*Saving you some money in the Rock River Valley*

Welcome to our blog! While a lot of our deals may be specific to the Rockford area, you'll find many deals that are also good nationwide! We hope that our blog will be fun, informative, and that it will help you SAVE SOME MONEY!

Read here about our "Coupon Ethics"

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Meals - Green Chili Chicken Soup

OK, so today I'm kind of cheating by linking to a recipe . . . it's just that I'm so excited about finding this recipe, I have to share it even though I haven't yet tried it myself!

Head on over here to Picky Palate to see the recipe for Green Chili Chicken and Lime Soup.

This is my favorite soup at Chili's restaurant, which I discovered purely "by accident." I wouldn't have picked it off the menu (sounded spicy, but it isn't) except that it was one of their few "gluten free" items at a time when I was on a gluten free diet. It's so delicious! The lime (added after) just makes this soup pop! OK, so now my mouth is watering. Must. go. buy. ingredients. Guess it'll have to wait until tomorrow when I go get groceries (either that or head to Chili's which would delight my husband)!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Freelance Friday - Organizing your home

Does the New Year put you in the mood to reorganize your house?! Well it does me. I already have created a "Spring Organizing/Cleaning schedule" for our house! I love it. My schedule starts now and ends before spring begins because when spring arrives I won't be found in my house! Sure I will still have to wash windows but that still means I will be outside!

Now is a great time to start going room by room and decluttering, reorganizing and cleaning. My best tip is to start small just like anything: break it down into bite size chunks that you know you can get done.

Here are some great websites to help get you started:

I'm an Organizing Junkie
- every Friday is 52 weeks of organizing for 2011. There are some great tips and ideas. Also, this great 52 week of organizing checklist!

Organized Home - Clean House, Cut Clutter, Get Organized at Home!

- quick easy to accomplish daily tips

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentine's Day Tree Countdown!

This is an adorable Valentine's Day countdown tree! So easy and cute and more than likely you won't need to go buy a thing to put it together!

Go here to s.b.creatively to get the instructions. We may change ours up a bit because we have heart stickers from the $1 spot at Target and then I won't need to cut out 14 hearts and we may add a love is kind or is not rude to each heart . . .

Parents Magazine 1 year subscription: $1!

With all the different baby/parenting magazines having cool coupons for Amazon.com, I'm always on the lookout for free or almost free subscription. Here is the latest one I've found.

Mamapedia (similar to Groupon but mostly "mommy stuff") is offering a one year subscription to "Parents" for $5, which is 50% off the retail price. When you use the coupon code FATWALLET4, it will take another $4 off, making your subscription only $1!

Thanks for the head's up TheFrugalFind!

Toddler Thursday - Letter Matching

A-Z Letter Matching!

This is a fun activity to do while you are trying to get dinner ready or unloading the dishwasher . . .

Print off these A-Z letter matching sheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler and grab your letter (and number) magnets. You can use the basic plastic letter magnets like these found at Walmart, Target, etc. or the Leap Frog letter magnets like these. All the families I know that have preschoolers generally have one or the other!

Stick the printouts to the fridge and have your preschooler match up the letters and review the sounds too!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A day in the life of a "soon-to-be" mommy

Disclaimer: If you don't get a thrill out of deals, this post may be boring to you. If you do love deals, sit down and read on! :)

Coming off a deal high here . . . breathing deeply. OK, I'm alright now. I just got back from Target and got a great deal on diapers! A while back I was able to get Huggies diapers (size 1-2) from Amazon.com for $0.11 a diaper - that was a pretty good deal. But today's deal at Target was even better!

I registered at Target a few weeks back and got a bag of goodies from them which included a bunch of coupons. Then in the mail last week, I got some more coupons from them (gotta love Target)! With Target's $5 GC deal this week, I decided to go use my coupons! This is what I got:

$8.99 - Huggies Snuggler newborn (36 count)
$8.99 - Huggies Snuggler newborn (36 count)
$8.99 - Huggies Snuggler newborn (36 count)
$2.39 - Huggies tub of wipes (72 count)
$29.36 subtotal

Used manufacturer's
$2.00 off diapers
$2.00 off diapers
$1.50 off diapers
$0.50 off wipes
$6.00 off

Used Target coupons (gotten from goody bag and mail)
$2.50 off diapers
$2.50 off diapers
$3.50 off diapers and wipes
$8.50 off

Total before tax was $14.86 . . . plus I got a $5 GC back!!!! So that's like paying $9.86 for 3 packages of diapers and a tub of wipes, or $0.09 a diaper plus a free tub of wipes! Oh, and what made it better is that I paid for it with a Target gift card. Do you see why I love gift cards? It's like the gift that keeps on giving for me!!!! It's a game, entertainment, and gift all in one!

The morals of this exciting (but most likely boring to most of you) story are these:

- if you are a soon-to-be mom and decide to register at Target, you will get a bunch of Target coupons that you can stack with manufacturers' coupons.

- if you can, wait for a great sale like this one and score big. Even without the $5 gift card, the price of diapers was great: less than $0.14 a diaper.

- FOR ALL MOMS with little ones in diapers: the best way to price compare diapers is the "per diaper" cost. Diaper packages are always different sizes and counts. If you know the "price per diaper" you will become one savvy shopper (so shop with a calculator or use the one on your phone)! As a general rule, under $0.20 a diaper is a good price. BabyCheapskate is a wonderful website to keep up with for great deals on diapers and formula.

Tuesday Tips - "10 way to be a lazy housewife"

Although my daughter is not yet born (just a month away now!!!), I thought this post by Amy was full of good tips that I can implement as my little one grows up. I love the fact that Amy called her post "10 ways to be a lazy housewife."

Even if you don't have children yet, or yours are grown and out of the house, you might enjoy the humor!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Feeling Crafty? Great Michael's coupon!

If you're feeling the urge to do some crafts, this is a great coupon for you! $5 off $25 at Michael's (or $10 off $50, etc). It looks like you can use it even when purchasing sale items (just not clearance). Expires 1/29

Maybe I'll go get some more yarn to make more of these!

$20 Certificate for $10 to Angelo's

I am so excited about today's Rockford Groupon! Saturday my husband and I were just talking about going to Angelo's for a date night! We have had people recommend it to us and it is just around the corner.

Today pay $10 and get a $20 Certificate for Angelo's! Check it out! Angelo's in located on Mulford in the Brynwood Shopping Center.

Monday Meals - Peanut Butter Cereal Treats

Okay, so this isn't a meal but a yummy treat suitable for use now that football season is coming to a close. . .
Peanut Butter Cereal Treats
(cut in football shapes and piped with frosting)

7 c. crispy brown rice cereal
2/3 c. natural creamy reduced fat peanut butter
2/3 c. honey
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. vanilla frosting for decorating

1. Line a 15x10 in jelly roll baking pan with nonstick foil, leaving an overhang on two sides. Place the cereal in a large bowl.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter and honey; simmer, stirring constantly, for 1 minutes; stir in vanilla. Immediately transfer to the bowl of cereal and mix well to combine.

3. Lightly coat a spatula with cooking spray and press the cereal mixture into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.

4. Holding foil by the ends, lift and transfer the cereal square to a cutting board. If desired, cut out shapes using a 3 in football shaped cookie cutter. Place the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small round decorating tip and decorate like a football or just cut them in squares and enjoy them just the same!

$5 for $10 for a Papa Murphy's gift card!

If you are interest in this deal, Go NOW! There are a limited number of these $5 for a $10 Papa Murphy's gift card that will be mailed to you. If you sign up and purchase something within the first 7 days you will receive a $5 credit to your account!

This deal is through Plum District similar to Groupon and Living Social!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Target Diaper Deal today through Saturday the 29th!

Target this week has Pampers and Huggies Diapers/Pull ups on sale for $8.99 PLUS when you buy 3 you get a $5 gift card.

That's $26.97 total then factor in you will be getting a $5 gift card = $21.97 NOW throw in some coupons!

Today's paper had a $2 off Huggies, $1.5o off Huggies
The 12/26 P&G insert had $1.5o off Pampers Diapers of Pull Ups
Click here for a printable $1.50 off Huggies Diapers (print 2 per computer) - I found it on page 3
Click here for a printable $2 off Huggies Pull Ups (print 2 per computer)

If you use 3 $1.50 off coupons that makes them $5.82 a pack! If you happen to have any Target Huggies or Pampers coupon make sure you use those too! One Target coupon and one manufacturer coupon per pack of diapers!

A few good printable Target coupons!

Go to Target.com here and scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on coupons. Then check out a few of these printable Target coupons for some great deals:

$.50 off a Target Cafe purchase!

$1 off 2 Market Pantry or Archer Farms snack items - we love the fruit leather strips!

$1.50 off Finish Quantum Powerball - combine this with the manufacturers from last weeks Chicago paper for $2.25 or this weeks $1.00 coupon for some very cheap and close to FREE Dishwasher Detergent!

$.75 off up & up laundry or fabric care item - I usually use this coupon on fabric softener as it make it less than $.50 depending on the current price.

$1 off up & up multivitamins or supplements - these are on sale this week for $4 so $3 for these vitamins is a great deal!

Explore the rest of the coupons listed to see if any apply to your family. Remember, you can combine any manufacturer coupon AND a Target coupon on one item!

Amazon Deal on Pampers!

Check out this great post from Common Sense with Money on how to score a great price on Pampers diapers. It takes a few steps but it may be worth it because good deals on diaper prices are getting harder and harder to find! PLUS, they get delivered to your house for free no need to bundle anyone up in this cold weather just for diapers!

The first two people to contact us will get a code for 20% off to use on this Amazon deal!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Butterfly Garden

Amazon has a great deal today on Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden! It is only $14.31! Plus receive a free coupon for the larvae and pay $3ish for shipping.

My kids and I did this last summer and LOVED it! We will be doing it again. We loved how it really showed us the whole process of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. A great LIVE demonstration of God's creativity! I believe we ended up with six butterflies. The kids wanted to keep them forever but realized the butterflies wanted to explore God's creation too before their short life span was over.

Thanks to the Amazing Mess for Saturday Savings post!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ask the Readers

Thank you all for your good tips and responses last Friday! We love this good interaction with our readers!

Today we will have another "Ask the Reader" post with this simple question:

What are some topics you would like to see posted/discussed on this blog?

We have some ideas and even have some guest posts in mind, but we want to see what you, our faithful readers, want to hear/read about! Please take a quick minute to comment and let us know!

FREE Couponing Classes!

It's that time again - Pinch-a-Penny Nook is going to be offering Couponing 101 and Advanced Couponing classes at Rockford Public Library on E. State Street! These classes are FREE and open to anyone!

Please come join us for tips on where, when and how to use coupons to maximize your savings! If you are overwhelmed with couponing and don't even know where to begin, Couponing 101 is a great place to start. It will give you the confidence you need to start using coupons and saving money!

Here are the dates and times:
Couponing 101 - February 26th at 11am - 12 pm
Couponing 101 - March 12th at 11am-12 pm
Advanced Couponing - April 9th at 11am-12pm

If you would like to attend, please click on the link for the classes above and take a moment to register online! Hope to see you there!

Freelance Friday - 3-D Card

I thought this idea was absolutely adorable and had to share it with you! Go check out The Frugal Girls post on a cute 3-D Valentine's Day Cards. So cute!

You could use this idea for Birthday Party invitations or Christmas cards, or . . . the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A few good coupons

Print these before they're gone!

$1 off coupon for Kraft 2% Singles (these are on sale for $1.99 at Hilander this week).

$2 Target coupon off Garnier skin care item (paired with $2 manufacturer coupon from 12/5RP makes for almost free makeup wipes at Target - on sale for $4.04)

Udi gluten free coupons!

Just wanted to let you know that I was at my local Hilander today (S. Alpine) and on their Udi stand in the bakery section they had a coupon tear-off pad! $1 off any Udi product. These are rare so be sure to be on the lookout for them and grab one when you see one!

Sent from my phone, so please pardun typos (Anouk)

Toddler Friendly Educational Freebie

I thought it was so appropriate that on our "Toddler Thursday" this freebie would pop up! Go here to download a free "Candy Math" pdf book. I downloaded it and took a quick look - they are simple concepts that are easy to use and don't require lots of materials. This is a "today only" deal so be sure to download it now! Enjoy!

Thanks for the head's up MoneySavingMom!

Toddler Thursday - Counting & number recognition

It's counting time!

This idea was give to me by a friend and we love it! Grab 10 paper plates (small, large, bowls - whatever you have) and number them 1 through 10. Then find something to count . . . buttons, candy, hot wheels, raisins, goldfish, Cheerios . . . you get the idea, use something you have on hand. Have your child count out the correct number of items to put in each corresponding plate.

These plates are also great for number recognition. Lay out the plates, mix them up and ask your child to find a certain number or put them in order!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wacky Wednesday - Coffee

If you're a coffee lover, you'll like this funny video!

$20 Amazon Gift Card for $10

We have told you about Groupon but there is another site called Living Social that offers the same type of deals. Sign up for free to get daily deals emailed to you.

Today's deal - good only for 24 from now is a $20 Amazon gift card for $10 this is a huge deal! Go here and sign up to get the deal!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Coupon Insert Schedule

Go here for the coupon insert preview for 2011. This list will help you know when to buy a newspaper if you are not a newspaper subscriber or when to buy an extra copy if you are a newspaper subscriber. Anouk and I both subscribe to the Chicago Tribune as their coupons are better than the Rockford Register Star. (Google or do a Swagbucks search for a coupon code for the Chicago Tribune to get a great deal on a subscription.)

Also, remember to put a vacation hold on your subscription when there are no coupons. This will get you an extra 7 weeks out of your paid newspaper subscription!

Thanks to BeCentsable for compiling the list!

Tuesday Tips - Lifetime warranties

You can save on product repairs by purchasing quality name brand products that have lifetime warranties or companies that stand behind their products. For instance, when my daughter started Kindergarten I purchased a Jansport backpack . . . why? Because for $20 I purchased a backpack that will literally last a lifetime (or at least elementary school). No, I didn't opt for the $15 Hello Kitty or Princess backpack that probably won't last the year. Jansport stands behind the quality of their product and will repair or replace it if needed.

My husband has had a Jansport backpack since before we met and we have been together 17 yrs. It made it through college and he still uses it at least 5 days a week to go to the gym. I believe it was replaced once.

Columbia is another brand that stands behind their products. I purchased a pair of their boots years ago. They still look brand new - the tread is perfect - they look as if they just came off the shelf. This year when I pulled them out one boot was cracked in 3 places?! Columbia has a one year warranty on their shoes. Since the shoe still looked brand new, I sent them an email and photos at their request. Within two hours they sent me a link declaring the boots defective and requesting that I pick a new pair from their website . . . they are en route to my house!

There are so many great brands that have fantastic customer service; sometimes it pays to pay a little more to get a product that you know will last.

You never know! Research a company, and before you shell out to fix a broken item, contact the manufacturer.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Children's Place Free Shipping & 20% off

The Children's Place is having free shipping today only (with code FSJANUARY) and you can also use this code for an extra 20% off your total (P7C2011). Since their Monster Sale is going on right now, some good deals are to be had! Thanks for the heads' up Lacey!

That was the pertinent information. If you have an extra minute, below is a little story for your entertainment.

A day in the life of a new "pinch-a-penny" mommy:
New as in new mommy-to-be, not new at pinching a penny. I have to admit, this is new territory for me . . . children's clothing. Eek! I don't really like to pay more than $5-$10 for a clothing item for myself, so I mistakenly thought that baby clothes (so much smaller and using less material - "less threads than in my sock" as my husband put it) would follow suit. Hmmm, not so! $22 for a cardigan? Seriously?

I'm now discovering that $8.50 isn't a half bad price for a new cardigan that my daughter will only be able to wear for a few months. Wow! I really have to teach this old dog new tricks! A new challenge for me, and the cool thing is that it's FUN!!! I'm loving it!

Picture this scenario: I decide that I really should have a plain 0-3 month cream or white cardigan for my daughter. After all, I'm practical: it goes with everything, will be useful for the "in between seasons" when it's neither cold nor hot (since she's due at the end of February), nice for layering over a short sleeve shirt, etc. You get the picture.

Last week, I chose to skip the "free shipping plus 15% off" deal at The Children's Place thinking I could do better than their $8.50 sale price on an adorable cardigan. I went to multiple stores trying desperately to find an equivalent. FAILURE! The stores either didn't have one, or they were $12 - on clearance!!! I'm starting to regret that I didn't take advantage of that deal last week!

Then today, my good friend Lacey (who went with me to help me register at BabiesRUs and saw my desperate search for a cardigan) texts me and tells me The Children's Place is having free shipping and that there is a 20% coupon code. I quickly go to the site and order that cardigan, hoping it's still there. It is! I quickly purchase it and one other item and am thrilled when the 20% gets taken off the total (hey, that's better than 15%!). Woohoo! Lacey saves the day! What makes the deal even sweeter is that they take PayPal and I have some money in PayPal from the surveys I take. Out of pocket cost? $2.

Well, this mommy-to-be definitely needs to learn new tricks, but for today she conquers the "don't pay over $5 per item" rule she has. It's a good day!

Although now I'm wondering if I should have ordered one in each size available . . . hmmm . . .

(Disclaimer: For you thrifty mommies out there, I do intend to hit a lot of thrift shops and watch for their "half off" days, but this time I was looking for something VERY specific so I splurged a little. You'll excuse a new mommy, won't you?).

Monday Meals - Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken

I have my friend Suzanne to thank for this recipe. It has become a favorite at our house! It is so tasty and you can adjust how much chicken you put in it. The original recipe is for chicken with some sauce, but we make it into a sauce with chicken!

Creamy Italian Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1/4 cup water
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (10 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine salad dressing mix and water; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and soup until blended. Stir in mushrooms. Pour over chicken. Cook 1 hour longer or until chicken juices run clear. Serve over rice or noodles. (4 servings)

I don't use mushrooms and right before adding the cream cheese/soup mixture, I cut up the chicken into pieces to make it a sauce with chicken. SUPER yummy!!!!

What are some of your favorite easy recipes?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Freelance Friday - "Yes" Mom

I am not one to usually make new year resolutions mainly because I get sidetracked easily and don't stick with them. This year I have decided to make monthly goals for myself and my family which for me are more attainable and more motivating.

One specific resolution I have is to be more of a "Yes" mom. As a mom there is the constant barrage of "Can I . . ." questions. It is almost exhausting and I feel like I am endlessly saying No. Jill Savage - Keeping hearts at home wrote a perfect article on this topic and here are some of her examples:

“No, you can’t fingerpaint.” (It will make too much of a mess.)

“No, you can’t bake cookies today.” (I just mopped the kitchen floor!)

“No, you can’t have a friend over today.” (I don’t want to go anywhere today and I’d have to go get them.)

“No, you can’t play in the sprinklers.” (I’m not in the mood for wet swimsuits, towels, and grass tracked in the house.)

“No, you can’t go out and play in the snow.” (I don’t want to deal with the snowsuits, boots, gloves, scarves, and hassle of it all.)

So for 2011, I want to evaluate my reason for saying "No" and make sure they are not selfish reasons. Let's not go crazy and "Yes" to everything - kids need boundaries and it is good for them to hear the word "No". I'm just going to resolve that I evaluate my heart and motives before I answer with a hasty "No."

Who's with me?!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sonic Wintertime Specials

Sonics of Rock River are having some great Wintertime Specials! My favorite is Wednesdays - Wacky Pack Kids Meals are $1.49 (no limit)! Here is the complete 7 day list:

Monday - 2 footlong coney's $4
Tuesday - after 5pm Sonic Burgers are 5 for $5
Wednesday - Wacky Pack Kids Meals - $1.49
Thursday - Brown Bag Special - 2 Sonic Burgers, 2 Med Tots, 2 Med soft drinks - $6.99
Friday - Single topping Sundae - $.99
Saturday - Regular cream slush any flavor - $.99
Sunday - Chicken Strip dinner and med drink - $3.99
*plus tax on all prices

These are Wintertime specials - no dates are listed on the flier.

Don't forget Happy Hour, Daily 2-4pm. Half price soft drinks and slush's.

Follow Sonics of Rock River on Facebook. Just search Sonics of Rock River for more specials!

Toddler Thursday - Do-A-Dot's

Confessions of a Homeschooler has an endless supply of FREE activities and one of our favorites is Do-A-Dot's!

You will need to purchase the above markers pictured. They are available at Amazon here or here or any teacher supply store in Rockford. A cheaper option is to go to the dollar store and purchase bingo markers for $1. The Dollar Tree has several colors in the school supply isle. They are not considered washable; however, if you are careful and use them under adult supervision, they work fine.

This week we are working on the letter Mm so we downloaded the Monkey Magnet page and the Monkey Do A Dot Page to use with the above markers.

When you are on the homepage of Confessions of a Homeschooler click on the link on the left that says ABC's & 123's (Chocolate toolbar) and select any letter. Every letter has a Do A Dot page and a Magnet page.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Udi & Whole Foods Coupons

If you like Udi's Gluten Free fares, then you'll like this coupon!

Go here and register for a $1.00 off coupon - and be sure to hit the "back" button to print it a second time!

If you have a Whole Foods store, you'll want to check this post out!

Thanks for the heads' up Frugal Girls!

CVS Dove deal?

Many people are reporting that when they scan their CVS card at the scanner, a coupon for $0.50 off a Dove bar is printing out. It happened to me yesterday!

Dove bars are free after ECB this week (limit 1): buy one at $0.89 and get $0.89 ECB back. Yesterday I used the coupon that printed out, paid $0.46 and got $0.89 ECB back. It's like getting paid to buy chocolate - am I dreaming???

Wacky Wednesday - Coordination and timing

Enjoy this impressive video which requires much coordination and timing!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Tips - The Envelope System

Have you heard of the "envelope system"? Or maybe you've heard it called "cash system." My husband and I have been using the envelope/cash system for years now for our groceries, eat out, and spending money. It has helped us save money . . .

Julia at The Frugal Find has a great article on this system. She uses it for more categories than I do personally, but I think her system is great. I know it sounds hokey that using cash will save you cash, but I can personally attest to the fact that it does! Try it out - what have you got to lose?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hilander and Special K Deal!

There are tons of sales out there for all types of diet foods. So now is the time to stock up! One great deal is at Hilander through Wednesday (probably again the next week too). Buy 4 Special K cereals get $4 off instantly. That makes the 12 oz boxes $1.99 each.

Go here and register with Special K, pick a plan, and print a coupon for Buy one Get one FREE! My cashier took off the price that boxes rang up at which was $2.98. So that ended up being $.50 a box!

Make sure you read the coupon to see what boxes you have to buy - I believe your free box has to be original flavor. My Hilander has several locations for Special K right now so if the cereal aisle is out check around the end caps or get a raincheck!

Monday Meals - Easy-Peasy Chili

Easy-peasy chili

This recipe is a favorite at our house. It doesn't take long to put together . . . BUT it does take some planning ahead because the secret "ingredient" is that it has to be on low in the crockpot for at least 8 hours. OK, so it doesn't HAVE to be on for 8 hours, but we notice that it's not as good if it's not in for that long: the meat is much more tender and tasty when left in long enough.

OK, enough about that - on to the recipe!

(1) lb ground beef cooked
(3) cans of beans (I use 2 of kidney beans, 1 of pinto)
(2) 15 oz cans of tomatoes (diced, stewed, sauce whatever your preference - I use 1 diced, 1 tomato sauce)
(2) chili packets

That's it! Mix it all in the crockpot on low and let simmer for 8 hours. I mix it a few times during the day just to make sure it doesn't stick/burn.

Serve with cheese and corn chip and enjoy! Serves 4.

This recipe is super easy to double for a bigger crowd!

(Tip: I buy a bunch of ground beef when it is on sale then I cook it all up and freeze it in ziploc bags - 1 lb in each. Doing this saves me time and sanity, and it makes this recipe super easy! Grab a bag of ground beef out of the freezer, open some cans, and voilĂ ! You've got supper)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Freelance Friday - Baby Registries

Today, I would like to ask you - the readers - your opinion on something that is very near (in time and importance) to my heart. My husband and I will be adopting our first child - a newborn girl - due at the end of February. We are uber-excited and are starting all the preparations for her arrival.

Here's the dilemma: as we are looking to register, we are finding there are HUNDREDS of items that all seem to cry "necessity" and some that we've never heard of but that sound pretty impressive. Then we stop and remember that babies really only need very few things: clothing, a place to sleep, and food (including bottles to give food) - and of course, lots of love. Oh, and diapers and wipes!

In our day and age, there are also other "necessary" items, such as a car seat. But as parents out there in cyberspace, could you answer these two questions for us?

1. Other than the above mentioned, what would you say are the absolutely basic necessary items for a newborn baby?

2. What is the one item that you wouldn't call "basic necessity" but that you can't live without?

Please comment away! I look forward to what you have to say!

A few great sales in Rockford!

We just wanted to let you know of a few good sales going on in Rockford!

Infinitely Sweet - a kids boutique store in Edgebrook on Alpine is having a 50% off all clothes and shoes winter sale! If you have never been there, now is the time to check them out.

Annie's (next to the Postal Shoppe) - a gift/card store in Edgebrook on Alpine has all their Christmas products 75% off as of yesterday.

It's great to shop local as more of you money stays in Rockford and you can usually find items that are more unique that the big box stores.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Toddler Thursday - Counting, cards & clips

It's time for Toddler Thursday! Today let's talk counting!

This is a great and easy way to work on counting and small motor skills at the same time!

You will need Numbers and Counting Flash cards - the ones with a number on the front and the objects on the back. These can be purchased at the Dollar Tree on E. State or on Alpine. We have the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ones listed here.

Next, you will need clips: either plastic coated colored paper clips, clothes pin clips or colored clothes pins clips. Check them out here. We have red, green, and blue clips that we found in the laundry aisle at the Dollar Tree. The nice thing is both these and the flash cards are in the same aisle!

Pick out whichever numbers you want to work on and have your child attach the correct number of clips to the card. The age of your toddler can determine which side of the cards you use. Make sure you have enough clips too! If your child is obsessive compulsive like mine, he wants to have the same color clips on the same cards, so we had to buy more clips!

**sold out**$50 in Buffalo Wild Wings Gift Certificates for $25!

Hurry if you want in on this deal offered through WIFR Andy and Aaron's Dollar Doublers! Spend $25 and get $50 in Gift Certificates to either Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant in the area. These will arrive as two separate $25 gift certificates. Looks like there are about 100 left as I am publishing this post!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wacky Wednesday - Christmas Song Blunder

I know Christmas is over, but this video makes me laugh so hard, I had to share it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Free Couponing Video Class

As most of you know, we occasionally teach a couponing class free of charge at some of the libraries here in town. We enjoy being able to share tips on how to save money and how to stretch your dollar.

I'm excited to tell you about this free video class offered by The Frugal Find. While Julia and her husband could have chosen to charge for (and make lots of money off of) these classes, they have chosen instead to make them available free of charge to everyone.

Although I have not watched all of the videos, it sounds like they are very helpful! The videos include "where to get coupons," "CVS," & "Target." Check them out and tell us what you think!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Babies R Us Coupon!

Here is a great coupon for Babies R Us! Get a FREE Reusable Tote bag PLUS 40% off all clearance clothes and shoes you can fit in the bag!

Babies R Us had this great deal last year too - I am glad to see it back in 2011! Coupon expires 1/23/11!

Thanks to Deal Seeking Mom for the coupon!

Monday Meals - Better Baked Ziti

Have you ever seen Mr. Food? When I was growing up he would pop on the news occasionally and whip together a yummy family friendly recipe in his tall white chef's hat and perfect white apron. His catch phrase is . . . "Ooohh it's good!"

Well, I came across his website and used this recipe for Better Baked Ziti and it is a hit in our house. One reason I love it - it only has 5 ingredients! Another reason I love it - all of these ingredients are generally on sale and when combined with a coupon can be FREE or less than $1! The third reason I love it - I can make the ziti in the morning while we are getting ready for school and throw the whole dish together so it just has to be tossed in the oven later for dinner.

Next time, I might throw in some homemade meatballs just for fun! Enjoy!

Better Baked Ziti
1/2 pound ziti
1 - 15 oz container ricotta cheese
3 c. - (12 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
3 c. - spaghetti sauce, divided
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook ziti until just barely tender; drain and place in a large bowl.

Mix ricotta cheese and half the mozzarella cheese with the ziti. Coat a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray; cover bottom of pan with half the spaghetti sauce. Spoon ziti mixture into pan; cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake 20 - 30 minutes or until cheese melts and it light golden.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I'm a little behind on my New Year's resolutions this year . . . I'm hoping to sit down for a few minutes in the next few days and write out a list. My goal is to make it a SHORT list and one that is actually ATTAINABLE. We'll see - my track record with resolutions isn't the greatest!

Here is one that I think would be great for me to do . . . and with you all as my accountability, I'm hoping I'll do well with it!

What are some of your resolutions?

Get money - smart in 2011 by ShopSmart Magazine

In the latest issue of ShopSmart (a magazine published by Consumer Reports) there was a great article called "Get money-smart in 2011". The article contains an easy checklist to trim your expenses, increase savings, and get spending under control one month at a time. Each month we will post that month's checklist so you can follow along!

CREATE A BUDGET! Check out free sites like Mint.com and Yodlee for the basics, or try software like AceMoney ($30) or Quicken Deluxe ($60) for more comprehensive planning.
SOCK AWAY EXTRA PAY! If you budget is based on four weekly paychecks a month, in those months with five checks (Jan, March, April or May, July and October) put that windfall into savings.
PREPARE FOR TAX SEASON. Start organizing the paperwork you'll need for you 2010 tax return now.

Happy New Blog!

Happy New Year! I'm so thankful that God created time - it makes for new days, new weeks, new months . . . and the "favorite" around this time: a new year! There are many mornings when I am acutely aware of the gift of a new day . . . and then there is just something about a new year that is refreshing and exciting (and reminds us how quickly life passes by).

The year 2011 is a year of changes for the Pinch-a-Penny Nook blog. As you may have noticed, 2010 was a slow year for great deals, and it definitely showed in our posting on this blog! Different times call for different measures, so we have decided to revamp Pinch-a-Penny Nook. We will continue to post good deals as they come up (and we’re hoping they come back in great numbers) but plan on also making this a blog with helpful household and saving tips.

Here is what you can look forward to in the weeks and months to come:

Monday Meals - easy and frugal meals to make for your family

Tuesday Tips - helpful articles on being frugal

Wacky Wednesday - things to make you laugh

Toddler Thursday - educational and helpful ideas to teach and keep your toddler busy

Freelance Friday - miscellaneous stuff or "ask the reader" posts

We also plan on having guest posts on topics such as "Decorating on a Budget" or "Fashion Finds." We hope that these changes to the blog will prove to be helpful to you! We also welcome your input and tips - please feel free to email us. You may even find your tip as a guest post!

Hope you are having a great start to your New Year! Look for our "Monday Meals" post this coming Monday!