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Hosed at the gas pump -- by your debit card

Ok all you guys. I set back and read how you guys use your credit and debit cards for gas purchases and I feel compelled to warn all of you cause I care for everyone here... we are like a big family. Family takes care of family.
On my local news Saturday they ran a story about how people use their cards and have checks bounce because the Gas Vendors freeze a huge amount of money ($50-$75) for a small purchase of gas. I searched on MSN money to see what they had to say and found this article...
Hosed at the gas pump -- by your debit card. You may have topped off with just $20 worth of unleaded, but the debit-card transaction could freeze as much as $75 in your account, sometimes for days.


Microwave Chocolate Outrage Snack Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine softened
1 1/2 cups Quaker Oats, uncooked (quick or old fashioned)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz pkg (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided

In large bowl mix butter, oats, flour, sugar, eggs, walnuts and vanilla. Beat 3 minutes on medium until light and fluffy. Stir in one cup of morsels. Spread into 8 inch square microwave safe dish. Cover with wax paper and cook on high for 4 minutes, rotate 1/4 turn and cook additional 4-5 minutes longer or until top of cake appears dry and bottom is an even color. Sprinkle remaining morsels on top, let stand for 10 minutes then spread evenly.

Weeklyl Menu Plan 2/25-3/2

Monday Beefy Enchilada Bake I cant wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe Dhunny!
Tuesday Grilled Sandwiches, Broccoli-Cheese-Rice
Wednesday Baked Pineapple Chicken Leg Quarters
Thursday Creamed Eggs and Toast Beef Cube Steak, Garlic Mashed Pot, Steamed Green Beans
Friday Baked Ziti Turkey & Swiss Panini's
Saturday Lunch: Baked Spicy Chicken Legs, Fried Green Beans Dinner: Smoked Pork Roast, Grilled Potatoes, Smoked BBQ Beans, Smoked Cabbage
Sunday Leftovers


Recent Thrift, Trash and Clearance Finds

I found this GE 4 in 1 panini press/grill-griddle at Wally World around Christmas. I had seen commercials for the Cuisinart Panini 4 in 1 griddle and wanted one but they were so pricey. When I found this one at Wally World it's price was 89.99. Still too high for this frugal mom.

Then last week I spied them on clearance for $40 at Wally World. Still a little too steep for me. They had several left so I thought maybe if I waited they would clearance them down some more.

Flew by there today and there they were! $20 Needless to say I was jumping for joy.

I order all the office supplies for the company I work for. Monday I placed an order, found a $30 off coupon for this faux suede/leather satchel when you purchase $150. The price of the bag is $30, making it FREE FOR ME! It came Wednesday.

Friday I had to take my mother for a doctors appointment. She asked me if I would run her by Good Will to exchange something she had bought. I found this A Campbells Cookbook, Cooking with soup. Its dated 1970. It has a lot of interesting recipes that I want to try. I'll post them here if they seem to be easy, good and frugal.

Last Saturday when I was waiting on hubby to get done with his meeting and I still had time to kill I stopped in to a thrift store and found these Nordic Ware microwave egg poacher and omelette maker. The poacher was .67 and the omelette maker was .37. Of course since I have laying hens and a refrigerator full of eggs, I am always looking for ways to cook them up. For a little over a buck I picked these two up and boy wonder has cooked him and a friend omelettes. Any thing to get the eggs used up and he found them fun to use.

Earlier this week when I made the peach cobbler I realized I hadnt posted these two pieces I found in the trash at work. They are Corning Ware.

I found them around Christmas time last year (2006). It really kind of bugged me cause they both were still half wrapped in gift wrap. I don't understand why anyone who recvd these as a gift would just throw them away. They even came with rubber lids!

And last but not least, I found these in the trash at work also. I was needing some new socks!

Three pairs with a different pattern. They are even knee highs! This is one perk of my job that I will miss when I leave.

Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat the 1 cup of butter until creamy, and then add the sugar, one cup at a time; beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat well. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Alternately add the flour mixture with the sour cream, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Grease a fluted/Bundt pan, then pour batter into prepared pan. Preheat oven to 300 F. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then turn oven off; leave cake in oven 5 minutes before removing. Cool on a wire rack for 5 or 10 minutes, and then remove from pan to cool completely.

Cake can be eaten plain, dusted with poweder sugar or iced.


Perfect No Fail Peach Cobbler

I was feeling extra loving yesterday and decided to fix hubby a Peach Cobbler. This is an old family recipe that my mother, cousins and I make all the time for our men. It is best served warm with ice cream or cool whip.

1/2 cup butter or marg
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup milk
1 32oz. peaches or blackberries, drained

Preheat over to 350.
Melt butter in a 9x13 baking dish/pan by placing in oven for a couple minutes. Do not get butter very hot. Just warm enough to melt.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking powder and milk. Mix well.
Pour butter over mixture while it's in the bowl. DO NOT STIR.
Here's what it will kind of look like. Yours probably wont look so brown. I found myself low on white sugar and had to use half brown sugar. Thats why the color looks a little different.

Arrange fruit in bottom of 9x13.
Pour mix in bowl over fruit. DO NOT STIR!

Bake at 350 for approx 30 minutes. Top should be set and lightly browned like a biscuit.

Mine is a caramel color due to the brown sugar I used. But it should be firm to the touch with a light crust on top. Mmmmmmm, yummy!

Serve with ice cream or cool whip.


Bisquick Mix

Our society has been geared towards QUICK, EASY, and TIME-SAVING products. The store shelves are lined with convenience foods from pancake mixes, cake mixes, salad dressing mixes to biscuit mixes. These mixes will break a budget real quick. If you stop and think about what's in them, I bet you would find everything in your pantry already. So if you are having to already buy what's in the mix, what's the use of buying it already mixed up?

Your response may be, "Well it saves me time when I prepare my family meals". Why not mix these yourself on a day when you have a little extra time, say on a Saturday or Sunday? Then they can sit and wait for you to use them just as a store bought mix would do.

Bisquick Mix can be used to make more than biscuits. It can be used to make a quick cobbler, coffee cake, cookies, and more.

I've already posted my pancake mix and here is my recipe for bisquick mix. Save yourself some money!

9 c. flour
1/3 c. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 c. butter-flavored shortening

Combine first five ingredients in a bowl, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store mix in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Makes 12 cups

To make a batch of 10 biscuits, use 3 c. baking mix and add 2/3 c. milk, stirring just until moistened. Knead dough for 10-15 strokes, then roll out and cut into 2 1/2-inch circles. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until golden.

Variations: try adding 1 tsp of Italian seasoning to the mix before you add the milk. Shredded Cheddar cheese can also be added at the end of Italian Cheese Biscuits.


Weekly Menu Plan 2/18-2/24

I've been asked several times after posting my weekly menu plan for recipes from readers. So to make it easy for you, I thought I would start linking what I'm having with the corresponding recipe if I have it posted. If there is one not linked, then I havent gotten it typed up and posted yet. You can still request it and I will get it posted as soon as possible. ENJOY!

Monday Baked Ziti
Tuesday Mixed Pepper Frittata
Wednesday Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Brocoli/cheese, Never Fail Peach Cobbler
Thursday Vegetable Stew
Friday Beefy Enchilada Bake I cant wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe Dhunny! Parents treated us to Applebee's!
Saturday Grilled Sandwiches
Sunday Pork Roast Grilled Sandwiches


The Girls Have Been Saved....

from the frying pan. They have begun to lay again. Lucky for them too! Arent their eggs pretty. They are so giving.

I actually had to buy eggs a couple of weeks ago! It was the first time I had bought eggs in 3 years. I guess they were on strike. Usually they will slow down in the colder months but not completely quit laying.

That rooster there is Jack. He was a beautiful big boy. His talons grew to be so frickin long! I've read you can cut them but by the time I found that out, it was too late. My husband and I never had a problem with him, but he took a disliking to my son and would try to attack him every time boywonder entered the chicken coop/yard. So we gave him away. We now have a different rooster and so far he has behaved. I call him Kellog cause he looks just like the rooster in the Kellogs commercials and on the box.

We didn't put a light in their coop this fall like we normally do. Maybe that had more to do with their lack of laying than anything else. I'm just glad I'm getting eggs again and the fridge is filling up. Now I need to start planning on one dinner a week using eggs like before.

This is the chicken coop my hubby built for me. Ninety percent of the material was removed from loads of construction debris that came in to where I work. The plywood, 2x4's, door, lattice, nails all were scavenged from the trash loads making it virtually free to build. I like FREE.

It won't be long before the koi fish will be waking up from their winter slumber. We will be doing some work on the koi ponds this year. I'll write a post in a few days with pics of them and their habitat and how I scavenged 90% of the stuff to build their ponds from the trash loads that come in, saving hundreds of dollars.


New Shopping Experience

I was so excited to be able to check out a new grocery store today. During baseball season my husband works a second job as an umpire in a town 35 miles from our hometown. I often go with him on Saturdays and Sundays. He had a meeting to prepare for this season today and I went with him so I could check out Hen House Market.

I arrived at 8:15am. I was well rested and ready for the day. I had all the time I wanted, no need to be in a hurry. I was skeptical about what I would find. The outside of the store is plain and a bit dated. I noticed a sign "double coupons"...everyday. YIPPPEEEEE!

As I entered the store it was like entering a totally different world. I've never been to a store such as this. Everything sparkled, everything looked new and clean, everything stocked to the brim. Even the lighting was different than grocery stores I've been in. The set up of the store is like no other I've ever seen. I grabbed their current sale flyer by the door. Prices stated with member card. So I went to the service desk and filled out the short form to receive my card.

Then off to shop. There was no choice in what direction to go. You had to start with Starbucks. hehe Yes I splurged and bought me a small White Chocolate Mocha to enjoy as I shopped.

Then it was to produce and bread. I skipped the deli. There was produce I've never heard of. Produce I've heard of but never cooked with. I finally found the Wholly Guacamole I had coupons for. $2.99ea minus $1 coupon. They had LIVING herbs also. How cool.

At the bread department I found Roma Italian Sandwich bread for $1.29 a loaf and Wonder Wheat Bread for $1.86 a loaf. Bought 2 Italian and 1 wheat.

Then came the meat department. It's Lent time and ALL the stores are having huge seafood sales. I did buy a big package of chicken legs that were reasonably priced at $3.64 for 2.62 pounds.

Heres the rest of what I bought:

6 roll Viva Paper Towels $3.36 ($6.68)
4 Betty Crocker Corn Muffin Mix .37 each
2 Campbells Beef Gravy .48 each ($1.09ea)
1 Carnation Evaported Milk .88 ($1.09ea)
2 Betty Crocker Pouch Garlic Potatoes $1.15ea used 2 .40 coupons that doubled!
2 Lil Debbie Peanut Butter Bars $1.59ea
1 Kc Masterpiece BBQ Sauce $1.50ea
1 Betty Crocker Mini Deserts $2.85ea used .50 coupon that doubled!
1 Lipton Instant Tea $2.99ea
1 Kraft Miracle Whip Quart $1.38ea ($3.29ea) Never seen it this cheap!
2 Kraft American slices $1.18ea ($2.19ea) Never seen it this cheap!
1 Mama Lup Flour Tortillas $1.95ea ($2.29ea)
2 Pillsbury Ready to Bake Valentine Cookies .50ea (2.99ea)

They also had a liquor deparment like none I've ever seen. They offer free wine chilling machines too. TOO COOL!

My total coupon savings was $3.60. My card savings was $12. I paid $35.40 for my order. My total savings for the order was 32%. Not that great, but not bad.

I was very impressed with this store and I'm glad I decided to check it out. The main thing is I now know how the store is laid out, how their coupon policy works and what to expect. I need to find out where I can get one of the coupon books pictured also. If you know someone selling them let me know. I will be able to frequent the store more this summer when I go twice a month with my husband!

Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

We've lived in our home for going on three years now and I have two kitchen cabinets that drives me nuts. They both are left blind corner cabinets. They are so dark I have to use a flashlight to see what and where things are that have been shoved back in there.

I've been doing some research on solving the problem of these two cabinets and my favorite solution is these pull out systems. You pull out the first tray...

Move it over...

and then pull out the second tray that hides way back in the depths of the cabinet...

I love this solution. BUT I hate the price I have found on them so far. $600-$700 is way out of my budget. I'm on the hunt to find a system like this for MUCH MUCH cheaper. Maybe I can find the hardware and then hubby can build the trays.

Has anyone seen anything like this anywhere, say at the big box stores, such as Home Depot or Lowes?


Unadvertised Specials You Have To Ask For

Here's parts of an article I found and read on MSN's money central.

Secret Deals You Have To Ask For

Some retailers make a big deal about accepting competitors' coupons, while others do so only quietly. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Also know that coupon expiration dates may mean something -- or they may not. Bed Bath & Beyond stores, for example, accept competitors' unexpired coupons and accept their own chain's expired coupons.

Another Your Money poster tries to extend a coupon's usefulness by recycling.

"If I feel a 'warm fuzzy' from a cashier, I will often ask for my coupon back," "jrr2k" wrote. "Works a lot. Some coupons are scanned and handed right back."

Not every great deal is heavily advertised.

Some bargains are deliberately kept off the menu, available only to those who know to ask. A company may have decided the deal wasn't profitable but doesn't want to alienate long-term customers by eliminating it.

Other times, the company's advertising priorities have changed, orphaning the discount. It's not exactly a secret, but it's easy to miss.

Others say they've had luck getting a clerk to "lend" them a coupon when they've forgotten theirs at home.

Forget your supermarket loyalty card? Bring your receipt back with you on your next shopping trip and present it along with the card to the customer-service desk or the manager. You'll get the discounts you were denied the first time around.

Also, Your Money poster "LSG7168" notes that some stores have a "correct scanning" policy.

"If your item scans at a higher price than marked on the shelf, you get the item for free as an apology," LSG7168 wrote. "The store where I used to work advertised this at first and now refunds the full price (instead of the difference between scanned and marked) only if you ask. Something as simple as 'Do I get that for free since it scanned wrong?' will work."

These are some great tips to keep in mind and find out if they will work for you!

Do you know of any you can share with me?


Postage Will Be Increasing

Postage rates will be going up in May. The cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 42 cents starting May 12, the U.S. Postal Service said Monday.

Postage rates last went up in May 2007, with a first-class stamping jumping 2 cents to the current 41-cent rate.

Under the new law, postal prices will be adjusted annually each May, the Postal Service said. Officials said they plan to give 90 days notice of future changes, twice what is required by law.

While the charge for the first ounce of a first-class letter rises to 42 cents, the price of each added ounce will remain 17 cents, so a two-ounce letter will go up a penny to 59 cents.

The cost to mail a post card will also go up a penny, to 27 cents.

Other increases set for May 12:
· Large envelope, 2 ounces, $1, up 3 cents.
· Money Orders up to $500, $1.05, unchanged.
· Certified mail, $2.70, up 5 cents.
· First-class international letter to Canada or Mexico, 72 cents, up 3 cents.
· First-class international letter to other countries, 94 cents, up 4 cents.


Savory Baked Pork Steak

Living frugally requires you to know how to cook the not so tender, not the most favorable cuts of meat.

When I married my hubby over 16 years ago I was a single mother, working two jobs and going to night school. My ex-husband didn't understand what the three letter word J-O-B meant (still dont), so therefore I never received child support. Still dont, but that's another chapter. To surrive and make ends meet, I had to learn to cook and learn to cook those cuts of meats that are usually on sale but not the best cut in the world. My hubby wasnt particularly fond of pork steak but has learned to tolerate them due to my different ways of fixing them.

Here's one of his most liked (we cant really call it a favorite, lol) most tolerated pork steaks dinners. If I use pork chops, he likes it a lot better. I have even used fried hamburgers, chuck steak and round steak.

4 pork chops or pork steak (can use boneless or bone-in)

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package brown gravy mix
1 soup can water
3 cups frozen corn (about two cans drained)
1/2 onion chopped

Dredge pork chops in flour, salt and pepper. Fry in hot skillet with 1 Tbsp. oil for 3-4 minutes per side until brown. Remove browned chops to a plate. In same skillet slightly cook the onions, scraping up any stuck on bits from the pork chops.

Baked Method: In 9 x 13 pan, mix soup, water and gravy mix well. Stir in corn. Place steaks on top. Spoon corn gravy over steaks. Top with fried onion and browned bits. (Do not pour oil from frying pan.) Cover tightly with foil and bake 1 hour on 350.

Skillet Method: Stir in the soup, dry gravy mix, and can of water. Stir in corn until all is well mixed and boiling. Place the pork chops back in the pan in the gravy. Cover with a lid or foil and reduce heat to low. Let this simmer until tender, at least 30 minutes. They can simmer longer depending on thickness of the pork chops.

Serve with rice or baked potatoes.


Quick Pancakes

Today is National Pancake Day.

Known also as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, National Pancake Day dates back several centuries to when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products… hence the name Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday.

Here's my fav recipe. What makes it my fav is that it doesnt make a lot of batter.

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 beaten egg

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let sit 5 minutes)

2 tablespoons cooking oil

Mix everything together. Pour 1/4 cup onto hot, lightly greased griddle. Turn over when top is bubbly and edges are slightly dry. Makes 8 pancakes.


CVS Shopping

I went to CVS tonite to do the excedrin deal. Get this... my cvs sells bottles of 100 for 9.99 and UP! I ended up not doing the deal, I didnt feel it was worth it.
Here's what I did though...

2 140z bags of M&M's 2/$4 minus $1 mfg off of two making them $1.50 a bag
1 Palmolive .99 no coupon
2 Ladies Mennen deo $3.98 minus .75 mfg
3 Mens Mennen deo 4.97 no coupon
1 Tylenol cold 6.99 rang up $7.29 (didnt catch until I got home) minus $1 mfg coupon

MINUS cvs email coupon $4 off $20 order
MINUS $12 extra bucks
PLUS $7 Extra Bucks

And you havent heard the best part yet. I had the assistant manager who on New Year Eve refused to take my mfg coupons, remember her? Anyway I was holding my breath, ready for WW3 if she refused to take my cvs coupon, 3 mfg coupons, and my extra bucks. First even though she scanned my card, it was not giving me sale prices, (this happened a couple of other times, they have to scan it a couple of times) then the cvs $4/20 wouldnt go through the first time, she had to re-enter it.

After it went through I handed her the mfg coupons and she began ringing them up and stated to the register and me, "now quit that, you know I will fight to get you (the register) to take those cvs coupons and I retorted (looking at the register as if it was a person like she did) AND she will fight the customer to NOT take mfg coupons! And then I looked at her with a BIG on my face. She replied, "well we got that resolved though didnt we?" as she was scanning my mfg coupons. I replied, "Looks like we did" She told me my total, I paid her and walked off laughing. Apparently her head boss, who I called and chatted with, talked with her and told her to accomodate me and my mfg coupons.....ALL OF THEM.

So now I am stocked up on deo for the next 6 months and I got it for less than buying two where I used to faithfully shop....Wally Mart.

I probably shouldnt have done it, but I couldnt help myself. I think we called a truce. Walking out I notice a sign on the door that cvs is holding a contest for their employees. For every 10 email addresses they get from customers they get $5 gift card. They are really pushing for everyone to sign up through email. I need to read it closer when I'm not laughing so hard to make sure I read it right. Anyone else that works there know what I'm talking about that I only glanced at?

Here's a picture for all you that crave a picture. It doesnt look like much BUT you have to remember I paid $3.80 out of my pocket. They gave me back $7 extra bucks to use on my next trip. The deo is $1.87 each at my Wally World. So the M&M's, Pamolive, Mens deo, and Tylenol cold was FREE compared to my old shopping habits.


Weekly Menu Plan 2/11-2/17

Monday Manwiches
Tuesday Pork Steak Pancakes
Wednesday Eggs, Sausage, Biscuits Pork Steak & Rice Casserole
Thursday Meatloaf, Baked potato, buttered corn Navy Beans
Friday Vegetable Stew Pan Fried Sirloin Steak, Baked Potato, Garlic Bread
Saturday Grilled Philly Steak & Cheese Sandwiches
Sunday Fire Roasted Chicken Legs, Mashed garlic potatoes, asparagus


Frugal Living Tip - Make Your Own Flour Tortilla Shells

Flour Tortilla Shells

* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 3/4 cup warm water

In a bowl, blend flour, salt, baking powder and shortening until it resembles fine meal.

Add warm water, a little at a time, to flour mixture and toss until liquid is incorporated. Water amount will vary with different flour types.

Form dough into a ball and kneed on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide, and make 12 smaller balls. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes.

Cooking Tortillas:
Roll each ball of dough on a floured surface to make 6 or 7 inch sized tortillas. Place on a pre-heated griddle or cast iron skillet and cook till medium golden on both sides.

Remove to a basket lined with a cloth towel or put between a towel until cool. After the tortillas have cooled completely, store them in a plastic bag. This recipe will make approximately 12 flour tortillas.

I Want One!

Surfing around the other night and look what I found on Green Mountain Mama.

I WANT ONE! Ok, I want two or three. I like the idea of not having to buy any more swiffer cloths. Trying to be frugal and reducing your waste to become a greener household is an ongoing thing at my home. I have used old wash cloths and dishtowels on my swiffer before, but I really took a liking to these and I WANT SOME. The first thing that came to my mind was to send my mother-in-law an email requesting some. She's a knitter. She is a WONDERFUL knitter. She could knit one of these up in 10 minutes. BUT since she hates me, I don't get anymore knitted goodies from her.

One of my 2008 goals is to learn how to knit. I even found a set of needles at my favorite thrift store. BUT I havent taken the time to learn yet.

I thought to myself maybe I can sew me some up. Found some patterns on line. I liked this one I found on Art Dolls

I also read that you can use old cloth diapers, flannel shirts, baby onesies, and towels to make your swiffer pads. I thought that was a very FRUGAL idea to use up old clothes, etc. if you have any around. Oh I will have a BUNCH of company T-shirts from my current job, since I wont want to wear them anymore, once I change jobs.

But I REALLY liked the knitted one, and I WANT SOME!

And then it dawned on me. You've crocheted before. You are not a VETERAN crocheter, but I bet this wouldnt be too dificult once you brush up on the basics. So I googled and found Mik Knits, Crochets & Quilts. I love the look, but she didnt give any directions for Dummies like me.

I like the fact that there is no buttons on the one you sew or crochet. I have found my crochet hooks and some yarn, so I'm going to try to make one this weekend. IF I get it accomplished I will let ya know.

Do any of you already have these? It seems I'm always the last to find out about any new craze going around. If I'm able to get this down, I think I will be making some for my mother and sisters for birthday/christmas.

Tell me what you think about them and if you have a good, easy, crochet pattern, please do share with me.


On The Hunt

Yesterday I received notice at work (along with one other woman in the office) that starting today my hours have been cut to 5 hours a day due to lack of business. This short notice makes it hard to stick by a budget. Actually it makes it hard to budget at all! It couldnt have come at a worse time.

The next few days/weeks will be spent concentrating on either finding a new full time job or a part time job to supplement this one.

I made four contacts yesterday after I got off work. I had planned on making a trip to CVS. The contacts are high profile people that come in contact with many people in a wide area on a dialy basis. So even though they didnt have any work for me, hopefully they will hear of something and let me know.

Is it wrong for me to feel angry? I have worked for this company for 8 years, I am a trust worthy, responsible, loyal employee, who doesnt miss work. I am the bookkeeper for two brothers who are partners and own two companies. Therefore they have one bookkeeper for two companies. They get two companies done for the price of one.

I'm looking at going in a different direction from bookkeeping in my job hunt. So wish me well and keep me in your prayers I find something and SOON!


Mixed Pepper Frittata

1 1/2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup diced bell pepper (red, yellow, orange)
1 cup diced onion
2 large jalapeno peppers minced
6 eggs
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup shredded jalapeno jack cheese
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350. In a 10 inch oven proof saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add bell peppers, onion, and jalapeno, tossing frequently until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread mixture evenly in pan; let cool for about 7 minutes.

In another bowl, beat eggs with cayene pepper and cheese. Stir in parsley, plus salt and pepper. Carefully pour egg mix over cooled vegetables. Place pan over medium low heat and cook until frittata sets but is not brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to oven and cook 3-4 minutes more until cooked through. Cut into wedges and serve garnished with parsley sprigs. Serve with a tangy arugula salad with citrusy dressing. Serves 6.


Do You Know Where To Find Coupons?

One of the most helpful things in becoming a grocery hound is knowing where to look for and get coupons.

In mid-november when I decided to becoome a grocery hound like other people I had read about and seen on tv I knew about a couple of resources. Since then I have learned so much more. Here is a list of resources for coupons I utilize.

1) The Sunday newspaper. You will find coupon inserts in the large metropolitan paper closest to you. You can even go to Taylor Town Coupon Preview and preview the coupons that will be coming out in the Sunday paper on Wednesday! I have found that the majority of the time this preview is correct for my area. There may be a coupon or two that will vary. (it always seems to be one I want too! lol)

2) Printables. Coupons can now be printed off the internet at a bunch of different websites. A couple of my favorites are: Coupon Loop and Super Pages The printable coupons on most websites have a limit of how many times a coupon can be printed in a certain time frame. They are updated usually once a month with new coupons. Some of the sites will even email you when they have updated and added new coupons to the database.

3) Tearpads. This is the little note pad type books of coupons you see hanging through out stores. They normally will hang on the shelf by the product or on a display in the isle. Most of the time they can be redeemed at ANY store that accepts manufacturer coupons, not just the store where you receive them.

4) Peelies. Peelies will be found directly on the product. They are the little peel off sticker coupons. They are desgned to be redeemed right then at the time of purchase. I always check the expiration date on them and if it's for a later date than the coupon I already have in hand, then the peelie does not get redeemed then.

5) Magazines. Many magazines have advertisements paid for by the manufacturer that will include a clippable coupon.

6) Blinkies. This is the little dispensing machines with the blinking light you see hanging off the shelves in stores. If it's a product that I really like and buy often, I will get at least half a dozen coupons, especially if the expiration date is decent!

7) Booklets. These are information books or brochures manufacturers print up to inform us, the consumer, about their product. To get you to try the product, they often will include coupons and rebates in the books, brochures or pamphlets. The expiration date on these are usually 6 months to a year due to the cost of printing the material up and printing of mass quantities. Look for them at your pharmacy, doctor's office, dentist office, and vet's office.

8) Home Mailers. Be sure to check that junk mail before pitching for rebates and coupons. I am the bookkeeper for two companies owned by two brothers. I get all the companies mail daily. Guess what I got in the mail the other day? A household research survey. For 10 minutes of my time I will be getting a package of coupons from them. Did you get one? You can also fill this survey out on line. Go to Household Research Survey.

9) Hang Tags. These are tags found hanging around the neck of a bottle. I have found hang tags on ketchup, mustard, salad dressing and shampoo. I've heard that the latest is hang tags on wine bottles. I've not been fortunate enough to find those.... yet!

10) Inside or on product packaging. Be sure to check your pet food bags, frozen foods, etc. I have even found them on the reverse side of labels off canned food.


The Tradition of Mardi Gras King Cakes

Sunday was my mother's birthday. Hubby cooked a huge meal and invited her and my father down to eat and watch superbowl. She showed up with her own birthday cake! lol She bought a King Cake for herself. I had never heard of King Cake and did not know any history about it. Here's what I learned.

The King Cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th century. These early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas calling it the Feast of the epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King's Day.

The main part of the celebration was the baking of a King’s Cake to honor the three Kings. The cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child, which was taken to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ Child. In these early King Cakes a bean, pea, or coin was hidden inside the cake. The person who got the hidden piece was declared King for the day or was said to have good luck in the coming year.

In Louisiana, Twelfth Night also signifies the beginning of the carnival season which ends with Mardi Gras Day. The bean, pea and the coin have been replaced by a small plastic baby to symbolize the Christ Child. The person who gets the baby is expected to carry on the carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

King Cakes are decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors; gold (for power), green (for faith) and purple (for justice).


Simple Frugal Bird Feeder

Wash an empty plastic peanut butter container or something similar.
Remove the label using hot soapy water. If you let is soak a while it will come off a lot easier.

Cut a 1 inch hole so the bottom of the hole is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches up from the bottom of the container.

Make a small hole just below the 1 inch hole, big enough for a 1/8" piece of wood dowel or twig that's 3" long. Poke the dowel/twig into the small hole and glue it in place.

Poke another small hole in the middle of the lid for the wire or string to go through. Run the string or wire through the hole in a loop and tie it off in a big not so it won't pull out.

Put the lid on the jar and there you have it, a bird feeder.


Weekly Menu Plan 2/4-2/10

Monday Leftovers
Tuesday Chicken Strips, Fries, Fried Corn on Cob
Wednesday Sanwiches
Thursday Baked Ziti
Friday Baked Pork Chop & Rice Casserole
Saturday Smoked Ribs & Chicken Thighs, Potatoes, Baked Beans
Sunday Leftovers


February is National Bird Feeding Month

In January 1994, Illinois' 10th District Congressman John Porter read a resolution in the Congressional Record making February "National Bird-Feeding Month". This observance was established because wintertime is one of the most difficult periods in much of North America for birds to survive in the wild. During the month, people are encouraged to provide food, water, and shelter to help wild birds survive.

Suet feeders attract: woodpeckers chickadees, wrens, nuthatches, cardinals doves, goldfinches

Peanut butter suet attracts: woodpeckers, juncos, goldfinches, jays, cardinals, bluebirds

House feeders (or similar feeders) with sunflower seeds attract many kinds of seedeating birds including: cardinals, finches, nuthatches, titmice, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees

Peanut feeders attract: woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice

A tube feeder (which provides a space so the smaller birds can get at the feed)with thistle (niger seed)or black sunflower seed will attract: woodpeckers, titmice, finches, nuthatches, sparrows, juncos

A tray feeder with fruit will attract: woodpeckers, starlings, bluebirds, cardinals, jays, cedar waxings, mockingbirds

Platform feeders with sunflower seed attract: cardinals, nuthatches, mourning doves, woodpeckers, purple finches, titmice, house finches, chickadees, song sparrows, goldfinches, evening grosbeaks, jays, white-throated sparrows

They also attract other seed-eating birds in the neighborhood, including crossbills, pine siskins, and white-crowned sparrows, which are more unusual birds to find at your feeders.

Different species of birds will feed together at a platform feeder, although the larger birds such as blue jays and cardinals may chase the smaller chickadees and

Providing several types of feeders should suffice to keep your birds well-fed. Removing perches from tube feeders means only those birds that can cling - such as finches, chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers - can feed.

If you don’t want to buy feeders, you can make your own. You can also make inexpensive feeders by cutting out the sides of plastic jugs and bottles and using them for feeders. I'll post a couple of real quick and easy ones you can make this coming week. Remember the feeders should be durable and easy to clean.

What’s for Dinner? The kind of banquet you offer the birds determines what kinds of birds you get. As a general rule, black oil sunflower seeds are the preference of birds that visit tube and platform feeders.


January 2008 Grocery Totals

I added up my January grocery receipts. Here’s how it went:
I buy for a family of 3. Try to keep to $100 per week. January had 4 paydays for us, so it was a $400 month on budget.

I shopped 6 stores, purchasing 194 items that retailed for $522.40. By purchasing items on sale I saved 116.01 off retail total. Then I used 80 coupons for another $130.76 savings, bringing my out of pocket to $275.63. That’s a 47% savings overall. WHAHOOOOO!

Using the coupons, I recvd approximately 30 items for FREE. My free item count could be higher if you added in cvs free stuff but I figure I had to spend money to get that free and it's truly not FREE.

CVS $205.55 retail-62.74 (sale discount)-78.15(coupons)=64.66oop
Country Mart $12.07 retail-2.62 (sale discount)-0(coupons)=9.45oop
Dollar General $23.57 retail-NONE (sale discount)-1.10(coupons)=22.47oop
Apple Market $58.16 retail-15.36 (sale discount)-3.20(coupons)=39.60oop
Price Chopper $102.18 retail-35.29 (sale discount)-8.36(coupons)=58.53oop
Wal - Mart $120.87 retail-NONE (sale discount)-39.95(coupons)=80.92oop

I will be concentrating on how to use more coupons at Wally World and Price Chopper to get my out of pocket down.

Do you have any suggestions on this?