Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My "Not Really Old", Old Girlfriends

Check out these babes! These are some of my oldest girlfriends. I wish there was a better word to use in place of "oldest" because I don't mean it in the sense of our ages...I mean they're friends that I've had for a really long, long time. I don't think they're "old" at all!

This is us at our 25th High School reunion last summer (hey Mary, I had to crop you out of a photo...all the pics I have of you you're standing with one of the guys!) We had so much fun reconnecting. We had kept in touch over the years, but it was too sporadic. When you don't talk to each other daily, so much happens and you become too removed from each other's lives. Since my 20th reunion, I made it a point to put more effort into catching up with my girlfriends' lives. Five years later I can say that I've had many "old" friends come back into my life.

There's something so comforting about hanging with the girls you knew when you were a girl..before so much of life happened. It's really easy to forget who you are when you're caught in the many roles we women play...mom, wife, employee....Being with your girlfriends and listening to their stories about you remind you of who you are at the core.

We think we change so much when we get older, but I think the truth is that we really stay very much the same. We're a better version of who we were but we are who we are.
Here's a picture of us from a couple of weeks ago. We got together at our friend Lisa's house. What a joy it was to hang out, catch up, laugh and just be who we are. I can honestly say, I love and care about these women more now than ever!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Grocery Game: I'm playing and I'm LOVING it!

Let me tell you about "The Grocery Game"...I heard about it on one of those morning shows...Good Morning America or Today or whatever. Anyway, this woman was talking about using coupons and following sales trends and saving loads and loads of money. I thought "Oh yea, right. I've seen the coupons in the Sunday paper and most of them are for stuff I don't even buy." I envisioned my family eating Spam and Kraft Mac and Cheese 5 nights a week and Hamburger Helper the other two nights. Anywho, for some reason I thought I'd give it a go. I was spending at least $250 a week on groceries every week for a family of five and had almost resigned myself to the fact that food costs a lot of money, so why bother trying to save.
I logged onto the website the lady talked about on the show, http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ and registered. It cost me $1 for a one-month trial. What the heck...I can afford a dollar. So I signed up. Once you sign in and enter your zip code, the sales from your local grocery store are organized for you in one place and matched up with coupons from the Sunday paper insert, your grocery stores coupons and a few other easy to find sources. You click on the items you want and you can print out a grocery list based on the sale items you want to purchase. Easy peasy.
I've always made a menu and grocery list. I even use the sales flyer to plan my meals based on which meats are on sale. But this system organized things even further. Here's my menu plan/grocery template. I use it to plan out my week's meals and groceries.

The first week I saved about $17 using coupons. I still spent a little over $200 but I could see how you could increase your savings as you begin to collect coupons and only use them when the item is also on sale. The next week I saved $18 and spent just about $200. The third week I was up to a $20 savings and my bill dropped below $200 for the first time since having a family! I'm on my sixth week now and I'm proud to say that today I saved $29 from coupons and my total bill was $160. See for yourself (no you don't need bifocals, the image is a little fuzzy)

Total Cost: 160.04

MFG Coupons: 21.95

Store Coupons: 6.95

Woo Hoo!!!!!!
So I bet you're wondering what I actually got for a measly $160! Lots of fruits and veggies- red apples, green apples, a mango, avocadoes, spinach, celery, mushrooms, carrots, red potatoes, and red peppers. A few boxes of the kids favorite cereals; which I spent no more than $1.50 on per box. Meats, TWO pork tenderloin filets (buy one get one free plus had a $1.00 off coupon), 4 packages of center cut, boneless pork chops, some deli meat, and a pack of chicken (I didn't need to buy the ground beef I planned to use for my Friday spaghetti and meatball dinner as I had stockpiled ground beef last week when it was on sale!). A variety of snack foods like Smartfood popcorn, Snyders pretzels to name a couple...And lots, lots more. I do like to feed my family healthy and I've not had to compromise that goal one bit!
I know why she calls it "The Grocery Game". I can't wait until Sunday to do my grocery shopping. It's a game to see how much I can save! Give it a try and let me know how you do!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sooooooo Goooooooood

I thought I might share some of my favorite recipes from time to time. Here are my FAVORITE cupcakes of all time. No need for frosting on these bad boys...oh no. They've got a cream cheese filling that is scrumptious. You must give them a try. They're easy to make and always a hit. I only use Ghiradelli cocoa powder and Ghiradelli chocolate chips (the 60% cocoa ones). They're rich and chocolately. Today would be a great day to make them. Here's the recipe...
Black and White Cupcakes
1C cream cheese
1 unbeaten egg
1/4C sugar
1/8t salt
1C Ghiradelli chocolate chips

1t baking soda
1t salt
3/4C sugar
1/4C Ghiradelli cocoa
1t vinegar
1t vanilla
1C water
1/3C oil

For filling, beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt. Mix well then stir in chocolate chips. For cupcakes, sift together soda, salt, flour and cocoa. Add sugar. In a separate bowl, combine vinegar, vanilla, water and oil. Add to flour mixture until just combined. Fill muffin tins with cupcake mixture. Top each one with a little filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. They freeze well but are best when served warm. Makes 12.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Okay, so here's my first uploaded photo! That's my Dad. He's taught me many valuable lessons in my life time. My favorite is, "Don't play the car radiotoo loudly. Someone might be blowing their horn to tell you your car is on fire and you won't hear them." I'm serious. He really did tell me that! And everytime I turn my car radio up a little too loudly I think of these pearls of wisdom. Drive by his house on any given day (when the snow's gone) and you might see him sitting in his swing watching the cars drive by. Honk to say hello, but make sure you turn down your radio!

First Time

Inspired by my friend Lisa, I've decided to give this blogging a try. I don't quite know what I'll say or what my "theme" might be but I figure it will unfold as I go.

I have a lot to figure out...both in blogging and in life. Maybe I'll kill two birds with one stone as they say. It's good to have goals, so perhaps I'll set some goals for myself that have to do with both blogging and living. You never know...they say things happen for a reason. Maybe blogging has become an interest with an ulterior motive. I've always wanted to keep a journal..funny thing is, I never wanted anyone to see it so I haven't started one. My mom found my diary when I was in 6th grade once and I had said some not so nice things about her. She wasn't happy. Ever since then I've always been afraid to put my thoughts or feelings into writing just in case someone snooped! It's probably better to say them out loud (or blog them)in the first place. So why not make them PUBLIC by blogging about it all!

Well, enough for a first post. I've got to figure out how to upload photos. That ought to take awhile!