Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows Eve Means Tricks and Treats!


I've been making Halloween cupcakes and treats every year for as long as I can remember. I used to make them for our church's Halloween carnival, and I truly missed it when I moved away. So, I made them for work parties or just to bring to friends. I thought I would share a few I've made and the links to how to make them today!

Image Map

From top left, clockwise: Bloodshot Eyeball Cupcakes, Rice Krispy Pumpkins, Mummy Cupcakes, Spider Cupcakes, Brain Cupcakes, RIP Graveyard Cupcakes, Witches' Brooms, Dismembered Zombie Cupcakes

You can click on the name or each picture to be taken to a link that will show you how to make it (or a similar treat)!

Sorry about the picture quality. Some are from old film pictures, some are from the phone, etc. I've always loved creating fun Halloween treats, even if they didn't turn out the best. So, here's some ideas for you for tonight (if you're staying in and making a treat while passing out candy) or for next year!

Happy Halloween, and be safe, friends!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pecan Cheesecake Bars (Recipe)

I've been a little absent to the blogging world lately. I'm sorry for that. Life has been crazy but in a good way. So many projects at work and always something going on at home, too. I absolutely love it, but I promise I'll be better at updating and posting soon. :)

There's been no absence of cooking and baking in this house, though. There's always something I want to try, and my husband and I are constantly in the kitchen. We made these Pecan Cheesecake Bars last week, and they were so good. Not too sweet, but just enough to fulfill that sweet tooth! You have to try these!



Crumb Mixture:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans


2 8-oz packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, and butter in large bowl. Beat at low speed or by hand slowly until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Stir in pecans and reserve 1 1/2 cup crumb mixture to set aside.
4. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of ungreased 8-in square baking pan. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

5. While bottom crumb mixture is baking, combine all filling ingredients in small bowl. Beat at low spread or by hand slowly until well-mixed, about 2 minutes.
6. Spread filling over partially baked crust while still hot.

7. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over filling and press into filling lightly.
8. Continue baking 30-40 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Makes 9"x13" pan - approximately 18 2-inch bars.

Adapted from here!


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Date-Filled Weekend!

Everyone says that it's important to go out on date nights as a married couple, right? Well, I agree wholeheartedly, but that doesn't mean I don't just like to spend hours with my husband on the couch, binge-watching our current Netflix addiction. Not to mention the delicious pizza, popcorn, and other junk foods that go along with those Netflix-watching sprees. But this weekend, we made up for a whole's months worth of dates. And still got in some couch time. Win, win. :)

My husband's days off are now Thursdays and Fridays, and my schedule is pretty flexible with work, so I get to have a little bit of his weekend and still a little bit of the regular weekend. I know, be jealous. :) Last Wednesday, the 65th Anniversary Warren Miller video was being shown at a theater in Ogden, UT, around 40 minutes north of here, so we went! If you haven't heard of Warren Miller (don't worry, I hadn't either), he's a famous ski and snowboarding filmmaker. His films are pretty awesome, and the stunts are incredible. My husband got us tickets to go that night, and we decided to make a night out of it. We tried a great new pizza restaurant beforehand up there called Slackwater, and it was delicious! The film was great, too, and we scored three free lift tickets each to skiing resorts around the area that sponsored the night!

On Thursday, we woke up and went on a hike right away thirty minutes south of our apartment. It was gorgeous. :) You can definitely tell it's almost winter, though. Hardly any leaves left on the trees!

Later that night, we didn't have any big plans, so I finally got my husband to carve pumpkins with me. We put on a movie in the background, had apple cider, and carved these beautiful (cough, cough) designs!

On Friday, we took Honey to the dog park in the morning, ran some errands, and just hung around the house until I went in to work for a couple of hours. That night, we tried out Strangling Brothers' Haunted Circus in Draper. Has anyone ever been? It's rated #7 for Scariest Haunting Experience on Earth! We went with some friends, and it was a lot of fun! It really wasn't as scary as I thought it
would be. I jumped the most still (surprise, surprise), but even I was under-whelmed during some of it! The funny part was that I would jump at first when someone scared me, but then, I automatically said "oh hi there!" or something along those lines to each of the actors. Everyone made fun of me. One of our friends had a few conversations with the "scarers." It made for a great night. :)

Saturday, we had planned on going for a bike ride on one of the local trails, but I wasn't feeling the best, so that will hopefully be for this weekend. Randy worked his normal shift, and I worked for a little bit of the day before coming home and having a massive organization-spree, (fall cleaning?) and after work, we went to watch the Utah game at a local place with one of our friends. There was a live DJ, and we danced and talked for quite a while. Plus, Utah won!

It was a packed few days, but I couldn't ask for better ones. Spending quality time with my husband and family and going out three times in four days? I'm a happy lady. Nothing big planned for this upcoming weekend, so I'm hoping for a Netflix-watching spree. Speaking of, what's your favorite show on Netflix (new or old)? We've watched Prison Break, How I Met Your Mother, Burn Notice, and a few others, and we're running out of suggestions! Someone recommended House of Cards, so that might be our next show. I'm all ears if you have a favorite!

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Meal Planning & Couponing Series: Combining Sales with Coupons (Part 3)

Remember when I said I would show you how to combine sales with coupons? Well, I know it's taken me a bit longer to get there than I would have liked due to a busy few days at work, but today's the day. If you shop at Smith's, Kroger, Dillon's, Fred Meyer, or pretty much any grocery store where they sell Kroger products, the prices are usually the same (but please note they do vary based on state sometimes), as are the items they sell. Which means this is the post for you! Since I'm planning on what I'm going to be purchasing this upcoming week, I'm highlighting some of the best deals you can get from these stores, as well as a few from Wal-Mart and Target (but I'm sure there are many more).


Kroger Stores:
Note: Almost all of these can also be purchased at other stores except for the specific Kroger brand products. These just reflect prices at Kroger Stores.

Quaker Protein Instant Oatmeal, On Sale for $2.00
Coupon here for $2 off
Bottom Line: FREE

Silk Almond, half gallon, On Sale for $2.99
Sunday Coupon: $1 off 1 Silk Product Half Gallon
Sunday Coupon: $0.75 off 1 Silk Product Half Gallon
Promotion: Free Simple Truth Cage Eggs when you buy 3 Silk or Kashi Items
Bottom Line: $1.24-$1.99 minus the cost of eggs
*This would be a time when I would stock up on items!

Kroger Greek Yogurt, $0.79
$0.50 Cash Back from Checkout 51
Bottom Line: $0.29 each!

Jennie O Ground Turkey, On Sale for $2.99
Digital Coupon here for $1 off 1 Jennie Ground Turkey, limit 2
Bottom Line: $1.99 each

Kroger Cream Cheese & Sour Cream, On Sale for $1.00 each
*Another instance in which I would probably stock up for the holiday baking because this is the lowest price I've seen offered. I have been able to buy Challenge Cream Cheese for free before, but those coupons and promotional deals do not come around often!

Kroger Extracts & Spices, 50% Off All
*This would be the best time to obtain all those spices you know you will need for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals! Not to mention things like peppermint extract for baking. :)

Mountain Dairy Milk Gallon, $2.99
$1.00 Cash Back from Snap
$0.25 Cash Back from Ibotta (Accounts differ, check yours!)
$0.50 Cash Back from Checkout 51 (Accounts differ, check yours!)
Bottom Line: $1.24

Bartlett Pears, On Sale for $0.99/lb
20% Cash Back from Saving Star
Bottom Line: $0.79/lb

Tresemme Shampoo & Conditions, 32 oz bottle, $3.99
Sunday Coupon: $5 off 2 Tresemme Products
Bottom Line: $1.49 each
*Same thing for Tresemme Stylers, 9-11 oz!


7UP, Fanta, Mug Root Beer, 2 Liter, On Sale for $1.00
Coupon here for $1.00 off 1
Bottom Line: FREE


Dove Go-Sleeveless Anti-Perspirant Deodorant, $3.89
Promotion: Free $5 Target Gift Card when you buy $15 worth of Dove Products
Coupon here for $0.75 off Dove Women Item
Bottom Line: 1.89 each

Classico Pasta Sauce, $2.19
Coupon here for $2 off 2 Classico Items
Bottom Line: $1.19 each

It is also important to note it is no longer difficult to save on healthier options. For example, I frequently have coupons for Jennie O Ground Turkey & Silk Almond Milk, so those are two staples in our house. We also use Costco for items that we need in larger quantities, especially if coupons are not readily available for them. LouAna Coconut Oil saves us over $5 if we buy in bulk at Costco. Plus, Saving Star and the other cash-back services frequently offer money back on fresh produce! Target Cartwheel also offers savings on produce if you add these offers to your cart.


Check for online coupons or offers at retailers that you visit often. For example, if you love shopping at Target and know they have a 20% off any online order and also have free shipping with no minimum purchase, then it definitely makes sense to purchase from Target online.

Coming from a previous retail employee, most retail stores will offer free shipping as it gets closer to Christmas, so it may save you money to wait a little longer, form the lists of items to get and bookmark them, and then buy them when shipping is free! This is especially true if you live far away from family like we do! :)

Take advantage of "cash-back" opportunities. Snap, Ibotta, Checkout 51, Saving Star. These are all places to get money back on items you would have already been buying. Your redeemed total adds up until it reaches an amount when you can cash it out. It may seem like it takes a while, but if you are consistent about redeeming your receipts, it adds up quickly! Plus, this is a way to save for the holidays. You can save up your redemption money and then immediately use it for holiday shopping.

Though there may be a membership fee at Costco and Sams Club, these bulk shopping places offer great discounts on not only food but also vacations, purchasing a car, household services, etc. You'd be amazed at all of the discounts they offer if you asked. :) We bought our Samsung Galaxy 5S phones from Costco at significant savings! It is definitely worth the membership fees.

I'd be interested in doing more posts highlighting the deals I have been able to get with coupons and sales if there is interest. Please comment if you would like this. If you have any questions, please comment or email ( me!

Check back later for my Weekly Meals & Savings Excel Sheet!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You're Not Alone (Chronic Pain)

Somewhere, there is a person who aches from head to toe, and all they want is for God to rid them of their pain.

There's a girl sitting next to you in class with her head down on their desk. You wonder why she came if she's not even going to pay attention. But what you don't know is that she's had a migraine for 15 straight days, and nothing they've tried can relieve it.

A co-worker that can always be found with a smile on their face has just been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. There's now a concrete diagnosis for the suffering they've been feeling. But there's no cure. There may never be a day where she's pain-free, and realizing that is just as hard as facing it.

There's a man that was diagnosed with bone cancer seven year ago. He's suffering from mind-blowing agony from the effects of the cancer and the treatment, but he walks around town, getting exercise, acting like nothing's wrong.

There's 100 million Americans that suffer from chronic pain, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. That's not counting the hundreds of millions that suffer with it around the world. They're just like you and me. They try to make every day count, but they don't know how to get through it sometimes. There's not an answer to when it will stop. There's hundreds of doctors' visits, and in some cases, they can help take away the pain. But not always. Many times, it's up to you to learn how to deal with it.

And how do you deal with it? How do others expect you to be happy? You sit quietly and listen to another woman talk about how horrible her cramps are for a couple days out of the month. You don't mention that you have Endometriosis that causes cramping, twisting, and stabbing pain every day of every month of every year.

One day at a time, they say. And it's true. That's the only way you get through it. By embracing each new day and remembering all of the blessings in your life. But it's difficult. The pain affects your relationship with loved ones. It hinders your ability to work, to exercise, to enjoy life's daily moments.

It's hard at times. People don't know what to say. There's no clear-cut sign that you are experiencing pain on your body most times. It's not like you have a cast on your arm or a bandage that points out the condition. You want everyone to treat you like you're normal. But it's not normal to go through what you go through every day. It's hundreds of times harder to make it through a regular day for you than the average person, but would your boss understand if you took off every day that you weren't feeling "good?" He'd have an employee that never showed up because there's barely ever a day that you actually feel good. Yet, you show up anyway.

You're not alone. If there's one thing I accomplish by being in the blogging world, please let it be that I send this message loud and clear. You are not alone. There's others that understand, and sometimes being able to talk to people that have felt the pain that encompasses your body and won't let go is the only thing that helps.

Knowing that you're not the only one is sometimes the only thing that helps. When physicians and other medical workers act like they empathize because they know how it's caused. Yet, they've never felt the agony that you feel. And sadly, with chronic pain, there's no cure. They may be able to help the symptoms, but they can't experience what you feel.

It's not much, but it's a start.

Realize this, as well. You have been dealt these conditions because you are strong. God doesn't give you more than you can handle. You may feel that you've been dealt a bad hand, but you have a story to tell. You influence others by sharing your story and raising awareness. There's a reason for all of this, even if we don't have the answers. But you are tough and tenacious, and you have the potential to change lives. You'll get through this, and one day, there will be answers and hopefully there will be cures. But it will only happen if we fight this together.

This is why I love research. At this point in time, I'm studying the basics of musculoskeletal components and how musculoskeletal pain is caused. But truly, I want to find answers behind how we can cure chronic pain as a whole. There may be millions of disorders and conditions that lead to chronic pain, and it will take a very long time to reach all of the answers that will stop these disorders from leading to pain. But, just maybe, there is some way that can convince the brain to allow us to not feel it indefinitely. It might take a lifetime, but there are people working towards that every day. And raising awareness and funds for research for chronic pain is as real and necessary as raising awareness and funds for cancer. We have to fight together to do it.

I'll be back with more couponing tips later, but today, this was the message I needed to send. This was what was weighing on my mind and heart.

Just remember, you're not alone. And you're loved. We'll get through this together.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Meal Planning and Couponing Series: Part 2 (Couponing Basics!)

People seem surprised when I tell them I started couponing. I'm not sure what it is about it that makes it surprising to everyone. Maybe it's the fact that I'm young, don't yet have kids, and lead a very busy lifestyle, so they think it's crazy that I take the time to do it. But then, I share details like I bought 5 packages of cream cheese for $0.00 two weeks ago. Or the fact that I bought 2 packages of Halls Cough Drops and actually earned money ($0.18) back. I'm not crazy about couponing (or an "extreme couponer") by any means. But if I can save 40-50% off my grocery bill each week, I'm all for it. :) Below, I'm sharing the couponing steps I use that ensure I don't take too much time out of my busy life each week but are still effective enough to save us money on our grocery bill! :)

Couponing Steps:

1. Browse digital coupons for store that you are planning on shopping at. After you have loaded all of the coupons to your preferred shopper's card, print out list of coupons that are loaded to card.

I do this once a week because our store changes their coupons or allows you to add previous ones if they're still available after you've already used them once.

2. Cut out all coupons that you think will be useful from Sunday paper. Set aside.

Make sure you only keep ones that you are at least fairly certain you will use. Otherwise, the stack of coupons becomes too big to handle! For instance, I used to keep alllll of the coupons when I definitely did not need Pampers (no kids yet!). It just adds to the hassle!

3. Browse apps such as Checkout 51, Ibotta, and Snap (from Groupon) for possible rebates.

4. Once a month, go to and (under Coupons) and print all coupons that would apply to you.

You can print each computer coupon twice! That is the maximum it will let you, so there is no use going back to print it again (at least on the same computer) until the coupons have regenerated (on the 1st of each month).

5. Make two piles of coupons to use for grocery shopping for meals this week and coupons to use later based on your grocery list. I place the coupons to be used later in an organized basket. For example, mine are divided by categories: food, beauty products, home supplies, restaurants, general and then subdivided by expiration date, so I can pull them out if they will be applicable for later grocery trips.

6. Make a running list* of all items you need and applicable coupons that you have, including the ones from the apps on your phone, computer, Sunday paper, and digital coupons. Note date that is expired and date that you are planning on using it. If you decide not to use it that day, simply erase the day when you get back from the store.

*Add to this list each week.

An example of my written running list before I started doing it on the computer.
Keeping the list on the computer is very helpful because you can just delete them after they are used or when they are expired. Plus, this will tell you which ones are expired, so you can go through and throw those away. I will be providing an Excel Sheet that is the easiest way of keeping track of everything (for me) in Part 4 of the series!

I'm not a huge fan of the binder/baseball card collector method because it takes a lot of time to put each coupon in there (and you have to lug it around), but by keeping the running list, you can see what coupons you have when you are making your shopping list, combine it with the sales, and then pull them out from the basket under the appropriate category.

Try to combine sales with coupons for the best prices! I will show you how I have done this tomorrow! :)

Compare your list of sales and coupons with This is the best website, and it has all the local stores in your area. It lists the sales that week, as well as items that have coupons for them from either online, Sunday papers, or just random coupons that the product's website might be offering.

7. Place all coupons that you will be using for the week in an envelope. I print out a list of all of my coupons (but keep a master copy at home) and circle the ones that are in the envelope and bring that along with me to the store.

You can just bring a written master list, as well, but I find it easier to have it on the computer, and it takes way less time. If I don't buy something I had planned on, I can easily browse through the envelope and take it out and don't have to worry about checking anything off my excel sheet/master list. I also usually go through the envelope quickly while in the checkout line to make sure I have bought everything on my coupon list and take out any coupons that were not used.

8. After shopping, remove coupons from master list that have been used to keep the list current.

It's as easy as that! :) And trust me, while it does take a little bit of time, it can save you sooo much money! I will be showing examples tomorrow!

Now... for some tips to go along with these newly-learned steps...

Couponing Tips:

1. Buy in bulk, but don't go overboard.

This means that buying in bulk is good in some cases because that allows you to be able to get the best price on items. If you run out of an item, obviously you're going to have to settle for what ever price it is at the time. But if a coupon comes around, and there's a sale, you'll be able to get the item for less and have some to last for a while. I usually buy 3-4 of each product when there's a great deal. But remember, you don't want to have to be finding places to put all of your items, so only buy what you have room for and items that you will actually use!

2. Know the store's policy!

Some stores allow double couponing. Others don't. Smith's allows digital coupons, but you can not combine digital with manufacturer coupons. Target allows you to combine a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. The more you know about the policy, the easier the process will be. Plus, if you know they are not following protocol, you can ask for a manager and point out the flaw.

3. Be kind and courteous to the cashier.

Let's face it: ringing up coupons take a lot of time, especially if there are any issues with any of the coupons (bar code is faded, not ringing up correctly). Being patient and respectful can go a long way.

4. Don't always stick to a certain brand.

Sometimes the off-brand is cheaper (even without coupons). Sometimes the name brand is the cheaper product. You're not going to get the best deal if you are particular to a certain brand name.

5. Shop during non-busy hours.

I know this is hard to predict, but if you can get to the store when there's not a million people running around, that's ideal. The cashier is more likely to take time to make sure you get the bang for your buck and less likely to be cranky doing so.

6. It costs as little as $2 each week to implement these steps, but it could cost even less with a newspaper subscription! Most newspapers allow only Sunday subscriptions for a lower cost, so check it out!

Hope these steps have convinced you that it's so easy, you need to give couponing a try! :)

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meal Planning and Couponing Series: Part 1

I'm alllll about making things as easy as possible in life. Don't get me wrong. I work very hard, but when it comes to making meals that are delicious and wholesome, I don't have a lot of time to spend because of other priorities. And I know that's how many other people view it as well. When it comes to meal planning, I try to pick only dinners (and breakfasts & lunches) that are quick and easy to prepare or can be cooked using a crockpot while I'm at work. Pinterest is also an addiction a love of mine, so I use recipes I have pinned from there, as well, each week. If I don't find one that I can cook quickly, I reserve that for a weekend when I have more time (like weekends aren't usually booked, too, but we can dream).

Steps to Meal Planning:

1. Set aside one day a week to focus on preparing meals and making a grocery list for each week. It should only take about an hour to get organized and complete all of these steps (except for the actual meal prep, if applicable).

2. Purchase a Sunday newspaper. You don't need a subscription to the entire week, if you don't want it, and you can also buy them for $2 each on Sundays at drug stores, convenient stores, and grocery stores. You'll want the coupons for later steps!

3. Browse through ads and circle the best prices of which to take advantage. You may shop at different stores, but due to time constraints, I try to stick with one store that I know has competitive prices! My choice here is Smith's! Sometimes, I try to make a trip to Target, as well, if they have great sale prices that can be combined with coupons. More on that later! :)

4. Browse Pinterest board (or websites you love, if applicable) and select any new recipes you'd like to make, especially if they use ingredients on sale. I try to make one new recipe each week! After I've made it, if I think it should be added to the rotation, I move it to a "Tried and Loved" board, so I have the recipe at my fingertips if need be.

5. Keep a binder of all recipes that are used frequently, so you have them on hand and do not have to spend time printing them out each time or pulling them up on your phone. Plus, you'll find that your list of loved recipes just keeps growing! If you find that you have tried a recipe, have it in the binder, but don't particularly enjoy it, just remove it (and to be discussed later, take it out of excel sheet).

6. If trying a new Pinterest or other recipe, print out said recipe and place it in binder. I'm going to end up having several of these! I don't have anything fancy. I am hoping to make nicer printable dividers and index them soon, but for now, I just have a plain $2 three-ring binder from Wal-Mart, dividers, and sheet protectors.

7. Write down three meals for each of the seven days of the week, as well as snacks. Make sure to include leftovers, as well, if you are planning on having them (especially for lunches)! Try to choose meals that have not been prepared for 2+ weeks to give variety and at least one crockpot meal, if preferred.

Note: My list of rotated meals (15+ will be shared) will be coming soon, just a little later in the series!

8. On the same worksheet (provided for you later in the series!), list all ingredients needed for meals, checking your cabinets to make sure you don't already have them. Beside them, check the box to indicate if on sale. This will help to compare with the coupons in the next steps to achieve the best deal!

9. Make note of meals planned for that week somewhere (a chalkboard, whiteboard, piece of paper) to remind yourself what needs to be done for the next day and the week ahead. For example, if you are planning on preparing a crockpot meal, usually they are frozen and need to be defrosted the night before you place in the crockpot. It always helps to have the reminder somewhere! :)

10. It will also take some more time to prepare ingredients for crockpot meals, dinners that can be prepped ahead of time, lunches, etc. I find that spending more time one day a week (usually it's Sunday for me) saves much more time during the week. I usually chop and prepare all ingredients for the crockpot meal planned and place in a ziploc in the freezer until the night before. Then, I have the crockpot ready to go, so I can just place the meal inside for the next day! All ready when you get home, except for any sides you might plan.

I also try to make batches of grilled chicken, rice, and vegetables to quickly stir fry together (or make a salad or sandwich out of) on Sunday, so I can prepare them easily in ten minutes the morning the lunch is needed. It saves so much time and MONEY! Making enough for leftovers is great, too.

I don't generally prep for dinners, however. The meals I make are fast enough (usually 30 minutes or less) that I can get it ready without starving waiting for dinner.

For breakfast, I sometimes prepare a batch of waffle/pancake batter and have it ready to go, so I can make it quickly. But most of the time, my husband and I have cereal, or I prepare some scrambled eggs with veggies fast. Simple and delicious!

My easy steps to couponing, post 2 is coming up next! :)

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Loving on Fall, Y'all

I never use the word "y'all." Seriously. I'm from the south (well, kinda, at least south of the Mason-Dixon line--Southern MO), but I used to hate using it. I'm big on grammar, so it bothered me. But, today, it just sounds right. Guess maybe I'm missing my southern roots?

Anyway, yesterday, I was dying to check out some of the fall colors. They're starting to be so vibrant and pretty, and I really wanted to get some good pictures of the yellow, orange, and red leaves! The Oquirrh mountains have the prettiest colored trees right now, and it's only about 40 minutes from our house, so we took a drive. It was beautiful!

Look who we spotted! And it seemed like his entire family. :) They didn't seem scared in the least!

My favorite fall activity (well one of them; let's face it, autumn is the best season there is) is to jump in a pile of leaves. I didn't quite jump, but I definitely thought about it!

I think she has just gotten finished eating a piece of grass.. haha.

I didn't quite react fast enough to get a picture of my husband on the swing, obviously... He just loves hates having his picture taken!

Honey loved running around, too. She's adorable! I might be a little biased, though.

If you follow me on instagram, you know I'm obsessed over taking pictures of the gorgeous colors. I wait all year for this season (and next!)! :)

Hope you will come back to read tomorrow when I share the first post of easy meal-planning and couponing steps for the busy person! We all run out of time, especially if you have little ones running around or work a job outside of the home, but it's so rewarding to be organized and save money at the same time when it doesn't require much.

Have a wonderful, blessed, and safe weekend, y'all ( ;) )!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meal Planning and Couponing Series

It's still hard to get back into the normal routine of life after losing a loved one. It's even harder knowing that she was around the same age, just a few years younger. All I keep doing is wondering why, and it's been tearing me apart. But, slowly, we have to get back to our lives. We have to keep living and loving for those that are not here with us anymore. We have to honor them in our everyday lives. I have a post I want to publish, but it's not quite ready yet. I still don't have the words, but soon I will, and it will help to write. For now, though, I thought I would instead get back to what I had planned for this week on the blog: my meal prep and couponing series.

When I was younger, my mom was diagnosed with a condition called Syringomyelia, Not many people have heard of it, but it's a syndrome in which a tumor grows along the length of the spine. Due to the position of the tumor, most times it causes extreme neuropathic pain because of the pressure it puts on the nerves that extend from the spinal cord. It can result in loss of motor function, nerve sensation, etc. In my mom's case, it affected all of these things. They can not normally remove the entire tumor because it is too dangerous and could cause paralysis if the spinal cord was touched. They removed as much of it as they can, but it still resulted in horrible, chronic pain that she lives with everyday. Long story short, she was on bed rest for over 6 weeks after the surgery, and I was the one that took care of my three little siblings, with one of them being less than 2 years old. I tried my best to help cook, organize, and clean, and I went obsessive with cleaning. It was the way I could contribute to my family and relieve stress at the same time. I was good at it, and I was even asked to help clean other neighbors' houses that were having hard times of their own.

When I entered high school, however, I didn't care as much. I had a disaster-zone closet, tons of stuff under my bed, and a messy room at any given time. I completed retreated from my organized state.

Now, I'm back to the mostly organized and clean freak that I was during my younger years. I want to be a good wife, but I also love the feeling of everything having a place.

I'm also very organized when it comes to meal planning. I try my best to stick to a budget, watch the sales, and use any coupons I can. Just the other day, my husband and I went on a big shopping trip (our cabinets were mostly empty--I try to make meals out of what we have around), and we saved almost 40% on sales and coupons. That's money we can put towards better things, like purchasing new things for our home since I'm obsessed with constantly changing and updating things in the apartment. Anybody else like that? My husband might just get annoyed with it every once in a while, but sheesh, I'm just trying to make it better! Boys...

Many of my friends are constantly asking for cheap and easy weeknight meals, and I pretty much only have those types in my rotation. I don't get home until 5:30 from work, so I try to either have a crockpot meal planned and ready (I have several to share!) or a meal planned that I can easily and quickly put together. I will be sharing my meal planning strategies and steps, tips on how to coupon effectively and fast, sticking to a budget with grocery shopping, and best of all, an excel worksheet that tracks the ingredients for 15+ weeknight meals and organizes them according to sale and coupons for each item (and I'll be linking the worksheet!). I will also be posting each of the recipes for the weeknight meals that I rotate through each week, as well as some dessert and new entree recipes that I've been trying! I hope you'll stick around as I share these tips and tricks that work best for my family, and maybe they'll work for you, as well. Since I love to write, as well, there will still be other life postings, as well, of course. Thank you for reading!

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Much Love!

Much Love!