Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Did you know that today is International Blog day? How do you like that? I love blogging and reading blogs. I once read that it is this generations version of "talking to your neighbor over the fence." And I agree!

From blogs I have:

**kept in contact with friends and family
**journaled my family history (good and bad)
**found new recipes
**found craft ideas
** been inspired
**had heart felt cries
**laughed out loud
** read product reviews
** read book reviews
**weight loss advice
** learned about other cultures

The list goes on and on. Anyway, I just wanted to wish you a HAPPY BLOG DAY! And keep on bloggin'!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday & a giveaway

GOOD MONDAY MORNING! I had a lovely weekend...with my husband! After 3 weeks he came home from training. He is currently sleeping as he has to get up and go to work tomorrow. Poor thing was literally getting 3-4 hours of sleep every night. Anyway, I am just feeling very happy this morning!

The weather in my neck of the woods: nice and warm. Not overly hot which is nice!

Things that make me happy:having ALL my family with me

Books I am reading:I have 2 books in my TBR pile but I just haven't had time to sit down and read. :( I did finish reading Paula Deen's memoirs and enjoyed it!

What's on my tv: I am currently watching a DVR'd episode of Memphis Beat (: Love this show.

On the menu for dinner:I am doing my coupon grocery shopping tonight, so Dad is in charge! Probably something easy like chef boyardee, or pizza...

On my to do list: get my boys to the dentist, quick trip to Target, then coupon grocery trip in the evening

New recipe I tried or want to try soon:I just made a yummy recipe for mustard chicken. I will post it on my blog soon!

In the craft basket:hoping to get some vinyl lettering up this week and some scrapbooking done...note I said *hoping* LOL

Looking forward to this week:sending my kids back to school!

Tips & Tricks:with school approaching, what I like to do, is make as much of my kids' lunches the night before. OK not just lunch, get as much done as possible the night before!

My favorite blog post of the week:So I have joined a few blog hops and have found sooo many fun blogs that I love and adore. I will have to start a list!

Blog hopping:see above (:

No words needed:I spend my days cleaning up after this kid. This picture was taken at my Mom's earlier this summer.

Lessons learned this week: that I am stronger than I think.

On my mind:My daughter. She starts middle school on Wed. She doesn't know anyone and is SCARED TO DEATH. I worry for and about her!

Scriptures, prayers, devotionals:My mind is drawing a blank...I spent all day at church yesterday chasing my 14 mo. old up and down the halls. Not much spiritual enlightenment there. :(

*******Please feel free to enter my giveaway. It ends on Thursday. I am giving away a copy of Once a Month Cooking and Once a Month Family Favorites. These are great books to get you started on freezer cooking...and with school back in session, who couldn't use some extra time?! So go here and sign up to win!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tangy Mustard Chicken

Sometimes the best recipes, are found on the back of product packaging! Have you ever made a recipe that you saw on the back of a box? I have and they usually end up being some of our favorites.

I was putting a bottle of mustard back in the fridge when I spied this recipe.

I liked that

1) it was quick & simple

2) I already had all the ingredients in my pantry stockpiles

3) it sounded yummy!

I doubled this recipe, since I had just bought a big ol' thing of chicken from Sam's club!

Tangy Mustard Chicken:
1/3 cup of prepared mustard
2/3 cup of prepared ranch dressing
1/4 cup of brown sugar
the recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 pieces). But I think it would work with just about any part of the chicken that you normally buy!

Mix marinade in large bowl. Add chicken to a ziploc bag, pour marinade on top. Squish (very proffesional word I know) the chicken and marinade so it covers all the chicken. You need to leave it in the marinade for at least 30 min.

From here you can either...
A. place it in the fridge, where it can be cooked the next day...or later at dinner.
B. get out as much of the air as you can, label your bag, and throw it in the freezer for a later date.

Dinner idea: chicken, rice, rolls, salad (or other green vegi).

If you make it let me know what you/your family think!

**I am linking this to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. You can find more wonderful recipes here

**Also, there are still 2 days left to enter my giveaway for Once a Month Cooking and Once a Month Cooking Family Favorites! You can find all of the info here

Friday, August 27, 2010

woot, woot!!

I got a wonderful phone call today. My hubs is coming home! Hurrah Seabees! They are done with their training.

I can't give specifics, but he will be home tomorrow sometime. So you might not hear from me over the weekend. Although, he will be worn out and sleeping a lot...so maybe I can sneak on! (: I just want to have some cuddle time with my sweetie.

My kids are going back to school next week, so you know I am going to be enjoying the quiet! I have a lot planned for this week to share with you...

2 product reviews
back to school lunch box (although I posted an insanely long list the other day!)
chore charts
my weekly shopping trips
organizing after school activities
blog hops
freezer cooking recipes...

So much going on, and MAYBE just MAYBE I will get some crafting done?!

Following Fridays

OK, so I am posting up to a few blog hops. Thanks for stopping by. Oh and I would be happy to follow you, if you follow me. (:

You can also enter my giveaway here

Thursday, August 26, 2010


( Don't you love my fancy shmancy plate?!)

I know that a lot of people to save money, or for their health, or whatever reason, don't like to buy processed food. Instead they prefer to make everything or most everything from scratch.

I am not one of those people. No mean emails/comments please.

My dinner/saving money philosophy is getting the best deals. Whether it is a coupon matched with an ad, a clearance sale, buying a generic...whatever is the best deal.

If you look in my pantry, you will see plenty of Betty Crocker boxes, Pillsbury rolls/biscuits etc, and other helpers.

But there is no hard and fast rule that says you have to eat these items as is. You can jazz them up right?!

Tonight we had chicken (that had been marinated in Italian salad dressing), Betty Crocker's mashed potatoes (with bacon bits, cheese and sour cream added-yes a heart attack waiting to happen! But they were delish!) Pillsbury breadsticks brushed with melted butter and a sprinkling of garlic salt.

Do you have any convenience food items that you like to jazz up? I would love to hear them!

Cooking Thursday-No bake mints

(the main players)

(getting ready to chill)

Does it count as cooking if the recipe is no bake? Hmmm...well it is still a recipe right?

*****A Minty Memory*******

So I was looking at my friends' Facebook album, and she had pictures of cakes that she had decorated. While browsing her album, I also saw that she had some pictures of mints that she had made. It brought back fun memories of a childhood friend who made these. She always had some at church and we would line up to get some.

I looked up a recipe and got to making them. My 3 older kids LOVED them. My 5 yr old let me know, by spitting it out in the trash, and yelling "I am not eating anymore of this POISON!" I think that meant he wasn't a fan.

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
32 oz. of powdered sugar
mint extract
food coloring

In a large bowl, put your softened cream cheese. Add powdered sugar a little at a time. The more you add, the more thick it gets. Make sure you have some muscles...or a mixer! lol

Once sugar and cream cheese are fully mixed, add your mint extract. Remember the rule, that you can always add more, but you can't take it away. So do a little bit at a time until you reach your desired minty-ness.

Roll into balls and place on a tray. Chill these in the freezer or the fridge until cool. You can also press into molds if desired.

Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks!

For more Cooking Thursday head on over to Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

**Also, while you are here, please enter my giveaway. You can find all the info here


Mason was here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friendly Wednesdays/Blog Hop

Head on over to Feeding Four

if you are interested in participating. Here is the info taken from her site:
How to Participate:

Follow the hostess - Feeding Four. If you want me to follow you back, please leave a comment letting me know that you are a new follower and leave a link to your blog.

Create a new Friendly Wednesday blog post on your own blog and be sure to use the button provided on the side bar.

Enter your information into the linkup below.

Follow all the other blogs you want. This is a great way to get more followers!

Friendly Wednesday will be posted once a week. Your link must be added every week so be sure to come back to linkup!

I am also having a giveaway. Please feel free to sign up! You can find it here

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


With Back to School comes sharing. The sharing of germs, colds...Ugh. However, my kids haven't gone back yet!! So how my daughter got a cold, and has shared it with the rest of us, I don't know! I have been feeling under the weather today.

These are the kinds of days that makes me grateful for a full pantry and stocked freezer!

Want a quick and easy way to get some meals in the freezer?

The next time chicken goes on sale, STOCK UP! Whatever kind your family normally eats (breasts,thighs, drumsticks...)

Using coupons and sales, stock up on salad dressings and marinades.

When you return from the store, grab some ziplocs. Put the chicken in a bag using salad dressing as a marinade. Get as much air out as you can (without letting the marinade spill out everywhere!). Toss it in the freezer AFTER you have labeled the bag.

Let it thaw in the fridge all day and then grill it, bake it, throw it on a George Foreman or other indoor grill...and there you go! Add some rice or potatoes, a salad and there you are! Your very own marinated chicken. Yummo!

Also please make sure to enter my GIVEAWAY!You can find all of the info here

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday & a giveaway

Good Morning! Starting the day out with folding lots of laundry. But wanted to post this!

The weather in my neck of the woods: sunny and warm

Things that make me happy: texts from my husband! He is gone on a field exercise and reception is awful. I just heard from him after 4 days!

Books I am reading:Black Out by Lisa Unger

TV shows I am enjoying: Burn Notice, Psych, Haven, Warehouse 13

On the menu for dinner:grilled ham & cheese sandwiches

On my to do list: folding many, many loads of laundry

New recipe I want to try soon: strawberry banana muffins

In the craft basket: starting back to school scrapbooks

Looking forward to this week: hopefully the return of my husband

Tips & Tricks: Don't let your kids/yourself leave a room/car empty handed. It helps keep things picked up!

My favorite blog post this week: haven't done too much this week

Blog Hopping: My best friend from high school just started a blog! So I have had fun reading hers. You can find it at Book Loving Mom

Favorite photo of the week: Somebody forgot to fasten the seatbelt!

Lesson learned the past few days:Deployments go faster when you keep busy! Romantic comedies are not the best things to watch when you are feeling lonely.

On my mind:my sweet husband, and the men who work under him. The temps are 3 digits where they are.

Devotionals & Scriptures: In church yesterday we talked about Job. It really made me think about how I need to put my trials in perspective!

** I am having a giveaway for the Once a Month Cooking and A Once a Month Cooking Family Favorites! You can go here to check it out!

Menu Plan Monday & a GIVEAWAY

The week before school starts and it is a BUSY one. Praying my husband will be home soon, but since I have no idea, my meals are planned without him :(

So this is what is on my menu for the week:

Monday: banana bread, yogurt, grapes
Lunch: pizza, salad
Dinner: grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, pears, mac & cheese

Tuesday: (early morning dentist appt. for my boys) cereal & toast
Lunch: leftovers or top ramen
Dinner: cresant dogs, french fries, fruit

Wednesday: biscuits with eggs, ham & cheese
Lunch:leftovers from dinner or quesadillas
Dinner: bbq beef sandwiches, vegi's, potato salad

Thursday: pancakes (making at least 3 batches so that some can go into the freezer for next week)
Lunch: leftovers or soup and pb & j
Dinner: pack meeting for my boys so we are either eating there or eat out

Friday: cereal and strawberry & banana muffins (recipe coming soon)
Lunch: leftovers or hot dogs

Saturday: eggs, cinnamon rolls and fruit
Lunch: up in the air! My sister might be visiting OR my hubby might be home
Dinner: same as lunch!

Sunday; kids choice
Lunch: leftovers/ kid's choice
Dinner: garlic chicken, rice, rolls
Sweet Sunday: our day to have a homemade treat..this week we are making root beer cupcakes

Now for the GIVEAWAY! We all love giveaways right? Well when it comes to cooking, my freezer is my best friend! From whole meals, to baked goods, to produce...

One of the very best books to get you started is the Once A Month Cooking books. Barnes & Noble recently had the Once a Month Cooking and the Once a Month Cooking Family Favorites for $2.99 each! So I knew I should grab a set for me and a set to give away. They are such good books I wanted to share the wealth. So here's the deal...

For 1 entry: leave a comment (easy huh?)
For a 2nd entry: follow me on Facebook
For a 3rd Follow me on here
For a 4th entry: post about this giveaway on our blog/or as your Facebook status

Lots of chances to enter! If someone signs up because of you, you will get a 5th entry. Feeling generous aren't I?!

Good luck. Deadline ends on my birthay...Sept. 2nd. Also, I know it is annoying but please leave a seperate comment for each entry. Thanks!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

sweet Sundays

(Ethan's masterpiece)

" You are such a jerk!" My 8 yr. old son yelled this at my 9 yr old son, which resulted in a complete meltdown.

In trying to console him, I said, "would you like to bake something?" He perked up and we found a fun recipe.

Our very first recipe out of the Ziploc/Taste of Home Back to School magazine was for these, "Fun Marshmallow Bars".

Ethan loved making these and the kids really enjoyed eating them with him! Here is the recipe. If you make these, let me know what you thought!

Fun Marshmallow Bars
1 pkg (18 1/4 oz) devils food cake mix
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup mini candy coated chocolate baking bits (aka M&M's)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water, butter and egg. Press into a greased 13x9 in baking pan. Bake at 375 for 20-22 minutes, or when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Sprinkle with marshmallows, baking bits and peanuts. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until the marshmallows beging to melt. Cool on a wire rack and cut into bars.

** I didn't have mini marshmallows. So we cut up big ones into pieces. I don't recommend that!! We got an ooey-gooey mess! We ended up using more than a cup and it didn't end well! LOL

** My kids do not like nuts so we just omitted them.

** Because they were so eager to dive in, they were still pretty warm. I would highly recommend letting them cool completely.

** Make sure that you are paying close attention to those last couple of minutes. Don't let the marshmallows go to long or they will end up getting hard!

Oh and as you can well imagine, these are very RICH. Have some milk close by!

** Before I forget, email me or leave me a comment if you need upc's and I can get you some!

Cherry Pickin'

When you begin using coupons, you want to get every good deal there is and build up your stockpiles.

Since we moved here in June, that is what I have been doing. Getting everything that I felt was a good value for the money.

This weekend, as I got busy scouring my grocery ads, one word came to mind: dissapointment!

There is just nothing that SCREAMS, pick me up and take me home!! LOL

At most I have 5 items in each store.

So all of my meals this week will be made from items in my pantry & freezers.

When you stock up and build your own stockpiles, you will get to this point also. It is referred to as "cherry picking". Because you are able to just pick the deals you want.

If you are just starting out on your coupon journey, keep building up your stockpiles. You will get to this point too.

If you have been at it for awhile, I encourage you to eat out of your stockpiles! Pull things from your pantry, or freezer. Try a new recipe. Use those bargains!

I will be sharing my menu later today.

** Make sure to get more than one newspaper today! There is only one small insert but it does have some good coupons. You always want more than one, in case of a good BOGO sale!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

the big D's

D is for...deployment and depression.

I am a military wife. I am very proud of my soldier. I love and miss him. Right now, he is currently out on a field exercise in the mountains. I honestly have no clue where he is. I only hear from him when the signal is good. Even then it is a quick phone call, or a 1 line text.

This is not the first time he has been away. He has actually been away quite a few times. For months. But I always had a way to communicate with him.

Every time, I go through a sort of depression. I am not in the mood to cook or clean. "I don't have a husband coming home so who cares?" is often my attitude. My children could care less if the house is messy, and often prefer pancakes for dinner instead of roast or something.

Then, we get into a rythm. Life moves on and we get into a routine. We miss him, but it isn't the hard, lonely time that we went through. The end of a deployment is rough too. It wouldn't seem that way but it is.

Right now I am on my way out of that depression. I am not sure when he is coming home, I haven't heard from him in days. When he gets home, he will be here for a whole 11 days before he heads to Afghanistan. Luckily that is a quick trip and I will have him home. November is the big one. I know it will not be easy.

I am not sure why I am sharing this. Ecspecially on this blog! I am just feeling kind of like a hypocrite. Talking about cooking, organizing etc. while my house is a wreck!

Whew, that felt good to get out. I know my family needs me and it isn't just Ben that counts. The kids are watching me too. If I don't put out the effort for them, they might think that they aren't as important. I don't want that!

Being a wife and mother is my MOST important calling!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kids in the Kitchen

I believe that it is very important for kids to know how to cook/bake. I am not just talking about pop tarts and sandwiches.

So when my nephew was here, and asked if he could make his "famous" fried chicken, I told him to go for it. I made sure he had all he needed.

My 8 year old absolutely loves and adores his cousin, and so he was very eager to try out his fried chicken. He stayed by him the whole time!

While cooking, my nephew accidentally hit the handle and sent hot oil all over the kitchen, and unfortunatley down his hand.

I went to get a first aid kit and we got him bandaged up. He finished the chicken the next day, after letting his burn rest.

We learned two things from this experience:

1)accidents happen. You have to pick up and keep going. You can't give up. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"

2) keep a first aid kit handy. Not just for accidents in the kitchen,but anywhere in your home. "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear!"

Vale's Famous Fried Chicken
*In a bag, put flour and poultry seasoning.
*Take your chicken pieces, put them in the bag, and cover with flour.
*Fry in a pan with oil until pieces are golden brown

World famous? Not really, but he did do a good job!

Freezer Cooking Friday- produce

(step 1, chopping 'em all up)
(step 2 lay 'em out and put them in the freezer to flash freeze)

(step 3 throw 'em in a labeled ziploc bag/container)

(step 4, sucking the air out. Maybe I should ask Santa for a vacum sealer?)

(step 5)

Did you get a great deal on produce this summer? Berries, peaches, peppers... I love summer time produce. Don't let your deals get wasted!

Berries can EASILY be made into jams, or mixed berry muffins!

Or of course, they can head for our best friend, the freezer!

How to do it in 5 easy steps:

1) chop your produce (I had some peppers that I needed to do something with!)

2) lay them out on a baking sheet.

3)Place them in the freezer to flash freeze, about 2 hours.

4) Label your bag(s)!! Put your produce in.

5) If you don't have a food sealer like your good friend Marie, you do it the old fashioned way! Place a straw in your bag and suck as much air out as you possibly can.

6) OK so technically it is 6 steps but...put it in your freezer!

Later these can be used for stir fry's, frittata, fajhitas, etc. You could also throw in some onions.

**Make a dinner kit by using a basket/bags/gladware and put in a bag of chicken, tortillas (bought on sale/day old bread store)and your peppers are you are all set for fajhitas!

Is there any other "dinner kits" you could put together? Let me know!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

12 days

In 12 days, my 4 oldest darlings are headed back to school. They have been out since May 15th. It has been a long, long summer for all of us. I know they are just about as excited as I am to go back!

I have always made my kid's lunches to save money. If you have made a kids' school lunch for over a week, you know that sandwiches get old fast. So when my sister called me to tell me about this book, I looked for it and was happy to find it.

It has tons of great ideas for back to school recipes. I am excited to go through this book. It has quick and easy meals but also great tips, including recipes for freezing.

If you have two upc codes from Ziploc products, you can go their site and get a downloadable version. If you don't have any, email me. I have lots of their products!

I plan to make one recipe a week out of this book and share. If you get it and make a recipe, let me know what you think!

the Bewitching hour

I use coupons, to fill my pantry.

I use my pantry, to feed my family.

I make food for my family, and try to add some to the freezer. How do I combine all these into one?

Well I used my coupons (and sales) to fill my pantry with Safeway brand pasta for .69 a box. I used coupons to get Ragu sauces, Rotel tomatoes, and the bacon bits. I also waited for a sale and got ground beef on sale and used a coupon for $3 off.

I put all of this together to make a casserole. I doubled a batch and one went right into the freezer.

Making/planning your meals out of the pantry is one of the best ways to save money!

Bacon, Cheeseburger dinner

1 box pasta, any kind, cooked to al dente
1 jar of Double Cheese Ragu sauce
bacon bits (to taste)
Ro-tel tomatoes (these are a little spicy so if you/your kids don't like that, any diced, canned tomatoes would work)
Ground beef ( I cooked a 3lb. pkg, using about half in one casserole and half in the other

Brown ground beef, drain.
While browning, start pasta in a pot to boil. When finished, drain.
Line a 13x9 dish with foil (make sure you leave some hanging off the sides)
Mix together, cheese sauce, ground beef, noodles, bacon and tomatoes.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 min. to warm up.

My kids DEVOURED this. Each had seconds. I served this with Pillsbury bisquits (purchased on sale & with coupons), carrot sticks, and apple sauce(also bought with coupons &on sale)

Product Review-Nature Valley Granola Thins

(all messy!)

Have you tried these yet?

Well, let me say this.

Never, Never would I pay full price for these.

Ralphs had these on sale for $1.49. I had a coupon for .50/1 that was doubled. So I didn't mind paying .50 each. However the full price of $1.99. Nope.

In the box, are 10 individually wrapped graham crackers with either dark chocolate or pb, spread on the back. My store didn't have the chocolate kind, but my kiddos love peanut butter, so it worked for us.

**I would just like to say that this was the MESSIEST snack ever. I wouldn't give it to my kids anywhere else but the kitchen. Not school, church, in the car etc.

**This wasn't anywhere near the size of a graham cracker. They were very small.

**They did taste really good though.

I have a HARD time paying full price for items like this. I can smear pb on a graham cracker and do it for less. So unless you can get these for .50 or under...I wouldn't waste my money.

Convenience factor: 1 star
kid friendly: half a star (loved the taste but sooo messy)
value for the money:0 stars
taste:1 star
Total:2.5/4 stars

Have you tried these? What did you/your kids think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday

(My oldest boy)
The Weather in my neck of the woods:warm and sunny (it's So. Cal!)

Things that make me Happy:

hearing from my husband while he is gone

Books I am reading: It ain't all about the food by Paula Deen

What I am Enjoying on TV:
catching up on my DVR recordings! Watching Leverage

On the menu for tonight:teriyaki chicken, brocoli and rice

On my to do list:

Mt Washmore :( laundry always

New recipe I want to try soon: Spaghetti Carbonara from Mommy's Kitchen

In the craft basket:catching up on some scrapbooking (:

Looking forward to this week:my kids going to a 3 day scripture camp at church

Tips & Tricks:No matter how short you think a trip will be, be prepared. I have young children and so I make sure to have a few snacks, water bottles, diapers, wipes, books, etch a sketch etc. We were stuck in major traffic the other day and a one hour trip turned into a 3 hr!

My favorite blog post this week:I found a great blog on meal planning from Org. Junkie

Blog hopping ( a new blog I found):OK, I don't remember what it was called, but I will make sure I do it next week!

No words needed: (favorite photo)at the top:

Lesson learned in the past few days:this too shall pass!!

On my mind: My sweet husband. He is out on a military field exercise and it is over 90 degrees every day. I pray and worry about his safety and the safety of the men under his command.

scriptures &prayers or devotionals:Proverbs 31. How can I be the best wife and mother that I want to be? These always give me a boost!

Want to contact me?

Feel free to contact me at hecimommy@gmail.com