Archive | January 2012

UPDATE~ Product Trial Batter Blasters

After my post I emailed the company to let them know about the defect. They were very apologetic and said that this does happen from time to time because of mishandling during shipping or stocking the shelves. But have offered to send me 2 VIP coupons. I thought this more than makes up for the half of can wasted.

So in the end I give this company an A+ for good tasting pancakes and amazing customer service!

Shopping to feed the tribe…How do I do it?

So we are awful with staying on a budget, but when it comes to food, I think I am finally getting the hang of it. For the longest time I would shop at just Walmart, then all those reports came out about the milk and what not so I quit. And then I was shopping at Sweetbay, but lets just say I found something in my pork chops one day that just totally grossed me out. So I shopped at Publix for a couple of years. But they are the most expensive grocery store in our area. Now I shop for the majority of my groceries at BJ Wholesale.

Another thing I do is Coupon! Yes, I am one of those people with the notebook trying to score cheap to free items. But in this economy and with a large family you have to stretch your money in all places. Couponing is amazing. No, I don’t go all Extreme Couponing and buy 200 bottles of mustard; just to realize we don’t eat mustard. No, I can’t get my total down from $2000 to a penny. But what little bit I use saves me in the long run and over time adds up to be huge.

But how do I combine my coupons with a wholesale club?

BJ’s accepts coupons! They even mail you out store coupons every month to use with manufacture coupons. Plus at the store they have more store coupons that get switched out every 2 weeks. Saving you even more. I also upgraded my membership to the plus which allows me to receive 2% back on certain purchases~ food one of them. Every 6 months I receive a gift card with my rebate. And with the amount I spend I actually get my membership free with the 2% back.

Now the upfront out of pocket may seem crazy, $10.99 for 4 packages of bacon. But when you break it down. The best deal I can get from the local stores is 3 for $10 and this is rare. For an extra $0.99 I got that 4th package of bacon. Enough for a month or more depending on our bacon cravings. Milk, eggs, butter and oj are a few items that are always cheaper and they sometimes put coupons out for those items also. Very rare with a regular grocery store. They have an amazing organic selections. I have organic spices for $3-5 for a huge bottle!

Non-food items are also a better deal. I originally started shopping here because we had just added little man to our tribe and was looking for diaper deals. Every month you can count on some kind of diaper coupons in the monthly savings book. And a lot of the diaper boxes have manufacture coupons that you can use combined for the next time. I always get about $5 to $10 off a big box of diapers which is priced about the same as a smaller box at Walmart. My printer ink is a much better deal also instead of the 2 for $70; I am getting 3 for $70. They just started offering Forever Stamps at a discounted rate. I just recently started filling up the gas tank when I am there because again $0.30-$0.50 cheaper. And propane tanks are $5 cheaper for a refill.

More money out of pocket upfront but the items last longer and break down to be cheaper. Why am I going to go the store to buy toilet paper every month and pay a $1 more a package, when I can buy the industrial package store it, pay less in the long run and not have to buy more for a few months?

Product Review~ Batter Blasters

This morning I decided to try out my Batter Blasters. This is a product I wouldn’t normally buy due to my large family. But I saw a buy one get one (BOGO) deal plus had coupons making it a dirt cheap deal. So I thought “why not, sounds like fun.”

For those of you who don’t know what Batter Blasters are, they are pancake or waffle batter in a Redi-Whip type spray can. The price for one can is about $3.99. With my BOGO deal and coupons, I was able to get 2 cans for $1.99. But was it worth it?

The directions on the can state to shake can, turn upside down and push nozzle to spray batter on hot griddle or skillet.

I did this but the can didn’t state how much to put on the griddle so in my opinion the pancakes turned out a little small compared to what I usually make.

Another thing, the batter didn’t bubble up the pancake batter usually does, telling you it is time to turn so the first batch came out a little too dark for most of my family. Thank God for Bri who likes them dark!

I have 7 people in the house to feed breakfast too. So I didn’t think 1 can would be enough with the pancakes being smaller.  SO I got out the second can.

Half way through the second can, disaster struck! The spout wouldn’t quit spraying out batter and then it started sputtering and then it burped and then died. The spout wouldn’t do anything. I lost half a can of batter because of a packaging default.

The good news is while the can was uncontrollably spewing batter I moved the batter along the griddle enough to make my lil man a hummingbird pancake. He was thrilled!

In the end, the pancakes tasted good but the batter was very sticky and hard to flip over. The cans were fun until the volcano erupted then disappointing because my money went in the garbage. The pancakes came out significant smaller causing my large family to eat more and the leftovers were much less than if I made my homemade pancakes.

For my family this deal was not worth it. Maybe if I had younger kids, but I have 1 teenager and 2 preteens that eat like horses. So batter blasters is one item I won’t be buying again.

Family traditions

I didn’t realize how many little things had become family traditions to me and my children until this year. With the family drama and the absence of Grandpa, there was no way it was going to be a normal holiday season. And I knew other family members wouldn’t attempt to play nice for the sake of my children because they are much to selfish for that. So it was all up to me to make the most of the holidays for my children. I knew they were still going to notice the differences, but I didn’t want it to be depressing.

A typical holiday season for us started in October with a huge haunted house for Halloween. But this that was out of the question considering it was held at my mom’s husband’s house. We would then have Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house with the whole family coming over and celebrating.

But this year for Halloween the kids stayed home from school or had no home school work and we made crafts and did some cooking before going over to my Aunt’s house for trick or treating. One thing we did make this year that has and will become a family tradition was Caramel Apples. Let’s just say people are still asking for them. I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman (my hero) and was a little nervous because I will be honest, I have never made, let alone tasted a Caramel Apple in my life!!!! GASP!! I know I have been sheltered. But everyone loved them so much that I had to try one and let me tell you I hate caramel but I ate that whole apple!

Don’t they look delicious!?!

Another standing tradition is carving a pumpkin! We always go to our local church pumpkin patch and have the kids pick out a big pumpkin and each of them gets a small personal one. This year we let Dakota pick what the face looks like on the pumpkin and this is what we ended up with….

Thanksgiving has all the usual foods: turkey, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, pies, pies and more pies! YUM! And then we go right into our Christmas traditions. Which I never saw as traditions until this year when I said I am not putting this up or doing that and my family flipped out! The kids gasped in horror and hubby whined! My family has relied on me to keep the holidays fun and joyful.

So this year we put up the tree while watching the tree lighting in Rockafellar Center on TV, with freshly baked cookies as a snack.

I set up my Christmas village on the bookcases by the fireplace.

My hubby bought new lights and decorated the yard and house.

The kids and I made about a million cookies.

And in the end a year that felt empty and sad; felt blessed and normal again.

Au revoir 2011

Needless to say 2011 was the year from hell for me and my family. It started off bright and cheerful. Business was great for us which was a huge blessing. Then in March my grandfather who is like a father to me, got very ill and ended up in a nursing home almost 30 minutes away. With 4 kids it was impossible to get there to see him as much as I liked. On May 27th he left this world to be peaceful and healthy again. It was very sudden because my Aunt was just there that morning and said he was doing extremely well. So shocked would be an accurate description of how I was feeling and alone since my husband had to leave and go out of town the next day. I stayed strong and soldier through for everyone.

 

Fast forward 1 month; the day before my grandpa’s funeral I hadn’t lost it. I was the strong one in the family. And then it happened. I sent a simple text to my mother. I got a smart comment back. I sent another simple text. I got another smart comment back. I got a little ticked off at this point because our relationship has always been me fighting to have that relationship and trying not to make her mad. I decided to drop the subject and go about my business. Then the name came up on my caller id… mom’s new husband. I didn’t answer. But I did call my brother who lives with them to see what was going on. When I got home my phone was ringing off the wall from the new hubby. I decide to answer… he had been drinking….and he decided that the day before I lay my grandfather to rest was a good day for him to call me and talk to me like I was an immature spoiled child who always had to get her way. And then it happened…. he also thought it was a good day to insult my grandfather! I finally lost it.

We haven’t spoken since. I have seen him but he hasn’t apologized and thinks he is right in what he did. I also found out that he has been saying rude comments about my husband. My mom hasn’t apologized for her part which was misinterpreting a simple text message. They also haven’t apologized for lying to my entire family about what happened and turning them against me. I finally lost it again (twice in a year; must be a record) and told my mom how I have not forgotten and brushing it under the rug is not the way to solve problems. But her answer is we were all wrong. My response no I was not. That is where we left it. And that is how I said good-bye to 2011. I got my feelings out. Which in my family I have always been known as the peace keeper unless you threaten my husband or children. I always had a saying ” Say what you want about me but don’t mess with my family”. I couldn’t hold my tongue anymore and the stress that I felt lift off my shoulders was unbelievable.

I rang in 2012 with peace in my heart and a lot of good memories with my family! Because in the end it was my teenage daughter, who is usually on opposite ends of the rope with me that stood on the same side, that made me see how much I am loved. And my husband, making more time for us during the holidays and going out of his way even when he was working 7 days a week to make it feel normal again, that made me stronger. My 2 youngest daughters helping with the shopping, cleaning, anything I needed, that showed me I wasn’t alone. And my son who said thank you before even opening the present and the look of excitement and joy on his face with every present, that made me smile.

Welcome 2012! The year I turn 30! The year I live my life for me and not to play referee. The year I bask in the sunshine of happiness. This year is going to be amazing!

Homeschooling with a toddler part 2

Part 1 talks about getting a schedule set for your older child that way you and her aren’t always wondering what’s next. And this also allows more time for you to play and be hands on with your toddler. With my toddler I have a toddler/preschool curriculum I bought (very cheap I might add) and I also use preschoolpalace.org and preschoolexpress.com to supplement.

At the beginning of the month I like to pick my themes and color for the month.

beginning of the month

I then go on the websites and through my own curriculum and pick out the activities that would interest Dakota.  Then take a blank monthly calendar and list one activity on each blank spot. I do not fill in the dates because that is not relevant to me. Basically I say these are the things I want to accomplish this month. Every morning I look at the calendar and say ok I have everything for this or I can fit this activity in between errands. As we do an activity I highlight it so I know what we have and haven’t done. Very simple and yet organizing. As you know life with a toddler is day to day. Today they could be sweet as pie and tomorrow their evil twin might show up. So with this kind of relaxing scheduling you can accommodate anything that life throws at you. Some days it is as simple as reading a specific story. Those are good on days when your toddler isn’t feeling well.

Also at the beginning of the month I like to hang up our theme posters on Dakota’s bulletin board. That shows Dakota pictures of what we are learning along with our color poster for the color of the month. Throughout the month as we do an activity I like to hang some of them on his board so everyone can see and he can show everyone. Sometimes it spills over onto the refrigerator because what Mom doesn’t have a refrigerator full of art.

Dakota’s board

By the end of the month our board is full and we take it all down saving some things of course and getting it ready for the next month.