Tuesday, December 29, 2009

With the impending (and then not-so-impending) sale of my house, the holidays, and just stay-at-home toddler raisin' in general, I haven't been able to blog as much as I'd like to.  When I think of it...and by think of it, I mean look back at my post archives...my blogging frequency tapered off right about Rayna's one year birthday and her transition from two naps to one.  Back in the good ol' days of two naps, the morning nap was my time to do computer stuff and blog.  The second nap was my time to maybe scrape myself together, eat lunch, clean, etc.  Now that there's only one nap the blog has taken the back burner.

And that's fine, really.  I'm not someone who is going to plop my kid in front of a movie all morning so I can electronically hob-knob with blog friends.  I do take pride in the fact that Rayna & I have really full days of playdates, meeting friends and family and other totally off-line activities.  Yet why do I feel a lot of guilt about not squeezing in the time to write more here?

That was a rhetorical question, but really I have an answer.  I feel guilty because I started my blog as one venture and it has meandered its way into something completely different.  And I keep lamenting that "my blog really sucks" as a "deal" blog.  This is where I need to be brutally honest with myself: I am not your sole source of deals, freebies and coupons (and if I am, then dear, you should think about expanding your horizons!)  When I first started out I couldn't find another blogging soul who was posting Acme deals.  Every weekend I would agonize over my need to get my Acme deals post up in & it took me hours and hours of my time.  Then this summer I found Mindi's blog Moms Need to Know and not only was she putting up an Acme deals post every week days before I would, hers was way better than mine.  So I fizzled out the Acme deals.

I guess I'm rambling on to level with you and myself that I am not a super "deal blogger".  If you want a lot of really great posts about deals, freebies, coupons, etc. then start reading Money Saving Mom or Common Sense With Money, or like I mentioned for you Acme shoppers, Moms Need to Know (check the links on my Resources page).  If you've read here for a while you also know that I'm not "super giveaway girl".  I actually can't stand doing giveaways and reviews, but I'll do them once in a while if they are relevant to me.

So what am I?  I'm a first-time, stay-at-home mom who loves to nab good deals & try to stretch our money as far as possible.  I'm currently a girl on Weight Watchers, menu planning, trying out new recipes & trying to be overall "greener".  I'm a Lost fanatic who could talk your ear off about theories and easter eggs for hours and hours.  I'm constantly trying to scheme new ways to find more time to read, do cross-stitch (you can say it, dork!) and occasionally get out for happy hour with the girls.  And all of that my friends is what you can expect to hear about on my blog.  So be warned, you are going to hear a bit more from me about me in 2010.

And just by saying all that, I have released a lot of completely unnecessary weight off my shoulders. =)

Got a Bank of America credit card?  Show it this weekend (January 2 & 3) to get free admission to local museums!  With the Bank of America "Museums on Us" program, all you have to do is show your Bank of America credit card along with your photo id to get free admission for each cardholder.

Check out their website here for all the details and to see what museums near you are participating.  This promotion runs every month!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I can't help but say "get the papers, get the papers"...a little Goodfellas inside joke I have with Marc.

Anyway, the blog For the Mommas has a tentative list of the coupon insert schedules for 2010 (when the coupons will be in the newspaper).  I find this helpful, as I don't have a newspaper subscription (I can't stand having the newspaper lying about the house, which is what inevitably happens) so I just buy the paper on Sundays.

In case you didn't know, there aren't coupon inserts on the weekends of holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, etc.) so you don't have to bother with getting the paper those days.

Click here to read the schedule over at For the Mommas.

photo by evelynishere

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Here's a fast food freebie good for those of us who are counting calories: Taco Bell is giving away 1 million free Fresco Tacos, your choice of beef, chicken or steak.  Go here to print the coupon.

The website says this offer will end when 1 million coupons have been redeemed, so try to use your coupon soon so you don't miss it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to you!

I'm sending this from my phone at my family's little celebration. I hope you are spending this day with the ones you love!

Love, Bay

Monday, December 21, 2009

Have you ever heard of Save-a-Lot?  I didn't think I had, until I realized that there was actually one very close to me.  I haven't been there yet (be looking for a review post from me in the very near future as I check it out) but it looks very similar to an Aldi store, which you know I've reviewed in the past.  One step better , though, is that Save-a-Lot has printable coupons available on their site to save you even more.

Well recently someone from Save-a-Lot emailed me to let me know about their holiday dinner for four people for under $15 promotion and I wanted to pass it on to you.

For under $15 a family of four can eat a full holiday meal including a Sugardale ham, fresh sweet potatoes, Fresh Express salad, a Mrs. Smith's pie and a lot more!  Click here to check out the deal on Save-a-Lot's website.  Even if you aren't interested in the family meal deal, be sure to check out the $5 off a $20 purchase coupon on that same page!

This would be a great low-cost way to give a meal to a family in need, too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It has been ages since I've done a freebie round-up, but I am actually sitting down with the computer & carving out a few minutes for the blog & I know how much you all love the freebies posts =)  Here we go:

Hill's Science Diet dog treats sample

Beech-Nut Starter Kit with coupons for free products

Breathe Right Extra 2 free strips

Free subscription to Baby Talk magazine

Get 2 Free issues of Family Circle magazine

Current samples from Walmart:
Pampers Extra Protection diapers
Huggies Little Movers diapers
Benefiber's new orange powder
Prilosec OTC heartburn medicine

This one requires a phone call, but is great for us "local" people:  Turkey Hill is giving away a free 2010 calendar with coupons. Just call 1-800-693-2479

Eat Better America is also giving away a 2010 calendar also with coupons


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Friday I went to my first ever cookie swap.  It was the first cookie swap party I've ever been invited to & it was being hosted by my a lovely friend I don't see very often so I decided to participate.  Let's just take a minute to say that I seriously underestimated the amount of time it takes to make 9 dozen cookies.  Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot to some of you pro bakers, but I cannot bake.  I really can't.  In my original recipe post for these cookies, I mention how I can't even bake up a box of brownies.  So I decided that I was going to bake "my" lemon cookies.  A very delicious iced cookie that has actually turned out for me in the past!!

When you make one batch of them, the mixing, chilling, shaping, baking and icing don't seem like much for the delicious finished result. But when you make 108+ of them, you realize that Pillsbury sugar log cookies could easily sub in for the actual cookie.  So for those of you who want to save a serious amount of time but still want a lemon cookie, I say, skip the whole recipe down to the icing and use whatever sugar/butter cookie you want.  No one will know!

And why does this lemon cookie "work for me" today you ask?  Because I won both prizes for 'best taste' & 'best presentation' I'm so proud! :D   Here's a pic of our little spread, let's see if you can spot my lemon cookie(s):

And without further ado, here is the recipe, courtesy of Real Simple:

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Makes 48 cookies
Hands-On Time: 20m
Total Time: 1hr 45m

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.
Divide the dough in half and shape into 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350° F. Slice the logs into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and space them 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes.

Note:  I rarely have been able to make a log and just slice these.  I usually have such crumbly dough that I have to make a ball, chill it and then shape them.  Does anyone know the science of this? Butter too cold or something?

Anyway, they actually do work for me ;o) check out the other cool stuff on Works for Me Wednesday!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A friend recently passed on some information about Angel Food Ministries.  If you've never heard of them (which I hadn't), Angel Food Ministries offers a monthly food distribution that costs $30 and is equivalent to $60 worth of groceries.  They don't require any income or background check; all you do is find your local distribution center (which is usually a church, as Angel Food is a Christian-based organization) and place your order.

For more on Angel Food you can visit their website here.  Personally, I think that Angel Food looks like a viable option for many families.  The price is definitely reasonable, and they are able to pass on savings to the community through their bulk buying power.  What looks especially appealing to me are the "add-on" packages that can be added on to the monthly Angel Food box.  There is a produce add-on package that costs $22 additionally and would really round out the package.  Click here to check out what is in this month's box and the add-on packages.

Since I had never heard of Angel Food before, I did a little bit of research and apparently this charity is not without controversy.  I am not judging the charity founders, but it appears that there are some high salaries & kick-backs going on, which is distracting to the actual mission of the charity.  I am not so sure what my opinion is on all of that, especially as I don't know enough of the goings-on to make any kind of judgment, but I did just feel that I had to mention it.  You know I like to read the blog The Simple Dollar and Trent has written a very thorough overview of Angel Food Ministries, the ethics of using this service and the business aspect as well.  I recommend reading it if you would like to know more.

My bottom line is, I think this is a great idea for many families to pick up lower cost food options in a convenient manner.  The distribution is once a month and seems to be pretty hassle free.  While I think the Angel Food boxes are a great deal, I personally am not going to use this ministry as I really try to control what my family eats (the quality of Rayna's food in particular, and lately with me currently doing Weight Watchers). Using sales, menu planning and coupons, I am pretty happy with my current grocery spending.

If you have any thoughts or have used this service before, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

I did pretty well at my weigh-in last week (down 1.8 lbs) but I'm not so sure I'm going to be so successful this week ;o)  I had dinner out with a friend, a cookie-swap & an impromptu dinner at Don Pablo's Saturday night.  Why is it so hard to order 'healthy' Mexican food??  Also, I have to say, from my menu plan last week the Chicken & Macaroni crock-pot recipe for Friday was a bummer.  I learned that if you leave elbow noodles in a crockpot for 6 hours they will completely disintegrate into a pastey goo.  Who knew?!

So this week I'm trying some new stuff.  If the magazine recipe turns out well, maybe I'll post it up =) Here goes:

Monday- The new January issue of Family Circle has a recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage and I figured the points out to be 5 pts. per serving without counting sides.  I also just found the recipe online for you, here.

Tuesday- Another FC recipe for the month is Oriental Glazed Chicken, also 5 pts. not counting rice but including the cabbage slaw.

Wednesday- Healthified Mexican Pasta Skillet (7 pts.)

Thursday- Leftovers

Friday- Linguine with Red Clam Sauce (this is just the canned kind; its only 2 pts. per serving for the sauce)

Saturday- Out!

Sunday- I have shrimp in the freezer that I don't know what to do with, but I've been wanting to make a "different" pizza (maybe shrimp and spinach?).  I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Pizza Dough that you can make up and keep in the freezer; I think I'm going to make the two the recipe yields, only use one and then freeze the other crust for another time.  I put the recipe into the WW Recipe Builder and the points (using 2 cups of whole wheat flour, not 3) makes 2 crusts at 11 pts. each.  Then you can figure out how much of the crust you are going to eat and divide the points.

Be sure to check out the other menus over at Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This is a really quick little tip for you. I picked this up from a magazine a while back and it definitely saves time in the morning (or if you are organized, night) when making lunches.

All you have to do is get a container that holds all of the stuff you use to make sandwiches, and keep those items in it.  Then you only have to make one trip to the fridge. :)  And I know what you're thinking, Bay's sandwiches are lame.  Please.  Marc is just grateful to have a lunch. :D

Check out the other tips on Works for me Wednesday!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It has been a long time since I wrote a menu plan Monday post and I'm really stoked to do it this week.  I have been so short on time lately, that I haven't even written a post yet to tell you all that I have re-entered the world of Weight Watchers.  After a summer of living it up at the shore I have quite a few too many extra pounds again.  So far I've been doing it for about 3-4 weeks and I've only lost a total of 2 lbs. as I haven't really amped it up yet & then there was of course Thanksgiving ;)

So here is my plan for the week, with the WW points.  Also, I only usually post dinners, but I wanted to link up to this recipe for little one point breakfast cups that you can freeze and microwave any day you want a hot little breakfast (or snack).  I'm going to be making these and freezing them to just have on hand.

Little side note- I also never post my vegetables as I kind of fly by the seat of my pants with those, but usually a pasta dish is served with salad and then spinach or broccoli is usually a veggie side.  Since my main dish on Monday is so low point I might add a baked potato or sweet potato.

Monday- Thin sliced porkchops with shake & bake - 3 pts. for 4oz.

Tuesday- My old standby Springtime Pasta (I really do eat this almost every other week I think) It makes 6 servings at 6-7 points each (depending on which garlic & herb cheese spread you use)

Wednesday- The first Meatloaf recipe mentioned here except I use half ground turkey and half beef, eliminate the brown sugar and it's only 3 pts. per serving (6 servings)

Thursday- I'm going out to dinner with a friend (woohoo!) so Marc will be eating Springtime Pasta leftovers =)

Friday- Creamy Chicken & Mushrooms Macaroni casserole (While you are there, there are tons of great recipes on her site) 5 pts. per 1 cup serving

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- Bruschetta Chicken Bake (another old standby ;o) 6 pts.

Be sure to check out the other menu plans over at Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tomorrow December 3rd from 4-7 PM I will be at Red, White & Brew in Mt. Holly, NJ as a vendor for their Girls' Night Out shopping event.  Since I am a Couponizer Coach, I will be there selling The Couponizer, which makes a great gift--perfect for the eventual $20 white elephant exchange ;o)

Red, White & Brew is a really cool shop in historic downtown Mt. Holly that is a boutique wine, beer & spirits shop.  I just stopped in today and they have a great selection of little-known wines that are very affordable (which would also make great gifts!).

There will be a variety of women/mom-preneurs available to shop from (which I don't even have to say is so much better than shopping at mass retailers).  So if you are in the area, please stop by & check us out!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I know that I've mentioned Ebates before in the past, but I just thought I'd point it out to any new readers.

If you are going to make *any* online purchases, I highly recommend going through Ebates.  You will get a % of your purchase back in cash (a check is mailed every few months).  This is like free money!  The best part is you can still use your coupon codes.  Just scope out a coupon code you want to use (or if you don't have any, Ebates will suggest some), sign up or login to your Ebates account, click the link to the store you want to shop in and then proceed as usual!  Ebates will give you credit for the purchase just by clicking through their link.

If you click here and sign up, we both get $5 (thanks!) & last year when I signed up Ebates also sent me a bonus $5 gift card to Target out of nowhere in the regular mail as a thank you for signing up.  I don't know if they still do that, but I was just so amazed how easy & rewarding it has been for me to use Ebates.

Also, don't forget to check out Retail Me Not for any coupon codes that might help you in your online shopping!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgving!  I hope you are enjoying your day with those you love <3

And I hope you are safe if you decide to shop on Black Friday!  It's a crazy world out there.  I think the only shopping I will do is to pick up the awesome freebies at CVS.  Check out the preview scan at I Heart CVS here.


My house isn't sold.  This is the second time we have had our buyer fall through shortly before closing.  And honestly, it sucks.

It would be one thing if we just didn't have any interest on our house, but instead we get showings galore, people who "love" the place and a couple of first-time homebuyer single guys that think they want to buy a 100+ year old  house.  Instead my hopes get up, I waste tons of time and energy and it is pretty much for nothing.

I'm complaining and yet I'm also not, because today is the day before Thanksgiving.  I am SO thankful to have a house.  A safe, (relatively)warm house for my family that, as much as I complain about it, is actually very nice.  I'm thankful for my awesome family and friends and for the health of us all.

Recently, I posted about how I went to NYC for the Aiming Low event.  Aiming Low's founder, Anissa Mayhew (one of the "bloggy rockstars" I mentioned) was just recently struck down with two debilitating strokes.  I have been broken hearted that the amazing, vibrant woman whose funny words I love reading & I had the pleasure to meet in person just weeks ago is in the hospital just fighting to be able to open her eyes.

If that doesn't put things in perspective for a whiner like me, I don't know what will.  I have been touched and amazed at the outpouring of support for Anissa & I would be totally remiss if I didn't point my readers in her way so that you can add your prayers to the thousands who are believing for a miracle.

Anissa's husband Peter is posting updates on her recovery at Anissa's old blog Hope 4 Peyton.  (And why is it called Hope for Peyton? Because Anissa started that blog to chronicle their family's struggle with her daughter Peyton's recovery through childhood cancer)  If you are so inclined, please consider donating to the family who clearly have a long road ahead of them.  Here is a link to information about a PO box being set up and here is the link to a button if you would like to donate via Paypal (I can't get the button to work right here on my site).  I'm sure that no amount is too small; imagine if everyone gave $5, how quickly that would add up!

And while you're at it, if you're on twitter why not follow Anissa's 'celebrity' crush Ralph Macchio & tell him that Anissa sent you ;o)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lately at least.  I wanted to give a little update as to why I have been so bloggy absent.  As you are probably already aware, we are in the process of selling our house & this time it looks like we might really be closing sometime in the very near future.  This has had me in the tailspin of packing, cleaning, vacating the house with kid and dog in tow, etc.

And now I'm sick. Blah.  The past couple of nights I haven't been feeling so hot (actually, that's wrong as I've been fever-y and definitely hot) and I think I've finally deduced that I have strep throat.  The enormously swollen tonsils with white patches (ew, sorry!) were what gave it away.

So now I'm on some strong antibiotics, but the packing and frenzied moving activities are still continuing (hopefully! Keep praying! I know the market is bad, but really? It is just so much harder to sell your darn house these days).

I should be back into the swing of things soon.

photo by g-hat 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I wanted to give you a heads-up on a great freebie over at Freebies 4 Mom.  Heather has a special offer with SeeHere.com for each of her readers to get 50 free photo cards & they will even ship them for free!

Click here to check out all the details at Freebies 4 Mom.  This offer expires on 11/30 but I would act fast just in case their supply gets exhausted.

Well you already know I'm always behind on my blog posts, but I just had to put this up...eventually! Two weeks ago (actually it was the same day as my Mrs. G's blogger event with Electrolux) I went all the way up to NYC for a super-fun event hosted by Aiming Low & Hp.

I love reading the girls' posts over at Aiming Low not only because they are very funny, but also because they give me the ever needed reminder that it's perfectly ok to be not-perfect. (Would it have been super corny to write "perfekt", yes. So I didn't, but I thought about it!)

Since I normally don't travel 10 miles outside of "my zone" I had to drag one of my dear girlfriends to come with me. It was quite an adventure for me and Blaire since this involved actually taking mass transit.  On our train was a costumed (I hope) guy dressed completely as Christian Bale in American Psycho: full business suit, clear poncho *covered* in blood (his face was also covered), and he was carrying a briefcase and some type of weapon (was it a chainsaw or an axe? We couldn't really tell).  Anyway, since Halloween was quite a few days away we were a little extra spooked about the dangers of NYC!

We made it off the train and hopped in a cab to the hotel.  While we were there, we got some free food, free drinks, met some really cool people 'in real life' & ogled products from Hp, in that order.  Here's me and Blaire at our table (You already know I take horrible pictures, but the horrible-ness of these is because they are from my phone)

Oh yeah, I had no time to put makeup on.  Thought that might make me fit in with others who Aim Low, but of course I ran into Sophia's Mom from The Wannabe Wahm and she was adorable:

She was so cute, you have to read her post on going to Aiming Low since it is so much more coherent than mine.  I love how she said that I look 12 (because that's how I feel) and that I promised her a picture and never delivered...because who doesn't like to be called out on their ineptitude? (*Kidding!* I did send it to her, just really late.)

We all went pretty crazy playing with the Hp photo printers, among other things (like laptops, which I didn't even realize Hp made).  Aiming Low was kind enough to tell us to bring a jump drive of photos so as I was printing out pictures of my little Rayna and swooning over them, an eager cameraman captured my really-strong-martini-induced plug: "THIS IS SO EASY!!! I JUST LOVE IT!!!! THESE ARE AWESOME QUALITY!!!" Sheesh! I hope they don't decide to use that footage, ever.

I also met some other Philly & South Jersey people, and it was super fun to pretend that I was one of the bloggy-rock-stars that were in attendance that night.  Check out me and Lisa from ...just over the river posing like celebs in front of the Hp red carpet-thing.

I had a blast and just wanted to finally share it with you.  Hope you aren't too jealous of my jet-setting lifestyle! ;o)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recently I bought the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook "Deceptively Delicious". I bought this because as a toddler, naturally, Rayna wants to eat ZERO vegetables. Since you make veggie purees to mix into the recipes, I was left with a *ton* of purees and I want to only make one or two of these recipes at a time to start with. Most of the recipes call for either 1/4 or 1/2 cup of puree, so I froze some of the purees in 1/4 cup pieces by measuring out 1/4 cup of puree into a lightly sprayed muffin tin:

(That was cauliflower puree, if you're curious) Once I actually made some of the meals, I also realized that Rayna would not want to eat such a large portion of them in the time before they would go bad. So I had the idea again to freeze individual toddler-sized portions so that I could quickly defrost and heat one up when I need a quick toddler meal.

With the holidays approaching, we will have less time than ever to make healthy, homemade meals especially for Rayna (did I mention that she's picky?) So I plan on making a bunch of these little individual meals to use as an alternative to the pre-fab tray meals.

For more tips on saving time in the holiday season, check out Works for Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Last year I wrote a blog post about ways to give back a little during the holidays. It was also the first time I had heard about Operation Christmas Child and I made two shoeboxes using a lot of the excess items that I get for free by 'working the deals.'

There is something so rewarding about packing up a shoebox of goodies that you know will directly reach an underprivileged child. It doesn't hurt that it is also easy! Many of the items that make a good shoebox are things that you probably purchase frequently and inexpensively (like toothpaste, toothbrushes, candy) or can be purchased easily for little money (dollar store toys, school supplies). This year I'm making more shoeboxes and I wanted to encourage you to do the same!

Here is one box that I am making for a girl ages 5-9 (you can choose boy or girl in the age groups of 2-4, 5-9 & 10-14).

So far I've included:
  • Toothpaste & a toothbrush
  • A coloring book and pack of crayons
  • A small wooden game
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • Barettes
  • The ubiquitous Johnson's Buddies soap (click the link there if you don't know why they are so popular; you can almost always get them for free!)
  • A baggie of lollipops
  • A pair of flip-flops
The hygiene items are deal items, the toys I've purchased at dollar or similar stores and the lollipops I bought in bulk for Halloween and have divvied out into plastic baggies for my shoeboxes. You can't include any liquids or chocolate for the purpose of melting/leakage, but even with the soap or hard candy you should put them in a baggie just to be safe. Last year I heard another blogger mention including a pair of flip-flops and I thought that was a great idea, and I was excited to pick up 3 pairs for $1 from an Odd-Lot store!

I am going to pick up a couple more things that I can put in all of my boxes (like a pack of washcloths & combs that I can put one in each box) & some age specific toys like a doll, etc. but I just wanted to show you some ideas. For instructions on how to pack a shoebox, click here. The national collection week is November 16-23 and boxes can be dropped off at participating churches who will ship them all in!

If you want to learn more about Operation Christmas Child and its parent organization Samaritan's Purse, click here. It is a wonderful Christian organization that will also include a Gospel message with each shoebox!

And if you are thinking of participating and have your own blog, then visit Real Life Blog and link a post up with Sarah's carnival to enter for some great prizes! And even if you don't blog, but want to read some other posts about OCC, then click here!

Monday, November 2, 2009

This past Wednesday I was able to attend a lovely event for local bloggers being held at Mrs. G TV & Appliances in Lawrenceville, NJ. I was invited by my twitter-friend Hilary Morris, the author of Mrs. Mo's New Jersey blog, whom I actually had the pleasure of meeting a little while ago at another NJ-blogger event. Hilary is the "assistant coach" of the Mrs. G "Very Important Blogger" series--a series that Mrs. G CEO Debbie Schaeffer put together to educate us bloggers on a variety of topics and products. The event was eye-opening for me in a bunch of ways, as I was able to confirm that I am completely behind the times in household technology!

Being the epitome of a "mommy-blogger", I could only make this particular date and time if I could bring Rayna along, so the two of us got in the car and made our way to Mrs. G's in the rain. After a rocky drive (my little ol' Toyota does *not* handle in the rain and I decided to trust my gps instead of my sense of direction) we made it a little late to the event. But better late than never right?!

When I got there, the group had just finished watching a tv segment about the history of Mrs. G TV & Appliances. What I was able to learn was that Mrs. G TV & Appliance is a family company: Debbie Schaeffer is the 3rd generation of women leaders since her grandmother (Mrs. G) founded the company 75 years ago! Next on the agenda was the demo of some of the amazing flat-panel tvs:

We don't have a flat screen tv yet and I have to say that I really want one ;o) Once I saw the huge flat screen that comes with a set of four 3-D glasses I was blown away. New movies are coming out that can be watched in 3-D, and I was able to see one (Coraline) with the glasses. Very cool!

Next up, we walked through the awesome showroom at Mrs. G towards the washers & dryers where Electrolux rep Joe Visicaro gave us the lowdown on some of the features of their energy-efficient appliances. Here I am in the back listening to every word, as you probably already know my obsession with getting in and out of the laundry area asap! ;o)

All the little things that Electrolux has done to make laundry easier are really pretty amazing. Since your hands are inevitably full when you want to open the washer, all you have to do is hit the door with your hip and it pops open. And the soap cup? Hit it with your elbow while you're unscrewing the lid of the detergent and...it pops open. There were so many amazing features I was scribbling down, that I could really make this post outrageously long just talking about the washer (it automatically adjusts so it doesn't shake all over the place, you can actually open the washer once it has started to throw that stray sock in, and NO MOLD, Ever!)

Just look at this lovely combo:

Even though I could talk about laundry forever, the group was ready to move on to the Electrolux cooking appliances. Let me just say that the Mrs. G showroom is gorgeous, and the kitchen appliances are set up in little designer kitchen "vignettes" that will inspire you (read: make you wish you had them). The Electrolux Icon series was fabulous. Check out the convection oven about to cook our lunch:

Electrolux rep and chef Leigh Donadieu made us salmon, brussel sprouts with pancetta, tomato bisque and chocolate fondue (don't be jealous) using the convection oven and an induction stove. Here she is explaining the convection oven:

I can at least say that I have heard of a convection oven. If you aren't familiar, it uses air to cook your food much faster than the standard oven that uses only a heating element. What is the benefit to you? Not only does your food cook faster, but the food cooks more evenly. Have you ever tried baking 3 sheets of cookies at one time? No, because you know the cookies on the bottom rack would be burnt to a crisp while the others vary in done-ness. The convection oven will cook those 3 sheets evenly. As a side note, Leigh cooked the salmon and the brussel sprouts in the same oven and the veggies did not taste like fish!

Now here's where I realized that I really was completely behind the times. Check out the induction stove:

If you asked me, I would have just thought this was a regular electric stove. I have always used gas, so that is what I prefer, but the safety issue with a gas stove and a toddler is ridiculous. I am militant about kitchen safety, but with gas leaks, fires starting, etc. this nervous mama always fears the worst. This is where I almost flipped out: Induction technology uses the power of magnetism to cook your food. Unless your pot is on the stove, the burner doesn't get hot. Joe picked up the pot and put his hand on the burner. Nothing! Imagine you had half of a frying pan on the induction top. You could cook on egg in the half-pan and on the other half of the same burner have a raw egg. I was just blown away. Did you even know about induction cooking? Leigh said that Electrolux also carries a combination electric and induction cooktop, but that once people start cooking with induction, they wish they had just gone 100%.

The Electrolux refrigerator was our last stop. Here is Joe showing us the fridge (and the awesome bottom drawer that holds 3 cases of soda):

After all of the product information it was time to eat lunch and connect with other local bloggers, many of whom are now my twitter-friends too ;o)

This first blogger event at Mrs G's was a great experience and I really enjoyed learning so much new information. Down by me here in South Jersey, I don't know of any showroom and warehouse centers quite like Mrs. G TV & Appliances. There's the usual Home Depot and Lowes and then the scratch-and-dent type places. Mrs. G is a great place to check out a wide range of appliances in a beautiful location. And just because you get to enjoy a pleasant shopping environment doesn't mean that you have to pay more than those places. Mrs. G's is part of a network of stores that has combined their buying power to exceed that of Home Depot, making them able to pass along great prices to their customers.

Mrs. G TV & Appliances is located at 2960 Route 1 in Lawrenceville, NJ. Click here to visit their webpage.

Disclosure: This event was sponsored by Mrs. G & Electrolux
Photos courtesy of Hilary Morris

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A while back for a MPM I mentioned that I was making the Pork Chops with Apples & Stuffing recipe from the new little Pillsbury cookbook "Pot Pies & Casseroles" just in case you missed it, here is my recipe post for it.

For this week:

Monday - Chili (from this recipe, which I always use) & cornbread

Tuesday - Our old-standby that we eat all the time, Springtime pasta (I mention the recipe in this post)

Wednesday - Leftovers (I made this pulled pork recipe for Sunday dinner so we'll be eating more of that, but I'll probably have chili again on a baked potato...I love that)

Thursday - Fajitas

Friday - Homemade pizza

Saturday - Out!

Be sure to put together your menu plan for the week to reduce impulse spending! Need ideas? Check out the other menu plans on the Menu Plan Monday post over at Orgjunkie!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

As usual, I have been busy-busy lately and I've been wanting to catch up on a few posts that I just need to blog about. So here is the first! The winner of the "If Your Kid Eats This Book..." giveaway is....Sarah!

Congratulations Sarah =) You should have an email from me, if you didn't receive it then please let me know.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Friday, October 30, 2009

My husband thinks I'm a dork because I love those silly commercials for the Black Jack Taco. You know the mock-fashion ones, "Black dress, black dog..." "Black Jack Taco?" ;o)

Well tomorrow 10/31 from 6PM to midnight "creep in" to Taco Bell and try one for free. This offer is limit one per person. You can read the details here.

I haven't tried this yet, as I can't say that it looks very good. Anyone like it?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yes, you may have been burned in the past on the free KFC grilled chicken meal, but apparently this offer is easy to redeem and fully legit.

According to their website, stop in your local KFC restaurant for a free piece of their grilled chicken. That's it, no coupon required and no purchase necessary. The fine print states that the piece you receive is at the manager's discretion and only at participating stores, so you may want to call your store before you head over.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Queen Mother Blog is now 1 year old! The actual birthday was two days ago...yeah, I know...I'm such a slacker I missed my own blog-iversary!

Looking back over the last year, I'm pretty happy. Since my first post, I have set out to try to encourage and help my family and friends (both "real life" and the new, online ones) to get started saving money while passing along my random rantings, recipes and whatever else passes through my head and I have enough time to write about.

And the time! I knew that a blog takes a lot of time, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be to carve out that time. When I started blogging, Rayna was about 6 months old and still took two naps. I would work on the blog during the morning nap and then in the afternoon nap try to accomplish everything else I needed to. Since she went down to napping only once a day, my blog gets pushed aside a little (especially times like this; attempting to sell my house is a crazy time-sucker!).

But...I still love it. Thanks so much to anyone who reads my blog. I love, love, love you all and hope you stay tuned to another year of me! ;o)

Have you been picking apples? I know a lot of people are apple picking right now, or are stocking up on some seasonal apple deals, and I have a tasty recipe to pass along. This was very yummy, despite my (as usual) pretty unappetizing photo. I have no knack for food shots!

This recipe is from the Pillsbury Pot Pies and Casseroles little cookbook that is in stores now. I can't help but laugh that I seem to really love recipes that use a box of stuffing. Here it is:

Pork Chops with Apples and Stuffing

1/2 t butter or margarine, softened
2 unpeeled red baking apples, sliced
2 t a/p flour
1 t packed brown sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t seasoned salt
4 bone-in (I used 6 boneless) pork loin chops, 3/4" thick (about 2 lb.) trimmed
1 cup apple juice or cider
2 T butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups stuffing pix for pork or chicken (I just used one whole box, but it was a lot of stuffing)
1/4 c sweetened dried cranberries
1 T chopped fresh parsley (which I totally always leave out, because I'm lazy)

1. Heat oven to 375. Brush 1/2 teaspoon butter in bottom of 13x9 inch glass baking dish. Spread apple slices in dish. In small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples. Sprinkle seasoned salt on both sides of pork; place pork over apples.

2. In 2 quart saucepan, heat apple juice and 2 tablespoons butter to boiling over medium-high heat. Stir in stuffing mix and cranberries. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff mixture with fork. Scoop 1/2 cup stuffing onto each pork chop.

3. Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray; place sprayed side down over baking dish. Bake 40-50 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until pork is no longer pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160. Sprinkle with parsley. To serve, lift pork chops with stuffing to serving plates; serve apples on the side.

Serves 4 - Calories: 520 Fat: 20g Fiber: 3g **Note, I'm sure if you use the super lean pork chops that I did, the fat isn't as high as 20g!

Friday, October 16, 2009

That darn Nor'easter here in Jersey is raining out my plans to go pumpkin picking this weekend. :( But I wanted to pass along a great website to find pumpkin patches in your area. Visit PumpkinPatchesandMore.org and you can search for family-friendly farms offering corn mazes, pumpkins, etc.

Just wanted to pass this along as I found a few places that I had never known about before :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HappyBaby has a coupon out for a free product! You can choose from HappyBaby frozen foods, cereal, puffs, bites and melts. All of these products are available at Whole Foods and I've seen some at Babies R Us and Target. Click here to print the coupon.

Coupon is one per customer and according to Money Saving Mom, is probably only available for a very limited time!

I have tried the frozen purees, cereals, bites and puffs from HappyBaby and Rayna has enjoyed almost all of them (except for the Gobble Gobble which she flat out refused). Can't wait to use this coupon on some cereal!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just for having my own little blog, I sometimes get press releases about new books to review. Normally they sound outrageously boring to me, and I delete the emails. I did, however, perk up a bit though when I read the email for "If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay" by Dr. Lara Zibners. This one actually sounded like a book I really need to read, since (as a first-time parent) I question every little thing my Rayna does as perhaps signalling some underlying medical cause that I should be worrying about. For example, Why is she pulling at her face? Does she have a sinus infection?!!? is one thought I've had even lately. Since I am a chronic worrier, I end up taking the poor kid to the doctor more times than I'd like to admit (I have a feeling they laugh at me there) and just expose her to more germs and pay more $ for co-pays.

So I accepted the free book to review under the one condition that I get an extra one to give a fresh, new copy away to a reader. Keep reading to find out how easy it is to enter to win this book!

First, here is my brief review. This book contains a bunch of things a parent needs to know about their little one's health and what is and isn't an emergency. There are little bullets on every page with useful information about different emergencies and some of them are terrifying, such as "Any rash appearing below the neck that looks like bruising or a very bad sunburn (with or without blisters) requires an immediate phone call to your pediatrician." and the even more terrifying, such as "A swallowed teaspoon of oil of wintergreen could theoretically kill an entire playgroup. Scary, eh?" Um, yeah!

So I will cut to the chase. The book does more to scare me than to make me feel at ease with what I would call the "not emergency". Not that being scared is a bad thing, because I am definitely glad that I know this information now, so that I can be more vigilant with safety in my own home. But, I just don't think the book is the emergency resource that it claims to be. For me, I would look on the Internet, call my mom, ask my mom friends on facebook or by mass-text, etc. all before I hunt down this book and try to look for Dr. Zibner's advice on whether this is an emergency. The back cover of the book touts that "even though your kid just took a swig of bleach, she may not have to go to the emergency room" yet when I looked up "bleach" in the index, it's not there. I went to the "poisoning" section of the index and they are divided up by rooms in the house. Is bleach under kitchen or bathroom? See what I mean? By the time I have found the page that answers my question I could have called Poison Control.

Other side of my coin: I think this book actually makes a great resource for new parents. I think the comprehensive nature of this book suits itself better to a baby shower gift for a new mom ready to soak up information about infant health and hidden dangers in the home. When I was sitting at home waiting to go into labor, this is all of the information I would have loved to have been reading. So I'm not totally bashing this book, I just think the subtitle should be changed from "How to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness is Really an Emergency?" to something more like "How to be Prepared for Your Child's Injury or Illness".

Bottom line? This book is a great addition to any parent's bookshelf. Many sections, especially the Guide to the Newborn and Household Poisonings sections, should be required reading for new parents. But is this book really an emergency resource? I don't think so.

Want to get a free copy for yourself or to pass on as a gift?
Just leave a comment to enter. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Want extra entries? Here's tons: Just be sure to leave a *separate* comment for each additional entry!
-Become a "loyal subject" and follow my blog
-Subscribe to my blog by email or feedreader
-Add my button to your site (leave your link!) - 5 extra entries!
-Follow me on Twitter
-Blog/Talk about this giveaway on another site (leave your link!) - 5 extra entries!
-Tweet about this giveaway by posting: Check out and enter the "If Your Kid Eats This Book" giveaway @queenmotherblog http://bit.ly/kidseatbook Gr8 resource for new parents! - 1 entry per tweet!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US & Canada and will end at 8PM EST 10/23. Good luck!

Friday, October 9, 2009

$25 Restaurant.com gift certificates are only $2 right now if you use code FOUR

That's a great deal! When I checked the selection at the beginning of the month they even had $25 certificates available for The Melting Pot in Atlantic City; check it out, you never know what restaurants you might be able to try affordably!

Thanks to Coupon Mom for this deal!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This week at We are THAT family the Works for Me Wednesday posts are themed with cleaning tips. This makes me very happy, because I love cleaning tips. Who isn't looking for ways to get done with cleaning faster? When I first started reading WFMW was when I learned the whole "microwave a bowl of water" trick to loosen the grime in the microwave and make cleaning easier. Later on I tell my mom my newly-gleaned nugget of wisdom for microwave cleaning, she says 'oh yeah, of course.' Well maybe the world knew that, but I didn't.

So maybe you don't know how to fold a fitted sheet by yourself. I sure as heck never knew this trick before. I will definitely need to practice at it, but this should help me get in fewer fights with the husband. I wait to fold sheets when he's around and then I get all bicker-ey because the folded fitted sheet ends up looking like crap. Well check this out:

It definitely works for me! =)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You may or may not be aware that the FTC has updated its guidelines to incorporate bloggers and their disclosure of payments for advertising (including product reviews). This is pretty big news in the blog-world, because now all of us who write a blog have to disclose when we are being paid or given product to review for a post.

One big question you may be wondering is "why is this a big deal?" I would like to think that for most of us, it isn't. It's not a big deal to me. I have always disclosed when a company has provided me with product to review. You are getting my *real* opinions on these items and I will only do them if they also provide a giveaway or valuable offer to my readers. Why? Because I tend to think you don't want me shoving reviews of cool stuff I might have received for free unless there's also something cool in it for you. That's just my opinion.

If I do a giveaway where I did not specify where the product came from, you can rest assured that it was mine. Seriously. I've done this. Yes, maybe that is 'small potatoes' to some, but I think it's nice to do sometimes and this is MY blog ;o)

Also, I have never done a post for money. I get offers for these types of posts all the time. Honestly, I've considered doing it, but (to use some church-talk on you) always felt a check in my spirit about it. Run-on sentence alert: It seemed shady to me to get paid a few bucks so that a marketer could get some more traffic back to their site while you sit there and read my posts and think I might actually care about the site I'm promoting when really I just wanted some cash. I'm not bashing anyone who has done this, but it never felt right for me. I actually do participate in the Sponsored Tweets program, where I put out a tweet once in a while (I've done 12 in all of my 836 tweets so far) that is an advertisement. It is clearly marked with some type of disclosure, either by saying it is an "ad" or using the #ad hashtag. If that bothers you, I'd love to hear your opinions.

Now I feel like I might be ranting on a bit too long, but I wanted to put a post up to let you know my thoughts on all of this, and to let you know that I have always been ethical in my blogging. I added the Blog with Integrity button a few weeks back to quietly let people know (among other blog-related beliefs) that I have always chosen to disclose, even before it was mandatory. I'm not trying to be high and mighty by saying all of this either, it was just pressing on my mind. I'm just a girl who likes to share things with a little group of readers she *adores* who lives for simple things like comments (HINT, HINT!) ;o)

If you want to read more on the FTC thing, check out the article on Mashable & elsewhere.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Since it's the 1st of a new month, the printable coupon sites have restocked their coupons! Be sure to print yours before the best ones are gone (each coupon has a print limit, and once they reach that limit, they're gone!). Click each one to go to their site.

Coupons.com - The $0.75 off cereal coupons are great, because at Acme they double to $1.50 off 1 box!



UPromise coupons (I really need to start using these! They don't come off your total purchase price, but go automatically into your UPromise account, so it is like free money that you get even using your other coupons)

Print away and Happy October!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I love to save plastic grocery bags and reuse them for little trash liners, lunch bags for hubby (he eats a pretty big lunch, lol) and of course, for dog poop disposal. A long time ago my mom taught me to keep the plastic bags in an empty tissue box. I love that, because then you aren't spending $10+ at Bed, Bath and Beyond for a bag holder and you give something a new life.

Well I stumbled across this link to MSN's 50 All-Time New Uses for Old Things article and it knocked my socks off. Not only does it include my tissue box-bag holder tip, but a zillion (or I guess 49) other really cool tips I would never have thought of. I knew this would rock for Works for me Wednesday.

Check out the other posts at We Are That Family!

Theatre Communications Group is offering free tickets to local theater companies through the country! Check out their website here to see if you can get free tickets to a show in your area. There doesn't seem to be any participating theaters in Philly, but there are plenty in NJ for those of you readers who are in my area.

Thanks Kelly for passing this on!

Monday, September 28, 2009

My dog Buddie Love, happily sleeping in the sunshine at home =)

Well I did it again. Relapsed into non-blogging. If you care for an explanation, here is a little one.

I used to be able to get online on my laptop through my Palm Treo using a little program called PDANet. The connection was slow, but still let me stay connected with the outside world if I was away from home.

I have since ditched the Treo for an iPhone and I can do just about everything with it (without connecting up to my laptop)...except blog. I haven't found a good app for blogging yet, and honestly, wasn't really searching that hard. I was still tweeting, though, so if you are ever desperate to know what I'm doing at any given time ;o) just check my Twitter page. And if you know of a good iPhone Blogger app, or some other way to connect when isolated from Wifi services, please let me know.

So now I have returned home from my final trip to the shore (boo!) for this year and I am settling back into life at home. Which means you can go back to getting updates from this here blog. <3

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This week at Staples HP Multipurpose paper is $4.99 with a $3.99 rebate, making the final price $1 a ream! This offer is limit 2. I use up a bunch of paper printing coupons ;) so I was just about out of paper when I saw this in the circular. I went yesterday and picked up 2 reams and the rebate process is very easy. "Easy" is their motto after all! The rebate receipt will print with instructions on how to submit online (like RiteAid) and it only takes a few seconds.

Click here to check out the Staples weekly ad.