Monday, May 31, 2010

Money Saving Monday

I set out to eventually save $100.00 on our monthly grocery bill, in coupons alone! It was a large goal, one that I have struggled to achieve until this weekend...

... yep, I went grocery shopping for the month of June yesterday, with Isaac in hand and saved $105.07 and had $15.oo worth of Target Gift Cards to add to the total savings, which brings my savings to $120.07... Praise Jesus for CoUpOnS!!!!!

I must say, our entire months worth of food for June is purchased and paid for, and I even have a little extra that will hopefully run into July.

One of the things I have tried really hard to do, is to ONLY use coupons for items that I normally purchase. One of these reasons is because we do not have a lot of storage for "extra" items in our house. I hope to spend the month of June doing some work in the garage and other areas of the home to create more storage so we can remain in our home for another few years... even with another baby, when that time comes...

For example, I do not buy shampoo that our family doesn't use just because it is on sale. I do however, purchase items that I will use later on, like diapers in a different size. We are not at the point where we are ready to have baby #2, but while we have the coupons and the "extra" money, I have purchased extra diapers and/or wipes...

I have also come to love the freezer - as you can see, we love our beverages in our house so I have learned to purchase and freeze food. Thanks to a gift my parents got us a few years back for Christmas, we are the proud owners of a garage freezer.

Please keep in mind that my "knowledge" about freezing food is only the "knowledge" I have gained by doing my own research and through my own experience... but if it helps you save money, please feel free to use the ideas as you see fit.

You can freeze almost any food. Some exceptions are canned food or eggs in shells. However, once the food (such as a ham) is out of the can, you may freeze it.

Being able to freeze food and being pleased with the quality after defrosting are two different things. Some foods simply don't freeze well. Examples are mayonnaise, cream sauce and lettuce. Raw meat and poultry maintain their quality longer than their cooked counterparts because moisture is lost during cooking.

Is Frozen Food Safe?
Food stored constantly at 0 °F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.

Does Freezing Destroy Bacteria & Parasites?
Freezing to 0 °F inactivates any microbes — bacteria, yeasts and molds — present in food. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active, multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can lead to foodborne illness. Since they will then grow at about the same rate as microorganisms on fresh food, you must handle thawed items as you would any perishable food.

Trichina and other parasites can be destroyed by sub-zero freezing temperatures. However, very strict government-supervised conditions must be met. Home freezing cannot be relied upon to destroy trichina. Thorough cooking, however, will destroy all parasites.

Freshness & Quality
Freshness and quality at the time of freezing affect the condition of frozen foods. If frozen at peak quality, thawed foods emerge tasting better than foods frozen near the end of their useful life. So freeze items you won't use quickly sooner rather than later. Store all foods at 0° F or lower to retain vitamin content, color, flavor and texture.

Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent freezer burn.
It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its original packaging, however this type of wrap is permeable to air and quality may diminish over time. For prolonged storage, overwrap these packages as you would any food for long-term storage. It is not necessary to rinse meat and poultry. Freeze unopened vacuum packages as is. If you notice that a package has accidentally been torn or has opened while food is in the freezer, the food is still safe to use; merely overwrap or rewrap it.

Freezer Burn
Freezer burn does not make food unsafe, merely dry in spots. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air coming in contact with the surface of the food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking the food. Heavily freezer-burned foods may have to be discarded for quality reasons.

Freeze Rapidly
Freeze food as fast as possible to maintain its quality. Rapid freezing prevents undesirable large ice crystals from forming throughout the product because the molecules don't have time to form into the characteristic six-sided snowflake. Slow freezing creates large, disruptive ice crystals. During thawing, they damage the cells and dissolve emulsions. This causes meat to "drip" and lose juiciness. Emulsions such as mayonnaise or cream will separate and appear curdled.

Ideally, a food 2-inches thick should freeze completely in about 2 hours. If your home freezer has a "quick-freeze" shelf, use it. Never stack packages to be frozen. Instead, spread them out in one layer on various shelves, stacking them only after frozen solid.

Freezer Storage Time
Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this post, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.

If a food is not listed on the chart, you may determine its quality after thawing. First check the odor. Some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long and should be discarded. Some may not look picture perfect or be of high enough quality to serve alone but may be edible; use them to make soups or stews.

Safe Thawing
Never thaw foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These methods can leave your foods unsafe to eat.

There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. And large items like turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for each 5 pounds of weight.

For faster thawing, place food in a leak proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. (If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.) Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook immediately.

When microwave-defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.

Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.

If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly.

Power Outage in Freezer
If there is a power outage, the freezer fails, or if the freezer door has been left ajar by mistake, the food may still be safe to use if ice crystals remain. If the freezer has failed and a repairman is on the way, or it appears the power will be on soon, don't open the freezer door. If the freezer door was left ajar and the freezer continued to keep the food cold, the food should stay safe.

A freezer full of food will usually keep about 2 days if the door is kept shut; a half-full freezer will last about a day. The freezing compartment in a refrigerator may not keep foods frozen as long. If the freezer is not full, quickly group packages together so they will retain the cold more effectively. Separate meat and poultry items from other foods so if they begin to thaw, their juices won't drip onto other foods.

When the power is off, you may want to put dry ice, block ice, or bags of ice in the freezer or transfer foods to a friend's freezer until power is restored. Use an appliance thermometer to monitor the temperature.

To determine the safety of foods when the power goes on, check their condition and temperature. If food is partly frozen, still has ice crystals, or is as cold as if it were in a refrigerator (40 °F), it is safe to refreeze or use. It's not necessary to cook raw foods before refreezing.
Discard foods that have been warmer than 40 °F for more than 2 hours. Discard any foods that have been contaminated by raw meat juices. Dispose of soft or melted ice cream for quality's sake.

When it is freezing outside and there is snow on the ground, the outdoors seems like a good place to keep food until the power comes on; however, frozen food can thaw if it is exposed to the sun's rays even when the temperature is very cold. Refrigerated food may become too warm and foodborne bacteria could grow. The outside temperature could vary hour by hour and the temperature outside will not protect refrigerated and frozen food. Additionally, perishable items could be exposed to unsanitary conditions or to animals. Animals may harbor bacteria or disease; never consume food that has come in contact with an animal.

Freezer Storage Chart (0 °F)
Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Bacon and Sausage1 to 2
Casseroles2 to 3
Egg whites or egg substitutes12
Frozen Dinners and Entrees3 to 4
Gravy, meat or poultry2 to 3
Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats1 to 2
Meat, uncooked roasts4 to 12
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops4 to 12
Meat, uncooked ground3 to 4
Meat, cooked2 to 3
Poultry, uncooked whole12
Poultry, uncooked parts9
Poultry, uncooked giblets3 to 4
Poultry, cooked4
Soups and Stews2 to 3
Wild game, uncooked8 to 12

Happy Savings and Freezing!

Friday, May 28, 2010


When Isaac gets an owie he asks for a Handy Manny Band-Aid...

... well, mama only had Cars Band-Aids... he is far more flexible than his mama...

... because when mama has an owie, and it is not after 7pm, Starbucks is the ONLY Band-Aid for mama!

Even if I am attempting to make my own coffee at home, a fabulously expensive coffee in the classic white recycled cup just does something for me...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Isaac had an ice cream for dinner date with his mama, his mama's time keeper (my dearest friend who at one time gave me a watch I dearly LOVE to this day, hence the nick name) and her daughter!

Needless to say, this precious girl was so excited and my son had an "issue" in his nose that needed to be dealt with prior to selecting his dinner. This is the VERY difference between boys and girls mind you...

These two most precious children enjoyed ice cream that was almost the size of their precious little heads...

... and of course, being the perfect mama's that we are, we most definitely did NOT allow them to enjoy their dinner on the floor...

... we encouraged them to eat like properly behaved children at a table!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Every Little Boy Needs A SaNdBoX!!!

Because every little boy loves to play in the dirt...

... mama made Isaac a sand box...

... Praise JESUS for brightly colored RubberMaid plastic storage bins...

... a little sand... some toys...

... and the cutest little boy EVER!

Now, if the wind would go away we could get more use out of the sand box!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Money Saving Monday

One of the things I LOVE LOVE LOVE is a manicure and pedicure... but the average cost to do both is around $40.00. So to save money, I have learned how to do this at home. Believe it or not the image above is a picture of ALL my nail polish supplies, minus the Q-tips I use...

I have successfully learned to paint my own toe nails and finger nails and have successfully saved an average of $30.00 - I had to account for the cost of the nail polish, which thanks to coupons and the dollar store I was able to acquire all the supplies I needed for around $10.00.

And the best part is, I can do this as many times as I want and it will be free, now that I have purchased the basic supplies... I could have a new color of polish on my toes and hands every week if I wanted....

Happy Savings!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Anniversary -

Andrew - We have been married for 6 years - today is our Anniversary and I have picked out some of my favorite pictures to celebrate the last 6 years...

... our wedding day was perfect... it was everything I wanted, I loved my dress, I loved that Curtis married us and his family was such a big part of our day and I was so excited to just be your wife... I will never forget seeing you for the very first time as my daddy walked me towards you...

... we have had a great time together... we have laughed, we have had our fights and we have made up...

... I will NEVER forget the day you brought Nhyja home, she was so precious and perfect... I loved her from the very first moment I saw her hiding behind your car, I miss her, thank you for giving me her...

... we went to Michigan to hang out with your family and we had a GREAT time... the road trip was fun with Roy, Mom and Esther, games with Grandma was fabulous, Bible time before we all went to bed was precious, not to mention the amazing food we ate while we were there, and the 4th of July party at Uncle Randy's is by far one of my most favorite memories... it was a great trip, one of my favorite so far...

... three years into our adventure, we went from being the two of us to the three of us...

... and you are an AMAZING father, my heart melts when you read stories to our son, the memories of the two of you napping together when we first brought him home are precious to me and it is no secret that this boy can hit a golf ball and I cannot wait to watch the two of you create memories as you golf together...

... one of my favorite memories is our family trip to VEGAS... Jesus was so faithful on that trip and I was so proud of what that trip meant for you and still means to me... I was so honored to sit back and watch Sweet Jesus honor you and bless you with this trip...

... I LOVE YOU...

... I LOVE YOU...

... I LOVE YOU... I cannot wait to see what the Lord has planned for the next 6 years of our adventure, it has been fabulous so far... I am honored to be your wife, I am proud to be your son's mama and I cannot believe the blessings Sweet Jesus has given us... I am over joyed and madly in love with you!

Happy Anniversary baby!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekend Work -

I posted about Isaac wanting to help out with a little bit of work we did around the house over the weekend - you can see his fabulous picture by clicking here...

... so the home project for the weekend, involved giving Isaac a BIG BOY BED. And it is a BIG BED! Can you even find him in there?

He loves his big bed, he loves being a big boy and loves all the room he has to roll around. I however, as his mama, am sad to see the crib go and the big boy bed in it's place. But, he is growing up and I could not have asked for a better kid... I LOVE LOVE LOVE HIM!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Money Saving Monday

A friend of mine gave me the idea of posting some of the money saving ideas I have come to find every Monday... so this is the first one... I have chosen to call it "Monday Saving Monday"... I am going to get creative with these posts, or at least tempt too, so consider the picture below creative! :)

I hope you enjoy!

Happy Savings!

Money Saving Monday Tip #1: Combine your cable, internet and telephone service. Companies now offer combined services that not only cost less, but offer the convenience of a single bill.

My husband and I have a home phone, which makes me feel really OLD, but we have a land line now! The ONLY reason we agreed to it is because our provider for internet and cable said it would lower our monthly bill $60.00 each month for at least 6 months.

That is a total savings of $360.00 - so far, so good - did I mention the land line includes long distance as well... it's FABULOUS!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend Work Around the Home...

We did a little work around the home this weekend, nothing fancy, but Isaac wanted to help out. Can you guess what he needed his tools for? I PROMISE it is BIG!!!!

And I will post pictures.... later....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Poop....


After my experience just 12 days ago (go HERE is you need more details) I witnessed the goldfish POOP and POOP and POOP some more...

Jesus, please... please... please... give me 15 days without an over load of poop! The normal daily dose within the diaper is fine, but I don't think I can take much more than that... I am just telling you how it is... anyways - I love you - AMEN!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Painting...

My fridge has hand made art on it...

... and I LOVE IT!

Soon, my walls will have hand made art on it, I am going to frame this lovely painting done by my precious son.

Oh how I love home made art. I cannot wait for Isaac to make more.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Makes 32 muffins

Art Work...

I got brave... I purchased paint and a few sponge paint brushes... we used one of daddy's shirts as our "painting shirt".

Isaac loves painting. He spent well over an hour painting.

The final product...

... sits on mama's newly painted bench on our front porch... so the birdies can find it of course!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For my son... on Mother's Day...

Dear Isaac,

You are my first born son, you are our namesake, you are my son. Our son. On the day you were born, your daddy and I couldn't have been happier. I remember just wanting to hear your cry for the very first time, and when I finally did, it was music to my ears! You were beautiful, your eyes captivated me and your little body just seemed to fit perfectly as you laid on me to rest. Hearing y our heart beat against mine was powerful. Feeling your tiny fingers grip my finger, left me speechless.

You captured my heart from the moment I found out about you. Your name, Isaac Martin, was given to you by Sweet Jesus. You see, mama and daddy never really had another name, it was just given to us. Isaac means laughter, and my son, your laugh is like honey to my lips baby. And, Martin, that is my daddy's name, your grandpa.

And your daddy, man, I cannot tell you how much I love him. You see, he is the BEST daddy in the world! He loves you more than anything, he is the leader of our house, he is the lover of your mama and a child of God. His passion for Jesus is one I pray we pass on to you and his work ethic is something I pray you admire as much I as do.

I couldn't be happier to be your mama and your daddy's wife. I love you my sweet son! I pray Jesus blesses you in ways I can never imagine!

Sweet Jesus - I pray blessing over the men in my life. Bless my love with your peace, bless my son with your truth. I praise you for the gifts you have given me, for the life you have blessed and for the marriage you have founded. I love you, I serve you and I am humbled by all you have given me. Thank you!