Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting Ready for My First Baby

I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. Okay, a lot overwhelmed. I have spent most of this week nesting (and making hubs crazy). The more I do, the more I see that I need to do, and the more overwhelmed I feel.

Today I sat in the empty room that will be his nursery and cried. Mostly because my cup runneth over with joy, partly because I feel so inadequate.

I am so excited for this baby to arrive, but terrified at the same time. It is amazing to think that in about a month we'll go to Korea, meet our son, fly home, and instantly become the parents of a ten month old baby.

Is all this anxiety normal?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Making My Home a Haven Challenge

I am a first time participant in Biblical Womanhood's Making Your Home a Haven Challenge. This challenge was just what I needed to dive into my week.

I try to do a thirty minute quick clean every morning. I didn't get that done Saturday or Sunday so I had to spend a little more time today.

Dining area before. Our garage connects directly to the kitchen so the table always becomes a dumping ground. I spent five minutes organizing and putting items in their proper home.

Kitchen before. I needed to empty the dishwasher so I could reload. I spent twenty minutes in here because I swept the floor and did a quick mop with a Swiffer wet. I also wanted to find a new way to store my Shark vacuum so it wasn't so noticeable.

The living room before. Stuff everywhere. I spent five minutes putting things away and re-tucking the slip covers.

The clean kitchen. I am not a huge fan of my floor, so no picture of that.

The clean dining area.

The clean living room.
Items checked off my to do list:
1) Go to the post office. It's two blocks from my house so I walked.
2) Schedule doctor's appointment
3) Change sheets
4) Do four hours of work. I work from home in the summer.
5) Organize computer desktop
6) Send my friend a card

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Journey to Good Bargains

I started on this journey to reduce our monthly expenses about three months ago. I stumbled upon frugal hacks and later found money saving mom. It was like a whole new world. I can't believe the difference in our budget.

One of the first lessons I learned was that there are tons of coupons available online. I printed so many coupons. I then spent all those coupons - not really the best use of said coupons. I am not proud of the grand total. I remember my DH saying, "You spent how MUCH?" And I said, "But, I saved $$$$ :) ."

The second lesson I learned is that is critically important to organize coupons. Many frugal bloggers were raving about their coupon binders, but I was reluctant. I couldn't really see myself carrying around a zippered three ring binder full of coupons. My solution was to purchase two 4x6 photo albums. One for food. One for cleaning, personal care, and laundry. They work for me. They fit in my purse. They are easy to use. They are discreet.

The third lesson I learned is to combine coupons with sales. I've been doing well with this. I enjoy saving lots of money on my groceries. I really enjoy the cashiers' reaction.

I want to share one of my best bargains yet.

Let me preface this by saying I don't do CVS or WalMart. I don't want to go into my reasons, so let's just leave it at that. Let me also say that I know it is probably cheaper to make my own laundry and cleaning supplies, but I simply don't have time for that.

My main stops are HyVee and Target. I work full-time and I want to spend as much time at home with my DH and soon to be here LO (little one). So HyVee and Target it is.

On Sundays I scour the store ads. In the Target ad I discovered that Pledge products were on sale for $3.25 and Cascade was on sale for $3.50. I knew I had filed coupons for those products. I checked it out and I had so many Pledge coupons.
I was so excited to use those Pledge coupons.

So, here's the breakdown...

I purchased five Pledge products at $3.25 (I can't remember the original price). We use the wipes in the car. They are awesome!

Original cost
5 x 3.25 = $16.25

I used one BOGO coupon -3.25
I used two$3 off two -6.00
Total coupon savings = $9.25

Final cost = $7.00
Price per product = $1.40

The Cascade was on sale for $3.50 and I had one $2.00 off coupon. So it cost $1.50. We usually buy the Sam's Club dishwasher detergent and it works well. But, when I compared cost/load the on sale Cascade was as good a deal as the non-sale Sam's.

Ah, I feel like I finally know what I'm doing when it comes to this coupon thing and boy is it satisfying.

5 Recipes that Use 5 Ingredients (or Less)

I am so excited about this week's Works for me Wednesday. I love to cook, but I also love quick recipes.

Here are five of our family's five ingredient (or less) favorites.

Taco Taters

One of the sandwich chains in our area made these famous. They are so tasty and super easy to do at home.


4 large baking potatoes (more if you want) baked at 375 for one hour. Can also bake in the crock pot if you want to reduce heat.
1 pound ground beef or turkey, browned, drained, and seasoned with taco seasoning.
Taco toppings (salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese)


Potatoes will be super tender. Simply cut in half and mash lightly. Top with taco meat and taco toppings.

Smashed Red Potatoes

We like this as a side dish for roasts, steaks, oven fried pork chops/chicken, and swiss steak.


2 red potatoes per person, rinsed, cleaned, and eyes removed (leave skin on)
1/4 cup vegetable flavored cream cheese (more if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain. Smash with a potato masher (I use my kitchen aid). Potatoes should be broken up, but not smooth. Add cream cheese, salt, and pepper.

Oven Fried Pork Chops

My DH loves these and they are so easy.


2T melted butter
4 boneless pork chops (3/4" thick). Can also use chicken.
1 beaten egg with a dash of peppper
2T milk
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 425. Trim fat from meat. Pour butter into a 9x13 baking dish, tilting the pan to coat the bottom. In a shallow dish combine the egg, milk, and pepper. Place bread crumbs in another dish. Dip chops into egg mixture. Coat both sides with stuffing mix. Place in prepared pan. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Turn chops. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear. (Chicken might take longer to bake).

Apple Juice Pork Chops

A summer favorite at our house!!!


4 pork chops (boneless or bone in)
2T apple juice concentrate
2T Dijon mustard
dash garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Trim fat from chops. Combine apple juice concentrate, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder. Mix well. Brush one half of apple juice mixture over chops. Broil** chops for 5 minutes. Use tongs to turn over chops and brush with remaining mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for another five minutes or until no longer pink in the center.

**We grill these in the summer.

Corn Bake

This is a great potluck dish.


1 pkg Jiffy corn muffin mix (8.5 oz)
1 can creamed corn (15 oz)
1 egg
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk**


Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together. Pour ingredients into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

**Buttermilk can be made by adding 1teaspoon of vinegar to milk and letting it sit 15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Toolin' Up Tuesday

Well this is not really a tool, but it is something that I really love. I was having some difficulty keeping my eye makeup in place all day (okay, a lot of difficulty). I mentioned this little problem to one of my friends who happens to sell Mary Kay. She told me she had just the thing. A few days later she gave me a sample of their eye primer.

I rate it at ***** (5 stars). It is fantabulous. My makeup stays on all day and plus some. It is kind of pricey, but it lasts FOREVER. I've had this particular tube for over six months and it has a lot of goody left.