Thursday, December 31, 2009

Most Memorable Moments of 2009

What do all forms of media cover the last day of 2009? The most memorable moments! I decided I was going to do my own.

The first thing that I want to mention is how starting this blog has opened up so many doors for me. It has kept me thinking and not stuck in a daily rut. It allowed me to explore and grow and accomplish things I never considered. I met some wonderful bloggers and even grew closer to friends I already knew, that have their own blog. When you balance the purpose of a blog, it's quite useful and fun!

OK, now for my most memorable moments...............

Losing My Middle Son At the Mall
Mommy heart attack moment.

My Fruit Saga
I will never forget my sons going to bed with their hands up in the air.

Our 9 Yr Anniversary
My dear friends Mirela & Kat, bought us Spa Packages & set up dinner reservations for my husband & I. To top it off, they babysat the kids. Great friends! Such a treat for us.

Little Owen
Who didn't fall in love with this sweet little boy that my friend V at Bumble Beans posted about. We pray that he continues to do well in 2010 and that the naughty cancer stays away.

My Month of Depression
If you ask my best friends about this, they will clearly remember it too, because it was one of the most unusual phases I have gone through, and they were there to bail me out. Thanks husband for being there and putting up with that too.

Reaching $1000 "Cookies for Kids Cancer" Goal
Soooo much work, so many sleepless nights, but it was all well worth it. Especially when you know who benefits from it.

The Wilton Cake Decorating Class
Met so many wonderful moms and had a night out to myself doing what I love, decorating cakes.

My Sons Stealing Gum
I know it's a serious topic, but this makes me laugh just thinking about it. You just need to read the story to know why!

A Great Easter With A Great Bunch

Mother's Day With Grandma

Ethan Turning 6
His party at the Aquarium was so much fun and so easy!

My Daughter's Christening
.....and the tornado that hit Denver that weekend......but the best part was having all of our family members and friends in one place. And a surprise visit from Monica.

The Mohawks

Southern Utah & Loa Trip

Trip to Oregon
Beautiful City

My Uncle's Passing

Adopting A New Cat
Little rascal

Zip lining

My Son's 4th Birthday

Finishing My First Quilt

Birth of My Nieces

My Daughter's First Birthday
.........and her first steps

Wedding In Austin

Dave Ramsey Seminar
Changed our finances for life

Going To See Wicked & Girls Only

My Best Friend Moving To Texas

Christmas With My Family
Thank you grandparents for making it special

I never realized how much has really occurred this year, both sad and happy. Thank you for sharing this year with me and I wish ALL OF YOU............

A HAPPY 2010!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Three Things......

Before the New Year arrives, there are 3 items that need attention without question!

1) A New Calendar
Mark all birthdays, school events, trips planned, etc.

2) Refresh Address Book
I go through my planner and replace old pages with new ones. Remove contacts that I no longer keep in touch with and add new friends that I have made.

3) Files
Put away paperwork in a marked box for the current year and create new folders for the upcoming year. In the process, I also create an IRS Folder of items that can be claimed. My filing system is what gives me sanity and control of documents coming into our home.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Name Wall Hangings & Appliqued Onesies

For my daughter's Christening, my friend made Kate a name plaque that is hanging up in her room. I loved it so much, that I had the need to make something that special for someone in my life. Hence, Gia & Maya, my nieces.

Gia's room is the same ladybug theme as my daughter's, which made it easy for me to pre-plan.

I purchased my supplies, where else? Michaels! They need to sponsor me with all the plugs I have been giving them this Season. The cost for the wooden supplies was $8. The paint $4 and I already had the necessary brushes.

Paint one item at a time with your solids first, dry for 2 hrs before adding all the details. Look at your inspiration, and lay out your road map before beginning.

Maya is in Arizona, and she has lots of pinks and purples in her room. I used the butterfly as my guide for the colors and patterns.

Now that I was done with the Wall hangings, it was time for my next project. Appliqued Onesies. G for Gia!

I found this cute batik pattern at the Great American Quilt store in Denver. I adored the XOXO and felt it portrayed how I feel about my precious 3 month old niece.

Batiks need to soak in hot water several times, to ensure the dye has completely run its course. The red took me 10 soaks, while the pink took only 5. You will know it is done when the hot water is clear and the fabric no longer.................

.........leaves the water looking like this. Would hate to have the onesie turn that color. It is imperative to soak the fabric FIRST!

This paper, better known as WonderUnder, makes appliqueing a cinch. Simply trace your image onto the smooth side of the paper, iron onto wrong side of the fabric and follow the instructions indicated. The paper acts as an adhesive for the fabric. Iron onto the tee/onesie and stitch. I used the a blanket stitch on my G!

You can purchase WonderUnder at quilt stores or Joanna Fabrics.

The day would not be complete without a Holiday Treat. This year I made Paula Deen's Peanut Butter Cheese Fudge.

All I can say is, "It's real yummy ya'll."

A must try and it will definitely impress your friends who are used to the traditional chocolate fudge.

Don't forget to stop by the Shabby Chic Cottage for Transformation Thursdays.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hot Cocoa & Chai Tea Gifts

I don't know about you, but I won't turn down a hot cup of hot cocoa or Chai. I made a blend of both to give away as ONE GIFT!

Filled a jar with the Chai Tea Mix and printed out a recipe card using Smilebox. You will notice the corner picture of my 1 year old doing a face plant in the snow.

The cocoa mix was placed into a cellophane bag, and packed inside an over sized mug from Cost Plus World Market ($2.50 each) that says "Good Morning" on it.

I tried both just to make sure they were good before giving them away, and oh so comforting and smooth.

Here is the Chai Tea Mix recipe from Christmas With Southern Living 2007.

2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered nondairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered nondairy creamer

Combine spices and tea in a food processor or blender. Blend 1-2 minutes until mixture is a fine powder. Pour into a large bowl. Add sugar to processor or blender and process until superfine about 30 seconds. Add sugar to bowl of spices. Stir in milf powder and creamers, blend well. Spoon mix into gift jars.

To serve, 2 heaping Tbsps. Chai mix into a mug of hot milk or boiling water.

Hot Cocoa Mixture

4 cups of nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup of powdered nondairy creamer
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa

Blend all ingredients well and spoon into containers.

To serve, 5 tbsps. of Cocoa mix into a mug of hot milk or boiling water.

Also, check out the never disappointing ideas and giveaway at The Shabby Chic Cottage on Transformation Thursday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Onesie Update

I apologize for the late update. I have been sick and did not accomplish much. I finally finished them last night. Here are three examples of what you can do with a plain onesie and some frills.

I purchased the ruffles for $1.64/yd at Walmart.

Measured, cut, and then sewed it on to the pre-existing seams on the ruffle and onesie. Added some cute lavender buttons and there you have it.......make sure you sew the buttons on really, really well, to prevent them from falling off and posing as a choking hazard to the infant.

My holiday onesie, I showed a preview of it in my last post, and wanted to show you the final product once the sleeves were sewed on. It can be dressed up with a red skirt for Christmas and you would have a semi-formal outfit for you little one.

This was simple. Sew on a basic stitch around the neckline and sleeves with pink thread and add a cute floral button. Done, but it takes the monotony out of a white onesie with no embellishments.

So many more projects to finish and so little time. Christmas is right around the corner, hope I can get it all done........must keep up on my Vitamin C!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Festive Onesies

I have lots of little ones for Christmas this year, especially little girls. I wanted to create my own Onesie for all of them with a Festive Feel. I love cranberry, what can I say? Emerald silk trimmings did not talk to me.

I purchased a set of 4 long sleeved Onesies from Babies R Us for $10. The trimmings from Walmart cost $1.27 for the flowers (set of 6) and $1.64/yard for the ruffle. I was delighted with my choices and was anxious to finish them once the kids fell asleep tonight.

I sewed on the flowers while the kids played during the day. My husband came home and now it was time to sit at the machine and complete my project, so I can blog about it.

Oooooops, no white thread..............are you kidding me? Isn't that a staple of everyone's sewing kit? It is but tonight I had no luck.......................... need to come back and see the finished product. I will be sewing the ruffles to the sleeves. I have various colors for various looks. White satin, pink satin, embroidered ruffle, etc., so you must come back.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fudgy Goodness

I only know a handful of people that do not like sugar.....
so your odds are quite good for a friend or family member or neighbor,diving into a sweet treat made by you this Christmas.
Today, I chose my indulgent Pecan & Marshmallow Fudge.

One trick I have learned about baking is........ cut down on your sugar input. We tend to put so much sugar that we are unable to taste anything else. Whichever recipe you decide to use for your fudge, cut out at least 1/4 cup of the sugar mentioned.

I promise you will relish the results.

Divide the layers of fudge with parchment paper, so that it does not stick together.

I purchased this darling container at Michaels for $1.99.
I really enjoy containers with "peek-a-boo windows".

It creates anticipation, especially if the treat inside is intriquing.

While I was putting together the treat, my little Kate was enjoying the few inches of powdered snow we got today.

She ate some snow and fudge too......great day for her.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sentimental Ornaments

Link up with The Shabby Chick Cottage for other fantastic ideas.

My grandparents are both spending their Christmas in Heaven this year, but I wanted to make something to celebrate their memory. I decided to design an ornament with their photograph and give them as a gift to my father and his siblings.

I scanned the black & white photo into my computer First.

Second, I uploaded the photograph onto to have some fun with it. I used the blush feature in order to add some color to my grandmother's dress & my grandfather's belt.

Third, I saved my work and printed the image on normal paper with 4 x 6 dimensions to shrink it.

I traced the shape of the ornament onto the image. Cut it out and sealed it with Modge Podge onto the ornament. I did the same with the cranberry tissue paper and sealed it to the back of the ornament. I finished it with acrylic paint on the sides and front.

Easy as pie, I swear! And it will make a lasting impression on those family members you just don't know what to get this Holiday Season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crocheted Scarves

The first thing I decided to make are scarves!
Everyone could use a warm scarf around their neck for the winter.
This year is supposed to be a hard winter too,
so I thought it would be a real practical gift for the kids and adults alike.

I took one class where I learned the Basic Crochet. The single, the double, and the treble. The first scarf is a Wool-Ease yarn (at Michaels), using a 9mm needle and Double Crochet throughout. Added some fringes at the end! $13 total cost
and it can double as a blanket, I made it so long and thick.

The green scarf is for my oldest son, Ethan.
He picked out his yarn and is so excited to get it as a gift for Christmas. I used a 6 mm needle and single crochet. Cost $8. Not done with it yet, and I was considering sewing on a cool patch when finished.

The third scarf (on the right) is for my 2 year old niece in NY.
I used a multicolored yarn with a 6 mm needle. I began with 16 chains (needs to be multiples of 4), and for Row 2, you Sc in the first 2 sc, chain 3, and sc in the next sc, chain 3 and so on until the scarf is complete. Cost $2.99.

Overall, it took me approximately 3-4 hours per scarf and I cannot wait to wrap them.

It feels so good to make a gift for a loved one,
that is made with attention to detail and from the heart.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Inspirations

What do you do when entering a charming store,
but this year you made a "Handmade Only" oath?
You get inspired!

Do you see anything in this picture that you can make
for a loved one for Christmas?

Maybe the Holiday Faerie can cast an artistic spell on you.......

Look closer....this is not your conventional frame.
It's been cut out of fabric and placed
strategically around the store.

Hmmmmmm, that would make a novel gift, don't you think?

How about making your friends and family silk padded hangers,
so they can get rid of those "wire hangers".
Joan Crawford would be proud.

There are so many possibilities out there.......
come back to see the ones I chose as of December 1st.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Own Black Friday

I know most of my friends finished their Turkey Dinner, had lots of caffeine, and then lined up at the stores at Midnight.

It was such a relief to not do that this year....OK, I have never done that, but this year I am not purchasing gifts. I am making them instead! The only presents that will be purchased for Christmas is for our Adopt-A-Family through the Denver Rescue Mission.

As of December 1st, I will be posting my handmade gifts for 25 very own personal and made with love gifts.

In the meantime, take theopportunity to appreciate the meaning of Christmas through the spirit of kindness, attentiveness, prayer, and serenity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Company

Even though I whine about making Thanksgiving every year for a decent amount of guests, I am so grateful that I have people I love to share it with. It's always a gathering of cherished friends and family. Wouldn't it be worse to spend it alone? Absolutely! So when you are overwhelmed with the cooking and setting up, take a moment and appreciate, who is coming to spend the holiday with you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE and may you always be blessed!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For "Waived Fees"

You know, the kind where you have never been late on anything, and all of a sudden your payment just doesn't quite get there on time? It's nice to know that once in a while the customer gets preferable treatment and we are entitled to at least ONE waived fee.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Grandma Coming To Town

My mother-in-law is coming out today to visit with us and especially the kids. I love living in Colorado, but I miss having family around.

Grandma has visited with us every month this year and I am SO grateful for that, because she is one of the few that makes such a tremendous effort. My kids kept singing in the car yesterday, "Grandma's going to spoil us". I asked them, who else spoils you?

"Grandma, Santa, and Jesus!" Great category to be in.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For My Son Reading To Me

Ethan is 6 years old and read an entire book to me last night. I was crying while he read to me, which he found "weird". If you too are a parent, you know why I was so emotional.

It's amazing how fast they grow up and become independent. I am so proud of him and so grateful, that for once he can tell me a story, instead of the other way around.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Pass Alongs

My friend did not need or want to use a $10 Gift card to Kohls, and passed it along to me.

My son Ethan has only two pairs of pants and really needed an extra. I was able to purchase a pair of jeans for him with my $10 card.

"One man's junk is another man's treasure."

That applies to gift cards and coupons too. Pass it along, don't throw it away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For My "Thank You"

Have you ever done or said something, not aware that it would affect someone's life or choices? You were just being yourself, while your words resonated a million times over?

Today, I received a phone call from my friend, to thank me for helping her come to an important decision. She thanked me for conversations and incidences that took place many months ago. It was heartfelt and sincere, and in return she made me feel very grateful to have her as my friend.

Today I Am Grateful For A Quiet Sleepover

We had our son's friend Tyler sleep over for the first time last night. Our husband and I were convinced that no one would get any sleep. I mean how would that even be remotely possible, when there is a 6 year old, a 5 year old, and a 4 year old in one small room?

The Lord must've been smiling on us last night, because they all fell asleep by 8:30 PM and woke up in time for school this morning. I gave them all a high five for being such good sports.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Lazy Days

It snowed another foot in Denver yesterday, which means we were forced to stay in and do NOTHING! OK, maybe not forced but, it definitely served as a motivation to be unproductive without the guilt.

A lazy day of playing with the kids, eating, naps, and just being together. Days like these come around a handful of times during a 365 Day period, and I cherish each one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Random Plans

I was feeling lazy last night and had no plans to do anything, when the phone rang at 5 PM. My friend, Emily, had 3 extra tickets to a show in Denver called "Girls Only". The tickets were Free and it sounded like a good time. I went and laughed so hard for two hours straight, that I got a migraine and a perma-grin.

Sometimes, the best plans are the ones that were not planned to begin with.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Heavenly Baking Results

Whenever I am asked to bring a food item to a party, it doesn't always go as planned. Today the "baking gods" were in my favor for this Chocolate Bundt w/ Hershey's Ganache!

Today I Am Grateful For Individual Time

3 kids always share their time with Mom & Dad! Yet they are all so different and require their own moments with their parents. Today, I had such an opportunity, while my daughter napped for 3 hours.

My middle son, Lance & I, colored, glued things together, connected the dots, read, and had a jolly ole time together. Just mommy and him. No one else to distract from his charm or from the undivided attention he craves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For A Glimpse Of Silliness

I sat on the couch and watched my 1 year old acting silly with my 4 year old. They entertained themselves for 30 mins. playing peek-a-boo. Nothing makes a mother more sentimental than watching her kids get along and have fun in the process.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For & Humbled By Our Veterans

Thank you for standing up for our country and the freedoms of the everyday folk. Thank you for your sacrifice, your integrity, your diligence, and your patriotism!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Naps

Once you are a parent, sleeping becomes a pastime. It is difficult to shut off your brain and get some much needed Zzz in the middle of the day. Well, yesterday while both my boys were in school, I decided to take a 2 hour nap with my daughter on the couch. It felt so wonderful, that I passed out with a big grin on my face.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For A Day Out On The Town

I am a parent of three who feels guilty to have the kids babysat and go out somewhere. Yesterday, I did just that! It has been about a year. I went down to the Brown Palace for the Annual Champagne Cascade, celebrating the Broncos 50Th Year! We had a blast! Great food, entertainment, but most of all, an opportunity to hang out with my best friend and husband.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For My Friends

I have been blessed with a handful of true, genuine, caring friends. Not the 100 list of friends I have on Face book, but the ones that are involved in my life during good times and bad times.

So, I wanted to make a list of the things that make my girlfriends so important to me.

  • Even though some of them are single, they hang out with me and my kids, instead of partying all night
  • They have unconditional love for my children, which has entitled them to becoming "aunties"
  • They are generous with what little they have
  • They are there to wipe my tears and build me up
  • They humor me with my grand ideas and adventures
  • They make me laugh
  • They support my faith, my marriage, my direction in life
  • They babysit for me free of charge
  • They always offer help
  • They are honest
  • They will always call me back
  • They follow through with their promises and expect the same from me
  • They are kindhearted and looking for the good in what life can offer them
  • They don't judge, they observe and give feedback
  • They are my family

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Resources

My resources: books & magazines!

Good Housekeeping taught me about a site called who sells used/new gift cards at a discount. They are not expired and have over 1,400 merchants on their site, from food to clothing to home stores.

Woman's Day helped me discover . Stay at home moms can apply for a position in becoming a "virtual concierge".

A book called Christmas In Colorado opened my eyes to all of the magical Holiday Celebrations right here in my state. Events I was not aware of after being a resident for 8 years. I am even that much more excited about Christmas now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For My Mother's Eyes

I lost my mother 19 years ago and I miss her terribly. Today, as I was fixing my hair in the rear view mirror of my car, I looked through my eyes and into my mother's soul. I, along with my son, have inherited her big brown eyes. She may not physically be here, but I feel her presence through our inheritance.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For Sunny Skies & Snow

My favorite part of living in Colorado is wearing a T-shirt with snow on the ground. Yesterday was such a day. Clear blue skies, glazing sun, and glistening snow. I took the kids to the park, played in the sandbox, followed by a snowball fight. Oh, how I cherish days such as these.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Month of Blessings

November is National Adoption Month, Veterans Day, and it's the month that families and friends unite for Thanksgiving.

In November, we also realize that Christmas is right around the corner. Most of us go into panic mode, because we do not have enough money to purchase presents and spoil our kids efficiently. In 2009 that becomes even more evident when the majority of us have lost our jobs or taken a cut in pay. It's time to refocus on what is essentially important and what true blessings look like.

Slow down and take in what really makes our hearts tick and our souls flourish. I will be posting my Daily Blessings and would love to hear what you are also grateful for. Big and small! Let's not panic about Christmas, but give back it's true meaning in order to fill our spirits with bliss and joy, instead of anxiety and greed for things we don't really need.

Today I am grateful for helpful strangers

It's so easy to recognize people that may ruin our day on the way to work, or in the supermarket, or on the airplane, or at a collection agency. But what about the people that rescue our day?

Today, my husband and I, for the first time ever, ran out of gas and our car completely stopped. Thankfully, we were within walking distance of a gas station. However, after putting a gallon of gas in the car, it still did not start.

Along side of us, pulled over a generous woman, who called her husband (the mechanic) instantly, without us even asking her to. She hung up and advised us to fill up the car with at least 3-5 gallons of gas and then give it a whirl. She gave us her number, before taking off, in case we needed further assistance.

This woman was filled with loads of good will and helped us out of a frustrating circumstance.

My 4 year old, emphatically said, "Mom, thank God for that nice lady, right?"

"Right, Lance."

Thank God for her and all those strangers, whose names and faces we do not recognize, but are willing to go out of their way for others, out of the goodness in their hearts and pureness of their spirit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Did It!

7 Days -$50-5 mouths fed.
It can be done. We did do it.
What an eye opener it has been.

Our last supper was Hominy Soup (above) at .35 per serving with leftovers and Turkey Meatballs & Spaghetti at .85 cents per serving with leftovers as well.

I promised I would do a Surprise Giveaway at the end of my challenge.

The winner is Dawn from Are These Kids All Yours? Please take a few minutes to visit her blog and see what a
tremendous heart and the Faith of God allows you to accomplish.

As my giveaway, I will be donating $35 on The Wright Family's blog
for them to bring Naomi (Baby no. 8) home from Ethiopia.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dinner for 8

Barefoot Contessa's
(click for full recipe)

My friends came over last night and this is what I made for a party of 8! I had to use ONLY the ingredients on hand.

Here were some of my altercations to this recipe, that came out Yummy.

I used a whole chicken, carrots, and celery to make homemade broth instead of purchasing it. Simmered it for 2 hours and reserved the chicken meat and carrots for the stew.

For the roux, I used 2% milk instead of the heavy cream. Skipped out on the frozen small onions.Did not use parsley for the biscuits. The stew was a hit.

My friends loved it and there was enough to fill up all 8 bellies and then some. Thankfully they brought the wine and we did not serve dessert because I ran out of ingredients.

The cost per serving: $1.04 (includes Salad too)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Company's Coming

Tonight, I am having company over. Those of you that have followed me this week, know that I shopped for the entire week with $50.

Yesterday, we ate a lot of leftovers. Bagels in the morning, leftover drumsticks, and pasta for dinner.

Today, I want to use the groceries in my fridge, but still create something substantial and enticing for my friends to eat. I decided that I would cook a recipe from my Barefoot Contessa Book. It is baked chicken stew with biscuits on top. It's homey and makes a nice presentation. I will have to improvise some of the ingredients, but I do have 95% of what I need.

Not sure about dessert yet. Might just bake some cookies or make a pound cake topped with berries.

Come back tomorrow to see what I was able to entertain with, while remaining in my budget. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 3: Grocery Challenge Meals

I am almost half way through my challenge! Here are some of the observations I've made along the way.

a. when you need to consume all that you have purchased for $50, there is Zero waste
b. there is little trash
c. you end up eating proper portion sizes

Yesterday, we did not necessarily eat the lowest fat food content, but again the portions were smaller.

For snacks, we ate a lot of fruit and carrot sticks. Pears, apples & bananas. Drank a lot of water and tea.

Sunny side Over Hash
Cost per serving: .36 cents

.88 cents for potatoes
.5 cents for onion
free tomato from garden
.50 cents for 5 eggs
.25 cents shredded cheese
.10 cents for oil/butter
.2 cents for seasonings

Total $1.80 divided by 5 = .36 cents per serving (shown above)

Note: you can shred your own potatoes. I purchased a bag of Simply Potatoes sold in the Egg Section at King Soopers for .88 cents per bag.

Hoisin Glazed Drumsticks Over Rice
Cost per serving:
.72 cents (includes 2-3 drumsticks per person)

.10 cents for rice
3.00 for 15 drumsticks
.50 cents for hoisin & seasonings
.50 cents for chicken stock

Total $4.10 divided by 5 = .72 cents

Ice Cream Wednesday
(My son thought it should be called Wednesday instead of Sundae)
Cost Per Serving: .38 cents

.50 cents for 3 scoops of ice cream
.50 cents for cherries
.10 cents for bananas
.5 cents for chocolate syrup

Total $1.15 divided by 3 (only 3 of us tackled this one) = .38 cents per serving

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 2: Grocery Challenge Meals

Last night, my husband and I were discussing the "what ifs" scenarios. I grew up in NYC and he lived there for 10 years, working as a hairdresser. We made so much money, only to be in debt today.

We calculated that on an average, and this is a low guesstimate, we spent $10-$12K a year in dining, drinking, and transportation while living in the Big Apple. We were single and blowing away every penny we earned, in order to have "fun". If we took that money and invested it for over a period of 10 years, we would've paid our house outright and had some savings.

Unfortunately, we cannot turn back time, but we can change how we live in the present. Is owning the new "it" item in your life, really worth it? True fulfillment in our lives does not come from material or monetary things, but from something deeper inside of us. Friendships, family, experiences, our Faith, our generosity and giving back, learning something new, being a part of the world we live in.

I am not implying that there is anything wrong with owning luxury, as long as you can truly afford it and not go into debt for it, just to keep up with the Joneses.

OK, now back to the meals.

Ricotta Pancakes w/ Bananas & Maple Syrup
Cost per serving:
.45 cents

$1.50 for ricotta
.20 cents for 2 eggs
.20 cents for maple syrup
.10 cents for banana
.20 butter
.5 flour

Total: $2.25 divided by 5 = .45 cents per serving

Each serving is the 4 pancakes shown above.

Tell me what I-Hop or McDonalds can you purchase Ricotta Pancakes for .45 cents?

Whole Grain Pasta w/ Garlic Shrimp & A Salad (shown below)
Cost per serving: $1.61

$5.59 shrimp
$1.00 pasta
.5 cents garlic
.10 cents butter
.10 cents oil
free garden tomatoes
.5 cents parsley
.50 salad greens
.50 cucumber
.15 cents for salad dressing

Total: $8.04 divided by 5 = $1.61 per serving

Again, I am trying to show you, that you do not need to completely deprive yourself of the things you love to eat, just because you are on a budget. With some planning, supermarket deals, and coupons, you can still eat well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 1: Grocery Challenge Recipes

OK, so you are broke and living on a really, really tight budget! You want to get away from eating peanut butter or tuna fish sandwiches, or warming up Romen noodle soup, or considering cereal your main course for dinner tonight. Now what?

The following meals cost me less than $1 per serving. That's right! Less than $1. So it's not Food Network material, but every family is capable of purchasing and eating it too.

Scrambled Eggs w/ Fresh Tomato, Jalapeno, & Chives Salsa
Cost Per Serving: .60 Cents including the Bagel

You can purchase a carton of eggs for $1 these days. That's around .8 cents per egg.
The bagels were on the clearance rack at King Soopers for $1.25 for a bag of 6. That's .20 cents per bagel.
I used fresh tomatoes & chives out of my garden.
Jalapenos cost .10 or less each at the market.

Baked Kraft Mac & Cheese with Broiled Turkey Franks
Cost Per Serving: .35 cents

OK, you might think I'm lying, but here is the breakdown.

I bought 3 Boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese for $1 at Safeway (weekend promotion). I only used 2 boxes(.67 cents). I cooked it according to the box instructions. I then added an additional 1/3 cup shredded cheddar and 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs in a bowl. Baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes in a muffin pan, in order to create individual servings for the kids.

The turkey hot dogs cost $1.00 for 8 franks. That's around .8 cents per link. I broiled them for approx 8 mins. I thought the boys would enjoy them crispy.

Creamy Carrots Soup
Cost Per Serving: .80 cents

$1.00 for a 1 lb. bag of carrots
$2.00 for homemade chicken broth
.50 for sour cream
.50 cents for 1 potato, 1 onion, & seasonings

That's $4.00 total divided by 5 servings = .80 cents per serving

Homemade Bread

I ran out of bread last night & knew that my son and husband needed to take a sandwich for work today. Instead of running to the store, I baked my own. I had plenty of flour & yeast at home to whip up a batch. The texture is so much more substantial and the taste is incomparable. I will be honest in saying that it takes finesse to work with dough.

If you've never made bread before, start with a loaf of Irish Soda bread, which is less work and easier to maneuver. If you have a Bread Machine that has not been used in 15 years or so, time to wipe off the dust and use it. And if you feel extra domesticated today, then get your hands dirty.

Thanks for stopping by today and come back tomorrow for more Budget Friendly meal ideas.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grocery Spree

The Grocery Challenge was to spend $50 for 7 days worth of food for a family of 5! Well, I am thrilled to say that my overall bill for the groceries in this photo came out to $49.11.I was .89 under my goal, .30 of that was bag discounts
(bring your own Earth Friendly bags).

I love food and cannot live on over-proccessed or unhealthy foods, just to get by financially. The health of my family is too important.
The overall goal then is:
$50 week for a semi-gourmet & healthy menu
I did cheat a little and bought 3 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese, but that's because the deal was 3 boxes for $1 at Safeway. I will find a way to spice those boxes up too.

I sat down and scanned my cookbooks for some ideas,
and was absolutely shocked to come up with 50 different recipes for my $50 worth of food. Join me for the next 7 days, beginning on Tuesday, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grocery Challenge: Specials & Coupons

For those of you that did not read my last post, I am hosting a Grocery Challenge. The challenge is a $50 shopping trip with enough food to last you for the week. I am a family of 5 so this does feel like a challenge.

Now, I realize that if I lived off of overly processed and boxed meals, this is a very attainable goal, but that is NOT what I am aiming for. I believe strongly in actually nourishing your body versus empty calories. I do have my days, don't get me wrong.

OK, here are my 1ST steps prior to running wild in the supermarkets.

Step 1: Take careful inventory of the groceries that you already have and/or are about to expire.

I have plenty of carrots from my garden, eggs, and oatmeal. Already I know that I will have what I need for some basic breakfast meals e.g. omelets, muffins, boiled eggs, pancakes/waffles, oatmeal, and frittatas. The carrots will provide me with soups and side dishes.

Use up what is about to expire so there is NO WASTE! We waste too much food in the USA. Take a little bit of time to check the labels or freshness of your food and see how you can put it to use immediately, before it ends up in the trash.

Step 2: Check your supermarket specials.

Mine are mailed to me every Tuesday. I have 4 supermarkets in close diameter that I am able to compare for the best deals. I realize that is not the case for all of you and it might require some research. Walk to the store and ask them for their fliers or check out their website.

I have plenty of friends that complain about, " I just don't have the time to go through those."

Well, I have a pretty jam packed schedule too and manage to do just fine. If you only knew how much money it saved you in the long run, you would feel downright dumb if you did not take an extra 20 minutes out of the week to do this. Grab a magic marker and circle ONLY the specials that INTEREST YOU! You do not have to purchase everything that's on sale or use every coupon you come across.

The first items I always look at are the vegetables and then the proteins. I know that if I can manage to get a decent amount of each, I will have a well balanced meal for my family.

I've been using coupons and the papers for years, I just never budgeted an amount of $50 before.

Step 3: Get to know your deals.

Well, what is a good deal on potatoes, you might ask? This type of knowledge will come with shopping your different local markets for a few months. Either way you will recognize any deal when it is astronomically cheaper than what you have been made to believe is the "norm".

Here are some items that I know are a deal:

99 cents or less per lb on protein (usually chicken or pork)
99 cents for a 10lb. bag of potatoes (check it out its in the paper listed above)
$1.25 or less on a box of cereal
50 cents per avocado
$1.00 or less on a box of Barilla Pasta (you can get cheaper pasta, but Barilla to me is the most reliable that does not fall apart)
Under $1.99 for a Gallon of Milk
50 cents for herbs, scallions, or bell peppers

Every state is different, but I guarantee that if you keep you eyes and mind open, you will find amazing deals.

Step 4: Learn the lingo.

Notice below, it says 5 for $5. Guess what? That means $1 each. You DO NOT have to purchase 5 for $5. I know that seems like a "Duh" thing but most of us believe that we absolutely need to buy the maximum amount to get the deal. Read the labels. It will let you know if that is the case, but for the most part you can buy one item only, and still get the deal!

It's all in the marketing Baby! These guys are smart!

Step 5: Make a list.

Once you are done circling what you want to shop for, make a list of all the markets and their items. This is what you will use to shop. One concise list, not 4 different papers to flip through.

Price out each item on your list, total it up (including taxes) and stay within your budget. If you are even $1 dollar off, go back and see what you can live without this week.

Step 6: Coupons, coupons, coupons.

Clip those babies up. It's free money people!!!! Money you can use to save or fix your car with.

My sister in law always told me that she spends more shopping when using coupons. Why? Again, you do not have to use a coupon because it is a coupon. Only clip coupons on items you already purchase on a regular basis or would definitely use.

I do not clip coupons for junk food or soda if I do not consume them at all. I will clip coupons on butter, eggs, protein, juice, cereal, etc. You get the point. STAY FOCUSED!

I clip my coupons and file them by month. I can keep track of when they expire and make sure I get to use them in time. Once I make my list, I go through them and match them up with my intended purchases.

For example, below, Progresso Soups are on Sale for $1.00 Each. My coupon is good for 50 cents on 2! When that coupon is doubled, I get one can for FREE! Yes, FREE!

Step 7: Check the coupon fine print.

What do I mean by that? Supermarkets will Double even Triple your coupons on certain weeks. Your 33 cent coupon, just became 99 cents off. Your 50 cent coupon, $1 off. Take advantage of maximizing your their value. However, coupons $1.00 or more remain for that value.

Now you have your list, your coupons, and you are right on the $50 mark! Now what?

Come back to see how once you have those groceries on hand, how to plan your meals. I will have a meal by meal plan for you daily next week, starting Monday. I will definitely get creative, because I have a lot of hungry people in my house.

Will I be able to pull it off or will we crack and drive thru Burger King?

For those of you who Participate and Post Comments, one of you will receive a SURPRISE GIVEAWAY at the end of next week. It's useful and handy and ties into what we are doing. Hmmmmmm......what is it? Find out. Come back.

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