Monday, August 30, 2010

How to save money on a vacation

A surprise post with ideas for how to save money on a vacation!
  • Don't take a small child.
  • Don't eat at Joe's Crab Shack.
  • Don't step foot in Ikea.

That's all I can think of for now, back to normal posts on Thursday, hopefully! I miss everyone, see you soon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

In my absence...

So I probably won't have anything to say until I get back from our trip, and I wanted to turn you on to some other girls who have plenty to say about saving money! I added some links on the right side of the page to some blogs that I enjoy, check them out!
  • Hip2Save is a super active blog, there are always many, many posts every day. She covers lots of online deals, and also drugstore deals.

  • My Frugal Adventures is another really busy blog, she does online deals and grocery stores too. She's in CA, so her Safeway deals are a bit different from our Denver division store, but there's always enough overlap that it's worth checking out.

  • Bargain Blessings does an outstanding job of covering Denver division Safeway, and uses a great grading system on her grocery store deals, so you have an easy reference as to what's a good price. For example, free things get an A, and really good sales get an A-.

  • Little House on the Prairie Living is a local gal who covers all our local grocery stores, and also posts great frugal living tips. This is the only place you'll find stores like Family Thrift and Don's Valley Market (at least that I know of!), how cool is that?!

  • The Coupon Goddess is totally hilarious, so even though she's on the east coast and her stores are different, you should read her for a laugh. She does cover Target and drugstores, so some of her deals will apply to us out here in the midwest. I think of her as a provider of ridiculously funny anecdotes for a couponing mom to appreciate.

  • Change of pace; Knock off Wood is a site devoted to plans for furniture that you, yes you, can build yourself. I have done a couple of projects recently that I'll show you when I get home, in the meantime, start looking around! The woman who writes the plans is amazing to me, and I am always inspired by her site.

Are there any blogs you have found that you love? The beauty of the blog world is that someone is writing about every conceivable subject, in pretty much every language, you just gotta find them. See you all next week!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Everyone loves pizza! It's cheesy goodness!

One of my menu stand-by items is homemade pizza. I absolutely love to make it, eat it , and even clean up the dishes from it! I really do feel that strongly about it, so I wanted to share the script with you. Here's the recipe, then a few comments.

Homemade pizza, yields 2 pizzas

3 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt (I use Kosher)
1 TBSP oil (I use olive, any oil should be fine)
1-1 1/2 cups warm water

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, or the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade in place. If kneading by hand, add oil and most of the water, knead for 10 minutes. Add more water if too dry, or flour if too wet. If using food processor, while it is running pour in the oil and then about 1 cup of water. Add water just until it forms a ball, and then continue to run until the ball has circled the work bowl about 15 times.

Cover the dough with a bit more oil, place in bowl and cover. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. If time allows, gently knead back down and allow to rise again; this will make for a chewier crust, but is not necessary.

Heat your oven to 450, and prepare your pizza pans by greasing and dusting with cornmeal. Divide the dough in two pieces, and roll them or stretch them to fit the pan. Top with pizza sauce, then toppings of choice. Don't apply the cheese just yet. Bake at 450 for about 10-12 minutes, until the crust starts to turn golden, then apply the desired cheese and return to the oven for about 5 minutes.

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Okay, so here are my tips, brevity is not my gift.

The dough is super easy, and perfect if you have never made bread or kneaded something before. Here are some reference pictures. I have never had it fail, so don't be scared. I used to try and be neat when kneading by keeping the dough in a bowl; don't do this. You get better leverage if you knead on the counter, so it will get to the smooth/elastic stage quicker. If you have a food processor with a dough blade, this dough will come together in like a nanosecond.

This crust is good if you let it rise once; if you have time to let it rise twice, it's awesome. It becomes chewier, rather than just crispy. I'm sure you could throw it in the fridge if you want to make it a couple days ahead of time. Seriously, it's not fragile, so don't be scared. I like to brush the outer edge of the crust with butter and then sprinkle on some garlic salt for a special touch.

We have no need for 2 pizzas unless we have company, but I use this recipe to make 1 pizza and 1 batch of dough balls as I call them. I love bread sticks, they are the best part of take out pizza in my opinion, so I needed some kind of homemade answer to them in order to be satisfied with homemade pizza night. To make them, cut 1/2 of the above batch of dough into 24 equal sized pieces. Roll them into balls and place them in mini muffin tins that you have greased. Bake them for about 8 minutes in your 450 degree oven; you want them cooked through but really blond, not browned. Pour them into a bowl and toss them with butter, garlic salt, and Parmesan. They are the bomb!

Use pizza tins, cookie sheets, or pizza stones if that's your thing. Personally, I use these, pick them up at Walmart if you want to try them, I paid less than $10 a piece.

Toppings are the funnest part of making pizza. Some of my favorites are deli ham, black olives and canned artichoke hearts (water packed, well drained). I also make cheeseburger pizza, complete with dill pickles. Pizza can be a great way to use up leftovers. I made a BBQ pulled pork pizza with less than a serving of pulled pork, BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and green peppers; my husband loved it. Salami and sliced green olives is yum. Pepperoni and green peppers is a great combo, I like to slice the green pepper into rings for an attractive presentation (somebody stop me, I'm turning into Martha). Canadian bacon or deli ham and pineapple is another classic. Someday soon, I will make a chicken/broccoli/Alfredo version; I have no doubt it will rock.

Hmm, did I miss anything? I've never really done the math, but homemade pizza is cheap, cheap, cheap! Often, the most expensive component for me is the black olives or artichokes, which are pretty much a must. If you're a Sam's shopper, they have pepperoni there, which freezes well. Mozzarella freezes fine when it's less than $2/lb of course, and I use tomato sauce rather than pizza sauce (what's the dif, really?).

Time wise this is a winner too. 10 minutes to knead the dough, then come back to it and spend the time it takes for your oven to preheat actually laying it out, and you're pretty much golden. Go open a beer!

Oh heavens, I almost forgot. This dough is perfect for making calzones too, I'm still drooling over one that had cubed ham, broccoli, and the motherlode of cheese in it. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes if that's what you're after.

Sunday ad picks, lazy edition, 8/22-8/28

I'm going on vay-cay Wednesday at the crack of o-dark:30 as we call it, and I don't need anything else cluttering up my fridge, I'm trying to clean it out! But since we do have to eat until then, and probably once we come home too, there are a few things worth noting.

Walgreens milk is $1.99 a gallon, you know how happy that makes me! I picked up 2 gallons this am, and the use by date is 9/7, so it will be fine in the fridge. The Land O Lakes milk is in the opaque plastic containers, and I don't know if that affects shelf life, but I have read that it helps the milk retain its vitamins, in comparison to clear plastic. Random note for you.

Safeway has a Sunday ad, It's full of junk food. And copy paper, 10 reams for $30. I have no idea if that's a good price, I just wanted to share that I think it's an odd thing for Safeway to sell.

Family Thrift has butter at 1.59/lb with coupon here. This is good marketing on their part, I wouldn't have paid any attention to the ad if I hadn't seen this on the front. They also have 80% ground beef at 1.79/lb, and I might pick some up, I used my last batch of freezer meatballs last week, and there's an empty spot in my freezer and my heart that I need to fill. Actually that's a lie, there's no room in my freezer, but I make room for meatballs. Anyway, if I make a batch of freezer meatballs, any interest in a pictorial? Okay, enough about meatballs. 34.5oz of coffee would be $4.49 with coupon here, is that a good price?

The Target ad bored me to tears, it might have been full of fabulous deals but I didn't see any.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Non-budget biscuit pampering

So I had a gift certificate for a pedicure (thanks to my coworkers when I quit my job, a year ago), and one for a massage (thanks Mom for the b-day present!), and I went whole hog yesterday and used them both.

I gotta say, if I had $50 to blow, the massage is a waaaay better choice. Having someone fuss over my feet for an hour made me feel vaguely uncomfortable, and my heels are still like sandpaper! Obviously, I would have to put forth some effort to have smooth feet, and that's probably not going to happen.

But an hour long massage transfers you to paradise for a little while! Check out Margo if you're interested in a massage, she's a sweetheart.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday Ad Picks, 8/18-8/24

Safeway has some sales again this week, though nothing as mind blowing as the sales with Catalinas last week!
  • Sargento cheese slices are $1.99/package with the in-ad coupon, combine that with the MF coupon you'll find in the MDA booklet and you'll pay .99/package after the MF coupon doubles. I also have a couple of e-coupons saved for this stuff. There is a limit of 3 and a minimum purchase of $10 to use the in-ad coupon, remember that minimum is pre-MF coupons, so always give the store coupons first at Safeway.
  • Jumbo Raw Shrimp in a 2lb bag are on sale for $9.98, and I'll use the $2 coupon from the Get out and Grill cookbook to pick up a bag of these.
  • 93% lean ground beef is 1.99/lb, that's not bad if you prefer lean beef.
  • 3lb clamshells of grapes are $2.99. Remember the produce coupon from the Serve up a Sandwich pamphlet!

I was in Target yesterday to pick up a script that I forgot to pick up the day before, when I made a trip specifically to pick up a script. Grrr. Anyway, they have a fair amount of clearance, including Glad brand garbage bags and Target brand frozen fruit. If you're going, check it out, those are items that you don't get for free, so clearance is nice!

Egg recall to be aware of.

There's a huge recall on eggs that may be tainted with salmonella, and though I don't see that there are any cases in South Dakota, you should double check the eggs you have in the fridge. Here's the link to the current list of recalled brands and their lot numbers. I see that Lucerne is listed on here, that's the Safeway brand so double check! All my eggs have come from FTC lately, and their store brand is not listed. If you have a recalled batch, take them back to the store and get your money back, don't just throw them away.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday ad picks, 8/15-8/21, actually make that just FTC ad picks.

  • I like to have the occasional cup of tea, and fall is coming (hurray!), so $1.29 for 20ct organic tea bags seems reasonable to me, use the coupon here.
  • 4pk of organic applesauce would be $1 with coupon here, if you aren't an organic person, it's cheaper at Target with the coupon from the Safeway Make a Muscle booklet.
  • 8oz packages of Our Family cheese are 2 for $2 with coupon here.
  • The $1 coupon is available for Our Family organic milk half gallons, right here. I don't usually print this one in anticipation, but sometimes you get lucky and they mark this milk down to .99 when it's near sell by, and then you can use this coupon to get it free! I've noticed that my husband now sniffs the milk before he drinks it, apparently he's leery of me and my marked down finds! Milk freezes fine, just pour a bit out of the container so it can expand.
  • Not a produce or meat deal worth mentioning in my opinion!

I'll pick up Target and Walgreens tomorrow, if there's anything good anyway!

Triple X Biscuits

Okay, this post will not save you any money, and it is definitely for adults only. But for some of you, who have nursed babies, I have no doubt it will crack you up.

So somehow, I am on the mailing list for Frederick's of Hollywood, which is like Victoria's Secret only trashier for those of you who aren't lucky enough to get their catalogue. Part of me thinks maybe I should call and request to be removed from the list, but I gotta be honest, some of the stuff amuses the heck out of me. Case in point; nursing bras are not particularly sexy, and I'm sure Frederick's would agree. Very much a form follows function kind of item, right? But amazingly, Frederick's carries a nursing bra, though they probably don't realize it. Check this out and tell me that your first thought isn't easy access for a hungry baby. And frankly, twenty eight bucks for a nursing bra isn't that bad! Probably wouldn't hold up very well in the laundry.

The best part is that when I pointed it out to my husband, he said "hey, is that a nursing bra?". Why yes honey, I think it is!

Safeway trip video, 8/15/10

Wow, what a great Safeway trip! Definitely some good deals to be had until Tuesday. A couple of notes;
  • Safeway did have a Sunday ad today, I really didn't see much of interest to me. Cantaloupes are .99 each which is good. I can't think of anything else!

  • The Bakery Thrift store that I refer to is at 1430 Haines. I have lived here for over 20 years, and I don't know the name of a major road that I travel at least a couple of times a week. Hmm.

  • If you are interested in the C&H Sugar, Mission tortillas, and Glad coupons that I refer to, notice there are e-coupons on cellfire, and paper coupons in the Make a Muscle pamphlet which I found at Customer Service. Good deals!

  • My out of pocket will be around 11 bucks when I get reimbursed for the coupons that didn't deduct, and I didn't mention that I have 8.50 in Cats for my next trip! This is awesome, I don't expect to spend anything on groceries until we leave on vacation, maybe $1 in tax on some milk and produce!

Yet again, I cannot embed my video in this post. Here's the link.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday Ad Picks, 8/11-8/17

• If you watched my video, you know I told you the General Mills promotion would come around again, and it's here already! The basics on this one are not very basic. Really these can be kind of complicated to put together, because there are so many different items involved, all of which are not listed in the ad, and there are also some Catalina offers to consider. Catalina's are the coupons that print for a certain amount off your NEXT purchase. Here's the overview; if you buy 4 or more (up to 20) General Mills fruit snacks or cereal, you will get $1 off per item The promotional pricing then, assuming you buy 4 or more, is .99 for fruit snacks (like Fruit Roll-Ups and Gushers), 1.49 for granola bars and cereal (Nature Valley, Fiber One, Cheerios, etc.). The wording is not clear, but you DO NOT have to buy in multiples of 4, I purchased 5 items today and it took the $1 off each of them. The Catalina's are for $3 if you buy 5 of the fruit snacks, and $3.50 if you buy 5 of the granola bars, can be the Nature Valley or the Fiber One bars.

o So here’s a sample scenario. Today I bought 5 of the fruit snacks, at .99/box. I used 2 paper coupons for .50/2, which double to $2 total. I also had 2 e-coupons which took off a total of $1. My total out of pocket was $2, and I got a $3 Catalina for my next purchase. If you haven’t already been loading e-coupons, there is probably only 1 available, so that will be a variable for you. You can find the paper coupons here. This would be a simple introductory transaction to help you figure this stuff out.

o The next transaction I do will probably be along these lines. I will buy 1 box of Cheerios at 1.49, minus e-coupons and paper coupons those will be free. I’ll also buy 5 granola bars, probably a couple of the Fiber One, and some of the Nature Valley, so I can take advantage of more e-coupons, and paper coupons here, and get the $3.50 Cat back. I’ll also buy another 4 of the fruit snacks, so I’ll get a $2 Cat for those, rather than $3, but I don’t have any more e-coupons for them, just paper coupons, and that will still make them free when you consider the Cat. I’ll use the $3 Cat I got today to pay for these items to bring my out of pocket cost down even more. I know this is confusing as all get out, but you’ll just have to trust me that once you learn the ropes, this is a ridiculous deal.

 One more note on this deal, there are signs up in the store that if you buy any cereal and refrigerated almond milk (I think it was Blue Diamond brand, but please double check), you’ll get another $3 Cat. This is awesome, because the almond milk is $2.99, so basically you can try it free! I love almond milk, and I bet some of you are skeptical, give it a shot!

• Wow, let’s see if I can be more brief for the rest of this post! Bone-in chicken breasts are .99/lb, definitely a buy price for me. I know people are intimidated by boning meat, but boning chicken breasts is sooo easy, it’s the perfect way to try your hand at it. Plus you have the bones and skin to use to make stock, which is a bonus to me!

• Whole wheat bread is $1.25/loaf, I try to pay $1, but it’s been quite a while since they had it on sale. If you aren’t particular about whether it’s whole wheat or not, you can pick up the butter top bread for only .39/loaf, with the coupon in the Serve up a Sandwich booklet. I found these in the packaged lunch meat section at the Westside store today.

• There’s an in-ad coupon for store brand pasta, .59/lb, limit 6. This is the best price I’ve seen in months, they had it at .50/lb last winter, but nowhere near that since.

• Pillsbury Sweet Moments are a new item, in the same area as the biscuits in a can and all the stuff of that genre. They are ridiculous looking desserts, like chocolate caramel brownie bites and brownies that you heat in the microwave. I have been resisting bringing them in my house, but you can get them for free with the in-ad coupon, the MF coupon here, and the e-coupon here. Heaven help me.

• Plenty of yummy produce deals to be had, Colorado peaches are .99/lb, black grapes are too. When you find the Serve up a Sandwich booklet, you’ll score an awesome find, $1 off any produce; minimum purchase of $5 (does NOT have to be $5 worth of produce). My warning on this is that I have now used 2 of them, and neither has deducted, so be prepared to go to customer service. Worth it to me though, produce coupons are super rare.

After all of that yapping, I really don't have anything to say about other stores! If I see anything good, I'll post separately. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Safeway teaser

I am actually excited about some good Safeway sales on staple items, chicken, pasta, that sort of thing! I'll post tomorrow, the cloth diapers post made me drowsy. Or maybe it was the beer and leftover momma crack....

Twitchy continued...

Okay, here's the wrap up on cloth. I promised I would talk about how to care for cloth diapers, and I hope I made it clear that I am not a clean queen. We are talking about bodily substances here people, and I am a veteran nurse (well as much as one can be at age 30), so I don't use cute metaphors; consider yourself warned. No matter what you do, you will want 5 gallon buckets with lids, which you can pick up at Lowe's, Runnings, that sort of place. I have 2 for convenience. Adding some vinegar will apparently keep the odor down when you open the lid, though I never bother because we don't have odor problems, keeping the lids on is sufficient.

I would say there are really 2 approaches that you can use depending on the disposition of the people changing diapers. If you aren't squeamish, you can do the dunk and flush as we call it. Diapers with solid waste are suspended in the toilet while you flush. This eliminates most of the solid material and makes it easy to just throw the diapers in your bucket. Diapers that are wet only just go straight in the bucket.

If one of the diaper changing party members are squirrely about diaper contents, the best way to handle it is to use your 5 gallon buckets as a pre-soak; in an empty bucket, throw in a fair amount of mildly soapy water, and some vinegar. I would probably fill it halfway or so with water, and I would think 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar would be sufficient. As you change diapers, no need to do anything with them except throw them in the bucket. Using this approach would require absolutely no more contact with messy diapers than disposables would. Even if you throw them away, you still gotta change them! Once the bucket is full, the non squirrely member of the family pours the whole bucket into the washing machine, turns on the spin cycle, and then proceeds to the wash cycle.

So to actually wash the diapers, you'll need to follow the manufacturer's instructions, but they are all basically the same. I double wash mine with hot water for both cycles, using my homemade detergent, any additive free detergent is fine though. Don't bleach them, bleach is really hard on fibers and will age them faster. If you were doing the presoak, you could probably just single wash them, and maybe double rinse them. I absolutely never fold diapers in any way! They go into a designated laundry basket, and I pull them out as I use them. I do use one basket for the diapers, and a separate hanging bag for the liners, as it's more convenient than lumping them all in together.

If you're cloth diapering, you'd be silly not to cloth wipe too. I have something similar to these, though not exactly this item. For the "wipe water", we combine water and a tablespoon or two of plain old baby shampoo in one of those squeeze water bottles, and that way we can just squirt it on a wipe as needed. We keep the wipes stacked neatly in a hard plastic container that's just a bit bigger than the wipe is so they're easy to grab. It's about the only thing I do neatly.

I realize that one big barrier to cloth diapers is your day care situation. I am impossibly lucky in that my mom in law is available to watch my kiddo when I work, and she has no problem with cloth. A small in home day care might be the most easy to convince that they can accommodate cloth; I went to a momma and me swim class for quite a while, and the instructor did day care, and she seemed somewhat receptive to the idea. My pitch would be exactly what I said above, you have to handle any diaper to a degree, and for the day care provider to throw disposable in the garbage or cloth in a wet bag, it really seems no different to me. You gotta wash your hands afterwords, either way. If you absolutely can't find a day care who will take cloth, maybe you should just use the pre or flat-folds at home, and you can send junior with disposables. I would definitely think you would still save money compared to all disposables.

So, what are your thoughts? By the way, I'm blessed with a non squirrely husband, and I give him a lot of grief about it, but I still know I'm lucky! The sample comment I will never let him forget; when told that he would be escorting me to childbirth classes, on Valentine's day no less, he wondered if that was necessary, since he's "pulled a lot of calves." Thanks honey, I love being compared to livestock!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Paying for things that I immediately throw away makes me twitch.

Okay, I'm going to really try not to come across as sanctimonious. Or like an earth momma, cause I'm really not. But I am trying hard to be more conscious of what I throw away. And I am cheap.

This post is about cloth diapers. I have cloth diapered my son since his umbilical cord fell off, and I am a firm believer that cloth doesn't have to be expensive, annoying, stinky or otherwise unpleasant. When I was preparing to be a first time momma, I spent some time researching cloth for a couple of reasons. I have super sensitive skin, and I assumed that my offspring would be blessed with my sparkling wit, infectious joy, and flippin' itchy eczema. Guess what? He's never had worse than a pink butt. I have no idea if this is thanks to cloth, but it obviously doesn't hurt. My second reason is that EVERYONE was telling me how bad they tore, how much breastfeeding hurt, and how expensive diapers were. And I had an inkling that being a full time employee and a momma was going to be a tough combo. So I was definitely interested in the money saving aspect of things.

I ended up buying 3 dozen of the Bum Genius 3.0 "all in one" diapers. Basically, there are 2 styles of cloth diapers out there. All in one's (AIOs) are very similar is design to disposable; no pins required. They fasten with velcro, and have a unique set of snaps that allow them to be let out as your child grows, so you use the same diapers until your kid is potty trained. They come with an absorbent liner that also has snaps to keep it from being super bulky when diapering an infant, but larger when diapering a toddler. They also came with a smaller insert to use when diapering a newborn, and that insert can be used in combination with the larger insert if you have a heavy wetter. I bought mine from Amazon. In checking them out today, they only have second party sellers listed, and the prices are crazy. As I recall, I paid around $18 each for them. This site seems to have reasonable pricing, plus they have used diapers available, which might be worth checking out if you are nervous about the initial investment. I would highly recommend that you order one if you're thinking about it, and see how it works. You don't have to buy 3 dozen and drop a few hundred bucks right out of the gate.

The other option is a more old fashioned cloth diaper. My mom in law uses Gerber cloth diapers, fastened with pins and covered with a waterproof cover, when she watches my son. You can find them at Walmart pretty often, and they do have them at Amazon too. There are pre-fold or flat-folds available in this style, the pre-folds are supposed to be less origami like to put on, and are a bit more expensive. The overall cost of this option is way less than the AIOs, flat-folds are 12.99 for a dozen, and the pins and covers aren't going to set you back much either. I'm not as experienced with these, but I can tell you that once you've had just a little practice, the flat-folds are not hard to put on at all.

As far as the care of these diapers, please read this initial disclosure. I am NOT a particularly diligent housekeeper. My house is comfortable, never pristine. I do not obsess about stains, and I dust the ceiling fan once a decade. Were you to stop by unannounced, I would happily welcome you in, give you homemade cookies, and keep the lights dim. So when I tell you that cloth diapers do not generate a lot of extra work, know that I am someone who takes housework as somewhat of a personal affront.

When junior Pete was born (no that's not his name, he's neither a junior or a Pete, he just has many, many nicknames), I used the disposables that the hospital sent us home with because AIOs are a bit bulky for a newborn, and I wanted to make sure nothing was rubbing his umbilical cord. Once we were done with that business, we started using the cloth, and haven't looked back.

I know this is getting long, so I'll post about how I store and wash the diapers separately. Questions, thoughts or the opportunity to mock me are now available to you, just comment below!

Stick with me folks.

Meatless Monday has got me in a rut. If you're a new reader, part of my menu plan is to make something sans meat on Mondays, because it's healthy, cheap, and gentler on animals and our planet. But lately, it seems like all I make is beans and rice. Which is good but hardly exciting. So today, I made, drum roll please....beans and rice! But it was unique, I swear.

Tex Mex Bean Pie (this name has not been trademarked and is subject to change. I'm actually shocked at myself for using the phrase "Tex Mex")

1/2 an onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cups leftover cooked rice
1 portion frozen cooked beans, or 1 can drained. Today we had pinto; black or kidney would work fine
1 cup cheese, Cheddar or Monterey Jack
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 350.

Over medium low heat, sweat the onion and garlic in butter until it becomes translucent. Add cumin, chili powder and salt and stir to combine, remove from heat. You may need to use a splash of white wine or vegetable stock to pick up all the seasonings. Add rice, beans, cheese, beaten eggs and milk. Stir well to combine and then pour into a greased pie plate. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, and then let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, cilantro if you like that kind of thing.

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The menfolk will probably be fairly dubious when they glimpse this thing. Tell them to suck it up, it really does taste good. To take the edge off for them, I serve it with cornbread muffins, which menfolk of all age seem to dig. Cornbread is typically baked at 400 degrees, but my oven is at 350 for the bean pie, and I'm not the kind of girl to make them separately in order to be proper. They'll take a bit longer this way.

Cornbread muffins, made with honey and love.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
4 TBSP butter, melted
2 TBSP honey

Heat oven to 350.

Combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just to combine. Divide batter evenly into a muffin tin lined with 12 paper cups. Bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes.

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Momma Crack, disguised as chocolate.

I made this for a family get together last night, and I kid you not when I took it out of the oven, there was a tough moment where I wondered if perhaps I should just give them the ice cream, so as not to have to share. My solution is that I will be making it again tonight.

When something is both butt widening, and really, really good, I call it momma crack. I know that's a questionable thing to say, and I obviously don't think crack is a joke, whether you're talking about the drug or the effect of low waisted jeans. I think my point is that if you wear low waisted jeans, you shouldn't eat this. Or use crack.

Chocolate Self Saucing Chocolate Brownie Cake thing. With Chocolate;

6 TBSP butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (kosher is fine, I promise)
1 3/4 cup sugar, separated
7 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder, separated
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups water

Heat the oven to 350, and put the 1 1/2 cups water on to boil.

Melt the butter in a 8x8 baking dish. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and 3 TBSP of cocoa in a medium bowl, and then stir in the milk and vanilla. Stir until combined, this will be a fairly thick mixture. Spoon it over the melted butter (don't get too excited about getting it even, it doesn't spread easily and doesn't seem to matter).

In a clean bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar and 4 TBSP of cocoa. Sprinkle it over the prepared batter. Finally, pour the boiling water over the whole mess, slowly.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with chocolate ice cream for the true momma crack experience, or also great with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today; how to pit a cherry. Tomorrow; how to perform an appendectomy with your new cherry pitter.

My faithful reader and friend Jody mentioned that pitting cherries doesn't sound like fun. I promise you the payoff is exponentially awesome!

Pitting cherries isn't my favorite job, but it is really not that bad. If you don't need your cherries to remain whole, use a paring knife to cut around the circumference, and then pop the pit out. If you want whole cherries and/or don't mind shelling out a few bucks, pick up a cherry pitter. Here is one at Amazon, not the same kind I have, but this one is pretty well reviewed. Locally you can find them at Someone's in the Kitchen. I would guess it takes less than 10 minutes to pit 3 or 4 pounds. WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!

PS, thanks for the comments! Makes me so happy to know that someone actually reads my nonsense!

Sunday ad picks,

Safeway's Sunday ad, thru 8/10 ONLY
  • Tide Stain Release is 5.99 with the in-ad coupon. Use the MF coupon from the 8/1/10 P&G insert and load the $3 e-coupon here to get it free. I actually have gotten this item for free before and have yet to use it; you use it in addition to normal detergent.

  • Tide detergent is also 5.99 with the same in-ad coupon, and there is a $2 e-coupon here, so combine that with the $1 MF coupon from the 8/1/10 P&G insert and it'll cost you 2.99, is that a good price? Someone has to tell me, I'm that hippie that makes her own laundry detergent...

  • Black seedless grapes are .99/lb, these look yum. Look for the "Serve up a Sandwich" booklet in stores and you'll get a $1 off produce coupon (with a minimum $5 purchase), so you could try these for free!

  • There is a MF coupon in this flyer for $3.00 off 10 ConAgra products. It's fairly unusual to see a MF coupon in the Safeway ad, and I wanted to point it out to you because you should be able to get cheap Hunt's tomato sauce with it. If you take it to FTC this week, you would pay $2 for 10 cans. I use the heck out of tomato sauce, it's perfect for pizza sauce, just add some Italian Seasoning or basil/oregano/granulated garlic. Mix it with water and some milk for tomato soup (I know that sound odd, but it's not any different than canned tomato soup). I could go on. But I won't.

Family Thrift Center

  • 18 eggs are .99 cents, which hits my target of less than .6/egg. See my price book here.

  • Ummm, don't waste your time? There's a promotion on General Mills stuff, get .50 off per item if you buy 10 or more. There are always lots of coupons for these items, look here, here, or here. I don't see anything that will entice me to investigate this one further. This message will now self destruct.


  • I was hoping to find some Crystal Light coupons to go with the gift card promotion, buy 4 at $2.98 each and get a $5 gift card back. I struck out.

Wow, nothing exciting guys. Sorry! What did I miss?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cherry chocolate bliss...

Cherry and chocolate are almost as good as chocolate and peanut butter in my opinion. Not quite as good of course...

Anyway, this is the season for the occasional great price on cherries, and I picked some up at Walmart a few weeks ago for .93/lb. And you better believe I pitted and froze some of those babies. All with this exact combination in mind.

Chocolate cherry smoothies

Combine 2 cups frozen pitted cherries with 1 serving of yogurt (I used the YoPlait Delights chocolate raspberry flavor just to make it even more decadent), add about 1 cup of chocolate milk or chocolate almond milk (which is on sale at Safeway for 1.99 right now, so only .99 with coupon here), 2 TBSP powdered milk if desired, and process in blender until smooth. Add more chocolate milk if needed for drinkable consistency, or ice to thicken it up. I cannot tell you how decadent this tastes, or how much kids love it!

Friday, August 6, 2010


So I continue to add to my overcharge grocery fund, and for those of you who missed the explanatory post, this is money that I am overcharged at any store, which I get back from customer service. The point of this post is that while it's annoying to have to read your receipt for errors, and then have an interaction with customer service that may or may not go well, it's so important because these amounts add up! The most recent contribution was from a Target trip where my coupons all scanned, but didn't take off the correct amounts (I've not had that happen before, it was quite odd).

I am going to continue saving, in my husband's beer stein, until next February when I will feed my family for a month on the total. Hopefully I won't be forced to go on a diet. And he won't drink a beer before then.

By the way, I had originally planned on doing this whole silly project until March, but they always have really good frozen food sales then, and I'm sorry that is stock up time! February should work just fine.

JCP shoes, final cut.

This is my last shoe purchase and I am all set! These were 26.49 shipped, so obviously not quite as cheap as the first two pairs, but still a good price for something I have been looking for. The timing of this sale was awesome, the 1st pair of shoes I picked up is for an event, the 2nd pair for work, and this pair is for hiking! Even if I hadn't needed any of these shoes though, I would still have bought some and stashed them away for later, at these prices you have to think about your future needs. I would have loved to pick up some shoes for my kiddo, but didn't find any for him that I liked, and likewise nothing I saw would have worked for hubs. I'm happy though!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

JCP shoes continued!

The code is still working today, this was my pick for only $5.29 shipped! Ten2You is the code.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

JC Penney's, cheap shoes delivered!

The blog world is buzzing with this deal today. JCP frequently releases codes for $10 off a $10 purchase online. (This often coincides with the same coupon being mailed out for instore use. If you are on their mailing list, make sure you look at the crap they send you, because this coupon makes for very cheap stuff!) The code they released is Ten2You.

So I mentioned that they release these codes often, and the first thing I do when I see one is check out the clearance. You must pick something that is at least $10, 9.99 won't work. The bad part about these deals is that you have to pay for shipping, JCP won't let you use multiple promo codes on the same order. But the completely awesome thing this time around is that shipping is free for all shoes this month, no promo code needed!!!!!!! The website shows free shipping on shoes, and I got an email that it's for the whole month of August (the Ten2You code will probably only work for a few days.) So anyway, I ordered these shoes, and shipped to my house they will cost $8.47!

Wednesday Ad Picks, 8/4-8/10

Okay, I just realized that I didn't post last Wednesday (started to, but didn't finish), or Sunday (started to, but didn't finish). This is not impressive, feel free to yell at me. I am forcing myself to post the Wednesday picks ON WEDNESDAY for once, and then I'll feel better about myself. Huh.

FTC Wednesday short ad
  • 16lb lug of peaches for canning is $12.99. I LOVE peaches!


  • Cabbage is .27/lb.
  • Broccoli is .99/lb.


  • Plum's are .88/lb.
  • Chicken tenders are 1.99/lb. I used to buy these all the time when we had an Albertson's store, but haven't bought them since as I never see them at Safeway for this price. They are really convenient for chicken strips, or anything that you're going to cut the chicken up even more, like stir fry.
  • This one is up for interpretation, but the Haggar's ad has a rebate form from Kellog's Fuel for School. Buy 10 items and you get a $10 rebate. I do not see anywhere on the form that you have to buy the items from Haggar's (though it does have an Affiliated Foods logo on the top) so I would say you can purchase them from another store and submit the rebate. See the Safeway post below....
  • Cabbage is .29/lb.
  • Colby Jack is 2.99/lb in the deli, I try to pay less than $2/lb of shredded or block cheese, so that's a good price for slices.


  • Corn on the cob is 6 ears for $1, SAT/SUN only
  • Whole chickens are .79/lb.
  • I understand there is a new pamphlet in the store that will correlate with several of the items on the 3rd page of the ad, I haven't seen it yet, but make sure and look for it. There were a bunch of bonus Cellfire coupons released this week that match up with some of this stuff too, so make sure you load them!
  • There's a Kellog's promotion right now, buy 10 participating items and get a coupon for $10 off your next purchase at Safeway. So for example, if you bought 10 boxes of Pop Tarts at 1.99 each, you'd pay 19.90, get the $10 coupon, and submit the rebate from the Haggar's ad to get $10 back. You could really stretch this one by looking for the Pop Tarts with the Rewards logo on them; they have special codes inside, and if you buy 10 different flavors you could enter all the codes and get 2 free movie tickets. (I doubt that Safeway carries 10 different flavors, but I really don't know.) There are lots of other items included in this promotion, but I wanted to throw the Pop Tarts idea out there since it would be simplest to use as an example and would net you the most stuff in return!
  • There is one other scenario that I came up with from this ad. Hellman's mayo is on sale SAT/SUN only for $2.49, which is less than impressive to me. But, there is a .75 cent coupon here, click on Prizes and Coupons in the upper right, fill out the form, and you can print the coupon twice. So that brings it down to $1.49/bottle after the coupon doubles. Still not mind blowing to me. So then, throw in the manufacturer's coupon from the current FTC ad for $2 off deli or lunch meat with the purchase of 2 Hellman's mayo's, and now you have my attention. To maximize this one, I would go the deli and pick up slightly over $2 worth of lunch meat. If you do this one, you'll pay $3 for 2 jars of mayo and the deli meat, which is not bad at all. If you aren't completely confused yet, there is also a Cellfire coupon for .50 off one jar of the mayo, and that brings your total down to $2.50. Now we're talking my language!
I realize that I threw somewhat more complicated scenarios at you with this Safeway ad, so tell me if you have questions!