Favorite Birthday Meals

Thursday, June 25, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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Lime Chicken

My favorite birthday meal is barbecued chicken on the grill (made with barbecue sauce) and fresh, steamed green beans. My mom's a great cook (see mom, if you were to actually read my blog, you would get a compliment), but she always managed to burn this chicken, so even today, I only love it if it has some char on it--delicious!

This birthday, I decided to make my sister's lime Chicken recipe. I think it's unique because it involves an open faced taco that you cook on the grill, and I love lime flavoring. "Read Entire Post" for the recipe. I love birthdays, and would love to hear about your favorite birthday meal--so leave a comment and share what you love! Thanks!

Lime Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
Marinate chicken overnight in the fridge. (I actually froze my chicken in this marinade. If you grab the package out of the freezer a day before, it can actually defrost and marinate at the same time--but make sure you do give it time enough to marinate once defrosted for the best flavor).

8 small soft tortilla shells
1 1/2 cup monterary jack cheese (I had cheddar on hand)
1/2 cup lettuce

Grill chicken 4-5 minutes. Cut into strips. Put chicken on tortilla and cover with shredded cheese (you can brush tortilla with oil if you like). Put on grill until cheese melts.

Top with lettuce, tomato, avocado, sour cream. (I think some fresh cilantro would also make this great!) Served with some fresh peaches and homemade freezer corn, it was a wonderful birthday meal!

After reading Amy's post on Buster Bar Dessert, I was reminded that I loved this dessert, and it would make a perfect birthday treat! On the way home from the beach on Tuesday, we stopped at Aldi to get the ingredients--inexpensive and delicious.

Make sure to check out Amy's post, because the pictures are much nicer than mine! If you give the sauce time to cool, I think it will actually stay on the top of the dessert. Mine looks like this because I put the sauce on the ice cream when it was still warm--sunk into the ice cream but still tastes yummy! Amy also recommends adding more ice cream, which I always do as well, but just make sure your pan is large enough. We had to use plastic wrap and aluminum foil when freezing to avoid a big mess! I love ice cream, so happy birthday to me!

Thanks again for reading and for reading about my birthday treats! Please share your birthday favorites as well--I love new ideas and recipes!

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Birthday Fun!

by Jen · 1 comments
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(I'm actually posting today--gasp! Will wonders never cease? I've been so appreciative of those of you who continue to comment even though my posts have slowed down--thank you so much!)

So it's birthday week at our house again this week -- yesterday was my birthday. My kids were wondering where my presents were (my husband and I have set aside some money for birthday and Father's Day to buy a fire pit for our patio, but are watching the sales so haven't bought it yet).

It was a very nice few days of celebration. On Monday, we went out for dinner for Mexican. And Tuesday, we spent a wonderful day at the beach. We love the sand bottom pool at Minnetonka Regional Beach (part of Three Rivers Park District). We have to drive a ways to get there, but feel like it's worth it. They have a clean beach, clean water, and large umbrellas covering the beach. A family pass for the entire summer costs $20, which seems very reasonable for our family. We brought a picnic and had a wonderful day.

On my actual birthday, I had a really nice day at home--I'm really a homebody at heart, and just love to stay home sometimes! My husband was home in the morning, and made us a French toast breakfast. We had a delicious lunch of Lime Chicken--I'll share the recipe in my next post, and for dessert, we had Peanut Buster Bar Dessert. I spent the rest of the day tackling all the baby clothes in my laundry room. It feels great because you can actually see the counter tops and floor--the best birthday present!

Hope you are all enjoying your summer days! Thanks for reading Cents in the Cities!

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This Is Me -- Summertime

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 by Jen · 3 comments
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Sorry I haven't been posting much--the summer has thrown me off. I'm sometimes an "all or nothing" kind of person, which isn't the smartest way to approach many things, and I just haven't been on the computer lately, so it makes it kind of hard to post. And the coupon thing sometimes ebbs and flows with me! I'm still organizing them and using them for sure--just not as organized as sometimes. I'm going to keep trying though, and I'll see how it goes. Here's what's been keeping us busy:

A Baby Room
My husband finally finished our construction project last Tuesday--a room for my 4 year old son. So we finally moved him to this room last week, which has gone very well, but there's always a little adjustment. I love new rooms, new paint--a fresh new start. The room is small, but in his favorite colors--orange and blue. We still have to figure out a better theme--we're deciding between airplanes and rockets--he seems to change his mind a lot. We'll see!

Just yesterday, I FINALLY have a baby room, which makes me so excited! We got the crib out of the garage and finally located the hardware (a bit of a panic at first until we found the paper grocery bag it was in). I scrubbed down the walls, moved baby clothes into the dresser, and washed lots of "equipment," toys, and supplies. I'm still in the process of washing lots of clothes to store in an organized manner (labeled boxes), so once I have that all done, it will be wonderful. We have the room set up the same as when our other two were babies, so it brings back lots of memories. Those babies just grow so fast. . . we can't wait to meet our new little one--lots of baby talk at our house.

Steamy MN Weather
Well the hot weather is finally here--in the mid 90's and humid! My husband is taking the day off today (since we are not taking a major vacation this summer, it's easy for him to take a day here or there) and I'm pretty sure we are headed to the beach for the day! There is a beach in the west metro we like to go to--chlorinated swimming pond, umbrellas, floaties, concession stand. Should be a nice family day!

Baby -- The Home Stretch!
I hit 34 weeks tomorrow. Experiencing lots of aches and pains, but that's normal. Feels like baby is moving up, filling up every empty space! One of my babies was born in the 36th week and the other in the 38th, so I can't help but think it could be any day now. I do want to keep going as long as I can. Makes it hard to travel anywhere when I have baby coming on my mind. Since this is our third, we didn't take a refresher baby class, but still think we need to "refresh" our minds a bit--still need to do that.

Book Club
I've just started facilitating a girl's teen book club at our local library branch--some great reading! Just read a great book that I would recommend to anyone called Hattie Big Sky, buy Kirby Larson -- a wonderful pioneer story about a girl attempting to homestead in Montana. Makes me want to read some more pioneer stories--maybe we'll get out the Little House books--always fun!

Daughter Traveling
On Friday, my 7 year old daughter is flying with my mom and brother to North Carolina to visit my sister's family. She's excited, and I know she will be fine, but I'm a bit nervous about her being so far away from us. It's only for 5 days, and I know she will have a great time seeing her cousins, but I still am worried a bit!

My Birthday
And it's my birthday tomorrow--the big 37--a bit anticlimactic, but that's all right. My husband will be working that evening, so we went out for a family dinner last night--something we haven't done in a long time. Isn't it great when you have a coupon--we used free kid meal coupons, so it helped!

That's it! Have a great week!

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Rhubarb, Rhubarb, and More Rhubarb!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 by Jen · 3 comments
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I have had the ingredients to make a few of my favorite rhubarb recipes for a few weeks now. I just haven't been able to make it out to cut the rhubarb--it's not that far, we have a medium-sized yard, but I just never get to it.

So my Mom was visiting again this weekend and she actually went out and got the rhubarb and cut it up for me (what would we do with out moms?) so I actually made a few of my favorites -- Rhubarb Crunch, Rhubarb Cake, and Rhubarb Jam. Here are the recipes:

Rhubarb Crunch
(My mother-in-law made this for us a few years ago, and I had to have the recipe! It's like a crisp and perfect with a little ice cream)

Combine 4 cups diced rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, and 4 tablespoons flour. Put in a greased 6x10 inch pan (I used a square pan.)

Combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal and 1 cup flour. Cut in 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup margarine. Sprinkle this over the rhubarb mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes (Because I had something else in the oven, I baked at 350 degrees and for more like 40 minutes--wanted to make sure it was done). Serve warm with ice cream--yum!

Rhubarb Cake
This is one of my favorite cakes from growing up! I haven't been able to make it just like my mom did (she can't find her old recipe), but pretty close. The key is to use buttermilk and sprinkle lots of sugar and cinnamon on top. I love it served with cool whip! According to my mom, rhubarb ( at least in MN) is good for the picking until the 4th of July, so, you still have time to make if interested. I might make it for Father's Day!

1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb

Mix in order given. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I think using some brown sugar for sprinkling is good too). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or cool, topped with whipped cream or other topping.

Rhubarb Jam
I've never made jam before, but my mom likes to, and since she brought me all of the ingredients, I just had to. I was surprised at how easy this was to make, and now I have lots of jam in the freezer. In my opinion, the rhubarb serves as a filler, and the jam takes on the pie filling flavor--it's very good. We made one batch of strawberry and one of rasberry. Freezes great in plastic containers or jars.

6 cups rhubarb, diced
3 cups sugar
Mix rhubarb and sugar and let stand overnight. Cook for 10 minutes; then add 1 can strawberry pie filling . Cook 10 additional minutes. Then add 1 box strawberry jello. Let cool and put in jars! Freezes great!

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This Is Me -- Mid Week

by Jen · 3 comments
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So it has been a few crazy days, and I'm delayed on posting again this week. Wonder how it will be once I have my new little one. Oh well, just have to go with it and see what happens! It's been a good week so far--lots going on, but it's low key. Summer is here, the grass is green (thank you rain), and life is good. Here's what has been keeping us busy:

Dance Recital
Last week my 7 year old daughter had her dance recital. She was so looking forward to it---practicing every day. So the day of the recital, she wakes up with a fever and an upset tummy. So we had to make the call and decide if we should let her dance. We took it easy all day and did let her dance--she was doing a lot of partner steps so it would have been hard to miss it, and she would have been devastated to miss it. So it turned out good even though she crashed later. It was so cute--I loved watching her proud little self in doing something she loves!

Sick Child
So the next day, we took her in to the doctor and it turns out she has Strep. I was actually very relieved because the doctor said that influenza is starting to hit MN very hard (the previous 3 patients had it). Influenza would be a lot more challenging and scary to deal with. She is feeling much better now.

Construction Completed
Just yesterday my husband finished our construction project--my son's bedroom. So now we can move my son down to his room and I will actually have a baby room--get out the crib, the clothes, the supplies. I'm very excited! My nesting instinct is kicking in, and I want to get everything in it's place!

Teen Girl's Book Club
One of the fun things I get to do during the summer is lead a teen girl's book club at a local branch of my public library--I love doing this! The youth librarian picks out the books, and I get to show up and talk about them with the girls. It's really fun--and a great reason to sit down, drop everything, and read--something I haven't done a lot of lately. If you haven't read childrens or teen books, you should give them a try--read along with your children. There are a lot of great quality books out there, most read really fast, and many are shorter than "adult" books. Makes for a fun summer activity.

So I'm at week 33 today--making slow progress. Not much to say--it's going going, and is all good. We still are deciding on a name. . . why is this so hard?

Summer Begins
Grade school ended last week, so we are on our first full week of summer--yeah! I've been meaning to make a "Summer To Do List" of all the fun things we want to do this summer--maybe we'll get to that today. We got a rain storm yesterday afternoon and evening--I love a good rain! Now we need the sunshine and warm weather--my kids would love to hit the beach!

Shopping Plan
We seem to be running out of the basics lately, so my shopping plan is to buy mainly produce and dairy this week. I plan to only use coupons on the things I can get FREE or under a dollar. I'm a bit behind, as you can see by this midweek post, but I'm bound to get to the store soon. I'll keep you posted!

Kitchen of Rhubarb
So after my "flops" post, I'm trying to redeem myself, and things are going better. I made a few more loaves of breadmaker bread--turned out better. Trying to use my crock pot more--made Tator Tot Hotdish--tasted good, but if you like the tator tot texture, I wouldn't recommend making in crockpot. Today I'm making crockpot taco soup--should be interesting. Spent Monday making my favorite Rhubarb dishes--I will share with you soon!

So that's the update. Hope you are all having a great week. Thanks for reading!

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Spoonful of Stories -- Books Winner

Saturday, June 13, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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Thanks again to everyone who entered my giveaway to win the Cheerios Book Gift Pack, supplied through MyBlogSpark.com.

Using Random Integer, the lucky winner was #8 in my spreadsheet, and that is. . .
Annette M (travis_annette04@)
Congrats Annette--you should receive an email from me shortly with a request for your contact information!

I so enjoyed reading the comment about summer reading plans and books read--I think I'll have to talk about this again soon--just love talking about books! And if you are an aspiring children's book writer, don't forget to enter Cheerios' Children's Book Author Contest. Thanks again for entering and keep reading!

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Jen's List

Friday, June 12, 2009 by Jen · 2 comments
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I'm starting something new -- Jen's List -- as a tool for me to keep track of the many blog posts and articles that I see each week that interest me and perhaps might interest you. I might also post a note as to how I plan to use the article or why it's of interest.

I'm going to try to post these later in the week--usually on Friday. That way I will have a kind of "archive" of all of those ideas that I read about and want to try someday. When someday comes, I'll refer back to my list. . . hope it works for me. I got the idea because I love reading Amy's Notebook at the Motherload--love a great idea! Thanks for reading!

Free or Cheap Summer Activities -- a good summary of book store programs, movies, and bowling

Angel Lush Dessert -- looks yummy

Perfectly Baked Brown Rice -- Mother Load

What to Do With All Those Freebies -- Leaving Excess

King's Pointe Waterpark Resort in Iowa (would love to go here sometime)

Blogger's School 101: How to Be More Successful -- Attention Target Shoppers

Storing Fresh Herbs

Blogging Affilate Program

Great Credit Card Debate

Family Activity -- Letter M (We have M children in our family, so might be able to use ideas)

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Cooking In My Kitchen -- the Flops!

Thursday, June 11, 2009 by Jen · 5 comments
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I have been trying to do a lot more cooking and baking, and I've been trying lots of new recipes. Lately, things have been the flops! Which means my family didn't like them or they didn't turn out as planned. "Read Entire Post" to hear about my challenges (sorry, I do go on a bit). I'm going to keep trying, though. . . . I know I will have some success to share with your soon. Thanks for reading!

Pigs in a Blanket -- So I tried a recipe I heard about online, and they were fine, but I wouldn't say we loved them. Actually, I was in the middle of making them on Saturday afternoon when I realized my DS had strep throat and I needed to take him into urgent care (he had been showing some symptoms for 2-3 days, and I didn't make the connection until Saturday evening--bad mom). Anyway, my husband ended up having to finish the baking and clean the kitchen. He wasn't too happy with me. I won't make them again. Hot dogs in a bun or bread work just fine for us and are less work.

It's pretty but does it taste good?

Homemade Pizza--So a reader (thanks Stephanie) gave me a great pizza crust recipe to make in my breadmaker, which turned out great with great texture! The problem is I don't have a good flavored sauce--my sauce always tastes the same and my family is tired of it. I also need to pre-cook the crust a bit before putting on all of the toppings so it doesn't get soggy, but I still don't have great flavor. My DD, who isn't a picky eater, told me one night that she doesn't like my pizza and would prefer Papa Murphy's, and I agree with her. Making it homemade is not the relaxing break from cooking I would like.

Breadmaker Bread -- So my sister-in-law gave me her breadmaker, so I have been trying new recipes, and I'm trying to make more whole wheat and whole grain bread. The problem is the consistency--the bread is heavy and the crust is really hard. And the dough hook (or whatever it is called) leaves holes in the bread --makes it hard to make a sandwich. I'm not giving up though--I have a new mixer, so I'm going to try to make bread using that. I'll keep you posted.

Cherry Sweet Rolls -- I've had good luck making sweet rolls, so I thought I'd try some cherry sweet rolls on my mom's instructions (something she used to make years ago). She said all you had to do was use a sweet roll recipe, spread out the cherry pie filling, roll up, shape in a ring, and cut not all the way through. The key is to get them cooked all the way through, which I did. The problem is they made a bid mess in my oven, and my kids didn't really like them--they just wanted the bread. Not worth the work!

Liquid Laundry Detergent -- So I read about someone else making this, and I finally decided to try it. It was a bit of work, but not bad. The problem is my clothes are not getting clean! So you would think I should just throw it out, right? But for some reason that's hard for me to do.

I also had a hard time making the dried homemade laundry detergent that I really like--one that I know gets my clothes clean. I have a new food chopper, and it couldn't handle chopping the fels naptha soap. I had already cut it up into chunks so it was really hard for me to shred by hand. In the future, I will just use my handy dandy cheese grater. I did let the soap sit out unwrapped for a few days (hoping it would dry out more), but this didn't help.

Now that I will be washing baby clothes, I'm considering going back to buying detergent, but I can't decide--it's an internal struggle--what to do.

Enchilada Casserole --So my husband and I liked this, good flavor, but my kids wouldn't eat it--everything was too mixed together. Why don't I just stick with separate meat and veggies? Why do I have to try something new?

Corn Dog Casserole -- Again an OK casserole, but not great. I have made it before. Maybe I should just throw the recipe out. Plain hot dogs would have been just as good.

So I'm not sure what the lesson is in all of these flops. Perhaps less is more. Maybe you can add some insight, or even share one of your easy yet favorite and simple recipes--sounds like I could use some help. So I've been rambling on about my food and kitchen. If you've made it this far, you are amazing. Thanks again for reading! Jen

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Enter to Win Cheerios Books!

by Jen · 0 comments
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Just a reminder to enter my Cheerios book giveaway HERE to win a "Spoonful of Stories" gift set like this! These are very cute, enjoyable books--perfect for summer reading. My 7 year old has been reading them to her younger brother and having lots of fun. This giveaway ends Friday morning 6/12 at 9 AM CST, so enter now! Hope you are having a great week!

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Garage Sale Wrap Up

by Jen · 7 comments
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I love garage sales--going to sales, getting great deals--what could be more fun? So it's been almost two weeks since I held my garage sale, and I did enjoy doing it! I even think I might have another one next year. . . maybe. At the same time, I am definitely "garage saled out," and I am still pondering if it's worth it. I will say that I don't think the time spent and the money earned equaled out in the end, but it was still fun. Here are a few of my "wrap up" thoughts and things I might do differently below. You might also be interested in these other perspectives on the sales: How to Yard Sale -- Nesting Place and Strategies for Garage Sale Season -- Northern Cheapskate. Thanks for reading!

Jen's Garage Sale Thoughts:
--It's Work! -- Holding the sale at my house was a lot of work (set up, running the sale, tear down) and pretty much took over my household activities for the week. Our family routines were thrown out of sync, and it took a few days before we got back to normal.

--Routines and Chores Neglected -- Even though the sale was very doable, the other things I normally do were neglected, and it was very hard to get caught up! Now a different person might be able to handle chaos better, but not me. I like things in their place, even if not perfectly clean. Thankfully my husband doesn't work on Mondays, so we did a major cleaning/pick up following the sale (I swear every room in the house was trashed). I probably wouldn't hold another sale while pregnant--my mind just can't handle it:)

--Consider Clothing Pricing and Display -- We priced things very low. Most children's clothing was $1 or less. People appreciated the great prices, but it took a long time for the $$ to add up. To make a future sale worth my while, I would weed more of the worn and stained items (things I wouldn't buy at a sale) and price the other items a bit higher.

Besides tables, I didn't have a good hanging rack, and I think this would have helped display items better. I also would have asked everyone participating to put the size of the item on the price tag--would have made for easier organization.

--Consider Timing -- We held our sale Wed afternoon, all day Thursday, Friday, and Sat morning for a 1/2 price sale. It turns out that holding it all day Wednesday and Thursday would have made more sense for our neighborhood (other sales were doing this). Friday was pretty quiet even though there was nice weather, and Saturday morning was a bust. If I had only done a two day sale, my family routine might have been disrupted less. We advertised on Craigslist, which was a big draw to the sale, and we had good signage, so we had a good turn out, even though we live on a cul de sac.

--Ask for Help --My friends who participated were very helpful, and my Mom came up and helped for two days--which was a Godsend. If I were doing it again, I would probably ask or even require specific help during set up/take down each day--just to make sure everything is covered. And it's more fun to do the sale when your friends are around.

--Plan Ahead -- In my head, I'm thinking it would be so smart to price things as I put them in storage, so I'm all set for a sale next spring, but this might be wishful thinking on my part. I don't know if I can really make this happen, perhaps if I had an extra hour in the day and were more organized and not blogging.

--Plan Meals -- It would have really helped to have had some frozen, pre-made meals ready to go. Otherwise, it's too easy to blow your budget (your bringing in some extra cash, right?) and grab fast food, which makes you fell yucky anyway. So plan food for your family as well--this would have been a big help!

Alternatives to Holding a Garage Sale -- So instead of holding a garage sale, I am considering selling more items on Craigslist--I can see a few benefits. I can sell things "in season" and I can get rid of the items right away--no need to price and store. I could also sell things at Once Upon a Child--have never done this before, so I might consider it.

There you have it--no more garage sale talk from me! I do plan to go to a few more sales, and I might show you a few picts of my great baby deals, but enough talk! I'm all saled out!

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Cub Catalina Summary--Stock Pile Opportunity

by Jen · 2 comments
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So I did my Cub shopping today, and had great success! Pictured above is 3 of the 4 orders I placed. My total OOP for the above pict was $41.80. When I did my 4th order, I had my kids with me, and I bought a lot of other groceries, so I don't have have any specifics on that deal--it worked out about the same. Here are a few of my notes:

--I did find some of the prices to be less than the in ad price, so I had to make sure I added my purchases as I went and made it to $25. (like the Ragu and Suddenly Salad and Vitamin Water)

--During my first order, one of the vitamin waters I bought only rang up $1, and I only received a $5 Catalina even though my order was over $25. I had to take my receipt to the service desk, she had to figure it out, and they gave me another $5 Catalina--they were very nice about it. All of my other orders went fine with no hitches.

--As always, I changed a few of my plans--bought 2 Powerades, added more peanut buttter, but all in all I was very pleased.

By doing this deal four times, I was able to stock up on tons of things my family will eat or use over the next month, and I have a final $10 Catalina to use on groceries next week! For me, this is good shopping! Thanks for reading!

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Heading to Cub Today -- Catalina Deal Scenarios

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 by Jen · 1 comments

So I am heading to Cub today, and thought I would share how I'm going to do the Catalina deal--4 times! I've planned out my orders based on my coupons and what my family will use. According to the discussion on the AFC Cub Forum, some of the sale prices are actually lower than what is listed in Cub's ad, so you need to be careful and make sure you get to the $25 requirement. I'm going to bring a calculator and extra coupons to adjust my orders if needed!

I don't list where I got my coupons below because I give them in my coupon match up for this deal. Again, please excuse my math errors--I'm sure there are some. For all of my 4 orders, my total OOP should be $47.91 plus a $10 Catalina to use on my other shopping. I'm sure there are better ways to save and spend less, but this food works for my family--lots of stuff for the $$--works for me. "Read Entire Post" if you are interested in my plan and scenarios. Thanks for reading--would love to hear how you make this deal work for you! Happy shopping!

q= coupons, OOP = Out of Pocket, Catalina=coupon you receive when done checking out

Order 1
2 Green Giant Steamers, $4 (q -2)) (I am using the q's at the Eden Prairie Cub, which takes expired Q's up to 5 months)
2 Vitamin H20, $2.50 (q -2)
2 Suave Deodorant, $3, (q -1.5)
2 Suave Hair Spray, $4, (q -1)
2 Suave Body Wash, $4, (q -1) (I use the Suave shampoo for hand soap)
1 Skippy Peanut Butter, $1.99 (q -.40)
2 Chex Mix $3.34 (-1)
Total: $26.83 - $8.90 (coupons) = $17.93 OOP (earn a $10 Catalina)

Order 2

4 jars Ragu, $7 (q -1.50)
3 General Mills Cereal, $6, (q -2.10)
2 Wishbone Dressing, $3 (q -2)
1 Powerade, $4.50 (no q's, I need this for DD soccer this weekend)
2 Suddenly Salad, $2.78, (q -.50)
2 Chex Mix, $3.34, (q -1)
Total: $26.62 -$7.10 (coupons) = $19.52 - $10 Catalina = $9.52 OOP (earn a $10 Catalina)

Order 3
2 Bryers Ice Cream, $5, (q -1)
6 Yoplait Kids Yogurt $15 (q -3) (these freeze and should make great kids treats for summer)
Lipton Tea to Go, $2.50 (q -.60)
Lipton Tea to Go, $2.50 (q -.50)
Total: $25 - $5.10 (coupons) = $19.90 - $10 Catalina = $9.90 OOP (earn another $10 Catalina)

Order 4
2 Suave Shampoo $3 (q -1)
2 Brownies, $2.58, (q -.50)
2 Chex Mix, $3.34, (q -1)
1 Hellman's Mayo, $2.99, (q -.60)
2 Ragu, $3.50, (q -.75)
3 GM Cereal, $6 (q -1)
2 Bryers Ice Cream, $5 (q -1)
Total: $26.41 - $5.85 (coupons) = $20.56 - $10 Catalina = $10.56 (earn another $10 Catalina)

Final Shopping Trip: I'm going to use the $10 to buy some staples we need: fruit, blueberries, hamburger, etc..

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Cub Catalina Deal --AWESOME Coupon Match Up-- 6/7 thru 6/13

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 by Jen · 3 comments
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This is the week to shop at Cub my friends! I am sooooooooo very excited about this Cub Catalina deal this week--find it on the back page of the Cub Ad. These are the BEST kinds of deal to do at Cub--I love them! The deal is:

Buy $25 and get $10 Catalina coupon for use on next shopping trip
Buy $15 and get $5 Catalina coupon for use on next shopping trip
Buy $10 and get $2 Catalina coupon for use on next shopping trip

"Read Entire Post" for my manufacturer coupon match including LOTS of expired coupons (usually up to 3 months expired). Hope this might help you do this deal as well! Please be kind if I've made an error or posted incorrect info--I'm just using what I find to plan my shopping using a national database, so some info might not be perfect--but maybe close??

I haven't planned out my shopping trips yet, so I don't know how great the deal really is, but I think it's going to be AWESOME. As soon as I have them done, I will share my scenarios with you as well, but I wanted to get the coupons posted.

These are my favorite kind of deals to do at Cub because:

1. You can "roll the deal," doing it as many times as you can. Your out of pocket might be high for your first transaction, but you can do the deal again and use the Catalina each time. When you are done, you still have a Catalina coupon to use on other groceries--how cool is that!
2. You can get the most for your money if you use as many manufacturer coupons that you can find!
3. This is a perfect opportunity to use all of those coupon inserts and expired coupons that you have filed away or been saving!
4. This is a great opportunity to build your "stockpile" or just get lots of food for your family to eat!

Hope this helps you with your shopping! I have to go now and plan out my trip! Good luck!

Glaceau Vitamin Water or Smart Water
Sale Price: $1.25
Expired Coupons: B2G1 in SS 12/7/08 (expired 1/31/09--use in EP)

General Mill Cereals (Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Total)
Sale Price: $2
Coupons:$ $1/3 in SS 5/31, SS 5/3; $1/2 or $.55/1 HERE,
Expired Coupons: $1/3 in SS 4/5 in SS 3/8; GM 2/8

Breyer's Ice Cream
Sale Price: $2.50
Coupons: $1/2 in RP 5/17,

Suave Body Wash or Stylers
Sale Price: $2
Coupons:$1/2 in RP 5/17, in RP 3/29,
Expired Coupons: $in RP 3/1, RP 1/11

Suave Deodorant, Shampoo, or Conditioner
Sale Price: $1.50
Coupons:$1/2 in RP 5/17, in RP 3/29,
Expired Coupons: $in RP 3/1, RP 1/11

Hellmann's Mayonnaise, 24-30 oz jar
Sale Price: $2.99
Coupons:$.50/1 in RP 5/17
Expired Coupons: $.50/1 RP 1/18

Ragu Pasta Sauce
Sale Price: $1.75
Coupons:$.75/2 or $.60/1 in RP 5/17, $1/2 HERE (prints in Spanish)
Expired Coupons: Unilever 4/5

Klondike Bars
Sale Price: $2.50
No coupons found

Coca-Cola 6 packs
Sale Price: $4
No Coupons Found

Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad
Sale Price: $1.39
Coupons:$.50/2 in SS 5/17
Printables, $.40/1 here, here, here, here, here
Expired Coupons: $

Betty Crocker Frosting
Sale Price: $1.69
Printables: $.50/1 here, here, here, here
Expired Coupons: $.50/1 in SS 4/5

Wish-Bone Salad Dressing, 16 oz
Sale Price: $1.50
Coupons:$1/1 in RP 5/17
Printable: $.75/1 here,
Expired Coupons: in RP 3/15

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Brummel and Brown, Promise Spread
Sale Price: $2.50
Coupons:$.75/2 in RP 3/29
Expired Coupons: $.40/1 in RP 1/18

Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks
Sale Price: $2.25
Printables here, here, here, here
Expired Coupons: SS 3/8, SS 2/1,

Betty Crocker Cake Mix or Traditional Brownie Mix
Sale Price: $
Coupons:$.50/2 in SS 5/10
Expired Coupons: $

Bugles or Chex Mix
Sale Price: $1.67
Coupons:$.50/2 in SS 6/7, $1/2 in SS 4/26
Printables: here, here, here
Expired Coupons: $$,50/1 in SS 2/22 and in SS 1/25

Skippy Peanut Butter
Sale Price: $1.99
Coupons:$.40/1 in Unilever 4/5
Expired Coupons: $

Yoplait Go Gurt, Kids Drinks, Trix, or Kids Multipack Yogurt
Sale Price: $2.50
Coupons: SS 6/7, SS 5/31, SS 4/19, SS 3/22. GM 2/28
Lots of Printables: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

Lipton Iced Tea Mix
Sale Price: $3
Coupons:$.50/1 ub RP 5/17
Expired Coupons: RP 3/15

Lipton Tea to Go
Sale Price: $2.50
Coupons:$.60/1 in RP 5/17
Expired Coupons: RP 3/15

Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers and Sauce
Sale Price: $2
Expired Coupons: SS 4/5, GM 1/4, SS 12/7, SS 11/16 (many of these are older than 3 months, possible to use at a store like Eden Prairie Cub, which takes expired up to 5 months)

Bertolli Pasta Sauce
Sale Price: $2.25
Coupons: Unilever 4/5,
Expired Coupons: $

Dasani Water 25 Packs
Sale Price: $5.5

Country Crock Side Dishes
Sale Price: $3.49
Expired Coupons: $1/1 in RP 1/18

All Detergent, 32 Load
Sale Price: $4.50
Coupons:$1/1 Here, .40/1 in RP5/10,
Expired Coupons: $.35/1 in RP 3/29

Powerade, 10 pk, 12 oz btls, or 8 pk 20 btls
Sale Price: $4.50
Expired Coupons: $

Nestea 12 packs
Sale Price: $5
Coupons:$1/1 in SS 5/3, SS 4/19, SS 4/5, SS 3/18
Expired Coupons: $

Fuze or Dasani Essence
Sale Price: $1.25
Expired Coupons: $

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Cub Foods Coupon Match -- 5/17 thru 5/13

by Jen · 0 comments
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It looks like it might be a good week for deals at Cub. I am especially excited about--and am going to put all of my energy into -- the Catalina Deal on the back page of their ad--buy $25, and get a $10 coupon off your next order! These are some of the best Cub deals you can find--perfect for stocking up on lots of items for little $$$. Check out my next post for the coupon match and for how I am going to do the deals!

Here are my other favorite deals at Cub this week--hope they might help you plan your shopping trip as well. If you are looking for a more complete coupon match, Carrie at Pocket Your Dollars has a nice match up as well. Thanks for reading!

-Blueberries, $3.99/2 (use BOGO Cub Ad Coupon)
-Canteloupe, $1.50
-Strawberries $1.50
-Bell Peppers, red, yellow, orange, $1.50
-Green Beans, $1.28

-Chicken Breast, $1.99 lb

-Hormel Always Tender Country Style Ribs, $1.99 lb
Coupon: $1/1 in SS1 5/17

--Ground Beef, 85% lean, $2.29 lb (3 lbs sold for $7.17)

--Bacon, Shoppers Value, 12 oz, $2
--Jennie-O Turket Store Brauts or Sausage, $3.9

-Cub Butter, $1.33 (limit 3)
-Cub Cheese, shredded or block, $1.50

-General Mill Cereals, $2 (Varieties: Cheerios, Cocoa Pufs, Golden Grahams, Trix, Total)
Coupons: $1/3 in SS 5/31 and SS 5/3 and SS 4/5 (exp)
Printables: $.55/1 HERE,

-Cub Cereals, $1.77

-Kelloggs Mini Wheats Cereal, $2.50
Coupons: $1/1 in RP 6/7
Final Price $1.50 (save 63 %)

--Hunt's Ketchup, $1.19

-Wish Bone Dressing, $1.50
Coupons: $1/1 in RP 5/17
Final: $.50 (save 83 %)

Nabisco Family Size Cracekers, $2.99
Coupon: Buy Ritz crackers, get Wheat Thins FREE in SS1 5/17
Final: $1.50 each (when buy both) (save 57%)

-Kemps Frozen Yogurt, $3.99/2 (use BOGO Cub Ad Coupon)
Coupon: $1/2 in SS 5/10 and SS 3/29
Final Price: $1.50 each

-Suave Deodorant, $1.50 (in buy 25 promo)
Coupons: $.75/1 in RP 5/17
Final: $.75 (save 63 %)

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Rainbow Foods Shopping --Week of 6/7 thru 6/13

by Jen · 0 comments
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I always know when my life is out of balance--because I can't stick to my grocery budget plan! So with funds smaller than usually, I won't be heading to Rainbow this week. Instead, I'm going to focus my energy on doing to Cub Catalina Deal--it's going to be awesome I hope!

If you are heading to Rainbow, you should check out Carrie's coupon match up at Pocket Your Dollars! Hope it might help you with your shopping. Thanks for reading!

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Cheerios Book Contest -- Enter to Win Four Children's Books

by Jen · 8 comments
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This Giveaway is now CLOSED -- thanks to everyone who entered! I will announce the winner very soon! You can still leave a comment sharing your summer reading plans--it's been so fun reading the comments! Thanks for reading Cents in the Cities!

Summer is a great time to read with your children. There are tons of reading programs available offered by local libraries, bookstores, and other great organizations! What can be better than packing a picnic, biking to a park, relaxing under a tree, and reading a great book together! This is definitely on our "to do" list this summer!

Over the past seven years, Cheerios has also done a great job of encouraging children to read by giving away over 35 million books in cereal boxes and through their non-profit partner First Book, which gives books to families in need.

Though their Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest, Cheerios is also interested in encouraging new and aspiring writers of children's stories! If you love to read, tell stories, and have any interest in writing a children’s story or book, consider entering their "New Author" contest. (I think this sounds like a great activity to do with your children this summer!)

Entries are being accepted between now and July 15th 2009 and will be judged on “appropriate story and content for children ages 3-8, emotional connection, writing quality, uniqueness, and read-aloud potential.” The top winner will receive a cash prize and the possible opportunity to have her book published in hard cover! Check out Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories for more information on entering this contest!

Cheerios recently sent me a "Spoonfuls of Stories" gift set (pictured above) which includes a copy of the first year's winning book "The Great Dog Wash," by winner Shellie Braeuner and three other books from the Spoonfuls library. They have also generously provided an extra set of these four books to give away to one lucky Cents in the Cities reader. These books are the perfect size to bring along to the park, to the ballgame, or to fit in your purse for any possible reading opportunity. My children and I have enjoyed reading them together and would love for your family to have the same opportunity!

To enter the contest to win this book gift set, please fill out the form below with your contact information before Friday, June 12th at 9 AM CST. Your name and email will be kept private, and I will only use them to contact the winner! To enter the contest, you must complete the form, but just for fun, leave a comment telling about your family reading plans this summer and/or one book you are planning to read with your children!

Thanks for reading Cents in the Cities and for entering my Cheerios Book Giveaway! And if you or someone you know has always wanted to write books for kids, encourage them to enter Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest!

Happy summer reading!

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Thanks for the "Awesome Blogger" Award!

Monday, June 8, 2009 by Jen · 3 comments
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I want to thank Lisa at Simply Things Family for passing on this "Extraordinary and Awesome Blogger" award to me--I really, really appreciate it (even though you caught me during my "I'm not blogging" week," and I'm really late in stating my thanks!)

During the last month or so, Lisa and I have been reading each others blog, and I can always count on Lisa to leave me a comment with her thoughts and encouragement, and I try to do the same. I don't know about other bloggers out there, but I get REALLY excited when anyone leaves a comment on one of my posts--really excited--you don't even know how excited I get (even when it's just my sister who hardly comments at all).

So it's great to have a supportive, blogging friend out there--thanks Lisa--and I so enjoy reading your posts about family and living simply. For a great blog on saving and family living, stop by and check out Simply Things Family!

I would like to pass on this "You're an Extraordinary and Awesome Blogger!" award to Sharon at Good True and Beautiful! I love reading her posts because she makes me laugh, she talks about Aldi, and the beautiful, yellow flower in her header just brightens my day and makes me feel good--seriously!

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Shopping List Round Up -- 6/7 thru 6/13

Sunday, June 7, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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If you are going to be shopping at the drugstores, Target, or Aldi this week, one of these coupon matches might help you plan and attack. It turns out Kmart is NOT doubling coupons in the Twin Cities this week--thanks for verifying this Carrie. Since I have babies on my mind, I've included Baby Cheapskates diapers/formula deals as well. Good luck with your shopping this week!

Target Deals -- HERE, Here,

Walgreens Deals -- HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE,


Babies and Formula Deals -- HERE,

Aldi Deals -- HERE,

Kmart Double Deals -- HERE, HERE, Kmart is Not doubling in Twin Cities area--bummer!
Huggies Diapers Deal with Kmart Doubles -- HERE

Crocs on Sale HERE

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Twin Cities Family Entertainment

by Jen · 0 comments
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Twin Cities readers, check out these inexpensive or free entertainment options for the area:

ComoTown at Comopark is offering free rides after 4 p.m. all week (thanks Carrie)

Free Redbox Code through 6/8 --HERE ,

Free Waterpark of America pass when you donate 5 books between now and 7/31/09 (thanks Karen)

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This Is Me -- Returning to Cents in the Cities

by Jen · 4 comments
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You may have noticed my absence from Cents in the Cities this past week, and if you did, thanks--I appreciate it! (Even my sister noticed--it's nice to know there are readers out there:) Anyway, sorry for the unannounced break.

After taking a week to run a garage sale, it took me a bit longer than expected to get my life back in order. And the weather was just beautiful in MN last week, so I just couldn't or wouldn't put those little fingers on the keyboard. But I am back, planning to post away, and, in the future, I will try my best to announce my planned or unexpected absence--communication is a good thing!

Anyway, here are a few of my rambling thoughts on what's been going on and an idea of what you will find this week on Cents in the Cities--thanks for reading!

Garage Sale -- So my sale wrapped up last week, and overall it was doable, but I'm still pondering whether it was worth it. Stay tuned for my summary post this week. I will say that I had fun and that the sale was really doable, but everything else in our household took a beating--and it took all week to recover.

Pregnancy-- I'm in week 31 of my pregnancy--still going strong! Things are going well, but I definitely have what I'm calling the "pregnancy mind." I just can't seem to focus on one thing; thus, it takes me a long time to actually decide what to do and accomplish it. Those who know me know that this really isn't unusual, but it is definitely worse right now. (Sorry if I'm complaining--trying just to state the facts.) I am starting to make the final plans--getting together baby clothing, supplies, family meal plans, etc. It's fun but there's a bit of worry in the mix.

Stroller Obsession -- A neighbor recently gave me a current car seat that hasn't been in an accident, so I have been trying to find obsessing about finding the matching stroller, but have had no luck. Instead of blogging, I've been spending tons of time on Craigslist--usually I have good luck, but this time--frustration! From the start, I planned to buy a new baby travel system, so I'm pretty sure I'm just going to do that! I'll give it one more week. . . maybe my luck will improve???

Construction-- We are also still living in construction mode, where my husband is still working on the new room in our lower level. He's close to completing it, but he still has a few weeks of work. He's working on the trim this week, and we did find a nice discount on some carpet from Menards, so it is all coming together. It's pretty contained, which is nice, but I'm ready to start using the space--NOW--where's my patience?

Shine and Rain in MN -- This last week in the Twin Cities was just the best--shorts weather but no need to run the AC. We've been biking, eating out on the patio, and just enjoying the start of the summer weather. I'm ready for school to be over (this week Tuesday)--I want to really enjoy the summer with my two kids before baby comes in August--lots of swimming, picnics, craft projects--can't wait!

It has been so dry here in MN. One thing my husband does like is a nice yard, and I like it too, but without the rain, everything is yellow and dried up. We just decided to give in and do some watering when Mother Nature helped us out--we are having a cold, wet weekend--wonderful and so needed!

This upcoming week
So here are a few posts that I'm planning for the upcoming week--hope you check in if you are interested:
--Cub and Rainbow--it's time to talk shopping and deals, don't you think? I think!
--Cheerios Book Giveaway--don't you love books in the summer?
--Aldi--I love Aldi, especially when I am not using coupons, like last week--I'll talk my favs.
--Garage Sale Wrap Up--I'm tired of talking garage sales, so I'll keep it brief
--Making My Own Cleaning Products
--Mini Vacations

Thanks again for reading! Hope you all have a great week!

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