Sunday, April 30, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Saturday Sales & Chocolate Pudding
Oriental Trading is offering $2.95 shipping thru May 31st. This site is great for finding all those little trinkets you need for crafting & for birthday treat bags.
Entertainment Books are marked down to $12.99. This deal will expire on May 6th.
Gap is having their “Really Big Sale” (yes that is what it is called- I even checked!) Take advantage of their items being 40% off.
Money Spent Today: $0
One Way I Save Money: We do not subscribe to the newspaper because all of the information about our community is posted online and we read the news there. I know, I know- you would miss the advertisements in the Sunday newspaper. Well, you can look at all of the advertisements online through SundaySaver.com and find even your grocery store advertisements. I didn’t know, for instance, that our SuperTarget had a weekly advertisement. I looked online and found tons of web-only coupons for all of my grocery shopping needs.
Inspirational Reading Material: Wow Coupons offers printable coupons for retail stores, grocery stores, & restaurants. Check this site to get additional savings before doing your shopping.
MomAdvice Reading Material: Finding a Mom’s Group
Saturday Snack: This makes a quick & tasty snack for the whole family! Serve with a little whipped cream.
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Bisquick. baking mix
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups milk
1 cup cold water
Mix sugar, baking mix and cocoa in 3 quart saucepan. Gradually stir in milk and water.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
Cool, stirring occasionally to prevent film form forming.
Friday Freebie: CheckFree
I was excited when I saw that our bank was offering automatic set-up to pay your bills. What a great service! Then, of course, I read the fine-print and realized that THE MAN (you know who the man is, right?) was going to get $10 each month for paying my bills. In case you didn’t know it, I despise “the man” and was looking for a way around these fees.
Guess who comes knocking to my virtual door? CheckFree.com! This is a great website where I can pay and manage all of my bills online for free! I have never had a payment go out late, never had a single problem with them yanking money when they shouldn’t, and I can set the bills up when I want to without them automatically doing it each month (unless you enjoy that feature, which I do not!) They email me to let me know when I have received a bill and send out a reminder to me to pay it. I just don’t know of an easier way to go about paying your bills.
The best part too is that they archive all of your bills for you. When doing your taxes, this turns out to be a wonderful feature. You can look at the past year’s statements online or print them for your records.
Oh, did I mention you save on stamps too? Gotta love that!
Money Spent Today: $.75 (I rented a movie from the library last night. And in case you were wondering, the answer is yes- our library charges for movies! I was surprised until I saw that it looks like Blockbuster over there. It is definitely worth every quarter compared to a movie rental place)
One Way I Save Money: I don’t buy paper plates…like, EVER! Paper plates are a waste of money and I would rather buy my kids some fruit rather than waste it on the plate that they are eating on. Last summer I hit Walmart and got some great everyday plasticware for $2 a plate or less. I bought plastic plates & cups and we use these all of the time. It only takes two seconds to throw these in the dishwasher and they are much more durable. If you can wait until the end of the summer, you can get these on clearance and reap the rewards of not wasting your precious grocery money and scoring a deal on dishes too!
Inspirational Reading Material: The Dollar Stretcher is one of my all-time favorite sites for inspiration when trying to stick to a budget. There is something for everyone on this site and if you find yourself in a financial rut- then read this site! It will provide the kick in the butt that you need to get your finances back in order.
MomAdvice Reading Material: Gearing Up For Summer
On Our Dinner Table: We are going to a friend’s house tonight for dinner. I am supplying the dessert though and am whipping up my husband’s favorite dessert. This is his request in lieu of a fancy (and expensive) birthday cake.
Jewish Coffee Cake
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1 package yellow cake mix
½ cup oil
1 cup orange juice
Mix these ingredients together and then swirl the following through the cake batter 1/3 c. sugar, 4 t. cinnamon, 4 t. sesame seeds (optional). Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees in a well-greased and floured bundt pan. Allow cake to cool for 45-60 minutes in pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Nutritional facts per serving (daily value):
Protein 6g (12%)
Total Fat 23g (35%)
Sat. 3g (14%)
Chol. 93mg (31%)
Carb. 54g (18%)
Fiber 1g (3%)
Calcium 141mg (14%)
Iron 1mg (8%)
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Spaghetti Sauce & Latte Factors
One Way I Save Money: I have a true coffee obsession. I am not like a normal person who just enjoys coffe- I am extremely addicted to it. When, David Bach coined the phrase “latte factor” I immediately thought of my coffee addiction. In order to avoid blowing a ton of money at Starbucks, I preset my coffeemaker in the morning. I don’t own a programable one, but I do put the grounds in and set my cup next to it. Just knowing that I have this waiting for me in the morning, gives me a reason to skip hitting the Starbucks drive-thru (even though it is so yummy!) I try to ask for gift cards to help finance my addiction so I don’t feel guilty and rely on my own coffeemaker for my coffee in the morning. This saves me a few dollars each day, which adds up over time!
Inspirational Reading Material: Wanna find out how much you could save if you factored in your own latte factor? Check out David Bach’s Latte Factor Calculator to see how much you could save, over time, if you invested your latte money
MomAdvice Reading Material: Getting Out of Debt
On Our Dinner Table: It is slow cooker day in our house. I am making our family’s favorite spaghetti sauce. I love my slow cooker and can’t imagine my life without it right now. The only downside to this little gadget is that I must smell that yummy food all day long and it makes me REALLY hungry!
Italian Sausage Spaghetti Sauce
1 package Italian Turkey Sausage - mild
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
½ cup beef broth
Brown the turkey sausage in a large skillet. Place cooked sausage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour over the sausage all of the other ingredients, including any of your own Italian seasonings. Cook sauce on low for six hours or on high for three to four hours. Serve over your favorite pasta.
Nutritional facts per serving (daily value):
Protein 11g (23%)
Total Fat 5g (7%)
Sat. 1g (7%)
Chol. 44mg (15%)
Carb. 7g (2%)
Fiber 2g (6%)
Calcium 38mg (4%)
Iron 2mg (11%)
Calling All Moms!
If you are a WAHM who would like some free coverage for your business please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to complete the following information (in its entirety- those missing information in their email will NOT qualify).
Email Subject: WAHM Spotlight
Name of Company:
Two or Three Sentences About Your Company:
Two Tips for Moms Trying to Work-At-Home (these tips can be how you stay organized, how to be successful, how to get started- anything that you feel would help someone just starting out):
Each Monday on my blog, we will be shining the spotlight on you and your business to help give moms new ideas for ways they can pursue working from home.
Only LEGITIMATE companies will be accepted! If you are not sure if your company is legit, please check my article to figure out some typical work-at-home scams that will not qualify.
I will email you if you are chosen to let you know that you will be spotlighted on our blog. Feel free to let visitors to your own site know that you will be our success story for the week.
All moms can also submit tips to our site to be featured in my blog. If you have a great idea for staying organized, staying out of debt, an amazing recipe, or a parenting tip- send them my way! You will need to complete the following information (in its entirety- those missing information in their email will NOT qualify) and send the information to email@example.com.
Email Subject: Mom Tip
Website Link (if any):
I look forward to your emails!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
General Whining & Some Other Stuff
I waited and waited and waited to get on the air. I called and called and called until FINALLY someone answered. I was so excited to be on the air and get to talk about the site. I waited and waited some more as other moms shared their work-at-home opportunities and tried to be patient about waiting my turn.
I finally make it onto the air and just get to talking about my site when….they disconnect me. It was horrible! I did manage to get MomAdvice.com in my first words, but that was all I managed. This was just horribly frustrating.
Being your own PR firm, writer, manager, etc… is tough. I am not trying to whine or anything, but there are typical setbacks that I feel I experience because I am the only one on the job. I love my site and I want others to know about, but I don’t have the dough to hire an army of people to get us out there. It makes me question if this is all worth it? Are people benefiting enough from it? Is this a valuable resource to someone?
We have been pursued by the best, but because we are not 1 million hits strong every single day, we get the “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” discussion and I feel like I am back at square one again.
On a lighter note, we will be featured in MomsTown’s newsletter that they send out, so hopefully I will still get the promotion that we were hoping for, especially after such a frustrating day.
Oh, and while I was chatting with them, I also won tickets to a conference in Las Vegas. Please tell me how I could get away for two whole days from my kids (particularly the baby who nurses 24/7) and learn from other people? I don’t think I will get the opportunity to utilize these, but it was nice regardless.
Moving on to today’s topic….
Money Spent Today: $0
One Way I Save Money: I ran across these handy-dandy little sandwich holders at the store the other day. It is sandwich shaped and you can throw your sandwich in there to keep it fresh for your lunch. I thought that this served two great purposes…
1) No nasty mashed up sandwiches. Nothing is worse than opening your lunch bag and finding that the apple you put in there has rolled over on the top of your sandwich and then permanently dented it.
2) I don’t have to use as many sandwich bags which I find to be very wasteful. I think this was a good investment and they should have them in the plastic container aisles of your store.
Inspirational Reading Material: Cheap Cooking- I love this site. She has a wonderful blog and lots of great information on how to cook on the cheap. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter to get more ideas
MomAdvice Reading Material: Living Out of Your Pantry
On Our Dinner Table:
I have discovered Tilapia and we love it! If you are not a fish person, bear with me because this stuff doesn’t have a fishy taste at all. This dish has been going into my regular rotation because it is inexpensive and delicious. You can buy Tilapia fresh or in the frozen foods section of your grocery store. Even my toddler will eat this dish so it is definitely worth trying. I am trying to incorporate more fish into our diet and this seems like a great way to do it.
Herb Baked Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets - 4 to 6 ounce
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 Tbsp minced scallions
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place tilapia on nonstick
foil. In a small bowl, combine cheese, mayonnaise and
scallions. Spread evenly over fish. In another bowl,
combine bread crumbs, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle over fish. Coat fish lightly with cooking
spray. Bake 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily
Nutritional facts per serving (daily value):
Protein 1g (2%)
Total Fat 11g (17%)
Sat. 1g (6%)
Chol. 8mg (3%)
Carb. 5g (2%)
Fiber 0g (2%)
Calcium 17mg (2%)
Iron 0mg (3%)
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Now I have never been a big fan of pork, in general, mainly because I have not cared for the way this meat is prepared. The pork dishes that I have ate have always been tough & lacking in flavor.
A few months ago though, I saw an episode of Everyday Italian that changed my way of thinking about pork chops forever. This recipe has gone into our family rotation and it makes its appearance every couple of weeks. I made some modifications to the recipes (to fit with our family’s likes/dislikes) and came up with my own version of the recipe. The original version is just as delicious (I am sure), but this is my version of the dish that is now in our weekly rotation. Giada calls it Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola. Her dish is very spicy and has a lot of heat to it, but our family prefers the blander version. The name of her dish is definitely pretty & does fit with the spiciness factor of her dish (but is too difficult for me to pronounce or remember) so I have renamed this dish to Italian Chops and the family loves it! Whichever version you try, it makes for an affordable & elegant meal. I entertain with this dish all of the time and haven’t met a guest yet who didn’t enjoy it!!
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pork chops - bone in
1 can petite diced tomatoes - in juice
2 teaspoons Italian Seasonings Blend spices
¼ cup white wine (anything you would drink)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound angel hair pasta
Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until they are brown approximately 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep them warm. Add white wine to the pan and deglaze the pan with a whisk (getting up all of the drippings from the pan). Add the tomatoes with their juices, and spices.. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend and the juices thicken slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt.. Return the pork chops and any accumulated juices from the plate to the skillet and turn the pork chops to coat with the sauce. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente and then drain. Place 1 pork chop on top of the angel hair pasta onto each plate and spoon the sauce over the pork chops and pasta. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
Nutritional facts per serving (daily value):
Protein 21g (42%)
Total Fat 19g (29%)
Sat. 4g (19%)
Chol. 59mg (20%)
Carb. 10g (3%)
Fiber 2g (7%)
Calcium 57mg (6%)
Iron 2mg (11%)
Monday, April 24, 2006
Target Dollar Bin & BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
This weekend I did run across some good deals in the Target Dollar Section. Can I just thank the person that thought of that great idea? I want to kiss them and smack them at the same time because my budget will never be the same. I have found some wonderful deals in there, and I am always amazed at the new selection each week. This week I found a notepad magnetic menu planner, a take out menu organizer, and a magnet that has kitchen conversions on it. Lots of great stuff this week! If you are a gardener, they had a great selection of gardening gadgets and doodads. Can you tell how into gardening I am- I don’t even know what the stuff is called? Now you will know why my lawn and flower beds look so lovely! Oh well! I can’t be good at everything.
Tonight I am hosting our HOOTOWL group. Each week a subgroup from my Mothers & More group get together to have dinner and gab. HOOTOWL stands for Husbands Out Of Town Or Working Late- cute, huh? Wish I could take credit for that acronym, but I can’t. It is a great group of women though and I look forward to my evenings with the girls. Since we had a busy day planned, I decided to rely on my slow cooker to provide our dinner this evening. I am an enormous fan of my slow cooker, particularly since the birth of our daughter. It is so nice to throw everything in, switch it on, and have dinner ready in the evening with minimal effort. I have just completed writing an article on spending a month with your slow cooker and I will be sure to let you all know when that one is posted.
Tonight we are having BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. This is my favorite recipe and came from one of my cooking buddies. Leftovers can be spread over a pizza crust (check my blog for pizza crust recipes), sprinkled with cheese, and baked for a BBQ Chicken Pizza. Leftover meat freezes well so you can pop the leftovers into the freezer for another night. This makes a great Friday night dinner. The past few Friday nights, I have been making these and then after we eat we have been out walking enjoying this nice weather. I hope you can add this one to your family’s dinner one night- in my book, this is a keeper!
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
4 chicken breasts - can be frozen
2 cups ketchup
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together all ingredients (except chicken) in slow cooker. Add the chicken, coating each piece in sauce. Cook on high for four hours. Remove chicken and shred/pull with forks. Return to pot and stir in sauce to coat. Serve on toasted buns.
Nutritional facts per serving (daily value): Calories 80kcal Protein 2g (3%) Total Fat 0g (1%) Sat. 0g (0%) Chol. 0mg (0%) Carb. 20g (7%) Fiber 1g (4%) Sugars 17g Calcium 18mg (2%) Iron 1mg (3%)
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Pizza is a favorite food of the whole family though so when I do go to the trouble of making the dough and sauce, I make sure that I have enough for (at least) a couple of other night’s worth of meals.
With this in mind, I will share with you my favorite pizza dough recipe and then share with you the experiment I decided to undergo last night in making a pizza.
Amy’s Favorite Pizza Dough
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup whole wheat flour
5 ½ cups bread flour
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit until creamy (approximately ten minutes). Stir the olive oil, whole wheat flour, salt, and four cups of the bread flour into the yeast mixture. Mix in the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out into a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about eight minutes. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place (I set this bowl in my oven) to rise until doubled in volume; about one hour. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and form into rounds. Cover the rounds and let them rest for about ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Shape your dough using a rolling pin and top with your favorite toppings. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese and crust is golden brown.
This pizza dough actually yields enough for three pizzas. I use this dough when making pizza for a large amount of people, or if I want to freeze dough for later use.
This dough can be frozen in a couple of different ways. I have frozen the dough balls in freezer bags and then allowed them to unthaw (within the freezer bag) on the counter until they have come to room temperature. If you are a fan of Boboli pizza crusts (because of the convenience factor) you can also par-bake the pizza crust and store them in your freezer. Simply flour your surface, roll out the dough and bake at 450 degrees for about eight minutes. You will then allow these to cool and then wrap. If you are a frugal gal like me, save the cardboard rounds from your other frozen pizzas and use these for placing under your baked crusts, cover with saran, and freeze them that way. If you chose to par-bake the crusts, just remove them from the freezer, and add your toppings. You can skip the defrosting step altogether and just go straight to baking.
Last night I decided to make the pizza crust in my bread machine instead. The consistency of this dough was more like a foccacia rather than a light & airy pizza dough. It made a very thick crust, but could be lightened by using all-purpose flour (rather than the bread flour). All in all, it was still a good pizza, but my favorite pizza dough still wins, hands down.
Italian Herb Pizza Dough
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water - 110 degrees F/45 degrees C
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
6 cups bread flour
Mix yeast, warm water, and sugar together in your bread machine. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and set your machine to dough cycle. Allow it to go through the complete cycle. Remove the dough and then punch down. Roll out onto a floured surface. Place the rolled out dough onto your pizza stone. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese and crust is golden brown.
*If you have a small bread machine (like me!) just halve the recipe for one crust. You could also prepare this with your electric mixer, using your dough hook. Stir olive oil, salt, herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, cheese, and 3 cups flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix in the next three cups of flour. Dough will be stiff. Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and rubbery. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn to cover the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp linen dish towel. Allow to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch dough down to release all the air. Then follow steps that are listed above.
This time I also decided that I wanted to try a recipe that I have had in my files for awhile for making my own pizza sauce. I found this copy-cat recipe for Papa John’s Pizza sauce and just had to give it a try. This sauce was perfect- just the right balance of sweetness & spices. It would make a wonderful dipping sauce for breadsticks. I highly recommend giving this sauce a try- I don’t think you will be disappointed. This sauce will make enough for one pizza.
Papa John's Pizza Sauce
1 can tomato puree (I substituted with crushed tomatoes)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Yield: 1 cup
I hope these recipes help to inspire you for your next pizza night. This is a great meal to involve the whole family and I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t love pizza! Have the kids help put on the toppings or roll out the dough- making pizza can create some really great memories for your kids and for you!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Blog? What Blog?
Well, I have discovered that I am about as good at blogging as I am at journaling and keeping up with baby books….I fear that my children are going to be disappointed someday when they see that mom has never written a single thing down for them to remember me by or themselves in their youth. Hopefully, I will be a brilliant storyteller when I am around so that I can make up for my lack of the written word.
Luckily, I am a little bit better about keeping up with our website. My husband has been frantically working at putting together a whole new look and feel for our site and I am super excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, the current design is outstanding too, but the new look is going to be a good move for us. I am hoping that the new site will be more user-friendly and we will continue to feed you guys with the same information that we were offering before. I will no longer be writing on the topic of organizing though because, these days, I am not in the organizing mode….I am in survival mode. Anyone with an infant and a toddler knows what I am talking about…I just can’t explore the topic of organization when I am sitting in a disaster zone. I will leave the organizing section to people who can write about it honestly, and I will concentrate on the easier stuff like money & food.
With all these changes in mind, I have decided that my blog needs a new shift in purpose. Despite the fact that I am hilarious (in person) and can talk people’s ears off with my stories, I just don’t have the time to keep up with typing them all out. My typing time consists of two minutes here and there, which are better spent writing things that support the site. My typing is also now done with one hand (Emily in the other) and consists of simple mouse clicks right now.
A better fit for me will be to share ways that I save money and what is on my dinner table. If I decide to share a story….well, then you know I had a good day with the kids (or a seriously bad one and I am using the writing as my therapy).
Truly, much of my day is spent finding and trying recipes for my menu planners, and putting together our dinners. Another part of my day is doing research on how to save our family more money and keep me home. Then the rest of my day is just the day-to-day grind of paying bills, laundry, and (barely) keeping up.
Hopefully you will enjoy the shift in the blog and I am hoping it inspires some of you to try some new things for your dinner table. I am constantly researching and trying new dishes and it will be fun for me to report my experiments to you all.
I am also a bargain hunter and try to be as thrifty as I can be (with the occasional bad idea of running to Target for just one thing) so I will get to share with you the ways that I save our family some dough.
In the meantime, keep an eye out on our site…May 1st is our goal for our relaunch. Thank you to all of you who inspire me and share with me- without you, I would not have anything to write about! Cheers!
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- Graduation Day
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- Freebie Friday: May 22, 2009
- Play it Again, Momma: Sponge Ball Fun
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