Monday, October 31, 2011

This is Halloween, This is Halloween

Friday night we threw a Halloween costume party at my house with food, games and fun. Good buddies came over as well as my sister McKenna and my mom who helped me prepare most of the food. I love a good party and I love hosting so I was pretty excited to have some people over for the first Halloween party in my house. Last year I was on a plane to Orlando on Halloween so I missed being home for it, but it was cool to see all the people at the airport dressed up in costumes. =)

This was the table setup early on. I got the plates at Hobby Lobby on sale and the napkins were leftover from the Halloween swap I did last year with Susan. =)

Our friends Kelly and Bobby brought us chips to snack on while we finished the rest of the food.

Curious about my costume? You'll be able to see the whole thing later.

Below is the apple cider we feasted on. I'll admit it looks kinda weird in this picture, but we all really enjoyed it.

My sister McKenna came as a secret agent and I fulfilled my childhood dream of being the pink power ranger! If only 6-year-old Morgan could see me now....

Here's a shot of everyone enjoying their apple cider.

After apple cider, we had some broccoli cheddar soup and tomato basil soup with bread.

When we would put the soup in our bowls it would make the bottom of the bowls suuuuuuuper hot so I put my bowl on top of a plate to keep from searing my hand, haha.

After filling up on soup and pumpkin spice cupcakes, we played one of our favorite games - Mafia. Then we got a group picture of some of us.


We also played Just Dance 3. Which is really fun by the way. I got Just Dance 2 for Christmas last year and that's been one of our favorite games, so when Just Dance 3 came out a few weeks ago we were excited to try it out.

It was a really fun night with friends and I'm already looking forward to our next get together.

Are any of you attending a costume party tomorrow for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Jumped on the Bandwagon!

Yep, I jumped on the yarn wreath bandwagon and I'm so glad I did! After seeing Jocelyn's adorable yarn wreath I was inspired to step out and try my hand at one.

I grabbed this straw wreath and the glittery fall leaves at Michael's and found the green yarn at Hobby Lobby.

 I knew I wanted my wreath to be green because it's my favorite color and it's fall-like as well. I also wanted to have fall leaves since this is a fall wreath so when I found the glittery ones I was pretty stoked.

It took about an hour, but I finally got all the yarn wrapped around the wreath. I actually enjoyed it though because while it was tedious, it was pretty easy and I watched a movie at the same time so that was fun. =)

Here's the finished product!

I'm so happy with how it turned out and now I want to make another for Christmas, haha! =)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pantry Re-Organization

Since I removed everything in the pantry to paint the laundry room/pantry, I figured that afterward was the perfect time to do some re-organization.

I went to a local discount store and found these white hanging baskets on clearance for $2 a piece. They're pretty great!

I grabbed these drawer dividers at the dollar store back in the summer and had them lying around. I decided to use them to store our spices.

 I don't have a huge number of spices, so they all fit into the 3 dividers I had.

I also printed out these labels from the Better Homes and Gardens website. I love the colors and having everything labeled and organized.

With everything labeled it will always stay organized, right? ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Green!

I recently recruited my friend Kelly to help me paint my laundry room/pantry which has been boring in beige ever since I moved in. I wanted to paint it green so I got some samples and after observing the samples in different light, I settled on Hampton Green by Benjamin Moore. We spent a few hours painting and then over the next couple of days I slowly started to feel worse and worse about my decision. I wasn't in love with it. I feel like when I paint a room, I should love the color or it's just not going to work. Soooo I went back to the drawing board and tried again with Apple Green by Benjamin Moore.

But first things first. Here's the room as it looked when I first moved in.

So pretty right? Um, no. Last year after getting hardwood floors, it looked like this.

Yowza. That's a lot of stuff chillin' on top of the washer and dryer.

So anyway, after I painted the room Hampton Green I couldn't hardly tell that the room had been painted after a few days. I would walk by and then remember, oh yeah, I painted that wall.... Hmm, how boring.... So after round 2 - Apple Green here's what we have.

The view from the kitchen. Love that vacuum in the pic!

I could have cleaned up before taking pics, but oh well - keepin' it real!

After painting for about 10 minutes I was already so much happier with the color choice. It's bright and peppy and exactly what I was hoping for in this space.

I still have so many plans for this room:

* Stepping up the pantry organization
* Building a "command center" (the door to the garage is in here and that's the door I go in and out everyday and right no there is 0% functionality for us)
* Hanging some pictures to make it more personal
* Covering the washer and dryer so I have a surface to fold clothes and store laundry items without fear of scratching the tops of the machines
* Hanging the ironing board
* Creating storage for cleaning supplies and other miscellaneous items

But for now I'm just glad to have the painting finished because the room is already so much more cheerful! =)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Patch!

This past weekend I went to a Pumpkin Patch with my mom and sister McKenna. It was about an hour from where we lived and it was truly out in the country. The scenery was beautiful and with it being fall all the leaves in the trees were changing colors - gorgeous!

Ignore the vehicles, haha. Just take in all the nature!

It was so fun seeing all the fall decorations everywhere.

The first thing we did (after grabbing a quick snack) was go through the corn maze. I love a good corn maze and this one did not disappoint. I really enjoyed it. As you can tell.

After that I made McKenna take a picture with me in this wood cutout thing. I won first place in the county fair! Woo-hoo! I think maybe McKenna was just a little embarrassed.

We also looked at all the animals they had around the farm. They had some pretty cute bunnies and baby chickens. Then we got on the hay ride to go out to the pumpkin fields and pick our pumpkins. Here are the pumpkins we picked out living happily on our porch.

It was a really fun day with the family and now I have 3 cute pumpkins! One of which will be getting carved soon. =)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Coupon Update

Back in April, I shared how my coupon journey had been going since I took a coupon class in February. I was still hoping to learn more about how couponing worked and what I could do to save more. Since then, I feel like I've really got my system down and I'm in the swing of things. I thought I would share what I've learned so far and what I do to save on the grocery bill.

First of all, I am not a perfectionist. I do think that I am a passionate person and I am passionate about saving money on our grocery bill, but I am also lazy and I refuse to dedicate more than an hour per week to planning my trip to the supermarket. For a typical week, I spend 30 minutes preparing to go to the store. In these 30 minutes I:

* Peruse the website I use for coupon matchups and make my list of what I want/need from the store.
* Print out associated coupons.
* Search through my collection of coupons from the paper/what's been mailed to me/what I've picked up from the store
* Cut out and place coupons in my green coupon holder.

At this point I'm ready to go to the store. And when I go I know exactly what I'm getting and how many of each item I will be purchasing. This does not mean I won't buy something extra at the store once I get there, but I don't make a habit of doing that as it kind of defeats the purpose. I also bring along coupons for things I use often and really like (but didn't see in the sale ad) so that if they are on clearance I can scoop them up and get a good deal.

Now on to the specifics of what I do. I certainly don't believe that my approach will work for everybody and I don't think I am an expert on couponing by any means (definitely not!), but this has been so beneficial for me and perhaps it will work for you.

I suppose I should start by sharing that I am not a person who can walk into a store and grab 400 dollars worth of food for $6. That is not what I do, haha. When I go to the store, my goal is to save more than I spend. If I can save 50% or more, I call it a success. Now my favorite store is Publix. I don't know if they have them all over the states or if they are just in the south, but this is the store that I save the most money at. They have BOGO deals every week which are great and they also do a lot of 2/$4 and 2/$5 deals. For my store the sales change over every Wednesday. However, I do NOT go to the store on Wednesday -- I did this one time and by the time I got there, everything I had planned to buy was sold out.... What works for me now is to go on Friday because by this time the items I'm looking for are re-stocked. Even if there is an item that is still sold out, I will ask for a rain check and then just pick it up the next time I'm in the store once it's re-stocked.

The site that I use to find the best deals and coupons is I sometimes consult, which is also a great site. Both of these sites have information about using coupons that is very helpful and they answer questions that visitors have.

On I Heart Publix, the ad preview for the week is posted every Monday. So on Mondays I go through the preview and create my shopping list for the trip I will take on Friday. On the preview certain items have green checkmarks and this means that they are a great price so usually I only write things on my list that have a checkmark so I can get the best prices possible. The BOGO items are listed first on the preview and these are usually the best deals. As I go through I write the item I want, the price and any associated coupons (so I know what the price will be when I check out at the store). I print my coupons out as I go through the ad and at the end I cut out the coupons and put them in my green coupon holder (it's from Target's dollar section and is accordion-style on the inside so I can put coupons into different sections).

 This helps keep my coupons from flying everywhere as I go through the store. When I pick the items that I want to buy at the store, I'm looking for several things:

* Things that I need for work days - bread, snacks, breakfast foods
* Things I need for putting together dinners - pasta, pasta sauce, frozen veggies, etc
* Everyday stuff - oils, spices, flour, sugar, soy milk, etc

When I see something that I use often at a good price, it goes on the list and I plan to buy several containers of it. If there's something we use often that's on the sale ad and doesn't have a checkmark by it, I will still get it if I need it and try to find a coupon for it.

As I actually go through the store, I start on one side and work my way to the other. As I pick up the things on my list, I'll put associated coupons in a pile in the cart and then once I get to the register I hand the stack of coupons to the cashier. While in the store I keep an eye out for clearance items because as I said before I will bring extra coupons and try to get a good deal on things we need.

And that's basically it! I would say that choosing to coupon is a sacrifice because I don't buy exactly what I want to have. I let the sales rule me, but I am ok with that because for me the pros outweigh the cons. I'll be writing another post to show what I bought in a week and the meals I put together out of it. =)

Do you coupon? Do you have any tips?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


As a vegetarian, I search for protein in forms other than meat (obviously). I love tofu and don't eat it too often, but when I do it's a treat for me. I don't have a lot of recipes for preparing tofu, but here is a new one I recently discovered here. I altered the recipe a bit (surprise, surprise, haha).


1 (16 ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices; then cut again into 1/2-inch wide sticks. Put the tofu in a bowl and pour the broth over the top. Let soak for about 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, pepper, basil, parsley and cayenne.
Heat a griddle (or pan) and spray with preferred cooking spray.
Remove tofu sticks from broth, and squeeze most (but not all) of the liquid from them. Roll the sticks in breading (I rolled the tofu in the breading twice to get it fully coated). Place the tofu in the griddle or pan and cook until crisp and browned on all sides.

I served the tofu with roasted carrots and pasta. This is my favorite tofu recipe that I have made so far as the tofu pieces were so crispy and the texture was really nice.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dining Room Art

After living in this house for over a year now, I have finally got some art on the dining room walls! Yay!

My friend Kelly painted these for m based on the pattern on a chair in the iving room. I bought this chair at Target earlier this year and it inspired her to create these two pieces for me. Kelly also created all the art that is in the guest room now.

I love the new art and how it connects the two rooms together. Here is the view from the living room.

 This room is still so sparse, but at least there is something in there now. =)

And the view from the kitchen:

Thanks Kelly! I love the new art!