Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Candy Cane Cookies

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We really enjoyed getting to spend time with our families, with friends at a wedding, and even a little bit of down time for relaxing. I am planning to share a few more of our Christmas gift ideas from this year through the rest of the week, and then it will be back to more normal posting.

I wanted to share one more cookie recipe, which happens to be my favorite Christmas cookie. I have actually talked to several people about this recipe lately, so it is finally here! Just a little disclaimer - these are not the easiest cookies. My guess is that I've been making them for 20 years now, so the time and effort they take seems like second nature at this point. They are just soooo good!!

Peppermint Candy Canes

1 c. sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 c. milk
1 t. peppermint extract
1 t. vanilla extract
1 egg
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt

Mix the sugar, butter, milk, peppermint extract, vanilla extract, and egg. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Divide dough in half. Color half red (about 1/4-1/2 teasp. of food coloring) and leave half uncolored, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

It is really important to color the dough before refrigerating because the dough is very stiff when its cold...in fact it is kind of like this:

And it takes a really long time to mix in the color, though eventually it will work.

After 4 hours, break off some of each color dough. I use about a handful, which is around 1/3 of the dough of each color. Roll each out into a long rope, about as thick as a finger.

Use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. I try to work fast because the dough will get sticky as it warms.

Place the ropes next to each other and cut into about 4 inch lengths.

Grasp each end of a cut section in either hand and twist a few times. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and curl one end so that the dough resembles a candy cane. Garnish with colored sugar or candy pieces. I found these peppermint flavored candy canes that are perfect:

Bake for 9-12 minutes. Mine are usually done after 9, though they could go another minutes or two depending on how thick you rolled out the dough.

Usually I get the dough divided pretty evenly, but this time I had a little too much red....it still tasted amazing though.

These cookies turn out soooo soft and chewy. They pull apart and are just slightly golden around the edges when they are done.

They are irresistible...at least my daughter thinks so!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Food waste Friday

This week we wasted a little bit of bread and a whole lot of yogurt :-( We had just opened this jar for a snack one night, and then I found it still on the kitchen counter the last morning...

Only one week until Christmas!
And remember to check out The Frugal Girl.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Free Olay Lotion after rebate

Here is a great offer from Olay: you can get 2 bottles of their new Quench Body Lotion! Use the rebate form found here. Purchases must be made between December 10, 2009 and January 29, 2010 and rebate must be postmarked by February 12, 2010.
If you are submitting for 2 rebates, you must send for them together.

There are a few coupons for this lotion in magazines, which could turn this into a money-maker. Check out Common Sense with Money to see the list.

I think lotion like this makes a great gift (since we are in the middle of my thrifty Christmas series)...it would look great in a with some bubble bath and a sponge in a little basket!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thrifty Christmas: Part 3

We got our tree on Saturday, and it turned out to be a really great deal!

We really like cutting the tree down ourselves, but with an 11 month old in tow, we decided to check out the fresh cut trees at Willey's first, especially because I had a $5 off coupon. (the $5 coupon is in the newest Clipper Magazine that came in the Thursday mail circulars)

Most of their trees were at least $50, which is more than the cut your own variety, so we were not that impressed. All of the sudden, this guy who works there came up to us while we were looking at a tree with no price tag...

"This tree $40 but I give you special price, $30."

We looked it over really hard, trying to figure our what was wrong with it that they were trying to get rid of the tree! We couldn't find anything wrong, so it came home with us! It turned out to be $29, and then $24 after the coupon.

And we think it looks great.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Food Waste Friday

I am posting late again about our waste for the week because Friday turned out to be way too eventful. We woke up to discover that the house temperature was hovering between 58 and 60 degrees. We do keep it cool, but not that cool! The heat would run for about 5 minutes and then shut off. So it ran enough to keep it warm enough to not freeze, but something was wrong for sure.

I called the builder since our house is new, and they came out to have a look. Just as the builder pulled up, the company that installed and maintains our heater came to do a job next door. Talk about providential. They came and looked at the heat for hours (literally, it was most of the morning) and could not find anything wrong with it. They had to leave to go to another job, but when they came back the heat was working like normal. So we don't know exactly what was wrong, though they think it may have had to do with the strong wind. Everything has been fine since Friday afternoon, so we'll just pray that it stays fixed!

On to the food waste. We actually did really well - only a little bit of salad to throw out. And because of the craziness of Friday, I do not have a picture!

Remember to check out others who are working to eliminate their waste at The Frugal Girl.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thrifty Christmas: Part 2

Homemade Christmas cookies were one of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up. My mom taught me and my sisters how to bake with her from when we were very little, and we turned out to be pretty good at making cookies!

I will be sharing some of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes (most likely as I make my own this year). The first one that I made this year was Molasses Sugar Cookies. These are one of my favorites! They turn out chewy (which is a must for me - I really do not like crunchy cookies) and moist and taste very old-fashioned.

Cookie tins are a great way to package cookies as a gift. I have bought many of my cookie tins from JoAnn's for very reasonable prices (at least 1/2 price) in many different sizes and designs. I have also seen cute cookie tins at different drug stores.

2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsulfered molasses
1 egg

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in sugar, molasses, and egg. Beat with a wooden spoon. Beat in the dry ingredients until well combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls.

Roll in sugar (I colored mine green)

Place on greased cookie sheets

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for 8-10 minutes

Allow to cool for about 1 minute on the cookie sheet so they are easier to remove. Cool completely on a wire rack...but make sure that you eat at least one while they are still warm!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thrifty Christmas: Part 1

One of the best gifts that I enjoy both giving and receiving is food! Specialty food stores (like Harry & David) sell elegant and creative food, especially during this time of year. But the price tag - yikes - is usually really high. So I enjoy going in stores like that and getting ideas of things that I could recreate.
I've found several books to be really helpful in coming up with creative ideas for food gifts. Written by Lonnette Parks, there are several Mason Jar Cookbooks: Cookies, Dessert, and Soup to Nuts. These books are reasonably priced on Amazon (especially if you have been saving up Swagbucks to redeem for Amazon gift cards!) but I have actually gotten these from my local public library. I had to request them from another branch, but they came quickly.

There are also TONS of websites with similar recipes. Check out RecipeLink and DoIt101 for some examples. I cannot vouch for any of the recipes on the websites; I have only used the physical cookbooks.

Mason Jars are so classy looking, especially when tied up with a nice piece of cloth and ribbon. This year I went for a different look by using clear plastic gift bags with Christmas themes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas time is here

I am planning to post about some of our homemade and thrifty Christmas gift ideas over the next few weeks, so this is a warning to any family members -- you may want to avert your eyes or you may see something you should not see yet!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Homemade Granola Recipe

We love granola, especially with homemade yogurt. There are TONS of recipes for granola out there. The recipe I use to make our granola is adapted from Miserly Moms.

5 cups quick oats
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. concentrated apple juice
1/2 c. dry milk powder
1/3 c. honey
a dash of cinnamon (the original recipe called for 2 T. but I found that was WAAAAY too much!)
1/2 t. salt

sunflower/pumpkin seeds, almonds, banana chips, other nuts or fruit

In a small saucepan, heat sugar, juice, dry milk, and honey

Until it looks like this:

Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl

Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix until combined. Spread the mixture onto a greased baking sheet (I use 2 large sheets)

Bake at 300 for 40 minutes, stir every 10-15 min.

When the granola is done it will be crunchy!
The granola drys out quicker on the outside, so when I stir I try to move some of the inside to the outside so that it drys evenly. The stirring does break the granola up so that you do not have a lot of chunks, but if you stir gently some will still stick together.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Edited on 12/7....I missed half of a very green bagel and a little bit of apple cider that I bought for super cheap because it was nearly past the sell by date. Maybe next week will be a real 'no waste'!

Nothing to throw out today!

Read more about Food Waste Friday at The Frugal Girl!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Free Christmas Music

Did you know there are TONS of free mp3 downloads available on Amazon?

Starting today, December 1st, everyday until Christmas you can download a free Christmas mp3. Today's download is "Joy to the World" by Casting Crowns!

There are also 2 sampler albums of Christmas music you can get for free: Sampler Claus (7 songs) and Classical Christmas (5 songs).

Also check out the entire mp3 library. Sort by price and you will see many, many songs that are free!

Remember that if you are buying music through iTunes, you can shop using Swagbucks and earn 1 SB for every $5 you spend. Swagbucks will keep track of what you spend, so the first time you buy a $9.99 album you only get 1 SB, but the second time you will get 2 (because you have now spent $19.98) and so on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rite Aid and Walgreens this week

Normally, I'm much more of a fan of Rite Aid than Walgreens. Rite Aid is so much more customer friendly and has gone to great lengths to make their policies clear. Be sure to print out and carry their Corporate Coupon Acceptance Policy with you in case you ever run into any conflicts (thanks to Deal Seeking Mom)! I wish that Walgreens had something like this because I have personally run into problems with cashiers, managers, and different corporate reps telling me different things, which is soooo frustrating! Anyhow, I digress....this week I see some really great deals at Walgreens, and only so-so ones at Rite Aid (remember the Gift of Savings program is going on at Rite Aid now though).

Here are the best deals I see at Walgreens this week:

In-ad coupon deals

150 ct fold & close sandwich bags, $.99

Black or Color Printer cartridge refill, $9.99

Old Spice or Secret deodorant, $2.29
stack with $1/2 Old Spice Deodorants or Body Washes, exp. 12-31-09 (P&G 11/29/09)
or B2G1 Secret Product, exp. 12-31-09 (P&G 11/1/09)
or $0.50/1 Secret Product, exp. 12-31-09 (P&G 11/1/09)

Yardley bar soap, $.69
Just in time - I am all out!

Ecotrin 24 ct., $1.99
stack with $2/1 Ecotrin Aspirin Therapy Product, exp. 12-31-09 (RP 10/11/09)
OR $7/2 Advantage Brands, exp. 12-31-09 (RP 10/11/09)
OR $10/3 Advantage Brands, exp. 12-31-09 (RP 10/11/09)
check out this post on how to turn this into a freebie with overage!

Register Reward deals

Glade Fragrance Collection products, 2/$5, get $1 RR when you buy 2
use $3/2 Glade Fragrance Collection Product, (ALL YOU December '09)
OR $3/2 Glade Fragrance Collection Product, (SS 11/22/09)
OR $3/2 printable from Right at Home

Gillette Fusion Razor, $8.99, get $4 RR when you buy 1
use $4/1 Gillette Fusion Razor, (P&G 11/29/09)

Complete Multi-Purpose Contact Solution, $7.99, get $7.99 RR when you buy 1
use $1/1 Complete Multipurpose Solution, (RP 10/25/09)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rite Aid Gift of Savings Program returns!

Do you remember the Fall Gift of Savings program that Rite Aid ran? Well, there is a holiday version that started this past Sunday. All purchases between November 22 and December 24 qualify, and you could earn up to $20 in the form of a gift certificate to Rite Aid!

Here is how the rewards are structured:

Spend between $25 and $49 and receive a $5 certificate

Spend between $50 and $99 and receive a $10 certificate

Spend over $100 and receive a $20 certificate

The program works this way:
Login or register at the Single Check Rebate site. Any receipts that you enter for SCR are automatically entered into the gift of savings program...but remember to enter all your receipts, even if there are no qualifying rebates!
Your "amount spent" is calculated based on the shelf price of the items you purchase. Any coupons or single check rebates do not affect the amount that qualifies towards the Gift of Savings Program. Your reward comes in the form of a gift certificate to Rite Aid that must be used in a single purchase (no cash back).

While programs like this one can be great, it is also important to not get caught up in the mentality of "spend more so I can save more". Weighing the actual cost and whether or not you need what you are buying is more important that getting money back later on.

Because of the sales during the Fall Gift of Savings Program, I was able to make money! My total expenses (after getting back my rebate checks) was $11.71 and I have a $20 gift certificate to use still. I am excited that I was able to hold onto it, so now I can roll it into the new gift of savings program!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Food Waste Friday

So this week's waste is the result of a slip-up on my part. I was making dinner Saturday night and had a can of evaporated and 3 eggs in my bowl. I added 2 cups of flour...and then realized I was only supposed to add 2 TABLESPOONS! My husband and I looked through a ton of different recipes trying to find something that would fit, and we actually did find a few things. But the weekend was crazy and the week was busy, so I never got around to making anything with it and now its a little....yuck!

To read more about food waste Friday, visit the Frugal Girl!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Its been some time now that I've made my own yogurt. I first read about making yogurt from Prayer of Hannah, which is also where I first heard about Super Baby Food.

Ruth Yaron, the author of Super Baby Food, has very detailed instructions about making yogurt, including what all of the steps of the process do to the milk.

Here is how I make my yogurt:

Put milk (I use 2%, but whole milk will make your yogurt thicker) into a mason jar and heat in a large pot of water. I put a washcloth under the mason jar because when the water starts to boil the glass jar rattles. You can scald the milk in a pot without using the glass jar, but I think this works best.

Using a thermometer, heat the milk to between 180-185 degrees. Small bubbles will form on the top of the milk as it begins to get close.

Remove the milk from the pot and allow it to cool to between 105-115 degrees, but 112 is best. I put the jars in a little bit of water in the sink. You could cool it in the fridge, but I think it is easier to check this way.

While the milk is cooling, set your starter out on the counter so that it can warm up to room temperature. The starter is just yogurt with active cultures. I had not made yogurt in a while, so I needed to use store bought yogurt as my starter, but you can use your homemade yogurt as a starter too. Use 2 tablespoons of yogurt for every quart of milk.

We prefer vanilla yogurt instead of plain, I get a large bottle of pure vanilla at Costco for about $7, but I also have a smaller bottle of imitation vanilla from the Dollar Tree ($1). I use about half and half, and it tastes the same!

Once the milk has cooled to around 112 degrees add (for each quart)
2 T. yogurt
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/8 - 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Gently mix the ingredients into the milk with a metal spoon. Put the lid on the container and let it rest in a very warm place for about 4 hours. This is the incubation phase. You want the temperature to be between 90-120 degrees, but closer to 112 degrees is best.
I put the containers in a cooler for the incubation and use the hot water from heating the milk to keep the cooler warm. Be careful about the temperature here, especially. Too hot or too cold and you will kill the active cultures!
After the 4 hours is up, you can test the yogurt to see if its down by touching the top of the yogurt with a clean finger. It should feel like....yogurt! Mine gets a little bit more firm in the fridge, so it does not need to be completely firm when you check.
Making yogurt takes very little hands on time. It also takes a little bit of trial and error. The first time I made yogurt it tasted fine, but was pretty runny. Mine is still a little more runny because I use 2% milk; whole milk would make it thicker. Edited to add: I have started making whole milk yogurt and it is soooo much better! We really like how thick it is, and there is really no way to tell that it is not store-bought!! Getting a temperature off can change things too. If it doesn't come out right the first time, don't be discouraged!

Homemade yogurt is way cheaper than store bought yogurt, even then large 32 oz containers. It goes great with homemade granola....which is a sneak peak into the next recipe I will post!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

All You

My December issue of All You came this week. This is a really great magazine for a number of reasons.

The description of the contents of the magazine is as follows:
**Fashion for real women's bodies (read: no supermodels saying "be like me!")
**Diet and fitness advice that fits your busy lifestyle (read: for people who have other things to do than just diet and exercise!)
**Products available in stores near you, by phone or online (read: you don't have to be a world traveler to find the featured products!)
**Hair and beauty idea you don't need three hands or a makeup artist to achieve (read: yes! this is totally me!)
**Simple recipes made with ingredients that are easy to find (read: I've heard of all the ingredients and many recipes have 15 minutes of prep or less!)
**Tips you can really use (read: again, for people who have other things to do than decorate the house and make crafts!)
**Real-life advice from real women just like you (read: most of the people quoted you have never seen in a movie, on tv, or the internet, and they have a family and a job)
**Great value on every single page, in every single issue (read: yay!)

Also, the December issue has $64 in coupons in it, and many of the coupons are better than you usually see in the Sunday paper. Some of my favorites from this issue are
$3/2 Glade Fragrance Collection
$.75/1 Bertolli Pasta Sauce (so I can buy some Alfredo!)
$1 off Corn Flakes
$2 off any Neutrogena product
$3 off Neutrogena cosmetics
and many, many more!

Amazon is currently selling a 2 year subscription for $34 plus $5 back instantly. $29 for 2 years is just over $1 per issue. Read more about it here.

Women's magazines are not usually my thing, but for all the reasons I pointed out, this magazine is way different!

Do you already subscribe to All You? What are your favorite features?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Photo Cards

This is just in time for Christmas! Last week I ordered 50 5x7 photo cards and paid nothing - not even shipping! This offer is good through November 30, so there is still plenty of time to get your pictures together and order.

Go to SeeHere by Fujifilm. If you are a member, just login and go to the photo card section. If you are not a member, join, and you will receive a code (prints) for 100 free prints! You will have to pay shipping, and the 100 free prints must be in a separate order from the photo cards.
You can pick from any of the single-sided photo cards in either 4x6 size or 5x7. The cards also come with envelopes! I found the software a little hard to get used to at first, but there are so many options to personalize your card. You can choose from a ton of different backgrounds, add as many pictures as you want, add borders and effects to your pictures and edit your pictures through their site. I chose to add text - a recap of the past year. If you do end up writing a paragraph or so, I found that I needed to use the 'enter' key to keep the shape of a paragraph. Otherwise my text ended up being one long line that obviously did not fit on a 5x7 card!

Once you have your card designed just the way you want, add 50 to your shopping cart. The promotional code is freebies4mom-1109 (thanks Freebies4Mom!). My total went from $39.50 to zero!

Keep in mind that since this is such a great opportunity, that SeeHere has been a little slow at times. I found that earlier in the day was fine, but the one night I worked on it things were taking a while. There is still plenty of time, so its ok to save your project and come back!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not such a good week

Going through the fridge was the last thing on my mind last Friday with my husband home sick from work (we think he had the flu)...so I guess its understandable that there was a bit more to throw out this week.

The I lost about a tablespoon of salsa and some sour cream earlier in the week. I was going to eat them with a quesadilla, but the salsa was too far gone and even though the sour cream was probably ok, my stomach was not interested in trying!

In the picture is a little bit of homemade 1000Island dressing. It didn't smell bad, but had been in there for a while and I knew I wouldn't be brave enough to finish it. A little bit of veggie dip that didn't get finished, and then some spaghetti noodles from earlier last week.

How does your fridge look this week? Do you have leftovers that need to be prioritized? I'm impressed that I've been staying on top of our fresh fruits and veggies, but its because of going through the fridge every week!
Remember to see more ways to waste less at The Frugal Girl.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maclaren Stroller Recall

Maclaren recently issued a voluntary recall of ALL their umbrella strollers sold in the US. The issue is with a hinge and the fix is simple. Please click here for all of the information!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simple Homemade Fruit Leather

I love fruit leather! But it is some crazy expensive stuff.

I found directions for making fruit leather in Super Baby Food, the book I've used to make food for my daughter. It is so simple!

Spread plastic wrap over a baking tray. The book says to tape down the plastic wrap, but I managed fine without using tape. You can also just use cooking spray on the baking sheet.

I thawed some mixed frozen berries that I get at Costco. I put them in my blender with a banana and a little bit of applesauce. It gave me a think fruit puree. Spread the puree on the plastic wrap, leaving about 1-2 inches from the edge so that the plastic wrap does not curl up over the sides, preventing it from drying.

There are several different drying methods; I chose to use the quickest one. I put the fruit in the over at 175 degrees for 3 hours. The leather was nearly dry all the way, but I decided to leave it in the over (which was off) over night just to be sure. In the morning I had this:

I cut it into pieces with my pizza cutter:

My mom had a bag of fruit leather from Trader Joe's that was the ends they cut off of the fruit leather when they cut it into pieces. I tried to mimic that with the pieces that I cut off of my strips:

Its delicious!

If you want to make this even simpler, use applesauce!

Monday, November 9, 2009

What makes a good deal?

Many of the things that I post about are "deals". But what is a deal? Or rather, what makes a good deal? Pretty much every week there is something at Rite Aid that is free after single check rebate. Every store puts out a weekly ad that is filled with sales. And don't forget about all the internet shopping options: overstock sites, Amazon, cash back sites....and credit card points.

With how much you can save, its tempting to spend.

The biggest way to save money is to just not spend it. Obviously that cannot work with everything, especially now as we are entering the gift hunting season. I thought I would share a few thoughts about what, in my opinion, makes a deal "good".

1. You can afford it.
Affording the 5 cent candy after sale and coupon isn't what I'm driving at here. That falls more into the second point. Maybe a better way to think about it is the question, "Is this the best use of my resources right now?" If I am at the grocery and I see a deal where I can get cereal on sale AND I have a coupon -- I'm there! But say my budget for the shopping trip is $30 and my current groceries cost $30. Chances are that I have the money to spend on cereal (although if I'm shopping with cash, maybe not). Do we eat cereal? Sure, but because of careful shopping, we have several boxes of cereal at home. In this situation, it is probably better for me to wait and buy the cereal when I had planned to buy it. Or, if I really think I can't pass up the cereal sale, I could put something else back to stay within my budgeted amount.

Only you know how your budget works. I try to keep mine flexible enough that I can go over in one area, providing that I make up for it in another area.

When it comes to Christmas gifts, the best way I know to shop is to have a budgeted amount to spend for a certain person and then to stick within that amount. For many of us that is a no brainer, but it really is important.

2. You need it.
Now there is something to be said for getting a product just because it is free, and then giving it to someone who can use it. I requested a free sample of dog food once. We don't have a dog, but I gave it to friends who do. I probably will not do that again, however, because it took me upwards of a month from when I received the sample to actually get it to them! Likewise, a couple weeks ago I could have gotten Super Polygrip for free at Rite Aid and I had a coupon...woohoo! Except I don't use it (thankfully) and I would have had to ask around to give it away. I probably could have found someone who would benefit, but the time involved to shop for the product and then donate it was a commodity that I did not have to spare then.

This point is not as helpful in relation to Christmas shopping, because many times a gift is something that a person wants and may not need. But the basic idea applies. I'm not going to buy my husband a 1354 4-By Rack Tackle System just because it is on super clearance because he hasn't fished in years and it is not something that we have time or effort for right now.

A few other thoughts about "deal" shopping.

It takes time to learn what is a good deal for you and your household. I stocked up on $.99 toothpaste at Rite Aid a while back. I've since learned that I can get the same toothpaste for $1 at the Dollar Tree or I can get better toothpaste for free periodically from Rite Aid.

Just because something is 70% off does not mean it is cheap! Sometimes I'll see online that a SuperExpensiveBrandNameCompany is having a clearance sale. Well 50% off of $300 shoes is still$150! Would I normally pay $150 for shoes? So just because they were $300 does not make it a good deal for me.

The deceptive "you saved $48.72!" at the grocery. The more important number is how much you spent. If you are able to save $48.72 and only spend $5, that is probably a good thing! But if you bought 6 bottles of Mop and Glow for your 10 by 10 kitchen because each bottle was a $4 savings....not so much.

I try to evaluate the cost of what I'm buying by comparing it to homemade. There are tons of coupons for laundry detergent, and tons of sales. I recently bought those new Purex 3 in 1 sheets (because they were free), but normally I write laundry detergent sales off as one less thing that I need to think about, because I am able to make my own for so cheap. Plus, I prefer what I can make to most anything out there!

Lastly, it has been really helpful for me to remember that there is always another deal. Maybe not for the exactly same thing or exactly the same price, although most products do go on sale more than once! Many things rotate when they are a good deal -- the way fruits and veggies go in and out of season.

Do you have any additional input about how you make your budget work for your family?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rite Aid Nov. 8-14

Do you think that drug stores are way overpriced? They are! But they run wonderful promotions that make it possible to get many things for cheap or free. To find out more about shopping wisely at Rite Aid, read this post.

There are many different coupons out there for Rite Aid, so remember to print and take with you $5/$20 Video Values, Coupons.com (mine is $3/$15!), or $5/$25. The purchase price is before any coupons!

Herbal Essences Shampoo, Conditioner, or Stylers, BOGO
use buy shampoo, conditioner, or styler, get styler free (10/11 P&G) to get 2 free!

Assorted Christmas Candies or Boxed Christmas Cards, B1G2 free

ChapStick True Shimmer, $1.99
-$1 SCR
get it for $.99

Oral B CrossAction toothbrush, $2.99
-$1 coupon from 11/1 P&G
-$2.99 SCR
They pay you $1 to take it out of the store!

Neutrogena Face Make-up
use in-ad coupon for $3 off (excludes eye and lip, trial size, clearance)
stack with $3 off coupon from November All You

Air Wick I-motion kit or Mini Freshmatic kit, 50% off
use $4 coupon from 10/11 SS to get it for $.99!

Hershey's Kisses bags, 2 for $5
use (2) $1/1 coupon from 10/11 SS to get 2 for $3

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Acme Nov. 6-12

There is a catalina deal running at Acme this week, shown on the back page of the ad: $15 on your next trip when you buy $30. Remember, the $30 is before coupons!

Some highlights:

Green Giant vegetables, corn, peas, and green beans, $.69

Betty Crocker super moist cake mix, $.99

Kleenex facial tissues or Scott mega single roll paper towels, $.99
use $.75/3 from November All You mag.
use $.50/3 from 10/25 SS

Progresso broth, rich and hearty soup, or traditional soup, $1.69
use $1/3 cans and $.50/1 broth from here and here and here
also coupons insert from 9/13 (expire 11/7), 10/4, and 11/1

Chex mix, Cheerios mix, Gardettos Bugles, $1.69
use $.50/1 from here and here
also coupon inserts from 9/13 (expire 11/7), 10/4, and 11/1

Betty Crocker Specialty potatoes, Hamburger, Chicken, and Tuna Helpers, $1.69
use $.75/3 from here and here
also coupon inserts from 9/13 (expire 11/7), 10/4, and 11/1

Betty Crocker Cookie Pouches, or frosting, $1.69
use $.40/1 for cookies and $.50/1 for frosting from here and here
also 10/25 insert for frosting

Gold Medal Flour, $1.79
use $.50/1 from here

General Mills: Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Graham, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, or Fiber One Toaster Pastries, $1.88
use $.55/Cheerios from here and here and here

Fiber One Bars, Chex Mix Bars, or Lipton Tea, $2.49
use coupons from 10/4 and 11/1

There are also coupons for many of these General Mills products on Coupons.com. With these internet printables, you can usually print each coupon twice by hitting the back button on your browser a few times.

I did this deal already this week, mostly to get the flour! I got 9 bags plus a few other things for $20 out of pocket, plus the $15 catalina for later!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin Decorating

I know that Halloween has passed, but as far as I'm concerned pumpkins are autumn decorations -- not something just limited to Halloween.

A few weeks ago I saw this post about making a polka-dot pumpkin, and I really, really wanted to do it! I'd been meaning to buy a pumpkin, and every time I was at the store I forgot, except the day I walked to the store and already had 4 pounds of apples and 2 dozen eggs in the stroller, so adding a pumpkin was not going to happen.
Then I found this pumpkin...

waiting for the trash pick-up. I'm not normally a trash scavenger, but this was a perfectly good pumpkin and its still the beginning of November!

I took it into the garage and put stickers on it:

And then spray painted it black. When the paint dried I peeled off the stickers to make polka-dots:

I am happy with how it turned out, though it doesn't look as nice as the example I worked from! I was planning on getting a smaller pumpkin, but then I salvaged this one. I think it would have worked better with smaller stickers, but I felt like I needed to use larger ones because of the size of the pumpkin. All in all, I am pleased...and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

My mom makes the best spaghetti sauce. Period. So when I got married I started making our spaghetti sauce.

I was good for a few months, then I felt like it was too hard to store and wouldn't it just be more simple to use the stuff that comes in a jar? So I bought a few jars of sauce and was totally unhappy.

I needed to have homemade sauce.

The issue in the past had been storing the sauce until we used it. I usually put it in a large container and froze half, but it was still too much to use before it went bad a lot of the time. My foray into store bought sauce solved that problem because I ended up with several glass jars!

Now when I make my sauce I use a funnel and fill up spaghetti sauce jars with my homemade sauce! I fill them most of the way, cover with a piece of plastic wrap and seal with a rubber band, and then freeze the extra jars. When I need a new jar, it gets put in the fridge to thaw, and voila! homemade sauce in easy to use sizes!

Here's how I do it:

I buy a 105 oz can of tomato sauce from Costco for $2.50 and add it to some sauteed onion:

I add basil and oregano (from Costco, for cheap but I don't remember the prices)

salt and pepper

and sugar

and let it simmer until it becomes deliciousness

Then it goes into jars to freeze

The size that I buy from Costco makes about 4 - 1/2 to 5 jars of sauce. We usually have it with dinner the day I make the sauce, so I'm not sure exactly how much it is. I use this sauce for all our spaghetti, lasagna, and even homemade pizza dinners. You can add ground beef or turkey, which is the way I used to make it, but now that I use the sauce for pizza on a regular basis, I choose not to put the meat in.

It does take more time than buying a jar at the store, but at this point it is such second nature to make it myself, and with my jar method, it's nearly as convenient because I always have some in my freezer!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb ground turkey or beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 29 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 t. salt
2 t. oregano
2 t. basil
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 c. sugar

Costco Size
105 oz can tomato sauce
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 t. salt
3 1/2 T. oregano
3 1/2 T. basil
3/4 t. black pepper
1/2 c. sugar

Of course all proportions can be changed based on what you like. I measure at this point to save time because I make so much...I would have a hard time pouring that much of a single spice into something without tasting it along the way. I still do check for taste, but the measurements help me get it pretty close!

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