My Oldest

He's growing up so fast. I love how he is so thoughtful and helpful. And it's nice to have such a great four year old helper. He's eager to please and loves to work. He has a great imagination and he's always leading his brother on all kinds of adventures.

It's so funny, I can't even imagine what he'll be like when he is 8 or 12. The oldest, we've noticed, is the one you always think is so big, until their sibling reaches their age and you realize that they were actually very little and you just didn't see it. I don't want to take this preschool age for granted. He's precious.

Christmas Pictures 2007

Here are a few pictures from our Christmas holiday. We had a wonderful Christmas and the boys really had fun this year!

Here we are on Christmas Eve at the inlaws.

Before the opening of presents at our house on Christmas morning...

Isabella got to open her gifts first- here she is on her adorable rocking butterfly from her grandparents.

Here is Noah opening one of the only things he asked for this year- a Bible of his own.

Elijah opening presents. He waited very patiently for his turn. He's third in line now! :) And this was his fifth Christmas! It's unbelievable how time flies!

The boys looking at their train table they got from their Granna.

And surprise! they even got bikes from their Papaw.

They got so many gifts that we had to put up some of their presents for later! I was very excited to get a new camera for Christmas too- we have so many pictures already. I can't wait to post some of my favorites! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Since my husband is off until next week, it is likely that posting will still be sporadic- I hope to get back to a more normal posting schedule next week! :)

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a very lovely day!

Freebie of the Day- 8x10 at Walgreen's Today Only

I've already ordered mine! Free pictures are always good, and they make excellent gifts as well!


Walgreen's Photo Center is offering a Free 8 x 10 Photo Print on Fri, Dec 21. Use code VERYNICE at checkout. Pick-up in store or have shipped (shipping charges apply). Thanks jurassic.

Learn How It Works

Click Here to get started

  • Code must be entered at time of checkout to apply discount.
  • Does not apply toward taxes or shipping charges.
  • Offer valid online only.
  • Order must be placed by logged-in customer by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on December 21, 2007 to qualify.
  • Timing will be determined by Walgreens server clock.
  • Only one 8x10 print is permitted for in-store pickup per customer.

Frugal Confession- We Walked Out of a Restaurant

Today's frugal confession: we walked out of a restaurant after being seated.

Freebie of the Day-Lamination Pouches & Binding Covers

Get a free sample of laminating pouches and binding kits from GBC here. If you don't have a company or title, just type "none."

Two Things Meme

I got this from a friend so I thought I'd post it for fun:


Two Names You Go By

1. Mandy
2. Red

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:

1. green t-shirt
2. nike wind shorts I inherited from my little brother when he outgrew them over 10 years ago

Two Things You Would Want (or have) in a Relationship:

1. honesty
2. common interests

Two of Your Favorite Things to do:

1. Research
2. fit in my skinny jeans :)

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment:

1. a full time maid and cook! :P
2. a hot bath

Things you did Last Night:

1. Finished up Christmas shopping
2. ate McAlister’s with my family

Two things you ate today:

1. Baked Chicken
2. Red Potatoes

Two people you Last Talked To On The Phone:

1. My hubby
2. my brother

Two Things you're doing tomorrow:

1. Gift delivering
2. exercising

Two longest car rides:

1. North Texas to Colorado
2. North Texas to Amarillo, TX

Two Favorite Holidays

1. Christmas
2. Christmas Eve

Two Favorite (non-alcoholic) Beverages:

1. Dr. Pepper
2. Mocha Frappucino

Two Things About Me you may not have known:

1. My hands are the exact size of my mother’s and my maternal grandmother's hands
2. I really enjoy pregnancy and labor/delivery/newborns

Two other jobs I have had in my life:

1. Bank Teller
2. Waitress

Two of my Favorite Foods:

1. Freebird’s chicken burrito bowl
2. Chicken tortilla soup

Two places I'd rather be right now:

1. Manhattan
2. Colorado

It's One of Those Days...

Today is one of those days where everything feels like too much! :)

The baby is not herself today- I think she has gotten whatever has been going around here with the sore throat and stomach cramps. She was fine this morning, but when she was awake after her nap this afternoon she became very fussy and inconsolable. She wouldn't take the pacifier or even stop crying when I bounced and rocked her. I gave her Tylenol finally and swaddled her and she finally stopped crying to fall asleep and is still sleeping in my lap right now.

While she was trying to nap earlier we had a huge bathroom incident where my 4 year old didn't quite make it in time to the bathroom. I had to clean that up right before my lunch was ready... life as a mom is really tough on days like this. Cleaning up poop is not my thing.

And just as I sat down to eat lunch the 2 year old comes in crying because he fell outside and then the baby wakes up crying... and suddenly I am just very tired and praying for patience. I can't wait til 5:09 when my husband walks in the door. I think tomorrow will be a better day.

Freebie of the Day- Garnier Fructis 2 in 1 Shampoo

Get a free sample of Garnier Fructis 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner here. I use the non-2-in-1 Garnier Fructis and it works well with curly hair!

Walgreen's Coupon Today Only

Get a $5 off $20 coupon good today only (Dec. 18th, 2007) at Walgreen's. If nothing else, it's 25% off diapers and milk!

The Party's Over....

Tonight we threw a little dinner for a few of my husband's coworkers. We are just now sitting down after putting the kids to bed. Since we didn't throw big birthday parties for the kids this year, I think I forgot how much work goes into hosting get-togethers! :) I love doing it though!

Tonight we had Taco Soup, cornbread, chips and dips and desserts. Everyone brought something too- yummy desserts and mandarin orange salad. I had a recipe for Taco Soup that we tried out last week and it was good again in a larger quantity. I will have to post the recipe- I got it from a friend who made it for us, and it makes really good, flavorful soup. The dinner went over well I think, and what's even more rare- since the food was already made when everyone got here I felt like I got to enjoy our company more than usual! I am usually so busy fixing food that I don't get to visit much. It was so much nicer to enjoy the evening.

We had to buy a foldable table which was an unexpected cost, but I think it will be a good thing- we have our family come over on holidays for dinner and occasional birthday parties. I am glad we went ahead and bought it before Christmas dinner. It has a lifetime guarantee, so maybe we will still have it when the grandkids all come over in 25 years!

Now I am off to soak in a hot bath and get to bed. Clean up will wait 'til tomorrow! :)

Freecycle Finds

A couple of weeks ago, I got this for free on freecycle! It's a Pentax 35mm SLR and two lenses, a leather bag, light meter, flash and filters. I was very excited to get this! We might eBay the camera and accessories and keep the bag and light meter, I am not sure. The camera goes for $25-50 on eBay. Very fun! I love freecycle!

Freebie of the Day- California Raisins 2008 Calendar

Get a free 2008 calendar from California Raisins with recipes included! While supplies last! :)

Check out more frugal tips at Crystal's blog!

Freebie of the Day- Send a Postcard to Our Troops

Pick a postcard and Xerox will print it out and send it to the troops overseas for you! Very neat way to support those serving and protecting our country!

Portraits- Will More Expensive Mean Better?

We went and got our annual portraits done yesterday. Portraits are something I feel enormously guilty about purchasing for some reason. I hate spending money on them. We only get them once per year, and in the past we had them taken at Walmart. I think part of the reason I hate paying for them is that they were so poorly done there. I have so much trouble just trying to get the person to center my children in the picture. I think they train them to get the baby's attention and push the button- it doesn't matter where they are in the frame!

That's why I get very upset every year when I pay $30 for my off-centered pictures. I dread the whole thing. This year, I decided to get them done at JcPenney rather than Walmart- I was hoping they would be that much better- and I had a coupon which would make it only slightly more expensive than Walmart's bargain package and few extra sheets we normally buy.

When we got there yesterday, the lady called us in front of an earlier appointment and we rushed in there for less than 10 minutes and we were done. I am afraid to get the portraits back. I felt bad asking the lady to retake the pictures again and again but I can tell on the monitor that I don't like them. I got my three small children all dressed up and clean and bought special clothes and I am paying a lot for these pictures- shouldn't I at least get one pose I like?

I ended up getting a portrait club membership because it was the same price as the sitting fee. It supposedly saves you a sitting fee on everyone for two years, which would make getting future portraits much cheaper.

The problem is, I think I just spent $47 on pictures that I am going to hate- and that is very scary to me. I just really hope the portraits turn out better than they looked on the monitor. We are going to pick them up the Saturday before Christmas.

Next year, I am seriously considering saving up money to buy some used studio lighting equipment and taking the pictures myself. At least I know the photographer would spend more than 10 minutes on my children- and I wouldn't have to worry about their clothes getting ruined on the trip there! ;)

Frugal Confession- I Didn't Price Shop

This week's frugal confession- I didn't bother to price shop for my "bargain."

Freebie of the Day- Old El Paso Seasoning and Recipe Booklet

Sign up for the Dinner Made Easy newsletter and receive a free packet of Old El Paso Hot and Spicy Seasoning and a recipe booklet.

Update and To-do List

We had a good weekend- it felt like it went by very quickly. With all the Christmas shopping and getting ready for parties and decorating we are actually pretty busy! :)

Saturday we got painting supplies and my husband got the boy's room ready to repaint. Sunday afternoon he and the boys painted while Isabella and I went shopping at the mall. We picked up a few Christmas gifts there and then we met my husband in town to join our small group at our favorite restaurant.

Sunday night we got to hear one of the neatest presentations on the Star of Bethelehem. It was presented by Rick Larson, a professor at Texas A&M. He presented evidence of the Star of Bethlehem that announced the coming of Jesus, as well as some really awesome proof of other Scriptures that are found in the sky. I can't wait to see the video they made. Here is his website:

Yesterday I took care of some important insurance problems. It seems like insurance is getting worse and worse every year about turning down every claim you have. I have spent several hours on the phone with them since Isabella's birth trying to get each problem resolved. I am so thankful to have insurance though- I would much rather spend hours on the phone than have no phone calls to make, just a big bill to pay. Dave Ramsey always says that the number one reason for bankruptcy is not credit cards- it's medical bills.

Last night we went to pick up a gift for this evening's event. I had picked something out last week but I changed my mind, so we had to make a quick trip to a couple of stores to find just the right gift. It's a surprise party, which should be fun!

Tomorrow I am taking the kids to get their annual Christmas portraits done, Friday night I have a bridal shower to attend and Saturday night we are hosting a casual Christmas party for my husband's co-workers.

To get all of this done I need to:
Get the boy's clothes together for tomorrow
Make a grocery list
Finish the boys room decorations
Go grocery shopping
Paint the front door (we've had the paint for 1 1/2 years but never did it!)
Make a dessert for bridal shower
Return two items to different stores
Mop the floor

Add in exercising, cleaning, and life's regular duties with three small children and I am in for one very busy week! ;)

Freebie of the Day- CVS brand Tissues

Get a free box of CVS brand Facial tissues! Coupon expires 12-16-07.

CVS Deals 12/3/07

We really needed diapers and paper towels this week, so I was excited to get all of this for $4 ECB's and .15. I traded $26.99 in ECB's for $23 in ECB's.

Tide Naturals
5 Bags Cough Drops
2 Oasis Dry Mouth Sprays
2 Incredifull Covergirl Lipsticks
8 pack Bounty paper towels

Freebie of the Day- 6 oz. Bag Purina Cat Chow Naturals

Get a free 6 ounce bag of Naturals by Purina Cat Chow.

Freebie of the Day- Lipton Iced Tea to Go

Get a free sample of Lipton's Iced Tea to Go. We've bought these for my husband before to replace soft drinks, and he really liked it! Just click on the green tab "Get Sample" on the bottom right of the image.

I am a Bag Lady

My not-so-frugal confession this week: I am a Bag Lady. Stop by and leave your frugal or not-so-frugal confession in the comments or post about it on your blog and leave a link. I'd love to hear from you!

Freebie of the Day- "You Are Special" Audiobook by Max Lucado

Get a free download of "You Are Special" by Max Lucado from Chick-fil-a and Crossway.

Life without Rotel and Velveeta

Okay, I didn't write a works for me Wednesday because of today's theme, "what do you fix when you don't have a plan and you've only got three things in your pantry." I didn't write anything, because either we go out to eat (which happens far too often!) or I throw together baked potatoes with rotel, reduced fat velveeta and sour cream. My husband and I both really love Rotel dip, but I am afraid to even look at Velveeta's ingredient list.

That's why I laughed when I read what Shannon, the Works for Me Wednesday hostess, posted today:

I Am Trying To Imagine the Horror of Life Without Rotel

Several of you asked, in the comments section below, what Rotel is.

And I wept for you.

(For those of you who disdain the Velveeta, I don't EVEN want to hear it. Velveeta haters baffle me. That is some fine stuff.).

I feel a little bit better. I am not alone in my love for very quick and easy meals based on Rotel and Velveeta. I still can't bring myself to read the ingredients though. ;)

Freebie of the Day- Reusable Plastic Shopping Bag

Get a free reusable plastic shopping bag and a coupon for $1 off from Rice Select. I love the idea of not having to throw away plastic bags. (Although I did find a tutorial on fusing plastic bags!)

Some of my Old Favorites

I was looking for a specific picture on our server the other day and found these pictures I took in 2004. I just love taking pictures- it's so much fun to try to capture the beautiful things God made for us. The bright colors, the arrangement of the petals- God is so amazing! He has defined beauty itself.
Looking at these old pictures makes me want to go outside and take more- I guess it's been a while since I took any outdoor pictures.

Spice Up Your Chicken

I love chicken breast. A few years ago I saw and smelled a chicken truck on the way to Tyson and I almost stopped eating chicken altogether. Luckily I got over that problem by refusing to eat bone-in chicken. Now I am slowly dealing with my aversion to bone-in meats, but I still only buy chicken breast fillets.

Neurotic meat-eating history aside, I do love my chicken these days, especially when I season it with my all-time favorite chicken rub- Durkee's Grill Creations St. Louis Chicken and Rib Rub. It takes regular chicken and makes it into the best chicken you've ever tasted. You can let it marinade in it, but I usually just rub it on just before I cook.

It tastes great on the grill, in the oven, and even in the pressure cooker. I love this stuff! It doesn't have a distinct taste like Mexican or Cajun and it can go with pretty much any type of food you serve. Wal-Mart sells a small container for about $3 and it will last a few months at our house. If you serve chicken, especially alone, you should definitely try this seasoning!

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes!

Freebie of the Day- Opti-free Replenish Contact Lens Solution

Get your free sample of Opti-free Replenish Contact Lens Solution here. This would be perfect to keep in your purse and refill it for daily use or to keep in a travel pack.

Window Shopping in a Grocery Store

We went to Central Market this weekend. I love to go there and just look! I have never seen so many varieties of the same foods. They sell mostly organic foods and all-natural products. It was so much fun to browse the store. It is laid out more like a market place rather than a traditional grocery store with soft lighting, twisting paths and colorful arrangements of items, and they have a large portion of the store dedicated to fresh products like flowers, fruits and vegetables, and meats of every kind.

In the seafood section, we pointed out each variety to the boys. We got to octopus salad and the meat man jokingly asked if the boys would like to try it. Of course, he expected the boys to say no, but they said yes! The man asked if they really wanted some, and they did, so he handed me a sample. I gave them a good bite of octopus and Elijah ate it- and liked it! Noah took a bite but didn't finish it. I can just imagine us saying to Elijah at dinnertime now- "If you can eat octopus, you can eat your vegetables!"

We did pick up a couple of things there- a quart of Promised Land Chocolate milk (it's like drinking ice cream!) for my husband, and a quart of Mrs. Meyers natural aromatherapeutic cleaner in Lavender. It smells really great, and it's non-toxic.

I wish that we had a Central Market in our town- it's really a relaxing place to grocery shop, and their prices were actually very comparable to a traditional store. Maybe it's a good thing- the more pleasant the store, the more likely I would be to linger and buy! ;)

Black Friday 2007 CVS Deals

I can honestly say, until this year I had never shopped a Black Friday sale at a drugstore! I went at 11:30 on Wednesday night to get all the goods so I could check out at midnight, when the sale began. I really overestimated the crowd though- I was the ONLY person in CVS! :) The manager on duty thought I was crazy when I asked for their Black Friday ad. She had no idea of any sale beginning on Thanksgiving Day. She went to find their store copy of the ad and let me look through it. I already had my list and coupons ready. I got every single free deal in the ad! I guess being a night owl finally paid off! ;)

I made $18 and got all of this for free! It was very exciting! I even drank the free green tea energy drink before our 5k run 8 hours later!

Check out more fabulous finds over at MoneySavingMom!

Freebie of the Day- Book "The Evolution of a Creationist"

Download the free e-book The Evolution of a Creationist by Dr. Jobe Martin. I was fortunate to hear Dr. Martin speak at my high school about his experience of becoming a creationist. I read this book a few years ago and I remember it being easy to read as well as thorough in its explanations of Creationism. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says download/view the e-book.
Dr. Jobe Martin chronicles his personal journey from traditional evolutionary scientist to biblical creationist. Dr. Martin himself was a Zen Buddhist, agnostic, evolutionist but his medical and scientific training would go through an evolution...rather a revolution when he began to study the Bible and animals that challenged the scientific assumptions of his education. This was the beginning of the evolution of a creationist.

This book takes a look at animals that break all the evolutionary "rules". It examines the many problems with evolutionary theory and shows why the Bible is an excellent book of science.

*Extremely Cheap* Coupon Organization

I almost didn't post about this because, well, it's so cheap it's almost embarrassing (maybe I should save it for my Frugal Confessions post!). :)

Last month I was overwhelmed with coupons. My previous $1 organizer had become far too small to hold my growing coupon stash. Inspired by Crystal's great post on her coupon organizing technique, I was determined to create a way to store and easily find my coupons without buying anything.

While trying to come up with a solution using what I had on hand, I pulled out my envelopes to start making a system similar to hers, and decided, why not just use the envelope box?

I took out several envelopes and started labeling them right on the envelope. I intended to add an index card like hers, but never got around to it. I just moistened the flap and folded it into the inside of the envelope. Now I can organize and find my coupons so easily! My favorite part of the coupon organizer was that I didn't have to buy something for it- I had the .97 box of envelopes in the office (and I only used a few of them!). And, if I ever find a good deal on a storage shoe box, I can just transfer my envelopes over to it.

Check out Crystal's blog for more frugal tips!

More Kids=Longer Life for Dads

Kelly posted a link to this article- a new study shows that fathers of more than three children are more likely to live to 100. Very interesting... perhaps God intended for us to work the land and have lots of children? ;)
A young, trim farmer with four or more children: According to a new study, that's the ideal profile for American men hoping to reach 100 years of age.

"We were surprised that having more than three children is beneficial to longevity -- based on previous studies by other authors, and common sense, quite the opposite could be expected," said study co-author Leonid Gavrilov, who conducted the study with his wife, Natalia Gavrilova, both of the University of Chicago's Center on Aging.


Frugal Confessions Thursday

I am so excited about my new project over at my other blog, Frugal Dollar. Starting next week, each Thursday I am going to share with you my too frugal and not-so-frugal mistakes and obsessions, as well as open up the floor for you to share yours as well!

Here's the scoop:
We all have them- times when we were too cheap, times when we made poor financial decisions, and times when we were too extravagant. I have made many non-frugal and ultra-frugal decisions in the past and I want to share my mistakes with you! (I know, there might not be enough hosting space on Blogger! ;)

We are only human. No matter how hard we try, we will never stop making mistakes. Thankfully, our Lord is so forgiving, and His blood has covered our sins and mistakes. Through Him, we can get over ourselves, ask for and accept His forgiveness, stop feeling guilty about the past and go on to share what He has taught us. Sometimes we just need to let our guards down so that others can see where we've been and what we've learned from our mistakes. I know that for me, the process is also cathartic- it helps me to let go of all those mistakes by sharing them.


I hope you will join us next week for Frugal Confessions Thursday at Frugal Dollar!

Freebie of the Day- $5 at KB Toys

Get a coupon for $5 off your next purchase at KB Toys when you sign up for their email newsletter. Every little bit helps!

Menu Planning Using Your Computer

Planning my menus on Monday really helps keep me motivated to cook and especially helps me to plan out my grocery trips. I notice that when I don't plan, we are more likely to end up eating frozen food or going out.

Since my husband bought me a Mac, I have been using iCal- an easy to use calendar program to plan my menus each week. I type in the new meals I want to cook and as the month goes on, I see all of the possible menus I could create from the previous month's meals. I can quickly move each meal title around to plan out my menu, as well as add in new ones for the week. After I am done planning, I can print out my calendar for the week or month if I wish, or just set alarms for each day's meal to remind me when I open up the computer.

If you don't have a Mac, you can use Outlook's calendar in the same manner. If you don't have a Mac or Microsoft Outlook, you can download the free calendar program Sunbird from Mozilla (the company who makes the browser Firefox- while you are there you can download that for free too. You will never go back to buggy Internet Explorer!).

Planning menus easily certainly works for me!

Freebie of the Day- Maybelline Superstay Silky Foundation

Get a free sample of Maybelline's 16 hour foundation here. I love makeup samples like these because I don't have to waste $7-10 to figure out if the makeup works for me.

Turkey-free Menu Plans 11/26/07

Here are this week's menu plans involving no turkey, because we are pretty tired of it now! ;)

Monday- Chicken and dumplings, bread, green beans
Tuesday- Fiesta chicken pasta with red bell peppers
Wednesday- Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
Thursday- Chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole with homemade bread
Friday- Pizza night
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- Lamb/potato/onion crockpot dish (built from pantry contents!)

Check out more menu plans at OrgJunkie!

Freebie of the Day- 36 Wildlife Address Labels

Get 36 wildlife address labels for free from the National Wildlife Federation and E-Nature. These probably won't arrive in time for addressing Christmas cards, but maybe they'll arrive in time to use them for thank-you notes! :)

Great Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend. My family came over, and my husband got Wednesday through Friday off from work, which was a wonderful blessing in itself. He hasn't qualified for vacation at his work yet, so the extra days off were like a much-needed mini-vacation for us.

I was thinking on Thursday just how thankful I am for the blessings we have received this year. This was our second Thanksgiving in our lovely home, and this year not only do I have a wonderful and very loving husband and two precious little boys, God also gave me a healthy pregnancy, the easiest birth I have ever experienced, and a beautiful, healthy, smiling little baby girl.

He has given me one more year on this earth, and I am so very thankful for that. It makes me wonder what He has in store for the next year. As I look forward, it makes me think, am I serving Him with all of me? It's really the very least I could do for such a magnificent and loving God like Him. I don't deserve any of what He has given me, yet He loves me and still gives me all these blessings. What a wonderful God we are allowed to serve. I want to give Him all of me.

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

5k is OVER and Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning, my husband, my brother and I ran the 5k! Wohoo- it's done! Of course, being in Texas, it's been 80 degrees up until this week, and this morning it was 35 degrees! We did 3.1 miles in the very windy cold in 39:52. I was quite excited to be under 45 minutes (that was my goal!) My family is here, the turkey is in the oven, the rolls are rising, and we are getting hungry already!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Great Uses for Dawn

Linsey, one of the frugal bloggers at Wisebread, posted this article she found about original uses for Dawn. I am always on the look out for frugal hacks like this:

Ice Pack – We are always in need of ice packs. Store-bought kinds can be expensive, and the fillers aren’t always guaranteed to be nontoxic. To make your own, simply fill a strong freezer bag halfway with Dawn Original dish soap (the blue kind, non-ultra). Double-bag for extra leak protection. These super-soft ice packs are great for all kinds of injuries. (We use snack-size freezer bags to make kid-sized boo-boo packs!)

I love this idea. We don't have any special "boo-boo packs"- we usually use ice, which sometimes leaks when it melts. Making a Dawn pack is now on my to-do list! :)

Freebie of the Day- Money Management Binder

Get a free "Manage Your Money, Manage Your Life" Binder from Discover and Real Simple magazine. I just love every kind of binder or notebook. I don't do shoes, I do organizational tools! :)

Homemade Mocha Frappuccino's

It all started at Starbucks- really, who'd ever think of drinking frozen blended coffee? It sounds rather strange, but it's so very good! Word definitely got around, and Frappuccino spin-offs are now offered all over town!

We don't drink coffee at our house (we have another use for the coffee maker), but we love Mocha Frappuccino's (and now even Sonic has a very good ice cream based version!). The only problem is, if we bought ourselves Starbucks or Sonic everyday, our grocery bill would nearly double. We thought there must be a cheaper way to have these every day!

So to make our Mocha Frappuccino at home, we buy this cappuccino mix from Folger's, and add ice, Hershey's syrup, and milk in the blender to make a homemade cappuccino. My husband likes to drink these after lunch- he's our Frappuccino expert. One canister of the Folger's cappuccino mix costs about $3.50 and lasts us for six months or more. It's really good and so much cheaper than a $4 drink at Starbucks!

Check out more kitchen tips over at Tammy's Recipes!

Freebie of the Day- Full-Sized Neutrogena Healthy Skin Rejuvenator

Get a nice full-sized Healthy Skin Rejuvenator kit from Neutrogena while supplies last.

Freebie of the Day- 6-in-1 Kobalt Screwdriver

Here is a link for an awesome stocking stuffer- a 6 in 1 screwdriver from Lowe's! We picked up one this weekend-it's very nice!

*Edited- this freebie has expired.

Freebie of the Day- Cooling Care Nursing Pads

For the new mommies- get four free Cooling Care™ disposable hydrogel nursing relief pads, "for use by mother between breast feedings to cool and soothe breast irritation and soreness."

Grocery Shopping...Frugally

We went grocery shopping on Monday, and as I was shopping I realized I have learned some things that have saved us a ton of money over the past few years. A lot of the things I've listed below may be really obvious to the savvy shopper, but they have definitely helped me since I've had my own family.

Most recently, I learned that equal quantity is not equal weight. This is very obvious in fruits and vegetables, but when you buy tortillas, and the two packages are sitting side by side, both 20 count, and one is cheaper, do you take the time to see if there is a difference in weight? Or do you just pick up the cheaper one? You could get 5 oz. more of tortillas for pennies. I've caught myself doing this time and again, because it's easy just to scan the quantity and price. The same with ice cream- they all seem the same size, but is one a half-gallon and one 1 1/2 quarts? If you pick up the 1 1/2 quart just because it slightly cheaper, you are probably not getting the best deal.

This also holds true for eggs at our store. The boys eat eggs for breakfast. On Monday, a dozen large eggs cost $1.86. I looked at the jumbo eggs, and they were $1.98. The large eggs were 24 oz and the jumbo eggs were 30 oz. It was only .13 for 25% more eggs! (The large eggs were .0775 cents per ounce. The jumbo eggs were .066 per ounce.) We needed those few extra ounces of protein for our growing little boys!

I noticed I never buy anything on the end cap (end of the aisle) without checking the section to price compare (or if you had one, a price book). On our way out, I saw a bottle of Karo syrup I needed for $1.93 in the holiday baking section in the main aisle. I picked it up, then went to the aisle where the rest of the corn syrup was located, where I saw the generic brand, same size for .92. I can tell you, I rarely find an end-cap item that is cheaper than it's competition.

I also always use competitor ads at Wal-Mart. They will price match local sales as long as they aren't what they call gimmicks- buy one get one free, or buy one get one for a penny. I added up the savings the last time I went shopping. I saved $12 on products I normally buy just by bringing in the ads.

Another strategy that saves our family a ton of money is don't be afraid to speak up. When I am shopping I look at the price of each item I buy when I pick it up. When I get to the register, I catch so many pricing errors because I watch the screen as the cashier scans each item. Don't feel bad for asking for the price they listed- it's your money, and you have the right to request that they honor their listed price.

On Monday, I bought some lemon juice and the price was off by 8 cents. I politely told the cashier the price it was supposed to be, and she quickly changed it for me. I had two, so I saved .16 just by saying a few words. On occasion I have had to wait while a manager checked the price. It has saved us so much money to carefully watch for price mistakes while checking out, and then after checking out, scanning the receipt to see if we had missed anything.

Wal-Mart also has a policy that if an item rings up incorrectly (and they go to verify it), you get the item for free if it's less than $3.00 or $3.00 off if it's more. A few weeks ago, we bought noodles that were on clearance on the end of the aisle, and they rang up at normal price. We didn't catch it until after we paid, so we went to the service desk and got a refund and got the item for free.

To get the most savings while you are shopping, the most important thing of all is to take your time. Comparing weights and quantities, checking prices, shopping competitor's ads, and watching carefully as you check out all take your time and concentration. I have seen in our lives that with just a little bit of extra time and effort you can save a ton of money at the grocery store.

Check out more frugal living tips at Crystal's blog.

Freebie of the Day- Teeccino Caffeine-free Herbal Coffee

Sign up for Teeccino's newsletter and get a free sample of their caffeine-free herbal coffee in the flavor of your choice!

Eating at Chipotle Last Weekend

We are in the process of down-sizing our debts, so my husband and I went out last Saturday to the big city to shop for a very used car. After we went car shopping, we got to go on a mini date. We took Isabella with us and my mom watched the boys for us.

We went to Chipotle for dinner. We had been there once many years ago, but we were comparing it to our very favorite Freebird's burrito chain so we don't remember liking it. This time I ate a burrito bowl, and it was so good I am planning to replicate it here at home!

It had cilantro-lime rice, black beans, seasoned chicken, pico de gallo, sour cream, and romaine lettuce. I think my favorite part was the tangy rice- it makes my mouth water to think of it. It cost $5.75- not too awful for eating out, but I think we can make it for the whole family at that price! It's definitely going on next week's menu! :) YUM.

Freebie of the Day- Head & Shoulders Shampoo

Get a free sample of Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care or Smooth and Silky. Isabella has a little bit of cradle cap, and our pediatrician said to use Head & Shoulders on her head to cure it. I am going to try this when we get our sample in the mail!

He also recommended Neutrogena T-Gel- fortunately we had some left over from after Noah was born. It's working now but it reminds me of flea and tick shampoo- very stinky.

I Really Don't Enjoy Doing Laundry.

Whew. I'm glad that's out. (Is a girl whose blog has homemaking in the title allowed to say that?)

I dread doing the laundry. Keeping up with laundry for five is pretty tough, but it's mostly the folding and putting away of laundry that I dislike so much. I've searched for tips on how to make doing the laundry easier- all I could really find that would help me is a family closet in the laundry room. Our current laundry room for which I am extremely thankful is unfortunately far too small for a family closet.

Over the past couple of years, I have found a couple of things that really made laundry duty a little bit easier. I painted my laundry room hot pink (think Barbie pink) so I would like to be in there more. It is a much happier place now! I can see my laundry room glowing down the hallway. :)

I also found that placing each person's dirty clothes into individual hampers (as they are soiled) made a huge impact on the time I spend doing laundry. My husband, myself, the boys, and Isabella each have our own hamper. I only do laundry by person, when that person's hamper is full. This saves me a ton of time because I am only folding one person's clothes, so I have one pile and one location to take the clothes when they are folded. It seems to keeps me more motivated to fold the load as well.

I also try to do the laundry in the laundry room, straight out of the dryer so I don't have piles scattered all over the house. It's never going to get folded once it leaves the laundry room anyway. (The one person load works well too because I have limited space to fold). Sometimes, if it's quiet, I will bring my laptop in there and listen to Dave Ramsey or a sermon.

Making the laundry room a happy place, presorting our laundry, and actually doing all of the laundry in the laundry room really works for me.

Freebie of the Day- Degree Deodorant for Men

Here's a sample-sized Degree deodorant for the man in your life. It's a perfect replacement for those expensive travel-sized deodorants. Just leave it in the suitcase or travel bag for quick packing, or in your car console for emergencies!

Why Olive Garden Salad Tastes Better than Home

I worked at Olive Garden for several months when I was in college. Besides enjoying lots of good entrees, I got to eat salad pretty much every day I worked. Their salad is so good!

I got to see all of their ingredients of course, and even though I could replicate the ingredients at home (and you can even buy their dressing there!), it just wasn't the same.

You see, the beauty of an Olive Garden salad is not the lettuce or tomatoes or the dressing (although those are great!). It's the plate. They serve their salad on chilled plates. It makes the lettuce crisp and keeps it cold while you eat it. There is not much worse than wilted, soggy lettuce from a hot plate!

The chilled plate is not their only secret- it's also the timing. It is common to serve the salad before a meal at a restaurant, but we don't do this at home! I think that we don't stop to enjoy the taste of a salad when we serve it at the same time as the rest of the food. It just becomes something to fill up on instead of savor. The complexity of the entree detracts from the taste of the salad.

I put this to the test at home. Usually I serve salad along side of the entree. Which means it gets to be warm pretty fast. I rinsed some plates and put them into the freezer when I started cooking and then served the salad separately from the entree. It was so much better than usual!

If you are looking for an easy (and frugal!) way to liven up your everyday salad (besides eating at the Olive Garden! :) take a few extra minutes to try chilling your plate and eating the salad before the entree. It makes it so much better!

Check out Tammy's Recipes for more kitchen tips!

Menu Plans for the Week of 11/12/07

Monday- grocery and car shopping, dinner out at McAlister's (wohoo!)
Tuesday- Lamb and Black Bean Chili (we were given lamb, and this is the first time I have ever made lamb-anything!)
Wednesday- Tacos, Beans and Chips with Tangy Guacamole Dip
Thursday- Baked Potatoes with Queso, Salsa, and Sour Cream
Friday-Lamburgers with Avocado (if lamb actually tastes good and we feel like eating it again! :)
Saturday- Pizza night
Sunday- Chicken noodle soup and homemade bread

Check out more menu plans at Orgjunkie!

Freebie of the Day- Wildflower Seeds from Burt's Bees

Get a free packet of wildflower seeds from Burt's Bees. Enjoy beautiful wildflowers and save the bees at the same time!

Freebie of the Day- Hallmark Christmas Card

Get a free Hallmark Christmas card. And if you don't have someone in mind to send it to, turn it into a cute little gift box!

Check out more frugal tips at Crystal's blog!

The Three Cuties that Stole My Heart

I would be lying if I said that having three small children is easy- but when I look at each one of their precious faces, I remember that raising them is a daunting task because it so very important. Every single day I am helping to shape them into the adults they will become. It's such a great responsibility that it's scary- and yet at the same time I am so honored that God has allowed me to have these great little children.

Freebie of the Day- Slim-Fast Protein Chews

Get a free sample of Slim-fast's Protein Chews. I am definitely in for any free weight loss products! ;)

CVS is my Favorite Store!

We just got back from the best CVS trip yet!

Here's what we bought:

The total before sales and coupons was $98.46, and I only spent $9 ECB's and $0.34 out of pocket. I got back $3.49 in ECB's. So my "total spent" was $5.48 for all of this! Of course only 34 cents came out of my pocket this week, the other $5.14 was from rolled over ECB's. I still have about $15 left in ECB's from last week.

Here's what I got:
1 Dawn
1 Trail Mix GrapeNuts
2 Large bags M&M's
2 Pampers Diapers Size 1 & 5
1 BC Powder
1 Blood Glucose Monitor
4 John Frieda Hair Products
1 Gallon Milk
4 Fruit2O's

At the bottom of my receipt it says, Today You Saved: $151.09. Oh yeah, baby! :)

Check out more deals others got this week at MoneySavingMom!

Freebie of the Day- Baby's Cereal Bowl

Free baby cereal bowl when you sign up for Beechnut's newsletter. I signed up with them before and received a very cute free bib.

What Works for You? November '07 Edition

It's backwards day again over at Rocks in My Dryer....which means I get to ask a question again! Yay! My last question was about how to get a toddler to sit still in church, and you all were so helpful in giving me tips and tricks- thank you!

My question this week is now that we have a two month old, I am trying to get back into a schedule/routine, but she just won't sleep without me holding her. We've tried the bouncer/vibrating chair, and a playpen in the same room, but she will not sleep unless I am physically touching her. I love my sling but there are things that are difficult to do with her, like showering, drying my hair, sweeping, dishes, etc. Do you have any tips or tricks that help you get your baby to sleep without being in your arms?

A Match Made in Heaven

For last week's pumpkin carving display at his workplace, my fanatical hubby decided to show his undying love for....


(I'm sure it was because a pumpkin carving just wouldn't do my picture justice... ;)

Unusual Sight at our House

You know how if the house gets quiet, you know something is going on?

Well, I noticed a serious lack of noise, so I went to investigate. Expecting any number of awful things like the pantry contents being dumped on the floor or two little boys coloring on the wall, I was a little more than surprised to see this:

Elijah was rocking Noah in his arms, singing to him. Noah was pretending to be the baby with his old pacifier we found under the bed.

My little boys never cease to amaze me. :)

Freebie of the Day- Dove Hair Care

Choose your free sample of Dove's hair care products.

Freebie of the Day- Reynold's Slow Cooker Liner

Get a free crock-pot liner here! I've never tried one before, but it seems like it would make cleaning up so easy!

Menu Plans 11/5/07

Here's our menu for this week (not a one bag= five dinners week like last week! :) Looks like we are going for a Mexican and good old American comfort food mix this week!

Monday: Taco Salad
Tuesday: Beef Enchiladas, rice, and beans
Wednesday: Chicken and dumplings (I'm hoping there might be a chill in the air to go with them!)
Thursday: Meatloaf (didn't get around to making that one last week)
Friday: Black beans and Mexican fiesta rice
Saturday: Chicken Spaghetti

Breakfasts: eggs, cereal, oatmeal, toast
Lunches: leftovers, soup, sandwiches

Check out more menu plans at Menu Plan Monday!

Victoria's Secret Deals 11/4/07

Thanks to the Bargain Shopper Lady, I saw this great deal at the Victoria's Secret online store. Buy any sweater (even clearance!) and get free boucle hat, gloves and scarf! Even sweeter than that, add these codes to get a free lip gloss 4 pack, another free lip gloss, and $5 off your first purchase! All that for about $17 shipped if you buy a clearance sweater- sounds like a few awesome Christmas gifts!

Me @ 26!

Thinking about this one.... :)

CVS and Walgreen's Deals 11/3/07

This week's CVS deals- I spent $8 ECB's and .84 and left with $8.99 in ECB's, so I made .15 on all of this!

Soy joy bars 4/4
2 sudafeds
2 packs gum
- coupons

cottenelle 5.99
rhoto eye drops 4.99 (free)

Walgreen's- I had a $10 reward I had to use before the 8th and we needed diapers and mousse, so it wasn't quite a money-maker or anything. I spent $2.46 after coupons and rewards. Not too bad... :)

Vision Forum Giveaway!

LifeinaShoe is holding a drawing for $250 to spend at the Vision Forum. You can enter until 11:59 CST tonight!

Here's my wishlist:
Raising Godly Children $45
A Biblical Blueprint for a Happy Home $20
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God $20
Building a Family that Will Stand $30
Back to Genesis $45
The Return of the Daughters $20
Raising Maidens of Virtue $20
Lion and Cross Shield and Sword 2 pack $35
Family Evangelism $10

I never win these random drawings but I keep trying! Maybe one lucky day.... :)

Lies Women Believe, Chapter 2, Part I

This is the second installment of the review of the book Lies Women Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Lies Women Believe… About God

The author begins the chapter with how what we believe about God is the foundation of what we believe. DeMoss says, “What we believe about God determines the way we live. If we believe things about Him that aren’t true, we will eventually act on those lies and end up in bondage.”

In the first part of this chapter, she goes on to discuss several lies that women believe about God. One of my favorites was:

“God is not really enough.”
“When it comes down to it, we don’t believe God’s Word is sufficient to deal with our problems…. Sure I need God. But I need Him plus close friends, I need Him plus good health; I need Him plus a husband, I need Him plus children, I need Him plus a job that pays enough; I need Him plus a house with a microwave, a washer/dryer, a garage, and a fresh paint job…”
I see this lie happening in my own life. I know in my head that God is faithful and will provide for me, but my heart doesn’t quite believe it, so my hands get busy trying to solve the problem or come up with a way to get what I need.

Realizing this behavior is a based on a terrible lie really convicted me about my sin of unbelief. I am not fully giving over my burdens to the Lord, and sometimes I just don’t want to find the answers in His Word because I know it is not what I want to hear. I need God
plus a perfectly clean house, plus a vehicle with a 3rd row seat, plus perfectly behaved children.... and the list goes on.

DeMoss says,
“Do we truly believe God is enough, or are we looking to others things and people to fill the empty places of our hearts- food, shopping, friends, hobbies, vacations, our job, or our family?”

God’s truth is:
Psalm 73:25- 26
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

God’s Word is truth and reminds me of how incapable I am of anything without Him. It reassures me that
I don’t have to do it without Him, and that he is ALL I need.

Stay tuned for the next installment in the review of Lies Women Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Freebie of the Day- Coupon for free Dawn Direct Foam

Fill out the simple registration to receive $29 in coupons, one of which is a coupon for $1.50 off Dawn Direct Foam. We love Dawn, it is the best dish soap!

Freebie of the Day- One Week Supply of DanActive Immunity Drink

Sign up to take the DanActive Immunity Challenge and receive a week-long supply of Dannon Immunity Probiotic Dairy Drink.

More Children= More Love!

I have heard so many times that if you have too many children they won't get enough attention. Since Isabella was born, I have been really surprised at how much attention she gets. Not only from me and my husband, but also the constant attention from one of her brothers.

If she needs to be put in her bouncy chair or laid down, she is surrounded by her older brothers, talking to her and showing her their toys, or singing to her. She gets so much more attention than the oldest did when he was a baby.

If she cries and I can't get to her, her brothers will retrieve the pacifier and give it to her. She has someone around her almost all the time. In some ways, I think it's actually easier to have three children than it is to have just one. You have two little helpers when the new baby comes.

I am holding her in my lap right now, and she is laughing and cooing at Elijah's made-up silly song for her. It is so precious to see the interaction between them. And instead of having just two loving parents, she's has four people that love her everyday.

Freebie of the Day- Berry Slush at Sonic

Here is a coloring page with a coupon for a free children's berry slush. Made with 100% apple juice and strawberries. Expires 11/15/07.

Freebie of the Day- Flushable Cottonelle Wipes

Here is a free sample of Cottonelle Moist Flushable Wipes. Samples like these can be handy to put in the glovebox as backup for a diaper emergency!

Perfect Muffin Portions

I can't take the credit for this week's kitchen tip, I saw it on a muffin mix package!

For the perfect amount of muffin batter in your muffin cups, use an ice cream scoop to dole out the batter. I was quite skeptical, but I tried this and it worked perfectly and filled the cup about 2/3 full, with no messy drips on the sides. I was so impressed!

For more kitchen tips, check out Tammy's Recipes!

Menu Plan Monday 10/29/07

As busy as we have been lately, this week will be a designated "cheat" week. We are trying to keep it simple so I can cook quickly before the baby starts fussing, plus we are trying to eat fairly cheaply after the last two high spending weeks. Here's the menu thanks to Kraft's One Bag= 5 Dinners ;)

Monday- leftovers
Tuesday- Tex-Mex Rollups with Rice and Refried Beans
Wednesday- Meatloaf and baked fries
Thursday- dinner with friends, make salad and dessert
Friday- Fiesta Chicken Pasta with Corn and Salad
Saturday- Chicken and Rice, Zesty Green Beans
Sunday- Cheesy Chicken Soup (double batch for next week too) and Bread

The menu is based on one bag of groceries, which should cost about $37 for this week of meals based on what I usually buy (turkey instead of beef, generic brands instead of Kraft). The Cheesy Chicken Soup is a large batch and isn't part of the Kraft one bag, but is part of the $37 budget.
Here's a link to Kraft's One Bag= 5 Dinners.
Check out more menu plans at Orgjunkie!

One of my Favorite Sights

It just melts my heart... :)

Freebie of the Day- Coolbelt Key Fob

Go here, click on the stay in touch customer link (lower right of the page) to sign up for their mailing list, and receive a free keyfob like this one!

My Favorite and Frugal Baby Wrap

Over the last four years, I have bought a few different carriers for my babies like the Baby-Bjorn style and the hammock style sling but they always become painful after 30 minutes of wearing them.

I wanted a cheaper and better solution after paying for things that didn't work, so I did some searching on the internet for a cheaper way to carry my baby. And I found it!

I love this wrap. I really, really love this wrap. I can wear Isabella in it all day without back or shoulder pain. In fact, when we went to the fair this weekend she rode in it the entire time (and slept through most of it!). As soon as I put her into it she falls asleep and when she wakes up she is happy. I have fallen in love with babywearing!

This wrap is so great because it evenly distributes the weight across the whole torso instead of just the shoulder area. It's so much more comfortable than anything I've used. I just can't say enough about it! :)

The even better part about this wrap was the cost- I "made" it for $5. No sewing required! Just five yards of gauzy cotton material all wrapped and tied around my waist and shoulders. It is similar to the Moby sling which costs $35.

Here is the tutorial on how to make a no-sew wrap.
Here is how to wrap the material to make a sling.

Thank you to the Mamatoto Project for all the wonderful information on babywearing!

Not only does this sling work for me, it also serves as a frugal way to carry my baby!

*In this picture she was laughing and cooing at the fair.

Freebie of the Day- HOMEMADE Magazine Subscription

HOMEMADE magazine celebrates the source of real food: real people.

In each issue of HOMEMADE, you’ll find special feature stories as well as:

  • In the Homemade Kitchen — culinary facts and fun
  • The Convenience Cook — convenient products form the foundation for great dishes
  • Secret Ingredient — a featured ingredient is used in a unique and delicious way
  • Behind the Recipe — a reader shares the story behind a special recipe
Here's the link for more information.

Complimentary Subscription

Get your own copy by sending an email with your name and mailing address to

Submit a Recipe

HOMEMADE magazine considers trends, seasonality, convenience and more when reviewing recipes. To submit, email your recipe to

Unplugging the god of IT

This was such a great article by Joe Carter. I know I am addicted to information gathering, and I get upset when the internet is down. We might have to try this...

"Sometimes we must rest from gathering information just as the Israelites rested from gathering wood on the Sabbath," writes Kevin Miller in Surviving Information Overload. Miller recommends taking an "info-techno Sabbath," a 24-hour period when we turn off the cell phone, leave the PDA in the drawer, and stay away from the computer.

"One of the most basic biblical insights," says theologian J.I. Packer, "is that whatever controls and shapes one's life is in effect the god one worships." For many of us, the one true god to whom we give our devotion is the deity known as IT: information technology.

Walgreens Deals week of 10/21

Walgreen’s deals I did this week:
Excedrin $6 ($3 coupon)
Genteal Eye Drops 7 ($3 coupon)
Maalox $5 ($1 coupon)
Gerber Baby 2 @ $1 each
$20 - $7 coupons= $13 out of pocket- $12 register rewards= $1 for all.
$2.99 Mail in Rebate Excedrin= $1.99 profit

I used the $12 register rewards to purchase the free after rebate Pepcid, Beano, Garnier Conditioner, and toothpaste.
Altogether, I spent $15.28 tonight and will get back $18.14 back on a gift card for rebates, plus an additional $2.99 for the Excedrin rebate.

CVS deals this week 10/21

(the wipes were actually a two pack but were opened quickly ;)

CVS deals I did this week:
Tylenol Deal- 3 $5 coupons 8.69 x3 -$15- $4 off $20
Get back $10 ECBs= $2.93 profit

Gas x or Maalox 2.89- $1.00 coupon (get back $3 ECB's)
*$5 ECBs on alkaseltzer Buy 2 at $4.99 each, Use $3 and $0.75 coupons= $1.25 cost
*$5 ECBs when you buy $10 of Energizer Alkaline Batteries AA, AAA 8 pk., C, D 4 pk.,
Buy 2 at $5.29, Use 2 $1/1 coupons, Spend $8.58 plus tax (Get $5 ECB back makes it $3.58)
Herbal Essences 2/$6 (get $2 back ECBs)
.69 Three musketeers
$5 off 30

Buy 2 products at $4.49, Use 2 $2/1 coupons= $.49
Wipes 3.99
3.00 Campbells soups -.50 coupon= 2.50

The cheapest Revlon my store had was $4.49, so I ended up paying .50 instead of making it. I also had to buy wipes because we suddenly ran out, so that cost $3.99, then I filled in with my favorite soup so I could get the extra $2.00 off. I lost a small coupon somewhere in the store, then the cashier forgot to ring up my batteries and I couldn't see it on the display before I paid, so it messed my checking out order up, but I figured it out thankfully before I left. I could have had a bit more savings had those things not happened.

All in all, I went in with $20.29 in ECB's, and left with $15 in ECBs, and paid $2.23 out of pocket. So my total "spent" was $7.52, 50 more cents than the unexpected purchases of soup and wipes plus their tax. Not bad, $.50 for all the rest of it. Oh, and then if I get my Tylenol rebate of $5, I will have made $4.50.

I wonder how my family will like Tylenol and Alkaseltzer for stocking stuffers? ;)

Freebie of the Day- Free Celestial Seasonings Tea

Try Celestial Seasonings Tea for free here. Blueberry tea sounds interesting!

Another Busy Day

Wow, we just got through with yet another busy day. We had two more doctor's appointments, Pilates class, and many other little errands to run. I made my very first trip to Target with all three kids. I don't know why I've been avoiding any daytime trips with the kids alone, it wasn't bad at all, just a little bit of extra work to get them all in and out of a small SUV. They were all good and we didn't linger at all, so it was a pretty good trip.
We made our CVS run last night and finished up at Walgreen's tonight. Pictures soon to come... :)

Freebie of the Day- Bag of Candy

Here is a coupon for a free bag of candy at Kmart.
Expires 10/31/07.

Cake Decorating Lessons Learned

We recently celebrated our oldest's 4th birthday. For his birthday I made a Veggie Tales cake- Larry the Cucumber. It definitely wasn't the best hand decorated cake I've made, but I did learn something- it is far easier to decorate a cake that is the same color as the icing. I put Green Wilton paste in the cake batter just for the effect of green cake, but when I went to decorate it, it was so much easier to decorate because the cake crumbs blended instead of standing out like white cake does.
Oh, and a few more cake decorating tips I learned- don't freehand Larry the Cucumber ;) and don't decorate at night when you have an earache and two out of your three children are crying. Taking care of toddlers and babies with green-icing hands just doesn't work! :) And, no matter how awful you think it looks, if your 4 year old loves it, you've done your job.

Check out more kitchen tips over at Tammy's Recipes!

Freebie of the Day- Garnier Nutritioniste Sample

Here is a link to a sample of Garnier Nutritioniste. I got hooked on their scrub after I bought it at CVS for almost nothing. CVS runs big sales on Garnier products, so here's your chance to try before you buy! :)

Casting Crowns and Leeland Concert

Wow- we had such a great time at the concert last week! We won backstage passes to the concert, so we got to do a meet and greet with the bands. We laughed about the meet and greet because as nice as the band members all were, there was just not much to say to them. They were like, "You guys from around here?" We said, "Yeah, we live right down the road." It's not like we could say, "How about you, you from around here?":) It was still cool though.

We were given box seats as well, so we got to go up into the box and sit in comfortable chairs and were served drinks and snacks. I could really get used to that kind of treatment! :) I told my husband I am going to want to meet the band and sit in box seats for every concert now!

With Casting Crowns (not all of them)

With Leeland

Here is one of Leeland's most popular songs:

And Casting Crowns:

Ahhh...finally back to normal. Almost.

We just finished the craziest week! It has been so much fun. We had two birthdays, a visit to the fair, two concerts, three road trips and three very late nights, many dinners out and a ton of laundry left to do.
We have one birthday left on Tuesday, but for the most part we are out of the super busy days. It is so much fun to have events and dinners, but with three little ones who thrive on routine it feels good to be home too.
I have so much to post- concert, fair and birthday pictures. I felt like I should be writing a lot last week with so much going on, but I didn't get to, so I hope to catch up soon! :)

Crazy Week

The last couple of days have been a whirlwind! Yesterday was my birthday, and we got up early to get to my hair appointment which was pretty far away. My mother-in-law was so sweet, she watched the boys for me. When I got back, the boys had made me birthday cards with their handprints drawn on them. Those were the first handmade cards they made me. It made my day. :)

After the early haircut, I drove back for lunch and a doctor's appointment. I had a quick lunch at my favorite McAlister's with my hubby then we drove over to the doctor's office. Everything checked out there :)

We dropped by hubby's office to show off our cute little girl for the first time ;) and then I got to go shopping. By this point we were all quite tired, but it was still fun. I picked out a few things I had been wanting. I even got a beautiful plate that I just really liked. I figure if I have to seriously start my diet now I should at least enjoy looking at the plate! :)

My mom came up and took us to eat at On the Border, which was so good! Ahhh...the last good (as in tasty and fattening) meal for a while...
We were all pooped after that and I actually came home and went to bed before 12!

But the excitement has yet to end... Tuesday my hubby won backstage passes and box seats to see Casting Crowns, Leeland, and John Waller! I was so excited, I got to hear him on the radio, and he won tickets. It's going to be great! So we are off for another busy night...

What 100 Acre Wood Character are You?

I'm Winnie-the-Pooh. And apparently a bit slow... ;)

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Freebie of the Day- Energy Star Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

Compact Fluorescent Lights save you tons of money on electricity- we use them in our ceiling fan light and nightstand lights. Each bulb costs about $2-3, so a free one is definitely a great thing!
Click here to get your free Energy Star CFL bulb.

Make Your Bread Last Longer

This week's kitchen tip is one that many people may use, but it never occurred to me until I had a home of my own. We are not big bread eaters and often our loaves will spoil before we eat them.

When we buy bread now, we buy a couple of loaves and store them in the freezer until they're ready to eat. After they thaw, we store them in the refrigerator instead of leaving them in the bread box. A loaf of bread lasts us two weeks now, and we don't have to throw any out due to spoilage.

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes!

$2 off $10 at CVS

Here is a link for $2 off $10 at CVS. Expires 1/31/08.

Fun Weekend

We had a fun weekend- my parents took us out to dinner for my birthday (a few days early), and my husband took me to the movies with some movie passes we received. We went to my very favorite restaurant- Johnny Carino's. It's country italian- it's just so good! They serve the very best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. It is so rich, with a fudge icing and topped with toffee, then served with ice cream. Yum. I think my hips are growing just thinking about it.

Me and my wonderful hubby.

We somehow didn't manage to get any pictures of the kids, but we did get a picture of the chocolate cake ;)

Freebie of the Day- Cute O.B. Trial Pack

Okay, this freebie is just for the ladies :)

Click on the 3rd link that says mighty.small.sample.

Freebie of the Day- Betty Crocker Warm Delights Minis

Sign up for Betty Crocker's email newsletter/coupons and get a free sample of Betty Crocker Warm Delights Minis. Free chocolate cake is always good!