Monday, March 30, 2009

Sometimes it pays off to pay attention

We have this cute little coffee shop here in town that I've come to love. Problem is, my wallet doesn't share the same fond feelings I do. They are similar in price to Starbucks, so in no time flat, I could go through a good portion of the kids' college money. Since I don't want to do that, I needed to figure out a way to still enjoy my coffee without the price tag.

I was craving a Mexican Mocha this morning, and had contemplated a quick drive to the coffee shop. I resisted the urge, and figured I might be able to make one here at home for pennies. I was right! I brewed a pot of coffee, put some powdered creamer in the cup, sprinkled in some regular ground cinnamon, sprinkled in a little more cinnamon, and opted for Herheys syrup. (**I'll admit that I quickly became entranced by the fact that the syrup rolled down the creamer, becoming powder coated, so I lost track with how much I actually used!) Next I added coffee and stirred. I tasted it and it wasn't quite sweet enough so I added in a touch of sugar.

Voila!! Mexican Mocha at home!

I'm so proud of myself. I could have had no will power and run up to the shop and forked out $3.75 for them to make it. But instead, I stuck to my guns (stayed in my pajamas) and figured out how to still satisfy my craving (aka: feed the addiction) and keep my money in my pocket. That is the name of the game, right?

Now, if I could just figure out the recipe to Costco's blueberry muffins, I'll be golden...............

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When Cheap Thrills...Aren't So Cheap

Here's the set up -
Purchased 2000 Honda Odyssey in March 2005. Put new transmission in it it April 2005 (that's right, a month after I bought it, but covered under dealer warranty). Again in October 2006, and if that weren't enough fun, once more in January 2008. All were free to me because all three were under a warranty.
I knew the transmission was going out again, so yesterday was a true *Hooray* moment for me when the "check engine" light came on, still under warranty. I immediately called my favorite service advisor at Honda and we set up an appointment for this morning to diagnose the cause of the light.
I was confident I would be driving home in a rental car.

I couldn't be more wrong..........

It was determined that the catalytic converter was the culprit (say that 10x fast!) and the part alone would be nearly $1,000. That didn't include any labor. I guess that is what helped us with our decision............

Look what we bought!! It's a 2009 Odyssey! Only had 14 miles on it when we took it out for a test drive. I love fully loaded, and I love that it's MY fully loaded van!!! David kept laughing at me as I learned about a new gadget, because I am the Gadget Queen. What kinds of gadgets??
Power doors? Check.
Sunroof? Check.
Rear Entertainment Center? Check.
XM Radio? Check.
6disc changer? Check.
Triple Zone Climate Control? Check. Check. Check.

Really cool key and fob? Check and Check.
Anti-theft system? Check-a-rooni.

Oh, did you want to see the rest of the car? Okey Dokey, here ya go!

Did you need proof that its me?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cheap Thrills....if you call $30x2 cheap

Ok, so here is the deal. In the past, we have attempted to cut corners when buying things. We thought we were being so smart because we saved ourselves money simply by buying the lesser brand. Unfortunately, we've been bitten a number of times.

What do you mean? you ask? Good question. Here is an example. We were in the market for a DVD player a few years back. Well, Steve and Sally Savvy here decided to go with a no-name brand for $80 and ended up with a dead DVD player about eight months later. We ended up paying twice for that DVD player because we went out and bought a Sony for $130, and still have it to this day. Get the picture?

So, we've tried to remind ourselves when we've been shopping that sometimes cutting corners has not worked out for us. In short, you get what you pay for. I'm all for being frugal and getting the best deal possible, but sometimes I have to draw the line. Toilet seats have fallen in this category. The $7.99 seat from WallyWorld just hasn't held up. But since it hasn't cracked or completely fallen off the bowl, we've dealt with it.

We were at Home Depot the other day getting a new garbage disposal (a whole different story) and we got to wandering around the store. (It's a brand new HD so we had to familiarize ourselves with our new fancy schmancy hardware store...) We ended up in the toilet aisle which reminded us that our toilet seats have seen better days...................

Look what we got!


Like I said, cheap there won't be anymore 2am toilet seat *slams* because some little boy is too tired to put the seat down without dropping it! =)

MPM (3/23-3/29)

Well, for some reason (and probably not a good one either), I never got a menu put together last week. So I was doing a lot of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants as the bewitching dinner hour approached. At least I wasn't wandering aimlessly thru the grocery store looking for inspiration. We were able to do everything from our freezer and pantry. I haven't done any grocery shopping either. David on the other hand has stopped off for milk, bread flour, sugar and bananas...and that's it. I think that is pretty impressive. I've got a small list going now, but I bet I could keep it under $20 since we are so well stocked on so much other stuff. It has been rather refreshing, as well as a money saver, to not need to go shopping.

This week will be our "Dad is at Drill" menu for the weekend. I hate when he's gone, but on the other hand, its nice to be able to do really kid-friendly meals on occasion. So you'll see a really simple menu this time around.

Monday - "Leftovers" soup.....we saved all of our veggies from prior meals and put them in a Ziploc in the freezer. We had done the same thing with half of a pot roast. We finally had enough veggies to make a soup, so this time it was a vegetable beef soup and it was a smashing hit. We actually had a request to do the same soup next time. Guess I'll have to make another pot roast soon.

Tuesday - Tuna Noodle Casserole

Wednesday - BBQ pulled pork sandwiches

Thursday - Grilled Cheese and soup

Friday - Pancakes

Saturday - Homemade Pizza

Sunday - FFA (free for all...AKA: short order cook, as long as it is simple!)

For more ideas, check out it! I dare ya!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Let me just say, I can get used to this feeling! Although, I'm sure in some way, I should like it enough to stop soon. What am I talking about?



That's right - card #2 is DONE! Paid off!

Guess what.......................................................

I'll be able to pay off TWO more cards on the 1st, and that ain't no April Fools joke! Two more, in two weeks! Let me recap the fun - in two weeks, I'll pay off two more cards and that will make four cards in a four week time frame. That's awesome! You think I liked perma-smile before? Check me out on the 1st!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chili Recipe

I have told a few people about my chili recipe, but have yet to actually sit down and type it up. So I'm doing that now. We love this recipe for a couple reasons. The first (and most important) is that it is really delicious. The other reasons we love it is because it is really, really easy (you are opening cans and dumping them in a pot!) and it isn't a time consuming recipe. It also freezes wonderfully, so making double or triple batches can make life really easy for simple dinners down the road. Seriously, how great is that?! So, here it is....

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
1 can refried beans
1 (15 ounce) can corn
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
1 package taco seasoning
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix (not Buttermilk)

In a dutch oven (5qt cook pot), brown the beef with the onion. Add the rest of the ingredients, do not drain anything!
Bring to a boil over medium heat, simmer for 15 minutes.

**This recipe will fill a dutch oven. If you are looking to make a double or triple batch, I suggest a stock pot**

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I didn't forget

Honestly, I've thought about my menu plan for the week, and that is about where it stopped. It took me a while to actually sit down and get it done. But hey, it's done! Last week we had a couple hiccups in the plan, but nothing of major consequence - so that's good!

Also, baseball practice has started up for the season, so I'm going to have to pay attention in the coming few months to have easy meals on Monday nights since it will be a practice/game night. So you'll probably be seeing crock pot meals or something as simple as sandwiches or leftovers on Mondays to accommodate our schedule since I've been informed that I am still supposed to feed people (meaning my family) even though I never found that page in the parenting handbook that accompanied each child home from the hospital......

Monday - we had left over chili
Tuesday - Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, carrots, broccoli and brown rice
Wednesday - Tuna Noodle Casserole, carrots
Thursday - Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, broccoli and pineapple
Friday - Pancakes
Saturday - Crock pot Taco Chicken, Spanish rice & tortillas
Sunday - Wet Burrito Casserole

For more ideas, check out Orgjunkie.

I am so proud

Jordan brought home his report card yesterday, and I couldn't be happier! He is above grade level requirements on just about everything, and on the high side of grade level standard in the remaining areas. Although this is wonderful, it was the teacher's comments that made my heart swell.

"Jordan is developing very good skills in math and reading. He listens
carefully, and applies what he's learned. Jordan's citizenship is
excellent. He is a very good example for everyone."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

You're kidding, right?

About five or six weeks ago, I had a killer coupon deal for Charmin Ultra Strong. In my quest to learn if I would be able to not be so brand specific, I thought it was totally worth a go to give this toilet paper a try. I mean, it's Charmin, right? I'm a Charmin-kinda-gal, this is Charmin, how bad can it be??

Today was the day that I had the *pleasure* of trying out the new Charmin.

One question for ya...

Since when does my butt need miniature paper towels? Don't get me wrong, the job of toilet paper is a tough one, and I don't want it failing me in my hand....but really? Paper towels?

Oh, it's just me?

M'kay. Never mind.

It's David's turn

I think that everyone should give "perma-smile" a try. It fits anyone! David had a big smile when I told him that credit card #1 was paid off and shredded, but I think I was the one who got the most enjoyment out of it.

Here is what makes David smile:

In case you are wondering, that is 42 pounds of rib eye steaks and roasts, all packed to go in the freezer. A couple weeks ago, Bel Air had a screaming deal on rib eye packs (in the bag) but they were out. So I was given a rain check for 2 at the sale price - - $3.99/lb!! If you aren't familiar with the cut of meat, the center part of a prime rib with all the meat? That is the rib eye!! Yep!! Prime Rib...for $3.99/pound.

We went in today to see if they had any in stock...they did, and I made David's day! It's the little things in life, right?!

I love this concept of shopping the loss leader sales and stocking up at rock bottom prices. My wallet loves it too!

Friday, March 6, 2009

This is too funny

Ever have one of those days where you need a really good laugh? Are you having one of those days? If you are, then this may just cure you. If it doesn't, it will at least make your side hurt! This is hilarious! Enjoy !

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MPM (Mar 2-8)

I did much better this last week sticking with my menu. That's good too, because my wallet had started revolting! It (my wallet) is much happier now! So, here is our menu for this week...

Monday - Herbed Slow Cooker Chicken, brown rice and carrots

Tuesday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and carrots

Wednesday - Eggs and Toast

Thursday - Soup & Sandwiches

Friday - Homemade Pizza

Saturday - Chili

Sunday - Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, couscous, broccoli

For more ideas, check out orgjunkie!