Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Very Best of Neil Diamond

I feel like I have always known music by Neil Diamond. As I read through the list of tracks included on the soon to be released The Very Best of Neil Diamond - the Original Studio Recordings, I found myself singing a few lines from each song. Some of which, I was surprised to recall were his songs. I'm not sure what song that I heard first, but I am pretty certain that my parents listened to Neil Diamond. In college, no party would have been complete without a group sway to Sweet Caroline. I am not sure that I can pick a favorite, but know that Forever in Blue Jeans is one of my favorites.

Then, I was listening to the radio the other day and learned that Neil Diamond is coming to town next summer. I checked out the tour schedule. The shows start in June and it looks like tickets start to go on sale next week for many locations. I'm not sure that I will make it to the show, but I am sure that if I do, it will be filled with many familiar songs.

    "Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings proudly announce the release of The Very Best of Neil Diamond - The Original Studio Recordings on Tuesday, December 6. The new long-awaited definitive single disc compilation of 23 best-loved hits and signature tracks from America's quintessential singer-songwriter is the first Neil Diamond collection to draw from the artist's complete studio discography. The Very Best of Neil Diamond - The Original Studio Records includes his first pop chartings as a writer/performer for Bang Records in the mid-1960s; his spectacular career-defining hits for Uni/MCA (1968-1972); music from 1980's The Jazz Singer (his 5x platinum-selling soundtrack album on Capitol Records) and studio essentials from a long-running association with Columbia Records that began in 1973 with the Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack album and runs through a pair of Rick Rubin-produced albums: 12 Songs (2005) and Home Before Dark (which became Neil's first Number 1 album on the Billboard 200 in 2008). Also included is "Recollections," a revelatory set of liner notes penned by Neil especially for this collection, providing anecdotal detail and behind-the-scenes point-of-view insight into each of the songs. In his reflections on "Hell Yeah," the track that closes the album, he writes, "'Hell Yeah' is an affirmation of a lifetime spent devoted to music and my attempt to find a personally satisfying life for myself beyond the music. I have that life now but it was a much harder job than I thought possible. Still, well worth all the years and all the tears." In closing his "Recollections" for The Very Best of Neil Diamond - The Original Studio Recordings, Neil says, "I wish I could personally thank the hundreds of musicians, arrangers, and engineers who, along with the producers, spent long days and nights in studios around the country to make these recordings vibrate and thrill. As a songwriter I can only humbly bow down and thank them all from the depths of my heart for giving wings to my dreams.""

The track list for the album is:
The Very Best of Neil Diamond - The Original Studio Recordings

1. Forever In Blue Jeans

2. Beautiful Noise

3. Love On The Rocks

4. Cherry, Cherry

5. I Am…I Said

6. Sweet Caroline

7. Cracklin’ Rosie

8. Play Me

9. I’m A Believer

10. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon

11. Holly Holy

12. Solitary Man

13. Song Sung Blue

14. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

15. Hello Again

16. Red, Red Wine

17. If You Know What I Mean

18. Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show

19. Pretty Amazing Grace

20. Kentucky Woman

21. Shilo

22. America

23. Hell Yeah

Courtesy of Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, one A Busy Mom of Two reader will win their own copy of The Very Best of Neil Diamond.

Kroger Gift Card Winner

Congratulations to Lori S! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Kroger $25 Gift Card giveaway.

Thanks everyone for entering and be sure to check out the other current giveaways.

Don't miss out on your chance to make a difference in your community by winning a donation to YOUR LOCAL Foodbank - enter here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Wish Lists

When I was little, I remember there being large store catalogs - Sears and JC Penney are the two companies that I remember sending out catalogs. I used those catalogs to help me generate a Christmas wish list.

Now, as a mom, I rely on the toy books that are sent out by Walmart, Target and Toys 'R Us to get input on what the kids would like for Christmas. Fortunately, we seem to wind up with two of each book, so I am able to give one of each to each child. They put their name on the front of the book and then start to explore.

When we first started this, they had a tendency to circle everything! This year, I made sure to tell them to only mark the things that they really want or they might wind up with the things that they only sort of want.

It took them a few weeks to fully identify and circle their wish list of toys and games, so it is good that the books come out in early November, giving them plenty of time to make their selections.

I usually have some level of idea of what they will get for Christmas, but want to make sure that those ideas are amongst the things that have been circled. For the most part, the things that they mark do not come as a surprise to me, but sometimes there are a few things that do surprise me.

Before I head out to shop, I reference their books to see what is on their wish list. This tool also works great because it allows me to more easily generate ideas to send out as lists to family members. Otherwise, I feel like the only ideas that I have are the things that I was planning to get or clothes.

Having the kids circle the items on their wish list works for me.

Mamavation Monday

I wanted to start with "I need some new motivation" but as I started to write it, I realized it wasn't about more or new motivation, it really is about time.

In retrospect, I question why I chose the week I did to try to get back into P90X. There is so much going on right now, that I feel like I don't have (am not making?) the time to fit in my workouts consistently. Some mornings I try, others I don't. Some mornings I fit in about half a workout, others none. I also am realizing that another thing I liked about running is that I could fit in a decent run in just over half an hour. With P90X (and most other DVD workouts), I need a full hour. It makes me feel so much more pressed for time when I have to fit in a full hour.

I am going to complete the 90-day workout that is P90X - I just think that I will focus on something that fits for the next couple of weeks. It is more important to me to remain active than to do a specific workout. I have Walk At Home DVDs that will help me stay active and I can do anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on my schedule. With the bands, I can even include a little bit of strength training with my walk. Once the time is right (yes, it will be right), I will return to the P90X program and do the 90 day schedule, but for now being active is my goal. (I'd like to check out the workouts from the new P90X 2, anyone tried them yet?)

This post shared at Mamavation Monday.

Crayola High-Tech Holidays

When it comes to selecting toys for my kids, I like to try to find things that will spark their creativity. Creativity, in my opinion, is one of those things that you have to really exercise to have. Creativity really allows you to think outside of the box and is a definite assist when you are trying to solve problems. Creativity can come in many forms, it can be artistry, storytelling, problem solving, decorating, and more.
I am excited to give my children some two new Crayola products this Christmas. The first is the Crayola ColorStudio HD app and Crayola iMarker digital drawing tool from Griffin. This app turns your iPad into a coloring book. I like the idea that they have a "marker" to color with and can't wait to check it out. The other is Crayola Story Studio. With Crayola Story Studio, you can scan a photo of your child and turn them into a comic book character. You can also use your computers camera or simply create your own comic book character (think Mii). Your new comic book character will join the pages of the story alongside Spiderman, Princesses or Lightning McQueen. Once your story is done, you can save it, share it and print it. The printed pages can be colored and bound to be a book. Having watched my children as they spend time on the SuperWhy site, creating their own silly stories, I am expecting that they will both get a kick out of creating their own story, especially since they can star in it.

    "Imagine your child morphing into a coloring book character and starring in a story with a Disney Princess or Spider-Man with Crayola Story Studio or turning an iPad into an interactive coloring book with the Crayola ColorStudio HD app and Crayola iMarker digital drawing tool. When kids unwrap one of these high-tech Crayola gifts this holiday, they’ll have fun, new ways to express all that inspires them!
    For the child who craves action and adventure, Crayola Story Studio: Spider-Man lets kids upload a photo and transform themselves into a superhero that stars with Spider-Man in personalized comic book they create and color. A free access code inside the kit unlocks the Story Studio application at Kids can choose a super power, story-line, and one of six villains to battle alongside Spider-Man in their own web-slinging adventure. When they finish their story, they can save it, share it or print and color it. The kit includes paper, glossy cover sheets for printing comic book-style covers, binding strips and 15 Twistables® colored pencils to create three complete books. For the child who loves fairytales and wonderment, Story Studio: Disney Princesses lets kids star in a fairytale with a Disney Princess. Crayola Story Studio™: Disney Princess lets kids create fairytales starring them and a Disney Princess! Kids upload a photo to transform themselves into a character, then create a story with their character and a Disney Princess! Story Studio includes everything kids need to create personalized storybooks and unlimited coloring pages – just print, color and bind the pages. They can choose storylines from Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty, and Princess and the Frog. With the free on-line access code that comes inside, Pip-Squeaks® markers and glitter glue, blank sheets and binding strips, kids create three complete story books! For the child who likes creative adventures, the Story Studio Adventure Maker: Cars 2 lets kids join the pages of a story with Lightning McQueen, Mator and the Cars 2 characters form Disney Pixar. The set includes 10 Pip-Squeak Skinnies markers, 3 Pip Squeak broad line markers, 2 Pip-Squeak glitter glue tubes, 30 story sheets, 6 glossy cover sheets and 3 comic binding strips to make three complete story books. At $9.99 for each kit, Crayola Story Studio proves that high-tech doesn’t have to mean high cost!
    Remember how cool it was to receive the Crayola 64 Box with the built-in sharper as a holiday gift when you were growing up? Just imagine how excited your kids will be to turn an iPad into an interactive coloring book using burnt sienna, carnation pink and a rainbow of Crayola colors from the Crayola digital 64 Box! The Crayola ColorStudio HD app and iMarker let kids’ imaginations run wild as they color moving, animated scenes that come alive with music, sound effects and hidden surprises. The app is free on iTunes App Store with the purchase of the iMarker for $29.99 at Toys R Us, Best Buy, the Apple Store and Kids can select from 64 colors in the digital Crayola 64 Box and then use the iMarker to create the look of Crayola crayons, markers, paints and colored pencils as the stylus interacts with an iPad. The digital coloring pages respond with movement and sound as the pages come alive as kids color. Animated images stop moving on the screen so kids can easily color them in without going outside of the lines, so objects look picture perfect when they start moving again. Tidy up your page with an eraser function or an “undo” arrow that removes larger areas of color. In addition, kids can save their work in a gallery to be emailed, printed or uploaded to Facebook (mom’s account, and with her permission and help of course!), and also free draw, play interactive games and create their own customized coloring pages they can print and color off-line. Recommended for children ages 3+, the Crayola iMarker includes, a set of AA batteries, and free download of the ColorStudio HD app."

You can find more holiday gift ideas from Crayola. You can connect with Crayola on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find Griffin Technology on Facebook.

Thanks to Crayola and MyBlogSpark, one lucky A Busy Mom of Two reader will win a Crayola High-Tech Holiday prize pack.
The Crayola High-Tech Holiday prize pack contains:
(1) Crayola Story Studio Comic Maker:
(1) Crayola Story Studio Fairy Tale Maker: Disney Princesses
(1) Crayola Story Studio Adventure Maker: Disney/Pixar Cars
(1) Crayola iMarker to use with the ColorStudio HD app for iPad
(1) Free download of the ColorStudio HD app

Giveaway will remain open through December 8. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. I received a Crayola High-Tech Holiday Prize Pack for my family and information about the products from Crayola through MyBlogSpark. All opinions are mine or that of my family.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Winner

Congratulations to Louis! Their entry was selected as the winner of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 DVD.

Be sure to check out all of the other giveaways that are going on now at A Busy Mom of Two.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2011-11-29 02:35:40 UTC

Holiday Gift Guide

Over the next few weeks, I would like to share with you some ideas that might inspire you as you start your Christmas shopping this year. I'm not an expert, but I am a mom. My goal is to share with you things that I feel have given us the best value and most enjoyment.

My plan is to share ideas for gifts for children that (at least in my opinion):
Foster Imagination
Stimulate Creativity
Challenge their Problem Solving
Stretch their Minds

Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.

In addition to gift ideas for children, I will also share some gift ideas for others in your life.

There will be a Holiday Gift Guide link in the side bar. You will notice that it still links to last year's suggestions, please note that some of them had giveaways associated and that those are obviously closed. Hopefully, the things that I have identified are toys that stand the test of time (they have for us), so last year's suggestions are still very valid.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

What a wonderful weekend. I am so sad to see it end. At least I know that in just under 4 weeks, it will be Christmas break and the family will get to hang out and relax for a few days again.

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Pasta


Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots

Chicken Patty Sandwiches

Mexican night

Skyline Chili and Coneys


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school or a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Walgreens Scenarios - week of 11/27

Seems like I might try to make a trip to Walgreens this week. I should be by one on Monday, if my schedule works out and I have a few extra minutes, I will plan to stop in. Many of the coupons expire on Wednesday, so if I don't go early in the week, it won't be worth my while.

Transaction #1
2 - Crest Complete Toothpaste

-$2 Crest Complete mfg coupon
-$2 Crest Complete mfg coupon

Total $2 OOP, earn $2 RR.

Transaction #2
2 - Oatmeal, instant packs

-$2 Quaker Oatmeal select flavors mfg coupon (all you)

-$2 RR

Total $1 OOP, earn $2 RR.

Transaction #3
1 - Soft Lips

-$2 RR

Total $0 OOP, earn $2 RR.

Transaction #4
2 - Keebler Cookies
1 - Russel Stover candy (w/ in ad coupon)

-$1 $1/2 Keebler Cookies

-$2 RR

Total $2.29 OOP, earn $2 RR.

Transaction #5
2 - Scotch Packing Tape (w/ in ad coupon)
1 - Candy Cane

-$.50 Scotch Packing Tape mfg coupon
-$.50 Scotch Packing Tape mfg coupon

-$2 RR

Total $.78 OOP.

For the trip, the total OOP is $6.07 for $22.07 in product, a savings of about 73%.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom. For more (near) $5 Scenarios, check out the Walgreens $5 Challenge.

CVS Scenarios - week of 11/27

I had an awesome visit to CVS this last week, where I got about $95 in product for free. So, I guess I can't be too disappointed that the ad this week feels a little light on good deals. I am thinking about picking up the $30 Gift Card deals this week. I could use some vitamins and they are BOGO and part of the $30 Gift Card deal, saving $10 in addition to the BOGO offer would be helpful. I might need to add some fillers, but I think I can come up with something.

Transaction #1
1 - Complete Multipurpose Solution

Total $8.99 OOP, earn $8.99 ECBs.

Transaction #2
1 - Lysol Healthy Touch
1 - Mars Bagged Holiday Candy
2 - Glade Scented Oil Warmers

-$3 Lysol Healthy Touch mfg coupon
-$1 $1/1 Mars Mfg coupon (All You)
-$2 $2/2 any Glade CVS coupon

Total $9.31, pay with $8.99 ECBs and $.32 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Mars Bagged Holiday candy
2 - Glade Air Fresheners

-$1 $1/2 Mars mfg coupon
-$2 $2/2 any Glade CVS coupon

Total $5.65, pay with $5 ECBs and $.65 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

For the trip, the total OOP is $9.96, with $2 ECBs to roll and $33 in product. A savings of about 72%. In addition, you will have $3.96 towards the Spend $30 get $10 gift card offer.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge
Transaction #1
2 - Mentos Gum
2 - Glade Air Fresheners

-$1 $1/2 Mentos mfg coupon
-$2 $2/2 any Glade CVS coupon

Total $3.98 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Hershey's Bagged Candy
2 - Glade Scented Oil Warmers

-$1 $1/2 Hershey's Mfg coupon
-$2 $2/2 any Glade CVS coupon

Total $3.98, pay with $2 ECBs and $1.98 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

Total OOP is $5.96, with $1 ECB to roll, for $14 in product. A savings of about 60%.

For more (near) $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lend a Helping Hand - a charitable giveaway

This time of the year can be hard for a family in need and for those with little or no family. I do my best to help support programs to help those in need, especially this time of the year.

At work, I am the department coordinator for the Adopt a Family program that we participate in annually. Through the local Salvation Army, we adopt a family and are provided with their wish list. As a department, we take up a collection and then go shopping to get items from that wish list for both the kids and the family. It is a nice way to give back as part of a group and we have a good time spending a few hours together shopping and wrapping the gifts over lunch one day.

The other day, as I was talking about the Adopt a Family program, one of my friends mentioned that in addition to doing that, she wants to reach out and help near home too. Her plan is to take her family to a nursing home and "adopt a grandparent" - someone that doesn't have family - and visit with them. She has a young child and feels that not only will his presence be a treat for the residents, but it will help show him the importance of community outreach. I told her that I could remember when I was younger, that my Girl Scout Troop would do both - adopt a family that we would deliver food and presents too and would go caroling at the Nursing Home. I'm not sure what we brought, but I seem to remember bringing small gifts for the residents. The residents were always so excited to see us - even though I'm sure our singing wasn't the greatest. This act of kindness can have no cost other than your time, but can make a brighter day for someone.

The daycare that we use has a number of families that are in need and every year, the center does a Share a Christmas. They create tags with wish lists for the children and hang them on the tree to help those families out. I select a child or two from the tree each year and together with my children, go shopping to choose gifts for that child. I like to involve the kids because I think it is important for them to recognize that we can give back to the community and share holiday spirit with others.

How do you help out in your community? Continue reading for a chance to have Hormel make a donation to your local food bank, just in time for the holiday season.
Hormel Foods has a program called “On Our Way To Ending Hunger.” Through this program, Hormel Foods uses their food manufacturing experience to work with nonprofits, retailers, and the government on hunger relief efforts. The program is founded on three pillars:



Giveaway will remain open until December 7th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

Giving back to the local community works for me.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family. I wrote this post through my participation in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel is providing the donation to a local food bank.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Samples and Freebies

Send a Pack, Get a Pack - Kleenex

Playtex Sport sample and coupon
Tide $2 coupon (Facebook offer)
Aveeno Living Color Shampoo and Conditioner Sample

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CVS Deals - Thanksgiving Day ($95 in free product!!)

I headed out this morning to take advantage of all of the free/near free deals that CVS was offering. Unfortunately, I wasn't there early enough to get everything, for a few items rain checks were available, but not for all.
Transaction #1
1 - Listerine Pocket Pack
1 - Fiber One Brownies
1 - Finish Quantum
1 - Kleenex Cool
1 - Breathe Right 10pk+2
2 - Hershey's King Size bars

-$.50 Listerine Pocket Pack mfg coupon
-$.40 Fiber One mfg coupon
-$1 Finish Quantum mfg coupon
-$.40 Kleenex Cool mfg coupon
-$1.50 CVS Breathe Right coupon
-$1.50 Breathe Right mfg coupon

Paid with $4, $4, $5 and $1 ECB and $.14 (plus tax) OOP. Earned $2.99, $3.99, $2.99, $1.50, $5.99, and $1.98 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Cinnamon Toast Crunch
4 - Holiday M&M
3 - M&M Singles
2 - Colgate Toothpaste

-$1 M&M CRT
-$1 M&M CRT
-$1 Colgate mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate mfg coupon

Paid with $2.99, $3.99, $2.99, $1.50, $5.99 and $1.98 ECBs and $.29 (plus tax) OOP. Earned $4, $4, $2.25 and $5.74 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - M&M Single
1 - CVS AAA battery
1 - Balance Bar
1 - Listerine Pocket Pack
2 - Gum Toothbrushes
1 - Carmex
1 - Excedrin

-$1 Carmex IP

Paid with $4, $4, $2.25 and $5.74 ECBs and $.06 (plus tax) OOP. Earned $.75, $3.99, $1.69, $2.99, 5.98, $1 and $.99 ECBs.

Transaction #4
2 - Revlon Nail Color
1 - Starbucks Double Shot
1 - CVS Flosser
1 - Cepacol
1 - Softlips

-$1 Revlon mfg coupon
-$1 Revlon mfg coupon

Paid with $1.69, $2.99, $3.99, $.99, $1, $.75 and $5.98 ECBs and $1.76 (plus tax) OOP. Earned $4, $1.69, $1.99, $4.99 and $2 ECBs. I am realizing as I type this that one of my Revlon nail colors I grabbed didn't apply to the offer - I will have to stop back in and see if they can allow for me to do an exchange.

Transaction #5
1 - Phillips Ear Buds
1 - BeKool Kids

Paid with $2, $4 and $4.99 ECBs and $.49 (plus tax) OOP. Earned $6 and $4.99 ECBs.

I inadvertantly did a Transaction #6 that was returned and applied as a gift card credit. I had thought that the Phillips ear bud deal was limit of 2, which it was not.

Transaction #7
1 - Wet'n Wild Fast Dry Kits

Paid with $1.99 ECB and $.89 (plus tax) OOP. Earned $2 ECBs.

I started the day with $14 in ECBs and finished the day with $14.18 in ECBs (and gift card because of my error). I spent $3.63 (plus tax) OOP - a total of $7.84. I feel that I got a lot of stuff for essentially nothing. The sale price value of everything purchased today is $95.73.

It will be even a little better after I stop back in and get the right nail polish. I will net a refund of $.50 on a gift card ($5.49 vs the $4.99 sale) and another $4 ECB. Which, means that tax aside, it will have been a net zero day - I will have paid $3.13 plus tax OOP, will have $4.18 more in ECBs than I started with and will have $95.23 in product for essentially free (even if you count the tax my net cost was $3.16 - it's a savings of 97%. Now, that's what I call a GREAT Deal!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. Enjoy the time spent with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CVS Deals - 11/22

On Monday at lunch, I walked to the library and on the way back, stopped in at CVS. I didn't have my wallet with me, but figured I would see if the magic coupon machine had anything new to offer. It did! I got a coupon for $3/2 Scuunci items, which I knew were on sale buy one get one. I love their No-Slip Grip pony tail holders, so I knew I couldn't let this one pass me by, but I had no cash. Rain on Tuesday kept me from walking by at lunch, but I was able to make a quick stop after work.
1 - Scunci "Evolution" No Slip Grip Pony Tail Holders
1 - Scunci No Slip Grip Pony Tail Holders

-$3 $3/2 CRT

Total $.69 + tax. I paid with cash and earned $1 ECB for the green bag tag. I also was able to print out a $5 Beauty Club ECB yesterday from the computer. So, I am well poised with $14 in ECBs to take in on Thursday to CVS to take advantage of their FREE (and near FREE) offers that they have on Thanksgiving. Starting with a good amount makes it easier to build a couple of larger transactions rather than having to do lots of little ones to minimize OOP.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ace After-Thanksgiving Coupon Savings and Giveaway

Ace is celebrating the after-Thanksgiving shopping with in store specials, which you can view in the Ace Hardware Online Circulars for your local store. The ad has not only the specials for the After Thanksgiving Event (Friday - Sunday), but also their monthly ad for November.

In addition, you can print out the Ace Hardware After Thanksgiving Coupon and create your own sales on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday (11/26) coupon is for 50% off one regular priced item under $30. The Sunday (11/27) coupon is for $10 off your purchase of $50 or more of regularly priced merchandise.

You can find your local Ace Hardware Store here. You can also find and connect with Ace Hardware Facebook

Be sure to check out their Ace Hardware Big Speech Commercial:

To celebrate the create your own sale, one a Busy Mom of Two reader will win an Ace Measuring Tape and an Ace Tool & Nail Apron.

Giveaway will remain open until December 6th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. Information about the sale and the giveaway was provided by Ace. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

CVS Deals - 11/20

Sunday afternoon was all about errand running and getting things done. Included in my stops was a trip to CVS. I discovered that the 20% coupon that I had requested did not work on anything in the sale ad, even if it was still at regular price (i.e. the Nivea offer, the items weren't on sale, just part of an ECB deal). The cashier didn't actually scan my coupon, but the coupon is expired now, so I will take her at her word. I also discovered that I had only big ECBs, so I had to rearrange on the fly. I miscalculated and put too much in the first transaction, which meant more out of pocket for me. Oh well! Still, I got good deals.
Transaction #1
1 - Nivea body wash
2 - Nivea Lip Gloss
3 - American Greetings cards (couldn't find 99c holiday, so went with birthday again)
2 - Colgate Optic

-$1 Nivea body wash IP
-$1 Nivea lip care IP
-$1 Nivea lip care IP
-$1 Colgate Optic mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate Optic mfg coupon

Paid with $10 and $2 ECB and $3.06 OOP. Earned $3, $3 and $5 ECB.

Transaction #2
2 - Speedstick

Paid with $3 and $3 ECB (one adjusted down) and $.39 OOP (all tax). Earned $4 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Speedstick

Paid with $5 ECB and $1.37 OOP ($.98 plus tax). Earned $4 ECBs.

I started the day with $12 ECBs and ended with $8 ECBs. I spent a total of $4.82 OOP and saved $38 according to my receipts.

I need to go back and read what qualifies in the Beauty Club spending. I bought nail polish last week and none of that showed up. I will see if the body wash or the lip gloss does.

a Thanksgiving Dinner

When it comes to planning and prepping for a Thanksgiving dinner with all of the fixings, I get an almost three week head start on most people. My daughter was fortunate enough to be born in November and since when Thanksgiving rolls around, it is generally just the four of us, so every year for her birthday party, I make a full Thanksgiving spread.

Planning the meal is an important aspect of a successful meal. I start by looking at my menu a couple of weeks ahead of time. The menu is mostly the same from year to year, but I like to try new things from time to time. The attendees are similar from year to year, but there is slight fluctuation in the numbers - fewer people generally just equates to more leftovers for me!

Here is what we had this year:
Oven Roasted Turkey
Dressing (not stuffing, because it doesn't go in the bird)
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole
Spinach or Romaine Salad with homemade dressing
Brown and Serve Rolls
Vegetables and Dip
Fruit Salad

Of course, since it is a birthday party, we skip the pies in favor of birthday cake:
As you can see, Hello Kitty was our theme this year. The cake was modeled off one of my daughter's dresses. It's hard to see, but the cupcake "skirt" is covered in tulle. As you might have guessed, I start planning the cake a few weeks ahead of time too.

As we get closer to the party, I start to watch the ads and pick up the items I will need when they are on sale. I then do a shopping trip the week of the party to pick up the fresh produce and the other items that I hadn't yet purchased.

I generally am using a frozen turkey, so I pull that out of the freezer about 3 - 4 days before cooking and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. Be sure to check your turkey's weight and recommended thaw time - the two are very related.

Using some tricks that my Grandma used and my family still uses today, I prep a lot of my items the day before the party. It makes the day of less hectic and less messy.

The turkey is one of those items. Grandma always roasted her turkey the day before the big event. This does a couple of things - it allows the turkey to set long enough after cooking to reabsorb all of the juices and it frees up a lot of space in the oven the day of the event. I prep my turkey for roasting by removing the bag and neck from the turkey and then rinsing it inside and out. I core an apple and place it in the body cavity along with a couple of bay leaves, some thyme, sage and rosemary. I cut up a stick of butter and tuck it between the skin and meat where possible and between the wings/legs and body. I prep my turkey bag and place the turkey inside. Then, it cooks. I used to not use a bag for cooking my turkey and that was just a mess! First, without the bag, you have to baste the turkey. This wasn't that big of a deal, except have you ever noticed how the hot fluid sort of drips out of the baster even when you are not squeezing? Second, I managed to make a big mess in my oven as a result. Now, I put it in the oven, set the timer and go about my other preparation tasks. Once it is done, I let it set until it has cooled slightly. This allows times for the juices to be reabsorbed and keeps me from burning my fingers while I am trying to carve. Using my baster, I pull out the drippings and set them in a container for making gravy the next day. Then, I carve the bird, saving the carcass and the hard to get pieces of turkey for making delicious turkey soup (recipe here). The meat all goes into a 9x13 covered dish (including the wings for my mom) and I add a little bit of the drippings over top. I cover it with foil and then the pans lid and place it in the refrigerator.

I make my mashed potatoes ahead of time too and oddly the recipe is called Next Day Mashed Potatoes. I boil the potatoes and mash them with cream cheese and milk and put them in 9x13 covered dish and they go in the refrigerator. I also make my sweet potatoes in a casserole (recipe here) the day before, but I wait to add the crumb top until I am ready to put it in the oven. For my stuffing (again, not actually stuffed) I use the neck and giblets from the turkey to make a broth and include a little bit of the meat as well. This recipe was from Dad's Mom and makes what I consider to be yummy stuffing. I prep this the day before and set it in the refrigerator.

The last thing I make the day ahead is the dip for my vegetables. I make a Dill Weed Dip, which seems to improve on flavor with time. I usually cut up all of my vegetables the day ahead too. It helps that I am already pulling out the celery to be in the stuffing and once I have the cutting board out, I have momentum and keep on chopping. I bake my cake the night before the party, but wait to frost.

The day of the party, I prep the broccoli and cauliflower casserole, make the vinaigrette for the salad and cut up all of the fruit for the fruit salad (don't want the bananas or apples going brown!). I also decorate my cake the morning of the party.

Having everything ready ahead of time, allows me to simply turn on the oven and put everything in about 1 - 1 1/2 hours before we want to eat. This way, I can focus on visiting with my guests (okay, my guests may tell you this isn't entirely true - I tend to visit with them while I worry about what else needs to be done.)

Then, we all sit down together, as together as we can be sitting in three or four rooms, and enjoy an early Thanksgiving meal. Makes Thanksgiving itself a rather quiet day by comparison, but it is certainly an easy meal for me. I typically make a Jennie-O Turkey Roast, some mashed potatoes, some sweet potatoes, corn and rolls. I will make either a pie or a cheesecake for dessert.

How do you prepare for your holiday meal? If you have turkey questions as you prepare, you can always head over to Jennie-O for answers to your turkey questions.

You can also find place setting and centerpiece ideas for the holiday from their test kitchen editor on Hormel Foods Recipe site.

My kids made the turkeys pictured at the top at a family night at my son's school. We used some round votive cup holders, some Mod Podge and torn pieces of tissue paper to decorate the body and then folded tissue paper for the tail feathers and for the beak. The head is a small craft ball (flat on one side), which we attached with a hot glue gun. Add a little black paint for the eyes and a turkey you have. There are tea lights inside, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to light those with all of that tissue paper - maybe I can find the little electric flicker candles instead. We also made a placemat at the same event. Using fabric paint and stencils, they decorated a plain beige placemat turning it into a Thanksgiving placemat.

And, remember don't stress yourself out, your guests will understand if you pick up some already prepped food and add your own touch. Hormel Country Crock side dishes like Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cinnamon Apples and Homestyle stuffing can help you save some time and energy. Or, if your house is like mine, I run out of sides first, so you could use already prepped product to be the sides on the second serving of Thanksgiving.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some of the information for this post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I can hardly believe that it is already the week of Thanksgiving. Seems like just yesterday, we were wrapping up summer and getting back to school. I know that I for one am looking forward to a break.

I got an awesome deal on ground turkey this week. About 18 months ago, I won a year's supply of turkey from Jennie-O. Well, those coupons are nearing expiration, so when I saw a sale this week, I quickly shared a number with friends and then headed out to pick up some turkey. I was able to get 23, 20 oz packages, so just under 29# of ground turkey for $12.27 OOP. (you see, the coupons weren't for "free", they are for $3/ea) We should be set on ground turkey for a while. It certainly will be strange when I have to buy ground meat again. I haven't had to buy any since I won this contest.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


Pork Chops

Mexican (link to #54, my husband's favorite

Turkey and fixings(what else would we have?)

Sloppy Joes (maybe cheeseburgers)

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Pasta and Italian Breadsticks

Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school, a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and I is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

The Harvest of Grace

Recently, I finished reading The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall. This is the third book in the Ada's House series. This book introduces us to Sylvia Fisher. Sylvia is very interested in tending and nurturing the herd on her family's dairy farm. A betrayal followed by a close interaction with a former beau lead her to move from home and take a job at the Blank's farm, a debt-ridden dairy farm. Shortly after she arrives, Aaron Blank, who we met in an earlier book of this series, returns home from rehab, ready to convince his parent's to get out from under the farm and move to town with him to run an Amish appliance store. As the story unfolds, many familiar members of the community make their appearance in the story - Grey, Lennie, Cara, Ephraim, Ada, and more.

There is just something so intriguing to me about Amish stories. I am fascinated by their lifestyle, the seeming simplicity of their lives unencumbered or distracted by modern conveniences. (Although, I suppose they likely are distracted by the modern conveniences that they see in the world around them, but are unable to benefit from.) The drive of their faith that makes it possible for them to live their simple life amongst the modern world has fascinated me ever since our friends moved to northern Indiana when I was 13 or 14 and we would visit them and drive through Amish-country. One of my high school term papers focused on three religious groups that have maintained a more simple life amongst modern society - the Amish, the Mennonite and the German Baptist community. Sometimes, I think it is their exceptions that are the most intriguing, along with the Rumspringa that allows the youth to explore the modern world before joining their faith and committing to their simple lifestyle.

When I read a book set in an Amish community, in part, I am looking for glimpses into the lives of the Amish and what makes them who they are. Cindy Woodsmall, having a friend and "consultant" that is Amish is able to paint an excellent backdrop for her storyline (they wrote a book together called Plain Wisdom). Then, as a writer, she is able to take that backdrop and weave a story of challenges and victories, sorrow and joy, heartbreak and love, in the most delightful way that engages the reader and keeps them wanting to know more.

No compensation was received for this review. A copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed are my own.

Rank my review. You will automatically be entered to win a free book through Blogging for Books.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CVS Scenarios - week of 11/20

I must admit, there are only a few deals at CVS that I plan to pick up this week. But, I am anxiously awaiting their Thanksgiving Day sale. I hope it is as good as it was in the past.

Transaction #1
2 - Speedstick

Total $5.98 OOP, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Speedstick

-$4 ECBs

Total $1.98 OOP, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Colgate Optic White

-$1 Colgate Optic White mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate Optic White mfg coupon

-$4 ECB

Total $0 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #4
3 - American Greetings 99c cards

-$3 ECB, adjusted down

Total $0 OOP, earn $3 ECBs.

For the trip, $8.96 OOP with $3 ECBs to roll for about $21 in product. (62% savings)

I might add in this transaction too:
Transaction #5
1 - Nivea Men Body Wash
2 - Nivea Lip

-$1 Nivea Men IP
-$1 Nivea Lip IP (Facebook)
-$1 Nivea Lip IP

-$3 ECB

Total $5.97 OOP and earn $5 ECBs.

That would take OOP up to $14.93 with $5 ECBs to roll and $33 in product. (60% savings) Of course, if I do this transaction first, I could have just under $12 OOP and only $3 ECBs to roll for the same amount of product. (67% savings)

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
2 - Colgate Optic White

-$1 Colgate Optic White mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate Optic White mfg coupon

Total $4 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #2
3 - American Greetings 99c cards

-$3 ECB, adjusted down

Total $0 OOP, earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Speedstick

-$3 ECB adjusted down

Total $0 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #4
1 - Speedstick

-$2 ECBs

Total $.99 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

For the trip, $4.99 OOP with $2 ECBs to roll for about $15 in product. (71% savings)

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Update: Don't forget to grab your free after ECB Excedrin - fit in as the first transaction and you'll be good!

CVS Deals - 11/19

It took me until Saturday, but I finally made it back to CVS to complete the $10 Gift Card deal I started the other day. I also got a rain check since they were still out of most of the Wet n Wild nail colors that I would let a 5 year old wear. I bought the Slim Fast, but I am a little frustrated that they advertised a 6 count item and sold the 4 count item for the same price. I might have to call customer service to express my frustration. Should have had 4 more shakes based on the ad.
2 - Sally Hansen Nail Colors
2 - Slim Fast Shakes
1 - Wet 'n Wild Nail Color
1 - VitaminWater (because I was just shy of $30)

-$.75 Sally Hansen mfg coupon
-$.75 Sally Hansen mfg coupon
-$1.50 Slim Fast IP
-$1.50 Slim Fast IP

Paid with $10 ECBs and $6.20 OOP. Earned $2 ECB and $10 Gift Card.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Walgreens Deals - 11/16

I stopped in at Walgreens quickly the other evening on my way to a work dinner. I couldn't find my Speedstick coupon but went ahead with the deal.
Transaction #1
2 - Speedstick

Total $5.33 OOP. Earned $2 RR.

Transaction #2
1 - Scunci Barrettes

-$2 RR

Total $1.18 OOP. Earned $2 RR.

Transaction #3
3 - Scotch Tape
1 - Duck Bubblewrap

-$1 Duck mfg coupon

-$2 RR

Total $.68 OOP.

My total OOP was $7.19 and according to my receipts, I saved a total of $15.28. So, I got $22.47 in product for $7.19, a savings of about 68%. Would have been better if I could find that coupon, but still not too bad and I was able to get more barrettes for my daughter, who has trouble hanging on to her barrettes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Samples and Freebies

Kotex Natural Balance
Nature's Path Granola Bar
Kohl's Free 4 pack of Barista Prima K-Cup Coffee Samples, promo code: pywjrsmw

Olay Pro-X Clear Complexion Renewing Lotion
Kashi Honey Sunshine Sample and coupon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Billy Joel Piano Man (Legacy Edition) and Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection

I really enjoy the music of Billy Joel. It's hard to believe, but his recording career began 40 years ago. I can remember watching the video for Innocent Man and listening to Uptown Girl in my parent's car. I remember trying to learn all of the events and lyrics of We Didn't Start the Fire. I can remember when I finally had the chance to see Billy Joel in concert the first time, and the friend that went with us left before Piano Man, the encore that evening.

In honor of this milestone, Columbia/Legacy records released both Piano Man (Legacy Edition) and Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection.

Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection boxed set
    Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, is commemorating forty years of Billy Joel's career as a solo recording artist with a pair of historic releases--a limited edition Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection boxed set and a two-disc Legacy Edition of 1973's Piano Man album (exclusively featuring a long-lost fabled radio concert from 1972)--each appealing to aficionados of the iconic American singer-songwriter-performer. Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection brings together for the first time, in one elegantly designed box, the artist's complete catalog of 14 essential titles, from 1971's Cold Spring Harbor through 1979's Grammy-winning Album of The Year 52nd Street and 1981's live Songs In The Attic to 2001's Fantasies & Delusions, the first album of Billy's classical compositions. Each album has been recently remastered in 24 bit audio for this edition and comes in cardboard jackets replicating the original album covers and sleeves. 
     Included in the box are: 
    1. Cold Spring Harbor (1971) 
    2. Piano Man (1973) 
    3. Streetlife Serenade (1974) 
    4. Turnstiles (1976) 
    5. The Stranger (1977) 
    6. 52nd Street (1978) 
    7. Glass Houses (1980) 
    8. Songs In The Attic (1981) 
    9. The Nylon Curtain (1982) 
    10. An Innocent Man (1983) 
    11. The Bridge (1986) 
    12. Storm Front (1989) 
    13. River Of Dreams (1993) 
    14. Fantasies & Delusions (2001) 
    15. Collected Additional Masters (1985—2007) 
    "This has been a long time coming, putting all my albums into one package," said Billy in a recent in-depth interview for The Complete Albums Collection. "I'd never seen them all together in one place until I got the box set. It represents a lot of work! It's a little overwhelming, actually, looking at each individual album and remembering how much writing and recording, the time spent arranging and producing everything that went into each album." In addition to offering brand-new remasters of every Billy Joel studio album, Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection includes two lavish 60-page booklets, printed lyrics to every Billy Joel composition, a new Q&A with Billy conducted by noted music journalist Steve Morse, and a bonus disc of 17 rare and non-album recordings including "Elvis Presley Boulevard" (B-side of the "Allentown" single, 1982); the live cover version of the Beatles' "I'll Cry Instead" (B-side of "An Innocent Man," 1983); "House Of Blue Light" (B-side of "We Didn't Start The Fire," 1989); and "You Picked A Real Bad Time" (B-side of "All About Soul," 1993). "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young" are outtakes that did not see light of day until 1985. Several tracks on the bonus disc originated as Billy Joel's contributions to various multi-artist movie soundtracks, notably his covers of the Elvis Presley hits "Heartbreak Hotel" and "All Shook Up," both from 1992's Honeymoon In Vegas. Billy covered Lloyd Price's 1959 hit, "Where Were You On Our Wedding Day," for the 1999 movie, Runaway Bride, and Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood" for A League Of Their Own in 1992. In 1982, Billy Joel contributed his original "Nobody Knows But Me" to In Harmony II, a Columbia LP to benefit Sesame Street/Children's Television Workshop. Other cover tunes on the bonus disc range from Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" and Leonard Cohen's "Light as the Breeze" to the Gerry Goffin-Carole King standard "Hey Girl" (Freddie Scott, 1963). In 1991, Billy Joel contributed "When You Wish Upon A Star" to Columbia's Disney tribute album, Simply Mad About The Mouse. And in 2001, Billy Joel sang the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby" at the Radio City Music Hall All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson concert. The exclusive bonus disc included on Billy Joel - The Complete Albums Collection closes with "All My Life," a 2007 single (which marked Billy's first newly-written song since 1993's River of Dreams) now making its first appearance on an album. Random copies of The Complete Albums Collection ordered through the Official Billy Joel store ( will be autographed by Billy Joel, so big fans will want to be sure to order their copy there.

Legacy Edition of Piano Man
    The forthcoming Legacy Edition of Piano Man, Billy Joel's 1973 debut album on Columbia Records, includes the 10-song original album in its entirety, remastered for this release in addition to a second disc premiering the first-ever release of Billy's mythic performance at Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studio on April 15, 1972 (a year prior to his signing with Columbia). Philadelphia Daily News music writer Jon Takiff, an eye-witness to the event, has penned a new essay on the Sigma Sound show for the Legacy Edition of Piano Man. The release and failure of a flawed Cold Spring Harbor, his first solo album, on an indie label in 1971 prompted then-struggling musician Billy Joel to go to Los Angeles and cut-his-chops incognito in local piano bars as Bill Martin (chronicled in Piano Man's title track). Unbeknown to Billy, WMMR, a top-rated Philadelphia FM station, had begun spinning "Captain Jack," a live track from a Billy Joel show they'd recorded at Sigma Sound, and the station's phones were going off-the-hook. The "Captain Jack" live recording was turning into a bonafide underground FM anthem, opening the door for a New York audition, competing major label interest, and a Columbia Records contract for the song's author and performer. "Columbia was Bob Dylan's label," Billy said. "That was the deciding factor. At this time, you were allowed to build your career through FM radio, album tracks, concerts, singles and Bob Dylan was iconic for not being a hit singles type of artist. This was a company that knows how to build a career with an artist, so we decided to go with Columbia. "I never sat down and said I'm gonna write a hit record. I wouldn't know a hit record if it bit me. I just wrote songs. I wrote them for me, I wrote them for the band, or I wrote a song for the women in my life. I was just writing songs for me. It's music that I wanted to hear. If I didn't hear certain kind of music on the radio, I realized, 'Well, if I write and record this it'll probably be on the radio and that's what I'll hear.' That's what I was thinking. Not so much about having hits, but about making music that I liked. I only really ever did it for me. That may sound selfish, but I'm the only person that I really know all that well." The Legacy Edition of Piano Man makes available, for the first time ever, Billy's full performance at Sigma Sound, re-mixed from the original studio recording. The concert includes three Billy Joel songs--"Long, Long Time," "Josephine," and "Rosalinda"--which do not appear on any other albums by the artist and, of course, the performance of "Captain Jack" which launched one of the most remarkable careers in show business. The legendary Sigma Sound performance is available exclusively on the new Legacy Edition of Piano Man (and is not included on The Complete Albums Collection).
    Billy Joel - Piano Man (Legacy Edition) 
    DISC ONE: The Original Album 
    1. Travelin' Prayer 
    2. Piano Man 
    3. Ain't No Crime 
    4. You're My Home 
    5. The Ballad Of Billy The Kid
    6. Worse Comes To Worse 
    7. Stop In Nevada 
    8. If I Only Had The Words (To Tell You)
    9. Somewhere Along The Line 
    10. Captain Jack 
    DISC TWO: The Sigma Sound Studios Performance 
    Travelin' Prayer 
    The Ballad of Billy the Kid
    She's Got A Way 
    Everybody Loves You Now 
    Long, Long Time 
    Captain Jack 
    Tomorrow is Today 
    Recorded live in April 1972 at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA Previously unreleased


Courtesy of Sony/Legacy, one A Busy Mom of Two Reader will win a copy of the Piano Man Legacy Edition.

Giveaway will remain open through December 1st. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.
No compensation was received for this post. I received a review copy of Piano Man Legacy Edition and information about the album releases. In addition, Sony/Legacy is providing the Piano Man Legacy Edition for the giveaway.

CVS Deals - 11/14

I stopped by CVS early in the week to look for the nail polish that was on sale. I was surprised to find the shelves bare on the light colors that I feel I could let my 5 year old wear on occasion. I will try another store later this week or get a rain check. I also checked for the Slim Fast Shakes. Unfortunately, while their ad said 6ct shakes, the store only carried 4ct shakes. I will have to see if another store still has the cans or if they all have the bottles. While there, I was able to pick up the start of the spend $30 get $10 gift card.

7 - Finish Dishwasher Tabs

-$.75 Finish Mfg coupon
-$.75 Finish Mfg coupon

Paid $3 ECBs and $14.49 OOP (including $1.31 tax).

I need to figure out what other items to get for the gift card deal. I still need to spend $9.07 to get it.

CVS 20% Off Shopping Pass

Right now, on the CVS Facebook Page, you can get a 20% shopping pass. The page suggests a quiz, but I did not get taken to a quiz. It asked for my Extra Care Card and my e-mail address.

The coupon will be e-mailed to you and is valid through 11/20. The coupon says 20% off your entire order. Sale Items excluded.

Big G Cereal Heroes - Winner!

Congratulations to Janice! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Big G Cereal Heroes Prize Pack.

An e-mail will be sent to the winner.

Be sure to check out the other current giveaways.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2011-11-17 11:36:19 UTC

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Freezer Meals - What's In There?

One of the challenges that I used to face with freezer meals is keeping track of what I had in each container. I would know what it was when it went in, but over time it would get shifted in the freezer and I would find myself wondering if it was sloppy joes, or chili, or spaghetti sauce with meat.

I found the answer to my problem back in chemistry lab in high school. And, to be honest, I found the answer when I was trying to solve the dilemma of marking bottles - both as I placed them in my freezer, but also as I sent them to day care. (It wasn't until my second child that I discovered using bags to store the milk.) I needed to know when the milk was from so that I could rotate properly in both the refrigerator and freezer. I wanted something that I could easily read, would hold up to refrigerating and freezing/thawing, wouldn't wipe off during storage, but could wipe off later.
For whatever reason, I thought of those black wax pencils that had the paper wrapper and the string that you used to peel the paper to reveal more of the black wax pencil. We used them for marking beakers and test tubes in chemistry. The problem was I could describe it well, but didn't know what they were actually called or where to find them. After some searching, we were able to find them. Turns out that they are grease pencils and/or china markers. They worked wonderful for marking the bottles.

Once I had a couple, I recognized that they worked well for marking my food containers for storage as well. Now, when I have leftovers to freeze or make extra to freeze, I can easily mark what the contents are and when they were placed in the freezer.
Works for me!

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday.

Kroger Free Milk Promotion and a Giftcard Giveaway!

From now through November 26th, purchase any four participating General Mills products that your family knows and loves and Kroger will reward you for your purchases. You will either receive free milk (up to $3; limit of 2) or to receive $3 off your shopping order (Promotion varies in different locations - so be sure to check your local Kroger Co. Family of Stores for the specific deals and offers)

Look for some of your favorite participating General Mills products like Cheerios, Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cookies, Nature Valley Bars and Fiber One Bars. Pair this deal with some coupons and you can make a good deal even better.

What’s better than being rewarded for buying your favorite products from your favorite store? Visit for more information and great ways to save and be sure to check out the Kroger Facebook page to join the conversation and share which General Mills products you’d like to stock up on during the promotion. You can also find Kroger on Twitter.


Courtesy of Kroger and MyBlogSpark, one A Busy Mom of Two reader will win One $25 Kroger gift card (good at any of the Kroger. Co Family of Stores)

No compensation was received for this post. I received a $25 gift card and information about the promotion from Kroger through MyBlogSpark. All opinions are my own or that of my family.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Another weekend is done. It amazes me how quickly time seems to fly. It was a good weekend, mostly spent just hanging out.

I did a quick trip to the grocery store Sunday to pick up some stuff that we needed for this week, although for the most part, we are eating from the freezer stock. I did get some good deals on cereal and am considering another visit later this week. I got 3 boxes of Chex cereal for $4 after a $1/3 coupon ($1.33/box) and 5 boxes of assorted Post cereals (including 2 Banana Nut Crunch) for $16.67, but got back two $4 coupons, one for milk and one OYNO ($1.73/box after the two catalinas) - not awesome, but BNC is one of those cereals that never seems to be on sale and generally seems to be over $3 / box without sales.

Hard to believe that we are less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving. The kids have started singing a little bit of Jingle Bells and I've heard similar music in the stores. I heard yesterday that the Hallmark holiday shows are already on. We are swapping DVR boxes because we seem to have issues with ours, so once we have a new one, I am going to start setting up those holiday shows to record. I may not get a chance to watch them for a few weeks, but it is nice to have them ready when I am.

As I mentioned, dinners this week are mostly from the freezer. In fact, I believe that in most cases I already have the meal prepped and just need to finish it. Makes for an easier time in the evening.

Chicken Enchiladas (used Shredded Chicken in the filling)


Chicken Gravy over biscuits

Chicken Nuggets

Beef Tacos


Dinner with friends

Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school, a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and I is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

FoldFlops Winner!

Congratulations to h. mcnaron. They were selected as the winner of the FoldFlops giveaway.

Thanks for entering and be sure to check out the current giveaways.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2011-11-14 01:10:07 UTC

Walgreens Scenarios - week of 11/13

I have some events this week that will take me out and about, so I might have the chance to stop at Walgreens. Unfortunately, I don't really feel like there are a lot of jump out and grab me things. I will pick up a few things, but if time doesn't work out, I won't be disappointed.

Transaction #1
2 - Speedstick
1 - Scunci Hair Accessory

-$1 $1/2 Speedstick mfg coupon

Total $6.99 OOP, earn $2 and $2 RR.

Transaction #2
3 - Scotch Tape Transparent Rolls (w/ in ad coupon)
1 - Duck Bubble Wrap
4 - Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup (w/ in ad coupon)

-$1 Duck Bubble Wrap mfg coupon
-$1 $1/4 Campbell's Cooking Soup mfg coupon
-$2 RR
-$2 RR

Total $1.02 OOP.

The total OOP for the trip will be $8.01 for $16.01 in product, a savings of about 50%.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom.

Walgreens $5 Scenario
Transaction #1
2 - Speedstick

-$1 $1/2 Speedstick mfg coupon

Total $4 OOP, earn $2 RR.

Transaction #2
1 - Scuunci Hair Accessory

-$2 RR

Total $.99 OOP, earn $2 RR.

Transaction #3
3 - Scotch Transparent Tape (w/ in ad coupon)
1 - Duck Bubble Wrap

-$1 Duck Bubble Wrap mfg coupon

-$2 RR

Total $.46 OOP.

Total OOP is $5.45 for $11.45 in product, a savings of 52%.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the Walgreens $5 Challenge.

CVS Scenarios - week of 11/13

It's been a couple of weeks since I have had a chance to sit down and look through the CVS ad and take advantage of the deals. I had every intention of doing the greeting card deal last week, but ran out of time and never made it to the store. I have some thoughts on what I might pick up this week. I think I have some expiring ECBs, so it is important that I get there so that I don't lose them.

Transaction #1
1 - Gillette Shave Cream

-$1 Gillette Shave Cream mfg coupon

Total $1.59 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #2
6 - Suave Body Wash

-$2 B2G1 Suave Body Wash mfg coupon
-$2 B2G1 Suave Body Wash mfg coupon

Total $8, pay with $2 ECBs and $6 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Slim Fast Shakes (6ct)

-$1.60 Slim Fast IP

Total $8.40, pay with $3 ECBs and $5.40 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

The total OOP for this scenario is $12.99, with $2 ECBs to roll and $24.59 in product at sale prices, about a 51% savings. Not the greatest savings, but I still like the deal. When I work out, I like to have a protein bar or shake after the work out. I use Slim Fast as a protein shake.

I am also considering the Noxzema deal (spend $10, get $5) - I have a couple of $.50/1 Noxzema coupons and like their facial care product. In addition, I am looking at the Gift Card deal (spend $30, get $10 gift card). There are a few things that I need that are included on the offer. If I can gather up some coupons, I will give it a try. I just wish I had a $/$$ coupon.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
1 - Gillette Shave Cream

-$1 Gillette Shave Cream mfg coupon

Total $1.59 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #2
1 - Ajax Dish Soap

Total $1.99, pay with $2 ECB adjusted down. Earn $1 ECB.

Total OOP for the scenario is $1.59, with $1 ECB to roll and $4.58 in product, a savings of 72%.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

"The final face-off between good and evil is finally upon us as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released on DVD November 11, 2011, just in time for the holidays! Join Harry, Ron and Hermione as they do battle against Voldemort in the epic conclusion to the film series everyone is talking about!"

Take The Harry Potter Trivia Quiz! Are you an expert in all things Potter? Test your knowledge in our trivia quiz! Discover if you are an expert or a novice by challenging your skills! The results might surprise you!

You can also share your top 3 tips for hosting a Harry Potter Party. I actually have experience with hosting one! My son is a big Harry Potter fan (you can see the Harry Potter Cake I made this year). I on the other hand have not seen enough to do very well at all on this quiz - but I must be a good guesser, I got 80% on the Beginner quiz.

Win a DVD of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

To enter:
Leave a comment sharing how you did on the trivia challenge.
Bonus entry (please leave a comment):
Like A Busy Mom of Two on Facebook and leave a comment, sharing with your friends how you did on the quiz (and encourage them to give it a try)!
Follow ABusyMomofTwo on Twitter.
Tweet about this giveaway, may be done up to three times daily. Be sure to leave a link to your tweet: I just entered to win a copy of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 on DVD! @ABusyMomofTwo!

Giveaway will remain open until November 28 at 6 pm. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected using a randon number generator. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. PartnersHub provided information and the widget, and is providing one DVD for my family and one for the giveaway.

Samples and Freebies

TRESemme newly enhanced formula shampoo/conditioner sample (Facebook)

ob reusable carry case
coffee sample from Target
EmergenC Kid samples
Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo/Conditioner sample and coupon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

sendCheer - Cheerios Cheer Prize Pack Giveaway

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. A day that has been set aside to show respect and share thanks for those that have and are serving our country. A day to recognize all of the Military Vets and active Military as well, who help to protect our freedom.

You can visit the official US Department of Veterans Affairs and Wikipedia for some information and history about Veterans Day, which is celebrated elsewhere in the world as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, in honor of the Armistice that was signed on November 11, 1918 ending World War I. It even explains that the official spelling does not contain an apostrophe.
Cheerios is helping to make it easier to send a simple Thank You to a military family. During the months of October and November, 2011, specially-marked boxes of Cheerios cereal will feature Cheer postcards on the front of the box. Cut out the postcard, write a quick note of encouragement or thanks, add postage and drop the pre-addressed postcard it in the mailbox. The USO will deliver it to a military family. "In addition, Cheerios is sending a little extra Cheer to help fund programs for our military families. For each postcard received by November 30, 2012 from a participating cereal box, Cheerios will donate $1 to the USO. Cheerios guarantees a minimum of $150,000 donation and a $250,000 maximum donation based on the number of postcards the USO receives."

You can earn more on and can find them on Facebook.

To help spread the word, Cheerios, through MyBlogSpark is offering a giveaway of a Cheerios Cheer prize pack
which contains:
1 Cheerios cereal bowl
1 Cheerios cereal spoon
1 cereal dispenser
1 “Cheer” box of Cheerios

Alright, I am trying out Rafflecopter. I am new at this, if there are any issues, please let me know. Thanks! The giveaway will go live at Midnight (I couldn't find a way to change the time!).

Giveaway will remain open until November 25 at 6 pm. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. A Cheerios Cheer prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by Cheerios through MyBlogSpark. All opinions are my own or that of my family.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Drawing Pad iPad App

My son likes to draw and to color. I think he has a little bit of my dad's side of the family in him. There are a number of artistic people in my family. He does a pretty good job, when he doesn't allow himself to get frustrated and give up. I feel that the more that he colors and draws and plays, the more relaxed he will be and the better that he will do.

As such, I try to find things for him to encourage him to create. We have a few varieties of stencils that can be used for both pictures and lettering. I have gotten him graph paper to help him with the different learn to draw books/kits - so he doesn't have to sketch a grid. He has an art kit that has a number of colors and variety of materials - crayons, markers, paints, oils and more. We have coloring books and blank paper tablets.
When I was asked to check out the Drawing Pad App for the iPad, I knew that it was something that would be enjoyed by him (and my daughter too). Drawing Pad is "a mobile art studio designed exclusively for tablets". It comes with a variety of materials to create art with: "photo-realistic crayons, markers, paint brushes, colored pencils, stickers, roller pens and more!"

There is a "drawer" at the bottom that holds all the tools. Select the tool you want and it takes you to another drawer that has all the colors (or varieties - in the case of things like stickers and roller pens). Simply drag the contents to the left or right to see all the color choices. You can also change your paper colors and even include photos from your iTunes account. The eraser options range from small to big and even includes a "crumple" the paper option which starts you over with a blank sheet.

Once your art is complete, you can save it, share it and print it. There are even quick buttons to take you to Facebook and Twitter to share the masterpiece. You can save to your iPhoto Library and to your Drawing Pad Album.

When I asked my son to create a drawing that used a number of tools, this is what he sent me:
Based on this, I think that he likes the stickers and the roller pens the best. Here is what he has to say: "I like how you can pick what color background . I like that there are markers and colored pencils in so many colors. I like how you can save pages."

You can learn more about the Drawing Pad App and purchase it here.

No compensation was received for this post. A free copy of the Drawing Pad App was provided for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed are mine or that of my family.