Thursday, January 11, 2018

New year, new dinner ideas!

I have mentioned before that I struggle with making dinner and coming up with recipes for dinner.  I decided to look for some ideas on Pinterest and I thought I would share a few dinners that I am looking forward to trying out in the upcoming weeks. 

1. Easy Honey Garlic Shrimp


I found the recipe here at Sally's Baking Addiction and it looks heavenly!  I love seafood, but I am always so nervous to make it at home.  Does anyone else feel this way?  This recipe looks easy enough for me to handle and it only takes 20 minutes!  I already have all the ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry, except the shrimp!  I absolutely cannot wait to make this for dinner!


2. Cheesy Taco Pasta


This looks like a dinner that my kids are going to LOVE!  I grabbed the recipe from here, a very cute website called Dinner Then Dessert.  This dinner also suggests a prep time of 20 minutes (thank you!) and has all our favorite things!  This looks very yummy for one of our cold winter nights and I am looking forward to sitting down to eat this.


3. Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon



Again, I know one sheet/pan dinners are all the rage, so I am going to try this one sheet pan teriyaki salmon.  I found the recipe here and it's from a website called Damn Delicious.   This dinner is a little longer in time, 30 minutes, but I think still manageable.  I am a huge fan of salmon, green beans, and carrots, so I know I will enjoy this dinner.  I haven't made a lot of fish at home, so I am looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone a bit.


Please share any of your go-to recipes below in the comments section, I am always in search of dinner ideas (that kids will enjoy as well).

Happy Thursday y'all!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How I do Wednesdays: Goals and Resolutions 2018!

Today I am linking up with Shay and Erika for their 2018 series, How We Do Wednesdays.

This link-up is all about resolutions and goals.
Before I start resolutions and set goals for the new year, I like to look back at my old goals and review them.  Did I achieve what I set-out to accomplish?  Why or why not?  Did I forget about my goal or did something else prevent me from achieving it?   Did I exceed my goal easily and should I set loftier goals for myself?  I also like to set personal goals and then family/household goals.  What kind of goals do you set?




Let's take a look back at my 2017 Resolutions to see how I did:

1. Continue to maintain a healthy weight AND a regular workout schedule
2. Continue to be more giving and charitable, volunteer more.
3. Continue to travel to see family and friends AND travel to new places
4. Worry less about what other people think
5. Enjoy being where I am and who I am
6. Run more races AND challenge myself to run long races
7.Financial/home goals:
Get ceilings painted
Start college savings for both girls
Increase our emergency savings
Put new railing on deck
Finish playroom decor

Finish guest bedroom/office update


 The ones that I crossed off are the goals and resolutions that I achieved!
Looking back, I accomplished about half of my goals.

1. I spent most of the year in my target weight range and worked out pretty regularly.

2. We found new ways to volunteer and give back this year.  I love doing this individually and as a family.  It is important to me that I raise my children with a giving heart.  
There is always someone out there that is less fortunate than you. 

3. Travel in 2017.  Oh yes we did!
We traveled A LOT to see family and friends.
We went to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, DC, and of course all over Virginia.

 4. and 5. were BIG FAILS.
I constantly worry about what people think of me and this leads to me not enjoying where I am
Hopefully I can work on both of these in 2018!

6. Was a half complete.
I didn't run too many races in 2017 (only 2) but one was long-ish (a 10K).

7. Was also a half complete.
We started a college savings for the girls, and updated the playroom and guest room (yay!)
But we didn't paint our ceilings, put a new deck railing on, or increase our emergency savings. 
We did add money to our emergency fund, but then had to use the money to buy new appliances and fix our roof that had a hole.  So we ended the year breaking even. :(

 Those are my 2017 goals and resolutions, let's take a look at my 2018 goals and resolutions!


 Resolutions for 2018:

1. Continue to maintain a healthy weight and work-out consistently.
(I think this is important every year, so I have it on my list every year)

2. We are joining a new church and I would like to become more involved in church life at our new church.  I volunteered at our old church and really enjoyed it, so I am hoping to find my niche at our new church.

3. Enjoy more activities where we live.  There is so much to do here and I often feel as if we don't take advantage of all that there is to do.  So I want to spend more time enjoying what's around us.

4. Travel to new places!
We have some great trips planned for 2018 and I am looking forward to a few new places.

5. Enjoy this time in life.  The girls are growing so fast, I want to make sure I enjoy this time.

6. Financial/Home goals:
GET OUR CEILINGS PAINTED (this has been on my list for 4 years, yikes!)
Increase our emergency savings
Go an entire year without buying a new appliance
Increase the girls college savings funds

Those are my goals for 2018!
Short and sweet.
If you are stopping by from another blog, please follow me on the right and leave a comment.

Happy Wednesday y'all!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How I saved over $60 using coupons

I've blogged before about how I coupon for groceries (and other things) and I thought I would share a little refresher since it's the beginning of the year.  I know one of the most common New Years goals people have (after trying to lose weight) is trying to save money/get rid of debt/get financially organized.  I'm by no means an expert, but this is my little part to help our family achieve our financial goals.

I really started couponing after we had Elizabeth.  Diapers, wipes, and formula can add up very quickly and I was looking for a way to not spend $12/bag on diapers.

I started by picking up the Sunday newspaper (it has the coupon inserts).
After awhile, we order a subscription for the Sunday paper only (to get the coupons).
Now, I order one year of the Sunday paper subscription during Cyber Monday (its $40 for the entire year) AND I print coupons from www.coupons.com.  You can print two copies of each coupon from coupons.com and I do this so I can "buy in bulk" or "stock up" on commonly used items.

Here is a look at a trip I made last week to Harris Teeter during their Super Doubles special.  Super Doubles is when they double and coupon valued up to $2.  So my $2 coupon turned into a $4 coupon.

These are some things I grabbed during my shopping trip.
All National, Brand-name items, that we will use daily (or weekly).


#1: Simple Orange OJ.  It was regular priced at $3.99.  I had $1 coupon that doubled to $2 off.
So I paid $1.99 for the orange juice.

#2: Crest tooth paste.  It was on sale for $3.49.  I had a $2 coupon that doubled to $4 off.
So I paid nothing for the Crest tooth paste (normally $4.99)!

#3: Tide laundry detergent.  It was on sale for $4.88.  I had a $2 coupon that doubled to $4 off.
So I paid $0.88 for the laundry detergent (normally $7.99).

Right there, those three items, I saved $14.11 by using two coupons from the newspaper (tooth paste and laundry detergent) and one from coupons.com (the orange juice)



#4: Pull-ups.  Caroline wears them to sleep in.  
They were on sale for $7.99.  I had a $2 coupon that doubled to $4.
So I paid $3.99 package (normally $11.99).

#5: Go-Gurt yogurts.  My kids LOVE these.
They were on sale 3/$5 ($1.66/each).  I had $1 coupons that doubled to $2.
So I paid NOTHING for the box of Go-Gurt (normally $3.99).

#6: Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Who doesn't like cereal?
They were on sale For $1.97/box.  I had $0.50 coupon that doubled to $1.
It made each box $0.97 (normally $3.99).

One of the pull-ups coupons came from the newspaper, all the others came from www.coupons.com
On those items, I saved a combined $40.07 on 3 bags of pull-ups, 4 boxes of cereal, and 1 box of yogurt

That bring my total savings for six items to $54.18
I used coupons for all of the other items I purchased as well.

I want to talk a little bit about "stock-up" items as well.
Stock-up items are items I buy as many as possible when they are at their lowest price.
"As many as possible" is usually 2-4 depending on how many coupons I have.
Grocery store sales run every 4-6 weeks
Meaning those pull-ups won't be $7.99/package again for at least 4-6 weeks and sometimes longer.  
The Tide laundry detergent won't be $4.88 (or less) again for 4-6 weeks. 
So when I am "stocking up", I am trying to buy enough of a product to get me through those 4-6 weeks when those products are not on sale.  
Below are some of my stock-up items.  They won't go bad anytime soon and we will use all of them:
A) Lysol toilet cleaner (on sale for $2.50, $0.50 off doubled to $1 off to make it $1.50)
B) Lysol wipes (on sale buy 1, get 1 free, $1 off doubled to $2 off to make is $1.39 for both)
C) Puffs tissues (on sale for $1, $0.25 off doubled to $.50 off to make it $0.50)
D) Tide laundry detergent (on sale for $4.88, $2 off doubled to $4 off to make it $0.88)
E) Ragu pasta sauce (on sale for $1.98, $1/2 doubled to $2 to make it $0.98 each)
F) Crest tooth paste (on sale for $3.49, $2 off doubled to make it free)
G) Luden's cough drops (regular price $1.99, $1/2 off doubled to $2 to make them $1 each)
H) Easy-ups/Pull-ups (on sale for $7.99, $2 off doubled to $4 off to make them $3.99 each)

That's a little bit about how I coupon.

Does it take a little time?  Yes.

Probably more time in the beginning while you try to figure out which coupons you have and match them up to sales.

Is it worth it?  I think so or I wouldn't keep doing it.

I spend about 1-2 hours a week.  That is cutting coupons, looking at store ads, and making my grocery list.

Do I save $60 every week?  No, sometimes it's more and sometimes it's less.
Just using your store loyalty card will usually save you 5-10%. 

Hope you enjoyed this little info on how I coupon.

Happy Tuesday y'all!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Trip to Texas, part three!

I'm recapping the final part of our Trip to Texas today.  We really tried to make the most out of our remaining time.  We went to a few fun restaurants, Lolly and I grabbed very nice pedicures, we played with the kids, had family photos taken, and celebrated my mom with an at-home party, amazing cake, party games, and lots of love!

My siblings and our spouses went out to lunch without our kids!
Thank you again to Sydney and Gramps for babysitting!!
My sister recommended we go to Saki Hibachi for lunch and it was AMAZING!
I'm drinking to Flirt Tini and it was excellent.  
If you are near Mansfield, Texas you should definitely checkout Saki Hibachi.

I had to take one photo of all the hibachi goodness :)
I had the salmon and shrimp and it was magnificent

They brought my mom ice cream with a candle and the entire restaurant sang to her.
Happy Birthday Mom!


Later that afternoon we took the kids cosmic bowling.
Annalise had never been bowling and I think she instantly LOVED IT!!

These two were like this all week :)

Elizabeth... our serious bowler :)




Sweet cousins




Sweet face with my little

Silly face with my little

Andy helping Annalise bowl



In between the games we got the girls dinner.
They loved eating at the bowling alley 
(and don't worry, it's not Pepsi, just lemonade)






On Saturday, all the adult ladies went to Brunch at The Sanford House
Brunch was interesting...
Anna and I ordered the chicken and waffles and it was so dry that we couldn't cut it with our knives.
The Sanford House is also an Inn.  There are bedrooms (and bathrooms) above the dining rooms.
Well... half way through lunch, water starts pouring out of the ceiling behind my grandmother.
That's right, a bathroom (bathtub?) was overflowing into our dining room.
I immediately jumped up to get help and I turned off all the lights in the dining room, 
because you know, electrocution.  
We finished our meal without ever seeing our waiter again (hello, drink refills).
So, Lolly, Anna, and I went on a tour of the building while we waited for our checks.
When we came back, our checks had been left at the table- they didn't charge us for our mimosas and they took an additional 25% off the check!  
I thought that was pretty nice, but it was still an interesting meal.


My mom received a complimentary dessert for her birthday.
She picked Key Lime Pie :)
We all sang again and she got to blow out another candle :)


After brunch, my sister took my mom and Grandmother home because my mom needed to go back to bed.  We were all supposed to get pedicures after brunch, so Lolly and I headed to the pedicure appointment and had a mostly relaxing time.

We went to Queens Nails in Pantego, Texas
This is the face of someone in desperate need of relaxation ;)

The wine is helping and so is that heated thing on my neck 

Lolly and I thoroughly enjoyed our pedicures.

I will be the first person to tell you about a pedicure and if it is worth it or not.
I have had pedicures at hole-in-the-wall places, at beauty schools, at spas, on cruises, and everywhere in between.  This place, Queens Nails, is by far the BEST PEDICURE OF MY LIFE!
I had the $45 Lavender Pedicure and it was AMAZING.  
If you are ever around Arlington, Texas...you must get a pedicure at Queens Nails!!
(not an ad, just totally loved this place)

 
After our pedicures, we came back home and I got all the baby snuggles.
Sweet Emi is always so good for me :)


Saturday night, it was time to P-A-R-T-Y!

Lolly made all of us matching shirts, they say:
Gayle's Diamond Birthday!

And the kids shirts say:
Ga-Ga's Diamond Birthday!
 
Anna brought the most beautiful cake I have ever seen!
And I supplied all the decorations :)

My brother, sister, and I had so much fun celebrating our mom!
After dinner and cake we played a few party games and gave out prizes to the winners :)

And of course, I had to take some selfies with my brother and sister

Apparently, they are much sillier than I am ;)

Abby (36), Andy (33), and Anna (26)

After we took these photos, I officially lost my voice and joined the people getting sick- my mom and Ben.  We started debating flying back a day early because of Ben and I getting sick and the bad weather that was headed towards Dallas.

The next morning we ended up changing our flight and taking off on December 31st instead of January 1st.  We packed up our stuff and headed to the airport in the afternoon.

Elizabeth wanted her picture in front of the big tree at the airport


Caroline wanted her picture too

Elizabeth was my seat buddy for our flight home

Caroline and Ben sat in the row behind us

Silly girl

Silly girls ;)

Happy New Year from the airport!
We landed at 10:30pm, it took an hour to get all our luggage.
We loaded up into our Lyft at 11:40pm and proceeded to have the SLOWEST drive home ever.
We arrived home at 12:01am on January 1st.
I was so mad that we missed the countdown on TV but I didn't have any voice, so I couldn't really complain.  Ben and I have been suffering from/recovering from bronchitis and laryngitis ever since then.

That's a wrap on Texas 2017 Winter Break Vacation.
I'm so glad to be home and I will officially be starting 2018 once I'm over being sick.

Happy Monday y'all!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Trip to Texas, part two

As I mentioned yesterday in my post, Trip To Texas, part one! we were having a vacation week full of unforeseen circumstances.  Our week started off mostly nice, except that my mom was missing her entire week of activities because of being sick with.  We were still doing as many activities as possible for the kids, so they could have a nice week (and not be in the house all day).  As I mentioned yesterday, my brother and his family were in a car accident on Thursday.  On Friday morning I woke-up to the news that my cousin John had passed way.

I have known John my entire life.  He was married to Sharon, and Sharon is my mom's first cousin.  John and Sharon along with their kids Liz and Chris were the closest family we had my entire life.  They lived in Alabama (so they were only a few hours away) and then they moved to Georgia and were only one hour away!  I have so many wonderful memories of going to Sharon and John's house for Easter and Thanksgiving, playing in the creek in the backyard, Easter egg hunts at their house that they put out for just me and my siblings.  I loved listening to their birds chirp and sit in the hot tub and relax.  I will never forget to countless trips they made to visit us as kids and teenagers- for dinners, holidays, celebrations, graduations, parties, weddings, and just because (because that is what family does).  I was heartbroken to learn on Friday morning that John had passed away and then I had this awful feeling of helplessness.  We were on the other side of the country and I had a sick husband and two little kids depending on me.  We ended up flying home a day early because of weather and sickness.  By the time I learned the details for John's funeral, Ben and I were suffering from bronchitis and I also had laryngitis and we were unable to make the trip to Georgia.  I am forever thankful for the 36 years that I knew my cousin John and I know that he touched so many people's lives. 

Please pray for Sharon, Chris, Liz, and their families. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trip to Texas, part one!

For about six months we have had a trip planned to go to Texas the day after Christmas.  We planned this trip to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday.  So my brother and his family, my sister and her fiance, and my family all made plans to be in Arlington this past week and have a week of adventures with my mom.  The day after Christmas we were up at 3:30am to catch our 6:00am flight to Dallas.  The girls went in their pajamas and we landed in Dallas at 8:30am.

We tried to sleep the first hour and then gave up and watched the Kindle and had snacks.
Caroline was my seat buddy for our flight to Dallas.



It was very early and very dark outside.


The sun finally caught up to us around 8:00am.

On Tuesday, the 26th, we spent most of the day at my grandmother's house with a quick trip to the grocery store to grab breakfast foods and snacks.
That night we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese.
My mom was supposed to go (it was her first birthday week activity) but she was really sick with pneumonia and had to stay in bed.  She treated all of us to an evening at Chuck E Cheese and we took her picture with us.  

Elizabeth holding up a picture of Ga-Ga with her four granddaughters



We took a break from games to enjoy some pizza.
Again, a picture with Ga-Ga.
These girls had the best time together all week!

Elizabeth (5), Annalise (2), and Caroline (3)


Time for more games!






On Wednesday, the 27th, we headed to McKinney, Texas for a day of fun!
I read several blogs written by ladies in McKinney and thought it would be fun to check out some of their favorite places.  All our kids had a BLAST at all our stops and I enjoyed seeing the town I have read about so much!

I'm so silly, but I had to take a picture that said 'McKinney'.
I sent it to my friend Liz because she reads several of the same blogs. :)

First stop- PlayStreet Museum McKinney!
Andrea from Momfessionals highly recommended making a stop at PlayStreet and I am so glad we did.  All three big girls had a blast and played non-stop for two hours.  We finally had to drag them out so we could go to lunch.

I thought this giant 'Lite-Brite' was the coolest!
Ben and I are now talking about getting Elizabeth a Lite-Brite for her birthday.

Kinda blurry, but the girls loved playing inside this space shuttle.

Both girls played with these foam beads for a long time.
Caroline's favorite thing was to make a birthday cake and sing happy birthday to different people.



Elizabeth liked making a snowman!





The last 30 minutes, Elizabeth discovered the arts and crafts table.
She made cards for people, glued papers, and enjoy stenciling.


Annalise and Caroline LOVED the Lite-Brite!




Selfie with my big girl :)

The girls also loved the sweets shop!


They spent A LOT of time serving up sweet treats


And it was called Caroline's! :)

After playing at PlayStreet, we headed to another recommendation, Spoons Cafe located on the historic McKinney Square.  They had great service, amazing food, and the kids had a blast coloring, talking to other kids, and eating delicious food!

The girls were hard at work on their coloring pages

They stayed occupied all through lunch (win-win for the parents!)

After lunch, I had a surprise for everyone- we walked over to Mom and Popcorn.  
Ben and the girls had no idea where we were going and I loved surprising them with the candy and popcorn store!  Ben sampled several types of popcorn before settling on a bag and the girls each picked out two treats to enjoy later on our trip.  I grabbed a few chocolate covered almonds.  Yum!

After Mom and Popcorn we headed over to Emporium Pies to grab a pie to take home for dessert.  My mom couldn't make the trip to McKinney (because of her pneumonia) so we thought she would enjoy having a little taste of McKinney back at her house in Arlington.  We bought the 'Smooth Operator' which is French Silk Chocolate with a Pretzel Crust- so good!!


Walking back to our car and we had to get a picture in front of the GIANT tree on the McKinney square.  I guess everything is bigger in Texas. :)





Wednesday night, I was taking a picture of my Grandmother's 50+ years working GE oven when Ben decided to photo bomb me.  I cannot believe this oven is original to the house and still works!

Thursday morning I went for a quick run and had to represent my Gamecocks!

Shortly after this photo was taken we decided to go to the movies.
Ben and Andy were going to see Star Wars while Lolly and I took the girls to see Ferdinand.
Unfortunately; Andy, Lolly, and Annalise were in a horrible car accident on our way to the movies.
Thankfully, Emi, my seven-week-old-niece was at the house with my Grandmother.
The rest of the day was spent talking to police and insurance companies, getting a rental car, and my brother and sister-in-law trying to recover from the accident, get everything from their totaled car, and take a bit to regroup after that horrifying experience.
My brother broke his hand and Lolly has horrible bruises from being pushed into the side of the car.
 
Andy, Lolly, and Annalise will be ok but could definitely use your prayers.

Our week got more interesting after this and I will share the rest tomorrow.