Thursday, December 09, 2010

Baby, I'm back!

Anyone who actually reads this may have noticed a suspicious absence in new posts lately.  Not that I've ever posted very regularly, but I generally try to post more than 1x/quarter!  I'm going to "blame" my lack of posts on this little punk:

Yeah!  I'm at 16 weeks along today, and can't wait to meet this little guy/gal in late May!  In the meantime, while I can't truly complain about nausea, I definitely had a few months there when I wasn't feeling so hot, definitely didn't have much of an appetite, and was hardly cooking or grocery shopping.  So... no posts about good steals deals.  Cancelled a few Absolute Organics deliveries, so no post about that.  In fact, pretty much all I did when I got home from work was lay around on the couch and maybe throw in a load of laundry - so no posting about anything else either, since I didn't figure that my couch or belated laundry would interest even the most bored among you.  And when I did start to feel better, we weren't quite ready to "go public" with this great news, and everything else felt too inane to post about, with this shocker at the forefront of my life!

Other than growing a baby, cooking a bit less, and sleeping a bit more, the rest of life is about the same.  I continue to love my job, my husband, my house, my church and my friends (in no particular order).  Hopefully Baby will let me cook, shop and blog a bit more now, so until next time...

Incubating an infant... Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

AO Price Check-Up

It's been a while since I've posted about my Absolute Organics deliveries, but have no fear - I still get them!  Don't know what I'd do without them.  Well, not completely correct... I DO know what I'd do without them, but it wouldn't be pretty (i.e. wouldn't eat nearly enough fruits & veggies).
Anyway, no picture today (my kitchen is a bit of a mess), but I weighed and price-checked my goodies and have a list to share with you.
  • 2+ lbs plums = $5.75*
  • approx. 1 lb carrots = $1.49
  • 1 dry pint cherry tomatoes = $4.64*
  • 1 lb red onions = $1.99*
  • 1/2 lb spinach = $5.58
  • 1 small head Romaine lettuce = $2.99
  • 4 lbs 6 oz Fuji apples = $12.20
All prices are listed from my local Harris Teeter's website, and a * indicates that they don't seem to offer it organically, so the price is for non-organic.  If my calculator adds correctly, that adds up to $34.64 - and mine was ALL organic and delivered straight to my door.  Ummhmm.   You know you want some.  Go ahead, just call/email Vonda and she'll be happy to get you set up (if you live in her delivery area... sorry for those that don't!).  Tell her you've got a brochure that says $10 off your first order (I'll give it to you next time I see you) and be sure to tell her that I sent you, too.  I would love the free box of yumminess she'd send my way, just for you trying them out :)

Eating organic produce... Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bi-Lo Clean Sweep

I most definitely should be in bed by now, but I'm practically too excited to sleep... which says something about me, I guess.

Anyway, a while back (think a year-ish) Bi-Lo sent me several flyers with coupons for free grocery items. Each flyer would have 8 total coupons - 4 coupons for free food (usually for related items), and 4 for $8 off a $50 total purchase - and they'd each be good for a different week.  Somewhere along the line (I think when a flyer arrived after one had already expired) I found out that they take them expired - no matter how late.  So, I've saved most of them up until I had a need for the particular item.  Many of the items I haven't yet had a need for (or, at least not when Bi-Lo was on the list for that week, or I remembered about the coupon, or whatever).

This afternoon I went to Bi-Lo for the first time in probably several months to grab a few good deals (primarily Organic Peaches for $1.79/lb).  I wasn't getting much, so I almost didn't go, but with my hubby traveling, I've got plenty of free time and I went.  While standing in line with my 3 items, I saw a sign that said "As of Sept. 1 we will only except Bi-Lo coupons that are less than 30 days expired."  As it turns out, Sept. 1 is tomorrow - and all those freebie coupons are waaaay more than 30 days past due.

You can imagine where this is going, right?  I headed home, grabbed the coupons, went to Back-to-School night for a few hours, and then back to Bi-Lo - at 9:30 at night.  I grabbed all the free stuff, and a few extra items so I could hit the $50 and get $8 off (essentially scoring $8 more of free food - mostly organic stuff that I would hesitate to buy because of the price), and headed to the (oops!) only open register.  My list:
  • 2 bags of Pirate's Bounty puffs
  • 2 pouches of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice
  • 1 loaf of Nature's Own Premium Specialty Multi-Grain bread
  • 1 box of Strawberry Cereal Bars
  • 1 8-ct bag of hamburger buns
  • 12-ct brown-and-serve rolls
  • 1 10-ct box of instant oatmeal
  • 1 bottle of ketchup
  • 50-ct heavy duty paper plates
  • 1 8-oz bag of shredded cheese
  • 1 lb of butter
  • 4 yogurt cups
  • 1 frozen pizza
  • 1.5 qt Blueberry Cheesecake ice cream
  • 1.33 lbs ground beef
  • 4 lbs Earthbound Farm Organic Oranges
  • 16 oz deli potato salad
  • 1 small bag of Earthbound Farm dried mangos
  • 1 small bag of Earthbound Farm dried plums
Total:  $60.13. 
I paid:  $4.41.
That's an average of 18¢ / item.
I think that means I saved 93%.
See why I couldn't sleep 'til I "shared" this with someone?
I think burgers and ice cream will be on the menu for this weekend when our friends come in town for Labor Day.

Buying free food... Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A wonderful new "trick"

Stopped at EarthFare the other night... great store, too far away.  BUT - it was right on the way home from our friends' house where we had been for dinner, so I couldn't NOT stop :)  Didn't get much, but I had a coupon for a free pound of organic grapes (wonderful, since they're on the so-called dirty dozen list), another for a free reusable lunch bag, and a third for $1.50 off some organic chicken.  Needless to say, it was a pretty successful trip, savings-wise. 

So what's the trick, you ask?  First, a bit of history:  I found a recipe a while ago for Pork Chili Colorado since I had gotten some cheap pork (also at EarthFare, if I recall properly).  I stuck the pork in the freezer since the recipe is more of a winter stew-type, and will pull it out this Fall when the weather is better for that sort of thing.  The recipe, however, calls for 1/2 tsp of Ground Coriander.  As it turns out, I don't have that particular spice, nor do I have room in my cabinet for any more spice jars.  Not to mention, since I have "survived" without it for the full 3 years of my marriage, I wasn't too keen on spending $5 for a spice that I'm probably never going to use up.  Being a "perfectionist" - especially when experimenting with new recipes, I wanted to make the recipe correctly.  So, I decided to be modern and offer a trade on Facebook... I buy Basil, Parsley, Cinnamon and Garlic Powder at Costco, so I've got more than enough to trade.  I got a few offers, but all the local ones were for Coriander Seed, not the ground kind.  Having it mailed by a friend in California was somewhat appealing, until someone posted that EarthFare sells bulk spices - who knew such a concept existed?  Sure enough.  I came home with this:
They don't have actual measuring spoons there, but it's close enough to 1/2 tsp to work for me.  And it cost 14¢!  I will DEFINITELY be keeping that in mind for future spice needs that are not native to my pantry :)

Buying bulk spices... Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Calendar for My Classroom

This past week I ordered a personalized calendar for my classroom to give a bit of "cultura" to my students.  I used my own pics (and some from Isaac), and then was able to put all the special school dates and student birthdays (just my 13 homeroom students) pre-printed right on the calendar.  I started with August so it follows the school year.  Here are the pictures that I used.
 Front cover:







What $20 can get you

I guess I took the latter part of the summer off of blogging, even though it wasn't exactly intentional.  Oops.  I've got at least one post in my head, but haven't taken the time to get it out yet... but you still have to wait for that one :)  Don't feel too bad, though.  Most of what I would've written would probably have involved commentary about the TV show Bones, since I spent a good chunk of my free time this summer watching the first 4 seasons on Netflix.  Now I've got to wait until October for season 5 to come out on DVD... argh.

Anyway, I've also taken some time off from couponing a bit.  Between 10 days of vacation (and the preceding days of clearing out the fridge), and then my husband's extensive business travel lately, I haven't been cooking much and thus haven't been shopping much.  But with school starting up, I decided to stock up on some lunch snacks - especially when I saw the General  Mills promotion on Southern Savers.  Yes, I probably spent an hour finding the right coupons and trying to determine whether it was worth it or not to run the deal, but I'm totally thrilled that I did!  Basically, a bunch of GM products were on sale, and if you bought 20 items, you got $6 off your order instantly.  So... grab a bunch of items you've got coupons for, and it works out pretty well.  Here's what I ended up with:
Grand total:  $20.00 (yeah, even... which is awesome in and of itself), and most of these items have BoxTops on them that give money to the school, which I love.  The organic tomato paste was not part of the deal, but in working up the deal I found $0.75 coupons which doubled to $1.50... and since they're only $1.55 and I needed some anyway, I grabbed some nearly-free ORGANIC tomato paste - sweet!  I also realize that most of these items are very NON-organic, but there is a convenience factor :)  And they were cheap.  Let's face it - 7 boxes of cereal, 5 boxes of granola bars, 4 boxes of fruit snacks, 4 4-pks of yogurt, and 2 cans of tomato paste = 22 items for $20.  Who could turn that down?  I think my receipt said I saved $40+.

And it gets even better!  The granola bars and fruit snacks had special promotions as well... buy 3, 4 or 5 and get coupons for $$ off your next purchase.  So the 2-lb bag of frozen shrimp (normally $26) that was on sale for $8.65 ended up costing me a little over $3.  See why I had to post?  As one blogger I read would say - yeah, I took an hour to organize the coupons... but I saved over $60.  That's like getting paid $60/hr :)

Saving money... Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, June 25, 2010

Birds' Nests... for dinner?

We tried something new for dinner last night, and since it was kinda fun, I thought I'd share.  I came across this recipe for Potato, Zucchini, and Carrot 'Nests' with Eggs while reading Denise's blog, Wholesome Mommy (formerly The Centsible Sawyer).  I've been reading her blog for over a year probably, and I love the turn she's taken with it lately, focusing a bit less on general coupons/saving and more on eating healthy on a budget... I'm sure subconsciously she's affected my own healthy-eating focus over the last few months as well.
Anyway, she posted this recipe a few days ago, and it's just my style - 6 ingredients!  Since I received some zucchini last week from Absolute Organics, I figured now was a great time to try it out.  Stopped by the store (on the way to see my cousin Mimsies, who I'm thrilled to have living nearby now!) to grab some Organic Russet potatoes, and whipped up these bad boys for dinner:
We both liked them, and the recipe made just the right amount for the 2 of use for dinner with no side items (though we did try them with a little ketchup, which was also good).  I'd only make a few changes to my preparation:
  1. I'd remember to add the salt to the veggies. - Not a big deal, as it can always be added later, but it saves some hassle at the plate if it's already got it.
  2. I'd shred the potatoes immediately before cooking. - Since I cooked them after my Zumba class and didn't want to eat dinner too late, I shredded the veggies ahead of time, but then of course the potatoes took on that beautiful pinky-brown shade that they get when exposed to air so they didn't look as pretty as they could have.
  3. I'd follow her baking time. - Having never baked eggs before, I wasn't sure what they were supposed to look like when they were cooked.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but after 11 mins they didn't look "done" to me, so I left them another 7 or so... and they were quite hard.  Still tasty, but hard.
  4. I'd probably make 5 nests instead of 4, and use 6 or 7 eggs.  One more egg mixed in with the flour and veggies may have helped the "hashbrown" part to stick together more, and a 5th nest would require an extra egg for the center and make them each a little bit smaller and easier to flip.
So there you have it.  Buried vegetables + protein in a creative meal.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I don't spend money often.  However, Kohl's had some good sales this weekend (for Father's Day, I guess), and with a 20% off coupon that they emailed me, I decided to go see what I could find.  Since I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I found plenty of things :)  So I splurged a bit and bought some fun little decorations for the house.  Want to see?  I knew you would!  Here you go:
A new shirt
A little decoration and reminder for the entryway
A new decorative pillow for the guest bedroom:
Life takes us to unexpected places, love brings us home.
A reversible (and clean!) rug for the guest bathroom
A frame: Live, Laugh, Love... the most important things in life aren't things
Now I just have to replace the beautiful models in the photos with my own beautiful family and friends!
I'm not the best at decorating - I truly don't mind blank walls - but I have to say that in the 24 hours or so that these things have been around, I'm enjoying them so far :)  I guess a splurge from time to time is okay, right?
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pizza Party!

Since I love my sister-in-law and want to be just like her, I'm posting this a few days late, and a few pictures short.  My hubby and I had the privilege last Friday night of hosting a DiGiorno House Party.  If you've never heard of, you're not alone - I just found out a few months ago.  Basically, it's a marketing gig.  Companies sponsor parties - Individuals apply to host parties - Companies mail cool stuff to the Individuals they select - Individuals host parties to show off the product - Everyone is happy.
I received a party pack that included:
  • 6 coupons for FREE DiGiorno pizzas
  • 15 guest coupons for $4 off a DiGiorno pizza
  • a pizza cutter
  • a chip clip
  • some World Cup country flag bandanas
  • some blow-up "bam-bams" (you know, those silly things people wave around at sports games)
  • some soccer-themed whistles
  • DiGiorno paper plates/napkins
Since the party was to be held on the 1st day of the World Cup, clearly the host pack was soccer-themed.  Unfortunately, they failed to take into consideration that the games were at 10 am and 2:30 pm - not quite party time on a Friday!  Oh well... so we didn't watch a game.  We still had plenty of fun!  We had a great group of our friends show up, so pretty much everyone knew someone but still got to meet lots of new people.  And we were a diverse group!  We represented at least 8 countries: Spain, Peru, China, Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, New Jersey, and the good ol' USA - haha :)
We ate 9 pizzas (good thing most of them were free!), a bunch of chips & salsa/guac/spinach dip, and some ice cream.   It was the 1st time I'd ever tried DiGiorno pizza, and I really liked it - but my favorite part was definitely having 20+ of my favorite people around, hopefully enjoying themselves and getting to know each other better.  For those of you who couldn't make it... we missed you!  Maybe HouseParty will give me another excuse to host in the upcoming months - I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
I'll leave you with the one pic I remembered to take - BEFORE everyone showed up.  Oops!

Soli Deo Gloria...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Mmm... lunch!

Yeah for school being out!  I finished up on Friday, had a fairly relaxing weekend, and am (of course) loving being out for the summer so far this week.  Thankfully, I have been able to be rather productive so far - I even had the fleeting thought that I wasn't sure what I would do with the rest of the summer, since I'll probably finish everything on my list by tomorrow. 
HAHAHAHA.  And then I remembered all the non-urgent stuff that I haven't done for the past X months that really should get done.  I might need a few extra months of vacation to finish it all.
Anyway, since I can, I thought I'd share my fun, non-lunchbox lunch that I just enjoyed.  Really, it could work in a lunchbox, which almost makes it better.  I started with this recipe for Creamy Apple & Carrot Roll-Ups that I stumbled across this morning.  5 ingredients - I can handle that!  And I had them all on hand (organic apple and carrot thanks to Absolute Organics, of course).  Don't tell Nature's Own, but I used tortillas that I had on hand instead of their bread.  Even though it says "serves 4," I honestly figured I would end up eating it all... 'cuz that's how I roll.  But alas!  It was more filling than I thought.  I used the big tortillas, so it made 2 and I've got 1 leftover for tomorrow.  I ate the extra 1/2 carrot by itself, and the extra 1/2 apple I dipped in Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter that I got from EarthFare a few weeks ago.  Yummy!  Top it off with a Wild Berry Simply Tea that I got for free with a coupon at EF (with a little sugar, since tea is too bitter for my tastes) and I'm a happy girl.
Hope your lunch was as good as mine!  I'm off to be productive again.

Soli Deo Gloria...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Look what the mailman dragged in

I've always upheld that getting mail is fun.  Granted, bills a little less so.  And junk mail not so much either, but I don't get tons of either of those items... so getting mail is still fun.  Especially on days like today.

  • $10 off ANY purchase @ Kohl's
  • new black ink for my printer
  • a reusable grocery bag from Earthbound Farm
  • Earthbound Farm organic produce coupons
  • an aluminum Sigg water bottle 
  • Avatar
I paid for the ink (though not much, since I used Staples Rewards "money" that I got from recycling old ink cartridges).  And technically I paid for Avatar, since we pay $10/month for Netflix.  But everything else was free!  The water bottle I won from a giveaway @ MummyDeals, the grocery bag and coupons I signed up for online during Earth week in April, and the Kohl's coupon was a straight-up surprise!  I see $10 worth of free clothes off the clearance rack coming my way in the next few weeks!
Don't believe me?  See here:
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, May 20, 2010

7th Abs. Org. Delivery

Life has been a little hectic lately (parents' move, end-of-school-year chaos), so forgive me for not posting about my last produce delivery.  I'm excited about today's, and I've got some numbers for you - yeah for numbers!
Since my last delivery, I turned another year older (remember the deep freeze?), and my parents were kind enough to gift me this Salter Digital Kitchen Scale.  My Mom never used a kitchen scale while I was growing up, but in the last several months I've felt like it would be handy to have.  A friend said she loved her Salter, so I asked specifically for that one.  I've used it several times (to weigh potatoes in this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie recipe, for example) and am very happy so far.  Necessary?  Of course not.  Fun?  Absolutely!
Today I put it to good use and weighed my Absolute Organics produce.  Here are the results:

  • 1 large and 2 small broccoli crowns (1 lb 9 oz)
  • 1 lb 8 ozs bananas (4 ct)
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 7.75 oz white mushrooms
  • 2.75 lbs apples
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 green bell peppers
weighing in action!

Then, I did my little trick and hit up Harris Teeter Express Lane to check some prices.  Here's what I found:
  • Broccoli - $3.29/ea = $6.58
  • Bananas - 99¢/lb = $1.50
  • Lettuce - $2.99/head = $2.99
  • Strawberries - $3.99/lb = $3.99
  • *White Mushrooms - $3.49/lb = $1.69
  • Apples - $2.49/lb = $6.85
  • Avocado - $1.99/ea = $1.99
  • Green Peppers - $2.49/ea = $4.98
This means that if I went to Harris Teeter and purchased the SAME amount of stuff, I'd have paid $30.57!  And the mushrooms wouldn't even have been organic (it appears they don't sell fresh organic ones).  WOW!! I was thrilled.  This stuff was brought to my door for only $30.  That means I saved 57¢, the gas to get to the store, and the excuse to not buy produce because it's too expensive.  In case I had any doubts, I'm with AO for good.  Thanks, Vonda and Steve!

Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spoils of CVS

Saturday, after a quick trip to Winston-Salem for a wedding shower for one of my dear college friends, I swung by CVS in hopes of a few good "scores."  I had been out of the CVS "loop" for a while (no great deals, good stockpile, and higher food spending due to healthier eating are the primary causes), but saw several potential deals and thought I'd try to snag them.  Forgetting that the CVS nearest my house restocks on Friday night/Saturday morning (wow, it has been a long time), I was doubtful that I'd get much... but I ended up with EVERYTHING on my steals-list.
  • 2 Right Guard mens' deodorant > $2.49 ea = $5 - $3/2 QP = $2... $2 ea ECB = $2 moneymaker
  • Stayfree > $3.79 - $2 QP = $1.79... $2 ECB = 21¢ moneymaker
  • U by Kotex > $5 - $1 QP = $4... $4 ECB = free
  • Carefree > $1 ea - 3 x $1 QP = free
  • Crest ProHealth toothpaste & Rinse (each) > $2.75 - 75¢ QP = $2... $4 ECB = $2 moneymaker ea
  • Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Sheets, 20ct > B1G1 @ $8.99 - 2 x $2 QP = $2.50 ea
  • Carmel candy > 33¢
  • reuseable bag (mine) to be able to scan Green Bag Tag > $1 ECB = moneymaker
I had no ECBs going in, but I shelled out less than $5.50 cash (which includes all the taxes, of course - I added the carmel candy in order to be able to use another ECB and not spend more OOP) and still have $6 in ECBs left to use next time I go in.  Now THAT'S what I call a great trip to the store :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ode to the GV house

It's only fitting that it's a rainy evening... that's pretty much how my heart feels right now after taking my last walk through what has been my family's home for the last 7 years. With the official "closing" and key hand-over tomorrow at 9am, obviously it's completely empty now, but the rooms are somehow still terribly full of memories.
  • The entryway foyer and circular staircase where we took countless family pictures and my sister's prom pics.
  • The dining room that was initially painted a hideous Pepto pink until Mom corrected the painters and they made it a much nicer shade of red.  Tons of buffets were served in there, as were huge family/holiday meals.  And more recently, our first non-wedding picture as a family of 7.
  • The "powder room" with the sink cabinet that I picked out at Transit Damaged Freight... my one claim-to-fame in the whole building process.
  • The hot tub where my boyfriend asked my dad for permission to marry me.
  • The "crawl space" that we had to wake up at the dreadfully early hour of 8:30am one holiday (Memorial Day?) morning to paint, and where a few years later we did P90X together as a family.
  • The basement guest bedroom that hosted several of my former youth leaders as they were in stages of transition, as well as my fiance when he first moved to the USA.
  • The funky angled section of the ceiling in the living room where Mom's friend painted "Soli Deo Gloria" in a beautiful calligraphy - only to later admit that she was dreadfully afraid of heights.
  • The amazing stone fireplace that served as family-Christmas-picture setting for us and at least one other family over the years.
  • The custom-made "picture frame" out of moulding in the entryway where we deliberated for the whole building process and at least a year after we moved in as to which Bible verse we should have put there (we found another friend/artist to paint it though, since it was even higher up!) and ended up with a sword and shield from Toledo, Spain.
  • The closet at the top of the back stairwell that was always full of extra school supplies, random fabric bolts for the curtains mom always wanted to make (and eventually did, mostly) and the pictures and albums that were always in a state of disarray.
  • The Media Room that inevitably ended up 10 degrees warmer than you wanted it by the time the movie was over.
  • The closets in my sister's and my rooms that were supposed to be square, but then had to be L-shaped because the architect had originally forgotten to include room for the ductwork.
  • My room - purple, because I love it - where I was sitting when my cute friend from Spain finally found a program that would work for us to audio-chat (Skype - before the video years), and the intercom system that I used to refuse to come down to dinner immediately that night because I was actually TALKing to him.  
  • The built-in bookshelves that still didn't actually hold my entire collection.  
  • The huge picture window that looked out onto the street (with no panes or screens, so the view was always crystal-clear), and the side window that overlooked the neighbor's lake.
Clearly there's no sense bemoaning the end of an era - it certainly wasn't perfect, after all - but it is a reminder that we only walk through life once.  Goal: to make sure it was a life worth living, full of love and honoring to the Lord.  My prayer is that the house can continue to be used to minister to others in the future, in the same way it did in the past.

Now, I must look forward to the Lord's "plans to prosper [me] and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] a hope and a future" (Jer. 29:11b).   If only those plans included calling in sick to work tomorrow... ;)

Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

I've had a hankering for a chest freezer for quite some time now... like 2 years.  I kept suggesting it to Isaac, and his constant response was "what do 2 people need an extra freezer for?"  And, on one hand, he was right.  It definitely wasn't a need, but it most certainly was a want.  I love the idea of "once a month cooking" and pulling stuff out of the freezer 24 hours before eating it with little to no work involved after coming home from a long day at school.  I love the idea of buying items in bulk at Costco (or just when there's a good sale) and having them easily on hand when needed without having to pay full price.  And lately, I love the idea of buying a whole, grass-fed cow (with some friends, of course!).  Since Denise did such a good job of explaining why, I won't bother repeating it.  EatWild goes into a bit more detail and provides information on local farmers, too.  Anyway, point being that I can only do so much OAMC and bulk buying with my one, small freezer... and buying a portion of a cow was completely out of the question!
However, after something akin to pestering for about a year, I finally got into a grocery-shopping rhythm and decided that we could technically survive without one, so I let it go verbally and tucked it away as a future dream.  Thus, you can imagine my awe when he brought me to the Sears Outlet store on South Boulevard while we were out running errands one Saturday, and told me he wanted to get me a freezer for my birthday (which was, at the time, 2 months away).  They didn't have much selection, and I had a basic idea of sizing and pricing, so we left there empty-handed, but determined to keep our eyes and ears open.  We even contact a buddy of ours who works for Electrolux... he ALMOST got us a really good deal on a test dummy or something, but some other employee claimed it first.
Fast-forward to a week ago when Isaac said he wanted to extend our office bookshelves.  I immediately jumped on Ebay to grab some 10% off coupons at Lowes to save moolah on the large-ish purchase.  They arrived on Thursday, and you can bet that Friday evening he was antsy to go get the stair treads and flower pots needed to complete the project.  Off to Lowe's we went.  I figured we could check out the freezers while there, since we ended up with 5 coupons (for $3.25), and somehow we ended up in the clearance aisle.  In God's amazing providence, we found this baby chilling there... without a box.  Apparently, a box is worth 20% - who knew?  After the coupon, we ended up paying $187 for the freezer that was originally sold for $279.  That's a 33% discount - and it was delivered today for free :)  Yes, there is a little dent in the lid (I don't care), and no, it's not Energy Star compliant (bummed, but for the $3/yr in electric savings, it wasn't worth the extra $100+ upfront).

Now, who wants to go in on a cow with me?

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, April 26, 2010

PUR Faucet Filter Giveaway Link

We have a PUR pitcher to filter our water, but I would love to have a faucet filter since the pitcher is always empty when I want to use it!  I guess that means we forget to fill it, right?  Well, anyway.  When I mix up powdered drinks in my 2-qt pitcher, there's not enough water in the filtered pitcher to fill it, so I either have to wait to filter more or mix in some non-filtered water.
However, every time I look at faucet filters, they're pricey, and I'm never sure if they'll be so in-the-way that it will drive me nuts.  As a result, I've never taken the plunge.  When I saw Clair's post and the opportunity to possibly win one, I knew I had to enter.  And I got extra entries for posting this :)  Feel free to enter here, and if you win and don't want it, you can pass it on to me.  Haha.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Look, Gram! It's your pot!

In the last post, I briefly mentioned an unexpected "produce delivery": basically, our Pastor got a call from someone who literally had a truckload of produce to donate.  While this isn't a common occurrence, similar things have happened before, so he did what he always does -- call everyone in our small congregation, several friends, some folks he's met in the community and is reaching out to, and his neighbors, and then have everyone over to "shop" from his driveway.  I ended up with 3 heads of Iceberg lettuce, a 10lb bag of potatoes, 11 small-ish apples, a 1lb bag of kale, and a few handfuls of key limes.
Adding that to Thursday's normal delivery, I've been able bit creative and "adventurous" this week, due to all the produce that came flooding in our doors!  I was excited about the free kale, because I hadn't heard of it until recently and was hesitant to try it, but have had several friends lately say how much they love it.
Wednesday I made Chamberlayne Chicken and Kale Stew, posted by a friend of mine.  I made a few adjustments (like no chicken, and all chicken broth instead of some veggie, as well as less pepper), but it was yummy.  We both decided that, while kale is not our new favorite veggie, it's good for you and certainly doesn't taste bad, so we'd eat it :)
Friday, since I get off work early, I really spent good time in the kitchen and made a batch of applesauce with the apples.  I got the recipe from the book I had just treated myself to: Food to Live By by Myra Goodman (the used copy cost me $4.99, shipping included!)  She's got an affinity for raspberries, but I adjusted it since I didn't have any of those on hand.  The first batch I made was just apples.  When my hubby tried to eat the whole batch in one sitting, I knew I should use the other 1/2 of the apples to make more!  This time, I replaced Myra's raspberries with 1 cup of chopped strawberries.  Yumm!  I can't even tell you how amazing this stuff is :)
apples before cooking, and the finished strawberry applesauce.  nothin' but fruit and sugar.  wow.

While I was chillin' in the kitchen (and avoiding the TV for TV Turnoff Week), I figured I'd try another way to incorporate the kale.  Dear Vonda over Absolute Organics kindly sent me several recipes, one of which hit close to home: Kale and Potato Spanish Tortilla.  I had potatoes, kale, eggs (thanks to my co-worker and her chickens) and salt, so I was good to go.  The only hesitation: how would the hubby react when he saw green in the legendary spanish tortilla?
Thankfully, though it seemed to take forever, it was the best of the 5 tortilla attempts I've had in my life, and we both loved it.  I think he was so glad to have a yummy tortilla for dinner that he didn't even complain about the green.  And honestly, the kale didn't seem to change the flavor much either.  Maybe the kale will become standard in my tortillas - adding a few extra antioxidants and vitamins to the otherwise protein-and-starch-heavy meal.

So there you have them - this week's kitchen experiments with fresh produce.  They all were pretty good, and clearly it was an inexpensive week, grocery-wise, so I'm doubly happy.  

Eating produce... Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yeah for organic strawberries!

I have been waiting for this day since I signed up for Absolute Organics a few months ago - the berries have arrived!  Since finding out that strawberries are in the "dirty dozen" due to high amounts of pesticide residue, I cringe just a little every time I bite into one that's not organic... yet I love them!  So I was thrilled to find that they were going to show up in my box today.  A whole pound!  Yippee!  The Lord unexpectedly provided a few handfuls of non-organic key limes (as well as potatoes, kale, apples and lettuce) this week, so this batch of strawbs may end up in a Strawberry Key Lime Pie that I found a recipe for.
While on the topic of organic strawberries, want to see my sprouts?  I thought you would!
If you look very closely you can see one little sprout with 2 little leaves!  Unless my pots got mixed up, those are strawberry leaves!  They took 3 weeks and 1 day to sprout, and they are now about 11 days old.  Whether I'll actually get any strawberries out of them I have no earthly idea (haha... no pun intended), but it's a fun experiment anyway!  I have pretty much given up hope on the bell pepper seeds that were planted at the same time and have yet to show any signs of sprouting, but we shall see.  Perhaps more patience is needed.  Goodness knows if the Lord gave up on me after looking for evidence of change after only 4.5 weeks, I would be in a sad place!

P.S.  Thanks to Vonda and Steve for the free pineapple in honor of AO's 5th birthday... may they continue sharing organic goodness for many more years!

Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"New" Curtains

My parents just sold their house here in CLT, after having it on the marker for 8 months or so, as they're in the process of moving to Orlando, FL.  They got a contract 2 or 3 weeks ago, and they’ll be closing in mid-May.  The whole family spent a 3-day weekend in ORL over Easter, so we got to see some of the houses they were looking at (I think they put an offer on one this week, so we’ll see what happens) and overall just got to scope out their new stomping grounds.  
One of the added benefits of them selling the house is that I got some "new" (i.e. repurposed) curtains from my room at their house.  Conveniently enough, they match in my bedroom here, so now that the house is sold, Isaac and I got them and hung them this week.

Master bedroom

Extra room

Guest room

The guest curtains were hanging already, but had been hung too high up, so while we had out the tools to hang curtain rods, Isaac went ahead and lowered these so they look better :)

Hanging curtains... Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Seventh Generation Giveaway Link

In my desire to become more conscious of how I spend my money - and lately, of the health factor of my food and environment - I've been reading several blogs on a regular basis over the last year.  One of the ones that I discovered more recently is The Suburban Jungle.
She's got a Giveaway going on that I like... Seventh Generation Disinfecting Kit!  I've tried several of the Seventh Generation cleaning products, and really like them.  And when I can get them on sale and/or with a coupon, the prices aren't bad either!  Anything that will help me save money AND have fewer potentially negative effects on my health is a double-plus for me, so this kit would be perfect.  Head on over and enter by commenting on her post, here.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

AO is back :)

Since we were out of town for Easter weekend, and have been a bit behind in consuming our bi-weekly produce, I opted to skip last week and start back this week.  Despite the fact that I still haven't used the red potatoes they brought me 3 weeks ago (yes, they've started to sprout, but I don't mind), I was excited for my next delivery.  And since I'm home on Spring Break this week, I actually got to meet the kind gentlemen who brought it to me :)
Above you can see the following bits of organic goodness:
  • 5 Navel oranges 
  • 5 Fuji apples
  • 3 Bartlett pears
  • 3 HUGE Russet potatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • approx 6 Rainbow carrots (which is where a lot of the leafy green comes from - they said to cut that off for better storage)
The varied colors of carrots might require an explanation for my somewhat skeptical hubby, but thankfully a snazzy article was posted to the Absolute Organics Facebook page not too long ago, which you can read here.  And the zucchini is already slated for dinner tonight with the red potatoes, as suggested in this Rosemary Red Potatoes recipe.
That is, if I can pick out the zucchini from the cukes...

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, April 01, 2010


One of the most frugal things I have ever done, whether I realized it or not, is to marry my sweet husband.  While I love my Daddy dearly, he is seriously lacking in some handyman skills, which means he gets stuck hiring out a bunch of stuff that I don't have to pay for, because my husband can do it!  In the last year, he installed ceiling fans/lights in both of our extra bedrooms.  Granted, my Dad maybe could have done that, but he could never have figured out how to run the wires such that the switch (which originally operated a randomly-placed outlet) actually works the new fixture!  Yahoo!  Here are a few pics of the most recent installation - in the guest bedroom.
Hubby did the hard stuff.

My job was to attach the fan blades to the arms.

Finish product in action!

Installing ceiling fans... Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Since there's already a picture here, just a few posts below, of me looking ridiculous and "eating" my homemade yogurt, I figured I might as well post the picture I just emailed The Swag Guy after receiving my first, official, tangible Swag prize.
Here I am "drinking" out of my Ecousable purple (yeah!) water bottle!  At 16oz, it's a bit smaller than I had envisioned, but I think that will be good, because my other one was almost too big to carry around (maybe it was 24 oz?  not sure).  Plus, not having a straw should be nice.  Notice how I am talking about the other one in the past tense, as if it no longer existed.  It does, I just don't like it.  So there.  Just don't tell my sister... she gifted it to me for my birthday just under a year ago -- oops.
To get your own free stuff through Swagbucks, sign up using my referral link on the left sidebar.  I think I've earned $15 dollars in Paypal, $10 in Amazon, and this neat-o water bottle.  Just from searching via their site over time.  Not bad, huh?

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nacho Bake

Toni, otherwise known as Happy, has become one of my heroes over the last 6mos? year?  however long it's been since I started reading her blog.  Whether she knows it or not, she's taught me a lot about saving money and raising lots of kids, though of course the former skills are getting more practice currently than the latter.  Oh yeah, and she always has great, easy, inexpensive recipes.  I recently made one that she posted not long ago and - surprise, surprise - it was a hit!  You can find her Nacho Bake recipe here.  I used black beans (couldn't find a can of kidneys lying around... haha), and added a can each of diced tomatoes and corn to the meat/bean mix.  The hardest part was spreading the refried beans around, but this is not a recipe that has to be perfect - which is why I like it!!  As she suggested, I served it with sour cream.  It probably would be good with guacamole too, but I didn't think to take a package out of the freezer soon enough.  The 9"x13" served the 2 of us with enough left for at least one more meal, if not two - and I didn't put any sides or extras with it.  Well, unless you count the cupcake and cookie that we shared for dessert... courtesy of the St. Patrick's Day party put on by the 6th grade cooking class at school.
Are you salivating yet?  If not, this should get you started:
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3rd Fruit/Veggie Delivery

Need I say more?  Pears (12 or so), Cameo Apples (about 9), bananas (6 or 7), lettuce (2 bunches), red potatoes (counted, but forgot how many while I walked up the stairs to the computer) and green onions -- all ORGANIC and all left AT MY DOORSTEP by Absolute Organics, LLC!  That's 13.5 lbs of God-created yumminess.  Broccoli was supposed to be in the mix, but since it's not my hubby's favorite and I still haven't cooked what they brought me last time, I asked them to bring more pears and/or lettuce instead.  Since my next delivery is schedule to come right before Easter weekend, I think I'm going to have them "postpone" it until the following week as we'll be out of town for the long weekend and aren't quite eating everything in the two weeks anyway.
When my very basic photography makes you drool so much you just can't wait to get your hands on some produce of your very own, just be sure to tell them I sent you :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, March 08, 2010

Windowed surprise

I had a GREAT time at the church women's retreat this weekend.  It's the second time I've gone, and I'm already looking forward to next year!  I truly enjoy the opportunity to meet women from church and to get to know others better.  We don't have a huge church, but since my husband and I work with the Hispanic church plant, there are plenty of gals that I don't get the opportunity to meet on a normal Sunday.  There were about 40 women at the retreat, and together we enjoyed some great worship time, a few testimonies, some Bible study, free time (which for me included a walk around the beautiful Bonclarken grounds, tea and chocolate cake with some great conversation, a brief nap and some reading time), lots of chatting and games - which is almost the best part, since my hubby is not quite as much a fan as I am, so we don't play many at home.
Anyway, the official topic of this post is the surprise I stumbled upon when I arrived home on Sunday afternoon:

My dear mom did my dining room curtains and my living room curtains (I helped with the latter set) and these kitchen ones were on her To-Do list forEVER!  Since she's moving, she finally gave up and hired someone to actually make them (since we had already picked out and purchased the fabric), and surprised me by installing them while I was gone (technically, she and hubs were still putting on the finishing touches when I showed up, but who cares).  I was totally used to the no-curtain look, since it's been that way for 2.5 years since we moved in, so it's still a bit odd... but I love them!  Aren't the colors perfect?  Don't worry, the chip clip won't stay there forever, haha :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Another produce delivery!

Today was an AWESOME day!  The sun was shining and though it was chilly, it wasn't deceptively cold, like several days last week.  It was Teacher Appreciation Day at school, so I didn't have to pack a lunch and we got a wonderful, homemade meal and 45 minutes to just chill with co-workers while volunteers supervised lunch/recess with the kids.  I got some cheap Kashi cereal at CVS & Target (went to both places so I could use ECBs/gift card, and actually paid only 6¢ out of pocket for 4 boxes!).  And last but not least, my second Absolute Organics delivery arrived!  Who knew produce could be so exciting?
First thing I did was head to the bathroom scale to weigh myself with the full cooler, and then I reweighed after emptying the cooler.  What you see on the picture below is 13 pounds of fresh, delivered, organic produce!  That's $2.30/lb average, which seems pretty good to me.  Did I mention it was DELIVERED?!?!  :)
I'll give you a list, just so you know what you're lookin' at:
  • 6 seedless, Gold Nugget oranges
  • 7 Braeburn apples
  • 2 Haas avocados
  • 1 mango
  • 1 lg. head of lettuce
  • white mushrooms
  • 3 averaged-sized broccoli crowns
  • 6 bananas
If I've convinced you, just be sure to give them my name when you order so I can get some free produce for referring you!

On another note, here's a picture of my homemade yogurt served over that granola-type cereal I had in the stockpile.  Since mine turned out a bit thinner than I prefer for yogurt, it works great when mixed in with something like this!
Soli Deo Gloria...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Homemade Yogurt!

I am pleased to report that my first-ever yogurt-making experiment went fairly well!  I found the directions here. I read Alyssa's blog regularly, and when I saw this, I decided to try it, just for a challenge.  And, since we do eat a fair amount of yogurt, I figured if it worked I could use it more often to save us some money and to be healthier (there are a fair amount of random ingredients in store-bought yogurt, if you actually read the list).
The directions are really detailed (especially if you click-thru to the more thorough version here), so I felt pretty confident.  Worst-case scenario, I was out a few bucks for the milk and yogurt cup (starter), and would have a damaged ego; best-case scenario I could feel really cool (and save $$, be healthy, cut down on production of plastic yogurt cups, etc... but mostly just feel cool)!
I borrowed a candy thermometer from a friend/co-worker, since I wanted to be sure I was doing it right.  The whole process took me about 8 hours, though most of that was just letting it "incubate" and didn't require much work.  I did discover that my cooler probably isn't the most insulated one ever and when I went to take the yogurt out the temp had dropped, so I added some more boiling water and let it sit for another 1-2 hours instead.  Here are some pics I took:

We had some of it for dessert tonight (yeah, I know... it's generally strange for Americans to eat non-frozen yogurt for dessert, but it's normal in Spain and now I'm used to it!) with a little sugar and honey - natural/plain yogurt all by itself is kinda icky if you ask me.  It was pretty good, though if I do it again, I think I'll try to let it incubate longer (and add the extra boiling water sooner to keep the temp up) as it was a bit runnier than I'm used to, and I can only assume it's due to an incubation faux pas. 
Overall, I'm just glad I have an edible result and didn't have to dump it out completely.  I got some free Post Trail Mix Crunch a while back, and I'm thinking this yogurt will probably be a great substitute for milk with that, since the cereal has a granola-y texture.

Making yogurt, Soli Deo Gloria...