Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hello, My Name is Lera and I am a Couponaholic

This is what I feel I should announce each and everytime I step up to the registers at our local Walmart. I honestly feel bad for the cashier who we decide to prey upon with our cart full to the rim of price matched and couponed items, as well as to the people behind us. Truly, I've started to warn them. It seems to help the cashiers' anxiety a bit when they know what they are in for, and usually people behind us choose to switch to another line. The check out process literally takes us about a half hour.

Couponing and bargain shopping have always appealed to me, but lately they've become quite an addiction. Every pay I try to best myself just how cheap we can ring up our cart of groceries. I spend hours each weeks searching ads and the internet for the best deal. Currently, I am averaging about $80 for two weeks of groceries, and as you can see with my posted recipes - we eat quite well. This include all the ingredients for our twelve homemade dinner, breakfast and lunch foods, beverages, four homemade desserts, snacks, baby items, toiletries, cleaning supplies and any other odd or end we might need. All my couponing is free to me (besides the cost of paper and ink). I don't even buy a newspaper since I can find more than enough coupons in the mail or online.

This new hobby of mine is not only a thrill but also very, very beneficial to our financial situation since Greg is still underemployed and we are still just not making enough to cover what needs to go out. It's too bad I can't find a way to price match and coupon our utility bills, or we would be set!

If you are interested in saving as well, go ahead and take a perusal of my favorite money saving sites.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Recipes - Chicken Artichoke Casserole and S'more Bars

Here are a couple recipes I've made this month that I haven't posted before. They are both tried and true recipes, both easy and delicious.

Chicken Artichoke Casserole

4 tablespoons butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained
dash of salt
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Cook chicken breasts in simmering chicken broth over low heat for about 30 minutes. (I always bake or pan fry my chicken since I don't like the texture of boiled chicken.) Drain broth, reserving 3/4 cup. Cut chicken into cubes and place in greased 9x9 inch pan. Lightly salt and set aside. In saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Add cream and reserved chicken broth. Stir over medium heat until thickened. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and rosemary. Pour over chicken and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve over hot white rice.

This dessert is especially easy. In fact, one of the simplest and quickest in my recipe collection. I made them for a Valentine party we had where everyone brought a potluck item that represented their love life. Such a comparison made for some wild and funny analogies. We said that we could never get enough of each other and always wanted "s'more." This comment received a nauseated groan from the group, but what can I say... it's true!

S'more Bars

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups milk chocolate chips
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

In large bowl mix cookie mix and cracker crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. In ungreased 13 x 9 pan, press dough evenly. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3-5 minutes and then spread chocolate evenly over crust. Set oven to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over chocolate. Broil for about 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Haircuts and a Fat Lip

We are looking a little different this morning. Thanks to my oh-so-talented sister Sariah, Palmer and I are sporting new haircuts. Palmer just got a trim, but I went all out. She cut off about 5 1/2 inches, added choppy bangs and a whole lot of layers. I love it! This was taken late last night after a long day at work and with the kids, so please excuse my tired unmake-uped face and work uniform. I was a bit nervous about being able to style it as well as Sariah's mastered hands did. Thankfully, it turned out to be easier than I imagined and I am sporting the same spunky hairstyle today. Thanks Sariah, you rock!

Palmer also slipped on the wood floor in the kitchen last night and busted his lip open. Poor kid; he was gushing blood. He got over it quickly once he had a little love from Mom and Dad and a few popsicles to try and reduce the swelling.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Day

Since Valentines Day was on a Sunday, we decided to celebrate Friday night. We hired a sitter and went to T.G.I. Fridays for dinner. We both love T.G.I. Fridays, not only is the food delicious, but it was where Greg took me on our first date. We have made it a tradition to always eat there with each subsequent Valentines Day since. We had discussed that we would not get each other anything since funds are tight. But we both had a little something up our sleeves.

Greg is such a sweetheart and spent some of the money he'd received on his birthday to buy me these lovelies.

I made this mini-album for him and filled it in with 10 reasons why I loved him.

Valentines day often gets a bad wrap, but I have to admit that I actually love it. After Christmas, it is my favorite holiday. I thoroughly enjoy any reason I get to acknowledge those I love most. I think we did right by Saint Valentine this past weekend. For sure there were lots celebratory snuggles, hugs and kisses shared between me and my three studly valentines: Greg, Palmer and Brody.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Four Month Photo Shoot

There is just something about babies and that fourth month. They are so stinkin' cute at this age. Palmer's four month photos where my favorite of his. And currently, the same goes for Brody. I had vowed to myself to only buy copies for family at the main milestone pictures: newborns, 3 month, 6 month, etc. But I couldn't help myself with these and bought a couple anyway. I especially love the first two, and the last one just plain cracks me up; he already thinks he's a stud!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear Tantrum

Your visit was quite the surprise! I honestly have no idea why you came. I know I am talking calmly and showing a brave face, but I'll let you in on a secret, I'm actually terrified. Your presence overwhelms me. You are a wild and crazy one. My combative moves have proved weak in the past. I've tried to ignore you to no avail. You seem to be so much stronger than me.

I struggle for words to find a way to appease you, and at the same time stand up against you. It is a tricky balancing act, and often I am too clumsy. I know that no matter what, no matter how angry you blow or how loudly you wail, I must not give in to your demands. For I know, you will just return again, only bigger and badder.

Until Next Time,

Monday, February 8, 2010

28 Reasons for 28 Years

28 reasons I'm glad you were born:
  1. You love me unconditionally
  2. Your fabulous sense of humor makes my life so enjoyable
  3. You play with the children
  4. You change diapers
  5. You smile often and easily
  6. You look sexy in a pair of jeans
  7. You work hard
  8. You honor your priesthood
  9. You pray
  10. You serve
  11. You are a good son and brother
  12. You are easygoing
  13. You listen to me
  14. You are intelligent
  15. You massage out my leg cramps
  16. You are friendly and sociable
  17. You don't let your hobbies take away from family time
  18. You are a talented musician
  19. You are insightful
  20. You have a strong testimony of the gospel
  21. You miss us when you are at work
  22. You cuddle up to me before we go to sleep at night
  23. You kill spiders
  24. You willingly run errands
  25. You spend our money wisely
  26. You tuck in the children at night
  27. You don't get angry and you never yell (except at video games. haha.)
  28. You try to keep Heavenly Father's commandments

We celebrated Greg's 28th birthday last week in grand style, as us Nichols girls always do. We had both sides of the family over for cake and icecream Sunday evening. Greg's sister Andrea decorated a super cute and delicious Schmidt's cake. He received a date night (from Sariah), money (from the rest of the family) and an ipod Nano (from me and the boys). Monday night we went to dinner at Rodizio Grill, one of his favorite eats, and Tuesday night we went to the theater to see his movie of choice, Avatar. It was all great fun, and he deserved every moment of it!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feed Me

Bottomless pits are what my boys are. Even though I'm quite positive they are both going through a growth spurt, I am still amazed on a daily basis by the sheer mass of food they are able to consume into their tiny little bodies. Seriously, if I could somehow harness their metabolism and sell it, I would not only have Megan Fox's build, but we would be billionaires!

The other night Palmer ate a piece of pizza and five breadsticks. He then went out with his aunt Rie and ate a Happy Meal from McDonalds. He has been eating two dinner most every night and two breakfasts most mornings.

Brody has started eating rice cereal and likes it a lot. He is now going 3 1/2 hours between feedings instead of 3, but often finishes the night with a feeding that goes beyond an hour long.

Greg has told me stories of how he ate as a teenager (i.e. eating an entire bag of Doritos and an entire box of Zingers as an after school snack). I've also seen pictures of him at this stage and he was one very skinny guy. Both of our boys have his long and lean build and both seem to have extremely healthy appetites. I can not fathom how I will feed them when they reach the teenage years!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Four Months Old

Brody is four months old today. We gave him his first taste of rice cereal yesterday and he did great with it. He is such a good baby, so smiley and sweet. We so love to play and cuddle with him all day long! Here is what is going on with Brody at four months of age.

His stats: weight - 13 lb. 6 oz. (21%), height - 26.5 in (93%)

He has learned: to take a bottle well for me (still working on other people), to grab at toys and to spoon feed

He likes: getting dressed, tickles, cuddling, the bouncer, peek-a-boo and being held

He dislikes: the bottle, being alone, the pacifier, tummy time and loud noises

Things about him/he does that makes us laugh
: his baby rolls and round belly, sing-songy coos, and huge smiles and hearty laughs