Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Class Action Lawsuits: why it pays to file a claim

About a year ago, we were notified that we could submit a claim in a class action lawsuit involving our home insurance provider. The lawsuit stemmed from storm damage homes in our area received in 2001. As part of the conditions to submit a claim, you had to have all the records of home repair from that time frame. Lucky us, we keep everything! And so for the past year the little certified delivery card has been stuck to my bulletin board recording when I sent copies of all the paperwork (I can't recall it was that big a deal to fill in) to Nationwide.

Lo and Behold today we received a letter from the law firm for the class. Can you believe that we are getting a check for $3,300!

It pays to save receipts for big expenses, and to fill in those little class action forms you sometimes get in the mail!

Quench your thirst without compromise. Get the FREE samples.

This one's posted straight from the offering website (their cool marketing lingo, not mine!)

Taste for yourself how easy it is to turn good 'ole water into a naturally sweetened, low-calorie drink with FREE samples of Crystal light Pure Fitness flavor packets, exclusively from Vocalpoint. www.vocalpoint.com/purefitness

Friday, May 21, 2010

Healthy Choice frozen meal deal

UPDATE: I just did this over lunch. I did three transactions of 7 each. My total out of pocket after deducting the $10 I made with each transaction was -$3. I made money buying them. I know some people don't like frozen entrees, but I enjoy them for lunch at work. The sodium is not terrible and they are actually pretty good.

Here's one I plan to do for the Conagra spend $25 get $10. I purchased off ebay $5/5 coupons for HC entrees (side note--this was my FIRST purchase of coupons off ebay and I actually think it was easy and a good deal--I bought ** 20 ** of them for $3).

HC entrees are on sale for $2 (regular price is $4). I eat these for lunch everyday (separate side note--I lost 5 pounds eating them for lunch and have kept off the 5 pounds ever since)

Deal Idea:
7 HC entrees (7 x $4 = 428)
I pay 7 x $2 = $14
Minus $5 (use one $5/5 coupon)
Minus $1/2 printable from healthchoice.com
OOP= $8
Get $10

I make $2 for every 7 I buy

Thanks to couponerswanted.com for informing me about the catalina deal!

Mommy Rhapsody

I just saw this on Facebook. A MUST SEE for all moms (and Queen fans!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Want some cheap Wesson oil? (And I mean CHEAP!)

 I told you all earlier about the Conagra spend $25 get $10 going on at Jewel right now. Conagra, in case you didn't know, is the manufacturer of about a hundred different products. As with all catalina deals at Jewel, this one goes of shelf price/sale price and NOT preferred card price.

Here's the scenario:
5 Wesson oils (preferred card price $2.50, shelf price $5)
5 x shelf price = $25  but you only pay 5 x preferred card price= $11

You earn a $10 catalina (coupon) towards your next purchase of ANYTHING at Jewel. Net net those 5 oils cost you $1.

These deals DO NOT STACK (meaning you cannot buy 10 oils and get $20 in the same transaction). If you want more than 5 bottles, you need to do multiple transactions (may I suggest self checkout, please?).
Which Wesson oils you ask?  Why these:

Thank you to couponerswanted.com for the deal idea and the UPC list (You rock, Barb!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I got my cheap Lysol products. Did you?

Hubby took our daughter to art lessons last night and then headed over to the Jewel to get a birthday card for his dad. I handed him the Lysol coupons and turned him into couponman!

4 Lysol products (two 4 in 1 cleaning sprays, a toilet bowl cleaner and a bottle of all purpose cleaner) $1.59 each minus those $1/1 printables I mentioned this week, came to $2.40 before taxes. He managed to grab a $5 birthday card (eek) and paid with a $5 catalina I had, so about $3 for everything, tax included.

Currently there's a spend $25 get $10 Conagra deal running now at Jewel that I learned about over at couponerswanted.com. There are hundreds of items on the list. It's going to be a great time to stock up on Wesson oil for 50 cents a bottle and Hunts Snack puddings for virtually free. I love Jewel!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

FREE Personalized photo luggage tags from KLM

This is very cool!  Go to the KLM Facebook here and get a set of free, personalized photo luggage tags sent to your home. You have to have a Facebook account for this offer, and your chosen photo needs to have already been loaded to your photos in your account. I've got mine on their way!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Extreme Sheep: This One's For Bill

Uber Cheap Lysol Products!

If you haven't been to Jewel this week (sale is on till 5/19), Lysol cleaning products (sprays, wipes etc.) are 50% off, making most all of them under $1.75 each. I used several 50c/1 insert coupons this week to get them for cheap, but there's a new printable: $1/1 printable coupon (use your back button on your browser to print two). This makes for some very inexpensive cleaning supplies. Just in time for Spring Cleaning!

Thanks to Mashupmom.com for the tip!

New Recipe: BBQ Pulled Chicken

I found this one online, and it's in the crockpot right now. It smells delicious!

Barbecue Pulled Chicken

2 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1/2 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Bulls Eye BBQ sauce with Guinness (I could not find this so use what's on hand)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar

Put everything in a crock pot, cover, and cook on low for about 7-8 hours. Since I used frozen thighs I let it cook for 9 hours. It will be very watery. I removed the cooked chicken, fork shredded it, and then added some sauce, reserving the rest for the table.

Serve with toasted buns to pile the meat into at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, May 14, 2010

FREE ice cream at Sonic for K-5th grade. May 29th ONLY

Thanks to Mashupmom.com for the heads up. They've just opened a Sonic near me so this will be a treat.

Children in grades K-5th can get a free vanilla cone on May 29th (in honor of college 529 savings plans). You need to print and bring this coupon.

Who doesn't like free ice cream?

"I think we are going to lose the basement!"

About 5am yesterday morning we heard the house alarm go off:


It had poured (and was still pouring) rain all night. Later we'd learn that nearly 4 inches had fallen in about 5 hours, about a month of May's worth of water for Chicago-land. Our sump pump was JUST keeping up, and the high water alarm told us that the backup was also about to kick in.

John went into full Basement Rescue mode. He ran outside in the downpour and lightning to make sure the ejector pump hose was well away from the house (it turned out the mowers had moved it closer).  Then he sat and stared at the pump and started telling me to pray it stopped raining. We estimated the water was flowing in at a rate of about 5 gallons a minute, entirely too much for even the 3/4 hp pump to drain completely, so it the water just sat 6 inches from the top of the sump pit, threatening to overflow.

Did I mention my husband was scheduled to leave town at 10am?

Did I mentioned I threatened to divorce my husband if he left town at 10am?

My neighbor's backyard was a raging river of water streaming directly towards their house. All the home north of them in the subdivision were uphill from them. All their runoff was running directly towards my neighbor's house. It could have been worse for us, but our stress was palpable.

By 8am the rain had stopped, but the sump was still running every twenty seconds. By 10am it looked like everything was going to be OK. The rain had definitely cleared and the sump was actually making progress and the water was below the high water level sensor. John decided it was OK to head off to Dayton and I decided to head to the office.

Cue the foreshadowing music....

The second I sat at my desk at work, the honest to God SECOND I sat down, I got a text message to my phone. The house was paging me. The power was OUT.

The power was out??  We've lived here for 5 years and the power has blinked once or twice in all that time. All of our utilities are buried underground and we are close to the sub station. We never lose power.  Except we did. Today, when everyone and their cousin was relying on sump pumps to keep their homes from flooding.

Back we flew. John brought his brother, who was going to Dayton with him. They called their friend Chuck and borrowed his gas generator. My neighbors were jumping into cars and heading to Home Depot to grab a pump. Meanwhile our battery backup pump was only barely holding it's own. It's a lower power pump than the main pump, and the water was still pouring into the sump pit like a river.

Despite my initial fear that we were going to blow up the house or electrocute ourselves, we got the generator running. I should note both my husband and his brother are electrical engineers but I am pretty sure this was their first generator experience. When I heard them speaking engineering-ese about capacities of extension cords and watts and volts and fuses I knew they were in their element. If they were boy scouts (which they were) I'd have given them a badge!

After two HOURS the power went back on and has stayed on since. The pump is still churning, we are still dry, and I am very very tired!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FREE Finish Quantumatic at Target

Saw this at mashupmom.com

Apparently some Targets have this new product on clearance already for $5 each. There are $5 coupons in the 5/9 SS insert (I read some Tribune inserts may NOT have had the $5 value).

Anyway, worth a look if you happen to be running to Target anyway!

Free is GOOD!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fried Chicken at Bill's

Every few months, our friend Bill invites all the neighborhood ladies over to his house for lunch. Since I am not one to refuse an opportunity to have someone cook for me, I gladly accept his kind offer and advise him that breakfast and dinner are available.

Today's menu was homemade fried chicken. I'll admit I was a skeptic. I can't recall having had homemade fried chicken, in well, ever. Fried chicken has always struck me as something requiring a deep fryer, a lot of patience, and the fire department on speed dial.

Here's Bill. He's got a blog now. I'm his muse. Go ahead. Ask him. In fact, you can read his blog here.

That's Ed. He comes to every lunch. Ed is happy. He's not drinking the diet tea. I'm just sayin'.

That's Bernice, Bill's mom. She doesn't look to happy in this photo but trust me, she's a sweet heart. We were both starving at this point. Hungry can make you look grumpy. If you could read her mind you'd hear her saying put down the damn camera and let's eat before the chicken gets cold.

Bill put out a spread of fried chicken, homemade cole slaw and homemade mashed potatoes. It was fantastic.

Look at that crunchy crust. OMG. I've posted the recipe below that Bill found in Saveur magazine. Yes, I have male friends who actually read and cook from this magazine. Bill says the special ingredient is matzo meal in the breading.  I didn't want to be a pig so I had one (two) pieces.

That's Julene. I think she's thanking God she came and had this awesome chicken. It was that good.

There were homemade cookies, too. Did I mention those?

Thanks for the great meal, Bill!

Recipe below:

(The following recipe is from the Savuer website: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Northern-Fried-Chicken)

The fried chicken at Blue Ribbon, a restaurant in New York City, boasts extra-crunchy skin thanks to a matzo meal crust; the chefs there serve it with bright collard greens quick-sautéed in browned butter. SAVEUR’s executive food editor, Todd Coleman, profiled this dish in our April 2010 issue (see "Prize Chicken").
Source: Saveur
Canola oil, for frying
1⁄2 tsp. hot paprika
1⁄8 tsp. each cayenne pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder
4 egg whites, beaten
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄2 cup matzo meal
1⁄4 tsp. baking powder
1  3-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Honey, for dipping

1. Pour oil to a depth of 2" in a 5-qt. Dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°.

2. Combine paprika, cayenne, basil, parsley, and garlic and onion powders in a bowl; set aside. Put egg whites into a bowl. Combine flour, matzo, and baking powder in another bowl.

3. Working with one piece at a time, dip chicken in egg whites and press into matzo to coat. Shake off excess; transfer chicken to a rack set inside a baking sheet. Working in 2 batches, fry chicken until crispy and cooked through, 10–12 minutes. Transfer chicken to paper towels and season with salt, pepper, and the reserved paprika mixture. Serve with honey, if you'd like. 

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #128. All Rights Reserved.

Cello Recital

Catherine had her first recital today. We are so proud of her! When we arrived to rehearse with the pianist, Catherine was only able to get through her piece one time without making a mistake. After several tries we decided she needed to take a break because she was nervous. The pianist had some relaxation techniques and encouraged her to breathe deeply. It worked! Catherine was the first cellist to play, and the only one to have memorized her piece. She played it perfectly! She was thrilled and we were, too!

I've also added the group performances. Sorry for the dark videos but the room was very dark and this is just my digital camera, not a camcorder with a light pack. They are playing Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter. (Try to ignore the lady in front of me who continually took photos on her iPhone!)

Here's the group playing Be Thou My Vision (Slane) which was a piece they learned in a recent workshop.

Here's Dona Nobis Pacem:

Here's Sourwood Mountain:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Remember that Pillsbury pizza dough?

We tried it the other night. I got a tube of the thin crust. I already had some Ragu pizza sauce on hand (I got it for free from a Jewel Your Bucks deal) and tons of mozzarella cheese. I preheated the oven as directed and got to work. I THOUGHT (should have looked!) I could use a round pizza pan. It turns out the directions indicate you are supposed to use a cookie sheet. Ooops. It was no turning back, however, once I'd rolled and finagled it onto the round pan. Needless to say it wasn't perfectly straight and even. I had to massage it and avoid tearing it. Seems to me that most pizzas I consume are ROUND so why the dough would need to be a rectangle is beyond me.

But I digress.

I baked the dough as directed for 5 minutes in the oven. I should have baked it longer in retrospect. We applied lots of sauce and cheese and set it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. The kids really liked it, but I was REALLY hoping for a thin and CRISPY crust. This crust was thin, but not as crisp as I'd like. The flavor, however, was very good. We all agreed the Ragu pizza sauce is LAME (not really ever been a fan but it was on hand). And the normal Kraft mozzarella cheese was really good. I think with better sauce and a few extra topping and a little longer to pre-bake the crust and I'd give it an A+.

Note: the information and product was provided to me by Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark as part of the Pillsbury Pizza Crusts “Family Pizza Party” Spark

Thursday, May 6, 2010

ooo a new look

I found the new Blogger Template Designer beta today and am trying it out. What do you think? Can't figure out yet how to stretch the graphic at the top. Will have to play with it more later.

Glad to see Blogger doing something with templates. Their standard set pretty much, well, sucked.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pillsbury Gift Pack Winner!

Post #59 Flychild7  "My favorite thing about pizza night is working together to create a perfect pizza"

Congratulations Flychild7. I'll be emailing you shortly!

I think I am in love

Image from Cute Foods blogsite

No. Not think. AM.  I must learn to make these (alas I know I probably won't, but setting goals is good, right? Right?)

What's for dinner tonight?

I'm so excited. What's for dinner has come to me. You don't know. This is some sort of sign.  No, not like THIS sign (which could well be an alien recipe for something awesome!)

Seriously. I'm stocked on frozen chicken breasts. Jewel was discontinuing Country Fresh brand (?) at $5.99 a box. They're typically $10-$13 a box. I'm going to pound them flat, dredge in egg and breadcrumbs and pan fry to make Parmesan sandwiches. Here's the recipe. Oh and pair those with organic sweet potato fries and cole slaw.

Yummy. Is it time for dinner yet?

So how did my Sunday go after all?

First the good: despite feeling a bit like I was going to throw up, and somehow completely forgetting what I was supposed to say in the middle of the Children's Sermon (speaking in tongues would have been preferable to drawing a complete blank--thank God for notes). I must have done well because the kids understood me and I managed to not ad lib anything remotely unBiblical (which I feared when I drew a blank!) or having to resort to stand-up comedy. Did you hear the one about Jesus and the Rabbi?

The afternoon musical Grease at the high school was good, but I completely forgot about the storyline of Grease and how it might read to my 8 and 11 year olds. I noticed TONS of children in the audience and that they'd purposely toned down some of the words and lyrics, but the subject matter was still there (premarital sex, fooling around, gangs, disrespect to adults etc). Not that my kids are sheltered under a rock (they're chained in the basement silly---no no no I'm just kidding!) but still, I kind of had that parental momement where I winced and wished maybe we'd chosen something else. In the end my son declared he didn't understand the storyline but that it seemed to be about bad teenagers. 

Well, maybe he'll be ok!

And the not so good: I have to tell you I was somewhat disappointed with my coupon class turnout. I really worked on the presentation deck for weeks. I did it right after church so people could grab a coffee and come in. I was hoping to get more than 10 people to come and about 11 showed up. Goal acheived, I guess. But it was one of those things where you get really excited about something and offer to share the information and only a handful of people seem to care. I say, GOOD FOR THEM. More deals to do amongst us. I'm glad I could be an inspiration to someone.

How was your weekend?

FREE Netipot to first 20K who sign up--DEAD DEAL

I'm browsing over at Mashupmom.com and see that Netipot is offering a free product to the first 20K who "Like" them on Facebook and fill in their survey. I have friends who swear by this product to reduce and remove sinus congestion. I have to say it sort of freaks me out a bit but I'm willing to give it a try!

Go here for the survey and don't forget to "Like" them on Facebook.

UPDATE:  YEAH!  I got an email confirmation that mine is on it's way!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My super crazy tomorrow

I'm excited for a number of reasons: First off, tomorrow I will be doing the Children's Sermon at my church for the very first time. I managed to find a great kids sermon that matches the Bible reading for the day. I'd never done a sermon before, mostly because I had no idea of WHAT to say. Everyone who does them at my church seems to be both Bible expert (which I am not) or super creative (not that either).  I searched my source of all things, the Internet, and found Sermons4kids. This is a GREAT site! They have short sermons for both New and Old Testament readings. We're having John 17 as the main reading tomorrow, and it turns out they have an accompanying children's message using a Matroyska doll, which I conveniently own (Thank God). When I mentioned this to the other ladies who've been doing most of the children's sermons, they BOTH knew of it AND used it. I'm apparently the last to know on these things (eeek! as I am the new Christian Education Elder). I'd better get my act together.

Secondly, I'll be running a VERY basic grocery couponing class for my church. This portends to be a very casual, very informal event (I am expecting 6 people) but I have put together (I think) a nice Powerpoint presentation. I kept it VERY simple. It should be interesting (and I hope they find it informative). I'm only worried someone will ask me a tough question. I'm no "super couponer" but I'm doing very well and thought I knew enough to share.

Finally, we'll be running from church to home to make a matinee performance of Grease at the high school. We've seen several productions there and it's all been first class. Our high school is fortunate to have an state of the art performance center so we are really anticipating another great show.

How's your weekend shaping up?

Freezer cooking, what do you think of this?

So I'm reading the web this evening and I come across a popular blogger (I won't mention which one. You'll see why). This very successful blogger posts daily on frugal living, and one of the topics she mentions regularly is called "freezer cooking." The premise of freezer (or once a month) cooking is that you plan all of your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for the entire month, and cook ALL of it over a period of one or two days, and then throw it all in the freezer to defrost when needed.

I took a look at her recipes and those of the many (many) people who linked to her post with their own freezer cooking plans.  I don't know, maybe it's just me (it's me, isn't it?) but this just doesn't appeal to me for so many reasons:

  • Too many casseroles
  • Heavy, fatty foods
  • Too much ground beef. WAY too much ground beef.
  • Bland boring food (bean burritos, cheesey-chicken something, southwest-chicken something)
  • No veggies, or worse, veggies stewed in some kind of cheese sauce
It all seems so BAD for you. I'm no 100% raw, organic cook, but even working full time with two active children, a working husband and zero patience for meal planning, my "cooked to order" meal plan is healthier and has more variety. I've copied the recipe plan from one person (who shall remain nameless) to give you an example:
  • Pot Pies
  • Freezer Hashbrowns, Mashed Potatoes, and Fries
  • Meatloaf, Meatballs, and Hamburger Patties
  • Lasagna
  • Layered Mexican Chicken Casserole
  • Enchiladas
  • Pizza Dough x3
  • Macaroni and Cheese and Spaghetti Casserole
  • French Toast Sticks, Breakfast Cookies, Biscuit Mix, and maybe Breakfast Pockets

Is it just me, but is every meal BROWN??  I am a live and let live person, and if this works for them, by God let 'em at it, but I just can't do this. Can't.


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