Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scrumptious Sunday: Southwest Skillet

 This is my take on Kraft's
Southwest Pasta Skillet:
1lb pasta (I like to choose something that will grab onto the sauce!)
1 tblsp olive oil
1 Green Pepper sliced or diced
Fully Cooked Ham (about 1lb) sliced or diced
1 container Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme
1 can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (You can use any canned tomato product you have on hand!)
1/2 cup Parmesan Grated Cheese

1. Cook pasta to desired tenderness; drain and set aside.

2. Rinse the pasta pan and return to stove on medium heat.  Add 1 tblsp olive oil.  Once olive oil has come up in temperature, add peppers and diced/sliced ham.  Saute' until peppers and ham have a nice golden crisp.

3. Add canned tomatoes, cooking creme and pasta and heat through stirring to make sure all ingredients are mixed well.

4. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan/Romano grated cheese and stir thoroughly.
5. Plate and Serve!
Final Thoughts:  This has a great flavor thanks to the cooking creme, but it's not too over-powering for traditional tastes.  I love that it can be cooked in one pot and in under 30 minutes for a quick meal!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ending the Month on a good note even if I am WAY over budget!

Well, I finally had an easier shopping week and that also meant an easier week on my wallet.
Here's what I purchased this week:

One final round of transactions at Shoprite to finish off my Snackwell Qs! $4.39

A bunch of quick stops including Dollar Tree, a Bread Outlet, Aldi and Stop & Shop. $8.93
Shoprite for some odds and ends and Free Italian Ice! $7.08

I also stopped at Target for a few deals and purchased coupons for next week's Marcal sale at Shoprite.

Total Spending this week = $28.07
Total Savings this week = $116.95 or 80% Savings

Total Spending this month = $249.05
Total Savings this month = $862.07 or 78% Savings

$49 over budget!

I'm going to trim my August budget to $35/week average or a total of $175 for the month (July 30th- September 2). That should help put me back on track!!!

How was your shopping this week?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Family Fridays: Pegs in the Park!

I picked up Pegs in the Park at a yard sale last week for just $1 and it has fast become a family favorite.  According to the box it's recommended for ages 4-8, but my two year old can play with just a little help!
It's an excellent game for counting.  But, the thing I really love is that one round of the game takes about ten minutes, which is perfect for keeping the attention of my 5 year old.  She tends to loose focus on longer games and ends up in tears. This was definitely a dollar well spent!

Adams Farm Deals : 7/29-8/1 2011

Featured Deal: 79c/lb Local Eggplant!

89c/lb Green Peppers
99c/head Romaine Lettuce
$1.79/lb Thin Sliced Chicken Breast Cutlets

For the full ad visit Adams' website!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: On the topic of Garage/Yard Sales

I've been shopping a few garage/yard/rummage sales in search of fall clothes for my older daughter in the next size up.  I was browsing listings on craigslist and came across an ad with the following posted at the bottom.

***Warning: Early birds will be marched directly to the kitchen to make coffee and juggle requests from groggy children while we set up.***

I just had to share!

Recommended Reading: "That's Not Trash; That's Dinner"

"...the edible vegetable begins with the sprouts and does not end until the leaves, vines, tubers, shoots and seeds have given their all" 

Head on over and read the full article!

Woeful Wednesday-Wonderful Wednesday: Catalinas are both!

More often than not something is both woeful and wonderful.  It's all about perspective and how we handle hiccups! 
Catalina deals combined with great sales and coupons can make for some amazing bargains, but they can also be problematic and time consuming.  Sometimes the machines are not working, sometimes they require lots of small transactions in order for the best financial scenario, and sometimes they work out just as planned and you score lots of items for pennies on the dollar.  Catalinas can be a pain, but they are a pain worth suffering through!

Final Thought:  Don't get stressed when something doesn't go your way.  Just ask for assistance and more often than not, you'll get the help you need and the deal you were after!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Snack on this;Tan on this!

Want the look of being out in this all day?  Do you desire perfect sun-kissed skin tones?
We all know the risks of sun exposure and are smart enough to protect our skin. You can spend money on an expensive bronzer or you can up your intake of brightly colored.....

fruits and veggies!  Carotenoids found in red, yellow, orange, and dark green produce are absorbed and give skin a golden glow.  So, next time you are at the market, choose your foods wisely and you'll have the best "veggie tan" on the block beach.

Source: Redbook Magazine

 This post is linked to:
Frugal Tuesday Tip
Works for Me Wednesday
Frugal Fridays

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- simplicity with a side of creativity

Still sticking to my theme of simplicity, but trying to add a dash of something here and a pinch of something there to keep it fresh.  A little creativity can go a long way!

MONDAY- leftover chicken
TUESDAY- tilapia smothered in salsa with pasta and zucchini
WEDNESDAY- Southwest Pasta Skillet (I'll be substituting ham for the chicken.)
THURSDAY- leftovers
FRIDAY- home-made pizza on the grill
SATURDAY- eat out treat!
SUNDAY- turkey burgers and hot dogs with potato salad

Be sure to check back and see how the Southwest Skillet turns out!

Scrumptious Sunday: Cook once, Eat thrice-Caribbean Nights

Nothing beats stretching leftovers into several meals, but it's particularly helpful when we are tired or when we are trying to avoid heating up the kitchen.  (Thank god for the break in heat here in the Northeast!)

Last week's menu included one of my favorite slow cooker dishes, Caribbean Nights. 
Here's a run-down on how we made it work for several meals.

Here it is the first night with salad and rice noodles on the side.

And the second night as an entree salad...

and, finally, it appeared on night three as a wrap or burrito!

Final thought: Getting creative with leftovers helps to encourage using them up!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Saturday's Savings Summary: Oops, did I do that?

Well, it was quite the busy week of lots of small transactions in order to keep my OOP low and roll Catalinas.  These weeks often creep up in cost without me realizing I've gone way over budget.

CVS: $1.18
Aldi: $14.05
Shoprite: $1.62
Adams: $8.94
Stop & Shop: -$0.19 (There was a problem with the Cat machine and the store gave cash back instead of CATS.  I've credited the $8 refunded directly to this order.)

Stop & Shop: $4.16
Walmart: $12.93 (We really needed the Iron Out!)

Shoprite: $3.35

Stop & Shop: $4.16

Shoprite: $1.56
Adams: $4.24

I spent about 30c at RiteAid and a whopping $17 on purchasing coupons which brings my weekly total up a bit.  Now, for every 4 rolls of Viva I received a $2.50 CAT (except the two orders that were a problem).  I also have about $15 in CATS from the Snackwell and Sundown deals.  So, while I did go over budget I have about $35 in CATS and I'm well stocked on many things.

Total Spending this week = $72.81
Total Savings this week = $325.70 or 82% Savings

Total Spending this month = $220.98
Total Savings this month = $745.12 or 77% Savings

I'm definitely going to have to trim the budget for August to make up for this extra spending!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Fridays: 40 Drives in New York

Colorful, Charming, Quirky: 40 drive-to gems in New York State
by Car & Travel
Original Publish Date - June 2011
We asked colleagues; we traveled; we came up with the 40 coolest spots in the Empire State. We ignored internationally known “sights,” instead choosing those standing tall because of beauty, tranquility, excitement, even, idiosyncrasy. Of course you disagree with the list, so what would you add? Write to the editor, or e-mail us at

You can view the article here!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: Ask the readers...Biz?

I recently purchased 6 boxes of Biz stain fighter for a steal at Shoprite!  (It was $1.84 plus tax or just 31c per box.)  I can certainly use this for awhile as a stain treater/laundry booster, but I'm wondering if there are any other ways I can use it.

Do you have any alternate uses for Biz that you'd share?  Pretty please!

Wonderful Wednesday: The Clothesline!

Ever since I can remember I have loved hanging clothes on the line.  My Nana used to joke that she always knew when I was visiting my parents' house because there would be clothes on the line!

 My clothesline on a recent sunny, breezy day!
See, what's not to love about that?!

The kids' clothesline.  Hung at just the right height for them to get in on the clothesline love!
DD2 removing her diapers from the line at the end of the day!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Pack a Lunch

My husband normally takes lunch to work where he has the luxury of a microwave, toaster and fridge.  His lunch most often is dinner leftovers, but this week he's at a seminar near JFK airport.  A lunch in that area (and many other areas for that matter) can easily cost $10 or more.  Packing food for the road can be such an easy way to save money with a little planning.
I checked my pantry and found some chocolate chip muffin mix that I scored Free at Shoprite some months ago.  We don't make baking mixes often, but they can  come in handy.  This mix was going to expire at the end of August, so perfect time to use it up. 
Next, I headed to the pantry to find some snacks.  Since convenience foods can sometimes be more expensive, I try to save them for times when we really NEED the convenience.
By stocking up while these items are on sale AND saving them for the most needed time we can really save money.  The iced tea and combos were free, the granola bars were a recent MM, and the apple was inexpensive at Aldi this week.  To round out the meal, I made a ham and cheese sandwich and filled a water bottle. I estimate the total cost to be around $1.00 for the lunch, which is a great savings if you compare the possible $10 meal!  That's a great deal!

Final thought:  Don't forget to save those convenience foods for the times you really NEED the convenience!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuesday, July 19th---Canning Workshop--Gardiner, NY

6:30pm Tuesday, July 19th
Phillies Bridge Project Canning Workshop
45 Phillies Bridge Road
Gardiner, NY

Learn how to preserve the harvest and enjoy the delights of the summer throughout the year.
Registration Required:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Simplicity is Key!

It's another week with the same general philosophy.  Keep it simple.

MONDAY-leftover Caribbean Nights
TUESDAY-$6 pizza night (a local pizzeria offers $6 pies on Tuesdays) with salad
WEDNESDAY- Tilapia with taco rice and mixed vegetables
THURSDAY- grilled chicken with pasta and salad
FRIDAY- leftovers
SATURDAY- Eat Out Night (probably our favorite Chinese/Hibachi)
SUNDAY- Chicken Burritos with rice and beans and salad

Scrumptious Sunday: Stir Fry Saute Chicken

I like to keep things simple!  I snagged tons of free Kikkoman Stir Fry seasoning packets with recent qs available and while I like stir fry, my kids prefer their veggies plain.  So, I came up with a simple plan.  I marinate the chicken in the seasoning packet and some soy sauce for a couple hours, then add a bit of cooking oil (whatever's around) and mix it in to the marinade.  I dump the whole thing into my hot fry pan and saute that chicken.  Serve with veggies over rice or on a salad, whatever suits your fancy!

This post is linked to:

Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Shopping-rolling catalinas to keep my OOP low!

Well, I managed to keep my out-of-pocket costs lower this week than the past two weeks.  This was, in part, due to some planned rolling of catalinas at Shoprite.  Hooray for a MM CAT deal on the Snackwell bars.
Here's what I bought this week:

The training pants were a steal at just 15c!  I was near Toys R'Us and stopped in thinking I might use a $2 IP for Seventh Generation on some refill packs of wipes.  Much to my surprise, the only Seventh Generation item in the whole store was this package of training pants.  Luck was on my side though.  When I asked about the line of products the cashier said she wasn't sure of the store's plan, but items had been ringing up on clearance.  I grabbed the pack and sure enough, they rang up on clearance.  I was able to use a $2 Store Q with my IP and score these for 15c!

Total Spending this week = $27.64 (including the extra coupons I purchased for the Snackwell deal)
Total Savings this week = $234.60 or 89% Savings

Total Spending this month = $148.17
Total Savings this week = $419.42 or 74% Savings

That leaves just $51.83  to last through the29th of July.  I'm thinking I can do it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Family Fridays: Well, errr, umm, Saturday!

5-8pm Saturday, July 16th
Free admission to the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum
75 North Water St.
Poughkeepsie, NY

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts

How appropriate is this given my Wednesday Woe!

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Alamac

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Great Thrift Store Finds!

It's not often that I have a lot of extra time to hunt for thrift store goodies.  Taking the kiddos to a grocery store or big box with a shopping cart for containment is one thing, but hunting through the racks at a thrift store with the kiddos is quite another!
Well, I had a little extra time last week and stopped by a great little thrift store in a nearby town. My timing was excellent!  They were having a B1G1 sale on most clothes and when their kids' clothes run around 50c and adult items around 75c this is a steal.  I spent a total of $12 for 22 items of clothing (and my total was only that high because I spent $3 on one of the few dresses that wasn't part of the sale, but was brand new with tags)!

These are the clothes I found for myself.
1 jacket
3 tops
2 pants
4 dresses
1 sweater
These were all great brand name items, too!  Ann Taylor, Jones get the idea!

These are the clothes for DD5.  They are great additions to her collection of clothes for the next size up.
By keeping an eye out for deals on the next size, we save money on clothing our growing girl!
1 sweatshirt
2 bathing suits (Lands End)
4 shirts
1 skirt
2 pants
2 dresses

Do you have a favorite thrift store?

Woeful Wednesday: Water, water everywhere

I love the water!  The ocean, a pool, a pond, a rambling stream, the lake...I even like a warm summer rain-shower, but water isn't good when it's in the wrong place.
See those stains?  They are from water coming into our master bedroom via a leak around our shower.  The picture on top is the water damage to the old 1950's tiles under our carpet.

While we can't always predict and plan for problems we encounter in life, we can deal with them in the best possible way.

We've begun to remove the damaged carpeting ourselves.  The next step will be to remove the leaky shower and then fix the problem. The problem fixing might be beyond our do-it-yourself abilities, so we'll likely hire a pro for that. Once the problem is completely resolved, we'll find the best deal on new flooring and do as much of the work ourselves as possibles. 

This is my "woe" this week!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tuesday's Tips: Save big by growing these items in your garden!

According to George w. Ball, Jr., the owner of Burpee seed company, says that for every dollar spent on tomato seeds you will see $25 worth of product.  In addition to tomatoes, other cash crops include: zucchini, loose-leaf lettuce, cucumbers, hot peppers and basil. Of those hot six cash crops we are growing 5.   Do you garden?  Is your garden producing yet?