Menu Plan Monday

Monday is here once again, which means NOW IS THE TIME for planning out the meals your family will enjoy this week.

We are trying to eat out of the stockpile / pantry to avoid spending major moola on groceries this week. Here's what supper will look like for us:

  • ham - green beans - onion skillet
  • spaghetti with meat sauce, cheese bread
  • Thanksgiving leftovers
  • sloppy joes and potato pancakes
  • cheesy pasta with ground venison, side of mixed veggies
  • french fries and fried sausage
  • mashed potatoes with pork gravy, green beans, thin-sliced seasoned pork
Looking ahead to next week: we have lots of potatoes and cans of diced tomatoes to use up. We're looking for ideas. Be as creative as you can and I'll post your recipes next week.

I'm also working on holiday baking, making 1 item each week. Last week I tackled 6 batches of Scotcheroos. This week it'll will be 3 batches of cut-out cookies.

Mix together 2 cups sugar and 1 cup softened Parkay. Add 2 eggs, pinch of salt and 1 cup sour cream. Sift in 2 t baking soda and 1 t baking powder and 7 cups flour. Add 2 t lemon extract. Mix well. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Put on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 on top oven rack for 6 minutes. Do not overbake.

We have many Christmas cookie cutter designs so this is a fun project to let the kids help do. Then a few days later, we get together with the other cousins for a day of cookie decorating. Fun traditions!

Family Photo Friday

The last Friday of November is here already! Good-bye November! :-) On Fridays I always share some photos from our week, so here are a few of this week's best.

Here is my hubby drawing with my son. Notice the motorcycle - my husband doesn't just draw stick people (like some of us do)... he's really good at art, drawing, and most creative endeavors.

This is my daughter who was playing a card game with her stuffed animals. She posed them and asked me to take the picture. I guess you know you're a blogging Mama when your kids tell you "Mom, put this on your blog!"

Lastly is an appropriate shot of my daughter with black olive fingers. My kids both LOVE black olives. Somehow this is hereditary, being passed down on my husband's side of the family. At all family gatherings, black olives are a must. One year we even stuffed Easter eggs with black olives instead of candy. :-)

Happy holiday weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's a picture of our Thanksgiving Wall - a collection of crafts, drawings and paintings we've done this week all centered around Thanksgiving.

Also hanging up is a poem (that we found here) which my daughter has memorized for Thanksgiving this year (a first for her):

THE PILGRIMS CAME by Annette Wynne

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it's very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving day.

We tell their story, old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail
And journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.

May you be filled to the brim with gratitude and all good things!

Have a wonderful time of thanks-giving this year!

Works for Me Wednesday - Homemade Laundry Soap

I have been making homemade laundry soap for years - saving probably hundreds of dollars over that span of time. Homemade soap is all-natural, no fragrances or dies, works just as well as brand name soaps but costs a fraction of the cost. There are many recipes out there but this is the one I use. I can find all these ingredients at my local Kroger store.

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate the Fels Naptha soap. Add it and soda and borax into large saucepan (use pan and spoon exclusively for soap making, not cooking). Stir over medium heat until it thickens, similar to honey. Remove mixture from heat. Divide and pour into 3 empty laundry soap containers. Fill containers almost full with HOT water. Shake before using. Use 1/2 cup to 1 cup of soap per load, depending on size and how soiled.

Cost for the above: Fels Naptha Soap is less than $1.50 per bar, Washing Soda and Borax are around $2-3 each. This recipe uses such small amounts of each that the cost for one batch of laundry soap (which is 3 jugs, remember) is less than $1.

Works for me !

Cost Cutting Tips and Tricks

On Sunday I shared the following info with our church. We're in the middle of a series on Biblical Finances and Sunday's focus was "Living Within Our Means." So these were some of the best cost-cutting tips and tricks I could come up with in a reasonably short list. I am curious, though. What would you add? Or what has worked for you?


  • Shop your store’s sales (look at the weekly ad and buy only when something is on sale, at its lowest price)

  • Clip coupons – if you get a Sunday paper, use the coupon inserts to save money

  • If you have a computer, there are many printable coupons to be found online – especially handy if you don’t get a Sunday paper

  • Also, if you have a computer, you can load e-coupons onto your store’s loyalty card (like your Kroger card) and they will deduct automatically when you buy that product (no need to clip coupons, remember to take them to the store, etc). Visit and and

  • Shop at bakery thrift stores for breads, rolls, buns to spend less than $1 per loaf/package

  • Buy generic products if they are a better deal than the name brand and you don’t notice any taste difference

  • Cut out extras like pop, gum

  • Check out websites like and for store sales, coupon match-ups, and free samples


  • Take supper leftovers for lunch the following day

  • Whenever possible, make meals from scratch. Check out websites like for ideas on feeding your entire family for $5 per meal.

  • Grow your own herbs and vegetables, if you can

  • Jar, can and preserve what you can

  • Make homemade laundry soap and household cleaners


  • Shop for home improvement products at the ReStore for discount prices

  • Buy a programmable thermostat and use it – to prevent heating/cooling your home when you’re not home or are asleep

  • During the winter, turn the heat down and dress in layers


  • Buy what you can at consignment and thrift stores

  • Swap kids clothes with friends who have kids in different sizes than your own


  • Buy books used (but still in good condition) from’s Marketplace

  • Join PaperBack Swap where you can “buy” books for only the cost of shipping


  • Shop around every 1-2 years to make sure you’re getting the best rate on your insurance

  • Raise your deductible (if you have an emergency fund to pay the deductible in case of an emergency – this is what an emergency fund is for)


  • Become a part of the Freecycle network ( to find anything from furniture to clothing to toys to books – all for free

  • Check on for local people selling goods at reduced rates

  • Have a garage sale to sell whatever you can and be intentional about how you spend/save the proceeds

  • Ask for help! Many people are willing to help out a friend in need if only they know that their friend is in need! Speak up!

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday yet again... and a short, holiday week is ahead of us! More than ever before, NOW IS THE TIME TO PLAN! Make a plan for what you will be eating this week and I guarantee that the week will go smoother for you. Not only will a plan save some mental energy later on, but if you have a plan you are less likely to eat junk food or order take-out when 5:00 rolls around. JUST DO IT! :-)

This week, we'll be eating:

  • meatball stroganoff (new to us)

  • homemade chicken noodle soup with carrots, celery

  • ham and noodle bake

  • Thanksgiving Dinner with the extended family (I'm only responsible for making homemade dinner rolls)

  • wet burrito casserole

  • tuna and cheese pie (new to us)

  • breakfast for supper (waffles, scrambled eggs)

And here's the holiday recipe that I'll be tackling this week:


Heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup light corn syrup in a saucepan until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup peanut butter.Mix well. Then stir in 6 cups Rice Krispies (about 1/2 box). Press into 13x9 greased pan. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips in saucepan. Stir to blend and then spread over cereal mixture. Chill until top is firm. Then cut into about 36-48 bars.

Scotcheroos are a favorite for our goodie trays. I have all the ingredients to make 6 batches of them this year. I'll be busy! But thankfully they don't require an oven to make since I'm currently oven-less :-)

By the way, last week's COCONUT JOYS RECIPE here turned out wonderfully! Here's a picture of one tray of delicious-ness, minus 2 that snuck away :-)

Do you do any Christmas baking? I'd love to hear what some of your favorite goodies are!

CVS Deals

Today's CVS Deal:

Today I picked up everything in this picture - 5 packages diapers, 1 large package of wipes and 1 Herbal Essence shampoo - for $20 out of pocket. I also earned back $10 in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs - like a CVS gift card that can be used on future purchases), so it was kind of like spending only $10 for all of this!

[If you know anything about the price of diapers, you know that this is a GREAT deal considering you can easily spend $10 per package of diapers!]

How did I do this deal? I used coupons for $2 off per package of Huggies and $1 off coupons for "any Huggies product" (ie. the wipes). I had a free coupon from Herbal Essense for the shampoo. CVS has a coupon out for "$5 off your next $30 purchase" that I also had to save another $5. And CVS's deal this week is that if you spend $20 on Huggies products, you earn back $5 in ECBs.

To see other store deals and coupon match-ups, visit Money Saving Mom at

Family Photo Friday

Friday is here once again! Here are a couple photos from our week.

Here's my daughter with all of "dollies." She told me this week that she was pretending that she adopted 5 kids! I love her heart!

And here is my son caught playing with Dad's shaver, again. He just adores anything that belongs to Dad... and that makes noise! :-) Hard to believe that this little guy will be 2 years old in early December!

Happy weekend-ending!

Bethlehem - Sneak Peaks

It's hard to believe but Christmas is just around the corner. One thing that is a MUST on our list this year is attending a "Journey to Bethlehem" type of event.

In our area, there are some churches that put these on and do a great job at it. Many are free (accepting donations).

When we visited Cabin Days a few weeks ago, my daughter walked away saying "What would be really cool is to be able to see what life was like in Bible times!" I smiled and knew then and there that we would take her on a "Journey to Bethlehem" this year.

So, do some research to find something like this in your area. They often run the first week or two of December, so it's not too early to find out and make plans to attend. Your kids will thank you and you might just find yourself enjoying it as much as they do!

Works for Me Wednesday - Thankful Tree

We have an annual Thanksgiving tradition that last the entire month of November - a THANKFUL TREE!

On November 1st, we create a tree and 30 leaves (out of colored construction paper). We think of 30 different things we're thankful for and write one item on each leaf. At the beginning of the month, all the leaves start out on the tree. As each day begins, we take a leaf down and thank the Lord for that thing/person that day. The leaf moves to the bottom of the tree. At the end of the month, our thankful tree looks a lot like the real trees outside - bare, with all the leaves on the ground. And we've been thankful for every one!


With Thanksgiving now just a week away, we're spending some time talking about the first Thanksgiving... and you should be too!

My daughter enjoyed making these super simple pilgrims - just color, cut out, glue and display.

Here are a few Thanksgiving-related links that I've found handy:

Tomorrow I'll share an annual tradition for keeping the THANKS in Thanksgiving. See you then!

Menu Plan Monday

Monday, Monday... time for a new menu for this week. Here's what will be on our plates.

  • sloppy joes, carrot sticks
  • bean and sausage soup
  • tuna patties, salad
  • breakfast for supper (waffles or pancakes, scrambled eggs)
  • ham, onion, green bean skillet
  • creamy chicken and noodles
  • split-pea and ham soup, homemade biscuits

I'll also be working on one holiday baking item this week (1 item per week is all we can handle at our house). This one is my mom's recipe and I just love it (because I love coconut)! My mom and I can eat this little bite-sized treats all day long during the holidays, it seems. It's a new item on my baking list this year - we'll see if it becomes a regular goodie tray addition. :-)


Melt 1 stick butter. Add in 2 cups powdered sugar and 3 cups coconut. Mix well. Shape into balls and made an indent with your finger in center of each ball. Place on cookie sheet. Melt 2 oz unsweetended chocolate and fill the centers. Chill. Store in fridge or freeze.

Happy eating!

Family Photo Friday

It's Friday! It's Friday! Around here, Fridays mean Family Photos. So here are a few of the best shots from our week.

This is my son, who loves tools. He has his own playset and toy hammer, screwdriver, screws, etc. He is his father's son. :-)

Here is my daughter helping me chop up Oreo cookies for our Oreo Truffles.

My kids spent the night at Grandma R's house on Wednesday. My son hopped into his sister's pink suitcase.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Talking Turkey

On Tuesday we went to a "Talking Turkey" presentation at a nearby state park. My daughter and I spent the whole ride home discussing all the fascinating facts we learned about turkeys, such as:

  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be American's national symbol instead of the bald eagle. This makes some sense because the head of the male turkey is red, white and blue.
  • Turkeys have a gizzard to aid in digestion. We have been discussing gizzards ever since and did a later study to see if our pet bird, Weezy, has a gizzard (yes, indeed she does).
  • Adult male turkeys are called TOM. A hen is a JENNY. And a young male turkey is a JAKE.
  • The wild turkey population was drastically low in the USA in the early 1990s, but since then many turkeys have been reintroduced to the area and now there are millions of wild turkeys throughout America again.
  • Turkeys can fly short distances. They roost in trees at night, unless they have eggs in a nest (which they will tend to on the ground).
In addition to the presentation, we learned about turkey calls, saw some turkey feathers and a real turkey foot (scaley and ugly, that's what it was).
Got to love hands-on learning and field trips... education at its best!

FREE photo Christmas cards!

How do FREE Christmas cards sound to you?!

Freebies4Mom has a WONDERFUL deal
here where you can get 50 personalized photo Christmas cards (with envelopes) for FREE, shipping included! Check it out. This offer is good through, Nov 30, she says, so you have some time to get your best photo, upload it, create your card and have 50 mailed to you FREE! I just did it and yes, my total went from $39.50 to $0 - no credit card or payment information required.

If you like FREE, it doesn't get much better than this deal!

Works for Me Wednesday - Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful program that shares millions of Christmas gifts with needy children around the world.

For many years now, our church has participated with Operation Christmas Child, asking members of our congregation to pack a shoebox or two. You can decide to pack a box for a boy or a girl, choosing between different age ranges. Then it's as simple as collecting/buying small items that will fit in your box and bless a child. Toothbrushes, soaps, small toys, stuffed animals, crayons, notepads are all good suggestions. My daughter especially enjoys shopping for "our child." This is a wonderful way to start a discussion with your children about compassion, about generosity, about practical ways to reach out and about the importance of the Gospel message.

To be a part of this tremendous outreach, follow this link to find a drop off location near you: National Collection week is Nov 16 to 23rd, so hop to it!

Spreading joy around the world through Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes... works for me!

Home Makeover: New Carpet

If you have been following along at all with our Home Makeover , you know that one thing that many of the rooms still need is carpet. Our house has hardwood floors throughout but some of them had carpet previously and the carpet padding/glue would not come off the hardwood. So we are opting for carpet.

Yesterday we had a crew from Lowes install new carpet in our living room, hallway, son's room, daughter's room and the upstairs landing. We took advantage of Lowes current $39 installation of any Stainmaster carpet deal.

Here's a good before picture, showing the poor condition of the hardwood floor in the living room.

And here is one living room corner with the carpet installed. A picture doesn't do it justice - not because the carpet is anything super fancy... But previously, your eyes went straight to the floor and its yuckiness when you walked in the front door. Now, wonderful, playfully soft carpet!

My son just wanted to roll around and play on the floor the rest of the day! Hardwood floors sound romantic and elegant. But in my 6 months in this house, full of hardwood floors and no carpet to be found I've learned this: 1) hardwood is extremely hard to keep clean. Even if you clean regularly, you will constantly be seeing more dust bunnies that you missed. 2) kids and hardwood don't mix very well. Kids like to spend time sitting, playing, wrestling, etc. on the floor. Hardwood makes for bumps and bruises. Not to mention that kids like to run and hardwood floors = slippery. I cannot tell you how many times on a daily basis my toddler slips, slides and takes a tumble.

We are keeping the hardwood floor in the dining room and the master bedroom. There is a spare room upstairs that we may carpet at a later date or not. Oh, #3 thing I've learned: hardwood in upstairs room = anyone in downstairs room hears EVERY move anyone upstairs makes!
But for the time being, we are REJOICING over new carpet. One step closer to being able to entertain folks and also to really be able to relax in our own living room!

Menu Plan Monday

It's hard to believe but Monday is here again. It seems I'm on again, off again the menu planning bandwagon... but only because I fail to take the time early in the week to create a menu plan that saves me major time and brain power later in the week. But this week, I'm all set! Here's what we'll be having for supper this week.

  • Salad, ham and bean soup (compliments of Grandma R)

  • Frozen veggies, grilled chicken

  • Tacos

  • Homemade chicken pot pie (with mixed veggies)

  • Slow cooker porkloin, carrots, potatoes

  • Chicken tetrazini, steamed cabbage

  • Crispy country chicken, peas, potatoes

And I will be starting on my holiday baking this week. I've purchased all the ingredients to make at least 3 batches of Scotcheroos, 4 batches of Oreo truffles, and 4 batches of cut-out cookies. My two local sisters-in-law and I do a cookie exchange, of sorts. We each are responsible for making massive amounts of certain types of goodies. We get together with the kids to decorate all the cut-out cookies. And we divy up everything to make goodie trays to share with family, friends, neighbors, pastors and whoever else. :-) Sister Sheila makes scores of buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate). Sister Karen makes chocolate chip cookies, fudge, snickerdoodles and party mix. And, like I said, I do Scotcheroos, Oreo truffles and the cut-out cookies (which will be interesting this year, since I have no oven... read more on that here).

I'll share one holiday recipe each Monday.


Crush up one package of Oreos (or generic equivalent). With hands, blend one package of softened cream cheese with the crushed oreos. Form into small balls (bite sized). Roll in powdered sugar. Refrigerate or freeze.

Doesn't even pretend to be healthy... but they are delicious. And help fill out our goodie trays.

Happy eating!

To see other menu plans, visit Menu Plan Monday here

New Blog

This is my new blog. To check out my previous blog (and 3 years worth of posts), go to

Welcome aboard!