Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 27th

Sunday:  Crustless Chard Quiche with Autumn Chopped Salad

Monday:  Chicken Alfredo Bake with Whole-Wheat Noodles and Roasted Broccoli

Tuesday:  Ranch Pork Chops (made with homemade ranch seasoning mix) with Roasted Cauliflower

Wednesday:  Zuppa Toscana Soup with Olive Garden Copycat Breadsticks

Thursday:  Turkey Dinner - we didn't end up having time for it last weekend so we'll be having our turkey dinner this week!

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday:  Out/Leftovers

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday


I've discussed before how much I love getting a good deal.  I'm definitely thrifty and I'm always on the look out for the best prices I can find on things that we need.  So it may come as a bit of a surprise to you that I'm NOT a Black Friday shopper.  I have my reasons.

I feel like Black Friday is all about impulse buys, which are not a good idea if you're trying to get the best deal.  Yes, there are loss leader items that are highly advertised to entice people to the store, but unless you're going to bust out your pepper spray or set up camp on Wednesday night to await the store opening on Friday you're unlikely to get one of the big ticket items.  You're more likely to be pushed into an impulse purchase after standing in lines for hours because if you waited that long are you really going to head home empty-handed?  Unlikely.  Are there good deals to be had?  Sure.  But it takes a lot of planning and research to make sure you're getting the best deal on something and you still have to wade through all the crazies and be out shopping at 3am.  No thank you. 

I'm likely to get just as good a deal on the items I'm looking for at a later date as long as I keep my eyes peeled for sales and remain patient.

With that said, even though I never plan on shopping Black Friday, I always seem to manage to end up making purchases.  This is because I do look through the ads to see if there is anything I want/need that are a part of the sales and if there is THEN I make my move.  I don't just go out for the heck of it, assuming I'm going to get the best deal (not that this is what ALL Black Friday shoppers do, but I think it's what oftentimes happens).

2 years ago we got our vacuum (which was one of the best investments ever!) for a great price.  At the same time, we also got a deal on our bedding set.

This year I took advantage of some online shopping and got double cash back with Ebates, which as an aside, I highly, HIGHLY recommend signing up with Ebates.  They pay you a percentage of your total if you click through to the retailer you're already planning to shop at through their site.  On Black Friday, I got as much as 10% cash back at some stores.  I saw they were offering even than that from other retailers.  It's really a win-win situation since you would be shopping anyway.  I would expect they will have sweet deals for Cyber Monday tomorrow as well.  Doooo it!

I hit up Target Saturday afternoon after all the crowds had already lost interest and picked up a 550-thread count sheet set for $35.  That's a great price!  We have been in the market for a new sheet set for... well, probably months now.  We had two sets that we rotated that were purchased about 3 1/2 years ago when we got our new mattress set after our wedding.  I would expect sheets to last longer than that, even with heavy use, but despite purchasing them at the same time AND paying quite a bit for them (around $65 with coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond for 500-thread count!) one of the sets has become really worn, ball-y, and the elastic is totally shot.  Annoying!  I was totally not looking forward to buying the same set again.  So yay for new sheets at a great price!

I also picked up a set of Mega Blocks ($10, regularly $19.99, I haven't even seen a better price on Craigslist), Elmo Slippers ($5, regularly $9.99), and a heavy fleece jacket ($11.98 on clearance, sale price $15, regularly $16.99) for Mr. Jack. 

I got everything I was interested in from the Black Friday sales without having to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to fight crowds and crazy people AND I didn't even have to leave my house on Friday :)

I am looking forward to seeing the deals offered tomorrow for Cyber Monday.  I'm definitely an online shopper!

Did you score any great deals this weekend?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 20th

Woot!  Thanksgiving is this week!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  A holiday about getting together with family and eating without the pressure of gift-giving?  Yep, I'm all over that!

Sunday:  Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Monday:  Salisbury Steak with Baked Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli

Tuesday:  Veggie Enchiladas (from the freezer!) with Restaurant-style Mexican Rice

Wednesday:  Copy-cat IKEA Swedish Meatballs over Whole-wheat Egg Noodles (I've actually never had these, but apparently they're good enough for Food Network Magazine to create a copy-cat recipe!) with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Thursday:  Happy Turkey Day!  I'll be making Classic Green Bean Casserole to take to my family's house for Thanksgiving and we'll have Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast to tide us over til the main event!

Friday:  Out/Leftovers

Saturday:  This year is special because we're having our own little Thanksgiving!  I made a turkey breast dinner for us last year, but this year we're going all out and I'll be cooking my first bird!  We want leftovers and I plan to freeze a lot of the meat and make turkey stock with the bones.  Yum!

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

20 Months!

Jack is 20 months old!  I can't believe he'll be two soon!

He's all about testing boundaries right now which although it seems really fun for him, isn't so fun for me!  I spend my days trying to keep him out of trouble, and trouble is his middle name at this point.  He doesn't particularly care for (or acknowledge) the term "no".

He's definitely hit a picky stage with food.  We went through a couple weeks where I just didn't know what to feed the kid!  He was down to only wanting to eat a few things and even those things he changed his mind about day to day.  Talk about frustrating!  Lately he's gotten a little better, but he still changes his mind day to day as to what he likes and what he doesn't like.  Gone are the days where he'd eat anything and everything!  Although, this seems like a pretty normal stage for a toddler so I'm pretty thankful he at least eats some things from every food group.  Although... he doesn't like meat.  At all.  But at least he can get his protein elsewhere.

Jack's favorites right now are yogurt, applesauce, and grapes.  He also seems to really like eggs, toast, cheese, bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes (that I cut into fry-like shapes, season with lots of yummy spices, and bake!), grilled cheese sandwiches, and PB&J sandwiches.  Those are all things I can reliably get him to eat.  There are other things that he'll sometimes eat and sometimes he won't touch.  It just changes day to day, but at least there is a list of things we know he likes!

Eating Eggs and Toast
Dip-dip!  Jack recently discovered the joys of dipping!

On the positive side, in the last week or so Jack has had an explosion of words!  I've known it was coming for a while and although his passive verbal skills were clearly growing by leaps and bounds, Jack just didn't have much to say.  Within the last week he has started saying a lot of new words and he's experimenting by repeating a lot of sounds and trying to mimic a lot of what we say.  I think he's going to be a little chatterbox in no time :)  Just recently he has started to say:

Go! (usually to the dog... no idea where he's heard that...)
'Nana (banana)
Daddy ("DaDee" instead of DaDa)
Bibby (his bib)
Baby ("BayBEE")
Baa (sheep)
Moo (cow)
Moon (which sounds a lot like "moo", definitely need to pay attention to context on this one!)
Yesterday he came very close to saying squirrel!

A apologize that the clip is sideways (oops!), but here's a video of Jack saying "baa!".  It's pretty cute!

And of course he's doing lots of babbling.

And even more importantly he has finally started nodding yes!  Before, everything was no.  It's a lot easier to figure out what he wants, or is trying to say when he can indicate yes and no!

He has also started making an "I don't know" gesture where he turns his palms up and kind of shrugs. He doesn't actually say "I don't know", but he makes a sound that sounds like that's what he's saying. It's really adorable! I'm not even really sure where he picked it up.

He loves to look outside every night after dinner for the moon, and he also gets excited when he spots airplanes which happens a lot because we're near an airport.

He's still really into trucks and I would say his little pickup and trailer are his favorite.  He really likes playing with his ball, sitting in his chair, coloring, and reading books too.  He LOVES watching Sesame Street and is of course enamored with Elmo like many of his cohorts.  He loves dancing too.


We hit a rough patch with sleeping a few weeks ago, but thankfully he seems to be a little bit more back on schedule and going down easier.  There were a few days where he really fought his nap and a couple of days where he ended up not napping at all even though he was clearly tired.  Last week, he was up around 7am everyday, which I think was influenced by the time change.  I guess he's just enjoying our days so much he doesn't want to waste time sleeping! 

I've also noticed that Jack seems to be moving into a stage where he's very particular about things.  He knows how things are supposed to be and doesn't like if they're not that way.  For example, we have a floor lamp and a table lamp in our family room.  If we turn only one on he keeps pointing at the other one until we turn it on because that's how it usually is!

And he also knows a lot of his body parts.  When he feels like humoring you he can point to his:


He also really enjoys pointing things out on his stuffed animals, on us, or even on people on TV :)  He usually chooses to point to eyes, or even more often ears.

He finally gives kisses and hugs!  He started doing this a few weeks ago and it's probably the sweetest thing ever!  I had to wait a long time for it, but I get lots of lovin' now!  Jack also likes to kiss his stuffed animals and have his stuffed animals kiss other things/people, including the dog :-/

He found the remote to our ceiling fan.
And of course enjoyed playing with it.

Playing at a local indoor play area.  He loves anything he can ride on!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 13th

I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in the last week and a half so although I'm still not 100% I'm hopefully on the road to recovery!  I'm sick of being sick!

 Sunday:  Leftover Pot Roast Sandwiches with Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms

Monday:  Crustless Chard Quiche with Salad

Tuesday:  Chicken Alfredo Bake with Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday:  Parmesan Tilapia with Roasted Cauliflower

Thursday:  Creamy Chicken with Black Beans and Corn (CrockPot) over Cilantro-Lime Rice

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday:  OUT

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Works for Me Wednesday: Saving a Few Pennies

Yep, still sick over here.  I'm so over it.  This has been the longest week in the history of weeks already and guys?  It's only Wednesday.  Oy vey.  Jack has decided that his personal prescription for momma getting better involves 7am wake up calls.  Not the week for it, kid.  So yeah, abnormally long days + sick momma + bored, stuck inside toddler = no good all around.  No idea why he's rushing to greet the day every morning.  I'd prefer to stay in bed all day.

ANYWAY, even though I'm dying a slow death over here I thought I'd share with you one of my penny saving tips.  I'm all about saving the pennies!  I really think saving a few pennies is worth it because it really adds up and every little bit helps when you have a tight budget with little wiggle room.  And the bonus of this tip is, not only does it save a little bit of money, but it ends up actually working better!

I use my dishwasher as a drying rack:

I have the "heated dry" turned off and once the dishwasher finishes running through it's cleaning cycle I just open it up and pull the racks out and allow everything to air dry.  Let me tell you, I've found that not only does it save money and energy, but it actually works BETTER than the heated dry option!  Now, we have an older dishwasher so I don't know, maybe newer dishwashers have a better drying option, but when I let the dishwasher do the heated dry thing everything still comes out wet.  I'm pretty sure it's because there's still all that moisture trapped in there from the dishwasher running, you know?  So, opening it up and letting it air dry actually works out better because the stuff gets drier.  Especially all that plastic stuff that really holds on to the water.  It's really a win-win!

Next time you run a load of dishes try it for yourself! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween Fun!

We visited the Pumpkin Patch a few weeks back to pick out some pumpkins for Halloween.  Mark's mom came with us and Jack had a blast!

Jack and DaDa

Jack and MaMa

And for fun, this is our picture from last year:

Look at how little he was!  I was still wearing him in the Moby.  Same hat, by the way :)  I think he was 7 months old here.

All together now.

Jack did not wish to look at the camera.  He was looking at all the pumpkins and was very anxious to get down and explore.

And of course nearly all of the pictures I took ended up being of the back of Jack's head.  His only interest was running through the pumpkin fields as quickly and crazily as possible.  He didn't even watch where he was going so he spent all day tripping over the vines.  He would hardly hold our hands, of course.  At least he enjoyed himself.

And the result of all our hard pumpkin picking work:

Guess who Jack was for Halloween:


Like many of his cohorts, Jack is enamored with Elmo right now.  It's quite cute!  So, Elmo he was!

Here are some before pics.  You know, before he transformed into Elmo ;)

He wore his Elmo PJs under his costume to keep warm!

He loved this little flashing pumpkin that Grandma AJ gave him

Elmo!  I think it goes without saying that it's really hard to get a decent pic of this kid right now, but I'll say it anyway.

Okay, let's go, people!

He was our handing out candy assistant.
And last year:

Squee!  So little!  He would have been 8 months old here.

Mark took him around to a few houses to Trick-or-Treat, but as we had assumed, Jack was unimpressed.  And also, a lot of our neighbors did not hand out candy.  LAME.

Anyway, we had a great Halloween and I'm already looking forward to next year when Jack will probably be more into celebrating the holiday!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 6th

Err... Menu Plan Tuesday.  Fail.  Immediately following my triumphant return to blogging I seem to have been attacked by a nasty cold.  I've been sick since last week :(  I'm really going to work on getting some pics from the Pumpkin Patch and Halloween uploaded.

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday:  Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Roasted Broccoli (this is the first time I've tried roasting broccoli and it was really good!)

Tuesday:  Parmesan Tilapia with Roasted Cauliflower

Wednesday:  Pot Roast in the CrockPot with Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

Thursday: Chicken Queso Soup

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday:  OUT

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by