Thursday, December 29, 2011

Frugal Friday: 10% off or Free Shipping at

I love shopping at Christian Book Distributers (CBD). I did the majority of my Christmas shopping online through their webiste this year. Through January 3rd, they have Free Shipping on all orders over $35. I would encourage you to check out all they have to offer: books, DVDs, toys, and gifts of all sorts. They have clearance prices on many things right now too. What a great way to get ahead on gift shopping for 2012 at super prices!
Get Free Shipping: Just place an order of $35.00 or more before 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday January 3, 2012, enter promotion code 375550, and choose standard shipping. Terms and conditions: Cannot be combined with any other offers. Applies to U.S. delivery addresses only. Applies to standard shipping only. Cannot be used on orders already placed, or on backorders. Order must total at least $35.00, excluding shipping fees or taxes, in order to qualify for this offer. Offer expires at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 3, 2012.
Take an extra 10% off our already low prices Use promotion code 375553 on orders of $35.00 or more, and receive 10% off your entire order! This offer is good through 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday January 3, 2012. **These promotions can not be combined

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Trivia

It's beginning to look like Christmas around here. After some unseasonable warmer than average temperatures, we had a light snow yesterday and today. It was perfect, just enough to dust the ground and look pretty floating down from the sky but not enough to stay on the roads. Since, the subject of the last post was Christmas songs, I'll post Mike's trivia question that he came up with this year and see if anyone knows the answer...
Who is Parson Brown? (In the song "Winter Wonderland" the lyrics go..."In the meadow, we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is Parson Brown...")
Ha, funny, huh, how many times we've heard that song and really don't know what they are talking least I know I had no idea...

Favorite Christmas Songs

So, my brother-in-law asked us at Thanksgiving to go around the table and tell everyone what our favorite Christmas song was. It was very hard to pick just one. Since then, I've been trying to remember all of those wonderful Christmas songs that I love to listen to but often get forgotten (I seem to hear the same songs over and over on the radio). As I pulled out my CDs for this Christmas season, I made a list of my favorites, including the ones that are not quite as well-known. So, here's my compilation so far (not necessarily in any order), some classical, traditional, hymns, carols, others contemporary/worship, mostly likely at least a few that you aren't familiar with...check out any that you aren't familiar with on, maybe you'll find a new favorite:
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (Ode to Joy)
O Holy Night
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Christmas Offering
Angels We Have Heard On High
Mary, Did you Know
Carol of the Bells
The Gift
When Love Came Down (Point of Grace)
O Come All Ye Faithful
Christmas Canon
Let There Be Light (Point of Grace)
Breath of Heaven
In the First Light
Little Town (Point of Grace)
For Unto Us
Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah
All is Well
Emmaneul (Chris Tomlin)
My Soul Magnifies the Lord (Chris Tomlin)
Joy to the World/Unspeakable Joy (Chris Tomlin)
Glory in the Highest (Chris Tomlin)
Light of the World (Chris Tomlin)
Winter Snow (Chris Tomlin)
Born That We May Have Life (Chris Tomlin)
Jesus, Born on this Day (Mariah Carey)
Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child (Mariah Carey)
What Child is This
Hope is Born Again (Jim Brickman/Point of Grace)
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Angels from the Realms of Glory
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
The First Noel
O Little Town of Bethlehem (especially verse 4)
Silent Night (especially verse 2 & 3)
I also enjoy singing all of the verses of each of the carols...the additional verses are some of my favorites.
Anyone with other favorites?
A few favorites are listed on the Play list below. (I can only get 9 on there at a time) Enjoy! (You can still listen while viewing other sites if you minimize the window and they will keep playing)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meal Planner Monday: Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Butter Sauce

Last December, we had gingerbread pancakes with warm lemon butter sauce at a bed and breakfast we stayed at in Ashland, OH. Very festive and oh, soooo yummy! The smell of these spices in breakfast pancakes on Christmas morning or on a snowy December day really warms up the home. Personally, I think the lemon butter sauce works better with them than maple syrup, but maybe that's just me. I searched the internet for a recipe that sounded good and this is what I ended up with. I made them this morning. Mike said he like plain pancakes better but he ate 8 of them, so I guess they were pretty good.
Gingerbread Pancakes (from Taste of Home)
* I made half of the recipe and still had a lot (maybe 24 or so)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup molasses
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ginger
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp allspice
4 cups milk
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add molasses. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk.
Lemon Butter Sauce (Mom's recipe)
Mix together:
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Stir in: 2 cups water
Boil 1 minute.
1/4 butter
2 tsp lemon juice
Lemon rind

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Frugal Friday: Crafty Christmas Ideas

I was looking around on the internet today for a crafty Christmas idea and a new Christmas picture for the background of my blog. I came across these sites...
You Seriously Made That!? (I love these nativity silouettes! No ideas for how to use them exactly yet)
And, of course from Money Saving Mom
Oh, here's one more...Gifts in a Jar eBook free download from Heavenly Homemakers...I think I'm going to try the Simmer Pot in a Jar on p. 17
I know the ideas out there are endless. I think I'll be posting some pictures of some of my recent projects (such as the pumpkin spice sugar scrub, snowflake busy bags, and pom-poms and pinchers busy bag) soon now that they are no longer "surprises". I also have been inspired to try some hair accessories after I received a very cool headband from my sister, Julie, for Christmas. Seeing new things inspires me. There's still time for another homemade Christmas gift...
***WARNING: You may lose track of time when you start clicking around***

Friday, October 21, 2011

Frugal Friday: More Inexpensive Thanksgiving Ideas

More great Thanksgiving ideas here... I don't know if all of the offers from last year are still available or not, but it appears so. Be sure to check out the "Scripture Adventures"!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Season of Thanksgiving: Counting Your Blessings

One of the reasons why I love this time of year is that it reminds me to have a spirit of gratefulness. I saw this tool for writing down or journaling our gratitude. We've done something similar before. It can be used in various ways (some ideas are listed on the website) and I wanted to pass it along because I love the ideas and the artwork. I thought was so kind of them to make it available for free since it probably took some time to design (of course you will need to use your color ink to make them look nice). If you wanted to be really frugal, you could still use the ideas by handwriting on some index cards or maybe something else. Click here to download the printable "Gratitude Journal"
----Ephesians 5:19-20
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Free Movie Night: The Perfect Game

There will be a free movie showing tonight at the Cinemas in DuBois. It looks like a great family movie. It is rated PG. I am guessing that any young boys who like baseball will especially enjoy this movie. You can watch the trailer here There is also an accompanying Bible Study guide that you can download.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Free Projecting Hope Movie: The Grace Card

The Grace Card will be showing at the Carmike Cinemas in DuBois this Thursday September 15th at 7:00. Tickets are free at the door. Seats are first come first served. Advance tickets are available through
Note that this movie is rated PG-13 (probably for violence and drug/alcohol content). It appears to contain significant spiritual content however, and is a project of Memphis' Calvary Church.
View the trailer here.
And also, the Focus on the Family's "Plugged In" review can be read here.

Blessing Bags

I was reading on my one of my favorite blogs the other day and saw this idea. I was moved to make a couple of these to take along to the Pittsburgh Pirates game that our church's Young Adult class was attending last evening. I only spent probably $7-8 each on them. I included some toiletry freebies or almost freebies(from my past deals and hotel complimentary items), fast food coupons from the newspapers, a Bible from the Dollar Store, a few packaged snack items from our pantry, and a $5 giftcard to McDonalds.
Mike and I handed both of them out within the first block on our walk back to our parked car after the game. We didn't stay and talk but simply said "Here's a little something for you." We pray that the Lord led those two particular individuals to us and that they may be touched in some way spiritually through our small act.
I know that I often fail to reach out to share the gospel with others and sometimes don't know what to do when coming across needy/homeless people on the street. From living in the city, I know just handing them money isn't always the best thing to do, and, inviting them to share lunch with you or engaging in a long conversation with them isn't always practical. So, this is an idea for how you may be able to touch their lives in a different way...I thought it was kinda cool :)
If you'd like to make your own Blessing Bags, this is what you would need: (This is from the above blog post with a few of my own changes/additions)
Gallon size Ziploc bags along with items to go in the bags, such as: (Watch for these items…on clearance, weekly sales, in the travel size section, free samples by mail or $ store)
chap stick
packages of tissues
toothbrush and toothpaste
soap or shampoo (double bag soap to contain the fragrance)(like I said hotel complimentaries are good)
snacks such as granola bars, crackers, snack packs of fruit, instant oatmeal (include a plastic spoon)
band aids
warm socks, gloves
bottle of water
laundry soap and some quarters
gift card for fast food or grocery store, pharmacy, Goodwill, etc or a bus pass
*Consider whether or not the homeless individual may/may not have access to a homeless shelter where there would be running water/showers.
Assemble all the items in the bags, and be sure to add a note of encouragement or consider a pocket sized Bible, maybe a copy of "Our Daily Bread," information about a local church or places the individual can receive additional help. Seal the bags and stow in your car for a moment of providence. Pray about these from the time you gather the items to include in the bags through the time after they have been handed out.
Even if you can’t afford to fill a few complete bags of your own since these items do add up quickly if you pay full price, this would be a great activity to do with some other families. Break it down so that each family could bring one or two of the items going into the bags (ex: toothbrushes).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Frugal Friday: Saving on Gas, Big Lots and Sheetz

Big Lots is one of the stores that I shop at periodically but not on a weekly basis. It's kind of my store to go to when I have extra time just to see what they have. I've learned that if you find something you like there not to expect it will be there the next time you go back and also don't count on them having a particular item from your list. The items they get in do go quickly. Within a couple days, an item is usually gone. However, I don't mind because I usually come home with some exciting buys when I do go. They actually carry a lot of different organic items and the prices are just about unbeatable. The other negative would be that they don't accept coupons, but the prices are usually good enough to beat out even store sales combined with a coupon. I stopped the other evening and got several things, including Ragu organic spaghetti sauce for $1.35 a jar, a box of Quaker granola bars on clearance for $1, Eden organic sprouted grain tortilla chips for $1.50 a bag, and a couple DVDs for $5 each. Later, I discovered that the particular box of TownHouse crackers that I bought for $1.50 was marked with a special promotion by Keebler. Remember the free Toy Story piggy bank that I got earlier in the year? Well this brings me to the first way to save on gas... Now Keebler is doing a similar promotion for the movie Cars 2. Each specially marked Keebler item contains a code which can be collected entered online and redeemed for certain items. A $5 VISA gas card for only 4 points caught my eye, so I went back to Big Lots today (it's right in town, so it's doesn't require a special trip) and got 3 more boxes of the crackers, already entered them online and my $5 VISA gas card should be arriving within 90 days. So, it will only cost me $6 for the $5 VISA gas card and 4 boxes of crackers
and, for the second way to save on gas... I've been meaning to post about the new "My Sheetz Cards". It is free and you can pick one up at Sheetz then register online. It automatically gives you $.03 off per gallon of gas when you scan your card. There are other ways to save when you buy food. And, as a bonus, they have been sending out an email for free items (last month was a Mountain Dew, this month is a King size Reese cup). (That's my free candy bar in the picture above>)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coming to Theaters in September

Just saw this, a new movie coming out soon from the makers of "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants" Watch the trailer here

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Free Movie Night: Soul Surfer

I stopped by Subway this evening and noticed the flyers for a free movie night next Thursday, August 4th at Carmike Cinemas in DuBois. The movie is "Soul Surfer" which I've been waiting to see. The doors open at 6:30 and the movie starts at 7:00. The movie is free but first come, first serve. And, to change the subject...regarding a sign at Subway...apparently Subway is now referring to their employees as "sandwich artists"...sorry, I don't really think you need artistic abilities to work there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frugal Friday: Facebook Offers & Back-to-school Deals

Last week, Ruby Tuesday was offering a free burger (actually good on any grill sandwich) to be redeemed last weekend through Facebook. Mike and I both got a coupon and we had a cheap Sunday afternoon lunch at Ruby Tuesday. Even with a splurge on a pomegranate flavored iced tea, our meal (including tip) was only $9.
This week, Ruby Tuesday is offering a free burger with the purchase of two drinks again through Facebook...not quite as good, but still a nice here for link. Also, there were new $10 off two entrees coupons in the newspapers this week.
And, another current offer through Facebook is 64 cents Arby's roast beef sandwiches on July 23rd with the purchase of a 22 oz here for link.
Finally, watch for the back-to-school deals starting already. Watch for free backpacks at Office Max next week.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meal Planner Monday: Roasted Banana Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I made this ice cream earlier this summer (it is from the Brown Eyed Baker and I adapted it using coconut milk instead of whole milk). I thought it was yummy. Even if you don't have an ice cream maker you can still try it (which is what I did). (See the instructions at the end.)
3 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted), cut into small pieces
1½ cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Slice the bananas into ½-inch pieces and toss them with the brown sugar and butter in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring once during baking, until the bananas are browned and cooked through.
3. Scrape the bananas and the thick syrup in the baking dish into a blender or food processor. Add the milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt, and purée until smooth.
4. Chill the mixture for at least 8 hour (or overnight) in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the chilled mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it to thin it out.
For instructions on how to freeze ice cream without an ice cream maker, click here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Frugal Friday: Groupon, Jo-Ann's and Other Deals

Have you heard of Groupon? I have an account and receive daily offers by email from them. You sign up for a certain location, for example, I am signed up to receive offers in the Pittsburgh area. Most of the deals are for a certificate or a service at 50% off. Today's Groupon offer is $10 for $20 of apparel at Old Navy. Each offer has the details of how the offer can be used, but it appears that this can be combined with other sales and possibly even coupons for even better deals. (If you are interested, e-mail me because I can get $10 for each new referral to Groupon.) The Jo-Ann's in DuBois recently expanded and they are having a celebration with special promotions June 2-4. Each day they are giving away a $5 gift card to the first 50 customers. They also have a signup for a $100 gift card and other special promotions. It feels like Black Friday :)
And, then there were some other deals this week...
Preparation H Totable Wipes $3.99 - $2 printable coupon - $3.99 ECB = $2 profit
Mars candy bars (2) $.50 each - $1 ECB = Free
Crest $1.99 - $1 coupon - $1 ECB = Free
Aveeno Buy $25 in select products get $10 ECB (There are printable coupons available also)
Rite Aid
Renpure Organics $4.99 - $4.99 +UP = Free (Limit 2) *Also there is a peelie rebate on certain products so you could make up to $4.99 profit on this offer
Giant Eagle al Fresco all natural chicken sausage 2/$7 - $1 printable coupons (there was a few packages with short expirations marked an extra $1 off) = As low as $1.50 each

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frugal Friday: Walmart Ice Cream Social

My favorite sweet summer indulgence is ice cream... Participating Walmart stores are hosting an Ice Cream Social this Saturday (May 28, 2011) from 5-9 p.m. Stop by to enjoy a free sample of Edy’s ice cream topped with Nesquik’s Chocolate Syrup and Reddi-wip, while supplies last. Click here for more information and to see if your local Walmart is participating. I see that our Walmart is participating. Sounds like a great free Saturday fun Memorial Day weekend activity for kids... YUM!
(** Disclaimer: I know girls this is not good for our Biggest Loser)
Other deals of the week:
CVS - Stride Spark or Trident Vitality gum = Free after rebate
Shop and Save - Fresh boneless chicken breast $1.88/lb
Martins - Double $1 coupons
These are the ones that I saw to use...
Seventh Generation dish soap $2.99 - $1 coupon doubled = $.99,
Starbucks ice cream (pint) 2/$6 - $1 coupon doubled = $1,
Pringles 2/$3 - $1 coupon off 3 doubled = 3/$4,
So Delicious Coconut Milk 1/2 gallon $3.99 - $1 coupon doubled = $1.99, and
Snyder pretzel sandwiches $3.49 - $1 coupon doubled = $1.49.
There were probably other deals if I would have time to search for $1 printable coupons. I just looked at the ones I had to see which were worth using.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Derby Day

Today was the Kentucky Derby, the first of the Triple Crown Races. It's my favorite of the 3 races because it has the most character, I think. It's my favorite because... 1) I've actually visited Churchill Downs, 2) it's in the beautiful blue-grass farmlands of Kentucky, 3) I love the fashion at the Kentucky Derby...seeing everyone dressed up in sophisticated attire and their hats (What kind of fashion is it anyway? English? Southern plantation?), 4) they have the best song, and 5) I've had the Kentucky Derby Pie at Rachels in Grove City and it is really yummy! (I'll have to try that recipe sometime.) Someday, I'd like to go see the Kentucky Derby in person. I'll never be an owner or a jockey of one of those horses. But, I thought it would be fun if anyone is creative enough and wants to post what they would name their horse if they could have one to run in the race.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Recommended Reading: A Praying Life by Paul Miller

We received this book for Christmas this past year from Keith and Julie. I've been reading it and really enjoying it. I think my prayer life has changed in the process. I would definitely recommend reading this book.
But even more exciting is that I just saw this offer this morning on Money Saving Mom (click here) and wanted to spread the word. I didn't want to wait for a "Frugal Friday" post, because like she said this offer could be gone anytime. Maybe I'm old-fashioned because I prefer to have the hard copy so I can highlight and make notes, but a lot of people do seem to like the kindle. And there are often great Christian e-books available for free which is wonderful, too. Like I said, this is one I would definitely recommend...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Meal Planner Monday - Mexican - Speedy Beef and Bean Burritos (ah, I mean Tacos)

It's Cinco de Mayo time again...I just absolutely love Mexican and Latin cuisine! I recently found a couple of great Mexican cookbooks which I am looking forward to trying some delicious recipes from. I hope to learn more about their cooking, also, since I really don't know the difference between a soft taco and a burrito. Does anyone know?
I am posting one of the recipes that I recently tried from a cookbook called "Mexican Fiesta" (p. 50)
This was my adaptation...
1 pound ground beef
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (or 1 cup chopped onion)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup salsa
2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Top with your favorite taco sauce or hot sauce, to taste, and freshly shredded cojack or Monterey Jack cheese.
Combine beef, onion, garlic and chopped peppers in large skillet; cook over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, breaking beef apart with wooden spoon. Pour off drippings. Stir in beans, salsa and cumin into beef mixture; reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro into filling. Spoon filling down centers of warmed tortillas. Top with cheese and sauce to your likings. Roll up and serve immediately.
We had been to Pittsburgh about a month ago and I had bought some fresh homemade corn tortilla shells from an ethnic market called Reyna's in the Strip District...these made this recipe oh my, soooo good! Those tortillas are definitely something I'll be stopping in for the next time we are in Pittsburgh.
Here are a few more ideas from Food Network...
And I watched this episode of the Neelys this weekend and have added these to my list of recipes to try...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Frugal Friday: Cheap Toilet Paper

There is an offer through "All You" (until 4/15/11) that you get a $10 Walmart gift card when you purchase any 2 of the following: Cottonelle Ultra 12 pack, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes Family Size or Zicam. The price for the Cottonelle at our Walmart is $7.36 each. So, for the offer then you would get 24 double rolls for just over $4 total after the gift card or even less if you can price match or have a coupon... Click here for offer

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Meal Planner Monday: Irish Lamb Stew

Here's a healthy, easy and festive Irish meal for St. Patrick's Day. I made this one for Grandma last spring as her March "Meals on Wheels" (I thought I had taken a picture but I guess I didn't)...yum!
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces (I used neck meat which Martins usually carries and is quite reasonably priced)
1 3/4 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 large leeks, white part only, halved, washed and thinly sliced
Cabbage, shredded
1 box chicken stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or dried equivalent)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves, chopped (or dried equivalent)
Directions Add all ingredients (except parsley if using fresh chopped) to a 6-quart slow cooker; stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook on low until the lamb is fork-tender, about 8 hours. Or if you don't want to use the slow cooker, bring to a boil on stove top, then simmer for a couple hours. Stir in parsley before serving. Serve with Brown Bread or Irish Soda Bread

Frugal Friday: 10% Credit at Lowes

We've been trying to work toward getting our master bedroom and bath fixed up as our next home improvement project. Somehow we hit a slump and ceased progress on the home projects for several months. We finally made a trip to Lowes last evening to start to put some ideas together. We had seen this advertised prior to our trip there last evening but wanted to post it for anyone else who may be planning a home improvement project or even any larger purchase at Lowes over the next several months. Right now through March 14th (yes sorry that's tomorrow) when you purchase a gift card for $500-$4000 an extra 10% will be added to your total. That would be an extra $50-$400! Since it is a gift card, the value of the card doesn't expire and therefore can be used anytime...even better for us folks who take our time with these kind of projects. Here's the link.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Frugal Friday: RecycleBank

On prior Frugal Friday posts, I have mentioned a few coupons or items that I had received through RecycleBank, so I thought I should explain their website and how it works. Basically it encourages recycling. You can set up an account for free and then you can earn points by recycling or by other means on their website. Those points can be used then for rewards. Often there will be ways to earn points very easily by watching a short video or playing a simple game. A lot of the rewards I take advantage of are the special promotions for coupons from their partners (ie: Kashi, Naked Juices, Seventh Generation).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meal Planner Monday: Beef Burgundy Stew

This is an adaptation from a recipe in Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cookbook (p.44). I don't particularly care for the traditional pot roast with the potatoes and vegetables cooked together in the oven, but, I really like this recipe. I have grown to love the earthy flavor of meat seasoned with thyme. With our brief Spring weather behind us and cooler temperatures here again, this is a great meal to put on the calendar. This is really good, low-calorie comfort food - and very easy too...
2 lb beef roast, bottom round or equivalent
4 carrots, sliced (2 cups)
1 onion, sliced
3/4 bag frozen peas
1 8 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (optional...I don't put them in because Mike doesn't like them)
3/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth, low-sodium if desired (I used beef broth and added several dashes of red wine vinegar)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dry ground mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
Cook on low heat in slow cooker 8-10 hours. Mix 1/4 cup water and 3 Tbsp flour; gradually stir into beef mixture before serving. I often change the recipe slightly or substitute, for example, I had a can of Progresso French Onion Soup (free from Martins a couple months ago) so I used that. Adjust amount of liquid or vegetables to your preferences.
**As a side note, I made this for friends of ours last Sunday who just had a baby. It's a nice meal for something like that because you don't have to worry about the timing of getting it there and it being eaten immediately. I took some homemade applesauce from the freezer, bakery wheat bread (from Walmart) and a bag of Caesar salad (from Walmart) to go with it or eat later. So, it was super easy.
**If you are looking for a low-carb addition to the meal rather than bread, I really liked it served over barley (you could do a side of corn as well if you serve it this way).
**Also, Ruby Tuesday has cheddar herb biscuits $1.99 for a dozen. You can call and pick them up in 15 minutes. They are awesome with this meal if you want something different to go with it (not as healthy of course). Homemade bread or cornbread would be great, too. You could probably find the recipe for the Ruby Tuesday biscuits online too if you wanted to try that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another Valentine's Day Treat
Do you love chocolate? I admit I am a chocoholic. Even though I know dark chocolate is healthier, I have always preferred milk chocolate...until I discovered Green & Black's Organic Chocolate. Oh my, it is amazing! This is good quality chocolate. It is a bit more expensive, but it is made with higher quality (and healthier) ingredients than most of the other chocolate bars. It is available at Walmart for $2.97 for a 3.5 oz bar. I calculated the WW points to be only 1 point (because it's just 40 calories) for two pieces. There are 30 pieces in the 3.5 oz bar, so a couple little pieces a day lasts quite a while. It is such a decadent treat for a dessert. And, it's a heart-healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth too, because dark chocolate contains lots of wonderful antioxidants. So, as a Valentine's Day treat (since $2.97 is a pretty cheap Valentine's Day gift), I recommend Green & Black's Organic Chocolate... ...or maybe you'd like to make some chocolate covered strawberries for your sweetie :) Click here for a $1 coupon through Facebook.

Frugal Friday Freebies

Over the last couple months we've had some great freebies arrive right on our doorstep. It was so exciting to save up for them and then open up the package when it finally arrived at our house.
- Toy Story Hamm Bank - free through Kellogg's website with 4 cereal purchases (all on sale of course)
- Coombs Family Farms Pure Organic Maple Syrup (32 oz)- free with "oodles" through the Game Show Network website ($22 value on Amazon)
- Eat Smart Precision Plus Bathroom Scale - free with "oodles" through the Game Show Network website (this will replace our old one, a 50 year-old dial up kind, for our Biggest Loser Challenge)($37 value on Amazon with a list price of $65)
This was an exercise in delayed gratification since we had to slowly save up for each of these. I am not necessarily endorsing the Game Show Network website. It probably isn't the best use of time when you consider the value of the prize and the amount of time to get it (about 1/2 hour each evening for a couple months), but it was something we had fun doing together. And, all of these were completely free - there were no shipping charges.
Other freebies from recently... - Stride Shift or Trident gum - free after ECB at CVS this week
- Simply Orange Juice - free at Giant with a catalina coupon that printed at the register
- Kashi cereal bars - free with a $3 coupon through RecycleBank and you also earn points when you recycle specially marked cereal boxes through Recycle Bank
- Excedrin - free at Rite Aid with $2 coupon

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meal Planner Monday: Healthy, Organic Steak and Potatoes Dinner

This was my Organic, grass-fed sirloin steak from Wegmans. I marinated it in Aldi's House Dressing with several dashes of red wine vinegar then broiled for a total of 8 minutes (turn after 5 minutes). The red skin (organic) potatoes were cubed and roasted in a bit of olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and Italian seasoning. The broccoli (organic) was steamed in the microwave (plain) for 2 minutes.
I rarely buy steak, so this was a treat. Because all of it was organic, it was more expensive than what I normally spend per dinner - about $10-12 for the entire meal for the 2 of us. However, it was still less expensive than a steak dinner out, in fact the cost is comparable to 2 value meals at McDonald's, but much healthier. Due to the healthier portion sizes as well, I calculated the WW point value to be only 8 points. And, it was so delicious!
I just wanted to post this to show that... 1) it may be possible financially for most of us to work organic and fresh foods into our meal planning (at least once in awhile), and 2) buying and preparing healthy "whole food dinners" is typically easy and convenient.
Besides...this would make for a very nice Valentine's Day dinner :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meal Planner Monday: Turkey Sausage with Peppers Marinara Sauce

I found these the other day at Giant Eagle. These are all natural (no nitrites or preservatives or artificial ingredients). I cooked the sausage then mixed a jar of mom's peppers marinara (recipe to follow) with a jar of spaghetti sauce and served over spaghetti.
I estimated the nutritional information for the peppers marinara sauce as follows (1 serving = 1/4 pint jar)...
Calories 127
Total Fat 8 grams
Saturated Fat 0.6 grams
Monounsaturated Fat 4.6 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 1.4 grams
The nutritional information for the spaghetti sauce, turkey sausage and pasta will be on the package. But, for 1 turkey sausage link, 1/4 of the peppers marinara, a serving of spaghetti sauce, and a serving of Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta, it was 10 WW points. (I added some more green peppers and onions sliced just because I had them to add some extra veggie nutrients). The recipe made this way would make 5 servings and cost between $6 and $8 depending on how much you pay for the sauce and pasta. I often get the Ronzoni Smart Taste for less than $1 with a coupon.
Peppers Marinara (makes about 7-8 pint jars)
Bring to a boil:
1 cup vegetable oil
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp salt
5-6 garlic cloves
2 cups tomato sauce
Add and simmer a couple hours:
1 onion
1 peck hot, sweet, mild peppers
2 green peppers
Pour steaming hot into sterilized pint size canning jars, seal with canning lids.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Movie: The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

We watched this movie at our Family Fun Night last Sunday at church. It is a great inspirational Christian movie for anyone school age or older. It really presents the gospel message and I believe it is based on a true story. I would definitely recommend it... Click here to watch the movie trailer

Frugal Friday: Free Wendy's Fries (no purchase necessary)

Ok, so, I hesitated on posting this...just promise me, fellow Biggest Losers, that you will save this coupon for your "cheat day"...maybe even share them with someone else...and don't go overboard :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weight Loss Resources

I thought I would post these resources that I found online for all of my fellow competitors in the Biggest Loser Competition and anyone else interested in losing weight...
The target points (Weight Watchers Plan) for your food consumption for the day are calculated based on age and other other factors. This site will help you calculate your target points for the day. From there you track all of your points for the day - everything you consume has a point value (except most vegetables are "0" points).
The point value of each food/drink item is calculated by looking at the total # of calories, # of grams of fiber, and # of grams of total fat. The formula looks complicated at first but it's not so hard once you start using it often. This website gives the formula to calculate the point value of a food or drink. I have a slide rule (these are available on ebay) which does this part for me, so it's quite easy. I find this easier than calorie counting because I can scratch down the points for the day on a piece of paper vs logging in and tracking them electronically. I think if I had an app on my cell phone that I could log in that way, I would prefer that method. So, if calorie counting is working for you then stick with that.
Basically if you stay under your target point value (essentially equal to the max calorie intake) for the day, then you will lose weight. There is a minumum point value for the day (mine is 18) but I've never had to worry about that. You are also supposed to drink 8-10 glasses of water, eat 5 fruits and vegetables and 2 servings of dairy, and exercise 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week, which you also log in your food diary.
Additional exercise will give you additional points for the day and that is calculated in a formula shown on this website.
I would recommend though from a general health standpoint to exercise at least 5 times a week (3 times a week is not enough), including a well-rounded toning/muscle building/strengthening and cardio workout plan.
One of the things that I don't like about Weight Watchers is that you can technically lose weight on their plan and still eat very "unhealthily". I started some posts awhile back (under Health Topics) on what I thought was truly a healthy way of eating and I hope to pick that up again. I just wanted to post these links as additional resources to help with the portion countrol and calorie counting aspect.
Weight Watchers requires you to be a member to be able to calculate calories/points from a recipe, but I found this website (SparkRecipes) which will calculate the nutritional value in a recipe by inputting ingredients. The only downside I found is that the database of ingredients is somewhat limited. Like I said if calorie counting is working for you, then stick with that. I do think that the recipe link is helpful though, especially for those of us that use a lot of recipes for our meals. Let me know what you think, if these are helpful at all... I'm also posting the links that Jason sent via email previously, which I have found helpful, for anyone who hasn't seen them yet. I don't disagree with anything that he said, just wanted to throw out there another method for anyone who is having trouble with the calorie counting part...did I miss anything?
My fitness pal
My Daily Plate

Church Planning Retreat and Wegmans

We were invited to go on the church planning retreat through Treasure Lake Church last weekend in State College. It was a great time to share ideas about new ministries and areas for church growth, in addition to meeting and getting to know many of the church leaders. We are exciting to start to get more involved there. Please pray for God's wisdom/leading concerning a possible opportunity that may have come up for Mike there in the near future. As a side trip, a couple of them introduced us to Wegman's. It is the first time I've been to a Wegman's. It was huge and I was excited to find some healthy and organic items that we don't have in our stores around here... ...including Organic Free Range Chicken, Organic Grass-fed Beef, Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour, and Organic Red Potatoes.

January Update: Christmas Celebrations and New Year Resolutions

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. Praise God that everyone was healthy (we were fervently praying that we would not have a repeat of last year's stomach virus) and that we could enjoy time with family. For Christmas Eve, we went to church and celebrated with Mike's extended family. Then, on Christmas Day we spent time with Mike's parents, sister's family, grandma and his aunt's family. Then the following weekend (over the New Year), we traveled to Greenville to celebrate with my family. We really were blessed this year and enjoyed that time together very much, although we missed Jason and Kerby being able to be here with us ( We recently purchased a new camera (Nikon Coolpix P100)after our old one continued to need new batteries each time we used it. We were excited to try it out even though we are still learning how to use it. It has some nice features so hopefully we will become more adept at using it and have some professional looking photos eventually. (Since I'm so behind on putting a post up) Mike has already put together a nice video with many of our pictures of Christmas. So, if you haven't seen it yet, you can view it on his blog. I picked a few of my favorites to post:
Aaron with his letter "A" place card
Caleb with his new geeky fun glasses and the old camera that he carried around with him all weekend taking pictures Katelyn working on her "Build a Bear" craft with Mom Josiah (and Caleb in his muscle shirt) after playing the Kinect Us holding up Josiah's magnetic post-its and Katelyn's woven potholder gifts
Mike and I hung stockings over our fireplace this year and had some fun filling them for each other (Mike even received a letter from Santa). We also enjoyed decorating our home this year even though the decorations barely made it up before Christmas. So, we left them up a little later this year to fully enjoy them.
One of our Christmas gifts was the xBox Kinect. We feel so "cool" to receive one of this year's hot Christmas gifts (not that we really care). Our primary motive for asking for the Kinect was to be able to do some fun exercise with it. We took a long time to decide between the Nintendo wii and the xBox Kinect, but we are very happy about it. We have been enjoying it and it has been successful in getting us "moving" in the evenings, as you can see.
Mike and I each set our own resolutions earlier this month. We find it refreshing to do this together in the New Year. The Jan. 2 sermon at my parent's church was a very good one on leaving your past behind and pressing on toward what God has called you to do (Phil. 3:12-14). You can listen to the sermon at this link. (It's not to late to set a new year's resolution if you haven't already - there is still 1 more week left in January.)
My family decided to do our own Biggest Loser Competition and we are officially underway. So far it's been lots of fun. We each have our own goal weight to strive for. And, I'm impressed with how well everyone is doing. We are finishing up week 3 on Monday. It's really helped me stay on track knowing there is accountability. Mike and I finally set out to walk the whole way around the lake (it's about 4 1/2 miles but not flat) and we've done it twice now even through the cold and snow. It was quite challenging. We're also playing in a church volleyball league which has been fun and a good way to get to know more people at the church.