Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: tips (page 1 of 3)

What can you do with that container?


The Styrofoam leftover container.

It presents so many possibilities.

If only you had one of those containers, you could fill it with your leftovers. You could take that single serving to someone who lives alone and they wouldn’t have to cook dinner. Better yet, you could take it and eat with them. Talk to them. Think of all the people you could serve if you just had the right container. I’ll bet there is someone near you that would really appreciate a dinner, a treat, a surprise. More than that, though, they would know that you were thinking of them.

So get a container–any container. It could be a special leftovers container, it could be your old gladwear or rubbermaid containers, or it could be a simple paper plate. It’s not the container that matters. Fill that plate with food. The dinner that you made too much of, the cookies that you want out of the house, or the bread you made this morning.

Now think for a minute who around you could use some love.
There’s someone who just had a baby
Someone had surgery.
Someone who’s mother is dying and they haven’t had time to think about dinner.
There’s someone in your neighborhood who feels isolated and alone,
Someone who lives in the neighbor’s basement apartment and doesn’t think anyone knows they are even there,
Someone who is sick,
Someone who is caring for their aged spouse and can’t leave the house much,
Someone who’s pregnant,
Someone who is worried about their teenager.
How about the neighbor whose missionary just came home?
One of your neighbors is having trouble at work. Maybe their business is going badly, or maybe their small start up company is booming so fast, they don’t have time to think.
Someone just lost their job.
What about that neighbor who doesn’t come to church,
Or the family who just moved in? They have boxes all over, and haven’t even thought of how they are going to feed the family tonight.
Someone’s oven is broken. Again.
Someone’s in the middle of a painting or remodeling project.
Someone is alone, thinking of the spouse that they loved who has died.
Someone is surrounded by three kids under 5, just wishing they were alone.
There’s the neighbor whose car is in the shop, so she couldn’t go out and get groceries this week. She’s looking at the cupboard wondering what she’s going to make with tomato juice, macaroni, and canned peaches.
Someone’s husband is out of town on business, and she is feeling overwhelmed.
Someone is trying to figure out the taxes.
Did you know that your neighbor has had three kids get sick in the past week? I’ll bet she wouldn’t so no if dinner showed up at the door.
Someone is battling depression and doesn’t feel like she can even step outside.
Someone just found out they have cancer.
Someone has given up hope.

Wouldn’t they love to know that you were thinking of them?

If you are saying to yourself, “I’m a terrible cook. No one wants to eat something that I made. I was just going to go pick up a pizza for my family tonight.” Then pick up extra. Drop one off at that neighbor’s house. Ring the bell and say that the delivery is here. Give them a hug, and leave. Or pick up cookies from the grocery store. No judgement on your cooking skills.

It doesn’t have to be wrapped fancy. It doesn’t even have to be food. Do you have a book you loved and you think a friend might enjoy it? Drop it off with a note letting them know you were thinking of them.

Don’t want them to know it’s from you? Do the doorbell ditch. Leave the package on the front step, ring the bell, and run around the corner. It’s exhilarating. It’s fun to not get caught. (Just make sure someone is actually home or the stray dog might find your goodies.)

Afraid to go to the neighbor’s house? Write a note. Mail it.

If you read that list above and think…That’s me! I’m experiencing one or two of those difficult situations! Someone should bring me something!
Don’t think you are exempt from service. You need to do service now, even though it’s hard. Nothing will make you feel better about your situation than serving someone else.

Too many people are alone, or FEEL like they are alone in their situation. All of us feel that way sometimes. Why not share? Share your food, share your leftovers, share your cookies, share your time, share your LOVE.

You can make your world a better place just by filling up that container, and showing someone else how much you care.

Slap some jam on that slice

I recently went to a cooking show at Thanksgiving point with my friend, Tess. We enjoyed watching the presenters and got some new recipes to try at home. One duo of presenters showed us some fun things they do with bread, but didn’t put their bread recipe in the booklet. What? Instead, they told us we could go online to their website, and watch the first DVD on bread making for free for three days. So, I went online and used the code provided and watched the video. It really wasn’t all that secret, but I did write down their bread recipe and wanted to give it a try. The only “secret” ingredients were bread flour and liquid lecithin. I had to go to two grocery stores to find the lecithin, but once I had it, I gave it a try.

Even though I kind of messed up and forgot to put in the sugar until it was mixing, it turned out great, rose quickly, and was light and fluffy bread.

I even tried the Italian loaf and was pleased with how that turned out as well.

I made another batch yesterday, and we cut it when it was hot from the oven. It was so yummy, in fact, that I couldn’t wait to take a bite, even for a picture.

Now, I’m not saying I’ll switch from my whole wheat bread to this recipe, but it’s nice to have options. In the past, my attempts at white bread (and rolls) have NOT been that successful, and it wasn’t something I would be proud of sharing. But this recipe seems to be pretty kind and forgiving, and I’ve even got some dough in the fridge to use for pizza crusts later this week. I think it’s a keeper.

White bread
10 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBS salt
3 TBS of SAF instant yeast
(mix these dry ingredients together in the Bosch before adding the wet ingredients)
add about 3 TBS liquid lecithin. (Here’s their tip for this one. Don’t use a measuring spoon because it’s so sticky, it will NOT come clean. Just squirt three quarter sized blobs right onto your flour mixture. You needn’t be totally precise on this one)
4 cups of very hot water

Start mixing, and mix for 5 minutes. The dough should be sticky, not a nice even ball. If it’s not sticky, add some water, about a TBS at a time. (I have had to add about 1/4 cup more water, because it didn’t seem sticky)

Spray the counter with Pam or cooking spray, then dump this sticky glob of dough onto the counter, and knead it a bit by hand. Cut this into four parts, and put this into bread pans. If you want, you can spray the inside of a plastic bag and save some dough for later, but only if you are going to roll that dough. I used my saved dough for cinnamon rolls and pizza crusts a couple days later and it was still good.

Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 25 minutes.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

There you have it. If you want to give it a try, it makes a pretty nice loaf of bread.

How to do New York on the cheap

We decided to keep track of our expenses in New York, just to see how much our “free trip” cost us, and Ryan whipped out a little program on his phone and REALLY kept track. Every souvenir, even snacks he wrote down. I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t be so vigilant about the record keeping, but it was interesting to know how much we were really spending.

We already had the most expensive part covered. The prize included the airfare and the hotel, which was the MAJOR expense.

Date Category Description Amount
21-Mar Travel 2 bags checked $50.00
21-Mar Food Lunch at DFW $9.00
21-Mar Taxis Taxi from LaGuardia to Hotel $35.00
21-Mar Food Long Room NYC $36.47
21-Mar Food Walgreens (Snacks) $11.46
22-Mar Travel MetroCards (2) $58.00
22-Mar Food Lunch at the Met $22.50
22-Mar Clothing Hat $14.62
22-Mar Entertainment CityPass (2) $158.00
22-Mar Food Oatmeal $5.99
22-Mar Food Hi-Chew $3.46
23-Mar Taxis Taxi to Nate Burkus Show $7.00
23-Mar Food Lunch at Mangia Salad Bar $21.00
24-Mar Food Lunch at Ellis Island $22.32
24-Mar Souvenirs Souvenirs at Ellis Island $12.84
24-Mar Souvenirs Liberty Bear $13.07
24-Mar Souvenirs Souvenirs — Empire State Bldg. $27.40
24-Mar Food Baja Fresh $20.46
25-Mar Entertainment Hotel Internet $19.37
25-Mar Food Snacks at Central Park $12.00
25-Mar Tips Bag handling tips, etc. $7.00
25-Mar Taxis Taxi to JFK $60.00
25-Mar Food Dinner at JFK $24.41
26-Mar Travel Parking at SLC Airport $35.00

TOTAL: $686.37

If you break it down into categories, we spent
$85 on checking bags and parking (could have avoided that $50 if we were flying Delta or Jet Blue, or if we had not checked bags, and the parking fee if we had had someone drop us off and pick us up)
$102 on taxis (if we really wanted to be frugal, we could have taken public transit to and from the airport, but that just sounded like a huge pain)
$162.15 on meals. We went out to dinner with an associate of Ryan’s one night, and he picked up the tab. That was our most expensive dinner and we didn’t have to pay! The rest of the time, we didn’t really plan our meals, but when we were hungry, looked to see what was around. While not cheap, our lunches and dinners averaged about $25 each. Our hotel did not offer us free breakfast, but we made oatmeal in our room and that was good enough for breakfast.
$26.92 on snacks. We stopped in at Walgreens and got some snacks to drag along with us, and I also had packed some snacks from home, including a few bottles of diet coke in my checked luggage. Everything in NY is more expensive, so I should have let Ryan pick out snacks here at home, and we could have saved on the snacks. But sometimes, you are starving and just HAVE to buy a hot dog and some nuts in central park.
$158 on the New York Citypass. This is a real money saver! It included admission to ALL the attractions we went to, and we did them all. There were also a few extras that were included, like the audio tour at the Empire State Building, which was included with the city pass, and even though I would never have paid the extra cost, it was really a neat way to view the city and learn. And it saved us standing in a few lines to purchase tickets, so it was WELL worth the cost.
$67.93 on souvenirs. Yes, we are totally cheap. I would have liked to have gotten a really cute purse, but I didn’t end up doing that. The only thing I bought for myself was a hat, and it was kind of a necessity because it was cold and windy. We bought some stuff for the kids, and that was it.
$58.00 on two week long Metro cards. Even though we were only there 5 days, the week long metro cards were worth it. Otherwise we’d have to buy a ton of single use cards for $2.50 each, and that would have cost even more money.
$26.37 misc. This includes tips and internet. We used Ryan’s loaner smart phone for most of the time, but did splurge on one nights internet charges (almost $20 for internet each night is so steep, we tried to do without it)

We didn’t see any Broadway shows, which would have seriously upped our total. We instead attended tv show tapings, which was also really fun.

So, there you have it. Our grand total for 5 days in New York City was under $700! How’s that for cheap?

What a deal on eats

By now you’ve surely heard about, where you can buy discounted gift certificates for restaurants all over. And they are constantly having sales and special coupon codes to make it even cheaper. Well, right now they have one heck of a deal going on.

Just use coupon code GIVE at checkout which will take 80% off of $25 Gift Certificates and leave you to pay ONLY $2! This is a great opportunity to stock up on gift certificates for Christmas gifts, Birthday gifts, to use on upcoming vacations or just to have on stock for date night. Just be sure to enter the promo code GIVE at checkout.

To make this deal even better, if you go through
ShopAtHome Banner

You can get 30% back. Have I told you about yet? I just received a check for $35, all from clicking through ShopatHome before I shop online. There are specials, discounts, and always a percentage back. Just go on over here and sign up and start earning cash back.

I just ordered 6 $25 gift certificates for $14, then I’ll get 30% of that (a little more than $4, but still, it’s cash back!), so it’s quite a deal.

Zits and facial hair–must we go there?

Am I the only one who puts toothpaste on zits?

Don’t laugh. It works.

When you’ve got a big old zit under the skin and you can tell in 2 or 3 days it’s going come out of the closet and explode onto your face, you put a dab of white toothpaste on it before you go to bed. Yes, it might tingle a little bit, and yes, it might smell minty (what’s the downside of that?) and you might get a little on your pillowcase, and your kids or husband might mock you when you go in to their rooms to say prayers or kiss them goodnight, but pay no attention, because it works.

In the morning, that zit will be significantly less—big. The toothpaste must suck out some of the oil or puss or whatever is in there, and dries it up. I’m not saying it’s going to totally go away, but it will be smaller. And then you could do it again the next night if you want.

I know some of you must have heard of this because otherwise, where else would I learn such a thing? It must have been from a roommate or something.

Speaking of faces (yes, we were kind of speaking of faces, right?) Something’s happened to my husband’s face that is more than a little bit disturbing.

That’s him standing with Cole and Megan.

I know you were thinking, “Who is that strange man standing by Paige’s kids? Isn’t she worried that he’ll abduct them and run off with them?” or “Hey, I think I’ve seen that guy in a movie once before. Yeah, Grizzly Adams, that’s it.”

Here’s the story. Ryan claims that when he went to Korea back in June, he forgot his shaver, and then it was too long to shave. Or something like that. And from then on I think he’s just been growing it to annoy me. He gets comments from GUYS like, “cool beard” or, “looking snazzy” or just admiring his ability to grow facial hair in general. But really, unless you’re in the band ZZTop, I don’t see how that’s a valuable skill. And now it’s getting all “tufty” and icky looking, it’s just about more than I can stand. And hair in your nose when you kiss your husband? Let’s not go there.
Pioneer Day is over, dude.

I’ve encouraged him to even shave it into a nice goatee or just trim it AT ALL, but my pleas fall on deaf ears.

So–let’s put it to a vote, which face do you like better?

Clean shaven man who liked babies? or angry looking scary man?

Eating from the pantry challenge week 2

This challenge is harder than I thought it would be. Even though I know I CAN eat strictly from my pantry and food storage, the hard part is making me DO it. This week Macey’s had captain crunch on sale 5 boxes for $5. I Really REALLY wanted to go and stock up on Captain crunch and granola bars, since that’s a very good price, but I didn’t do it. I also did NOT go to Walgreens, even though I had coupons for items that were on a buy one get one free sale, and I could have stocked up on the cheap.

We did have to go and buy some fresh food, though. Here’s what $25 will buy.

Ok, not TWICE that, but one of those pictures. ( I’m having some technical difficulties, but I don’t want to take the time to figure it out and fix it. Maybe my administrator can see to that later.)
Actually, as you can see by my receipt, I spent $26.

Saturday, however, we encountered a problem. We went to Costco. I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to go to Costco while doing this challenge, but we were right there, and we needed milk. In total, I spent over $100 at Costco, but that wasn’t all food. As I add up the actual Groceries from my receipts, I see that I spent $20 on cheese, ham, clementines, bananas and milk. Ugh. But if I count that as this weeks shopping trip, then I’m still within my limit.

Saturday night Ryan and I went out on a date, and afterward we had to run to walmart for some paint for our little mudroom improvement project that’s going on. While there, we also picked up birdseed, and I realized we were almost out of bread, so we added two loaves of bread to the cart. Ryan was teasing me about “cheating” and that he was going to add that to the total for me, but I’m coming clean. We also bought some soda, but that was FOR A SCIENCE FAIR PROJECT, not just for drinking, so it doesn’t count.

So, there you have it, folks. As long as I don’t spend any money this week (ahem), I’ll still be on track.

Of course, I’m planning a birthday party for the end of the month, and I can’t possibly be expected to pull that off without spending additional money, can I?

So, we’ll eat from our freezer and pantry this week. I’ve got a turkey in the freezer I’ve got to thaw out so we can cook that on Sunday. Then we can have leftover from that for the whole next week! So, I think we can do it.

Eat from the pantry challenge–week 1

One week down, and I’m proud of how we’ve done. We’ve eaten soup, corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti,meatball sandwiches, meat gravy over mashed potatoes, and some leftovers.

Around Thanksgiving, I bought a HUGE bag of yukon gold potatoes, and I’m having a hard time eating them all. This week I noticed that they are starting to sprout, so I took action. I cooked up three big pots of potatoes, then mashed them, adding only chicken broth. Then I froze them in freezer bags so that I can have quick mashed potatoes later. I also made up a big batch of potato salad for Megan, my potato salad lover. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get through all of these potatoes before they go bad, but I’ll try. This week we’ll bake them up as fries, or maybe loaded potato skins.

I’ve also gotten some “help” in my challenge.My neighbor called and asked if I needed fresh eggs. I had JUST gone to the store, so I told him I could only afford 18 eggs, and he said, well, how about if I give you two dozen, but only charge you for one dozen? Well, that’s a good deal for me, so I got two dozen fresh eggs for only $2. Yes, it went over my $25, but I’ll try to cut back by $2 this week. My sister-in-law even gave us her leftover ham from Christmas! Hey, we’ll never turn down ham.

By Friday night I was kind of tired of cooking, and I told Cole he was in charge of thinking of something to have for dinner. He said How about Ramen noodles? Sounded great to me. I like it that the kids actually WANT to eat ramen noodles. And since Ryan was out of town, there was no need to make a “real” dinner. Although last night we did have a roast (from the freezer) with sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, and carrots. So we’ll have some leftovers from that dinner to use up this week.

I only went to the grocery store one time this week, and I almost stayed within my $25 budget. I did go over by a couple bucks, but I actually put some things back, when I realised I hadn’t bought the right item that was on sale and went with the coupon I had.


That’s not a whole lot of food, is it?

This week I’ll need more fruit, as I was getting tired of apples and canned fruit, but I guess that’s the point, right? We had bread in the freezer, but we’re almost out of that, so I’m going to have to make my own bread or buy some more this week. This week we also ran out of the cheese that the kids like. It’s the presliced American cheese that I buy in a huge block at Costco. But I don’t think I can go into Costco and ONLY spend $25, so that cheese might just be a no no.

We also did some baking. I brought out a bag of muffins I had stored in the freezer. The kids gobbled up those muffins and asked that we make some more. So on Sunday we made a bunch of two different kinds of muffins for the kids to grab and eat.

The hardest part for me is seeing the deals on cereal and other stock up items that I can’t buy right now. We do NOT need cereal, as I buy lots of it when it’s on sale, but I hate to pass up a deal. I’m also getting low on diet coke, so I’m going to have to add that to the list this week.

How are you doing? Did you eat from the pantry this week and avoid going to the grocery store? Well, if you didn’t, it’s not too late to try.

Eat from the pantry Challenge

Money Saving Mom is working to encourage you to shop less. The idea is that we all have so much food in our pantries already that we regularly forget about. Instead, we end up shopping and spending more when we don’t really need to. This month, the goal is to try and use what you have on hand, which will force you to be a little bit more creative than usual and will help you save money in the process.

I’ve decided to join in this challenge. My goals are:

* To reduce our grocery spending to $100 in January

* To “clean out” our freezer and pantry

* To learn to “make do” with what we have!

I think that we have enough food storage that I should be able to “get by” with just buying a few fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and maybe bread.

I’ll try to post once a week about what we’ve eaten, if we’ve had any failures or successes, and what we really need to add to our food storage for next time.

If you’d like to join this challenge, it’s not too late.

Here’s to a healthy and frugal 2010

Pinata Power

Remember John’s fabulous Yoda Pinata? Of course you do. Who could forget?

Well, I just wanted to give a shout out to the fabulous pinata makers at Happy Pinata, who made that for us. Check it out–they make all kinds of pinata, even custom pinatas, for $20 or less!

They are based here in Utah county, so that wouldn’t really help you if you are in Wisconsin, but for you locals, you can call them at 801-794-2110 OR 801-472-1221 or just go to their website,

I’m going to remember this the next time some demanding child of mine asks for some outrageous jar jar binks pinata, or a Buzz lightyear pinata, or a Brats pinata, or an American girl Kit pinata or some other silly specific thing.

Hopefully this knowledge can save one or more of you a lot of stress when planning your next birthday party.

(and I apologize for not knowing how to put the cool little squiggle thing above the N. I’m obviously not a Spanish speaker. Or typist.)

Fresh and (whistle here) clean as a whistle

We have a lot of deer where we live. In fact, last year we received a nice letter from them thanking me for all the lovely tulips I plant. I read in Martha Stewart magazine that to repel deer, put Irish Spring shavings on the plants that you are trying to protect. Then when the deer lean down to nibble on the crunchy goodness that is your favorite tulip plant, they’ll smell the strong “clean as a whistle” smell and turn away.

I decided to give it a try. A few bars of soap is cheaper than the pre-bottled deer repellent, and it smells better, too.

First we grated our soap.
The kids were a big help with this one, as they really like to use the cheese grater. Once they got the hang of it, they could do soap, too.
Of course, we found out that these little soap flakes also repel my dear husband. He came home from work and said, “What is that smell?” and began with the sneezing. We had a few shavings on the floor, I’ll admit, and there was a distinct soap smell.

Next we went outside and sprinkled the lovely green shavings on all the tender tulips. I had to show the kids which ones were tulips, and I must admit they put some on other plants, too, but I don’t think that will hurt anything.

When Ryan’s parents came the next day, they asked about the bright green shavings on the plants, but after a day or so the color faded so it’s hardly noticeable. And I must say, there has not been any tulip munching going on. I do not know if the deer just haven’t been around, or if we are really repelling them. We’ll have to wait and see.

With the snow yesterday, I fear the effectiveness of the soap may have worn off. Or washed away. So we’re going to be giving them another sprinkle or two of the soap once the snow all melts.

Great idea? or silly soap waster? Ryan laughs at my “soap deer repellent”, but I am not deterred in my efforts to save my tulips.

Manly? Yes. But I like it, too!

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