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!