February 2009

I love this tote bag tutorial from jcaroline creative!  If I ever find time to make a bag—I’ll be sure to try this one! ;D  You know how time is with kids….no time…  Anyway, check this out—great gift idea!  Oh, and I LOVE J Caroline’s fabric, I’ve ordered from her in the past and it’s beautiful!!!  Be sure to take a look if you’re a crafter at heart like myself!

Tote bag I love a tote bag, because I seem to always have lots of non-purse suitable items to carry- children’s toys, files, magazines and books, liters of vodka. (Just seeing if you were paying attention.)

This tote is a 14″ x 11″ x 3-1/2″ deep tote with one exterior pocket and two interior pockets- one zippered.


Real quick, beginning tomorrow, KMART is doubling and tripling coupons in some areas all this week!!!  Be sure to go to the webpage, look at the circular for your local store, and match the sales with the coupons!!!

AND, you can print off a $5 off $50 or more spent (before coupons of course) coupon!!!

Here’s to you and LOTS of freebees!!!

Thanks for the tip Balancing Beauty and Bedlam!!

Alright, so I’ve already talked a little on the whole idea of cooking once and serving twice (or more), but I got this website, Homemade Gourmet, who is also the author or Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, and I LOVE her menu ideas here.  Sure, it sounds easy enough to cook a bunch of meat and use it in several dishes, but I’m just not creative in that department.  This monthly menu idea helps me see what I could make.  AND, not only are there ideas on here, but the recipes are on here too.  Or, if nothing else, it gets those wheels turning as to other ideas you could use.

In her blog, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, she talks about her Taco Dip that is a daily staple at their house.  That and her Taco soup (along with many others) I am so excited to try!!!

Thanks for the ideas, Jennifer!!!

Check out the link for all these recipes and more!

Check out the link for all these recipes and more!

Another great site for couponing that I found through Good Morning America is BeCentsAble.  I haven’t totally learned the ins and outs of the site yet, but I LOVED what they had to say on Good Morning America (use the link above to read the article from the show).  However, I will add to give due credit, that some of their system uses Coupon Mom, which I LOVE Coupon Mom’s idea about not having to clip the coupon unless necessary.  The only thing is you have to be sure you’re organized and know which add is from which date.  If you just get a stack of coupons, then you can’t do this system.

Just thought I’d give you another tool and option to save and make life easier!

Lots of great ideas!!!

To Le Dolce Vita!

I got these codes for free Redbox movie rentals—and they don’t expire as far as I understand!  I apologize because I cannot remember what website I found these on.  Here they are:

Use these codes for a free DVD rental at any local Redbox.

Simply use code: SHPNSVE2 or REDBOX.or BREAKROOM or DVDONME.

These are ongoing codes. They can be used once per debit/credit card, so you can rent more than one for free by using different cards!

Don’t you just LOVE these?!  What a special baby gift.  When I saw these on http://lisaleonardonline.com I knew I HAD to bookmark them.  So precious—definitely a keepsake and something to pass down for generations to come.  My mom has my great-grandmother’s baby spoon with a “C” marked on it for her name “Cecil”, I have always thought that was so special, and now YOU can have one too!  So sweet!!!

Love 'em!

Love 'em!

Don’t you HATE the “What’s for dinner?” questions?  Whenever my husband’s on the phone and asks me that, I want to hang up and run away.  Yes, it’s been going through my head all day, but I didn’t plan ahead and now it’s catching up with me!  It’s the inevitable question, dinner WILL come, but I try to push it off as long as possible and hope my husband will come home and do one of his creative chef creations for us all!  BUT, when I do plan ahead the week before, DO I feel like WONDERWOMAN!!!  I’m on top of the world and I’ve got it all under control.  So why don’t I do that every week?  I don’t know…  Thankfully, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam has some lifesavers for me when my brain just isn’t working.  I have a lot to learn still…

Here are her tips on cooking ahead—it doesn’t take any more time, and LESS to clean!  Amen to that!!!

“C.O.S.T. cooking – have you thought ahead?

Since I am the Queen of Best Intentions, I challenged myself to put my money where my mouth was during some of my meal planning/couponing posts, and “walk the talk” with this C.O.S.T. cooking – Cook once, Serve Twice.

If you double or triple your cooking, it will save you time later.
What is the cost of not planning ahead?
I was going to answer this rhetorical question, but I will leave you to fill in the blank for your own family.
(If you didn’t read about it the first time around, I have multiple posts, but the one where I give these suggestions are under Grocery Grumps -1.
Scroll down to the second half of that post with specifics since I won’t go into all the details again here. :)

For so many of you, this may come naturally, but as the food costs rise, and life becomes busier, it seems that this is an area which causes stress and ma ham in kitchens around the blog world.

Seeing what someone else has done might just inspire a little kitchen creativity this weekend.
So join me….take one hour to copy me or some other foodie and ease the mealtime mountain next week. This just might be the solution. Iron sharpens iron and I need to be held accountable in this grueling area as well.
As I was cooking this, I was literally just trying to get basic food on the table for my family, and then after the fact, I thought of taking pictures. I undid the spaghetti casserole after it had already been put in the freezer, so this isn’t much of a tutorial FYI.

Get out of that chair right now, and grab as much ground beef from your freezer that you have on hand.
Go on, I’ll give you a little time.

After it’s thawed, get going…cook up that stuff and drain that grease.
Oh, it looks a bit gross in that pan picture.
If you want to do just a bit more work, but work that’s so worth it….add fresh garlic, onions, and green peppers…..yum!
Now depending on how much you have browned, start separating it into zip lock bags.
You can see in the picture below, that I had about 2 pounds of beef that I seasoned with my Homemade Gourmet taco soup seasoning,
and sealed in a Ziplock bag.
We feasted on taco salad, taco dip, and burritoes throughout the week…all from this meat mixture…meals in minutes literally.
Typically, we never miss a week without taco soup, but we sure will have it this week.

Ok, I hear your screaming…we want recipes!!
Ladies – the beauty of Mexican is that you can add whatever you want…even if cooking terrifies you. Start with these basics…it’s so easy! Any of my children can fix their own dinner from these options. I promise!
Here are some ideas, but they change based on what produce was marked down, what items I have stock piled or purchased with my BOGO free items.

Taco salad – layer a plate with crushes tortilla chips, romaine lettuce (as yummy as ice burg is..stay away if you can help it – no nutritional value), top with the seasoned meat mixture, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and dollop of sour cream to top it off.
My mouth is salivating as I think of this favorite meal of mine. I love to mix just a tad of Catalina dressing in it, but my kids opt for ranch. Your choice.
Of course, get as healthy as you want by adding fresh tomatoes or green/ red peppers
Any of the above works well in your burrito/taco…just heat the burrito and melt that yummy cheese.
Taco dip….this is almost a daily staple at our home.
I will do this as a vegetarian option quite often with taco soup seasoning, and then add more beans. If beans make you wary, start with black beans. All of my kids LOVE them, and they are so good for you.
Mix seasoning, meat, cottage cheese if you want it low fat (or cream cheese), sour cream, black beans, cheese, salsa, peppers (my kids will eat them raw in this dip), salsa….stir and go at it with tortilla chips.

Once I removed the taco seasoned ground beef (for anything Mexican), I also put a small baggy of ground beef mixed with Italian Mozzarella seasoning.
This made delicious “meatloaf muffins” made with the meat mixture, and Pillsbury Grand biscuits that I had stocked up on with my double coupons.
I will post the recipe if anyone is interested. They are great for dinner or served the next day…cold…for lunches.
The ground beef that was left quite lonely in the skillet became homemade spaghetti sauce. I served half of it over noodles the same night, and the other half became Dream spaghetti – another family favorite. This I froze for a later date.
I know some of this I went over from an early post, but they say that it takes five times for something to sink in? hee hee
I know that one of you attention to detail ladies will notice what I wrapped around the casserole dish.
Yes, it’s true….I recycle grocery bags and use them for almost everything. I rarely spend money on wraps…and only then with a great coupon.
I add just a bit of plastic wrap (if anyone’s worried about germs), and then I really seal it with a plastic bag.

So for less than one hour of work, I had six meals (and taco dip) set for the week.
I can’t tell you what a stress reliever it was. So just go for it.
Stop procrastinating…ha…coming from the Queen….and have some fun in the kitchen.
I promise it will pay huge dividends, not just in time management, but also in the pocket book.

I know this is now two posts without a complete bedlam moment…trust me, they are continually happening. When I was cooking all these great amazing meat mixtures, let’s just say our dog agreed…..grrrrr……”

Here’s to Le Dolce Vita, and more time to ahh, relax…or so I like to think! ;D

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