Tuesday, January 31, 2012

my shopping brag bag [1]

each month, i will share a post to highlight some of my shopping trips. this is essentially to show everybody how i help our family save money.

an easy money-saving tip is clipping coupons. i started doing this last year. i print them from target.com, coupons.com, smartsource.com or redplum.com. also, most companies offer coupons in their websites or facebook pages. these coupons can either be printed or requested by mail. the sunday paper has a lot of coupon inserts as well. however, our region has very limited coupons so i don't bother buying it anymore.

in addition to coupons, i find good deals by reading blogs like thrifty & thriving, money saving mom, a thrifty mom, & couponing to disney. these are just some of my favorite blogs that have helped me immensely in my quest to be a frugal shopper.

so here's my brag bag at walmart:
3 packs huggies pull-ups - $7.47 each {after $2/1 mic*}
4 packs wet ones wipes - $0.23 each {after $0.75/1 mic}
2 bath sponges - $0.99 each {after $1/1 mic}
2 10-boxes minute maid juice - $1.98 each {after $1/1 mic}
1 huggies pull-ups wipes - $0.64 {after $1/1 mc**}

*mic - manufacturer's internet coupon
**mc - manufacturer's coupon

and for target:
2 3-pack up & up wipes - $3.99 each {after $1/1 tpc***}
2 6-roll up & up bath tissue - $2.79 each {after $1/1 tpc}
1 up & up disinfectant spray - $1.49 {after $1/1 tpc}
1 up & up bathroom cleaner - $0.97 {after $1/1 tpc}
2 kashi cereal - $1.75 each {after $1/1 mic}
4 reach floss - free {after $1/1 mic}

***tpc - target printable coupon

another way i save money is shopping for items on clearance. my rule of thumb has been - if it's 70% or more, then its definitely worth checking out.

these were my finds at target:
kid's snow bib - paid $4.48 {orig $14.99}
girl's slippers - paid $2.98 {orig $9.99}
girl's suede boots - paid $5.98 {orig $19.99}

and these were from macys:
junior's cardigan - paid $7.48 {orig $29.99}
2 girl's hoodie - paid $2.48 each {orig $17.99}

Monday, January 30, 2012

super healthy cho-cho cookies

yesterday, i was baking the last batch of butternut squash from our garden. while waiting, i checked pinterest for a possible squash recipe. i found one but i made a lot of changes. so this is my first trial....

    • 1 cup butternut squash, pureed
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp sorghum syrup
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
    • 3 tbsp wheat germ (optional)
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp milk


1. stir together flour, cocoa, wheat germ, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg & ginger.

2. in another bowl, combine squash, sugar, olive oil, sorghum syrup, vanilla extract & egg. dissolve the baking soda with milk and stir in.


3. add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

4. make flat circles, lay in a cookie sheet & bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.
hubby said it's good for milk dunking. it has a cake-like consistency & reminded me of a whoopie pie.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

cooking for two

one of hubby's favorite soup is chicken & dumplings. i've always wanted to cook this but making dumplings from scratch seems a little daunting for me. 

and then i came across this recipe from moms with crockpots. using refrigerated dough & the crockpot, made this soup very simple & easy to prepare.
the soup is very thick, so i added a couple cups of water to thin it out a bit.
this is definitely a keeper. we love it! hubby requested a second bowl & avery devoured everything in minutes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DIY - sensory pasta box

we missed avery's playgroup today.
so to keep her occupied, i made a sensory pasta box.
i used her toy box, colored pasta in assorted shapes, plastic containers & a big spoon.
i just had to get a close up photo of the pasta.
it sure looks pretty!
she calls it "noonols". and yes, she did put it in her mouth once. [probably wondering why it's crunchy].
and the fun begins! scoop, scoop, scoop!
a couple of spills here & there. it's obvious that my girl doesn't really need much to be entertained. she was so engrossed & didn't even get distracted with the camera at all.
time to dump the "noonols" back in the box.
she enjoyed sliding everything in the cardboard tubes.
and after she's done, i saved all the pasta in airtight containers. [to play again, ofcourse].
thanks to the imagination tree blog for this fun idea.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

cooking for two

well, winter came with a vengeance this week. one day, we had a low of -14F with -30F wind chills. insanely brrrrr!!! and to top it off, avery & i both have a cold. aside from the occasional sniffles, i feel better enough to prepare our dinner tonight.
1 medium sized onion grated
1 egg
1/8 cup dried parsley
3 tbsp ketchup
5 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/4 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
1lb ground beef

1. except for the ground beef, mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
2. add ground beef to the mixture [i hand mixed everything].
3. roll into 1 inch balls & line in a baking pan.
4. bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F.
this is originally a spaghetti & meatballs recipe that i found at the baked bree blog. [i'll try the marinara sauce next time for sure].
as for the little miss, she was already content eating the meatballs with ketchup.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

butternut squash muffins

this first few weeks of winter has been kinda crazy. a warmer than usual temps & no snow at all. i'm not complaining [even though this is my least favorite season]. and since i'm talking about winter, i'm sharing my new recipe for muffins made with butternut squash [which is a winter squash].
1 cup pureed butternut squash
1 cup unbleached flour & 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp wheat bran
3/4 cup skim milk
1 egg
1 tbsp melted butter
1 medium sized apple, peeled & diced (optional)
1) whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, pumpkin spice & wheat bran.
2) in a separate bowl, mix milk, butter, egg & squash.
3) gradually, blend the squash mixture into the flour mixture & add the apples.
4) fill the greased muffin pans with a spoonful of batter & bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes at 400F.
i originally found this at allrecipes.com. and good old me always, always likes to experiment. it turned out perfect the first time. this is an all around healthy muffin that avery & i can eat [hubby only eats if chocolate is involved].

Sunday, January 8, 2012

blog banner for 2012

it's time to retire my blog banner.  thanks to the blog clover lane for the easy tutorial.
2011 blog banner

i decided to use less photos this time.
2012 blog banner

Friday, January 6, 2012

my dearest little girl (25 mos)

it's 2012 & in 11 months you will be three! [i know] it's pretty early to think about your birthday [but i am.] it's just nice to plan things early on.

and how has the past month been for you? crazy...amazing! you're talking non-stop & really catching on to almost every word we say. you've mastered one to ten & almost halfway through the alphabets [you're still missing l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v]. most days, you're pretty good at following simple instructions. we've started potty training but you're uninterested [even though you watch the potty dvd & book].

another thing you learned this month...saying NO. it is a simple word but conveys a lot. honestly, i never wanted you to say this word at all. but i guess i'm just dreaming. i cringe every time you say it. and i've been hearing it quite often...no to food i'm giving you, no to potty, no to changing diaper, no to bath, no to sleep, no to doing what i tell you to do, no to watching tv, no to getting dressed, no to putting your shoes...endless no's all the time. you're a very head strong girl for sure. it's been a constant battle but i'm positive everything will turn out fine. your dad & i would even say YES, just to dispel & divert you from saying no.
it's one of those rare days when you get up the couch & take a nap on your own.
we baked butternut squash muffins yesterday.
it's nice to see you helping out. it just shows you're showing more interest in what i do.
i think you're more interested in the camera. you're even smiling here!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

organizing & storing photos

it's a new year!  time does zap by quick when you have a two year old all over the place. 

i'm beginning my year getting organized.  i have six years worth of photos stored in our desktop & laptop.  hubby tries his best to back up all the files in an external hard drive when he has the time.  and i make sure the hard drive is kept in our fire safe. 

so it does sound like i've got everything in order.  nope.  i decided to store all the photos online as well.  [yep, i'm really overdoing this!]

i found shutterfly.com stores unlimited photos for free.  [most websites are limited & others have fees.]  since its free, i created two accounts.  i'm doing a "double online back up" of all the photos.

shutterfly is very user-friendly.  i installed the express-uploader so it's faster & i can upload per folder with just one click.  plus, all the photos were uploaded in its full resolution.
and since i have taken a gazillion photos in the past six years, it's easier to name an album starting with the year.  [i've created 45 albums & still counting.]
when this is all done, i'll feel much better & secure.  i've got an online archive of all our photos.  yahoo!