Sep 30, 2008

Toolin' Up Tuesday

I was honored that Jessica over at Life as Mom asked me to host this week's version of Toolin' Up Tuesday. Stop on over to Life as Mom to see what I'm "baking" today and join in the fun. The Mr. Linky is not working over at Life As Mom, so leave a comment there with your post link.

Sep 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I spent way more than my $40 budget at the store this week, $30 over to be exact, but I was able to stock up on things like pasta sauce, mac n cheese, "cream of" soups, and canned veggies. I think I'll have enough to last two-three months or more, which is great. That also included two boxes of trash bags and toilet paper, which I don't typically include in the budget. I also bought Addyson friendly foods this week, which is new for our family. She is starting to be more comfortable with foods, so I bought things that would be great for her to try. These things will last us a month or so.

Sunday: Grilled Italian Chicken & Veggie Foil Packets
Monday: Chicken Club Ring (pampered chef recipe)
Tuesday: Pork Loin With Apples (crock pot) carried over from last weeks menu
Wednesday: Lasangna
Thursday: Leftovers
Saturday: probably picking up something on the way home from JessieLeigh's house! We are going to be visiting her family's farm for the day.

Check out what's being served up by other bloggers at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. She's doing a great giveaway this week, so join in the fun!

Sep 26, 2008

Frugal Fridays

I've been shopping around for a good convertible car seat to transition Addyson into. At 17 months, she is still in her infant carrier. Since she's only 18 lbs, she has 4 more pounds to go before outgrowing the infant carrier, but she's getting too heavy to carry around like that and the top harness straps are getting too low for her.

I wanted something that was inexpensive, as money is really tight now for us. Of course, that wasn't my first concern... her safety is, but it's something to think about. I was looking at seats that ranged from $150-$300, which I thought was high, especially since they were rated up to 40lbs only. She'll probably be 13 before she weighs that much (just joking, you know that right?) but I thought it was too much to spend.

How excited was I to find this post on Baby Cheapskate about Best Convertible Seat Under $100. After some additional research, we chose the Safety 1st Avenue in the Abbey print, which can be found at Kmart, originally priced at $79.99, but currently on sale for $71,99, saving us $8.00. The best part? It can be used rear facing up to 35 lbs. And of course, it's cute & pink, um... I mean SAFE!

Can't wait to install this one into Hendrix (my car) and try it out.

Want to see what frugal things others are reporting? Visit Frugal Fridays over at Biblical Womanhood.

Sep 25, 2008

Thirsty Thursday

With fall now settling in, I love the crisp cool air in the mornings and the warm sunny afternoons. Fall is my favorite season, the one I met my husband in, the one we married in, the one I look forward to for the rest of the year. I long for the day I can put on a sweater and boots. I crave all things apple and pumpkin. Since I shared the Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe with you all last week, I thought I'd share an apple drink recipe with you this week. It's not your typical hot cider... nope, it's an Apple Cider Float, yep, FLOAT! It's still not quite chilly enough here in Indiana for hot cider, so I thought this was the perfect way to use all that fresh apple cider from the orchard and the farm market. I found this recipe on and I think it's top notch. No prep work or waiting, just a simple recipe that your entire family can enjoy. The link to the recipe for those of you who want more details is here. Otherwise, feel free just to follow these simple directions:

Apple Cider Floats

Serves 2


  • 4 (1/4 cup) scoops ice cream
  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • sprinkle of cinnamon


  1. Place two scoops of ice cream into each glass. Pour 1 cup of apple cider into each glass, sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve.

Try using various types of ice cream - vanilla, cake-batter, apple pie, caramel swirl, cinnamon, or even pumpkin ice cream.

Share your favorite drink recipe.
Maybe it’s your favorite coffee concoction, a rich & thick milkshake, the perfect party punch, or a crazy cosmopolitan. Write a post on your blog and link to it below in Mr. Linky. Be sure to link back to this post in your blog so other readers can join in the fun.

Sep 24, 2008

works-for-me wednesday

I know I'm fairly new to this blogging world, but I also maintain my daughter's Caringbridge page, so you'd think I'd know about all these great tricks. Yesterday, while using twitter to share my newest blog post, a friend of mine, JessieLeigh, introduced me to my new favorite online tool. It's called TinyURL. Sometimes when you are posting a comment or writing online, you don't have the option to do a hyperlink. In this case, you would post the URL like this: With TinyURL, you would simply paste that long URL into the website, hit the "Tiny It" button, and it automatically creates a smaller, more manageable URL for you. You can even customize it like so So, I encourage you to check out the TinyURL website and try it for yourself. Of course with all of you experienced bloggers out there, I'm probably telling you something you already know, but this really works-for-me.

Want to read what works for other bloggers? Check out works-for-me wednesday over at RocksInMyDryer.

Sep 23, 2008

Apple Pie

LifeAsMom is hosting a recipe swap about pies. Thought I'd play along since I don't think she's going to be doing her Toolin' Up Tuesday that I posted earlier today. We visited the apple orchard this weekend and I plan on making an apple pie for Saturday. My family will be in town for a fundraiser walk. Thought this recipe (the one my hubby says is the best apple pie he's ever had!) would be a good one to share with you all.

Longaberger's Grandma Bonnie's Homemade Pie Crust and Apple Pie

Pie Crust:
4 cups flour
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups lard
1 egg (beaten)
1 T. vinegar
1/2 cup water
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together egg, vinegar and water. Add to flour mixture. Mix until dough is moistened enough so it holds together when it is formed into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until well chilled. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12" circle. Fit the dough into Grandma Bonnie's Apple Pie Plate. Crimp the dough to form a decorative border. Pierce the pastry with a fork. Place the crust in the freezer while preparing the filling.
Makes 2 double crust pies.

Apple Pie Filling:
3 cups pared, cored and sliced apples (I leave the skins on, core, cut in half and I use my Pampered Chef Ultimate Mandoline to slice very thin)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 T. butter or margarine
3 T. flour
3 T. Milk

Preheat oven to 375f. Mix apples, flour, sugar and cinnamon together and gently stir. Place mixture in unbaked pie shell. Dab with butter and pour the milk over the apple mixture. Place lattice or crust top on pie. Bake 40-45 minutes. Filling for 1 pie.

I use pre-made pie crusts from Pillsbury or store brand (Meijer's is good!).

Join in the pie-making over at LifeAsMom.

Toolin' Up Tuesday

The tool I'd like to share today is an online tool. When my daughter was born 15 weeks premature in April 2007, we found ourselves in a very emotional and chaotic situation. Her life was very unstable and we were concerned with each minute to minute. Much of our family lives out of town but wanted to keep informed of her progress. The hospital, luckily, was only 15 minutes from our home. After a long day at the hospital, trying to digest each piece of information from the doctors and nurses, the last thing we wanted to do was call each person on our list and review all the details. We needed to eat, sleep, and get back to the hospital.

Our welcome packet at the hospital contained a brochure on a webpage called CaringBridge. It is a free service you can use online to set up a webpage for your child, yourself, or any loved one. We were able to set up a webpage for her, share the link with family and friends, and, in turn, keep each person updated without the hassle. The website allows you to share up to 12 photos, links to other sites of importance (we linked to medical sites that explained each issue Addyson was confronted with so others could read up and get more info), a welcome page with background info, a journal page to write updates as often as you wanted, and a guestbook page for each person visiting to write some encouraging words or to ask questions that they had.

Although Addyson is doing fairly well now, we continue to use her webpage to keep family involved in her life as she grows and learns new things. We still update with her medical issues, but for the most part, we love to share her accomplishments now. The nurses from the hospital still visit Addy's page and stay informed of her progress.

A few exceptional features I noted: Each visitor has the option of receiving an email when a new journal entry is posted so they can more easily remember to check back in. As a new mom who wasn't quite ready to share her 1 lb, 7.9 oz bundle of joy with the entire world, I had the option of setting a password to the webpage and monitoring who was privey to that password. Once the doctors said that we were hour to hour or day to day instead of minute to minute, I took the password off and shared her with whomever would listen.

Now we can look back at the journal entries to see what we were experiencing at each step of the journey. We can also look back at the guestbook entries to see who was checking in on Addy and she'll be able to see how many people were pulling for her.

I invite you to visit our daughter's webpage to see what it's all about. It's very easy to use, so don't worry if you don't know how to write html or use any web design software. I promise anyone can do it! If you or someone you know could benefit from this service, don't be afraid to use it. I have noticed that adults going through medical issues have used it and also men and women in the military also use it to stay connected to friends and family back home.

To see what kinds of Tools others are using, visit Toolin' Up Tuesday hosted by LifeAsMom.

Sep 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, week 2 of my participation in MPM and I have to admit, I'm sort of embarrased to share. This upcoming week, Nick is going to be gone for two evenings, so I will probably enjoy not cooking and eat PB&J or cereal for dinner - gasp! I know, but who wants to cook for 1 while caring for a 17 month old alone? NOT ME!

Well, because of this and the fact that he probably won't be hungry when he arrives back into town from Baltimore on Thursday night, and the fact that we didn't end up eating our planned menu from last week, it makes for a short and uninteresting week to share, but nonetheless...

Sunday: Sausage & Rice Casserole, Green Beans, Rolls

Monday: Grilled Steak & Baked Potato (rolled over from last Thursday)

Tuesday: Cereal

Wednesday: PB&J

Thursday: Frozen Pizza (no laughing!)

Friday: Chicken Fajitas

Saturday: Boneless Pork Loin with Apples (crockpot) and Mashed Potatoes

Not too shabby, considering I only spent about $30 on groceries this week! I'm going to be doing some apple recipes because we took Addyson to the apple orchard on Saturday. It was her first time there and we had fun. It was so cool out that morning, so we dressed warm, but it ended up in the 80s, so we were uncomfortably HOT!

Take a peek into the lives of others by seeing what they're serving up this week over at Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sep 19, 2008

Frugal Fridays

Run, don't walk to your nearest CVS.

Purex laundry detergent is on sale (orig price $5.99) for $2.99 and earns $1 ECB.

There was a coupon in Smart Source from Sunday 9/14 for Purex. It was $1 off when you buy two ANY Purex. I had two of these coupons. One from my paper and one from Nick's grandma's paper (she saves these for me each week!).

You'll need to print out a coupon from here at Download the second one on the page (it's a pdf) and print it out (you can print black and white).

Go to CVS and buy 4 bottles of Purex (look for the ones that have 20% more in the bottle for an even sweeter deal). Make sure to hand over your CVS extra care card. Hand them the $2/$10 coupon first then the two coupons from Smart Source.

My total was less than the ECB I had to spend, so I threw in two candy bars that were 2/0.99.

I paid with a $5 ECB and a $4 ECB and $0.14 OOP. I earned $4ECB to spend on my next transaction.

So, I look at it this way, since I spent $9 ECB but earned $4 ECB, I'm out $5 ECB plus 14cents for 4 bottles of Purex and two candy bars. Not a bad deal at all.

Now if I could just get CVS to come put my clean laundry away for me...

Join in the frugalness over at Biblical Womanhood. Well, it looks like Crystal isn't hosting a Frugal Friday since they are working on the website, but feel free to click on the word "frugalness" above and see her past Frugal Friday posts.

Sep 18, 2008

Thirsty Thursday

Here is my second Thirsty Thursday post... hoping someone else will join in the fun. I finally found a wonderful helper to assist in setting up Mr. Linky (thanks NICOLE!). So this Thursday I have excellent news drumroll please...
Starbucks has their pumpkin spice latte and frappacino back for the fall season. This is wonderful because I love it so much, but it's terrible because I love it so much! We all know Starbucks is expensive and it doesn't help control my "girlish figure" (I use the term loosely as we all know I have more of a "plump figure"). Since Nick and I are desperate to save some money, I went searching for a copy cat recipe. I just found this yesterday, so I have not had the chance to try it out, but seems legit and YUMMY!

As much as I hate to just copy and paste someone elses blog posts, I feel there is no other way to share this with you, so a big huge THANK YOU to Ariela over at Baking and Books for her post about Pumpkin Spice Latte II. Here is her recipe:

Pumpkin Spice Latte II (Ariela's Recipe)

    Ingredients: Makes 2 servings
  • 1 level tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk (whole if you dare!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar (packed and leveled)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (+ a pinch for dusting later)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups strong coffee (brewed using 2 tbs per 1 cup of water)
    You can also use a shot or two of espresso instead of coffee.
  • 4 tablespoons Coffeemate creamer
  • 4 to 8 teaspoons of granulated sugar
  • Whipped cream

Begin brewing coffee.

In a blender puree the milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour into a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the milk is warm and begins to froth slightly. (About 4-5 minutes.) Remove from heat.

For each serving: Pour 1/2 cup of the pumpkin mixture into your coffee mug. Add 2 generous tablespoons of Coffeemate creamer. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, then add 1 cup of brewed coffee. Add 2 to 4 teaspoons of sugar (depending on how sweet you like your drink, I added 3 tsps.) Top off with a touch more ‘pumpkin milk’ then cover with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve immediately.


Now I'm off to search for a copy cat of the Pumpkin Spice Frappacino (both coffee based and creme based). Let me know if you find it first!

Please share your favorite drink recipe in the comments section below, either straight out or with a link back to your Thirsty Thursday post. If you do post a Thirsty Thursday on your blog, please link back to this post so others can join in the YUM!

You may also want to find other yummy comfort foods for fall over at Life As a Mom.

Sep 17, 2008

works-for-me wednesday

I used to go to McDonalds and order a Bacon Egg and Cheese McMuffin with a Sweet Tea or Burger King and order a Bacon Egg and Cheese Croissan'wich with a Mocha Joe for breakfast. Now that Nick and I are facing an increase in our property taxes (built in to our monthly mortgage payment) and a huge increase in our health insurance (that's a whole other topic for a post), we have made some changes to our daily spending habits. Because of this, we are trying to stick to a $40 a week grocery budget which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We've been taking our leftovers to work for lunch and I've been making muffins for breakfast. It's easy to pop one in a container and take it to work. Blueberries are readily available now (remind me to get a bunch and freeze them before the season is over!) so we have been loving blueberry muffins. Bananas are really cheap when you buy them when they are so over ripe that no one else wants them. Here are two recipes that I've found on Allrecipes and adapted to our liking. I'll include the original links but post the recipes that we follow. I hope you enjoy them!

Banana Crumb Muffins (original link)
Makes about 12 muffins.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • TOPPING...
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder salt, cinnamon,and nutmeg. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, brown sugar, egg and applesauce. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.


To Die For Blueberry Muffins (original link)
Makes about 9 muffins.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • TOPPING...
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
In both recipes, we replaced the butter or oil with applesauce to keep it healthier and with more fiber. It also adds some more fruit to our diet, which doesn't hurt. The original recipe to the blueberry muffins has a different topping, but we liked the one from the banana muffins better, so we use that one as noted above.

These recipes work for me because they are yummy and more affordable than fast food breakfasts. To see what works for other bloggers, Check out works-for-me wednesday hosted by

Sep 16, 2008

Toolin' Up Tuesday

The tool we couldn't live without around here is the Zevex EnteraLite Infinity Enteral Feeding Pump. Since our daughter, Addyson takes no food by mouth, she recieves her nutrition through a g-tube. This tube was surgically placed in her stomach last November 2007. For a while, we tried bolus feedings, where you connect a syringe to the tube and let gravity do its thing. Addyson's stomach is very sensitive and couldn't handle the bolus feeds. We finally got the feeding pump. It allows us to change the settings and control the feedings more accurately. She receives about 5 ounces over the course of an hour, three times a day. She also receives about 19 ounces over the course of nine hours overnight. This allows her body to better tolerate the feedings so she can get the nutrients and calories that her body needs. One great accessory that we love is the Infinity Mini Backpack that came with the pump. It allows us to mix an entire 24 hours worth of formula at a time and stores it in this pack with ice packs to keep the formula fresh. It also holds the pump and tubing. This makes it much easier to travel out and about without worry. It also is much more discreet than pulling an IV pole around!
Learn what tools others use to get through the day at Toolin' Up Tuesday hosted by Life as a Mom.

Sep 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Eggs, Bacon, Toast
Monday: Chicken & Biscuits
Tuesday: Hamburgers & French Fries
Wednesday: Polska Kielbasa & Mac N Cheese
Thursday: Steak & Baked Potato
Friday: Mini Meatloafs & Scalloped Potato
Saturday: Grilled Chicken & Veggie Foil Packets

It's a busy week, so I've chosen easy recipes. Also note that our family grocery budget is around $40 per week, so you'll note our meals are simplistic. Since it's just my hubby and I who eat the meals, we don't go overboard with sides and whatnot.

One note to make, since we had the Chicken & Buscuits tonight... we decided we really dislike frozen veggies and will make this again, but using canned mixed veggies. We've done the same with chicken pot pie and other similar things that call for frozen... I think they just end up chewy and gross.

See what everyone is cooking up this week at Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sep 12, 2008

Frugal Fridays

With all the great Walgreens deals going on, they added fuel to the fire with this COUPON for $10 off of a $40 purchase. I don't have a ton of time to put together senarios today since I'm home with Addyson alone today and we have a doctor's appointment to get to, but you can find plenty of great deals on recent posts by Money Saving Mom.

For more great Frugal tips, visit Frugal Fridays over at Biblical Womanhood.

Sep 11, 2008

Thirsty Thursday

I thought I'd start my own carnival or meme... whatever bloggers are calling it these days. I didn't find one that I loved for Thursday, so I'm making up my own. Until I figure out a Mr. Linky, please leave your responses in the comments.

So, what is Thirsty Thursday all about? It's a way to share and showcase your favorite drink recipes. Could be an alcoholic type drink, a coffee drink, a smoothie, a punch, or a milkshake... if you drink it, you can post it. Could be as simple as koolaid mixed with sprite or it could be your most decadent hot cocoa recipe. If you do post, please link back to this post so others can share in the fun!

Without further ado... here's my first contribution. It's great for girl's night in or dinner with a loved one.

Olive Garden Sangria

1 1/2 liters Red Table Wine
10 ounces or 1 cup Grenadine
16 ounces or 2 cups Cranberry Juice Cocktail
12 ounces or 1 1/4 cups Sweet Vermouth
10 ounces or 1/2 cup Sugar Water (half water, half sugar)
Strawberries cut into thirds
Oranges, sliced and quartered
Crushed ice

This makes one gallon. Mix all ingredients except for ice.
Refridgerate for 4 to 5 hours.
Pour wine in glass and then add ice.
Make sure there is fruit in every glass.


Sep 10, 2008

works-for-me wednesday

Although "T" did a great job adjusting some of the settings on my blog template, I decided to find a blog template that was easier to adjust myself. I am happy to report that I found a link through MoneySavingMom that led me to BlogCoach where I found Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates. She has lots of beautiful templates that are free! I found this bird one and couldn't be happier. This template is very easy to make color and position adjustments to. If you are looking to start a blog or update your current blog, Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates works for me!

Don't forget to see what works for everyone else at works-for-me wednesday hosted by RocksInMyDryer.

Sep 8, 2008

Thank you!

A huge thank you to "T", husband of "J" - author of for helping me with my blog settings. Now you can actually see the blog post titles. He wasn't able to get rid of the huge date stamp at the top of each post, but it is so much better than it was before. THANK YOU "T"!

This past weekend was productive. Nick and I had date night on Friday... went to Hirosaki's (a Japaneese Hibachi Restraunt). It was fun and yummy. Afterwards we did our weekly grocery shopping at Meijer. Spent about $35, so that is great. The menu for this week looks good too!
Saturday: Fiesta Lime Chicken and Mashed Potatoes
Sunday: Meatball Subs (crockpot) and Macaroni Salad (it's a late working night for Nick)
Monday: Stuffed Green Peppers
Tuesday: Homemade Shake n Bake Chicken and Sweet Potato Suprise
Wednesday: Eggs, Bacon, Toast (it's a late working night for Nick)
Thursday: Grilled Steaks, Potatoes, and Onions
Friday: Nick won't be home for dinner... he'll be out with the guys, so I'll just have cereal or a sandwich or something.

Lunches consist of leftovers and yogurt.
Breakfasts consist of homemade muffins (we make a couple batches a week) and fruit.

Saturday we got up around 9 (yeah for Grin & Granddaddy keeping Addy overnight!). We worked out in the yard. Nick mowed and weed whacked. I cleaned out flower beds and cut back all the dead stuff on the plants. We've been very neglectful of our yard since Addy came along, so it was nice to get it taken care of. We also removed a VERY LARGE evergreen type tree that was too close to the house and overgrown. We removed 2 VERY LARGE bushes and 2 overgrown plants. The front of the house looks empty now, but Nick plans on moving a bunch of Hostas into the empty space. Since our neighbor trimmed out her front tree, the shade we used to have the Hostas planted in has disappeared. We need to get another Japaneese Maple to balance out the front and then we'll be all set for fall.

We are looking forward to the NICU reunion coming up this weekend. Can't wait to see old friends and finally meet those new online friends.

Thanks again "T" for your excellent blog services!

Sep 4, 2008


Thought I'd jump on the band wagon and do the twitter thing that everyone seems to be doing these days. Now I need to figure out how to add it to my blog. Wish me luck with that.