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Life is beautiful whether you're soaking in sunshine or caught in a thunderstorm. I take the beauty of life for granted too often. I have a supportive husband who I don't want to live life without, a beautiful son who is always reminding me of the simple things that really matter, and an independent daughter who is teaching me to throw schedules out the window and live in the moment. My day is made when free samples fill my mailbox. I love discovering a new product and sharing it with others. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts and will share your stories with me as well.

Monday, February 28, 2011

WooHoo Free Pancakes Tomorrow at IHOP

Looks like Ty and I will be eating lunch at IHOP tomorrow!!!  In honor of National Pancake Day, IHOP is giving away FREE pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow, March 1. All you have to do to get your free pancakes is dine at an IHOP near you. In exchange for tomorrow’s free buttermilk goodness, IHOP just asks that you consider a little charitable goodness for an excellent cause—they’ll be collecting donations for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals if you feel inclined to give. For more information on National Pancake Day or the Children’s Miracle Network, check out IHOP’s National Pancake Day.

Strawberries on Sale and a couple Freebies at Ingles

Looks like I'll be making strawberry jelly this week.  Ingles has 1 pound container of strawberries on sale 2/$4.  There is nothing in comparison like fresh strawberries but since I'm completely out of strawberry jelly, these store bought berries will be just fine to make jelly with.  I bought $10 worth of strawberries.  I also received several "free product" coupons in the mail last week so I picked up the following:

One free bottle of Coffee-mate creamer - this is going to make some yummy iced coffee
One free Egg-beaters - never used this product before so it will be interesting to try it out
One free Propel Peach water - not a flavored water person so this is for Mike
Philadelphia Cooking Cream Cheese on sale for $2.00 - I had two $1.50 coupons so I got each container for 50 cents - this is another item I've never bought so we'll see what recipes I'll be able to use it in.

CVS Deals Week of February 27 - March 5

$11.98 for these items including the ECB's.
The $110 P&G coupon booklet I received in the mail a week ago really came in handy this week at CVS.  I'm trying to stockpile some of the necessities we use so I won't have to do any shopping in the month of June (baby G is due).  Here's what I bought this week at CVS:

One 50 ounce bottle of Tide Laundry Detergent on sale for $5.49 - I used $1 coupon to make total $4.49
Two bottles of Dawn Dish Soap one sale for 94 cents - I used two 50 cents coupons to make total 44 cents each
Two 45 ounce bottles of Cascade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent on sale for $2.94 - I used two $1 off coupons to make total $1.94 each
Two 12 pack double rolls of Charmin toilet paper on sale for $4.99 - I used two $1 coupons to make total $3.99 each (this made each roll about 33 cents each)
One Tube of Crest Toothpaste - on sale for $3.29 with $3.29 ECB's back - I used $1 coupon so I got this for free plus $1 in overage
One Oral B Satin Floss on sale for $3.29 with $3.29 in ECB's back - I used 75 cents coupon so I got this for free plus 75 cents in overage
One bottle of Gain dish soap for $1.39 - I used $1 coupon to make total 39 cents.
Total Spent was $18.56 with a total savings of $31.90.  I also received $6.58 in ECB's to be used on my next purchase.

CVS has a promotion of buying $30 worth of selected P&G items and you will receive $10 back in ECB's.  I met $17.80 towards this so I'm trying to locate some more of my coupons to go back and finish the remaining $12.20 to receive my $10 in ECB's.  I think I'll purchase the Bounty paper towels on sale if I can find the right coupons.  If not I'll just pick up some more Charmin toilet paper and Tide detergent.

Purex Complete Crystals Softeners

I recently received a sample of the new Purex Complete Crystals Softener.  I've used it in two laundry loads and I'm already sold on it.  It's so easy to add to your load of laundry, just shake a measured amount of crystals into your washer as you add your clothes and laundry detergent.  No messy liquid in the softener dispenser or measuring into a Downy ball.  It adds a very fresh smell to the laundry and my clothes came out of the dryer super soft.  Some really cool facts about this new crystal softener are:

  • Purex Complete Crystals Softener are 92% natural, not oil based like other liquid fabric softeners, so instead of coating fabrics with oil, they work by penetrating the fabric and infusing fibers with freshness that lasts for weeks, not days.
  • Using Purex Complete Crystals Softener instead of traditional liquid softeners will help your towels stay fresh and absorbent because it doesn't have the oily coating that inhibits the towels' ability to absorb moisture.
  • Purex Complete Crystals Softener is the FIRST major fabric softener that is 100% safe to use on children's sleepwear as it does not impair with the flame retardant qualities.

I'm going to give away a coupon for a Free 28 ounce bottle of Purex Complete Crystals Softener that retails at $5.50.  In order to qualify for this drawing, please leave a comment on what brand of softener you normally use and why you would like to try this new softener.  Drawing will be held on Friday, March 4th and winner will be contacted via email.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mark Your Calendars...PJ Day at Bruster's = Free Waffle Cone

Mark your calendar's for Saturday, March 5th!  Wear your pj's to Bruster's any time during the day and you will receive one free small waffle cone.  Promotion valid at participating Bruster locations only so be sure to call your local store ahead of time before making the trip.

Yummy Seven Layer Taco Dip

This is my favorite taco dip served with tortilla chips.  Super easy to make and the best part about the recipe is that you can serve it hot or cold.  I prefer hot with the cheese all melted but some people prefer it cold.

Here's the recipe:
Take 2 cans of Refried Beans and spread in a 9x13 glass pan.  Take 2 cups of sour cream and mix with one packet of taco seasoning.  Spread the sour cream mixture over the beans.  Pour 2 jars of Taco Sauce or Salsa over the sour cream layer.  Top with 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Next is my favorite part where you can spread on all your favorite toppings.  I always choose black olives, red and yellow peppers, and tomatoes.  You can also put some jalapenos on for an extra kick.  Serve cold or warm in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes.

10% off Wipes at Amazon.com makes Pampers wipes, 720 count, for only $11.51

Use code MOMWIPES to receive an additional 10% off any Pampers or Luvs wipes on Amazon.com.  I checked out the wipes this morning and they have a box of Pampers Soft Care Scented Wipes, 720 count, on sale for $19.19.  Use the Subscribe and Save Option to save 15% to bring your total to $13.43.  Use code MOMWIPES to bring your total down even further to $11.51.  That makes the wipes cost about a penny each.  Not bad especially to have the wipes delivered to your front door within two business days.  Make sure to remember to cancel the Subscribe and Save option when the wipes have been delivered unless you are wanting to receive these on a monthly basis.  This code is only valid on Pampers or Luvs wipes.  I've never tried Luvs wipes before, have you and if so, do you like them?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Coupon Code.....20% off entire purchase at Eddie Bauer

Have you had enough of online shopping?  If not, here's one more code for you to use at Eddie Bauer.  Use code SPR20Z to receive 20% off your entire purchase.  This code expires on March 15, 2011.  Online clearance merchandise is not included in this offer.  If you check out through Ebates, you will receive 3% cash back.


This was one of my favorite songs I would beg Mom to play on the piano. I can still see the sheet music all worn and torn on the corner. I never knew the song had words, she always just played the song on the piano. This definitely brings back special memories!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

$10 off $30 purchase at Express

Ok, so stores are definitely ready for us to start out Spring shopping with all these coupons they are making available.  Use coupon code 1140315890004106 to receive $10 off your purchase of $30 or more at Express.com.  This coupon expires on April 3, 2011.  It's not valid on clearance items, previous purchases, or in conjunction with any other offers or coupons.  Don't forget to check out through Ebates to receive 2.5% cash back.

30% entire purchase at Lanebryant.com

Use coupon code 000300384 to receive 30% off your entire purchase at lanebryant.com.  This code expires on March 25, 2011.  Valid only on Lane Bryant and Cacique merchandise only.  Cannot be combined with any other coupons or discounts.  Be sure to check out through Ebates to receive an additional 3% cash back.

CVS Deals this Week

The best deal at CVS this week is Purex laundry detergent on sale for $1.99.  Use the $1.00 coupon from last Sunday's paper insert and total out of pocket cost is 99 cents.  They also have the Purex laundry 3 in 1 sheets on sale for $3.99.  Use the $3 coupon and get the laundry sheets for 99 cents.  They were out of stock of this item when I went to CVS yesterday.  They also had their Cadbury mini eggs on sale for 75 cents and get 75 cents back in ECB's.  The computer wasn't automatically generating the ECB's so the cashier had to manually type it in.  Because it was manually typed in the register rounds up the ECB's to $1.  So they paid me 25 cents for eating Cadbury mini eggs.  I wouldn't mind doing that every day!
The Arizona tea is Mike's favorite and when it goes on sale for 49 cents, I have to stock up on it for him.  His favorite is the Arnold Palmer, half lemonade and half tea.
I bought all these items pictured (minus the Cadbury eggs. there wasn't a chance for them to make it in the picture) for a total of $6.19 and saved $21.57.  I also received $3 in ECB's to be used on my next purchase.

Monday, February 21, 2011

$10 off $25 purchase at Catherines

Use code 777013343 to receive $10 off your $25 or more purchase at Catherines.com.  This coupon is valid through April 8, 2011.  Cannot be combined with 55 & Fabulous discount.  Not valid during Friends & Family and Customer Appreciation events.  Excludes Added Dimensions, clearance, markdowns, Perfect Price items, and Spanx products.

It's Triple Coupon Week at Ingles!!!!

I got so excited when I saw Ingles has Triple Coupons this week.  All those 50 cents coupons I've been holding on to can finally be used!  I organized my coupon folder last night and was at Ingles at 8 am this morning.  I bought $92.98 worth of groceries and paid $38.08 for them.  Total savings of $54.90!  My other favorite part of Triple Coupon week is that I will buy items I typically don't buy because of the price.  My husband always gets excited about the special sauces and pickles I'll bring home.  I am excited about the yummy Betty Crocker Brownie/Cookie mix, can't wait to try it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fried Apple Pies

I have an Uncle and Aunt that are famous for their homemade fried pies.  They are unbelievably delicious and melt in your mouth!  I remember their apricot fried pies the most and my mouth is just watering thinking about them.

The other night I had some refrigerated pie crust and I decided to do a quick and easy version of a fried pie.  I used my homemade applesauce that I made earlier this week as the filling.  They were really yummy and definitely easy to make.

Ingredients and Directions

Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
Filling of your choice

Take pie crust and roll it out.  Use a large cup to cut out circles in dough.  Spoon a small amount of filling onto circle.  Fold dough over and pinch with fingers or use a fork.  Drop into hot grease and fry for about 3-4 minutes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meal Deal at Bi-Lo this Week

If you have a busy week ahead and don't have time to make dinner one night, Bi-Lo has a great Meal Deal this week with savings up to $11.52.  Buy one Michael Angelo's dinner for $7.99 and get Hot Mama Cheese Bread, Pet Icecream, and a 6 pack of Coke for free.  A family of four can eat for just $7.99 plus tax. 

Buy One Rental Get One Free at Blockbuster Express

Having a hard time choosing between two movies to rent?  Get both of them by using code BBXBL2 to get one free Blockbuster Express rental when you purchase one rental.  Find a location near you by clicking here.

Memory Lane

The last photo taken of Mom, Mike, and me.
This week has been full of memories for me.  Two years ago I went for a week in Texas to stay with my Mom.  She was battling breast cancer and was getting treatments in Mexico.  Unfortunately the treatments did not work and she died on February 25th, 2009.  So this week is full of the memories I had of my last week with her.  I've made her homemade sourdough bread, went to Mr. K's used bookstore (her absolute favorite place to buy books), made her homemade applesauce, her homemade banana bread, and last night I made her chicken and gravy over toast.  Some of you may think these things are silly but for me, each of these brings back special memories of her.  She loved to cook and bake and I couldn't even begin to count the number of hours she spent in the kitchen.  There was no one like my Mother....

Mom had a beautiful smile that would make anyone feel like a million bucks.  We made a video of some of our favorite pictures with her.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free 3-bag Travel Set with any purchase from Woman Within

Purchase any item from Woman Within by March 22 and receive a free 3-bag travel set.  Woman Within features plus size clothing and they have some great items on clearance right now if you are looking for a great deal.  Shirts as low as $3.12.  They also have a great selection of shoes on clearance you might want to check out. Use code WW45059 when checking out to receive your free 3-bag travel set.  Shop through Ebates and receive 3% cash back on your entire purchase.

My CVS deals today

Total cost $6.90 for these items when you factor in the ECB's I got back.

I stopped by CVS today and here's what I picked up:

Two jumbo packs of Huggies Pure & Natural Size 1 diapers - on sale 2/$17.98 with $4 ECB's.  I used two $3 coupons which made each pack $3.99. (I'm beginning to stock up on diapers for the new baby)
One Lady Speed Stick - on sale for $2.99 with $2 back in ECB's.  I had a CVS coupon for $1 off this deodorant
One Gain Dishwashing Detergent - on sale for 88 cents, used 25 cents off coupon
One King Size Reeses Peanut Butter Cups - on sale for 99 cents and I used BOGO coupon
One King Size Reeses Mini Peanut Butter Cups - Free with BOGO coupon
Total cost before savings and coupons was $33.85.  I paid $12.90 for a total savings of $20.95.  I also received $6 back in Extra Care Bucks to be used on my next purchase. 

Splish! Splash!

This video is hilarious!  Totally made my morning, thanks to my mother-in-law for sending it to me.  Check it out!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

Last week I picked up a bag of apples for 99 cents at Ingles.  There were about 10 large apples in the bag and today I decided to make my first batch of homemade applesauce.  My Mom would make her own applesauce all the time so we grew up on the homemade kind and not Mott's.  It was the best especially when it had just finished cooking and was nice and warm.

Here's the recipe I'm using today, maybe one of these days I'll be able to find Mom's original recipe.

4 med. cooking apples, pared, quartered & cored
1 c. water
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Heat apples and water over medium heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; heat to boiling.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homemade Brownie Sundaes

There is nothing like a homemade brownie sundae!!  Hot made from scratch brownie with homemade chocolate sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped cream, and of course the cherry on top!  Yummmmmm!  Nothing like it.......

Here's a great recipe for homemade brownies and chocolate sauce.
Ingredients for the brownies:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs until creamy.  Add cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt until well mixed and smooth.  Pour into a 9x9 pan and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Ingredients for Chocolate Sauce:
1 can of evaporated milk
4 teaspoons of cocoa
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir well until sauce is hot.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Making Homemade Baby Food

I don't always make homemade baby food for Ty but when I have extra veggies and fruits, it's way too easy not to make it for him.  I think baby food in general is overpriced and homemade is healthier.  I picked up some "over-ripe" bananas last week at Ingles.  A lot of these bananas still had green on them so I'm not sure how they ended up in the over ripe bag.  Did you know that if you put bananas in the fridge, they will last an extra week and sometimes even longer?  Either way for $1.50 you can't say no to that kind of deal.  I ate several bananas in my cereal all week long and there were still a lot leftover so I made banana baby food for Ty this morning.

Super simple to make, cut and slice bananas.  Don't laugh at me but I once heard that baby spiders lay their eggs in the top and bottom of the bananas so you should never eat those parts.  And I've always cut those ends off for as long as I can remember.  I know it's not true but once you've heard something and believed it for so long, it's hard to make yourself not believe it anymore.  And I bet now you'll think twice the next time you bite into that banana!

Anyway, once all the bananas were sliced, I put them in the blender and blended them until they were all creamy.  I also cooked some oatmeal to mix in with the bananas.  Some reason Ty wasn't too thrilled about the banana oatmeal this morning.  I'm not sure if it was because of the texture of the oatmeal or if he was wanting it to taste more like the Not Yo' Mama's Banana pudding that he sampled yesterday morning.  LOL

The leftover bananas ended up making him enough for the next 8 breakfasts.  $1.50 for 8 meals isn't bad at all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding Recipe

OMG!  I've never tasted banana pudding like this one!  This is a Paula Deen recipe and when you eat something of Paula Deen's, you can't go wrong.  

2 Bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies
6 to 8 bananas sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5 ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed

Line the bottom of a 13x9 dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.  Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together until smooth.  Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.  Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.  Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining bag of cookies.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  
Do not expect any leftovers....the pan will be licked clean!

I did a one substitution:  instead of French Vanilla pudding, I just had two 3.4 ounce boxes of Vanilla pudding on hand.  I used both of them and added an additional 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Deals at Walgreens Week of February 6th

Reeses Pieces missing since I dropped those off at Mike's work...his favorite candy!
I'm starting to not like shopping at Walgreens.  Their Register Rewards policy is so confusing some times and not worth the hassle.  Seems like I'm always running into the problem of having too many coupons and Register Rewards not being able to be scanned because of it.  I've decided the best way to use my Register Rewards is on items I need right away and aren't on sale, or for birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day cards, etc.  

Here's what I picked up at Walgreens today:
Two Tubs of Huggies Wipes
One Package of Halls Defense Vitamin C Drops
One Box of Whitman's Sampler Assorted Chocolates
Three 3 Musketeers Candy Bars
One 64 ounce Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
One Bag Hershey Almond Joy
One Bag Reeses Pieces

Total before coupons was $33.18 but I paid $14.06 for a total savings of $19.12. I also received $2 back in Register Rewards. I missed a $2 in store coupon for the candy so I could of saved an additional $2.

Sales at Ingles Week of Feb. 6th

Not really sure what happened to this photo...
I was much more prepared making a trip into Ingles this week.  I had taken about 10 minutes to browse through the sales ad and match coupons up with the sales before I left the house.  My trip in Ingles only took about 15 minutes and I might of finished sooner but I took a phone call in the store so I got a little distracted.

Here's what I picked up at Ingles this week:

  • 2 Boxes of Mini Shredded Wheat Touch of Fruit in the Middle
  • 1 Box Special K MultiGrain Oat & Honey
  • 1 Box Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal
  • 2 Boxes of PopTarts
  • 2 Boxes of Finish GelPacs Dishwashing Detergent
  • 3 Tubes of Colgate Toothpaste
  • 2 Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers
  • 1 packet of Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 1 Bottle Ortega Taco Sauce
  • 1 can of Organic Refried Beans

Total Cost before coupons was $48.98 and after coupons I paid out of pocket $22.27.  Total savings of $26.71!

Favorite deal this week was Colgate on sale 3/$3.  I had two $1 coupons and one 75 cents coupon so I got all three tubes for 25 cents!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My New Grocery Budget Planning

I've been watching the 31 weeks to a Better Grocery Budget Video series from MoneySavingMom and I'm inspired to do a better job with my grocery budget.  I've always been really good about finding deals and using coupons but I've never set an exact amount of money that I can spend each money on groceries and household items.  So after watching these videos, I'm going to try the $20 per person each week which would make us have a $60 week budget.  I already pulled out the cash I needed for the next two weeks and made my first trip this week to the grocery store.  This morning I paid $51.45 for groceries and saved $47.84 which wasn't too bad since Ty was very cranky and I wasn't feeling the mood to even be in the grocery store.  I have to remember that the $60 a week will go for all groceries, household and personal hygiene items.  I'm really hoping to get our budget down to $40 a week like Crystal does but it will take some time.  It definitely won't happen overnight. 

My next big goal is to be better about menu planning.  With Ty only being 7 months old and only eating baby food, I don't feel the need to have a healthy menu planned every day of the week.  Mike and I have a lot of "You're on Your Own Nights" when it comes to supper.  Once I start menu planning and get better at my grocery shopping, I'm sure we will see a difference in our budget and I'll be able to shoot for the $40 a week mark.

What are you ideas for better budgeting, grocery shopping, and menu planning?  Have you been able to stick with a budget?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ham & Broccoli Quiche Recipe

Ok, so this recipe is so easy and simple to put together for a last minute supper.  Quiches really aren't that hard to make and I didn't follow any particular recipe.  Just threw the ingredients together and Voila it was perfect!  You can't really mess up when making quiche.

Fresh Broccoli
1/2 large sweet onion
6 eggs
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Pillsbury Pie Crust

Steam Broccoli and Onion for about 15 minutes.  Cut into small pieces and lay on bottom of pie crust.  Chop up ham into bite size pieces and add on top of broccoli and onion.  Beat six eggs and about 1/2 cup of milk.  Add salt and pepper.  Pour over everything in crust.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Last night, Mike said this was the best quiche he has ever eaten....not that he's partial or anything!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My CVS purchases this week

These items cost me a total of $4.92 with ECB's received.
Here's what I bought at CVS this week:

  •  Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Dish Soap
  • Olay Total Effects Body Wash
  • Olay Complete Moisturizer
  • Herbal Essences Mousse
  • Herbal Essences Shampoo
  • Bag of Combos - these weren't on sale but I had a $1 coupon print out at the kiosk and it turned into a pregnancy craving.

Total Spent $8.92
Total Saved - $23.40
ECB's Received - $4.00