Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blog Moving Time! Oh, And Happy New Year...

At the start of 2012 I have decided to consolidate all my blogging into one site.

Happy New Year to you and please consider joining me at my new site:

Dorinda Writes

I will still be couponing and meal planning but it will be taking a back burner to writing. Over the past three years I have enjoyed sharing how I coupon and save money but find that its taking away from my real passion: writing Christian suspense fiction and I want to get back to it.

I hope that you keep saving money and I plan to do the same.

Thank you for hanging out with me over the years and seeing how our family has grown financially!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!!

We are celebrating with family and will be back in the New Year with some fun new things so please stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy a picture of my brand new niece, Aubree Noelle who was born on December 23rd weighing 6 lbs 13 ounces and 18 inches long. I'm so excited to be an aunt and think she's just adorable :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

$10 Dinners: Chicken Pinwheel Pot Pie

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a LOOONG while and I have finally gotten around to doing it.

This recipe came from my mom and was originally meant as a hot tuna dish but my dad doesn't like hot tuna so we substituted chicken for tuna and I have been modifing it from there.

My ingredients as I use them:

6 Tablespoons Crisco
2 1/2 cups Bisquick (divided)
3 cups milk
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Veg-Al
1 cup or more of Chicken (cut-up into bite-size pieces)
1/2 cup (4 oz) of shredded cheese: Mexican or Cheddar will do
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 425

Step 1: Melt Crisco in Large Pan

Step 2: Add 1/2 cup Bisquick and mix well

Step 3: Slowly pour milk, stirring as you pour - stir occasionally till it boils - the more you stir the thicker it will get so it will be up to you how thick you want your mixture to be - I like mine a little thinner so I don't stir as much - you can also add less milk if you like it thicker - more if you like it thinner - play with it to see how you like it

Step 4: Add 2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup and stir - you could also use 1 large family can if that's easier

Step 5: Add can of drained Veg-Al and chicken - you can use a few chicken breasts cooked and cut-up or dark chicken that you picked off the bone - this is a recipe that you can make cheaper by adding less chicken - so add however much or little meat you want!

This is your base mixture - keep it warm on the stove while you move on to the topping.

This is the fun part!

Step 6: Mix 2 cups of Bisquick with a 1/2 cup of water to form a dough

Step 7: Flour your counter or a large cutting board

Step 8: Roll out your dough so it's as flat as you can make it

Step 9: Add cheese to the center of the dough

Step 10: Roll dough carefully around the cheese to make a tube

Step 11: Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan

Step 12: Slice your dough into pinwheels

Step 13: Place on chicken mixture in rows

Bake at 425 for 20 to 22 minutes or until pinwheels are golden brown and the cheese bubbles.

Serve and enjoy!

With just a few ingredients you can see how inexpensive this dinner can be. Most of them I usually have on hand so it's often a meal that costs me a few dollars for the chicken.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

We're already a few days into December and I don't know about you but I bet you're busy like me! The good news is that I'm under budget for this month and due to the holidays I'd like to keep it that way so I'm focusing this week's menu on what I have on hand. Currently, meat wise that means a lot of chicken. Fortunately I can change it up in a number of different ways to keep us from getting "bored" with the same meat day after day.

I've also included a meatless recipe (the ziti) so that I don't have to run out and buy a given meat at full price. One more way to save a little cash!

Monday: Chicken Salad and Appetizer Meatballs - I had a nail party today and we just ate what was left for dinner

Tuesday: Chicken Taco Bake

Wednesday: Sante Fe Chicken Casserole

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie (my recipe)

Friday: Date Night and Kids Pizza Night

Saturday: Creamy Baked Ziti

Sunday: Burgers N Fries Pot Pie

Just one more week of menu planning for me to go this year! Since we are spending time with the family over Christmas it will be more of a combined effort hopefully this will save me some time and money! Of course, the holidays are rarely about being cheap so we'll see...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Month End Money Recap

You know that feeling when you are this close to starting over yet you have to keep going with where you are? I'm so there. I am so ready for a new set of resolutions because I'm a bit tired of this years and I can't say I've done all that well.

For the last time this year (thankfully) - here are my resolutions for 2011:

1. Organization. Overall this year not as good as I had hoped. I have gone through box after box and closet after closet but it feels like my stuff re-grows on its own.

2. Decorating. I had high hopes to get so much decorating done this year but between budget and time so little got done.

At least I did get a "new" living room - we went from this:

To this thanks to my dad and $200 in accessories - I like that cheap decorating.

Got to say though - I'd like to try the decorating thing again next year. I love to decorate and I love how it changes the house into more of a home.

3. Spending less and saving more. We are staying on budget a little more each month. Who knew budgeting would be such a process? Maybe that's the lesson - it's more of a long-term goal; a lifestyle change that you have to aspire to. Saying you'll only spend $200 a month on going out to eat is a LOT easier said than done and it's taken me a while to find the right amount that works with reality. It's amazing how much "extra" things we need each month that aren't in specific budgeted categories (think printer ink and field trip fees). Keeping track of every penny isn't fun but it is worth it and every month I'm perfecting my ability to stay on track.

4. Do a little more deal hunting. I am and have been but I'll never believe I've learned everything and I'm hoping to learn more in 2012! And save more of course. There's always room for improvement.

5. Monthly meal planning. I have fallen behind on my this one. Maybe next year my goal should just be to try new foods every month though I do really love the months that I have the whole meal planned.

What about you? Have you thought about next year's goals? Did you do better than me this year?

Here's hoping 2012 is great!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blogging for Books: The Crossing Book Review

It took me a while to get going in this new book by Serita Jakes called The Crossing. I had read great reviews on Amazon and was excited to get it as my next book installment for review but once I began to read I got bogged down in a lot of back story and useless information about the characters. The basic plot is that 10 years ago a cheerleading coach was gun downed and then bled out in front of some of her students. Now they are dealing with what happened that night and trying to find closure when the case is re-opened. Because the book bounces between a number of different characters it was also hard to pinpoint who the book was ultimately about.

Once the story got going the plot was interesting enough to hold my attention and want to know who did what in the ending. The ending didn't surprise me but I was disappointed as to how fast it was thrown together. Instead of showing us the ending in what could have been an exciting conclusion the author told us the ending in an epilogue.

As for the characters, I didn't like any of them except maybe Victor and I didn't care for how most of the ending turned out for anyone but Claudia and Victor. I'm sure it is true to life but I think Casio's character could have been written and finished so much better. The author sets up a lot of suspense but delivers on very little. Of course, I say this as a reader who prefers more action and suspense and a few times saw opportunities built into the plot that weren't explored.

I would recommend this book to readers for the plot alone - I enjoyed it once it got moving and was interested as to how it all played out but I can only give the book three stars due to the very slow start, the overkill on every character's background story (childhood included) and the fact that the ending could have been so much better and more dramatic than it was.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group's Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Favorite Black Friday Shopping Place: GYMBOREE

My absolute favorite place to shop on Black Friday is: GYMBOREE

This is the time of year I get the kids winter jackets and fleece outfits. Jackets are currently marked down to $22.73 - add a 20% off coupon and a $65 jacket is just $18.18 which is almost a 75% discount!!

But hurry because the jackets are going fast. I ordered last night and they are already sold out of a few styles.

Fleece and puffer vests are also on sale:

Puffer vests: $12.93
Fleece Jackets $11.53 (before coupon)
Fleece Pants: $8.73
Fleece Skirts: $7.68

What's your favorite Black Friday spot? Are you going out all night or shopping online? Last year I went out, this year I'm staying in. Hopefully the deals will be just as great.