Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grocery Goods

This week's savings at Publix: $45.37. I was pretty excited about that.

$5.50 in vendor coupons, $4.00 in store coupons (actually, they were Food Lion coupons -one included $2 off a purchace of $5 or more in produce!), $34.78 in advertised special savings and $1.09 in advantage savings.

My greatest purchaces this time around: B1G1 Olive Oil and $1.99 Contessa Meals (for John this week)! The best was the deal on jars of Earth's Best Organic baby food. I make all of Ollie's food, but I picked up a few "just in case" jars. I found a $1 off 10 jars coupon from the Earth's Best site, then I had a $1 off 6 jars from Food Lion. It was B1G1 so the total for 10 jars was about $3.40!


Last week's cilantro/lime/beer chicken was the best chicken I've ever made! Here's the "recipe."
whole chicken, cleaned, patted dry
1/2 stick butter, softened
handful cilantro
s & P
red potatoes cut in to quarters

In a glass pan (or roasting pan if you're special), toss in potatoes and whatever else you decide must go in.
In a bowl, combine butter, cilantro, cumin, paprika, garlic. Rub S & P all over outside of chicken. Cut tiny holes (two on breast side, two on back side) in the chicken skin. Shove your fingers in there...lovely...and separate the skin from the muscle. Put some of the butter mixture under the skin and massage until you use it all up. I wipe my hands all over the outside of the chicken when I'm done. Gives the skin some goodness. Oh! and toss some of that beer in the pan.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Menu Saturday

I'm tired. So tired.

Garlic/lemon/wine roasted chicken (69 cents/lb) with asparagus and red potatoes. The plan is to process the herbs and place under the skin -using as little extra added fat as possible. I was going to stop doing this whole roasted chicken thing but it's so easy...

Sunday (duty day):
Cheesy Chicken & Mushroom Lasagna -probably adding spinach since I have a bag and like green stuff

Spring Soup (recipe to follow if it all works out!)
Ingredient Ideas: leeks, peas, asparagus (1/2 the bunch from Saturday), stock from scratch, bits o' chicken, carrots, Arborio rice, herbs

Veggie Pizza John picked up from Fresh Market

Wednesday - Friday: taking the kiddos down to LOL for Grandma's 87th birthday

Baby/Toddler Food:
ORGANIC carrots; apples; root veggies (carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes); green beans
Turner's Meatballs

Trying CVSing this weekend. Finally. I've really wanted to see what I can get with the extra care bucks since I got my card in. Hopefully, I don't flake out!

Um, Hello Iced COFFEE!

THIS rocks!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The End is Near

The end of my rope, that is. I'm getting there. Eli can't nap on his own. My hips and back are killing me from wearing him all the time. I'm really happy my body has finally gotten used to the lack of sleep. That helps with day to day functioning.

I understand his needing me at night. I don't mind now that he actually sleeps from 7:30-8 until 12 or sometimes later. Four hours or more to myself. I go and get him, bring him to our bed and pray that he just nurses and sleeps until day break. Most of the time, it's peaceful. This isn't the problem.

Nap times are turning in to nightmares. Around 9am he's sleepy. He can fight all day, but he's sleepy. I wear him for about a 45 minute nap from 9-9:45. I've tried putting him down and he cries in his crib. It's out of desperation. I'm there. He cried for about an hour for over 7 days in a row. I went in and got him. Nursed, comforted, etc. Around noon, we did the same thing again. Seven days in a row. So, without any naps, he trudged on.

Finally, I would make John take Eli and Turner out for a stroller walk. All of Eli's crying got Turner all cranky. After a week or more of craziness. I finally decided to just working on separating at night. Ollie goes down okay now. I mean, he still wines. There is no crying. It's just all out yelling at me. If you go in 45 minutes after it all started there's not a tear to be found. He just yells at me. Angrily.
John's back to work, so there's no break. I am just at a loss. It's absolutely ridiculous that he can't nap on his own. I truly believe you have to teach them these things. Obviously, I have failed. I just had such horrible PPD with Turner, I thought with Eli I'll just gobble every second up. In doing that, we never put him down. Not for a second. Well, crap.

Eli needs the sleep. He's so busy. He's tired in the morning around 9-10 then, again, around 12-1. If he didn't get a great nap -which is not unusual- he needs another 45 minutes in the evening. I've tried putting him down at different times, in a dark room, with normal living room noise. He just flat out refuses napping on his own. What the hell do I do when my back gives out? I have no idea where I'm going with this. I'm just so frustrated. John is a great support at night, but he's just as clueless as I am. Well, he thinks it'd be a great idea to just put Ollie down and let him yell to sleep for a nap. I'm not opposed to the yelling. It does not bother me anymore. No one understands when I say, "HE WON'T FALL ASLEEP IN HIS CRIB DURING THE DAY. PERIOD." He would rather be miserable than abdicate his position on this issue. I love the willfulness, but, damn I'm tired.
Even worse than being tired: Turner is super bored! I feel horrible. He's constantly trying to get my attention when Eli is in the mei tai. It's heart-breaking when he says "Fawn (c'mon) Mommy, pay wif me in my woom. Come sit." I can sit sweetie. If your brother wakes up right now he's going to be a wreck.
Oh, and Eli's decided it's high time he started walking...a little

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Mommy Spot

I had an "ah-ha," an epiphany, a revelation. I have arrived. I've learned the ultimate: inner peace among chaos! Finally.

John's grandparents have been here since Sunday afternoon. John's been at work from early 'til late. Turner has been excited and 2 1/2. Eli has been his usual charming but "passionate" self. Did I mention I'm here alone with 4 kids? Fay and Lola, though sweet and endearing, are like an extra set of toddlers. A million questions. "Can you make lunch? What's for breakfast? Is there coffee? After this car, can you go? Better hurry before the light turns.' A million requests over and over again. All in the most annoying (sorry babe) loud New Jersey accent.

It all came to a head today when I was trying to get dinner together in early in the afternoon. Eli had skipped his early morning nap (because Lola decided that, right when Ollie fell asleep, she would ask if he was sleeping...loudly), was super clingy and whiny and an eating machine. Turner was having melt down after melt down, wouldn't let me change his diaper and refused to put clothes on. Lola was sitting in front of the TV and hoarding "the buttons" and Fay was his usual adorable clueless self. Lola decided to come hang out in the kitchen. (My pet peeve.) The kitchen was a wreck because I couldn't seem to get anything done. Turner threw himself on the floor, Lola was standing in my way and Ollie just lost it. I was elbow deep in a raw chicken. Lola was blah blah blahing about how she freezes everything from deli meat to previously frozen turkies *gag.*All at once, everyone started questioning me about one thing or another and finally, it...happened...

I got to the place I've been searching for. The quiet among the chaos. The "I don't give a shit what your problem is, I'm here in my Mommy G Spot -don't bother me!" I did it. It was so movie-like. The screaming, the annoying outlaws, the babies, the mess, the oven beeping, the phone ringing. I was in a teeny tiny euphoric utopia. I just answered pleasantly the questions but was so disconnected. I didn't freak out. I just let it roll. I'm better for it. If I would have said what was on my mind many feelings would have been hurt. Turner would have been in a completely un-necessary time out and Ollie, well, he'd still just be sitting there stuffing himself with crackers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Menu Saturday...on Sunday

This weeks savings on groceries totaled $52 and some change. I just paid attention to the flier and used the B1G1's and coupons. It was actually kind of fun since I got to go by myself!

The Menu:
Saturday - Sorta Caesar Salad (sale on the lettuce and the mushrooms!)

Sunday -Bono's BBQ courtesy of the Grandparents-in-Law

Monday -beer and lime roasted chicken (69 cents/lb), cilantro rice, zuchini and tomatoes

Tuesday -chicken tortilla soup

Wednesday -fish, sauteed chard with garlic chips, simple risotto

Thursday -turkey and apple wraps with mixed greens, cheese and apricot/dijon sauce

Friday -parents in town, not sure what we're up to

Saturday -John's hail at the Captain's house

In all, I'm happy with how I've been paying better attention to the grocery situation. This past Friday I had a pity party for myself and went to Fresh Market. The $14 in savings from last week was negated by the $41 I spent on a pizza, wine and bananas! Oops.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Last night was John's first night of duty since 2005! When I thought about it, I really couldn't belive it's been that long. The last time he was CDO (the in charge person on the ship when the Captain isn't around) was November of 2005! How lucky have we been?
All week I'd been eased in to taking care of the boys all day -without the extra set of hands that have been around for so long. So, it wasn't all that bad. I took the boys out to the zoo in the morning. On the way back home, Turner tried to stay awake...until we got off on our exit. I tried so hard to keep him awake since it was only 11:30! He was talking all sorts of nonsense about blue monkies and Mr. Bear going down a slide. Poor kid, he just couldn't hang. We got home and the transfer from carseat to bed didn't go well. Nor did the rest of the afternoon. Hilights include when Ollie hit his head so hard he dented it, when Turner melted down and just couldn't keep it together and when I found Ollie noshing on a peanut butter sandwich and drinking milk. No one died, or was irreversibly damaged. I chalk that one up as a win!

It's 10am on Saturday and we're still waiting for CHENG to get home. Turn-over was at 0745. I have a feeling we're always going to be waiting on him!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Damage

My first Publix shopping trip after deciding to pay more attention yielded a $14.85 savings. Not bad for just two coupons! I actually looked at the advertised sales and checked out the "advantage savings."
Even though we don't eat that much chicken in a normal week, it was fun to see what we could do with a roaster. Publix had advertised "whole chickens .79 cents/lb" so I thought I'd get a sweet deal on a fatty. It wasn't mentioned, but the ad was for fryers -not roasters. I went for a roaster at $1.23/lb and was just fine with that.

The Chicken Experiment

Spent: $24.51

Roaster: $8.45

Addt'l groceries for CE: $16.06

Since strawberries are in season, I went for those but could have chosen apples or something similar for the salad. Also, I bought organic spring mix. The point of this, for me, was to cut corners where possible. Maybe if the Fresh Express brand is looking good next week, I'll use my $1.00 off coupon and skip the organic. We'll see...

I'm not a fan of eating food that's been in the fridge over, let's say, 1 day. It grosses me out. So, I opted to portion out the chicken, bag it (with some extra juice from the pan) and freeze it. Today, I took out the portion for the picadillo and just thawed it by placing it in cold water.

Speaking of, the picadillo was great! I would have never thought to use raisins and cinnamon in this dish but it worked. Well, John said it was great. I still can't taste a thing thanks to this cold and allergies. We should end up getting 4 meals (for 2 and a toddler out of this). It could have been 5 but we may have a guest over tomorrow for the chicken burritos and I didn't want to be left to make a $100 run to the store just to get an entirely different dinner.

Next week is to try and beat my previous record in savings, as well as use competitor coupons. I'm also going to try my hand CVSing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cutting the Bill

Tomorrow is my first experiment with actually paying attention to the grocery bill for the first time in a very long time. I'm starting out with the Chicken Experiment. I am modifying it a little bit. Here goes...

Lemon Roasted Chicken with parsnips, carrots, red potatoes, and onion

Chicken on mixed greens with strawberries, avacado and balsamic dressing

Chicken Picadillo

Chicken Burritos with Mojo

Italian Turkey Pasta

Prosciutto, pine nut and spinach pizza (our splurge of the week)

chicken stock from the roaster

The reason behind so much chicken this week is that I wanted to see what could actually be done with the bird. Really, can you get down that low with the bad boy? Also, John's returning to work and how easy could this week be?!? I'm using as much pantry food as possible. Next week we'll be back to our fish 2-3 times per week and not so much meat. I plan to balance out that cost by doing some other cheap -but healthy(er) eats.

I've spent two evenings really researching the couponing world. While I don't think I'll go all that crazy with things since I don't have 12 kids to support, I do think we could benefit from a few cents off here and there. Who couldn't?

A few great sites so far:
A Full Cup
Southern Savers -check it out for "how to's" -like couponing and "CVSing."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SAVE ME! ...from myself...

I have never been frugal. Target (before it was cool) was never my thing. I wouldn't have been caught dead wearing Old Navy (before it was cool), or shopping for shoes at Payless (before it was cool). I like quality and I thought you had to buy brand name to get that quality. I grew up down a dirt road in a house my parents spent a life time saving for and now are paying off. Money was an object, the heft of which wasn't really conveyed to me. Until later...

My parents worked hard to save money everywhere else, except for groceries. No lists were made, lots of produce was wasted, weird additive-ridden kid meals were eaten. My dad liked quality food; lots of veggies fish and meat. It was not uncommon to spend $200 per week on groceries. He never brought home doughnuts, but we did try foods from around the world (his favorite was to bring home "different" produce) along with brand name drinks, cookies, chips, junk...

When college came around, I was stuck paying for food with whatever money was left-over after bills. Once, right when I met John, I went to the store with $12 and a -$43.27 in my bank account (I saved the receipt because I hated that feeling of being in debt). It was the first time I actually paid attention.

Fast forward to 2009. I still hate coupons and bargain hunting but I can finally admit why. I don't know where to start. We move, have busy kids, I buy organic, you can't eat healthy on a budget, etc. Excuses, excuses. Thanks to the lovely Christine I found Cheap Healthy Good and a light switch was flipped on. If my food bills have been close to $200 (we just moved so there's an excuse!) for the last three weeks, what's it going to be like when my boys are teenagers? Good Lord!

My Mission: To see how low I can go. It's going to take a lot of planning but thanks to Southern Savers and a slew of other websites, the wheels are a churnin' and I'm ready to save some cash (so I can buy out Anthropologie...whole different post, I guess).

My Plan: To make my meal plans around what's on sale (no, I don't even do that!) without compromising my families desire to eat lots of organic items. We adhere to the organic meats, milk, and "dirty dozen" idea. The rest of our groceries will be conventionally grown. I'm going to post links and my meal plans. Later, I'll start posting costs, etc. Instead of just being for two adults, it will be servings for 4 with kids in mind.

I'm off to work on my excel sheets and lists before John gets back to work!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

All Babies Are Different

Yes, I know this. I just didn't know to what an extreme extent. Originally, I thought the differences in my own kids would be like a Gala and a Fuji or a tagelo and an orange. Same family, just tiny differences. WRONG!

Nern and Ollie's inherent personalities are polar opposites. Now, I'm not comparing them to see who's better at what or who reached what milestone first (Eli, hands down). I'm so absolutely, stripped down exhausted that I've nothing left to do but just that.

I see my personality in Turner. Easily flustered by small things -like messes. He's always saying "I made a mess. Can you kween it?" He's very go-with-the-flow about his goals. Didn't make it up the climbing wall? Eh, take the ladder. It's still climbing. He's a compliant, non-questioning, rule follower (for the most part). Never climbed out of his crib, rarely gets out of his big boy bed and doesn't question authority. The only reason Turner throws a fit is if he's tired and that would be our fault. He doesn't just melt down if things don't go his way. He's compassionate beyond words and has a need to fix things -meticulously. Turner is a sensitive soul and I'm pretty sure he will always be this way. I have to be careful when disciplining because I can hurt his feelings with just my tone of voice.

Eli. Oh, my sweet Elias. He is his daddy made over. Bull-headed, goal-oriented to the Nth degree, and non-stop. Up in his neck of the woods, John is known as St. John. Ne'er do wrong, could charm the knickers off a sweet ol' southern lady, loudly out-going, good ol' boy. If you blink, you might miss Eli. Yep, he just flew by. He can take two to three steps and crawl faster than than you can leap over the couch to save him from ripping the TV out of the wall. He's so sweet and charming and "says" all the right things. He's so outgoing he can make friends for his older brother. I first noticed Eli's iron will when, at two weeks he could keep his head up. He had to know what we were doing around the house. You can't tempt him with distractions, or re-direct his curiousness. He has to know the facts. How does gravity work? He'll test it by pulling up on our heavy metal and leather barstools and fall straight back on his hard noggin. How does electricity work? Hmm, stick a straw in the socket and see what happens. Knowing what he wants in life will not be Mr. Ollie's downfall, but being so passionate he gets his heart-broken will be.