Coupon Organization

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I am a couponer, if you don't know already. I shared with you my stockpile pictures last month, which is filled with products that I bought for "free", close to free, or for a great deal using sales and coupons. I have been using coupons for about two years. Couponing helped so many times on our budget when me and my husband were first starting out. It is such a great way to save money. Many people associate coupons with financial hardship, but that is not always the case - it doesn't matter whether you earn minimum wage or are well off. Both me and my husband work in the professional field - I have my master's and work at a reputable organization while my husband has his own business and tends to work from home. We have no kids, so there are no extra costs; we tend to spoil ourselves on occasion (for me it's the clothing!); and we can go on vacations whenever we want (and have the time). We can comfortably spend the money we earn on necessities if we choose to, but why not save a few bucks here and there with coupons? Thus I would love to share with you how I organize my coupons.

To organize my coupons, I use page dividers to help separate coupon categories. I also use trading card protector sheets to help keep my coupons neatly visible as I flip through before I go shopping.

Each category is labelled clearly on the divider. I have 10 in total:  breakfast, baking, dairy, snacks, beauty, laundry/cleaning, toilet paper/kleenex, oral health, medicine/vitamins and miscellaneous.

I keep all of my coupons organized in a 3-inch binder. When I first started using coupons, I was using a 1-inch binder. But that soon started bulging out with the coupons I was finding and collecting. So I finally bought a 3-inch one which has done me well for a long time now.

If you read the paper, you might oftentimes find coupon inserts. These are little booklets filled with coupons. In addition to these coupon inserts, there are also mail-in, printable, and in-store coupons.

Once I cut all of these coupons, I organize them in the plastic pockets in the proper category. They fit perfectly in there, and are easy to see. I then flip through the binder once a week before I do my shopping trips.

Weekend Recap

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hi all! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Late last week it started snowing, hard! So we decided to build a snowman. I haven't built one in a very long time. And considering that spring is on its way (I hope!), me and the hubby decided to build one in case this was the last snowfall of the season. It started off as a snowball, which rolled into a giant snow boulder, and ended up with a giant 6 foot snowman! Sorry for the lack of quality in the picture - it was taken with my phone camera.

On Saturday we went down to the farmer's market and bought some necessities we needed. I love going there, just because you get to see and buy so many different things. Plus supporting local farmers and businesses is always a good feeling. I can't wait till the summer so the market will be filled with fresh local produce. I love eating local food because it is always fresh and eating at pick-your-own farms is a blast!

Sunday was a more relaxing and easy-going day with nothing too exciting. No pictures of that (unless you want me to post one up of me in my PJs!).

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Friday, February 22, 2013

This recipe is a family tradition that has been cooked, modified, and eaten in my family for years. My parents passed it on to me when I moved out and now I am sharing it with you guys. It is a yummy recipe, the best stuffed pepper recipe that I have ever eaten. Enjoy!

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Rice
Prep time: 10 min        Cook Time: 60 min           Yield: 5-6 servings

- 5-6 bell peppers (depending on the size of each pepper)
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/2 lb ground pork and 1/2 lb ground veal
- 1 carrot, minced
- 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 medium potato, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups tomato juice (or very runny tomato sauce)
- 1 tsp celery salt

1. Wash bell peppers. Cut off tops and clean out seeds and stems from inside. Make sure no seeds or stems remain. In a small saucepan, add rice and boiling water. Cover and allow water to "cook" the rice (No need to cook the rice as it will cook with the stuffed peppers).
2. In a pan, heat oil. Add onion and fry until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add ground meat and brown until meat is done, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and seasoning. Stir and cook another 4 minutes.
3. Fill peppers with ground meat mixture. Cover each pepper hole with potato, to ensure no stuffing escapes when you cook the peppers.
4. In a deep pot, arrange peppers so they are standing upright. Pour in tomato juice and season with celery salt. Make sure that the tomato juice comes just below the pepper opening. If 2 cups is not enough add more tomato juice; if it is too much then use enough as needed. Cook on medium heat, covered, for an hour or until peppers are soft. Serve with tomato juice.

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Skin Care

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The winter weather really does some wonders to my skin. I tend to have an oily forehead but during the winter my nose and cheeks become so dry and flaky. I hate using cleansers or moisturizers that are oil-based because they seem to only make my face more oily but don't do anything about helping it heal, which is what my skin needs. Here are my faves that I have been using each day for a while now to help combat acne and lock in moisture.

Vichy Normaderm Deep Cleansing Gel
When I was younger, I had major breakouts. I tried many over the counter skin care treatments, but this one seemed to work the best. Now, even after my pimple-faced teenage years are gone, I still love this cleanser. It is gentle on my skin, doesn't cause any excessive dryness, and I truly feel it working as I massage it onto my skin. My face is left clean and fresh that I can feel.

Elizabeth Grant Biocollasis Complex Cell Vitality Radiance Toner
Over the years I noticed that my pores have been slowly increasing in size, and that they are more noticeable than before. I guess it comes with age (ugh!). So I started using a toner for it. My mom swears by this brand, and so after trying it out myself I too have noticed that my pores have shrunk down a bit within a little less than a year of using this brand. I apply this after I wash my skin with the cleanser.

Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream
I absolutely love this product! I have used oil-based creams in the past but it felt like it only promoted acne on my face. I then saw this product and decided to try it out. It's a gel-based moisturizer so locks in the moisture. Because it is gel-based, it feels like a mist of cool water on your face (think spa!). Plus, you can use it before applying your makeup - a great face prep!

Now it's your turn: Do you have any special facial treatments that you use and swear by?

*Note - this is not a sponsored post.

What Would You Do?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recently, I found myself in situations where my faith in people was tested, my acts were tested, and I felt like I was in a situation of the "What would you do?" TV show. I love the quote by Albert Pine "What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal." I'm sharing these moments with you to help inspire you to always be ready for the unexpected.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were in the mall and happened to sit at a bench that had a bag of newly-bought shoes next to them. We never noticed them until we placed our bags right next to this bag. We sat there for a few minutes and talked about whether we should bring them to the store they were bought or leave them where we found them. If the person realized they had lost them, they would probably come looking for them there. However, we finally made the decision to return them back to the store. What if we leave them where we found them and someone else comes along and decides to keep them. There are people who believe in "finders keepers." Which is why we decided to return them to the store. Luckily there was a receipt in the bag and the cashier said she will pull up the store receipt with the customer's name and try to track them down. I hope that person who lost their shoes is now happily wearing them!

On another occasion, I found a credit card at a food court. I don't know how I even saw, but it was lodged right between the seat and back support of the chair. I noticed this right after I grabbed my bags to leave. Yes, a credit card can be used if there is no PIN associated with it. But again, what if this credit card landed in the hands of evil-doers? This is an obvious one as to what I did - went to the customer service desk and dropped it off with them there.

What would you do if you receive a wrong number from someone asking to stop by the store and pick up something? Would you call them back and tell them they dialed the wrong number, or sit back and think it was a prank call? That is what happened to me this weekend. I received a call from an unknown number and decided to let it go to voice mail. The message left on my phone was "Ken, can you stop by the store and pick up a dozen eggs before you get home?" The voice sounded like that of an elderly lady. At first, I thought nothing of it. But then I thought - what if she lives out far from town; what if she was making cake for her grand kids and needed those eggs; what if?? Which is why I decided to dial the number back and inform her that she dialed the wrong number. She thanked me, but her tone was that of confusion as to why I would even call her back. Nowadays it is not so common to do nice things for others, especially calling them back if it was a wrong number.

The next story was one I witnessed at the mall a couple years back, and it truly brought tears to my eyes when I saw this. Good tears! Both me and my husband were sitting on the benches at the mall when we saw two visually impaired women walking with white canes, looking confused. A mother and her two kids stopped them, talked to them for a quick minute, and helped guide them to their point of destination. We see this all the time - people not asking for help but needing (or wanting) it. We get too caught up in our own lives or our own problems that we never stop and ask "how may I help you?" The fact that this mother stopped whatever might have been important to her at the moment to help these two ladies is the definition of good Samaritan. Plus a great example to her kids.

In short, I wanted to share these with you just because. We all need inspiration from time to time and hearing nice stories always helps. If you have a story please share! Have a happy Tuesday!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Dates

Friday, February 15, 2013

I have to say that when I first found this recipe online, I was a bit skeptical of the ingredients. So, I did what I always do and modified the ingredients a bit to fit to what I like. I must say that these turned out really good! It tastes like apple cinnamon oatmeal in muffin form! Yum! They are such a great morning muffin because all of the ingredients in it are packed with nutrients you need for the day. Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Dates
Prep time: 10 min        Cook Time: 30 min           Yield: 12 muffins

- 1 cup large flake oats
- 1 cup yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)

- 2 eggs
- 1 large apple, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 tsp vanilla

- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda

- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 14 dates, chopped + 12 whole dates

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add baking cups to muffin pans.
2. Combine oats and yogurt in a bowl. Add eggs, shredded apple, apple sauce and vanilla. Blend until combined. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add to egg mixture and blend to combine all ingredients. Add chopped dates and stir into mixture.
4. Spoon mixture into 12 muffin paper liners. Garnish each muffin with whole dates on top.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Replace shredded apples with shredded zucchini or carrots.
Use white flour instead of whole wheat flour.

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Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The day of love is finally upon us. What do you all have planned for today?

I am planning on spending some quality time with my other half - having some dinner and watching a movie. I am not anticipating any chocolates (I am not a big fan of boxed chocolates, but some chocolate covered strawberries might be good!) but I do want some fresh flowers to brighten up the dining room. Then maybe stopping by my parents house to see them a bit.

Whatever you plan to do today, I hope you all have a great day! Don't forget to show some love to your friends and family too - this day shouldn't be limited to only your significant others :)

Valentine's Day Nail Art

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I had some free time this weekend to do my nails for the special love day coming up. I love doing my own nails for the seasons cause I can get really creative! I did a pinky-rose colour on my nails and added a diagonal nail art design using a clear nail polish with microglitter. I used Sally Hansen's nail art pen to do the heart on my ring finger.

Love it!

On a side note, did you all have a great Fat Tuesday yesterday? It is a tradition in our house to get at least one paczki on this day. However, we ended up buying 6! As you can see, the box was left with four as both myself and the mister had one for dinner. They are yummy...and since they come only once a year why not allow yourself to indulge! :)

The Day of Love {Round-Up}

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

With Valentine's day around the corner (and I mean right around the corner - two days!) I wanted to post some of my favourite things that remind me of Valentine's Day...or that I just found through the blog world of some really neat ideas. Enjoy!

I absolutely love these tasty, creative and healthy treats by Hatter and Hare Events! Who says that all girls want chocolates? Bonus - you won't feel guilty about eating a WHOLE box of chocolates and gaining weight, and your man is happy cause you won't blame him for gaining weight!

Now we go from a healthy treat to something that is just OH.MY.GAWD delicious! How cute and yummy do these bars look? Tonia from The Gunny Sack really knows how to make my mouth water!

These pillows from Creature Comforts blog are just so cute. Who needs to buy pillows when you can just make them yourself! And the instructions are so easy!

If you just want to decorate your home quickly before your date arrives, just print this and place in a nice frame. I love subway art - and this one from eighteen 25 is just so adorable!

Make quick and cute Valentine's Day cards to give to friends and loved ones by printing off the template, from Lisa Storm, and attaching your chocolate sweets. So simple and yet so cute!

These frozen yogurt dipped strawberries from Glamour look good, and they are good for you.You can share them, or indulge in them by yourself!

Hope this was enough inspiration to get you off the chair and doing some crafts before the day flies by!

Oh and PS - have a happy Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, or Paczki Day, or whatever you want to call it!). Will you be eating any Paczki's today? I know I'll only indulge in one!

These Are My Confessions...

Monday, February 11, 2013

One - You might not know this, but after my workouts I indulge in something that many might not consider after a workout. I watch Honey Boo Boo after my cardio workouts...*shame*. In all honesty, it is the mindless entertainment that is just relaxing after a cardio session, and the fact that the show motivates me to work out the next day.. and the next, and the next. It is possibly the. worst. show. ever! Yes I watched them wash their hair in the sink and screamed out NOO! or watched them eat sketti with their famous sauce - ketchup and butter - and felt my own arteries clog up! But I have to admit it is very entertaining!

Two - I crave twinkies while watching Honey Boo Boo after my cardio workout! I know! I shouldn't watch it then! But hey, at least I don't allow my taste buds to win and I have avoided the snack section ever since I started watching the show (for fears that a twinkie box might just jump in the cart).

Three - I ate more chip and dip and fried cheesecake than I should have this past weekend. I guess I need to work extra hard to lose those calories this week!

Four - One of my New Year's resolutions was to eat more fruits and veggies. While I told myself and the hubby that we were going to eat more vegetarian meals this year, I ended up making meat loaf (recipe this week!) a week into 2013...again *shame*.

Five - I have been watching reruns of "7th Heaven" recently. It's getting quite religious too...every day a new episode! I used to love that show when I was younger.

Six - I keep having the same reoccurring dream, over and over again. It is of me traveling (with my other half, of course) to a far away tropical destination and staying there for a while. Or, at least until I get a tan and I can finally stop blending in with the snow!

Seven - I sing in the shower, but quietly. I cannot dare make the hubs know of this. I see the look my dog gives me after my shower...he knows, yes he knows!

How To Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Friday, February 8, 2013

I have a great stainless steel set of Cuisinart pots and pans. I love them, and have been using them for over three years. However, over time some pots and pans tend to get stains on the bottom. For example, my favourite small pot I use religiously is the same one I boil my water for tea, make my mashed potatoes in, and warm up any left over soup in. Over time, it takes a toll and my pot looks like this. Even after scrubbing with dish soap, nothing works (you can tell how much I was scrubbing by the lines on the bottom).

So this is the method that I have found works well, passed on from my parents, and is very easy to do. It will turn your pots into shining sensations again!

The first thing you need is dish washing powder detergent or another powdered cleaner. I don't have a dish washer, so I use my comet cleaner.

Sprinkle some of the cleaner (or powdered detergent) on the bottom of the pot.

Pour in some water (about 1/4 of a cup). Just enough to cover the bottom and if possible any sides of the pot.

Now, boil this for a few minutes (about 5). Just to allow the solution to cut through the stains. It might start bubbling and rising, sort of like milk. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't spill over.

Take it off the stove, and wipe with a sponge the stains. This should be easy to do, no scrubbing needed. If you find yourself needing to scrub hard, sprinkle more of the cleaner on, pour a bit more water, and allow it to boil for a little bit longer.

And there you have it! Clean and shiny pots in less than 10 minutes :)

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You Know You Were a 90s Kid When...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

So I had a special moment a few days ago. I was talking on the phone with my sister and somehow we got on the subject of Pogs...from back in the day! Well, one thing led to us reminiscing about our childhood, the 90s, and all those crazy things we used to do or watch. So, join with me in my recollection of the good ol' days and feel free to share some of your 90s memories!
You collected and played with Pogs - remember those cardboard round things with the pictures?

You carried a virtual pet around your neck - Tamagotchi, GigaPet or Nano was your baby, and you carried them around your neck at.all.times!

T.G.I. Friday's isn't just a restaurant chain - Each Friday you were impatiently waiting for that last school bell to ring for the weekend so you can rush home, quickly eat dinner, gather your group of friends, and watch some Boy Meets World, Dinosaurs, Step by Step and Family Matters. Now THAT was what TGIF really meant!

Boy bands were sooo in - It was hard to choose between Backstreet Boys and NSync. It was like choosing between your two best friends (whom you are both blood sisters with)

You "zig-a-zig-ahh"-ed your way to school in the morning - ...and after school, and during recess...

"Goosebumps" was not just an explanation to the bumps you get when you're cold. It was the scariest series of ever...and you owned or read all of them. Forget the Twilight trilogy!

Your radio was your iPod - you would hold it in to record your favourite song on tape, so you can play it over and over again. Oh, and you had to have your Walkman with you wherever you went!

Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? - We are all still looking for her...

The Macarena was a ritual dance - a must-have song played at all dances and parties

Your go-to snack for recess was either Dunkaroos or Fruit by the Foot

You would play MASH (mansion-apartment-shack-house) to predict your future. It told me I was going to marry Justin Timberlake, live in a mansion in Jamaica, have 18 kids, and own a lovely station wagon :)

Sailor Moon and Pokemon were the best anime series around. "Gotta catch 'em all!"

You can sing the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" theme song in your sleep..."in West Philadelphia born and raised"

You wore stick on earrings, a different colour and shape each day to obviously match your outfit. And you just had to stick-em at the corners of your eyes

You learned more from Bill Nye the Science Guy and Miss Frizzle than you did from your science teacher.

Twilight would never exist if Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still around, and witchcraft was popular because of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Reese's Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I have a favourite brownie recipe that I like to use always. Recently, I was experimenting with different types of brownies and made some yummy and healthy black bean brownies a few weeks ago. This time, I wanted to try adding a kick to the brownies. I looked through my cupboard and saw I had some Ghirardelli chocolate squares left over from Christmas, and some Easter Reese's mini peanut butter cups I recently bought. After making a well thought-out decision (*ahem*...through enie-menie-miney-moe), the decision was the peanut butter cups. I used the same recipe as my go-to brownie recipe, but I doubled the batter size and adding a bit of cocoa for a darker colour. You will also notice that I am not using too much sugar - I feel that the chocolate from the cups as well as the frosting will have enough sweetness that too much sugar in the cake will just be too  much. I am hoping to make some Ghirardelli brownies in the near future. Enjoy!

Reese's Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Reese's Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Prep time: 5 min        Cook Time: 30 min           Yield: 16 servings

- 1 cup butter, cubed
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 14 mini Reese's peanut butter cups, unwrapped and chopped
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 4 tbsp. milk
- Mini Reese's peanut butter cups, unwrapped and chopped for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square cake pan.
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a double broiler over low heat, stirring until smooth and melted through. Remove from heat. Add sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder, beating well. Add eggs, beating after each addition.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until mixed. Add to chocolate mixture, stirring until well blended. Spread half of the batter in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with peanut butter cups. Top with remaining batter.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan.
Peanut Butter Frosting
1. In a medium bowl, whip butter and peanut butter until combined. Add powdered sugar and stir until combined. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until mixture becomes smooth.
2. Spread frosting on top of cooled brownies. Sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups.

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Creamy Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I love Italian food. Especially pasta dishes. To me, it seems like you can prepare plain pasta with tomato sauce or a more gourmet pasta dish with veggies and chicken. I have done my time with buying different types of pasta sauce - especially Alfredo. I love Alfredo pastas because it is so creamy and has a different taste than the more sour-base of tomato sauce. But I hate store bought Alfredo sauce. So here is the version I make at home - easy and delicious! Enjoy!

Creamy Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

Creamy Broccoli Alfredo Pasta   (adopted from Taste of Home)
Prep time: 15 min        Cook Time: 15 min           Yield: 4 servings

- 350g linguine pasta
- 1 bunch broccoli, washed and chopped into small pieces
- 4 tbsp butter or margarine

- 1 tbsp flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain well and set aside. Meanwhile steam broccoli either in water or steamer pot. Drain and set aside.
2. In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, being careful that the flour doesn't burn. Slowly whisk in milk, stirring until thickened, about 2 minutes. If mixture is still not thick, add another tablespoon of flour and stir to combine.
3. Add broccoli and sauce mix to pasta and stir to combine.

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Super Bowl Sunday Appetizers

Friday, February 1, 2013

With the Super Bowl happening this weekend, I wanted to do a quick round up of some yummy and easy recipes that I found on the web. These sure look tasty, and you'll bet some will be tested at my house this weekend! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Spinach and Onion Sour Cream Dip
Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
Individual 7-Layer Dip Super Bowls
Portobello Quesedilla

Beefy Bacon and Cheese Biscuit Cups

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
Roasted Garlic White Bean Dip
Football Bites
Crescent Sausage Bites
Jalapeno Chicken Spirals
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