Welcome!

This is my first post on my first very own blog! Welcome and thank you for taking time to read this! I hope you can glean a little out of what I have to say!

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

Yesterday I made Penne Pasta with home-made blueberry muffins.  I realized I didn’t give the recipe yet for the muffins so I wanted to do that today.

Bluberry Muffins

They almost looked burnt, but they aren’t.  They are moist and delicious!  Just add some butter and enjoy!

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Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 Eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon, for topping
2 tbsp sugar, for topping
Directions1 Measure 3/4 cup blueberries and mash them with a fork and set aside.2 Cream butter and sugar with paddle attachment until light and fluffy.3 Add eggs,vanilla, baking powder and salt, mix well.

4 Add the mashed blueberries and mix on low.

5 Add half the flour,mix on low until combined well, mix in half the milk on low…add the remaining half of flour mixing on low…then end with the remaining milk still mixing on low until well blended.

6 Fold in whole blueberries.

7 Scoop into prepared(either paper lined or spray with Pam) muffin pan.

8 Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar mixture.

9 Let rest about 5 minutes before baking.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375(350 for dark pans).  Let rest 30 minutes after baking and enjoy.

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More Great Deals

I found a few more great deals on Groupon:

$3.99 for a Griffin Elan or Jumper Sleeve for 7” Tablets ($29.99 List Price). Free Returns. http://www.groupon.com/deals/gg-griffin-sleeve-case?utm_campaign=UserReferral_dp&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=uu30146339 …

Great deal on a refurbished computer!  $399.99 for Dell Latitude E5430 14″Laptop (Manufacturer Refurbished)($1,116.85 List Price).Free Shipping and Returns. http://www.groupon.com/deals/gg-dell-latitude-e5430-14-inch-laptop-1?utm_campaign=UserReferral_dp&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=uu30146339 …

Want to grow tomatoes? $9.99 for a Set of 3 Topsy Turvy Tomato Planters ($19.99 List Price) http://www.groupon.com/deals/gg-topsy-turvy-tomato-planter-set-of-3?utm_campaign=UserReferral_dp&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=uu30146339 …

$12.99 for Logitech Ultimate Ears 200vi Noise-Isolating Headphones ($39.99 List Price). 3 Colors. Free Returns. http://www.groupon.com/deals/gg-logitech-ultimate-ears-200vi-headphones?utm_campaign=UserReferral_dp&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=uu30146339 …

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Great Deals!!

Here are a few great deals I found on Groupon this evening.  Check out my Twitter page for more!

$13.99 for a Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack ($39.99 List Price) http://gr.pn/11ZE72P

$14.99 for a Thor Two-Disc Blu-ray and DVD Set with Digital Copy ($39.99 List Price) http://gr.pn/11ZE6Ms

$1.99 for Rock Band Track Pack Volume 2 for Nintendo Wii ($19.99 List Price). Free Returns. http://gr.pn/11ZDl63

$79.99 for a Cuisinart Eight-Piece Dishwasher-Safe Cookware Set ($199.99 List Price). Free Shipping. http://gr.pn/11ZCh1V

 

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Mother’s Day is approaching

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching I want to share a few great deals:

$19 for $40 Worth of Personalized Gifts from http://t.co/RxBp4mzDSc http://t.co/NIPBOSleHC

Great gift idea! One- or Two-Year Mother’s Day Magazine Subscriptions (Half Off). 10 Titles Available. Free Shipping. http://t.co/kT9Gn4zDxM

You can’t go wrong with flowers for Mother’s Day! $20 for $40 Worth of Mother’s Day Flowers and Gifts from FTD http://t.co/NJpKXX8V40

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Free eBooks

Check out these free ebooks from Amazon.   Make sure they are still free before you ‘purchase’ them.  Enjoy!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008258IQS/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

http://www.amazon.com/Desserts-and-Salads-ebook/dp/B004TQC3K6/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367110582&sr=1-2&keywords=free+cooking+kindle+books

http://www.amazon.com/Italian-Cook-Book-Eating-ebook/dp/B004TP9QKM/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367110582&sr=1-3&keywords=free+cooking+kindle+books

http://www.amazon.com/Spring-Vegan-Delicious-Gluten-Free-ebook/dp/B00CIH2V28/ref=sr_1_21?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367110659&sr=1-21&keywords=free+cooking+kindle+books

http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Gardening-Economic-Production-ebook/dp/B00CH0VGNG/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367110758&sr=1-3&keywords=free+kindle+books

http://www.amazon.com/101-Substitutions-for-Ingredients-ebook/dp/B00CHPH1US/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367110758&sr=1-7&keywords=free+kindle+books

http://www.amazon.com/Circle-Friends-Cookbook-Recipes-ebook/dp/B00AJOW9J2/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367110939&sr=1-3&keywords=chili+cookbook

http://www.amazon.com/Plant-Your-First-Garden-ebook/dp/B00CEX4MPU/ref=sr_1_22?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367111278&sr=1-22&keywords=free+books

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Using Coupons

 I had the idea of using coupons to save on our monthly grocery bills, but did very little with it for almost a year!  Last year I bought a nice, green binder that zips all the way around and has many zipped pockets to hold goodies.

My Coupon Folder

Then, I went to the dollar store and purchased a few packs of baseball card holders to store my clipped coupons in.  Next, I organized the holders into categories with tabs.  I have about 20 different categories, ranging from dairy to oral care to boxed food and much, much more.  I sat, one afternoon, and clipped all the coupons I received in the Sunday paper that week, organized them into the different holders and then sat back with a satisfied sigh…..The only problem was I didn’t use them!  The coupons all expired because they sat in my folder for many, many months.

Organized Categories

Recently, my husband’s job was looking bleaker and bleaker and it pulled me out of my blissful fog and forced me to, again,  start thinking about coupons.  I figured if I got serious this time and put a couple of hours a week into planning out my shopping trip, along with meal planning, I just might save money on my monthly grocery bill.  I started to get excited!  I found this as a challenge I wanted to conquer!  So, I re-entered my dusty folder, with all the expired coupons, threw them away (well, actually, my 9 year did it for me) and started anew.  My husband brought home the coupon inserts from work so I didn’t even have to buy any newspapers….an extra savings right there.  Thanks to sites like, Bargains to Bounty (http://www.bargainstobounty.com/) I am able to match my coupons with the store ads because they do all the coupons/store match ups for us, which saves a ton of time!  I  hop on the site, see what is on sale at my local grocery stores and sort what coupons I want to use.  I use a combination of coupon inserts and ecoupons from sites like coupons.com.  I then mark a few envelopes with the grocery store name on the outside and slip the coupons in it for my shopping trip.   With a little planning, I have ended up getting boxes of cereal from $1.50 all the way down to .99 each, protein bars and gum for free and V-8 juice for $1.24 each, to name a few things.  I find that very exciting because we go through a LOT of cereal and juice in this house! I do want to be careful not to buy items that I normally wouldn’t buy, just because it’s a lower price than retail.  It needs to be items we regularly use or that I can get free.

I am still learning the tricks of the trade and have to confess I have watched every episode of Extreme Couponing on Netflix (which my daughters have pulled their money together and agreed to pay for each month).  I vow that I will NOT become like the guests on the show and start a three-year stockpile of baby food, especially since I don’t have a baby!  It did, though, give me some good ideas on how to start couponing and how to use them to make the most of my grocery money.  Since this was the first month, I was very excited to see how much I saved on my groceries for the month.  I added up all the receipts and what I would have paid retail, and the total for the month was  $657.70.  After coupons and store deals, I paid $337.67.  I saved $320.03!  That is close to 50%!  That’s not bad for the first month!  My purchases  included a variety of meats, juices, many boxes of cereal, protein bars and gum (both for free) along with the normal staple items like bread, milk, eggs, etc.  As I continue to use coupons, my wish is to see even greater savings each month.

With just a bit of pre-planning and organizing, I have found one way to shave off a bit of our monthly expenses and that makes me feel very satisfied!

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Please vote for my daughter’s leotard design!!

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Please vote for my daughter’s leotard she designed!  https://www.facebook.com/allaboutdance?sk=app_451684954848385&app_data=from-3bwp16      You must ‘like’ their page and then press the ‘vote’ tab and scroll through ALL the beautiful designs ( a couple of pages worth) to find her black with red flame design.

Thanks!!

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New Adventures

It has been over a month since I have written anything on here. It’s hard to believe we only have a little over one month of school left! Time is flying by so quickly. When my 8 year old asks how time is passing too quickly, it might be a sign we are doing too much? It seems there is hardly one day where there is not something to do or somewhere to go! We finished up our production of Fiddler on the Roof and then went straight into practices for our girls to dance at our weekend church service and then to Easter, followed by 2 birthdays.  It has kept us pretty busy!

I am starting to plan for the next school year already. I know….you say, ‘why already’?  Well first, I especially need to plan out my oldest daughter’s sophomore year of high school (actually the next 3 years).  She plans to be a veterinarian and there are specific classes she must take in high school/college to even be considered into the vet school we are looking at!  Second, this is a great time to look for used home school books at a better price.  Third, registration for our co-op starts Tuesday and I need to know what to sign up for. Three very good reasons to start planning next year before this year is through!

My oldest daughter and I went to an open house at the MSU Vet School and sat in on a few seminars, one being conducted by the admissions department. They gave a lot of great information about high school and under grad requirements to even be considered for acceptance into their school, and it is still not a guarantee one will get in! My daughter had her eyes opened to the fact that she must do well in her studies, especially Science and Math, in both high school and college, along with a lot of community service work. It needn’t be only in the animal field, but rather, a nice variety of services. After that, she must take a 10 page GRE test and get above a certain score to even be considered for the school! This will not be an easy task, but, if she is willing to work hard, she can do it!   Now, where the money is coming from is a question for another day!!

We are quickly coming into the season of ballet recitals and I have 3 very excited girls! My eldest ballerina has her own solo this year and gets to wear a tutu. Not just any ordinary tutu, but one that is stiff and sticks straight out like the one in this picture: ( I believe it is called a pancake?)

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She is super excited and has wanted to dance in one for many years! This summer she will attend her very first ballet summer intensive. She will get to dance her heart away for about 6 hours daily for 5 days straight! She is also very excited for this!!

Because my husband and I are looking ahead, watching our girls getting older at lightening speed pace, and with college lurking around the corner, we felt we needed to find a way to supplement our income. We have taken on a new adventure and partnered with a health and wellness company that sells over 350 products that contain no harsh or cancer causing chemicals. We have switched our store from where we used to buy our detergents, vitamins and cleaning products, etc. and now buy these products, which are safe and very effective! We order online and have them shipped directly to our house. The products cost no more than national brand products do, yet they are free of formaldehyde and other cancer causing components. We are their ‘word of mouth’ advertisers and get paid to advertise. Because we believe in the products, we are happy to share about them and show how easy it is to switch stores, using only the money you would use at a warehouse store!

If this sounds like something you have thought about or are searching for, and you would like to hear more about the products and/or the business side of this, let me know and I would love to walk you through their story and show you more about them! Just send me a message and let me know you are interested in hearing more.

Have a great evening and great start to your week!

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Apps for your iPhone or iPad

I have to say that I REALLY like both my iPhone and iPad!   I use both devices every day!  They have helped me to organize myself a little more.  Now if they would cook and clean….sigh……

There are quite a few Apps available that are very useful!  I would like to share some I find helpful and even fun!  The app I use the most is MealBoard.

This app helps me to plan my meals in advance, for however long I want.  I usually plan for 3 weeks at a time.  I have inputted a ton of recipes from my cookbooks, AllRecipes and Pinterest.  Some of the recipes I find I can cut and paste into my app, but,  some I had to type in, like the ones from my cookbooks.  This took a while over the summer but it was fine because I knew, in the long run, it would help me stay on a meal plan and not ‘wing’ meals any longer.  It also helps me save on my grocery bill per month because I know exactly what I need to get for each meal and it organizes it into a shopping list for me.  The recipes are categorized however I see best.  I have them in categories of crock pot meals, chicken, breakfast, breads, salads, soups and so forth.  It has saved me the headache and panic of forgetting to take something out for dinner that night and has saved in the monthly grocery bills!  I can even add in daily breakfast and lunch meals.  I’m taking baby steps……I’ll hopefully get to the point where I will plan those meals also!  It also shows a monthly calendar with all the meals planned so I can see what variety I have for the month!  It’s just an all-around cool, helpful app!

I did break down and upgrade to the iPhone 5.  My eldest daughter thinks I am cool once again!  What I like about the 5 is Siri (You see, I came from the ‘not so cool’ 4 (not 4s) and according to my daughter, I was uncool!)  But, I do like the Siri because I can talk to her and ask her to remind me to pay a bill, make a phone call or add something to my calendar.  Now my husband, and probably a LOT of you may say, “Can’t you just manually add it in?”  Of course I can, but why would I when I can have Siri do it for me???  Is it laziness on my part.  Sure is!  🙂  I really do use my reminder and calendar on a daily basis!  We lead such busy daily lives, that it is essential to have another ‘brain’ think for me and tell me it’s time to do this or that!   If I can’t afford a personal secretary I guess Siri is the next best thing!

My camera is great on my phone.  I love that I can take crisp, clear pictures and they will automatically ‘appear’ on my iPad and iMac.  I take a lot of food pictures with my phone for the  recipes I post and they will be on my iMac, ready to upload onto my blog.  How convenient!  HOW did we ever live without such devices??  My husband makes never-ending fun of me for my love affair with these devices.  I say he is only jealous!!  🙂

Because I am so lazy I use my iPad a ton with home schooling!  It would take too much energy to get up and walk across the room to look something up on the desktop!  I look up a ton of videos and Google a ton of pictures on a ton of subjects we are learning about.  One of my daughters and I were learning about Tsunamis and I YouTubed  some videos that were captured in Japan.  It really showed her the damage that can be and was done.  My other two daughters and I have watched many videos on Botany..time lapse videos of flowers growing, bees pollinating a flower, the Venus Fly trap in action and more!  Very educational and fun to watch!

I LOVE having Kindle on both devices.  I mainly use it on my iPad, especially when I am walking on my treadmill.  The words are a perfect size that are easy to see.  I love taking it with me when I am waiting at a ballet class or wherever else I wait.  I have found a ton of free books and cookbooks on Amazon….I think I’ve only bought two .99 cent books so far!  I have recently discovered that you can borrow books from your library and download them onto your Kindle or iPad and read them.  I LOVE that!

My AroundMe app has helped many times.  If I am in an unknown area and would like to know where the closest hospital is, it will show where it is, how close and directions.  We did need this app last summer when my daughter got a piece of food stuck in her throat while we were eating at a restaurant.  We wanted to take her to the nearest hospital and it showed us right where to go.  I have used it many times for stores, restaurants and more.  It will use the location you are currently in and find the nearest places you are looking for.  Cool!

I have  a word processor, called ‘Pages”, and ‘excel’ program, called ‘Numbers”, on both devices.  If I write something on one device, it automatically goes to the other device and syncs with it!  If I am waiting for someone to get out of a class, I am able to work on a blog or take notes or write a document while I wait.

I have a flashlight app that I use quite a bit!

I have a calculator and

dictionary app.

I use my clock app to set an alarm, the timer to time spelling and a stopwatch to see how long one of my girls takes to jump on one foot!!

I can check Facebook, email, Safari, Pinterest, WordPress, Groupon, LivingSocial, play Pandora or YouTube, check the weather, even live radar, check out Google earth and so much more!  They are amazing devices for as small as they are!  I can even print from both of them if I desire!  I can make movies, play awesome games, like Plants vs. Zombies or Angry Birds, check next year’s calendar to see what date Easter falls on, translate my Japanese friend’s sentence, convert units of measure, record a voice memo and so much more that I probably don’t know I can do!

Can you tell I am excited?  In all seriousness though, I have used them both for keeping myself a little more organized, educational purposes and even for a little fun!  If you have a cool app you would like to share, feel free to do so.  Most of the apps I get are free, with the exception of a few.  I like free!  I may add a few on this blog, here and there, as I learn about new one that I like.

I hope this humored and educated you a bit on the benefits of owning a smartphone or tablet of some kind.  I understand that these devices are not for everyone (my husband for one) and some really think they are a waste of time and money.  I respect that!

Have a great evening everyone!

 

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Already March?

I cannot believe it is already March!  February came and left as quickly as a jackrabbit runs!  My husband and I were involved in a Fiddler on the Roof production, which kept us occupied for practically the month of February.  It has come and gone now, so we may be able to get on with some of the normalcy of life!  It is bittersweet, as we have met some great people and had a fun time.

I usually have meals planned for 3 weeks in a row, which I did, up until last week.  After that, my kids were lucky to eat!  As long as they made their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they were fine!  We are finally out of jelly, so yesterday and today it had to be peanut butter sandwiches instead!  Time to make some meal plans and get some groceries!  That, along with cleaning up a neglected house, working on neglected lesson plans for the month of March, laundry, which is lying on my bedroom floor, filing taxes….and so on and so on…..!  It’s been a great time but it will be nice to get back to a slower pace!

I haven’t posted any recipes for a while so I will try to tomorrow.  Last week I made a really good lemon yogurt muffin I found on Pinterest  I would like to share.  I think I even got a picture of them.  They have a real good icing on top!  I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Take care!

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