Friday, December 2, 2011

Winner of Shutterfly Prize Pack!

Congratulations to Julie Grimberg! choose your comment #11 to be our winner.  I have emailed you and waiting for confirmation.  Thank you all who entered my very first giveaway!  I really appreciate it!  Check back often as I will try to have more giveaways for you! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Shutterfly House Party...Plus a Giveaway!

Friday, November 11th, I was able to share my love of Shutterfly with my closest friends by hosting a Shutterfly Holiday Card party with House Partry.  House Party is a great website to sign up to share new products for companies in the comfort of your home.  It is completely free, and they always send great party packs with free samples, coupons, or products for your guests.   I was sent a party pack complete with balloons, sample holiday cards, Shutterfly catalog, and lots of freebies to hand out to my guests.

We had a great time looking through the holiday cards and sharing our calendar ideas. We love the fact that the cards allow room to write a short letter updated friends and family about our children.  We also love how many different pictures you can put in the cards now.  Here are a few of our favorite cards:

I wanted to share the excitement with my readers, so I am giving away a Shutterfly House Party Party Prize complete with promo codes for: 1 FREE Photo Calendar, 15 FREE Photo Cards, and a $10 Credit to Plum District.   

To enter all you have to do is follow my blog via Google Friend Connect and leave a comment saying that you did so!  Giveaway ends November 30th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will choose a winner Thursday, December 1st via  ***For an extra entry, subscribe to my blog through email.*** Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  Thanks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: Double Cash Back at Ebates


Many of you are probably out fighting the crowds today on Black Friday.   I am at home in my comfy sweats checking out the deals online, which are looking to be pretty good today!  I just got on Ebates and noticed that they are having double cash back at many stores today only.  For example, Kohls is 10% back instead of 4%...looks like I am going to doing some shopping online today!  Don't forget, if you are a new sign up to Ebates, you will earn a $5 credit.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Very Frugal Christmas!: SWAGBUCKS=FREE Christmas Gifts

How would you like to pay for Christmas gifts with gift cards that you earned for free?

About a year ago, I was introduced to SWAGBUCKS.   Basically, it is an online search engine similar to google that rewards you with points (or swagbucks) for various searches.  For example, about ten minutes ago I search for "Huggies points 2011" and I received 10 swagbucks for my search.  Once you get a good amount of points, say 450, you can exchange them for giftcards, prizes, or even donate to your favorite charity.  450 points will get you a $5 giftcard to (my new favorite online store).

Does it work?  YES!  I have earned at least $50 in Amazon giftcards in the past six months. I have around 880 pts. ready to be redeemed at this time. It takes 7-14 days to receive the gift card or code once it is submitted, so don't expect to have it immediately.

How do you sign up? Simply visit this link and fill out the information.  Be careful, there is only one account per household.  If you sign up with two and they figure it out, they will cancel your membership. While you are signing up, please enter SBPAYSFORME as a code on the second page of the registration to get an additional 80 for a total of 110 swagbucks right away.  This is only good through November 17th.  

How do you earn Swagbucks?  There are several ways to earn swagbucks. The first and easiest way is use their search engine.  Many times I won't get the swagbucks on the first page of results, but as I click to the second or third, my swagbucks will show up.  You may also do surveys, play games, watch Swagbucks TV, complete offers, print coupons & use them, and a variety of other tasks to earn Swagbucks.  I would suggest downloading the toolbar so you can remember to search using Swagbucks. 

You can be guaranteed 5 Swagbucks a day by doing the following:
Click on NOSO and Skip Offers — 2 Swagbucks
Take the Daily Poll — 1 Swagbuck
Login Via the Toolbar — 1 Swagbuck
Click on Trusted Surveys — 1 Swagbuck

In addition, follow Swagbucks on facebook and the Swagbucks blog to keep updated on free codes or contests.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Whatcha Eatin'? Monday, November 14th

Back to menu planning!  It makes my life so much easier when I know what I am making each night.  I am still on my special low carb/high protein diet, so I will be sharing what I am making for everyone else! :-)  I basically eat cottage cheese, applesauce, grilled chicken & veggies.  Super boring...let me know if you know how to spice things up!  Here is what the rest of the family is eating this week:

Sunday:  We had Steak, Baby Red Potatoes, Green Beans & Rolls

Monday:  Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, Mac & Cheese, Veggies & Dip

Tuesday:  Hamburger Vegetable Soup, Salad, French Bread

Wednesday:  BBQ Chicken Quesadilla (using leftover Chicken from Monday), Carrots, Applesauce
Thursday:  Spaghettie Pie, Corn, Garlic Bread

Friday: Cheeseburgers (My husband makes the best on the grill!), Baked Beans, Cheesy Potatoes (on the grill)

Saturday:  Pizza!  Frozen...of course! :-) Chips, Veggies & Dip

I am starting to do Crock Pot Mondays and Soup if you have any great recipes send them my way!

I've been hiding in my basement...

Okay, so maybe not hiding, but I have been super busy going through our "junk" in our basement.  Do you remember what my basement looked like in August?  Here, let me refresh your memory...

Well, I am happy to present...Ta Da!  Our uncluttered, almost clean, stress-free basement...

Big Brother is very happy to show it off...can ya tell? 

So we had to hang on to a little junk, but I did manage to get rid of 14 boxes/totes of stuff. 

Now, I can relax and start enjoying some other things, like blogging, stalking on facebook, and Christmas shopping!  (okay, so I don't really stalk on facebook, but I need to catch up on my friends' profiles).  However, I am in the organizing mood, so who knows what I will tackle next.  What project are you working on? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween is Overrated...

Well, this year for Halloween the boys wanted to be farmers.  I pictured cute little boys in overalls and straw hats. So...I spent an entire week searching Ebay and the local Goodwill stores for inexpensive overalls.  I even checked our Farm N Fleet and Big R for overalls and contemplated spending $25 on them.  Then, I happen to find one pair of 3T overalls for Little Bro for $2 at a consignment shop.  I went home tried them on Little Bro and he threw a major fit and screamed to have them off.   So I decided to skip the overall idea and just go for flannels, blue jeans, straw hats, and worker boots.  I bought a couple of "flannel looking" shirts at Goodwill for $2.50 each (I wouldn't have paid more than a quarter for them at a garage sale.), borrowed some straw hats from my mother, purchased a pair of worker boots for Big Brother at Payless, and we were set to trick or treat.  Halloween night I struggle getting the boys dressed in their outfits all while Baby Sis is screaming to get the itchy, uncomfortable little lamb costume (that I purchased used from ebay, but still paid $15 for) off her little body.  I throw the kids in the car and we visit Grandma & Grandpa down the road.  We then head back to our house to trick or treat in our neighborhood.  We go next door and our great neighbor gives the boys full size packs of Starburst.  On the way to the next house Big Brother says "I'm done, Mom.  Can we go home?"  So we "made" them go to the neighbors on the side of us, then we headed home with a handful of candy.  Lesson learned:  Halloween is overrated. One piece of Candy and they were happy.   At least I got a few pictures...

All Three of my Sweethearts

Our Sweet Little Lamb 

Our Little Farmers and their Big Tractor

Monday, October 31, 2011

GAP + Big Discount = LOVE

My all time favorite clothing store in the whole wide world is GAP.  While I was in college I had a great discount on their clothes by working there.  After college and when I had a "real" job, I was still able to afford the newest items.  After three kids...well, let's just say that Old Navy is much more in our budget.  However, once in a while, GAP will off great discounts.  TODAY is one of those days.  TODAY ONLY, you can get 35% off adult clothing and 25% off kids & baby by using the code GAPTREAT.  To make the deal even sweeter, you can get 10% cash back when you purchase using EBATES.  (remember, you must sign up and use the link to GAP to get the cash back).  Plus, if you are new to EBATES, you will get a $5 sign up bonus.  I have noticed that they have added some more sale items.  Baby Sis needs some new dresses, and there are quite a few of them on sale.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Get a $50 voucher for only $20 to Abe's Market...Think Christmas Gifts!

Check out the latest deal with Eversave. Purchase a $50 voucher for $25. Then, Use the Code SPOOKY for an additional $5 off expires today.  Lots of ideas for great Christmas gifts!  Here is what I am thinking about buying:
This is priced at $27.99.  We are getting a play kitchen for all three of our kiddos this year for Christmas and this will be perfect!

These are $12.99.  This would make a great gift for my niece.
Priced at $12.99 also for my niece.

The total of my items would come to $53.97.  They have free shipping on orders over $49.  So I would pay $23.97 plus tax for these three items.  Sounds pretty good to me!

A Very Frugal Christmas!: Take Advantage of Daily Deal Sites for Great Savings!

We officially have less than two months to Christmas!  Have you started your shopping yet?

Today, I wanted to share with you a great way to save on Christmas gifts.  Over the past year, I have been introduced to several daily deal sites where you can purchase a gift card or voucher for way less than it is worth.  For example, in September, I was able to purchase a $20 gift card to Chili's for only $10.  I always give a gift card to someone as a part of their present.  I am hoping to find another deal soon for Chili's and combine the two together into one gift card at half the price.  What a great way to save right?  In addition, if you find a great deal at most of these sites and you refer other people to it, you can get yours even cheaper!

Here are some great sites to watch:

Most of these you will have to pick the nearest large city, but it doesn't mean that you can't purchase a deal from another city.

There is actually a local deal site of Central Illinois, plus WEEK 25 has a local deal featured on their website daily.  These are usually for restaurants and entertainment, but worth checking out.
 I will share great deals as the come up!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    A Very Frugal Christmas!: FREE 2 Day Shipping From Amazon for Christmas Gifts

    Have I told you lately that I love freebies?  One of my most favorite freebie is free shipping from Amazon.  If you haven't shopped on before, you need to start...Now.  Not only do they have great everyday prices, very comparable with Walmart, but their sales are awesome.  One thing that makes an online sale even sweeter is free shipping.  Amazon has a great program called Amazon Mom, which is a free program for anyone who is a mom/dad/caregiver.  It is simple, sign up and for three months, you will receive free two day shipping on any item that is purchased on Amazon and fulfilled by Amazon.  (There are outside sellers on Amazon that have their own shipping policies, so be careful before buying.)  For every $25 you spend in the baby store, you will get an additional month of free shipping.  You really can't beat this.  Go here to find out more and sign up! 

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Whatcha Eatin'? Monday, October 24th

    Well, I went a little hog wild with the Pampers deal at CVS this weekend, so our dinner budget for this week is shot.  Therefore, we are trying to eat as much from our pantry & freezer as possible!  Thankfully, we have a freezer full of meat.   That means I have to be a bit creative or just have plain boring meals. I am still on my high protein/low carb diet, so my meals will be repetitive.   Here is what I came up with for this week:

    Sunday: Steak, Baby Red Potatoes, Green Beans (I had a 4 oz. steak and green beans.)

    Monday:  Spaghetti, Salad, Corn & Garlic Bread  (I will be having a salad with grilled chicken)

    Tuesday:  Chicken or Beef Tacos (I will have a Chicken Taco made with Salsa, Chicken, FF Sour Cream, FF Cheese & Iceberg Lettuce on a Whole Wheat Wrap) 

    Wednesday:  Chicken Pot Pie (I will have Grilled Chicken & Steamed Veggies)

    Thursday:  Cheeseburger Rice, Green Beans, Salad (I will be having a salad with grilled chicken.) 

    Friday:  Cheeseburgers, French Fries, Baked Beans, Cottage Cheese (I will have a hamburger on a deli thin bun with a salad.) 

    Saturday:  Homemade Pizza, Veggies & Dip (I will make a chicken pizza on a whole wheat wrap with BBQ sauce instead of pizza sauce, topped with FF cheese). 

    What easy recipes do you have that use staples from your pantry?  I'd love to get a few more to have on hand!  

    I am  linking this up with other bloggers at Organizing Junkie.  Join me in the fun and get more ideas from others! 

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Our Trip To Rader Farms

    If you have children under the age of six, you don't want to miss the best $4 entertainment this fall!  A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I took our children to Rader Farms in Normal, Illinois.  We had no idea what to expect, but it was recommended by a friend of mine.  We loaded up all five children of ours in my mini van and made the 30 min trip, and we are so glad that we did!  It was so much fun, so I thought I'd share our experience with you.

    As we entered, we were greeted by a field of pumpkins.  However, that wasn't what caught the kids' eyes.  Here is big brother leading the way to the fun activities.  It cost $4 a person (including adults) which covered all the activities, except the big corn maze.  Children under 3 were free. Super cheap in my opinion.

    The first thing they wanted to try out was the big bouncy thing.  Not exactly what you would call this, but it was super bouncy and super fun!

    Next we headed to the big mountains of hay bales.  The boys loved this! 

    They actually had two different areas to climb.  This one was a little smaller and more manageable for our little ones.  However, they had a huge castle built with hay bales for older children.

    Next we hit up the little Caterpillar rides.  This was especially fun because it was pulled by a John Deere Tractor.  The boys were thrilled! 

    There was also two John Deere Green & Yellow grain bins filled with corn for the kids to jump, scoop and play in.  We ended up finding corn in our shoes, socks, and even a diaper, but they loved every minute! 

    Little Brother did not like waiting his turn to climb on the real tractor and take a drive!

    The kids finished off the day by feeding the animals at the Little Barnyard.

    Fun was had by all.  Even Baby Sister was all smiles.  There was actually a lot more to do, but we had to get home for nap time.  We will be back!  Next time we will come early and pack a sack lunch.  Only two weekends remain before they close! Check out their website for more information.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    My TV Appearance

    For those of you who have been following my blog, I thought I'd share my latest Baby Weight Loss Challenge adventure with you.  I had to make an appearance on WHOI's Good Company show this past Wednesday.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  I was super nervous and wasn't even sure what was coming out of my mouth.  No need to comment on the close up clips of me working out.  Laughter is the best medicine and burns calories, so feel free to laugh out loud though.  :-) Here is the link. 

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    A Very Frugal Christmas!: Shop Online using coupons and Earn Cash Back!

    We are still a few months away, but I hope you have started your Christmas shopping! In the past, I have found that I can do almost all my Christmas shopping online.  This year will be the same.  With three kids, there is no way I can get to an actual store and shop without losing my sanity!  Here are a couple of tips to help you with your online shopping experience:

    1.  Before placing an order online, ALWAYS check for coupon codes.  Many times you will be able to find a code for free shipping or a percentage off.  Some companies restrict the use of codes to one or two, so you will need to be able to figure out which discount will help you the most.  However, there are several companies who will let you stack coupon codes and get a percentage off AND free shipping.  For example, I know Shutterfly will allow you to use as many as you want.  I placed an order recently and was able to use a free shipping code, 10 free photo cards code, and a $10 off of $50 coupon code.  Now, how do you get the coupon codes?  Check out my favorite websites: 
    2.  Sign up for Ebates and earn cash back on almost any store on the web. GET $5 FREE upon signing up!

    How it works: 
    • When you are ready to shop, search the websites above or google for coupon codes, then head to Ebates. 
    • You will need to sign in in order to get the cash back.   Then, search for the store that you are wanting to purchase from.  You will see how much Ebates is willing to give you in cash back next to the store name. 
    • Click on the name and you will see a "Tracking Ticket"  and then it will direct you to that store's website. 
    • Make your purchase using your coupon codes.  Usually within, 48 hours you will receive an email notifying you that they have acknowledge that you used Ebates with that store and will be receiving cash back.  It's as easy as that!
    • They send out actual checks every quarter.  I have received over $50 in checks in ther past year. 
    Note:  There are many other cash back websites, but this one is the one that I have had the most success with. 

    3.  Combine coupon codes and cash back for really great deals!  For example, right now Ebates is offering 10% Cash back at GAP.  Plus, use the code GAPNOW for 35% off the Entire website until October 22nd.  

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Broken Oven = No Menu Plan

    Last night I went to preheat the oven for dinner and realized that it wasn't heating up.  So we are winging it this week! I might need some crockpot recipes.  Any suggestions? 

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Baby Weight Loss Challenge...Week 4 Results

    I shared with you about a month ago that I won a contest with the GOOD COMPANY show on WHOI.  I won twelve weeks of training from Training Domain in Morton, and I am competing with three other moms to see who can lose the most baby weight in the next few months.  I have been put on special low carb/high protein diet and I am meeting with a trainer three times a week.  In addition, I am supposed to fit in 20 minutes of cardio in each day (which doesn't always happen).  I must admit, it has been a bit overwhelming.  

    However,  all the stress, getting up early, and giving up yummy food is finally paying off.  I am down 11 lbs and lost 11 inches!  Of course, two of them came from my chest, but we all know I have plenty left. :-) They expect you to lose 2 lbs. a week. Therefore, I am very happy with my results!

    Also, I will be making an appearance on the show this Wednesday.  Wish me luck!

    What tips can you share with me on losing weight?  I need all the help I can get!

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    A Very Frugal Christmas!: Making a list and checking it twice!

    I don't know if it was the cold rain, but yesterday I was in the mood for Christmas music.  Then, I checked the Christmas Clock online today and realized that there were only 72 days till Christmas!  I thought I would kick off my "A Very Frugal Christmas!"  posts to hopefully help you save money this Christmas.  My goal is to do a little Christmas shopping each week so I can be done by December 1st.  Then, I can relax and enjoy the season. 

    Today's goal is to make a list of all the people you would like to buy gifts for.  Note, I am not saying that you "have to buy for" because giving should not be forced.  Start by listing everyone on your list.  Try not to leave anyone out...the mail carrier, teachers, etc.  Then pick an amount you would like to spend on each person.  Then, you can also list possible gift ideas.  Once you have a budget set...stick to it!  Here is a simple Christmas Budget sheet that I like.  Also, the Organized Christmas has a great list of planner sheets that you can download. 

    So, get to it...turn on some Christmas music and make that list!  

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Fall Fun at DJ's Pumpkin Patch

    The weather has been absolutely beautiful the past couple of weeks, and we have been able to get outside and enjoy it! 

    Two weekends ago, we visited DJ's Pumpkin Patch (my brother & sister-in-law's).  They have a kiddie corn maze, pick your own pumpkin patch, and fall crafts for sale.  Here are some snapshots from our trip.

     We started by picking our own pumpkins. 

    My Big Helper 

    Little Bro was busy running away...but the ground tripped him up!

    Baby Sis was enjoying the fresh air

    and Big Brother managed to find the perfect pumpkin!

    Then, we decided to check out the Corn Maze.  

    They both loved getting lost from Mom in the corn...of course! 

    We had a great time and ended up with lots of pumpkins and gourds to decorate our house for fall!

    Whatcha Eatin'?

    I decided I better get back to planning our menu for the week.  For the past three weeks, I have been on a new diet or should I say "eating plan" to help me lose my baby weight.  Basically, it consists of five meals with one protein and one "good" carb.  It has been quite the adjustment, but finally I am getting used to it.  It has been difficult making dinner lately because my children and hubby are not on the same meal plan.  I tried to make my menu this week based on what I could eat so I wouldn't have to make two completely different meals. I highlighted my menu in red. 

    Sunday: One Dish Chicken & Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
    (I ate one of the grilled chicken breasts on a salad) 

    Monday:  Chicken & Sour Cream Enchiladas, Carrots, Applesauce
    (I am using fat free sour cream and fat free cheese, as well as Whole Wheat tortillas) 

    Tuesday:  Pot Roast (I can eat everything but the potatoes!)

    Wednesday:  Grilled Cheese and Homemade Tomato Soup or Healthy Turkey Chili  
    (I will be eating the Turkey Chili)  

    Thursday:  Lasagna Casserole, Salad, Garlic Bread  (I am having leftover Chili) 

    Friday:  Cheeseburgers, Baked Beans, French Fries, Cottage Cheese
    (I will be having a hamburger on a deli thin bun with lettuce, onion, & Fat Free Mayo) 

    Saturday:  Steak, Baby Red Potatoes, Green Beans  (I will not eat the potatoes.) 

    I am linking this up with a bunch of other bloggers at Organizing Junkie.  Join me! 

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    I'm Back!

    My happy baby girl!

    It's been an entire week since I blogged last.  Things have been a bit crazy around here.  We had a garage sale that I was getting ready for all last week and a Thirty One party. I also started my training for the "Lose the Baby Weight" contest that I won a three month training package with Your Training Domain and WHOI Good Company.  Instead of blogging, I spent my free time snuggling with my sweet almost four month old and playing with the boys.   Hopefully, I be able to get caught up during nap times this week! 

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Whatcha Eatin'?

    This is going to be one crazy busy week.  I am trying to get ready for a garage sale on Friday & Saturday.  Also,  I have a Thirty One Party this week.  Instead of doing any new recipes, I am trying to eat from our pantry.  This is what I came up with using what we had on hand. 

    Monday:  Pasta Bake, Corn, Salad, Garlic Bread

    Tuesday:  Cheesy Enchilada Hamburger Helper (this is the ONLY hamburger helper that Hubby will let me make.  It really is pretty good!), Fruit

    Wednesday:  Beef Stroganoff, Green Beans, Rolls

    Thursday:  Cheesy Chicken Casserole, Peas (will share recipe this week)

    Friday: Frozen Pizza, Veggies & Dip (Boy's Night with Daddy...Mommy has a Thirty One Party)

    Saturday:  Wedding (Woo hoo!  No cooking!)

    Sunday:  Chicken'N' Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Rolls

    I am linking this up with other bloggers @ Organizing Junkie.  Join me next week and get great meal ideas from others/

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    A Very Frugal Christmas!

    I love the holiday season.  I love absolutely everything about it...the Christmas Story, the sparkling lights, the music, the snow, the hustle and bustle of shoppers, the gift giving, the fifteen family get togethers, the chaos...everything.  In fact, usually by October I break out my favorite Celine Dion Christmas CD and start my shopping.  The Season is wonderful.  What I don't like is December 26th...the let down.  It's over.  The bills start coming.  It's cold, and snowy, and we are broke!  Well, not this year!  We have made the decision to have an all cash, frugal Christmas,and I am going to LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!  Each week, I will be sharing with you frugal gift ideas and money saving tips so you can do the same.  Please tune won't want to miss out!

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Pizza Snacks

    I promised to share the pizza snack recipe from this week's menu.  My boys loved having Daddy to themselves on Wednesday, and this was a perfect meal for Daddy to throw in the oven.  I came home to only two of them leftover, so I would say that they were a hit!

    This particular recipe is from my sister-in-law.  We used to have these at ACYF (church youth group) gatherings when I was in high school.  LOVE them!  

    Here is what you will need:
    • 1 lb. hamburger
    • 1 lb. sausage
    • 1/2 tsp. oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt 
    • 1 tsp.  Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cut up
    • 1 can tomato sauce 
    • mozzarella cheese
    • English muffin, small rye breads, little Italian bread slices (I got a huge back on sale at Kroger of $0.99 this week) 
    This is what you do:

    Brown hamburger and sausage with onion flakes.  Add oregano, garlic salt and Worcestershire.  Add Velveeta cheese, stir until melted.

    Spread 1 tsp. tomato sauce on bread.  Put 1 tablespoon meat mixture on bread, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Makes about 3 dozen per batch.  Enjoy!