Monday, February 28, 2011

Market Monday

Very rarely does a Publix shopping trip go by without me praising the Lord for the people who have patiently taught and guided me into the world of coupons and savings. When once we lived not even making it from paycheck to paycheck, and savings was a dream far off in the future, we now end each month with money still in our bank account, we have a savings account with money in it, and we've invested in life insurance policies. This is made possible by God's great love and provision for us, and He uses coupons as a means to help us spend (and save) our money more wisely.
This week I again drove out to the more coupon-friendly Publix--although a bit hesitantly since my gas light was on when I turned the car on! I called my husband to see how many miles I was suppose to get, and we decided I could make it there and back. I looked at the odometer when we were only half-way home, and we were already 8 miles over how far my husband said we could go on the tank. I was a little nervous! But we had a goal not to fill up again this month. :) Perhaps a bit silly, and we'll see if I can even get the car to the gas station tomorrow!
I had an unusual experience in the store today. I had just stopped in the middle of the store to put Edith in the carrier (she had bumped her head on the cart and was starting to get sleepy, so wasn't settling down. I was going to need extra room in the cart anyway), and another lady with a cart full items similar to the items in my cart, stopped me to make sure I had all the coupons I needed because she had extra! I'd seen other couponers in the stores, obviously, but no one ever stopped me. We chatted for a few minutes, and then she asked me if I had the coupons for the Mueller's pasta brand. I was starting to brush off her offer when she said they were a money maker! I got excited. My first thought was the close to 20 boxes of pasta already on my shelf. My second thought was, "Yes! Less money I'll have to spend!" She handed me a wad of coupons--12 to be exact--and then continued her shopping. Each of those coupons made me $.61! It was as if that lady had just handed me $3.66 cash!
One nice thing about the Publix I went to--they didn't make me do separate transactions of $50 in order to use my competitor coupon of $5/$50.
Probably the only other thing I'll have to buy this month (March) will be basic baking supplies and meat and whatever we'll need for Emma's birthday that I don't already have. She's requested Capri Sun's for her birthday, so I'm hoping the may go on sale (or I may just get them at Sam's). I don't think she even knows what they are, but twice when we've been on the juice aisle the over the last few shopping trips, she's asked if we could have those for her birthday. I was going to do just water, but I told her we'll see. :)
Today I came home with 109 items, and I only paid $18.11!
(oh, and the cutie in the corner: PRICELESS!)

On the Dorito/Pepsi deal I decided to make it a money-maker rather than take full advantage of the deal and getting 4 free Pepsis. These items will be for my sister. She has mid-term exams coming up, so this snack food along with a nice, yummy pizza should be just the right distraction!

I have one full-price item in here, and that's the vegan butter ($3.79) for the cookies my daughter wants to make.

Free or overage items:
16 Uncle Ben's rice 1.99 BOGO - 16 x $1/1 coupon = FREE (I spent $2.40 on coupons)
2 lbs strwaberries @ 1.66/lb - 2 x $1/1 produce wyb OM Deli Fresh - $1/1 babyclub q = -$.32
12 Mueller's pasta 1.39 BOGO - 12 $1/1 coupon = -$3.66
10 Mentos 0.50 - 10 x $.50/1 coupon = FREE
2 baguettes 1.49 - 2 x $1.50/1 bakery bread wyb 6 Hunts sauce/paste = FREE

In addition to "regular" coupons, I used 2 $5/20 select items Publix coupons and 2 $5/$50 competitor store coupons. That's and easy $20 off!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Retreat to the Stores

When once I use to think in Facebook statuses, I now think in blog posts. When I first got into Facebook I found myself thinking in third person sentences describing what I was doing at that moment--as if I were updating my status while making dinner or something! Now, something affects me emotionally, physically, spiritually, or just a regular, daily happening, and I start writing out a blog post in my head. Obviously, they rarely make it to the blog! I've always enjoyed writing and writing has always been my preferred method for channeling my frustrations and other emotions through life. (But as a teacher once told me, I'm not very good at it. I do still enjoy it. Just don't grade me. ;) )
The last few days have become a blur for me as the curse of Florida allergies has settled in my head. When I was growing up, my father and sisters had horrible allergies, and I use to almost find it comical how much they sneezed each morning when they woke up. I know longer think it is funny. I also have a new respect for that dazed look that my one sister wore on her face all the way through the heavy pollen season. Somewhere around my sophomore year of college I realized I had allergies, and all the doctor could say was, "Welcome to Florida!" --Not very encouraging! The "blessing" of being in Florida is that allergy season only goes away for the few weeks in January when it gets really cold (for Florida). Otherwise, there's always something new blooming, since we rarely have more than two season a year!
Ironically, today, I couldn't focus and put the energy into playing with and taking care of my kids. So I did something that would probably seem like backwards logic and reasoning--I put them in the car and we went to the store! Since I wasn't doing any type of "intense" shopping or evening dealing with sales and coupons, there was nothing about this trip that could be stressful. A few days ago my husband mentioned that we needed more bird food because he could hear the birds beaks hitting the plastic at the bottom of their trough as they tried to get every last seed that they could. So we headed to Lowe's. I looked at some seeds for gardening (which I really need to get on the ball with, but still don't know exactly how to go about getting it going!), and the girls entertained themselves in the Lowe's Nascar shopping cart. (Which, for the record, those things are a pain to steer.) We got the bird food, and then the girls played on the tractors (i.e. riding lawn mowers). We stopped at Publix on the way home to pick up some deliciously inexpensive strawberries! I think the girls ate half a pound for lunch!
I just found it almost humorous how other days it's usually a big ordeal to me to have all of my ducks in a row and I get stressed out going shopping or whatever, but today I chose that over laying on the couch and being pounced on by a three-year-old and a one-year-old. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Market Monday - Exciting Savings and a Bit of Toddler Drama

Well, I hadn't planned on having this post this week, because I hadn't planned to do any shopping this week. Ironically, the week that everyone was getting their best-ever deals and savings at Publix is the week that I looked at the ad and said, "Oh, that won't benefit us. I won't do any shopping this week." Then my sister (a college student) commented that she'd like some past fixings for her room. Well, at least she told me while they were still on sale!
So I pulled up I Heart Publix and hunted down the coupons for the deals. I almost felt deceitful doing it, but I drove out to the one (out of the four) Publix's in our area that is super lenient on their coupon rules, because I had some coupons that would triple stack. I'm not sure how (and I'm not complaining) but I came out paying a little bit less than I anticipated. The cashier didn't really pay attention to my coupons, and since I'm pretty positive they were all correct, I'm assuming I just worked my numbers wrong. The only "bummer" was that the store wouldn't let me have overage. I really don't get that since it seems all my couponing buddies seem to get overage from time to time. She went to scan my last coupon, and it wouldn't let her because it would have brought it to a negative. I asked if they could just change the value of the coupon, and she said "no". So, instead I paid $.70 for most of this... two candies that didn't make it home. :) I had the BOGO Snickers coupon, and was going to get that as a filler item at Publix, but they didn't have the right bar for the coupon. Poor Emma--I had told her I'd get her a special treat because she had been really good and very helpful while in the store. When they were out of the candy she was disappointed, but kept a good attitude (something we've been working on, so I was proud of her!). She was, of course, offered a balloon. At our usual Publix the bring the balloon with either a clip or some weight tied to it so the child is less likely to lose the balloon, or they at least tie it on my kids wrist for me. Well, here the manager came and handed them to me while I was in the midst of paying, so while forking over my $0.70 and waiting for my receipt, I loosely tied the balloon to Emma's wrist (so we could easily get it off to put her in her car seat) and the other to Edith's ankle. As we were walking out of the store, a gust of wind blew, and there went Emma's balloon. She was devastated, but was still working out not fussing about it. The kind gentleman helping us to the car offered to get her another balloon. I felt bad, but he offered, and because I really wanted Emma to be rewarded for how well behaved she was being, I accepted his offer. I continued on to the car with our things while he went back inside for another balloon. I had everything in the car, including the girls, when he returned with a very large balloon. Emma thanked him, and I got her buckled in. As we were pulling out of the parking lot I hear POP! Poor Emma was shocked, and then she could contain her disappointment no longer. She began to just wail. Part of her cry I could tell was because she'd been frightened. The balloon hurt her when it snapped, I think she was more scared that it had hurt her than of the actual noise. So, I promised her we would go get a special treat. I pulled out my Wendy's "free fries" coupon that I'd been holding out on, and treated her to some fries and nuggets--the we tracked down that candy bar at Wal-Mart.

So, back to the shopping trip. We price matched some produce at Wal-Mart and got 20lbs of potatoes for $3 and a few pounds of grapes at $.99/lb. I literally walked to every single check out line looking for the Peanut Butter Snickers that was covered by the coupon, and found ONE left at the last check out line! Honestly, I wasn't impressed, but it was free. :)

My husband ran out the other night because I was desperate for some real milk, and our local Facebook coupon support group had a notice on it of a local supermarket that had a coupon out for a free gallon of milk with the purchase of 4 Kellogg's cereals. Well, since Kellogg's cereals were BOGO at Publix this week, we decided to take advantage of another great deal, since we seriously can never have enough cereal in this house! (I love Oreos and ice cream more than my husband, and he loves cereal more than me---just kidding!) He found peelies on the boxes for $1 off produce wyb 2 boxes of cereal. Sadly, I failed to get a picture of his amazing deal that he pulled off at Publix, but I'll list it out for you instead:

4 Kellogg's Frosted Flakes $4.09/ea - BOGO = 8.18
- 2 - $1/2 Kellogg's Frosted Flakes 6.18
1 Milk 3.35 - Competitor Coupon = 0.00
Grapes 1.26lb @ 1.69/lb - $1 coupon 1.13
3 Bananas 1.03lb @ .69/lb -$1 couopn -.29
Total = $7.02

Another shopping adventure that took place this weekend, but was not photographed (and did not include food) was a trip to JoAnn's Fabrics. They had Simplicity patterns for $1/each. Some of the patterns I got were regularly priced at almost $17! We also found some storage bins on clearance for $.97, and got a cutting mat for our rotary cutter for clipping coupons. In all I paid around $18 for 3 storage bins, a cutting mat, and 7 patterns, and my receipt said I saved $97+. (I don't have the receipt in front of me at the moment.

So, I didn't stick to my goal of not shopping, but I'm pleased with what I got. My sister has enough soup, rice, and pasta to last her probably through the summer, and I paid $.70 for all of it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Super Cute Moment

Sadly, it wasn't one of those moments you could easily catch a picture of, although I could have tried a video. But every time I try to get a video, the kids quit what they were doing. :)

The other day I was making something in the kitchen and the girls were playing in the living room. Emma, typically over dramatic and constantly being corrected for whining, handled the situation surprisingly well. She came to the kitchen and told me her sister was hitting her on the head. I told her I'd clean my hands off and be there in a minute.

Emma went back to the living room, and as I was headed her way she called out, "Mom, Edith's hitting me." I walked into the room to see Edith happily chewing on the saptula (her "spanking spoon"). I told her not to hit (as if she'll listen!) and started to walk back to the kitchen. As soon as my back was turned, she started hitting her sister with the spatula again. When Emma said something I turned to see Edith happily chewing on the spatula again!

I couldn't believe what she was doing! It was just too funny and too cute! But needed to be corrected none the less.

Just a random thought I had while typing this: Is it wrong to laugh at your kid when they're doing something like that? Since technically it is sin, and we shouldn't laugh at sin? Hmmm...not sure I want to think about that one too hard.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cardboard House

When I was growing up, we lived near an appliance store, and we use to go get empty refrigerator or other large boxes to use for making houses. I remember the fun we use to have telling my mom where to cut the windows and doors, and then the most fun came in decorating the house. Drawing trees and birds and flowers on the outside, and curtains, chairs, or whatever on the inside!

What's incredible to me is that people will actually
buy a kit to make a cardboard house with! I've seen them online several times. Here's one:This pre-packaged cardboard house cost $50! Incredible! I couldn't imagine paying for one!

Well, the other day we (finally!) got new car seats for the girls. Edith was a few pounds past the weight restriction on hers, and Emma's was a seat we had gotten for free, and the back of the seat was cutting into her back, and overall, it just didn't seem like that seat would have kept her safe in an accident. We took advantage of the
Toys R Us trade in sale, and got them the Graco My Ride 65. I did lots of research and reading before settling on this seat. (Another post perhaps.)

I hadn't thought of the car seats coming in boxes, but as soon as we emptied the first box, I knew what we were going to do with it! When we got home, I put the box horizontally on the floor and showed the girls they could crawl through it, and thus commenced over an hour of entertainment for them! When Daddy came home he turned the tunnel into a house for them, and
days of entertainment followed!
Edith, the smart little bug that she is, likes to snatch things from her sister or from the table and go crawl in the box to hide with it! If I give her a snack, she'll usually go sit in the box to enjoy it. She's so cute! They both have loved this house, and so it still has a place in our home, since it is such an easy form of entertainment. And technically, it's FREE entertainment, since we were actually paying for the car seats!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Recipe Calculator

I've been trying to create one of these for a while now. My husband could have done it (since it's a big part of what he does for a living!), but he just hasn't had the time to sit down and mess with it. But, Richelle over at The Coupon Clipper has created an awesome recipe calculator! I've already spent most of nap time customizing to my items and prices, and have even figured out a few recipe costs! It cost me $.50 to make pizza crust, and my granola bars came to a whoppin' $4.03! A bit more than I would have thought, but considering this feeds us for two days, and we live off of it for those two days, that's not bad! And it's healthy!

Here's a link-up to Richelle's guest post over at Money Saving Mom. I hope I'm not the only one who will enjoy this resourceful tool!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Market Monday

Well, nothing too exciting for this past week. It started out as a bad week because I TOTALLY blew it at CVS last week. I went in there to redeem a raincheck, get cheap laundry soap, and use up my ECBs that were expiring. I was also in a rush to pick up something from the pharmacy before it closed and get to church on time. My husband had handed me his debit card for the pharmacy (I never use a debit card anymore.), and I guess because I had it in my hand, I unthinkingly handed that to the cashier when he gave me my total for the detergent. I remember thinking, "I wasn't suppose to pay that much." But I was distracted by the sound of the pharmacy rolling down their gate, and just brushed it aside as another one of my messed-up drug store runs. When I got to the car, I realized my mistake. I seriously howled in frustration!
Later in the week I messed up at Publix, but it was "only" a $5 error, so not really the end of the world.
Tonight, I ran into Publix just to grab some of the dairy-free margarine that we use for my daughter. It's really not my preference, but it usually ends up being the cheapest option.
I just looked at next week's Sneak Peek on I Heart Publix, and next week isn't looking too exciting either. I think I may actually go a week without buying anything! Of course, there's always those little baking necessities that you never realize you're almost out of until you're half-way through mixing all the ingredients together. (Please tell me I'm not the only person that happens to!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Make Lined Canvas Boxes from Diaper Boxes...

...or any box! I'm reposting this because I don't want to lose this idea! I still have some diaper boxes floating around from the days when we used disposables. And I have two shelving areas that could use something like this. I plan to try this with smaller boxes as well for our "office" shelve over our computer!

Have some diaper boxes from all the Amazon Diaper Deals? Positively Splendid shows you how to turn diaper boxes into lined canvas bins.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life Insurance -- A Necessary Decision!

My husband and I have talked about getting life insurance policies since I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter. But switching down to one income, we just couldn't afford it. We've researched and done some reading here and there. It is almost a weekly, if not daily, burden on my mind. What will happend to the girls and me if my husband were to die? But oddly, though he is the bread-winner for our family, I almost fear more my girls being left without their mommy and being tossed into a daycare. I can't stand the thought of my girls, who are so dependent upon me, suddenly being without me and on top of that, being placed in the care of strangers.
My husband and I have already decided that my policy needs to carry him over for several months on income so that he can stay home with the girls and help them settle into the realization that mommy isn't around. When he feels the girls are adjusted, and he's ready to return to work, he can do so. Ideally, my policy would be similar to his in that it would pay off all of our outstanding debts (including mortgage) and provide for them for several months. It would be nice if he could switch to working part-time so that the girls wouldn't be in daycare full day. With all debts paid off, he would be able to manage this.
With his policy, we want something that would pay off all of our debts and allow me several months to settle and look for a job.
Recently we were contacted by an acquaintance asking us if she could practice her sales-pitch on us for training purposes. At the time I couldn't remember what she was selling, but agreed to help her out. When she arrived at our home and we learned she was selling life insurance, both my husband and I totally changed our perspective on this meeting. We had been of the mindset, "Oh, we're just doing this as a favor." But then we realized, this is our chance to really learn about life insurance without being harassed with phone calls and emails.
We still haven't made a decision because my husband has been too busy to look over the information provided. But we both know that this is what we want to do. It's just a matter of choosing the plan that is right for us.
In the last three days I have read blog posts, Facebook note, and even an email of people I once knew or a friend of a friend who just lost a spouse. Each case was a quick loss, whether a short battle with cancer or a car accident or whatever. God has really used these to wake me up to the fact that we know not the hour that He has chosen for us to go home to Him. I need to get this life insurance matter settled. It's almost frightening to see these people who our age being diagnosed with late stage cancer and barely having time to accept it before they're put on life support and then they're gone. And twice in the last week I was nearly in a serious car accident. Once with the kids in the car, and once without. Our lives are in God's hands. I have such a hard time trusting Him with that, because I want to always be here for my children, and I don't want to leave my husband alone with such a burden and responsibility. But God know what is best, and no amount of prayer is going to change His perfect timing. But we can be prepared for the after-effects.
I'll just put in a plug here for the friend who is selling life insurance. Her name is Shelly Parks, and she is an agent for American General Life & Accident Insurance. I was very impressed with the information presented about the company and with their prices. If you're interested in speaking with Shelly, I can get you her number.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday -Oatmeal Granola Bars

Today's recipe is one that was passed on to me by a Facebook friend. My daughter LOVES granola, but I have yet to find the perfect recipe. However, this one, after some tweaking, is pretty good. But it's more cake-like than you're average granola bar. (I prefer bars to crumbled granola.) I make a pan of this and leave it out on the counter and we snack off of it for a day or two til it's gone!

oatmeal granola bars

4.5 cups of oats (regular not quick)
1 cup whole wheat flour (my friend recommends white whole wheat from king arthur)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut oil
3/4- 1 cup honey - depends how sweet you want it
1/2 cup pumpkin
then add chocolate chips, nuts, cranberries, whatever you want. About 1-1.5 cups.

Mix all together the dry ingredients, add the wet, then add your add-ins. The batter will be thick.
Pat into a large bar pan or regular cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 25mins.

NOTE: I have used canola oil because I haven't purchased coconut oil yet.

You can use 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup oil if you want a peanut flavor.

The original recipe calls for 2 eggs, but I use pumpkin instead. 1/2 cup of any fruit or vegetable puree will work. Or Ener-G egg replacer.

The recipe calls for a 9x13 pan, but I didn't like how thick the bars were.

Friday, February 4, 2011

For the Love Of.....?

Is it for the love of self? For the love of sanity? For the love of one's status or image? Why

My kids have an amazing immunity, since we've only been to the doctor for illness maybe 4 times in the last three year between my two kids. But I still get so frustrated, even when the get just a sniffle, knowing that they picked that up from someone at church or at a birthday party. Because my kids aren't the only kids getting sick, and the other kids getting sick seem to have no immune system (presumably because they've been in day care since they were 6 weeks old and never had a chance to build an immune system!).

We use to go to a church where the pastor preached very, very strongly on being in church every time the doors were open. He actually said, on more than one occasion, that if you weren't there then you were obviously backsliding and needed to confess! The audacity! (He also preached very strongly on responding to the Lord at the alter. He said that if you hadn't been to the alter, then God wasn't working in your life, and you needed to restore that relationship. Again, the audacity!) Sadly, he was in a church of people who really didn't know any better. They listened to what he said, and took his word as Gospel...or possibly even higher than Gospel. Anyway, bunny trail. There were times that I would be in the nursery caring for a child who had been puking for the last two days...because she and her parent must be in church! Kids would be there all the time with green snot, boogery eyes, horrible coughs--and the adults weren't any better. Didn't these people have any common sense? How awful that rather than caring for their physical well being--and being concerned for the well being of others--they hauled themselves to church whether they had pink eye, the flu, stomach bug, or whatever. They probably thought that their illness was a result of their sin, and missing church would make it worse. Oh, and as a side note, if a mother just gave birth, even if it was on Monday, she should not be in church the following Sunday!

The church we go to now isn't so bad, at least the message isn't coming from the pulpit. Now we're in a "community" (as I often call it) where everyone works together, goes to church together, many live in the same neighborhood, and majority of the moms work. (I'll lay off the working mother at this point, as I'm currently working on a blog post about that.) So many parents have admitted that they wouldn't know what to do if they stayed home with their kid all day--it would drive them crazy! So, their kid gets sick. The school or daycare requires the parent to keep the child home, so the parent stays home. This drives the parent crazy, so even though the kid has been sick (say on Thursday and Friday), the snotty-nosed kid is still in church on Sunday, still feeling feverish. But while the church nursery has a rule book, it's not strongly enforced as with the daycare. Wouldn't it just make sense that if your child isn't permitted in the daycare, they shouldn't be at church (or birthday parties, or any other gathering?)

Birthday parties...there's a reason that term keeps popping up. Last weekend my daughter was invited to a three-year-olds birthday party (from 6-9pm...hello?). Earlier this week my daugher was running a decent fever and seemed kind of achy, almost like the flu--but that lasted only about 48hours or so. Throughout this week (thanks to Facebook) I've noticed that several of the other children who attended that party have been sick (and out of daycare) this week....coincidence? Nope! Thanks again to Facebook, I checked on a few of the families that were at the birthday party. The hostess had on her status that she had missed five days of work due to a long list of illnesses including flu and sinus infection. This was Thursday she had this post which mean that she missed last Friday--the day of the party. I realize that a lot of money, time, and work goes into planning a party, but is it really worth exposing the 30+ people that attended the party to such sickness?

I'm frustrated for all of the people who have been sick this week, because it is never fun to be sick, or to care for a sick child (or children). But this has especially affected my family this week because, although my daughter wasn't sick for long, her little friend was sick all week. Her little friend's daddy works with my husband. The mother was unable to stay of work this week (don't know why, because I know the school she teaches at provides substitutes!) so her husband stayed home all week (and consequently, now he is sick, too.) This means that my husband put in a lot of extra hard work and hours this week to pick up the slack, and hasn't been around for my daughter. This is the third week in a row my husband has put in over 60 hours, and my little Daddy's-girl is really feeling it. She has literally cried non-stop for the last four days, except for when Daddy is home. So, although she can't tell me what is wrong and why she is crying, it's obvious to me that she needs her Daddy.

All of this frustration for myself, my husband, and the parents who missed work this week to care for their sick children, could have been spared if only someone had been willing to just post-pone a birthday party!
would someone go somewhere, taking their kids with them, when they or their child is sick? I just don't get it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

I searched long and hard for a good chicken pot pie recipe that didn't call for some type of cream soup, since cream soups are dairy. This recipe is pretty much amazing! The original recipe calls for mushrooms, and although I'm a HUGE mushroom fan, I did not think they went well with this pot pie. I also added some green veggies into the recipe just for some color. :) I confess that half of the time I end up using a frozen veggie blend and then adding my own potatoes. It just depends on what I have and how much time I have. The other night I made this using left over turkey from Thanksgiving, and it was really good.

Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup lard

6 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups cooked chicken, chopped

2 carrot, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 cup frozen green beans or peas


  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Roll one ball out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place bottom crust in pie plate. Roll out top crust and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.)
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Blend in flour, salt, pepper and onion. Gradually stir in chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened. In a separate pan, saute mushrooms in 3 tablespoons of butter, then stir into saucepan. Stir in chicken, carrot, celery and potatoes. Mix well and pour into bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown, and filling is bubbly.
NOTE: I just make my crust at the time I'm making the meal, rather than keeping in the fridge over night. Having it cold makes it a little easier to roll, but you can just put it in the fridge while you're chopping your veggies and mixing everything up.

I have done a few variations on this recipe. The other night I had not potatoes, so I just did two cups of chicken broth instead of three, so that the filling wasn't too runny.

MAKE AHEAD: This is one of my staple, make-ahead meals. I will make up a double batch of this at the beginning of the month. Somehow, this ends up easily making three pies. I split the filling into three quart-sized freezer bags, and put it in the freezer. My husband likes the crust only on top, so on the day I'm ready to serve, I make my crust. I put the frozen mix in the pan (the ziploc bags will easily rip down the side so you can get the block out) and pre-heat the mix with the oven. Once it is thawed, I lay the crust over top and bake per instructions. If you want a crust on the top and bottom, you can thaw the mix in the fridge during the day.

This meal is one of the easiest ways to get my three-year-old to eat veggies without hiding them in a meal!

One of Those Days!

Today was one of those horribly frustrating days! My daughter was sick yesterday, so I never made it to the grocery store as planned. Well, today she woke up feeling well, and the sale on her almond milk ends today, so I had to go to the store! I rushed around trying to pull together a decent grocery list since today was also pay day, and we could get some meat while we were out.

First, I tore up my house, my car, my coupon folder, everything trying to find my rainchecks from a Publix sale two weeks ago. I found them in the first place I'd looked my third time through the pile! grrr! So, I loaded the girls into the car to head to Sam's just in time for their open-shopping hours (not the special member hours). The overall goal was to hit a few stores and be home in time for lunch.

Halfway to Sam's I realized that I'd forgotten to go to the bank, and there was now no convenient location to go to. No problem, I'll just swing out of the way on my way home. I'll just use a debit card at the grocery stores and take out the remaining cash later.

We got to Sam's, found a dry cart...ok, so the lady at the door handed me some paper towels so I could dry off the girls' seats, and headed for the first of the three items on my list. We got our oatmeal, our chicken broth, and our two packs of chicken. Check, check, check. We watched the fire cook the rotisserie chickens (as required an activity at Sam's as stopping to say "hi" to the lobsters at Publix). Then we headed to the lines...the most dreaded part of Sam's. For what I think may be the first time ever there was a cashier standing at the top of her line waiting for a customer to check out. How exciting! I still had two more places to go, and this just cut down some time for me! She scanned all of my items, and I reached in my wallet for....where's my debit card!? grrrr!! I had no idea where my card was, but it wasn't in my wallet. So I had to do one of those embarrassing moments and tell the lady I couldn't pay. I was so frustrated, because although this was a "quick" trip to Sam's, our total time just wasted was about 40 minutes.

I called my husband once in the car to figure out where my card could be. He told me I could swing by his work and pick up his card. That was still more convenient than going to a bank! So we drove to his work, picked up his card, and went back to Sam's. When I returned to Sam's I spent easily 10 minutes trying to find a cart with straps to buckle my escape artist into the shopping cart. This time we got in and out of the store with our goods! Still frustrated with myself for wasting time, I hurried on to Publix, as we were no approaching lunch time and were nowhere near home.

I got the girls into their "car" cart at Publix and hit the aisles. I wasn't in my regular Publix, so it took me a few moments to find what I needed. I got everything in my cart, totaling right at $30, and realized that in my treasure hunt earlier this morning for my rain check, I had pulled out my Winn-Dixie ads from my coupon folder. My Winn-Dixie ads had a $5/$30 coupon that I had planned to bundle into my transaction. Now I was really hopping mad. I wanted to blame everyone in the world, as if they could have some part in my stupidity. My husband tried to offer comfort by saying I was distracted by my daughter being sick. But I knew better. No matter how organized I try to be, and no matter how un-distracted I could make myself, I still mess up...and usually royally...and I just get so frustrated when I'm so stupid! So, now what could be $10 worth of groceries was getting ready to cost me $15. My husband said just put everything back, and we'd go back tonight with the coupon to save the $5. So, once again, I just wasted another 40+ minutes in another store! This is not turning into a very productive day!

While on the phone with my husband, he said I could come eat lunch with him since I had to return his debit card anyway. There are two cafeterias on the campus where he works, and we usually eat at the smaller one because they serve chicken and french easy-please with kids! But today we decided to eat at the the other because that is my husband's preference. Well! That was $2 more, and the food selection was terrible in my opinion! Nothing was very kid-friendly, the chicken pot pie did not look appetizing, and it was much harder to get something allergen-free for Emma. I ended up being disappointed and frustrated that something that should have been a special treat ended up seeming like another waste of time and money. My husband ended up showing up to lunch 25 minutes after we settled down, so we really didn't get to spend much time with him either.

Isn't it amazing that once something starts the ball rolling down hill on a given day, that the whole rest of the day seems to just roll down hill with it? I'm hopeful that nap time will allow me to relax enough to take my focus off of my frustrations and problems, and place the focus back on the blessing God has given me and on my children and their needs.