Wednesday, October 31, 2012

National Pizza Month

I don't know about you, but I don't need a special occasion to enjoy pizza. However, I guess it is sort of nice that they dedicate a whole month to celebrating all that is pizza. October is National Pizza Month, as was first observed back in 1984. Gerry Durnell, the founder of Pizza Today magazine, chose October because the first issue of his magazine debuted in October of 1984.

Pizza is a popular treat, enjoyed at least once a month by 94% of Americans. As a girl from the Midwest married to a man from New Jersey, I can tell you that what people consider to be the ideal pizza can vary greatly. So, can the toppings that they enjoy. If I am eating out, I am a fan of the thin crust pizzas cut into squares or a nice hand-tossed pizza. I enjoy a variety of toppings (not necessarily on one pizza) - crumbled sausage, banana peppers, green peppers, onions, green olives, pepperoni. I also like the deep dish Chicago pizzas full of all that glorious ooey-gooey cheese. Some of my favorite, non-pizza place pizzas, include toppings like feta cheese, kalamata olives, caramelized onions, fresh sliced tomatoes - of course, prepared in a brick oven. My husband on the other hand needs a large pizza that has a doughy crust that can easily be folded for eating - New York Style he calls it. I can tell you that here in Ohio, it is very hard to find good New York Style pizza.

One thing we can all agree on is that we enjoy homemade pizza. When I was a kid, I can remember my mom making pizza crust from a box mix. It was a nice thin pizza that you ate with a fork. I tend to use frozen bread dough to make most of my homemade pizza, but sometimes, whether to mix it up or to use up leftovers, I also like to use other crusts.

When we have bagels, English Muffins, Hoagie Rolls, French Bread or hamburger rolls on hand, I like to make pizzas on them. It is fun because each pizza can be built the way they like it. We can add onions to one and green olives to another. It can be heavy on sauce or light. With or without pepperoni. The choice is theirs. They are the chef. Plus, these mini-pizzas are fun to eat.

Have you seen the new Pizza Toppings from Hormel?
I love that I can now have crumbled sausage or crumbled beef to add to my pizza. One of my favorite non-traditional pizzas to make is Cheeseburger Pizza. I've shared it before, but here it is (updated), in case you missed it.

Cheeseburger Pizza
1 package Hormel Beef Crumbles or 1/2# ground beef, browned and drained
1 pre-baked shell
1/2 c Ketchup
2 c shredded sharp cheddar
onion rings

Place shell on baking sheet. Spread ketchup on shell and then add mustard in a criss-cross fashion. Top with beef, cheese and onion rings.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and onion rings browned.

How do you enjoy your pizzas? What type of crust/style is your favorite?

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 a thought starter and some of the information for this post.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Safeskin Kids Review & Giveaway

"Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Safeskin , has been a trusted brand of quality medical products for 30 years. Their products are used daily by doctors, dentists, nurses, clinics and hospitals around the world to ensure patients receive the best. Now we are bringing that expertise to your children through Safeskin Kids First Aid products.

SAFESKIN KIDS Antibacterial Gel is a long lasting protective barrier for applying to minor cuts, scrapes, burns and creates a barrier for MRSA — up to 48 hours!"

I don't know about your house, but at our house we seem to go through bandages like they are going out of style. My son is pretty good about only needing a bandage to keep a wound clean, but my daughter seems to need them for everything that hurts - from cuts to scrapes to bruises. When there is a scrape or scratch, I always apply an antibacterial cream/gel to the wound before putting on a bandage. Safeskin Kids Antibacterial Gel is easy to rub in and is a little less greasy than some other antibacterial products. This is good, because I always seem to have a little on the surrounding skin, where the bandage needs to stick and I have had issues in the past with the bandage sort of sliding off. I really like that it provides 48 hour protection. Now, we also seem to take off bandages before 48 hours has passed, so of course, we still need to clean the wound and reapply the cream.

Safeskin Kids Antibacterial Gel is available now at select Walmart stores. Use this $1 Safeskin Kids IP to try it for yourself.

I have the opportunity to give away to one A Busy Mom of Two Reader a tube of Safeskin Kids Antibacterial Gel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through November 19th. 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. I received free product and information as part of a promotional program with SAFESKIN* Kids Antibacterial Gel and MomSelect. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Monday, October 29, 2012

CVS Scenarios - week of 10/29

There are a number of things that I plan to pick up this week at CVS. I am half tempted to go back on Thursday to get some 1/2 price candy, but am wondering how that might work with some of this weeks ECB deals. For those that are spend $$ get $, I am wondering if they will exclude post Halloween clearance and just be no longer available.

Transaction #1
1 - Naturemade Fish Oil
1 - Naturemade Vitamin C (the right sizes to get to $20 total)

-$1 Naturemade mfg coupon
-$1 Naturemade mfg coupon

Total about $18, earn $5 ECBs. I think I might just have a $5/$20 CRT for vitamins, but need to confirm when it expires.

Transaction #2
3 - Chex Mix/Gardettos
1 - Dawn Dish Soap

-$1 $1/2 Chex/Gardettos mfg coupon
-$.50 Chex IP
-$.50 Dawn mfg coupon

Total $4.99, pay with $5 ECB adjusted down. Earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Tootsie Pops (my husband likes them)

Total $4, pay with $2 ECBs and $2 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

Transaction #4
2 - Dawn Dish Soap

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

Total $.98, pay with $1 ECB adjust down.

For the trip, the total OOP is about $20 for $33 in product at sale prices, a savings of about 40%.

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

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
3 - Chex Mix/Gardettos

-$1 $1/2 Chex/Gardettos mfg coupon
-$.50 Chex IP

Total $4.50 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #3
4 - Dawn Dish Soap

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

Total $1.96, pay with $2 ECB adjust down.

Total OOP of $4.50 for $10 in product at sale prices, a savings of about 55%.

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CVS Deals - 10/26

I actually stopped at CVS twice last week. The first time, they were out of what I was looking for and I learned that they did not carry the Banana Nut Crunch cereal for the Post Great Grains deals. I did however finally find the travel size sunscreen that I still had the free coupon offer from Facebook from August. I had to pay tax, but otherwise, it was free.

Then, I went back and got some of the deals.
2 - M&M Pretzel 9.9 oz
3 - ID Gum
1 - Lady Speedstick
3 - Everyday Cards (ie 99c cards)

-$.36 20% CRT (I think this was only on the three cards, it was expiring so I used it anyways.)
-$1 M&M IP
-$1 multipack gum CRT
-$1 Speedstick mfg coupon

Paid with $11 in ECBs and $.82 OOP. Earned $6 ECBs. Essentially, it cost me $5 for everything.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Giant Eagle Wireless Center & a Giveaway

Giant Eagle Wireless Center: "We have all the hottest no-contract phones – including the latest smartphones -- and prepaid wireless plans to fit anyone's needs! Great for teaching your teen a lesson in responsibility, or to simply save money over traditional wireless provider. In fact, you can save more than $1000 compared to a pricey two-year contract. To learn more, visit"

When I was a kid, cell phones didn't exist. I can remember the first time I saw a car phone. It was my second term of my co-op job and there was a car phone in the company van. It was huge! I got my first cell phone about a year later. It was one of those old flip phones. Closed it was probably was 2" thick. So, when my son asks, when can I get a cell phone - I'm not entirely sure what the answer is. I'm challenged with the idea that I don't think that he needs to have until he is older and the reality that with him and his sister being busy with extra-curricular activities, it might be nice for him to call if the activity ends early or he needs us to bring him something. Not that we ever leave him alone anywhere - he is always with another parent if one of us can't be there, so he would have access to a phone likely. But, there was one time after soccer when he had to use the bathroom and I was parked in the opposite direction. I told him that I would go get the car and meet him back at the restroom. Somehow, we missed each other and he got back to where the car was and I wasn't there - because I was now down by the bathrooms. He was very concerned that I had left. He did the right thing and found a parent to call me. When he wasn't at the bathroom, I started to walk back to where I had parked and saw him standing there upset. It would have been nice for him to have his own phone with my number programmed. With our wireless program though, if we add a line for his phone, it would come with all that we have. I am not looking for him to have a Smart Phone, but also hate to pay Smart Phone prices for a basic phone. Plus, I want it to be more an as needed phone for now. When he is in high school, then I think it is the right time for him to have his own phone that he can use more often and have his friends call him on.

I have always been a little bit intrigued by the No Contract Phones. I never was really sure how they worked, but thought it might be a great option for having a phone for the kids. When I was given the opportunity to check out a phone, I was excited for the opportunity to learn more and put it to the test.

Giant Eagle Wireless Center offers both traditional phones and smart phones. There are a wide range of wireless cards available to choose from, although for the smart phones there are limitations on which cards will work. Right now at Giant Eagle, you can earn a BONUS $1 fuelperks! when you buy any no-contract phone and prepaid wireless card together!

I received a TracFone Samsung T245G. Set up and activation was easy. It took only a few minutes to set up the account and then about half an hour to actually have the phone be activated. If you have a phone number that you want to transfer to the phone, that is an option you can select at set up. I didn't have one to transfer, so I'm not sure what impact that has on set up time for the phone. Since I didn't have a phone number, one was assigned. They do ask what zip code you will make most of your calls, I am assuming that this is what is used to assign a number.

The phone displays both the remaining minutes and the remaining days of service. One thing that I learned, is that you need to have days of service. So, if you buy a card that is 200 minutes and 90 days. You don't lose your minutes after 90 days, but you do need to add another card to add the additional days. The cheapest options (also lower minutes), are either pay each month @$9.99/month and 30 minutes or you can buy a full year @$99.99/year and 400 minutes. Of course, you can pay more and have more minutes, but the nice thing is it is up to you to decide. Note though, if you have a Smart Phone, you will need an unlimited card - even with those, it seems to be about $50 - $60 per month, depending on provider. Not a bad deal relative to a standard contract phone.

The service area has been fine. I would say it is similar to the reception I have had with other cell phones. I guess this should not be a surprise, as I learned that the no contract phones use the networks of the major carriers.

Courtesy of Giant Eagle, I have the opportunity to give away to one A Busy Mom of Two reader a no contract phone and wireless card. You do not need to live in a Giant Eagle territory, but if you do, there is a bonus entry.

The winner will receive:

· NET10 Huawei Ascend II with a 3.5” touch screen, Android 2.3 OS, and 5 MP camera/video recorder.

· NET10 Unlimited wireless card which includes unlimited talk, text and web for 30 days

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through November 15th. 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. I received a complimentary no contract phone and wireless card from the Giant Eagle Wireless Center for the purposes of sharing my experience. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Endorse - Earn money back on the Groceries You Already Buy

Several months ago, I signed up for Endorse. At the time, you had to Endorse specific brands through Facebook and then, when you purchased those brands, you would gather up your receipts and send them in to earn rewards. I got a couple of checks for my effort. It wasn't a lot of money, but it was about $20 each time.

A few months ago, they took a break and reworked some things. Now, it is easier than ever to earn money back on your purchases. Each week, check out the available offers from Endorse. If you have purchased that item - sometimes it is a specific brand, other times it is a type of product - use your phone's camera to take pictures of the receipt and send it in. You will then earn 10 - 100% of the purchase price, depending on the offer.

Some of the offers are not groceries - there has been offers for a cup of coffee or fast food.

The program is supposed to look at your purchase habits and cater offers to your buying habits.

In addition to you earning money back on your purchases, your local schools can get in on the earnings too. "In addition to cash back, we'll also give you points for every single receipt you upload to fund local school projects in partnership with even if you don't buy one of your offers".

You can sign up through my referral link and start earning money back on the groceries you already buy.

Samples and Freebies

I didn't request any offers this week.

Eucerin Professional Repair sample and coupon
Bear Naked Nut Cluster Crunch cereal sample and coupon
John Frieda Root Awakening sample and coupon
Fructis Fall Fight sample and coupon

Kroger $25 Gift Card Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the Kroger $25 Gift Card Giveaway!

And, the winner is....Thabal.

An e-mail has been sent to the winner. Be sure to check out the other current giveaways hosted by A Busy Mom of Two. Watch for some new ones soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Organizing a Dresser Drawer

My kids always seem to complain that they can't find this or can't find that in the drawers. Inevitably, I would go to their room, find their drawer completely torn apart and just under the last shirt that they had pulled out was the shirt that they were looking for.

Another challenge that we faced is that the drawers were very full. It seemed that every time we went to put laundry away, there was no room for the clean stuff in the drawer.

Also, to ensure that everything was worn and not forgotten, I was constantly pulling out stacks of clothes to redeposit the wash underneath. Perhaps this was a contributing factor to my first issue.

I felt like their had to be a better way. And, one day, I found it. Place the clothes in the drawer vertically instead of laying them down.

You will have to take my word on the before, because I did not take a picture.

To make the clothes fit, I folded them in thirds and then to thirds.

I stacked them and then placed them in the drawer, standing up.

Now, when I bring up the clean laundry, I can slide it in at the back of the drawer. The kids can see all of their clothes and don't have to dig through everything to find that one shirt that they want to wear. Amazingly, it also seems that more clothes fit in the drawer.

This new way of putting away clothes works for me and my kids.

Menu Plan Monday

Is it a bad thing that I am posting my Menu Plan Monday post on Wednesday? It has been a little busy around here and honestly, as a result my menu has changed a few times, so it wouldn't have been right if I had posted it sooner!

I tried one new recipe this week and was planning on another, but there are so many things going on now this week that I am going to scrap a few things in favor of simpler options. We were going to have the Vodka sauce last week, but it was a cold day and we opted for soup. I was a little disappointed with the Vodka sauce. We all agreed that we liked the flavor, but it wasn't thick enough. I will have to make it again and adjust the recipe. When (if) I get it right, I will share the recipe. The Rosemary bread was very similar to Macaroni Grill, but I think I want to try another recipe and see if I can get something I am a little more happy with. Monday the family decided on picking up pizza, even though we are having homemade on Thursday night.

Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce and Rosemary Bread


Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken and Roasted Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Stir Fry

Homemade pizza

Pasta with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning. Lunch for the kids is either the school lunch or usually a couple of times a week they pack. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free Pasta on World Pasta Day

Who knew? Thursday is World Pasta Day. I am starting to think that if you have a passion for anything, you can either find a National/World day for it or you can create your own!

This Thursday, if you celebrate World Pasta Day at Buca di Beppo, you can enjoy a free Spaghetti (with purchase). Then, they will send you home with a coupon for $10 off your next visit and 1# of pasta.

You will need to head here to print a coupon. Be sure to check out the details, such as with purchase, on Thursday only, one per table, etc.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Costumes - 2012

It's not quite yet last minute, but it is getting close and we are just settling in exactly 'what we want to be this year'. My daughter has known for months, perhaps even since last Halloween, what she wants to be - "Rapunzel, from Tangled...when her hair was cut short". My son was kicking around the idea of being Anakin Skywalker, but we are exploring some other options.

For my daughter, it was easy. We headed to Wholesale Halloween Costumes and explored their collection of Tangled costumes and accessories. They have a variety of dress options for Tangled - they have a classic dress, a deluxe dress and even a wedding dress version of the Tangled costume. My daughter decided on the classic. They have tiaras and wigs to go with the costume. Since she wants to be Rapunzel after she cut her hair, there was no need for a wig - in fact, she told me that we might need to get her hair cut before Halloween if it grows too much.
They also offer shoes and princess make-up to complete the look.

We went with the largest size that they had, a medium (7-8). It gets cold here in North East Ohio and we need the option of layering beneath the dress. Plus, the kids turn their Halloween costumes into dress-up clothes - so it is good when they will fit them for a little while. As soon as it arrived, she couldn't wait to try it on. She was very excited to see herself dressed as Rapunzel. We tried on just the dress, with nothing underneath. It fit her and there is a little bit of room for putting on layers.

The dress is cuter in person than it appears on line. The skirt is satiny with a shimmery insert and a sheer, beaded overlay. The ribbon detailing on the top is capped with a 'broach', featuring Rapunzel's picture. The sleeves are satiny with shimmery ribbon accents. The shimmery tulle at the collar was a bit itchy to her. Fortunately, she will have something on underneath it and when we play dress-up, we typically leave on our t-shirts. I might see about pressing it a bit as well, so that it doesn't brush up against her. My daughter can't wait until she can wear the costume and be Rapunzel.

Now, for my son, we explored the great 2012 costume collection available on Wholesale Halloween Costumes. There are some really cute costumes out there. They have Captain America, Angry Birds, Skylanders and more to choose from. They even have 80s Rock Mullet Wig - that makes me feel old. I can remember as a kid that people would dress up like the 50s - Poodle Skirts and the like, now kids are able to dress up like my youth. They have several other fun costumes - like a piece of pizza, skeletons and more. They also have the Anakin Skywalker costume.

If you are still looking for a costume, be sure to check out WHCostumes on Facebook. They share specials on there - the most recent one was a 30% discount on all accessories.

No compensation was provided for this post. A complimentary costume was provided to facilitate the review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

CVS Scenarios - week of 10/21

There are actually several offers that I am interested in picking up at CVS this week. My guess is that I should make an effort to get there early in the week, so that I don't forget.

Transaction #1
3 - American Greeting Cards (@ $.99)

Total $2.97 OOP, earn $3 ECBs. Now if you decide that the $.99 cards are not for you, you can use this $1/3 American Greetings IP to get other cards. It is not good on the 99c cards.

Transaction #2
1 - St Joseph's Asprin

-$2 St. Joseph's Mfg coupon

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

Transaction #3
1 - Speedstick
1 - Pumpkin Carving tool

-$1 Speedstick mfg coupon

Total $4.48, pay with $3 ECBs and $1.48 OOP. Earn $1 and $2.49 ECBs.

Transaction #4
3 - Stride ID gum

Total $3, pay with $2.49 ECB and $.51 OOP. Earn $1 ECBs.

Total OOP is $4.96, with $2 ECBs to roll and $16.45 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 73%.

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

I am also going to check out the Glade deal and the Post Great Grains deal. I am curious if they carry the Banana Nut Crunch. If so, getting them for $2/box is a good deal and I will pick up the 3 boxes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

This morning's sunrise was simply beautiful. There was an odd sort of pink glow to the sky.
I figured that a picture of the sunset was a perfect companion for the sunrise photo.

CVS Deals - 10/14

Sunday, as I mentioned, was a great day. I really got a lot accomplished and even ran out to pick up a few deals. One of my stops that day was CVS. I'd like to say I had a great plan going in, but alas, I had a few things I was going to get and honestly, it all worked out better than I expected. At the coupon machine, I got a 20% off coupon. I really can never predict what it will or won't work on. It seems that the things I would expect to be regular price aren't and I am usually surprised by things that were and I can never figure out what should be basic math to confirm what was included.

1 - Soft Soap Bodywash
1 - Irish Spring Bodywash
2 - Lindt Lindor Truffles
2 - Wet 'n Wild Nail Polish (for my helper)
1 - Revlon Lip Stick
1 - Revlon Nail Clipper

-$3.35 20% CVS CRT
-$4 $4/$20 CVS Beauty CRT
-$.50 Soft Soap mfg coupon
-$.50 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$3.99 Free Lindt Truffle IP (Facebook giveaway)
-$3.99 Free Lindt Truffle IP (Facebook giveaway - my husband's account)
-$5 Revlon mfg coupon
-$1 Revlon mfg coupon

Paid with $3 ECB and $2.14 (plus $1.06 tax) OOP. Earned $1, $3 and $5 ECBs.

So, the coupon worked on $16.25 in product...The Revlon items were not on sale, even though they were part of an ECB offer, but they only account for $10 and everything else says Saved next to it...suggesting sale. Either way, I spent $6.20 in ECB and cash and got back $9 - a net gain of $2.80 on the transaction.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

This past weekend was a great weekend and I seemed to get more done than normal on Sunday. It started early, with a day off on Friday. We took the kids to see Hotel Transylvania and then headed out for a round of laser tag. It was a fun play day. Saturday started bright and early with soccer for my daughter. There was frost on the field when we arrived. Fortunately, we brought along a hot beverage for everyone - hot chocolate for the kids and coffee for us. By the time of my son's game, right before lunch, it was finally starting to warm up. We were still wearing winter coats at the start of the game, but by the end the sweatshirts under those coats were warm enough. We went to lunch with some teammates at our local Mexican restaurant. Sometimes an unplanned meal out is nice. That meant leftovers for dinner - I love an easy dinner. Then, my son had one of his teammates over for the night. They played and watched the Yankees lose. I sat upstairs and watched Legally Blond. It was a great relaxing evening. Sunday was a busy day, but I got a lot done. I made up a big batch of Spaghetti and Meatballs, including extra meatballs for soup. I made a batch of rye bread, that literally took the whole day to make (more to come on that). I stopped at Acme, CVS and then Giant Eagle for the weekly groceries. I somewhere fit in several loads of laundry, including washing all of the beds.

I think that the Friday off made all of the difference. I could get used to the less harried pace that this weekend offered.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Mini Meatball Soup


Chicken and Dumplings

Homemade Pizza

Dinner out with friends

Pasta with Vodka Sauce (a new recipe)

Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning. Lunch for the kids is either the school lunch or usually a couple of times a week they pack. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

CVS Scenarios - week of 10/15

It doesn't seem to be an exciting week at CVS. I suppose that could just be because my stockpile is well established and there are many deals that I simply will pass on or didn't "see" because they aren't things that I need. I seem to be low on body wash for my husband, so I will take advantage of the Irish Spring Deal and I might pick up some makeup, since it will be near free.

Transaction #1
1 - Revlon lipstick ($7.49)
1 - Revlon nail clipper ($2.99)
2 - Irish Spring Body Wash (2/$7)

-$5 Revlon mfg coupon
-$1 Revlon mfg coupon
-$4 $4/$12 Beauty CRT (generally the body wash counts too)
-$.50 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$.50 Irish Spring mfg coupon

Total $6.48 OOP, earn $5 and $3 ECB. A net 'profit' of $1.52 in ECBs. Now, if you don't have the $4 CRT, it will still only have a net cost of $2.48 after ECBs for all of the above.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Holiday Cards from Shutterfly - a Giveaway!

I know that it is only October and that Christmas seems to be a long ways off, but I can tell you that when I headed to the store a few weeks ago (in September, no less) they had already started to set up Christmas displays. I will give you that it was small, but it was still a display. Couple that with requests for Christmas lists and I am already starting to think ahead to the holidays. Last week, I even bought chocolate chips in anticipation of holiday baking.

Every year, I like to send picture Holiday Cards to our friends and family. Typically, we use a special pose for the picture. Last year, the kids put on Santa hats and we took a picture. My husband edited to make the picture black and white and the hat he left in color. I loved the way it turned out. We used to print out a newsletter too, but a couple years back, we took the newsletter electronic. If my husband had his way, he wouldn't bother with physical cards and would send them all by e-mail. Me, I love to receive cards and imagine that others do to, so I plan to continue to send cards.

For several years, I looked for a way to display all of our Christmas Cards during the season. I finally found a memory board that I hang in my hallway. I am able to display the pictures and cards that we get and others can enjoy them when they visit. I saw a great idea online the other day, it suggested that you use your cameras phone to take a picture of the cards and use those as the image for your contacts. What a great way to enjoy that picture all year.

After the holidays, I used to just tuck the cards all away together. Then, I decided that I should do more with the pictures, so I started a photo card scrapbook. I love to receive picture cards, especially from people that I don't get to see very often. It is great to see the highlights from their year or that special pose that they captured just for the card. The scrapbook includes Christmas cards and birth announcements (the only other picture card we receive regularly).

What do you do with the Photo Christmas Cards that you receive from friends and family? Do you send photo cards?

I always have a hard time picking out my cards. Sometimes, the one that I like won't work with the picture that I like. We typically try to stick with a Happy Holidays card, as we have several friends that are Jewish. Here are some that I am considering for this year:

Have you checked out the Special Offers at Shutterfly? They are having some deals now on Photo Gift items too.

You can follow them on Facebook and find them on Twitter.

Courtesy of Shutterfly, one A Busy Mom of Two reader will receive a voucher for $50 off total order (does not include shipping & cannot be combined with any other promos).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through October 27th. 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.

thThis is a sponsored post. I will receive credit at Shutterfly in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family..

Friday, October 12, 2012

Samples and Freebies

Free Bag of Lindt Lindor Truffles (up to $3.99) (Facebook - 'FREE' coupon; was able to redeem at CVS)
Clear Ultra Shea sample (Facebook)
Cream of Wheat Chocolate sample (Facebook)

Big Hunk candy bar

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

It seems like it has been forever since I had time to read. I know that there is time, if I am willing to make it. Although, we went through a stretch where I'm not sure I could have kept my eyes open to read if I had wanted to. In fact, the one book that I just finished reading, I had started several months ago but didn't get around to finishing.

The book was Not This Time by Vicki Hinze. The challenge - I just couldn't seem to get focused on the book. I would read a few pages at swimming lessons, but just wasn't caught up in the book. Despite my slow start, I am so glad that I didn't give up on the book. It turned out to be an amazing, page-turner that I couldn't put down. There were a few nights where I stayed up later than I should have once I got into the book, but I simply had to know what happened next and would have stayed up longer, if I hadn't considered when I would have to get up the next morning.

I think that part of the challenge to get started was that I was trying to read it in short snippets at the natatorium, while I my daughter called out "Mommy, watch this" (her teacher has to love her need to call out to me the whole class). I think the other part was that it took me a while to identify with the characters, to get to know them. Turns out that this book was the third in a series, so whereas it is a great stand alone read, there likely was some expectation that you could jump into the story - when it picked up at some point after the last one left off.

It actually wasn't until I got to the end that I actually realized that there had been two other books in the series. I probably should have realized it sooner - the other two books are called out on the cover, I just didn't realize that they were from the same series, I figured that they were just two other well known books by the author. Lately, I seem to have a knack for picking up a later book in a series. In many instances, it has not been an issue. Once I knew the characters, I was happy to go back and read the earlier books in the series. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this is the case with Not This Time. You see, it is a suspense series, and there were several references back to the events of those earlier stories. I would love to go back and learn a little more about the characters and how they were shaped, but I already know how it ends. Is a suspense story any good if you know, at least to some degree, how it turns out because you know where things wound up later (ie in the last book). The good news for me is that Vicki Hinze has written several other books and has a few upcoming books - so there are still many options for me to read more books by her.

Not This Time is the third book (as I mentioned) in the Crossroads Crisis Center series. The story is focused around Sara and Beth. Together they have built a strong business and friendship. When Sara gets married to a man that Beth can't trust, their otherwise strong friendship is challenged. Sara pushes Beth away, sharing cryptic information like protect yourself from me. When he is kidnapped, Beth becomes a suspect in his disappearance. The story follows their journey to find Sara's husband. Along the way, Beth is falling in love - it is always a nice touch when you can weave in a bit of a love story. It soon becomes obvious that there are 'villains' amongst them, making them unsure of who they can trust and who they can't.

I would recommend this book. You may want to consider starting at the beginning of the series, but even if you don't it is a fully contained story that is well worth the read.

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:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Imagination Movers CD/DVD Combo Winners!

Congratulations to Tracey and Jennifer. Their entries were selected as the winners of the Imagination Movers CD/DVD Combo giveaway.

An e-mail has been sent to the winners.

Be sure to check out the other active giveaways, listed on the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Fall has definitely settled in. The leaves are in their full glory, the drive to work is paved in yellow, red, green and other colors of fall. Our Pinterest experiments last week were about 50/50. There were some dishes that were okay, but not stellar. There were some that were pretty tasty. I was glad to have made an investment in an immersion blender to make soup.

Sports are starting to wind down, but we still have a few commitments this week, that necessitate some quick and/or prep ahead meals.

Chicken Gravy over Biscuits


Pork Chops





Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning. Lunch for the kids is either the school lunch or usually a couple of times a week they pack. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, October 8, 2012

CVS Deals 10/3 & 10/6

Last week, I studied the CVS ad and thought, there are a couple of deals that might be great to take advantage of. Then, on Tuesday night, my dryer quit working and when we shopped for appliances on Wednesday, we decided that since our washing machine was 14 years old and since we really wanted to make the move to an HE dryer now and since part of what allows the HE dryer to not work as hard is the HE washer, it was time for a new washing machine too. Fortunately, I had a couple of bottles of detergent that are HE, but I also had 4 bottles of detergent that were not. So, I gave my mom and my brother the non-HE detergent and headed out to CVS to buy some replacements. The first day, I didn't think I had my coupons with me, so I only bought 2 bottles. I knew I wanted more, so I headed back. Because the coupons were only available two per Facebook account, I had my husband get them through his account (on a different computer)

10/3 Transaction
2- All Free & Clear
2 - Centrum Flavor Burst Vitamins

-$3 $3/$15 CVS coupon
-$3 $3/2 All IP (Facebook offer)
-$5 Centrum Flavor Burst CRT
-$3 Centrum Flavor Burst mfg coupon
-$5 Centrum Flavor Burst CRT
-$2 Centrum Flavor Burst IP

My total was -$.02, plus tax, for a total of $.48 OOP. Not bad - free vitamins and free detergent and I didn't use any ECBs to buy it.

10/6 Transaction
6 - All Detergents (4 were Free & Clear and 2 were Oxi)
5 - Hershey/Mars Fun Size Singles 6 pk
1 - Milky Way Caramel fun size bag
1 - 3 Musketeers fun size bag

-$5 $5/$30 CVS e-mail coupon
-$3 $3/2 All IP (Facebook offer)
-$3 $3/2 All IP (Facebook offer)
-$3 $3/2 All IP (Facebook offer)
-$1 $1/2 Hershey 6ct mfg coupon
-$1 $1/2 Hershey 6ct mfg coupon

Paid with $3.50 in ECBs and $12.57 ($11.50 + $1.07 tax) OOP. Earned $3 ECBs. Not as good as free, but still can't argue with getting 184 load of detergent and countless candy bars (I could count, but that would take effort) for only $12.57. If I just apply the $ to the laundry, it works out to be 6.8c / load.

What did you get at CVS last week?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kroger Buy 5 – Save $5 Event and Giftcard Giveaway

"Attention Kroger shoppers! Grab a cart (or two!) and head to your local Kroger Co. Family of Stores for the Kroger Buy 5 – Save $5 Event! From October 14th through October 24th purchase 5 participating General Mills products, and receive a coupon for $5 off your next shopping order* (coupon printed at checkout)!

Look for some of your favorite participating General Mills products like Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, Betty Crocker Cake and Brownie Mixes, Hamburger Helper, Totino’s Party Pizza, Yoplait** and many more!
Promotion varies in different locations so please be sure to check your local Kroger Co. Family of Stores*** for specific deals and offers which include: Kroger, Ralphs, King Scoopers, City Market, Dillons, Smith’s, Fry’s, QFC, Baker’s, Owen’s, Jay C Food Stores, Hilander, Gerbes, Fred Meyer, Pay Less Supermarkets and Scott’s Food & Pharmacy

Don’t let the savings pass you by! Fill up your cart and save with the General Mills products you love at the Kroger Buy 5 – Save $5 Event! If you’d like to participate in this Spark, we will provide you with a $25 Kroger Family of Stores gift card that you can use on the great savings available during the Kroger Buy 5 – Save $5 Event. We will also provide you with an additional $25 gift card for a family member, friend, or blog reader.

* Products must be purchased during one shopping visit. To view a list of participating products see your store for details. The $5 coupon offer off your next shopping trip offer expires 1 week from the print date, with the coupon prints ending October 24th. Any offers printed on October 24th will expire on October 31st.
**Yoplait items vary by state
***Excludes Food 4 Less"

You can find Kroger on Facebook and Twitter. You can learn more about your favorite General Mills products on their website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through October 22nd. 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. The gift card, information, and additional sample have been provided by Kroger and General Mills through MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cheap Chocolate and Cheese!

Sunday was a very busy day for me. The weather was all about fall and I was loving it. I went out and ran errands in the afternoon. I accomplished a lot, but didn't feel rushed or busy.

One of my stops was at Acme Fresh Market. I love their 2-day sales, because they have some really great deals. Unfortunately, I don't always get to them because they are only available for two days and my schedule doesn't always work out. This week, the deal was on Nestle Morsels.

Transaction #1
8 - Nestle Morsels (mix of varieties)

-$.75 $.75/2 Nestle mfg coupon (wish I had had more)

Total $14.29 OOP, earned a $2 coupon good on my next order. So, in essence, I got my morsels for about $1.50 each. Not bad considering the regular price is $3.29.

Later in the day, I stopped by Buehler's for a Kraft Cheese offer that they had going on this week. I only wish I had bought more of the shredded cheese. You had to buy them in groups of five, but when you did they were $.99 each for 8 oz block cheese and 8 oz shredded cheese. The block cheese is good until January/February and the shredded cheese, I freeze.

Transaction #1
10 - 8 oz Blocks Kraft Cheese
10 - 2 c Shredded Kraft Cheese

Total $19.80 OOP. I also picked up a gallon of Apple Cider. The air had been so crisp and fall like all day, I simply couldn't resist.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It is really starting to feel like Fall. I love it. I am seeing a definite shift in my menu to include some warmer and heartier food.

Sunday was a day of deal shopping and sports.

This week, we are trying a few new recipes from Pinterest. I will let you know how they go.

Coney Dogs/Chili

Forgotten Chicken

Pasta / Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Chicken Gravy over Biscuits


Mini Chicken Meatballs, Pasta and Vegetable Soup (sounds a bit like Wedding Soup to me)


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning. Lunch for the kids is either the school lunch or usually a couple of times a week they pack. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.