Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Resolutions? These might help.

Every New Year many of us pledge to better ourselves. Here are some helpful tips to help you!

Fill your prize box with great inexpensive rewards.

Start collecting coupons. There will be a minimum of 5 inserts this week!!! So on Saturday pick up a couple Star Tribunes for $.75 each. (If you wait till Sunday will will get the same # of inserts but pay $1 extra per paper.)

Plan some great free activities with the family courtesy of Target.

Get your craft on, learn a new skill, get some easy recipes, and any number of handy tips by checking out Pintrest.

Many blessings to you and your family in 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What do you think? Am I a Hoarder?

Recently several of my friends have called me a hoarder. I have laughed 'knowing' I wasn't one of THOSE people.

I am prepared. I have a closet of inexpensive gifts for kid parties and occasions when you wish you had something to take with you. But we live 25 minutes from the nearest Walmart so it makes sense. Right?

My pantry is usually pretty well stocked, but I coupon so I stock up when the price is right, and I keep good track of what I have and expiration dates. I rotate my stock to use up stuff before it goes bad. So I am just being frugal. Right?

I occasionally have something that has been pushed to the back of the fridge that gets moldy. But doesn't everyone?

I have been able to convince myself that I am normal. That is until today. With Christmas only a couple days away, I have been doing some cleaning, and decided it was time too purge my expired coupons. It has been 6 months since I last purged and in that time I had amassed an insane amount of coupons. (See the photo above.) I once again only have 6 months of coupons in my file crate, and the stacks on the floor are gone. Looking at the ECONOMY sized diaper box Full and still almost fill another...

Maybe I am a hoarder?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why do trains and Christmas go together?

This Christmas I finished my shopping early, I plan on doing that from now on. I started early (Christmas shopping in July? Really?) in order to find the best prices and hopefully get gifts that show how much the receiver is loved. So instead of thinking about shopping and gifts, I have been able to focus on celebrating the Christmas Season with my family. For the first time in 8 years we decorated the outside of the house, we participated in Christmas Programs, we baked, we've made lots of Hot cocoa, watched lots of Christmas movies, and enjoyed roaring fires in the living room, and last night we went to the Holidazzle Parade!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I do my best to enjoy life without overspending. Yesterday MetroTransit opened up the trains and buses for free so that people could 'easily' get to and from the Holidazzle Parade. So we decided it would be fun. I got online and checked the train times, picked a time and we were ready to go. Instead of fighting the crowds on Nicollet for supper, we stay local and enjoyed a nice dinner at Steven's. Then jumped in the car and headed to Elk River to grab the Northstar. It was pretty full, but we were able to find 4 seats together on the upper level and had an enjoyable ride in. Once we reached Target Center, we realized just how many people where on the train. A sea of people headed up the stairs and to the light rail and Nicollet Ave.

Upon reaching Nicollet Ave, I was thankful that God had blessed my husband and I with height. We were able to look over the crowd and find a great spot that was slightly elevated, and not far from the train station, to watch the parade. It was chilly, but we had on our snow pants, boots, hats, gloves, and winter coats. The street was lined with lit trees, and many in the crowd wore there own strings of blinking lights. The parade was as festive as I remembered from a few years ago, but it did seem shorter. (Maybe I am just older.) As the crowd got bigger, we started to wonder about being able to catch a train home. :-). So as soon as we saw Santa, we hustled to the train platform.

If I thought the train seem crowded on the way there, I had NO IDEA how crowded it could be. We squeezed onto a train and hoped that they wouldn't make us all wait like that until the scheduled departure time in 20 minutes.  The first stop 4 people got off our car, so we kept standing. The next stop 8 people got off, 4 kids squeezed through the crowd to get to the bathroom, and we kept standing. Finally on the next stop close to 20 people got off and we were able to get off our feet. The 4th stop was ours, and probably half the train debarked. It was a long hour trip. My husband made sure I knew not to plan on riding during a free weekend EVER again. :-) Which was probably a good thing. Because yeah I was tired and REALLY wanted to sit, after lifting the kids all the way through the parade so they could see. But I really enjoyed chatting with the people around me on the train, and was able to completely distract myself from the discomfort.

Our little adventure got me thinking though. What is it about Christmas and trains? A few years back we went to Old Town St. Charles, MO during the Christmas season and enjoyed all the Dickens's Characters and others wandering around posing for pictures and passing out trading cards, but in the midst of it all was a trailer where you could pay to view model trains. My only thought was huh? Then there is the Polar Express, but I always thought the 'magic' of the North Pole could only be found if you were riding on Santa's Sleigh. (Or had a magic snow globe) There are the snow village's with trains running through them, and trees with trains running around the base. Heck even last year I set my own kids train set up right under the tree. Yet the attraction to the 2 together, continued to allude me. In an attempt to figure it out I started thinking of all the Christmas/ train themed things. Then I remembered the train scene in one of my favorite holiday classics, White Christmas. In the movie they are on a train heading from their last show to a short vacation in New York, when they decide to ride all the way to Vermont to spend time with some new friends and enjoy a snowy Christmas.

Eureka! The connection had been right in front of me the entire time. Trains and Christmas bring loved ones together. Now a days we are more likely to drive a car or hop a plane, but the nostalgia of a train reminds us of Christmas's past and all the love and joy our parents tried so hard to give us. So when you see a train running through a miniature village or around a tree, stop and thank God for the gift of Christmas and for families, and friends who bring us joy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Creative Christmas decorations

Christmas when I was a kid, was all about traditions. On Christmas eve we would pile into the family station wagon and head to the Children's Christmas Pageant at Holy Family Church. (It seems like every year at least one of us was a reader, Shepard, angel, etc...) Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the story of Christmas and all the music, and I am forever grateful that God came to earth as a babe, but my favorite part was after. We all would pile back into the cold station wagon and drive around town, as a family, looking at Christmas lights. There was one section of town called Candy Cane Lane, all the neighbors decorated their houses and had lit candy canes in their front lawn. In another section of town, the neighbors got together in the summer and made plywood cutouts that adorned their yards. In the years since, driving around and looking at Christmas light displays is still one of my favorite times. Yet as an adult, my own outdoor Christmas display has been pathetic. Now that my children are old enough to enjoy decorations and ask about ours, it is time to get to it. In my head it is much more grandiose than it is right now, but you have to start somewhere right?

My theme is "The Gift of Christmas". I had planned on starting with the Manger seen, with Jesus represented by a wrapped package. Instead I found some scrap plywood in the garage, and started with gift boxes that will hang from the front fence and be lit with flood lights. I have a total of $7.48 into my project so far. Here is what I did.

In September I told you about my great deal on a jigsaw. Sorry it took so long. But here is my first project!

1. I created a template based on the size of the plywood I found. I then drew it on with a Sharpie.
2. I donned gloves and safety glasses. (You will note they are tinted, I have since picked up regular safety glasses or $2 at Menard's)

3. I placed the plywood on blocks to elevate it off the floor and started cutting, being careful to not cut myself or the cord.
4. lightly sanded the rough edges.
5. Used a high quality exterior primer doing 2 coats on each side and 4 on the edges. (My scrap plywood was NOT exterior grade, I am hoping that by priming enough and keeping them off the ground I will be OK. Only time will tell.)
6. Purchased 9 exterior colored paint bottles from Michael's. (Used a coupon and got them for $7)
7. I applied 2 coats of each color for good color saturation. I then outlined using black to make it pop a bit.
8. I then attached Picture wire to the back, so that they would just hook over the fence.

I know that I am not going to win any awards, but my girls and I are happy with the result. Maybe after Christmas we will find a great deal on C7 lights and be able to amp it up for next year.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Baking Party

I have known my friend Diane since first grade at Holy Family School. Over the years we have moved apart, but still end up finding each other. We now only live a few miles apart, and she has included my family in many of her parties. My favorite is her annual Christmas Baking Party. I don't recall exactly how many years ago it started, but it has become a Holiday Tradition for our families.

We start around dinner time and work into the night. Everyone, even the kids, pitch in to cook or taste test! By the time the evening is over we are all stuffed inside from eating to much, and our bags are stuffed with goodies to take home!

It is fun to see how the kids grow from year to year. This year the oldest even contributed with recipes she did on her own.

Beth's Peppermint Almond bark
6 squares of chocolate almond bark melted (we use a microwave)
6 squares of vanilla almond bark melted
stir 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract into each of the melted almond bark bowls.
Pour almond bark into a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Over lapping them and swirling with a spoon.
4 crushed candy canes sprinkled over the top.
Chill for about 1 hour. (Being in MN, the back deck is used as our 'walk in cooler' for the evening.)
Break into pieces and serve

One of my favorites from year to year has been Kelly's pretzels, She REALLY tried this year she went to at least 6 stores in search of Orville Reddenbacher Butter Flavored Oil. But no one seems to carry it anymore. And since it is a key ingredient.... She still rocked out a ton of recipes though. She has perfected the almond bark treats, she melts in the microwave and NEVER has to wait for the oven. She even makes an Oreo Cookie one my husband loves!

In an attempt to keep us from eating just junk all night. We have a table laden with plenty of food and snacks such as meat and cheese platters, chips, salsa etc. This year I brought some roasted turkey that made great turkey nachos!

Easy Roasted Turkey
Thaw turkey and place in a counter top 18QT Roaster. (No need for bags or basting.)
Coat with a generous coating of Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning.
Place lid on roaster, set temperature for 325 Degrees (low roasting will double cooking time, but it will just fall off the bone when ready) Check pkg for time based on weight of turkey
Remove meat from bone, shred with a fork and place in crock pot
Add juices/stock to crock pot
Set to warm and serve all evening.

We all made lots of recipes and did lots of laughing. So much more enjoyable than slaving away in your own kitchen to make all those recipes, or even making dozens of a single cookie to take to an exchange. The effort it takes to coordinate schedules so that we can all be together is well worth it. I know that some of us make EVERY effort to be there from year to year. The year we got hit by a blizzard was actually one of the most attended!

We are blessed to have such great friends, and family.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I bought a Pomegranat! Now what?

Aldi had Pomegranates for $.69 each this week, so I decided to splurge and get a few. I love pomegranate juice so this should be great, right? I brought my bag home grabbed a cutting board and a knife, I cut it in half and quickly realized I had NO idea how to eat one of these things. 

Since I mentioned this great sale to many of my friends, I decided I had better figure it out, and quick before they start calling with questions!

For starters the best way to choose a pomegranate is by weight. They are prized by their juice content, so the heavier the better, provided the skin is unbroken.

Start by cutting about 3/4 of an in off at the stem. Use a plastic cutting board as the juice will stain a wood one.

Then make 4 scoring marks dividing it into quarters. Be careful not to cut open the seed/juice pockets. Then gently break along scoring marks.

Immerse in cold water to gently remove the seeds. If your water turns pink you are being to rough. The seeds will sink to the bottom and the rind will float to the top.

Skim off and discard the rind. Then use a strainer to remove seeds.

Cover in an airtight container and freeze for 3 days. Freezing helps to break down the fruit allowing you to eat them easier. After 3 days you can just pop them in your mouth to eat. Or you can sprinkle over a salad. I intentend to try my hand at juice. So come back in a couple of days to see my progress. :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Our First Gingerbread House!

It is Sunday afternoon and Jeremy is watching the football game. What better time for us girls to go in the kitchen and make a gingerbread house.

I had grand plans of making the gingerbread from scratch and cutting out the shapes with a knife. I pulled out the cookbook, checked the recipe, and wrote down the ingredients I needed, then off to the store.

While out I need to run to Aldi to pick up a few things, and guess what I saw right at checkout?

A Gingerbread House kit with precooked and cutout shapes, frosting, candy, and even a special tray to help it stand all for just $6.99. So this year we cheat. :-)

It was simple to assemble and I helped with the frosting, But the girls had a blast with the 'decorations' and eating the remnants. If we had made it all from scratch we could have wasted away the entire game, but now we are free to play, blog, and interrupt dad while he finishes watching the game.

Food, Fun, Friends

Kick off to the Holiday's starts a bit early in our home. We have a birthday just a few days before Thanksgiving, so we start with Birthday cake, then pies and treats all the way through Christmas, followed by another birthday to finish the season with a Birthday cake! This year I decided to have some friends over to help us eat some of that cake, and they were kind enough to stay and help us make Lefse. (Not the stinky fish one, it is more like a potato based tortilla)

I start the night before cooking the potatoes.

Riced potatoes
 5lb bag of russet potatoes. Peel then boil. When they are fork tender It is time to 'rice' them.

Cover and refrigerate over night.

In the Morning mix in 3/4C Evaporated Milk
1/4 C. Regular Milk (1% - Whole)
2/3 C. Melted Shortening
2 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Sugar
4C. flour (Have way more than this on hand.)

Combine until a bread like consistency, use more flour if you need it, and refrigerate 8 hours.

Split dough into 2 bowls and start making balls the size of  large eggs. Always keep 1 bowl in the fridge and rotate often. Colder dough seems to roll out and cook better.

Tools you will need:
Lefse Griddle. This is a round griddle that should be used for NOTHING else oil/grease should NEVER touch it's surface.
Round Pastry Cloth (Mine covers a board that keeps it taught and flat)
Lefse Rolling Pin (it is a pin with tiny squares etched over the entire surface)
Rolling Pin Cover (This is a luxury that you don't NEED, but they are only $2 and will save you the yucky job of picking dough out of the rolling pin with a toothpick. I would highly recommend you get one. They are washable and reusable. I have had mine for 6 years and have yet to replace it)
Lefse Stick. This stick is used like a spatula for moving the lefse from the pastry cloth to the griddle, to the sweeping station.
Pastry brush. used for sweeping away excess flour.
White Cheese Cloth type towels. you will need 3 or 4

Your Dough is ready, you have your utensils... Lets do it!
Start by HEAVILY flouring your pastry cloth. You should NOT be able to see any of the red writing. It is important to use a lot of flour. If your dough sticks even once to your cloth or your roller, it will be a pain to finish the rest of rolling. 

Then roll it out thin. The thinner the better.

Use the lefse stick to gently lift the lefse off the pastry cloth and onto the griddle. Cook for a couple minutes on each side. It will bubble up and get light brown spots like a tortilla. Remove from griddle and place on top of towels. I like to lightly moisten the towels with water to keep the lefse soft.

Use pastry brush to swipe away excess flour from lefse and griddle as needed. This swiping step is why earlier you can use so much flour to keep it from sticking.

Lefse can be eaten many ways. Use it like a wrap for your Thanksgiving leftovers. I like to slather it in butter and then sugar or cinnamon sugar, roll it up and yum. Store in an air tight container in your refrigerator. If it starts to dry out place a moistened towel in the container.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Follow up for today's couponing session at ECFE

Welcome to my blog! We had such a great discussion I forgot to mention a few things. I hope that you find some useful things on my blog.

I wanted to point out that the business cards I passed around and the cute personalized tote that I was carrying everything in, I got for FREE* at I sometimes have to do a google search to find the right link for the free tote, coffee mug, notebook, calendar or pen. The free business cards, car magnets, etc are usually easy to find on their site.
* You do need to pay for shipping I go with the 21 day option. I have NEVER had it take that long, but if you need something fast, remember it is Christmas and everything is taking longer right now.

I like to plan ahead so I usually start ordering things in the summer. Personalized calendars with your family photos and ALL your family birthday's, anniversaries, and other important dates make GREAT gifts for the grandparents who most likely don't need/want anything.

Last Christmas I made personalized Totes for all the ladies at our annual Christmas Baking party.

A cute personalized coffee mug with a $5 Caribou Gift card makes a great Secret Santa gift for work. The possibilities are endless..

The best way to save on gifts is to be organized and start early. Last minute shopping usually costs a lot more!

****Spoke with the Princeton Coborn's Meat Manager, The best time to find great deals is any day BEFORE noon. So happy hunting. :-)****

We also had some discussion on Christmas Gifts. Good Morning America has announced that they are going to offer GMA viewers EXCLUSIVE AMAZING daily deals. They are on the GMA website and you must use promo codes and they expire daily in most cases. For more info watch this video on yahoo.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Couponing Tips

Thanks to a friend, I got back into couponing almost 2 years ago. It is much easier now to find the deals than it was when my husband was in Vet School. It takes a bit of time/effort to get into the swing of things, but once you figure it out it only takes a bit of effort every week to save big. Here are some pointers and some links to my favorite Websites for saving.

Match a sale to a Coupon. This maximizes the savings you can get. You can also get more for your money by buying smaller sizes. This one took me a bit to do, but has gotten easier. It is simple math. $1 off an item that is $1.50 vs. $3 item lowers your price per ounce. If you need more buy 2 and use 2 coupons. In the example you would get $3 worth for $1 vs. $2 if you only used 1 coupon.

Set a budget and stick to it. When starting to coupon, a smaller portion of your weekly budget will be used for stockpiling. As your pile grows you will need less every week and you can afford to spend a higher percentage on things you don't need today, but KNOW you will before it goes on sale again.

Stockpile This simply means that if an item you use hits a rock bottom price, get as much as your budget or usage vs. expiration date allows. Then find a spot to store it. Treat your stock pile like a grocery store, face the labels to the front so you can see what you have, group similar items, place newer items to the back, and use what is older so that it doesn't expire. Most grocery items go on sale about every 6 weeks, So unless an items price is AMAZINGLY LOW don't get more than a 6 week supply. The longer you coupon, the easier it will be to recognize a ridiculously low price.

Create and stick to a list. Impulse buys will destroy your budget. When I make a list I write the item, the shelf price, what coupons to use, and total expected price. Knowing what you intend to spend while in the comfort of your own home, gives you the time to eliminate budget busting items that you might not need, or that could wait.

Save Coupons. I get my coupons from many sources.

SUNDAY PAPER. I got a great deal a while back on a Sunday subscription to the Star Tribune. When I want an extra, and before I got that great deal I picked up the Early Sunday paper on Saturday for $.75 (that is a savings of $1 per paper). If there are several papers in your area, find out which one has the best/most coupons and get that one. I do NOT clip my coupons until I use them. I right the date on the front of the insert and file away the ENTIRE insert.
PRINTABLE. These are available through a brands webpage, facebook page,, or smartsource. You can either do a google search by brand name or follow a link from a blog to print. FYI if you follow a blog, clicking there link often earns them a nominal $$ and is a great way to thank them for the effort of putting together a list for you.
CATALINAS. These are the coupons that automatically print from the machine when you check out at the store. (I know. They have a name? I found it funny too.) Often times a bloggers shopping list will tell you that these will print before you even go there so you know to watch for them. (Ad this information to your list so that if it doesn't print, you know to ask someone!)
FREEBIES. When you sign up for free samples you get the sample and sometimes you get a high value coupon too! I set up a separate email account for these freebies so that my regular account wasn't bogged down in spam. (Do that at gmail, hotmail, or yahoo for free)
MAIL. Companies like Proctor and Gamble allow you to sign up for their mailers, Which often have high value coupons not available anywhere else. Know body seems to know for sure how to get on the Target mailing list, but it is generally assumed that if you have registered for a wedding, baby etc.. you get on their mailing list. If you have never registered, register for your birthday or something, you don't even need to tell anyone, but you can then get on their mailing list.
PEELIES. These are the coupons you find on or near the product on the shelf, that say SAVE NOW. Keep your eyes open. They are everywhere. When I find them I peel them right away and ad them to my coupon stack. If I leave it on the package I ALWAYS forget to use it at the check out.

Organize your Coupons. I store my coupons in a plastic filing crate that I picked up for a couple dollars. On Merge my inserts so that I have 1 thick insert from each week with all the same coupons together and easy to clip when wanted. On a weekly basis when I clip and make my lists I have an inexpensive 4x6 flip photo book that I sort by store and keep in my purse. This is a great place to keep gift cards, store rebates, store coupons, etc. so when I am at the store I can easily flip to that page and see if there are any savings I might have missed.

Choose not to be brand loyal. Just because you have always used a particular brand of shaving cream, doesn't mean you can't use any other kind. There are certain items that I am not willing to compromise on, but since I do on so many others, I can easily afford the few that I am particular on.

Follow Blogs that save you money. Coupon bloggers offer lots of ways to save. creates shopping lists with coupon matchups points out great/high value printable coupons when they become available. They also provide a bevy of links to online shopping deals that will amaze you.
I follow them on Facebook so I can quickly see the updates in my newsfeed and click the ones I want more information on.

Use online saving sites. There are lots of sites that provide daily deals. Some I follow daily, Others I don't, but often see on Mojo. I check this site daily, I have gotten free earbuds, wisks, and $1 sterling silver necklaces, etc.. they have 4 deals a day They specialize in discounted services. I picked up a 1 year subscription to the Star Tribune for $38!! As I am typing they have a $20 gift card to Old Navy for $10!

Start small. Pick a store, learn and and use their coupon policy. Then learn the next store. Some like Walgreens or CVS can be a bit complicated. Your trips will get better as your coupon stash grows and your knowledge gets better. Besides once you have a good stockpile, you will mostly be buying items that are great prices so your offer all trips will get better. You will also be able to look through the Sunday inserts and instinctively know that a certain coupon will result in a free item or that it is high value so watch for a sale.

Stick with it. The effort you put in initially will seem like a LOT for a little reward, but the results grow exponentially!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Treats

We had a fun weekend with grandma and cousin Gracy this weekend. Movies, the pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting, halloween themed mani/pedi's, and lots of treats and meals out. So we decided to take it easy today. Church this morning and then a nap, but then we woke up hungry.... So we made this quick and easy treat.

Easy Chewy Popcorn Balls

1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn.1 stick of butter (my results are based on real butter not margarine)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 package of marshmallows
Spray cooking oil

-Pop the corn into a large bowl. (I used an air popper to pop it*)

-Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and marshmallows over medium heat until completely melted.
-Pour over popcorn and stir thoroughly. Let cool slightly so that you can handle it.
-Spray a pan and your hands with cooking oil.
-Form balls and place on tray.

*you can pop corn in a pan on stove or even use microwave popcorn if you want.

ghostly fingers clutch a warm popcorn ball.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Freezer Cooking in a Jiffy!

We have been enjoying many of the meals from the freezer, so it was time to make a few more. Today I focused on breakfast foods. I whipped up some Egg Sandwiches that just need to be reheated. And double batch of Cinnamon Rolls (this time I made them larger and did 6 instead of 12) For the first batch I generously coated the bottom of a 9x13 pan with butter and sprinkled 3/4 cup of brown sugar and about 1/4 cup of pecan pieces then placed rolls on top. In the morning after baking them I will invert them so that the caramelized sugar can drip over them.

Egg Sandwiches6 English Muffins sliced in half
6 pieces of ham
6 slices of cheese
6 cooked eggs*

Layer together cover with foil and freeze. For the best results reheat in a toaster oven.

* Cook eggs by spraying a muffin pan with nonstick spray, crack open eggs and bake at 350 F, until desired doneness.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A gift idea that gives back!

Scholastic has some fantastic prices on many of our favorite children's books. Many are only $1 each! That means we can stock up of birthday and Christmas gifts! AND our kid's daycare earn free books for every one purchased!!

Sign up at On the parent page, click the "Register" button in the "First Time Here?" Section. Register for your own user name and password. When prompted, enter the one-time
Class Activation Code= DZJ3F
(This unique code ensures that your order earns free books)

After checkout your order will be sent to the daycare. (if you share this info with Grandma or Grandpa be sure to let us know, so that we get the books to the right people!)

Let's get it started!

If you have seen my photo's for GREAT shopping trips, and wanted to do that too. This is a perfect week to start. There were 6 coupon inserts in today's paper! I get one delivered to the house every week. But this week I picked up extra!

$3/1 Olay regenerist in the P&G insert
match that with the Target Mobile coupon for $3/1 Olay regenerist and score the $5.99 package of Olay regenerist facial wipes at Target for free!

$5/1 Transformer toy in the PlaySchool insert
match with the Target Mobile coupon for $5/1 transformer toy and score a $9.99 toy for free! check out this cool Transformer toy offer to pair with the deal!
(Christmas present idea)

$8/2 Covergirl in the P&G insert. Walmart has Covergirl makeup priced at $3.97 so 2 free!

Be sure to save the entire insert. I file them by the date I got them. My favorite coupon site references them that way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Pumpkin Patch 2011

... Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do." -Tevye
Fiddler on the Roof

As a parent I get to share traditions with my children. In addition to daily, and weekly routines, my husband and I regularly take the time to have fun with our children and enjoy each others' company.


Memories of my childhood, often dictate the decisions I make as an adult. Even though I have added my own spin to the experiences I am giving my children. They include the best parts of my childhood traditions. Family time, laughter, learning, food, music, conversation, and photos.

We normally think of family traditions around the holidays, but we should have them year round! Saturday pancakes, bed time stories, Sunday morning church, Friday night pizza, the State Fair, family camping trips, planting the garden, baking cookies, swimming, Black Friday door buster shopping. Anything can become a tradition.

Find what works best for your family. Just be sure to have fun, get to know each other and share stories of your lives and your past.

The weather has turned a bit colder and it is time for some of my favorite traditions. Last year I didn't get a photo of me and the girls at the pumpkin patch, but here are a few for you to enjoy.




Grandma Riddle 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

$28.07 for 71 items!!

Coborn's 9-17-11
Subtotal $53.07
Savings $25.00

I used only used 11 coupons too!
$5/$50 Coborns Coupon (expires 9-17-11)
$1/5 Campbells Soup (You will need 5 computers so that you can print 10)

Hand over the $5 coupon first (It is almost always a good idea to have the cashier run the store coupons BEFORE the manufacturer)

Here is what I got:
50 cans of Campbells soup (Tomatoe and Chicken Noodle) $.20 each*
3 bags of Chocolate Chips (Food Club Brand) $1.69 each*
2 5lb bags of flour (Flood Club Brand) $1.99 each*
2 6oz cans of Cooking Spray (Food Club) $1.50 each*
10 26oz cans of Hunts Spaghetti Sauce $.77 each*
4 Long Johns (Yep it must be Saturday morning!) $.75 each*

*Does not include the 20% off that the $5/$50 coupon provided.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tea for Two

What do the following things have in common:
Arizona Tea 2/$1 at Walgreens
Peanut and Butter Sandwiches for supper
A little girl with 2 skinned knees

A Tea Party of course!
Since Dad is working late, I decided to go easy on supper and have PB&J. However, it was a tough weekend for injuries at our house, so I had to mix it up a bit.

I cut the sandwiches into small triangles, wedged an apple, and set out 2 chocolate sandwich cookies per party goer, on a pretty plate stand, poured some pre-made green tea into a tea pot and we were ready.

A super easy and fun way to have dinner.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

All this for just $.48 !!(Out of Pocket)

Made quick trip to Cambridge this afternoon before the Vikings Game. I wanted the jig saw so I can make some decorations for Christmas. Here is what I grabbed.

Jigsaw $14.99 (plus I get a $5 mail in rebate)
Grabber $2 (Plus I get a $2 mail in rebate)
NPT Brass Coupler $.98
I used a $18.00 Rebate I have been rolling for a while. OOP $0.00 (and I still have $.03 on it and get to mail in a rebate for $7 more!)
***Turning an $18 rebate into $7 is not my best deal. I will be sure to pair the $7 rebate, when I get it, with some coupons so I can build it back up without spending more to do so. Just keep reading posts to see how I do it. :-)

2 Crest Toothpastes 2/$5 (plus I get a $3 Register Reward)
Used 2 $1/1 coupons from the Sept. Proctor & Gamble insert
4 Arizona Teas 2/$1
Used a $5 register reward from my last post, and paid $.48 after taxes and have $3 for next time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Getting Ready for fall

It is Labor Day weekend which means fall is around the corner and I will need to have freezer space for venison. So I spent yesterday attempting to make space in the freezer!

I started earlier in the week by pulling out a turkey to thaw. Friday night I put it in the counter top roasting oven with some Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning and a couple of onion quarters set the temp to 325 and went to bed. I woke up around 6:20 to the smell of roasted turkey.

I then got busy. I pulled everything out of my kitchen freezer to see what I had to work with. (I still need to thoroughly go through the BIG freezer, but I did use up several things from there yesterday too.) I then washed out the freezer, did a bit of reorganizing. And then got to work cooking.

My plan was to make as many dishes as I could and put them in the freezer so later when I was busy I could easily just throw them in the oven and Walla! a homemade meal. I was attempting to use up as many items from the freezer and garden as I could as well. Many of the dishes would still be great without the extras so I noted when I added something just because it was there. :-) Here is what I made

Ham & Cheese Hashbrowns
1 pkg shredded hashbrown potatoes
1 Can cream of celery soup
1 can of half and half milk (use the empty soup can to measure)
8oz of Sour Cream
1 tsp kosher Salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 medium yellow onion (white would work I just had yellow from the garden)
1 lb fully cooked ham - cubed
4 oz Mozzarella Cheese
4 oz Cheddar Cheese

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into 9x13 pan. Cover with foil (I use 2 layers of regular foil or 1 layer of heavy duty)

Cinnamon Rolls
Layer the following items in order in your Bread Machine (all items should be room temperature)
1 Cup water
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Cups flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 tsp of bread machine yeast or 1 packet of quick yeast
Set machine to Large, Sweet, Dough and came back when it beeped.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to approx 9x9
   -Spread with Butter
   -Sprinkle with 1/3 Cup of sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon
Roll into tight roll, and pick edge to seal
Cut into 1 inch slices
Place on tray in freezer to 'flash freeze' for a couple hours.
Store in airtight Freezer bag
When you are ready to bake, pull out of freezer and let rise (overnight) make 375 for 25-30 min
Combine 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1-2 tbsp milk for glaze.

Roasted Bread Cubes/Bread crumbs
I had SEVERAL packages of hot dog buns in the freezer from an event earlier in the summer. I cubed them and placed them on a baking sheet. Placed in the oven set oven to 350. When the oven reached temp. I turned it off and let the crumbs dry out. I made 3 batches.
I used 1 batch in the next recipe, and put the rest in my food processor and made bread crumbs.

Pheasant with CranApple dressing
2 Pheasant Breasts
5 1/2 Cups cubed/roasted bread (would be good with some corn bread mixed in)
1 medium union chopped
4 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup chopped Cranberries
1/2 Cup chopped Apples
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Thyme
1 1/2 tsp. Sage
2 Cups Turkey Stock (You could use chicken broth)
Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste.
Combine all dry ingredients add Broth until moist. Place in 9x9 pan lay Pheasant Breasts over dressing and Cover with foil. (When you heat, bake covered at 350. Approx 1 hour. use meat thermometer if meat is done all is done.)

I had to thaw some apples for CranApple dressing so decided to use the remainder and make a cobbler.

Apple Cobbler
8 Cups of slice Apples (mostly thawed)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
Toss all together in 9x13 Pan
Cover with Struessel topping:
    1 Cup flour
    1 stick butter
    1 Cup sugar
    Blend in food Processor. (Can make extra and store in Freezer for quick dutch apple pies later.)

Lake Superior Salmon Patties (My husband had great luck on a fishing trip this summer!)
1lb cooked salmon- Remove bones/skin (I just baked it)
1 small yellow onion chopped (White would work too)
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp lemon Juice
1/4 Cup finely chopped summer squash (I had a TON in my garden to use up)
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 tsp each of kosher salt and ground pepper

Form into patties, coat in corn meal and flash freeze. Store in Freezer Bag (Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet, cook patties in oil until both sides are golden brown. I like to serve with Hollandaise or a Bearnaise sauce)

Turkey Pot Pie
1 15oz can of potatoes - sliced
1 lb pkg of mixed Veggies
1 Turkey breast - cubed
3 cups of turkey gravy - cooled
-combine in a 9x13 pan
1 pkg refrigerated Crescent Rolls
 - top with crescent dough rolled into a sheet.
Cover with foil. Bake covered at 350. (I would thaw in fridge over night before baking)

Turkey Tetrazzini
I added
3 Cups cubed summer squash
3 Tbsp of Turkey Gravy

Turkey Sandwiches
The kids got hungry for lunch so I buttered some whole wheat bread put some cool turkey, salt and pepper and cut in half. (I like to cut on the diagonal, how about you?)

BBQ Turkey Soup
 4 cups Turkey stock (Could use chicken)
1 1/4 Cup Turkey diced (Could use chicken or leftover BBQ Chicken or pork)
1/2 Green pepper, diced
1/2 Cup Corn
2 Cup Tomatoes diced
1/2 med. Onion diced
1 tsp minced garlic
8oz can black beans
1/2 Cup BBQ sauce
1/2 Tbsp. Hot sauce
1/2 Tbsp. Molasses
Salt and Pepper to taste

You could combine all in a crockpot over low heat for 6 hours. I mixed mine and then placed in 4, 1 Quart canning jars and canned at 11 lbs pressure for 85 minutes.

1 Very Large summer squash - cubed
1 Very Large yellow squash - cubed
1 large eggplant
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
1 red onion - chopped
1 Red bell pepper - chopped
1 Yellow bell pepper - chopped
1 Green bell pepper - chopped
4 Cups diced Tomatoes
4 Cups sliced Carrots (Not traditionally in ratatouille, but in my garden)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1/2 bottle of red wine
(This was a GIANT batch, because my veggies had grown so big. If you are better at tending your garden or you are getting your squash from the store, I would cut all remaining ingredients in half)

You could combine all in a crockpot to simmer on low for 6 hours. I combined all and placed in 7, 1 Quart canning jars placed a dash of *kosher salt and ground pepper in each jar and canned at 11 lbs of pressure for 85 minutes.
*Kosher salt is important when canning DO NOT use iodized table salt when canning. If you are new to canning I HIGHLY recommend my favorite canning book Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Canning is a science and can produce deadly results if done incorrectly.

Rhubarb Crisp
8 Cups Rhubarb - chopped
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbsp Corn Starch
Combine in 9x13 pan and stir thoroughly
crunch topping:
1 Cup Butter - melted
1 1/2 Cup flour
1 1/2 Cup Oatmeal (I like regular oats not quick oats for this)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
Mix in bowl and crumble over filling.
Cover with foil and *freeze. (Bake 350 for 1 hour)
*Freezing helps to break down the rhubarb, If you are going to skip the freezing. Than add 1 Cup of water and cook over the stove until it thickens, pour into 9x13 pan, crumble topping and Bake.

Turkey and Rice
Remaining Turkey breast - cubed (4-5 cups)
Remaining Turkey Gravy (3 cups)
Combine and serve over 3 cups prepared Rice.

Butternut Squash (could do the same with acorn squash)
2 Butternut Squash - Cubed
1/4 Cup of Butter.
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

Remove skin from Squash before cubing, (either with a peeler or slice it like you would a melon).  Place in a baking dish (since I was freezing it I used a 9x13 aluminum pan again.) Cut small pads of butter and place on top of the squash. Sprinkle brown sugar over top. Cover. Bake Covered for approx. 1 hour

I didn't get as many dishes prepared as I had hoped. But I was able to clear off 1 entire shelf in the Big freezer. (Since Freezers run more efficiently when full though, I HAD to go to Coborn's and pick up a couple of the Kemps Vanilla Ice Cream pails that were on sale for $3.99 each. I will just have to force the family to eat it before the first deer comes!)