Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Cider Acorn Squash

Last fall at Alpha, I had the most wonderful Acorn Squash! Not only were they delicious, but they were GORGEOUS.

Here is the recipe,

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider or Apple Juice
  • Dash of Salt


1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Using a strong chef's knife, and perhaps a rubber mallet to help, cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don't burn and the squash doesn't get dried out.

3 Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of apple cider in to each half.

4 Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

Serves 2 to 4, depending on how much squash you like to eat.

Join in the recipe sharing fun at Hoosier Homemade and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I tried to squeeze shopping in between work and ballet, and it was just a mad rush. It was horrible. Even still, I did pretty well, I think. I didn't use a whole lot of coupons this week -- just shopped the good sales.

This is what we've got --

2 boxes of unsalted butter
1 dozen large eggs
2 boxes of Eggos
1 Freschetta pizza
1 honey bear
6 cans of generic tomato sauce
2 boxes of Musselman's Healthy Selectes applesauce
1 box of Ritz crackers
4 bottles of Old Orchard 100% juice
2 loaves of Oroweat 100% whole wheat
1 can of Spaghettios
1 bag of Nestle chocolate chunks
1 big tub of Robert's cottage cheese
1 box of Purex Complete Sheets (free!)
3 bags of generic Mexican blend cheese
1 Tyson Anytizers family pack
3.34 lbs of apples
11.25 lbs of bananas

My after tax total was $52.82. I saved $14.50 with coupons.

This will be my only trip for the week, except I had planned a banana bread extravaganza and am already out of flour! I totally forgot to get some yesterday even though it was on my list! I'll have to swing by and get some today while we're out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Found my receipt!

1 small bag of Reese's pieces (free!)
2 Reese's PB cups (1 was free!)
generic cottage cheese
1 carnation (free!)
1 Sara Lee coffee cake
1 Sara Lee cherry cheesecake
1 WAnchai Ferry Sweet and Sour dinner kit
1 huge package of Huggies wipes
1 lb of bananas (these were supposed to be free, but didn't ring up! I will have to take my receipt back.)
4 cans of generic kidney beans
2 big cans of generic tomato juice
2 bottles of SOBE Lifewater (1 was free!)
10 single servings of Dannon Naturals
1 1/2 gallon of generic 2% milk
1 1/2 gallon of hormone free chocolate milk
1 huge box of Pampers
2 2 liters of Diet Mountain Dew
2 little boxes of raspberries

My total before tax was $right around $50.00. I saved right around $10.50 with coupons.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I found myself in somewhat of a predicament this week. With all of the back to school lunch type sales, I ended up with a pantry full of stuff and a very empty freezer and fridge. Objective for the week was to fix that. However, I ended up shopping some deals I couldn't resist and went over budget. However, these purchases do include diapers, wipes, toilet paper and laundry detergent. I've purposefully left those types of items as somewhat of a gray area. All in all, I suppose considering the household items purchased, we still did pretty well.

Price Chopper

1 package of Kraft Singles
1 package of Kraft shredded cheese
1 gallon of Roberts OJ
about 4.5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts
2.46 lbs of ground round
1 bag of Ore Ida fries
1 lb of frozen corn
1 lb of frozen peas
1 box of Fiber One granola bars
1 can of crushed tomatos
16 oz of organic vegetable broth
2 bags of Doritos (hubby will be so happy!)
2 bottles of Arm and Hammer Free laundry detergent
1 large package of Charmin Ultra
1 Oscar Meyer 8 oz package of ham
1 lb of celery
1 lb or organic carrots
3.31 lbs of onions (I'm going to chop a bunch and freeze!)
2.66 lbs of sweet potatoes (Daddy and the girls love to have baked sweet potatoes for lunch when I'm at work! How easy!)
5 lb bag of Russett potatoes

My pre-tax total was $47.47.
I save $33.27 with my card and$3.50 in coupons. My coupon total suffered a little due to the mission to stock my fridge and freezer, but I'm not worried about it.

I will post my Hy Vee trip later. At the moment I can't find my receipt!

Friday, September 18, 2009

It occurred to me that I have written much about our "saving the difference" strategies.

We have a variety of savings things going on right now. We have a $50 automatic contribution to a brokerage account where our 6 month emergency fund is held as a CD. We make $100 deposits in to both of our daughter's 529s on a monthly basis. I have a $50 automatic check deduction that goes in to a small short term emergency savings account. I contribute 7% of my salary in varying splits of 401K and Roth 401K. My husband contributes a set 8% to a 401K. I also always attempt to put at least an extra $20-$50 back towards the principal on our 20 year mortgage. And finally, I made a 2 year commitment to contribute $110 of my pay check to an employee stock purchase plan. Until recently, we then set any extra income aside in to an account to buy a new car as we knew we were in great danger of our '98 Mountaineer dying. We saved just shy of 10K in 13 months.

Maybe that sounds like a lot to you. Maybe it doesn't. That's not the point. The point is that I have to FIND that money somehow by keeping our overhead operating cost as low as I possibly can. I'm learning to find by exhausting sales opportunities, coupons and discovering tax benefits.

The bad news here even to the extent of "knowing better," we financed a new car in August. We combined Cash for Clunkers, a Chrysler rebate and a friend in the business to get a 35K Town and Country for 22K. We'll also be able to claim the taxes on our 2009 return. It was a deal that given the available offers , a 10K down payment and a family that will hopefully grow to 5 within the next 2 years, we just couldn't refuse.

The GOOD news, is that we SCRAPED together a triple car payment in September! Even with all of the other savings commitments we've made, we were able to impact the bottom line of our loan tremendously by paying off three months with our first payment. So, game on! Our goal is to be back to debt free except for our mortgage by this time next year. We paid off our last 12 K car loan in 12 months, and I'll be darned if we don't do it again!

So, there is a method behind this grocery madness. I've got a debt to pay.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Easiest recipe ever...

I thought I'd share the world's easiest dinner. Every time I share it, I think of it as a gift to all of the busy moms out there!

Cranberry Crockpot Chicken

2 lbs of chicken breasts (I've also heard pork chops work great!)
1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet of dry french onion soup mix

You just have to let it simmer on low for 4 or 5 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. I love to serve it with wild rice and corn as a sort of "harvest" celebration.

Many thanks to my friend Tara, who shared it with me!

Join in the recipe sharing fun at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. What a fun blog!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This money savin' mama is BUSY. Our Friday night ritual for about the last year has been going to the store. However, we've added a Friday night dance class to our schedule from 6:15-715. On the off chance that my kids have had a NAP, we might be able to go afterwards. Otherwise, I'm screwed. We went first thing this morning, and I HATED it. I hated rushing out of bed and around the house to add it to our already busy Saturday schedule. Something is gonna have to give.

Needless to say, 1 store this week. This is how we did...

1 El Paso taco seasoning
3 2 litres of Cherry Coke Zero
2 El Paso Enchilada sauces
1 1lb bag of organic black beans
2 Aunt Jemima whole wheat pancake mixes
3 Aunt Jemima syrups
2 packages of Keebler crackers with peanut butter
1 box of Cinnabon bars
1 Peppridge Farms Trail Mix cookies
1 bag of Snyders Pretzel sandwiches
1 bag of flour tortillas
1 package of Danactive yogurt
2 packages of Danimal smoothies
1 gallon of hormone free whole milk
2 quarts of Dannon All Natural yogurt
2 packages of Edwards dessert singles
2 Freschetta pizzas
2 little boxes of raspberries
4.52 lbs of organic peaches

Pre-tax total $48.30. Savings $52.30. I used 18 coupons. Only 1 was doubled. Total savings for the year (what little shopping I do there) is $336.66.

A quick dinner rundown --

Saturday - cheese and onion enchiladas
Sunday - birthday celebration out
Monday - dinner at church for Alpha
Tuesday - pancakes and eggs
Wed-Fri will be quick meals like grilled cheese, smoothies, frozen pizza, leftovers, etc.

Lunches for the girls will be packed. They take things like black beans, ham and cheese sandwiches, cottage cheese, raisins, frozen peas, etc. Plus a sippy of milk!

Hubby will take his lunch or buy with his own spending money.

I eat cereal for breakfast at work and frequently "scrounge" a meal out of our business meeting treats! Lunch is usually leftovers. Occasionally, I will spend my personal spending money on a few frozen dinners when they're priced 6/$10.

We've also got great snack options -- raspberries or peaches eaten fresh or with yogurt, peanut butter crackers and tons of other stuff from previous weeks.

See how easy it is?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Celebrate with Lemongrass Spa!

I'm celebrating my the opening of my Lemongrass Spa website with a FREE GIVEAWAY!

Leave me a comment, and you will be entered in the chance to win a FREE Lavender Mint Body Polish by Lemongrass Spa! A winner will be randomly selected a week from today on Friday Sept 18th!

I'm tellin' ya! These products are great. One smell of the Little Lemongrass baby products, and I was hooked! It's great to know that I'm pampering my babies with simple ingredients and a GREAT smell. It smells like "baby buttercream!" (It's vanilla with a tiny hint of lavender.) Then, I was also so surprised by the wonderful citrus scent and natural quality of the Bug-A-Boo bug spray that I decided this was a company I could stand behind and wanted to get involved with.

Make sure you check out the bar soaps too! They're really lovely, of great quality and BIG! The

Please, have fun and look around! AND, stay tuned as there will be more giveaways in the coming weeks up until Christmas!

Don't forget!


The giveaway has ended! Our randomly selected winner was Jamie blondemomblog@gmail.com. She has been contacted by email!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Purex Complete Sheets

I got selected to be a Purex Insider. They sent me a friends and family coupon for the Purex Complete sheets.

Try them out and post a review!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Once again, I only made one trip to Hy-Vee this week. I just don't have time for the extra store hopping this week, and I think I usually make out pretty well at Hy-Vee regardless.

I really wanted to take a picture, but when I make one trip, it's so crowded! Plus, I usually just don't have the time when I juggling carrying in and putting away groceries and two little girls! Oh well!

Here's what I got --

1 box of Blue Bunny Raspberry Aspens
1 box of Blue Bunny Chocolate Sedonas (I had $3 in coupons, plus $2 in Upromise coupons, and I'll send in a rebate)
4 bags of Kraft cheese
1 bag of Nature Valley Nut Clusters
1 bag of frozen generic peas
2 bottles of Old Orchard blueberry pomegranate juice
1 Hormel Naturals ham
4 loaves of Orowheat 100% whole wheat bread
1 box of Nabisco Crackerfuls
1 box of regular Ritz
6 boxes of Claritin (These were on sale for FORTY pills for ONE DOLLAR. Can you believe it??? They expire in Oct. We will keep one and take the rest of the food pantry this week.)
1 gallon of generic OJ
1 gallon of Roberts whole milk
2 box of Keebler graham cracker sandwiches
1.25 lbs of ground turkey
2 cans pf generic pinto beans
2 cans of generic kidney beans
1 box of Method Almond soap (4 count)
1 dozen large generic eggs
1 package of Kraft singles
1 Pillsbury strawberry cake mix
2 Kraft mayos
3 packages of Top Ramen
4 cans of generic mandarin oranges
2.04 lbs of organic pears
1 bottle of Endust Free
2 boxes of Pop Tarts
1.9 lbs of bananas
1 thing that I can't figure out what it is that cost $1.48 : )

My total after coupons was $75.91. I saved $20.00 with coupons according to the checker. Then, less $5.00 plus tax for Claritin which will be donated. Less a $10.00 gift card. Less the Method soap for my mom $3.99 plus tax. Less $2.00 from UPromise. Less a rebate for $4.79 for the Blue Bunny ice cream bars.

I think that leaves us ALMOST exactly at $50.00 after tax! It's a miracle!