Sunday, July 26, 2009

Attack of the Killer Zucchini

I was out yesterday showing my cousin Nora my garden and what I had in it, and I found a HUGE zucchini. Somehow I missed it- I'm really not sure how. So now I have even MORE zucchini and shredding this would probably result in like 8 cups of shredded zucchini. Friends and family- prepare for zucchini bread for Christmas! I will be doing lots of baking then!

For comparison and so you know I'm not exaggerating, here is Addison holding said zucchini:

I also did a little baking yesterday and made bread with herbs and parmesan cheese- it is so yummy! And super easy because it doesn't require kneading.

Here is the recipe:

2 c. warm water
2 T. soft butter
1 t. oregano
2 T. sugar
1 T. dried basil
1 t. dried garlic
1/2 c. parmesan- shredded or grated
4 1/2 t. active dry yeast
4 1/2 c. flour
2 t. salt
1-2 extra T. parmesan for the top- I used shredded for the look of it

Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl. Let stand a few minutes, then stir and dissolve yeast. Add sugar, salt, butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, garlic and 3 cups of the flour. Beat at slow speed for 2 minutes. Beat in rest of flour; cover the bowl with a sheet of wax paper and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one round, 2-quart casserole. Set aside. Stir batter down for 1/2 a minute. Turn batter into casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.

I didn't have a round casserole so I used a large Springform pan and it worked great! Also, the dough will be very sticky when you put it in the casserole but it is supposed to be, don't worry! This would be great with a pasta dinner, as bread for bruschetta, or toasted with butter on it.

Here is a picture:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Freezing veggies

My garden runneth over. At least with squash, zucchini and green beans. This week I actually had to sacrifice a squash plant, and pull it out completely. It was for the greater good, my beans will have more breathing room and the other squash plant will be able to spread a little. Still, it was sad ripping something out that I planted from seed.

This week, I got 3 yellow squash, probably 6 zucchini, green beans and 2 cucumbers from the garden- I was so excited! Right away I cut up 1 squash and 1 zucchini and sauteed it in a little olive oil and chopped garlic. I like to keep it a little firm, not mushy.

Still, I had a TON left. So I read up on freezing veggies and it is best to blanch them beforehand. So I chopped everything up, blanched it for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, cooled in ice water, and then put it in individually labeled Ziplocs. A Food Saver would be great, but it's not in the budget right now.

I also shredded 8 (!) cups of zucchini so I can just pull a bag out and make a loaf or two of zucchini bread throughout the fall and winter.

As for the rest of the garden:
Carrots: Pulled one up to check, it was 2-3 inches long and looked (and tasted) great!
Tomatoes: I have a ton of green tomatoes, when they ripen I am going to freeze some whole, and make spaghetti sauce with the rest. I want to attempt to can it, but I might wuss out and freeze it instead.
Zucchini: Still huge, still growing
Squash: Ditto
Green Beans: I have another "crop" maturing right now, should be ready to pick before the end of the weekend.
Cucumber: I have several teeny tiny cukes, but nothing growing yet.
Green/Regular Onions: Looking good, I'm not sure how big the regular onions will get but at the least I'll have some nice spring onions.
Green Peppers: Picked and used one, 2 more should be ready within a week or so.
Watermelon: The vine is growing, but no watermelon. Probably will not attempt next year!

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's going to be a good week at Walgreens!

When the Sunday ads come, I always go through them and match up coupons, ads and Register Rewards (coupons that print out; are good toward your next purchase). Then I look at Money Saving Mom to make sure there aren't any deals I have missed. This is a great website updated daily with various store deals, freebies and printable coupons.

After going through the Walgreens ad, I realized I could pay very little OOP (out of pocket) if I made 3 trips. Like I have said before, this isn't an issue because I have 4 Walgreens close to me and I'm not making a huge drive and wasting the gas on it.

Here are the scenarios I have found- if you see anything different or better, please comment and let me know!

I have $1 RR(Register Reward) from a purchase last week.

Trip #1:
Excedrin Migraine Geltabs, 50 count. On sale for Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) at $6.99
-Use 2 $1 Manufacturer Coupons
-Get $5 RR
Posterboard- one for 9 cents( using as a filler to be able to use my $1 plus 2 coupons, at Walgreens you need to have as many items as you do coupons)

Pay $4.08 plus tax OOP after RR, get $5 RR back

Trip #2:
Pilot G2 Gel Pens $1
-Get $1 RR
School Box, 49 cents
Bic Comfort 3 Razors- $2.99
-use $2 Manufacturer Coupon
Mentos Gum
-use In-Ad Coupon for 99 cents
-use 55 cent Manufactuer Coupon (apparently there is a $1 coupon out there too, I don't have it) Neutrogena Makeup- BOGO at $7.99
-use 2 $3 Manufactuer Coupons
Tylenol, various on sale for $4.99
-use $2 Manufacturer Coupon
-Get $3 RR

Pay $2.90 plus tax OOP after using $5 RR from Trip #1, get $4 RR

Trip #3:
Kelloggs Cereal, 2/$5
-use $1.50/2 printable coupon from Money Saving Mom
-Get $1 RR
Buy 1 "filler" for 50 cents (I want to use $4 of RR and it needs to be $ before taxes- can be anything- candy, a pen, a clearance item...)

Pay only tax OOP after I use $4 of RR from trip #2, get $1 RR

So, for all of this, when it is said and done, I will only be paying $6.98 plus tax for all of this, and I will have $1 RR to roll into next week's purchases!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I love my new baby carrier!

I have been looking for a carrier that I could use to put Ryan on my back and be COMFORTABLE. I don't know if it is because I am short and have a short torso, or what, but I have always been envious of the women I see who are carrying their babies like it's nothing.

I have a Snugli from when I had Addison and it works OK for when they are teeny-tiny and you are wearing them in front, but lately it has been killing my back with Ryan in it. I have to wear her when I am at gymnastics with Addison, and it is much easier to garden, run around with Addison, and do chores wearing Ryan vs carrying her. Sometimes she is so fussy and clingy I literally get nothing done. So, I was in the market for a new carrier, and read many reviews.

I chose to get a BabyHawk. Yes, it was pretty pricey but what drew me to it was that you tie the straps around you- it isn't rigid. For me, it fits PERFECTLY and does a really nice job of taking the weight off my shoulders and neck (I have neck problems) and distributes it to my back/waist by the extra strap. You can also wear it in the front but Ryan's head bumps into my chin, so on the back she goes.

Ryan likes it too- she has her limits because now that she is mobile, she prefers to be on the ground moving. But yesterday I had her in it when I was hanging the diapers outside (the sun is a natural germ killer and gets rid of stains), and she actually fell asleep in it! It was so cute, I snapped a picture- nevermind the look on my face, I was looking at the viewfinder screen (and I had a little helper, if you can see):

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another great Target week!

James and I took the girls to Target last night to pick up some good deals I had found. Unfortunately, the first store was out of two of the best deals (must be more couponers around here than I thought!), so we went to another store.

A few highlights:
3 packages of Electrosol tabs- on sale for $3.49, and I had a $2.50 coupon, making them just 99 cents each. They were also bonus packs and I got 40 tabs vs 32!
Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste- sale for $2, $1 Target coupon, $1 Manufacturer coupon, making it FREE!
Strawberries- sale for $1.99, $1 Target Coupon= 99 cents
Frosted Mini Wheats- sale for $1.88 each, $1.50/2 Manufacturer coupon= $1.13 per box!

Hopefully the good deals will keep rolling, it is totally worth my time to make an extra trip a week for these deals!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reduce your grocery bill, help the planet

I am trying very hard to stick to a grocery budget of $400 a month. That includes everything- cleaning products, health and beauty, food and dog food. For some, that might be really high, others, way low. When I first started budgeting we were spending over $600 a month on groceries! So this is a low, but very realistic goal for us.

I have done a few things to lower my grocery bill, including:
-starting a garden (fun for Addison to help with, too!)
-breastfeeding and cloth diapering (after buying formula and disposable diapers for Addison, I realized how much I could save!)
and finally, buying reusable items to replace throwaway items.

The BEST replacement I have made is switching out paper towels for microfiber cloths. We used paper towels for EVERYTHING: weekly cleaning, wiping hands and faces, wiping down the sink and counters after meals, etc. We were buying an 8 pack of paper towels every two weeks. If I didn't have a coupon, that was at least $8, or $16 month.

I bought 20 microfiber cloths (probably $10 total- I got some at Walmart and some at Walgreens on clearance). I bought so many so they can be "one use" and I don't have a wet, dirty cloth laying around the kitchen for a day or two. I just wipe down the counter, and put it down in the laundry room. If you like, you can buy different colors for different tasks- cleaning bathrooms, cleaning counters, etc. They actually clean better than paper towels, and of course it is better for the planet than using paper towels so much.

Sure, we still use paper towels- I just bought 4 rolls last week for 24 cents each! But those will probably last us at least a month. So, that brings me ahead $15 every month. That can buy us quite a bit of food!

Next step: buying microfiber Swiffer mop pads vs disposable ones. A pack of 12 is $7, and I can get a reusable one for $8.50. Even buying 2, I'll make back my money pretty fast!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baking Day!

Yesterday I picked two more zucchini from my garden- one was a monster that somehow got away from me and another smaller one. James and I aren't so keen on eating zucchini every night (although it is great sauteed with garlic and olive oil!), so I decided to try a bread recipe. Here is the recipe I used. I actually use that website quite a bit. The bread turned out really good, although I hate using oil; I would rather use butter. Next time I might try to modify the recipe or track down a new one.

I also made Banana Muffins:
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all purpose flour
3 ripe mashed bananas
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/3 c. butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tin or line with paper cups. Combine bananas, butter, sugar and egg in large bowl. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder (you could sift these together first but I'm naughty and NEVER do). Mix until just moist- do not over mix. Scoop into muffin tins, you should get 12 muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I also made 2 loaves of whole wheat bread. This is great because all of this baking should last us 2 weeks unless I give some away, which I am likely to do. Next baking day I am going to try something new, but haven't decided: tortillas, cheese crackers or pita bread.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Awesome week at Target!

This week, I got some awesome deals at Target!

I paid $17.87 for the following:
Febreze Air Freshener
Oscar Meyer Deli Creations Sandwich
1 lb strawberries
1 box Kashi Waffles
Schick Quattro Women's Razors
4 Rolls Bounty Basic Paper Towels
2 Boxes Kashi Cereal
2 Boxes Kashi Cereal Bars
Softsoap Ensembles Pump Soap
Value Pack (2) Softsoap Ensembles Refills

Some of the best deals were:

Bounty Paper Towels- originally 99 cents.
I used a 50 cent Target coupon with a 25 cent Manufacturer coupon (per roll for a total of 8 coupons) and got them for 24 cents per roll!

Kashi Breakfast Cereal- on sale for $2.66 each
I used 2 Manufacturer Coupons for $1.50 each, a Target coupon for 50 Cents and a Target coupon for Buy 1, Get 1 Free. It works out to 33 cents per box!

Softsoap Ensembles: $6 each
I used a Target coupon for $2, a Manufacturer coupon for $3, reducing it to $7 total. When you buy 2 of these products right now, Target gives you a $5 gift card, meaning I paid $1 for them!

And when you deduct the $5 gift card from my grocery total, I paid $12.87 for all of the above.

Where do I find scenarios to help me get the best deals? I go to, and to print the coupons.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grocery Savings!

I went to Walmart yesterday and saved over $20 using my coupons! Our Super Walmart here is actually decent and they ad match, so it is worth going there instead of running all around town chasing the best deals, wasting gas and wearing myself out.

For those that aren't familiar, all you do is take the competing store's ad in and show it to the cashier, and they will adjust the price down. Super easy to do!

The ads for grocery stores come to the house on Tuesday or Wednesday. When I get them, I look through for the best deals and make lists for each store. I also always write down cereal, toilet paper and cleaning stuff. Then I go through my coupons and match them up with the sales. I have a 3 ring binder, and keep the coupons in the sheets for baseball cards. That way, I can see all of my coupons and not be digging through an envelope.

From there, I finalize 2 lists- 1 for Walmart and 1 for another grocery store. Here in Nebraska, that is usually Hy Vee. Walmart doesn't have everything Hy Vee does, and it is only half a mile away, so it is no biggie to go there.

For Walmart, I pull out all my coupons ahead of time so I'm not pulling them out at the register. I also pull out high value coupons to check on the prices to see if I can get them for cheap. If I can get them for cheap, I do, and stockpile them. Basically, I have a pantry with peanut butter, sauces, soups, and cereals that I know I will use before they expire, but only buy when it is on sale. I do the same thing with meat in my deep freeze.

This week, here were some of my best deals:

Starbucks Ice Cream, 1 pint. On Rollback for 2/$5, and I had 4 $2 off coupons (I get the paper, and others give me the inserts from their papers.) So I got 4 pints of ice cream for $2 total, or 50 cents each! That is a savings of $8! Yes, I know not the best for when I am dieting, but everything in moderation- just don't eat the whole pint at once, measure out half a cup.

Charmin 12 Big Roll Toilet Paper. Normally $7.58 at Walmart, had an ad match for $5.98. Also had a 25 cent coupon, so I got it for $5.73. The best deal I have seen around here in awhile.

Strawberries, 1 pound. They were $1.88 at Walmart and had an ad match for 99 cents.

Eggo Bake Shop Pastries. Were 1.98 and I had 4 $1 coupons. Got them for 98 cents each! Target also has them on sale this week and you could get them for just 50 cents each if you have the time for a separate trip. I did not. For the details and coupons links, check out

Kraft BBQ Sauce. Had an ad match for 78 cents, and used a 50 cent coupon. So I got it for 18 cents, and it is normally 99 cents! James will use this for leftover roast, to make BBQ sandwiches, on chicken and pork chops.

Kraft Salad Dressing. Was $1.58 and I had a $1 coupon. Not quite the 8 cents I paid last time with a $1.50 coupon, but it was still only 58 cents! Not only can you use this as a salad dressing, but I got the Asian Sesame Dressing and plan to use this for a marinade on chicken.

Again, they key is to stockpile shelf-stable items and meat when they are cheap and supplement with fresh veggies, fruits, and milk. You can then plan your meals around what is on hand and save money, versus planning a menu and then shopping for it, often at a higher cost.