Monday, August 31, 2009

Meal Plan Monday.....August 31st Edition...Taking Stock

Last Week's Menu Post Mortum......

We actually had most all of the meals, just not on the days they were planned for.  We didn't have the Sunday Breakfast for Dinner, as hubby & 1 had a large lunch on the way home from dropping #1 son at college, so we weren't hungry for a large dinner.  I just fixed the kids something when we got home.

Here's what our family of 4 will be eating this Week...

MONDAY--Leftovers or "Whatever-you-want-to-make-for-yourself" Night
TUESDAY--Leftover Meatloaf w/Squash/Chicken BBQ Sandwiches for daughter, homemade Clam Chowder(stockpile/fridge)
WEDNESDAY--Breakfast for Dinner(Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes, Sausage, Fresh Fruit)(freezer/fridge)
THURSDAY--Cheese Ravioli(freezer), Tossed Salad(garden)
FRIDAY--Grilled Fish(freezer), Veggie TBA(freezer), Mashed Potatoes(stockpile)
SATURDAY--BBQ Chicken Legs(freezer), Potato Salad(stockpile), Sauted Summer Squash & Onions(garden)
SUNDAY--Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo Freezer**
Dessert--Zucchini Bread, Seasonal Fresh Fruit

**Eenie, Meenie, etc. is when I am too lazy to think of something and I just go into the freezer that morning and dig something out.  Hopefully the inspiration will hit me at that moment and I'll think of something yummy to do with the

My shopping list for this week's meals is light.  I need staples like milk, bread.....and sliced cheese for #2 son's insatiable apetite for grilled cheese   We also need some fresh seasonal fruit.
If the weather here stays cool, like it was today, I may attempt to bake some bread instead of buying it.  I have all the necessary ingredients to do that here already.

Food Waste Report....we have a few leftovers that need eating in the fridge.  Whatever the family doesn't polish off will be fed to the dogs Wed. and beyond(it's all food they can have).  Veggie scraps will be composted.

With only 4 mouths to feed now & daughter wanting to eat less meat, I need to step back and re-evaluate what I serve.  I don't want to have to make separate meals for her when we are having something she doesn't want to eat....but I want to have an option for her for that meal.  And with #2 son in the Marching Band there are 2-4 nights per week that he will either be having to eat early/late, so that's another monkey wrench thrown into my plan. *sigh*
I've got to do some pondering on the direction my Meal Plans will take....

Check out Organizing Junkie's Website Here to see what other Home Cooks are serving this week!


KMart Hi-Jinx....OR Oh, the Exciting Life I Lead!

I just had to mosey on down the mountain to KMart Sunday evening and see what I could pick up cheaply with my Doubled Coupons.
2 x Hershey's Chocolate Syrup on sale $2=$4.00
 1 x Hershey's $1/2 Coupon doubled  4-2=$2.00
3 x Bic Twin Select Razors @$3.49=$10.47
3 x Bic Razor $2/1 Coupon doubled/adjusted 10.47-10.47=$0.00
2 x Hartz Dog Biscuits on sale $3=$6.00
1 x Hartz $2/1 Coupon doubled/adjusted 3-3=$0.00
1 x Hartz $1/1 Coupon doubled 3-2=$1.00
1 x Secret Deodorant @$3.99=$3.99
1 x Secret Deodorant @$4.49=$4.49
2 x Secret Deo. $2/1 Coupon doubled/adjusted 8.48-7.99=$.49
4 x Dove Visibly Smooth Deodorant @$3.99=$15.96
4 x Dove Deo. $2.1 Coupon doubled/adjusted 15.96-15.96=$0.00
1 x J&J Floss @$1.49=$1.49
1 x J&J Floss $1/1 Coupon doubled/adjusted 1.49-1.49=$0.00
1 x Palmolive Pure + Clear Dishwashing Liquid @$2.79=$2.79
1 x Palmolive $1/1 Coupon doubled 2.79-2=$.79
3 x VO5 Shampoo @$1.09=$3.27
1 x VO5 $1/3 Coupon doubled 3.27-2=$1.27
SubTotal  $52.45
Coupons Used  $46.91

Kmart $5/$50 Coupon
Tax  $1.32
TOTAL Out of Pocket.....$1.86
Savings of 96.50%
Plus, there is a TRY ME FREE Rebate for the Palmolive Pure + Clear Dishwashing Liquid, so I'll get either $.79(if they figure out I used a doubled coupon on it) or $2.79 back for that.
Potentially $.93 Overage after Rebate!


Moving On...or 1 Down, 2 to Go!

Well, it is done.

We have dropped off our eldest child at college.

There was a bit of unloading of the car and unpacking to do.

Then there was a bit of posing for the obligatory photos with mom and dad.

There was a whole page of activities and meetings and meals planned for the drop-off day for both parents and students.
We chose NOT to burden #1 son with our presence for the whole day.

Because #1 son couldn't WAIT for us to leave!

#1 son is not a typical 1st yr. college student from what I have heard.

He is not mourning leaving home and his hometown.

Matt unhappy? Naaaaah!lol
He was chomping at the bit to get out on his own!

Of course, it helped that for the past two summers he has spent across the state working at a summer camp away from his family.

No tears.
No regrets.
No looking back.

I was transported back to his first day of Nursery School 15 yrs. ago.....

No tears.
No regrets.
No looking back.

Just a big old grin and a big "Bye Mommy!" and off he went from my arms, joining in the fun with his new classmates.

Of course, we won't mention that a month later back 15 yrs. ago, he decided to run for the exit door when his Nursery School teacher rang the bell to come into the classroom, and I had to carry him back into class.

We won't mention that.

Ah, the sweet memories of when we were embarking out into that part of our life's journey-the college experience.

God speed Matt!

I'm sure I'll get a call once the money runs out....


Friday, August 28, 2009

Walking a Fine Line

As my regular readers may know, my #1 son is heading off for his 1st year of college later this week. He spent the bulk of the summer since graduating from high school working across the state at a YMCA Camp as a Counselor. This meant he wasn't home to take care of business associated with his upcoming college matriculation. I've been sort of orchestrating things from home in his absence.
I am the Mother.
I organize and oversee things.
That's my job.

#1 son is about to be "on his own" for real, for the 1st time. I find I walk a fine line between doing things for him(thus they get done the right way, the first time) and letting him find his own way to do things(and suffer the consequences from making possibly wrong choices).
Life runs much smoother when the people with experience and who are good at their jobs run things, don't they? It's hard to step back and let your newly minted Adult child take the reins and be in charge.

Of course, you anguish if they fail at their new task. But since you are still there in the background to pick up the pieces when they need it, you have the added stress on YOUR life to handle any crises of their making.
Letting them make the decisions and having the potential for failure makes the parent's life MORE stressful, not less. It's not a situation any parent wants to be in but it's necessary at least for awhile unless you abandon your child totally and walk out of their life.

SonyaAnn over at A Mom Money and More has been dealing with this same issue. You can read about her experience with her teenage daughter HERE.

Hubby & I had a blow-out earlier this week over our differing approach to this topic.

In an effort to keep the costs of this year of schooling down, I want #1 son to buy his books as cheaply as possible. Of course, the school he will be attending, "highly suggests" that incoming freshman wait until they arrive on campus and buy their textbooks at the school's bookstore. Do you think they have a financial incentive to suggest this?lolol

Textbooks were also available online from the bookstore to buy ahead since Aug. 3rd, when the course/instructor/book requirements were announced for the school. As long as the instructors won't change the textbooks used, student isn't waffling about taking a course or thinks they may likely drop a course, why not buy the books ahead? Especially if it saves money!
You may know that the Used Textbooks tend to sell out quickly, leaving only the shiny, expen$ive New Textbooks for the students who wait to buy once they arrive on campus.
New College Textbooks are INSANELY EXPEN$IVE!!!

So instead of waiting on laid-back, #1 son, with the Scarlett O-Hara "I'll think about that tomorrow" mentality, to take it upon himself to arrange to buy his books, I went online and with some information from another member of the Compact Yahoo List I'm on, I RENTED some of his Textbooks. Renting textbooks is about Half the cost of buying Used!

By doing so, we'll be paying $250 for a mix of rented or buying used books(once #1 son gets to school), versus paying $600 buying new books! Plus we won't have to worry about whether the bookstore will take the books back during the bookstore "buy back" either or be stuck with useless, heavy, expensive doorstops.

When I told Hubby about having already bought the bulk of the books, he was Not pleased. His feeling was, "It's HIS life....let him buy the books." He seems to think that we should drive #1 son to college, unload his stuff and wave goodbye. From that point anything he needs or decisions he needs to make are up to him.
After all, he said, "That is how our parents did us when we went off to college."

Hubby's parents style was very "hands off" for as long as I knew them. But they were there(for some cash, advise or moral support) if hubby ever had a really bad problem when he was just starting out as an adult.

My parents....even MORE hands off in a way.
Basically, my parents were not even around from the time I was 15. Physically, they floated in & mostly out of my life through my teen years and beyond. Except for my mostly absentee father who was a bigtime control freak. That made for an interesting
So my parents weren't "there" for me physcially or in any other way. When I got dropped off at college, it was basically "See ya in the next life kid!" I was out there alone at 18.

So, even though we try to be "hands off" in our parenting style, hubby now understands why I try to pad the way sometimes.
I didn't rent ALL this books. He will still have the responsiblity of buying a few of the books he needs once he gets to school. And he'll have to make sure the rented ones get shipped back in time or he'll be paying any fees associated with keeping them beyond his rental period.
And he's going to have to deal with alot of other things at finding a job, getting his scholarship money released(dealing with financial aid...oh joy!lol), etc.

t least he knows how to do laundry already. ;-)


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday--Contemplate The Beauty Around You

Even though my garden has NOT been as successful this year producing edibles, the Morning Glories that I planted are rewarding me with lovely blooms.
Here are some photos from yesterday morning. This vine has overtaken the bird suet pole....

And more blooms along the deck railing.....

And now that your eyes have been soothed, here is something for your brain.
Go read THIS.


My KMart Fun during Double Coupons Week 8/16-8/22

I think I showed remarkable restraint this round at KMart during their Double Coupons Promotion that happened last week.

I only made 12 trips there. Ok, 12 transactions, not trips.
It was 7 Trips. 1 trip a day except for Tuesday and Friday.
No trips on Tuesday and 2 trips on Friday.
I have to go by there anyway, so why not stop when I have the time and do a little Free Shopping. ;-)

And because of the $3 off $20 and $5 off $25 coupons that the cash registers were spitting out, I didn't do $50+ on each transaction like I usually do. So in all, I bought a whole lot LESS than usual.
Here are the pictures of everything I bought.

First the food & drink......#2 son is ecstatic about the 5 Bazillion Amp energy drinks!lol

Here's a sneaky trick. See the bags of LifeSavers? Each one has a game piece and a $1 off Coupon inside the bag. Everytime KMart has Double Coupons I use 4 coupons from previous bags to buy 4 more bags....$1 coupon doubled=free bag of Lifesavers. I open the new bags and fish out the game piece/coupons and buy 4 more bags for free. Keep rolling those coupons each trip to KMart. As of now, I have about 50 bags of LifeSavers-not counting the ones we've eaten(that's $89.50 worth) and I'm only out $7.16 for the 1st 4 bags I bought back in April. Well, I got 1 bag with No Game Piece/Coupon this go round, so I am down to rolling 3 coupons per transaction.*sigh* lol

Then the Toiletries....I think #2 son absconded with a can of Tag because I know I had gotten 3.hmmmm....

Then the Cleaning, Laundry, Paper Products(yes, those are paper plates-eek!), Stationery Supplies, Batteries(for my camera and mouse)....

And a photo of assorted things I forgot to put in the other photos....ok, things in bags I found
Add to all that...
2 12-packs of soda
4 22lb. bags of dog food
1 loaf of bread
1 Microwave Hormel Meal thing
6 more bags of Lifesavers
1 Purse that was on clearance(yes, I succumbed to a cheap new purse)

Value of Items is $585.50.
Total spent $16.86 OOP.
Savings of 97%!
AND I got 2 FREE Movie Tickets for buying the Axe Products & I'll get a $5 Gift Card for buying the 4 Boxes of Kellogg's Cereal.

Now, I don't buy ONLY items that are free or almost free during the KMart Double Coupons Event. I use free or cheap as a guideline but I'll spend a bit more to get something that is a good deal (but not free or under $1)that we need.
For example, Purina Dog Chow was on sale for $10.99 for a 22lb. bag this past week.
A good price.
I had $2 coupons that doubled, giving me $4 off per bag. If I bought the Dog Food along with other items that were free with coupons, I could then use the $3 or $5 off your order KMart coupon toward lowering the Dog Food even, the $10.99 dog food becomes $7.99 with coupon and then $4.99 OR $2.99 with the $ off your order coupon when you spend XX$. Paying $5 or $3 for a big bag of dog food is amazing good!

Even with doubled
Coupons, because of the sometimes ridiculously HIGH regular retail prices at KMart, I couldn't get a savings percentage this high(97%)....unless I pulled out my secret weapon when doing KMart Double Coupon shopping.

That secret weapon is.....Pharmacy Gift Cards!

When my KMart Double Coupon Week gets near, I go and transfer our prescriptions that need refilling to the KMart Pharmacy. KMart regularly puts out Reward Coupons that give you between a $10 & $25 Gift Card for each prescription you move to their Pharmacy.

With our Prescription Plan it really doesn't matter which Drug Store fills our meds....we get charged the same price. So having KMart fill them is the same as having Rite-Aid, Walmart, Target, etc. fill them. I am out the same amount no matter where, so I might as well get a perk(gift card)since I am going to have to spend the money anyway, right?

I was able to move 3 prescriptions for a total of $58.80 in Gift Cards.
$58.80 of free money to spend. Combine sales and doubled coupons with the Gift Cards and you can see how much you can get for ZERO out of your own pocket!

Next refill, I'll move them all back to where they were filled before or to a different Pharmacy if they lure me there with more Gift Cards.
2 months later, I can move them back to KMart for more Gift Cards to spend during a future Double Coupons Week.

So how did you do this past week? Did you score some amazing deals??
What's on your deal hunting agenda this week?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Walgreen's Trips for 8/16-8/22

While down in PhillyLand last Tuesday I went to the Walgreens that's a block away from Acme. I had to do something between Acme transactions, right?lol

I wanted to do the Huggies Wipes Deal. The Wipes down there were an outrageous $3.59 a box! Geez, I thought our Wags was high at $3.29...

Here is what I bought....

1 x Soft Soap Body Wash $3.99(the one that gave a $4RR)
4 x Huggies Wipes @$3.59=$14.36
And then some fillers so I could use my $5RR that was expiring...
2 x Chapstick 3 pack clearance @$1.19=$2.38
1 x Wags Cough Drops clearance @.25¢=$.25
1 x Coconut M&Ms(these are REALLY good!lol)=$.69

Coupons Used
2 x $1/2 Huggies Wipes=$2.00
4 x $2/1 Wags IVF Q=$8.00


RRs Used


Received RRs....$4(Soft Soap)

Then I went to Visit with my Girlfriend Cashiers on Saturday at WAGS and rolls some more RRs.
It was also the last day of the special Spend $25 in 1 Transaction, Get a $5RR. It was $25 BEFORE Coupons so it was worth doing. I also had my eye out for the clearanced Zyrtec that gave $5RR when you buy two.

Transaction #1

1 x Fusion Razor=$8.99
1 x Gillette Shampoo=$3.99 on clearance
1 x Gillette Body Wash=$4.99
1 x Zyrtec Children's Syrup @$1.39 on clearance=$1.39
1 x Zyrtec Children's Syrup @$3.29 on clearance=$3.29
1 x Starbucks Drink=$1.89
1 x Soft Soap Body Wash=$3.99

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Razor=$2.00
1 x Free Gillette Shampoo WYB Razor=$3.99
1 x Free Gillette Body Wash WYB Razor=$4.99
1 x $2/1 Zyrtec=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Starbucks=$1.00
1 x $.64 Wags Q=$.64


RRs Used

Tax $1.32=$3.23OOP

Received RRs....
$4(Soft Soap),$5(Zyrtec),$5(spend $25)=$14RRs

I don't know WHY some of the Zyrtec on clearance was $3.29 and some $1.39! Same bottles, same UPC codes and same expiration dates on the boxes. Weird...

Transaction #2

5 x Pop-Tarts=$10
4 x Huggies Wipes@$3.29=$13.16
2 x Velveeta Cups@$1.29=$2.58

Coupons Used
2 x $1/2 Pop-Tarts=$2.00
2 x $1/2 Huggies Wipes=$2.00
4 x $2/1 Huggies Wipes Wags Q=$8.00
1 x BOGO Velveeta Cups@$1.29=$1.29


RRs Used


Received RRs
$5(for $25 order), $5(Pop-Tarts), $1(Velveeta Cups)=$11.00RR

Transaction #3

1 x Fusion Razor=$8.99
1 x Gillette Shampoo=$3.99 on clearance
1 x Gillette Body Wash=$4.99
2 x Zyrtec Children's Syrup @$3.29 on clearance=$6.58
1 x Starbucks Drink=$1.89
3 x Ramen Noodles(filler so I could use RRs to pay)=$1.00

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Fusion Razor=$2.00
1 x Free Gillette Shampoo WYB Razor=$3.99
1 x Free Gillette Body Wash WYB Razor=$4.99
2 x $2/1 Zyrtec Children's Syrup=$4.00
1 x Starbucks Drink=$1.00
1 x Wag Q Starbucks=$.64


RRs Used

Sales Tax $1.08=$1.90OOP

Received RRs
$5(for $25 order), $5(Zyrtec)=$10.00RR

Transaction #4

2 x Zyrtec Children's Syrup @$1.39 on clearance=$2.78(found 2 more marked lower!)
2 x Red Baron Pizzas on sale $3=$6.00 **NOT PICTURED**


Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Zyrtec Children's Syrup=$2.00
2 x $1/1 Red Baron=$2.00



RRs Used


Received RRs

TOTALS for the Week....
Value of Items $166.37
Out of Pocket Spent $9.42
Savings of $156.95 or 94.33%

RRs Used=$47
RRs Received=$44


Last Week's Shopping-CVS Quickie

Since CVS had the Purex 3-In-1 Laundry Sheets on BOGO(Buy 1 Get 1 Free)last week AND I had a Free Coupon for it AND I had Extra Care Bucks expiring on 8/25, I made a stop in on my way to visit my girlfriends at WAGS.
Here's what I bought to get up to $25 so I could use a $5 off $25 Purchase Coupon....

2 x Purex Laundry Sheets @$8.99 BOGO=$8.99
2 x Glade Air Freshener @$.99=$1.98
2 x J&J Mini 1st Aid Kits @$.99=$1.98
1 x Always Pads Double Pack=$6.00
1 x Blink Tears=$7.99(raincheck item)

Coupons Used
1 x Free Purex Item(only free up to $7.50 tho...this stuff is too expensive at CVS!)=$7.50
1 x BOGO Glade=$.99
2 x J&J Mini 1st Aid Kits=$1.98
1 x Blink Tears=$3.00
1 x $5 off $25 Purchase=$5.00
Coupon Total=$18.47


ECBs Used
2 x $4.00=$8.00


Add in .01¢ sales tax and my OOP came to $.48.
I received ECBS for....$2(1st Aid Kits),$3(Always), $8(Blink Tears)=$13 ECBs
$39.91 worth of items for .48¢.
A savings of 98.8%.

All stuff we can use, except for the Blink Tears which will go into the Yard Sale pile.


Monday, August 24, 2009

The Week's Grocery Shopping Totals 8/16 to 8/22

I shopped at Price Chopper, Acme & Weis last week for my regular grocery shopping.

The Price Chopper total was $7.83.
The Acme total was $41.81.
The Weis total was $14.74.
The Farm Market total was $5.20.
Grand Total of $69.58.
After the Kraft/Acme Rebate($40) the Total Out of Pocket drops to $29.58.

Spending for the week's meals was $15.36.
Plus the Key Lime Pie I splurged on for $6.19.
The rest of the spending was for stockpile purchases.
And I received a $2.50 OYNO Cat from Weis for $ off a future purchase.

DrugStore(WAGS, Rite-Aid,CVS)as well as the KMART Double Coupons spending is not included in this Weekly wrap up.
This is just straight-up Grocery Store purchases for the week.

The Drugstore and KMart Totals to soon as I can unpack and find my receipts. What can I say, it was bedlam last week!lolol


Grocery Store Run to PRICE CHOPPER to use Catalinas

I had $14 in Catalinas for Price Chopper from the Unilever Promo I did 2 Saturdays ago.
Since they were expiring this past Saturday, I headed out last week to PC to pick up some groceries I needed for my menu.

Chicken 3lb. package on special $2.99
Ground Beef 3lb. package $6.56
2 x 1lb. Butter on special $1ea. =$2.00
4.14lb. Cherries $2lb. on special=$8.28
Hot Dog Rolls on special =$2.00

Subtotal $21.83
Catalinas $14.00
TOTAL $7.83 Out of Pocket

Value of Items $27.28
Amount Saved $19.45
Savings of 71.30%

Ground Beef used on Sunday for burgers and tonight for Meatloaf, Chicken being used this week for dinner, Hot Dog Rolls used on Sunday, Cherries made into a pie this afternoon & the 2lbs. of butter in the freezer/stockpile for fall/winter baking.


Meal Plan Monday.....August 24th Edition....Eating From the Freezer Week

Last Week's Menu Post Mortum......

The Tuesday's Chicken became Fish, then Thursday's Shrimp & Grits and Friday's Tacos didn't happen. Kids went off doing other things around dinnertime, so we polished off leftovers instead of fixing more food.
Shrimp & Grits and the Italian Chicken have been moved to this week's menu.
The Dinner out was moved to this week, since we had a Cook Out last Sunday. I had an additional item last week on my grocery list--hot dog rolls for the Cook Out--and I bought 4lbs. of cherries.

Here's what our family of 5 will be eating this Week...

MONDAY--Bacon wrapped Meatloaf using bacon, turkey & ground beef(freezer), Kraft Mac & Cheese(stockpile), Steamed Broccoli and Cauliflower(freezer)
TUESDAY--Shrimp(freezer) & Grits(stockpile), Grilled Squash & Peppers(garden)
WEDNESDAY--Italian marinated Chicken(freezer), Macaroni Salad(leftover from Sunday), New Pickles(made from garden cukes)
THURSDAY--Bon Voyage Dinner out for #1 son
FRIDAY--Leftover Buffet
SATURDAY--Pizza(freezer), Salad(garden)
SUNDAY--Breakfast for Dinner(Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes, Sausage, Fresh Fruit)
Dessert--Cherry Pie(use up cherries), Cantaloupe(have), Brownies, Rice Krispy Treats(leftovers)

I love the Paula Deen Shrimp & Grits recipe HERE. It's a cheesy Shrimp & Grits from one of her Cookbooks. There are a lot of PD Shrimp & Grits recipes but this one is among the simplest and easiest.

My shopping list for this week's meals consists of....ricotta & fresh fruit. My regular grocery shopping last week was at Acme and Price Chopper(see previous posts for those 2 trips.) I might attempt a watermelon this week since all the kids are home and here to eat on it. Not much room for leftover melon in the
I already have the chicken and shrimp, bought for last week's meals and not used and there is pizza in the freezer.

Food Waste Report.....2 cups of rigatoni noodles that went bad in the fridge. Lots of veggie scraps into the compost pile. We've been doing fairly well with the food waste the last 2 months I think.

Check out Organizing Junkie's Website Here to see what other Home Cooks are serving this week!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thank Goodness this Week is Over!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where, when it was over, all you could do was say, "Thank the Lord the week is over and I survived!"?

That's how my week was.
Don't get me wrong, nothing bad happened this week, that's not why I am thankful that it's over.
It was!
And tiring.

It was one thing after another, ALL Week!

First the 2 oldest kids came home from their summer jobs and the youngest finished Band Camp, so all 3 were hanging around the house all week.
3 Teenagers with little to NO motivation to lift a finger around the house.
3 more mess makers but no mess cleaner-uppers.

And the older two were so kind to bring me back weeks upon weeks of dirty LAUNDRY.
A lot of it being WET Dirty Laundry!!
Smelly, Earthy, Dirty and Twigs and Blades of Grass and Leaves and Tree Bark in the bag with the wet clothing Laundry.

And Hubby had off all week from work. And working around his agenda for the week.
And 3 Dogs in the house because it was too hot for them to be outside for very long.

Everyone under foot!
So it was non-stop action and bedlam around here.

And I am still trying to organizing the stockpile out in the garage.

And the weather was kicked up a notch this week to H-O-T!
I don't tolerate or move very fast when it's Hot.....
So I could be found in the swimming pool out back a lot of the time this past week and nothing much got accomplished around here that involved physical labor.....except laundry.

And I wanted to have a date with hubby during the week.

And getting #1 son ready to go off to college this week.

And then, the heat kicked the Garden into Overdrive!
I have cooked yellow squash every which way known to man and am STILL DROWNING in a Sea of Yellow Produce!!
I swear when it's quiet at 2 am. I can hear the vegetables growing while I lay awake in bed trying to think of a new way to use squash and cukes.

And to top it all off, there were just so many good deals this past week!
I had Price Chopper OYNO Cats to use.
The Acme OYNO Cats to use.
There were expiring Register Rewards from WAGS.
Then the Extra Care Bucks from CVS.
Add to all this, another Round of Double Coupons at KMart= Loads of Free or very Inexpensive Things we need or can use or can donate!

Seriously, just too many to get to everything in time....especially since it was H-O-T and I couldn't move fast enough in the heat to cram it all into my schedule.

How much can one gal be expected to do in a mere this heat!?!?

And then there were blog posts to write. I just can't go neglecting my readers due to my hectic life, right? I'd get on the computer at night and couldn't do anything beyond reading mail and just surfing around.
To-Do Lists swirled around in my head and wouldn't let any original thoughts to blog about enter.

At some point this week, I actually looked at the interior of my car.
Here is what I saw.

That backseat.....
The Cargo net area between the front seats.....

A mound of coupons sitting on the passenger seat and school supplies starting to take over the floor in the front of the car.....

This is the car of someone who hasn't said no to a deal this week, even though she has no time or energy left.

This is when I realized I needed to give myself permission to NOT Get to some of the deals & chores. It hurt at first, like quickly ripping a band-aid off a cut, to let go of the idea that I had to do all the deals this week. But after awhile, I felt ok with it.

There will always be more Deals next week or next month.
Just like there will always be more laundry to do next week or next month.

Since I am so well stocked on most everything, I may take a grocery shopping Sabbatical in Sept.
No stocking up.
No matter how good the deal.

I am just so tired, like my beagle girl Cherry....

And I need the time this Sept. for my canning/freezing/preserving the garden/farm produce.
Harvest time is labor intensive and I can't be running around hounding for the grocery/HBA deals while the veggies are coming in.
Canning Season is here and it's time to shift the focus onto the local produce and preserving it for the coming year.

As so many Southern ladies before me have done, I may "take to my bed for a month" once Harvest Season is over. It may take me that long to recover from my exhaustion.

What's been happening in your little piece of the world lately?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Acme Shopping This Week....Grand Total for all my Trips

You may remember that 2 weeks ago, Acme had a killer Catalina Promo Deal on Unilever & General Mills products. I posted about my trips during that deal Here.
$15 of my OYNO Catalinas hadn't printed(due to an item I bought not being correctly entered into the store's computer system) so I had contacted the marketing company about getting those missing Catalina coupons. I received the $15 in Cats on Monday in the mail. Thanks Catalina Marketing! ;-))

Add those $15 worth and I had $79 worth of Cat Coupons in hand. All those $ off OYNO Catalina Coupons needed to be used by Aug. 18th(except for the $15 that had just arrived), which was Tuesday!
Add in that SuperValu owned grocery stores(of which, Acme is one) are in the midst of another nice little Catalina Promo this week. When you buy $25 worth of certain Kraft products, you get a $5 OYNO Cat Coupon AND a Mail-In-Rebate form for $20 back prints out at the register as well. So spend $25, get $20 back via MIR and a $5 OYNO Coupon. So in essence, free food!

That was enough to get me up & off bright and early to my favorite Acme on Tuesday to use all those Cats and get some FREE Kraft items.
But it was going to hit 90 DEGREES here on Tuesday.
I don't.
But I pulled up the online weekly ad, pulled out the Coupons I needed from my binder & my Cat stash, pulled the cooler down from the shed shelf, put in the freezer ice packs and just went and "got 'er done"!
The heat index be danged.....

I made two trips through the register, then went down the road to WAGS, had lunch as well, then back to Acme for one more transaction before heading home.

No photos today. It was bad enough to get it all home(the frozen stuff into the freezer before the big thaw down)& unloaded into the garage stockpile before I collapsed into a sticky, sweaty, Wicked Witch of the West "I'm melting....meeeelting" puddle.
Just use your imaginations to picture the cheesy, soda, iced tea, EVOO & shrimpy

Transaction #1(The Kraft deal items are in green.)

4 x Easy Mac Cups on sale $1=$4.00
4 x Philly Cream Cheese on sale 3/$5.00=$6.67
1 x Ritz Crackers on sale $2.50
1 x Wheat Thins on sale $2.50
2 x Kraft Cheese Chunk on sale 3/$5=$3.34
5 x Kraft Shredded Cheese bags on sale 3/$5=$8.34
1 x Acme Applesauce $1.79
2 x Acme Roast Beef Hash @ $1.79=$3.58
2 x Fritos on sale @$1.69=$3.38
1 x Starbucks 4 pack on sale $5.00(this might have also been a participating Kraft deal item)
4 x Swiss Tea 1/2 gallon @3/$5=$6.67
3 x Celentano Ravioli on sale @$1.99=$5.97
1 x CPK Pizza for One on sale $2.50

Coupons Used
2 x Easy Mac Cups .55/2 doubled=$2.20
2 x Philly Cream Cheese $1/2=$2.00
1 x Buy Ritz/Get Wheat Thins free=$2.50
1 x Kraft Cheese Chunk $1/2=$1.00
5 x Kraft 2% Shredded Cheese $.50/1 doubled=$5.00
2 x Swiss Tea $.75/2 didn't double=$1.50


Acme $5 Cats Used
5 x $5=$25.00

Total Coupons....$39.20

Minus tax adjustment of $1.50=$15.54OOP
Received a MIR form for $20 rebate and $5 OYNO Catalina Coupon.

Went back in and bought some more Kraft....

Transaction #2

2 x Ritz Crackers on sale @$2.50=$5.00
2 x Wheat Thins on sale @$2.50=$5.00
2 x Easy Mac Cups on sale @$1.00=$2.00
4 x Kraft 2% Cheese Shreds on sale 3/$5=$6.67
2 x Kraft Cheese Chunks on sale 3/$5=$3.34
1 x Kraft Parmesan Cheese on sale $4.99
1 x Bush Baked Beans on sale $2.00
1 x Mushrooms on sale $1.69
1 x Snapple 12 pack on sale $4.99
1 x Swiss Tea Gallon $2.99

Coupons Used
2 x Buy Ritz Crackers/Get Wheat Thins FREE=$5.00
1 x Easy Mac Cups .55/2 doubled=$1.10
4 x Kraft Cheese .50/1 doubled=$4.00
1 x Kraft Cheese $1/2=$1.00
1 x Snapple $1.00
1 x Swiss Tea .75/1 this one doubled=$1.50

Acme Cats Used
4 x $5=$20

Total Coupons....$33.60

Minus $1.20 tax adjustment=3.87OOP
Received a MIR form for $20 rebate and $5 OYNO Catalina Coupon.

At this point, I had $34 in Cats left PLUS $10 MORE I just got from these 2 transactions, for a total of $44 Cats to use up.
After a walk around a nearby WAGS and a cheap lunch, I returned to Acme and spent those Cats on items that didn't generate Cats.

Transaction #3

2 x Ocean Spray Drink Mix on sale @$2.50=$5.00
2 x Cento EVOO on sale BOGO $14.49=$14.49 for 2 BIG bottles
4 x Sunkist Soda on sale @$2.50=$10.00
1 x Snapple Tea 12 Pack on sale $4.99
1 x Crab Rangoons $7.99 I love these but never buy them cuz they are expen$ive!
2 x 2lb. Shrimp on sale @$17.98=$35.96(an oxymoron of HUGE shrimp)

Coupons Used
1 x Ocean Spray $1/2=$1.00
4 x $1/1 Sunkist=$4.00
1 x Acme Buy 4 Sunkist/Get Free Snapple 12 pack=$4.99

Acme Cats Used
7 x $5=$35
9 x $1=$9

Total Coupons....$53.99

Minus Tax adujstment of $2.04=$22.40OOP

Total spent for all 3 transactions OOP=$41.81
And after I send for 2 $20 Kraft Rebates(one to my addy and one to BIL), I'll be OOP for these 3 Transactions.....2x$20=$40 $41.81-$40=$1.81
$1.81 Out of Pocket.

After Rebates....
Total OOP=$1.81
Total Savings=$277.33
Total Value of Items=$279.14
Total Percentage Saved 99.50%

AND the GRAND TOTAL for ALL the ACME Shopping for the past 2 Weeks is....
$73.86 OOP(after Rebates)
$1220.19 Saved in Coupons/Sales/Cats
$1294.05 Value of Everything I Purchased
Total Percentage Saved 94.30%

And I also received a card for .05¢ off of a gas fill-up for each of 2 of my transactions. No clue why or what stations these are good at but I have some time to check into it. These are good until Feb. of 2010.

I think I got my money's worth of Acme goodies the past 2 weeks. 8-))

I don't plan on hiking down to AcmeLand again unless a Shopportunity like this one comes up again. I won't say never again, because, just never know, do you?lol


Monday, August 17, 2009

Meal Plan Monday.....August 17th Edition...Garden Explosion

I've been asked a couple of times, how do I meal plan?
When it's the height of the summer growing season and you have a garden with an abundant harvest, meal planning is pretty easy. You plan your menus around what is ripe in your garden. Once you have your vegetables set for the meal, then you go to your freezer/fridge and see what you have on hand for your protein(meat/beans/cheeses).

Here's my thought process.....
This week I have 2 kinds of Summer Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Salad Greens, Green Bell Peppers & a handfull of Purple String Beans.
I have Ground Beef in the freezer and leftover London Broil in the fridge.
I see that Shrimp & Chicken Breast is on sale at my local market.

Using these items and stockpile/pantry items here's what I'll plan on....

MONDAY-Tonight I'll be picking up some mushrooms(store) and I'll make Beef Stroganoff from the leftover London Broil(fridge) in the crockpot. Add rice instead of noodles(in pantry) and grill squash(garden) outside and Monday's meal is complete.
TUESDAY-Marinate Chicken Breast(store-on sale this week)in Italian Dressing(from stockpile)& grill outside, Salad with greens & cukes(garden), baked biscuits from tube(fridge)on grill too
WEDNESDAY-Squash & Bell Peppers(garden) stuffed with Seasoned Ground Beef(freezer)using onions & crushed tomatoes(stockpile), Kraft Mac&Cheese(stockpile)
THURSDAY-Shrimp(store-on sale)& Grits(stockpile)using bacon & butter(freezer), Stir-fried green beans(garden)with a bag of mixed veggies(freezer)
FRIDAY-Tacos(beef from freezer or leftover chicken as well as cheese from freezer, shells from stockpile & lettuce from garden) I may purchase REAL tomatoes from farm for this dish.
SATURDAY-Chicken Parmesan(using breaded chicken cutlets & mozzarella cheese from freezer, sauce from stockpile), whatever veggies we have fresh from the garden(probably more squash-sauteed or in fritters)
SUNDAY-Dinner out or Cook-Out with the family...To be determined

My shopping list for this week's meals consists of....chicken, mushrooms, shrimp and some fruit. I also need onions and those green beans I want to freeze so I need to get to the farm too. Since it's on sale, I'll buy double the shrimp & chicken I need and put half in the freezer for later meals. I'll buy the in season cheaper fruit and the type of mushrooms that are the least expensive. The only items I might stock up on at the local grocery store are Fruit Chillers($1 after sale & $1/1 coupon) & BC Fruit Snacks, since with coupons & $2.50 Catalina OYNO Coupon the store will be paying me $1.70 for every 4 boxes I take

Food Waste Report.....I had to dump a container of leftover cabbage & potatoes this past week. It had "turned" and had corned beef bits so I couldn't compost it....oh well.

Before I go, here is a great recipe for Summer Yellow Squash HERE. I promised to post this on my last week's Meal Plan Monday. I've linked it to there as well as on this post. I hope someone can try it and enjoy it.

Check out Organizing Junkie's Website Here to see what other Home Cooks are serving this week!


My Family's Favorite Summer Squash Recipe

So what do you cook for dinner when you have 10 pounds of Squash sitting on your kitchen table?

You get creative and come up with Squash Recipes of course!
We've had Squash deep fried slices, fritters, grilled & sauteed with onions so far. Next on the list is Summer Squash Casserole. This is a family favorite. If you have an abundance of squash and a family member who doesn't like squash, but they love cheese, this is the recipe to make to get them to eat their squash.

First you will need squash(about a lb., sliced into rounds-about 3cups worth) & 1 onion(any type-I just happened to have a red onion)

Then you need to gather these items....
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 cup Mayo
1 cup grated Cheese(I use various Cheddars)
Bread Crumbs or Cracker Crumbs(optional)*not pictured*
Butter/Margarine(optional)*not pictured*

Put your squash slices and chopped onion in a sauce pan with a small amount of water. Boil until soft.(about 20-30 min.)
**You can do this step in a crockpot if you work and won't be home until right before dinner time. Just fill and turn on your crockpot in the morning on low. It should be ready to finish preparing when you are ready to start dinner.**

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Get out a casserole baking dish. A 2 quart dish or a brownie pan would work. I've also used a glass pie pan in a pinch. Glass or Corningware is best.

Crack your egg into the baking dish. Beat it a bit.

Add your Mayo.

Then the Sugar.
Then Pepper & Salt. I use about 1/4 teaspoon of each.
Be Careful with the salt, as the Cheese has salt in it too. You can always add salt to taste when it's on your plate and not add any salt into the dish before baking.

Then grate your cheese and add 1/2 cup of it to the mixture and stir.

Add the squash/onion to the mixture.

Stir it up and it should look like this. Doesn't look very yummy yet.....just wait!

Take the rest of your grated cheese and spread it on top of the mixture.

If you like a cracker/breading crust crumble up some Ritz type crackers or spread some bread crumbs on top.
Dot with butter/margarine.
**Sometimes I put the cracker crumbs on top if I am feeling the need for more carbs. I never dot with butter/margarine however. The Ritz type crackers are buttery enough for me.

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and browning on top. (Approximately 30 mins.)
And it should look like this.....
Without the big chunk taken out of course! I never get finished dishes pictures before the family attacks the

You can also double or triple this recipe, just use a bigger baking dish. I'll double it often and we have it as the main dish for a No Meat Meal. It is hardy and filling.
One of these days I'll get around to trying Zucchini in this Casserole too.

If you try this, let me know what you think and how it comes out.


How does Your Garden Grow?

We are overrun with Veggies!!!

Ok, so this really isn't a BAD problem, is it?lol
This is what hubby & I picked on Sunday. If this heat keeps up, we'll have to pick again in two days.

We planted 2 types of Summer Squash this year-the Straightneck and the Crooked Neck. I figured, since some years we can't grow ONE SINGLE summer squash, I'd cover all the bases and plant both types and hope one of them thrives.
Well, boy!....they both survived and flourished....and then some!!lolol

We only put in 2 zuke plants this year because, usually we plant 6 plants and are overrun with zucchinis, picking 10-15 zukes every week for 6 weeks or so. I figured 2 plants would cut down the zuke harvest by 2/3rds.
So of course, we plant 2 plants and we just last week harvested our first zuke. Sunday we picked 2 more and I think there is one single zuke left on a plant and no more flowers forming. 4 zukes total this season=2 zukes per plant. Did I buy the underachiever zucchini plants this year or what?LOL

The salad greens are still going strong, though I suspect the heat predicted for this week will do them in finally before the week is out. Then I can plow them under and reseed there with greens and spinach for a fall crop.

I need to get out to the garden soon and cut some more greens and take some of this bounty up to the people I have promised the overflow to.

What have you picked from your garden this past weekend or today?


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Summer of Peace & Quiet is Over

Yes, it's true.
The summer of '09 is over.....well, at least MY Summer is over.

Yesterday was the last day of Band Camp for #2 son. 2 Weeks of peace & quiet while he was at Band Camp has come to an end.
And tomorrow.......**sigh**.....tomorrow #1 son & daughter return from their jobs at the Camp on Lake Erie.

And the house will be filled with THREE TEENAGERS again.
And 3 dogs.
And hubby & I.

So I am spending today trying to get all the rest of the stockpile moved into the new organizational schematic out in the garage and all the new acquisitions from Acme-MANIA posted about HERE incorporated into said Stockpile.

I just sent #2 son's friend home with 2 shopping bags loaded down with Powerade and Vitamin Water since we have so much I know it won't all get used while it's still tasty.

I have also started a pile of duplicates to give to the Food Bank. Moving stuff around has uncovered more than I thought I had out there so some of it will be leaving here & spread some Food Love to those who can use it in my town.

In other news....

I just found a wonderful photo online. My daughter does NOT enjoy having her picture taken. I don't know how she snuck into this family of photo hogs!lol

Last year when she was in Counselor Training at Camp, the camp directors instituted an online Photo Album. The camp has someone wandering around every day taking candid photos of the kids at camp that week. The parents of the kids can go online and view these photos every day. Now, they take a bazillion photos a day for this online album. How many photos of my daughter do you think they took in 3 WEEKS at camp?

Exactly TWO.

She was very good at avoiding the photographer.
And she is very good at avoiding them again this year while she is working there.

But I found her Facebook page and she has NOT been able to avoid the photographer totally this year!
Daughter posted a couple of photos on her page.
And I saved those photos.
Here is one....

Daughter is second from the right in the black shorts.
And she has this STRANGE THING on her face!
No, wait!
I know what that is......

I almost didn't recognize it, as Daughter hasn't worn one in a very VERY long time!

Ok, so I admit it.
I do miss them all.
But if you say I said that, I'll deny it.
Especially after about 2 days home, when they start to get on my Last Nerve again.....
Cause that's how long it will take for them to wear out their welcome home.
Two days...tops!

Back to the of Cereal and Pop-Tarts.
Have I mentioned you really CAN have TOO MANY POP-TARTS!?!?

So what is everyone else doing this weekend?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Mother of All Shopping the last few Months at least

I got wind a couple of weeks ago, of a great Shopportunity coming up at the Acme chain of Grocery Stores.

This was a joint Unilever/General Mills Promotional deal that ran for 2 weeks at the SuperValu owned chains of grocery stores(Acme, Albertson's, etc.), from Aug.2-Aug. 13th. When you bought $30 in select Unilever &/or General Mills items, you received $15 in Catalina Coupons at the register. That $30 was based on REGULAR SHELF PRICE. Many of the items that qualified during the 1st week of the Promotion were ON SALE. Plus, many coupons were floating around both in the Sunday inserts & online printables to pair with the sale prices and the Catalina rewards.

I was able to scoot down to the "Land of Acmes" outside of Philly for 2 days during the 1st week of the sale.
You can check out my post HERE with the details of the Rewards for the Promotion and a list of what I bought the 1st day I shopped the sale.

I finally got 'most' of the food I bought(except for the refrigerated products)onto my dining room table(note-table with BOTH leaves in it!) and took a couple of pictures before it collapsed into a heap from the weight of all that stuff!lol
Here are 3 photos.

Pictured is all the food I bought--except for....
4x 12-packs of Snapple Tea
8x 1/2 Gallons of Milk
4x 4-packs of Yogurt
2 lbs. of grapes
1 loaf of bread
1 single serve cup of Ben & Jerry's(that never made it home!lol)
2x Milkbones boxes
1x Chex Mix
4 bags of Lay's Chips
2 Bags of Bugles

Here are 2 close-ups of everything from the 1st photo.

And here is a photo of all the Toiletries/Cleaning Supplies I got. Everything is here except for 3 large Dove Shampoos that I had already taken upstairs.

Here's the list of everything I bought.

8 BC Cake Mix
1 BC Warm Delights Snack Cake
15 boxes Nutri-Grain Bars
2 Nature Valley Nut Clusters
30 boxes Pop-Tarts
8 BC Brownie Mix
7 BC Frosting
32 Skippy Peanut Butter
19 Assorted GM Cereals(HN CHeerios, Kix, Honey Kix, Cookie Crisp, Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
4 boxes Lipton Tea
4 BC Cookie Mix
9 Wishbone Dressing
10 Hellman's Mayo
10 Lipton Dry Soup Mix
2 boxes of Chex Mix Bars
1 box of Fiber One Cereal Bars
4 boxes of Bisquick Mix
3 Chicken Helper
2 Macaroni Grill Dinner Kits
6 Ragu Pasta Sauces
5 Chex Mix
4 Bugles Snacks
1 Sobe Drink Bottle
2 6-pack of Soda
4 Cases of Snapple Tea
8 1/2 Gallons of Over the Moon Milk
4 4-packs of Yogurt
2 lbs. of grape
1 loaf of bread
1 single serve cup of Ben & Jerry's
2 boxes of Milkbones
12 Q-Tips
2 Suave Body Wash
3 Degree Deodorant
2 Degree Body Mist
4 Vaseline Lotion
10 Dove Ultimate Deodorant
2 Dove Body Mist
2 Degree Men's Deodorant
16 All Laundry Detergent
8 Dove Shampoo(large size)

That's 271 Items in 10 hours of shopping.
That's 11 Transactions that contained 26 orders of $30 or more.
The first order(a triple order) cost me OOP $58.81.
The total for all orders after that was $13.24OOP.
A Total OOP of $72.05 including tax for everything.

I earned $15 in Catalinas for each of the 26 $30 orders. 26x$15=$390.
I also earned an additional $12 in Cats for 4 of those orders(double dipping or overlapping deals). 4x$12=$48
And for every 2 Skippy Natural PBs purchased I received a $1 Cat. 32 jars divided by 2=16x$1=$16.
TOTAL Catalinas earned $454.

I spent $330 Cats over the course of the trips(most of them on items that were NOT part of the Promo like the Pop-Tarts, Milk, Nutri-Grain Bar, etc), so I have $124 Cats left to spend when I go back to Acme next week.
(Well I WILL have that much once I get the $15 from Catalina Marketing that didn't print due to an item not being programmed into the computer for this sale AND the $45 in Cats that were STOLEN from me by the Customer Service Person in the Horsham PA store.)

With Coupons and Catalinas spent I SAVED a Total of $942.86.
The Value of everything I purchased comes to....
A savings of 93%.

Just imagine how much I could have carted home if I didn't live 2 hours away and I had a full week down there to hit the stores?
I would need to buy a second home to hold it

This haul should keep the kids in Junk Food around here at least through the end of the year and still leave me plenty to send to #1 son at college in care packages.

Let me just state for the record that YES!....there is such a thing as TOO MANY POP-TARTS!