{on top of spaghetti…}

Remember a few posts back when I shared this delicious recipe for Spicy Rigatoni Sauce?  The recipe called for boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Instead, I like to make mine with some tasty chicken meatballs.  Well, I got a hankering for another batch a few days ago, and actually remembered to take some pictures this time.  I love these meatballs and the great thing is they taste great the next day too!

For Chicken Meatballs you’ll need:

  • package of ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella (or whatever shredded cheese you have on hand)
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1 T minced garlic (buy a jar, it’s so much easier)
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 T thyme
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T butter (softened)
  • 1 egg (forgot to put the egg in the ingredient picture)

Okay.  Throw all that stuff in a bowl!

Looks delicious, right?  Wash those hands (you should have done this from the very beginning, but it wouldn’t hurt to wash again…you did just handle all kinds of packaging).  Mash all those ingredients together until it looks pretty uniform.  Once you have everything mixed together well, coat your glass baking dish with a small amount of EVOO and form meatballs.  I usually get about 9 out of each batch I make.  My meatballs are probably an inch to an inch and a half in diameter.

Pop those balls in the oven for about an hour at 350.  While they are cooking, prepare your favorite pasta sauce and uncork a bottle of red wine.  You might want to try this one here.

This is seriously one of my favorite things to eat right now.  They taste amazing and smell so good while they are cooking!  Do you have any favorite recipes?

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{clip, clip}

It’s time for the thrill of the coupon!  I’m not talking about getting $.25 of here and $.75 off there.  I’m talking HUGE savings, my friends.

First off, some couponing lingo to help you understand this post a little better…

  • BOGO: Buy One, Get One Free
  • $.50/1: $.50 off one item
  • $.50/3: $.50 off three items
  • MFR: Manufacturer Coupon
  • IP: Internet Printable Coupon
  • eCoupon: found online, but loaded to a card (for example, Kroger Plus Card)

I live in Georgia, and the stores that I do most of my shopping are Target, Kroger, Publix, and Wal-Mart.  I do most of my grocery shopping at Kroger because I like to take advantage of their fuel point system.  For those of you not familiar with Kroger Fuel Points, for every 100 fuel points earned (typically $1 spent=1 fuel point), you get $.10 off per gallon.  For those of you with prescriptions, take them to Kroger!  You earn 50 Kroger Fuel Points for each prescription, EVERY TIME!  You can save your fuel points until you’ve accumulated a more hefty discount if you’d like (up to $1.00 off/gallon).  Kroger Fuel Points can be redeemed at Kroger Gas Stations and participating Shell Gas Stations.  All you need to redeem them is your Kroger Plus Card.  Plus, even if you don’t have enough fuel points to earn a discount, using your plus card always gets you at least $.03-$.05 off/gallon.  Hey, every penny counts!

I definitely do not consider myself to be a couponing expert, but have felt a lot more confident about my shopping trips lately because of the big bucks I’ve been saving.  I mean, look at this!

Tip #1 Take advantage of shopping at stores that double your MFR coupons.  After some research, I discovered that both Kroger and Publix double MFR coupons up to $.50 (some stores may vary by state) and also accept a store or eCoupon in addition to the MFR.  That means if I want to buy Old Spice Body Wash that is $2.99 and I have a $.50 off MFR coupon plus a $.25 off eCoupon (already loaded to my Kroger Plus Card) then I would get a total of $1.25 off of a $2.99 body wash, making my purchase $1.74.

Tip #2  Look for BOGO deals.  Let’s pretend that Kroger just happens to be running a BOGO deal on that same Old Spice Body Wash that is $2.99.  I can now use two $.50 MFR coupons plus my eCoupon giving me a total of $2.25 off (because remember, Kroger doubles my MFR coupons!)  So that gives me TWO Old Spice Body Washes for only $.74!  Publix is really good about BOGO deals too.  Check the store ads for the items on sale and at BOGO each week!

Tip #3  Devote some time to clipping coupons from the Sunday paper each week and studying some websites devoted to helping us common folk interpret coupons and sales.  My favorite coupon site is this one here.  I also like to go to this website every week to upload eCoupons to my Kroger Plus Card.  This one is good for IP coupons.  So is this one.  And this one.  And this one.  Moral of the story…there are a TON of websites out there to help you figure out how to save big bucks.  Do yourself a favor and get familiar with them, now!  Your wallet and your husband 🙂 will thank you!

Tip #4  You do not need 20 boxes of cereal that you don’t eat just because they are BOGO and you have a ton of coupons for them.  Don’t clip coupons and definitely don’t use coupons for items that you do not use!  That’s just a silly waste of money!  If you are compelled to just clip all coupons or you maybe have a coupon for something that you really don’t need, go find the item in the store and leave it there for someone who really does need it.  I do that all the time (not sure how the employees feel about that, but I think it’s the nice thing to do).  I also do this if I realize that a coupon that I have is about to expire in a day or two and I really don’t need the item before that time.

Tip #5  Actually look through the store ads for the stores that you shop at every single week.  From week to week different stores run different sales.  A lot of stores, like Publix and Wal-Mart for example will even price match if you bring in the competitor’s ad.  Publix even takes it a step further by honoring competitor coupons too!  In most states, the ad schedule is:

  • Sunday: Target and Kroger
  • Monday: Wal-Mart
  • Tuesday: Publix

Tip #6  Stay organized and bring your coupons with you every time you leave the house!  Your coupons are doing you no good sitting on your kitchen counter while you’re at the store.  I keep all of my coupons in a hard plastic, index card box with alphabetical dividers.  I purchased the box and the dividers at Wal-Mart for less than $3.00.  I’ve tried several methods including a coupon binder with plastic page protectors that I just did not like using and a canvas coupon file system from Target, but it only had 5 sections and it was difficult to keep track of my coupons.  So far, my index card box has been the best organizer for me, but everyone is different!  Each Sunday, after I clip my coupons, I simply go through each letter, file new coupons, and purge expired ones.  I also use this box to keep major store coupons like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Babies R Us, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.

Tip #7  If you have the time, and I highly suggest you make the time, sit down with your coupons and write out a meal plan and a grocery list for the week.  I typically shop every week, especially for items we use a lot (milk, baby food, produce), and maybe once every three weeks I make a big shopping trip.  If I have a coupon or I know the store is running a sale on an item I make note of that on my list and I put that coupon aside (to make for an easier check out).  If I prepare a list ahead of time that usually means that I’ve put aside all of the MFR, IP, and store coupons that I plan to hand over to the cashier.  I can put those at the front of my coupon box and just hand over the stack when I’m checking out.  This helps check out run a lot smoother and also helps to avoid mean stares from customers behind you that are thinking, “oh no, crazy coupon lady is in front of me.”

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for ya!  Again, I by no means consider myself to be a couponing expert.  I’ve simply been feeling pretty good about my total savings lately after shopping and thought I’d share the love.  I’ve even had a few cashiers comment on how much I’m saving, which makes me feel pretty good too.  Please let me know if this has helped you out at all!

What about you?  What’s the most you’ve saved with coupons and sales lately?  If you have any tips or tricks, please share!

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{we really can’t wait til daddy comes home!}

Shane has been in Australia for the better part of the past month.  We missed celebrating Valentine’s Day and his birthday together!  Needless to say, Jackson and I are ready for daddy to come home, and can’t wait til next week when he heads back to the good U-S-of-A :).  I took this picture of Jackson and I to send to Shane while he’s been away.

I don’t have a tripod, so I just set the camera on the floor and hoped for the best with my self timer beeping away.  Luckily Jackson reacted to the sounds the timer made!  I’m entering the I Clicked it Up a Notch February Photography Contest.  Click the button to see some other great entries!  Do you have a favorite photograph you took in the month of February?  If so, you should enter!

Click It Up A Notch

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{j love}

I know, I know.  I’ve been MIA for a while.  In my defense, my husband is in AUSTRALIA (yes, really, Australia) which leaves just little old me to take care of the babe, the house, myself, and life in general here in the USA, and I also traveled to Michigan last weekend to visit some girlfriends and my parents.  So, when I wasn’t doing all those things mentioned above I tried to enjoy some time to myself via trashy TV and some bottles glasses of wine every now and then.  I feel like I’m caught up on day to day stuff and have even had some time for a few fun (and super inexpensive projects).  I’m dying to share!  First though, I wanted to show you this…

 

Isn’t it pretty?!  I’ve had this odd obsession with wearing a letter J around my neck since Jackson was born, but didn’t want to spend the big bucks on what I had previously found.  Well, my friend Vanessa did a little giveaway on her blog last month which led me here.  I was quickly introduced to John and Jillian Burden, a couple that is in the middle of the adoption process.  They write about their journey towards bringing their little boy home from Russia.  He is 17 months old and is currently waiting for them as they are in the home study phase of the adoption process.

Now, adopting is not cheap.  To help with the cost they are living frugally, applying for some adoption grants, and also doing some fundraising.  One way they are fundraising is through Jillian’s Etsy Shop.  I didn’t win Vanessa’s giveaway, but felt compelled to purchase a handstamped necklace (they are only $20-$25!).  I chose the letter J (for my little man), with the LOVE tag, and a green bead (I love me some green…it’s a bit of an obsession).  So now, not only do I have the J necklace I’ve been wanting for the past six months, but I feel so good about wearing it knowing that I’m helping a family bring home a sweet little boy of their own!

These would make great gifts for birthdays or Mother’s Day (just sayin’).  Please show the Burden’s some support and buy a necklace today! 🙂

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{rain drops on roses}

While rain drops on roses are quite lovely, I wouldn’t necessarily refer to it as one of my favorite things!  I’ve been trying to organize personal spaces in my house a lot lately, my bathroom and closet in particular.  In doing so it not only has made these spaces feel so much more organized and accessible, but it’s also given me the feeling of just having gone shopping.  I find that when I organize and de-clutter my stuff I reintroduce myself to some things that I once loved but may have forgotten about because they have been hiding in a drawer or stuffed behind a few not so neatly folded sweatshirts.  Organizing my bathroom and closet has turned into quite a big (and not so quick project).  I’ll post pictures and my thoughts after it’s all said and done so you have some nice before and after pictures to oogle at.  In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things.  Let’s start with the bathroom.

Once I find a product that I love I typically use it forever.  It takes a lot to change my ways when it comes to beauty items.

Shampoo/Conditioner

I LOVE Redkin hair products.  They smell great and always leave my hair feeling fantastic.  I’ve never been a wash your hair everyday kind of girl (it’s too long and luckily very thick, so it can take a few days of non-washing).  I’ve honestly tried every single shampoo variety that they make (even the one for blondes because a stylist once told me that it would help to add natural highlights to my hair, especially in the summer).  I love them all!  I will say that after I finish a bottle of one variety I usually get another just to mix it up.  I almost always purchase Redkin products when they are running a promotion at Ulta and also use a coupon.  Several times a year they run a BOGO offer that is hard to pass up.  I’m currently using Redkin Body Full Shampoo and Conditioner.

Mascara

I’m definitely a Maybelline mascara girl.  I tried to make the switch to Cover Girl a few months ago because I had some great coupons and they were a little bit cheaper than my beloved Maybelline, but Cover Girl was super drying in my opinion.  I’ve tried many of the Maybelline mascaras and liked a lot of them.  My favorite and go-to mascara will always be Maybelline Great Lash, you know, the pink and lime green one?  It goes on smooth, looks beautifully shiny and very black.  I just recently purchased a couple of tubes at Ulta as well since they had a BOGO 50% Maybelline event, plus I had individual coupons for each item!

Face

I’ve never really worn traditional foundation.  Luckily my face doesn’t really need it…yet!  Most of the summer I typically go without anything on my face besides a light dusting of bronzer and possibly some blush.  Once the winter months roll around, and I’m not sporting a tan, I turn to Revlon Colorstay Aqua Mineral Makeup in medium (say that ten times fast!).  It’s a super light, barely there mineral makeup (think Bare Essentials, but way less expensive) but when you apply it to your face it feels slightly wet/cold.  I use a very small amount just to even out my skin tone and never feel like I’ve got caked on makeup covering my face.  It has lasted for months!  I think I’m going on month number 6 in all honesty.  I did just purchase a brand new one, again at Ulta when they had BOGO 50% off Revlon and with additional coupons.  (Noticing a trend here?)

Lotion

For an all-over body lotion, I like to use something that is for the most part fragrance free.  I’m a big fan of the Nivea Essentially Enriched Lotion.  It’s kinda on the thick side, so a little bit goes a long way.  After I got pregnant however, I bought into the whole cocoa butter on your belly thing.  I didn’t want to spend the money on the expensive creams that are advertised, so instead I opted for Vaseline’s version.  I lathered this stuff all over myself daily while pregnant.  Now, I don’t think it’s a miracle cream by any means (I think stretch marks are kind of a genetic, pre-determined thing), but I never got a stretch mark from pregnancy.  It does have a slight smell of cocoa to it, but it’s very subtle (and to be honest, kind of yummy smelling at the same time).  I’m still using my Vaseline with Cocoa Butter currently, but would totally buy Nivea Essentially Enriched Lotion if it happened to be on sale or I had a coupon.  Both products are fantastic!

Nail Polish

I’m a huge fan of OPI nail polishes.  Typically when I get a pedicure (usually this only happens in the summer because it feels like such a waste of money while my tootsies are hiding out in socks and shoes all winter long), the salon I frequent has OPI polishes.  They go on smoothly and have really fun colors.  I recently discovered another brand that I love at Ulta.  It’s called Zoya.  My current fave is called Shay and it’s pictured below. 🙂

Hair Styling Tools

I have naturally curly/wavy hair.  Most days that I wash my hair I blow dry it out straight and might use some hot rollers to add volume.  My mom recently purchased a fantastic hair styling tool for me that gets multiple looks!  It’s called the InStyler.  You may have seen the infomercials or might have even seen it on QVC.  They also sell it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (hello, 20% off coupon!).  Usually I let my hair air dry completely (or pretty close to completely).  I section off my hair, starting with the bottom and work my way up my head.  Mostly I use it to straighten and smooth my hair.  I haven’t really tried it for curling.  It’s a fantastic product and well worth the money!  I think regular price it’s around $100.  But buy it somewhere that you have a coupon to use (Ulta or Bed, Bath and Beyond are probably your best bets).  Watch the commercial below to see it in use!  (I’m not sure about that phone number they list….why don’t you just go to the store and buy it instead just to be safe!!)

There you have it…some of my most favorite beauty products.  Did any of mine make your list?  Is there something out there that I’m majorly missing out on?  If so, please share!  I love to try out new things.  🙂

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{spicy chicken rigatoni}

I’ve got one word for you to describe this recipe…D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!  It’s another Pinterest inspired recipe, originally posted here on Tastebook.  Since making it a few weeks ago, I’ve already made it several times.  It calls for sliced chicken, but I’ve been pairing it with some homemade chicken meatballs (I’ll write about that recipe another time), some yummy crusty bread, and a nice tall glass of Merlot :).  Here’s the cast of characters:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 T crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t ground black pepper
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 6 oz chicken, sliced (I used chicken meatballs instead)
  • 3/4 cup. Marinara sauce (You could even use a homemade marinara sauce if you’ve got some in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
  • 2 t butter
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 lb Rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • additional 1/2 t crushed red pepper (for garnish)

While you make the sauce, you should be boiling water to cook your rigatoni pasta according to package directions!  In a pan, heat your olive oil.  Add to it the crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper, and garlic and saute just long enough for the garlic to caramelize and the red pepper to release flavor into the olive oil.  I’m not one to measure out amounts of spices and oil…just add what you think looks right, trust me, you don’t need to wash all those measuring cups and spoons!  You’ll thank me later!  This is where you would add your sliced chicken if you plan to use it.  Coat the chicken with the spices before moving on to the next step…

Add the marinara sauce to the pan first, followed by the alfredo sauce.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook until the sauce thickens slightly and the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165.

Turn off the flame and add the butter and peas.  Stir both ingredients into the sauce until the butter melts and the peas don’t look frozen anymore (no one likes to eat frozen peas)!

Toss in your cooked rigatoni pasta then place the pasta and sauce in a pasta bowl.  Reserve most of the chicken to be placed on top of the pasta.  Garnish with crushed red pepper and serve!

This sauce is seriously amazing!  I would eat it just on top of grilled chicken too.  I haven’t tried freezing it (usually there is not a lot left over as the recipe only actually makes enough for 2-4 people depending on portion sizes).  My husband and I typically have enough leftover for one of us to enjoy it for lunch the next day!  It reheats beautifully too!  I think the butter helps that process 🙂

Please let me know if you try this!  I promise you’ll make it a ton.  It’s totally healthy for you…it has peas in it! 🙂


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{w is for wreath}

After Christmas I get a little sad to take my beloved decorations down each year since I look forward to putting them for so long.  My front door seemed especially bare after removing the beautiful evergreen wreath, so I turned to Pinterest of course for some door-bling inspiration.  I found several wreaths that I really loved, but decided to make one that had a big H on it for our last name.  Well, I made my little wreath several weeks ago and liked it so much that I decided to make a similar one for my mother in law as a birthday gift.  To make my initial grapevine wreath you’ll need:

  • grapevine wreath (size and shape of your choosing)
  • floral wire (I found a fabric covered brown variety that worked really well)
  • a wooden letter (you choose)
  • spray paint
  • coordinating flower stems (I like to use between 6 and 8)

I purchased all items at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and of course used my 40% off coupons at both stores.  If you ever buy anything in those stores at regular price, you’ve just wasted money my friends!

Before I started to arrange the flower stems in my wreath, I took my letter H and some yellow spray paint out back to give it a few even coats.  I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Spray Paint in Meringue.  It’s a satin finish by the way.

While H did her drying (yes she’s a girl) outside, I began to arrange some flowers inside (it’s cold out there today)!

Once the flowers were positioned where I wanted them, I simply turned the wreath over and began attaching the stems to a branch or two of the wreath.  Things aren’t completely permanent, but they should be wound tightly enough so you don’t have flowers blowing down the street on a windy day!  Plus, you can change out your wreath decor according to the holiday or theme you’re going for!

Here are some finished pictures of my mother in law’s new wreath (I hope she likes it)!

And here is a shot of the first wreath I made for our house!

I have plans to bring in some Easter themed items with our wreath in the next few weeks.  I’ll do a blog post again once I do!  Do you have any fun wreaths that you’ve made since the holidays?  I’d love to see some new ideas!

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