January 31, 2012

Couponing Part 2

My couponing venture was thrown off this week because Food Lion by our house was closing down and EVERYTHING was 50% off!! So - I headed over there [three times actually] and stocked up on things like: canned veggies, dried fruit, snacks, whole wheat flour, quinoa, gluten free cookie mix and coffee. There actually wasn't very much left by the time I made it because I went after work [my first trip was a no-go because I got there at 7PM and they'd closed at 6PM]. Everything was definitely picked over, but it was worth my time because we're stocked up for at least a month! And - I got everything for about $120 [so $240 worth of groceries]!

I did go to Publix last night for a few items [Food Lion was totally out of dairy products, produce and meat]. Here's how I came out:

Publix tea: $2.59
Publix Salad: $2.00 [saved $0.99]
Voskos Yogurt x3: $3.75 [saved $0.75]
Old Spice Deodorant: $3.49 [saved $1.00]
Pillsbury Wheat Grands: $1.00 [manufacturer coupon -$0.50 / doubled to $1.00 = free]
Pillsbury Wheat Grands: $1.00 [manufacturer coupon -$0.50 / doubled to $1.00 = free]
Apples: $2.65
Dean's Dip x2: $3.90 [2 store coupons -$1.00 each / 2 manufacturer coupons -$1.00 each = free]
Raspberries: $2.50 [[manufacturer coupon -$0.50 / doubled to $1.00 = $1.50]

Total Spent: $17.09
Total Saved: $12.41
Percent Saved: 42.06%
After looking at my receipt, I realized that I gave them 2 more -$1.00 coupons for the Voskos yogurt that didn't get scanned. I'll be honest, it seems like every.single.time I go to the grocery store [and it doesn't matter which one] I have problems with coupons. It's beyond frustrating! Ugh!!!!
However, I'm pleased with the 42%.  Much better than my typical 35[ish]% I'd say! I'm still working towards that goal of 50% savings. Bi-Lo & Publix are both putting out a new ad with deals starting tomorrow, so instead of rushing to Bi-Lo when I know they haven't re-stocked the shelves for last weeks deals, I'll just wait and make a list for this new ad. I'll keep you posted!

January 30, 2012

the weekend

breakfast @ Petes

before...guest bed room table

the back is covered!

mike & kayla fixin the chair

new bird fabric


almost done with the back wall!

this weekend was one of little to no plans, just how we like 'em.
friday included a work out and a Papas & Beer date
saturday was breakfast, moving furniture, lunch, antiquing, "man night" and more hanging out
sunday was divided between the Martin & McCraw crews

just how we like 'em

January 25, 2012


I've been couponing for about a year and a half now. I enjoy doing it and I really like seeing how much money I can save. For a penny pincher like myself, I love getting to the register and figuring out exactly what percentage I saved on our groceries! [And I don't even like math.] My favorite site to use is:

The site is really easy to navigate. You simply click on the tab of the grocery store where you shop at the top of the page. This takes you to the most recent ad with the deals that match. If there is a coupon that goes with an item it's listed along with where to find it. Sometimes you can just print coupons right off, other times you have to get it from an insert that comes in the paper. My inserts go back to around August of last year [anything before that is most likely expired]. I keep them in a nice stack organized by date so I can just flip right to it and cut it out, assuming I haven't already used it.

Something that helps get the best deals is not being partial to one particular grocery store. I like Bi-Lo because it offers fuel perks, but if Publix has better deals, I'm there. And...sometimes I'll go to both. For example, this week Publix has way better produce deals, so I'll probably stop by there on my way home from work one evening and do the remainder of my shopping on Sunday at Bi-Lo. If Publix wasn't on my way home from work and I had to drive out of my way to get there I probably wouldn't make 2 trips [okay, let's be real - I definitely wouldn't because I'd be spending my grocery savings on gas]. Since produce deals are hard to come by, especially in the winter I'm definitely taking advantage of this weeks ad.

Something that hurts is that I don't buy stuff in bulk or stuff that I don't need / would never use. By default I get rid of anything that hasn't been used in a while [the time I hold onto something depends on what it is], so I don't want or need tons of extra non-perishable food items overflowing from cabinets or taking up our precious, limited closet space. The extreme couponers by tons of things that they don't want or will never use and most of the time just store it in some extra room in their house. Get real people! You could and should donate those things to someone who needs it way more than you!

One of my goals with couponing has been to save 50% or more on my grocery bills. So far I've only done it once -- typically I average between 35-38% savings. Honestly that's not too shabby, but I know I can reach that 50% mark! I'll keep you posted after I do my shopping this week and maybe even post my grocery list along with the savings if I'm able to reach that 50% mark!

January 22, 2012

Crock Pot Dinner[s]

We've been in our house for a little over a month now and still have no counter tops in the kitchen. When we had the cabinets made we had butcher block counters priced and they were too high outrageous, so we had to look at other options. We came across concrete and decided those were the ones we had to have...and we even thought seriously about making them ourselves. But, when you've been working on a project for 5+ months and in the process have moved into that project - you know it's time to just get 'em done. So, we've talked with a guy in Greenville who is graciously letting Mike be his labor to save us on costs and we're getting these bad boys under way! Whooohooo!! One of the last big projects on the inside of the house will be done by the end of this week / early next week! I cannot wait. And don't worry...we'll definitely have pictures to show. 

Because we have no counter tops in the kitchen [and subsequently, no sink] I haven't been able to cook very much over the last month. Sure, breakfast is easy [although eggs would be nice] and lunch we typically just brown-bag it, but dinner is tricky. Actually we've been eating out for dinner most of the time and I honestly don't want to step foot in any restaurant within 20 miles of here for a very, very long time. I really love to cook and I miss it.

I thought I'd share with you 2 of my favorite CrockPot recipes that we've been living off of:

Slow cooked shredded chicken with corn, tomatoes and black beans. Prepare the night before and turn your crock pot on in the morning for an easy weeknight meal. Low fat and healthy. Serve over Bulgar wheat with fat free sour cream, shredded cheddar, and sliced avocado or guacamole. 

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp pepper

Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, pepper and salt in the crock potLay chicken breast on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shredReturn chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Serve over Bulgar wheat with fat free sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and sliced avocado or guacamole. 

We discovered Bulgar wheat this summer, thanks to our friends Megan and Jake [Battlecat & OTT] from the trail. It's not only healthy, but delicious [and a much needed change from brown rice or tortilla chips]. 

Crock Pot Chili
adapted from Tasty Kitchen 
Crock Pot Chili


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 package McCormick Chili Seasoning (or Preferred Choice)
  • 1 whole Green Pepper, Chopped
  • 14 oz [1 can] Whole Tomatoes
  • 14 oz [1 can] Diced Tomatoes 
  • 14 oz [1 can] Rotel 
  • 14 oz [1 can] Light Red Kidney Beans
  • 14 oz [1 can] Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 14 oz [1 can] Navy Beans [or preferred beans] 
  • Fritos or corn bread
  • cheddar cheese
  • sour cream

Note: if you want a veggie chili, skip the turkey
Additional note: I drain all but a smidge of the juice from all of the cans. Just enough for flavor but not enough to water the chili down.
Brown the ground turkey over medium heat. Once browned, drain grease and return browned meat to pan. Add chili seasoning packet to meat. *If you like a spicy chili, add in extra chili powder. Pour beef mixture into a crock pot, adding in pepper, all tomatoes and all beans. Stir and then cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve and top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and Fritos or corn bread. 
You can't go wrong with either of these dishes. Mike and I love them both and for me it'd be hard to pick a favorite. They both make a lot of food, so be prepared to share or have leftovers! (:

[both original recipes can be found under the Cook tab at the top of the blog] 

January 19, 2012

The Hunger Games

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for book sequels. It probably started my senior year at Clemson with the Twilight series. My sweet friend Whitney bought me Twilight for my birthday ... and I read all 4 of them by the end of the week. I even made late night Walmart runs to pick up the next book because I literally couldn't put them down. Who doesn't love a clean romance novel with vampires and werewolves? (: Hahaha More recently, my love for sequels was quenched by the Millennium Trilogy [which was actually to be a 10 book series, but the author died before they were finished - he actually died before the first 3 were published, so my dreams of the last 7 have been crushed]. I won't even lie - as sick and twisted as those books are I love them. I'll probably re-read them once I've whittled away at some of the books on my list. I've seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo twice [don't judge me]. And currently, I'm reading The Hunger Games. I finished the first one in the series last night and I can already tell that I'm going to be sad when they're over. I hate being sad when a book is over, really, I do...but it just happens. Anyway, as promised, here's my review of the book:

Suzanne Collins

The setting is Panem, or what used to be North America and follows 16 year-old Katniss Everdeen. The "Hunger Games" are games where kids ages 12-18 fight it out in a staged arena until only 1 victor remains. These games were created as a reminder that the 12 districts of Panem are ruled dominated by the Capitol. If your name is drawn for the Games, there is no escaping. Unless, someone steps up and volunteers to go in your stead. Katniss' sister, Prim's name is drawn and the drama begins. Katniss throws herself in Prim's place and is almost immediately swept off to begin preparation for the Games with only an hour to tell her mom, Prim and good friend Gale goodbye. From here, you enter the world of the Capitol and go through the training process with Katniss. Her background and the district she's from play a very prominent role in helping her in the Games. You also meet Peeta, the boy tribute from Katniss' district; there must be a boy and girl tribute from each district, resulting in 24 total. As the story unfolds you learn some interesting things about these two that could ultimately lead to their demise...or their salvation. I'll stop there and recommend that you run out to your nearest book store and scoop up a copy for yourself. Don't be surprised if you stay up late gobbling up the pages!  

I also finished The Treasure Principle last night...

Randy Alcorn

This is a book that our community group read together. We read it to help us discuss being courageously generous, one of the core principles at Grace. It was such a good reminder that I am just a manager of the things that God gives me - whether it's money, time, a car, food, etc. Too often I want to hold onto these things instead of giving them away. But, I know that true joy comes from giving. One of mine and Mike's "goals" this year is give more. We've been given a great chance to give some time and money to spend a few days with Grace at a missions training camp at the end of February. I'm excited to see what the Lord is going to do through this!

Here are the Key Principles:
1. God owns everything. I am his money manager.
2. My heart always goes where I put God's money.
3. Heaven, NOT earth is my home! [thank goodness!]
4. I should not live for the dot, but for the line.
5. Giving is the only antidote for materialism.
6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

January 12, 2012

sneak peak

curtains going up (:
curtains and blinds going up

i'm not quite ready to do a full before and after post with the den, but we are getting close (:

January 9, 2012

2012 Reading List

I love reading. One of my dream jobs is to be a book critic - to live in Costa Rica and sit on the beach all day while I read books for a living. Hey, a girl can dream. Anyway, like I said...I love to read. For the past 4 or 5 years I've set a reading goal [I think I've only reached it once, so here I am again]. Typically I'll read a book or a couple at a time and when I'm finished with those have no idea what I want to read next. So I decided to try something new this year: to come up with a list of books to read so I'm not wandering the aisles of our local Barnes and Noble [or surfing on the Kindle / Nook] for hours on end, picking up and putting back books that I'm not interested in, don't want to read again, or are honestly too expensive. My reading list is tabbed at the top of the blog. They are in no order and if you check it out, you'll see that I'm reading 3 books right now: Kisses from Katie, The School of Essential Ingredients, and In the Garden of Beasts.

To help keep me reading [things that I want to read and things that I may not ever pick up] I'm joining / starting a book club with some sweet friends who share my passion for reading. I'm really pumped about this and hope that it'll broaden my horizons in the reading world. Periodically I'll share reviews and give my opinion the books I'm reading [either with the club or on my own] and share whether I think it's worth reading or not. (:

First up:

Erik Larson

This book appealed to me because I'm enthralled by the WWII era. It was such simple time out of absolute necessity, but at the same time, uniquely complex. I'm loving that this book is nonfiction.

It follows the life of William E. Dodd, a college professor from Chicago, and an unlikely choice for the position of American Ambassador to New Germany in 1933. Dodd wasn't Roosevelt's first, second, or third pick for the job, but as time passes, he must pick someone. After discussing the offer with his wife [for a mere 2 hours], Dodd accepts it thinking it'll give him a chance to write the book he's been working on for many years. He and his family [wife, Mattie; daughter, Martha; son Bill] load up on the Washington, a ship bound for Europe. The family steps off the boat and into Germany in the midst of Hitler's reign coming to full power. Currently [where I am in the book] the family is getting used to life overseas. I won't give too many details in case you want to read it for yourself, but I am pleased with the amount of raw history that pours out of every page. Honestly, it's so much...I feel like I should be taking notes!

Next up:

Katie Davis

Another non-fiction. Katie is about my age and had given her life for the Kingdom. She visited Uganda during high school, fell in love with the people and the culture and knew that God was calling her back...not for a week, month, or summer long trip - but to live there and call it her home. She's started a child sponsor program to help orphaned children who stand no chance get an education, a feeding program that reaches out to the Karimojong people of Masese, and she's teaching the woman of that same village how to provide for their families in an honorable and sustainable way. Did I mention that she has 14 children? Not like 14 kids live with her on and off or she babysits them whenever - no, she has adopted 14 little girls. You cannot read this book and not be moved by the power of Jesus. I want so badly for me & Mikey to live with reckless abandon for our Savior as Katie does, whether it's here in Greenville or "to the ends of the earth" [Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, Romans 10:14-15]. Jesus is moving and we are willing. One of my sweet friends, Anna is also reading this book - check out her blog and see what she has to say about it!


Erica Bauermesiter

This book is so fun and such an easy read! It's about a chef who opens up her restaurant once a week to students for a cooking class. Each chapter is about a new student and it goes through their story while slipping back and forth between the present [the class] and the past [what brought them there]. You probably know by now that food is one of my biggest passions, so I'm soaking up the techniques and recipes that are mixed in within the chapters. I can't wait to try some of the recipes that are mentioned - some of them are totally out of my comfort zone, but they sound delicious...so I'm willing to sacrifice and give them a try. C'mon over, I'll fix dinner! (:

Here's a great wintery recipe for you from the book:

hot chocolate & coffee

1 cup milk
5 curls orange rind
1/2 stick cinnamon
4 T Mexican chocolate
1 cup coffee
whipping cream

Put milk, orange rind, cinnamon and chocolate in a saucepan and warm through. Add a touch of anise. Add to coffee and top with whipping cream

January 7, 2012

happiest 2012 to you

Better late than never (: Here are some pictures from our fabulous New Years weekend with the Martin.Tingle.Johnsen clan!

Sweet Baby D

mikey & baby E

Matt & Mikey

the boys workin!



Katie & David

New Years weekend consisted of:
lots of eating
lots of lounging
lots of reading
lots of fellowship
lots of love
...and lots of cookies 

Katie's Toll House cookiesMimi's cookies

Mel's double chocolate cookies
Em's cookies

Dale's cookies

we had well over 100 cookies 
including: carolyn's mom's sugar cookies [mine], double chocolate [mel], peanut butter with chocolate kisses [mimi], toll house chocolate chip [katie], brown sugar oatmeal [mere], chocolate chip oatmeal [em], macadamia nut [dale] 

January 5, 2012


This is not the "year of me" as I've seen so many people claiming it to be. The last thing I need is more time focused on myself. Sure, I have things that I want to do for me - like get in shape [do not roll your eyes and scoff like I've seen and heard you do when I say this], read more, cook more, vacation to the ends of the world. But, I want to focus less on me, and more on Him [John 3:30]. If I can turn my eyes from myself and this temporal world, I'm quite sure that I'll see and learn and do more things than I could ever imagine. My hope is that at the end of twenty.twelve I will be a completely different person than I am here at the beginning. I want this to be a year of unimaginable growth. I want to be challenged and stretched and pushed and pulled to be a better me, reflecting more of who I am in my Savior and less of who I am by myself. I hope that I can stop living on the edge of comfort and run with wreckless abandon to do the things I know Mikey & I are being called to do. Last year, our "year of adventure" as I'm calling it was priceless - 2012, you have a lot to live up to! [Bring.It.On]

January 3, 2012

a mish-mosh of Christmas happenings

love our friends

Mere, Megan, Mel, Me & Kayla at J & Collins' wedding

jingle bells!


O, Christmas Tree


me & boo boo

Cousins [minus Courtney & Kenny]

Man, how is it already January?  It seems like so much time and energy is spent getting ready for all things December [and Christmas / birthdays of course] and every year it comes and goes just as it did the year before. December was just as busy as the rest of the year for us which I didn't think was possible. We had the wedding of our sweet friends, J & Collins, two work parties and TONS of family get-togethers. If I had a magic wand I'd slow time down just a smidge. But, since I don't and here we are in January of another year, I'll leave you with this  (:


Happy 2012 Y'all!