May 21, 2010

Beef Barley Soup/Stew

My mom gave me this recipe and we love it here, especially my two little boys. And it's chuck full of vegetables! I thought I'd share it here on my blog before I forget to. Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised!

1 lb. beef stew meat
3 cans beef broth
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 carrots
4 peeled potatoes
2 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1 box quick cooking barley

Put stew meat in slow cooker - you can also take the meat directly from the freezer to slow cooker. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Pour beef broth into slow cooker, cover and cook on high for about 5-6 hours (or until your house starts smelling yummy!). Take the lid off a couple times to break apart the meat and give it a good stir.

Next, cut up carrots, dice up the onion, celery and cut up potatoes. Heat water in large pot to boiling. Add vegetables and cook until almost tender, because you will need to cook the barley with the veggies, and then the veggies might get too soft.

I cover the pot and set the burner on low till veggies are almost tender. Now add about 1 to 1/4 cup quick-cooking barley to the pot of vegetables. Cover again and cook till barley puffs up and is tender.

Turn the slow cooker on "low" and taste the beef broth in the slow-cooker. If it has a bland taste, add some beef flavoring. I like to use beef soup base. Add about 1 Tbsp. at at time, till you get a good solid beef taste. Now drain your veggies and barley and add it to the stew meat and broth in the slow cooker. Stir gently and taste. Let simmer together in the slow cooker for maybe 15-20 minutes or so. Enjoy!

May 20, 2010

Touch A Truck Day

(Pudge at Touch a Truck day)
(Such a cute idea!!)

Our Park District does a great job and having free events throughout the summer here in Champaign, and we take full advantage of them! This past Wednesday my boys and I walked to a nearby park and there were several trucks parked in the grass where kids could wait for their turn to "drive" the trucks. It was a hit, let me tell you!

(Pudge so small by the monster truck)

(Z-man and Pudge "driving" a school bus!)

(Z-man behind the wheel of the city bus)

(They look so small here, just wait till they're 16 and having the ride the bus!)

(A radio station had a stage set up where kids could come up and dance!)

(Pudge looks so natural on this beast!)

(Z-man "cruising," watch out ladies!)
(Note: Z-man dressed himself that day!)

(And what kids event wouldn't be complete without some free ice cream!)

I love our Park District. Thank you for all the work you did in making this event a success!

May 19, 2010

Grocery shopping this week = $39.02

Look at all those fresh fruits and veggies! Our first CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) pickup was yesterday!! My husband and I signed up to receive a half share of the crop through a local farm nearby. We also signed up to receive fresh eggs. I'm excited to see what recipes we'll use these ingredients for. For more information on the local farm named Tomahnous Farm, just click here.

I got to go grocery shopping by myself this week, while my husband watched the rowdy boys at home. It was a nice break! I decided to do the shopping a little earlier this week, because my husband will be gone with the car starting tomorrow till Saturday.

I also broke up the shopping with going to Meijer a little earlier in the week to pick up a couple cheap items (with coupons, of course!) So pictured below we got for $2.00:

It looked like a good week for meat at IGA this week, so we got quite a bit of meat that we don't usually splurge on. This will last us for quite a while, I'm sure. I also picked up a lot of veggies to help make meals with our CSA products. Pictured below was purchased for $18.49.

Pictured below are some items that I found on clearance at Schnucks. The Stir Fry and chips I paid full price for. Total spent here was $7.16.

I was mostly excited about County Market's deals this week. We've been running low on my favorite popcorn (O.R. Tender White popcorn) so after seeing a coupon in 5/16 inserts, and that it was on sale this week, that I needed to stock up on it! I got each box for $1.25. (Which is great because it's usually over $3!!

The Wacky Mac was $1 this week, and I had a couple coupons for $.50 off. The spices were totally free because they were a $1 and I had 5 $1 off coupons. The Mac and Cheese was free too, because I became their fan on Facebook. Total spent on the picture below was $11.37.

So total spent was $39.02. Which is great! How did you do this week?

May 18, 2010

Salvation Army Finds = $12

On a whim, I took Pudge with me to the Salvation Army store on John St. here in Champaign. I was glad that we stopped in because they were having a sale on their kids clothing. All items were 50% off!! I am always on the lookout for boy toddler clothing at garage sales, so this was an even better deal. Here's what I found for a total of $12:

All the kids clothing was $0.75/each.

My belt that I've been needing oh so badly cost $0.75.

And I also found a cute windbreaker for only $2.50.

So overall, not too shabby day at the Salvation Army store!

May 13, 2010

Super Power Muffins

A number of people have asked for the recipe I snagged from Money Saving Mom for Super Power Muffins, so I'm making sure that I post it here on my blog as well. These muffins are so delicious, that I don't feel guilty whenever my boys ask for seconds on these sweet things. They are made with some great super foods: whole wheat flour, bananas, applesauce, and peanut butter. So gather those browning bananas and get to work!

Super Power Muffins
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 c. peanut better
1 banana
(optional) 1/2 c. apple sauce or carrot puree
1 egg
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
(optional) 1/4 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients well and set aside. Blend everything else and then sift in dry ingredients. Spray muffin tray and bake for 15-18 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins.

May 12, 2010

We've been busy being hosts!

This past week has been filled with lots of family visiting and lots of photos! I thought I'd share some of the with you.

The beginning of last week we had my husband's extended family over for 4 days. They drove here all the way from Arkansas! With two toddlers, none the less! And we had other family from Springfield and from California. The picture above is all the boys that got to hang out and get to know each other better as cousins.

We also were hosts to my sister and her little baby girl for a couple days, after our other family left.

They all thought it would be funny if they tried to fit into her carseat!

And here is my niece at 5 months old:

Here's a cute picture of Pudge with his "Bob the Builder" hat on:

And last but not least, my boys and I on Mother's Day! Yup, I made sure to capture a moment with them before they ran away!

So that's a little insight into what our crazy lives are up to!

May 7, 2010

Walgreens: Free 8 x 10 photo collage

Walgreens is having another photo freebie until May 8th. This one is for a Photo Collage. Just use the code GOODTHOUGHTS when you check out and you will get it for free! I seriously love Walgreens! Click on their website to start uploading your photos. For a more detailed description on how to do this, check out the Frugal Girls blog.

May 5, 2010

Home Depot: Garden Club

I just heard about Home Depot's Garden Club through The Frugal Girls (whom I follow on Facebook), and they were talking about some great tips and coupons they get through it. So, being so engrossed with anything garden related lately, I signed up!

If you're interested in signing up too, here's the place to go to sign up. They have some pretty interesting articles on while house plants will purify your air, to how to have a more organic backyard. You can even upload some photos of your garden or backyard. Pretty cool!

So check it out and see if you can hook up a free houseplant or a buy one, get one free tree coupon in your email account.

May 4, 2010

Some Man's Trash...My Treasure!

If you've heard through the grapevine, or have simply asked me how I find all the coupons for my groceries, it's true...I get my treasures from other's trash. I'm a trash digger! It's really not as bad as it sounds. You're probably imagining me dumpster diving of some sort to find these coupons, but there's a much easier way. I find my coupons and other great things through a nice elderly neighborhood just within walking distance of our home. They have all their newspapers all nicely organized into brown paper bags, in their recycling bins. Trust me, if it's not organized, I don't go near it.

Here's what I found this week! A great week to be collecting trash!

I found 4 coupon inserts! (One was from the Chicago Tribune, which has way more coupons than our local newspaper). Another mail-flyer that we got in the mail earlier this week. This included a coupon booklet for County Market, Smoothie King, and Monical's Pizza. YUM!
Also, I found someone's People's Magazine for this month of May, in mint condition. I usually don't look through people's magazines, but this one jumped out at me in the bag. Weird, but a fun surprise! (I guess you can say that I'm getting to know my neighbors!)

Tuesday Mornings

I just thought I'd blog a little bit about our Tuesday mornings with the little Fishers. We are busy bees on Tuesdays because Z-man has Preschool at the 1st UMC church in the mornings, and we recently signed Pudge up for an art class through the Park District.

Pudge is enrolled at the "Shake and Make" art class and he LOVES it! He's very much into art and making things lately, that this class was for sure to be a hit. The class is very low-key, and the parents are involved in helping their toddler with the crafts. There are about 5 tables set up with different activities that the kids can do. One or two tables are devoted to painting, while the other 3 have various crafts the kids can make.

When the kids enter, they are allowed to wear a shirt from the Park District as a smock. Thank the Lord, otherwise we'd be a mess! Our little man loves to paint and would spend all 45 minutes at the paint table if I didn't coax him to the craft tables.

Here he is sporting his newly made necklace:

So as Pudge is learning how to be more creative and learning how to share, it's nice to know that he's getting there. Sometimes he's the only boy among a handful of girls, but he's doing quite nicely.

And then by the time the class is almost up (45 minutes), the supervisor reads the kids a book before we part. The other great thing about spending time with my little one, is that there is a park were we can run a play after we've been creative! So much fun, such little time!

May 1, 2010

Grocery shopping this week

Here's an update on what all we spent this week for groceries. We made a couple trips to IGA because they had some great in-store coupons that we took advantage of (yogurt, Hunt's sauce, and Pizza Rolls!!)

My favorite grocery deal of the week was the Classico Sauce at IGA. It was on sale for 2/$5. Earlier this week I had printed out 2 coupons for Buy one, Get one free! Then later this week there was a coupon for $1.50 off 2 Classico sauces. So, when I used all 4 coupons, I got 4 jars of sauce for $4!!

The Lunchable was free, though I did pay full price for the honey (for our granola recipes).

Pictured below is from County Market. They had Tuna Helper for $1, so combined with a $0.75 off 3 coupon, it worked out well for us. The Country Crock was also on sale for $1 each, and we printed off 2 $0.40 coupons. The sugar snacks are for the boys!

Got some free toothbrushes from CVS this week, thanks to Money Saving Mom:

Total spent this week was $47.80. $7.80 over budget, so I'll have to take that out of next weeks grocery monies. Oh well, it was a great week for shopping! How did you do?

Homemade Granola

I also have been wanting to try another recipe for making our own granola. Since I was making granola bars, I thought I might as well just whip up a batch of homemade granola. Just a forewarning, this recipe makes ALOT!! There is a blog that I follow, Sutton Grace, who suggested trying her recipe. So here it is:

Mix together in large bowl:
10 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. wheat germ (once again, I only had ground flaxseed, and it turned out fine)
2 c. coconut
1 1.2 - 2 c. chopped pecans and sliced almonds

Mix in small bowl:
4 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 c. water
2 c. honey
1 c. or less oil

Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl, add to the dry ingredients and combine well. Spread into shallow pans. Stir gently every 15 minutes while baking.

Bake at 250 degrees or until deep golden brown or almost dry. Will take approximately 2 hours. Remove and let cool. Store tightly covered (in your fridge if there's room).

Homemade Granola Bars

Thanks to my friend, Miriam, for this recipe. I've always wanted to try making my own granola bars, and I finally round up all the ingredients for the recipe. So here's how you make them...

Mix together in a small bowl:

1/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. honey
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. hot water

Mix together in a large bowl:

2 1/2 c. oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ (I didn't have this on hand, so I used ground up flax seed instead)
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 c. raisins or chopped dried fruit
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. coconut

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Lastly press into a 9x13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until light brown. Cut into bars while warm and allow to cool completely. Finally, enjoy!