Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dreaming

Its tax time. I use to dread it, but now that we get a good return I am really excited! Having a good paying job, a deployment and a new baby all in one year makes for a good chunk of money. I don't feel like talking numbers, but here are our plans:

Firstly we will pay off most of our bills.
We still owe on our sofa and love seat that I bought from Haverty's. It was expensive, but I don't regret buying it. It was a good investment. I'm happy to be paying it off!
We will also be paying off our credit card. It will be a good thing to have it paid off, and we will only use it to buy gas and we plan to pay it off each month so it will help our credit.
Doing these two things alone will save us $150-200 each month.

Next we are doing stuff just for us.
I think I may be getting that Mac that I've been wanting for YEARS! I think I'm the only one left without one. If I don't talk myself out of it again I will have one soon. Usually when the time comes I decide I don't want to spend that much money, but hopefully this time I'll just do it! We really need a new computer. The one we have now is slowly dying. It decided last week that it hates YouTube and will flicker and go black whenever we play a video.
I'm thinking about maybe finding a good deal on a PS3 for my husband. We'll see about that though. That might be saved for next year.
Another great thing is a vacation. We were thinking a cruise at the end of the year. Something cheap and nothing fancy. Just a chance to get away together.


Enough money talk.

Today my mother-in-law came and got Lorelei and kept her overnight. The left around 2:30 so I had the whole afternoon to myself. I don't think I have ever been in my house alone. I mean really, I have NEVER had this house to myself. It was so relaxing. I miss her to pieces, but this was a much welcomed break! Tonight David and I had the night together and we went out of town to see Jeff Dunham. Who thought a ventriloquist could be so funny! This man is hilarious! We had planned to go to Olive Garden since we don't have one near us, but they closed before our show was over so I missed it. It was a nice evening together though. Our 2nd anniversary is Mondy and this was our night out I guess, even though hopefully we'll do something nice then too.

I'm excited to go to bed now. I won't have to listen to a baby monitor. I won't have to worry about waking up. I am going to go to sleep and sleep all night long and then sleep on into the morning until I decide to wake up. Thats right, I will wake up whenever I want to. I'll sleep the day away if I decide too.

I'm a mommy though. My body is programmed to wake up at ungodly hours whether there is a baby here or not. I will probably get up in the morning and finish cleaning the house. My grandma is bringing Lorelei home and I'm sure by the time they get here I will be missing her something serious.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More about coupons and shopping... because I'm obsessed.

A few weeks ago my coupon collection outgrew my small accordion style folder and I bought a new one that was a bit bigger. I outgrew the new one in a few days which gave me a great excuse to go to Office Max.. or was it Office Depot? Either way, it was office supplies! I wish I had a home office that I had hundreds of dollars I could use to decorate it and stock it full of the best post-it notes and recycled folders. Just walking through the doors of Office MaxDepot makes me happy. I bought the cutest binder and some inserts that are made for pictures, but they work perfect for my coupons. I got the post-it labels to mark sections and now I have plenty of space to grow!!



I'm so pathetic with my coupon and planning though. I keep getting better at it though! We get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month, so this past 15th I had my list ready to go to Publix and Winn-Dixie. Honestly I had the lists ready the second the sales papers came out around the 10th. I always have trouble sticking to the lists exactly, especially when David goes with me, but that is something I'm working on!
This paycheck (I call each half of the month a paycheck.. 1st-14th is one paycheck, and 15th-the end of the month is another) I went grocery shopping 3 times. I know its a bit extreme, but I go to Publix and Winn-Dixie because they have different things on sale. I went to Publix on the 15th and 16th because the sales end on the 15th and new ones come out on the 16th so I got two different sales. In total I bought $266 worth of groceries and I only spent $151 which is right on target for our budget.

I will admit that I went to Wal-Mart today to buy a movie that I had a coupon for and somebody stuck 5lbs of ground beef in the fridge at the checkout so when I went to grab a Dr. Pepper I took it as a sign that someone knew that I must have needed some ground beef and put it right there so that I didn't have to venture into the food side of Wal-Mart (gosh I HATE Wal-Mart!) Of course I bought the ground beef.. it cost $13.. but I came straight home and sliced it up and froze part and have some ready to use tomorrow. Ok.. I didn't come straight home.. I got distracted by Krispy Kreme and that dang red light. Its so pathetic that I didn't even have to drive by to see it.. I just know that its a certain time of the day so it is time for hot donuts.. Our area Krispy Kreme has hot donuts starting around 5:30pm until they close.

Back to my point... I saved $115. If only I could show you what all I bought!! I thought about taking a picture, but I got distracted on the phone with my mom and by the time I got refocused on groceries I figured I better put them away before things melt.

I will list some off of my receipts:

Target

2 Purina Cat Treats @ $0.89 each (2 $1 off coupons)
2 Friskies Cat Treats @ $1.34 each (2 $1 off coupons)

Total Spent: $0.77
Total Saved: $4.26

Publix (trip 1)

2 NY Breadsticks and Texas Toast - 2 for $4 (2 coupons for $0.50 off each)
4 Hormel meats - $4.99 each (4 $1 off coupons)
2 Pillsbury ready to bake cookies - $2 each ($1 off 2 coupon)
2 Dishwand replacements - 2 for $3 ( 2 coupons for $0.75 off - just noticed that only one got scanned)
3 six packs of Jello pudding - 3 for $6 ($1 off 3)
2 bags of Bertolli skillet pasta - 7.99 each ($1.50 off 2 coupon plus $2 off Publix coupon - total 3.50
4 big cans of Premium Swanson Chicken - $3.59 BOGO makes them $1.79ea (2 $0.75 off 2 coupons)
2 cans of Campbells Select Harvest Soup - coupon in Publix ad for $0.75 off and manf. coupon for $0.35
Cool Whip - BOGO - only bought one for half price - $1.95 (Target coupon for $0.50 off)
Hormel Sesame Chicken and Marie Callendars Chicken Parmesan - 2 for $3 ($1 off 2 coupon)
2 Whelches Grape Juice - BOGO makes them both $2.99 (used 2 $1 off coupons)
Box of Brillo Pads - $1.69 - ($0.55 off coupon)
2 Bags of Meow Mix cat food - BOGO - 4.89 for both

Total Spent: $67.92
Total Saved: $50.28

Publix (trip 2)

Tortilla wraps - Olive Oil (the fancy kind)
Sweet Potato
Mama Mia 3pk of Pizza Crusts - BOGO - 1.85 ea (only bought one)
Sargento Shredded Cheese - $2 - ($1.50 off coupon)
6 Pillsbury Cresent rolls - 3 for $5 (2 $0.75 off 2 and 1 $0.50 off 2)
2 Crisco 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 2 for $6 (2 $0.50 off 1)
Sea Salt Grinder

Total Spent: $22.02
Total Saved: $20.63
(I only had coupons for the olive oil, cresent rolls and shredded cheese.. the other is what happens when I don't stick to my list)

Winn-Dixie

2 boxes of Muellers spaghetti noodles BOGO
Mini Cheeseburgers
8pk of bottled coke (free w/ purchase of cheeseburgers)
State Fair Corndogs
4 Microwaveable Hormel meals
3 boxes of Hamburger Helper 10 for $10
Chef Boyardee 10 for $10
4 cans of Campbells soup 10 for $10
2 Jello instant pudding 10 for $10
Gallon of Milk
2 packs of ground beef
2 Ziploc freezer bags 
Asparagus
Bananas
2 Tidy Cats litter BOGO

Total Spent: $63.66
Total Saved: $45.95
(I had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon I got in the mail for joining their Baby Club)
(I may have bought more or less.. Winn-Dixie receipts are really hard to read. Note though that on any of these if I buy 2 of anything it was buy one get one free and I usually have a coupon)

I hope all of that isn't overwhelming.. I'm not good at making these lists. Publix makes their receipts easy to read, but I can't understand Winn-Dixie's. We've got so much food now. Even though in total I'm spending the same as I did before, I have so much more food and we aren't having to stretch it out and hope we have enough until the next payday. 

I am also able to experiment and try new things with foods that I had always wanted to try but never wanted to pay for. Like the extra virgin olive oil is something I would never buy before because on the cheap side its $5 for a small bottle. I've got 3 bottles in my cabinet now though and I haven't paid a lot of any of it. 

We love the Hormel meats too but they are usually almost $7 each, but they were on sale this week for $4.99 and I had a bunch of $1 off coupons. Cresent rolls is another expensive thing we love, but thankfully they went on sale and I had a bunch of coupons and I stocked up for a bit. Sargento Cheese is the nice expensive kind and with the sale and my coupon I got a bag of it for $0.50!!!

I can't wait until the first. I enjoy grocery shopping WAY too much now!!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

quick update

I'm having a busy week and I love it. I love having things to do to keep me busy! Earlier this week I drove back home and went to a coupon class. I've done so much research that I knew almost everything the lady taught, but she was a good teacher and just hearing her explain made a bunch of stuff make more sense!

I got home yesterday and I sat down and looked up the sales papers for our stores and I'm making out a list. I hope to save even more money than I have so far! Our coupon teacher saved a little over 3,000 in one month!!!

This weekend the whole family is headed back home for a friend to take some pictures of Lorelei. I've been wanting to have professional pictures taken of her since she was born and I'm so excited. I will post pictures as soon as I can!

Sunday we're headed to church for Lorelei's dedication. I'm in the process of washing a long white dress for her. Its going to be so beautiful. I've got a matching bonnet and some white bibs that have crosses.

Thats about all I have for now. I will surely have updates next time though!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What I love lately

So I've made some changes lately and I'm really liking how things are going. I think I mentioned in another post how much I love Publix. Something about that place just makes you feel better when you walk in. It feels so clean and fresh, and that feeling I feel when I walk in the door makes me want to eat healthier and be better. I don't know how else to describe it, you will really have to go and see for yourself.

When I'm at Publix I'll go straight to the produce, which is something I have NEVER done before!! Not only that but I'll actually buy some! And I'm not just talking about potatoes and apples. I've bought eggplant and asparagus! If you knew me you would be laughing right now because that is so not me.

Another thing I like is how I can use reusable shopping bags. All stores let you do it now, but at Publix it just doesn't seem so weird. I love that instead of using 5-10 plastic bags per trip I have 4 reusable bags that I can use over and over. I have another reusable bag that I got from Old Navy and one from JoAnns so if I really need it I'll have 6, but so far I've been able to do my 2 weeks worth of shopping in 3-4 bags. I love it!!

I have also been cooking more. There are things I never knew I could do in the kitchen! I watched a few cooking shows and experimented with some ingredients I've never used before and there are wonderful scents coming from my kitchen! And even when I make chicken and pasta I feel like I'm eating healthier than if I were to make hamburger helper. 

I really hope I can step it up so by the time that Lorelei gets bigger she will be eating much healthier than I ever have. I want to teach her how to use reusable shopping bags and unpaper napkins. I will make her cloth diapers for her baby dolls instead of letting her play with cheap disposables and let natural things be her norm.

Couponing has been going so well for me too!! I have saved so much money!! To date I have saved $142.09. Thats is just 7 shopping trips, or two pay checks. Usually we would just go to one store, but lately I have shopped around a bit. I do vegies and anything organic I want at Publix and the main shopping at Winn-Dixie. I check the sales at those two plus places like Rite Aid or Walgreens. The pharmacies are where I find soda the cheapest usually. I usually don't like shopping around but as you can see it saves money, and I'm sure if I figured out the prices better I could save even more!

And since I'm tired of rambling I will leave you with this... Mango Peach V8 Splash is AMAZING. especially when its on sale buy one get one and I have a coupon for $1.00 off!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Today I did something that I have never done before. I watched a cooking show. Buddy from the show Cake Boss has a new daytime show called Kitchen Boss where he shows how to cook his family's recipes. Today he cooked Chicken Sorrentino Fusilli. First off, it was fun to watch him. I really just enjoy watching him on any of his shows because while he is a tough Italian at times, he has a big heart. Second, he made it seem so easy and fun to cook, and third, it looked like it tasted amazing.

Source
So I was making my shopping list while I was watching, so I printed out the recipe and wrote down what ingredients I needed from the store. Another first for me today: I went to Publix. I decided to go today because they had a lot of sales that matched up with some coupons that I had. (I saved $26 there today btw) For the ingredients for this recipe I decided not to skimp out. I got the good stuff. Most of the times I get whatever is the cheapest, but this was one of those things that needs the best.

So here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS
2halves boneless, skinless chicken breast (approx 6-7 oz. each), trimmed
1crushed clove garlic
1small eggplant, 1 pound or less
2thin slices prosciutto
1/2cup breadcrumbs
2large egg
1/2cup all purpose flour
1/2pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
2tablespoons grated parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
2cups marinara sauce
1/4pound fusilli pasta, cooked al dente
Few leaves torn fresh basil
PREPARATION:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken breast halves with salt, pepper, drizzle with olive oil and turn to coast with the crushed garlic. Let rest while you prepare the sauce and eggplant.
  3. In a small saucepot, heat the tomato sauce and warm through.
  4. Peel the eggplant and slice across the width into 1/4 inch rounds – you will only need four pieces for this recipe. Place the breadcrumbs and the flour each in two shallow plates. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat. Dip each piece of eggplant first into the flour, tapping off excess, then into the beaten egg, allowing excess to drip off, then lastly, coat in crumbs. Heat a large (12”) skillet over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup oil. When oil is shimmering gently lay in the eggplant and fry until golden brown on each side. Place on a plate lined with a paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside while finishing the chicken.
  5. Heat a cast iron grill pan (or other grilling device) over medium high heat. Grill the chicken breasts on each side until nicely marked but not cooked through. Set aside.
  6. In a bowl, toss the fusilli with 1/2 of the marinara sauce – enough to coat well and sprinkle with a little grated parmesan. Place in the bottom of a small, lightly oiled baking dish. Place the chicken pieces side by side on top of the pasta. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto, two pieces of eggplant and the sliced mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through – approx 10 minutes. You can brown the cheese with a quick turn under the broiler, if desired. Top with remaining sauce and fresh basil.


I've got to admit that I have never used fresh garlic before, I even had to buy a garlic press in order to make this, but once I peeled it and cut I just had to sit and sniff it for a bit. I'm glad I bought more than enough because I will be using it again, and often!

Another thing I learned from Buddy today, add salt to boiling water when cooking noodles. This took my noodles to a whole new level! I added at least a tablespoon of salt to the water. He didn't give an amount, but I did see him poor a good bit out of a bowl, so I think a tablespoon was a good amount.

He also said extra virgin olive oil was key! Just thought you may want to know that in case you want to try this recipe and think about skimping out and getting the cheap stuff! (luckily I happened to have a coupon for the Crisco EV olive oil!)

The chicken was so easy to make, as was everything else in this recipe. Oh and my kitchen has never smelt so amazing! The only complaint I had was the eggplant, but I think that was my fault, or really my stoves fault. It kinda tilted which put all of the oil to one side of the pan and in the end the eggplant wasn't quite stiff enough.

When I finally was done cooking my husband walked over and was amazed. The smell was amazing! David said he didn't want to eat it because it looked so good. He didn't want to mess it up! Before I dug into it he made me wait so he could take a picture.


And in case you were wondering, it was delicious!