Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's Talk Tofurky

Our feast was excellent this year and went off with nary a hitch. We added a new recipe with these buttery rolls.

The Tofurkys we bought last winter (after Thanksgiving on half price clearance) came with a container of gravy. Ok, this gravy is very weird. It's more spongy than liquid. It doesn't have that umami flavor of a good brown gravy either and it needs salt. Having said that, it isn't horrible and I hate to waste food. So, I mixed up some brown gravy from a packet and mixed in the tub of spongy weird tofurky gravy. And I highly recommend that. After all, who doesn't love having extra gravy?

The tofurky ball does come with a wild rice stuffing in the middle but it's fairly bland and not copious so I would definitely make another side of stuffing.

I also double this basting recipe that I love. It was on the first box of Tofurky that I ever bought and I haven't seen it on the box since.

This is the undoubled recipe:

1/8 cup of orange juice
2 tbs. of brown sugar
1/8 cup of soy sauce.

I think what makes it so tasty is this soy sauce. This is absolutely the best soy sauce I have ever tasted.
I have only found it in ethnic grocery stores though.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Wishing you all a restful and happy holiday!

To celebrate, I will not be doing any Black Friday or any other type of holiday shopping.

I will instead enjoy my family and count all my blessings.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pink Eye, Sinus Infections and Pie.

We've traded colds and conjunctivitis for two or three weeks. I've considered putting off our Thanksgiving feast until this weekend since I'm doing good to get a load of laundry done and a can of soup heated for lunch.

I -almost- bought a ready made pumpkin pie at the grocery store. Sigh. If I do a little bit each day then I might be able to manage.

But, the bills are caught up, the larder is full, and we'll get to spend a four day weekend together. Even if we are sick.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What's Cooking Today...

I've been a hermit for the last week because we're battling yet another cold. This one isn't so bad except for the debilitating exhaustion. All I want to do is sleep and play games on the computer.
So, it's been a slow week and I'm behind on everything and dinners of late have been drive thru, delivery, or mac n cheese or cereal. It's pretty sad.

Tonight however we are shaking off the dust and going to visit friends for dinner at their house. I'm making french bread dough in my machine (to be baked in my oven) and I found a brownie recipe using cake mix. I have an abundance of cake mix to use up.

This is the recipe:
Printed from COOKS.COM

1 devil's food cake mix
1/4 c. water
1 egg
Combine all ingredients. Dough will be stiff. Spread in 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. DO NOT overbake.

I added a few spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter to the batter and sprinkled chocolate chips on top.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on Stockpiling

Donna Friedman is one of my favorite frugal writers. Her article on surveying your stockpile so you don't overbuy or hoard made me think about what I should stop buying.

My goals for stockpiling are to help stretch our food dollars during this economic downturn. Grocery prices don't seem to be on the decline so I buy a lot when the price is right. But, what kind of things can we make do without (and save space and money) if we do suffer from a job loss or other financial insecurities?

That pile of toothbrushes isn't going to keep our bellies full. That extra shampoo I bought won't make a decent breakfast for growing kids. Can we make do without those things? Yes, in a pinch we can always use baking soda for toothpaste or use bar soap to wash our hair and dishes with.
As far as cleaning supplies go then we can use vinegar, baking soda, or even just water and elbow grease.

We can't make our own light bulbs or batteries. And even though we could use cloth, leaves, or magazine pages for toilet paper, I'd rather stock pile now.

So, for me it makes sense to continue buying canned beans and other goods when the price is rock bottom. We never know what the future holds and those few extra cans might make the world of difference for your family or someone else.

On a related note:
Two things happened today to make me do this:

I noticed our ketchup bottle was almost empty at the same time condiment packets were falling on my feet from their overfilled containers. Now, replacing this Aldi brand would cost less than a dollar. But, I saved thirty cents and I bought another week or two before I need to buy more.
And my daughter got in on the action by sorting the condiment containers and even wiping out the shelf in the fridge. And that is worth every second of my foot in my mouth.

Wordless Wednesday: When Little Guy Joined our Family

Daddy and Big Sister take a much needed snooze in the hospital bed. It's hard work welcoming a new baby.

This post was inspired by Heather.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Coffee Pot Afterall...

We used a Wal-Mart credit to buy a pot online and I forgot that we went through ebates after we signed Hubby up for his own ebates account. Turns out that we came out ahead with .80 cents cash back, a $5 referral, and a $10 Target card.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Traditions and Turkeys.

I've already started shopping for my small family's vegetarian Thanksgiving Feast. It's the same menu as last year. There's a Tofurky tucked in the freezer from last years after Thanksgiving clearance. Tomorrow I'll be going to Aldi to get some .99 cent bagged cranberries for making fresh sauce. There are a few whole pumpkins on the porch from Halloween to cook. And I have a few cans of slightly dented and unlabeled pumpkin cans from the salvage grocery in the pantry.
I've yet to find a Thanksgiving printable for this year's Thankful tree. I may end up making my own for Big Girl.

I love Thanksgiving because I get to spend the day with my family. I love the food. There's no pressure for us to give gifts or run to and fro. For us, it's just a nice relaxing holiday.
And we get a four day weekend so we do have time to visit relatives -if we want to-.

One thing we've started doing is putting the Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving night. This year I may start a tradition of making these cinnamon cookies and maybe serving them with egg nog or cocoa.

What's for dinner: Trader Joe's Pad Thai

This package won't make quite enough for the four of us so I'm stretching it with lots of tofu, peanuts, veggies and a side of egg rolls. We've had it before and it's quite good.

Enjoying the holiday season without the expense.

Little Guy and I stopped by Wal-Mart after Big Girl's school drop off this morning. I had a fist full of coupons and a few things on my shopping list.
Yesterday I used our last Vitamin C tab trying to fight off the yuck that's creeping up my throat.
So, I bought a twin pack of those.
(Nature Made vitamins is a favorite since I almost always have a coupon and you can type in the code on the bottle for rewards. If you haven't done so, you might want to clean out your medicine cabinet and see if you have any codes you haven't typed in. I've amassed enough for a $5 coupon- but I'm holding out until I get a free product coupon.)

The Christmas trees and paraphernalia were already out and on display. Oh, I was tempted to start filling my cart with goodies to take home and wrap. But, I ended up only buying small juice bottles (with coupon) to go into a sort of 72 hour car kit for gifts. There's no way that anyone could look in my cart and think that I was doing a little holiday shopping. But, that's often what happens when you are trying to save money.

I took Little Guy through the holiday stuff because we both like to look at the holiday decor. The $2 ornaments were calling me but I held back. Our ornament box in the basement is full to bursting and I can only imagine the next few years of elementary school crafts will only add to it.
I enjoyed the ribbons, wrap, and candles without the urge to put them in the cart. I have enough wrapping and boxes to last ten more Christmases. I've stopped myself from scavenging opaque plastic food wrapping from the trash, even though it could be used to wrap a gift. If I recycle usable wrap, gift bags, and such then I will never have to buy wrap again anyway.

On the way home, I even turned the radio on to the Christmas station. That special holiday feeling doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Am Sad.

I broke my coffee carafe. I love my coffee pot and use it everyday to heat up instant oatmeal, make cocoa, tea or other delicious drinks.

I'll be making a trip to Goodwill today to see if they have a decent replacement. If not, I guess I'll just go to the Dollar General and purchase another one for twelve dollars. Carafes on ebay are going for $9 plus shipping.

I am also using the dryer for the first time in a week. I feel guilty but not too much.

I'm off to the microwave to heat up some water for tea. I have a kettle but I never use it.
Anyone know if it's more cost effective to heat the stove or run a coffee pot?

I guess I could try to live without my coffee pot since I do have other ways to heat water. After all, it's an "acquired need" and not really a need at all.

Hubby remembered that we had a $20 dollar Wal-mart credit from an online ordering mishap. So, he read reviews and bought me a new pot for $2 OOP. I'll stow the old maker in the basement. Who knows? Another carafe may show up someday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How We Roll

In his sister's shoes. Giddy up.

Building critters in the basement with mega blocks.

Finally finger painting our mini pumpkins. (and the table, our faces, and the dog)

Making soup from the freezer soup scrap container. I added noodles right after this picture was taken.

Finishing our Samaritan's Purse Boxes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's For Dinner: Veggie Taco Skillet Dinner with Chips

I'm trying to clean out the odds and ends we have laying about and this is what I came up with for dinner. Everyone but the very picky 2 year old loved it. There were no leftovers.

Half of an medium sized onion- diced
1 stalk of celery- diced
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1 tbs. chopped garlic
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 pack of Boca Burger Crumbles (I think it's 1/3 of a pound)
1 tsp. of cumin
1 tbs. of taco seasoning
1 cup of water

Saute the onion and celery in some oil (about a tablespoon) until soft. Add the crumbles and cook until heated. Add the mushrooms, seasonings, garlic, and water. Heat on medium for about five minutes stirring occasionally. Add the rice and give it a good stir. Heat for a few more minutes until it's ready to serve.

We ate ours with salsa, cheddar cheese, lettuce, green chilies, and tortilla chips.

We had fruit salad for dessert.

For more great recipes check out The Grocery Cart Challenge recipe swap. I've posted this recipe there.

Today's Doings

My Grandma always called parties or get-togethers "doings". As in, "They're having a doing over at the church tonight." She pronounced it "doo-uns" Lord, I miss that woman. ; )

Anyway, I made myself a to-do list for once and still haven't finished it.

There's no school today so I have both kids and Little Guy has been refusing naps (Please, Not Yet!) so it's been fun and yet very stressful to have them both awake the past few days.

I made a plan to leave the house.


Went to the library to return and check out materials.
Went to McD's for food and playland time (I had coupons for free milks and such)
Grocery Shopped at Save-A-Lot since we need milk and I had a $5/25 coupon. (I ended up spending $23 dollars and I bought four barbie dresses (on clearance), some donation food, and a bag of diapers along with my grocery list.. Yay for Save-A-Lot clearance stuff like bananas and bread.)

I also washed and hung a load of laundry to dry in our upstairs. I like doing this so much better because I actually want to put the clothes away if they aren't folded in a basket. Folded clean clothes could sit in a basket for weeks. I just don't see them.

I still need to unload the dishwasher, do my Walgreens rebate and mail it, work on my coupon file, pick up toys, sweep the kitchen, and work on dinner.
We're having a buffet of chips, beans, lettuce, cheese, sauteed veggies and rice in season salt, and fruit salad made from our wilting fruit.

Now I'm going outside to enjoy the nice weather and clean up after the dog. Bet you wish you were me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pillsbury Coupons to Print

To print the coupons, you have to sign up on the site if you haven't already.

What's Going on Here.

This is the second day Big Girl has stayed home from school with pink eye. She feels great but still can't be around other kids. So, the kids have been active little critters.

Today I'm:
Making this bread dough in my machine. Oh my goodness- this bread is so good. It tastes a lot like Outback Steakhouse's bread. I'm glad I doubled the recipe!

Hanging a load of laundry upstairs since we still haven't bought a humidifier.

Making a grocery list to see if I have enough to bother with a $5/25 coupon or a $10 off 50.
(So far just bread machine yeast, milk, bananas, and peanuts).

Cleaning out the extra stuff from my storage container shelves and storing it in the basement.

Picking up toys so I can vacuum. Ok, so this hasn't gotten done yet. But, we did make a batch of cookies since I was heating the oven for bread. I gave the kids the bowls and spoons to lick. Little Guy used the mixing spoon to get a drink of water- out of the toilet. Blech! Blech!

Trash and recycling. Did this. We always have more recycling than trash now.

Planning and preparing dinner so we don't order out again- I'm thinking some type of salisbury sauce with bocas on noodles or rice with green beans and salad. Nah, we're just having pasta with doctored up sauce and the leftover green beans. I ate the salad for lunch.

I was in the basement putting away stockpile stuff and re-filling my bread flour canister. I took a break down there and played two games of pinball and two levels of Gauntlet Legends on our Dreamcast. This is what happen when you're married to a nerd. The kids have a lot of extra toys in the basement so they love basement time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dumpster Diving- What do you throw out?

I spent some not so quality time watching Youtube videos on dumpster diving today. While my own experience in dumpster diving is quite limited, I find the act intriguing and I always like to know what people find lurking in those murky, dark dens.

I began to wonder if anyone could find anything usable in my own garbage. I recycle or re-use good plastic packaging. Most of what goes into my trash is dirty disposable diapers (less and less each day now that we're potty training and I'm running out of them) or food packaging that can't be recycled. I don't throw out anything that I think someone else can use.

I just gave my girlfriend a box of toys and two bags of outgrown clothes to sell in her garage sale as payment for a toy I picked up there. I use Freecycle, send to friends, or donate anything else usable. Food that can be composted gets put on top of my flower and vegetable garden. Anything else edible is so rotten no one would eat it. And just recently I cut up a pair of beloved but ratty beyond repair flannel pajama pants and made little draft blockers for my doors by stuffing them with odds and ends and unwanted, outgrown kids clothes.

While I wouldn't dare anyone to dive through my garbage- I do doubt that they would find anything usable.

Getting in the Mood for the Holidays

Ya'll probably know I'm a fan of Dollar General. If you need some ideas on budget gifts for the holidays then you might want to check out their Holiday Home page.

What's for dinner: Things I need to use up this week

This is what I need to use up this week:

Half a jar of spaghetti sauce
1 cup of powdered milk
Half a can of green beans
Half an onion
Half a carton of soy milk
Half bags of cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
1 small side salad from McDonalds
A chunk of wheat bread leftover from last weeks batch
Apples that are getting squishy

It looks like we'll be having pasta with a cheese topping and a side of green beans. I'll make some pudding with the powdered milk. I'll make croutons with the bread and put it on the salad. Maybe I'll make a boca burger with tvp stew this week and use up the carrots, onion, and celery. While I have the oven heated I can make baked apples or Swedish Apple pie. Fried rice is always a good way to use up crisper veggies too.

Except for milk- I won't be doing any grocery shopping this week.

Almost as good as leaving empty handed?

We visited Grandma yesterday so I had some free time to go shopping alone. At Big Lots. Big Lots has always been a big weakness for me and my wallet. Oh, those close out prices and weird lots of stuff.
I want you to know that I walked almost every aisle yesterday, pushing a cart that was empty except for my purse. I left spending $1.01 in cash for a box of plain envelopes. My stock pile from Grandma's house has been decimated by rebates.

It felt weird and good to buy only something I needed even though I tried (I really did) to find all the bargains.

Similarly, I also went to the salvage grocery where I usually spend $50 and up. I walked every aisle in that store too and only spent $20 on things for my basement pantry stock. (Who can resist 75 cent bottles of Juicy Juice?)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is it wrong?

That I'm totally jazzed about the Twilight movie coming out in a few weeks?

I'm going to have to start reading the series again to get ready for it.

(btw, I did the same thing with Harry Potter and LTR- nerdy, I know)

I'm Spicy yet Laid Back- the quiz said so.

Thanks Heather!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Samaritan's Purse Donation Time

Now is the time to start gathering goodies for Samaritan's Purse if you're so inclined.

I haven't done this before but I'm looking forward to getting my kids involved in doing for others.

Collection week is November 17-24.

Walgreens Coupon

It's on us! Enjoy your FREE 8x10 print. REDEEM NOW.
Only one coupon code per order.
*Coupon code FREEPIC valid for one use per account only by November 8, 2008. Code must be entered at time of checkout to apply discount. Photo cart must include your 8x10 print at time of checkout to qualify. Discount does not apply to taxes or shipping charges. Order must be placed by logged-in customer by November 8, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time to qualify. Timing will be determined by Walgreens server clock. Offer valid online only.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Simple Guilty Pleasures

I haven't had buttered saltines since I was in elementary school. Yet, they tasted so delicious and decadent today when Little Guy and I shared half a sleeve of generic white saltines with smart balance spread.

Nutritious? No.
Tasty and Cheap? Yes.

I'm not giving up on my normal offerings of fresh fruit, peanuts, cheese sticks, popcorn and raisins as my standard snack issue- but once in a while- yum.

Stocking the Winter Pantry at Aldi

My Aldi circular has a $5/$25 coupon on the cover. I'm going to get a few staples like milk and fruit and start stocking my pantry with powdered sugar (.88 cents a bag) and butter ($1.99 for 4 sticks).

Don't need groceries? Aldi's Nanny's Diapers are pretty good too. Read a review here.

Don't forget your quarters and bags if you're going too!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's Brewing Around Here

Well, it was a free cup of Starbucks coffee since I voted and all. Did you?

I have a big to do list today and I'm actually feeling more spry than yesterday- Thank Goodness!

Little Guy and I went to Wal-Mart this morning to get a few things (All You magazine) and of course we had to go through the clearance aisle. School supplies were in abundance. I picked up a cute notebook and some pencil erasers for our storage pile.

Dinner is (Boca) Hamburger Pie, roasted new potatoes and carrots, and buttered bread.

I splurged on a bag of Land O Lakes Madagascar Vanilla cocoa mix because it's "Brimming With Chocolately Flakes". The bag says so- it must be true.

Off to start working on my list- I haven't done dishes in two days and we're out of spoons and the sink is brimming.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's for dinner: Taco Bell

It's one of those days- where my body is here and my head is somewhere... south of the border?
But, hey, they have a .79 and .99 menu that suits us well.

Things to use up in the fridge this week:

A head of lettuce
Apples (getting rotty)
Green Peppers (chop & freeze)
Applesauce- store and homemade
2 tbs. of ragu
3 packs of thawed boca crumbles

It looks like we'll be having Bisquick burger pie and Asian lettuce wraps this week. I also need to have a baking day and make applesauce bread, apple pie, and baked apples.

Fumbling at Frugality & Survival Mothering


The time change has me upside down today.

Add decompressing after house guests , beginning to toilet train the two year old and things are wacky around here.

Being frazzled and tired makes my wallet droop.

Little Guy and I dropped into Linens & Things to check out their going out of business sale. Most of the store is still only at 10-20% off, so no great bargains. But, I need a 10 x 10 picture frame and Target had none in stock. The only 10 x 10 black frame that I found was a bathroom wall art with a scratched up frame for 20 bucks (after sale). And since the store is being liquidated there is no room for damaged goods mark downs. Like a dummy, I bought the scratched up picture thinking it would be an easy fix with sharpie and my own picture.
I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to pry out heavy staples and thick matting.
And the sharpie cover is glaringly obvious so I need to buy black spray paint. Which makes my $20 frame even more expensive and labor intensive. I wish I would have just went to the Target photo department and bought their frame.

Then we picked up Big Girl from school and just thinking about making lunch made me want to cry. It's a bad thing when you're too tired to smear pbjs on bread.
We went to Bob Evans (loving referred to as Slob Evans around here- little kids and pancake syrup, you know) for lunch. The kids dumped syrup over all of their food- including scrambled eggs. Then proceeded to only lick the syrup off of their plates, clean out the butter spread, and eat my crackers and fries. So much for a well balanced meal. I do have to say that they stayed quiet and didn't bother anyone while they happily munched on corn syrup and starch.

Two potty accidents and one successful #2ing and I'm ready for my nap.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Birthday Gifts for Dad

My Dad's birthday was this last week. He's a man of few hobbies and needs. So, I made him his favorite cake, Hubby bought him some scratchers and lotto, and Big Girl made him a card.

The price for all of this: $5.67.

The cake was free after rebate and I used a coupon for the frosting.