Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yay for Girls!

I don't think I've officially "announced" this here yet...but we're having another girl! Two girls, under 2 years old. We're in for some fun I think! :)

Here is a picture of the current girl population of our family:

Lil' Punker in the Snow

In my parents' yard in Cashmere...enjoying the snow.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Be careful what you say...

I need to be more aware of what I say in passing! Daniel and I have decided not to "do" Santa at our house, but aren't going to be rabid about it. We just don't feel like its something we want to be important to our kiddos. Anyway. I guess when my dad asked me if I would let our kids get pictures with Santa I said no. At some point I either said the following, or agreed to it thinking it was not going to happen: "I will let my kids get santa pictures if YOU (to my dad) are in the santa suit". I don't recall saying this or agreeing to this, but my dad says I did.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. Dad says he has one last "family" present for us, but he needs to "prepare" M secretly (with my mom) for the present. Daniel and I were more than a little nervous about said present. Out comes my dad wearing a full on Santa suit! Dad=you are more than a little crazy:) Anyhow, here are some pictures of "santa" and various pictures of M and a bonus one of my largely prego self;)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Convenience food lifesavers

Sometimes my bulging pantry makes me feel silly. Especially some of the boxed meals we have that we rarely eat. I like to cook, so working Macaroni Grill (and other such similar) meals into our weekly menu is often more of a burden than a help to my creative efforts. The problem is, every month or so the coupons and the sales align so that we get those type of products for pennies on the dollar.

Enter snowstorm of which my town is not prepared for. Several meals that were to be had at parties etc. are no longer happening. Convenience foods to the rescue! On a night when we fully expected to have pizza at a bowling party, a quick and reasonably tasty pre-packaged meal saved us from despondency;).

So even though I don't love eating convenience/pre-packaged meals, for those unexpected nights when cooking from scratch sounds like a very unwelcome idea, or when something happens where fast food sounds more appealing than normal-quick boxed dinners (.... helper for example) can be a lifesaver.

The picture above shows a recent shopping trip that contains lots of convenience items that we don't eat on a daily basis, but will use in cases like the above!

Bonus tip: What to do with lots and lots of cereal (that cost less than $0.20/box:)? Not only does my daughter eat a ton of cereal, but I've gradually found recipe after recipe online and at allrecipes for making snack mixes, treats, even muffins using various cereals.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy (who is a now a fellow Washingtonion!).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Menu Plan for Christmas Week, 2008

We are snowed in! We have almost a foot of snow, which is almost unheard of for these parts!

Now on to the meal plan:

Breakfasts: Pumpkin Bread, cereal

Lunches: leftovers

Monday: Pumpkin Soup and Polenta with Marinara Sauce

Tuesday: Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes with Corn and mixed veggies

Wednesday: Indian Chicken (More with Less) over Rice with green beans

We'll be heading over to my folks house on christmas morning so the meal plan stops there.
Head over to Orgjunkie for more menu ideas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More snow...

We talked about how busy this weekend was going to be, with two Christmas parties-one church, one work; a Advent reading at church, plus various other tasks we needed to complete. The first party happened, but that was we are surrounded by almost a foot of snow (practically unheard of for these parts!) and even church is cancelled! So our super busy weekend is now wide open. Anyone want to come over for some games and food? :)

We've gone on some fun snowy walks the past couple days. Our city's downtown is decked out with pretty we take advantage of the free entertainment.

M trying out the texture (and flavor:) of snow:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last week's best shopping deals

Rarely do all my deals work as planned, but this time the stars aligned and they worked perfectly;)
I did two transactions at Walgreen's and pictured below is what I ended up with. My total cost was just under $5 and I ended up with $5 in RR for next trip. It was exciting to get things we needed (the surge protector, envelopes, nuts, canned fruit, bleach) as well as a bunch of stuff for practically free.

I just hope WAGs is planning another buy $25, get $5 RR promo again soon!

Snow Snow Snow and Cinnamon Rolls!

The snow they were predicting came...and stayed. Not sure if our girlie is having more fun or if we are watching her. This morning we took a spin around the block to check the roads (on foot) and she was all smiles. Since I grew up in Eastern WA (at least the last half of the time) I drove in snow a lot, but only with studded tires. I am a little nervous about driving in it-hopefully I won't have to. I even sent Daniel to the store to get a few good deals/things we needed on the way home from work last night:) He has such a servant's heart.

And here are the yummy sourdough cinnamon rolls (mostly whole wheat) I told you about yesterday. They were easy ...try them!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Safeway NW Deals for December 17th-25th, 2008

My grocery ads never came this week! The sadness! Even so, its a slow week at Safeway unfortunately. But there are a few things to pick up that may be a decent deal.

Good Deals (no coupon needed)

Whole Golden Pineapple $2.99

Coke Fridge Packs (12 cans) buy 2 get 3 free with coupon in ad

Butchers Cut Whole or Shank Half Ham $0.99/lb

Good Coupon Deals

Buddig Deli Cuts Lunchmeat $3.00
Use $1.00/1 coupon from 10-12 RP
Final Price $2.00

Celestial Seasonings Tea, 20 ct $2.00
Use $0.55/1 coupon from 12-07 Ss
Final Price $1.45

Dannon Activia, 4 pk 4 oz cups $2.50
Use $0.50/1 coupon from 09-21 S
Final Price $2.00

Tyson Any'tizers Chicken Selections, 10 - 13.25 oz box $3.50
Use $1.00/2 coupon from 10-12 S
Final Price $3.00

Del Monte Canned Vegetables, 14.5 - 15.25 oz $0.69
Use $1.00/4 coupon from 11-16 RP
Final Price $0.44

Mrs Cubbisons Stuffing, 10 - 12 oz box $2.50
Use $0.55/1 coupon from 11-02 RP
Final Price $1.95

Hillshire Farm Lit'l Smokies, 14 - 16 oz $3.00
Use $1.00/2 coupon from 11-16 RP
Final Price $2.50

Johnsonville Breakfast Links, 12 - 16 oz pkg BOGO $2.00
Use $1.00/2 coupon from 09-14 RP
Final Price $1.50

Keebler Crackers, 4.44 - 18 oz box $2.50
Use $1.00/1 coupon from 12-14 RP
Final Price $2.00

Progresso Vegetable Classics Soup, 18.5 - 19 oz $1.00
Use $1.50/5 coupon from 12-07 S
Final Price $0.50

Visit the Grocery Gathering for more stores near you!

Peaceful Morning whole wheat sourdough cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven, snow drifting outside, hot coffee-such a cozy morning! Daniel even took M outside to play in the snow while he was home for an extra hour due to bad roads.

Pictures of the cinnamon rolls and snow to come tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Lights at the park

Some quick good news before the most recent family pics: my migraine is virtually gone as of this morning!! and we squeezed into the last ultrasound spot before Christmas! Which means we may know our baby's gender next week! The midwife warned that doing it before 20 weeks may make it difficult to tell baby's gender, but we'll only be 1 week, 1 day short of 20 weeks at that point. And if this baby is anything like M, it will be fairly good-sized by this time already;) So excited to pick out names!!

I think the best part for me is that with M's pregnancy this was the turning point when Daniel really started to get excited and involved. I think its difficult for him to envision this as a real baby until he can put a name to it. And...oddly enough...its snowing!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Using up leftover mashed potatoes

Potatoes are coming out of our ears right now-both fresh and instant. They've been so cheap I really couldn't resist:) When making mashed potatoes, especially fresh, I often overestimate the amount we need. In a final act of desperation (and after eating leftover potatoes for 3 or 4 meals in a row) I looked up a quick way to make the mashers taste different. I had some leftover ground beef I wanted to use up as well and this is what some recipe searches along with my mixing magic came up with:

Cheesburger-Mashed Potato Soup

(serve with a light veggie such as a green salad)

2 or so cups of leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1/2-1 cup ground beef (depending on what you have)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
2 - 2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 TBS parsley or celery salt
1 TBS butter

Directions: In saucepan, sautee onions in the butter. Once starting to get slightly tender, add ground beef. (if ground beef is raw, add at beginning and cook until done) Add rest of ingredients and cook until heated through. *Optional: top with additional shredded cheese.

This is a very thick, chowder-like soup but is so fast and easy! I added a whole onion, which I would not do again because it was too strong.

Other great ways to use up leftover mashed potatoes:

Shepherd's Pie

Mashed potato rolls

10 ways to use up mashed potatoes (some other great ideas!)

Visit Tammy's recipes for more ideas for your kitchen and works for me wednesday for loads of other great ideas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Menu Plan for December 15th, 2008

For the last 3 or so days I have had a nagging headache on and off. Last night (after sympathizing-but not emphathizing- with a friend at church whose husband suffers from nasty migraines) I got what I think is my first real migraine. Possibly pregnancy induced? Not sure. I thought I would sleep it off. worse over night so that I couldn't function this morning.

Poor hubby took pity on me and took our fussy daughter with him to the store and got some Tylenol for me before heading off to work. He's the best:) Now the tylenol is finally kicking in and I actually put dinner in the crockpot and started a load of laundry...yay! The headache/migraine is still here, but I can actually walk around the house for a few minutes without wanting to die:) Any advice for other pregnancy-safe ways to cope with migraines?

Now on to the meal plan:

Breakfasts: Looking for gingerbread pancake, waffle or muffin recipes that don't use molasses because I don't have any and I stil want to make these:), cold cereal, pancakes made with half store-bought white flour baking mix and half homemade whole wheat baking mix

Lunches: leftovers

Monday: Crockpot winter veggies (sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions) and honey mustard chicken (my own creation...we'll see how it turns out:)

Tuesday: Pasta Carbonara and salad

Wednesday: Mexican Casserole and Salad

Thursday: Baked Ziti Casserole with Green Beans

Friday: Homemade Pizza and Carrot sticks and other snacky foods

Saturday: Hearty Ham Casserole and mixed veggies

Sunday: Meatballs over rice and broccoli

Head over to Orgjunkie for more menu ideas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Downsizing and Organizing and Park Pics #2

I am blesssed with a husband who is decidedly non-packratish (a word??? hmmm..) and he has very few things that he will hold on to. He has also helped me to be minimal with a lot of stuff I might have otherwise held on to. Today we went through the house and got rid of a ton of stuff we rarely use and our apartment looks so spacious and clean! we rearranged some furniture as well and are going to get a lot better use of our space now I think. With baby #2 coming in 5 or so months, we need all the space we can get:)

Here are some more pictures from our romp in the downtown park last week:

Albertson's and Walgreen's stock up

It was a great bargain hunting week! The above is from Albertson's and Walgreen's. I spent $40 for all and received $10 in RR for my next trip to Walgreen's. The 8 boxes of Cheerios were probably the best deal (along with almost free makeup and free deoderant!) since they were 8/$1 after coupons and sales!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fruity Granola and lots of other baking

Experimenting the other day I found out you could make a fruity tasting granola without much sugar at all. I had orange and apple juice concentrates to use up so I decided to substitute the sugars in the granola recipe with the juices. I added a little vanilla and it ended up with a hint of "creamsicle" taste. I thought it could have used a bit more sweetener, but Daniel thought it was good. If you wanted to do the same, take the brown sugar out of the recipe (such as this one) and replace it with orange and apple juice and a little vanilla. You will need more juice than just replacing in equal parts, but if you've made granola before you can see how much liquid your mixture can handle. Since it will be a little wetter than the original recipes intends, you may need extra time in the oven. When I made it I used 1 part oil to 2 parts juice, but I am not sure on my measurements:) For vanilla I used about 2 tsps. Since granola is one of hubby's favorite snacks I make it almost once a week and no longer measure-sorry!

But here are the ingredients I used...simple!
Oats (maybe 7 cups)
Oil (1/2 cup -3/4 cup)
Apple juice (1 or more cups)
Orange Juice (1/2 cup +)
2 tsp. vanilla

I baked at 300 for about 30 minutes total, with a stir in halfway. I think it could use some honey, but if you like it with less sweetness, this may be something to try!

My other goodies: corn muffins to go with the crockpot black bean salsa chicken soup and a no sugar fruit bar from the What to Eat when Expecting book.

My happy kitchen helper:)

Empty oat containers make great toys (well except here she's trying to throw it away:)

Trying to get those silly oats out!