Monday, January 31, 2011

My First Household Binder

A few weeks back I was looking around on other blogs and found a great home organization tool, A Household Binder. Since I had recently set a goal to get my household chores, meal planning and organization under control, I knew this was the tool I needed.
I started by using a binder and dividers that I already had on hand.
Money Saving Mom has several free printables on her site that you can fill in to fit your life. My first page is her Daily Docket. I love that I can change it every day so I know what I need to do that day at a glance. I put it in a protective cover so I can write on it and wipe it off. My second page is My Daily Cleaning List. This page breaks everything up by time of day on the left side and has a Weekly To-Do list broken up by day of the week on the right side. This page really helps me keep on track through out the day. It is much easier seeing that I need to do 2 or 3 small chores over a few hour period then seeing a huge list of things I need to do by the end of the day. By following this list I also know that everything in the house is going to get cleaned at least once a week.
Next comes the Monthly/Semi-Annual Cleaning List (scroll down to second page). I was able to fill in the chores I wanted to do monthly, every three months or every six months. Once I have done the chore I just mark it off and I know that it gets done as often as I think it needs to be.
My next section (not pictured) is my sons school calendar.
Following that is my One-Week Menu Planner page, also from Money Saving Mom. I use this form to plan out all our weekly meals and snacks. If I am not feeling well my husband knows to go into my binder and can tell what we are having for any particular meal. This really helps with last minute meal stresses and fast food pickup. My dividers have a pocket in them so I can pull the recipes I am using that week and they are right there with the menu plan.
I also have a section for our monthly budget and bill paying tools, tax papers that we have received, recent receipts and rebates, crafts I would like to do with my kids, notebook paper and my birthday party planning folders.
So far this system has worked like a dream. It has made my days run a lot smoother and helped me keep on track throughout the day.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan- January 30th - February 5th

Everyone in my family has been sick for the last four days. I haven't had a chance to grocery shop, check the grocery store ads or even cook. I attempted to come up with a quick and easy menu plan for the week but I am not sure how well we will stick to it. We are on survival mode at this point. Breakfast: Waffles and Sausage Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal Omelettes and Fruit Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes Cereal Blueberry Muffins Lunches: Left Overs Soup and Sandwiches Eat Out Dinners: Stuffed Peppers and Veggies Homemade Pizza Homemade Mac n Cheese and Hot Dogs Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich Tomato Cheddar Soup and Veggies Date Night-Eat Out Left Overs

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Birthday Cakes

With my boys birthdays right around the corner I decided to look back through past birthday parties for ideas on what to do for their cake or cupcakes. Man, this brought back memories.
The first big birthday party I threw was for my oldest sons 2nd birthday. We decided on a bug hunt theme and held it in our back yard. I was bound and determined to make everything myself even though I had never decorated anything in my life. I worked for several days making bugs out of tootsie rolls and gummy fruit. I also made bug cookies and dirt cups. For the dirt cups I put a frosted cupcake inside a flower pot and covered it with crushed up Oreo's and a gummy worm.
The morning of the party my son decided he wanted a closer taste look at the cupcakes and pulled them off the counter. Talk about stressful. Luckily my husband rushed over to the store and they made him up a batch right there on the spot. The second party I made a cake for was my sons 4th birthday. We held it at a play place so all I had to do was make the cake. It was fun and he was super excited about it.
For my youngest son's first birthday we threw him a Rubber Ducky themed party. I had found a duck cake pan at a yard sale for $1 the summer before so was excited to test it out. It took a lot of time but I love the way it turned out.
This year I am working on Robot cupcakes (he also requested a sundae bar) and a Monster cake. I am very excited to see what I come up with and how it turns out.

LOVE Letters

Before my youngest son, Cole, was born I bought letters that I planned to paint and hang in his room. For whatever reason it never got done and they just sat in the office. While looking for things I could use to decorate for Valentine's Day I came across the letters. I noticed I had all but one letter to spell out LOVE. The next weekend when I was at Michaels I picked up a "V" and had a complete set.
My original plan was to paint them red with some paint I had and then just lean them up on my mantel. After they were painted I noticed they really needed something. I used some Mod Podge to paint over the red paint and then put glitter on tip so they would shimmer. When the bottom layer of Mod Podge was dry I added another think coat on top to keep the glitter in place.
At Christmas time I saw a Noel sign on the Pottery Barn website that I really liked. So I decided to set the LOVE letters up in a similar way. I just used a hot glue gun to stick them together. I really love the way they turned out. It was an inexpensive and simple project that really stands out on my mantel. LOVE it!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homemade Poptarts

My boys love to eat poptarts. If we have them in the house they will ask to have them for breakfast everyday. When I came across this recipe for homemade poptarts I knew I needed to make them right away. I am glad I did, my boys loved them.

Ingredients: 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tsp sea salt 1 cup melted butter 1 cup plain yogurt 5 ounces of 100% fruit jelly or jam (any flavor) Begin by mixing the flour, salt, butter and yogurt. Knead the dough just a little bit to make it workable. Roll out the dough on a large well floured surface. Use a knife to cut the dough into the desired poptart size. Place about 1/2 tsp of jelly on 1/2 the dough rectangles. Spread the jelly around leaving the edges free. Stack a second dough rectangle on top and seal the edges with a fork. Lay the poptarts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Recipe makes around 15 poptarts depending on the size you cut them. You can make these ahead and pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ring Toss Robot

With my sons birthday coming up in less then a month we are working hard to finish up all the robots and last minute details for his party. He asked to have a ring toss at his party so I decided to make a robot as the ring toss game.
We started out with an old diaper box, two Pringles containers and some parts I picked up at yard sales over the summer. Once I had him put together, I spray painted him silver. When the paint was dry I hot glued on his face and hat.
I picked a funnel as the hat so it can be used as another part to toss the rings onto. My son has been practicing tossing the rings onto the robot. He is so excited for his party.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wooden Hearts

While looking around the house for things I could use to decorate for Valentine's Day I came across a bag of wooden hearts. I instantly knew I wanted to paint them and use them to decorate my downstairs bathroom. I wish I had a few more of them to fill the rest of the vase. Maybe I will find some on clearance after Valentine's Day to use next year.
I started out by laying the hearts out on a piece of wax paper and separating them by size. I had red, pink and white paint to use so I divided them into three groups. I decided to paint most of them red with just a few white and pink. I painted the edges and one side, let them dry, then painted the other side.
After they were dry I put them randomly in a vase. It was hard to get them to lay the way I had envisioned. They wanted to stack up on top of each other. It took several attempts but I finally got them to look half way decent. I think I could spend all day rearranging them if I let myself.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Menu Plan- January 23rd - 29th

I went through my freezer and found that there are several meals in there so I am trying to use them up this week. Most of these I will be able to pull out the night before, thaw and throw in the oven. I love easy cooking weeks. Breakfasts: Cinnamon Sugar Bread, fruit and yogurt Homemade poptarts ham & eggs, toast and oranges pancakes or waffles cereal or oatmeal breakfast burritos french toast and sausage Lunches: left overs meatloaf sandwiches and potato cakes pigs in a blanket and fruit Quesadillas and oranges bean and cheese burritos corn dogs, fruit and yogurt eat out Dinners: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and glazed carrots tacos chili, cornbread and salad stuffed peppers and veggies Dijon chicken, fried okra and mashed potatoes Meatball subs, apples and chips Butternut squash soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Walgreens Trip January 23rd

As I was looking through my coupon binder this morning I realized I had a $5 register reward that was expiring today. There wasn't anything I wanted this week so I went and got some lotion for the boys. Good timing because we finished the last bottle this morning.
Total Spent $2.56
Total Saved $9.95
Johnson's & Johnson's lotion (Reg. $5.49, Sale B1G1 50% off, $5.49 & $2.74 - $1Q = $4.49 & $1.74)
Snickers Candy Bar-filler($.69)
I paid using my $5 RR which brought my total down to $1.92 + .64 tax = $2.56 OOP.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kohl's Trip January 22nd

I was so excited when I got the mail yesterday and my mom had sent me $30 in Kohl's cash to use on whatever I wanted. I don't spend much on myself so I was very anxious to get a few things.
Total Spent $5.40
Total Saved $121.99
I knew I didn't have a whole lot to spend so I headed straight for the clearance rack.
Green Shirt (Reg. $34, clearance $6.80)
Black Sweater (Reg. $65, clearance $19.50)
Brown Shirt (Reg. $20, clearance $4)
Sippy Cup (Reg. $8, Sale $5.60)
I had printed off a 15% off coupon which saved me $.89.

Smith's Trip January 22nd

Most of our meals for next week will be coming from our freezer so I didn't have to purchase many items to finish those meals off. This allowed me to stock up on some things and buy a couple extras that wouldn't normally be on our list.
Total Spent $52.55
Total Saved $19.07
Percentage Saved 26% :(
Pine Sol (Reg. $2.69, Sale $2.19 - .25Q = $1.94)
Kroger Applesauce (Reg. $1.97)
2 Kroger Yeast (Reg. $.99)
Kroger Brown Sugar (Reg. $1.89)
Smucker Spread (Reg. $3.19)
Whole Wheat Flour (Reg. $3.09)
3 Grands Biscuits (Reg. $1.48, Sale $1 - .40 ecoupon - .75/3 = $1.85/3)
Kroger Cheese-2 shredded & 1 block (Reg. $2.29, Sale $1.99)
3 Kraft Singles (Reg. $3.99, Sale $1.99 - .75Q = $1.24)
Colgate Toothbrush (Reg. $.99, Sale $.79 - .75Q = .04)
Milk (Reg. $2.99, Sale $2.50)
Kroger plain yogurt (Reg. $2.59, Sale $1.99)
10 Kroger Yogurts (Reg. $.40 each)
Kroger Sour Cream (Reg. $1.26, Sale $1)
2 dozen Smith's Eggs (Reg. $1.82, Sale $1.50)
Bananas (Reg. 1.04, Sale $.81)
2 Roma Tomatoes (Reg. $.86, Sale $.58)
Teddy Grahams (Reg. $2.39, Sale $1)
Animal Crackers (Reg. $2.39, Sale $1)
10 Bar S Franks (Reg. $1.19, rain check for $.69-These are for a birthday party)
Smith's Buns (Reg. $1.89, Sale $1.59)
Coffee Filters (Reg. $2.19)

Save Mart Trip January 22nd

I don't do all my shopping at Save Mart because their prices are too high but they usually have a few good loss leaders every week that I try to pick up. This week it was the whole chickens for $.59/lb.
Save Mart:
Total Spent $21.70
Total Saved $23.32
Percentage Saved: 52%
Diet Coke (Reg. $1.99, Sale $1.69 - .50Q = $1.19) I had a store coupon which should have taken off an extra $.70 but it didn't come off??
2 Ken's Salad Dressing (Reg. $3.99, Sale $2 - $1Q = $1)
Clementines (Reg. $4.99, Sale $3.97)
Chicken Breasts (Reg. $7.30, Sale $4.66)
Dinosaur Nuggets (Reg. $4.99, Sale $3.99 - $1 store Q = $2.99)
2 Whole Chickens (Reg. $11.97, Sale $5.08)
4 Farmer John sausage links (Reg. $1.25, Sale $.99 - .40 store q - .35Q= 1 @ .24 & 3 @.59)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Michaels Trip January 21st

I needed some glitter to finish up a project I am working on so my boys and I headed over to Michaels craft store. This is one of our favorite stores and we go there often..way too often. I was very excited to see them marking down the leftover Christmas merchandise to 90%. They told me the Christmas items would be marked down to 90% until Sunday and then they are going to get rid of it all. So if there is something you need, you better get there before Sunday.
Total Spent $16.37
Total Saved $75.21
Bead Berry Wreath (Reg. $14.99, clearance $1.49)
Clear jumbo gems (Reg. $2.49, Sale $1)
Snowman Wreath Hanger (Reg. $6.99, clearance $.69)
3 Glitter Picks (Reg. $3.99, clearance $.39)
Frame (Reg. 19.99, clearance $1.99)
snowman pick (Reg. $1.99, clearance $.19)
Glitter (Reg. $1.49)
2 foam Gingerbread houses (Reg. $7.99, clearance $.79)
2 snowman splat balls-for the stockings next year (Reg. $1.00, clearance $.10)
Peanuts Valentine's flag (Reg. $6.99 - 40% Michaels Q = $4.19)
2 suckers-not pictured (Reg. $.39)
2 Christmas Eye Grow plants (Reg. $2.40, clearance $.24)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Apple Pie Muffins

I came across this recipe on Recipezaar (now about a year ago. It has been a family favorite ever since. Enjoy!!

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp cinnamon


1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups diced peeled firm tart apples (like Granny Smith)


Topping: In a small bowl toss together brown sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon until crumbly; set aside.

Muffins: In a large bowl whisk together brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda and salt.

Stir oil mixture into flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.

Fold in apples, mixing just until combined.

Spoon into greased muffin cups filling 3/4 full.

Sprinkle topping over evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and tops spring back.

Smith's Trip January 19th

A couple days ago my husband and I talked about stocking up on tortillas the next time they went on sale. We have a lot of recipes that require tortillas that we pass over because we don't have them on hand. To my surprise the very next day they went on sale. I got so excited that I rushed out that morning to stock up. My car smelled so good with all those tortillas in the back.
Total Spent $23.18
Total Saved $60.84
Percentage Saved: 72%
20 pkgs tortillas (Reg. $2.19, Sale $1)
gift photo clip (Reg. $2.50, clearance $.25)
Noel frame (Reg. $9.00, clearance $.90)
5 ornaments (Reg. $1.99, clearance $.20)
2 clear gift wrap (Reg. $3.99, clearance $.40)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Target Trip January 18th

I had to get some prescriptions refilled today so while I was waiting I cruised the perimeter of the store. I love to see what kind of clearance bargains I can find.
Total Spent $12.85
Total Saved $29.00
2 Men's Sweaters (Reg. $15, Clearance $3.74)
Peeps-Not pictured (Reg. $.99)
2 Wilton Frosting (Reg. $2.99, Clearance $.74)
Tampax Tampons (Reg. $3.99 - $2Q = $1.99)
My total came to $11.96 + .89 tax, Final price $12.85.

Valentine's Heart Ornaments

My oldest son is really in to decorating for holidays. He asked me to decorate for Valentine's Day before Christmas was even over. Since I knew I wanted to do some simple and inexpensive projects to help decorate, I bought as much as I could on clearance after Christmas.
I found these heart ornaments on clearance at Michael's craft store. I got the paints on sale 3/$1. I took the metal pieces used to hang the ornament off and dribbled paint down the inside of the ornaments. I tried adding some glitter but it didn't show up as well as I had hoped. I put the ornaments upside down in an egg carton so the excess paint could run out. I let them dry for several hours and then put the metal pieces back on. I left some of them clear and added some silver glitter and heart glitter. When I was ready to decorate I filled my vases with some Easter grass I had from last year and then placed the heart ornaments randomly throughout the grass.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Menu Plan- January 16th - 22nd

My family has come down with some sort of bug over the weekend. Since our energy is low I decided to do a simple menu for the week with items we have on hand and a quick trip to the grocery store for some basics. Hopefully it will be an easy week cooking wise and I can spend more time taking care of my family. Breakfasts: Breakfast Bread and fruit x 2 Baked Oatmeal and fruit x 2 Apple pie muffins and fruit x 2 pancakes or french toast with bacon Lunches: leftovers from dinner sandwiches, chips and fruit burritos eat out Dinners: eat out pork chops (in freezer), baked potato and veggies chicken tortilla soup ham, eggs and hash browns Santa Fe grilled chicken salad wrap, fruit salad triple decker club, fruit salad spaghetti and meat balls, salad

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smith's Trip January 15th

Total Spent $32.15
Total Saved $17.42
Percentage Saved: 35%
When I was working on my meal plan for the week, I realized I didn't need a whole lot of groceries. I decided to pick up an extra case of cream style corn as my boys informed me that "This is our favorite veggie mom." Since is is their "favorite" I guess I better have plenty on hand.
Flour Tortillas (Reg. $1.39)
Kens Salad dressing (Reg. $3.59 - .50 ecoupon - $1 Q = $2.09)
Case of Libby's cream corn (Reg. $16.68, Sale $6)
2 Kroger shredded cheese (Reg. $2.29, Sale $1.99)
Gold n Soft margarine (Reg. $1.99 - .50Q = $1.49)
Kroger Butter (Reg. $2.99)
Gallon milk (Reg. $2.79, Sale $2.50)
Smith's Eggs (Reg. $2.68)
Fruit Roll up (Reg. $.59)
2 Vitamin Waters (Reg. $1.39, Sale $1 - .75Q = .25 each)
Bananas (Reg. $1.35)
Lime (Reg. $.49)
4 Gala Apples (Reg. $1.84, Sale $1.26)
4 Granny Smith Apples (Reg. $1.86, Sale $1.27)
Cilantro (Reg. $.79)
2 Roma Tomatoes (Reg. $.80)
2 loaves Wheat Bread (Reg. $1.19, Sale $.99)

Save Mart Trip January 15th

Save Mart:
Total Spent $11.98
Total Saved $6.59
Percentage Saved: 35%
4 Oranges (Reg. $2.90, Sale $.83)
Romain Hearts (Reg. $2.99, Sale $.87)
Bacon (Reg. $3.69)
Soup (Dog) Bone (Reg. $2.40)
Oven Roasted Turkey (Reg. $6.29, Sale $4.19)
I sent my husband on this grocery trip. He just can't resist coming home with a little something for our dog too. Dog bone is not in the picture as it is out in the yard being chewed on.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Target Trip January 13th

Today is the day, the day Target marks down their toy clearance to 75%. My friend and I were waiting at the doors this morning when they opened. We were so excited to shop that neither of us slept well last night. Well it paid off! I was able to get gifts for all our nieces and nephews for their birthdays and Christmas this year, stuff for our boys birthdays and several things to add to our gift stash.
If I would have paid regular price my total before tax would have been $794.03. I spent $198.06 plus $15.30 for tax. Final price was $213.36, a savings of 75%.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Small Robot

With my sons birthday party only a month away he is getting very excited. He has been really into helping and making sure I get the robots done quickly.
For this robot we collected some odds and ends from around the house. We have a box, two cans, an empty container that held a peanut snack mix, a funnel and a hose from our old carpet cleaner. We also took apart on old caterpillar flashlight that no longer worked and used the parts for the face.
Since the container we used for his head is see through we added some old wire to make it interesting. We painted the box blue and the tuna can we used as the neck red. My son decided to make it a girl so we added some earrings.
I just love seeing the robots come together. Each one is very unique and has it's own personality.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Menu Plan- January 9th - 15th

I spent several nap times last week organizing my recipe binder. I had pages and pages of recipes I had printed off just sitting loosely in my binder. I went through all the loose recipes as well as the recipes I had previously organized and got rid of the ones that we either didn't like or that no longer sounded good. I also flipped through my Cooking Light magazines and tore out the recipes I wanted to try. I am so glad I spent the time to get my binder organized. It made planning the weekly menu much easier. Breakfasts: Apple Cider Donuts Egg in the Hole and fruit Cereal Blueberry Muffins French Toast and fruit Oatmeal and bananas Pancakes and bacon Lunch: Chicken Salad Sliders, cottage cheese, fruit and chips Left Overs Sandwiches and fruit salad Hot Dogs and fruit Eat Out Dinner: Mac Chicken Cacciatore and salad Buffalo Chicken Wraps and fries Teriyaki Burgers and fruit salad Chicken Cordon Blue, baked potatoes and veggies Ranger Beans, Corn Bread and salad Left Overs

CVS Trip January 9th

Total Spent $11.72
Total Saved $51.71
I started the transaction off with $7.29 ECBs. I broke the deal up into two transactions.
Transaction 1
Dove Milk Chocolate (Reg. $.89 - .50 CVS Q = .39, Earned .89 ECB)
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis (Reg. $1.69, Sale $1.59, Earned $1.59 ECB)
1 Gas X Prevention (Reg $6.29 - $4Q = $2.29)
1 Maalox Advanced (Reg $6.29 - $5Q - $1.29)
2 Maalox Max (Reg. $6.99 - $5Q = $1.99)
I used my $7.29 ECBs which brought my total down to $2.25 + $1.95 tax, Final Price $4.20. I earned $10 ECBs for the Maalox & Gas X deal, .89 ECB for the Dove bar and $1.59 for the Reese's.
Transaction 2 6 cases of soda -Not pictured (Reg. 5.39, Sale $3.33)
I paid with the $10, .89 & $1.59 ECBs from Transaction 1. This brought my total down to $7.52. I earned $10 ECBs to use on my next trip.

Walgreens Trip January 9th

Total Spent $6.40
Total Saved $27.29
I started out with $9 RR. I bought two papers for $.99 each, Crisco on clearance for $1.64 and used a .55 coupon, Nestle Chocolate Chips on clearance for $1.64, Pill Glide on sale for $5, 7 Keebler pie shells on clearance for $.49 each and a Mickey Mouse on clearance for $1.74.
I paid with the $9 RR and $6.40 OOP. I got back a $5 RR from the Pill Glide to use on my next trip.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Grocery Trips January 8th

Total Spent $61.65
Total Saved $60.18
Percentage Saved: 49%
Save Mart:
Total Spent $19.60
Total Saved $20.87
Percentage Saved: 52%