Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ A Rite of Passage

My 9-year old son just graduated to Men's shoes this week...I was shocked.

I think he's proud of himself.

*This post is linked to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cheesy Brunch Bundles

I needed to whip up a quick brunch menu this morning, for a friend who was coming over to chat. This was one on-the-fly experiment that worked out quite nicely. May I say that it is amazing what you can do with a can of crescent rolls? I think this is a pretty versatile recipe, too. You can use any meat & cheese combination that you have on hand. It yields 4 servings.

Cheesy Brunch Bundles

4 oz. Chopped Lunch Meat (I used turkey)
3/4 c. Shredded Cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
2 T. Mayonnaise
1T. Stone Ground Mustard
1 Tube Crescent Rolls

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine first four ingredients and mix well. Separate crescent rolls into 4 rectangles, and pinch center seam together. Spoon meat mixture along the center of the rectangle, then pull opposite corners together and twist to seal. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. I served them with a side of cantaloupe chunks and blueberries.

My friend ended up not being able to join me, so my little guy and I enjoyed a fancy breakfast together.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Quiche Experiment ~ Ham Casserole

My family loves my quiche. It is one item that I know EVERYONE will ALWAYS be excited to see on the table. One 10-inch quiche, with a side of fruit, has always fed my guys and me without a problem. That was until my boys became part-Hoover and started sucking up any food in sight. What in the world am I gonna do when they hit high school? (Denise told me this week that it was a good thing that I know how to buy food cheap. Amen.)

At first, I was going to make two quiche...quiches...that's not right, it must be quiche. (What is the plural for quiche, anyway???) It rhymes with geese, so I'll use the same rule...two quiche. (My 12th grade English teacher just broke a sweat without knowing why.)

Anyway...I was going to make two of them. Then, I decided that I didn't want to wash two pie stones. So,I started trying to figure out how to make one really big quiche...which kind of became a breakfast casserole, that still tastes like quiche. I used a can of crescent rolls as the base, which turned out nicely. But, I missed the distinct pie crust flavor from my quiche. Next time, I think I will try making a big batch of pie dough and lining my casserole with it.

We like baked ham in our quiche. Occasionally, I will buy a big ham and cook it for supper, then cube what is left and freeze it in quart-sized bags. On quiche day, I just pull one out and let it thaw.

One other note, I used my Pampered Chef Oval Stoneware Baker, which I have just discovered is no longer available. I estimate that it has about a 10-cup capacity.

Without further's the recipe that I came up with. It is husband, 9-year old and 4-year old approved.

Quiche-Like Ham Casserole
1 Tube Crescent Rolls
5 Large Eggs
1 Can Evaporated Milk
Salt & Pepper OR Cavendar's Greek Seasoning (My Choice)
3-4 Cups Cubed Ham
2-4 Cups Grated Sharp Cheddar
(sometimes I use half cheddar and half mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 375°. Press crescent rolls into bottom and partially up the sides of a medium-sized casserole dish. Place casserole in oven while it preheats (no more than 5 minutes)to partially-cook the crescent rolls. Whisk together eggs, evaporated milk, and seasoning. When oven is preheated, remove casserole. Arrange ham on top of the crescent dough, then top with grated cheese. Pour egg mixture over the top. The liquid should just about cover the dough. Bake for 45 minutes, or until puffy and set in the center.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free For the Asking ~ 18+ Available Freebies

This has been a fun freebie week for me. There have been some unique deals to play with, including triple coupons at Shoppers. Triple Coupons really ramp up my game! As always, I will begin the post with my personal freebies for the week, along with links or explanations of anything still available. (If you have already requested the samples in my "mailbox" section, you probably won't be able to request them again, unless I indicate that it has "reset".) Then I will give you the links to my favorite new online freebies of the week.

Free stuff is all around us...all you have to do is ask!

Weekly Totals
Spent $111.57
Saved $201.43, 64%
Coupons Used 87
Rebates $15.99
Net Cost $95.58

My Freebies

Drugstore Game:
~Rimmel Mascara & Eyeliner (CVS Clearance, Coupon $3 off Rimmel Mascara in Feb. All You)
~Rimmel Eyeliner (Walmart, Coupon Free Rimmel Cosmetic in March All You)
~Skittles (Walmart, fb promotion, NLA)
~Starburst (Walmart, fb promotion, NLA)
~3 Kotex Liners (Walmart, Coupon $1 off any Kotex in sample packs through mail)
~3 Travel Visine (Walmart, Coupon $2 off any Visine in 3/14 Red Plum Insert)
~2 Cover Girl Foundations (CVS using BOGO in 3/31Proctor and Gamble Insert and Extra Care Bucks)
~1 CVS Shampoo (CVS, Coupon $1 off any CVS shampoo printed at ECB kiosk)
~1 Dawn Hand Renewal (CVS $.96 this week, $1 off Dawn in Home Made Simple Coupon Book)
~1 Crest Rinse (CVS, $3.99 this week, $2 off in 3/7 Proctor and Gamble Insert and Extra Care Bucks)

Grocery Game:
~2 Uncle Ben's Rice
~2 Success Rice
~2 Mueller's Pasta
~8 Gatorade
~4 Betty Crocker Warm Delights
~1 Philly Cream Cheese Minis
~4 Betty Crocker Frosting
~1 Softsoap
~1 First Aid Gauze Pads
~8 Scotch Brite Scrubbers
~2 Lifesavers Strings 'n Rings
~4 Ortega Taco Seasoning
~4 Reese's Dark PB Cups
(Everything above is from Shopper's triple coupon days and is pictured in the top photo.)
~Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal (Freebie Coupon from Vocal Point, NLA)
~2 Ore Ida Potatoes (Not Pictured, Food Lion B2G1 Sale this week, Coupon $1 off 2 in Feb All You.)
~1 Tuna Snacks (Walmart, Freebie Coupon in Feb All You.)

~Allure Magazine
~Vogue Magazine
~Outside Magazine
~Kotex Sample Pack (HERE, choose between 4 assortments, RESET!)
~Coupon for Free Vitamin Water (fb promotion, NLA)
~True Lemon Sample (HERE)
~Dove Haircare Sample (HERE)
~Tide w/Febreeze Sample w/coupons (HERE)
~Olay Body Wash Sample (HERE, RESET!)
~Burt's Bees Toothpaste Sample (HERE)
~South Beach Diet Bar Sample w/coupon (HERE)

$15.99 Rite Aid Single Check Rebate

~Another of the Victoria's Secret Mystery Cards (I told you about HERE under "mailbox")
~Pink Nation Tank Top (nla...that I will NEVER wear in public because it has HUGE writing all over it...but it was free...and I can sleep in it!)

New Online Goodies:

~Get a free Geo Trax video from Mattel HERE. My boys LOVE these movies!

~Walmart is offering samples of Benefiber Orange Sticks HERE. It promises a non-gritty solution to increasing your fiber intake. Also find a $2 coupon HERE.

~There is a new sample of Purex 3-in-1 Available HERE. I think these are just about the neatest things ever! this is sort of a freebie...Home Depot has a Garden Club that you can opt in to HERE. I am told that you will receive several coupons through the year for great discounts like BOGO houseplants or bulbs for planting.

~Special K is offering a sample of their Protein Meal Bars plus coupons HERE.

~Borba is offering a sample of their Age Defying Concentrate HERE. A little age defying assistance can't be a bad thing...right?

~There is another new link for a Home Made Simple coupon book. This usually results in a free bottle of Dawn (as above in my Drugstore deals). Get it HERE.

~Get a free sample of Nutra Salt Sea Salt HERE. I'm wondering if this is anything like Nu Salt?

~Ensure has a coupon for a free bottle HERE.

~Costco has a free sample of Nature Made Triple Flex HERE. You do not have to be a member to get this one.

~Get a nice-sized sample from Baby Barn HERE. It includes a 2.5 oz bottle of body/ hair wash and baby lotion.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Review ~ Isaac Newton by Mitch Stokes

I recently received a complimentary copy of Isaac Newton from Thomas Nelson Publishers for review. This title is one in a new series of books called Christian Encounters.

Isaac Newton is well-known for his discoveries in the scientific arena. It is not as widely known that he actually devoted more study to theology than to the sciences. Mitch Stokes does an excellent job of painting a truer picture of Newton than the one that resides in the minds of most. He artfully peels away the layers of myth and legend that have come to surround the life of this remarkable man. And, he reveals the true heart and and goal of Isaac Newton, to know God better.

I was surprised at the detail with which Mr. Stokes explains many of Newton's theories, while still keeping the story readable. He also reveals nuances of the relationships that Newton had with his contemporaries and how they impacted his study and discovery throughout his life.

I learned much about a man who was willing to go to the furthest lengths to learn, not for fame or fortune (for he would much rather have kept to himself), but as a means of worshipping and bringing glory to the God that he served.

The Christian Encounters series is intended to bring to life individuals of significance throughout history who were also people of great faith. Biographies of Jane Austen, John Bunyan, Saint Patrick and Winston Churchill are already available. Five more titles including Johann Sebastian Bach, William F. Buckley, St. Francis, Anne Bradstreet and J.R.R. Tolkien are scheduled to release in August of this year.

Although not required to write a positive review of the book by the publisher, I am happy to. I hope to acquire more books in this series as well. There is much to learn from the lives of those who have traveled before us.

To view more information about this book, visit Thomas Nelson Publishers.

You can also preview this book on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Son and the National Geographic Bee

My oldest son is a regular smarty pants. Really. When he was 3 1/2, I taught him to read. From then on there was no stopping him. He. Reads. Everything. He had read the entire Chronicles of Narnia Series by the time he was seven years old. I am so very thankful for his love of books and learning.

Up until this year, I had heard of a Spelling Bee, but never a Geographic Bee. Early in the school year, schools across the nation test children grades 4 and up on their geography knowledge. The top scorers then participate in a school Geographic Bee, sponsored by National Geographic of course.

We weren't really surprised when he made it into the Bee, he has loved maps since he was five. What did shock us, was when he won...and beat out all the fifth graders. Wanna know the question he answered to win?

"What country holds the worlds five highest mountain peaks?"

Do you know?

We had recently had a discussion about Mt. Everest at our house. Afterward, he did a little more investigation on his own because his curiosity was piqued. During this he discovered that one of the countries that Everest touches is Nepal. He had read enough on the topic to reason through the answer and conclude that Nepal had the 5 highest mountain peaks. He was right.

The teacher guiding us through this process informed us that the next step would be a written test. If he scored high enough on this test, he would qualify to go on to the state competition. In over 10 years of teaching, she had never had a student make it to that level. She began one on one tutoring with him once a week. At home, we had discussions with him about how proud we were of how far he had come. We also talked about how difficult the test would be, and that no matter what happened he should be proud of himself.

Well, wouldn't you know it, we got word a few days ago that he qualified! He is going to compete against 99 other kids, two days before his 10th birthday. He will be among the youngest in the room. Very few fourth graders ever make it this far. We are so very proud, and absolutely amazed. What in the world will he become?

There is a National Geographic Bee Webpage that has daily questions from previous Bees. Today's first question is...

The Jaffna Peninsula, a region inhabited primarily by Tamils, forms the northern tip of what island country?

Do you know?
Me neither...

What am I supposed to do with a kid who is already smarter than me at 9 years old?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Deals and Steals ~ 30% Off Any Item at Old Navy

Follow THIS link to print a coupon that is good through April 4th for 30% off of ANY item at Old Navy (except gift cards). I'm not sure what I will use this for, but with two growing boys, I will find something!

Thanks Deal Seeking Mom!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"A Man Full of Grits is A Man of Peace"

What's a Grit? I will never forget the first time time that someone asked me that question. (yes, it has happened more than once) My first thought was "Bless his heart, didn't his momma ever cook breakfast for him?"

Grits are as common on a Southern table as fleas on a dog's back. Growing up, it never occurred to me that grits weren't available everywhere. Then as a young bride I left the South...and eventually went to a restaurant...and asked for grits...and got a weird look from a waitress. I should have known better when I didn't see any Waffle Houses around.

Speaking of restaurants, the other day my sister in law (in South Carolina) went to McDonalds to order the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal that I've been raving about. This was before we were aware that my area is a test-market for the stuff. When she ordered oatmeal, the lady behind the counter said, "Oatmeal? Honey, we don't even carry grits!" ~GRIN~

So, let us first ask the right question, Grasshopper. It is not, "What is a grit?" The proper question is, "What are grits?"

Grits are made from milled corn, which is boiled to soften and then traditionally seasoned with salt and butter. This dish is based on a Native American preparation of corn, making it truly American fare. But, similar dishes such as Polenta (Italy) and Fungee (Caribbean) exist around the world.

Grits have had such a deep cultural impact in my home state that the South Carolina Legislature passed a bill in 2000 to name them the official food of the state.

Whereas, throughout its history, the South has "relished its grits", making them "a symbol of its diet, its customs, its humor, and its hospitality"; and

Whereas, every community in the State of South Carolina used to be the site of a grist mill and every local economy in the State used to be dependent on its products; and

Whereas, grits has been a part of the life of every South Carolinian of whatever race, background, gender, and income; and

Whereas, grits could very well play a vital role in the future of not only this State, but also the world, if, as The Charleston News and Courier proclaimed in 1952: "An inexpensive, simple, and thoroughly digestible food, [grits] should be made popular throughout the world. Given enough of it, the inhabitants of planet Earth would have nothing to fight about. A man full of [grits] is a man of peace". Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. The 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 1-1-703. The official state food is grits."

I told you grits were a big deal!

Do you remember "My Cousin Vinny"? I love Marissa Tomei in that movie! (The edited for TV version, thank you.) I can just see her in the witness stand explaining positraction and limited slip differentials. During the trial, one of the witnesses (who is identified in the screen play as "grits cook") says, "No self-respectin' Southerner uses instant grits, I take pride in my grits."

I have to disagree, sort of. Although I'm not a huge fan of the instant variety, quick grits are perfectly acceptable. And, they cook in five minutes instead of twenty. You won't find the long cooking version outside of grits country anyway.

If you have never tried grits, give them a chance. Cheese Grits are fun too, after your grits have cooked to package directions, just throw in some Velveeta and stir to melt. But, if you really want to go all out, try my Cheese Grits Casserole recipe below. I always make it for the team that we take to Mississippi every Summer to help with continued Katrina relief.

Cheese Grits Casserole

4c. Water
1c. Quick Grits
Salt to taste
1 Stick Butter
6-8 oz. Velveeta
2 eggs

Place water, grits and salt in a large saucepan and whisk (no one likes lumpy grits). Heat just to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add margarine and cheese, stir until melted. Set aside. Beat eggs with enough milk to make 1 cup. Add egg mixture to grits and combine. Pour into an 8x8 casserole and bake at 325° for 1 hour.

Remember...eating grits will contribute to world peace. Wouldn't you love to be a part of that solution?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Running Totals ~ 10.5 Miles This Week

I told you in THIS post about the Fall Half-Marathon that my friend Denise and I are training for. The snow apocalypse kind of brought training to a screeching halt. It is nigh-on impossible to run through 4 feet of snow. And, the two-lane roads that we frequent were scraped but more like 1 1/2 lanes. So, we stopped training. Thankfully, the weather has turned gorgeous...and the snow is ALL GONE!

The first month of running is horrid, really. My lungs feel like they are gonna explode, my legs turn to jelly, I feel like a big blob... actually, I feel a lot like this guy.Yeah...did I ever tell you about the time that a buzzard (translation=vulture) circled me as I ran? I guess I looked like I was on my last leg. But, I digress...

There is a turning point somewhere between weeks 2 and 4, all of a sudden, one day I don't feel like I'm gonna pass out when I finish a run. Guess what? I had JUST gotten to that point when snowmageddon hit. So, I got to start ALL OVER again this week. Thankfully, one month off didn't do as much damage as the previous two years off did...amazing, huh?

So, after a small setback I'm back on the wagon again. Wait...there's no wagon. If there were, this whole process would be easier ~snicker~ (Yeah, I know that one was sad.)

This week I logged about 10.5 miles. (That's an estimate. I'll get more particular with it as I progress.) Considering I have to build up to running 3 miles farther in one morning than I did all week, there is a looong way to go. I'll get there, though (especially with Denise pointing out all the times I'm being a wimp). If anyone local wants to join us at the race, come on...we can encourage one another as we train. Race day is October 2nd.

*Header quote credit goes to my bud Denise...that's what she says when I'm being a wimp.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Free for the Asking ~ 14+ Available Freebies!

This has been a SWEET week for freebies in the drugstore and grocery games. The deals have just lined up amazingly, and it didn't hurt that I had $18 in catalina dollars and over $20 in Extra Care Bucks to spend from deals last week. I hardly believe all the free stuff in my pics...but my receipts confirm it all. My mailbox hasn't yielded much this week. I'm expecting a rebate that hasn't arrived...and hoping I don't have a freebie thief lurking around. I seriously doubt anyone would be brave enough to get between me and a freebie, though. ~Grin~

As always, I'll start with my freebies for the week, along with links to anything that it still available. Then, I will list the new online freebies that I've come across. Free stuff is all around us...all you have to do is ask!

Weekly Totals
Spent $36.75
Saved $224.62, 86%
Coupons Used 65
Rebates $5
Net Cost $31.75

My Freebies

Drugstore Game:
~1 Herbal Essences Shampoo (CVS)
~1 Herbal Essences Styler (CVS-use BOGO coupon in 2/7 P&G insert)
~2 Packs Stayfree Pads (Rite Aid)
~1 Pack Kotex Liners (Walmart-Watch for $1 off any Kotex coupons)
~2 Right Guard Deoderant (CVS)
~6 Degree Deodorant (CVS)
~1 Gillette Fusion Razor (CVS)
~1 Gillette Fusion Cartridge 4pk. (CVS)
~1 Skittles (Walmart-fb promo, NLA)
~1 Benadryl Liqui-gels (Rite Aid)
~1 Sudafed Tablets (Rite Aid)
~1 Neosporin Cream (Rite Aid)
~2 Cortaid Cream (Rite Aid)
~2 Full-size Visine (Rite Aid)
~2 Travel-size Visine (Walmart-$2 off any Visene in 3/14 RP insert, makes it free)
~3 Bags Hershey's Easter Candy (CVS)
~1 Johnson's Shea Butter Baby Wash (Rite Aid)

*Rite Aid and CVS deals end Saturday. For CVS deal ideas visit Southern Savers, to see the Rite Aid deal that I ran, see THIS post at For the Mommas. The Rite Aid deal also qualifies you for a $25 single check rebate from Rite Aid. If you have questions, let me know.

Grocery Game:
~5 Boxes Assorted Fruit Snacks (Safeway, NLA)
~1 Scotties Tissue (Weis-Coupon available HERE, makes it free thru Saturday)
~4 Boxes Nature Valley Granola Bars(Safeway, NLA)
~4 Bottles Coffee Mate(Weis, thru catalinas)
~5 Bottles Marie's Dressing (Safeway, NLA)
~1 Buddig Deli Cuts Lunch Meat (Safeway, use in ad coupon & $1 off in SS 1/17 or 2/7 to get these for .77 each, limit 5)(mine was free using catalina)
~3 Boxes Pillsbury Cake Mix (Safeway, use in ad coupon to get these for .69 each, limit 3)(mine was free using catalina)
~2 Bags Nature Valley Nut Clusters (Safeway, NLA)
~1 Box Digiorno 200 Calorie Pizzas (Weis)(freebie coupon, online promo, NLA)
~1 Bunch Bananas (Weis, catalina)
~1 24 oz. Velveeta (Weis, catalina)
~4 Suave 24hr Deodorants (Safeway, some stores have these 4 for $5, use THIS $3 off 2 coupon, printed twice, to get 4 free with overage)

~1 Full-Size Pantene Shampoo w/coupons (Online promo, NLA)
~$10 Box Tops Coupon Book (Available HERE)
~Mystery Gift Card to Victoria's Secret (Between $10 and $500-Free with any purchase online, or $10 purchase in store through March 31. No promo code needed, included in every order. Find details HERE, lower right side of page.)

~$5 SC Johnson Rebate (Form NLA)

Swagbucks Rewards:
~$5 Amazon Gift Card

New Online Goodies is offering a free decoder ring HERE. The "topic" on the form should say "monthly offer", I also wrote "thanks for the decoder ring" in the notes for good measure. This will be in an Easter Basket or Stocking at my house, depending on when it arrives.

~Get your free sample of Sooo Sweet sweetener HERE. This product is made from Stevia, which is a plant-based sweetener and is popular as a healthy sugar alternative.

~Join the Uno Insider's Club HERE for specials all year long, beginning with a free appetizer in your first email.

~Another great freebie from Kotex is available HERE. U by Kotex will be sending you several samples in one package.

~Choose your sample of Splenda for Coffee HERE. Flavors available are Hazelnut and's a win-win situation!

~Redbook and Profound Beauty are offering a sample of Hush Time-Out Frizz Fighting Treatment HERE. I'm not familiar with this brand, are you?

~Go HERE to try out Dove Daily Treatment Conditioner. I love having these little packets to use for travel.

~Better Oats is offering a coupon for a free full-size box of oatmeal HERE, with a catch. They ask that you cook theirs and your regular brand, try them both, and then send in an email or video with your opinion. I don't mind shooting someone an email for free oatmeal! (I expect to find these in the Health Food Section, I understand that their store locator is supposed to be up soon.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer of Saint Patrick

"Christ shield me today. Against wounding,
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me."

~St. Patrick

*image courtesy of bing

St. Patrick's Day Lunch

My oldest has been a bit obsessed with St. Patrick's Day this year. He picked out what he wanted to wear over a month ago. And, he has been reminding me a couple of times a week to make sure that "the green shirt with the storm troopers on it" is clean. I suspect that the olive green shirt he wore last year didn't cut the mustard with his classmates. There must have been a whole lot of pinching going on. So, this year I decided to surprise him with a green lunch to go with his green shirt. Green is his favorite color, too. He is gonna love this.

Today he will be having:
~Green Kool-Aid
~Lime Jello with pineapple
~Green Goldfish (From a box of Goldfish Colors.)
~These Muffins, dyed green
~Green Peeps (for dessert)

I know another mom who has a Leprechan visit her house while the kids are sleeping. He leaves all kinds of mischief, including green water in the toilet. What fun things are you doing with your kids today?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wilton Cake Decorating Works for Me!

About 10 years ago I bought a "Cake Decorating Kit" with the idea that I would learn to be a decorator. It was nothing auspicious, I just wanted to be able to make shaped character cakes and have them come out looking like the character in question.

I spent an afternoon trying diligently to make canned frosting take the shapes illustrated in the kit. I'm gonna be real honest here. My roses looked like little piles of poo. There ended my 6 hour foray into the world of cake decorating.

Fast forward 7 years. A friend was having a birthday party for her son. His first birthday party to be exact. I made a cake to match the puppy theme of the party. It was really cool on the inside (a checkerboard cake), but the outside was pretty sad. I decided to finally get professional help and tame the decorating beast.

I enrolled in a local decorating class at my community center. Although not an official Wilton class, it was based on the Wilton method and tools. I learned that you cannot use canned frosting to decorate a wonder I was getting poo-roses before. In my first class I learned proper techniques for making decorator icing, how to properly level and frost a cake, how to smooth the icing, and about all the tools of the trade. It was an 8 week class, (1 to 1 1/2 hours per week). And, the final project was, of course, a cake. The photo above is the cake that I made after 8 weeks...a definite improvement from my sad puppy cake. (I honestly tried to find a photo of that puppy cake to show you...but it appears to be buried somewhere on a cd. Trust me, it was sad.)

I then decided to take a second level course at my local Michael's craft store. Most national crafting chains now offer Wilton Classes, and they are incredibly reasonable. I think I paid $25 for 8 classes, plus the supplies. (You can use those nifty 40% off coupons that come out weekly in the sale ads for the supplies, too.) It was an investment of a little money and a little time. But, I learned so much in that short period of time. I have saved a ton of money on birthday cakes, and have been confident enough to make cakes for friends as well.

There are a couple of higher level classes that I want to take involving fondant and gum paste. I'm gonna have to carve out a little "mommy time" soon!

You can find more information about Wilton Cake Decorating classes in your area HERE. It really is a fun skill to have under your belt. And, your life is guaranteed to be free of poo-roses and sad puppy cakes ;)

*I have not been compensated in any way for this post. I'm just sharing my personal experiences and feelings about this program.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Lesson Learned from the Fire Inspector

To me, one of the intimidating parts of the adoption process has been the home inspections. It is just a little weird to have strangers come into your house and poke around, ya know? We've had several inspections by different entities. One of these was done by our local Fire Inspector.

I have to tell you that I am super vigilant with fire safety. Twice we have had our next-door neighbor's house burn (both were gutted). I've actually become a little OCD about it. One Sunday, after getting to church, I drove the 10 miles back home because I did not remember unplugging the curling iron....the one with the automatic shutoff. And yes...I had unplugged it.

I was not terribly worried about the fire inspection.

We passed with flying colors. Our only problem was that the reflective numbers on our mailbox were 1/2 inch too small....I know, seriously?

Mr. Inspector was a gem, really. He reminded me of my dad. He gave me lots of great advice. I actually enjoyed his visit. There was one nugget of information that he shared that really surprised me.

Do you know what the #1 reason for 911 calls on behalf of children is? Get is for ingesting dishwasher detergent. (At least in our area.) He said that it is some of the most caustic stuff in the house. When it comes into contact with moisture ~saliva~, it activates and causes severe chemical burns. He cautioned me to be extrememly vigilant with keeping it locked away.

I just wanted to share that with y'all. Those of us who stockpile have to be careful not only with the container we are using presently, but also with the containers that are stashed away for later. We've gotta keep those babies safe!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free For the Asking ~ 7+ Available Freebies

This is my weekly freebie post. First, I'll show you everything that I've gotten for free this week, along with the links to anything that is still available. At the bottom of the post is a list of my favorite online freebies from this week. I usually get at least one free item in the mail every's just like Christmas! Free stuff is out there, it's just a matter of looking for it!

Weekly Totals
Spent $71.53
Saved $175.50, 71%
Coupons Used 51
Rebates $15
Net Cost $56.53

My Freebies

Drugstore Game:
~3 John Frieda Shampoos (Rite Aid) (Sale, 3 for $15. Use 3-$3 off 1 coupons from 3/7SS insert, then submit receipt for $5 single check rebate to still get all 3 for $1.)
~2 Oral B Toothbrushes (CVS)
~1 Nivea Lip Care (CVS)

Grocery Game:
~Trident Layers Gum (Coupon 2/7 SS .75 off 1, Doubles at Super Fresh, free gum!)
~2 Nature Valley Nut Clusters
~3 Asstd Boxes Fruit Snacks
~4 Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal
(The deal for the last three happened at Safeway and is still available, but complicated. You have to work up a deal based on the coupons you have access to. Check out THIS post at Moneywise Moms for details. Focus on the top section including the Mix and Match Sale.)

~Zone Perfect Indulgence Bar w/coupon (facebook promo, NLA)
~Beyond the Shaker Black Lava Salt (online promo, NLA)
~$30 Home Made Simple Coupon Book (online promo, NLA)
~2 Gooseberry Patch Cook Booklets (Still available HERE)
~Spa Magazine (NLA)

Rebates Received:
~$15 Olay Regenerist

New Online Goodies

~Walmart has a sample of Lever 2000 soap HERE.

~Pureology is offering the opportunity to *win* a sample. I understand that they are nice, if you are among the chosen ~grins~. It's worth a try HERE.

~Costco is offering a sample of Huggies Snug & Dry Diapers...these will be going to a friend, for I have no need of them :)~ Get yours HERE.

~Get your free sample of Ideal sweetener HERE. I've not heard of this one, I think they are getting better...yes? no??

~Dunkin Donuts has a sample of their new Turbo coffee HERE. That should get you goin' in the mornin'!

That's it for this week Chickadees...lots of the offers this week were very short-lived. Enjoy your goodies!

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