Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mamavation Monday

What a week it was last week. With so many meals that were catered or eaten out, it was a really tough week for me. I was in meetings for long stretches of time and had to be work earlier than normal. As such, this we a less than model week for me. I ate at the top of my Points for the week (consuming them all - meaning no buffer if I did underestimate a serving) and didn't make time for activity.

I was so glad to return to 'normal' at the end of the week. I was able to finally eat within my daily Points without using more than one or two of the weekly Points.

The net result of the week was that I was Flat. Flat was better than I expected with the way the week started, so for that I am glad.

I am really loving the Weight Watchers Apps for my phone. I was at the store on Sunday and as I was perusing the selection of frozen meals, I was able to scan the bar code and see the Points for each meal. Now, not all items are in the database, but there are a lot of items in there. It made it easier for me to make selections that fit what I am looking for for lunch. One thing that I learned (and was surprised to learn) is that the Points reflected on the package for the Weight Watchers frozen meals is not the current Points value. Some you knew, because it was the old logo, but some even said Points Plus and did not match the calculation. I found this to be frustrating, wondering how many people are taking them at face value and not realizing that they are eating more Points than they think. I knew that I had some meals in my freezer, many of which were more Points than I expected. Some of which, I would not have selected if I had known the actual Points. I also like that you can track directly from the scanner app - immediately those items are reflected on my tracker.

In addition to the scanner, the convenience of having the tracking on my phone is awesome! It allows me to stay current and to make better choices when I find myself looking to nibble. Knowing exactly where I am is better than 'guessing' where I am. It is a very easy to use app and saving favorites has helped a lot in quickly completing my tracker.

This post shared at Mamavation Monday.

You can see my near daily tracking here.

No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a trial subscription to Weight Watchers. All opinions expressed are my own.

Clearly Fresh Bags - helping produce last longer

Recently, I was contacted about trying out Clearly Fresh Bags. Clearly Fresh Bags are designed to help keep you fresh fruits and vegetables fresh longer. They use BreatheWay technology which allows fresh produce to breathe naturally and last longer. The technology allows fruits and vegetables to create their own ideal environment within the bag, naturally slowing the ripening and allowing them to stay fresh longer. You can read more about the technology here.

At my house, the biggest challenge that we have is eating bananas before they get overripe and brown, so of course, this is the product that I decided to test the aging on.

When the bags arrived, I had already purchased bananas and decided that I would use them to check out the bags. The pictures below show that we started with bananas that were already pretty ripe, but still the results were great. I decided that I needed a control. So, I placed all but one banana inside the bag and pushed out the air. I set them next to each other on the counter to ensure that they had a common environment. Each day, I opened the bag, took out one banana and then resealed it. After 6 days, I had consumed all but one of the bananas in the bag and ate the one that was not stored in the bag (my control). Despite my normal banana a day habit, I left the last banana sitting to see how long it would stay fresh. After 10 days, I decided to end the experiment and eat the banana. It was still in great shape and not overripe, although the flesh was a little soft, but not mushy.
Day 1:

Day 1:

6 days later:

6 days later:

10 days later:

Here is a second set of bananas, just to show that it wasn't a fluke. This is day 10:

This is day 11:

This is my third bunch of bananas through the bag, and likely the last - I think I will go to a new bag for the next bunch. If you are using the bags for whole, dry produce, you can reuse them a couple of times. For rinsed or cut produce, I'm guessing that you wouldn't be able to use it more than the one time. You can not wash the bags though, as it would ruin the BreatheWay membrane.

My conclusion is that these bags work. They are also useable for other produce, like apples, broccoli, lettuce, berries, mangoes, etc. I didn't test them on those items, because I don't generally have issues storing those items. Although, it could come in handy when I do purchase fresh produce for recipes at the end of the week - to ensure that they are as fresh as can be when I get a week removed from shopping.

You can purchase them direct from www.clearlyfreshbags.com the package of 10 1-gallon size bags sell for $3.99 / pack.

These bags work for me!

No compensation was received for this post. A package of Clearly Fresh Bags was provided, so that I could try them out and share my experience. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Crossing - Serita Jakes

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading The Crossing, by Serita Jakes. I had not heard anything about the book and was not familiar with the author.

Here is the 'trailer' for the book:
    "On the way home from a football game, a decade earlier, a masked gunman opened fire on a Texas school bus. Cheerleading coach B.J. Remington was killed, but her murderer was never found. Claudia, who had a close friendship with the young, spirited teacher, constantly relives the anguish of that day, caught in one moment in time. When her husband, the assistant district attorney, becomes determined to uncover the mystery of that tragedy, the secrets buried over the years threaten to tear their family apart. Officer Casio Hightower will never forget the day his dreams were destroyed. A star quarterback with a promising future, Casio was on top of the world—until one bullet changed everything. He is eager to help Victor Campbell find B.J.’s killer, the man who shot him. Maybe solving the case will help silence the demons driving Casio to hurt the woman he loves. As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the brink of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?"

I will admit that it took me a while to get into the book. At first, I found myself confused, as if I was expected to already know about the event that had occurred at the railroad crossing despite the fact that I had just started reading the book. Within a few chapters though, the events that occurred that day at the railroad crossing start to be revealed and the characters to be developed and I was glad that I had not put down the book early on. I found myself being drawn in, wanting to keep reading so that I could help unravel not just what happened that day, but why. I started to become attached to the characters and found myself rooting them on, hoping for good to prevail.

The story was told from many perspectives. There was Claudia and Casio who were both present at the event and still find themselves haunted by the events at the crossing. There is Assistant District Attorney Vic, the husband of Claudia, who has recently reopened the case from the unsolved crime that occurred at the crossing - in part to help free his wife of the demons that haunt her and in part, we are led to believe to bolster his bid to be DA. And, then there is BJ. BJ was one of the most interesting perspective, as she was the victim of the events at the crossing. Her perspective provides the reader with some insights into the events of the day, but mostly, they provide a view into her journey towards death.

The book took many turns and some left me baffled and unbelieving, how could that happen, I would wonder aloud. The ending, I will not share, but it was full of surprises - both positive and negative.

I would recommend The Crossing for those that like a mystery and I would suggest that you not give up too early on the book.

No compensation was received for this post. A copy of the book was provided through Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.
Rate my review:

Whole Grains First Ingredient - giveaway

I know that I have said more than once that I really enjoy cereal. To me, it is great for breakfast, snack or even dinner (although, certainly not every day!). In fact, my kids even know that I like cereal for dinner and will sometimes request it when I am unsure of the dinner plan (or if something didn't work out as planned). I like a lot of different cereals and have been eating many of them for years. Fortunately for me, my habit of eating cereal seems to be getting better for me as the cereal companies have been working to improve the healthiness of their products in recent years.

Take, for example, the changes that General Mills has made, updating their products and offering many of their cereals with whole grains in the first ingredient.
They've even made it easier for the consumer to find, but marking them with the white check mark.

    Ringing in the New Year often means new eating habits. We know whole grain is important to you, and the Dietary Guidelines recommend choosing products with a whole grain listed as the first ingredient. Now every cereal with the white check has more whole grain than any other single ingredient with the same great taste. You will see “whole grain” as a part of the first ingredient on the ingredient list, indicating that whole grain is the first and most prevalent ingredient.

    According to Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of “The Doctors,” identifying whole grain products can be challenging. Shoppers can look for nutritional cues on the front of the box, but they need to read the ingredient list to know if they are getting enough whole grain. Ingredient lists detail ingredients in order of prevalence, and if the words “whole grain” are followed by a grain like wheat or oats, it means the food contains more whole grain than any other single ingredient. Here’s how to determine if your cereals have whole grain as a first ingredient:

    With all the health messages facing grocery store shoppers, it can be confusing to translate what appears on food labels into nutritional needs, and hard to determine which foods have a meaningful amount of whole grain. Dr. Stork has some additional recommendations to help you include whole grain easily into your diet.

    They include:
    Start Early! The Dietary Guidelines recommend people get at least 48 grams of whole grain in their daily diets. Get a jump-start on the day’s nutrition by incorporating whole grain into your morning routine. For instance, when choosing cereal make sure whole grain is listed as the first ingredient. One easy choice is cereal with the white check, which have more whole grain than any other single ingredient.

    Make Simple Swaps. Choose whole grain versions of the foods you love. Great options include whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread or even whole grain crackers. Also, try different types of whole grain. Use brown rice instead of white rice as a side dish at dinner or popcorn, which is a whole grain, for a snack.

    Don’t Judge a Food by Its Cover. The front of food packages provide good nutritional cues, but don’t forget to read the ingredients and check the nutrition label and side labels for additional health information. Cereals with the white check even include the amount of whole grain per serving on packaging.

    To help with choosing products with whole grain, General Mills developed “Fast Lane for Whole Grain,” an online educational game. Consumers can navigate virtual grocery store aisles and identify products that have whole grain as the first ingredient, with the option to enter a sweepstakes to win one of each of the 50 cereals with the white check.

    Make a commitment to add more whole grain to your diet by simply pouring a bowl of cereal with the white check including Cheerios®, Lucky Charms®, Cinnamon Toast Crunch®, Honey Nut Cheerios® and Total®.

    For more information on the importance of whole grain and a chance to enter the “Fast Lane for Whole Grain” sweepstakes, visit www.WholeGrainNation.com.

Want to pick up some Whole Grains First cereal? Click here for a coupon that is good for $1.75 / 2 boxes.

General Mills, through MyBlogSpark is providing a Whole Grains First Prize pack to one A Busy Mom of Two reader.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through February 19. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. A Whole Grains First Prize pack and information was provided by General Mills and MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Menu Plan Monday and weekend in review

What a weekend. It seemed to go by in such a blur. I'm trying hard to remember what we did that made it seem so busy and I can't!

Friday evening, after work, I went shopping to get the contents for my Champions for Kids Abbott Snack Pack mission. My daughter and I had a good time picking out the products to share. Then, we tried something new for dinner - Buffalo Chicken Rolls. They were tasty and really hit the spot.

Saturday started with an early morning basketball game for my son. I think the rest of the day was spent at home relaxing! The kids went out to play in the snow - there didn't look like there was much snow and it was really wet snow, but there must have been a good amount, because they built a fort of 4 or 5 large snow balls. After lunch, the kids went to play in their room - forced downtime. I spent the time assembling the Snack Packs and doing some blogging. Then, after stumbling upon a recipe for Mountain Dew Cupcakes, I whipped up a batch. They were very tasty - the flavor being more citrus than Mountain Dew. Dinner was Tilapia Vera Cruz - such a simple recipe, such tasty results.

Sunday we were without milk, so I headed off to Acme to pick up milk and some of the 2-day specials. I bought more than I expected, as the limit of 10 was not in place for the Smart Taste and San Georgio Pasta at 88c / box. I snatched up 24 boxes - that should last us for a few months! I also grabbed some Lean Cuisine meals on sale 3/$5. Some Ragu on sale at 4/$5 and some salad dressing on sale for $1.50. I spent $51 and essentially only stocked up, but it is stock ups like this that allow me to spend $50 other weeks on a basket full of produce, dairy and meat. I might need to stop midweek for some fresh fruit, but we still have a few apples, clementines and bananas, so I skipped them (my Acme doesn't have the best looking produce - the one a few miles down the road has an awesome produce section). After lunch, we headed to my son's school for an open house and then did a little shopping. At Walmart, I noticed that they had school uniforms on clearance. I couldn't find any pants, but I was able to get three long sleeve shirts for my son at $1 each, 4 short sleeve shirts at $5, and 2 shirts for my daughter at $5. Feels good to have some of the school clothes set aside for next year. The long sleeve shirts were tagged at $3, so I was pleasantly surprised when they rang up for only $1. Sunday evening, I went to dinner with a friend and the family enjoyed a Turkey Roast.

How was your weekend?

The Menu:
Turkey Roast/Sushi!



Cube Steaks

Chicken - bought a new Kraft Fresh Take when I was shopping, I'll let you know what we think.

Carnival Food

Pork Chops

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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walgreens Scenarios - week of 1/29

There are a couple of deals going on this week at Walgreens that I might stop in to pick up, if I find myself near the store.

Transaction #1
1 - Blink Tears

-$1 Blink Tears IP

Total $7 OOP, earn $8 RR.

Transaction #2
1 - Cottonelle 12pk
1 - Gillette Fusion ProGlide
2 - Russell Stover Chocolate Heart (w/ in ad coupon)

-$1 Cottonelle IVC
-$1.50 Cottonelle mfg coupon
-$5 Gillette Fusion ProGlide mfg coupon

-$8 RR

Total $.07 OOP. Earn $4 RR.

Transaction #3
1 - St. Josephs Asprin
1 - Cottonelle 12pk

-$1 Cottonelle IVC
-$.75 Cottonelle IP

-$4 RR

Total $1.25 OOP. Earn $2 RR.

For the trip, the total OOP is $8.32, with $2 RR to roll and about $31 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 74%.

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

Walgreens $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
1 - Gillette ProGlide

-$5 Gillette mfg coupon

Total $4.99 OOP, earn $4 RR.

Transaction #2
1 - St Joseph's Asprin
2 - Speedstick Deodorant (w/ in ad coupon)

-$2 BOGO Speekstick mfg coupon

-$4 RR

Total $0 OOP. Earn $2 RR.

For the trip, the total OOP is $4.99, with $2 RR to roll and about $16 in product. A savings of about 72%.

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

Hormel - Go Big for the Big Game Sweepstakes

Hormel Foods Recipes is currently running a promotion on their Facebook page. Through February 3, you can enter to win their Go Big for the Big Game Sweepstakes - simply Like their page and fill out the simple entry form and you will be entered to win a $500 Gift Card.

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.

CVS Scenarios - week of 1/29

For the first time in a while, there were some deals that I feel like it is worth heading to CVS for. I just wish that both of my local papers had all the coupons in them, but some only come in one or the other, limiting my options slightly - basically, if I had more of the BOGO on the Speedstick, I would use them.

Transaction #1
3 - American Greetings Cards

-$2 $2/3 American Greetings (CVS.com)
$.99 B2G1 IP (should be able to stack a mfg and a CVS coupon)

Total $0 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Speedstick Deodorants
1 - Irish Spring Deodorants
1 - Irish Spring Body Wash
1 - Irish Spring Soaps

-$1.99 BOGO Speedstick mfg coupon
-$1 Irish Spring Deodorant mfg coupon
-$1 Irish Spring Body Wash mfg coupon
-$.50 Irish Spring Bar Soap mfg coupon

Total 7.50, pay with $3 ECBs and $4.50 OOP. Earn $6 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Tom's of Maine Toothpaste (hoping they have the children's one)
1 - Cadbury Egg
2 - Dawn Dish Soap

-$.50 Dawn mfg coupon
-$.50 Dawn mfg coupon

Total $5.82, pay with $6 ECB adjusted down or throw in a filler. Earn $3 and $.87 ECBs.

Transaction #4
2 - Pretzel M&Ms

-$1 M&M IP
-$1 M&M IP

Total $3, pay with $3 ECB and $0 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

For the trip, the total OOP of $4.50 with $1.87 in ECBs to roll for $27 in product, a savings of 84%.

I think I might also pick up the Pepsi 12 pack deal - maybe I will make some more of these Mountain Dew Cupcakes?

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

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

Buffalo Chicken Rolls

Each year, it seems, I set very similar resolutions. I like to think of it as a plan to lead a happier, healthier life. I like to believe that each year, I make some progress, but there is always room for improvement. I would like to continue to lead a happy, healthy lifestyle:

  • by finding more opportunities to be active - whether formal exercise or sneaking it in with fun

  • by eating healthier - including more vegetables and fruits each day, finding healthier ways to enjoy familiar favorites and trying new meals/recipes that are easy to prepare, tasty and reasonably healthy

  • by taking time for myself - sometimes you need an escape to allow yourself to destress and process through things, so making time to enjoy a good book, go for a run, have dinner with a friend, etc. are all ways that I can decompress and make sure that I am the best me that I can be.

  • This past week, when I mentioned that we were having Sloppy Joes for dinner, my husband seemed less than excited, so I felt like I should come up with something different to make for dinner. I had come across a recipe earlier on Pinterest for Buffalo Chicken Rolls. There were a few things that I knew that we wouldn't like and a few ideas I had to make it simpler, so when I went shopping on Friday after work, I picked up a few ingredients that we didn't have on hand - slaw, egg roll wrappers and ranch dressing - to try to make my own version of Buffalo Chicken Rolls.

    Buffalo Chicken Rolls

    12 egg roll wrappers (roughly 4 square inches)
    1 12.5oz can Hormel Premium Chicken Breast (in water), drained
    1/2 c Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (more or less to taste)
    1 cup shredded cheese
    shredded cabbage or bagged cole slaw
    Small bowl of water
    Nonstick cooking spray
    Ranch dressing

    Preheat oven to 400 F.

    In a small bowl, combine the chicken and the cheese.
    Add the buffalo sauce and stir to incorporate. Set aside.

    Lay out the 12 egg roll wrappers.

    Place a small handful of the shredded cabbage on the bottom corner of the egg roll wrapper. Top with the chicken and cheese mixture.
    Fold up the bottom corner of the wrapper, over the stuffing mixture to cover completely.
    Fold in the left corner and then the right corner, so that the tips meet in the middle.
    Roll the wrap up one time, leaving the top corner open. Using your finger, apply some water to moisten the top corner. Fold that down over the filled roll and press gently to seal.
    Repeat with remaining rolls.

    Spray your cooking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place your rolls on the sheet and lightly spray your rolls.

    Bake for 15 minutes, or until the rolls begin to crisp and turn a light brown color.
    You can use wonton wrappers too!

    Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

    Some notes:
    I actually assembled the first three rolls before adding hot sauce to the mixture. My daughter is not a fan of spicy stuff, so I figured it would be best to have some that were plain.

    I used mozzarella, because it was what I had in the refrigerator, but I think that cheddar cheese would also be a good option.

    If you are a purist, you could use Blue Cheese and Blue Cheese dressing, I suppose, but we aren't fans at my house.

    The chicken is about 9 oz, once drained, you could also use leftover chicken for a quick meal.

    I am a big fan of buffalo chicken. I know it is not always the healthiest option, since the wings are generally fried. I was pleasantly surprised that each of these rolls turned out to be only about 115 calories. The cabbage made a great filler - giving the rolls more volume and a bit of a crunch too.

    The family enjoyed them. My husband even said that I could make them if we had friends over for the Super Bowl. We also talked about making mini-bites using wonton wrappers instead. I'm assuming that wonton and egg roll wrappers are similar, so I might just give that a try.

    This post shared at the URS Cabbage Edition.

    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.

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam is coming to Cleveland!

    Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam is coming to Quicken Loans Arena February 24-26, 2012
      Monster Jam, an incredible family-friendly experience starring the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam monster trucks! These twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over - OR smash through. Monster Jam provides a massive night’s entertainment tailored perfectly for your family’s budget, and these colorful, larger-than-life beasts are sure to capture the hearts of both young and old!

    Want to learn more and interact with other fans? You can find Monster Jam on Facebook.

    Surprisingly, my daughter is a fan of Monster Jam. Well, at least of Grave Digger. A few weeks ago, as we were returning to routine at school, it was a show and tell day and the letter of the week was M. (At my daughter's daycare, to encourage learning, if they choose to participate in show and tell, it has to be something that starts with the letter of the week.) My daughter chose to bring in Minnie Mouse (see that two Ms). One of her friends brought in a Monster Truck, in this case, it was Grave Digger. Of course, when she saw that, she got very disappointed that she hadn't brought in her stuffed Grave Digger for show and tell. After that, she has had Grave Digger in bed many nights and has taken the stuffed truck for her movie buddy at school. I think that she will want to go, when she finds out that Monster Jam is coming to town.

    How about you and your family?

    Show Schedule:

    Friday, February 24, 2012: 7:30pm
    Saturday, February 25, 2012: 2pm & 7:30pm
    Sunday, February 26, 2012: 2pm


    Advanced Tickets prices are:
    $55 (Discount Drug Mart Extreme Seats)
    $30 (Gold Circle)
    $20 ** trade price

    $10 Kids (2-12)
    (tickets go up $3 day of the show, so plan ahead to save money!)

    This year, before two of the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam shows, there will be a Pit Party. The fan-favorite Pit Party runs from 10:30am to 12:30pm on Saturday, Feb. 25, and on Sunday, Feb. 26 (prior to the 2:00pm shows). The pre-show pit party gives fans (with a pit pass and Sat/Sun 2pm show ticket) the chance to see the monster trucks up close, meet drivers, take pictures and get autographs. Pit passes will be available for $5 online at theQarena.com after tickets have been purchased and at the Quicken Loans Arena box office, while supplies last.

    A special discount rate for A Busy Mom of Two Readers:
    When you go to this ticketing page to purchase seats, you can save $6 in advance on each ticket with CODE: FFA6 -- or save $3 on each ticket on the day of the show with CODE: FFA3. (Restrictions: FFA6 code valid through February 17, 2012. FFA3 code valid February 18-23, 2012. Not valid on Discount Drug Mart Extreme Seats and Gold Circle seats. Limit 6 tickets per transaction.)

    Courtesy of Feld Family Entertainment, one A Busy Mom of Two reader will win a family four-pack of tickets to take their family to see the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam Shows at Quicken Loans Arena.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Giveaway will remain open through February 10th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

    No compensation was received for this post. As a Feld Family Blogger, my family is given the opportunity to see the show. The tickets for my family, the giveaway and the information about the show and discounts were provided by Feld Entertainment. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

    Abbott Champions for Kids Campaign - Shopping and Assembly #AbbottCFK and #CBias

    Last weekend, I shared with you about Champions for Kids and the Abbott Nutrition Snack Packs simple service mission. This weekend, I went shopping for the contents of the Snack Packs.

    I had hoped to shop earlier in the week, but Friday after work was the first chance that I had to head to the store.

    I started my trip heading to the health and beauty section. I knew (thought I knew) that I would find the snack bars and nutritional drinks I was looking for here.
    There was a quite a variety of options when it came to the Zone Perfect bars. Since I am planning to give the snack packs to children at the daycare, I decided to steer clear of things that contained peanuts/peanut butter, as our daycare is peanut free - although, it seemed that most of the boxes mentioned that they are manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts. I will just make sure that I mention it to the director so that there is awareness. We went with three varieties - a Strawberry Yogurt bar, a Fudge Graham bar and a Double Dark Chocolate bar. This section had the Ensure, but not the Pediasure that I was looking for.

    I figured that if I headed back to where the infant formula was located, I might find the Pediasure there. (you know, it took me a minute to decide on where to find the formula, I don't think I ever bought a single package of formula).
    Sure enough, just down the aisle from the formula I found Pediasure and all of the baby/toddler food. They had both Pediasure
    and Pediasure Sidekicks.
    My daughter suggested the Pediasure Sidekicks, so we gathered up several of the flavors - Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry.

    We then headed over to the grocery section, where we picked up some juice boxes, some apple sauce and some raisins to round out the bags that we were putting together. That left me wondering, what should I put these snack packs in. After picking up some groceries that I needed for making a new recipe at dinner, we headed over to the card section at the store. They had some great little, brightly colored gift bags that I new would work well. We grabbed 16 of them and went to check out.

    At home, we opened everything up and set it up on the dining room table to make the Snack Packs.

    After filling the bags, I decided that it would be nice to add the logo and the website information, so that the bags looked 'finished' and the parents would have a way to learn more about the program.
    On Monday, we will take them to the daycare and the director will pass them out. The 16 bags I am sure will be enjoyed, but I also know that there are probably more kids at the daycare (and elsewhere) that could benefit from a Snack Pack. If you have the time and resources, won't you consider finding out how you can help make a difference in a child's life? Remember, you can learn more about the CFK Simple Services Projects here.

    This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. Information about the Abbott Champion for Kids Campaign was provided through Collective Bias.

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Samples and Freebies

    Red Gold free can of tomatoes coupon (Facebook)
    Voskos plus Granola - 7 free coupons (Facebook/expired)

    Benefiber sample from Rite Aid (disappointed there were no coupons)

    Clothes - Making Them Last or Enhancing Their Style

    I always heard that boys were rough on clothes. What I didn't consider is that girls are equally rough.

    My daughter loves to run and play, and I love for her to run and play. Problem is, she always seems to find a way to fall down. The result is a skinned knee, a tear in her pants, mud/snow/water all over her clothes, and in one unfortunate event a baby tooth that had to have the kid's version of a root canal and is now known as 'my gray tooth'. She even has a knack of being able to cut her clothing with her scissors while doing art projects.

    She has a definite style sense, all her own. I affectionately refer to her as 'my Rainbow Brite' on many a morning, when she comes down wearing a multitude of colors and patterns. Despite her affinity for diverse patterns, she simply can not wear clothes that have a tear or a stain. So, when, as it frequently occurs, she manages to make a mess of a new pair of tights, pants, shirt, or other, the article of clothing is typically toast. It will be passed over or placed back in her laundry. As a mom, it is rather frustrating to see that new article be worn but once or twice.

    In the past, some of these holes have been small and I have been able to apply a sneaky patch or whip a few threads through it and all is well. But, that is not always the case.

    When she managed to get holes in the knee in two pairs of pants within a week, I knew I had to find a solution. I simply can not go out and buy new clothes every week. I decided that I would embellish the pants that she has holes in. When I left home to look for the perfect patch, I had visions simply of a colorful, shaped patch. I was thinking a star or a heart. Unfortunately, at the store, I didn't see these - I simply saw standard, rectangles of patches like I had used in the past. I knew that I could cut a shape, but that wasn't what I was after. I was after 'fancy'.

    So, I kept wandering and luckily, I did, because just a few short steps away, I came upon exactly what I was looking for. Decorative patches. We chose cupcakes for this first project. The close second was butterflies.

    To mend her pants, I used a small patch on the inside. This might have been unnecessary, but I wasn't sure how well the decorative patch would do at mending. Then, in order to up the style and not make it look like it was just a repair patch, I stacked two patches - one big, one small - over the hole and set them with the iron.

    To complete the embellished looked, I also added another small patch on the pocket.
    I was planning to put it on the back pocket, but their were no back pockets on the pants.

    The end result:
    I am happy to say that not only was she excited to wear them the day that I patched them, but the embellished pants are now often requested by name. In fact, she recently asked if I had any more of those cupcakes and could I put them on some of her other pants.

    I feel that I have succeeded. For a couple of dollars, I not only rescued a perfect other than a hole in the knee pair of pants from never being worn, but I turned them into fashion!

    This post shared at Frugal Friday.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012


    So, it's been a few months now that I have been hanging out around Pinterest. I was slow to adopt. Everyone that was telling me about it was finding themselves 'addicted' and spending hours on the site, so I was a little nervous. I don't have any free time as it is. If you aren't familiar, think of Pinterest as a visual bookmark list of things that you like (or would like to try).

    I've been using it now for a few weeks and I find that there are a few ways in which I use Pinterest.

    I check out what others are pinning and if I see something I like, I repin it to my boards. I have found a number of recipes and crafts that my friends have shared that I can't wait to try. I love that I can organize them so easily. This is probably where I spend the majority of my Pinterest time.

    The second way that I use it is by searching on Pinterest for specific things - like a recipe or a craft. This allows you to explore beyond your circle for things that others have found interesting. The visual aspect is a great way to explore. Sometimes, it can be a "pain" to click from the search, to the board, to the pin, to the source.

    It really was when I started to see the PinIt buttons added to some of the blogs that I read that I really started to pay attention. Suddenly, I had an easy way to capture those recipes/crafts/etc that I wanted to come back and make/do/etc. Plus, since it was saved with a picture, I had an easy visual clue about what the bookmark was. This clearly was a better option than my prior approach of simply book-marking every page (unsorted of course!) and winding up with a list of website addresses that I had to attempt to decipher as I looked for a specific post that I wanted to go back to.

    Of course, not every website had the PinIt button, so I went on a quest to find out how to add the PinIt button to my toolbar. I headed over to Pinterest and found the directions (under About, Pin It Button, 1st item). It was super easy (open up your bookmark toolbar and drag the button from the site to your toolbar - can you get any easier?) and now I can bookmark any post or article that I want, whether that page uses the PinIt button or not.

    While there, I also saw the directions on how to add the PinIt button to the posts on my blog. I put it at the bottom of each post - do you think I should move it to the top? Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work following the directions on PinIt. I was able to get the button added to my posts, but when I went to test the button, I would get a 'blank' image. I'm not sure what was wrong, but think it could be related to the 'old' Blogger template that was the basis for my blog. Not being a programmer, I had no idea how to solve the problem.

    But, I did find this website that offered simple directions on adding the PinIt button and the code needed. I'm currently using her file for the button, but may try to customize my own and then I will just have to change the location for the file.

    I love Pinterest so far. How about you? Do you use Pinterest? What do you like about it? How do you use it?

    This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday.

    Mamavation Monday

    Yes, I know it is Tuesday, sometimes it just works that way in my world.

    In order to try to help myself on my journey to healthier living, better eating, more exercising and losing weight, I have rejoined Weight Watchers. So far, I'm loving it. My first week was a positive week in that I lost 2#. It's not much, but it is a start. I need to have something in my life that helps me refocus and I think this can do it. I think that their apps for the iPhone will be instrumental in helping me achieve my goals.

    The WW Mobile app allows me to track my Points or evaluate a mealtime/snacktime decision on the go. No more needing to wait until I have access to the computer and a few minutes to log in. Now it is at my fingertips. Tracking as soon as I eat something allows me to stay on top of where I am and be more confident that I didn't selectively forget something. Now, there are still foods that I can't find in there, which does mean that I have to sometimes do a web search for the nutritional information to calculate Points.

    The WW Scanner app is a great app. With the WW scanner, you can scan the barcode of a product and (if it's in their database) will return the information to your phone - both nutritional information including serving size and the Points. There is a button that allows you to add it to your tracker or you can simply scan the next item and it will store those values. This is a great tool. You can use it at the grocery store to help you decide between items or to simply build a list of the items in your cupboard for easier tracking. When you are ready to track, you can either look the item up in the scanner app or you can find it from your mobile app. The scanner also has a calculator, so you can calculate Points and store the information for tracking later.

    I wasn't as active as I had hoped to be last week and this week is already off to a not great start. Last week, I don't really have a reason other than the rain made me want to stay in bed. This week, early morning meetings require that I'm out the door sooner than usual and it just doesn't leave me enough time after laundry and dishes to work out. I am committed to this and do fully intend to return to a regular exercise routine. I picked up a Groupon for Zumba and I hope to meet a friend for classes. This will be in addition to my regular morning routine, so that should help as well.

    In addition to the Points tracker, I'm tracking how the days go over on Losing It!. I'm hopeful that this added accountability and opportunity to reflect on what's working for me will help me to succeed.

    This post shared at Mamavation Monday. This week, the post is sponsored by Mamavation, who asks: Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to healthy lifestyle?

    My answer: My manager. She is a woman whom I never saw as needing to lose weight. She started on her journey a few years ago and looked great. Then, she became pregnant and committed herself to eating right and staying fit during her pregnancy. She continued on her journey after the baby was born and she looks even more amazing now. I know that she worked hard to achieve her personal goals. I know that if I stay dedicated that I can do this too. I just need to figure out how to not get derailed by life. Seeing her each day reminds me what I am trying to achieve.

    No compensation was received for this post. This post is sponsored by Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway. I was provided with a trial subscription to Weight Watchers. All opinions expressed are my own.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    CVS Scenarios - week of 1/23

    Not much jumped off the pages of the CVS ad this week. There are a few deals that might be worth picking up though.

    Transaction #1
    1 - Blistex

    -$.35 Blistex mfg coupon

    Total $2.52 OOP. Earn $2 ECB.

    Transaction #2
    2 - Triaminic

    -$3 Triaminic mfg coupon
    -$3 Triaminic mfg coupon

    Total $5, pay with $2 ECB and $3 OOP, earn $3 ECBs.

    Transaction #3
    1 - Boost High Protein (I use as an after exercise protein shake)

    -$3 Boost Mfg coupon

    Total $3.99, pay with $3 ECBs and $.99 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

    For the day, the total OOP is $6.51, with $1 ECB to roll and just under $20 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 69%.

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

    CVS $5 Challenge

    Transaction #1
    1 - Blistex

    -$.35 Blistex mfg coupon

    Total $2.52 OOP. Earn $2 ECB.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Boost High Protein (I use as an after exercise protein shake)

    -$3 Boost Mfg coupon

    Total $3.99, pay with $2 ECBs and $1.99 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

    For the day, the total OOP is $4.51 with $1 ECB to roll and just under $9 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 55%.

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

    Menu Plan Monday (and the weekend in review)

    What a wonderful weekend.

    Friday night we had the perfect snow storm. I say perfect because it started after we were all home for the evening, snowed about 3 - 4" overnight and was done snowing by about 8 am. The world is beautifully blanketed in white, but we didn't have to deal with traveling in the snow. We were even lucky that someone (not the city) came down our road using their own plow and cleared a single lane path, so when we went to my son's basketball game in the morning, we didn't even have to worry about the road ways (the main ones were done of course).

    Saturday was a very productive day. We did a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things for the week and for dinner on Saturday. We stopped at Target and got some bins for under my daughter's bed. Her bed is adjustable and we had always had it on the lower setting (less distance to fall), but in an attempt to make it possible to open and close her closet door, we decided it was time to raise it up. Target had these cute little baskets with wheels - perfect for under the bed. We grabbed three. After having lunch and putting away the groceries, we tackled her room. It is wonderful. She has three bins under her bed and they are all full of stuffed animals and dolls. Her closet is organized and she can find the toys she wants to play with and has a place to put them away when she is done. The rest of the house also got a pretty good cleaning. I returned my dining room to a room in which to eat. This was inspired by my decision to have friends over for dinner. Saturday evening was a wonderful evening. We spent the evening eating, visiting and playing games with friends. I even tried out a new recipe for (Chicken Brushetta) - I enjoyed it and I know that my kids did too. It was so nice to have a relaxed no plan sort of evening. The kids had friends as well and they entertained themselves, allowing us to simply be adults. It was wonderful.

    Sunday was a busy day. We had Kindergarten Open House for my daughter after church - so hard to believe that she will be in kindergarten next year. Then, we headed to lunch at our favorite local Mexican restaurant, using a voucher from the new daily deal site - DailyReferral. After lunch, it was time for haircuts. My daughter wanted her hair to just touch her shirt, so she had about 3-4" cut off. It is really cute. My son got closer to the buzz cut that he wants, while still keeping some hair like I want. When we came home, we watched Kung Fu Panda 2 as a family. This was followed by baths and dinner. The evening was capped by watching the Giants win their way to the Super Bowl. My husband watched with friends, but I am certain there were points where he was yelling at the TV. I'm just glad that they managed to pull it together and win in overtime.

    Now, it is time for the week. I have a few work dinners this week, so my husband is on his own for a couple of meals. I'm guessing what he will make - I guess we'll see what he actually does.

    leftovers (Chicken Brushetta)



    Pierogie and Sausage

    Turkey Hot Shots

    Sloppy Joes

    Tilapia Vera Cruz

    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.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Abbott Champions for Kids Campaign #AbbottCFK and #CBias

    I am excited to share with you about Abbott Champions for Kids mission to help children in communities across the country. As a participant in this Abbott Nutrition Snack Packs simple service mission, I will be creating Abbott Nutrition Pack a Snack at Walmart and then donating them to children who could use some extra nourishment. You can read more about this simple service project at CFK Simple Services Projects pages or by reviewing this Abbott project card. This is one of many Champions for Kids programs that are held throughout the year.

      "Did You Know? • More than 16 million children under the age of eighteen in the United States are food insecure—unable to consistently access adequate amounts of nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that more than three million children under the age of five are food insecure. • The developing immune systems of young children ages 0 – 5 make them especially vulnerable to nutritional deprivation and as a result, the ability to learn, grow, and fight infections is adversely affected. • While having enough food is important, the nutritional quality of that food is equally important. Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents ages 2 – 19 are obese, and 1 of 7 low-income, preschool-aged children is obese. (Sources: Feeding America; Center For Disease Control)"

    As I have mentioned previously, my daughter attends a daycare/preschool where a number of the families qualify for the school child care assistance. As such, I know that they are meeting certain income requirements and likely eating well at home is a struggle for these family. I have decided to help those family by creating the Abbott Nutrition Snack Packs and have the center distribute them to those families. I will be including products from Abbott Nutrition, like Pediasure®, Pediasure SideKicks®, and ZonePerfect® bars.

    Would you join in and create a Snack Pack for a child/family in need in your area using the great Abbott products? Details can be found here: http://championsforkids.org/simple/ . You can also find Champions for Kids on Facebook and share about your experience.

    This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. Information about the Abbott Champion for Kids Campaign was provided through Collective Bias.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    CVS Deals - 1/15

    Well, I had hopes of making it to CVS this week and I had a few minutes last Sunday and figured I would grab the free cards and then go again later in the week, with coupons, to pick up the weekly deals. I guess at least I am glad that I made it to CVS for the free cards.

    3 - American Greetings Cards @ 99c

    Total $2.98 + tax. Paid with a $3 ECB, which for some strange reason negated the tax. Earned $3 ECBs.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Giveaway Winners

    I had two giveaways end this week, so it is time to announce the winners.

    Congratulations to Michelle B. She was the winner of the Helpless by Daniel Palmer giveaway.

    Congratulations to Rebecca S. She was the winner of the Frosted Toast Crunch giveaway.

    E-mails have been sent to the winners.

    Be sure to check out the other giveaways featured in the right hand column.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Weekend Fun - Fancy Nancy & Fribbles

    There aren't any Kids Workshops or Build and Grow Clinics this weekend, but if you have a daughter (or niece or granddaughter) that is a fan of Fancy Nancy, you can head to Michaels for Fancy Nancy: Design a Tiara & Storytime. (Imaginative fun for crafty little ladies. Free Make-It Take-It While Supplies Last Ages 3 and up)

    Then, since that event runs until noon, while you are out, you can stop at Friendly's for a free Fribble. They are celebrating 76 years of patronage and the future. Limit one per person at participating locations. No purchase required. 12 oz Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry only. I'd call ahead, just in case your location is not a participating location.

    Walgreens - Better than Free South Beach Bars

    Now, I share this coupon with you knowing full well that my local Walgreens are generally out of all Free after Register Rewards items early in the week and rarely seem to get the items back in during the week. But, just in case your store has these still, I thought I would share this deal:

    South Beach Bars - $5.99

    -$1 South Beach Bars IP

    Total $4.99 OOP, earn $5.99 RR.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012


    One of my requirements in a bedroom was a cozy, snuggly bed. I love to be able to turn the temperature down in the house at night and sleep under the nice warm and cozy blankets. My bed has a sheet, a cover and a down comforter. It is so nice and cozy, I love to be able to snuggle in under the covers.

    The problem is that there are only a few minutes of each night where you aware of it. When you first climb in, you are appreciative of the warmth of the blankets, but the bed is still cool. As you sleep, you obviously are enjoying the comfort of the bed and hopefully, enjoying a good night's sleep as a result. But, the best time, is first thing in the morning, when you are half awake. At that point, you realize how cool the air around you is and how cozy it really is under the comfortable blankets that are enveloping your and keeping you warm. It makes it so hard to get out of bed in the morning, you just want to savor the warmth.

    So, years ago, I started setting my alarm 10 minutes before I really needed to get up. That way, I had a 10 minute buffer that allowed me to hit snooze and then lay there, half awake, enjoying the coziness of my bed.

    The only problem is, when you can hear the wind blowing outside and see the snow, it makes it really tempting to hit snooze again and again, just to avoid getting out of bed (and to keep from accidentally actually falling back to sleep).

    Snooze works for me!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Ocean Spray Fruit Flavored Snacks

    As a mom on the go, I frequently find myself needing a quick snack that can hold the kids over until we get home for a meal. From my perspective, a quick snack on the go is probably better than grabbing a quick meal while we are out.

    Fruit snacks are one of our go to snacks. I like that I can stash a couple in my purse, just in case. I don't have to worry about them getting crushed or breaking apart in my purse. They are also good for the swim bag - no worries about melting (although, I've had them stick together!) making them a mess to eat.
      "So you want a snack your kids will love and that you can feel good about? With new Ocean Spray® Fruit Flavored Snacks, you need not look any further! Available in two delicious varieties, Ocean Spray® Fruit Flavored Snacks provide kids with the great tasting snacks they crave and parents with the confidence that they come from a good place. Ocean Spray® Fruit Flavored Snacks are:
    • †Made with real fruit juice and natural colors* and flavors.
    • 80 calories, gluten free and contain 100% of the Daily Value of Vitamin C.
    • Available with year round Double Box Tops.
    • *colors from natural sources †These Fruit Flavored Snacks are made with apple, pear, and cranberry juice concentrate. See package for a list of complete ingredients. They are not intended to replace fruit in the diet. "

    I think I was the first one to try the fruit snacks. I tried the Berries & Cherries flavor. Then, the kids tried them. I asked my daughter what she thought. She said that she liked them and liked that "they were fruit flavored and shaped like their pictures." I took them to work and shared them with my friend, who claims to be a gummy addict. I figured, if she is a regular consumer of fruit snacks and other gummy treats, that she would be a good judge. She didn't say anything fun like my daughter but did enjoy them and thanked me for sharing.

    Want to learn more?

    You can find out more on the Ocean Spray Website. You can also like Ocean Spray on Facebook.

    Do you want to try them?

    You can click here to download a printable coupon for $1.10 off of the purchase of (2) Ocean Spray® Fruit Flavored snacks today!

    I have the opportunity to have Four (4) A Busy Mom of Two readers win a Ocean Spray Fruit Flavored Snacks Prize Pack, which contains - 6 boxes (3 of each variety) of Ocean Spray® Fruit Flavored Snacks

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Giveaway will remain open through February 9. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

    No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family (and friends). Ocean Spray® Fruit Flavored Snacks, information, and giveaway have been provided by Ocean Spray® through MyBlogSpark.

    All In Good Time

    For many years, I have been reading Deal Seeking Mom. It was one of the original blogs that I read even before I started blogging myself. So, I was excited to have the opportunity to review her new book All In Good Time, which she co-wrote with Mandi Ehman of LifeYourWay.net.

    The book is full of practical advice and many common sense tips. I really like that they start the book off by saying that you shouldn't feel like you need to do everything in the book. It's about finding what works for you and doing. It's about saving $1 or 15 minutes here and there, in order to maximize your time and money.

    The book is broken down into what they call "rooms". Within each room, they tackle the most common purchases and tasks and share their tips for saving time and money. The last chapter is about Holiday and Event planning and includes everything from birthdays to weddings. The back of the book is a great appendix that features Homemade Cleaning Supplies, Common Kitchen Substitutes, Pantry Inventory, Freezer Storage Tips, Cooking Temperatures, Seasonal Produce, Necessities for Your..., DeepCleaning Checklists - including what/how to declutter, how to/what to clean, and maintenance of the space once you have it decluttered and cleaned, Internet Resources and Recommended Reading.

    I really like that it is full of common sense advice. One example of this is their advice to clean out the refrigerator each week before you grocery shop. Makes so much sense. How many times have you come home from the grocery, only to find out that the sour cream, or the peppers, that you were going to use for dinner are no longer good. Not only that, but it certainly is easier to wipe down half empty shelves than it is to clean a freshly stocked refrigerator.

    Many of the tips and tricks that they share are things that I have heard before, but now, they are captured in one easy to reference resource. The organization of the book makes it easy to find the recommendations that they provide on how to save time and money. I love that they recognize that not every method will work for everyone. First, they state in their introduction and then they follow through in the book. As an example, in their section on coupons, they present several ways to organize and maintain coupons including the binder method, the coupon box, and the insert method.

    The one thing that I wish this book had was an index.  I find that a quick alphabetical listing makes for a great way to find what you are looking for.  Thankfully, they do include a list of subjects under each 'room' in the Contents section which is in alphabetical order (as is the chapter), so it is a little easier than just 'guessing'.

    Whether you choose to read it cover to cover or simply thumb through when you are looking for some tips, this book is a great resource.

    You can learn more about the book by checking out the Q&A with the authors from the USA Today. You can also check out the book's website. The book is available to purchase online or in your local bookstore.

    No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary review copy was provided by the Publisher. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

    Organized Simplicity - free Kindle edition

    I picked up this free eBook yesterday - Organized Simplicity.  It is a Kindle edition.  Now, I don't own a Kindle, but I do have the app on the iPad.  I haven't had a chance to check it out the book yet, but it gets great reviews - 4.5 stars on Amazon from 60 reviewers.  The list price is $16.99, so you might want to pick it up before this offer runs out.

    Thanks Money Saving Mom for the tip!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Menu Plan Monday

    After a wonderful weekend, we are back to another standard work week. I headed out by myself to the grocery on Sunday. I did a bit of stock up trip at Walmart, as I needed to buy some vitamins that I know they have the best price for. While there, I picked up the Pictionary card game (on the deal I mentioned last week) which was a bigger challenge than it should have been. The shelf tag said $5.88, it rang up at $6.88. Unfortunately, I didn't notice until after I checked out. So, I had to stand in line at customer service. Shouldn't more than one person work there? It bothers me to that they got rid of their right price guarantee - at least when they had that it felt like they were accountable and incentivized to correct errors when they were found. Unless he hit a key on his computer that will tell them to update the shelf tag, there was no indication that they would correct the error. Whether they update the computer or the shelf tag, they need to match. Consumers need to know what they will pay, so that they can make decisions regarding their money. After that fun experience, I went to Giant Eagle to pick up some of deals and some things that we needed for the week. They had their Smart Ones frozen meals on sale, with an instant save offer and there was a $3/10 coupon on coupons.com - together, this made the meals $1.30 / each. Not bad for a frozen entree. My husband takes them to work when he is in the office and I will occasionally grab one for a quick to pack lunch.

    We are trying a couple of new (to us) dishes this week. The Crunchy Onion Chicken and the Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup are both new recipes that I have been wanting to try. If they turn out, I will do my best to post them.

    Leftovers and salads
    Skyline Chili


    Crunchy Onion Chicken

    Pancakes and Sausage

    Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup and Grilled Cheese

    Penne Rustica


    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.

    A Mommy-Daughter Day (well, almost)

    Yesterday was a wonderfully fun day.

    My daughter and I had the opportunity to join two of my friends and their daughters to go and see Disney On Ice Dare to Dream. Unfortunately, my one friend's daughter was sick, so she brought her son instead. (It was fine and the kids had a great time, it just wasn't a true Mommy-Daughter day for all of us like we had planned.)

    The show was spectacular. I think that the Tangled portion of the show was our favorite. Watching Rapunzel and Flynn swing above the ice in an amazing show of strength was pretty impressive.
    Of course, with it being Disney, there was not lack of Disney magic. The way that Prince turned to a Frog and then Tiana and of course, back again, was spectacular. The skaters didn't miss a beat and there was just enough smoke and light to make it all happen seamlessly.
    At the end of the show, my daughter was so excited to see all of the princesses arrive, only to wonder, why didn't they tell their story. I told her they didn't have the time to tell everyone's story, but that I thought it was great that we still got to see all of the princesses.

    For some reason, this got me to thinking, what is the split on already a princess (typically in hiding) and becomes a princess.

    Snow White


    I'm not so sure about Mulan, I guess that she became a Princess? Overall, if my memory serves, it seems like they keep things well in balance when it comes to the Disney Princesses.

    Back to the day...

    So, after the Disney on Ice Dare to Dream performance was over, we headed down the street from the Q to the Winking Lizard to have lunch. This turned out to be the icing on the cake for our little princesses (and not so much for the little prince), as who was having lunch at the Winking Lizard? None other than Rapunzel. There was this amazing fan that was dressed as Rapunzel. She was very gracious and allowed many a young princess to take a picture with her.
    Of course, when we ran into her in the bathroom later, it prompted several discussions - why don't you ever see the princesses go to the bathroom in their shoes and how did she get her hair back so quickly if she had cut it off. Both very valid questions, of course the answer to the first one is that you don't see it, but they go when they are not in the show and for the second, it grows back very quickly, it was magical hair afterall. Lunch was a very enjoyable time to hang out and catch up.

    After lunch, we headed back down towards Akron. Earth Fare had (has?) a text coupon available when you sign up to receive text messages of deals for $10 off your total order of $25 or more. I and one of my friends had never been and wanted to check it out, so we decided to shop as a group. They both texted EAT to 71700 (give it a try, mine was only good until yesterday, but it might be a rolling deal - good for just two days when you request it) and within a few minutes had their coupons in their inbox.

    The selection at Earth Fare was great. I bought more than I intended to, but had started the trip picking up a few things that I knew I needed (but not necessarily the best value) to make sure I got to $25. One thing that we tried was this homemade ravioli - I picked up some Sun Dried Tomato and some Roasted Red Pepper and Onion Ravioli. In addition, I grabbed some tortellini, just in case. To complete dinner, I grabbed some Reggiano Parmesean cheese and a baguette. I also tried two new yogurts - one was made with Almond Milk and one with Coconut Milk. My one friends was shopping for non-milk based yogurts, as both her and her daughter are allergic to milk. The last thing that I grabbed were these Crispy Mangoes from Crispy Greens. They are freeze-dried fruit and nothing else. The pasta was delicious and so was the Crispy Mangoes, I haven't yet tried the yogurts.

    When we arrived back at our friend's house where we met, my daughter was very disappointed that after nearly 6 hours together that we weren't able to stay and play. We agreed to schedule a play date and headed home. Our busy day wasn't quite over. On the way home, we passed some people sledding at the park and my daughter asked if we could go sledding when we got home. Of course, I said. I knew that we didn't have long, it would be getting dark soon, but we bundled up and headed down the block to a small, but entertaining hill.

    What a wonderful day!

    No compensation was received for this post. As a Feld Family Blogger, I received complimentary tickets to the show for my family. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Walgreens Scenarios - week of 1/15

    Now that I see the Walgreens Angel Soft deal where you can get 27 big rolls for only $10, I'm wondering if the Cottonelle deal at CVS is a good value. I will have to see if I have them, but I remember seeing a $1 coupon - was it for one or two though? If it is off of one, it works out to be $.33 / roll. So, I guess in the end, I need to figure out which roll has more sheets.

    Transaction #1
    1 - Glade Decor Scents

    -$.75 Glade mfg coupon

    Total $2.24 OOP, earn $1.25 RR.

    Transaction #2
    2 - Speedstick Deodorant
    1 - Thermacare Pain Relief

    -$1 Speedstick mfg coupon
    -$3 Thermacare IP

    -$1.25 RR

    Total $2.24 OOP, earn $2 and $2.49 RR.

    Transaction #3
    1 - South Beach Snack Bars
    1 - SoftSoap Liquid Hand Soap (w/ in ad coupon)

    -$2 RR
    -$2.49 RR

    Total $2.49 OOP. Earn $5.99 RR.

    Transaction #4
    4 - Pepsi Product 12 pks

    -$3 Walgreens In Store coupon (does this count as a coupon, will I need a filler?)

    -$5.99 RR

    Total $4.01 OOP.

    For the trip, the total OOP is $10.98 for $30.46 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 64%.

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

    Walgreens $5 Challenge
    Transaction #1
    1 - South Beach Snack Bars

    Total $5.99 OOP. Earn $5.99 RR

    Transaction #2
    2 - Speedstick
    1 - Glade Decor Scents

    -$1 Speedstick mfg coupon
    -$.75 Glade mfg coupon

    -$5.99 RR

    Total $.25 OOP. Earn $2 and $1.25 RR.

    Total OOP of $6.24, with $3.25 in RR to roll, for $13.98 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 64%.

    Okay, so I spent over $6, but I wanted to get the bars - here is an alternate that let's you stay under $5. Or, if you happened to print the coupon the other week you could save $1 and have only $5.24 OOP.

    Transaction #1

    1 - Glade Decor Scents

    -$.75 Glade mfg coupon

    Total $2.24 OOP, earn $1.25 RR.

    Transaction #2
    2 - Speedstick Deodorant

    -$1 Speedstick mfg coupon

    -$1.25 RR

    Total $2.75 OOP, earn $2 RR.

    For this scenario, the total OOP is $4.99, with $2 in RR to roll, for $16.50 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 73%.

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

    CVS Scenarios - week of 1/15

    I had really good intentions of going to CVS last week, but there never seemed to be time and then it was cold and snowy. I was a little disappointed to miss out on some of the deals, but certainly won't lose any sleep over it. This week, I'd like to pick up some Valentine's Day Cards, so I think I will put forth a little more effort.

    Transaction #1
    3 - American Greetings Cards @ $.99

    Total $2.97 OOP, earn $3 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    2 - Valentine's M&Ms

    Total $5, pay with $3 ECBs and $2 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

    Transaction #3
    1 - Almay iColor

    -$2 Almay mfg coupon
    -$3 Almay CRT

    Total $.99, pay with $1 ECB adjusted down. Earn $3 ECB.

    For the day, the total OOP is $4.97, with $3 ECBs to roll for $14 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 71%.

    I may also try to do the $10 CVS Cash Card deal. I am looking at using the Cottonelle Toilet Paper, the Cottonelle Wipes and the Kleenex to build a deal.

    2 - Cottonelle Toilet Paper 18ct
    2 - Cottonelle Wipes
    1 - Kleenex Cool Touch
    3 - Kleenex Tissues

    -$.50/2 Cottonelle Toilet Paper mfg coupon
    -$.50/2 Cottonelle Wipes mfg coupon
    -$.50 Kleenex Cool Touch mfg coupon
    -$.50/3 Kleenex mfg coupon

    Total OOP is $28 and you earn $10 CVS Cash Card. The net cost works out to be about $6 for each package of toilet paper, about $1.20 for each of the wipes and $.90 for each box of tissues. Since that works out to be about $.33 per roll of toilet paper. I need to make sure that they are are not "normal" rolls. If they are, it might not be a great price.

    For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom. For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.