Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazon gift cards?

This past Christmas, I really started enjoying Amazon. I got some awesome toys shipped to my house, allowing me to avoid long lines and having to lug my kiddos into stores. And now, I've found a way to earn Amazon gift cards, and plenty of other prizes, just for doing what I already do.....searching the internet!

Instead of going directly to google for my internet searches, I use SwagBucks. They use google as their search engine, so you're not missing anything. They randomly award swagbucks for different searches. How cool is that? It only takes 45 swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card!! I've been swagbucks-ing for a little over a month, and I've already got 115 swag bucks, just from using Swagbucks. You can also earn prizes by referring your friends. When they win swagbucks from searching the internet, you win too!!!

You can see what other cool prizes you can win here. If you want to start earning prizes like me, click on the banner!!

Search & Win

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Priorities....

Things have been quiet on my end lately because I've been doing a lot of thinking. It's been rough, a hard pill to swallow. You know, it's the point where you realize you're wrong. That you need to change. And then once you finally do accept this realization, then you must decide how you're going to do it. So that's what I've been doing: Thinking and praying, trying to come up with the least painful way to bring about this change in myself. The other night in his State of the Union speech, President Obama said "I never said change was easy or that I could do it alone..." and that stuck with me. It reminded me that change is never easy, so why am I trying to make it? It's kind of like childbirth. You can get drugs to ease the pain, but eventually it wears off and you will still feel pain, even if the baby is already out!!

I know you're probably wondering what ways I could possibly need to change in, since I'm just so incredibly perfect, RIGHT? (Atleast pretend to think that way, please?!?) I've got my goals for this year, which are to get organized and to menu plan. But I've got to do more.

Mainly, I need to be more than just a stay at home mom. Sure, my kids are important, and that is a priority, but I also have responsibilities towards my husband. To be his helpmate, to take care of him. My husband is not only working full time, but he's also going to school full time as well, and he needs my help and support now more than ever!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Honoring Dr. King, Jr.

Today we remember the birth date of a man who chose to endure many sufferings in order to stand up for the rights of black American citizens (I use "black" because my husband HATES when he's referred to as African American!). Not because it was the popular thing to do. Not because it was what all the politically-involved people were doing. Not because he would be in the newspapers. He did it because of his children. He did it because it was the right thing to do! It is because of him, that my marriage was possible. It is because of him, my children can grow up and truly do anything they set out to do! We are forever grateful to this man, for all of his sacrifices, for the example he set of what an educated, God-fearing black man looks like.

"Cowardice ask the question is it safe? Expediency asks the question is it politic? Vanity asks the question is it popular? The conscience asks the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politics nor popular but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"The Other America"
March 14th, 1968

These are pictures from our trip to Memphis, TN this past summer to visit my brother-in-law and his family. We visited the Civil Rights museum, and left there very humbled and thankful to this courageous man!
The plaque outside the motel where King was shot & killed. The wreath represents the corner where King was actually shot & killed.

Braydon had lots of questions, and was quite disturbed by the way that some police treated people because of their skin. Thankfully, we were able to talk to him about how God has called us to treat people kindly, regardless of how they treat us, just as King so perfectly displayed throughout his struggle.
The Lorraine Motel sign.

This is a picture of the boarding house (which is accross the street from the motel where King was shot) where James Earl Ray stayed and fired the shots that killed King.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Denim Corsage (or wanna-be?!?)

I have to admit, I fail miserably while trying to be "crafty". Oh how I long to be as talented as some of the women who I stalk, errr, follow in blogland. For example, head on over to Tatertots and Jello to see some AWESOME ideas and tutorials! Or Tea Rose Home. She amazes me with what she can do! She has a tutorial on how to make a corsage out of old jeans. (Really? How do you look at an old pair of jeans and say, "Hey! I can make a really cute corsage out of them!" But anyways, that's why I learn from them!) But when I saw the jean corsage above, I thought it was something I could attempt to tackle. I don't have any old jeans, but I did have a ton of denim material upstairs. So here's my denim corsage.
Not too shabby. Now it's not at all like the original but for just beginning, I thought it was okay. And of course, I didn't use buttons in the center, because I didn't have any. The total cost was FREE because all of the materials taking up space in my house!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Praying for Haiti...

I've never been that "good" at praying. I pray in church, pray with the kids before they go to bed & with B before he leaves for school. I pray for things we need, I pray for things He's provided. I pray for specifics. My heart is with the intercessary missionaries with the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, but the thought of spending 2+ hours praying, interceding on behalf of others is not only intimidating, I just didn't understand it. I would watch the webstream from the 24 hour/7 days a week prayer room, seeing these people crying out, pleading with tears in the eyes for others, those they didn't even know by name. They pray for the people of Israel at times, and I see people weeping for God's chosen people. It is awesome in theory, but I just didn't understand it. How do you weep for someone you don't even know?

And then I saw this.

And This.

And this.


And way too much of this.


As I was watching Campbell Brown last night holding my 2 month old, they were telling the stories of the children of Port au Prince, and my eyes instantlly welled up with tears. And I just started pleading, crying out to God to have mercy on these people. My prayer lasted for over an hour, as I watched the pictures, heard the stories. It consisted of Mercy, Lord. Send your mercy. Mercy, we need yor mercy.

How can you not cry out for these innocent people? These children, the women and men of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? 50% of the Haitian population is under the age of 18, and my heart grieves for them. Just as it did when I watched the news footage of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that followed.

My sister Rachel & I discussed what we could do to help on the phone yesterday, specifically what the kids could do to help. Our boys have such tender hearts and instantly filled with compassion on a regular basis and we knew this wouldn't be any different. After discussin it with my nephew Noah, he decided to give some of his money. When I asked Braydon what he wanted to do to help, he ran upstairs and grabbed a package of his bandaids along with his piggie bank.

So we're donating to Samaritan's Purse because they've been working in Haiti for a long time prior to the earthquake. They were also one of the first oganizations to have brought aid to Port au Prince on Wednesday. According to Samaratin's Purse president Franklin Graham, "The damage is staggering in a nation where three out of four people live on less than $2 a day. The people of Haiti need our help like never before.”

There are many other reputable organizations that you can donate to:


In addition to donating yourself, there are a few blogs that are hosting linkies for you to link up showing how you are helping, either praying, giving financially, etc. For each comment/link up they get, they are donating additional funds for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Thanks goes to:
the Happy Housewife ($1 for each comment/link)
MoneySavingMom ($10 for each link/30 cents for each comment)
$5 Dinners ($5 for each link/comment)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Super Doubles @ Harris Teeter







Trans #1



(1) Jello Sugar Free Instant Pudding

(2) Philly 1/3 fat cream cheese 8 oz bricks

(3) Kraft natural shredded cheese packages Used $1.25 tearpad q (I just now realized that it didn't double, which i'll have to go back to talk to them about)

Total Out of Pocket (OOP): $8.42 Got a $5 catalina q that is good towards next transaction


Trans #2

(1) whitehouse natural apple juice (BOGO) $1.57

(2) Reach toothbrushes used a BOGO & $1 q 50 cents each

(1) Uncle Ben's Rice used $1 q 25 cents

(1) Sun Crystals used $1 q FREE

(2) Turkey Hill Raspberry Iced Tea 25 cents each

(1) Red Baron Singles Pizza used $1q $1.33

(4) Ore Ida Easy Fries used (2) $1.50/2 q's FREE
(4) boxes of Special K bars used (2) $1/2 plus the $5 off instantly FREE

(1) Coffee Mate creamer used $1 q FREE

(1) Chinet crystals cups used a free when you buy any chinet product FREE

(1) Chinet Plastic Cups used $1q FREE

(1) Always Infinity Pads 36 ct. Used Buy one get 18 ct free q and $1 q making it $3 for both boxes

(1) Always Infinity Pads 18 ct. FREE

(2) Lysol Wipes 35 ct. used $1 qs FREE

(1) Seenth Generation Dishwasher packets marked down to $1.99 used $1 q FREE

(2) Windex Outdoor All-in-one glass cleaning tool on sale for 4.44 used (2) 1.50 peelies made it 1.44 each

Used $5 cat from the Kraft products

Total OOP: 10.53

Between the two transacations, the total value of groceries was $118.11 and the total I paid was $14.89!! Not too shabby! This totally helps with my not official attempt at "eating from the pantry" challenge sponsored by Money saving Mom.

Menu plan Monday (1/11)

Although I'm not "officially" joining the Eat from your Pantry challenge, I thought I'd see how much we could use up and try only to get the fresh produce & milk etc each week from the store. Last week I managed to spend less than $15 for groceries and I'm hoping I can do the same this week. Of course, it helped that Harris Teeter is doing Super Double coupons this week too!

After doing a quick survey of my freezer, cupboards & pantry, here are the things I have that I need to use in the next few weeks:

Ground Beef Patties
Pork Chops
Pork tenderloin roast
2 Bags of Shrimp
Carrots/Peas/Green Beans/Asparagus
4 Boxes of Whole wheat pasta
Manicotti shells
Pinto Beans
Northern Beans
1/2 box instant mashed potatoes
5 boxes of rice
whole wheat tortillas

We've got lots more in there, but those are the things that need to be used up.

Meal Plan

Breakfast- Oatmeal & Toast, Cereal, Cereal Bars, muffins or yogurt unless otherwise noted

Lunch-leftovers, sandwiches or weight watchers meals (for adults)

Monday
Snack: Yogurt with crunched up graham crackers


Dinner: Quesadillas using leftoever chicken, rice

Tuesday
Snack: Popcorn
Dinner: Shrimp Scampi & green beans

Wednesday
Snack: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Deceptively Delicious
Dinner: Northern Beans & Cornbread (I've never just made beans before, so I took this recipe from the Happy Housewife)

Thursday
Snack: cookies from wednesday
Dinner: Chili, corn chips and rolls

Friday
Snack: Pound cake
Dinner: I will going to a baby shower, so we will use this night as leftover night.

(I'll be making a buffalo wing dip to bring to the shower & will post the recipe for that towards the end of the week)

Saturday
Brunch: Cinnamon rolls & hashbrowns
Snack: Popcorn
Dinner: Braided pizza & green beans

Sunday
Snack: rice krispy treats
Dinner: Manicotti, Asparagus & Garlic toast


This week we will use up some of the shrimp, rice, pasta, & manicotti shells. For hundreds of other menu ideas check out Org Junkie's page!!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Cowboy Beans & Rice

The new recipe of the week was "Cowboy Beans & Rice" from Erin Chase's $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook to use up the leftover pork tenderloin from Tuesday night.
I thought I had read the recipe correctly and took out the pinto beans & soaked them over night. Unfortuntely, what I didn't read was that after you soak them overnight, you're supposed to boil them on medium heat for an hour and a half. Seeing as how it was 5:15 when I looked at the recipe again, I knew that the beans that were still soaking were not going to cut it. For some reason, dry beans & myself just don't work together well (atleast not yet).

The recipe called for pinto beans, but the only canned beans I had on hand were Northern beans, so in the pot they went.

I added all the ingredients on top of the beans, stirred them together, brought them to a boil & let them cook on medium for 20 minutes.
This was the finished product...Served with corn & leftover quesadillas.
According to my test panel, the survey sayyyyyyssss.....

.....success!!! Both of them ate it without complaints and even asked for seconds! (Fork drop) Kenney was at school, so he didn't get to taste it until today at lunch, but he gave it 2 forks up too!! This recipe was fast (if using canned beans), delicious & didn't require many ingredients. It's perfect for using up rice & beans that are sitting in your pantry!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Extreme Leftover makeover..lunch edition

Okay, so maybe it's not so extreme, but it is indeed leftovers & I did make them into something else....I really am bad at eating leftovers, but my hubby is really good at it. Eating the same meal three days in a row gets boring for me, and often the food sits in the fridge after the 1st try @ eating leftovers. Eventually it goes in the trash, and the money wasted quickly adds up. When I started contemplating the fresh start for us in 2010 and began making my goals, I was quickly convicted of the waste we have in our home & the need to do something about it.

I'm starting off simply by attempting to make meal plans that already use up leftovers to make new meals. In addition, I'm trying to find ways to reinvent the leftovers into something really good. You know, not just bearable, but something you might actually want to make, even if you didn't have leftovers. The first extreme leftover makeover that I took on was leftover pork!

As per my meal plan, Tuesday night we had a pork roast, which everyone enjoyed. After dinner, we still had about 1/2 of the pork tenderloin leftover. I knew that I was planning to use the pork for the Cowboy Rice & Beans for dinner tonight, so I went ahead and shredded it, as per the recipe. But the recipe called for only 2 cups, and I had almost 3 cups. Having been clear that I need to try to be the best steward of this food, I knew I had to find another way to use it, but how?

As I sat in front of the fridge surveying what I had, I saw the tortillas. I had bought them the other day because they were a marked down item. It wasn't on my list, but I figured that I could use them for something. But here it is, almost to the expiration date for the tortillas, and they still remained unopened. It's no bargain if I let them go to waste, and again it was not being a very good steward. So I grabbed the following from the fridge.


The cream cheese, shredded cheese, shredded pork, tortillas & salsa. Surely I could give it a try. I've never had pork on a quesadilla, but it looked kind of like chicken. I started with one, and decided that even if I didn't like it, I would know to mark that off the list of ways to re-do pork roast!

First, I spread a small amount of the cream cheese all over the tortilla & then I placed the shredded pork down on one half.

Then I sprinkled the shredded cheese (we happened to have taco cheese on hand that had already been opened because we had Taco Bake on Monday). I folded it in half & placed it on a greased cookie sheet.

I popped the quesadilla in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, flipped it over and baked for 5 more minutes. I cut it into three triangles, poured some salsa in a cup and I was ready to try it.

I took a deep breath, and took a bite. It was so good that I devoured all three triangles & began making more. I made enough at lunch to serve with the Cowboy rice and beans tonight (just in case the kids weren't too fond of the new recipe. Atleast I knew they'd atleast have something they'd eat for sure). They weren't needed, as the kids happily devoured the Cowboy Rice & Beans, but I let them eat the quesadillas as well.

If you have leftover refried beans, you could add that to the inside of the quesadilla as well. Also, leftover rice can quickly be made "mexican rice" by adding a spoonful or two of salsa and some cheese to the rice while reheating in the microwave.

I felt really good that we used the ENTIRE pork roast this time. This is the first time I haven't thrown any out. It feels so good to know that I got every penny out of that pork roast I paid for and because I had planned ahead of time, I wasn't scrambling at the last minute and ending up feeding my family sandwiches for dinner. (Not that there's anything wrong with that on occassion, but if I'm home all day, I should be able to make a real dinner most of the time.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Menu plan Monday (on Tuesday)



It was done actually on Saturday, but I just haven't had time or the energy to post. I'm trying some new recipes this week from the new cookbooks I got for Christmas, (I got Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seifeld & The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase) so hopefully I'll be taking pictures & raving about the success (or crying about how awful it was!!) Breakfast is whatever you grab (cereal, toast, oatmeal, cereal bars, pop tarts) unless something I'm specifically making. Lunch will be either leftovers or sandwiches, or a weight watchers meal for the adults. Part of my goals for this year was to meal plan & stick to it 75% of the time. So far we're doing really well!


Monday

Snack-Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe from Deceptively Delicious (DD pg 177)

Dinner- Taco Bake, pineapples


Tuesday

Snack-Ice Cream Sandwiches (DD pg 182)

Dinner-Pork Roast, Green Beans, Cornbread


Wednesday

Lunh-Pulled pork sandwiches


Dinner-Beef soup & homemade rolls


Thursday

Breakfast- Muffins

Snack-Chex Mix

Dinner-Cowboy Rice & Beans ($5 dinner mom cookbook), corn & biscuits


Friday

Snack-jello

Dinner-Individual Pizzas, leftover veggies


Saturday

Brunch-Pancakes & homefries

Dinner-Leftovers


Sunday

Breakfast-coffee cake

Lunch-Hot dog wth mac & Cheese

Dinner-roasted chicken, potatoes & carrots and applesauce

Dessert: Chocolate Fondue with leftover fruit (DD pg 174)


I hope to have pictures of the new recipes that I've tried soon!! For hundreds of other weekly menu's head on over to Organizing Junkie.