Saturday, June 29, 2013

Week #4 Grocery Shopping-$30 Challenge

The meat for this week I already bought during Week 3 here.  So this week the budget leftover after the meat purchase is $20.  There were some good sales this week and alot of them to use coupons with, which I love.
It seriously bums me out to check out at the grocery store and not use any coupons.  It always seems like I bought a little of nothing and spent my whole budget.
It took me 2 hours yesterday to throw out expired coupons, print the ones I needed, clip all my new ones, make my list, and matchup my coupons to my list.  It is mornings like those that make me want to quit couponing, then of course I take a look at our grocery budget and I quickly realize that I can't quit.  I was super excited about this weeks trip because Kroger was having a great buy 10 get $5 off sale with many items I had coupons to match.  I always get my best coupon information from freetastesgood.com.  She is in the Ohio area so most of the time our sales match up really nicely.  There are exceptions though.  It seems at least once a month I plan for this great deal I have read about online, so sure that it's going to work, I make my list based off of this great deal and then it doesn't work.  Last week it was the bologna I thought I was going to get  a $2 catalina when I bought it, but the catalina didn't print and the store manager couldn't find anywhere on the website that there was supposed to be a catalina printing.  Needless to say, that week my trip didn't turn out as planned.

This week was one in the same.  I saw a great deal and catalina printout that was supposd to be for Bayer Aspirin.  They were $2.19 each, you buy 2, use a $4.00 off of 2 coupon and pay $0.38 for both, then get a $3 catalina printout.  It was a moneymaker!!  I was super excited and had planned on buying 4 and getting 2) $3.00 catalinas paying for my milk purchase.  However they did not have the smaller bottles of Aspirin and it was not a moneymaker with what they had in stock.  So no deal.  I was bummed.  All the other items were on the buy 10 get $5 off so if I eliminated 1, I would lose all the sale prices on everything else in my cart.  It was a lose lose so I ended up going $2.63 over budget.  I told my husband how aggravated that made me and he just laughed and said "Lisa, it's $2.  It's not a big deal."  Regardless I worked really hard to keep myself within budget and then to go over, it's like my work was for nothing.

Ok enough rambling and complaining, here's what I got this week:

 
4 containers of KoolAid drink mix $0.99 used 2) $1.00/2 coupons and paid $0.49 each
4 containers countrytime lemonade mix $0.99 used 2) $1.00/2 coupons and paid $0.49 each
1 Reynolds wrap foil 75sq ft $3.29 use $0.75 coupon that doubled to $1.00 and paid $1.79
7 containers Reynolds cupcake liners $0.99 used $1.00/1 coupon and they were all free
3 boxes Reynolds mini cupcake liners $1.09 used $1.00/1 coupon and they were $0.09 each
2 bags frozen green gant steamers$ 0.99 each
2 boxes multigrain cheerios $1.99 each used 1) $0.75 coupon that doubled to $1.50 making one of them $0.49 and  got a catalina printout or $2
2 boxes Trix cereal $1.99 used 2) $0.60/1 coupon and paid $0.80 each
1 box Hershey's Cookies and Cream cereal $1.99 used $0.75 coupon and paid $0.49
2 boxes Oatmeal Crisp $1.99 each used $0.75/1 coupon and paid $0.49 each

6- 1/2 gallons of milk on managers special for $1.00 each
1/2 gallon Turkey hill lemonade $0.75
Welch's Juice cocktail $2.09 used $0.75 coupon that doubled to $1.50 and paid $0.59
Flour $1.42
Coffeemate Creamer 32oz 2.49 used $0.55 coupon that doubled to $1.10 and paid $1.39
Jennie-O Turkey Franks $1.99 used $0.55 coupon that doubled to $1.10 and paid $0.89
Beechnut baby cereal $1.58 used $0.75 coupn that doubled to $1.50 and paid $0.08 (we don't have an infant in the house anymore but I have multiple family members with who just had babies that can get good use out of this and we all know how expensive babies are and every little bit helps when you're a new parent)

Total Spent- $22.63 ( I did 2 transactions using the $2 catalina from the cheerios to pay for 2) 1/2 gallons of milk, making them free.

Even though not getting the great deal I had planned is frustrating I'm really satisfied with my loot I brought home.  The lessoned learned here is to not base your list and total out of pocket spent on a catalina or deal you haven't seen for yourself in the store.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Toothbrush & Toothpaste Travel Holder

I've seen this on various other websites and had it logged in the back of my mind that I needed to make one for trips to Tennessee.  I didn't get to at Christmas but thought I should take the time to make one before our next trip.

I took a bathroom hand towel and folded the towel up about 8 1/2 inches and sewed around the 3 sides.  Do not sew the top or your will have to get out your seam ripper.  I added ribbon just for a more decorative touch before I folded the bottom up 8 1/2 inches but this isn't necessary.
space out your pockets to fit your toothpaste and toothbrushes, sewing a straight line from the bottom fold to the opening.  I ended up having enough room for 2 tubes of toothpaste (Grant's and ours), 3 toothbrushes, and an extra pocket for floss or anything else you may need.
 
I cut 2 strips of ribbon and folded one end under about 1/4 inch and sewed one onto the front and one on the opposite side of the towel.
 
 
To add another decorative touch I added another strip of ribbon to the outside top of the towel so when it's folded over you can see it.
 
 
Now put your toothbrushes and toothpastes inside, fold the top flap over, and roll it up.  Wrap the ribbon ties around and tie in a bow.
 
 
Throw it in your suitcase or travel bag and now you won't have to worry about water or toothpaste residue getting on anything else in your bags.  And bonus, if you do get yucky stuff on it you can just throw it in your washer.  Easy peasy!
 
 
 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peanut and Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I brought granola bars to the Relay for Life event this year and they would have been perfect except I forgot to get them out of the camper for everyone, so no one knew they were even there.  Oh well more for me I guess.

 
I used my favorite granola bar recipe I found here, and used mini 3/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup peanuts, and 1/4 cup coconut.  The coconut I threw in on a whim and they were delicious but I think I'll add more peanuts next time and just omit the coconut.  I think I could use this granola bar recipe and make various kinds every week and eat one every day and never get tired of them.  They are so yummy!

Breakfast Pizza

I love Pioneer Woman's cook books & have been wanting to try her breakfast pizza recipe for awhile now.  So the other morning I decided to give it a go.  I have been using a Garlic pizza crust recipe for a couple years now and its good but I thought I would try her recipe and see if there was a difference.  So I combined the yeast and warm water letting it sit for about 10 minutes.

 
 
Here is where I changed the recipe up a little.  She only had to add salt, I decided to add garlic salt and italian seasoning.  I didn't measure, just threw some in the bowl.
 
Mixed it with the paddle attachment.
 
 
Spread it out on a baking sheet and used a fork to make holes all over the crust so it doesn't bubble up.
 
To make sure it was crispy I went ahead and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes.
The "pizza sauce" is actually salsa, I didn't have any regular jarred salsa so I whipped up my own.  Pioneer Woman has a recipe for that as well, using canned tomatoes.  I, of course, didn't have all the ingredients she called for so I used her recipe as a base.  I'll have that recipe in a future post.
 
 When I decided to make this pizza I had visions of the fantastically gorgeous photos I would have to share, then I kind of burned the sausage and no such luck with the photos.

I used breafast sausage but overcooked it on the stove, which made it burn in the oven and next time I probably will just leave the eggs off.  My husband wasn't crazy about them (probably because they ended up being a little over cooked) and I liked the pizza without them.
You could definately make this a veggie breakfast pizza as well and it would be just as delish.
 
I will be making this again, but without the burned toppings.  I was surpised with how good this tasted and  I actually don't know why I had any doubts about the flavor, being as how I haven't had one Pioneer Woman recipe I've tried not be good.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pizza Buns

When I was a kid my mom used to make these with leftover hamburger or hot dog buns.  It as simple as can be, just top the inside of the bun with your pizza sauce, cheese, and any pizza toppings you want.  Bake them on a baking sheet @ 350 until the cheese melts (about 10 minutes), and your lunch or dinner is done.

                               

What I love about these is everyone can put their own toppings on, so they are perfectly portioned personal pizzas.  My son loved them as much as I did as a kid.

To make your own pizza sauce:
1-8oz can tomato sauce
1t oregano
1t basil or 2 basil leaves
1/2 t garlic salt
1t minced dried onion
1t olive oil

simmer on the stove for about 10 minutes and top your pizza crust with your yummy sauce.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

The Relay for Life was this past weekend and since we stay all night and have multiple team members coming and going, we need plenty of snacks and food to keep our energy up for the 18 hour walk.  I decided to take breakfast on and chose breakfast burritos.  I love them and the freeze fantastic so I knew if I had leftovers it wouldn't be a problem to take back leftovers.  The only issue I had was trying to find a way to keep them warm without an oven, microwave, or anything else really.  So what was my solution....Crockpot, and it worked great.  We put the Crockpot on high just until they were warmed through then lowered it to the KEEP WARM setting and they stayed nice and warm for everyone throughout the morning.
Here's how I make mine:
Eggs $1.29
Shredded cheese $3.29 for a 4cup bag
Tator Tots (did you know you can buy these at the Dollar Tree!) $1.00
Tortilla Shells $1.00
Meat of choice: ham, sausage, bacon
 
My mom had a hog butchered last year so she supplied me with the meat.  It wasn't seasoned so I used Bobby Flays recipe as a base.  I didn't have the fresh herbs or onion powder so I improvised.  I used 1 1/2t dried sage, 1 tsp dried thyme, and 1T minced dried onion.
 
The ingredients in the burritos can vary depending on what kind of flavors you want.  I've added green and red peppers along with onion in some and that's delicious too.  Cook your meat and drain it if necessary, set aside.  Scramble your eggs, set aside.  If using tator tots bake them in the oven as directions say.
 
Now set up an assembly line of your ingredients and assemble your burritos.
Roll em up and wrap them in foil.  Put them in the crockpot on the keep warm setting and you have one great on the go meal.
I used about 6 or 7 eggs (I lost count) and cooked a full pound of sausage but only used about half.  This amount made about 14 burritos.
 
To freeze these, after rolling them up wrap them in plastic wrap then foil.  Place them in a freezer bag.  When you're ready to eat one, remove the foil and microwave them for about 2 minutes, and enjoy your on the go breakfast.
 
 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu Plan Week 3 -$30 Grocery Challenge

This week is going to be an easy one when it comes to meals for a few reasons.  1-We just finished the Relay for Life and I'm still not fully recovered, meaning the lower half of my body still aches, ALOT. 2- Our family reunion is this coming weekend and I'm planning on making a Maxwell shirt for Grant to wear.  3- The 4th of July is next week and I enlisted my sewing skills to make yet another Maxwell shirt (4th of July themed of course) to wear to the fireworks.  So I'm not over exerting myself on meals this week, so the preparation will be short, the cleanup will be quick, and I will have no excuse to not finish my projects.

Now on to the meal plan for the week:
1. Tuna Helper- I love Tuna Helper and I've made it from scratch quite a few times but I love to have the boxed mix on hand for quick meals when I'm busy or just feeling lazy.
2. Hot dogs and Kraft Homestyle mac & cheese
3. Pizza Buns- these simple little pizzas take me back to my childhood and daycare days, and Grant loves them.
4. Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwiches with potato wedges
5. Leftovers
6. Breakfast
7. Veggie stir fry with brown rice

One day I'm acutally going to get this meal plan up on Sunday like I keep planning on doing.  Until then......

Week #3 of the $30 Grocery Challenge

This week was a little more difficult to fit in grocery shopping since the Relay for Life is coming up and I have been up to my waist in a mile long to-do list.  I did however make 2 stops, the first was a store I don't normally frequent but they have awesome sales on meat sometimes.  This week it was a 2 day sale, Tuesday and Wednesday, so I took 2 weeks grocery money (the $10 a week I reserve for meat) and stocked up because the sale was too good to pass up.  With the way we budget I take our grocery money for the month out of 1 check at the beginning of the month.  Then I split it into $30 per week and try not to spend over that per week.  The only exception being when there is a fantastic meat sale.  So since I stocked up on 2 weeks worth of my meat purchases the following 2 weeks budgets will have a $20 limit.
5 lbs ground turkey @ $1.99/lb= $10
2 New York Strip steaks @ $2.99ea= $5.98
4 lbs Pork Ribs @ $0.99/lb =$3.99
12pk hamburger buns $1.00
1 lb strawberries $1.50
3 lbs Grapes @ $0.59/lb= $1.70
Sunny Delight $1.00
2 Butterball Turkey Bacon $1.29 used $1.00/1 coupon and paid $0.29ea
Toal $25.75 ($10 of the meat is technically from next weeks grocery budget)
 
Did you notice how the strawberries are almost gone and the juice is opened too? My little guy wouldn't wait for the pic to be taken.
 
 


Sugar $2.58
Dozen Eggs $1.29
1 pint blueberries $1.50
Hot Dog buns $0.89
Tuna $0.69
3 gallons of milk (not pictured) 2.51 each
Total = $14.48
 
Total spent for the week (not including the $10 worth of meat that is for next weeks groceries) $30.23
 

Relay for Life 2013

Our Relay for Life event was this past weekend and we had a great time but, lessoned learned, I have to start conditioning before hand next year.  I was so unbelievably sore afterward.  The blister on my foot is proof.  I walk over 12 miles total and have the lapbeads to prove it:
The lap beads was an onsite fundraiser one of the teams did.  You paid $1, got a necklace and a bead and each lap you made you got another bead to add to it.  Each lap was 1/4mile.  So 4 laps = 1 mile.  We had an amazing team with 2 members walking over 20 miles!!!
That's freakin amazing in my book.
My Mom even walked 14 miles.  We were there the full 18 hours the event lasted and I was got all of 1 1/2 hrs of sleep, my mom was the only one who lasted the entire night with no sleep whatsoever. 
We were also one of the few teams who had a walker on the track every minute of the race, so I'm super proud of our team and accomplishments this year.
 
We doubled what we raised last year and won Rookie of the Year this year!
 
I guess this means we have to step up our game for next year haha.
 
I made a banner for our campsite:
It was nothing spectacular but it went well with our pink lights and other pink ribbon decor.  My mom made pink ribbon butter cookies and put them out for donation.  There were 2 in a package and we raised over $20.  Next year we hope to do a couple different on site fundraisers and we are hoping to double our money every year!
 
I had visions of cute pictures of me and Grant in our team shirts I put so much work into.  Here is how that turned out:
Me trying to physically turn his face toward the camera, him laughing hysterically because he knows he's driving me crazy, haha.
It was a great time and I'm so proud of what we accomplished this year and so proud of our team as a whole.
 
Great job Betty's Hope!!!!
 
Now only 11 months until our next Relay....
 
 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Best Homemade Waffles

I love homemade waffles.  There is no better breakfast food and I eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I first used a recipe I found in my Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, but it was a little more bland in flavor than I wanted, so I changed it a little bit, cuz you know that's what I do.

 
1 3/4c flour
2T sugar
1T baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4c milk
1/2c melted butter
1t vanilla (I just pour some in so there's probably more like 2t in my batch)
1/4-1/2t cinnamon (this is what makes these waffles so darn good!)
 
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon together.  Make a well and set aside.
In another bowl beat eggs slightly, stir in milk, butter, vanilla.  Add to flour mixture.  Stir to combine, the batter will be a little lumpy.  Use a 1/4 measuring cup and pour batter into waffle maker.
 
Now, once your waffles are cooked, add butter and syrup and eat.
 
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tie Applique Bibs & A Hospital Survival Kit

Let me start off by saying I'm so LOVING these bibs.  I have actually contemplated keeping them (which would be ridiculous since Grant doesn't use them anymore and we have no baby around), they are just that adorable.

I saw a picture on the web (of course I saved the pic in my favorites file but no web address of where I found it) and knew if someone had a boy I would need to make them.  Go figure not a few weeks later I found out my cousin was having a baby boy, JACKPOT!


I used brown corduroy and navy blue linen fabric and they turned out fantastic.  I used old shirt scraps for the tie applique and it added just the right touch.  If I ever have another baby boy I'm making a dozen of these.

I also put together a hospital survival kit.  I know as a first time Mom I wasn't really sure of what to take and everyone told me something different.  I, of course, packed a small suitcase for myself and a large bag for my new little guy, only to find out I didn't need 80% of the stuff I packed.  So I ended up just making more work for myself when it was time to leave and repack all my crap and haul it to the car.


Here is what I included with a tag explaining why the item is necessary:

Flip Flops- hospital showers are not clean.  I don't care how many times the cleaning people have been in to scour them out.  I would not be bare foot in one, and that's coming from someone who has worked in a hospital.
Travel shampoo/conditioner-self explanatory & no need to pack them up and take them home, just pitch them before leaving.
Body wash & mini loafa-every new mom should have more than a cheap bar of soap and a thin wash cloth when taking a shower.  We have been through enough, we deserve better.
Almay makeup remover- I use these as makeup removers but also as a facewash when on the go.  After labor and delivery a quick freshening up before visitors arrive makes us new mom's feel a thousand times better.
Vaseline- if your little guy is going to be circumsized this is a must.  When I had my son they told me to put vaseline on the area to prevent the diaper from sticking and to keep urine out of the area.  The only problem with this is they only give you these teeny tiny packets of vaseline which I, of course, used 1 whole one every time I changed his diaper, and it seemed to take forever to get more when I ran out.  It's something you don't want to have to wait for when changing a diaper.
Lotion: between the hand washing and Purell your hands will be dry as all get out and lotion is a must.
Stretchy headbands-I don't know one single new mom who wants to worry about her hair while in the hospital.  These come in handy.
Lip Balm- labor and delivery makes your lips dry
Small Notebook- The thing I wish I had done more than anything else was write down my birth story.  The funny things said and done leading up to my son's birth.  What time I went into labor, what I was thinking and feeling.  Who came to visit and their reactions.  What it was like being new parents those first few days.  You think you will remember all those little details but you forget sooner than you think.  This is one item I will have in my next hospital bag.
**Not included in this kit but another must if you are going to be a breastfeeding mom (definately one I will include the next time I need a hospital kit) is nipple cream.  I had a very difficult time getting Grant to latch on correctly and therefore became sore very quickly.  The nurses gave me cream in these tiny packets (just like the vaseline), but once again I ran out quickly considering they wanted me to attempt nursing my new little one every 30 minutes to an hour, and getting more seemed to take more time than it was worth.  I ended up doing without many times because I got tired of waiting.  Nurses are very busy and I respect that which is why I will just bring my own the next time to make it easier on myself.
 
My intent was to put all these items in a cute little drawstring bag but of course I procrastinated and before I knew it, it was mid June (and she's due June 24th!) and I realized she could go into labor at any time and here half my gift is hospital stuff, which she can't use if she's already given birth and returned home before she received my gift.  So I put all the items in a box and mailed it out as is.  Hopefully she won't mind.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Relay for Life Shirts (Freezer Paper Stenciling)

There hasn't been much sewing recently.  So what have I been doing you ask?

Freezer paper stenciling.

These are all the shirts I made for the Relay For Life event coming up.  Our team didn't have shirts last year and my mom and I decided this year they were a must.  We looked at having them professionally printed but not everyone on our team would be able to afford a $15 shirt on top of the registration fee and extra money needed at the relay itself.  So what was our grand idea, or rather MY grand idea? Freezer paper stenciling them......ALL OF THEM.

Word to the wise, do not volunteer yourself to freezer paper stencil 20+ shirts for any event. 

While the results were great, being the procrastinator I am, I ended up having to finish over a dozen of them the last week before the event and make a team banner to boot.  Not a smart idea.

I'm glad they are all finished and I know everyone will appreciate them, but man am I tired.

I think me and my Xacto knife need some time apart for awhile.





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Burlap Placemats

Before we moved I made some placemats for the table to help the place look a little more like home.
 
I wanted something that looked a little country since that is what the rest of my kitchen and dining room look like, so I chose burlap.  Am I the only one who didn't realize burlap was stretchy and kind of difficult to work with.  I had an awful time cutting out straight rectangles but after a few attempts I finally got 4- 13x17in rectangles.
 
 
After I got them cut out I decided they needed a little color, so I added a little simple design to the side.
 
The only thing I'm not fond of is all the little fly away strings from the burlap, I tend to find them every where and can't help but wonder if maybe I was supposed to do something to prevent that.  Oh well, I love the country look of them.
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Another Granola Bar Version

I LOVE homemade granola bars.

Ok I LOVE homemade granola bars using this recipe.  I posted about my first few attempts here, and I'm still making them almost weekly.  I seriously can't stop eating them.  They are my breakfast, snack, and dessert.  The best part is I don't feel guilty eating them.  I figure with all the dried fruit, nuts, and oats I could find worse things to indulge in.

 
I've tried a bunch of different variations of this granola bar and haven't had a failure yet.  Here are a few other variations I have made
- Apple, cinnamon, pecan 
- Blueberry, apricot, almond, cinnamon
- Cranberry, blueberry, almond, cinnamon, and coconut (pictured above)
 
I hadn't tried coconut in any other of the recipes I've made but I had seen other recipes that used it so I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm not a big fan of anything coconut flavor but this just added a little sweetness to the bars and I will probably add it into any other ones I make until I run out.
 
My husband has been taking all my variations to work and he says all the guys love them as well.  In my opinion anything healthy you can get a bunch of guys to love, has to be a true winner of a recipe.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Meal Plan Week #2



#1 Spaghetti with garlic bread (I scored some New York garlic bread at Giant Eagle about 3 weeks ago for free with a coupon!)
#2 Pizza Pasta Box Mix

#3 Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
#4 Grilled chicken and baked potato
      We had this as part of a cookout for Father's Day using the Mountain Dew marinade recipe:

2cups Mountain Dew
1cup soy sauce
1/2cup olive oil
1/2t garlic powder (I have also slice 1 garlic clove and put it in when I've been out of garlic powder.  It works just as well
Let chicken marinade in this overnight.  I've used this recipe dozens of times and everyone I've served it to raves about how delish it is.  The chicken always comes out super moist and even though the combinations of ingredients in the marinade sound kind of disgusting together they make for one tasty piece of poultry.
 

#5 Breakfast
#6 Leftovers
#7 Frozen Pizza (Jack's pizza I bought this week with a coupon for $1.00!)

Grocery Shopping Week 2 of the $30 Grocery Challenge

Here is week 2 and while last week seemed to take me extra time in the stores with the multiple transactions and multiple stores, this week has taken me extra time in the list process.
This week Meijer and Kroger are having similar promotions.  Meijer is having a Buy 8 get $8 off, Kroger is having a Buy 4 get $4 off.  Both of which are fantastic sales the problem I had was narrowing my list down to fit into my small budget.  There were so many fantastic deals I could have went over my $30 in the blink of an eye.  However I was good,  I kept things in check and narrowed my list down.

KoolAid Jammers- $0.99 used a$1.00/2 coupon paid $0.99 for 2
Skittles $0.50 each used a $0.50/2 coupon that doubled to $1.00=2 for free
Dove Chocolate bars $0.50 each used a $0.50/2 coupon that doubled to $1.00=2 for Free (I bought 4)
Kraft Homestyle Mac & Cheese $1.29 used a $1.00/1 coupon=$0.29 (I bought 2)
Miracle Whip $2.49 used a $1.00/1 coupon=$1.49
Philly Cream cheese $0.99 used $0.50/2 coupon doubled to $1.00=$0.99 for 2
A1 steak sauce $1.99 used $0.55/1 doubled to $1.10=$0.89 (I bought 2)
Kraft Cheese Singles $1.49 used $0.50/2 coupon doubled to $1.00=$0.99 each (I bought 2)
Jack's Frozen Pizza $2.50 used $0.75 coupon that doubled to $1.50=$1.00 (I bought 2)
Delifresh Lunch Meat $1.49 used 2-$1.00/2 coupon=$1.00 each (I bought 5 and received a $4 Catalina Coupon printout at checkout)
Oscar Meyer Hot Dogs $0.99 coupon $0.50/2 coupon that doubled to $1.00 (I bought 2)
Mott's Fruit Snacks $2.00 used $0.75 that doubled to $1.50=$0.50 (I bought 1)
Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage Links $1.68 used $1.00/1 coupon=$0.68
Nutella $2.49 used $1.00 coupon=$1.49 each (I bought 2)
Oscar Meyer Bologna $0.99 (I bought 3 and was supposed to get a $2 Catalina printout but aparently  that offer had ended without me realizing because I didn't get the printout and the customer service people couldn't find any information about it)
 Total=$23.38
**I used the $4.00 catalina that printed from the Delifresh lunchmeat purchase to buy
Angel Soft Toilet Paper $4.99 used $0.55/1 coupon that doubled to $1.10=$3.89
and Bread=$0.85 
Total=$4.99 (with tax)-$4 Catalina= $0.99
 
 
Pampers Wipes $0.99 used $0.50/1 coupon that doubled to $0.99 making all 5 I bought Free!
Cascadian Farms Cereal $1.99 used $0.85 coupon that doubled to $1.70 = $0.29 (I bought 2)
Smart Balance Butter Spread $1.59 used $0.50/1 coupon that doubled $1.00= $0.59 (I bought 2)
Juicy Juice $1.88 used $1.00/1 coupon= $0.88 (I bought 2)
3 Gallons Milk =$2 each (these were on sale at Giant Eagle)
2 lbs Grapes $0.97/lb
Total=$11.46
 
Total Spent at both stores = $35.83
 
The total was supposed to be $33.83 because I thought I would be getting a $2 Catalina for the Oscar Meyer Bologna which was going to be used to pay for the 2lbs of grapes I bought.  Whenever I need toilet paper or lots of toiletries I give myself no more than $5 wiggle room.  What is the reason for this you may be asking?  Well lets face it, its hard enough to buy enough food to get by for $30 but when you add toilet paper, laundry detergent, cleaning products, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc, it can be near impossible to not go over budget.  Another reason for the wiggle room is that I don't buy toiletries every week and the only thing I buy regularly is toilet paper, which depending on the sale and the week I can usually make it fit into the budget.  I make my own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, cleaning products, and buy my shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, etc when it is at the lowest price possible and buy enough to last me 6 months to a year.  So when other people are spending $4/bottle for shampoo, I normally pay $1.00 or less.  Deodorant I don't pay more than $0.25 for women's and $0.49 for men's.  I never pay for toothpaste, and shave gel is not more than $0.49 for men's and $0.20 for women's.
 
Once you start couponing and start a small stockpile you will get a feel for the sales and what items you can get at certain prices.  I know I can get deodorant for under $0.49 so I don't buy it unless it's at that price.  When it is on sale I buy 4 which lasts me until the next time it's free or at the price I want to pay.  That's how you start saving the most, by stocking enough of the item to get you through until the next sale when the item's at the lowest price.
 
If you coupon for nothing else, which would be crazy might I add, coupon for toiletries.  These are the items that can take up the bulk of any budget during any given week and contributes nothing to the bellies of your hungry family.
 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sausage and Sauerkraut

I love easy throw together meals and smoked sausage and kraut is 1 of my favorites.  2 of my grandparents are southern and therefore I partly grew up on southern cooking and let me tell you, I don't know if there is any better.  My Mamaw used to make sausage and kraut on a regular basis, always with some good ol' mashed potatoes, so cooking it now is like a trip down memory lane.

 
All I do is put a jar of partially drained Vlasic kraut in a pan or pot, add some sliced smoked sausage or Lil' Smokies and let simmer for about 20 minutes.  Whip up some mashed potatoes and you are set. 
That's what Rachel Ray and I call a 30 minute meal.
 
 
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Start Couponing and Start Saving

Couponing is one of the main ways I keep my grocery budget at a mere $30 a week.  I have been serious about it for the last year and have gotten pretty good, if I do say so myself.  I have yet to figure out how to get $500 worth of groceries for free but I also don't know what I would do with all those groceries anyways, so I thought I'd share just a few things I've learned.

Every couponer has their own way of doing things.  If there's one thing I have learned it's you have to do what makes sense to you.  I started out with a little accordian folder.  That got old really fast and I quickly switched to a binder with baseball card holders inside.

 
This was the only thing that made sense for me. I've seen other's use shoe boxes, accordian files, and even suitcases. Do what works for you.
 
I don't carry my binder with me, into every store, every day.  Cuz that would be crazy.  Instead I carrry a little 4x6 photo album that I use as a small coupon organizer.  I have slots labeled with the names of the stores, with the coupons I need for each store in those slots.

I also use envelopes if I need to do more than 1 transaction.  This keeps me more organized in the store.  I have my list with what I'm purchasing in each transaction and put those coupons in the envelope.
 
Then those envelopes go in the store's slot.
For easy quick access.
 
When I've taught a couple family members how to start couponing one of the questions I got was "how do I make my lists?"  Well here is how I start:
1st I visit my favorite coupon websites for their store match-ups.  While looking at those sites I make a list for the store(s) I plan on shopping at, the items at the lowest prices, and the coupons needed (to make sure I have them).
Here is what it looks like:
After I have my list of the best deals and their prices after coupons, I start figuring out what I'm actually going to buy with my whopping $30.


I have a few websites I check regularly for coupon match-ups, here are my favorites:

freetastesgood.com - this site is by Joni from Extreme Couponing and she lives in Toledo, Ohio so most of the deals and prices she lists are relevant for my area as well which is why her site is the one I check most frequently.  This is the one I use to make my weekly shopping lists.

krazycouponlady.com- this site is by Joannie from Extreme Couponing but she lives in California so some of the stores she lists and deals aren't good where I live.  She does have great deals for magazines.  I've gotten Rachel Ray and Taste of Home for under $4 a year the last couple years.

livingonacoupon.com-this site is by Jessica from Extreme Couponing and she lives in Idaho.  Once again many of the stores and deals aren't relevant to my area but she does post coupons and other deals the other sites don't have.

These sites are how I create my shopping list.  I generally write down all the best deals and then go through to pick what I need and what will work within my budget for that week.  I have had to pass up some great deals because of my small budget and what I need for that week, but we have never done without any necessities.

I get the Sunday paper delivered to my house every week, but unless it is full of loads of amazing coupons I don't normally buy any more than the 1.  Instead I go to coupon clipping websites and purchase multiples of the coupons I need.  This also gives me the opportunity to get regional coupons that I didn't get in my paper.

thecouponclippers.com based in Florida, and I've had great success with them.  They do have a minimum purchase of $3.96 which can be annoying when you only want a handful of coupons.

klip2save.com based in Tennessee.  I love them because I get the coupons the quickest and they have no minimum purchase, which is fantastic.  I can order 5 coupons or 50 and it's ok.

weclipusave.com based in Tennessee.  They have their coupons up the Wednesday before they actually get in your paper.  Haven't a clue how they do this but they do.  They also sell the whole coupon insert.  I've never needed to purchase the whole thing but it's nice to know I could if I wanted.

Couponing is kind of like a learned art form.  It's quite a bit of information to take in but go to the websites and start perusing through them.  Print a couple coupons, take them to the store, and save some money.   It takes practice and like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will get.  Then you too can make your $30 budget work.  I promise once you start saving you won't be able to stop, it's seriously addicting!

Cherry Cupcakes

My Mom's birthday was this week and she requested cherry cupcakes.  I've never made them before so I was a little hesitant.  I have has some bad experiences with attempting recipes I've never made before and them turning out really badly.  I got the recipe from the girls of Georgetown Cupcake.  Their book has a few recipes and this one is Cherry Blossom.

 
The only alterations to their recipes I make is to decrease the sugar content, so the tops of the cupcakes are not sticky.  I also added about 1/2 a vial of cherry Lorann's flavoring.  When I tasted the batter before adding the flavoring I couldn't get any cherry flavor unless I bit into a cherry.  I decided that wasn't good enough and I didn't want to search for flavors in a cake.  Adding the Lorann put it over the top yummy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew

Because I was going to be gone all day yesterday I decided to make beef stew in the crockpot.  I've made Pioneer Woman's recipe on the stove before so I figured all I would have to do is throw all the ingredients in the crockpot and turn it on.

Beef Stew
6 cups water
6t beef boullion (you could also use 6c beef stock)
leftover beef roast (it's already cooked so that step is done, you could buy stew meat but it tends to be super expensive so use some leftovers and save yourself some money)
4 potatoes-peeled and chunked up
4 carrots- unpeeled and sliced
1 medium onion-chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
3 dashes worcestershire sauce
*Pioneer Woman's recipe called for paprika & a couple other ingredients I didn't have so I just omitted them.
 
Put all these ingredients in the crockpot, turn it on high for about 5 hours.  I decided I wanted a little thicker stew so I took a ladle full of the stew liquid, put it in a bowl and wisked in about 2T flour.  Then I poured it back into the crockpot and let it cook for another 20-30 minutes to give it time to thicken. 
 
This stew was delicious and there is more than enough for a couple leftover meals.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pulled Pork BBQ & a Snack To-Go

Last night was leftover night.  I know it seems kind of strange to have leftover night on a Monday but I had some pulled pork BBQ left from Friday so I pulled a bag of Steamfresh Honey Roasted Corn from the freezer and canned pineapple and dinner was made.

 
I love pulled pork BBQ for a couple reasons. 1-because all it takes is a crockpot and some BBQ sauce. 2-leftovers are just as good as the first time around.
I actually still had too much leftover, about enough for 2 servings, so I froze it for a lunch on another day.
 
If your wanting a way to make a jar of store bought BBQ sauce taste a little more homemade, add some minced dried onion (about 1T), about 1 1/2T brown sugar, and a squirt or 2 of honey, to any bottle of sauce and let it simmer on the stove for about 15 minutes.  I use this trick all the time and it works like a charm.
 
Since I got season passes to the zoo we are headed there again this week.  I like making special little snacks to take so we are not tempted to grab the super pricey ones while we are there.  One of my favorite muffin recipes I found at Small Fry & Co for Brown Sugar Muffins.  I like making them into mini muffins and I've made them with blueberries and mini chocolate chips and they are scrumptious.
 
This batch I made 1/2 regular and 1/2 with mini chips.
 
Mmmm! don't you just want to eat the batter.
 
Are they cute or what?
I got 24 regular and about 20 mini chip ones out of one recipe.  Who needs Little Debbie and Hostess right?
 
And Bonus: these muffins freeze really well too so if you can't eat them all before they start going bad, throw them in a freezer bag and pull them out as you need them.  Just nuk them in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds and you have fresh warm muffins.  I like to keep some of these in the freezerto give Grant something different for breakfast.
 
I swear he would eat a dozen of these if I would let him.
 
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grocery Shopping Week 1 of the Challenge

It took me a little extra time this week to work every thing in I needed to get this week and still stay on budget. 
Here was the haul I brought home on my first trip (yes, there were 2 seperate trips needed due to a cranky 2 year old boy and a cranky 27 year old mom).
 
Meijer:  Spent $11.77
Had the best price on meat this week. Pork Loin 1.79/lb mine cost $7.98
Pure silk shave gel $1.59 coupon $0.70 doubled to $1.40= $0.19each (I bought 4)
3 Musketeer bar $0.50 coupon $50/2 doubled to $1.00=2 bars for free
1/2 gallons Meijer brand orange juice $1.50 each coupon 1.50/2= $0.75each (I bought 2)
Propel Zero water (not pictured) $1.09, I had a store coupon for 1 Free
Pampers Wipes 72count $1.99 coupon $0.50/1 double to $1.00=$0.99
Total $11.77 with tax and after coupons
 
Giant Eagle: Spent $9.87
I did 2 transactions for this store to take advantage of a Catalina that printed off at the register.
Transaction#1
Milk $2.00/gal (I bought 3)
Grapes $0.99/lb mine were $1.60
International Delight Coffee Creamer $1.67 coupon $0.55/1 doubled to $1.10/1 =$0.57(bought 1)
Colgate toothpaste $1.00 coupon for $1.00/1=free
New York Garlic Bread loaf $1.50 coupon $0.75/1 doubled to $1.50=free
Activia yogurt $2 coupon $1.00/1=$1.00 (I bought 1)
Dole Pineapple 8oz cans $0.89each coupon $0.75/2 doubled to $1.50 I used 2 coupons making the 4 I bought =$0.56 *buying these 4 canned pineapple printed a Catalina coupon with my receipt for $0.50 to use toward my next purchase
Transaction #2
International Delight coffee Creamer $1.67 coupon $0.55/1 double to $1.10 = $0.57
I used my Catalina from the 1st transaction of $0.50
Total for this transaction $0.07
Total $9.80 with tax and after coupons
 
Walmart: Spent $0.09
Almay makeup remover pads 15count $1.14 coupon $4.00/1 (I bought 2)
**my walmart allows me to use overage from my coupons to apply it to the other items I buy.  Most stores do not allow this.
flour $1.82
Sugar 4lbs (not pictured above) $2.26
Sauerkraut $1.58
$8.09 after tax and before coupons
I paid $0.09
 
 
Trip #2
 
Kroger: Total Spent $5.88
Kroger had a Catalina printing this week for participating General Mills products, when you bought 5 items you got a $5 Catalina for your next order.
 
Transaction #1
Tuna Helper $1.50 coupon $0.80/4 doubled to $1.60=$1.10 each (Ibought 4)
Chex mix $2.00 coupon $0.50/1 doubled to $1.00=$1.00
Crest toothpaste $1.00 coupon $0.50 doubled to $1.00= Free

 Total $5.40 & got a $5.00 Catalina off my next order
 
Transaction #2
Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie mix $1.50 coupon $0.75/2 doubled to $1.50=$0.25each
Suddenly Salad $1.99 coupon $0.50/2 doubled to $1.00=$2.98
Green Giant Veggie chips $2.00 coupon $0.50/1 doubled to $1.00=$1.00
Total $5.48 used the $5.00 Catalina from transaction #1, paid $0.48 and received another $5 Catalina for my next purchase
 
Trip #3
 
 
 
Kroger:
I used the $5 catalina from the 2nd transaction and bought the following:
eggs $1.79
potatoes $1.98
Beef Boullion cubes $1.79
Tortilla chips $1.00
Bread $0.80
I used the discount my sister gets for being a Kroger employer which takes 10% off any Kroger products you buy.  My total came to $6.63
I used my $5 catalina and paid $1.63
 

 This week was not a usual week for me as far as making multiple trips and doing multiple transactions at each store.  Normally I go to, at most 2 different stores, and try not to do more than 1 transaction.  This week was exhausting and I definately had to work for my savings, but I'm glad I stayed on budget.  Next week will be easier and less work hopefully.
 
Total spent for the week: $29.24
 
 
 

Meal Plan week #1 of the Grocery Challenge

Here's how I do my meal plans.  I do not assign a meal to a specific day because as all Mom's know thing's happen and I may not have the time to make that particular meal or the day might come and whatever I had planned just doesn't sound good anymore.  So instead I make a list of 7 meals I know I have all the ingredients to make and keep that list on my fridge.  I used to write it on my grocery list and of course after I went grocery shopping the list hit the trash and so did my meal plan.  If it's not written down where I can see and find it, I will inevitably forget it.

1. Beef Stew- 3 weeks ago I made a beef roast and froze the leftover meat to use for this meal.
2. Sloppy Joes & potato wedges- 2 weeks ago I bought 4lbs of ground beef 2 store in my freezer and pull out as needed weekly
3. Sauerkraut with Smoked sausage (stored in my freezer after buying it with coupons for $0.57each) & mashed potatoes
4.  Breakfast-I love breakfast for dinner & I never write down exactly what I'm going to make because it all depends on what tickles my fancy that evening.  It can be as simple as pancakes or as fancy (ok not really fancy) as casserole or quiche
5.  Baked Chicken with Kraft Fresh Take breading & steamed broccoli & pineapple chunks
6.  Spaghetti with garlic bread
7.  Leftovers

I always have at least 1 day reserved for leftovers, 1 day reserved for breakfast for dinner, and 1 day without any meat (this saves my freezer stock of meat and makes it last a little longer)

So meal #1 for the week is Sloppy Joes.
I love sloppy joes and I saw a Pioneer Woman recipe for them from scratch, instead of good ol' Manwich, and my oh my they were scrumptious.  Of course in true Lisa fashion I didn't have all the ingredients her recipe called for so I somewhat created my own.

 
Sloppy Joes
1lb Ground Beef
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 green pepper chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1 1/2t chili powder
6 dashes worcestershire sauce (don't know if that's how you spell it but you know what I'm talking about)
1c ketchup
3T mustard
1 1/2T brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
 
brown the ground beef, drain.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes.  I like mine a little chunky, if you want yours a little less just make sure you dice your peppers and onions really fine.  Use whatever peppers you have on hand.  I buy mine in the clearance section at my grocery store, bring them home and freeze them.  That way I always have bell peppers available and they aren't added to my weekly grocery list at their most expensive price.
 
Potato Wedges
Potatoes (as many as you need)
salt/pepper to taste
1 pkg onion soup mix
olive oil
 
wash and cut your potatoes into wedges.  Put them in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle onion soup mix over top.  Now mix it all together,  Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 until soft (about 30 minutes).
 
You can use any seasonings you want.  I've used Mrs. Dash, good ol' salt and pepper, garlic & italian seasoning, etc.
 
What's great about these potato wedges is you can make extras and freeze them after they cool from baking.  Just put them in a freezer bag and on a night you want a quick side dish pull them out, put them on a baking sheet at bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
 
Quick and Easy, my favorite kind of meal


Saturday, June 8, 2013

The $30 Grocery Challenge

A few months back I had a conversation with my cousin about budgets and grocery shopping.  I told her my grocery budget was around $30-$40 a week and her mouth proceeded to drop.  She told me she spends about $100-$150 a week for her family of four and did not understand how I spent so little.  To which I looked at her and said, "you can't spend what you don't have".  With my husband starting a new job after we moved here our income was cut by more than half and sacrifices had to be made.  I couldn't do much about our regular bills, they were what they were, but I could control what I spent on food.

It occured to me that most people probably spend at least $100 a week and the idea of dropping that bill down to $30 seems impossible.  Anyone I have shared my budget with automatically asks what kind of stuff we eat.  They assume with a small budget I'm limited to spaghetti, mac and cheese, hot dogs, and the like.  While I am all about some hot dogs and mac and cheese, this is not an every week meal for us, and is usually more of lunch than dinner.

So this is how the $30 Grocery Challenge was born.  Like many others there are weeks I go over budget by a few dollars or somehow justify spending extra on this or that.  There are weeks I "forget" to meal plan and by Wednesday I'm scrambling to figure out what the heck we are going to eat.  This challenge is to help me stick to my budget and challenge everyone else to decrease their grocery bill.  Maybe $30 seems impossible when you're spending $100 but maybe $60 seems doable.  If even that much of a drop makes you nervous, start by decreasing your bill by $10 a week.  So If your budget right now is $100, next week make your budget $90, then the week after that try $80.  Having a small grocery budget forces us to not buy all the snacks, and junk food.  It makes us conscious of what we are putting in our shopping carts and makes us second guess buying all the little extras that "look good" in the moment.  It also makes us appreciate the food luxuries like Little Debbies, sodas, and chips.  These, I'm sorry to say, used to be staples in my weekly grocery trips and can increase your grocery bill buy $10-$20 easily.  I'm happy to say (and my hips are too) they are not any more.  I only buy snack cakes when I have a coupon and can get them at a great price (nearly free), soda is bought for special occasions like cookouts and parties, and chips are in our cabinet only when I've scored some free salsa or chip dip, and even then I refuse to pay $3 a bag.

Seriously, it's physically impossible for me to put a $3 bag of chips in my cart.

So every week I will post my meal plan for the week, grocery shopping list and total after coupons to prove how much I spend and that it can be done, and the recipes I use (if the meal requires one). 

Here are a few tips on how I make it on a $30/week grocery budget, and how you can decrease yours:

#1 Meal plan-this is essential!  There are so many times in the past I did not meal plan and just went to the store, bought some food, and spent a crapload of money.  Only to get home, look in the fridge and realize there's nothing to eat.

#2 Have a variety of recipes.  After you cook the same thing for so many weeks you get bored and that's when you start to stray and spend more in order to get a variety.

#3 Use your freezer to the fullest.  I'm in love with freezer meals.  They are fantastic and such a lifesaver for a busy family.  I also stockpile meat when it's on sale.  I don't buy 10 lbs but I buy family packs of whatever is on sale each week, divide it into meal portions in freezer baggies and that way I have it for future meals and don't have to pay full price.  For years I have had a large deep freezer to take advantage of, now that we live in an apartment we are limited to a regular refrigerator freezer.  Even with a small freezer you can still take advantage of freezer meals so don't let that deter you.

#4 stockpile/couponing.  No I don't mean stockpile like the people on the Extreme Couponing show.  You don't need a basement grocery store or a whole seperate room full of food to stockpile.  When items are at their lowest, with coupons, I try to buy about 4-5 of them.  For example, Quaker yogurt bars were on sale a few weeks back for $1.79 a box.  I had a coupon for $0.75 off of 1 which at my grocery store doubled to $1.50 making each box $0.29 each.  So I bought 5 boxes.  Occasionally when there is a really great deal on an item I can get for free I will buy up to 10 but no more than that.  Space in an apartment is limited and I only buy this quantity of items for things we go through quickly like ketchup, rice,cereal, etc.

#5 Plan ahead.  Our local pool was not opening for almost a month when I bought the yogurt bars but my first thought was how great they would be to take with us to the pool, park, zoo, etc.  The same thought occured to me when I bought 4 cases of Capri Sun juices a couple months back for $0.75 each.  These are regularly over $2 so I was so excited to get them so cheap.  During the summer months they are a necessity in our house.  If I had waited until I actually "needed" them, I may have had to pay full price or not get them at all.

Are you ready to start saving some money?  Are you ready to stop spending hundreds of dollars a month at the grocery store?  Start this week, take on the $30 Grocery Challenge!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Potty Training

Did you shutter when you read the title of this post?  I have been dreading the inevitable need to potty train Grant.  I have talked myself out of doing it many times with the reasoning of "he's not ready", which really means I'm not ready.  Back in the day (before I had a child of my own) I would have told you exactly how to potty train your child and I would also tell you they should be trained soon after turning 2.
Fast forward to my having a child, a very stubborn, independent, strong willed, child and I had no clue how to train him, and the idea of attempting it soon after his 2nd birthday was enough to make me want to cry. 

It sounds crazy, but it's oh so true.

I was at a loss as to how to start and I figured maybe a lot of mom's feel the same, so I thought I'd share how I've been training Grant.  I won't say he's trained yet because I don't want to jinx anything but he is doing better than I ever thought he would at this point and I couldn't be more impressed and thrilled.

I started during a week I knew there was nothing pressing that needed done.  Meaning I didn't need to be running around here there and everywhere and could pretty much stay home all day every day if it was absolutely necessary.  So Tuesday when Grant woke up I explained to him it was time to wear his underwear and he needed to pee in the potty not in his pants.  I spent the next 12 hours changing what seemed like an endless amount of wet underwear and wet pants.

After going through 3 pair of pants in about an hour I ditched the pants and let him run around in his shirt and underwear. 

I did not get 1 single pee in the potty the entire day and by 6pm I gave in a slapped (not literally) a diaper on his bottom stating "I'm done".  I questioned whether he was actually ready.  Whether he would catch on and whether I was completely wasting my time and would be spending every day this week changing hundreds of pair of wet underwear and cleaning up pee puddles all over my house.  I did have a spray bottle of dish soap and water and a scrub brush for cleaning the carpet after accidents which was convenient,  but that was the last thing I wanted to do for a week straight.

I got up Wednesday morning fully prepared to have another day of wet underwear and it started out to be exactly that.  After 2 pees and a poop in the underwear he came to me and said he had to pee.  He went to the potty and ever since then he's been going on his own.  He has stayed dry during nap time and has even been waking up during the night to pee, keeping him dry all night long.

I'm still in disbelief and waiting for the ball to drop.  Waiting for him to make it a little more difficult for me but excited at his progress so far.  The most frustrating part is when we are out places.  The trip to the grocery store (our first outing while potty training) would have been a disaster had it not been for my husband.  I took the potty seat from the house and put it in the van because public restrooms grosse me out.  We hadn't gotten through half the grocery isles before he said he had to pee.  Then no more than Derrick got  him back in the store he said he had to pee again.  He ended up keeping Grant out there about a half hour and said he peed 4 times.  I just kept thinking, there would have been no way I could have done that by myself.  I wouldn't have gotten my shopping done at all.

Here are a few things I learned and a few things that helped me:
1. Extra potty seat in the car.  It's hard for little ones to potty on large toilets so having their potty seat and having the privacy of a vehicle makes it a little easier.
2. Padded underwear:  lets face it, training pants are pricey and who has a bunch of extra money to invest in those and then a bunch of underwear they will just pee and poop in.  So I made some "training pants" of my own.  During yard sale season last year I bought every pair of 2T-4T underwear I could find then used the old school cloth diapers I had leftover from his infancy days to pad them so the pee wouldn't just dribble out all over my carpet.  Here is how I made them.   These worked great.  I have every intention of making training pants like these for all future potty training.
3.  Don't torcher yourself and Stay Home:  If at all possible stay home for a few days and soley focus on potty training.  The least amount of time your little one is in a diaper or pull up the better.  I think this is what helped Grant the most.  I know if he had been wearing pull-ups and we would have done the running around we normally do it would have taken him alot longer to start going on his own.
4.  Use a timer:  The 2nd day I used a timer I bought at the store and set it for every 30 minutes.  When he would get up from the potty I set the timer for 30 minutes and he got to the point when he hear the timer go off he knew it was time to try to potty so he would come to me and willingly sit down.
5.  If you have stubborn child, Don't Force It:  By Don't Force It, I don't mean if he/she doesn't want to potty put a diaper back on and give up for awhile.  I mean don't force them to sit on the potty over and over.  I started my 1st day telling Grant over and over "come potty", to which he would yell "NO", and it started to become a battle.  After a couple hours of this I stopped all together.  I reminded him frequently to not pee in his underwear and would ask if he wanted to try to potty.  If he said no, I left him alone and didn't force him to sit and try to pee, however he started to want to come and try.  I have learned with my stubborn, independent child that if you try to force it or try to get him to do something he doesn't want to do he gets twice as stubborn and it ends up being a lost cause.
6.  Don't give up: Even if you have 3 straight days of wet underwear and very few pees in the potty, keep going.  If you know your child is old enough and can do it, just keep at it.  I'm a firm believer in not using pull-ups except during sleeping hours.  To me they are thinner diapers and feel the same to a child as a regular diaper and therefore it's much harder for them to get the idea they shouldn't pee and poop in it.  This is why I say to stay home a few days until they get going good, because no one wants to take a child to the store in underwear when they are peeing through every 30 minutes.  It only frustrates you and the child.

I, in no way claim to be an expert but I have had some good success so far and maybe this will help some other mother out there with a stubborn child who is dreading attempting to potty train.

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