Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Foodie Penpals

In September I participated in the ever so popular Foodie Penpal exchange created by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. How fun! Never heard of it? Well here's the gist...I signed up on Lindsay's blog to be matched up with another foodie. I was paired with two Gayles (or Gails). I sent a box of treats to Gail Lynn in Illinois and Gayle from Pennsylvania sent a box of treats to me. Here's a look at what I got:

A box full of yummies! Sport and Spice were just as excited as I was to dig in. Gayle also sent a handmade card with a description of each item chosen.

The Granola Factory Granola, made just down the road from Gayle's home, was strange (in a good way) and addicting. I love granola and this one had a unique saltiness to it. It was the first thing to disappear.

The Good Bean chickpeas made for a tasty, crunchy snack. Gayle must have read my mind because the day I received the box I had purchased the ingredients to make roasted chickpeas.

I'm still enjoying the dry roasted edamame (even as I write this). I've had steamed edamame, but never roasted so it's a nice treat.

I've been wanting to try the single size servings of peanut butter and almond butter from Justin's, so I thank Gayle for buying them for me.

The kids couldn't wait to get their hands on the Clif Kids grape and mixed berry fruit snacks. They each took a half and unanimously voted grape as the best flavor. They also tore into the Fruit Stripe gum. I loved this during my college days, but apparently never introduced the kids to it. To say they loved it is an understatement. I left them alone for a few minutes and when I came back there were only about 5 pieces of gum left out of a 20 piece pack! I rescued the few remaining pieces and stashed them away so I could actually have some later.

The only thing I have not tried yet is the cashew flavored Larabar. I tucked it away in the pantry out of the kids' sight (do you see a pattern here?)  and forgot about it. I'll try to sneak it out tomorrow.

I enjoyed my first round of Foodie Penpals and am looking forward to participating again this month. If you'd like to give it a try head over to Lindsay's blog. You've got until Thursday to sign up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm Baaaack...

I'm not even going to try and explain my absence for the past year and a half. Let's just say I've been busy. There have been some big changes though, most notably we have moved back to Louisiana to be near family and (old) friends. I look forward to sharing new faces and places with you as we remodel our new old house and continue on our homeschooling journey.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Swagbucks Coupons Work For Me

Are you a Swagbucks collector? What about a coupon clipper? Did you know you can have the best of both worlds by earning Swagbucks when you use coupons? Swagbucks has a page on their website where you can print coupons. The site is powered by coupons.com so if you're a regular couponer you're probably already using many of the coupons available on the Swagbucks site, but not getting credit for them. Today I printed out coupons to save 40 cents on 6 cups of Yoplait yogurt, $1 on Kashi cereal bars, and $1 on Kashi cereal. There are also coupons for Udi's gluten free bread. I have a friend who buys gluten free products so I plan to print those for her so she can redeem them and put some bucks in my account. Go to the Swagbucks website, click on earn and then coupons. You'll find 18 pages of deals to choose from.

If you aren't earning Swagbucks yet, what are you waiting for?!? I've earned nearly $100 in Amazon gift cards in a little over a year just by using the toolbar. That works for me! For a homeschooling mama of two reading machines, free Amazon money is pure bliss! Head over to Swagbucks now to start your account then go to We Are That Family to find out what's working for everyone else.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learning with the American Girls

In just a matter of weeks, Spice turned into an American Girl addict. We received a catalog out of the blue in the fall. I was going to chunk it right off the bat, but decided to hold on to it for a bit to see if she showed any interest. She did not and I thought I had tossed the catalog in the recycle bin. About a month later, I walked into the living room to find her deeply engrossed in the catalog. Apparently it had gotten buried under some books on the coffee table and she unearthed it. Since that day she hasn't talked about much of anything else. She got an AG doll from Santa (one of the My American Girl dolls, not a historical character) and Sport bought her a mini Kaya doll for Christmas as well. This semester she is taking an American Girl class through a homeschool enrichment program we participate in. The class will spend the entire semester studying Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish girl living in 1914 New York. After reading through the books, I decided to supplement her studies at home. I'm also in the process of planning a more in-depth unit on WWII and American Girl Molly. I have decided to post about the work Spice does at home and in class in case others want utilize the wonderful books in their child's studies. I will post about each book in a series as we finish it. First up will be Meet Rebecca. Check back soon for our first installment!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Taco Pie

I haven't done a recipe post in awhile. Just haven't been able to find the inspiration, but it came this week in the form of organic ground beef on sale at Publix. I stocked up and was trying to think of how to use it when I remembered this recipe. It's a family favorite, but I haven't made it in a lonnnggg time because I quit buying canned biscuits - too many weird ingredients. I recently discovered Trader Joe's has a (relatively) healthy store version though so this recipe is coming back into the rotation.

Here's what you need:
1 lb. ground beef (sometimes I substitute the fake Morning Star Farms meat and no one is the wiser)
1 packet taco seasoning
8 oz. tomato sauce
8-10 oz. can of biscuits
1 cup refried beans
1 cup cheese (I use whatever's in the fridge)
1 small onion, chopped
Brown beef and stir in tomato sauce and onion. Heat until it begins to boil. Lower temp and simmer 15 minutes or until thickened. Lightly grease 9-inch pie plate. Flatten biscuits over bottom and up sides of plate. Spread beans over dough. Top with meat and bake for about 20 minutes at 375. Sprinkle cheese over top before serving.

This recipe is being linked with Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday, All The Small Stuff's Tuesdays At The Table, and At The Well's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Head to either of those for more yummy recipes.

Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is also taking a poll to find out what brands we can't live without. In other words, if you found out a particular brand item was going to be discontinued, which ones would you stock up on. Here's my (not so short) list:

Coca Cola - No diet or zero stuff here. Can't beat the real thing.
Kroger Natural Peanut Butter - I could live with other brands if I had to, but this one is the best in my opinion.
Annie's Mac and Cheese - Spice is a mac and cheese addict. I don't feel quite so guilty when I serve her the Annie's all natural brand.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - Nothing else compares...
Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa - Nice and refreshing. The closest to actual restaurant salsa I've found in a jar.
Tostitos Baked Scoops - The perfect complement to the above mentioned salsa. These are the ONLY baked chips I like and they make my constant craving for chips and salsa a little less guilt inducing.
Crayola Crayons - The rest are just colored blobs of wax.
Oral B or Johnson & Johnson dental floss - All the other brands fall apart before the job is done.
Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner - The only one that actually works on the tub.

And No. 1 on the list...

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning - My luxury item if I'm ever on Survivor. This stuff could even make grass taste good.

Head over to Jen's blog to see what brands other reader's are loyal to and feel free to leave a comment here telling me your favorites.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Frugal Fashionista

Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is hosting a Frugal Fashionista fashion show this weekend. I’ve wanted to participate in one for so long, but it seems like once I first discovered them she didn’t do one in forever then when she did have one I totally missed it. So here’s my first Frugal Fashionista post. Unfortunately, the pictures aren’t the greatest. My camera was taking for-evah to charge so I had to get Hubby to snap a few pics with his camera phone. Not the best quality and to say he wasn’t into it nearly as much as me is a huge understatement. But it’s all we’ve got so here goes…

This jacket was my thrift store find of the week (and I found some goooood stuff this week)! Abercombie and Fitch via Goodwill for $5.90! As for the rest of the outfit…
Ribbed turtleneck – FREE from a homeschool swap.
Jeans – FREE from an awesome consignment shop. I bring most of my unwanted goods to this consignment shop so I have built up a nice little line of credit. It’s fun to walk out of a store with a sack of free goodies and not have to worry about the police tracking you down.
Shoes – $4 on clearance at Cato.
Grand Total: A whopping $9.90!

I picked up this nice and cozy sweater yesterday. Can’t wait to wear it!
Sweater – $2.72 from America’s Thrift Store
Jeans – same as above
Axcess Shoes – $3.88 America’s Thrift Store – These aren’t my normal style of shoes. I prefer “sensible” (i.e. comfortable shoes) but for some reason when I saw these yesterday they just called to me. Here's a better picture:

Grand Total for that outfit: $7.76

Ooh! I almost forgot this sweater and it’s one of my new all time faves. Luckily, Spice was kind enough to take a picture for me today.
I picked up this Dress Barn beauty at a church run thrift store on Tuesday for $2.00!!! The aqua shirt underneath came from the same store last season for $1.50.
Hope you enjoyed taking a peek at my bargains. Can’t wait to show off more next time. I already have a nice little wardrobe of spring goodies built up, but since neither my legs nor my toes are in spring mode, they’ll have to wait! Check out other fashionista bargains at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and My Red Apron's Thrift Store Thursday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Craftapalooza

Two weeks ago we rounded up a few friends and hosted the first ever Christmas Craftapalooza at our house. I love the idea of kids giving handmade gifts for Christmas, but I'm not so much into giving out cheesy toilet paper roll Christmas ornaments or framed handprints (OK the handprints aren't necessarily cheesy, but there's only so many years you can really do those and have them mean something). I'm all about having the kids make GOOD and USEFUL gifts that aren't just pulled out once a year when the grandparents know you're coming over for a visit.

Usually Sport, Spice, and I make these candles every year for my mom and a few friends.

Photo from Family Fun

Obviously adult supervision is required, but they make a nice gift and are fun to create.

We've gotten a bit tired of those though so this year I scoured the internet to come up with some new ideas. Here's a look at what was created at our craftapalooza...

Beaded Rings:
Photo from Family Fun

Spice and I actually made one of these as a make and take on a recent trip to Micheal's. We liked them so much we decided to make more for Christmas. I found  instructions at Family Fun. Our rings were similar, but we used small pearls in place of the silver beads to give it a fancier Christmas look. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of any of the finished products. We had kids aged 5-9 at our event and some were better able to do this than others. I'd recommend it for ages 7 and up as an unsupervised craft. Some of those pearl beads are hard to string!

Cookies in a Can:

Similar to cookies in a jar, but uses Pringles cans instead. (This was one of those spur of the moment "I'm in desparate need of a gift NOW!" ideas I came up with last year.)We wrapped Pringles cans then fillled them with cookie ingredients in Zip-Loc bags. Here's our recipe:

In one quart-sized Zip-Loc bag, combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt. 
In a second bag, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar.
Fill a sandwhich size bag with 3/4 cup chocolate chips, raisins, nuts...We used the peppermint swirl chips for a festive look. They were delicious!
Place all bags inside a 6 oz Pringles can and add a gift tag with the following instructions:
To use combine all ingredients in a large bowl with 3/4 cup shortening, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp. milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Form into one inch balls and bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Altered Notebooks:

By far the favorite craft of the day was altered notebooks. My kids are still making these. I purchased three-to-a-pack memo sized notebooks at Dollar Tree. These had a plasticy type cover on both sides. One side had a second cardboard cover underneath the plastic layer so I cut the plastic cover off (I was worried the glue would not adhere to it as well) and we worked with the cardboard side. Before the party I traced the cover on a bunch of pieces of scrapbook paper and cut them out so the kids could just pick the paper they liked best and glue it on. Once they had a new decorative cover they were able to add embellishments using paper punches, stickers, and stamps. Some websites give instructions for removing the spiral wire so that the entire front of the notebook can be covered, then making new holes and reinserting the wire. Way too complicated for my tatste! We just glued the paper as close to the wire as possible, leaving a small white edge along the top of the notebooks. I think this worked out just fine and made it much easier for the kids to complete the project on their own. Oh and for all you true bargain hunters out there, I've since found more notebooks at Big Lots that come four to a pack, making these cute little personalized gifts come out to about 30 cents each.

If you're still looking for gifts to put under the tree, get the kids to work and if none of these ideas float your boat, check out Works For Me Wednesday for more last minute gift ideas.