Monday, September 28, 2009

Awesome Trip to CVS!!

Look at all that stuff! Want to guess how much I paid for it all?? Fifty-six CENTS!!! AND, I got back a $10 ECB for future purchase! Can you believe it? That's the best I've done at CVS in awhile! Here's the breakdown:

1st Transaction:
Vaseline Sheer Infusion - $7.99 (used $1.50 coupon)
2 boxes raisins - .50
Paid with $6.99 ECB - free
Received $7 ECB

2nd Transaction:
Bounty Basic 6 pack - $6 (used .25 coupon)
2 Bounce Dryer bars - $8 (used 2 $1.50 coupons)
Duracell 16 pack AA batteries - $10 (used .75 coupon)
2 boxes raisins - .50
Dawn - $1 (used .50 coupon)
High School Musical flash cards (clearance .75)
2 bags candy corn - .88 each

Used $1 ECB from a prior purchase, $7 ECB from the first transaction, and $15 ECB from taking a survey as a CVS Advisor.
Total $0.56
Received $10 ECB

Now THAT was a great trip to CVS!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Choco-Toffee Cheesecake

A couple of nights ago, DH came home from work with 6 packages of cream cheese that were "leftover." Of course, he and all the kids immediately asked me to make them a cheesecake. Since the main ingredient was being provided, how could I say no? The main question was, what kind of cheesecake should I make? I decided to just wing it and the resulting product was devoured with choruses of "the best cheesecake EVER" and "when can you make this again???" There is still a little bit left, as it is VERY rich. Here's how it looks:

Hungry yet?? :-)

Since I didn't follow a recipe, I have to try and figure out exactly what I did so I AM able to make it again someday, and I thought I would do it here, so I can share the recipe. Get ready to bake a delightful dessert!

Choco-Toffee Cheesecake

About 16 chocolate sandwich cookies
3 T. butter, melted

Crush cookies in food processor. Stir in melted butter and press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.


3 packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2-3 T. flour
1 c. chocolate chips, melted
3 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
2 t. vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. toffee bits

Beat cream cheese with sugars and flour with mixer on medium speed until smooth and blended. On low, blend in melted chocolate chips until color is evenly distributed and smooth. Beat in eggs on low, one at a time. By hand, blend in sour cream and chips and toffee bits. Once combined and smooth, pour over crust.

Place in a 300° oven on the top rack, with an overproof pan of water on the lower rack. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off oven and leave door closed for another hour. Remove and allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour before placing in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

At serving time, top each slice with:

Caramel ice cream topping
Chocolate chips
Toffee bits

This is very good, but VERY rich! And let's not even talk about the calories....that's just plain scary!! :-) Enjoy!!!

For more recipes to try, visit the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!

Boston Market

As a member of BzzAgent, I occasionally get to join campaigns to try new products and then spread the word about my experiences. Word of mouth advertising is very effective, and BzzAgent is a great opportunity to try new things and share them with the world!

Recently, I received a coupon for a free individual meal at Boston Market. I hadn't tried them before, so I was excited to visit. My husband and I went there for lunch this week. I ordered their half-chicken meal, which came with two sides and cornbread. My selections were mashed potatoes and gravy and corn.

After placing my order, I moved down to the opposite end of the counter, past the prep area. I could see all the sides behind a glass barrier, and they all looked fresh and tasty. In just a few minutes, my meal was ready and was given to me on a tray with a plasticware packet. The half chicken was a nice portion and it was one of the most tender and flavorful rotisserie chickens I had ever tasted. It was served piping hot and I could only eat about half of it. The cornbread was absolutely fantastic, especially when slathered with light butter (YUM!), and the corn was very well-seasoned. The potatoes were okay....they were your basic instant potatoes, but the gravy was very good, and for those of you that have to be careful (like me), it is made without any MSG.

Boston Market is definitely a change from the ordinary quick-serve fare. I would definitely recommend it to anyone! And right now, they have a kids-eat-free special going on - two kids eat off the kids menu with each adult meal purchase. There's never been a better time to try it if you haven't, or to visit again for a wonderful meal! Bring the whole will love it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tonight was Over the Top!!!

Do you live in the Kansas City area? If so, then you need to spend an evening with Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey at the Sprint Center this week!! There are tickets available for Thursday or Friday nights, or for three shows Saturday or two shows on Sunday. I'm sure you can make it to at least one of those!

We had the pleasure of going for opening night tonight. What a fun and exciting show! The music and action was so exciting, and the kids just LOVED all the animals, acrobats, bright lights, and those clowns! A word of advice? Don't come to the Circus late and be in the path of the clown who is wandering about in the audience. What a hoot! I'm glad it wasn't me, but it was definitely hilarious - that poor girl! :-)

The most exciting stunt was the Rebels on their motorcycles inside the steel dome - WOW! I don't even know how to describe it. The insurance underwriter in me was terrified!! lol! There was non-stop fun and action all over the arena and my kids, along with every child around us, were completely mesmerized.

Whether your kids enjoy animals, light shows, dancing, motorcycles, or just a fun time, you will have a GREAT time at the Ringling Bros. Circus! And you can get 4 tickets for only $11 each by using code MOM on!! The ticketmaster fees still apply, but it's a great value for a wonderful night of family entertainment! And free for every ticket holder is an all-access pre-show! We got to go down on the main floor and meet performers, collect autographs, try on costumes, and have a grand time!

If you're anywhere near Kansas City, don't miss this great opportunity for an Over the Top experience at the Sprint Center with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey!!! Let me know if you go - I'd love to know what you thought!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Chocolate Pudding

I haven't done a Works for me Wednesday post in many months, but yesterday I discovered something that was so cool, I want to share!

I needed to use up some milk that was near its end, so I decided to make a trifle with pudding, graham crackers, and marshmallows. But when I got into the cabinet, I found that I only had one box of instant pudding. I knew 2 cups wasn't going to be enough for the dessert I wanted, so I decided to experiment. I made the instant chocolate pudding, but I used THREE cups of milk instead of the two as directed on the package. I followed the directions to stir it for 2 minutes and then set it in the refrigerator.

To my delight, I had 3 cups of perfect pudding! It was nicely thickened and made a fabulous trifle! Nobody noticed a taste difference in the extra, so from now on I'm going to stretch my instant pudding mix into 3 cups instead of 2. Give it a try - and get 50% more pudding for your money! It definitely works for me!!

For more great tips from people just like you, visit Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My New Craft Room

I have been unbelievably busy for the past few days. Isn't it amazing how a simple comment can turn your life upside down?? My youngest has been in an upstairs bedroom since we moved into this house. It's a cute room where the ceiling angles down on either side (kind of like a barn-shape). And the closet in there has been just her size; because it's built into the angled side of the room, it's very short, so she can easily reach her clothes - they're only about 3 feet off the floor.

One day DH and I were talking about how she would eventually outgrow that closet. We know this because we've each whacked our head on the frame of her closet while either putting something away or helping her find something. Let me tell ya, it hurts! She is getting bigger all the time (since I haven't figured out yet how to make kids stop growing!) and so we knew in a year or two, we'd have to figure out another bedroom plan.

We decided that the best idea might be for our son (the oldest) to move downstairs. Our basement is nicely finished, and a little different. It's U-shaped with the stairs in the middle. You go down the stairs and enter the room, turning left. Immediately on the right is the bathroom, then the door to the garage. You walk forward into the sitting area where the TV and fireplace are, then turn left again to the pool table, then left again to the "bar area." The people who lived here before us installed the bar because they had lots of parties. I have been using the bar as a scrapbooking center - nothing alcoholic about it. Anyway, we thought that our son might enjoy that back area if we could figure out a way to make a temporary wall to enclose it.

Well said son heard the discussion and got very excited about having his room downstairs. He loved the idea of having his own space away from everyone and having the bar area for Lego Bionicle building. But he wanted it NOW. And he said that since nobody goes downstairs after bedtime, he didn't care if we put up a wall yet or not. He just wanted his room down there. The girls then got wind of this, and got all excited about having their rooms across from each other. So suddenly the youngest wants to move into her brother's room NOW.

So what did I do? I decided to let them have what they wanted. Ugh. We had to move furniture from the main level to the basement, from the upper level to the main level, and from the basement to the upper level! It has been chaotic at best! But now, I'm happy to say, my son is happily sleeping downstairs, the girls are settled in their rooms across from each other, and I have a sewing/craft room upstairs! It has taken hours of work and lots of trips up and down the stairs, but I love my new room. I haven't decorated yet at all, but I took some photos of how I've set it up.

I tried to put it together in "zones." Each corner is basically a different area. I am going to get some more chairs moved up there - there's plenty more work to do, but the bulk of it is done. Here is the far right corner as you enter - it's my scrapbooking area:

That weird box beside the table with the white hose-thing on top? That's the portable air conditioner, which is necessary because this particular room gets REALLY hot when it gets over 80° outside. I'm not sure what they did when building it, but it gets like an attic. That a/c gets it cool very quickly, though.

And here is a close up of the shelf area, as verification that I have ENTIRELY too many scrapping papers! lol

Now, to the left of that window, in the other corner on that side of the room, is my sewing area. I haven't gotten into my bins and pulled out my fabric, so the shelf is partially empty, but someday it might be a cool and productive area (we'll see, anyway!):

And just over from that, in the corner "behind" the door, I have an area that the kids can use for their activities. There is a little dresser where supplies can be stored, and room for a folding table to be set up for them to work on their own special projects:

And finally, the corner just to the right as you walk into the room is my cozy little reading/knitting nook. I love the chair, so I had to have it, and it's right next to the shelf with all my various crafting books and magazines. I just need to get a nice lamp to put beside the chair and I'm set!

I'm hoping that I can get a lot done in this new room of mine. If I get going, I'll definitely post projects as I finish them. I just hope they start turning out better than that baby sweater.....*sigh*

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It was an Attempt....Just a Bad One!

I had such high expectations....what was I thinking???? I taught myself to knit a couple of years ago and hadn't tried to do it for several months. But I got this book at the library that was called "Baby Knits for Beginners" and thought..."I can do that!" I should really learn not to think!

I know someone who is expecting a baby girl in January, and I happened to have this super-soft cotton yarn in my stash. The pattern looked simple enough, so I developed the bright idea to make her baby a cute little pink sweater. It was knitted in 4 parts (back, front, 2 sleeves) and then sewn together. Sounds easy enough, right? Let me tell you - that sewing together business is FAR from easy, and the book skipped over that instruction....I guess most knitters are just smarter than I am.

I finished knitting several days ago, but some room-switching with the kids has taken precedence over sewing the parts together. Tonight I was exhausted and sitting on the couch watching the Packers and the Bears and decided to finish my project. Individually, the pieces had looked okay, but once assembled.....not so much. Here is the finished product (note: the sleeves are the same size - it's the camera angle that makes the one look much shorter):

And a closer look to see my wonderfully uneven knitting:

It just looks so....blah. I am wondering if I can wash it and get it to look less stretched out, but I haven't knitted a garment before, so I don't know. I suppose I should ask someone who knows how to knit, but I don't want to look clueless. I was so hoping for a lovely baby gift...I even planned on matching booties. At least I've made a few pairs of booties, so I know I can make those look okay. I might have to skip the sweater and make two pairs of booties!!

Apparently, I need to spend a little more time practicing before I tackle knitting sweaters. It is just as hard as it looks!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not So Common Courtesy

Whatever happened to decency and courtesy? Did it suddenly become a rule that you can't wear white OR use your manners after Labor Day? Oh wait, it didn't start on Labor Day, so I guess that isn't it! I just can't figure out why more and more people have developed this "me and me only" attitude and can't even bother to be respectful or friendly anymore!

Freecycle is quite a good example of where general human courtesy seems to be gone by the wayside. I have all but stopped offering items to people through Freecycle. I love the concept, and I really enjoy helping people when they need something, but why is it that 95% of the time, when I make an offer, I end up with RUDE people who not only don't show up as promised, but then ignore follow up email??

I'm gifting you with something - no strings attached. All I ask is that when you say you are going to show up, you actually DO. And I know things happen and life gets in the way of your plans, but seriously! Does it really take that long to send me an email telling me that you can't make it and either offering an alternate pickup or asking me to give it to another?????

I run into these ridiculous people whenever I'm out in public (don't even get me started on my cashier at Hen House today!!!!), but when I'm GIVING something to them, why can't they at least attempt to act like a civilized human being??? I'm so frustrated with the attitude of people anymore. I used to watch a little girl after school. The agreement was that her mom would pick her up at 4:00, so she was only at my house for about half an hour. No big deal, right? And I was helping her out because she could then finish out her workday and come home to her child. So why is it that after the first week or so, suddenly it was okay for her to run errands and do her grocery shopping after school? It got to be 4:15....then 4:30....then even as late as 5:30 because she met a friend after work!!! Excuse me???? When did I become a free afternoon babysitter?? And the sad thing is that I know of at least two other people that are in this same situation. It's become okay to take advantage of your "friends."

It strikes me as very sad that people have so little regard for the time and efforts of others. What a wonderful world this would be if everyone stopped regarding himself or herself as the center of the universe, the only one who matters. My girls go to a school with 474 families. So why is it that so few of the parents volunteer anything for the school??? I know that not everyone has time to spend hours up at the school, but there are so many little ways that they can help without spending much time or money. Do you know that the PTA only asks for 3 hours a YEAR? Yep...if everyone gave only three little hours a year, everything would get done without anyone being over-volunteered. What a concept!

Okay, I will get off my soapbox now. I also need to go remove the piece of furniture from the front of my house, since it's become quite obvious that Miss Marybeth has all the manners of a common farm hog and isn't going to pick it up or bother to respond to my emails. She's classy....not!!! Looks like the thrift store will benefit from her rudeness, so it works out in the end.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Simple Way to Help Your Local School

I know I haven't blogged in awhile...I really am trying to think of interesting topics that you might actually WANT to read. But I found out about this deal today, and I wanted to make sure everyone knew about it!

I'm sure you've heard of Campbell's Labels for Education. Schools and other organizations save up UPCs from Campbell's line of wonderful products and send them in to the collection center. These points (1 or 5 for each UPC, depending on the product) are "banked" and once enough are collected, the school can redeem them for great products. It's a fabulous program that is very beneficial - I think every household uses at least a few Campbell's products on a regular basis.

This week, starting September 9th, you can get your school 100 bonus labels!!! And it's SO easy! Check your local grocery ads for a small bonus form. You go to a store and purchase only 5 Campbell's products (if you're a couponer, you can really get these inexpensively!). Take the UPCs and your receipt and attach them to the form and send them to your school. Instead of the 5 points, the school will now get 100! These bonus labels will help your school so much!

It only costs a few dollars and a little time to make a big difference. Thanks for supporting your school!!