Monday, March 31, 2014

Awesome Easter egg hunt in Leesburg, VA

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Last year we decided to take Michael to his first Easter egg hunt.  We felt that he was at the right age to go egg hunting.  I'm so glad we did, he had a blast.

What does Mommy do when hubby and toddler are gone for the day?

Shopping!  Well, consignment sale shopping that is.  It just so happened that there were two different consignment sales on Saturday.  I have been going to consignment sales since Michael was born almost three years ago.  I always find great deals on sometimes items that have never even been used.  My wonderful grandma had sent me money to buy an early birthday gift for Michael.  With the money she sent, I was able to get three items that were on his wishlist as well as some other things.  This picture shows the items that I bought at the first sale, didn't take a picture of what I got at the second.  For three shirts, four toys, and two pairs of shoes I only spent a total of $45!  I'm sure the original cost of the Cars Lego Duplo set was that much or more.

Consignment shopping is the way to go.  Here in Northern Virginia, there seems to be several different sales in the Spring and Fall.  There are also several all year round stores that you can go to.  I don't get a lot of clothes at the sales anymore because I have an awesome step-sister-in-law who sends me a lot of my nephew's clothes that he's grown out of.  If you are not blessed with a family member providing you with hand-me-downs, I highly recommend going to a consignment sale or store.  It is so worth it!

So, I did do a little regular shopping as well.  I went to Hobby Lobby to see if I could find some large Easter eggs.  I'm planning on taking Michael's Easter photos this year to save us money (going to a photography studio can be so expensive).  I hit the jack pot there!  All their Easter decorations were 40% off and they had an 18" egg with a bonus of two smaller eggs inside it!  With the discount, the three large eggs cost me a little under $12.  Not bad for the only prop that I needed to purchase.  I'm planning on having our little photo shoot this weekend so I'll have a post about it afterwards.

What do you fellow mommies out there do when the hubby and kiddos are gone for the day?  I wanted to also work on my bedroom.  It needs some major origination.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Meal Planning for March 28th - April 3rd

Since Jon and Michael are heading to Jon's grandparents tonight we had to get all of our weekly grocery shopping done before they left.  After doing our weekly bills, our budget for this week was $70.  Here's the meal plan for the week:

  1. Chicken Nuggets (already have all the ingredients)
  2. Hot Dogs (carry over)
  3. Hamburger Helper (already had the box, just needed the meat)
  4. Pizza Casserole

So, we didn't really need a whole lot of food items, but did need somethings for Michael and household items.  As always, we went to our two stores (Walmart and Wegmans).  We did most of the shopping at Walmart and also had four coupons which saved us a total of $3.30.  Every little bit of savings help.
The total amount for Walmart was $35.37.  Here's the Walmart shopping list along with the prices of each item:
  • loaf of bread  $1.48
  • cranapple juice  $3.98
  • recycle bags  $6.97
  • baby wipes  $10.97
  • Kraft mac-n-cheese 5 pack  $4.50
  • sugar  $2.38
  • garlic bread  $2.42
  • bath wash  $4.27

The total amount for Wegmans was $23.42.  Here's the shopping list along with the prices of each item:
  • hamburger meat 2 1lb packages  $4.16 and $4.16
  • spaghetti noodles on sale for  $0.69
  • elbow macaroni noodles  $0.99
  • pepperoni  $2.29
  • spaghetti sauce  $1.99
  • shredded mozzarella cheese  $2.49
  • gallon of whole milk  $3.59
  • OJ  $2.49

That makes the total of our shopping trip today being $58.99.  Leaving $11.01 to spare!  Yay, mommy can go out to eat while the boys are gone. :) If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cheap Chicken Alfredo

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Many years ago I wanted to try and figure out how to make chicken alfredo.  It's one of my favorite meals at the Olive Garden.  I used to use a peppercorn marinade, but the only one that I can find are for beef and pork.  I ended up using:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nothing ends up the way you originally plan - Meal planning for March 21st - 27th

I originally thought that we might be able to do a little stocking up with our groceries since our bills were not as much as previous weeks.  Well, after getting some much needed household items at Sam's and Walmart, taking Michael to see Muppets Most Wanted, buying Frozen & Saving Mr. Banks, and getting a much needed hair cut for Michael our huge budget I thought we were going to have ended up being $30!  Needless to say, we got only what we needed for the week.  Here's our dinner list for the week:

  1. Tacos
  2. Chicken Nuggets (already had the chicken and all the ingredients for the breading)
  3. Chicken Alfredo (carry over)
  4. Hot Dogs (had bought two packs last week)
  5. Spaghetti (already had noodles)

Since we didn't need a whole lot, we did a quick trip to Wegmans.  I think it was the fastest we've done a grocery trip there ever.  We ended up spending a total of $21.95.  Leaving us with $8.05 in our account.

I know a lot of people do the cash only method when trying to stay in their grocery budget and I can see that working really well.  With us, we know that whatever the amount we have for the week is all that's in our account or available on our debit card.  Lately we not only put the amounts in our calculator while shopping, we've been writing it down on our shopping list.  This was our shopping list:

  • ketchup  $2.79
  • hamburger meat - 1 lb  $4.55
  • milk  $3.59
  • OJ  $2.49
  • tortilla shells  $0.99
  • hot dog buns  $1.29
  • spaghetti sauce  $1.99
  • potato chips  $2.50

We did end up adding an onion to the list ($1.22).  Yep, sometimes things are left off of the list.  Most of the time I don't realize that it was left off until we put the groceries away.   Sometimes we have money to get the missing item or items, but when we don't we end up changing up the meal plans.

Since I stay at home with Michael, I generally just make lunch out of whatever we have.  Michael's lunch is generally either chicken nuggets or peanut butter sandwich with gold fish crackers and fruit gummies.  I generally just eat leftovers or make a sandwich.  Jon's the one that we  buy specific food for his lunches.  This week, all he needed was the potato chips.

Hope this gives you some ideas on meals for this week.  How do you all stay within your weekly grocery budget?  What's your budget?  Is it the same every week or different week to week like us? If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Free Operation Christmas Child items that you may be throwing away

Have you ever received one of these in the mail?  This is actually our second one this year and it's only March!  My mom is the one who gave me this idea.  Don't just toss this envelope in your trash or recycle bin.  There's some hidden "treasure"  in there!
Well, not actual treasure, but some free Disney stickers.  Just set the stickers aside so that when you're working on your OCC boxes in November, you can add them in at no cost to you.  Thanks Disney!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cheese Steaks

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A few nights ago, Jon made cheese steaks for dinner.  Many years ago, before I ever met Jon, he worked at Jerry's Subs and Pizza.  Never knew for many years that he actually knew how to make a cheese steak.  Every so often he'll make them and every time they are supper yummy!  Here's how he made them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Simple and Yummy St Patrick's Day Dinner

Our dinner last night was a pot roast that cooked all day in the crock pot with carrots, potatoes, some beef stew seasoning and some water.  I used three decent size cooking potatoes and almost a whole small bag of baby carrots.  I decided to peel and cut the potatoes.  Sometimes if I use smaller potatoes, I just leave the skin on and not cut them.
Michael had Kraft mac-n-cheese and his special St. Patrick's Day drink.  He's still not a fan of meat.

Desert was simple, rainbow color Jell-o.  Nothing too fancy or too time consuming to make St. Patrick's Day a little yummy!
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Yummy St. Patrick's Day drink that the whole family can enjoy!

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This was an idea I found on Pinterest and thought that it might be a yummy drink to have with our St. Patrick's Day dinner.  The end result is rather yummy, but the process can get a little sticky.  Here we go!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just as good as Grandma makes it!

Jon loves the chocolate milkshakes that his Grandma makes him and he had never fully been able to recreate them, until now.  He always thought that she had a magical blender and that it was all in the shape of the blender.  For Christmas we got a Ninja and Jon was able to make his beloved milkshakes whenever he wanted.  Here's how he did it.
Jon put about three or four scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.  He might have put more, he finished the tub.

He then put about 16 oz of white milk.

Then put in three to four spoonfuls of Nestle Nesquik for that chocolate goodness.

Blend to the consistency that you want it.
Pour in a glass, add a straw, and enjoy!
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St. Patrick's Day Breakfast

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Looking for a fun way to have breakfast on Saint Patrick's Day?  It's pretty simple and will be a hit for the kids.

St. Patrick's Day Fun With Kids

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This morning, Michael woke up to the sounds of Daddy shoveling snow from the driveway and getting ready for work.  Little did he know that there was more in store for him on the main floor of the house.  Yep, looked like a little Leprechaun had visited our house last night.  He used our half bath on the main floor and dropped a trail of gold coins that lead to a pail of gold coins and butterscotch candies!  Here's how we pulled all this off.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meal Planning for March 15th - 20th

This week we did better than last, but the fact that some of the meals planned for this past week were not made didn't hurt.  This past week I have been fighting a head cold.  I seem to go through this at the same time every year.  This year, I could tell that it was going to happen so I tried to kill the cold before it took me down.  I took Zicam, but I guess I didn't take it fast enough or long enough before I still got hit with the cold.  So with being sick and running after a toddler all day, I did not feel like making dinner for two nights.  Since I had some money from a side job I've been working on, we ended up eating out.  With that being said, some of last week's meal plan has been carried over to this week.  Here's our list:

  1. Hamburger Helper Lasagna (carry over)
  2. Sloppy Joes and Kraft mac-n-cheese (carry over)
  3. Chicken Alfredo
  4. Chicken Nuggets (my friend Mandee's recipe)
  5. Roast Beef with potatoes and carrots
  6. Cheese Steaks (carry over)
  7. Hot Dogs and Kraft mac-n-cheese

Since we were carrying over some already purchased meals, not much was needed for dinners.  Jon did need some stuff for his lunches and since Monday is Saint Patrick's Day, I wanted to do some fun stuff for Michael.  With all that in mind and bills being done, the total of our weekly budget was $75.

This time we actually went to three stores.  Ended up going to Sam's Club, Walmart, and Wegmans.  Like I had mentioned earlier, Jon needed some stuff for his lunches so we went to Sam's to get him some pepperoni Hot Pockets for a total of $12.01.  Since we do some grocery shopping at Walmart, we also do some of our personal and household shopping there.  We don't have a different budget for those items so they are included with our grocery shopping.  Our total at Walmart was $35.07.  We had four coupons that were from through InboxDollars totaling $2.85.  I will also earn in total $0.40 in my InboxDollars account for using the coupons.
Our final stop was at Wegmans.  The total there was $27.45.  Making the grand total of our three store shopping trip being $74.53.  Yay, we stayed under budget by $0.47!

As I have the past two weeks, once we got home did the steps to earn $0.50 for the gallon of milk that we purchased at Wegmans through Ibotta (here's the link to my post about Ibotta).

Hope this gives you some ideas for meals this coming week.  Let me know what you're planning for the week, what are some of your tricks on staying on budget, and stay turn to the festivities I have in store for Michael on Monday!  I'm looking forward to it. If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spoiling Our Kids

I really liked this video from The Mom's View.  I love the idea of no allowance and that chores around the house do not earn you money.  This is not the first time I've heard that.  I've heard this idea originally from Dave Ramsey.  I want to get the book that Dave and his daughter, Rachel, wrote about this very topic (Smart Money Smart Kids).  
The main thing is that we, as parents, need to teach are children what a dollar actually means and how to earn that said dollar.  Even though Michael is only 2, almost 3, we are trying to teach him to respect things and that giving is always better than receiving.

This past Christmas, he helped with picking out all the items for an Operation Christmas Child box for a little boy his age.  I plan to do this every year with him and any future children.  I think next year, I might start giving him and me a limit on how much we can spend on our boxes.  We have also told Michael that if he breaks something, like his blind in his bedroom, that the money used to buy a replacement will come from his savings account.

I know it's hard to not spoil your kids and give them everything that you had or didn't have growing up, but isn't that what grandparents are for?  Looking around at Michael's toys, I would say half or more were purchased by his grandparents.  If he gets toys from us, most of the time they were bought used.  Even his clothes are mostly from grandparents, hand me downs from his cousin, or purchased at end of season where it's extremely discounted.

I'm still a fairly new mom and am still trying to figure things out as I go.  Basically all I'm saying is, if we teach our children the value of a dollar, that hard work won't kill you, and that materialistic things mean nothing, maybe this world will be just one step closer to being a much better place. If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This is What Life is All About...

Yep, having dinner with your family around the table is the best thing!  No matter what type of food that maybe on the table, in this case a enchilada kit, you should always sit down with your family.  No matter how crappy of a day you had, nothing makes it go away like sitting down to eat with your family.

I had Pandora playing while we were eating.  We have such a good time sitting, eating, and just talking to each other about our day.  It's gotten better now that Michael will actually sit down with us and eat.

Just thought I would share this moment that I captured of my wonderful family. If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Juicy Steaks at half the cost of a restaurant meal

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My husband had bought these two yummy steaks as a Valentine's Day back up.  Since we ended up going to Outback for our Valentine's Day meal, we put these steaks in the freezer to save for a later meal.  We decided to use them for dinner a few days ago.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stuffed Animal Storage

Does your little one have an abundance of stuffed animals and they are all just laying on their bedroom floor?  Yeah, we did and still do.  I had bought a tub to put them in, but Michael would constantly dump them all out.  We've been wanting to make a stuffed animal zoo (found on Pinterest here), but have not bought the supplies because we have other projects going on in the house.

One of the projects that we're working on is updating our laundry room/closet.  Before I had this shoe organizer hanging over one of the laundry doors to hold different supplies.  Now that we have a cabinet up, there's no need for this in the laundry area.  I decided that I would re-purpose it for Michael's stuffed animals.

It looks great outside his closet.  The downside is that only the smaller stuffed animals will fit.  I put the animals that he plays with the most at the bottom so he can still get to them.  Now he can see his stuffed animals instead of them all being piled up on the floor in his room.
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to use Ibotta

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I was told about Ibotta almost a year ago.  Like most, I didn't really understand what I needed to do and at the time the offers were mostly items that I did not purchase.  After downloading it to my Android cell phone, I messed around with it and then forgot about it.  It wasn't until months later that I really understood how to use the application and start earning some money.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sometimes it's just not in the budget - Meal Planning for March 8th - 13th

So, last week we did really well with staying in that week's grocery budget.  This week, not so much.  We made a list for the two stores, Walmart and Wegmans, and figured out what meals we wanted to have for dinners.  Here's the meals that we were thinking of having:

  1. Sloppy Joes and mac-n-cheese 
  2. Chicken Enchiladas with chips & salsa (ended up not having it last week) 
  3. Hamburger Helper Lazagna (already had the box, just needed the meat)
  4. Shake-n-Bake Chicken, mac-n-cheese, green beans, and corn  (already had the seasoning and veggies)
  5. Pork Chops, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes 
  6. Chicken Fajitas with chips & salsa (already had the fajita kit and chips & salsa, just needed more chicken)
  7. Cheese steaks

After working on the weekly bills and factoring in some car maintenance that needed to be done, I calculated that we had $50 to work with.  

We already had a box or two of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, but not enough for the meals since that's pretty much all that Michael will eat for those meals.  We always buy the 5 box pack since we go through it so fast and through InboxDollars just so happened to have a coupon for a $1.00 off a 5 box pack.  Now, I not only saved a $1.00 off the purchase, but will earn $0.10 for that purchase in my InboxDollars account.  I also had a coupon through InboxDollars for $0.75 off of Kraft American cheese that we ended up using.  I will also earn $0.10 for using that coupon.

Over the year or so of doing this, we've learned that just because you've made a list and meal plan doesn't always mean that the budget will allow it.  Sometimes you have to cross things off the list at the store and make another game plan.  That's what happened this morning at Wegmans.  We had done the Walmart shopping last night and spent $22.79 of our $50 grocery budget.  As I mentioned before, we used two coupons which saved us $1.75.  That's not much, but every little savings is worth it.  

Since we had used all but two chicken breasts from our original family pack of chicken, we needed to replenish our freezer.  When buying any type of meat, it can effect your budget.  We decided that we would forget about the pork chops to help stay in our budget, but the chicken and hamburger together were close to $20!  That's when Jon decided that he would take money out of his savings to help pay for his car's oil change that he had me budget in to the weekly bills.  With that being decided, we had a little more money to work with.  We still decided not to purchase the pork chops.  We ended up spending $36.48 at Wegmans which made the grand total being $59.27, making us go $9.27 over the original grocery budget.  Not too bad and we still have enough meals for the week.

Just like last week, I also earned $0.50 for the purchase of the milk through Ibotta (I'm working on a post about that today or tomorrow).

I hope this gave you some ideas on meal plans and shows that it's ok to have to make a new game plan while at the grocery store to stay within your budget.  If it wasn't for the fact that Jon had money saved for maintenance on his car, we probably would have gone with an even different game plan. If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meatball in Marinara

You guessed it, last night's dinner recipe was from ~The Kitchen Wife~ (Meatballs in Marinara).  The smells that where coming from my kitchen where heavenly!  I've made meatballs before, but they never smelled as good as they did last night and I've never started cooking them on the stove.  I've always baked them in spaghetti sauce.

I absolutely loved the meatballs and the marinara sauce, but my husband was not too happy with the sauce.  He thought that it was weird that there were onions and green peppers.  He's not a fan of green peppers and actually picked them out of the sauce.  I must admit, I suck at cutting onions and green peppers so they were rather large.  I probably should have put a little more garlic, but it was supper yummy the way it was.

Oh man, completely forgot that I was going to make garlic bread or I should say put some frozen garlic bread in the oven.  As you can see, I had milk with my spaghetti and meatballs.  It just goes so well together!
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