Couponing Feed

Thoughts on, and from, My Kitchen ...

Happy Wednesday, my friends! What's up in your kitchen this week?

Are you trying a new recipe? Is your sink shiny, a la Flylady? Are you happy with how things are organized?

Well, it's a snowy winter's day here, which is lovely ...

Snowy kitchen day

... and a quiet homey day is just what I need. :)

According to my weekly routine, it's "kitchen day," but friends - my kitchen is in such a state, I can't tell you! I really haven't cleaned it much since Christmas. Or maybe even before that, I'm afraid ... Because first there was morning sickness slowing me down, and then there was the rush of the holidays, and then we got sick ... so I've mostly just been keeping up with the dishes, sweeping the corners, and giving the counters an occasional swipe - just to keep things somewhat sanitary. Clearly then, this room's due for a deep cleaning!

And as if I needed further inspiration, I came across a picture I had taken a few years ago - a snap for a post, I'm sure - and in this particular picture my kitchen is the cleanest it's ever been. It looks so fantastic! I showed it to Bill and the boys and they didn't even recognize it as our kitchen at first!

Clean kitchen picture

So I've posted that picture near my workspace as a reminder of what can be. The kitchen is the heart of our home and when it's looking its best, my "homemaker heart" feels its best. That may sound shmaltzy, but it's true - for me, anyways. And all that open space really makes me want to cook up a storm! Nothing fuels the urge to bake/cook/create like a ready-to-go kitchen ...


Now, I have a couple of cookie recipes to share ...

The first is a recipe I've shared off and on over the years: my favorite (and dare I say, signature) Christmas treats - lemon snowballs. Reader Joanna brought it to my attention that the posted link no longer leads to the original recipe. So I searched through my (seriously disorganized) recipe collection and found the print-out I'd kept. (Good ole paper to the rescue again!)

In case you're interested, here it is ...

Lemon Snowball Cookies

Cookie Dough:

2 sticks butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups flour


1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kool-Aid lemonade unsweetened drink mix powder
(Mix these together in a bowl)

Cream butter, sugar and flavorings. Add flour and mix until a dough forms. Roll into 1" balls and bake 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 F. for 15-18 minutes. They will not be brown on top. While cookies are warm, toss them in the lemon powdered sugar mixture and put on a plate to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

(My print-out does not say where I got this recipe, but I know I found it somewhere online. Also, when I make these, I roll a few in plain powdered sugar so that Earlybird may indulge if he wishes.)

Snowball cookies

And as I was searching through all those recipes - making plans for a major pruning and sorting - I came across one for lavender tea cookies. Generally speaking, I love the idea of herbal cooking moreso than I do the actual flavor, but I'd like to give this one a try. Because I read somewhere that the expecting Princess Kate has been craving "lavender biscuits" lately ("biscuits" meaning cookies in Britain). As you all know I'm a certified Anglophile as well as a big Princess Kate fan ... and I also happen to have a large lavender patch in my front yard. So yes, I'll be trying these cookies this summer ~ I've even made a note in my summer planning pages. (Had I managed to dry and save those lovely buds last summer I'd have some to try now, but alas, I must wait till my lavender's in season.)

In case you'd like to try this recipe as well, here 'tis!

Lavender Tea Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup minus 1 tbsp. superfine sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp. self-rising flour

1 tbsp. fresh lavender flowers

 Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar, add egg and beat well. Stir in flour and flowers. Drop by teaspoonful on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing widely to alow for spread. Bake 15-20 minutes until pale golden and edges tinge brown. They will be soft until cooled on waxed paper. Store in airtight tin.

(From The Summer Book by Susan Branch. I find all those SB cookbooks so charming - I've had my collection for years. )


Speaking of cookbooks, then ~ can you recommend any new/good ones?

I have The Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace on request once again ... Elizabeth Q. first mentioned this book to me some time ago, and today Elizabeth F. reminded me of it! I liked it the first time I got it, but as usually happens with me and library loans ... I only get a chance to skim a book before I have to return it. This time however, I'll make time to get through it.  :)

Also on my hold shelf - The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier and Meat-Free Monday: A Full Menu for Every Monday of the Year. The latter I read about in a magazine this week, and the idea of more meatless days really appeals to me. While the former is chock full of meat recipes, I'm sure - but hey, it's all about balance, isn't it? And finding what works best for my family. We'd never give up meat entirely, but we are trying to cut down on our consumption - for economic, environmental *and* health reasons. Ironically I was told to up my protein intake at my last OB appt., so I'm looking for ways to do this without just adding more meat. I've never been a big meat-eater really - except it seems when I'm pregnant. ;)


OK, one more kitchen topic before I go - how are your coupons working for you?

I myself am giving up on coupons ... for the time being at least. Yes, there, I said it. No more coupons for me. I'm just not finding the time to deal with all the steps involved in successful couponing - clipping, sorting, comparing, matching - and they get to be such a mess ...

So instead I'm concentrating on other methods for keeping grocery costs down ... cooking more from scratch, buying in bulk, meal planning, etc. Perhaps I'll revisit my Money $ Monday posts for more ideas? I'll let you know how it goes. :)


Well my friends, I guess I'd best wrap up this post. Goodness, I can be wordy!

I hope wherever you are - on this earth, in this day - you are feeling healthy, happy and hopeful ...

See you here again very soon!


Marketing Binder ~ Test Run!

Test run 1

Well, I took my new marketing binder on the road with me today as I ran my myriad errands ... and I'm pleased to report it performed very well! :)

Since my current pocketbook was too small to hold the binder, I had to switch up bags. (Which was fine ~ I was in the mood for a "spring switch!") So I chose a tote I haven't used in some time, but was roomy enough to hold the binder and a wallet (as well as other sundries commonly found in any mom's bag). This bag would also be roomy enough to carry my month-at-a-glance binder, should I need to have that with me.

The nice thing about this set is, for one thing, the two pieces match - and for another, I can use a detachable strap and wear the wallet around my body as I shop.

Test run 2

Now, are you ready for some "action shots," lol?

{You are all so good to humor me.}

So here's my binder (and bag) on the car seat next to me ...

Test run 8

And here's my binder (and bag) in my shopping cart ...

Test run 7

(Note: The child safety belt is looped through the bag straps and secured - also, I'm wearing my wallet on me. I've learned my lesson in this area.)

I did get a few strange looks as I took those pictures (though I tried to play it off like I was just checking my email). Nobody asked me about my binder - however, I noticed some second looks in the deli line. ;)

So yes, the binder worked well - my coupons were handy and easy to manage, and it was nice having my list right here in this spot, too. But I realized I need a place for receipts. I don't have room in my wallet for stashing receipts, and I don't like to just pitch them in my bag (which, ahem, is what I usually do). So I bought this "gusseted binder pocket" at Staples today for just this purpose. I'll keep it in the very back of the binder.

Test run 3

I also found my shopping list pages were too thin to withstand the flipping back and forth between sections. (I was using regular Mead lined paper to start with.) So I bought some Martha Stewart "project planner" filler paper to use instead. Not only is the MS paper much sturdier, but I like the design very much:

Test run 6

The design works for me because I tend to write my food list on the lefthand side of my page and use the right side for non-food stops - everything from the library to Petsmart to Michaels Arts & Crafts ...

And speaking of Michaels, I also spent a good deal of time there today, picking out some Lenten craft materials. (And using up some Christmas gift cards while I was at it.) I can't wait to show (and tell) you all about that ... maybe tomorrow if I have the time!

So that's all for now, folks ... but I hope this post was informative (or maybe amusing) to some. :) Time now to make supper for the troops ... and settle in for a nice quiet Saturday night. I hope you all have a good one ... I will see you again very soon!

Making My Marketing Binder

Good  Morning, everyone!

Marketing book 8

Before I launch into my post, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy Valentine's Day! Whatever your plans, I hope your day is filled with much comfort and joy!

Now, about that binder ... :)

So a week or so ago I blogged about my coupon system - or woeful lack thereof - and many of you kindly shared why and how you "do coupons." One such person who shared what works for her was my friend Kim, who zipped me an email detailing her method (with handy links and everything). Her system was built around a binder - but a neat little binder - something easy to tote from store to store.

And because Kim used all Martha Stewart Home Office products, she had me at hello.


Marketing book 1

To make my own version, I purchased a small binder, tabbed dividers, top-loading sheet protectors with pockets, a zippered pouch and coordinating labels. (Not shown is a package of these pockets and I plan to purchase this style of filler paper at a later date.)

Here's the assembled binder ...

Marketing book 3

Up front I have a "holding zone" for the coupons I definitely want to use this week (for matching up with a sale or if a coupon is expiring).

Marketing book 6

Next comes my shopping list section. I may graduate to a pre-printed sheet, but for now I'll just use plain filler paper. This is where I'll write down what we need and organize my weekly errand run.

Marketing book 5

Next I have the dividers which are marked with general categories, i.e. baking, household, dairy, etc. (I used two packages, 10 tabs in all.) 

Marketing book 7

And in between the dividers are the pockets holding coupons - pretty labels denote the type. For example, behind my "household/family" tab I have pockets designated as: laundry, pet care, medicine, batteries, soaps, tp & pt, etc.

Marketing book 9

At the very back I have a zippered pouch for restaurant, store and vendor coupons - like ones for Bertucci's Take Out, Harrow's Chicken Pies, the Hallmark store, Staples rewards, etc.

Marketing book 10

To give you a better feel of the size of the binder, here it is set next to a standard 3-ring binder.

Marketing book 4

And on the spine of the binder I used some alphabet stickers to label it "Marketing."

Marketing binder 1

So now instead of toting a shopping notebook with my lists and clipped on timely coupons as well as an unwieldly accordian file for the rest of my coupons, I can just use this rather handy-dandy note-book. (Did you all hear Steve's voice just then?)

I'm really excited to try out this coupon system, and many thanks to Kim for sharing her idea!

Well my friends, I'm going to log off, and get this day rolling now ... the sun's on the rise, and I'd like to get some strawberry-banana breads in the oven before the boys get up. (The older boys that is - my EB is right here by my side - he'll be a great baking helper. :))

So have a nice day ... and if you have the time, swing back here later this afternoon to join me for tea. It is Tuesday after all!


To Market, to Market ...

But first we must organize the coupons!


Yes, I finally went through my coupon stash and weeded out ones that had expired. (I can see just when it was I gave up on couponing - it was right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. All the expiration dates were in December!)

So once I trashed the useless coupons, I sorted through the ones I had left. (I have a small basket in which I toss coupons as I get them. Even though I haven't "couponed" in a couple of months I haven't stopped clipping!)

I then sorted the "good" coupons into my current coupon file:


I'm not overly fond of this plastic accordian file box, but it does the trick for now. I have such a hard time finding a coupon file (holder/organizer) I like. I may just have to make one, lol!

Hmmm ....

Once the coupons are all sorted and I've marked my shopping list with little ©'s (reminding me I have a coupon for those items), I place the file and shopping notebook in my pocketbook. 


And now I'm good to go ...


Well, have a great Saturday, my friends ... I'll see you again very soon!