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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Money Saving Tips

I was asked to teach a class about saving money. I don't know how I feel about it, because although I have a lot of knowledge to share, there are so many ways people choose to spend money. I feel like what I say is ignored. The last class I taught was so full of ladies speaking over me, or making "funny" jokes that I feel like I don't want to share. Then I get frustrated because that sounds selfish.

So thanks to an emotional and creative outlet, which this blog has become, I will share some tips once again on how I save money.

Planning. There. Done. Plan how you are going to spend what you ACTUALLY HAVE and stick to it. Wow. I feel better. Don't buy a book telling you how to save money, or spend money on classes that will magically make you rich. Just DON'T SPEND IT IF YOU DON'T HAVE IT.

Easily said, not so easily done.

Here's some advice --follow it only if you are SERIOUS about saving money.

Look at the ads. If you are local, sign up for MoneyBags Utah through Media One. These are free Sunday ads and coupons, delivered to you for free. Also check your mailboxes. There are likely coupons and ads there too.

Once you've seen the ads, pick one or two stores with the most savings for YOU and then MAKE A LIST. Plan your meals around what's on sale. You can plan one or two weeks at a time, or for a month. I do one big trip a month, and then one much smaller trip for milk and produce.

Now you have a meal plan for at least a week, and saved money. If you want to save more, match your coupons with your ad. I get that coupons are overwhelming and some people don't like to do them. Then just ad match at Wal-Mart or shop the ads and buy what's on sale--saving money without coupons.

Check out the many coupon/discount sites and PLAN around what's available. Date night should be fun and memorable. So find something free, think college/high school budget, and go have fun. Groupon, Living Social, City Deals, Grouppigg, Spreebird and others offer great daily deals. I suggest also, set up a babysitting swap with other family members or friends. That way you can save on sitters too.

A big part of our budget used to be "eaten" by friends birthday parties. They came up unexpectedly and with 5 kids, it seems someone is always going to one. So I came up with a gender neutral gift, bought in bulk and then added personal details to for the birthday girl or boy. For instance I bought a ton of art supplies on clearance a few years ago. Each time one of my kids friends has a party, we make a personalized kit with the birthday person's name on it--we've used everything from craft boxes to paint cans to shoe boxes, and filled it with markers, crayons, papers, scissors, glue, and pencils. For the girls we added hair bows and lip gloss; for the boys we added candy and water guns. They all turned out cute and personalized for the party person, without breaking the bank. Plus my kids got to really help, instead of me just handing them a bag.

Their Dad also made them do an extra chore to two to earn the present they were given. Since we want them to know the value of a dollar.

Remember that it really is the thought that counts. Take time to think about that person--what's their favorite color, treat, movie, past time, meal....and see where your creativity takes you.

Rank your spending priorites and then follow your budget.
I'd like to go on a trip without kids. The reality of that is about 10 years away. So, I am not going to plan or save for that, since I know it's a want, not a need. However, I love my house and don't want to lose it, so paying my mortgage is my first priority. Followed by our savings plan, food, utilities, gas for cars, fun. So if I run out of money before I get to the end of my list, then the end of the list gets cut, or postponed.

There is a difference between living rich and being wealthy. Appearances are merely a veneer, and if I ever stop having kids, and get some money back into my own pockets, we're on our way to living wealthy, credit card free, debt free, and vacationing in Hawaii.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Countdown Days 3, 2 & 1

If you are still following along our 12 Day Countdown is nearly done.

#3- Hopefully by now, you've planned out your menu and maybe even price matched it at Walmart; found some new traditions, traded some recipes and baked some wonderful cookies. You table decor should be on its way, so now the kids should be entertained, and you've maybe even become more thankful for what you have by helping someone else. My, you've been busy. Today, take a rest, read a book, go for a walk, write a list of what you are thankful for. You've earned a break.

#2- Don't forget to remember. Get out a camera and take pictures of your events. If the whole family is getting together now may be a good time to photograph generations together or siblings together, or children and grandchildren in one happy group. One of the coolest pictures I've ever seen is my cousin  with his mom, grandma, great-grandma and great-great grandma. I don't know how many people are able to do that.

#1- Have Fun doing whatever you are doing on Thanksgiving. Sometimes all the planning outweighs the people. Plan ahead and have things ready, but enjoy what you are doing. This is an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones you may not have seen for awhile. Indulge in pumpkin pie and good conversation. You'll make memories to last a lifetime.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Countdowns Number 6, 5 & 4

Pinecone Turkey
 #6- Make that table FUN. The kids are going to be home anyway, so put them to work making these cute name place holders to decorate your table. Cut feathers out of paper or tissue paper; glue your felt turkey face to a pine cone--make the kids hunt for these around the yard to get that extra energy out, and viola, place cards for your table.

Depending on your taste and style you can make easy decor for any home. Gather leaves and twigs from the yard to use in vases. Or, you can buy pre-made decor at craft stores; don't forget your coupons. You can also use wooded 2 x 4s and cut them into different sizes, then spray glue different images or letters on them for a new centerpiece.

#5- Visit the library and get a new book about our country's history, or a story book about Thanksgiving. There are a million out there. One of my favorites is P is for Pilgrims: A Thanksgiving Alphabet by Carol Crane and America : A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney.

#4- Prioritize your Shopping List. Ok, so if your list isn't even written yet, you have permission to stop reading and get it together. You know things are going fast. Check online this week to see your store's Black Friday deals. Don't forget the Monday after Thanksgiving is Cyber Monday and there will be online deals galore. Also, please use your ebates account when shopping online. It will save you money so you can pay the Visa bill after the holidays.

Stay Tuned....

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Countdown to Thanksgiving

And we continue our countdown to Thanksgiving today by sharing a favorite recipe.

#7- I love to get great recipes that I can really impress people with. This is a keeper. Wendy Paul's Brown Sugar Maple Cookie. Try this, you won't be sorry. Share the cookies and the recipes with someone you are thankful for.

Brown Sugar Maple cookie *NEW* recipe

2/3 dark brown sugar
1 cup butter, soft
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2- 3/4 cup flour
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. maple flavoring
1 tbsp. melted butter
1-2 tbsp. milk or cream

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Gradually add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until combined. Do not over mix this dough. Scoop dough into medium sized rounds, and place on a cookie sheet (approx. 24) and freeze for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the freezer and bake on a separate cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let stand on the cookie sheet 1-2 minutes longer to set. Cool on a rack until room temperature and glaze. (recipe follows)

Whisk together powdered sugar, maple flavoring, butter and milk or cream. I like my glazes somewhat on the thicker side, that way most of it stays on the top of the cookie and doesn't fall off. Drizzle over baked and cooled cookies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More 12 Days of Thanksgiving Countdown

If you've been following along, here's countdown days 9 and 8 for Thanksgiving.

#9- I am thankful for others who share their time and money savings ideas. Like this one. I borrowed this from a FB post by Marnec. Disclaimer, I haven't tried this yet (still trying to find the paper bags from our last craft project), but the PYP site I saw this on, is pretty reliable. Let me know if it works for you.

You will need:
A brown paper lunch sack
1/4 c. popcorn kernels
some tape

Pour the popcorn kernels into the brown paper bag, fold over once and tape closed. Put into the microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Remember all microwaves are different, so this is just an approximate time. You don’t want to burn your popcorn so watch it closely.

Now the popcorn is all done! The bag should be nice and full.

Now you can enjoy some popcorn, how you like it! This is the best part. Here are some things you can add to customize your popcorn:

spray butter
Parmesan cheese
chili powder
cinnamon & sugar
#8- Make a new tradition. Yes, we have Christmas traditions, but why not put a special emphasis on something new this year. One of my pet peeves is people decorating for Christmas in September, or even November. Enjoy the holiday--the holiday which is actually occurring NOW, not next month.

You can do a food, blanket or hygiene drive for a local charity. Where we live Wendy's (the burger chain) is collection warm blankets, coats, hats and mittens. Grab a frosty with the kids (fyi kid size frosties are .50 cents) and donate your new or gently used items to those in need. Also many stores have drops for local food banks (Harmons, Jiffy Lube, Smiths, Rock Creek Pizza, just to name a few). This is an easy and convenient way to help out. Or you can gather your gently used household items and clothes and donate them to a local Big Brothers/Big Sisters blue drop box, or another local place in your area. Now you have room to put all that stuff that Santa (or whomever) brings.

If service projects are too overwhelming, pop some corn and watch "Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving." I love that show, actually all of the CB holiday shows bring back great childhood memories for me.

Happy Turkey Time ~Katie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful For...Part Deux

I am thankful for a husband who has flexible time at work, so he can come take care of my puking baby while I take my four year old to a preschool field trip. I am also thankful for a friend who was willing to watch her and offered to come anytime. I am thankful for an awesome new washer that will wash comforters, so I don't have to go to a laundromat. I am thankful for friends who sympathize when I tell them I've been up at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. the past two mornings, and don't pass judgement.

This is the payday of a parent people. Think long and hard before committing to it. This is not a job for the weak stomached, faint of heart wussies who think being a parent is like getting a cute new purse, boots or an awesome car. Kids are not an accessory. Sure people will look at your kids, or your stuff, and oohh and awww, but it's you who is ultimately responsible when crap hits the fan--or the sheets, or the carpet, etc.

To get out of my own pity party, I started thinking about our service project for our neighbors. I decided to do "The 12 Days of Christmas," I know pretty original right? So I found a couple of great websites,, and they had everything I needed. Silver lining to my day, since I can't run errands with a sick kid, I can still accomplish something. I will of course, put my own "spin" on it and share that with you in the future.

I also wanted to pass along some Thanksgiving time ideas, in parallel to the 12 Days of Christmas theme. How about the 12 Blessings of Thanksgiving? Or 12 Turkey Tales? Maybe 12 ways to scrimp and save and still have an awesome holiday? Ok, ok... hold your breath, it's about to get good....

12 Time Saving, Money Saving Ideas that Will Bless You and Yours (insert fireworks and a Dun, Dun, Da-dun-dun Da-dun here)

#12- Make a memory and a cute cookie. Decorate large round sugar cookies or cupcakes like a turkey. Better yet, use a Nutter Butter for the body, and flattened marshmallows for feathers. Cut a large marshmallow into slices, form into a leaf or feather shape and decorate the sticky part with different colored sprinkles. Share some with friends, and take pictures.

#11- Plan your dinner now, and AD MATCH. I compared Target, Walmart and Smith's this week. Although Smith's had some good prices, they are getting a new coupon policy, and depending on the cashier, it's being interpreted differently. So, I say, AD MATCH at Walmart. I did this last week, with no problem. I suggest doing this trip separately from a large shopping trip, if you have that blessing of time.

#10- If you have the blessing of enjoying a few days off during the holiday, make it FUN. Eating and catching up is so 2010. Do something fun with your family and friends. Try the game Apples to Apples, Cranium or old fashioned Charades. You will learn new things about your family dynamics and probably laugh a bit of those calories off.

Tune in Next Time for More.....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mealtime Monday

We had a good friend pass away last week. She had the "Big C." I think it's a swear word. Her husband and Andy are scout enthusiasts. She was one of the most positive people I've ever met. She literally radiated joy and kindness. We are all better for having known her. Thanks for everything Miss Gae.

Now how to tactfully make the transition to feed your family this week is beyond me. My tact is locked up in the same security deposit box as my compassion, so just remember when you are making your meals this week to tell those who mean something to you that you love and appreciate them, and you are showing your love with delicious food.

This week's Menu

Baked Ziti * I have recently discovered Davinci pasta. It's divine and I love it more than most pastas. Look for the little blue bag and give it a try. Sauce nicely coats this divine dinner, you won't be sorry.

Toad in a Hole * When cold weather sets in, we crave comfort food. This is a relic from Andy's time in England. Basically it's a Yorkshire Pudding with a cooked piece of sausage inside.

1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. milk
3 eggs
pinch of salt
Mix the above together in a pitcher and let rest for 30 min.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 425. Place a muffin tin on a cookie tray and place in oven for 5 min., once the oven is up to temperature. Once it's hot, add 1-2 tsp. of vegetable oil to the tray and warm it up for 5 more minutes. Open your windows so the smoke detectors don't explode.

Pour the batter into the hot, oiled tray cups. Bake for 10, reduce oven to 350 deg. and cook another 10-20 min. until desired crispiness is achieved. I do mine about 15 min.

Cook your desired sausage. Place section of cooked sausage inside puff and serve. I like the Jennie-O turkey link sausage or Chicken Sausage, but anything will do.

Tomato Basil Ravioli Soup soup and Grilled cheese * click the link for my recipe

Chicken Enchiladas * I love the recipe on the La Victoria can, but everyone has a recipe for this. I also make 2 pans and freeze one for later.

Shepherd's Pie * Click the link for my recipe. My kids love this, it's easy, and total comfort food.

Happy Eating. ~Katie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful For....

If you're on Facebook you know about the trend to post something you're thankful for each day. It is that time of year, and while we should be thankful everyday, this is the time of year we are reminded to say things (post things) out loud.

Like I've said before I spent 13 years in social services, helping, guiding and providing for those who've fallen on hard times. I am thankful for that experience. It has taught me a lot and made me more aware of how much I really have. This past week we sat down for Family Night and S. Sue was in charge our activity. She had us make Thankful Hand Turkeys. Ya know, trace your hand and write a blessing on each finger and make your thumb into a turkey face. She put the stipulation that we couldn't list home, clothes, family or food because "we already know that we are all thankful for those." See, someone listens when I perch on my soapbox.

So instead the kids listed things like school, medicine, church, the garden (ditto), books, a job (yeah) and Sponge Bob (ok, there always has to be an outlier in the bunch).

I am thankful for S.Sue and her sensitivity to others. She is a compassionate person (not a genetic trait since mine is locked away in a far off safety deposit box). She is a trustworthy friend and sister. She has a sarcastic edge (don't know where she found that...) and loves to serve others.

I am thankful for Lala. She is sweet and gentle. She makes peace and is great with compromise. She is patient (where she gets it, I don't know). She is a loyal friend and sticks up for the little guy.

I am thankful for J-Dog. He has an amazing memory and is a quick learner. He is my only child I don't have to repeat myself to and he remembers what I say. He's not perfect, but he's darn close. He is tenderhearted and looks and acts so much like his Dad, I have no doubt he will be successful.

I am thankful for Little D. She is spunky, firey, smart, sometimes smart alec, funny, sugar and spice and everything nice. She has given me a run for my money since the beginning and I am glad, she keeps life interesting.

I am thankful for my baby. She is sweet and mellow. She reminds me everyday how simple life should be. She radiates pure joy--mostly cuz she's still learning and discovering things. She's fun to watch and loves to cuddle.

I am thankful for my husband. He doesn't usually read this blog--no, I don't take it personally. There are too many things to list so I will just say he's the best choice I've made in my whole life. He is the most kind, dedicated, loyal friend I've ever found and I am so glad he's mine (FOREVVVVER!)

I don't say it enough but I am thankful to all of my family who have supported us through tough times and good times. For those of you who "get" me and my sarcasm and hang out with me anyway. For those of you who know what to say (and more importantly what not to say) when my eyes start rolling. And for those of you that take time to mean it when you ask how we are.

I am thankful for a free country, a somewhat crooked sense of humor, good values, good judgement, chocolate and Diet Coke, smart doctors, and a good upbringing.


What are you thankful for????

Friday, November 11, 2011

Awesome Giveaway

Emergency Essentials has an awesome give away. Post one of their Blog Buttons on your blog or website and receive a $10 gift card. They have great stuff for long term storage and emergency preparedness.  Visit for more details.

Happy Freebie Day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baby, Baby, Baby Ohhh

Forgive the title. I do not have Beiber Fever, but I have tweens. And we are not having another baby, just thought I'd scare ya for a minute. However, if you know someone who is have I got a deal for you. is offering one carseat canopy like this one, for FREE.
There are several to choose from. It's a $50 value, FREE. You do have to pay shipping which is $17.00, but it's a great gift for under $20. I have one a friend made me and have loved it. Use code LKF47A3.

Another great idea is from Use code H424KNV90 and get a $48 sling for $11.95. The sling is FREE, you pay for shipping. These come in custom sizes so it fits you perfectly. These are great, wish I'd had one to carry around my kiddos. Here's a pic.

Black Magic

A third great gift idea is from Love the name. These guys sell nursing covers. With code JHV33RK09 you get the cover FREE, and pay $9.95 for shipping.

Also don't forget to check out for some awesome Minky blankets, hats, mittens, bibs, etc. I bought some stuff for Xmas from these guys and it's awesome. I think I love it more than the kids getting it will. They have great sales, and if you sign up for their e-newsletter you get 10% off.

Great ideas for baby showers, birthdays and Christmas, at a great deal. Now aren't you glad you read my blog today? You now possess the ability to give unique, boutique style items for what it would cost to make it, and you don't have to spend time swearing at your sewing machine (I know I'm not the only one...).

Please feel free to pass on my link to everyone you know that wants great ideas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Scrapbook Post

1. What am I eating for dinner today? Sweet Chicago
2. Who was the last person I talked to on the phone? Brenda
3. What color did I wear today? purple
4. What was the last good thing I read? Mjr. Pettigrew's Last Stand
5. What's one goal I have accomplished this week? Waxed eyebrows!!
6. What's one thing I need to work on? Donations for PTO Fundraiser
7. Today's best thought? I married my BFF
8. One word to sum up today is? Organized
9. One worry or concern? Getting my ebates
10. Favorite thing I did this week? Movie and pizza night w/ the family; planned by the hubs cuz he ate dinner for lunch.

Mealtime Monday

Back on track this week....

Mealtime Monday
Pizza. Sweet Chicago Home is cooking for us tonight. Family Movie Night. B1G1 free at SCH tonight. If you haven't tried them, go NOW. Every week they have a special, this week's is especially good. I recommend the deep dish Planetarium.

Chicken Pillows

Pigs in a blanket and macaroni

Minestrone Soup and grilled cheese

Fish tacos

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mealtime Monday/Tip Saving Tuesday

I hate holidays on a Monday. I bet teachers hate it more. Sugar crazed kids, deprived of sleep, send 'em to school in a freezing blizzard. They don't get paid enough.

So the holiday threw me a curve ball, and I was having so much fun with my kids (seriously) that I haven't had a minute to post, until now.

Meals for this week include

Meatloaf and German Potatoes

Stuffing Meatballs
   These are like an early Thanksgiving.
  1 bag (8 ounces) herb seasoned stuffing cubes
  1 cup hot water
  1 egg or egg white 
  1 tablespoon ground sage
  1 pound ground turkey breast
  1 can (16 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce; I like it whole berries, but either works
   1/4 cup sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the stuffing, water, egg white, and sage; mix well. Add the ground turkey; mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet that has been coated with nonstick spray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway through the baking.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cranberry sauce and sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar melts. Place in a bowl and serve with the meatballs.
    Makes about 4 dozen meatballs
Chicken Pot Pie (even though J-Dog hates it)

2 Pie pastry shells
1-14.5 oz. can chicken broth
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 bags frozen peas and carrots
4 medium red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup flour
salt, pepper, and Lawry’s seasoning salt to taste.

In a deep dish frying pan, saute chicken and onion in olive oil.  Add potatoes, carrots, peas, and broth to pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix water and flour together, add to pan; simmer all ingredients about 5 minutes, until thick.

Pour ingredients into pie shell; cut out shape in top of second pie shell- this will allow for steam to escape as pie cooks.Place second pie shell on top and pinch top and bottom edges together. Bake for 35-40 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Italian Chicken and grilled veggies
Marinade chicken breasts in Italian dressing for 1 hour. Grill

Tips For Tuesday
Save 25% on all toys at with code FRIENDS25

Save an extra 30% at, can combine w/ BOGO sale, and free ship to store. Code 56302

Halo Heaven sale on costumes, little girls tutus, hair things, wands, etc. Extra 10% off with AUTUMN

Bebe Bella designs has a 70% off their Minky blankets. I have one of these for our baby, and it rocks.

Walmart and Target are clearancing out the Halloween stuff at 50% off. Also has costumes starting at $2 and free ship to store.

This is my favorite time of year. Eating and shopping without excuse, what's better than that??