Thursday, March 31, 2011


So it's been cloudy and cold all week here. Ugh! But yesterday Jon sent me an e-mail with Living Social's Escape and it was to Orlando and Daytona.

Calgon, take me away.

The Living Social Escape is for $295 for 4 people, 3 night's in Orlando at the Kissimmee Country Inns & Suites. They offer a shuttle to and from Disney parks and free breakfast. Then, 2 nights in Daytona at Inn on the Beach. On. The. Beach. My kids would be sold. They also offer free breakfast.

So, naturally being curious, I looked into hotel prices. Of course, depending on what time of year you're looking at, the prices fluctuate. If you look for next month, they start as low as $30 a night including breakfast. That is a 1 star hotel. So 3 nights at $30 is $90 for Orlando. They do not offer shuttle to and from Disney, so if you're flying you'll need to rent a car.

Hotel prices in Daytona were a little more. $51 per night including breakfast. It was not oceanfront, though, as LS's hotel is. So then you have $102 for Daytona. That would make the total $220 for 5 nights after tax.

Here are the minus' that I can see. You'll need to rent a car, if you fly, to get from Orlando to Daytona. That may be fine if you do a day of Disney before you head to Daytona, though. Check out of the hotel, put your suitcases into the car and use the shuttle to and from. Another thing I would wonder about is how 'available' the dates are.

So bottom line, I would call the 1-800 number at the bottom of the deal with all questions you may have, and your dates in mind. I talked to my mom to refresh my memory on how much we paid for the hotel when we went 2 years ago. For 3 nights where we stayed, the LS deal is still cheaper. And you get breakfast! Remember to factor in all the costs though. The cost of the flight, the car, the theme park tickets, food and the hotel before buying the deal.

And now I'm off finish cleaning my house. The bathrooms need my undivided attention. Again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saving At Victory

I took Konnor and Liana with me on a jaunt this morning. We dropped Isabella off at school, went to the office and got registration paperwork for next year, went to the coffee shop and filled it out, went back to the school and registered, went to Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshall's, Ross and finally came home.


I'm tired just thinking about it.

Plus it's cold here. Hence, chili for dinner.

Why am I registering Isabella so early? Simple. To save $125.

She goes to a private Christian school. As you can imagine when you hear the words 'private' and 'Christian' and 'school' in the same sentence, money is not far behind. And probably lots of it. Such is the case with this school. I know quite a few people that want to send their children to this school but feel it is too expensive. I'm one of them!

There are a few tricks to saving money, even at Victory. First, the General Fees. At Victory you can save 50% if you enroll by April 28th. They range anywhere from $175 on up. For Isabella's age they are $250, so we saved $125.

Tuition- Victory has discounts if you pay by the semester of the year. A 2% discount if you opt for semester, and 3% if you opt for the full year.

New Student Referral- For each new student that starts at Victory because you have suggested it to them, or given them information, you get a $300-$500 credit after their first full semester. That means if a family of 5 starts there, you get $2500 off! For this credit to work, though, the new family must fill out a certificate with your name on it. They can be picked up at the main office. Why $300-$500? Well, it depends on the amount on the back of the certificate. Maybe more is offered at different times. I'd be looking for the $500 certificates!!!

Multiple Children Discount- The first child is full price, but the second child gets a 15% discount on tuition, the third gets a 30% discount, the fourth a 90% discount and any others are free. That is pretty awesome if you have 5 or more children!

Member Discount- If you are a member of Victory, you get $100 per child voucher. Which is less than 2% for the first child, but more than 2% for the second and others.

Work the discounts that are offered! If you're considering private school, ask them if they have any discounts. What's the worst thing that can happen, they say no? It's worth asking about.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Living Out The Budget

Have you ever heard of Murphy's Law? It goes 'Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong'. Maybe you've heard it as 'When it rains, it pours'. At the moment we're living inside of Murphy's law with 2 broke down cars, and a tire that blew on the driveable one. So how do you stay on budget while it's pouring?

We've had suggestions of selling both cars, buying a new one and paying payments. First, we haven't had a payment in 8 years. Second, our budget cannot handle a payment. And third, I don't like the added pressure on the budget. Eek!

What's our solution? We sold the truck. I am really sad. I love that truck. The leather interior, the cargo space, the cream color...*sigh*. I didn't love the gas guzzling, though. And the money we got for selling it will help pay to fix the van. The van's a Honda, and will go until at least 250,000 miles. We have lots of miles left!

So that's what we're doing! It's not ideal. I'd love a new vehicle. But wisdom, and budget, do not allow it at this time. This is real life in a budgeting world, folks!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dear Secret Millionaire,

I saw your segment last night on ABC, or CBS, or PBS...whichever station you're on, and I was deeply disturbed. $55 for 5 days for one person is more than enough to eat on. Let me show you how.

I am assuming that you won't be sale shopping, so I'll put the amounts for the items at the most I think they'd be. Do not buy name brand. May be scary for you, but welcome to the real world.

Gallon of milk $4
Box of cereal $3
Loaf of bread $1.50
Peanut Butter $2
Jelly $2
Box of Ramean Noodles $2
Apples $3
Oranges $3
Dozen eggs $2
Rice $1
Whole Chicken $5
Black Beans Canned $2
Spaghetti $1
Spaghetti Sauce $2

Total= $33.50 + tax

I'm sure you're used to people cooking for you, so here's a little help.
  • To make rice, the ratio is 2 to 1. Boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of rice and bring it back to a boil. Turn the burner on low and cover. Check it in about 15 minutes. 
  • To cook a chicken, thaw it and wash it. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your chicken into a pan and cook it for about an hour, until the juices run clear and the insides are not pink. You can eat this all week. Add it to your pasta, your black beans and eat it on bread.
I hope the next time you are given $55 for 5 days, you'll stop by my sight and look at the list I made for you. 

Carmen Cavanaugh

Saturday, March 26, 2011

'Method' to My Madness

Yesterday was the first time in ages that I went to Walgreen's. They haven't had a whole lot lately in the way of items I want. But this week, they do!

First up, Method hand soap. I love it. It smells amazing. Plus the green one looks perfect anywhere in my house. The price this week is $2.99 and you get a $2 RR back to use on a future purchase. Score!

Next, pick flossers. I love them and it's a great deal this week. A pack of 90 is $2.00 and you get a $2 RR to use on a future purchase.

Last in my purchase was Almay makeup. It's 30% off this week, and there's a $2 Walgreen's coupon you can use in the book at the cosmetics counter. Plus, when you buy an Almay item, you get a $5 RR to use. So if the item is on sale for $5, you use the $2 coupon, you pay $3 and get back $5 to use on a future purchase.

Here's what my purchases looked like:
Transaction #1
Method Hand Soap- $2.99
Dental Flossers- $2.00
Total= $4.99 + tax
Received 2- $2 RR

Transaction #2
Almay Makeup- $6.99
2 Snickers Eggs- $1.00 (Easter's coming!!!)
- $2 Wags Coupon
- $2 RR from Method
- $2 RR from Flossers
Total = $1.99 + tax
Received $5 RR

Transaction #3
Method Hand Soap- $2.99
Dental Flossers- $2.00
Laffy Taffy- $0.15
- $5 RR
Total= $0.14 + tax

You can use the Method RR on the Flossers to only pay tax, also. The sale ends today, so get out there and get some!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Final Chapter

So this is the end. It's a long last chapter too. So get comfortable and enjoy!

After leaving Tennessee, we headed up to Iowa for a surprise visit to my family. They were definitely surprised. Although, my brother asked my mom if she liked her surprise before she even got it, kicking her Nancy Drewness into overdrive. My sister apparently cannot lie, so she admitted to Mom that we were in fact there. Siblings.

Well there was a whole lot of good. My family and grandparents were totally excited. The kids got to spend lots of time with their grandparents and at the houses' of my grandparents. I think the highlight for the girls would've been the Chinese restaurant my dad took us to Thursday. All you can eat sushi. 2 plates each. My girls get their money's worth at Chinese restaurants! The next best thing, they saw a heifer being born. Well, on Isabella. Liana saw her about 5 minutes after she'd been born. They wanted to name her Princess and Keisha. We always love visiting family.

There wasn't any bad! There was only catastrophic, so I'll skip the bad.

I. Lost. My. Phone. How I cannot tell you. All I know, is I remember reading a text from my friend Laura Mae on Saturday after we got back from the farm and then I couldn't find it. It has all of the pictures and video from the girls riding their horses. It has so many pictures from our entire trip. And no, I didn't have them backed up. We left Sunday morning late because I was still desperately searching for it.

Then, about an hour and a half from our house, our truck broke down. Brilliant. What a day. Luckily we were able to make it off the interstate and the first restaurant was Pizza Hut. I'd been craving their breadsticks for the last 100 miles. God was taking care of my smallest desire. It was perfect. So we ate pizza and waited for our ride.

The icing on the cake came Tuesday when I got a text from my mom saying that my Grampsy was cancer free. It's not something I've shared freely, but he was diagnosed with it back in November. It's been an extremely tough road for the family, and was part of the decision to head up there last week. You have to enjoy the time you have left! So for him to have a scan and the doctor tell him there is no cancer in his body is a great feeling. God is awesome! And doctors are pretty cool too.

Our food total was *drumroll please* $162. Overbudget! Our meal while we were waiting actually was about $20 more than I would've spent at the grocery store on the way to the house for dinner, but whaddya do?! We are so glad to be home! I've been spring cleaning this week (ugh) and am ready for my long run (still training for my half marathon!) and enjoying time in the garden this weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tennessee Edition

When we left camping, we headed to Tennessee to spend time with some close friends. Living in Oklahoma (which is flat where we are) makes you really appreciate the beauty of the mountains of Tennessee.  We ended up staying in a hotel while we were in town that had breakfast. For our family, that saved us a minimum of $10 a day. When you're booking a hotel, keep in mind how much it will cost you for breakfast, a decent breakfast that won't make you hungry in an hour. If your room including that is less, than that's a good deal! And less of a hassle for you.
Living in Tennessee for 6 years (Jon lived there 8) we forged some pretty amazing bonds. Some live in our city, some stretch out across the country and world, but some remain in Cleveland. It was so wonderful to spend time with people that we love so much. I got to hold a baby (which made we want one), see a friend's new house, eat delicious food, spend girl time with old and new friends and catch up on the latest. The city has grown a lot since we lived there! 
The kids had a wonderful time making new friends, showing off, being spoiled by Mimi, riding horses and riding the train. We have heard nonstop about horses and trains. They were so sad to leave, that they cried when we told them it was time to go.
Konnor's train ride

Was there any bad? Maybe my leg muscles feeling like jelly after running 4 miles (hills are not easy) which I felt I had to do after the delish caramel pecan cake I ate. Maybe being sent home with a quarter of the delicious cake who's frosting I could eat for every meal.

My name's Carmen. I love sugar. Especially frosting.

On a serious note, though, my friend Janna had strep. So I only saw her...maybe for 3 hours total? We were looking forward to early breakfasts with all our kids and coffee, late night laugh fests, kids enjoying each other and the list is endless. Next time!

There's no question what I'd put here. Lydia Garrett. My friend whom I haven't seen in almost 2 years, whom I love dearly and whom I never got to hug and have coffee with. Next trip, I will hug Lydia!!!!

It was such a great leg of the trip. The kids really adore our close friends there and made new friends of their own. It was neat to bring them back to the place where it all began for our little family and share with them the people that were so much a part of our lives and remain such. They are already begging to redo the trip!

I haven't forgotten about my $150 food challenge. I will put that at the end of tomorrow's post!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recap of Camping

Before I start on our camping trip, I want to revisit yesterday's post. I was using Huggies for an example. Little did I know they actually are on sale! And there is a Target coupon for $2.50 off. Click here to print out the TQ (find it quickly under the Baby category), which you can print twice. Click here to print out a Manufacturer coupon for $2 off 1 package of Huggies which you can also print twice. That would make them $8- $2.50 TQ-$2MQ = $3.50 plus tax per package. You don't have to do different transactions either. I recommend handing them one at a time to make sure the full amount is deducted.

 Well, it was an amazing adventure. We are home, for the most part unpacked and completely enjoying the spring weather we came home to. I love the smell of spring, especially when my whole house can smell like it!

I got a lot of great photos! And I think I'm going to make the kids a small photo book of our trip. I have a credit at Picaboo that I need to use!
We had so. much. fun. I am not one for camping, normally, but this trip changed my mind. The scenery was breathtaking, the trails were kid friendly and not one time did I ever feel unsafe. We had plenty of food (enjoyed a high fat meal of hot dogs and brauts) and drinks that we brought with. I had a whole crate of just food and utensils. Another plus, we were on the top of the mountain, so at night you could see the city below.
 Since this was very new to the kids, they were totally excited, the whole time. Which is what we want! But not around the campfire while we're cooking the hot dogs.

Another negative...I love Boy Scouts, but not a whole troop camped pretty close to us. They don't have the bedtime my kids, and even I have. They were going strong at 10 PM.
It was so cold at night. We were going to bring the hot water bottle (but I forgot) so Jon threw big rocks into the fire. They  got hot & he wrapped them in towels and put them in our beds. He's pretty much awesome! But around midnight, I hadn't stopped shivering (says he) so we got the kids and all piled into the truck for the rest of the night. It warmed up fast and we only woke up once to warm it up again, four hours later.
But look at those views!!! The good definitely outweighed the bad and ugly, such as they were. We learned a couple of things that we would do different next time, but had such a fantabulous time that I would do it over in a heartbeat!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Target's Always On My Mind

Well, we have returned from our grand adventure. It was quite a trip, which I will have to give you in detail at a later date. I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything. But I promise to fill you in on the Good (family, fun, friends), the Bad (Sleeping in the car, losing my phone) and the UGLY (car breaking down...) as soon as possible! I know you can't wait to hear it!

But on my mind today, is Target. Possibly because I want to take a trip there. But mostly because as I was looking at my Red Plum mailer (the one that has coupons) and tearing out the coupons I might use possibly, I noticed an ad for the Target price less the coupon. Which reminded me...

Lots of people don't know that has printable coupons. And...

Lots of people don't know that you can use a Target coupon (TQ) with a Manufacturer coupon (MQ)!

So here's a Best Case Scenario:
Target Ad- Huggies $8.99
MQ- Huggies -$1.50
TQ- Huggies- $1.50
Total: $5.99

It's not always such a breeze. There is no way to know whether the printable is a TQ or an MQ. But, always in a search to make life easier, I have found a website that looks promising!

If I find amazing deals, I'll post them for you. But peruse for yourself and see what you find. Even without a MQ to stack with it, the TQ for buy 1 get 1 free for Reese's PB Cups looks very promising!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another Vacation Deal

Yet again, I'm going to sing the praises of a little research.

I'm sure you read my post about the horseback riding lessons for the girls. Right? If not, we'll chat later. So the very same man (my awesome hubby) that found the great deal on the girls' horseback riding lessons, struck again!
Isabella riding Imp
Liana riding Zip
It was an hour of pure joy for the girls. Apart from every couple of minutes Isabella was distracted by something, and Liana kept saying 'Ew, gross. I see it's b**t' for the first 15 minutes. Oy vay!

Konnor was feeling a little left out, because he was too little to have a lesson. I was fine with that, he can't have everything! Plus he's not quite 4, and we all know you start to get everything you've ever wanted when you turn 4 (sarcasm noted). But this is spring break and our first 'family vacation', so we wanted to do something each child would love. The girls were easy, with their horse love lately. Konnor was actually easier, but more expensive.

This past year, Konnor has become quite the tall tale teller. He tells all kinds of stories about going to Mex-i-clo when he was a daddy, and how he used to be a daddy then grew to be a little boy. More recently stories about a cat scratching him on the next and his eyes breaking out. I could write a book from this boy! But one story that has always stayed true, is that he wants to go on a train trip with Daddy across the world.

There happens to be a train ride that lasts about an hour, in Chattanooga. Which, if you don't know, is about 30-45 minutes from where we are depending on what part you're going to. It was going to cost $24 for Jon and Konnor, which isn't bad. If all 5 of us were going...well all 5 of us probably wouldn't go. Then Jon goes and searches for a coupon code and found one that made Konnor's ticket free. That bumps the total down to $15.

I am doing my happy dance right now. I'm glad you can't see it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

We're Alive!

We've always got a plan. For our trip, our plan was to camp in Arkansas and Tennessee before we hit Cleveland, TN to spend time with our friends. Thursday, due to a stellar Parent/Teacher Conference, we got a late start. It would've been too late to set up our campsite, so before we hit the road we got a hotel room. Packed up and ready to hit the road!

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned I'm not a huge camper. So I was not exactly thrilled with the idea, even though it was my idea. But my kids absolutely love nature and camping. After this trip, I will definitely do it more!
It was beyond beautiful on the top of the mountain.
Konnor loved helping Daddy pitch the tent and look for firewood.
We layered up as soon as the tent was done.
The trails were amazing. I cannot even begin to take a picture that would do this park justice.
I was given so many flowers hehe.
Our first night was a success. We had to sleep in the truck around midnight which I think contributed to the 5:30am wake up...I'm still recovering. But Jon had a strong french press coffee made on the camp fire that was amazing.

Thank you Jesus for Jon.

We had the best time. For Thursday and Friday, our food total was $52. That was for all of our meals and snacks for camping. And we have a lot left over that we'll be using while here in Tennessee. So far I've used 1/3 of my food budget. I'm keeping my receipts! Hope you're having a great spring break!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Save While Travelling

I have said over and over how planning is key (in my opinion) to making your budget work. That can be extended to almost every area.

Yesterday I posted how we are going camping, then to visit friends in Tennessee. We want this trip to be extremely fun packed, but don't want to spend outrageously. When I posted about websites I like, I mentioned Living Social. Again, a Groupon kind of deal. What I love about these websites, is they feature deals for cities all over the US. Living Social even posts vacation deals.

I have seriously been tempted to buy. $995 for 4 nights in Cancun for 2 people? Yes please!

Well, knowing where you are going to be can help you save money on the fun activities. Jon looked up Chattanooga, TN for deals on Living Social and they have a horseback riding lesson for $15 for 1 hour. Our girls have really been into horses lately, so they are going to flip when they find out they get to have riding lessons!!! And for 50% of the normal cost, I can be just as excited with them!

So if you know you're going to another city, and want to try and plan some activities, start having these websites send you deals for that city as far in advance as you can. You may just get lucky like we did!

Keep us in your prayers as we head out on our journey.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Travel Challenge- $150 Food Budget

Gosh, I blinked and it was Wednesday!

Here we are gearing up for Spring Break. Because we live so far from family, our breaks are always spent visiting family. I'm not complaining, I absolutely adore visiting our family. But this year, I wanted to do an actual family trip! So we are going camping. In a tent.

I enjoy the outdoors. I am not a super huge fan of camping after our last trip, when a bear ran through the campground just past our tent. I have never felt so completely subject to something not in my control. And freaked. I didn't sleep so well after that. But my children love it, or what they remember of it. So camping it is.

I bought a lot of food that we don't normally eat. Juice boxes, snack crackers, granola bars, hot dogs, brauts...and oh so much more in preparation for this trip. Plenty of fruit also. I think the kids may actually be more excited about the food than the actual camping.

Of course, with budgeting in my veins, I wanted to know what kind of a budget we're working with. We are only camping a couple of nights, then going to visit with friends in Tennessee. I like to get on the same page, spending wise. Jon thought we needed $150 for food. I almost choked! So I told him let me buy some food (of course we'd need to anyways for camping) and then we can talk. My total was $30 so far. There is still more to buy, but this should be good for the entire camping trip, snacks while we travel and some while in Tennessee.

I'll try to keep you updated on how our food spending is going. I cannot, however, guarantee I will post frequently because service may be spotty! I will take lots of pictures and post them when I can! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to spend about $20 on band-aids and first aid kit supplies. I like to be prepared.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut, Sometimes You Don't

Some days I got nuthin'. Do you ever feel like you completely overload yourself over the weekend? Then when Monday comes got nothing left? I feel like that today.

It was a great weekend! Don't get me wrong. I just fit as much as possible into the weekend. So today, that's what I'll leave you with! I'm going to eat a Dove chocolate, take a quick nap, and then make some tea.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Check Me Out!

In an earlier post, I mentioned the website Crumbs and Chaos. They asked me to share a recipe with their readers, and I was so excited! I love their website and visit it often. Like pretty much every day. So head on over there today to view a family favorite recipe that I've shared.

*Warning* It's not budget! I know. We all have to get out of our comfort zone sometimes. Where it lacks in savings, it makes up for in taste. It's delish!

Friday, March 4, 2011

So You Think You Can SAHM...

First, before I get to the major part of my post, I would like to say Happy Friday!!!! I'm doing my Friday dance right now as I drink my Americano! I love the weekends. I really miss having all my kids home with me during the weekdays. I know. Crazy weird homeschooly mom. Look at that, though. Who wouldn't want to be around this lovey?! Possibly me when I haven't had my coffee and she's throwing some major 'tude.

Where was I? Oh yes, staying home with the kiddos.

I've never been able to give someone a step by step answer for their being able to afford staying home with their children. Each situation is so very different from the next. Every family is different from their neighbor. It's hard to say 'Do 1,2 & 3 and you can stay home'.

I tried to break it down to simple, (fairly) all encompassing steps that will help you afford to stay home with your kiddos. First, though, I think you should ask yourself some questions:
  1. Is your spouse/other in agreement?
  2. Do you budget?
  3. What are your reasons for wanting to stay home with the kids?
Number 1- There has to be agreement for it to work. You've heard the phrase 'A house divided cannot stand'...well you can stand but it will be extremely difficult. Come to an agreement on a period of time where you get to try it, and then agree to re-assess the situation after it's over. Sometimes they need to 'see' it before they are ok with it.

Number 2- If you don't, do. You need to know how much money needs to come in each month. You need to know if the income from the one job is enough to cover the expenses. If you can trim then get out the butcher knife!

Number 3- You need to know why you're wanting to stay home. If it's from a desire to see your kids grow and really get to know them as a person you need to know that. If it's because you're tired of working...quit being lazy! Staying home with kids IS work!!

Now that you've sifted through all that, let's get to the good stuff. These are things that I think will get you well on your way to staying home with your kiddos, and enjoying it.
  1. Live off one income for a few months before you quit. It will help you and your family get used to the smaller budget. On the upside, you will be able to save the second income!
  2. Get out of debt. Not a necessity, but certainly will help trim down on your monthly expenses. 
  3. Listen to 'In Praise of Stay At Home Moms' by Dr. Laura
  4. Enjoy your kids!
If you're starting a 'trial period', then make it amazing! If you're going to be doing it full time until the kids begin school, I suggest joining a MOPS program. MOPS is Mothers Of PreSchoolers. They meet every other week (mine meets on Wednesdays) for 2 hours. They are encouraging and uplifting to mothers, while providing safe childcare for your children. Every mom needs to get away sometimes.

I may have forgotten something, so just ask! Like I said, every situation is different. But if it's truly something that you want to do, something in your heart, then I believe you can find a way! If it's something you sort of want to do, give it a shot! They are only young for a short amount of time. Enjoy it while you can.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Staying Home

Over the past month I've had a lot of people ask me about staying at home with the kids-. 2 things mostly- how can I afford it and how do I handle it.

Well, the jury is still out on how I handle it! Some days are great...some days I'm lucky I didn't gain 25 pounds from stress-eating of chocolate. Before I had babies my head was filled with a montage of photos of how blissful and carefree each day would be. In those photos my kids all looked like me.

Obviously a dream on sooo many levels since my kids look so much like their dad.

Little tricks (like making a double batch of oatmeal and eggs) help a lot in the mornings getting Isabella off to school. I get up early to workout and shower, or do it during quiet time. When Isabella & Liana were little I would put Lia in a Snugli, Bug in the stroller and I'd do my walking with them. It was great to get out in the fresh air, and they loved it!

It was so much easier for me when they were little, because we'd just enjoy the day. Playing in the yard, finger painting, hide and little kid stuff. As they grow, play time is more complex, attitudes need adjusting and school is thrown in the mix. But with three kids, they are constantly learning and so am I.

Life is messy! It's not clean and perfect and precise. So I try to roll with the imperfections. Don't we all? I'm not nearly as together, my house isn't always clean and I forget things if I don't write them down. But it's getting better.

One book (I actually did the audiobook) that was a wonderful tool and I would recommend to every Mom at home, is 'In Praise of Stay At Home Moms' by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. It's wonderful!

As for how I can afford it? Hmm...that deserves it's own post. So I'll save that for tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Movie Night for $9

Right now on Living Social (click here), you can buy 2 movie tickets for $9. This is a great deal!!!! I got a deal similiar to this for Jon and I to go on a date. We saw the movie on IMAX 3D which was amazing!

Details to Know:
You have to buy the tickets off when you go to use your deal (it is actually through them) so there can be a convenience fee. When I got this deal before, I paid $11 for the two tickets. Sometimes the total value is applied (in this case it would be $30) but not always. So be prepared to pay $2-4 more than $9.

The first day you can use the deal is tomorrow, so keep in mind you can't go tonight.

Remember, if you buy the deal then forward it to 3 friends that buy it too, you get yours for free!

Go get it!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Salad is to Men...

what Mufasa is to Shenzi. Case in point, the video below. Not the best quality, but I'm sure it would resonate with your interpretation of how it would go, telling your man salad is for dinner.

 The nutritional value alone is a huge bonus. Getting a guy to eat it for dinner...what's the opposite of huge bonus? Huge depletion?

If I lived in an ideal world, I would eat raw fruit and veggies 95% of the time. I love salads, but do get burned out after a while a take a break. We have been on a break, so now I'm gearing up to start making them again! Jon likes salad too, so having it for dinner isn't really a no win zone.

One of his musts for having a salad, though, is it needs to have meat on it. I tried getting away with veggie only salads, but was quickly rebuffed. After a couple of years, I have quite a few salads that have been winners in our house. 

  • Cobb Salad- Diced Ham, Diced Turkey (or chicken), Cheese, Tomato, Lettuce, Bacon, Croutons, Dressing & Avacado (if you want)
  • BBQ Chicken Salad- Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese, Grilled Chicken Strips, Carrots, Cheese Quesadilla, BBQ Ranch Dressing (equal parts bbq sauce to ranch dressing)
  • Monte Cristo Salad- Lettuce, Swiss Cheese, Diced Turkey, Diced Ham, Tomato, Raspberry Dressing
  • Fajita Salad- Lettuce, Tomato, Carrot, Cheese, Fajita Meat, Cheese Quesadilla, Dressing
  • Taco Salad- Lettuce, Cheese, Tomato, Carrot, Red Cabbage, Taco Meat, Crushed Tortilla Chips, Salsa & Sour Cream Dressing
  • Black & Bleu Salad- Lettuce, Tomato, Red Cabbage, Steak (leftover!), Bleu Cheese, Croutons, Dressing
One thing I try to do to cut down on the cost, is buy iceberg and mix it with a leaf lettuce. Lettuce (the most I've paid) is $1.90 for a head of leaf lettuce. Use half for a salad and the other half for tacos another night.

Also, if we're doing a lot of Mexican/Southwest dishes, I might keep a black bean & corn relish in the fridge. It makes a great topper. 

A little tip for adding carrots to the salad... sometimes the flavor can be too much as a slice. After I peel it and cut off the ends, I use the peeler to make small thin peelings of carrot. Or I will grate it. Make sure you start at the fat end to use  the majority of the carrot.

These salads are a great way to use leftover meats from grilling, eating out, another meal...the possibilities are endless! And it's a one pot meal. All your vegetables, protein, dairy & fat (even carbs sometimes) in one place. Hmm, maybe salads will become the new casserole!