December Daily – Days 11/12

I know it doesn’t look so hot. But it tastes good, gets in some good veggies, and doesn’t cost me a lot where calories are concerned.

spaghetti squash
1 T. olive oil
spaghetti sauce
parmesan cheese

It’s about 400 calories, which is a little big for a lunch, but it satisfies. Comforting food. Cheap (made from leftovers, mostly). Eaten at my desk, but ah well.

Coupon Printing Issues – FIX

I’ve been couponing. I’m not even gonna lie. I know I mentioned it before. I’ve been blogging local (and non-local) deals outside of this blog, simply because I don’t want them cluttering up this one so much.

If you’re a couponer running a Mac, this may apply to an error you are getting (/usr/libexec/cups/filter/CouponConvertor_v2 failed). If not, disregard. Carry on. I’d been getting errors lately when trying to print my coupons, but found a fix, thank goodness.

I’m happy now. Although, I’m a bit concerned that my recent printer purchase could have been avoided, which makes me a NOT happy camper. Sigh.

Make Your Own Fancy Shmancy California Garlic Powder

I love my McCormick California Style Garlic Powder. I do, I do. I use it as my go-to garlic powder (I skip garlic salt and if a recipe calls for garlic salt I add garlic powder and salt). I use it as the base for my homemade pizza topping. It has a coarser grind and splash of flavor/color from the parsley.

But I also like to simplify. I like to make things myself if I can. Not to mention, whenever I’d buy the McCormick kind, I’d be spending more money than I cared to spend. So, I made it myself.

Pretty simple ingredients, both of which I purchased bulk-size from Costco (which sells some McCormick, if you like that kind). You can see in the picture that I used “California” garlic, which has a bit of a coarser grind.

For the price of two bottles of the store-bought kind, I can make about 2-3x as much of the mixture (and have enough parsley to use for at least 6 more). The ratio I used was about 3:1 garlic to parsley. But you can tweak to your desire. I have made it with regular-grind garlic as well and it did fine, but I prefer the coarse grind. Works for me!

Substitute For Pizza

I’m trying to eat better. Recent wait gain has me in an undeniable position (can feel it in my clothing). But, also, the fact that our paychecks are less than they were – well, no, more is being taken out of the paychecks of State workers here in Wisconsin. The take-home pay is less. Anyway, I’m trying to eat better and save money.

Hence, the new coupon page up there, and my increased use of them. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Today, we talk pizza.

Frank’s working an overtime today. Unfortunately, it is a Friday. I’d much rather have him at home, out back with me by the fire. But I’d also like to be able to pay bills. Trade off. I’ve been very good lately, relying less on McDonald’s coffee in a pinch, and more on my handy insulated coffee mug (filling it at home first). I didn’t stop for coffee ONCE this week. Pretty good, if you ask me! Even when I was running late, even when I was tired. I. Held. Strong.

Tonight though when thinking of dinner, I immediately imagined pizza. Ordered. Delivered. Easy. Effortless. Thankfully, though, I have a stack of frozen pizzas (thanks to couponing and sales). I also have hungry children who popped one in the oven before I could even get my fingers on the phone to order anything. With two kids at home sharing a frozen pizza and two kids at a friend’s house hanging out, it seemed like an enormous waste and lack of effort for me to order a pizza.

Instead, I went for a walk. I chugged a glass of water and took Wheezy for a walk.

Then I came home and made my own “pizza” without spending an extra dime. Cheese and tomatoes from Costco, “Italian” bread on sale.

Lonely bread.

Not so lonely anymore. A wipe of butter, dash of garlic pepper and basil. Topped with cheese…

…and tomatoes.

Broiled and toasted in the toaster oven.

A sprinkle of salt and Parmesan, glass of wine (OK, coffee mug of wine). Yum. No, it wasn’t take-out. But it was good. And easy. And yummy. And I’m happy that I didn’t spend $30 on pizza – I can pocket that for another time!

Stranger Danger

I am the stranger, but I’m not too dangerous. Armed with a keyboard and a cup of coffee, I’m just beginning to awaken my morning-fogged brain. Pretty harmless. Pretty inconsistent, too, posting once in a blue moon. I never thought I would be so busy, so distracted, that I would forget some of my online interests. Like blogging. But, time allows us so much and Facebook has completely ruined me with my ADD and its constant motion. However, since the change a few days ago, it has alienated me a bit for now, and I’ll stick to the streets for a bit.

Summer has closed, the kids are back to school. I have a senior, a freshmen and two 7th-graders. I continue to work both outside and inside the home. Don’t roll your eyes. I really do work inside the home. By day I manage an office, but by afternoon and night, I manage a home. It consumes me.

As the reality of the public worker cuts set in and the paychecks grow smaller, my work at home takes on an even more fine tuned approach. Frank took a promotion a couple years ago, and for one year we felt like we were climbing up the walls a bit, making some gains on our debt, increasing our financial responsibility. It was good. It felt good. My hours were cut, and my pay went down a bit, but Frank’s made up for it. The extra time I had at home made up for it. Did I say it was good?

We are still ahead of where we would be had he not taken that promotion. His check is now about the same as it was pre-promotion. I can’t imagine what it would be otherwise. We still have good healthcare benefits, thank goodness. But we’re kind of back at square one.

A lot of my time has been spent online couponing. This was the summer of the coupon. I’ve always clipped coupons, and have done well before, but with in combination with the internet, I’ve been able to hunt down deals a little quicker. But it takes. Time. Time. And more time.

I’ve used my homemade deodorant all summer. There have been times where I’ve been concerned that I smell a little more “natural” I would like. On a really hot day, I’d wash my pits midday and reapply. But I haven’t looked back. I haven’t changed. I don’t plan to.

I’ve been washing my face with honey. Although I use a combination of honey and coconut oil. My face is neither dry, nor oily, and my make-up is gone. Try it. Good stuff.

I’ve gained a bit of weight by paying less attention. Summer will do that to me. A re-commitment to health is in order.

And now I’ve posted to my blog. Something I hope to do a little more of, a little more often.

Sarcasm and Couponing

… just a dash of sarcasm.

Well at least my washer waited until I had the majority of my wash done before it completely broke down.

Thank goodness for 3-day weekends. Even more time to spend hunting down deals, making up shopping lists.


I’m trying not to be bitter, angry, sad or whiny. It doesn’t always work that way. I don’t know if it really is true that when it rains it pours, or if when it is pouring out you just take more notice of each, fat drop.

Lots of fat drops going on right now. Good, bad, normal… it’s all a part of life. Sometimes it just gets more difficult to cope with it when it continues to hit.

Yesterday I said “goodbye” to my parents. Not that I won’t be seeing them again, but we just won’t be living in adjoining zip codes. My father retired from being a pastor; my mother retired from a lifetime of lab work at the hospital. Somehow I thought it would happen around the same time, but not literally within the same week. Since my father was a pastor living in a parsonage (the church’s house), they moved. Not to another time zone, but another area code, hours away. A sad, but still somewhat exciting adjustment. Emotions.

My boss, a pastor, was recently assigned to a different church. 6-weeks notice, and her “going away” day was the same as my father’s retirement party. Again, sad, but exciting. A new boss means new experiences, and hopefully ones I can learn a lot from. Emotions.

My oldest son is taking off on a trip a couple states away for a camp. Quite an honor and exciting adventure. Teenaged angst and personality. Emotions.

My daughter, almost 20, continues to make life choices that are difficult to stomach. Emotions.

Searching for something predictable, I have found some joy in couponing (again). Not stockpiling like a freak whose stash will expire before making a visible dent. Not like that. But… like, going to Walgreens with a plan (researching a few sites– probably too many, printed coupons), saving money on items and walking away with a load of good stuff and not a bunch of money spent. My second trip (yeah I said it) was the best because I totally stacked coupons and got some stuff for cheap-o cheap (4 body washes for the boys who use them like crazy, pantiliners, a few other goodies). I like to know I’m getting a deal on things and am stocked up. I can see how some people go insane with it. Eh.. sort of.

My mother was a couponer. She had a tin recipe-card holder with her coupons filed in it. She was a SENSIBLE COUPONER long before there were shows about people with Coupon OCD. I guess I learned from her. That makes me smile. My ability to scrape together a meal from what seems like nothing, and my coupon skills are both from mom. And I’m adopted. Monkey see, monkey do.

So anyway, I also made out of Target saving more than I spent (go to and scroll to the bottom, click on the “coupons” link). That is a cool feeling. Contact lens cleaner, Colgate toothpaste, Crackerful crackers, 2 Dove deodorants, pens (for .02!!!), more pens, travel-size Tide, more pens… all for $10. The contact lens cleaner itself was $8 originally. I felt like a bandit. They let you stack coupons. So, for example: Contact cleaner $7.99 originally, Target has $2/off coupon, I also have a $1/off manufacture coupon — I get to use both for $3/off. I purchased everything by stacking. It does take time, but for me time is money and this is money worth working for.



Staples Coupon Bargains

Yesterday I received an email from Staples with a bunch of coupons in it. One was for a straight up $5/off a purchase. Free product. Yay. The rest were for pretty deep discounts on items I normally use. I printed the majority of them, and made a mental note to actually go to the store and redeem them. Sometimes I’m good at mapping out the bargains, but not so great on the follow through. This time, though, I followed through. And I’m happy I did.

I got all the above for $10. I wish I could say I got it for free, but… hey. $10 for all that isn’t bad. The notebooks, pink pen and Ticonderoga pencils were my semi-“freebies” purchased with the $5 off coupon. The pencils were $2 each, the pen $1, and the notebooks (the twins wanted notebooks), $1 each. So I went slightly over. But ah well. The pencils, as Carlito calls them are, “The World’s BEST Pencils” indeed. I will never think of them as just a pencil anymore, not after he asked for them. Mom, will you pick up some pencils? But they have to be THE WORLD’S BEST PENCILS, not just any pencil. He’s very literal like that. It wasn’t a joke. He meant for me to seriously pick up Ticonderoga, the world’s best pencil. He doesn’t want to write with anything else.

So, basically, I got the pencils, notebooks and pen for.. $3. Had the twins not been along, I would have gotten away scott free with the coupon. But, I’m not going to squirm too much over it.

Labels: $2 (reg. $9.99)

Pens: $2 (reg. $4.79)

Binder clips: $1 (reg. $2.99)

Copy paper: $2 (reg. $5.99)

Stickies $1 (reg. $5)

All of these items I will use, so in itself it is was good deal.

Crockopt Sloppy Joes With Diet Coke

Hello, friend.

Every time I sit down to write a post, I see a squirrel (aka I get distracted with other things, ADD-style). In some ways that is good. It means I’m getting things done, which I am. I have a mission of productivity when I get to the computer lately, and I’ve been better at keeping with that mission. It has been a productive week for me. Clothes a’ washing, drying on the line, freezer defrosted (more on that in another post), continue to keep my flowers alive out front (not a small feat for a black-thumb like myself), paid bills, got kids appointments made and completed (no missed appointments this week)… the list goes on and on. I feel satisfied. More content when I allow myself to accomplish tasks and stay on track.

For a long time I’ve put other things first; I’m working on not doing that as much. Not in a means of being selfish and all-important, but with the intent to make sure that I am fulfilling the needs and obligations of myself and my family. Giving that the priority it demands. When I don’t, I feel life spinning out of control, bills being paid late, meals being ordered in because I didn’t prepare, home being embarrassingly messy — things that don’t make for a happy home.

In that effort, I’ve been spending my time online looking for recipes to add to my ever-growing collection. The past few days I’ve been trying to eat what we have and make less runs to the store. My success has been about 60%, which is up from before. Knowing that I had some ground turkey and beef in the freezer, I opted to get it out the night before to thaw. Doing this took a little bit of planning (find recipe, remove from freezer). Not much, but a bit. The peace of mind I had, though, knowing what we were having for dinner the next day is worth something.

I’m also working on minding my food and taking better care of my body again, so I explored sparkpeople for a bit, hoping to turn up something new and tasty. I found a recipe for Diet Coke Sloppy Joes and did a little bit of modifying.

16 oz. 96% ground beef
1 cup diet coke
2/3 cup reduced sugar ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard
Brown ground beef in skillet. Drain beef and add back to skillet. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 30 minutes uncovered so sauce can thicken. You can also add onions or green peppers if you’d like.

Number of Servings: 4

I doubled, using the beef/turkey mix; drained, put in crockpot. Then I took some frozen chopped green peppers and put that in the pot, heated them a bit, adding the ketchup (not reduced sugar – don’t have it), Worcestershire, vinegar (used apple cider instead), dry mustard, and 2 tsp of garlic (I love garlic). After I mixed that around a bit, I added the Coke (I used Coke Zero). I poured this over the meat in the crock, added about 2T of dried onion flakes, mixed it all up and set it on high. I cooked it for about 1.5 hours on high, stirring it here and there, and then let it simmer with the lid off for half an hour or so. It smelled delicious and tasted good, too. Everyone thought it was yummy. It was less saucy than a Manwich, or “traditional” sloppy joes, but I liked it for something different and bit dryer. Doubled, I would say that it fed a little more than 8 with 2 sandwiches each (approx. 1/4 cup per serving).

I love my crockpot.

Feed The Pig

Today I was listening to the radio in the car. A commercial comes on, starts talking about saving money. Sounded interesting. Feed The Pig, the website was called. I thought of texting it to myself, but figured I should be able to remember a site name like that. I did. I checked it out.

I honestly don’t care how good the site might be. Thirty seconds of that pig with the slotted head, talking in his pink leisure suit gives me the heebie jeebies. I’ll pass.

Homemade Deodorant Trial

There is a ton of information on the web regarding trying homemade deodorant. Here is my experience with it.

Why try homemade deodorant?

Because I’ve struggled for years to find the “right” deodorant. Because I’ve tried “natural” ones and they never made the cut. Because I don’t like the idea of slathering chemicals on my skin constantly. Because I am a product slut. Recovering, that is.

Armpit Profile

Commonly used: Dove, Secret, Arm & Hammer, Sure. Tried Tom’s; gave me itchy rash. Tried it again; same thing.

Sweaty, but not overly sweaty.

Concerned with odor, but it hasn’t cramped my lifestyle.

Shave? Occasionally. Winters, rarely. My pits are sensitive and I’m not a priss about having clean-shaven pits.

Homemade Deodorant Recipe Used

This is the recipe I started with. It is a common-found recipe on the internet. Search long and hard and you’ll find all kinds of variations and recommendations.

5 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 c. cornstarch (alternative – arrowroot powder)
1/4 c. baking soda
Optional: Essential oils. I couldn’t quite tell you the percentages because it was not precise.

The CCO (coconut oil) has a low melting point, so if you make this in summer, you might not have to even put it in the microwave. I made it after the temperature in my house was above the melting point, so I needed to put in in the microwave, briefly.

Homemade Deodorant

I stored mine in a small lotion container after frantically searching for something, anything to keep it in.

Homemade Deodorant


Read more