Sunday, November 30, 2008

Morning Sickness Ideas Needed

I'm now dealing with full time morning sickness and I could use some help from my readers. With my last child, as long as I ate once an hour, I was ok. With this one, I'm pretty much sick 24/7 and food sometimes helps. This week I can't stand anything sweet and cooking doesn't go so well. I'm asking you guys for some quick and easy ideas for dinners and snacks. I know many of you have been through this before so feel free to give direct links to your blog.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I made up a few snacks and cooked up several batches of meat anticipating that morning sickness would kick in. Unfortunately, I didn't cook nearly enough as I've just about run out of everything.

I noticed that Money Saving Mom increased her grocery budget during the first trimester to help out with her inability to deal with food. I've had to slightly increase ours too as I'm looking at more quick prep meals and occasional fast food. Any other ideas are greatly appreciated.

Thank you for all of the comments and links - I look forward to them all. I will be back with more money saving articles this week once I figure out how to settle my stomach a little.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday and Other Ramblings

I did not forget Food Friday this week, it just didn't happen. We had a house full of people until after dinnertime on Friday and then shortly after they left I came down with a migraine. I got another one about lunchtime today so it has been fun around here. Lucky me, I get migraines when I'm pregnant. Some people have them completely go away but I go from two a year to about one a week.

On to better things. Did anyone get out for Black Friday yesterday? I did and guess what I bought? - a new digital camera. You guys can now stop listening to me complain about my dying camera. I've taken several pictures with the new camera but due to the migraines, I haven't had time to download the software and figure out how to get the pics onto my computer. I hope to do that within the next few days though. My camera came from Walmart. My husband and his brother-in-law came with me to fight the madness. We arrived at 4:30 and the sale started at 5. We all found what we wanted but then it took an hour to check out. After that we hit a few more sales and then were home by mid-morning. I've been saving for a camera for ages and this was under budget so I'm excited.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Week of Thanks: My House

I am thankful for the large home God has given us. As you read this, I have a house full of company. All of my husband's family moves to my house after Thanksgiving dinner so we can spend the weekend shopping. I'm thankful God gave us a house large enough to entertain. We've been able to accommodate many people throughout the years and that makes me happy. My husband and I have the gift of hospitality so we are always ready at a moment's notice to welcome people into our house. After our flood and not being able to use large parts of our house for months, we realized just how thankful we are for our house. God has given us a huge blessing in our house and we want to use it for Him.

What are you thankful for? I hope you have taken a few moments this week to give thanks for the blessings in your life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Back During the Holidays

We spend so much time thinking about ourselves during the holidays that many people forget to give back. For some, this isn't a problem, but for others it is. Although we cannot afford to give like we would like to, here are a few ways we are giving back to our community during the holidays.

Food: I've been picking up free and close to free items at the grocery store each week. Our church is collecting food all this month for a local food pantry so I've been donating each week. There have been several articles lately about how food pantry's are seeing more clients and less donors. Take time to go through your stockpile and see what you can donate.

Time: It does not cost a thing to give a little of your time. Some of you have the tradition of serving a meal during the holidays to those less fortunate. Others have the tradition of helping others. When I was in high school, our youth group would adopt the elderly in our church and help them decorate their place for Christmas. Find ways you can help your neighbors during this holiday season.

Baking: I love to bake but I don't like consuming all those calories by myself. During the holidays I will bake something and randomly give it to friends, family, and co-workers. It puts a smile on their face to see home baked goods, especially when they weren't expecting it. This is not part of their Christmas present, it is simply a random act of kindness.

These are just a few simple ideas of how I give back. There are many more ideas out there, especially in the random acts of kindness category, but I hope this gets you started thinking about how you are going to give back.

How are you giving back during the holidays? Feel free to leave a comment or post a link telling us how you give back.

A Week of Thanks: Church

I am thankful for a incredible church and the freedom to worship in it. I have several friends who are missionaries around the world and they are not able to openly worship. Hearing their stories makes me so thankful for the wonderful services we have each week and the opportunity to corporately worship.

What are you thankful for? Feel free to leave a comment or a blog link.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday: Thanksgiving Leftovers

I had planned to do a post on Thanksgiving leftovers for my Waste Less Wednesday feature this week but I opened my reader Tuesday morning and found this post from Lynnae and her readers have some great ideas on how to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. I invite you to check out her blog post and add your thoughts there too.

A Week of Thanks: Seasons

I love the season changes and here in MO we usually experience them all. Summer is my favorite season because I love the sun and wearing flip-flops. I'm thankful for the time I get to spend outside with my child during the summer and the many memories that are made.

I'm thankful for fall for the beautiful leaves. I stand in awe of the beauty God has created when I see the leaves changing.

Winter is my least favorite season but I am thankful for the beauty of a fresh snow. I'm also thankful that I get to spend more time cuddling my husband and son during these cold months.

Finally, there is spring. It feels like life is beginning again each year when spring rolls around and the flowers start popping up. I am thankful for my garden and the time I am able to spend working in it. My son loves to play in the dirt and it is great to spend time gardening with him.

What are you thankful for? Feel free to leave a comment or grab my button and post what you are thankful for on your blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Week of Thanks: Food

So many times we take for granted the simple things in life. I've never had to worry where my next meal is coming from but many people in the world do. I'm thankful that I have plenty of food. There was an article in our local paper last week how a group of social workers participated in a simulation on homelessness. As part of it, they visited a soup kitchen where they were given one small bowl of soup, one roll, and a small cup of iced tea. Many said they would starve if this was all they had to live on. This immediately made me think about how thankful I am that I don't have to worry about my next meal or if it will be large enough.

Take time today to give thanks for some of the things you usually take for granted.

Feel free to grab my button and participate in A Week of Thanks on your blog.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Week of Thanks: Family

I am thankful for my family. Both my immediate family and my extended family. My family has been a huge help over this past year of living on part time income. They have been both financial and emotional support to us.

I am lucky enough to have three whole days without my child this week (he is staying at my in-laws with all of his cousins) and I am really missing him. Times apart make me appreciate him that much more.

Finally, I'm thankful that our family is about to grow. Yes, you read that right - I am pregnant! We are a bit scared about affording the child but we know this child is from God and He will take care of the details. I am due in July.

What are you thankful for? Feel free to grab my button and join me in A Week of Thanks on your blog. Leave a comment below with the link.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Week of Thanks

Starting Monday, I will be posting one thing a day that I am thankful for. Obviously, there are plenty more than a week's worth, but I think it is good to pick out a few things every now and then and remember how thankful we are for them. We spend too much time getting ready for the holidays but we forget why we are really celebrating them. Feel free to join me in A Week of Thanks by posting a comment or a blog link as to what you are thankful for. You are also welcome to grab the button above to use on your blog.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baby Samples


Click on the Huggies box above to sign up for free samples, coupons, and newsletters. With my first child, I signed up for every baby company I could find and I received great coupons and samples throughout the first year. I'm still receiving great coupons from Huggies except they are now for Pull-Ups. These coupons are higher value than I usually find anywhere else.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Food Friday: Crockpot Apples

This is an easy way to have a yummy side dish or dessert when company is visiting. I've also brought it to potlucks too. When making it for a crowd, I usually double the recipe. It makes a great ice cream or pancake topping too. It can be a bit messy to clean up the crockpot so I suggest a crockpot liner if you have them. It makes cleanup a breeze so you can enjoy more time with your company.

Crockpot "Fried" Apples

3 lbs tart apples, sliced, cored, and peeled
1 tsp cinnamon
1 dash ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2-3 Tbsp butter, sliced into a few thin pieces

Put first 5 ingredients in your crockpot and stir well to coat the apples with the spices. Dot with butter. Cook on low about 4 hours, stirring once during cooking. This should have the consistency of apple pie filling when it is done. Temperatures vary on crockpots so adjust time accordingly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Black Friday

Are you heading out on Black Friday? What are your plans for the day?

I will be out sometime that day, but I have no idea when or where. I have two Black Friday strategies and it depends on which family I am celebrating Thanksgiving with that year.

This year I will be at my in-laws for Thanksgiving. They live an hour and a half away in a very small town and we are the closest shopping hub. Sometime Thanksgiving night or Friday morning, everyone heads to our house. I've learned that the years I spend with my husband's side of the family that my strategy is to go with the flow. I make no plans and do not read the ads ahead of time as I will get frustrated. Luckily, I am almost done Christmas shopping this year so there is nothing that I need to rush out and get.

My strategy when I'm celebrating with my family is different. My parents live minutes from my house so my mom and I get up at the crack of dawn and hit the mall. We have found over the years that the mall has some incredible buys early in the morning, but no one is there because they are at places like Best Buy and Target. We get some great buys without fighting the crowds. By mid-morning we are done and head to any other stores away from the mall we want to hit. We try to be done by noon and then meet all the guys for lunch. Sometimes we go back out early evening once the crowds have died down a bit. A few times I have fought the crowds at the big box stores but I rarely need the items they have on sale.

My husband did get out one year at 4:30 am to buy a TV at Best Buy. We knew what we wanted and our price range at this fit perfectly. We quickly learned we should have researched the brand first. After hours of trying to get a universal remote to work, we discovered it is rare to get one to work with this brand. Then, a few of the pixels went out. Then, the picture started getting a bit fuzzy. We took the TV back and vowed never to buy a Black Friday item by price alone - we will research brands before we head out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hallmark Greeting Card Contest


Have you ever wanted to create your own creating card? Hallmark is having a contest to create a Mother's Day or Father's Day card. Click on the button above to enter this fun contest.

Waste Less Wednesday: Clothes/Toys

Is your closet full of clothes you never wear? Do your kids have too many toys but are sick of them? Then it is time to organize a swap. I find it works better if you pick one category for a swap as it can get crazy when people bring half of their house. A swap is a great way to receive new items without spending a dime. It also helps the environment because items are being reused. And, it cleans out the clutter in your house.

If trading clothes, it helps to invite friends who are similar in size to you. There are many ways to organize a swap so go with what works best for you. I like for everyone to display their items in an area and then have the guests go around the room and pick out what they want. The rule is that you cannot take more than you brought. Of course, if there are several items left at the end, this rule can be bent a little. Anything that is not claimed can then be donated to a local charity.

To make it even more fun, serve snack food and beverages. Once the swap is done, it is fun to see what everyone picked out. This makes a great girls night out too.

Have you organized a swap before? If so, please leave a comment and share about it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pillsbury Newsletter

Sign up for the Pillsbury newsletter today and receive a book packed with $10 in coupons. Our family uses Pillsbury crescent rolls and biscuits often and you can find great deals combining coupons with sales so sign up today. With the holidays here, the newsletter will be packed with yummy recipes that can be made very quickly.

Operation Christmas Child

This week is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. If you have never heard of Samaritan's Purse or Operation Christmas Child, I invite you to check out their website. The concept is to fill a box with items for children from another country who would not otherwise receive Christmas gifts and Samaritan's Purse will deliver them. The video they produce each year is touching and makes me want to keep on giving.

Our family always fills at least one box and sometimes many more. We shop sales all year long so that the child can receive some great gifts without it breaking the bank. This year, we found a cute shorts outfit for less than $3 at the K-Mart end of the season sale. We found some fun Cars items at the dollar store and train at Target. I've also included toothpaste, a toothbrush, and soap - all bought free by combining sales and coupons. Finally, we put in a few prepackaged food items. If you are filling a box, remember that nothing that looks like a weapon or any items that could leak are allowed.

If you would like to fill a box, check out the website to find a drop off location near you. My church is collecting boxes this Sunday, as are many around the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coupon Winners

The winners of the coupons according to are:

The eBay Coach

I do not have a way to contact you Letty so if you see this, please email me by Monday evening with your name and address. In case a winner does not notify me, a new one will be chosen. Thank you to everyone who entered. I discovered some great new blogs through this contest!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Giveaway Ends Tomorrow

In case you have not had a chance to enter my coupon giveaway, here is your friendly reminder that the contest ends tomorrow. I will be at a women's conference most of the day on Saturday so the winner will be announced either Saturday night or Sunday sometime.

Food Friday: Chicken & Dumplings

I first discovered this recipe when searching for comfort food last year. It was a cold day and my husband was wanting something like this but he did not like any of the recipes I had on hand. Since then it has become a staple in our winter menus and he even had me make a big batch to send to work with him one day. When cooking for just the three of us, I cut this recipe in half but still use the full can of biscuits as we like a lot of dumplings.

Caroline's Quick Chicken and Dumplings
From RecipeZaar -
Recipe #50495



1. In a large pot, bring first 5 ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat; stir often.

2. Separate each biscuit in half, making 2 rounds per biscuit.
3. Cut each round in half.
4. Drop biscuit pieces, 1 at a time, into boiling broth mixture; stir.
5. Place cover on pot, turn heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 30 minutes or until dumplings are desired doneness.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas Decorations

When do you begin decorating for Christmas? If it was up to me, I would be starting this weekend. My husband throws a fit if anything is up before Thanksgiving though so it will have to wait.

I'm trying to pare down my decorations, but I love Christmas so this is hard. I normally put up 2 large trees and one small tree. The small one is my baking tree and my ornaments are about to overtake the tree. I started this one two years ago since I love to cook and my family has taken off with the idea. I would like to convert this to a pencil tree but that probably won't happen for awhile as our monkey is into everything these days.

Our upstairs tree is super simple but oh so beautiful. When we were first married, I decorated the tree and put it in the front window. It put me in the Christmas mood every night when I would drive home and see it shining in my front window. When I was pregnant with our son, my husband was working about 4 hours away. It was too much for me to put everything up so I simply put up the pre-lit tree - no decorations on it. It was such a beautiful tree that it didn't need anything else. Since then, I've not hung ornaments on the tree. Some years I put garland on it but that is it. The tree has since been moved to a corner in my kitchen but it is still beautiful where it is.

The final tree goes in our basement. I put all of the ornaments I have collected since I was a little child on it. My mom would buy us at least one ornament every year for Christmas. It was great when I moved out because I had some decorations for my first tree. It is fun to go through the memories each year as I unpack each ornament.

I have several other decorations that I put out each year but I would say my next favorite item is my nativity collection. I put them on the mantle above my fireplace. I have one large set and several smaller ones. Jesus is the reason for the season so I feel it is important to display that somewhere. Some years, my trees and nativity collection are all that make it out of the box. Before a toddler, I got everything out, but I would rather it be safe in the box now instead of broken in two seconds flat.

What are your favorite decorations and how are you keeping things more simple this year? Feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday: Food

It is so easy to buy something when it is on sale at the store and then forget to use it. This week I suggest you waste less by going through your pantry, fridge, and freezer and seeing what needs to be used up. The easiest way to use up those strange ingredients is in a stir fry, soup, or quiche. All three are very forgiving and allow for a wide range of ingredients. If this is overwhelming to you, pick one area and go through it or pick one day a week and vow to only eat from your pantry. You will be amazed at what you can come up with thanks to those random ingredients you find.

Have you found a great recipe because you were wanting to use up random ingredients in your house? If so, leave me a comment or a link.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Very Full Freezer

Our Christmas present of 1/4 of a beef arrived this weekend. Above is a picture of our very full freezer. The middle shelf is beef only and there are various steaks and roasts tucked in on all of the other shelves. It took some work, but we were able to fit it all in. It was kind of fun eating out of my freezer for a few months trying to make room for the meat. I plan on taking at least one week each month and only eating things in our pantry or freezer. I used to do this but stopped for some unknown reason. It really helps the budget by only buying fruit/veggies and milk one week a month.

By the way, don't forget to enter my coupon giveaway below.
I'm giving away two sets!

Monday, November 10, 2008

100th Post Giveaway

Last week, I promised a giveaway in honor of my 100th post and here it is. This is for some high value coupons and I have two sets to giveaway. Here is what you will receive:

3 Chex Mix bars coupons - $1.50 off each, expires 2/25/09
3 Pillsbury pizza crust coupons - $1.110 off each, expires 2/25/09
2 Starkist coupons - buy one, get one free, expires 12/31/08
3 Redbox codes - expires 12/31/08

If you are wondering how I received these great coupons, I suggest checking out Vocalpoint and Psst. These great communities give you products and high value coupons to try out and pass out to friends.

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is leave me a comment. If you would like more entries, subscribe to my blog in a reader and/or post this on your blog. For each task that you complete, leave a separate comment. Contest ends on Saturday morning at 9 am CST.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

BBQ Beef

This is a great meal for company because it is cooked in the crockpot. I usually make the sauce the night before and then stick everything in of a morning. It would be a wonderful meal to have after a hard day of Christmas shopping since it will already be done. I've also taken this to a Super Bowl party and the guys loved it.

BBQ Beef

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp prepared Dijon-style mustard (I've used regular yellow mustard)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 (approx. 4 lb) boneless chuck roast (works great with a pork roast too)

In a large bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place chuck roast in a slow cooker, pour ketchup mixture over roast. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker, shred with fork and return to slow cooker. Stir meat to evenly coat with sauce and continue cooking approx. one hour (I usually only cook until my side dishes are done).

Friday, November 7, 2008


Did anyone happen to notice the new banner on the side of this blog? I'm now selling Tupperware. You can visit my Tupperware site at anytime to buy directly from me. I know it seems weird to be selling things when I'm trying to teach you how to live on less, but Tupperware can help you live on less. Their items come with a lifetime warranty and are "safe" plastic. I used to buy the cheapy plastic containers at the store and then complain that they didn't hold up well. A few years ago I started slowly replacing those with Tupperware. I save money by not having to replace my items every year or so. Now is a great time to buy since the holidays are coming up and there are some great things on sale. Please note that my site just went live and I plan on tweaking it in the days to come but feel free to stop on by at anytime. If you have any questions about a product or how to become a consultant, feel free to shoot me an email.

Food Friday: Overnight French Toast Casserole

This is a great casserole for company because it can be assembled ahead and baked the next morning. It is also a very economical way to serve guests a fun meal.

Overnight French Toast Casserole

1/2 cup butter or margarine
12 slices white bread
1 cup brown sugar (I usually only use 2/3 cup)
1 tsp cinnamon
5-6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Melt margarine in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Put 6 slices of bread in bottom of pan. In a bowl, mix 1 cup brown sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/2 of this mixture over bread. Add another layer of 6 slices of bread. In a bowl, whisk eggs with milk until well blended. Pour over bread layers. Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 15 minutes or until set and browned.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I was baking a casserole for MOPS the other day and quickly realized I had forgot to buy the hashbrowns. In my moment of panic, I hopped on the internet and searched for recipes for hashbrowns. I'm not sure why I've been wasting my money on store bought hashbrowns all of these years because they are super simple to make. I made a few extra that morning so my husband and son could have some for breakfast. A few days later my super picky husband asked me to make them again. If he asks for something again, that means it has to be good because he very rarely ever wants me to make a new recipe again.

Hash Browns

onions or onion powder (optional)

I did not put quantities because you can adjust for the number of people you are serving. Start by heating a pan with oil (you can adjust the amount to fit your tastes and dietary needs). Next, peel potatoes and grate them. Mix with salt, pepper, and onion (if desired). Add mixture to hot pan (either as single serve patties or as one large serving) and cook until desired doneness, stirring as needed.

I made a batch with onion powder and one without and he approved of both (not knowing there was onion powder in one). My husband detests onions so I did not even try to use a real onion in them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Minute To Move It

McDonald's is celebrating the release of Madagascar 2 by hosting One Minute To Move It. Beginning this Friday, visit to find great ways you and your family can "move it". The goal is to spend one minute moving it and hopefully this will lead to fun activities for your family.

Since my child loves Madagascar and gets excited everytime he sees the commercial, I plan on participating. He loves to groove to the music so I think our first one minute activity will be dancing. This promotion runs through Nov. 19 so we might try to find an activity a day. I'm sure at least one of those will be playing chase in our hallway. Our child loves to run up and down the hall and it is even more exciting when mom and dad participate.

How will you participate? If you post a link at The Mom Salon you might even win the entire set of McDonald's toys for Madagascar 2, along with a $20 Arch card.

Mexican Orange-Cornmeal Sandies

I first discovered this recipe in high school when I had to create something from another country for a geography class. I found this in a women's magazine such as Good Housekeeping (I can't remember exactly which one). It quickly became a tradition for me to make these and my friends would request it, along with my pumpkin bread, every year. I stopped making these when my child was born but I plan to make them again in the future. They do take a bit of time but they are fun to make with friends or family and they are absolutely delicious.

Mexican Orange-Cornmeal Sandies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1 tsp orange extract
1/4 ground walnuts
6 oz. chocolate melting wafers

1. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and soda in a bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a medium-size bowl until creamy and smooth. Beat in egg yolks, rind, and extract until fluffy. Stir in flour mixture and walnuts. Divide dough in half, flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 30 minutes.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

4. On lightly floured surface, roll half of dough 1/4 inch thick. With floured 3 1/2 inch round or star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out dough. If using rounds, cut each round in half. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Bake in 350 degree oven about 8 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack.

6. Melt chocolate in small saucepan (or double boiler) over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat and dip cookies into chocolate. Place cookies on baking sheet lined with wax paper. Let stand until chocolate hardens, approximately 1 hour. Freeze or store at room temperture.

**This recipe makes 30 cookies if using stars or approximately 60 if using half rounds. I've only made these as rounds and I only dip the round part, leaving the flat side without chocolate.
**If kept covered, these will last a long time (assuming they are not immediately gobbled up!).

One Year

One year ago today, my husband's job loss took effect. We actually learned about it 13 months ago today, but they gave him a month before it took effect. We've had several ups and downs over that past year, but we are surviving by the grace of God.

In that time we have grown much closer as a family, learned how to have frugal fun and how to decrease grocery costs. My husband has gone back to college and we are paying for it in cash. He only has 9 classes to go before he has his B.S. We have worked every odd job we can find and have only had to dip into our emergency fund twice. Some months we were actually able to put a little in the fund so we are about even.

Although it has been a tough year, we have learned a lot and we've grown closer to God. We pray it is not another year, but we are leaving that in God's hands. I want to share the chorus to a song that has come to mean a lot to me over this past year. This is from I Am Blessed by Rachael Lampa.

I am blessed,
I am blessed,
From when I rise up in the morning,
'Till I lay my head to rest,
And I feel you near me,
You sooth me when I'm weary.
Oh, Lord,For all the worst and all the best,
I am blessed.

By this way, this is my 100th post. I will be hosting a giveaway next week in honor, but for now, I want to reflect on the blessings of our past year.

Waste Less Wednesday: Food Containers

Have you ever wondered what to do with empty food containers such as cake mix boxes and egg cartons? Give them to your child to play with. You can give them to your child as is and play kitchen or grocery store. If you want to get more adventurous, wrap the containers in different colors and use as blocks. This teaches your child about stacking, colors, and counting. Empty food containers can make great educational toys for your child.

If you do not have a child, the boxes are great to wrap presents in. One year at Christmas, I ran out of small boxes so I used a cake mix box. Everyone thought it was creative and then started paying more attention to what I wrapped things in. It helps the environment by reusing common items and it makes for a great conversation piece.

Have you found any other uses for empty food containers? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Taco Soup

This is one of my favorite soups when it is cold outside. I usually serve it Thanksgiving weekend and/or Christmas Eve when we are looking to an alternative to turkey.

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth
1 (14.5 oz) can peeled diced tomatoes w/garlic & oregano (I use whatever I have on hand)
1 1/2 tomato cans of water
1 (15 oz) can ranch style beans, undrained
1 (8 oz) can whole kernel corn, undrained (again, I use whatever size I have on hand)
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (can leave out if you prefer it more mild)
1/2 tsp ground oregano
salt to taste
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup uncooked small pasta shells
grate cheddar or monterey jack cheese for garnish

In a large pot, brown meat. Drain fat. Mix everything together except pasta and cheese. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes. Add pasta and continue to simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Add more water to adjust consistency, if desired. Garnish with cheese.

Vote (And Then Enjoy Some Freebies)

I'm sure you are sick of hearing this by now but here is your friendly reminder to get out and vote today. Once you are done, there are several freebies being offered for voting. It only took me about 30 minutes this morning and I was planning on longer so on my way to work I stopped by to get two of the freebies. First, I stopped at the Starbucks down the street from the polling place and received my free tall cup of coffee. Next, I stopped by Krispy Kreme (it is on my way to work) and received a free star shaped donut with sprinkles. I'm sitting here enjoying both as I type. If you have to take a child with you to vote (I saw a few there), a donut would make a nice bribe (I mean reward).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christmas Came Early

Guess what I'm doing right now? I'm setting up my new laptop!!! My parents gave us an early Christmas present by helping us out with it. It is so nice to now be able to save passwords and download things. I was not able to do either with my husband's work computer. I'm grateful we had it though. Our computer friend is stopping by tomorrow to help us recover important files off our old hard drive. We think the fan went out on the old laptop and that the power supply was connected to the fan. Our friend said it would cost more to fix that than to buy a new computer. I'm hoping to have everything fully running by the end of the week. For now, I'm just playing around and setting up the computer to my liking.

Baked Fruit

Today's recipe can be used for just about any meal of the day or for a fun snack. I was first introduced to this recipe at a brunch but I could easily see it served at other meals.

Baked Fruit

1 can (16 oz) chunk peaches, drained
1 can (16 oz.) chunk pears, drained
1 can (16 oz.) chunk pineapple, drained
2 medium bananas, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix fruit, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place in a casserole dish (I used 9 x 13 but it would easily fit in something smaller) and top with slices of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Week of Recipes


On Monday, Modern Mommyhood is featuring Christmas recipes as part of her 12 Days of Christmas. In honor of this (and because I'm in a serious cooking mood), I'm going to feature a recipe a day for the next week. Come back Monday through Saturday for a new recipe each day.

If you are looking for ways to save money on your holiday cooking, I suggest signing up for The Grocery Game. This wonderful service will teach you how to combine coupons with sales in order to save a bundle on groceries. If you do sign up, my referral email is light52b at yahoo dot com.

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