Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Harvest Bread

Basing this recipe on a classic banana nut bread recipe, this delicious creation consists of pumpkin, bananas, cranberries, nuts and spices. It's the perfect, not too sweet, go-to recipe for fall.

Bring a loaf of Fall Harvest Bread to your family brunch, an office pot luck, or make a few for a bake sale for your community's fall festival. It's sure to be a tremendous hit for those you share it with! Just make sure to keep one for yourself and your family to enjoy on a cool, crisp fall afternoon. Nothing beats a slice of Fall Harvest Bread with a little spread of butter, along with a hot cup of coffee!

This bread has become a tradition in our home during the fall season, and I hope it will be the same for you! I'm glad to share it with you!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 heaping cup canned pumpkin
2 medium (about one cup) ripe bananas, mashed
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8x4-inch loaf pans, set aside.

Toast pecans in 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside.

Prepare bread mix by combining sugar, butter, and eggs in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until mixture is creamy. Add pumpkin and mashed bananas, continue beating until well mixed (mixture may have a slightly lumpy or curdled appearance). Reduce speed to low, add all remaining ingredients except pecans and dried cranberries. Bet until well mixed. Stir in toasted pecans and dried cranberries.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool for 5 minutes in pans. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Let me know how you like this recipe by commenting below. ;)



Monkey see, monkey do.

One of the many things I've noticed and have become quite fond of, is the way that Guy admires Kay. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I've heard. And it shows throw him and the way he mimics the things he sees his sister do. From dancing just like her, to being helpful, to trying his darnedest to play with the same toy that she has just because she has it.

And just last night, I realized how early the "monkey see, monkey do" had started:

Due to pre-eclampsia, Kay was born via c-section at 35 weeks and 4 days gestation. When I was pregnant with Guy, his due date was just three days before her 1st birthday. But apparently, that was too long for my little guy to wait to meet his big sister. So with Guy, due to pre-term labor, he was born via c-section at 35 weeks and 4 days gestation...just like his big sister.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spiced Apple Marble Pound Cake

October is National Apple Month! And what better way to celebrate than with a delicious and decadent apple cake recipe? The aroma from this cake is so enticing! And the taste? Amazing!

Here's an easy version of a homemade creation, Spiced Apple Marble Pound Cake. The homemade version is still under wraps in hopes that I will be able to use it someday when I open my own bakery. ;) I find that simplifying a recipe by incorporating boxed mixes makes a homemade treat that much more spectacular with a little less clean up and a few less steps to follow--less measuring and less ingredients too! This recipe makes two 8x4 loaves of cake. One for yourself and one to give to a friend or neighbor.

**Disclosure: I have a hard time properly "marbeling" at times and I apologize that this picture is not the best example. It still tastes amazing. Hopefully you will have better luck with getting a prettier marble effect.

Recipe for Spiced Apple Marble Pound Cake

Ingredients:
For cream cheese filling:
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For cake batter:
1 box Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix
1 (3.5oz) box instant vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups peeled, cored and finely chopped Gala apples (approx 5-6 apples)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare cream cheese filling by creaming together the softened cream cheese and butter. Add flour, sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Beat together until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

Spread chopped pecans in shallow baking pan and toast in oven for 8-10 minutes.

Prepare cake batter by mixing first five ingredients of cake batter. Mix until there are no lumps in the batter. Add toasted chopped pecans and chopped apples. Stir with spoon until well blended.

Grease and flour two 8x4-inch loaf pans. Distribute half of the batter between the two pans. Spoon cream cheese filling over apple cake batter, careful not to let the filling reach the edges of the pan. Swirl filling through apple cake batter using a knife. Pour remaining mixture evenly in each pan over the cream cheese mixture.

Bake cakes in 350 degree oven for one hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.

Enjoy this fabulous fall recipe with a delicious cup of coffee and your favorite person. ;)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Tetrazzini


Ever have one of those days where you just want to curl up in a blanket and have a nice bowl of a comforting warm meal? It seems like the best comfort foods come from a bowl, am I right? Soup, ice cream, and now you can add this dish to the list!

This is a great stockpile recipe, if you happen to be a couponer. If you're not a couponer, it's still a pretty awesome recipe with easy to find ingredients, you may already have them on hand. Easy, cheesy, creamy and dreamy!



Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups pasta*, cooked and drained (I used Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta which is why you see a bit of green in the dish)
2-3 chicken breast, cooked, cut into pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup milk
2 cups (one bag) shredded cheddar cheese or cheddar blend-divided
ground pepper
paprika
dried basil

*Most tetrazzini calls for a stringy pasta, but I used rotini noodles because it's more toddler friendly, to me anyway.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil pasta until tender, drain. Cook chicken completely then cut into pieces. Combine pasta, chicken, cream of chicken soup, 1 cup shredded cheese, sour cream, milk, and a dash of black pepper to taste in a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture into 11x7 baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese, topped with a sprinkle of paprika and dried basil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow a little time to cool.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Latest Accomplishments

Please and Thank you
I've gotten Kay in the habit of saying "please" and "Thank you". It's so awesome the way she says "pwease?" and "tank-oo Mama"! The only little problem is, she thinks she can get everything with the power of please. And, to me, that's part of learning manners and respect. Accepting the "no" from Mommy and continue to use her manners anyway.

Guy even has his way of saying thank you. When I hand him his milk or something he wants, he says, "Mmmamaaa" in his sweet, raspy little voice.

Big girl bed
Kay has graduated from her crib to a twin bed. :'( It was quite an emotional feat for myself and Eric. To see her jumping up and down, smiling sitting on her new bed and flipping through all of her "bookies", at the same time Eric was taking her crib apart and I leaned all of the pieces against the wall.

She is in love with her new room, we rearranged a bit to move her bed to an inside wall, it seems safer to me that way. I even put a growth chart up in her and Guy's room. Guy of course wouldn't sit still for me to measure his height. But, while I had Eric in Kay's room with me, I let him help with getting her measured. She is almost 3 feet tall!!! She has grown so much to where sometimes I swear she grows an inch or two over night. Seriously, I go in her room to get her up in the mornings and she seems taller than she was when she went to bed the night before! Haha!

I even got these stick-peel and re-stick alphabet wall decals for the kids' rooms (pic to come, I'm too tired to upload pics, sorry). To me, they compliment the fun style that I try to emanate throughout their rooms. These I found at Target and were on sale. I got them with the growth charts and received free shipping!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Odds & Ends

I'm not too sure of a more proper post title for all the randomness that is about to take place here. "Odds & Ends" is what came to mind first, so here goes...
Kay will be graduating to a big-girl bed very soon! Mommy is getting tired of hoisting her over the crib rail so it's time to move on and let go of one of the last pieces of her babyhood.
We opted to skip the toddler bed and go straight into a twin size bed. I figured it would be pointless to get a toddler bed (since her crib doesn't convert) just to get a twin size bed in another year or two.
So, we purchased this adorable little twin bed from Pottery Barn Kids! We purchased it this past Friday and it just came in today! The great thing is, we got it on sale for $200 off and free shipping!!!


We also purchased PBK bedding for her new bed, although it was discontinued. I had my eye on this particular bedding for a little while, then by the time we had enough saved up to by the bed and bedding, it was discontinued. This is where my good friend, eBay, comes in!


I was able to find the bedding (twin quilt, and matching pillow sham) at almost half the price it would have been had PBK still had it in stock! I did get the turtle sheets from PBK as they were also on sale in the clearance category. We got an extra twin sheet set while at Target last week, so now all we need is a mattress and 2-3 mattress covers. I'm hoping the money saved will cover most, if not all of the cost of a mattress. Hopefully we'll find a good one on sale!

Guy got his first black eye today. He has had a pastime of whopping his head against random objects. Seriously, he swings his head around like a giraffe does sometimes. Have you ever seen giraffes do that?

Anyway, he was slinging his head around something fierce today and smacked right into the corner of the laptop that was on the seat of the couch. He cried for less than a minute because I scooped him up and kissed on him, gave him his Scentsy frog and he forgot all about his injury. It wasn't until he got up from his nap it started getting puffy, red and starting to bruise under his eye. It seemed like it had gone down just before bedtime so hopefully it will be gone by the weekend if not by tomorrow?

Guy has also become quite the expert on walking backwards. It's pretty strange because he still loses his footing from time to time and trips when he's walking forward. But, sometimes, he'll come out of nowhere, walking backwards like he's been doing it all his life, almost as if he's on rewind. He's also picked up speed as of lately when it comes to walking, he's practically running! I can't help but wonder if his feet are even touching the ground sometimes as briskly as he makes his way down the hallway. Haha

Happy Hump Day everybody!



Monday, August 8, 2011

Apron Sale!


As if I need another one...

Flirty Aprons is having a sale on select aprons in stock! I picked up this sexy little number and entered the coupon code SUGAR50 before checking out and it knocked off 50% along with the sale price!!!
I only paid 13.97 + shipping! :)

Had to share! Check it out for yourself. I'm not sure how long the coupon code will be good for, but if you're able to take advantage of it, let me know what you get!

Edited to add: My friend Jacy pointed out a little detail that I left out, that the coupon code only works on the apron pictured above. Other aprons are marked down for the sale. Thanks Jacy!!!




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thankful Thursday


An idea I borrowed from my dear friend and fellow blogging mama, Christina! On a day (or week) when it seems like so many things go haywire, it helps to look at the silver lining and be thankful.

1. I'm thankful that I can stay home with my kids. This time is short, it's trying on my patience, sometimes sticky and gross; but it's short... and beautiful. Once it's gone and they're grown up, there's no getting this time back.

2. Although I complain from time to time about how small our house is, I'm glad we have it. It's good shelter, in a safe neighborhood. I'm sure if I were to get around to cleaning and reorganizing like I would like to, the house would seem a little bit roomier. Time to make that happen.

3. I'm thankful that we have no credit card debt. I straight up recommend Dave Ramsey for anyone looking to becoming debt free.

3. Yesterday, my friend Kely, the kids, and I made an afternoon date and went to Target. I'm proud to say that Kay conquered her fears and walked around the store with us the entire time. Kay has shown signs of anxiety when going outside and into public places by not wanting to walk around on her own. She had what seemed like a panic attack in the middle of our driveway one afternoon when I tried to get her to hold my hand and walk to the front door from our vehicle. Something scares her about walking outside to where she literally gets under me in a panic, pulling at me as if she could climb me like a tree. I'm pretty sure Eric's car is what scares her...
I'm thankful that my little girl took one little baby step toward conquering her fears while we were at Target. And I am equally thankful for Kely spending her time with us that day and always giving me a hand when I need it.

4. Lightning struck our house today and fried our router, knocking out the internet.
Heavy rain had come out of nowhere and it poured for a few minutes, thundering from time to time. All of the sudden a bright light flashed through all the windows and we heard a loud POP! K and D looked at me as if to say, "What was that Mommy?". And I instantly shot up to make sure there wasn't a fallen tree or damage anywhere, made a call to Eric because he was still at work.
Everything was fine and we are okay! I am totally thankful for the fact that, even though I really wanted the internet at that time, that was all that it had took from us. No fire, no trees falling on top of the house, just a cooked router. I'm also thankful for my tech-savvy hubby, he got the internet back up for me even though the router is no good. We are now able to resume regular internet activity

5. I'm thankful for both my kids and their personalities. Comparatively, they are like night and day, but it works for us. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm glad Kay is the gorgeous, sweet, nurturing, free spirited little girl that I've always dreamed of. And I am thankful that Guy is the handsome, logical, rough and tumble little man that I'd always dreamed of having. Both are humorous and fun-loving, both make me so proud. Even though the few months between their arrivals wasn't exactly planned out, I wouldn't go back to change it for anything. God heard my prayers for twins (while I was pregnant with Kay), yet he gave me one child at a time--in less than a year! I think that was God's way of saying "Here ya go Tracy, humor me." So thankful that my kids are mine and most of all that they are happy, healthy and cared for.

6. I am very thankful for my hard working, loving and faithful husband. He goes through it all each day while he's at work. Then once he gets home, it's round 2. He is the best father, husband and friend. I am so glad to have a family with him, as well as the opportunity that he has given me to be an at-home mom because of all of his hard work. God has blessed us to share our lives with one another and to bring two beautiful children into the world to share their lives with us. I'm thankful to have my family with Eric and my trust in him as my husband. And I am beyond thankful to have my faith and trust in God to bring us together and keep us together as a loving family. "We may not have it all together, but together we have it all."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mama Cookoo!!

Lately, whenever I go into the kitchen to make dinner or bake a tasty treat, Kay will announce to the entire house, "Mama cookoo!", in other words, "Mama's cooking!". And, yeah... Mama is pretty cuckoo too!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Georgia Peach Cobbler


The perfect summertime delight! This dessert will be great to serve at your next cookout or barbecue!

Ingredients
6-8 ripe Georgia peaches, sliced
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. self rising flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 sticks of butter, melted
2 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 13x9 baking dish. Layer sliced peaches along the bottom of the pan. Mix remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture evenly over peaches. If desired, sprinkle the top with a little bit of ground cinnamon. Bake for 40-45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Serve while warm. Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped topping if desired. Watch it disappear right before your eyes!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh the drama!!!

I've been quite busy lately. These days, now that I no longer have two-under-two, things have been quite frantic. I'm always getting up from one thing to do another while having Guy demand for more milk or Kay follow me around to show me something.
Hands are EVERYWHERE NOW!!! Oh my gosh, I don't know what we're going to do. First of all, it would help to not have so much clutter around the house. We've accumulated so much stuff. And everything that we use from day to day gets left out to where we can easily access it, the problem is, the kids can easily get their hands on it as well.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention that our house is getting smaller and smaller by the day. Some days I feel like the walls are closing in on me! I'd love to have more room around here, I would have loved to have gotten a larger (more spacious) home before we cranked out two kids instantly. But, hey, life happens I guess. I'm more thankful for the fact that we don't have dirt floors and a one room home. My "Scentsy office" is a whole bunch of my product and supplies semi-neatly arranged in a small corner behind our couch. It's kind of humorous because I arranged it to where the things I use more are at the top, more accessible. But there's always something that makes it's way to the bottom, and that's when I have to dig or take my Scentsy tower apart then put it all back together. I'd love to have an actual office. I thought about getting Kay and Guy to room together for us to turn Guy's room into a home office/playroom (giving us our dining room back as well). But, I can't even get around to doing laundry, let alone move two toddlers into the same room.

Updates:
Guy starting walking finally!!!! The boy I thought would be forever crawling would never take two steps on his own. Until the last Monday in June, he walked all the way across the living room without any help or bribery. He's so independent, I don't even think he cared if I was watching him or not. But I did, and I waited until he got to his destination (the entertainment center) to clap and cheer for him and give him a big hug. He looked at me as if "What?" He wasn't concerned about how impressed I was, he did it for himself. Since then, he's been stomping through this house regularly, crawling less and less. These days, he barely crawls at all unless he's playing on the floor with a few of his toys.

Kay has been potty training since the beginning of the month. She has been doing quite well with the pee-pees but we're still working on getting the number-twos in the potty instead of in the pull-up. We trained her by putting panties on her, after she wet herself a few times the first day, she got the idea that that is not a desirable situation to be in. We would consistently "rush" her to the potty even after she had an accident so she would get the idea of "this is where I need to go". She got a little confused around day two and day three. I think she thought that she wasn't suppose to go at all. We wouldn't ever punish her for wetting herself, but somehow she got the impression that it was a bad thing to do. So, day four, we stayed in the bathroom the better part of the day and made it fun for her. We put a hat on her, stickers, sang songs, I re-wrote some of the words from a Yo Gabba Gabba song to make it pertain to the potty. Finally, after I got off the phone with a client who booked a party, Kay made her first pee-pee in the potty!!!! She has been doing great ever since! We reward her each time for going with one m&m and one sticker. Lately, it's come so natural for her to go when she needs to, sometimes she'll forget to collect her reward. Other times, she'll call my bluff and bring me back there to watch her go pee-pee. She'll sit on the potty (not pee) then start clapping and say "Yay Kay!". When she realizes I catch on to her little scheme she gets disgruntled then goes back to doing her thing, Lol. We only put pull-ups on her during naps and bed-time, also when we go out. Since we're such homebodies, she does great with using the potty at home. Public restrooms petrify her though, so I'm not going to push it on her while we are out unless we were to be at a friend or relative's home. I trust that she knows what to do still, if she wanted to use the potty while we were out, I would give her the chance to. But I'm not going to get upset with her if she changed her mind or got scared to go into a big, loud stall.

Kay has also become quite the drama queen lately. My once laid-back sweetheart has become a feisty little diva, taking toys from Guy, freaking out and overreacting about every little thing. Oh Lord, the life of a two-year-old! Will we ever have this figured out? Maybe by the time she's 13, then that's a whole other phase right there!

Everyone have a great week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

If I didn't have to sleep, I think I'd be alright

This month has been jam-packed with activity for our family, and for myself with my Scentsy business. I am in the home stretch of my 70 day launch program with Scentsy, and have been doing as much as I can, when I can, to focus on and promote my business. Hopefully after June 26th, you will be seeing more regular posts from me, for those of you that check in on my blog regularly.

And as for my post title? It's the truth. If sleep wasn't needed, I would be able to accomplish so much and meet all the demands that come with being a wife, mother and human being. I've let a lot go these past few weeks; lost focus, lost weight, I'm even losing my hair.

We've got a lot of catching up to do my friends. I feel ashamed, guilty, and sometimes like a bad mommy for not documenting the events and happenings that have taken place here along the way.

Wish me luck this week as I hope to meet my deadline with the accomplishments needed to earn an award. Thank you to those of you that have shown support and interest in my Scentsy business. It's gotten off to a fantastic start and I really hope to keep rolling with it! I truly couldn't have made it this far without you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Couponing: Scouting out deals


First, I'd like to share my savings experience I had tonight at Wal-Mart. Total before coupons: $91.94, and total AFTER coupons: $57.16! That's a savings of 38%!!! Woohoo!

Breakdown:
6 (2 3-packs) Mach3 razors
3 (1 3-pack) Venus razors
8 (various brands) boxes/packs panty liners
2 Gillette deodorants (bogo free!)
1 Gillette body wash
2 (1 twin pack) Mr. Clean magic erasers
1 bottle Mr. Clean mopping formula
2 (twin pack) Lysol wipes
4 (3 bottles liquid, 1 box powder) laundry detergent
22 (various brands) cans of cat food (2 of them were bogo free!)
1 bag of dry cat food
2 bags of Gerber fruit and veggie melts


I made tonight my non-grocery items night (even though there is mustard and Gerber melts pictured with my loot). I had a Lysol wipes coupons that expired today so I really wanted to make sure to use it with the fact that they were marked down at our local store. Although, we won't be using some of these items right away, I saved on a lot of the things that will be used at some point. Until then, I am in the process of cleaning out the laundry room shelves to make room for a stockpile.
The mustard was on sale at Dollar General for $1 each and I had two $.30 off coupons I used for that. While I was at Dollar General, I began scouting for the things I was set out to buy. I took note of most items and compared them to the prices of the same items at Wal-Mart. An example is Kotex pads and tampons were $3 a pack/box at Dollar General but at Wal-Mart they were $4.57. So, my "buy 2 get $1 off Kotex pads/tampons" would have been best used at Dollar General. Finding the lowest prices on items is the best way to make your couponing worth while.
Another great tip is when a coupon states "Any size", buy the smallest size available. An example of this is the panty liners. I had 5 $1 off U by Kotex brand liners. A mid sized box of liners was $3.81, but the smallest box was only $1.24. After my 5 coupons, I spent only $1.20 on five small boxes of liners instead of using my coupons on the mid sized box and spending $14.05.
Tomorrow evening I'll be taking care of the grocery purchases. I've held on to the store adds from the Sunday paper so I know what to buy and where if I find something that pertains to my coupons. Wish me luck!



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Double Bean Chili

A great way to make a meal stretch is by incorporating pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes, especially for stews, soups and meat dishes like pot roast. Whenever I make my Double Bean Chili I like to cook ditalini pasta noodles (a very toddler friendly pasta!) to make it more filling and to make the chili "stretch" a little further. Also, if you like to stockpile prepared meals, chili is very freezer friendly. Simply freeze chili in a ice cube tray then transfer frozen cubes to a freezer safe container and store in your freezer. That way, you don't have to chisel through a large hunk of frozen chili for just a few helpings.

Recipe for Double Bean Chili:
Ingredients:

1 package McCormick Chili Seasoning
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, undrained
1 (15oz) can black beans, undrained
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:
Brown meat in large pot or Dutch oven. Drain fat and return to pot. Stir in Seasoning mix and cocoa powder, mix. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans and black beans, stir well. Bring to boil, cover. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with toppings like sour cream or shredded cheese if desired. Goes great atop cooked pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. Great for chili cheese hot dogs or chili cheese fries--yum!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My bad...

Just in case you read my post: My First Shot at Extreme Couponing I stated that I saved $12.44. Turns out that was just with my Kroger Plus card. My total savings including the Plus card AND coupons was $33.66!!!! Wooohoo! I'm so glad I looked back over my receipt because saving just $12 kinda depressed me. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed. But when I saw that it was just Plus card savings my spirits lifted! Go me! Yay for coupons!





Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mama's Crazy Nachos

A yummy, super easy recipe you can make for a quick dinner, a weekend lunch, or a party. These nachos are especially great for game night, or in our house, UFC night!


Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1 packet Old El Paso (or McCormick) taco seasoning
 2/3 cup water*
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese, or cheddar blend
1 regular size bag Nacho Cheese Doritos

*amount of water needed may differ between brands of taco seasoning

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef in a large skillet until no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet. Add taco seasoning and water, keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes. In a 13x9 inch baking dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray, pour Doritos in baking dish. Layer seasoned ground beef and black beans on top and sprinkle with shredded cheese. You can use as much cheese as you'd like. Me? I like to dump the whole bag on there to make it really cheesy. Bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy. Top it off with sour cream, green onion, diced tomatoes or salsa.



My first shot at Extreme Couponing

It's definitely not as impressive as I thought it would be, but it's a start. What would probably have cost me well over $120 at Wal-Mart (where I usually shop), only cost me $94.94 at Kroger with coupons combined with sale items. This total includes 3 boxes of Hamburger Helper (on sale: 10 for $10, I got three with a $.75 off of 3 coupon so I spent $2.25 for the three boxes), 2 FREE boxes of cake mix (one coupon for a free box I got for a defective item and another coupon for a free box with purchase of a frosting), 4lbs of ground beef for only $9.30, six cups of Yoplait yogurt ($.40 off), 2 gallons of milk, 2 packages of Pillsbury cookie dough (sale: 10 for $10, I got 2 for only 45 cents each with my two $.55 off coupons!), Cat litter ($1 off), 12 pack of canned cat food ($1 off), frozen chicken breasts ($1 off), 2 boxes of pasta for $1.28 (on sale for $1.19 each, I used two $.55 off coupons w/ purchase of brand marinara sauce), 2 jars of marinara sauce $3.75 (with $.75 off coupon), and a FREE 40oz jar of peanut butter, amongst other items I didn't have coupons for. I got away with over a weeks worth of groceries while spending less than I would have in a normal week. My receipt said I saved $12.44, but I know a shopping trip like this would have cost me well over $120 at Wal-mart, where I used to always shop simply for the convenience. But, like I said, it's a start. I only hope (and pray) I can get better at it and get my laundry room shelves cleared out for stockpiling purposes.
I watch Extreme Couponing from time to time and I can't help but feel stupid whenever I see some of the folks get $600 worth of groceries for free! I'm on a mission to at least cut our grocery bill in half once I am able to really figure out a couponing strategy. That would be incredibly helpful for us. Wish me luck! And pray for me!



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Kaylan!

A Happy (belated) Birthday blog post for my Kaylan!


We had a wonderful Saturday with beautiful weather--thank goodness! This time around, unlike for Dylan's party, we were able to hold the party outside at the outdoor dining complex at our local cafe. My friend, Kely, tagged along with me early that afternoon to help with getting balloons blown up and getting the area decorated and the food prepared. I was able to get a 100ft roll of paper at an educational supply store in Savannah so we used that as our tablecloths and we sprinkled crayons throughout each table for guest to color, write their birthday messages for Kaylan, etc. As soon as Eric got to the party with the kids, Kaylan went straight for my party tote bag (a Thirty-One large utility tote) and fished out a box of crayons! She's got an eagle eye for crayons! And to incorporate the "picnic" part of our "coloring picnic" themed birthday party, I purchased gingham print paper plates, cups and napkins online from the United States Flag Store.
We had much fewer guest for Kaylan's party than we did with Dylan's party. It was a busy weekend for quite a few of our friends with Mothers Day, a few of our friends have been sick or have sick children at the moment, along with the fact that a lot of other activities were going on during the same weekend as we had planned her party, Prom being one of them. But, with fewer people, it allowed me the opportunity to not be so stressed, it offered Eric and I the ability to spend time with the small group of family and friends that were there and tend to the babies better. It was more intimate, so to speak.
Kaylan enjoyed walking around, going from Gammy to Mommy to Daddy to Aunt Mer to her cousin and so on. She definitely made her rounds during the party, greeting her guests and adoring fans, hehe! We had cupcakes for our guests, decorated to look like crayons, and Kaylan's cake was in the shape of a crayon, frosted in pink frosting and had "KAYLAN" on it instead of the usual "CRAYOLA".



Overall the party was a success and I hope more than anything that my little girl had a great time and enjoyed every minute of it.
For the next couple years, we will be planning one combined birthday party for Kaylan and Dylan, just until their the age to where they express their desire to have their "own" party with their own friends.
I would like to thank everyone who came out for the party (some who came a lot further than others)! And those who weren't able to make it, thank you for the birthday wishes for Kaylan! She had a wonderful day :)

Mother's Day today was pretty chill, thank goodness. Nothing extravagant which also means nothing for me to have to clean up after. Eric got up with the babies this morning and let me sleep in an extra 30 minutes! Woohoo! He finally brought them in the room and tossed them on the bed with me and said "Happy Mothers Day Mommy!!!" It was sweet, even though I could have continued to sleep, haha! I even got a card each from Eric, Kaylan and Dylan. Oh! And I can't forget to mention the yummy Mothers Day Georgetown cupcakes I received Thursday--as a surprise! They're gone now! I think every Sunday should be Mothers Day! :)

Happy Mother's Day to all the true Moms out there! You are all awesome in my book! And I hope to get more awesome as I go!



Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter, Happy Anniversary, Scentsy and NO MORE PACI

Whew! It really never fails, we always tend to cram as much as we possibly can into one weekend, even when we never really try to do so.

Thursday, Eric, the kids and I went to our favorite pizzeria, Paulie's Coal Fired Pizza. Their pizza is amazing, all fresh ingredients made to order. The last time we were there was for Eric's birthday dinner. Kaylan decided to be the one to act up then, but this time Dylan took it upon himself to be the one to fuss constantly. He was okay as long as he was eating/drinking something, but he didn't really want much to do with the offering of pizza. We had to make do with the corn puff snacks and a Nutri-grain bar I had in my purse and he still fussed after eating that. He drank his milk from his sippy cup (we finally got him to drink from a sippy cup last Monday!) but he hasn't yet gotten the hang of holding it while tilting back to drink. I think some straw sippys are in our future! Dylan doesn't "sip" from the sippy cup either, he wants to take the whole thing down like it's a bottle still. That's what he gets upset about most, is that I won't let him drink all of his milk at once. I don't want him getting all his calories from drinking milk and I definitely don't like the idea of him "filling up" on milk before really getting enough food in his stomach. Overall, the dinner went well, nobody was hurt, we weren't kicked out of the restaurant, and we had a very wonderful (very quick) meal with each other. I took D to the restroom to wash him up after eating and he got a kick out of the full length mirror they had in the restroom. I held him up to the sink to wash his hands and he cracked up laughing. I'm thinking, "Why couldn't you be in this good of a mood at the table?". Little stinker. I think he just doesn't like sitting in one spot for very long at all. He likes to move around and explore, and you can't really let a one year old do that in a restaurant, especially if he's still crawling.

Friday, I got my Scentsy starter kit in the mail!!!! Woohoo! I know I haven't made an "official" post about that but yeah, I'm now an independent consultant for Scentsy wickless candles! It's very exciting and fun. I'm really looking forward to what it has to offer, just hope my friends don't mind me bugging them about it. It's really a lot of fun to share because of all the different styles and fragrances. Everyone wants their house to smell good, right? What's great is that with Scentsy, there are no open flames, the burner uses a 25 watt light bulb to heat the wax, and the wax is a food-safe petroleum-based wax. In other words, it's the same wax that's coated on apples you find at the grocery store to give them their shine. When burning traditional candles, there are dangerous chemicals and toxins released into the air not only from the wax, but from the wick, and the smoke. The fact that Scentsy Wickless doesn't use open flame or chemically loaded waxes, it's a lot safer for use around children and pets. After all, accidents do happen.
By the way, I do have an open party available for Mothers Day shopping. You can place your order now and have it ship directly to you once your order is processed--you don't have to wait til the party closes, which is on April 30th. Check out my Scentsy page by clicking here or my Scentsy badge on the right. I also have a Facebook page set up for my Scentsy business where I'll be sharing news on products, deals and specials, and even a few giveaways once I get the business off to the right start. Please check it out!

Also on Friday, Eric and I came to the decision to take the paci away from Kaylan. She has been incredibly obsessed with having a paci at all times. At one time we limited it to nap and bed time, but she would always have her way of finding it and hiding it from us so she would still have it and we wouldn't be able to take it from her. She also liked to have her paci in her mouth, steal Dylan's paci from him and rub her nose with his paci. To me, it just seemed as though the paci made her lazy in a way, that's all she wanted was to have her paci. But what really concerned me enough to take action was the way her teeth were growing in. I think I may have addressed her uneven teeth growth in a previous post, but just in case you don't remember, her front top and her front bottom are wop-sided. Her teeth on the left (top and bottom) are fully through, while on the right top and bottom are only halfway through. The bottom right teeth are even shifting over to the left. The light bulb finally went off and I realized, she's biting down on her paci on that particular side of her mouth. And she must be biting pretty hard for it to affect the full growth of her teeth. So, Friday night, after a visit at my mom's house (she and my step-dad had the babes for a couple hours so Eric and I could meet up with our friends for dinner--Thanks Gammy and Papa Joe!) we suddenly "couldn't find it" and I told Kaylan that the doggies must have gotten it and eaten it. There may be a chance that Kaylan develops an aggression against Pomeranian now, lol. The first night and the next day's nap was the worst for us, as far as allowing her to CIO to get herself to sleep. Amazingly she never puked at one point, that's her defense mechanism, and if she's upset enough she will use it. It wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be, I was prepared for the worst, thinking I would have to go to her room all throughout the night to help sooth her. But, she's done very well at soothing herself which is something that she's never really had a chance to do. She doesn't get up throughout the night anymore like she used to before, which is great. She woke up fussing early this morning but settled back down a couple minutes later. And as far as Dylan's paci, we have officially limited his to his crib and it is not to leave the crib for any reason. All because we don't want Kaylan to get a hold of it and take to using his paci. D isn't too crazy about the change, but we don't want him to develop the same dependency on his paci the way Kaylan did with hers. I suppose by 15 or 18 months at the latest we will take his paci away completely.

Sunday was a very special day for our family! It was the kids' second Easter, which is a very special and rejoiceful day in itself. But Sunday, the twenty fourth of April, 2011 was my and Eric's 7-year wedding anniversary. Although, the Easter festivities drowned out the possibility for any kind of anniversary celebration, we still had a wonderful day as a happy family. Well, the kids were a bit cranky, Dylan is teething and after all the sugar Kaylan consumed she refused to take a nap, so it wasn't peaceful in the least. We have plenty more years to celebrate though and we look forward to growing together as a family, to love, support and nurture each other for many, many happy years to come.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Couponing

I honestly believe that God is calling on me to be a coupon shopper. Up to this point, I have used coupons here and there, if I had any or if I even remembered to use the ones I had. A lot of times I find myself cleaning out my purse from time to time, coming across expired coupons. I think to myself, "Wow, Dumby. That really could have come in handy. If not for me, then for someone else."
Why I believe God is telling me to shop with coupons:
Over a month ago, early March I believe, I went to go make cupcakes using cake mix. The bag of mix inside the box wasn't sealed properly. I called the company, they sent me a coupon for a free box of cake mix. (You may remember that post.)
A few weeks after that occurrence, a more serious fiasco took place while I was cooking dinner one night. I opened up a can of spinach, drained the spinach in a strainer, and just before I went to go chop I noticed *it*. *It* being half of a grasshopper. The back half to be exact, legs and wings still intact. Seeing as how that ruined our dinner for the night (and my appetite for spinach for a while), I called the company ready to sound off. They were closed. So this gave me some time to calm down and settle my stomach with a ginger ale. I called the next morning as soon as they were open to take calls and reported the situation. After having to mail "Popeye" and his can back to their canning farm, the company compensated me with a $25 check and a $10 grocery store card.
And finally, today, I was fixing lunch for the kids. Wednesday is our PB&J day and after I was scrapping every ounce left out of the 40 ounce jar of peanut butter, I went ahead and opened the other jar I purchased a week ago (with a coupon, go figure). The seal wasn't completely stuck to the rim of the jar. Half of it flapped up and down and was not stuck to the rim, you could see where there had been a type of glue applied around the seal, but for some reason it did not stick. I knew the peanut butter wasn't completely tainted, but when it comes to my kids, I take whatever precaution necessary. I called the company to let them know of the mishap and of course they recommended that I throw the peanut butter in the trash due to the possibility of contamination from the lack of quality seal. They are now sending me a coupon for a free 40oz jar of peanut butter as well as a $0.50 coupon to compensate for the coupon I used when purchasing the original product. Isn't that awesome?
Free money. If there is such a thing as free money, coupons are it, and that's how I will look at using coupons from this point on.
As a mom, as well as in my personal development and growth, I find that there are many hats to be worn: The Mom hat, The Wife hat, The Friend hat, The Veterinarian hat, The Nurse hat, The Chef hat, The Maid hat, The Counselor hat, The Referee hat, The Teacher hat, The Blogger hat, The Artist hat, and most recently, The Scentsy hat!
So now, to add to my many hats: "The Extreme Coupon-er in the making" hat.
Let's hope I have time for all this!



Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's not the zoo, but it'll do.

This past Saturday, we had planned to take the kids out for a day trip to the Jacksonville Zoo. But, despite the fact that we got up earlier to plan, get ready and straighten up the house before going on our little venture, we still got a late start. As we drove toward the interstate I mentioned to Eric that it would be more enjoyable if we could have made this trip on a weekday, in hopes for less traffic on the roads and less of a crowd at the zoo.
Eric agreed that that would be best, so he will be taking a vacation day in the next couple weeks or so for us to make the trip to Jacksonville.
Meanwhile...what the heck are we going to do now? There we were, driving along. We couldn't go back to the house. After getting up early and doing all that running around, we need to do something. I got on my phone and did a search for fun things to do in the Savannah area, and the very first thing to come up was Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Perfect! We still get to see animals, but I figured this would be more of our "practice run" before making the longer, possibly hotter, trip to the zoo itself.
Once we got there, it was so quaint and secluded, I wasn't sure if there was really much of anything there to be seen. But the lady at the ticket window gave us a map, information packet and told us where to park and the best route to take to see everything there they had to offer. She then told us the disappointing news that, due to the threatening weather predicted for that afternoon, they were not letting out the crane or the cougar. Bummer, but it was okay because we can always come back and check it out.
Our first stop was the welcome center. There they had the information/welcome desk, gift shop, and reptiles and small animals! The very first animal we got to see was the snake, Kaylan was so intrigued, even though the snake was not moving much. We could tell that she thought it was cool, she has a fascination with animals. Kaylan even didn't mind getting out of her stroller to take everything in herself. I had to pick her up from time to time to view a few of the high-up cases. The red rat snake was chillin' in a cool hammock he had in his case, and the receptionist pointed out an albino snake in the same glass case. Creepy.
Once we started on our path outside, Kaylan was back in her stroller. She refuses to walk outside these days, but that's a whole other post (we think she may have anxiety issues). Along the way down the path, I found a great picture opportunity, but Kaylan was not willing to participate. In practically all of the pictures you could tell that she was not happy. But Dylan was content the entire time. He did not complain once. That's my little man :)
Kaylan wasn't too impressed with the walking trails, or my stroller-maneuvering over the foliage and tree roots. But once we got to the different animal exhibits she was all smiles and would talk non-stop! She would point out EVERYTHING! "Oh, a bird!" "Oh! A duck!" "Aggy!" (Her word for "alligator"). I took her out of her stroller at each exhibit so she could get a better look at everything. She would fuss because she didn't want to get out and walk around, but as I held her and she could see the animals better, she lightened up a bit. At one time I thought she would jump out of my arms and onto the actual balcony because she wanted to get that close to the animals. Eric would get Dylan in and out of his stroller at each exhibit, and we would then take our turns juggling and holding babies while getting some pictures and making our observations with the kids.

After a little while, the bugs began to get to me real bad (biting), and the rain clouds were rolling in, so we crammed in what we could to finish off. We made our way back to the welcome building to browse around the gift shop for a little memento for the kids. When we walked in the building the receptionist was holding the red rat snake! She very kindly let us check it out a bit closer and Kaylan even got to pet it! I was so afraid that K would grab a hold of that snake and sling it around, but she stuck her hand out and pet the little guy with a gingerly touch.
Not a bad practice run for our upcoming zoo visit. I actually wouldn't mind going out to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center more often, especially before it gets too warm this summer. I look forward to the coming months, especially once Dylan starts walking (doesn't seem like that would be anytime soon though), for us to get out and do more activities as a family.
I'm so glad we all enjoyed ourselves, for the most part. ;)

Following the visit at Oatland, we made our way out to my mom's house to visit with my sister and her family that were in town. Kaylan and Dylan really enjoyed playing with their cousin Madilyn and their Aunt Mer and Uncle Mike! Thanks again Madilyn for letting Kaylan color with your crayons before we left!

We had a great, fun-filled weekend. If only weekends were at least one day longer...



Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Pediatrician, Dylan's 1 year well check

I'm back! Sorry for going AWOL for a week, it's been quite a week. I never really knew what "overwhelmed" meant until recently. Recently meaning, this past year, haha! Lately, I've been exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. Speaking of the word "overwhelmed", has anyone ever been just "whelmed"? It seems like we skip the whelmed and go straight to overwhelmed. That was my stupid observation of the night, enjoy.

This past weekend was a great weekend filled with good company from a few friends we haven't seen in some time. First, our friends, Jacy, Joel and their son Liam (who is a little over a year old), came back into town to visit with family and check up on their house that is on the market. Jacy came over with Liam Saturday afternoon and the kids enjoyed playing with each other and getting to know each other all over again. Jacy brought birthday gifts for both Kaylan and Dylan, and we love the gifts so very much! Dylan got a cool stack toy, an area rug that looks like a little town with roads for him and Kaylan to push their cars around on. Kaylan got the coolest gift ever! An art easel with a huge roll of paper, dry-erase board on one side of the easel and a chalk board on the other. She absolutely LOVES it!! My girl is a little artist and loves to color! Thanks Joel, Jacy and Liam for the wonderful, thoughtful gifts for the kids!
Saturday night, we joined J, J, and L and the rest of their family for a night of dinner and catching up. It was very interesting getting all the kids together! Dylan didn't do so well for the most part, I guess with all the different faces and the different surrounding. :( It made me a bit discouraged because there wasn't hardly a moment that Eric or I could put him down. Meanwhile, Kaylan was jumping around, playing with Liam and his cousin Owen, and having a good time. Thank goodness Jacy was able to get some great pictures that night, because I sure couldn't.
Sunday, we received a visit from our long-lost friends, Bob and Stephanie and their daughter Hailynn who is 4 years old. We lost touch with them for a little while throughout the years due to having kids, working and simply getting caught up in the daily grind we call "life", haha. We really enjoyed our time with them and look forward to making more time in the future to kick back, hang out and get the kids together to play and interact. By Sunday night, Jacy and her crew stopped by again for a final goodbye before they made the long voyage back home up north.
We had a fun filled, busy weekend and we love that we got to reunite with our great friends again!

Yesterday Dylan had his 12-month well check with our NEW pediatrician. I switched the kids' pediatrician recently after being fed up with the former office we were going to. Plus, I had learned some interesting things from a former insider to the office; like, half the nurses weren't even certified nurses. Yeah, the "nurses" that, among other things, poke my babies in the thighs with vaccinations aren't even certified to do so. I always had an uneasy feeling about the doctor herself as it was, she would speak to us in a robotic, non personable tone that I dreaded.
The new office is located in a more convenient location for us and it is also a one-doctor office. So, whenever we make an appointment, that's our time, not a block of time designated for four other patients. And our pediatrician, Doctor Hendricks, seems like such a sweetie. She sits down and talks with us like she's getting to know us and doesn't make it appear as though she is at a higher level than anyone else in the room. She is a mom herself, so her maternal knowledge was as comforting as her medical knowledge. I am really glad that we have made the switch to a new, better pediatrician. The staff is excellent and the closer location is a plus! I felt so much more at ease with this visit than I ever had felt when we would go to appointments with our former pediatrician.
Dylan checked out as an "excellent one year old". He weighed in at 26 lbs, 6 oz. One nurse commented on how "juicy" he was, and before we knew it all the nurses walked by to have a peek at my squishy, handsome little man. Dylan felt uneasy and started to cry when it came time for me to lay him down for him to be measured. Neither of my children take too well to having a stranger come at them or hover over them. But, the nurse was so friendly and helpful that she held Dylan for a little while to give me an extra hand so I could finish up the paper work for the visit. He screamed for a little bit but he settled down once he realized that the nurse wasn't going to take him away from me or anything. He still kept a pouty face throughout the examination but didn't get upset again until it was time for the vaccinations. That was when he let out a scream that left all of our ears ringing!

Catch y'all later! Tomorrow is Friday! Woohoo!



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Banana Cream Cupcakes

The great taste of banana pudding, in a cupcake! These cupcakes would be perfect for a weekend barbeque or picnic! Light, fluffy and very yummy, these easy to make cupcakes will be a hit with everyone! :)

Ingredients:
1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 (3.9 oz) box instant banana pudding mix
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ripe banana mashed
1/2 cup Nilla wafers, crushed
1 medium container Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed
12 Nilla wafers, broken into halves, 24 halves

Directions:
Mix cake mix, banana pudding mix, eggs, water, and vegetable oil in large bowl until all ingredients are well blended. Add mashed banana and Nilla wafer crumbs to mix, gently stir ingredients into mixture until ingredients are well distributed. Line muffin pans with cupcake paper and fill cups 2/3 to 3/4 full with mix. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 24 minutes. Place pans on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pans to allow them to cool completely. Once completely cool, ice the tops of the cupcakes with thawed Cool Whip whipped topping. Garnish with Nilla wafer halves at the top of each cupcake. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

The kids got a new toy today! The old fashioned cardboard box!
Kaylan immediately hopped into it and I pushed her all around the house and we ended up in the kitchen. Both K and D were cracking up over her being pushed around in the box, but Mommy was winded!

So...Dylan took over for a little while, pushing Kaylan up and down the kitchen.

Dylan got tired, so Mommy put him in the box too. Apparently, Dylan thought it was hilarious.

Laughs were shared, and finally, a hug from big sister to little brother :)