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Southwestern Jalapeno Cornbread Dressing Recipe

If you are like me the sausage is enough spice! I personally will leave the Jalapenos out.

Recipe Source

4 Cups cornbread crumbled
10 Slices dried bread cubed
1-1/2 Cups celery chopped
1 Cup onion chopped
1-1/2 Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 Cup Jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
2 eggs slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325.
In large bowl combine cornbread and bread cubes.
In large skillet, over medium-high heat, saute sausage, celery and onion until sausage is no longer pink and
vegetables are tender; combine with cornbread mixture.
Add salt, poultry seasoning, jalapeno peppers, eggs and turkey broth.
Spoon dressing into lightly greased 3-quart casserole dish.
Bake, covered, at 325 degrees F. 45 to 50 minutes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My First Photo Shoot!

I LOVE pictures! My girls have had their portraits made so many times it's almost ridiculous. However I have personally never been a really great picture taker....or maybe I just never tried. Usually when we are on vacation or Holidays come around I hand the camera to my hubby.

About a month ago I checked out Picnik because my daughter Emeri was telling me how wonderful it was.  I have to admit I really like the site and it is easy to use.  I took some cute pics off my cell phone and tried out the editing for the first time.

Then I followed along as my good friend did a photo shoot with my girls and all these ideas about picture taking just started coming to me.

So when we had my niece K's 2nd birthday party recently I took a bunch of pics of her in her pretty dress and princess acessories.  I came home and edited them with Picnik and several came out very cute considering I have a pretty old camera and they were taken indoors.

Then after K flat out refused to have her portraits made at JcPenney, we went to Walmart and ordered some enlargements off of a few of the Birthday pics I had taken.  Then I decided that I thought I could maybe do an outdoor photo shoot with her and get more pictures.

So yesterday we took K along with one of her brothers and 2 of my other nieces and headed to a local park.  The experience was soooooo much fun and the pictures came out really good for a first timer!

Here are just a few of my favorites.....there are actually 45 total pics between the four kids pared down from 65!  :) 

K was by far the hardest to photograph, she is just 2 and she was more concerned with looking at the Duckies than paying attention to me! LOL

All in all it was an Awesome afternoon, I haven't had that much fun in a while.   The results made it even better!  :)

Linked to: Somewhat Simple, Making the World Cuter, A Silly Little Sparrow