Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 1st!

I apologize for the lack of posts last week, sometimes life and work get in the way!  Anyways, this past Saturday I made this amazing copycat recipe of Bob Evan's Cheddar Baked Potato Soup.  It was amazing.  I served it with some biscuits and it was a hit!  Here is what in on the menu for this week:

Monday - Shake n Bake Pork Chops
Tuesday - Grilled Italian Marinated Chicken & Chopped Spinach Salad
Wednesday - Sloppy Joes
Thursday - Pizza Night
Friday - Eat Out
Saturday - Mom's Night Out
Sunday - Celebrating a Family Birthday!

This post is linked at MPM at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Happy Halloween!

"To infinity and beyond..."  My boys are all geared up for Halloween tonight.  They will be going as Buzz Lightyear and Woody!  The high temperature is only suppose to be 49 in our neck of the woods, so hopefully I can bundle my little ones up under their costumes!  Hope you have a wonderful Halloween!  Here are a few safety tips for your trick or treaters tonight:

  • Children should always go out trick or treating accompanied by a responsible adult. If you have a group of kids going, the parents should choose two or three of them to go along and keep an eye on things.
  • Some towns set a curfew for trick or treating which makes it easier for townsfolk to know who's coming to their door. Make sure and stick to the curfew times and stick to subdivisions and areas with a lot of homes so your kids can get in as much trick or treating as possible in a few hours time.
  • Plan a safe route so parents know where their older kids will be at all times. Set a time for their return home. Make sure that your child is old enough and responsible enough to go out by themselves. Make sure that they have a cell phone.
  • Let your children know not to cut through back alleys and fields if they are out alone. Make sure they know to stay in populated areas and not to go off the beaten track. Let them know to stay in well lighted areas with lots of people around. Explain to them why it can be dangerous for kids not to do this. If they are going out alone, they are old enough to know what can happen to them in a bad situation and how to stop it from happening.
  • Instruct your children not to eat any treats until they bring them home to be examined by you. This way you can check for any problem candy and get the pick of the best stuff.
  • Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger or get into their car. Explain why this is not a god idea and what to do if someone approaches them and tries to talk to them.
  • Make sure your child carries a flashlight, glow stick or has reflective tape on their costume to make them more visible to cars.
  • Let them know that they should stay together as a group if going out to Trick or Treat without an adult.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Have you tried Groupon yet? This is an online deals site where you can buy the daily deal at half off! I have already bought 2 of their offers, which included:

A $37 oil change at Lube Stop for only $18
A One Month Membership to Gymboree for only $39

There are over 160 cities in the US that participate, so you can even look for deals in another city for an upcoming vacation!

They also have a referral program, where you earn $10 for everyone you refer that makes a purchase.

Today’s offer is $49 for Environmentally Friendly House Cleaning Package from EcoMaids of Cleveland!  Hop on over and check it out!  I'm thinking this would make a great gift for a new mom-to-be!

Raising Able - A Book Review

I was recently able to read, Raising Able, How chores cultivate competent confident young people by Susan Tordella. To be honest, I was unable to put the book down and I completed the book rather quickly. The message truly applied to myself and my family since we were currently considering a formal chore and allowance system for my oldest son who is 4 ½. My husband and I were unsure of the direction we were going to take, however this book made me look at chores and allowances in a whole new way. I think my favorite quote from the book was:

“We are a family, a team that can work together using simple practices of family meetings and dinners, encouragement, and natural and logical consequences to develop responsible children who will leave home, and be self-supporting through gainful employment”

In Raising Able, the process is explained how chores and deadlines should be discussed in family meetings. This way everyone can give their input and be held responsible. It also gives children a sense of ownership of the chores they chose to do. Susan believes in the principle of a weekly allowance that is not tied to completion of the chores. You should pay the allowance weekly, no matter if chores are completed. Chores are required as being part of the family. As parents, we do a lot for your children such as cooking dinner and taking them to the doctor and they do not pay us for it. Why should we pay them for emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the toilet?

Susan discusses the difference between praise and encouragement. Encouragement can be so much more powerful than praise in developing a child’s self-esteem. It allows the parents to really look at the details of a situation. As a parent you can provide encouragement whether the outcome was good or bad, this helps the child want to try again.

As a mother of 2 young boys, I can definitely see benefits of implementing Susan’s methods of family meetings, chores, and offering encouragement over praise. With my personality and drive of perfection, I often overlook the chores my boys can do on their own. They constantly ask and want to help, I need to learn to step back and let them. In the end everyone one wins, chores get done and then we get to enjoy more family time together. To me that is what life is all about, spending the most time with your family!

Check out Susan’s blog at where you can order your own copy of the book.

This review was 100% my own thoughts and opinions. I was not compensated to provide this review. I did receive a copy of the book Raising Able for my reading enjoyment and personal growth as a mother.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – Week of October 18th

So my husband got called for jury duty this week, so this should be a challenge in our household. We will see what transpires, but here is my plan!

Monday – Turkey Roast
Tuesday – Shake n Bake Pork Chops
Wednesday – Spaghetti
Thursday - Potato Cheddar Soup
Friday – Fish & Fries
Saturday – A couple of parties today!
Sunday – Eat Out

Saturday, October 16, 2010

CoinStar - Counting My Change!

Do you have a lot of loose change around the house? Do you dread counting and rolling all of that change to take to the bank? Does going into the bank something you hardly ever do anymore? Well all of these things forced me to make the decision to test out the Coinstar machine at our local Giant Eagle.

According to Coinstar, the average household has $90 of loose change in their house. So I took this challenge to see what we had lying around. I collected all the coins that were semi-rolled in our cabinet. I emptied out all the change that was in our change jar (aka old cake frosting container) in our kitchen. I also gathered all of the change in our 2 change holders in both vehicles (old baby food containers work great for this purpose).

On our shopping trip I stopped at the Coinstar machine first. You can either choose to cash out your change, (however a 9.8 cent fee applies to every dollar) or you can get an eCertificate to many retailers for no fee. I choose the certificate to since I know I could use this for upcoming birthdays and Christmas.

So after emptying all of my change, plus what was in my wallet, I got a $65.52 gift certificate to Amazon. Not too bad! It was also super easy to do and I had no issues. The whole process took about 5 minutes start to finish counting my $65.52 in change.

There are many certificates that are available, but they vary by region. The retailers include, Amazon, Amazon MP3, Borders, CVS (my machine did not have this option), Gap, iTunes, JCPenney, Lowes, Old Navy,, Regal Entertainment, and Starbucks.

This is a great way to save for Christmas without even realizing you are saving money. Start your change jar now and put all of your change in it, then you will be able to cash it out for gifts!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bob Evans BEmail

Join Bob Evan's new BEmail and receive a coupon for a free breakfast (with the purchase of another breakfast) in your inbox!  They also have a great kids club in which your kids get a coupon for a free meal every year around their birthday which you can sign up for at any restaurant!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Save Money When You Work Full-Time

I recently got involved in a discussion on another blog on how to find time to save money when you work full-time outside the home. WOW – that is right up my alley! I do work full-time outside the home at least 40 hours per week plus I have about an hour commute each way! I often leave the house by 6:30 am and do not return until 6 pm. I also travel for my job, sometimes day trips, but at least once a month I have to do a 2 – 4 night trip away from the husband and kids. We recently made some changes in our household, which I will be discussing in the months to come to ease the stress in our house. In the meantime, here are some on my tips on how find time to save money:

1. Meal Planning – This is essential, you have to know what if for dinner each night before you come home. This eliminates the stops on the way home to “grab” something for dinner. I do a meal plan on my blog once a week, it hold me accountable!

2. Eat at Home – I strive to eat at home 6 of the 7 nights each week. We normally only eat out once on the weekends. Huge money saver!

3. Use the Crock Pot – I love my Crock Pot. I usually prepare everything the night before and throw it in the Crock Pot. I then take it out of the refrigerator and turn it on in the morning!

4. Pack Lunches – I rarely eat lunch out at work unless it is a working lunch with my boss or direct reports. Normally I pack leftovers from the night before to re-heat and eat.

5. Use my Lunch Hour – I normally use my lunch hour at work to clip coupons, plan my shopping trips, search deals, and do quick runs to Walgreens and CVS.

6. Freezer Cooking – I do have some meals on hand in the freezer ready to go. I would love to do more of this in the future, but I would have to find the time. I usually have Meatballs and Fajita Kits in the freezer ready to go!

7. Convenience Meals – I will have a few of these on hand such as frozen pizzas or skillet meals. It is still a lot cheaper than eating out and once you get home you can still have dinner on the table within 20 minutes.

8. Clipping Coupons – I normally do not clip all my coupons. I leave my coupon inserts whole and put them in folders by the dates. I then use websites such as Money Saving Mom and Saving In Akron, which match deals with coupons. I only clip the coupons I need for my trip!

9. Stocking Up on Sales – Stock up when items are on sale and create a stock pile. This eliminates a lot of the mid week running around for one or two items. If I decide to have spaghetti for dinner, I know I can go to my basement and grab a box of noodles and jar of sauce. Same goes for toiletries. I never run out of toothpaste, I always have about 5 tubes I got for free.

10. Eating Out – We normally only eat out once a week, but when we do we almost always have a coupon or a gift card when we do eat out. Saves money in the end! My son sells the Enjoy the City book through school and it has tons of high value restaurant coupons in it.

11. Keep a Budget – Write everything down that you spend. Trust me you will think twice about your purchases. We just started this in August, check out my post here.

Finally, you cannot do it all, all the time. Sometimes you have to take a break and let things slide. That is acceptable! Sometimes I get frustrated when I force myself to buy milk for $2.49/gallon when I know I can run to another store for $1.98. However I have to consider my time and is it really worth it to make another trip just for milk? If you find that something is taking up a lot of your time and you are not getting a lot back in terms of rewards, stop wasting your time! My family is my number one priority and the steps I take above all help me being able to spend more time with them. To me that is what life is all about!

Diaper Study - Part 3 (Final Post)

If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2, check out the links.  So my diaper study is complete and guess what I received in the mail?  Yep, my $10 check!  So basically I got a pack of 25 diapers and had to complete a quick 5 minute telephone survey and I got free diapers and $10 for my time.  I am really hoping I can particpate in another one soon, so simple and easy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Freebie Day!

I love signing up for freebies and getting them in the mailbox.  Plus my son loves to open the little boxes they come in from the mailman.  Look what I got today, a free sample of BioTrue and a coupon for a free sample of Advil.  The Bio True sample is still available here (you need a Costco membership #) and the Advil sample is still available here, so go sign up!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – Week of October 11th

Monday – Meatloaf
Tuesday – Leftovers
Wednesday – Perfectly Potato Cheddar Soup (Tastefully Simple) & Garlic Bread
Thursday - Spaghetti
Friday – Eat Out
Saturday – Steaks
Sunday – Roast & Potatoes

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself -
  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own,
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Old Navy - Buy an Adult Item get a Kids Item Free!

I love Old Navy.  I am almost always able to find clothes for myself, my husband, and ever growing boys there.  I am an Old Navy cardholder which comes with a lot of perks.  I was VERY EXCITED when I received this in the mail this week!  Buy any ADULT ITEM and get a KIDS ITEM FREE with your Old Navy card!  It is valid from 10/15 - 10/21 and it is UNLIMITED!  Perfect timing because I am in need of new jeans and my ever growing 4 1/2 year old always needs new clothes!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Target Sample Spot!

Target now has a FREE samples page, Sample Spot! Right now you can request samples of Glad OdorShield Trash Bags with Febreeze Freshness and Tide Original with Acti-Lift Laundry Detergent.
I would check back often to see if they add new ones on a periodic basis. I love laundry detergent samples. I save these all year long and pack these when we go on vacation. They are great to use and then you have less to bring home with you & your clean clothes!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Red Robin's eClub!

Join the Red Robin eClub and receive a free gift just for signing up, a FREE burger on your birthday and all the latest Red Robin news! It's easy! Just enter your birthday and select your restaurant location and join the fun!

**Update** - The free gift sent to your inbox is a $3 off coupon (must be used within 2 weeks)!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – Week of October 4th

October already, really? The chill is in the air, autumn is upon us! I love the change in seasons, but here is northern Ohio it is also a sign that winter is on its way! I had to turn the heat on last night, brrr!  However, I love my winter meals!

Monday – Beef Stew
Tuesday – Work Appreciation Dinner
Wednesday – Chicken and Dumplings (New recipe)
Thursday - Taco Thursday
Friday – Pork Chops
Saturday – Eat Out
Sunday – Turkey Roast

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pampers Gifts to Grow Codes

Here are some Pampers Gifts to Grow Codes that worked for me today!

FacebookOct2010    10 







Unfortunately I have over 1600 points and nothing looks good to me right now!  I am hoping some new rewards come in time for the holiday!

City Chicken

To be perfectly honest, I never heard of City Chicken until I met my wonderful husband 15 years ago!  This is one of his Mom's recipes that we now make a lot during the winter.  It is super easy and cooks in the crock pot all day!

 4 -6 skewers of city chicken (I buy mine on the skewers already at the butcher)
1 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs slighly beaten
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup of milk
1 bay leaf

Dredge skewers in egg and then coat in bread crumbs.  Fry them in oil until all sides are browned.  In crock pot mix soup and milk.  Add browned skewers and bay leaf to crock pot and cover with soup.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Enjoy!

This recipe is linked up at the URS at Life as Mom!