Saturday, April 10, 2021

Stock up on Savings

Hi Guys! Just wanted to check in and give you some tips on how to save on groceries! You don't need to be the crazy coupon lady to save! - First of all, be flexible! If you had your heart set on chicken parmesan but ground beef is on sale, then make meatballs instead. If you are too stuck to your list, then you won't be open minded and alert to savings. - Second, stock up on sales! Meat, dairy and a lot of vegetables freeze well so when you can, stock up and freeze. For non-perishables like cereal, baking goods and snacks, designate a shelf or closet for "overflow". Yes, you will spend more up front, but you'll be stocked! - Third, purchase toiletries and sundries from dollar stores. Napkins, foil, kitchen tools and more are almost always cheaper at dollar stores. Make sure you ALWAYS check the price per ounce, though, to make sure you get the best deal! - Lastly, take advantage of store coupons and online deals! Sign up for the email alerts and rack up points when applicable. I hope this helps and I hope you find ways to make your dollar stretch!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Summer Survival Guide

Do you dread summers at home with kids under foot all day? Well, I'm here to make the (looooong) days more managable with a few (realistic!) tips to get you through! 1) Set a schedule and stick to it. Kids (most people, actally..) do better when they know what to expect and get used to a routine. It's best to teach kids now so they can learn to be on time for things, awaken on their own and plan activities for themselves. 2) Give them chores! Speaking of being responsible, kids really need to pitch in around the house, outside, in the community...etc. It's so important to not only teach them to be responsible, but to teach them life skills. 3) Get out once in a while! Take kiddos on a drive, have a picnic, go visit a friend, bake and deliver cookies to a neighbor, take a long walk...just get out and get moving! 4) Find some time for YOU! Have the kids rest in the afternoons or go to bed early or sleep in (even if they just rest or read...) so that you can have quiet alone time to read, bathe, sit on the couch and watch tv...whatever! Just plan it and do it. You need to come first. 5) Stop giving kids so many options. YOU are in charge so YOU decide what's for lunch, what movie will be watched, what is for dessert..etc. A big part of the mommy mental drain is too many cooks helping with the soup! Ya dig? So make decisions and stick to them. If little Johnny wants pizza not PB&J, too bad. What mommy says, goes. I hope these tips help and really, the only way they will is if you ditch the dreaded mommy guilt and move on. Your kids will be fine. In fact, they will be better for it and so will you!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Survival Mode

 Is it okay to say I hate this??? I hate being a mom. I hate having my kids home with me 24/7. I hate the demands. I hate the whining. I hate no sleep. I hate it. Hate. Hate. Hate. I feel like I am stuck on a hamster wheel with no end in sight. I don’t sleep well at night because my one year old wants to nurse. All night. I awaken in the morning and he’s still there, right next to me. I slowly make my way out of my bedroom and encounter my ten year old who needs a little direction. And a hug. And a bagel. But I haven’t even started coffee. 

Meanwhile, my thirteen year old slowly ambles out of the room, bed head in full force and wants to describe to me, in full detail, a dream she had. Still, coffee is yet to perk. I tell my kids to get moving as I desperately locate the coffee from the pantry. In the ten seconds I have my back turned, my one year old has managed to scale the counters and is now standing on them, emptying the cookie tin that was left there, a little treat I had saved for later, maybe when the coffee was ready and he was napping. But no, the cookies are now crumbled, emptied all over the counter, adding yet another chore to my already full day. Feeling the urge to snap, I quickly grab my son off the counter, yell to my daughter to help me clean the mess and glance at the clock. 7:10. Fifty more minutes and the two older ones will be in “class” and by class I mean the room that doubles as my son’s bedroom and their classroom for distance learning. The distance is only about three feet from me, however and does not “distance” them from re-entering for a snack. Or a bathroom break. Or to tell me something funny their friend said. And still, no coffee. 

I take a breath. Read scripture with my big kids while trying to ignore the baby pulling my shirt down for milk (again!) and keep his screams (relatively) quiet so my husband, who works nights, can sleep as uninterrupted by our daily noise as possible. If I sound like a spoiled stay home mom, forgive me. I just want sleep. I want a cup of coffee in peace. I want the big kids to get along and go back to school. I want my life back. I want to work out without the baby demanding “up” fifty times. I want to shower alone, without having to bribe a big kid to watch the baby so he doesn’t play in the toilet while I wash my hair. Speaking of, I can’t remember when I last DID wash my hair. I want to get dressed in real clothes. Not sweats, not a hoodie and leggings. A real outfit. I want to do my hair and make up and go somewhere other than the grocery store. 

This season is HARD. Harder than any other season of life I’ve experienced. It’s draining. It’s depressing. It’s unfair. Most days I have to navigate between the lesser of two evils: talk to a friend on the phone for a few minutes for my mental health’s sake and chance that the baby draws all over the couch or forego those precious minutes of connection for a couch that remains marker free. Do I cuddle in bed with my hubby while he regails me with the stories of last night’s shift if it means that the big kids fight and the baby eats an eraser?? Tell me, what would you pick? These days, I’m just surviving. I’m sure you are too. It’s not easy. It’s anything but. I’ve fantasized about just driving away for a couple hours, hiring a nanny, leaving my sleep deprived husband with the load so I can jog or take a long bath. I’ve pictured forking over the money to put my big kids in private school just to get a break. But then, reality sets in. My grown-up self takes over and I calm the eff down. I remember that this, too, shall pass. It’s only a season. My baby will eventually stop eating everything in sight. He will sleep through the night eventually and I will wean him one of these days. The big kids will get bigger, need me less, stop asking for hugs. One day, I’m sure I WILL miss it. I just can’t see it right now. But I’m trying. I’m trying to be patient, yell less and pray more. I’m trying to be an example of a strong woman, the Proverbs 31 woman that I know I am called to be. I want to press the shirts, fold the laundry with joy, make the lunches happily. I want to relish the good and lose sight of the bad. And yet...

I hope you all are hanging in there while your kids “distance learn” in the living room. Or the kitchen table. I hope you still laugh, still find time for you and still find hope in what feels like such darkness. This too, will pass. The tide will change. Soon us young mamas will have wrinkles, those grey hairs will begin to show and we’ll long for a time when our babies needed us, when we cut the crusts off the sandwiches and wiped runny noses. We’ll miss the sound of those little chubby baby feet running down the hall. We will. I’m sure of it. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Truffle Time!

Truffles are one of my all time favorite desserts to make (and eat!) and no, I don’t mean the gourmet truffles made with heavy whipping cream, liqueurs and other fancy ingredients like that. I’m talking about quick, easy, three or four ingredient truffles that can be made and adapted for any occasion! They are a breeze to make, freeze beautifully and make for an adorable gift! This year, I’m making these truffles as my Christmas gift to my family and neighbors. 

I decided to make two flavors: cookies and cream and peanut butter (plus a vegan version for my sister!) Here are the recipes for all three!

Cookies and cream:

1 package double stuff Oreos, crushed (any chocolate sandwich cookie will work!)

1 package cream cheese, softened 

1 package candy melts (you decide what color and flavor—I used white chocolate)

Sprinkles to decorate (Or use some cookie crumbs)

Mix cookies and cream cheese well. Roll into balls and refrigerate for at least twenty minutes. Melt the candies in the microwave at thirty second intervals until smooth. Dip the cookie balls and decorate quickly, before the candle melts set.

Peanut butter:

1 cup peanut butter 

4 cups powdered sugar

2 sticks butter, softened 

1 cup graham cracker crumbs 

1 package candy melts (again, you decide the color and flavor! I chose chocolate)

Vegan peanut butter:

1 stick plant butter, (I used Country Crock plant butter with avocado oil) melted

1/2 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs (I used pre-crushed boxed crumbs without and dairy or honey, thus making them vegan)

1/2 cup peanut butter 

2 cups powdered sugar 

1 bag dark chocolate chips

For both the vegan and non-vegan version, mix the peanut butter, powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs and butter (or plant butter!) and mix until well combined. Refrigerate for at least twenty minutes (You can do overnight if you aren’t going to dip them right away..) then pull them out and dip into either the candy melts or dark chocolate, for the vegan version. Melt both the candy melts and the chocolate chips at 15-30 second intervals until totally smooth. Top the melts with sprinkles or as I did, a little of the graham cracker crumbs, quickly because the melts set very fast! You’ll have more time with real chocolate. The chocolate will need to sit out and set much longer or will set in the refrigerator after about twenty minutes. Enjoy!




Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Boxed Mix Cake!

 Recently, my husband was given a promotion at work and so of course I thought, what better way to celebrate than with a yummy dessert??? And so, his celebratory chocolate-coffee cake was born. I love sweets and desserts and so all I need is an excuse to make one! Here is what I did!

Ingredients:

1 boxed chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Devil’s Food)

1 cup plus 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cold

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 cup whipped topping

1/2 cup sour cream

1 can chocolate frosting (I used Betty Crocker “chocolate” kind)

Cocoa powder, powdered sugar or other decor, as desired



Mix together cake mix, 1 cup coffee, 1/2 cup oil and the eggs. Bake in two round cake pans at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. While cake is baking, stir together the whipped topping and sour cream. I added a pinch of “Mexican cocoa” powder (a combination of cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla) to the mix and kept it refrigerated until I was ready to use it. Allow cakes to cool then poke holes over the top of both cakes and top with the reserved coffee. Next, assemble cake by using half the whipped topping filling to sandwich the cakes together (the other half will be used for garnish). Then ice with the chocolate icing, top with swirls of remaining whipped topping mixture and decorate as desired! Mine turned out beautifully, I’m sure yours will too!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Early Potty Training

 I have made several videos regarding early potty training so check those out on Youtube. For now, you can read up on a few tips if you want to try it yourself! 

- First of all, be realistic and don’t set the bar too high. Early potty training, in my opinion, is potty training your child anywhere below the age of 18 months. After that, children tend to develop an aversion to potty training and that’s when the bribing, candy, sticker charts and, frankly, desperation kicks in! Before that age, you have a window of time where you can basically teach your baby the habit of going to the bathroom on the toilet, versus the diaper. But be careful not to be too hard on your child or yourself when (not if!) they have accidents. I have three children and started them all potty training around six months.

- Prepare for accidents. You will not be able to prevent all accidents but will be able to prevent most of them by taking baby to the toilet every 15-20 minutes or so. No, you won’t be stuck doing this forever so don’t panic. For the first few months, however, be ready to take them frequently. For the accidents that will happen, stock up on lots of baby blankets and comfy cotton shorts or pants so you can change baby quickly. Once you start potty training, you will eventually be able to pick up on cues your baby gives you before they have to go. Some cues are stopping in the middle of an activity and staying still, grabbing their crotch, or starting to grunt or make efforts to poop!

- Don’t go back to diapers once you commit. Don’t even buy pull-ups for “just at night” because pull-ups are just glorified diapers. The goal is to get baby totally potty trained, even at night. You’ll be surprised how quickly your baby will stay dry at night. For those middle of the night accidents, keep blankets and extra clothing nearby for quick changes and consider layering a thicker blanket or towel under baby.

That’s it! Get ready for a few months of work with a great reward at the end! You will save money that would have been spent on diapers, you won’t have to worry about diaper rash and ultimately, you will save yourself trouble later when baby develops that strong-willed aversion to going on the potty. Good luck!


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saving at the Supermarket

 Have you ever wondered how your grocery bill got so high? You innocently grabbed your list, your shopping bags, your purse and headed out the door with a budget in mind and then bam! You go waaay over at the checkout line! I’ve been there too many times to count. But what I realized over time, is that I wasn’t sticking to hard and fast rules and was allowing for too much margin. If my kiddos wanted a snack or treat, in the basket it would go. If I noticed something we loved to eat was on sale, in the basket it would go. Or, if I suddenly had inspiration for a meal idea, the ingredients would make their way into the basket, on sale or not. 

After spending WAY too much money for WAY too long, I finally decided something had to give. My hubby and I have dreams of a bigger house with a bigger yard and that ain’t gonna happen if Mama keeps flushing money down the drain. So we decided to talk budget. We sat down and realistically set a budget for all the main categories of spending...household (haircuts, dry cleaning, home repairs), fast food and groceries. We decided that for our family, $500 for groceries, $100 for fast food, and $300 for household per month would be sufficient.

It has worked! Check out your grocery store online coupons, digital ads and yes, even the old-school paper ad that comes in the mail is worth checking out! If you base your shopping solely on the ads and what’s on sale, you will always save! Get creative and figure out new ways to use affordable staples such as rice and potatoes, buy on sale and freeze for later and turn those leftovers into tasty lunches for the week or as additions to salads or soups. Check out my video for more info!