Friday, January 28, 2011

This Moment

No words, just a picture of a moment in time that I want to remember.  For more visit Soulemama.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

So long, Target

Today is a red letter day - Target Red.  Today I was lucky enough to score a babysitter and be able to do my errands kid free.  I went to the Sam's Club which put me on the opposite side of town from where I typically do my shopping. Instead of going back across town I decided to do my Target shopping at the store on this side of town.  I went through and found TONS of stuff I needed: shoes for my daughter and son, tights for all the girls to wear to Kid #4 baptism, a sweater for me, misc household items...you get it "Target stuff".  When I went to checkout the total was $304.23.  I wrote a check. (I don't use credit cards anymore.)  I was told by the clerk that he could not take the check and for and an explanation I needed to call the 800 on the back of my "rejected" check.

Let me first say the money is in there and was budgeted for.  Embarrassed, I went out to my car (leaving behind the $300 of merchandise) to get to the bottom of things.  I called Target Check Authorization and was told that I do not have check writing history with this Target and therefore can not write checks any higher than $100 until I have established check writing history in small amounts.  He said it has NOTHING to do with how much money is in my account.  They would not authorize a one time big check.  I was mad, really really mad.  I explained the embarrassment, frustration, the time lost that I can't get back to re-shop the items.  He offered me the option of getting cash at the bank and paying, going back and writing a check for $100 and charging the rest, or simply charging it.  When I explained I don't use credit, he apologized.  When I said, "I guess I can also chose not to do business with Target again too!" He apologized.  After ending the conversation, I went back in the store and asked for a manager. (Note: I knew this wasn't going to get me anywhere, but I needed them to know!)  As if she was reading from the same script as the 800-guy, she apologized.  She told me the policy was to prevent check fraud...I guess they get a lot of that.  I was mad.  I'm still mad.  I have written 100s of checks at the "other" Target.  The "other" Target doesn't even need my ID.  She told me the 2 systems are NOT connected and doing business with one doesn't count.  She agreed it was "unfortunate" that I would be taking my business elsewhere, but her hands were tied.  I know they were. I am sad that I am being punished for the irresponsibility of a few.  I am TIRED of being held to the standard of the lowest common denominator.  For me it ends today!

So, tomorrow morning I will go to a store that takes my check (Meijer) and with 3 of my 4 kids and redo everything I did today.  And sadly will never shop at Target again.

The Budget

It has been a while since I have taken the time to review this topic.  I was able to cut just short of $6,000 out of the budget last year and still feel like there is more to do.  I am noticing as the kids are getting bigger that a box of cereal doesn't last quite as long, a half gallon of milk can be consumed in a day and a half and a loaf of bread...you get the idea.  I have a few things planned immediately to further reduce our budget and move us towards our "living like no one else"

Budget reduction plans:
  • Implement the envelope system seriously this month.
  • Scale back my "fancy" cell phone and get a less expensive one.
  • Make another trip to the resale shop, sign up for a mom to mom sale.
  • Work on meal planning and grocery shopping with a strict eye on the grocery budget.
  • Limit the "extra spending", like my $1 Diet Cokes from McDonald's
  • No more purchases for the kids until spring!
I will try and keep you posted on my progress.  I will keep the running tally this year too!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meal Makeover Moms Recipes

No Whine with Dinner

As promised we have been sampling some of the recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms new cookbook No Whine with Dinner.  I have found these meals delicious, nutritious and easy.  I have also been able to use the items in my pantry too! (Bonus)  I have told you how great the South of the Border Tortilla Soup was, but here is the list of the most recent trials.

Smiley Face Casserole:  I was able to make this gluten free with a non condensed mushroom soup and no milk and used venison instead of turkey.  The kids and my husband loved it.  It will be added to my family's rotation.

Cheery-O Granola: I used a gluten free O-shaped cereal and Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats.  Great with the parfait recipe in the book and on its own.

Layers of Love Ravioli Lasagna: Super easy with frozen ravioli.  I found gluten free frozen ones too!  Added baby spinach...another favorite!

Apple-icious Oatmeal Bake: My kids loved this.  I will double the recipe next time.  They ate it all.  I used Bob's Oats in this too!

If you haven't gotten this book I recommend it!  More recipes to come!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pantry Challenge

So this is the last week of the pantry challenge...and I am losing a bit of steam!  This past weekend I fell off track and have had to motivate myself to recover.  The kids have had a several delicious pantry breakfasts and lunches, but when it comes to dinner...well, we did order pizza one night.  So here is the plan for this week and a restock will be in order soon.  I know I need to start meal planning and freezer cooking seriously.  Jessica at Life as Mom is planning a freezer cooking tutorial soon.

Mon: Weekend leftovers
Tues: Sandwiches
Wed: Crock pot Creation (We shall see...)
Thurs: Pasta and broccoli
Fri: Breakfast for dinner
Sat: Party for kid #3 finger foods
Sun: Roasted chicken and mashed potatoes

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Moment

No words just a moment to remember....for more visit Soulemama.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Picture Book Challenge

Jen @ Forever For Always No Matter What posted about this picture book challenge and I couldn't wait to join.  I think we are going to do the growing level.  That's 10 books a month and more than doable.  I will post our progress along the way and am so excited to get started.  Here are the levels:

Challenge Levels:


Reading with a Child:

  • “Planting” – Read 12 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Watering” – Read 36 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Feeding” – Read 72 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Growing” – Read 120 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Harvesting” – Read 200 picture books with a child during the year.

For more details or to join the challenge go to There's A Book!  Thanks Jen!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pantry Challenge Week 3

So last week went well.  I spent $80 at the market to pick up a few things, but so far I am right on track.  Here is the plan for this week.

17. Hodgepodge - leftover clean out
18. Chicken "not" Nuggets, fries and corn
19. Homemade Soup and Sandwiches
20. Breakfast for Dinner
21. Planned Pizza Night (Girl Scout Movie Night)
22. Pasta Night
23. Homemade Meal Makeover Moms Mac and Cheese (Last week I made a different Recipe)

Friday, January 14, 2011

This Moment

No words, just a picture of a moment in time I want to remember.  For more see Soulemama.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

South of the Border Tortilla Soup

As promised I am making some of the recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms new cookbook No Whine With Dinner this month.  All the ingredients for this soup were also in the pantry too!!
This soup was super easy, full of healthy stuff, and (important in my house) gluten free.  My kids LOVED it and my husband did too.  I increased the chili powder a bit for our taste and added the chicken leftover from our Chicken Tacos last night.  The recipe serves 6, so next time I will double it!

I also got to use the cast iron dutch oven I got for Christmas! Extra bonus!

They add a slurry (cornstarch and cold water).  I had never heard of that before, but it really thickened the soup!  I was surprised. 

So a big thumbs up from all of us!  Thanks Moms!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pantry Challenge

So far, so good for the pantry challenge.  We have had a couple of "where's the ___?", but I simply explain that there isn't any and offer a suitable substitution.  In an effort to also clean out my freezer I roasted 2 chickens yesterday and have enough meat leftover for one more meal (and maybe a lunch!).  There is still plenty of soups and such.  I also tried (and succeeded) to make pan gravy. 

I also made Chocolate Butterhorns in a regular and gluten free variety.  For the gluten free ones I used Jules Gluten Free All Purpose flour and brushed egg white on the tops to get them brown.  All the kids, even the ones visiting, loved them and the gluten free ones were the only ones I had leftover to freeze.

Here is the dinner plans for the next week:

10.  Leftovers from the weekend
11. Taco Night (Chicken Tacos)
12. Soup and Sandwiches
13. Pancakes and Sausage
14. Meal Makeover Moms Mac and Cheese
15. Pork Chops and Quinoa
16. Meal Makeover Moms Broccoli Bean Soup and Tossed Salad

Next week I will post how the MMM recipes went.  This week we are trying a few of their breakfasts, so look for those posts soon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Kid #3!

I know I have used this picture before, but I LOVE it.  I think it perfectly describes her.  She is my princess, girly, tomboy, rough and rugged, snuggly, snarly, tough, fragile, selfish, generous, challenging and inspiring child.  And she is 5 years old today.  A pink cake is being baked in her honor!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Meal Planning This Week

Picture from http://www.healthcarendiet.com
I am participating in the Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats and Life as Mom this month.  So look out pantry, here I come.  Yesterday we ate the leftovers from our New Year's Day Feast.  So today we are ready to get started.

4. Chili w/ bread
5. Pizza (there are a couple in the freezer)
6. Kid #3's birthday (her choice -I'll show her the pantry and cross my fingers!)
7. Roast with vegetables
8. Dinner out for #3's birthday (We got a gift card for Christmas!!)
9. Chicken and rice

As for lunches, I have tons of soups, mac and cheese and stuff to get through.  I also have oatmeal, and cereals in the basement pantry that are not favorites, but need to be eaten.  I am actually looking forward to it!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Pantry

The new year is here!  My family has spend the last 3 weeks snacking, feasting, treating, and eating.  Our grocery budget and pantry are all out of whack!  I have decided to participate in the Pantry Challenge at goodcheapeats.com.  I have followed Life As Mom for a while now and am interested in seeing what "FishMama" has to say on her other blog.  She has outlined her goals, but I am going to modify mine slightly.

1. Spend no more than $125 per week on groceries.  (I am giving myself an extra $25 for the added expense of gluten free groceries.)
2. Do some serious meal planning, baking and freezing.
3. Shop  mostly the perimeter of the store.  Even if this is going to be a pantry challenge, I'll onmy need produce, dairy, and meat.
4. Shop with coupons whenever possible.
5. Try new recipes...get creative.

Are you in?