Archive for October, 2007

The Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner: Side Dishes

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I just wanted to take the time to share some make-ahead side dishes that you could bring or provide at your next Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t forget to visit my make-ahead appetizers post to get ideas for getting your meal started off right (without the stress!)

These entries will be an ongoing series until Thanksgiving, and then these will be turned into an article for future reference. If you have ideas for dishes that you can make ahead for the holidays, please email me at [email protected] and I will include your recipes within the entries.

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Bread Stuffing

Creamy Corn Casserole

Boston Market Squash Casserole

Broccoli Rice Casserole

Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole

Macaroni & Cheese

Cranberry Sauce (Make a few days ahead to allow flavors to merry)

Mashed Potatoes

Sound Off: What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Frugal Hacks: Movies On a Budget

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Today on Frugal Hacks I share some different ways you can watch movies on a budget. I hope you can join me over there and read my post for the week!

We are always looking for new ways to watch movies inexpensively and recently I have become a big fan of just searching for movies using a search function that we have on our DVR. It has been so nice to find holiday movies on television and just tape them for our enjoyment over the weekend.

We also rent a lot of movies from our library because the price is just right for a family on a tight budget! Children’s movies and nonfiction movies are free at our library and all other movies only cost us a quarter a day.

We also happen to live just a mile down the road from a second-run theater and I love to go see movies there. $1 admission can sometimes be even cheaper than renting them from the movie rental store and I get the movie-theater experience for the same price.

More Difficult Than It Should Be

Monday, October 29th, 2007

We had to bring a snack to the Halloween Party that we attended and I was so excited to make Scribbit’s witch hats to bring with us. What an easy and fun idea…this SHOULD have been.

I didn’t realize it, but after visiting three grocery stores, I was unable to find the chocolate cookies that I needed to complete the project.

I had to get a little more creative than usual so I used Christina’s Chocolate Crinkles recipe and patted the cookies into a very flat shape. To insure that they stayed flat, I patted them when I removed them from the oven.

The shapes were still not even so I used my great-grandma’s biscuit cutter (a favorite piece in my kitchen) to cut out perfect circles.

I found Hershey Kisses filled with caramel and used these to rest on top. A frosting bow did complete the look.

The kitchen was short of a disaster and this turned into a little more work than I had intended to put into the snack.

I must say that the results were great and I was proud of how they turned out. The cookies probably tasted better than the store-bought version and who couldn’t appreciate how festive they looked?

Thanks to Michelle for the great treat idea!! I just thought I would share my substitute in case you have as much trouble as me finding these cookies!

Fun & Frugal Adult Halloween Costume Idea

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Sometimes the adults have to dress up for parties too and couple costumes can be so outrageous. While deals can be scored on costumes through eBay or by making your own, many costume sets can cost fifty dollars or more for one night of entertainment. That is where creativity and fun can come into play, as we got the chance to do this year.

Above is my husband’s handsome milkman costume. (Note: I hope you can click on this picture to expand it to see things in more detail. The lighting was not good so I apologize for the lighting in this!) The hat was purchased from a costume shop and originally was intended as a captain’s hat. We took all of the gold roping off of it and made it into a milkman hat. The cost for this was $6.99. I purchased a white shirt for him from Goodwill on half off day which cost me $1.25. The bow tie was made from the ribbon that I had bought from Big Lots this past week for $1.00 per spool.

Although you can’t see it, he also is carrying a small grocery basket from our children’s kitchen set. We filled it with empty coffee bottles to mimic the old school milk bottles.

The kisses on his collar were free and completed his milkman attire!

As a housewife, I just dressed like I always do (in one of my fun aprons), but rolled my hair and made my make-up a little more reflective of the times. I carried one of our daughter’s baby dolls with a little bow tie on it (also from the Big Lots ribbon) that indicated that this was most definitely the milkman’s baby.

This was an adult-only party, but our son wanted to be “fancy” like daddy so we made a little bow tie just for him. He wore it for the duration of the evening and I kept joking that he looked much more like the milkman’s baby than that silly baby doll.

We had a blast and it was fun to play dress-up for one night. We rarely do things like this and it was a real treat to have a night out like this.

Anyone else go to a Halloween Party? What did you dress up as?

Homemade NutraGrain Bars

Monday, October 29th, 2007

My kids love cereal bars and I have trouble keeping these in steady supply for our family. I happened upon this recipe to make my own and I thought I would give it a shot. I think the results were nothing short of phenomenal!

I used strawberry preserves that I purchased from Aldi. I did notice that Aldi is also carrying some sugar-free preserves that could easily be substituted if you were trying to be more careful about sweets.

A tray of these made about fifteen generous bars. I don’t think the cost-savings on these is that great, but the taste is much better and would be great if you were trying to make more things yourself or were in a pinch until grocery day. These can also be cut and frozen to be used later or tucked in your child’s lunch.

You can also substitute your granola bars with my homemade version!

I hope your children enjoy these as much as our family has!

MomAdvice Friday: Are You Staying On Track With Groceries?

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Thank you for all of your heartfelt replies and emails about my question last week regarding my son’s “mirror writing.” I am taking all of your advice into consideration and want to know how comforting it is to know that many children get through this with absolutely no problems at all. We will continue to keep practicing and communicating with his teacher.

This week, I wondered how everyone has been doing with their grocery budgets. I know that I am a very disciplined grocery shopper and I have been finding myself going fifty-sixty dollars over my usual grocery amount. I am more in tune with this amount now that I am attempting to only grocery shop once a month (except for milk runs in between).

I am not sure if I am the only one struggling in this department or if different areas are having more difficulties than me. We have a family of four and our monthly grocery amount has been $200 per month. This month, I have went sixty dollars over and we are still eating the same stuff as we always do.

Maybe my grocery dollars aren’t going as far because my son is going through a growth spurt? Maybe it is because my husband has been coming home for lunch more and I feel like we should have a more elaborate lunch with him? Maybe it is just because groceries are too darn expensive?

So..what are your grocery budgets and family size? Have you seen an increase in your grocery budget these past few months? Do you have grocery tips to share for those of us who aren’t doing as well?

Freebie Friday: October 26, 2007

Friday, October 26th, 2007

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys all of their freebies!

Health & Beauty:

Oxyfresh Toothpaste

Serenity Overnight Pads

Garnier Nutritioniste

Cover Girl Cover Match


Bag of Halloween Candy (Note: I understand that some of the Kmart stores are NOT taking this coupon- contact your store to see if they will accept this offer)

Home & Garden:

Purex Natural Elements

Sam’s Club One Day Pass

Another Sam’s Club One Day Pass


Living the Country Life Magazine

Homemade Magazine (scroll to the bottom and send an email to the address listed)

Giant Magazine

Pet Care:

2.2# bag of pet food from Canine Caviar (First Time Customers Only!)

Free After Rebate:

Quicken 2008 Software
Quicken Rebate Form

Not free, but….

One of my favorite readers, Tracy, sent this great Christmas deal that she ran across and she wanted to share it with us! Thanks, Tracy!! You are the best!

All Around Our House 10.25.07

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

My son stayed home with a belly ache today so I took a few pictures of things going on around our house and what we are up to. I was having difficulties with the memory card on my camera so I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do this week for my blog. Here is my way to make up for it!

This first picture is the bench that I purchased for our entryway. I found it at our local Meijer and was pleased with the quality of the piece and how comfortable it is too. I am trying to work on making our home more inviting and making guests stand to take their shoes off didn’t seem too inviting to me. This is the first step towards the direction of what we would like to do for our entryway. We are also planning to wainscot the entrance to make it feel more inviting and get a new light fixture to replace the seventies version that is currently there.

We also relocated our own shoes and belongings and hung some hooks for our coats now in the garage. My bench was moved out there so that the kids can sit down to pull off their shoes. I got a couple of cheap milk crates to throw our backpacks and bags in there.

Yesterday we finally got a chance to do some leaf crafts together. While Emily took her nap, Ethan and I got some special time together to pick out leaves from our front yard. Even though I mowed this past weekend, the yard is filled with leaves. We brought them in the house and traced them, colored with them, and decorated our kitchen window. Ethan wanted to hang part of them upside down since they were “falling from the trees.” This was a fun craft to work on, to practice his cutting skills, and gave us an opportunity to talk about nature. I don’t feel like I do enough of this with him so we both really enjoyed ourselves yesterday.

I threw a chicken in the slow cooker for our dinner tonight. We have been doing really well this month with our menu plan. This will be our first month really on my husband’s once-a-month pay schedule and doing my menu plan has really helped us from going out so much and it has been much easier to figure out what to make when entertaining our friends & family.
I am also finally getting around to reading “Eat Pray Love”by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is hard to explain the book, but it is truly has been a great read for me and an interesting look into another person’s travels and spiritual journey. Everyone had been telling me to read this, but I had other books in my to-be-read piles. I am so glad I am finally sitting down to read this- it is a fascinating and fun read.
I also finally found a place to store some of my ribbon so it will be more organized. The pretty suitcase that my “sister” sent from that sister swap is the perfect place to keep all of it. It looks so pretty in the case and it is a clever place to store it without it taking up additional room.

Big Lots Deals

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I hit Big Lots this week and I am so glad I did. They had beautiful bolts of grosgrain ribbon (5 yard rolls) marked for $1 each. I bought 22 rolls for my ribbon stash. This might sound excessive, but it will be a great investment for making bows for my daughter and for my little side business. Thanks to Meredith for the mention on her blog because now I am filling a few out-of-town orders too! (Note: For all my local friends, I have just started back up since my mom was sick so if you are still wanting to place orders with me, just shoot me an email at [email protected]. I apologize that I had to take a break, but am hoping to get the ball rolling again).

I bought all the red and greens that I could find, in anticipation of the holiday season, and also bought some pretty autumn colors for my daughter. The ribbon bolts were hidden away in a small box by the gift wrap and gift bags.

Another steal of a deal were the boxes of hair color. Since I run my own beauty parlor over here, $2 for a warm fall shade seems like a reasonable investment to me. They had all different brands marked between $2-5 a box.

It looks like I will have some fun projects this weekend-hair bows and hair color!

The stores are putting their holiday decorations and goodies out this week. They had lots of holiday linens, mugs, gift sets, and lots of other fun treats.

Amy’s Notebook 10.25.07

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Good news! We are putting the finishing touches on our new product review blog, The Motherloot! I can’t wait to share it with all of you and it will be so nice to have a separate home for our reviews.

Other places you might find us this week:
Frugal Hacks
The Carnival of Family Life & The Carnival of Recipes & Make it From Scratch sharing our make-ahead appetizer ideas for Thanksgiving.
The Festival of Frugality shared our bubbly magnet post and named us an Editor’s Pick!
The Carnival of Personal Finance included our fun & frugal wrapping ideas post.
I was also on WSBT-TV this week, but I haven’t seen the segment posted yet. It also ended up appearing on Wednesday instead of Tuesday due to another interview so unfortunately I don’t have anything to share. I will be sure to post if this goes up!
I also spoke to the Middlebury,IN MOPS group on cleaning- thanks for the opportunity to share with those moms and meet others from the Michiana community!

Now on to my notebook entry for today…There were so many great ideas this week so be sure to visit these!

I love these pictures of additional ideas for things you can do with your pumpkin this year.

How cute are these dressed up magazine holders?

These hats are so cool- I especially love the curlers idea!

I have been saving my coffee canisters for awhile now and I love these pumpkin canisters. I think I might need to make some snowmen ones too!

These flower pot canisters would make a lovely addition to my daughter’s room and would be a great way to organize all of her hair accessories.

I am going to have to make some ghost toast for the kids.

I love these ideas and designs for window films.

This post gave me some great ideas for some creative Halloween & fall decorations.

These witch kitchen jars look like a lot of work, but those are some amazing results!

I like this idea for a kid’s table for our Thanksgiving dinner. Much more fun than a plain old table!

I love this old-fashioned basket for library trips. I will have to keep my eyes peeled at the thrift store.

I think I might make some of these witch hat treats for some of the fun Halloween events we are going to.

I am also going to add this Potato Soup and Pumpkin Crunch Cake to my menu planner for next month! Yummy!

I love these organizing ideas for my desk! There are some very creative and frugal solutions!