Friday, February 25, 2011

Savings Angel

**If you aren't interested in coupons or hearing what I save please skip this post :-)  This is for my benefit more than any one else so that I can see the benefit of hours spent working on coupons and price matching**

Welcome to another week of shopping at the Koll house!  On Thursday, while I was working on planning next weeks menu, doing coupons through Savings Angel, matching coupons to deals and getting everything organized, I mentioned to my husband that this is a full time job.  Seriously.  I spent at least 6 hours working on all of that stuff.  It goes to show you that honestly, if I did not have to use coupons or worry about a grocery budget I would not do it - I didn't do it for years!  I planned my menu and went to the store.  End of story.  Now though, we need every penny we can save so it is part of the way that I "earn" money for my family!  I really didn't even feel like going to the store tonight - I was tired and here it is 11:15 at night and the alarm will go off at 3:15 am so I can take my husband to work (the joys of one car still are with us LOL) Because of this - I don't feel like I really watched the sale prices well (sometimes they really aren't sales but only off by like $0.10) and maybe could have done better!    So here's the total:  This week the items in the picture would have cost $110.31 but they only cost me $51.90 - a difference of $58.41.  Not quite as good as last week but honestly, it is better than I thought.  There didn't appear to be as many coupons . .. until I got to the checkout and people actually left my lane because I had so many ;-)  My best deals were:
1. Laundry Soap - Normally 11.98 but I got it for $2.98
2. Lance Crackers - 2.98 but I got them for $0.74
3. Ole Jose Frozen Mexican items - Normally $9.98 but I got them for $2.99
4. V8 Fusion - Normally $6.86 but I got them for $2.00
5. Oreo Cookies/Graham Crackers/Milk - Normally $12.44 but I got them all for $6.00 (Milk was free if you purchased three of the other items plus I had a coupon!!)
This week I did buy some things that I would never have purchased without such a good sale - like the Ole Jose frozen items.  I've always wanted to try them but would never pay the money for them. If they aren't good I'll tell ya! :-) 

As always - here are a couple of closer pictures so you can see the items a little better

Last week I shared a few items I wouldn't buy again but this week there is one item that I purchased last week that has become my secret craving.  I'll be watching for sales/coupons just so I can buy more!

Oh, are these ever good.  I picked up both the brownie bites and the Caramel brownie cakes and they are to die for without a doubt.  The Caramel brownies are something I could live on for like a week.  The little bag of bites are great for grabbing a quick sweet and they are only 60 calories each, if I remember correctly.  So, next time you see them on sale - grab some and try them out!

I think that is all this week :-)

It's Been a Year

The Unworking Mom

It's hard to believe that I've been an "Unworking" Mom for (just over) a year.  As I reflected on this past year I thought I would share the top 10 things I've learned on this journey.

10. We can survive on one income - we've learned this twice over.  First, when I quit work, my husband took on a second job to help cover costs.  Than, we REALLY moved to one income when he lost his job in December but was able to go full time at this second job for the time being.  I've learned to cut my spending habits, price match, cut coupons, and, did I mention cut my spending ? ;-)  (I'm still working on that - as a matter of fact, I'm working on a very detailed March budget to force myself not to spend anything that isn't planned . . .. we'll see how that goes!)

9. Our Consumers Energy Bill is higher - duh!!  Last summer, in the midst of the heat wave we were SURE we were being over charged.  I mean - how in the world could our bill have jumped so much in one year.  I started comparing usage on bills from a year ago when both my husband and I went - DUH!!! I'm home all day with kids!!!  Which means - more lights, more TV/stereo, more laundry, ect ect ect.  We are slowly replacing appliances out of necessity (like the fridge that died - kinda had to replace it LOL)  which is supposed to help our bill but, I must admit, I've yet to see it! 

8. Muffin Tin Monday, Funky Food Friday, snack time and the special treats of M& M's and Chocolate Chips are better than business lunches any day!  Why, you might ask?  No one cares if my make-up is done, my hair is in a pony tail or, quite honestly, if I (we) have chocolate on our faces LOL  Nothing is better than a smile from a two year old who has chocolate lips ;-) 

7. Playing in the park, Walks in the sunshine and blowing bubbles in the yard are the best kind of business meetings - need I say more?

6. Plans seldom work out - even when they are written in the planner.  Everything takes longer with kids and nothing goes as planned!!  We were laughing recently as I showed my husband the 2-3 things I had planned in January/February where either I would get a day out or we would  do something as a family and not one thing worked out for various reasons.  I always say I'm going to stop planning but I never do :-)

5. Yes, I do "earn" money even though I don't work - Cutting the grocery bill "earns" us money because I spend less; Not driving somewhere every day "earns" us money because gas is less; Cooking meals at home "earns" us money because we aren't spending $20-30 a day eating out.  My husband may bring the money home but I work to keep it in our pockets helping us in the long run.

4. My house is never clean - you would think that being home all day, I'd have a clean house - but wait, I'm home all day with two (actually three!) little boys . .. it is never clean.  It is actually dirtier/messier because we are home to mess it up!  My dishwasher is always full, the laundry is always going, and - if I'm lucky, the vacuum gets run twice a week.  So don't look in the corners or do a white glove test when you come here - just smile and watch the kids have fun LOL 

3. I never have enough time - I used to think I was busy, until I stayed home.  Now - I'm REALLY busy.  Sometimes I tell my husband on Wednesday that I am still on Monday because I'm that far behind. hahaha  I make my list, check it twice, and than look at it on Friday and realize that life happened in between all of those things I did not get done. 

2. I work harder now than I did before - I experienced both sides of the working/not working mom thing.  When Josh was born, I went back to work.  Everyone wonders how you work and have time for the family - I found it wasn't that hard.  I dropped my child off, went to work.  That meant, the house was clean all day; no dishes were used, no toys messed up, no clothes thrown on the floor.  At work, I did my job and, often had time to work on things that I needed for home - grocery lists, menus, party planning, etc.  When I got home, we only had an hour or so to play before the little guy was to tired to stay awake.  Than, I would scrapbook, read, watch TV or anything else I felt like doing.  I didn't cut coupons - we both worked; I didn't keep a budget - I didn't need to.  Since the house was "clean" all week, we did our cleaning on Saturday morning and were done.  Now that I'm home all day - there is a TON of work and not that many hours to do it!  Between cleaning, planning meals and grocery lists, laundry, and keeping kids happy, most days, I'm exhausted by 8:00.  Crazy, I know - but it is so true!

1.  This is the best job in the world - I would not trade being a stay-at-home mom for anything.  I get to see the smiles of new discovery and watch eyes open in wonder as they figure something out for the first time; I get to kiss the bumps and bruises and tickle until they giggle.  I get to see new expressions, hear new words, and watch personalities devolop.  I get to see them at their best (and sometimes their worst!) and watch as the learn something new each day.  I'm blessed to be able to teach them, read to them, and play with them daily.  Not to mention the sloppy kisses, the quick hugs, and the Iuveu's (I love you!) that come out at random times.  Sure there are days when I hear others talk of pay raises, promotions, new jobs and going back to school - it makes me wonder what I'm accomplishing - is it really worth what they are doing? I traded business trips, lunches, meetings, promotions for this??   Than I see that chocolate covered face smiling up at me and I realize that I'm doing something far greater than any of that - I'm building lives; shaping minds; and nurturing hearts of two boys that will grow into fine young men.  Than, I can say - "Job well done" and know that I had the best job in the world. 

So, that is what I've learned in the past year.  When I mentioned this to Darryl, his words were - "And to think, we are still making it" LOL  All Ihave to say is that I love my crazy, good life with all three of my boys!! (Darryl is just as much of a kid as they are!!)

Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Bread

This is another recipe that I've had for years!  Before my oldest brother and his family left for the mission field, we had a family Thanksgiving at their home in Ohio.  My sister-in-law made us an awesome breakfast that included this bread.  It is one of our favorites and I have friends that beg me to send them slices of this bread it is so tasty!!

Lemon-Blueberry Poppy Seed Bread
1 package Duncan Hines Bakery Style Blueberry Muffin Mix
2 tablespoons poppy seed
2 eggs
¾ cups water
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease one loan pan.  Rinse blueberries from mix with cold water and drain.  Bread – combine muffin mix and poppy seeds.  Break up any lumps.  Add egg and water.  Stir until moistened.  Fold in blueberries and lemon peel.  Pour into pan.  Sprinkle with topping from mix.  Bake one hour.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Loosen loan from pan. Remove.  Combine sugar and juice for drizzle.  Stir until smooth.  Drizzle over loaf.

 This is just a picture of the box mix that you use for the base of this recipe - I will say that it is seldom on sale but it SOOO good it is worth the cost (about $3.25 a box)

The final product - I really don't like it when Blogger flips my photos though!