Thursday, May 26, 2011

The blazer is back!

Time to dust off your old, navy blazers...  this trend is back!  Not your "Old Navy" blazers, but your old (as in the past, ancient, prior) blazers.

True, I have been seeing celebrities and catalogs featuring cute blazers and tailored jackets lately.  My mom kept telling that I should pull out my old JCrew navy blazer, insisting that this trend is back.  I didn't believe her so I decided to do some research.  Well, she was right.

In InStyle magazine's featured Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, he lists one of the must-haves as a fitted blazer.  Tim says, "No single item of apparel dresses up a look better than a blazer. You're doing Saturday catch-up at the office in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, when your boss calls to thank you with an invitation to lunch. Can you think of a better save?"  How to wear this look?  "Pull it over a feminine blouse and perfect-fit jeans for the weekend or a textured skirt for work."

Here is evidence that this is definitely back:
Love Pippa!
Cute and casual
Ann Taylor LOFT
A Forever 21 find...  only $27.80
Banana Republic

Your blazer certainly doesn't have to be navy.  I just think any tailored jacket is a great way to dress up an outfit.  Especially jeans - I love the way it gives that extra tailored look.  Even paired over a simple tank or tee is super cute!  It's definitely a must have in my closet.  And in my mom's closet.  I should have just listened to her in the first place.  After all, Mom always knows best!

Fabulessly Frugal... Extreme Buying vs. Extreme Saving

Note: This was taken directly from one of the coupon blogs I follow, Fabulessly Frugal.  I thought it was great information and wanted to share!

Extreme Buying vs. Extreme Saving

Reader Question: You repeatedly remind readers not to clear shelves but you also talk extensively about building a large stockpile and shopping from our pantry. How can I create a large stockpile without buying mass quantities when the price is a stock up price?

Excellent question! To understand the answer you must first understand the difference between extreme buying and extreme saving.  Saving money on an extreme level doesn’t necessarily mean you have to purchase on an extreme level. If you only buy 1 box of brownies and 1 box of pasta and get both items free, you have saved money on an extreme level! And you have not have purchased anywhere near what one would consider an extreme amount.

So how will that 1 box of pasta and 1 box of brownies fill your pantry? It won’t! But let’s say you buy 2 or 3 of each item during one shopping trip and 2 or 3 of each item the next shopping trip. I bake brownies once a month. I now have a 6 month supply in my pantry after 2 shopping trips!

Suddenly your measly shopping trip full of extreme savings but not extreme buying is making more sense and seeming more doable!  A few small shopping trips like the one mentioned above and you will slowly see your pantry shelves filled. Not overnight. Building a stockpile takes time and patience.

It is hard to see the shopping trips on Extreme Couponing and not want to go duplicate them to fill your pantry to the brim in one trip to the store. But like we’ve said and like the actual couponers on the show will attest to, that’s not reality. Most of the stockpiles you see featured on Extreme Couponing took a lot of time to build. Years even.

I’ve been couponing for years and my pantry looks nothing like the ones shown. But I also have no need for a pantry like that. I have 2 small children and a husband to feed. For those who have many more mouths to feed, the way I shop might not be realistic. For instance, if you bake 2 pans of brownies a week you would need to place an order to have enough brownie mix in your pantry to last you a year. For my family, that is not necessary.

My stockpile is small, but sufficient for us. I know what we will use and I know what I like having on hand. I also know that if I miss a sale, we’ll most likely see another in a few months. I shop small and consistently. And that is enough for me. I am an extreme saver, which makes me an extreme couponer. But I am not an extreme buyer.  And my pantry is still full! You know what they say: slow and steady wins the race!!

A link to Fabulessly Frugal's blog can be found HERE.  I especially like their articles.  Keep in mind, though, that they are not located in Oklahoma, so some of the store deals that they post, for example, might not apply.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Wedding Brunch

This morning, my two older boys and I went to the most beautiful outdoor wedding.  Our dear friends Kyra and Peter exchanged vows in the wedding gardens of The Dominion House in Guthrie, OK.  It was an 11:00 ceremony, followed by a lovely brunch reception.  The weather was gloomy, rainy and humid in Oklahoma on Friday, but God certainly had this sweet couple in mind for their special day - the weather was absolutely perfect today!  Sunny, warm, light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky! 

This was the setting of the wedding this morning:

Another view of the ceremony location:

If you've never been to The Dominion House, I would encourage you to go by if you're ever in the vicinity of Guthrie, Oklahoma.  Its history makes it especially cool.  The Dominion House was built in 1923 as a masonic children's home. The home was occupied until 1978 when it was closed due to changes in the Oklahoma foster care law. After that it remained vacant until 2000, when it was purchased and renovated.  This beautiul old building has always been rumored to be haunted, and once upon a time was a place where teenagers would sneak onto the property during the many years of vacancy.  But, I know NOTHING about that, nor do I know anyone that would've done such a thing...  :) 

Today, this is a gorgeous building surrounded by well manicured gardens and lovely architectural details.  It's definitely a site to see, especially in the spring! 

Here are a few pictures of the building, showing some of the surrounding landscape:

More on The Dominion House can be found on their website,

The reception was held in the ballroom immediately following the ceremony.  I loved, loved, loved the reception.  I really love weddings, but I especially enjoy experiencing fun and new ideas for the ceremony and reception.  I have been to afternoon weddings before but I can't remember ever going to a morning wedding.  And now, I'm totally in love with this idea.  Of course, I'm already married, but it's still fun to share this idea, and all the reasons why I loved it. 

We've all probably been to wedding receptions with heavy hors d'oeuvres, a buffet style dinner, lots of wine and dancing.  These are some of my favorite weddings, and I've had the privilege of celebrating with several friends this way on their special day.  Today's ceremony and reception, though, was refreshing and a fun way to change things up a bit, at least from what I've experienced in the past.  It was light, fresh, and perfect in many ways. 

First, the food was perfectly layed out in the room, and there was something for everyone.  There was a breakfast buffet, complete with a large, cascading fruit spread that included watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, and much more.  Other buffet items included breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits and gravy.  In the main room, there were several different food and beverage stations.  There was a juice and drink station, where fresh grapefruit juice, milk and tea was available.  There was a "made to order" waffle area, complete with fresh berries, whipped cream, and syrup, among other toppings.  I don't know for sure, but it looked to me as though omelettes were also an option.  My personal favorite was the gourmet coffee bar, with every flavor and brew available.  Cappucino, expresso, lattes - you name it, it was there!  Even 'to go' cups of joe were available!  Finally, my boys favorite area was a large tiered tray of donuts!  All kinds - sprinkles, glazed, cake, sugared, chocolate, vanilla, etc.  The boys were in heaven!  They each had two donuts and a glass of milk.  Oliver also had bacon :)  Breakfast of champions, right!?!

The food was delicious, the setting was perfect, and the room was filled with lots of love for this sweet couple.  The celebration was about them, and the beginning of their lives together.  I'm all for a fun party when the time is right, but sometimes, that kind of party doesn't fit.  Today, this celebration was just right!  I especially loved spending time with my two favorite 4-year olds.  It was a great, great day!

As we left, we took a walk back through the gardens, where I took advantage of the beautiful setting.  Below is my favorite picture from today:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where's the "Like" button?

Does anyone else have an issue with this?  These days, it makes me happy when I read an enjoyable email, have a "laugh out loud" moment with girlfriends, a nice driver lets me go ahead of them in traffic, I find a good sale, I hear my boys tell each other that they love one another, or I have something as simple as a good hair day.  I just wish I could find life's universal "Like" button.  It's sounds so stupid, but it seems that sometimes that "Like" button is just the most appropriate response.

I'm convinced that it's a 21st century human being's desire to feel gratification on a comment, a status update, a good deed or kind guesture.  I get it, sort of, but why is that?  Is the feeling a good deed gives us not enough anymore?  Is it our addiction to social media and RSS feeds, is it the yearning for the most current and instant responses, is it competitiveness, is it a longing for attention, or a combination of all of these?

Sometimes, rather than responding to an email, or waving to the kind driver, it would be fun just to reply with a "Like" button.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blogger Spotlight... Jennifer O'Reilly

I would like to introduce Jennifer O'Reilly.  She is such a kind, sweet, talented, and super fun mommy!  I love reading her blog, and I know you will too.  She has a beautiful family and she does a great job of capturing her family memories.  My personal favorite posts are when she shares things about her design projects.  Give this girl some spray paint and a salvaged household item and magic happens!  Check out her blog HERE - I know you'll love it!  Here is a post where she uses her magical talents with spray paint - so darn cute!!  Click HERE!
Question #1:  How do you take your coffee? 
3 tsp of sugar and creme brulee creamer
Question #2:  How long have you been blogging? 
Almost 3 years
Question #3:  When you first began blogging, what did you hope to accomplish with your blog?  How, if any, have your blog goals shifted as you've become more experienced? 
I started my blog with my in-laws in mind. They live in Georgia, and I wanted to keep them as close to us and the kids as possible. It's not easy having family living far away so I try to keep them updated with our lives through our blog. I also love that our kids lives are chronicled and I hope to make our blog into a book one day for the kids. 
Question #4:  Red wine, white wine, or depends on the occasion, meal, etc.? 
Definitely depends on what I'm doing, what I'm eating, and who I'm with. I love both!
Question #5:  Ultimate vacation spot?  Is this somewhere you've been, or hope to visit someday?
Since we honeymooned in Sante Fe, I hold a very special place in my heart for turquoise jewelry, art galleries, cowboy boots and pinion wood. They're so many places I could have fun in. Greece in high up on my list of places to see.
Question #6:  Cheez-its or Cheese Nips? 
Parmesan Cheese-its
Question #7:  Describe the perfect date night with your hubby. 
I miss riding on the back of my hubby's Harley. Since we've had kids, we don't ride anymore. I would love to take a ride around Lake Hefner and have dinner on the patio of somewhere casual. I miss those days!
Question #8:  If you could invite one celebrity, past or present, to dinner, who would you invite and why?  
Lady Ga Ga. Just to see what she would wear. 
Question #9:  What is your favorite charitable organization? JLOC
Question #10:  Name three things that you are passionate about in life. 
God, Family, Friends
Question #11:  If you could spend the day by yourself, with no phone, email, carpool, errands, etc., how would you spend your day? 
Spa day that includes mani, pedi, facial & massage. Lunch on a patio with a glass of Sauv Blanc and a shrimp caesar salad. Browse some antique shops/boutiques for a fabulous find or fun piece of jewelry. Maybe hit up a book store and catch up on my favorite decor/celebrity gossip magazines.
Question #12:  What advice would you give to someone that has just begun blogging? 
Don't get frustrated and google the questions you need answers to. It's a work in progress.
Question #13:  What is one of your favorite family traditions? 
Dressing in Red, White & Blue, loading the girls up in their wagon, and heading to the 4th of July parade in Edmond.
Question #14:  Name three baby items that you thought you had to have pre-kids, but now that you've had kids, realize you didn't really need.  Name three baby must-haves. 
1. Bedding~Our baby nurse told us in our parenting class that all we needed was a sheet and I thought that was the saddest thing I'd ever heard. But, I have to say after a few months I took the bumper out (Fear of SIDS and 5 month old Audrey was pulling herself up and trying to stand on it) and we never used the big blanket that came with the bedding. I removed the dust ruffle after we moved the crib lower to the ground. It was so important to have pretty bedding at the time, but after a 2nd baby I thinks it's a waste of money and time. 
Must haves-Boppy, pack-in-play, video monitor, (and diapers diapers diapers!)
Question #15:  What is your favorite drink from Sonic? 
Lame, but it's what I always get. A route 44 water. So thirst quenching!

Blogger Spotlight... Stacy Nance

Allow me to introduce the amazingly talented, Stacy Nance, of Stacy Nance Interiors!  Stacy and I went to high school together, but have recently become reacquainted through mutual friends, similar interests, and our blogs.  Please check out her design blog HERE.  She offers great ideas and inspiration for your own home 'to do' list.  I know I have plenty of things on my list.  Actually, I have several design, home decor, household, and wish lists.  Mainly, though, I have my everyday to do list and then my 'someday' list.  Surely I'm not the only one!

Here are Stacy's responses to my random questions.  Enjoy!

Question #1:  How do you take your coffee?
No coffee for me; sometimes tea or DDP for a caffeine fix

Question #2:  How long have you been blogging? 
It will be a year in June.  Wow!  How time flies!

Question #3:  When you first began blogging, what did you hope to accomplish with your blog?  How, if any, have your blog goals shifted as you've become more experienced?
Blogs and social networks i.e. Facebook and Twitter have quickly become the way we communicate with our friends and neighbors.  This is how the world shares information. I studied this in my master's degree (library and information studies).  So when I started my business, I consulted with friends.  We all agreed that a blog was necessary to the success of the business.  The blog showcases my design aesthetic.  People feel like they know me through the blog, and that's exactly what I want.  Facebook has really been a launching pad for the blog and business.  How would anyone but my immediate friends know what I was doing if it weren't for these tools?  Through these avenues people can see what I'm doing and decide: "I want Stacy to come do that at my house!"  

My goal is three posts a week on the blog.  I didn't want to spend money on the blog in the beginning.  Now I think it's time to invest more money into the business.  I want to revamp my blog design this summer as well as launch a website with my design projects.  I also want to do some "giveaways".  Friends and acquaintances comment on my FB page or to me personally all the time, but I would like to see more discussion on the actual blog.  I can see on my stats that hundreds of people check it out, so I just need to get them commenting!

Insert Regan's comment:  What an awesome and smart answer!!  Where would any of us be without social media these days?

Question #4:  Red wine, white wine, or depends on the occasion, meal, etc.?
My favorite is a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.  Yummy!

Question #5:  Ultimate vacation spot?  Is this somewhere you've been, or hope to visit someday? 
My two favorite vacation spots are Northern California and France.  I love the Sonoma region near Napa, and Provence and Paris are just magical.

Question #6:  Cheez-its or Cheese Nips?

Question #7:  Describe the perfect date night with your hubby.
Well I love a good date weekend to Dallas.  Occasionally, my husband will take me to Dallas for a weekend of shopping.  We stay at a nice hotel and eat at all our favorite restaurants.

Question #8:  If you could invite one celebrity, past or present, to dinner, who would you invite and why?
This one is tough for me...  Laura Bush and I have a lot in common, and I've always wanted to meet her.  She is Theta and a librarian like me.  I would love to talk to her about literacy and education.

Question #9:  What is your favorite charitable organization?
Our friend Hayden has CF, so we love supporting her whenever possible.  We also have a place in our hearts for Young Life.

Question #10:  Name three things that you are passionate about in life.
That has changed in the last several years.  When I was teaching I was very passionate about education. Now, I'm passionate about being a good mother, friend and wife.  

Question #11:  If you could spend the day by yourself, with no phone, email, carpool, errands, etc., how would you spend your day?
Start with a massage. Then a pedicure.  Then I would probably make my way to my favorite design and antique stores.

Question #12:  What advice would you give to someone that has just begun blogging?
Start small but set goals.  I think it all depends on the content of the blog.  If it's for a business, always consider your business plan.

Question #13:  What is one of your favorite family traditions?
My Granny makes lunch for her kids, grand kids and great grand kids every Sunday.  She's the best cook I know, and I hope I can be as giving and kind as she is someday.

Question #14:  Name three baby items that you thought you had to have pre-kids, but now that you've had kids, realize you didn't really need.  Name three baby must-haves.
I don't think I thought much about baby items before I had my son.  I thought I was going to breastfeed for six months. HA!  I used my expensive breast pump for two weeks before calling it quits--one of the most disappointing and difficult times in my life.
My baby must haves: Aiden+Anais swaddle blankets (love), bouncy chair, Fisher Price Lamb Swing, and Boon High Chair

Question #15:  What is your favorite drink from Sonic?
Diet Strawberry Lemonade

Thirty One Home Shopping Event... Tonight only!

Hi friends!

Thirty-one is a company with some fun, and practical everyday items.  Among other things, they have great summer bags for vacations, travel, etc.  This event is like many of the home shows, except this is a 'shop from home' event.  Please see the links in the invitation below.  It is from 6-9 pm TONIGHT.  No need to RSVP, just feel free to shop if you are interested.  They are offering some great discounts if you purchase during this time slot.

A link to their online catalog can be found HERE.

Thanks for considering!

Online shopping from 6-9pm with special pricing during event only

View the show here: THE EVENT

Shop here:  THE STORE

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dinner this week

So, I skipped last week's menu.  It's a lot of pressure to put these things in writing, haha!  So, although I would love to try to post something about what I'm cooking each week, it may be sporadic for the time being.  At some point, I do hope to add a feature to my blog that includes links to my recipes.  Many of my favorites are those that I've accumulated over the years from friends, family members, favorite Food Network stars, etc., but others are my own.  I hope to be able to share them with you in the near future!

Okay, so back to my dinner plans for this week... I'm finding that if I start my week this way (by organizing ahead of time what I'm planning to cook), it seems that 1) I'm spending less at the grocery store because I'm really only buying what we need, and 2) I don't make frequent, random trips back and forth to the store to grab ingredients for dinner.  Milk, baby food/formula, and bread don't count in my world, either!  :)

Monday:  Pot roast.  I bought this a week or so ago when I had the Red River Angus beef coupons (coupon HERE).  It's plenty to feed at least 4 adults, so there will be plenty for us and even some leftover.  Serving with mashed potatoes, Rhodes buttery rolls, and green beans.  Yum!

Side note on how I make my roast:  Salt the meat the night before and refrigerate.  The salt will tenderize and season the meat.  Before baking, I then add dry onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, strong coffee, and pepper to season.  Cook on low heat (275 degrees or so) for several hours - or, crock pot works great too.  Add fresh mushrooms, if you like.  This is delicious, easy, and filling.

Tuesday:  Depending on the leftover situation, I will make this either Tuesday or Wednesday... but Crispy Chicken is on the agenda.  This is baked chicken, that is battered in a bread crumb-type crust.  To prepare, you will marinate the chicken breasts in buttermilk and hot sauce (Louisiana is our favorite).  I let mine soak overnight, but a few hours would probably work fine, too.  The bread crumb crust can be made using a variety of ingredients.  The original recipe I had was to buy plain salad croutons.  Crumble using a food processor, leaving in chunky pieces (not too fine).  Add a ranch seasoning packet, and batter the chicken in that mixture.  I don't always have croutons on hand, so I've adapted the recipe, slightly, depending on what I have in my pantry.  I've used Ritz crackers before, and it was delicious.  This week, I have corn flakes.  Sounds odd, but they are sweet and if I add the ranch seasoning, it will add a sweet/salty combination to the chicken.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  But, the buttermilk, along with the crust layer, makes for a very moist and tasty chicken dish.  Really easy, too.  Serve with some chicken flavored pasta, some broccoli, or some roasted red potatoes.  I might go with the pasta and broccoli - so I won't overdo the potatoes this week!  In case you haven't printed yours, Pilgrim's Pride chicken coupon can be found HERE.   Also, the coupon may still be available HERE, but if not, the Knorr pasta and rice sides are BOGO free at Homeland thru tomorrow.  You don't actually have to buy two.  They ring up 1/2 price, or $0.77 each, I think.

Wednesday - Leftovers - we should have plenty after our Monday and Tuesday dinners.

Thursday - Sandwiches, or something easy.  Maybe grilled cheese and soup?

Friday - Michael is out of town through the weekend, so it might be a pizza night for us.  An easy, and justifiable treat in my book!

Thinking ahead to next week.... I'm thinking about making beef enchiladas on Monday night.  Really easy, and really delicious.  I'll try to post the recipe in the coming days.

Also, I tried a new cake recipe over the weekend - it has only two ingredients and was surprising really good.  Devil's food cake mix, and - are you ready for this...  a can of Diet Coke.  I've heard of it before, but never thought it would actually work.  But, it totally does, and it was so good.  Just pour in the can of soda, mix well, and pour into a greased 9x13.  Bake as normal, maybe even a few minutes less than the box indicates for a 9x13 size - basically just watch it and you'll know.  Cool and spread on your icing.  Delicious, cheap, and crowd pleasing!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ultimate Church lady recipes

Below are some of my favorite recipes.  I call them Church lady recipes, because these are so perfect, and something you might often see, for church pot-luck-type functions.  Still, though, they are amazing, and pretty simple to make.  The first is maybe my favorite.  For a while, I made fun of my mom for making this, but now, I'm totally sold.  Church function, family reunion, school or work party - whatever!  This is sure to be a treat for any occasion.
Lemon Drizzle Cake

1 box lemon cake mix
1 pkg. lemon instant pudding
3/4 c. oil
3/4 c. water
4 eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
Mix above ingredients together and pour into a well greased bundt pan. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 37 minutes.  (After several tests in my mom's kitchen.  Basically, adapt based on your own oven, but somewhere in the ballpark of 37 minutes!)
Immediately invert onto cake stand, and drizzle the lemon glaze over the top of the cake.

With any luck, it should look something like this:

Completely church lady, but completely delicious! 

Another favorite is the strawberry jello pretzel salad recipe.  Anything "Jello" just screams church lady, doesn't it?!?!  This recipe is seriously so good - yum!!

Strawberry Jello Salad

First layer:
2 c. pretzels, crushed
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted

Second layer:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. Cool Whip

Third layer:
2 c. pineapple juice
6 oz. strawberry gelatin
20 oz. frozen strawberries

First layer:  Mix pretzels, sugar and butter.  Press into a 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and cool.

Second layer:  Using an electric mixer, blend cream cheese and sugar.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Spread over crumb crust.

Third layer:  In saucepan, heat juice and gelatin until dissolved.  Mix in frozen strawberries and cool until slightly congealed.  Spread over cream cheese mixture and refrigerate.

Prepare 1 day ahead if possible.

It should come out looking something like this:

The next recipe is one of my grandmas recipes.  My mom once submitted the recipe into, what else, our church cookbook, and didn't know what to call it.  So, she dubbed these brownies as the Mother-in-law brownies.  The name stuck, and this is something that my grandma made often.  Definitely a family favorite for us.  They're like a chocolate chip cookie in a brownie form - so yummy!

Mother-in-law brownies

2 sticks butter
1 box brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (6oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat.  Add brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool 5 to 10 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  Add sifted dry ingredients to first mixture.  Add nuts and chocolate chips last.  Spread batter onto greased jelly roll pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Don't overcook.   Cool about 15 minutes before cutting into squares or bars.  Serves 25 to 30.

They should look something like this:


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blogger Spotlight... Julie LeClercq

My friend, Julie LeClercq, is one of the sweetest, smartest ladies I know.  And, she is a fellow mom of mutliples.  She and her husband, Manny, have darling 2-year old triplets!!  Please check out her blog,

Question #1:  How do you take your coffee? 
With flavored creamer, but if that's not available, sugar and milk

Question #2:  How long have you been blogging? 
Since the day we announced we were pregnant with triplets

Question #3:  When you first began blogging, what did you hope to accomplish with your blog?  How, if any, have your blog goals shifted as you've become more experienced? 
At first the blog was intended to keep family and friends informed about our pregnancy.  Now, the blog is a mixture of keeping friends and family informed of what's going on with our family, sort of baby book/memory book type thing for my kids, and also a goal of helping others- whether it be through our infertility story, higher order multiples, etc.

Question #4:  Red wine, white wine, or depends on the occasion, meal, etc.? 
All wine, often.   But, I stick to red with meat and white with seafood and fish.  I also like red in the winter and white in the summer.

Question #5:  Ultimate vacation spot?  Is this somewhere you've been, or hope to visit someday? 
Italy.  I've been and it's my favorite country.  There are plenty of places I hope to visit one day though.

Question #6:  Cheez-its or Cheese Nips? 
Hmm, don't do a lot of either.  Cheez-its.

Question #7:  Describe the perfect date night with your hubby. 
Dinner at a fancy restaurant (Ludivine, The Ranch, Coach House) discussing the details of each of our dishes, maybe a drink or two at a wine bar, and then staying the night in a hotel with no monitor in our ear and the opportunity to sleep in the next morning.

Question #8:  If you could invite one celebrity, past or present, to dinner, who would you invite and why? 
Oprah- She's fascinating and has done so much for so many.  

Question #9:  What is your favorite charitable organization? 
March of Dimes- I start my new job with them next week!

Question #10:  Name three things that you are passionate about in life. 
My family, children in general, and food.

Question #11:  If you could spend the day by yourself, with no phone, email, carpool, errands, etc., how would you spend your day? 
A massage and pedicure, a nap, and reading a book with a nice glass of wine.  

Question #12:  What advice would you give to someone that has just begun blogging? 
Blog often or people lose interest.  I don't blog often enough!

Question #13:  What is one of your favorite family traditions? 
Having gumbo on Christmas Eve- a little unique and ties our family to our Louisiana heritage.

Question #14:  Name three baby items that you thought you had to have pre-kids, but now that you've had kids, realize you didn't really need.  Name three baby must-haves.
Must haves: boppy, monitor, lovey
Not necessary:   car seat positioner/accessories (just use blankets), bottle warmer (just use warm water in a cup), wipes warmer

Question #15:  What is your favorite drink from Sonic?
Classic cherry limeaid

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blogger Spotlight... Alyssa Siler

I thought it might be fun to highlight some of my fellow bloggers.  They each have different reasons for entering the blog world, and their posts are often funny, witty, thought provoking, inspiring and informative.  I hope that you might be able to find something interesting for yourself in my favorite blogs!

Let me introduce my friend, Alyssa Siler.  Her blog,, is a joy.  Check it out!

Question #1:  How do you take your coffee?
Bleh. I don't take it at all.  My husband, on the other hand, needs about three cups in the morning just to be human.

Question #2:  How long have you been blogging? 
For a couple of years.  I took last year off from my personal blog to keep up the Mrs. Oklahoma blog after I won that title.  I just passed on the crown in January and started back with my blog recently.

Question #3:  When you first began blogging, what did you hope to accomplish with your blog?  How, if any, have your blog goals shifted as you've become more experienced?
I originally thought it would be a family scrapbook of sorts.  I figured it would be the perfect place to document things going on with Hayden, funny things she said, pictures, etc.  I still do talk about my family but I have found that it has become a great outlet for me to....well, to be me!  I have always dreamed of writing a beauty column and I have kind of started to do that with certain posts focusing on products I love.  I'll also share craft and decorating tutorials that I have found.  Some days are just completely random thoughts.  I hope that it has become a blog with personality that people enjoy keeping up with.

Question #4:  Red wine, white wine, or depends on the occasion, meal, etc.?
 Let me put it this way:  If it isn't so fruity and frou-frou that you can't taste the alcohol, I don't want any part of it.  I'm just not really a drinker. Try as I might to like wine and champagne, I just don't.  My husband thinks it totally unromantic. Lol   Now give me a frozen strawberry whatever or any after-dinner drink with "Oreo" in the title and we're talking!

Question #5:  Ultimate vacation spot?  Is this somewhere you've been, or hope to visit someday?
BER-MU-DA.  We went there eight years ago for our honeymoon and I've been dreaming of going back ever since.

Question #6:  Cheez-its or Cheese Nips?
There's cheese involved in both so neither can be that bad.  I'll say Cheez-its.

Question #7:  Describe the perfect date night with your hubby.
If we are being fancy (a rarity), dinner at Signature Grill.  If it's low-key, then dinner at a more casual place and a romantic comedy movie at AMC.  He's really good about seeing rom-coms with me while I completely refuse to see any man-ish movies.  It works out great!

Question #8:  If you could invite one celebrity, past or present, to dinner, who would you invite and why?
Read question #9 first so this answer makes more sense.  She's only considered a celebrity in the cystic fibrosis community but, Beth Sufian.  She is a lawyer who, while battling CF herself, fights tirelessly for the rights of others with the disease.  Her work is all done pro bono and she has helped so many fight their insurance companies to get access to meds and equipment that are vital to their health. I met her briefly at a CFF conference in D.C. but I find her inspiring and fascinating and I'd love to talk with her in depth.

Question #9:  What is your favorite charitable organization?
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Our daughter Hayden, who will be five in July, was diagnosed with CF at birth.  It is an ugly disease with a current life-expectancy of 37.5.  It causes the lungs, and other areas of the body, to fill up with a thick, sticky mucus.  This causes lung infections and inflammation and a loss of lung function.  The medical research has come leaps and bounds in recent years and it is projected that, by the year 2020, the science books will need to be re-written where CF is concerned.  The science isn't possible without donations, however.  Ryan and I are so proud to be a part of the only foundation putting 90 cents of every dollar donated straight to medical research.  They WILL discover the drug that will save Hayden's life.  I am so confident of that.  For more info on Hayden and CF you can watch this video I put together by following this link:

Question #10:  Name three things that you are passionate about in life.
Being a part of making CF stand for "cure found", leading worship at my church, and spending way more time and money than necessary at Hobby Lobby.

Question #11:  If you could spend the day by yourself, with no phone, email, carpool, errands, etc., how would you spend your day?
Do I have to??? Please don't take my laptop and IPhone away!

Question #12:  What advice would you give to someone that has just begun blogging?
Don't put too much pressure on yourself to become a blog-writing machine.  I did that in the beginning and became so caught up in creating a new post everyday that I was ignoring other things I needed to be doing.  What?? My family wants dinner again tonight???? That sort of thing.

Question #13:  What is one of your favorite family traditions?
My father passed away last year, so our tradition of an annual father/daughter pumpkin carving we had when I was growing up is near and dear to my heart.  He actually carved a pumpkin with Hayden the last year before he became ill and I will always treasure those pictures.  I want to start that tradition with Ryan and Hayden this year.

Question #14:  Name three baby items that you thought you had to have pre-kids, but now that you've had kids, realize you didn't really need.  Name three baby must-haves. 
Things I didn't actually need: a wipie warmer, the Diaper Genie, and a separate cradle outside the bedroom.  Things we would not have made it without: the swing, the swaddlers, and our car to drive around at night to put her to sleep!

Question #15:  What is your favorite drink from Sonic?
LemonBerry Sprite!! It's a mixture of strawberry lemonade and Sprite.  It's so refreshing and caffeine-free which is good for me right now while I'm preggo!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Casual Chic

I'm still fascinated by the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  I can't get enough of all the media coverage, all the details of her dress, the wedding, the jewels, Pippa, Harry, the bridesmaids and pageboys, the crazy hats and fascinators (see here, so bizarre) - basically all of it!  I even purchased the Collector's Edition People magazine!  Did/does anyone else's mom have a drawer with important magazine covers?  To name a few, my mom had the Jackie Kennedy cover, the Challenger explosion cover, the Princess Diana cover.  Actually, as I type, I'm noticing that these are all really tragic news stories... All news worthy, sure, but kinda eery.  Maybe I'll start my own drawer, but I think I'll start with the fairy tale of these royal lovebirds :)  The magazine is on newstands now.

This week, it was "news" that the royal couple had returned to their normal lives, and that Kate was spotted grocery shopping at her local market.  This is all public knowledge, now, but I learned some fun new tidbits about her that I love.  Things of note:
  • She wears a ponytail holder around her wrist - glad I'm not the only one!  And, I wonder if her mom gripes at her about it like mine does me.  It drives my mom crazy!
  • She loaded her own groceries in her car, even though she had personal bodyguards with her - love that :)
  • She not only does her own shopping, but she cooks!  Supposedly, The couple will not be employing chefs, butlers, valets or any other type of help beyond their security detail.
  • They live in a 1500-square foot farmhouse!  Maybe my favorite detail.  In case you missed it, I hope to build my own farmhouse someday.
Here are some fun pictures of Kate on her grocery store run.  She looks sweet and happy.  As if I really know her...  :)

She is adorable.  Darling, and casually chic in her skinny jeans and ballet flats.  I wonder what was on her grocery list?!?  Maybe someday she'll author a cookbook - wouldn't that be awesome!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Couponing, Week 2: What I've learned

Little by little, I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of this whole couponing thing.  In a post earlier this week, I mentioned my trip to Homeland.  I didn't have the camera handy at the time to include with that post, but I did actually snap a picture of my purchases.  I got all of this, including several packages of meat, baby food, tons of produce, plenty of snacks for the boys, lunch items, and laundry detergent...  for $116.  This will completely get us through all of this week and hopefully, at least through the middle of next week.  The only things we might have to stop for between now and then are milk and formula, which is pretty normal for us.  We drink a lot of milk, maybe 4-6 gallons per week!  Remember, though, Hiland milk is on sale at Walgreens through Saturday, May 7th, for $2.69/gallon! :)

So, what I've learned this week:
  • It's important to begin establishing a stock pile.  If you don't cook often, it may take a bit longer to do this than those of us that cook regularly.  But, stick with it and gradually, you'll only have to buy a few extra items for your recipes.  
    • Below are a few quick examples.  I do cook quite a bit, and these are a few items that I typically buy, or have, on hand:
      • Large white onion (chop it up finely and freeze if you don't cook often, and you can pull it out when needed.  This is a great staple that adds some great flavor to many recipes)
      • Medium red onion (great on burgers)
      • A few ripe tomatoes (great for salads, BLT's, burgers, or even sandwiches)
      • Lettuce (again, salad, burgers and BLT's)
      • I always have butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cooking oil and vanilla on hand, for sweet treats!
      • Plenty of salt and pepper
      • I almost always have hamburger meat.  If you find a good price on meat, stock up and buy 3 or 4.  These freeze great, and are easy to pull out and whip up something for your family.  Same goes for chicken!
      • Let's say you're hungry for hamburgers, but you're out of hamburger buns.  Save yourself a trip to the store and just grill the meat as you normally would, but instead, serve the hamburger patties without the bread.  Serve with macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, or some tater tots.  Add lots of mustard, and enjoy :)  Your kids are sure to enjoy it as well!
  • Taking your lunch helps save money!  My kids are pretty picky, or I guess typical 4-year olds, when it comes to eating.  They like the really healthy stuff, like corn dogs, macaroni, chips, and cookies - things like that! :)  In a perfect world, I would make one family meal and everyone would eat it.  Unfortunately, that isn't the case in our house.  So, there is often quite a bit left over from dinner.  As I clean up the kitchen after dinner, I've been packing tomorrow's lunch using the extras from tonight's dinner.  This helps me because, 1) I don't have to rush around in the morning to get lunch ready, 2) it saves money, and 3) food doesn't go to waste.  Try it for a few days, it isn't so bad!
  • When making your grocery list, consider what your meals might be for the week, if not longer.  Often, you'll see plenty of snack-type foods that are on special, but that won't feed your family for dinner.  I think it's okay to load up on snacks when the prices are good, but don't forget the healthy stuff, too!  Here are some links for chicken and beef products:
    • Click HERE for a $1 off coupon for Pilgrim's Pride Chicken products (can be found at Homeland)
    • Click HERE for $1 off Red River Angus beef products (can be found at Homeland)
    • Click HERE for $1 off Smart Chicken coupon
    • Click HERE for Birds Eye Steamfresh veggies
  • If you've started following the various coupon blogs, you'll see that they often will share different success stories of their grocery trips.  But, one thing I'm noticing is that they seem to be smaller trips with only a few items at a time, not bulk trips like I did this week.  It may be that they've been doing this for so long, that they really only need a few items.  If that's the case, that is great!  But, personally, I just don't have enough time to make several small trips - I've got to knock it all out while I'm there, and hopefully, include as many good deals as I can in one trip.  They must have a bigger freezer than I.
  • Slowly, but surely, my coupons are stacking up.  Remember to look each Sunday for the coupon inserts in the paper.  Also, check online for other coupons.  I listed some of my favorites from one of my earlier posts.  Click here for those suggestions.
Good luck to all of you that might also be starting this journey!  Feel free to share any tips and tricks that you've learned along the way :)


What I'm cooking this week, 5/2/11 - 5/6/11

I'm not exactly sure yet what I hope to accomplish with this blog, so thank you in advance as I continue testing the blogging waters!

Yesterday (Tuesday, May 3rd), I went to Homeland for groceries with all three kids in tow.  And, I survived, haha!  I made my list ahead of time, carefully selected items that I really 'needed' or would/could use around the house, and matched up as much as possible with my coupons.  I won't bore you with all the details, but when all was said and done, I saved $63 and some change off my total bill.  Woo hoo!!!  The main importance of this, is that two weeks ago, I would've probably bought close to these same items, without as much regard for the store specials, not to mention my lack of coupons.  I am so guilty of making impulsive trips to the store every month with the intention of grabbing only a few items, but come out with a $100 total, and hardly anything to show for it.  Hopefully, I'm working toward a different plan for my family.  I know there will be weeks ahead where those trips still come out of necessity, lack of time, or whatever the reason.  But, I'm here to tell you that I'm committed to trying - hopefully for the long haul!

I thought I might try to share a few of the meals I'm planning for this week.  My hope is that I can soon begin posting links to my recipes, because I love to cook and would love to share some of my favorite recipes.  I'm playing around with website (a file sharing-type site), but I'm not completely comfortable with it yet.  Would anyone be interested in that if I added this to my blog?  Please let me know!  

I'm sorry to post this so late in the week, but this might give someone out there some inspiration for the remaining days this week, or even to help with planning in weeks to come!
  • Monday, I had a late Junior League meeting so everyone ate different things.  It happens...
  • Tuesday, Penne pasta with red meat sauce, small salad (see recipe below, it was yummy!)
  • Wednesday, King Ranch Chicken Casserole.  See recipe here.  Yum!
  • Thursday, probably leftovers
  • Friday, sounds like a good night for hamburgers on the grill.  Good, easy, and cheap meal!
For weekends, I don't try to plan too much.  This Sunday is Mother's Day, so happy early Mother's Day to all the mommy's out there!  I hope it's a great and special day for you!  It also happens to be my husband's birthday, so I'll have to think of something to make to celebrate both occasions.  I think we'll probably do a 1:00 lunch, and right now, I think ham, a potato dish, baked beans and a great dessert might do the trick.  I'll post more as the week progresses!

Okay, I mentioned earlier that I would post the pasta sauce recipe from our dinner last night.  It's just a spaghetti-type red sauce, but it was especially good so I thought I would take mental notes as I was cooking, and would share.

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (or ground turkey would be good too)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • About 4 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms (half of one of the small containers from the produce section.  Hopefully, you know what I'm describing!  If not, just guesstimate!)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (I love fennel seeds in Italian meals!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 large can tomato sauce (I'm sorry, I don't know the ounces.  Form your hands in a circle.  It's about that size!  28-30 oz. maybe?)
  • About 1 cup prepared/jar marinara (like Ragu or Prego, etc)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil slightly and add chopped onions, garlic, and mushrooms.  Saute until it smells delicious and onions start to get translucent.  Add meat, and cook until browned.  Add your seasonings (fennel, Italian seasonings, and onion salt).  I personally don't drain the excess fat, I think it gives it some added flavor, but if you do, be careful not to dump the veggies down the drain!  Add the tomato sauce and marinara, and add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.  Heat until slightly bubbly, then cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes or so until dinnertime.  In the meantime, boil your pasta water, add a little olive oil and some salt to the water.  Cook pasta until al dente (any pasta works).  Drain water, add a nice heaping scoop of butter to the pasta to prevent sticking.  Serve sauce atop pasta, and voila!  Make a small green salad and it makes for an easy, yummy, crowd pleasing family dinner!  Perfect for leftovers, or the next day's lunch if you pack your lunch for work.


What does everyone else typically cook during the week?  I'd love to hear!!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting organized

Over the weekend, I've been busy getting organized - or at least with my coupon strategy.  One thing I quickly found was that I had coupons laying around everywhere, and it was making me crazy.  I knew I needed to get organized and put everything in one location.  To do that, I put together a little filing system.  It looks nice and neat and is compact in a plastic tub.  See picture below!

I know there are similar versions that you can purchase through coupon experts, however, with some mailing envelopes, index cards, glue stick, scissors and a marker, I was able to create my own on the cheap!

For those interested in putting together something similar, this is how I did it:

  1. First, you'll need a plastic tub to hold all of your coupons.  I bought mine at Walmart, for somewhere in the $3.50 range. 
  2. Next, begin by cutting off the flap part of a letter-sized envelope, like this:
    3. Then, take an index card and, using a glue stick, add glue to the bottom 2/3rds of the card.  Adhere card to the envelope, alternating between left side/middle/right side.

   4. Label the cards using descriptions that will help organize your shopping trips.  Or, I came up with my own that I've listed below.  I got a little carried away and may reduce the categories as I become more experienced, but time will tell.  Coupon Closet lists her categories here.  She also provides some beginner categories, which can be found here.  As you find coupons for each category, just insert them into the appropriate envelope.

  • Office supplies
  • Outdoor (bug spray, charcoal, lighter fluid)
  • Side dishes (pasta, rice mixes)
  • Chips
  • Mexican (tortillas, taco shells, enchilada sauce, jalapenos)
  • Batteries
  • Canned goods
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Hair products
  • Kitchen wrap (foil, saran wrap, etc.)
  • Kitchen bags (trash bags, ziplocs, etc.)
  • Makeup
  • Pasta
  • Seasonings and spices (taco seasoning, salt and pepper, etc)
  • Dish soap
  • Medical or First Aid
  • Bread
  • Toys and Games
  • Dental
  • Dairy
  • Bath soap
  • Sauces and dips
  • Box dinners
  • Baking (flour, sugar, etc.)
  • Dessert mixes (brownies, cakes, muffin mixes)
  • Household cleaners
  • Baby
  • Feminine
  • Paper goods
  • Meat
  • Detergent
  • Drinks
  • Breakfast
  • Boxed Snacks
  • Vegetables
  • Refrigerated
  • Fast food
  • Cheese (deserved it's own category, haha!)
  • Coffee
  • Frozen
  • Toiletries
Then, based on what I've read from other blogs, I made separate envelopes (color coded in yellow) for the stores that have weekly specials:  CVS, Homeland, Target and Walgreens

Finally, I made two other envelopes (color coded in red) labeled Transaction #1 and Transaction #2.  Not exactly sure why, or how often the two transactions are necessary, but I guess you can get the best savings sometimes by using this method.  But, basically as you shop, if you put an item in your basket and you have a coupon, add the coupon for that particular item into either the Transaction #1 or Transaction #2 envelopes.  This way, when you go to checkout, your coupons are already in one place, and you can easily hand them to the cashier.  This should also help reduce dirty looks of impatient people in line behind you :)

Quick example where I actually did the two transactions thing at Target this week...  I bought three packages of diapers and the Target promotion was that if you buy 3, you get a $5 Target gift card.  I was there to purchase a gift, so once I checked out and received my $5 Target gift card, I turned around and applied it to my gift purchase.  This was just my example, but if anyone knows a better example, or the science behind this method, please share!

One final thing...  Michael wanted to get out this morning because we needed milk.  I told him, "Wait, milk is on sale this week at Walgreens for $2.69/gallon!"  Then, I said, "Let me make you a quick list and you can grab some other things while you're there."  At first, he gave me a "look", but he waited patiently while I went through my coupons, matching up with what was on sale this week at Walgreens.

Some quick items of note: 
  • Comet is on sale 2/$1 - and I had a $.25 coupon - total price was 2/$.75.  Not bad!
  • Lysol disinfectent spray is on sale for $3.49, plus you earn a $1 Register Reward (like the ECBs at CVS) at checkout.  I had a $1 off coupon, too.  So, when all is said and done, the Lysol was $1.49 if you include the RR.
  • Dawn dish soap is on sale for $.99, and I had a $.25 coupon.  Small size, but still...
  • Enfamil formula is on sale for $21.99 w/Walgreens store coupon that I found in the Sunday paper.  I also had a $5 off coupon, so formula was $16.99
  • Pop tarts (small box of 8) are on sale for $1.99.  Payne eats these every morning, so although I didn't have additional coupons, this is a little cheaper than normal.
  • Walgreens bleach is on sale for $1, or Buy One Get One free.  Normal price is $1.99.
  • I mentioned the milk on sale earlier in this post, and we got two gallons at that $2.69 price.  Hiland, too, not a generic brand!
So, when all was said and done, the receipt showed that we saved $19.87.  Pretty proud moment - and Michael said it was actually pretty "solid" to have the coupons.  That was his word :)

Happy shopping, and couponing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...