Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspire Me!

Who inspires you? What inspires you? Know of an inspiring story, song, person, etc. please share it with us or share a link with us. We'd love to get a variety of inspirational stories to share.

There are people all around me that inspire me. For instance, I have a friend that moved to China. She left the comforts of having family near to move to a land she knew little about with her husband and 2 young children. She's adventurous. She's trying new things, experiencing life in a way she would not have had she stayed here. By the way, we will be sharing a recipe from her on this blog soon. Trust me you won't want to miss it. I look at her and she inspires me to be more adventurous.

That is just one person of the MANY that inspire me. I live with two people who inspire me everyday! But, I chose to focus on this friend because I wanted a way to let you know I would be sharing something from her soon. Plus, I know she checks in here from China from time to time and it's a way to give a shout out to her between our phone calls. :)

So, you tell me, who, what, where, etc. inspires you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things to consider when saving Money...

When I first got friends into couponing, I reminded them that they could go coupon broke. Telling them that savings or the amount they saved didn't matter if they were over budget.
Here is an article that I came across that begs to be read.
The-Best-Way-to-Save-Money
I love the way she wrote this and the truth that it speaks. Think before you spend.

This weeks Check in after finishing my shopping...

Oh shopping all the stores is GREAT! We are fortuante to have so many in a small area. Yeah!

I am also fortunate to have a kid that loves to go along with me otherwise summer food shopping might get hard. Instead, I look forward to it because I will have an extra set of eyes. He loves to find a good bargin and has been so helpful in finding items.

Anyway, I told you I would report weekly on my total. I had $60 to spend this week and we spent $51.93. In that $51.93 I got lots of food for that amount. I stocked up on things. It was really worth the effort of going to 3 stores! I got some great deals. :) In that total is a pizza that we got as take out. So, now the $8 extra that I had this week and roll over to next week incase I see some items I need to stock up on.

Speaking of stocking up, I am working on that page for you all. But, it's a work in progress. I think I will get it started and just update it. How does that sound? Looking for feedback, do you all even want this page? I want to know what is most helpful to all of you. What do you want to see? :)

Those of you reading via email, this is not the only post today. So, check the blog.
Have a great day everyone!

Recipe Round Up-Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe (Your take out made at home)
My husband says it takes like a cross between Sweet and Sour and General Tso's. You make it and decide. I got it from here. Tammy has some other great recipes to check out as well. Let me know if you make this and what ou think of it.

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 cup oil--I didn't use that much though! YIKES-that's a lot of oil!
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons ketchup
1 cup of rice, cooked with 1 1/2 cups water according to package instructions
Instructions:
1. In a medium-sized container with a tight-fitting lid, mix flour, ginger, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and seasoned salt. Add chicken pieces, put lid on, and shake to coat.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Drop in floured chicken, and fry until chicken in browned and fully cooked. Drain on paper towels.
3. In large saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, soy sauce, and ketchup. Heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. When mixture is thickened, add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
4. Serve chicken and sauce over hot rice.
Serve with a side of veggies or some sort.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Laundry Room Spring Clean-Plus go green tips that can save you some green

This week is the Laundry Room Area and your cleaning supplies. You may want to consider some green cleaning supplies. Not only will they keep your loved ones saver, but they can save you some green as well.
First, does anyone have mixes that they love? If you do, please share your tips in the comment section so we can all benefit.
I can say that baking soda and vinegar are awesome cleaners. We personally use them. I want to make more green cleaners and have a goal to get my green clean on this year.
You can find how to make your own cleaning kit here.
There is another site that has lots of ideas for homemade products and you can find that here.
I plan on making a booklet of cleaners to keep by my bucket. When I do, is there anyone that wants to see it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homemade Pudding Mix-Bonus Post!

Ok, so I came across this and had to share! DIY vanilla instant pudding mix
Pretty Cool. I just may have to give this one a try. If any of you try it, let me know how it goes! :)
If you know that someone subscribes via email and would like this but might not see this. Send them back over here! :)

The $20 Challenge Lessons

So here we have it--well some of it.

1. It takes a lot of planning. You do have to put in some effort.
2. Having a Meal Plan will make a difference--a big difference.
3. Commit to change. You will be making choices and changes. Be prepared.
4. Follow a few helpful blogs. This will be huge as it will save you time and money too! Local blogs prove to be helpful as they can let you know the best local deals.
5. Find encouragement - it's not easy so it's nice to have a cheering section. I'll cheer each of you on! :)
6. Know the stock up prices or at least make a plan to learn them. (I will be getting that page together for you all on the ones around here.)
7. It does make you waste less food. That's a bonus!
8. Take a look at the foods you eat and think about the nourishment in each of them. Pass by the $3 chips to buy a few more lbs of bananas. Your body will thank you.
9. You can eat healthy on this amount of money. No excuses that you can't. You just have to change the way you shop.
10. Shopping multiple stores makes it easier! I lived through that one.
11. Don't give up if you don't make it one month. Just learn from the mistakes and try again the next.
12. Have a plan in place for money to be set aside for stock up items. This can be part of your $20 per person per week, but just take that out when you are planning the amount you have to spend. For instance, if I allow $10 for stock up sale items. I have $50 to spend on foods we will eat that week.
13. If anyone reads this and saw me at Giant this last week. I allowed myself to go there to get food for the family coming. They had some great deals that I couldn't miss out on. We got some things that we don't normally get-- like Chips. English Muffins were on sale too. It was a great deal. But, my light ones were not included in the sale this time. I was pretty sad about that!
14. Look and rework the budget for your family. You will learn as you go.
15. Think of CVS, Target, etc as food stores too. Sometimes they have great deals.
16. Don't forget the discount stores. Just watch the dates.
17. A deal isn't a deal if you won't use it by the time it expires or goes bad.
18. Coupons are not the only way to save money. You often save a lot by stocking up on items at the rock bottom prices.
19. Think about investing in an extra freezer. It will pay for itself in the savings.
20. Make more homemade things. You'll not only save Money but feel a sense of accomplishment!
I have more ideas and tips. But, I will have to save that for another post. This one is getting too long.

I am going on the $20 per person per week again. It's a goal I have now. Only I can shop where ever my heart desires! :) We are still discussing a entertaining budget though. So, I will be back posting the deals and letting you know my progress. It's a new week this week--we will see how I do. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Menu Week of March 28th

This weeks dinner menu includes (in no order):
  • Cajun Chicken Strips, Salad and Sliced apples
  • Grilled Pork Chops, Rice and Veggies (leftover chicken for me ;))
  • Spicy Chicken Pasta and Salad (per request)
  • Meal for guests-still up in the air as we are tossing around ideas
  • Fish, potato wedges (homemade), and salad
  • BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots
  • Leftovers

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Mission of Motherhood -Chapter 2

The chapter Beautiful by Design talks about being created for a purpose, that children are a blessing, and that men and women were designed to be different. AMEN to all of that!
Yes, there is a purpose for all of us and it is important for us to seek HIS purpose in our lives.

Children as such a great gift and blessing. I let Little Man know that I feel he is a blessing and I am so honored that the Lord is allowing me to raise this amazing son.
The way my husband was built and the way I was built is different. It's our differences that I think make us balance out so well.

A few points that I liked from this chapter:

"Establishing my household as a place in which greatness of God and a devotion to him is lived out each day has given me focus. Loving my children and nurturing their hearts and minds while training their characters and leading them to know the Lord and his purposes has satisfied my soul's need for purpose."

"However, the common purpose for all women is to glorify God in whatever circumstances and boundaries of life we find ourselves, trusting him to show us how we can best use our gifts for him."

"The family as a whole is called to a bigger purpose than any one of them could accomplish alone."

"How well you are following God's design is truly a matter for you and your family and the Holy Spirit to decide."

Trust in God. "For it is in finding God and submitting to him that we will find the purpose and meaning that he designed us to experience."

Think you have fallen too short of God's standards? Read 1 John 1:9. Then, thank God that you were forgiven for those sins. For we serve a redeeming God, a God of second chances. And remember that God isn't finished with us yet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does the Country Store have a flyer?

Does anyone know? I know they are great for the lunch meat prices. But, we don't get lunch meat unless we are having company for sandwiches. (Like this weekend.) But, today when I went there they had boneless, skinless chicken tenders for $1.69lb. (If you bought 10 lbs). Since the rise in the cost of chicken that I saw, I jumped on this deal because it will save me in the long run.
By the way, I am making a stock up price list. I will be sharing in the future weeks! Happy Weekend everyone!

Capture it- Shutter Speed (3/25)

Shutter represents the time that the shutter remains open when taking a photograph. The shorter the shutter speeds the better they are at freezing fast moving objects. It also doesn’t allow as much light in, therefore you should have lots of light to make this work. Think sports on a sunny day.
Long shutter speeds can be used to blur a moving object or also let more light in. When shooting, it’s always best to keep your shutter speed as fast as the light allows.

So what do you do in a low light situation? You adjust your ISO and lower your aperture, this will allow you to get the correct exposure and still keep your subject “tack sharp” which in the end is what you are going for. This is what I do to adjust to get those night football shots. I'll show you an example once we get the computer taken care of. We've had a bit of an issue and let's just say it's a great lesson in patience, being prepared, and being thankful. Once things are good to go again, I will be sure to get a picture up to show you how even in low light you can take sharp pictures.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recipe Round Up--My Spicy Chicken Pasta Recipe-per request.

I find it funny that anyone would want one of my recipes. Funny that I'd even share cooking advice. But, this is a favorite in my house. It's never quite the same. But, has a similar feel each time. I no longer measure items and just plunk them in. This is the only recipe I can think of that I do that to.

Spicy Chicken Pasta
Chicken Breast (About 1-2lbs depending on how many you are feeding)
2-3 peppers (Usually try to have 2 different colors)
1 cup chopped carrots (sometimes I leave this out)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I don't add this much anymore)
1/4-1/2 cup onion (tend not to add this anymore as my husband is not an onion fan and liked it better without them)
1tbsp oil to cook the meat and veggies in
1tbsp oregano (only if I am adding the tomatoes) which I have not been lately. Lazy I guess. ;)
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp sugar (only if I add the tomatoes--helps to take the bite out of them) Look at me looking like I know what I am talking about...I read that somewhere sometime. I am really clueless. :)
1tsp pepper
1tsp red pepper
1tsp season salt (then I don't add the regular salt)
1 box noodles of your choice.
You can add more pepper, red pepper, garlic, etc to your taste. I tend to add more veggies sometimes and always add more pepper and red pepper.
Mix the spices together. Spray the pan (very large pan-may I suggest a wok) and cook the chicken and spices. Then add the veggies. Meanwhile have your pasta cooking. Once the chicken and veggies are where you want them to be, add the pasta. Mix together. Stir add more spices to your taste. Sprinkle with ground parm. cheese. This makes a ton of food.
Other veggies I have added:
Yellow squash
Hot peppers
(Olives even work!)
Enjoy!
Sweet and Sour Chicken will be coming up. As that was requested as well. ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Want a DIY facial mask?

Check out this article.
11 one ingredient diy face masks article
You too can have a facial at home, just look in the kitchen for the ingredients!

This weeks deals (March 21)

Giant deals can be found here. Thanks For The Mommas!
* The English muffins are the best deal for Thomas' that I have found while searching and saving the flyers!* So, stock them up!! I think this is a 12 week sale cycle. I will check and let you know.
CVS deals here!
Weis deals found here!
Sorry for the delay and short post! I have a boat load of flyers to start going through and checking sale prices.
Sadly, I have seen an increase in some regular prices lately. Since I have been keeping a close eye on them. I am noticing even a .20 cent increase. That I may not have noticed otherwise.

Spring Clean with Me--The Family Room

Those of you following along. This is the week we tackle the family room! Be prepared to get in those corners, dust those hard to reach areas and move that furniture! You'll be so happy when it is done. Focus on that. Want to know something, my front porch still needs a cleaning. Sigh! It will get cleaned. I am writing this a few days ahead and that cleaning is worked into my schedule so hopefully, that will be done by the time this is posted. Hopefully! Don't worry, I am building in some catch up weeks! :) We all have things that come up after all.
Bring your bins, clean and declutter all at once!
Have a great day! Happy Cleaning!

The $20 Challenge...

This week on the $20 Challenge...
Transparency: I did get that .99 deal on cereal last week! 5 boxes for .99. I couldn't pass it up. Confession, I picked up 4 Greek yogurts when I was there as well. My total was $2.55. Yep, 5 boxes of cereal and 4 Greek Yogurts for $2.55. LOVE IT! Seems the Greek Yogurt is on a price freeze at Weis. (At least that was the way it looked and I had coupons. BONUS!) I really do like Greek Yogurt and I love that it has extra protein. Means I don't have to eat as much chicken! :) Sorry for the slip. But, I didn't even look at anything else. I was afraid I'd get sick with some of the low prices. The other great deals to be had were at Darenkamps for fresh fruit and veggies.

I feel like this is a real challenge this month compared to last. Last month I thought it was a challenge, but I was able to really look around and shop the different stores. We are blessed where we live to have 3 food stores in a matter of miles of each other. Where this month I am only shopping at the one.

But, we are not really going without, I am just getting creative in the planning and shopping. I even amazed myself last week as what our food cost-less than $30 that included the pizza! Really, I got a lot of fresh fruit and veggies. (I was so thankful for the sales and the reduced produce bin! I did use some ECB to get snack items. I told you I couldn't give up the drugstore game!) It does make you really think though about your purchases in a whole new light. If I only have $5 left according to my calculator I ask---do I buy a box of this or that or do I put that toward more fruit or veggies. Fruit and veggies win out every time. :)

I have some great friends that have given me their extra coupons. THANK YOU! The milk coupons have been great. I am so thankful to get them.

I am also thankful for all of you that are following along on this challenge. But, I am also thankful that if I slip and spend more that it's OK. My heart thinks of the people that have less than this to spend on feeding their families and mostly on the kids. No child should have to go to bed hungry!

On a lighter note, I know I am not the most entertaining writer, so that fact that you keep coming back warms my heart! Chime in, how are you all doing? Feeling any of the stresses that I described in earlier posts? Sticking to the $20 per person per week? Anyone else trying it? Success? Troubles? Share so we can all learn and grow together.

Now, I will tell you I already shopped and got this weeks items (plus some for next). I didn't get the guest items yet. But, I now have $0 to spend next week. Yes, $0. Actually, I think I am over by about 25 cents or so already. So sadly, my challenge didn't go as well this month. :( I am sad and disappointed. However, I have learned some great things this month that I can now use for next months $20 challenge. (See I don't give up). Buy the way, I think next week I can get by with about $15 or so in food shopping. So, I won't be over by a ton. Next week, I will be sharing what I learned. So stay tuned. Perhaps some of what I saw and am going to try will help you all.

Oh and just to be honest, guest food will be purchased at different stores. Reading this Via email--there are more posts to come today!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Week of 3/21

This weeks Menu--in no order
  • Steak, baked potatoes, steamed veggies (I'm having left over Chicken)
  • Chicken Tacos (Soft shell), fresh veggies and fruit
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken & Rice (I didn't use this the week before because I needed a quicker meal), carrots on the side.
  • Pizza with Fresh Veggies and Fruit
  • Grilled Chicken Salad & Veggies
  • Leftovers
  • Extended Family visiting--big dinner to be determined...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mom Time- The Mission on Motherhood Book Club (Chapter 1)

So, here we are our first week in the book.
The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity
Get your copy at Amazon. com
Chapter 1: A Journey Like No Other

This chapter really spoke about how motherhood is viewed. Some view it as a noble and important calling. Some view it as a lifestyle option and to many people this could be considered a lesser option. Depending on what people feel is important. There really are big gaps in what people view motherhood to be. But, as she said in the book, " God has an important mission for mothers....We mothers have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children."

Your children are going to gain so much by walking through life with you. You provide for them a clear model on how to live for them. She states that "It (motherhood) requires that I become a mature counselor, ready at any moment to make decisions judiciously. It also requires that I develop skills in hospitality, nursing, intellectual process, diplomacy, leadership training, and more, and that I stretch my creativity to the max."

I often think as I spend time with Little Man how my words and actions will influence him. I view him as such a great gift and blessing and daily try to convey this message to him. I am humbled that God chose me to raise this amazing boy and truly honored to be his Mom. I also remind myself that I am raising someone's husband and father and that thought is very powerful to me.

I leave you with one more quote from Chapter 1 and a questions for response.

Quote: "The mother who reaches the heartfelt needs of her children by helping them feel loved and secure, by believing in their dreams, by noticing when they stray and gently steering them back in the right direction, and by teaching them what they need to know to live full and meaningful lives accomplishes a great work for the Lord."
Allow that to really soak in....

Questions for those that are following along:
What was the biggest thing you took away from this chapter?
Do you already do one or more of her "something to try" items? If not, are you going to start any of them?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Capture it- Guest Post Elaine Gates Photography

What do you shoot with?  What’s in your bag?  What would you like to be in your bag?
I shoot with a Nikon D700 & D300
Nikon 70-200 2.8
Nikon 24-70 2.8
Nikon 50mm 1.4
Nikon 60mm 2.8 (macro)
Nikor 10.5 fisheye
Sb900
Pocketwizards
Sb600
How long you have been shooting?
4 years
How long you have been in business?
Officially 2 years
What inspires you?
Love inspires me most, relationships, beautiful light
How long do your sessions last?
Senior sessions are based on packages but normally 30min-2hrs. Family sessions are normally around an hour. Newborn sessions can take up to 3 hours depending on how easily we can get the baby to sleep and stay asleep.
What pre-planning do you do with your clients?
Usually once someone books a session I ask them what sort of session speaks to them, do they want to see themselves having fun in green grass, a large field, a cool urban setting. Its important to get the location right so that the wall portraits work well in their home and with their style.
Any lighting besides natural light?
You bet, I have some studio lighting for the studio work, I use speedlights for weddings and some portraits.
Do you use Photoshop? Lightroom?
Both!
How did you learn photography?
I just picked it up and learned along the way, photographing my own family gave me the push to do this for others.
Have you found any great places to shoot sessions?  Any new dream locations you are dying to bring clients to?
Yeah, I am always looking for new places that speak to me, which no one else is using. I still love the tried and true locations that everyone loves, I just like to shoot them differently with my own style.
How would you describe your style?
I love beauty and art. I like beautiful pictures that are well composed and perfect technically.
When you aren’t taking pictures, or editing, what are you doing?
Spending time with my family, knitting, reading…
What was the turning point that made you want to want to “do this.”?
I think one day I realized that this was my passion and I couldn’t change it… I spent a good year telling myself that I only wanted to do it for fun and to get out of the house and it snowballed into this amazing business that I am so passionate about. I feel this is my gift, what I was meant to do.
Can you share a story about your funniest photography shoot?
Weddings are always interesting; there usually is always a guest who keeps me entertained with their crazy antics. Once there was a best man speech that made me laugh out loud for days every time I thought about it…

I love being the fly on the wall watching peoples special days unfold; Documenting it so when they open their album they can relive it.

I think photographing my own children is borderline hilarious. I am so cool and collected with everyone else’s children but photographing my own makes me into one of those moms…. My girls have grown to love it, my oldest loves the time I spend with her, she loves seeing herself and I think she is growing a passion for photography. She always has fun ideas, and outfits! I spent about 4 months planning my holiday card portraits, my poor husband has to put up with all of my stress with coming up with a concept, and helping me build props for it…
What advice do you have for people searching for a photographer?
I think the best thing for people to do is find someone who you love their work, and especially with weddings you need to “click” with your photographer. If you don’t love me when you meet me, then there is another photographer out there for you. I want my clients to be 110% happy from start to finish; my goal is to make you not only my client for life, but a friend as well. The thing I love the most is building relationships! That right there is my passion. I also feel strongly that people shouldn’t settle for a sub-par photographer based on cost, cut corners other places, not on photography. You will never regret the investment!
Anything else you’d like to share with us? You are welcome Elaine!
I am so thrilled for you that you are starting out on this new journey. Thank you so much for interviewing me!! Xoxo
You are welcome Elaine! Wishing you the best in 2011.  Here are some samples of her work that she sent over for all of you to view.

To see more, visit her website. http://www.elainegates.com/

If you read this via email...

it has come to my attention that you are not getting to read all the posts! You get one post a day. So, if I have more than one. (Which lately that has happened quite a bit, you are not getting them.) Makes me sad as I post about deals I run into during the day that might be helpful!

How do you fix this? Well, stop in the blog and read it every so often to see what you missed. Perhaps, a certain day of the week that you stop in and read it to see what you missed. I am making a lot more multiple posts lately. Just because I am trying to break things apart. So, if you are here to read one thing, you can zero in on just that.

I have asked for feedback on the set up of the blog and possible changes that may take place. I am anxious for suggestions and this could help when you stop in to see what you missed. But, this was a later in the day post and thus those of you following via email may not have seen it. I've done a bit of postings during the day this week.

Also, if you signed up for emails and are not getting them, sign up again. As you may not have confirmed the ok to have them sent. I think that comes via feedburner.
Have a great day everyone! Yes, there is multiple posts today!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Don't forget your FREE Rita's!


Celebrate the first day of Spring with FREE Rita’s!  March 20 from noon to 9pm for a FREE regular-size cup of Rita’s Italian Ice. Valid at over 550 stores in 18 states.

How a walk can do more than just get you fit...

A walk with a friend and two of her beautiful girls left me filled to the brim. I love this friend. She is an amazing woman, has such a wonderful heart, listens, plants seeds, is an excellent mom, and has such a caring spirit. I am honored to be her friend. Thankful and blessed that she is part of my life and that our families share great times together. Looking forward to may future times together with them. She shared this with me and I felt called to share it with all of you.
Read here... and my hope is the words you read will help you today.

Capture It- Be Inspired!

When you are starting to look at improving your photography and making it better, I think you need to look at people's work who inspires you. Find someone that you connect with their work. Look at it. What makes you drawn to their work? What do you notice? I am not saying to copy them. But, just look at what you love about their work. Sure somethings you might want to try. But, don't try and make someone else's style your style. We are all unique and that's what makes us great.

I go along a very fine line with Little Man. I want to teach him more about the camera, but I want his eyes to remain his own. I don't want to make him see what I see.  I want him to keep his own creativity. I want him to bloom in the way he should...with his own eyes. So, my advice learn how they accomplish things, but keep your own eyes.

We had some friends over to sled during the winter and Little Miss E. was one of them. I took this photo of her after I was told that she doesn't smile for the camera. Really? I have proof she does. :) I adore this little girl.
Sledding fun.
Up tomorrow is another local photographer Elaine Gates. So be sure to stop in and check out her work!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recipe Round Up- Mini Maple Pancakes-YUM!

If you have never visited Bakerella, you MUST. Seriously, run over there don't walk! :)

The mini maple pancake muffins recipe comes from her site. (That's a link over there to the recipe.)
These are a huge hit at my house. I always say if I can make things, anyone can! The bonus these come with chocolate chips in them. We've also made them with cinnamon chips.
What's the recipe? Well, it's listed below. But, really you should check out Bakerella's site. It's YUMMY!
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift together with a wire whisk.
  • In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. Reserve a few chips to sprinkle on the tops.
  • Bake for 8-9 minutes.
Makes 24 mini pancake muffins.
Trust me, they are gone in no time!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Idea -- looking for feedback

I am considering having some stand alone pages that will have a list of links to blog posts and other resources for the various types of posts on the blog. (Money Saving, Cleaning/Organization, Recipes, Inspiration, Motherhood, Capture it, etc.) What are your thoughts?
My thoughts for doing this is that it would allow you to access the information you want all in one spot. But, just not sure how it will all look or work. So, any thoughts on ways I can improve this blog for my readers would be wonderful. :)
Please leave comments--even if they are anonymous they will allow me to see what you all would like. I want to make this as reader friendly as I can.
Have a great night everyone!

Thoughts on Tuesday...

Not that this will become a regular category. (Who knows maybe it will). But, more so because I came across this today and wanted to share it with all of you: Love Never Fails...

Now, my random thoughts. Recently in our Sunday School class we were discussing what the characteristics of church leaders should look like. I sat there and began pondering some questions of my own.
What if we used those principals to pick leaders in a community?
In our schools?
In our government and the world?
How different would these places look?
How different would our world be?
Your thoughts?

For your listening pleasure...Something Glorious

Spring Clean with Me (Week of March 14th)

This weeks assignment:
The Kitchen and Pantry


Helpful Tips:
Be sure to go through the pantry, rotate stock (older in front), and organize it like a store would. It's so helpful that way.
You may want to re-read my post on pantry organization and kitchen organization before starting this task. I hope both prove helpful. :)
Remember you can break tasks up over the week. It truly makes it easier.

Who's cleaning with me? How is it going? Any inspirational ideas for us? Be sure to comment or send them my way!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Loss...

I know you all come here for the deals, tips, and tricks. But, you also get to view small pieces of my life.

This past weekend, a friend of ours was killed in a car accident. It really shook my family. I wanted to share a bit about her and our friendship.

We met the year I went back to teaching after having Little Man. I had taken a year off and then needed to go back. (I only went back for one year.) That one year was HARD. Emotionally it was hard on me as I hated being away from Little Man. He was sick A LOT. So, was I -- I think I was just so run down that I was catching everything. Then, that school year my Grandfather passed away. That was EXTREMELY hard. He was like another parent to me and I was VERY close to him. My heart was constantly aching. But, GOD is so good. He gave me an AMAZING class that year with AMAZING families that I grew to love. Some of those families treated me as though I was a part of their family. I was blessed. God knew I needed them and he supplied the support I needed.

Some of those families I kept in touch with after I left and still do even now. This was the year I met Norma and her family. They were one of the families that truly embraced me as their own. After I left teaching, I went to their house on weekly visits to do some tutoring sessions. She was always looking to feed me and care for me. I truly felt embraced by their family. I got to meet extended family members and the next thing you know my husband is working with her. Their family supported me in my photography adventure and I was able to not only photograph them, but their extended family as well. My family was constantly blessed by their family. Norma was always so kind, generous, thoughtful and caring toward my family and to everyone. She put others first. She allowed me to tell her about Little Man and his latest. Not only did she allow me to, she asked all the time about him. She touched our lives. That whole family touched our lives.

So, this news came as a shock and we are saddened. My thoughts are filled with such nice memories. I will hold those memories and the thoughts about the type of person she was in my heart. But, as Little Man pointed out, it's not good-bye forever. Because we will all see her again in Heaven. I am blessed to have that reminder and those words of comfort from the mouth of my child.

Need to add this note to our $20 Challenge...

I wanted to say how much we love to have family visit, to entertain and to join with friends for meals. So, that is why we will be looking at an entertaining budget. I will take you all along on my journey of discovery and what I think can work for my family. But, that's just it. It's what can work for us.
Have a great day everyone!
By the way, I am cheating and going to get that cereal if I can. Wish me luck. Seriously, after looking at our cereral stockpile, I decided that 5 boxes for .99 was silly to pass up. Just saying. :) I believe in honesty--so there you have it. Weis here I come!

The $20 Challenge (March 14th)

Oh my! Did I mention how tough this is this month?

Things that are putting extra pressure on the budget:
  • We went out to eat and rang up a good bit on the bill. YIKES! Totally worth the time with the wonderful group of friends! Love you guys!
  • Then, we are having dinner guests twice this month. Yep, twice. So, I am feeding more people on this budget than what the $ amount allows.
  • I am only shopping at one store. Although I am finding deals, I am passing others by. That is tough to watch!
  • Then, we are having family visiting and staying with us for a weekend, so we will be feeding them too. Along with them even more family members will be coming over to eat during that time.
Things that normally make it hard:
  • We do eat a lot of fresh produce. That's where most of our fruits and veggies come from. So, as you know that can be costly.
  • My family goes through a lot of milk.
Things I have found to be true:
  • We throw out less food. There is a LOT less waste. Not that we ever had a ton of waste. But, now we have even less.
  • We get a variety of veggies and fruit because I am looking for what is on sale that week. (Plus, we do try to eat the rainbow.)
I am no longer hopeful for the overall budget. But, I am hopeful for my family meals to make the budget. I was looking over what I needed to buy for the week of March 14th and looking in the sale flyer and planning things. Then, my wonderful husband said he'd eat dog food the rest of the month to help us make budget. Honestly, he was only joking! We both laughed. (Note: You can see dog food never makes the menu.) He's so supportive of this adventure and I really appreciate that he cheers me on. I asked him last month when I did the $20 per person per week if he felt deprived. Nope, not at all. He's honest, which I love, so I knew when I asked he would tell me the truth. He was right, we had a well stocked house and always more than enough to eat. We were/are blessed.

However, I am going to put a plan in place for the extended family that we will be having. I want to continue to feed my family on this budget. But, don't think I can feed the extended family on it as well. Can we say GRACE? I've already fed one of the dinners through this budget. But the other whole weekend later in the month, I had not planned for. As we were not aware of it until recently. My plan is to keep the one meal for the other dinner only guests under our budget. But, when family is staying with us, I need to have some sort of a write off for that. It make me feel like I am cheating, but I never said I could feed 15 people on this, right?
I heard from a friend of mine that has gotten into couponing that she is doing great this month. She has a family of 6. I am so proud of all she is accomplishing with her efforts to save money. What I love about her is she doesn't go down without a fight. Once she sets her mind to something, she really sets her mind to it. S- you really are doing great! Keep it up! I am so proud of you. :)

So, how are you all doing?

Store Deals week of March 14th

CVS deals can be found here. Thanks to The Thrifty Mama.
Giant deals can be found here. Thanks to For the Mommas.
Weis deals can be found here. Thanks to For the Mommas.
Darrenkamps has some great deals. You can view their circular online by going here. Or view a longer list complied by Frugal Lancaster
But, I am highlighting a few of the items:
$1.97 Russet Baking Potatoes 5lb
$1.97 Red Strawberries
$1.29 Grade A Split Chicken Breast (This is not the boneless skinless)
$1.19 eggs
5/$5 on various canned items. Libby's sauerkraut, Hunt's Diced Tomatoes, Hunt's Tomato Sauce, Hunt's Manwich
$2.97 Personal Watermelons
.97 mangoes
$1.97 3pk. Fresh Romaine Hearts
.97 per lb. Red Potatoes

Some great deals this week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu Ideas...(Week of 3/14)

Ok, so I realized that it might be misleading for me to have Monday-Sunday and meals placed behind them. That's not totally how I operate. I used to try to do that, but it wasn't always working out. So, I usually have 7 meals and a bonus meal. I try to plan them out by days depending on our activities that week. However, we can flip and switch as long as I have all the ingredients on hand. (Which for the 8 meals I always do.) I also have a few back up meals that are always on hand incase we say no way to all of these.

This week's meal ideas--in no particular order:
  • Ham, rice with veggies, sliced apples (I will have leftover meat instead of ham)
  • Spicy Chicken Pasta (loads of veggies in here), fruit
  • Pork Chops, potatoes, baked apples (I will eat leftovers instead of the pork chops)
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken with rice, salad
  • Fish, homemade fries (baked), fresh veggies with dip
  • Chicken Parm, pasta and a salad (This was a new recipe I never made a few weeks ago. If it turns out good, I will share.)
  • Leftover Night

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Last Day for Dove Men's Deodorant

The 2.7 oz one is the one on sale.
If you already printed the $2.00/1 Dove Men Care Deodorant Coupon, the coupon has reset. Look in coupons.com.
They are currently $2.00 at CVS (thru 3/12), so free after coupon. You can print 2 coupons, so that means 2 for free. These are just the 2.7 oz ones though. There is a 3oz one, but I don't think from what I have seen in blog world that they are free. Thanks For The Mommas for the tip!

INSPIRATION! (Zero Waste Life)

Wow! Talk about inspiring!
zero waste home
You guys have to see this! WOW! Just WOW!

Mom Time-Thriving Family

There are a few articles over at Thriving Family that I wanted to point out to all of you.
Early Years: teaching consideration for others
Discovery: teaching responsibility
Tweens: let them go and let them grow
Teens: least of these and your teens

Great articles, read the ones your child(ren) are in now or read them all. :) Thanks, Angie for pointing me in the way of this magazine. I LOVE it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Capture it! - Andrea Marie Photography Interview.

Andrea Marie Photography recently moved into the area. She is amazing and I am delighted to say she will be photographing my family this Spring. (YEAH!) I am so excited to have our relationship captured. Even though being in front of the camera is not my favorite place to be. That's another post in itself. Here is a little interview with Andrea and some of her work. Enjoy reading and looking--I am sure you will.

What do you shoot with?  I shoot with a Nikon D700
What’s in your bag?  My D700, my D80 as back-up, Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Nikon 85mm f/1.4, and Nikon SB-800
What would you like to be in your bag? A set of pocket wizards so I don’t always have to rent them for weddings!
How long you have been shooting? Since I was in high school…I was Photo Club President & a yearbook photographer
How long you have been in business? 6 years
What inspires you? Love, Beauty, Relationships, Happiness, and of course…my family!
How long do your sessions last? From 1 ½ hrs for a portrait or family session to 3 hrs for newborns
What pre-planning do you do with your clients?  We talk about what they should expect from the session, I offer styling and location suggestions based on what type of portraits they would like, and I get to know a little bit about them so I can do my best to capture their true personalities.
Any lighting besides natural light? I use a reflector sometimes, and for weddings I use on and off camera lighting
Do you use Photoshop? Lightroom? Yes, both!
How did you learn to photography? I was taught film photography when I was in high school and learned digital photography on my own. I also had the opportunity to work for some amazing studios in D.C. that taught me a lot, especially about weddings.
Any new dream locations you are dying to bring clients to? Yes! I want to do a session(s) on some beautiful fields or meadows, at a farm, and at an orchard!
(My note: Andrea, we are happy to make any/all of those dream locations with you at our session!;))
How would you describe your style? Contemporary portraiture. I always want my clients to look relaxed in their photos, like they were unaware that I was even there capturing the moment...to allow true emotions and relationships to be expressed. I also love getting those “money shots” of my clients looking their best, relaxed, in the best light, in their best outfits, and smiling right at the camera.
When you aren’t taking pictures, or editing, what are you doing? I am spending time with my two daughters or crafting! (My note: Her daughters are STUNNING!)
What was the turning point that made you want to want to “do this.”? I was working in Corporate Finance after college and felt I needed to bring some creativity into my “grey cubicle” life. I decided it was time to take the plunge!
Can you share a story about your funniest photography shoot?  Recently I was photographing some friends in Arizona and I was too much “in the zone” to realize I had backed into a cactus.  I thought they had gotten all the “pokies” off my back-side until I sat down on one when I got into the car!  It hurt, but it was worth the shot. : )
What advice do you have for parents who are looking for a professional child photographer? Look for a style you like, someone you know you can trust, someone who is good with kids, and someone who is willing to sell you the negatives. (My note: Those are just some of the very reasons that we picked her to photograph us!)

Anything else you’d like to share with us?  Don’t let the “golden photo ages” of your kids pass you by!  The newborn stage when they are sleepy for all their pictures goes by so quickly, and when they can sit up but can’t crawl or walk (around 7 months) is another one that are AMAZING times for a professional session. (My note: We have waited too long to get our whole family photographed. You all know that I photograph Little Man a TON! But, my relationship with him was not always captured. Our family realtionship has not been captured enough. So, even though this spring he will be missing teeth in the photographs, we are still capturing us as a family. Because missing teeth is part of growing up and well he's cute anyway! I just think, when his teeth come in, it will be time to capture us again.)

Here is some samples of her work:

 Because I know you want to see more. Check her out at andreamariephoto.com
Thanks, Andrea and looking forward to working with you! :)


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Amazes me that there are not just 10 followers...

but that people from all over this world check in. I can see that in my Stats. I love my stats information, it let's me know I am not just "talking" to myself. :) I am talking to a larger audience.
Welcome and thanks to all that stop in to read--I am honored and humbled. I'd love to hear from all of you. So, feel free to leave comments.

The Shoes

So, you realize this post isn't about "shoes". But, it is about infertility and loss. They both hurt. They both turn your world upside down. You look at life different.

I think it's hard to understand infertility or miscarriage without going through it. Obviously, the writing below was written by someone who experienced it. If you come across this and you wrote this or know who did, please get in touch with me. I posted this on my old blog when I had a session with a beautiful Mama who suffered a loss and then went on to have 2 adorable children (twins!). That was an emotional session for me. I knew the feelings she had felt, I could relate and I was overjoyed to be able to share in her joy of finally receiving her blessings.

If you are out there and suffering from either of these things (infertility or loss) and need someone to just be that ear. I will be it. I know how valuable that ear can be when you are going through such pain.

I am wearing a pair of shoes. They are ugly shoes. Uncomfortable Shoes. I hate my shoes. Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair. Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step. Yet, I continue to wear them. I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy. I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs. They never talk about my shoes. To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable. To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off. I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes. There are many pairs in the world. Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them. Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much. Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think of how much they hurt. No woman deserves to wear these shoes. Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman. These shoes have given me the strength to face anything. They have made me who I am. I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child. -Author Unknown



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Follow up for questions from comment on the $20 challenge and what your kids should be eating!

I can't believe you are doing this challenge, you are amazing! THANKS (I say with a red face)! I am just trying. I am quick to say anything amazing in me is from HIM. :)

Especially if you are still eating healthy foods. YES, we are. :) I prefer to be a little to no process girl. I just prefer to feed my family whole foods and try to do that as much as possible. But, we are not perfect. ;) We have always eaten healthy, but we have been striving to eat more whole foods lately. You all get to see my dinners--except last night we had Fish with fresh carrots and pineapples instead of the chicken. Little Man asked for the baked fish and I was happy to adjust. I need to add that we aim at getting our required dietary intakes per day.

See what your children should be eating here. It is a recommendation.

Does your budget include your "household grocery expenses" like laundry detergent, paper towels...or personal items like deodorant or medicine? No. Just food. Other things I can get for near free doing the coupons and drugstore game. We are considering doing even more cloth in our house to save even more on those expenses, plus help our environment. Paper towels and toilet paper are two things that we stick to a certain brand. Paper towels, I can cut down even more on with using more cloth. Toilet paper--hey it is what it is. :) Medicine comes under our health budget.

Or is it only food expenses? See above--Yes, it's  only food. That's hard enough the way we eat and with the rising food costs. :)

Do you include your eating out budget in that? Yes, our eating out falls under food. (Which is why the dinner this last weekend out with friends will be making it more difficult the rest of the month!) I  can honestly say this is the very HARD part and we will be looking into how that can look as we move out of March. We are not going out to eat as much as we used to. (Which can be a good thing.) But, I don't love cooking so I do look forward to those breaks.

Feel free to ask your own questions. I am happy to answer them. :)

These questions/comments were by the wonderful Andrea. She will be highlighted later this week on the blog. She is an AMAZING local photographer. You won't want to miss the interview and samples of her awesome work!

If your children currently attend a school district in Lancaster County

You want to read this article.
I will save my comments and opinions and allow you to draw your own.
For more information please visit here on the PA Department of Education website.
You may also want to read this.
Have an enlightening Wednesday!

Recipe Round Up- Steak Rub

The Recipe was found here.

Seasoning that was a hit with my guys...

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring Cleaning (Week of March 7th)

Declutter & Deep Clean this week:
Hallways, Front Porch and the Dining Room
Tips:
Decluttering:
When you declutter, bring along a few things:
  • a box that you are putting things in for a yard sale
  • another box that you are putting things in to donate
  • a trash bag. We all know where that is going!
Be sure that you seperate yourself from the item when doing this. If you have not used it in the last year, will you? Can someone else put it to good use? Why are you really keeping it?

Deep Cleaning:
Be sure to clean top to bottom. Now is the time to move furniture if you can, clean windows, wash curtains, get those baseboards and corners all clean. Perhaps shampoo rugs if you can. You are going for the white glove cleaning test.

Let us know if you are following along and if you completed your task. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Money Saving Monday- The $20 Challenge

So, wondering how this shopping at only one store is going. I'm frustrated a bit. Not because I can't get good deals. I feel like I have found lots of great deals and gotten lots of healthy food for what we have paid. However, when I see deals where I could pay $1.00 for 5 boxes of cereal, it stinks! (I MIGHT cave just for that!) But, we don't really NEED cereal.

I am determined still to make this work. I will admit we went to Costco and I picked up 4 items. Coffee, lettuce, peanut butter, and fish. That killed my budget. But, we wouldn't make it to the end of March without picking up the coffee and it's cheapest there. (At least from what I have found) The romaine lettuce is also cheapest there. It's a seriously good deal at $3.99 for 6 heads. Peanut butter I have not found that it's the best deal, but it's the kind my husband likes. The fish--they had a sample of it and the whole family liked it. It was a decent deal. Not the deal I got at Darrenkamps, but decent and since there was no complaints about it, we got some. I debated hard about that purchase.

So, where am I at in this journey of $20 per week per person? Well, glad you asked. I am hanging in there. When is say hanging in there, I do mean hanging-by a thread.

We went out to eat this weekend with a group of amazing friends. The time with them was so worth it. But, can I say HUGE dent in the budget. Yes, we are trying to do this even with going out to eat. But, I figured what I have left the rest of the month for food and everything is going to be SUPER tight. We don't have $20 per person left for each of the weeks. But, I have done some buying ahead (not easy on this budget). If I can make it on what we have left, it will shock even me. Wondering what I have left per week? Let's just say it's really becoming more like the $20 challenge.

Like I said, I am not caving on how we eat. (Fresh fruit and veggies are a huge part of our snacks and breakfasts and lunches). You all know what we are eating for dinners, since I am posting that. I will be getting creative with my stock up items and I already have a general dinner plan for the rest of the month. So, I face the challenge head on. If I fail, I will fail trying my hardest!

The bonus to this challenge, we are wasting less food. Meaning we are wasting almost nothing and that's a good thing!

Anyone out there trying to do this with me? How are you making out?? Inspire us all.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Store Deals this week (3/7)

Giant Deals found here Thanks to for the Mommas!

Before you buy cereal, check out what For the Mommas has found here. Oh my! Does it count if I let a friend go to Weis for me? This is a great deal coming up.
Weis deals are found here Thanks to For the Mommas!

* Sorry you all, looking at those deals is killing me. So, the less I look at them this month the better. :)*

CVS deals here Thanks to Money Saving Mom.

Darrenkamps Deals are here thanks to Frugal Lancaster! I noticed that their link didn't list all the Darrenkamps stores. But, this site was a new find for me.
Here are a few other deals to look for at our local Darrenkamps this week:
All Natural boneless skinless chicken breast $1.69 (Read the previous post-this could be the new stock up price)
$1.29lb grapes
They also have a seafood sale. Check it out here. By looking at the circular for the store closest to you. You can also see all the other great deals.
Don't forget the reduced items help to save you money too!

Menu Inspiration Week of 3/7

Well, just so you all know. Chicken Parm is another week. My dear hubby requested Cajun Chicken Strips tonight. (Sunday). So, we will wait to try the Chicken Parm until later this month.
This weeks Menu:
Monday- Banquet for my son's basketball season. No cooking for me YEAH!
Tuesday- Chicken, Mashed potatoes, and carrots (organic and raw) Can I say that I can taste the difference in organic carrots? My whole family can, I am not going nuts. Then again, maybe we are all just nuts. :)
Wednesday- Oven baked Fish, potatoes (not sure how I am making them yet), and steamed veggies
Thursday- (Dinner guests) They requested Spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread and a salad (Cookies for dessert)
Friday- Homemade pizza and fresh veggies with dip, apple slices
Saturday- Breakfast for Dinner (Pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit, yogurt)
Sunday- Mexican Fiesta (Chicken, rice, salsa, and spices mixed in together), salad

Have a favorite meal to share? Please do! :) I am always looking for something new to make. There is nothing new on the list this week. I might try a new pancake recipe, but other than that nothing new.