Wednesday, February 25, 2009

free pancakes!

Yesterday was National Pancake Day Celebration at IHOP. So what does that mean? Free short stack of pancakes for our family! They were so yummy and filling. We ordered ours without butter and used sugar-free syrup to be on the healthier side :)
There's nothing like receiving a ticket that says $0 on it! We did make a small donation to St. Jude's while we were there. Free pancakes and making a difference? Priceless.

recipe and a story

In the post directly before this one, I mentioned in our Menu Plan that we would be having steak for dinner because of a defrosting mix-up. Well, the story continues. Clay marinated and grilled the "steaks" for dinner on Thursday night as planned. We cut into them and soon knew that they were not beef steaks, but were pork steaks. It was a pleasant surprise as they were juicy and seasoned very well. But where were those beef steaks leftover from Valentine's Day? They were still in the freezer! So many mix-ups, but problem finally solved. While Clay's mom was visiting this weekend Clay grilled the infamous beef steaks and veggies. It was so yummy. We had leftovers last night for dinner. The mushrooms were my favorite!

Recipe- Ziploc Bag Omelet
I admit, I am unable to make a pretty omelet. However, this recipe was easy and tasty and looks better than if I made it in a skillet. We put all the ingredients together on Saturday night and just had to cook it on Sunday morning. Makes a very filling breakfast or supper! I got the recipe from my wonderful sister, KK.

Ziploc Bag Omelet
2 eggs
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced onions
1/2 cup chopped ham (or other meat of your choosing)
Cheddar cheese (however much you like)
Combine all ingredients in a quart size freezer bag. (It needs to be freezer or it may burst while heating.) Swish ingredients around to make sure they are well combined. (If you skip this step you may wind up with hard-boiled eggs within your omelet!) Refrigerate overnight or cook right away. Fill a stock pot up half way with water. Bring the water to a boil. Place bags inside pot and allow to boil for 13 minutes. Instant omelets!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2.17 shopping trip and menu plan

Town Talk - $20.08

Walmart $38.58

Total spent = $58.66

The deals weren't super this week. I only price-matched on baby carrots ($.99/lb. at Kroger) and grapes ($.99/lb. at Kroger) at Walmart. Since the price-matching deals were so sparse, I headed over to Town Talk. I hadn't been there in a while and LOVE their prices. I loaded my cart with 2 bags of Dole Spring Mix Salad for $.50 each, Stauffer's Animal Crackers for $.50, Onions for $.19/lb., Weight Watchers Cookies for $1, Tortilla Chips for $.50 and whole-wheat Tortillas for $.50 each. I also got some other items that were at good prices that we needed to round out our meals for the week.

Tuesday- Waffles (already made-in freezer) and strawberries
Wednesday- Cereal, milk, and apples
Thursday- Bran Muffins and apples
Friday- Oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins
Saturday- Breakfast Burritos
Monday- Pancakes and Bacon
Tuesday- Leftover Pork Chops and Beans/Sandwiches
Wednesday- Leftover Potato Soup and Salad
Thursday- Chicken Sandwich (Deli Meat)
Friday- Green Salad and Garden Veggie Soup
Saturday- Lunch Out (Clay's mom will be visiting)
Sunday- Lunch Out (Clay's mom will be visiting)
Monday- Peanut Butter Siesta Sandwiches (Pg. 215 of Cooking Light: Low-Fat/Low-Calorie)
Tuesday- Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Mixed Greens Salad, and Homemade Bread
Wednesday- 2 Egg, Ham, and Cheese Omelets (Put all ingredients in Ziploc bag (2 eggs, diced
ham, cheese, onions, and bell pepper. Boil water in a sauce pan. Place bag(s) in the
boiling water and allow to boil for 13 minutes- instant omelets!) and Whole Wheat
Biscuits (Pg. 49 of Cooking Light: Low-Fat/Low-Calorie)
Thursday- Steak, Green Beans, and Homemade Bread
*Funny story (kind of)- We splurged and bought steaks for Valentine's Day. It was
cheaper to buy them in a large package, so Clay grilled 2 of the steaks and we froze
the other 2. I mistakenly took out the steaks to defrost on Monday thinking they
were pork chops. Oh well, it just means we get to have steak for dinner this week!
Friday- Date Night!! - Noah - pizza at Kid's Night Out
Clay and I - dinner at T.G.I. Fridays (using a BOGO coupon found here).
Saturday- Grilled Pork Chops, Grilled Veggies, and Homemade Bread
Sunday- Cornmeal Chicken (Pg. 151 of Cooking Light: Low-Fat/Low-Calorie), Mashed
Potatoes, and Carrots
Monday- Gumbo (from freezer), Rice, and Crackers

Saturday, February 14, 2009

kool-aid playdough

Noah (2.5) goes to a 2 day-a-week program at a local church. I taught at the school previous to having Jude (8 months), but only sub this year. Noah is still able to go to the school at the discounted rate as long as I sub twice a month. This is a great deal since I get paid to sub and then pay a small amount in tuition. This is also a great deal because on most Tuesdays and Thursdays I can run errands without having two little ones in tow :)
This week Noah's class celebrated Valentine's Day by eating cupcakes and giving each other Valentine cards. We made Kool-aid Playdough in little sacks to give to all his friends. I was trying to think of a sugar-alternative and this sounded like a doable solution for 2 year olds.
Kool-Aid Playdough
• 1 1/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1 pkg unsweetened Kool-aid
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a bowl, mix flour, salt and kool-aid.
2. Stir in water and oil
3. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes.
4. Store in ziploc bag for up to 2 months.
5. Use like playdough.
6. Smells wonderful and takes on the color of the koolaid.
We decided to use red Kool-aid for the occasion. After I finished kneading the dough, I formed it into several balls. I let the balls cool slightly before wrapping them in wax paper and then placing them in the treat bags.

I got these cute treat bags for $1 at Walmart! They came with silver twisty ties.

These are the completed bags.

I made these tags to put on the bags. The first one had the verse, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). The Kool-aid Playdough recipe was on the second tag.

first attempt at bread-making

I've always wanted to make home-made bread, but to say I was nervous would be understating my feelings. Part of my insecurities were founded on not owning a bread machine. I realize that many people have made bread for many years without having a machine. I am such a perfectionist and it gets me in trouble more times than I care to admit.
Last week I found a recipe that looked and sounded delicious. It also was part wheat, so that seemed healthy for my family. It did turn out to be more work, but the end result was totally worth the effort. I made a loaf last week and again this week. We ate the bread with our dinner while it was still warm and then used the rest of the loaf for sandwiches during the week. We didn't have to worry about the bread going bad because it didn't last long enough for that!
I found the recipe while browsing, my go-t0 site for frugal ideas and recipes. She gave a link to Tammy's Recipes where the homemade wheat bread was located. You can get the recipe for the bread here with full directions for making it whole wheat or part wheat or you can look below for the version I made. Happy Baking!

A slightly sweet, healthy half-whole-wheat bread

Yield: 1 loaf

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir.
2. Add flours and yeast, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
3. Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil on top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening.
5. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm! Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag or frozen until needed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2.10 shopping trip and menu plan

Walmart Grocery Trip = $21.13!

I reached a whole new low this week. I don't post this to brag, but to show you how price-matching and coupon-clipping pays off- literally.
This week I matched almost every sale to coupons, which means I got even more savings.
Here are some details on my groceries for the week:
1. Mushrooms = reg. $1.88, on sale for $1.50 (savings of $.38)
2. Bell Peppers = reg. 2/$1, price-matched for 3/$1 (savings of $.50 on 3)
3. Bananas = $.55/lb., price-matched for 3 lbs./$1 (savings of $.60 on 2.7 lbs.)
4. Strawberries = $3 (I splurged! I've really been holding out for strawberries, and couldn't wait for them to go down any longer :)
5. 2 jars Ragu Spaghetti Sauce = on sale for $1.50, price-matched for $1 + $.50/2 coupon = $.75 each (savings of $1.50 on 2)
6. 2 packs Yoplus Yogurt = reg. $2.44, price-matched for $1 each + 2 $1/1 coupons = $1 each (savings of $2.88 on 2)
7. 2 cans Progresso Soup = on sale for $1.50 each, price-matched for $1 each + $.50/2 coupon = $.75 each (savings of $1.75 on 2)
8. 2 packs Ballpark Beef Hot dogs = reg. $2.73, price-matched for $2.50 each + $1/2 coupon = $1.50 each (savings of $2.46 on 2)
9.Craisins = reg. $1.73, price-matched for $.99 (savings of $.74)
10. Bird's Eye Steamers = reg. $1.75, price-matched for $1 +$.35/1 coupon = $.65 (savings of $1.11)
11. 2 pkgs. Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies mix = reg. $1.34, price-matched for $.69 each + $.75/1 coupon = $.63 for 2! (savings of $2.05 on 2)
12. Buddig Deli Cuts = reg. $2.50 + $1/1 coupon = $1.50 (savings of $1)
13. Coffeemate Creamer = reg. $1.68 + $.50/1 coupon = $1.18 (savings of $.50)
14. Great Value Sour Cream = $1.33
15. Great Value Tomato Sauce = $.44
Total before price-matching and coupons= $36.33
Total after price-matching and coupons = $21.13
Savings = $15.20

Tuesday- Oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins
Wednesday- Bran muffins and strawberries
Thursday- PB Banana Smoothies
Friday- Strawberry and Yogurt Parfait
Saturday- Heart-shaped Pancakes
Sunday- French toast
Monday- Waffles and Apples
Tuesday- Leftover Beans and Rice
Wednesday- Leftover Spinach Lasagna
Thursday- Leftover Pork Chops and Beans
Friday- Chicken Sandwiches
Saturday- Cheese/Mushroom Quesadillas and Ranch-style Beans
Sunday- Brisket Sandwiches (meat and buns from freezer)
Monday- Chicken Sandwiches
Tuesday- Spinach Lasagna, Salad, and Carrots
Wednesday- Cowboy Pork Chops, Beans, and Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Thursday- Leftover Spinach Lasagna
Friday- Beef Hot dogs and Steamed Broccoli
Saturday- Heart-shaped Pizza (frozen pizza cut into hearts using a cookie cutter)
Sunday- Scrambled Eggs, Biscuits, and Chili-fried Potatoes
Monday- Cornmeal Chicken, Baked Potatoes, and Green Beans

Saturday, February 7, 2009

a lesson in being flexible

In college, our BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) Director encouraged us to wear a rubber band around our wrist to remind us to be flexible. We often did this during mission trips or big events on campus. This simple piece of rubber reminded us to be flexible, that things don't always go as planned.
I needed to have a rubber band on my wrist this week. So many things went opposite of how I would have liked for them to, including an ear infection. I tend to be a little OCD when it comes to matters of details and schedules. But the Lord is teaching me (slowly- it takes me a while to learn a lesson :) to depend on Him for everything. He is ultimately in control. It doesn't matter how much I try to micro-manage everthing and compartmentalize each area of each of our lives, God knows the details. He expects me to walk with Him, many times not knowing the next step. This is not only a huge lesson in being more flexible, but a bigger picture of what faith looks like. If I truly belive that God has ordered my steps, then I need to remain faithful to follow those steps, one day at a time.
"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (Pro 16:9).

A Blog Link

It seems that I've been quite absent on this blog the last couple of months. It has been a rather busy summer for us. You can see some of our travels and such at my other blog- as I've done a little better of a job keeping up with that one :)

Hopefully this Fall will bring more opportunities to post good deals, meal plans, book reviews, etc. Until then I wanted to share a blog link with you. My husband, Clay, had the priviledge of visiting West Africa on a two week mission trip this summer. He partnered with a family from our church who is serving there. Clay created a blog as a way of telling others about his trip through pictures and short stories. You can visit to learn more about his trip and how to pray for the Bozo people and the team that seeks to share the Gospel with those who've never heard.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bringing Up Boys

For Christmas, Clay received Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson from his parents. Knowing what a huge reading load he had for the semester, I volunteered to read it first and give him a good synopsis of the book. My in-laws wisely chose this book to give to their son, a father of two sons. They have come to know a lot about what it means to raise boys, having spent the past 27 years raising 3 grown sons, and this book was a help to them many years ago. With this in mind I began the new year with this book as my January reading material.
I was encouraged by many chapters thinking, "Yeah, we do that...and that...and that." I felt as though we had it figured out for the most part. Well, at least until you get to age of 2 years and 6 months. After that, we don't really have a clue! Dr. Dobson encouraged dads to wrestle with their boys, to play ball with them, and race cars together. I'm so blessed to have a husband that does these things with his boys. I'm also so blessed to have a husband that leads our family towards Christ. He plans our bible readings and facilitates them each morning. He leads our family is prayer. You may be thinking, "Why is that so important when you have a 2.5 year old and a 7-month-old.". I'll tell you why. Our 2.5 year old has now memorized an entire Psalm- 8 whole verses, knows several other sentence verses, knows many bible stories, prays for our family and for others, and knows that church is where we "sing songs to Jesus". God is using our obedience to draw Noah to Himself. I do not give ourselves any credit for these things. It is God's amazing work in Noah's life!
Now back to the point of the post, the book. I was reminded of how thankful I am for Clay's spiritual leadership when I read one such chapter about praying for your children's salvation and teaching them biblical truths. Dr. Dobson emphasized that it is our responsibility as parents to share the gospel so that our children can experience eternity with our Creator! What an amazing responsibility that is! But how encouraging to know that God is at work and we are only to be obedient towards that cause.
Another gleaning moment for me was when I read the following from Chapter 16 concerning lessons on money when teaching our children:
"There is always a trade-off between time and effort and money and reward...These are very important things to understand. Money should always be thought of as linked to work and the sweat of our brow. Think for a moment of the most worthless, unnecessary purchase you have made in recent years. Perhaps it was an electric shaver than now sits in the garage , or an article of clothing that will never be worn. It is important to realize that this item was not purchased with your money; it was purchased with your time, which you traded for money. In effect, you swapped a certain portion of your alloted days on earth for that piece of junk that now clutters your home. When you understand that everthing you buy is purchased with a portion of your life, it should make you more careful with the use of money."
I write this not to discourage you, but to encourage you. These statements remind me to be carerful with our family's money and to use it wisely. I know that I'm also setting an example to my boys with how they will handle money in the future. May God use each one of us to be wise stewards of our time and money.

Next on the reading list: Treasures of Encouragement by Sharon Betters.