Monday, December 28, 2009

My Thrifty Thanksgiving Success!

DISCLAIMER - I started writing this post a LONG LONG time ago.  And as you have probably learned, life has a tendency of keeping me away from posting with any sort of regular schedule.  I can't stand to let things go, so I am here now to finish and post.  Thank you for hanging in there!

I did it...I did it....I did it!!!!  My $30 goal was a cinch.  Keep in mind that my $30 consisted of things I had to go and purchase specifically for this dinner...I didn't include items that were already in my pantry (i.e. butter, oil, salt, etc).  I'll break it down for you.  (I wish I still had my receipts, because I would take a picture of them with the wonderful new camera I received from my "Fairy Godmother" this week.  Wink wink, you know who you are!)

-12 lb. Turkey = $4.76 (on sale for .40 cents per lb at WalMart)
-Herbes de Provence (gift from my Aunt Debbye = free!)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- (approx) 3.5 lbs. sweet potatoes = .83 (on sale for .25 cents per lb)
-olive oil, salt, pepper = already in the cabinet; no extra out of pocket expense

Homemade Garlic Mashed Potatoes
-5 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes = 2.99 (Aldi)
-Half and Half = 1.79 (Aldi)
-Butter = 1.49 (Aldi - I seriously couldn't believe a lb. of butter was this cheap!)
-3 bulbs garlic = .79 (Aldi)

-2 cans chicken stock = 2 x .49 (Aldi)
-Flour = already in the cabinet; no extra out of pocket expense

Corn Casserole
-creamed corn = .69 (Aldi)
-regular corn = .69 (Aldi)
-jiffy corn bread mix = .42 (Food Lion special)
-butter = on hand, no extra out of pocket expense
-8 oz. sour cream - .89 (Food Lion special)

Ham & Broccoli Casserole
1 package frozen broccoli florets - (already in freezer - woo hoo!)
1 package shredded cheddar cheese - 2.00
Dry Mustard - all of these were on hand

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (no one else really ate these but me, so I didn't have to get too many!)
1 lb. - on sale for 1.99 lb. at Publix
olive oil - all of these were on hand

Cranberry Sauce - .79 (Aldi)

Pecan Tarts - I have to brag a little.  I found this recipe in the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook and they are incredible.  The crust is made with cream cheese.  I will  post the recipe because they are incredibly easy and will be sure to impress!  The only two items I had to purchase to make these amazing little tasties were
Karo Syrup - 2.99
Cream Cheese - .79 (Aldi - best price I found all season)
I lucked out and was able to score some free pecans from work!

And my grand total for extra out of pocket expenses for a Thanksgiving meal for 5 adults and one child was....drum roll please.....$24.88.  Our tax rate is pretty high, 9.25%, which put me at $27.18!!!

With a little planning and putting to good use what you already have on hand, it definitely can be done!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thrifty Thanksgiving!

Well, it's official.  I am hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year.  Big B's family (my mother, father, and one sister in-law) will be joining us for what will hopefully be a wonderful, yet inexpensive feast.  I've decided that I am going to set a goal of $30 for the entire dinner...and I mean the ENTIRE dinner (including festive decorations).  Think I can do it?  I KNOW I can.

How does one prepare for such?  I've already started scanning magazines, cookbooks, grocery ads, coupon sites, etc.  This weekend I will prepare an excel spreadsheet with what I'm going to buy, how much it costs, and what coupons I have for those items. Ok, well maybe not a real excel spreadsheet since my printer is out of ink and it would cost me $30 just to replace the ink ;-)  But I digress...

As you know, I've already purchased my turkey, which was only $5.  I think with that great start, I am well on my way to accomplishing this goal.  I will update you on what happens.

Wish me luck, and if you have any great cost effective dishes that you would love to share, send them on. 

Cheers and Blessings,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Turkey!

I love finding a great bargain, and boy did I ever find one this week.  Frozen turkeys were on sale at WalMart for 40¢ per pound!  I was so excited about this find that I bought TWO twelve-pound turkeys for a total of $10.  I cooked one of the turkeys last night and it is in my fridge waiting for me to divide into meals.  The other will be saved for the official Turkey Day. 

There are options a plenty when it comes to my bird.  I will slice up one of the breasts, dice up the other for a casserole, save the dark meat for a soup or stew, and then make stock with all that's left.  That is 4 meals - maybe 5 if I can get enough good stock out of him...all for five bucks.  I LOVE it when that happens!

Does anyone out there have any good recipes to send my way?  I am looking for some yummy ideas to whip up with my savings.  Once I get it all done I will share the results.  Happy Basting!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

What Balance?

As you can see, I haven't posted in exactly 54 days.  I don't even know where to begin, I just know that I need to feel back on track. 

Let's see, what has happened in the last 54 days? 

1 - Big B had a new engine put in his car.  Now, keep in mind that my commute is 100 miles round trip each day.  Since Big B's car was in the shop, I had to take him to work and pick him up too.  That was an extra 30 miles added onto the trip, plus about another 45 minutes of time.

2 - HUGE project at work.  Enough said.

3 - I've been sick TWICE.  Bronchitis the first time, and you guessed it, "THE" flu, yep, that one, this past go round.  I don't think my body ever truly recovered from the bronchitis before I was stricken with the flu.  It was approximately three and a half weeks in between bouts.  And I never once took a true sick day.  I worked from home...not once did I stay in bed the whole day and just rest.  Big B was very helpful with Little A through all of that thank God. 

4 - Little A turned 4!!  I was very sick with the bronchitis on her birthday, so we ended up having to postpone her birthday party.  Talk about GUILT!  I think I felt worse about the postponement than I did about being sick. But she was great.  Never really said anything about it.

5 - Started a "Biggest Loser" contest with Big B.  Well, actually, he joined a contest with the ladies at his work, which totally cracks me up.  So I figured I better join in.  See, my job actually REQUIRES me to eat.  Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.  That being said, I've gained a TON and am ready to bid it adieu.
So he and I have a side bet going at the house.  I got a jump start when I was sick this last time and actually lost 5 pounds.  But he walks all day for his job, so he'll probably win.  But that's ok - I still need to work on myself.

For a while there, our house was clean all the time.  Then, when I got sick, it went to shambles.  I just didnt' feel like it, and it has pretty much stayed that way for a month.  This weekend is the weekend to get it fixed.  I can't stand that feeling of chaos.  I'm still trying to recover from the flu, but it has to happen. I actually think it will make me feel better.

So there you have it.  You are pretty much caught up on things.  I will do better at posting. I will make time for myself, and for you. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Date Night

As you know, work and home-life balance is high on my priority list.  It had been a while since Big B and I had some "just us" time, so I was really looking forward to our time together.

You see, Big B and I don't have any family living closer than a three hour drive.  No chance for Little A to just hang out at Grandma's or for Big B and I to just drop her off every once in a while to get some stuff done. Nor do we have any reliable baby-sitters in our area.  Our neighborhood is very small with no teenagers.  And because we commute so far, most of our friends live in the city where we work.  It stinks really. (I know, insert pity party here!)  So, my dear in-laws drove three hours to make our little jaunt possible. God bless 'em!

Let me just say we had an absolute blast.  We went to four different, ahem, "establishments" and enjoyed a beverage and a snack at each one.  We played a few rounds of pool, AND I even convinced Big B to slow dance with me!!!  We even made it home before midnight...

NOT in keeping with my budgeting and getting out of debt goals, we did spend a little more than I would have liked.  But I honestly believe you can not put a price on some good ol' quality time (and a few slow dances with the hubby). 

I send a huge thank you to my fabulous in-laws for making it all possible.  Now, it's time to figure out some good "cheap" date nights for next time.  I'm excited to hear your suggestions!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Delicious Dishes - Cherry Ripple Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I am starting a new series that I hope will accomplish a few goal is to cook or bake at least one item completely from scratch each week, whether to keep for my peeps or to share with friends. This is one of the ways I like to show love to my family and friends.  It also gives me quite a sense of accomplishment, as I intend to do this by only using items from my pantry.  Very budget friendly!

You see, I am a lover of fresh produce.  I love going to the farmers' market - the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells are exciting.  It really is a sensory experience for me.  The fact that these folks have put a lot of sweat equity into their offerings, that these items are of the earth, is magical to me.  And it really carries me back to my childhood...more specifically my Pa Pa's garden.  That garden fed my grandparents' five children, their spouses, and thirteen grandchildren for many, many years.  I could go on and on about this now, but will save it for another post in the near future.

Back to the task at hand.  This past weekend's effort was quite literally "the pitts!"  Fresh cherries were on sale for .99 cents per pound!!!  What a STEAL!  (Ok, I'll try to relax a little and leave the exclamation points to a minimum).  But seriously folks, they might as well have given those little beauties away.  So I bought some - a lot of 'em.  Now, please keep in mind that Big B and Little A do NOT, I repeat, do NOT share my passion for fresh produce!  Shame, isn't it? So as my beauties started to wither because I just couldn't eat them fast enough, I had to find something to do with them...a grander purpose if you will.  I stumbled across this recipe in a back issue of Cooking Light.

Cherry Ripple Sour Cream Coffee Cake

(I would have provided you pictures of the process, but my camera is on the fritz.)

Let me just say, it was DEE-LICIOUS.  Due to my vow to only use what I have on hand, I did not make the struessel topping (no whole wheat flour or orange juice concentrate in my house). It still turned out beautiful AND delicious.  I have a fancy bundt pan, so it was really really pretty.  I believe the base recipe would work well with any other fruit you have on hand...blueberries would be especially nice.  And did I mention that I don't have a cherry pitter?  Now that was a chore, but the sense of accomplishment I felt was beyond words.  Big B loved it, so I was able to sneak a little "fruit" into his diet also.  Wink wink, nudge nudge.  Let's just keep that our little secret.

Who knows what next week will bring.  I would definitley urge you to give this one a try.  Let me know what you think. I love reading your comments.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Drinkin' Coffee in the Dark

As mentioned previously, there is this little thing I'm working on called work and home life balance. Right now, my life is centered around exactly four things - my dear husband (we'll refer to him as Big B); my precious and super sassy soon to be 4-year old daughter (otherwise known as Little A); my job, and last but certainly not least, SLEEP. Well, it kind of is least. It's what I get the least of, but feel I need the most of.

I have come to the realization that in order to be a more pleasant wife, mother, human being, I need to have a little "me" time each day. The ONLY time that is able to happen is early morning or late at night. And anymore, late at night just doesn't cut it for me. So today, I was up at 4:00 a.m. I look at my alarm clock. What? You've got to be kidding. As I try to convince myself to stop thinking about it and just go back to sleep, my mind thinks this is just a joke. Why? WHYYYYY? (think Nancy Kerrigan's bashed knee). 5:00 has been my usual lately, but not today.

I find my glasses, make my way to the kitchen, and start the coffee. It's dark outside. Not even a hint of sunrise. But it's peaceful and still. My peeps are comfy, cozy, and safe, all snug in bed. I on the other hand am loading the dishwasher at 4 in the morning. I think to myself - today is pay day. Which bills have to go out of this check? Big B is playing drums tonight...what will Little A and I do for dinner? On and on, these things pop into my head.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP...ahhhh, the coffee is finally ready. I pour myself a cup - wow I love this ritual. I sit down in front of the computer, dish washer humming in the back ground. An old friend from high school has sent me a friend request on Facebook. How cool. Nice way to start the day...someone saw my ad for Big B's truck on Craigslist and is interested in buying it. Even better! So all in all, getting up at 4:00 today wasn't so bad. Now if we could just fast forward to 5:00 (PM that is).

So tell me, how do you "balance" YOUR day?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bring it On!

Ground zero. Square One. Whatever you call it, that's where I am. You see, I've spent a whole lotta time wishin'. Wishin' I was thinner, wishin' I had more money, wishin' I had more time, wishin' I had the gumption to stop wishin' so much and just get off my butt and DO.

So here I am. I've spent the last couple of months (on my butt no less) in front of the computer reading oodles of other women's blogs. I love them...they have become little rays of sunshine in my day - how to get $97 worth of groceries for 97 cents; how to make money buying stuff at CVS; coupon clipping, meal planning, buying in bulk, on and on and on and on. Whew! My brain is about to explode!!

Some of these things I've put to good use - I've got a coupon binder to be proud of, I've saved upwards of 60 percent at the grocery store, and I have more free deodorant than I know what to do with (you CVSers know what I mean).

So now it's time to do something, time to make a change...a positive change in my (and my family's) life. It's time to set some goals and make some things happen. I know this blog is going to help me do just that. My hope is that it will be my accountability...if I put it out there, per se, then I have to make good on it. I also hope that all you folks who have been there and done that will send your experience, wisdom, and advice my way.

Let's get this party started!!!