Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rockin' Rite Aid Trip 10/2/11

Wow... I have neglected to keep up with my blog the past couple months. Life has been crazy, but you can't get rid of me that easily. I'm back, and I'm going to share my awesome Rite Aid trip from this morning.

Transaction 1 -
Pert Plus 2-in-1 $3.00
CoverGirl Mascara $8.99
CoverGirl Mascara $4.49
CoverGirl Foundation $7.99
CoverGirl Foundation $3.99
CoverGirl Blush $5.69
CoverGirl Blush $2.84

Used: $1/1 Pert coupon
2x $8/2 CoverGirl face coupon
2x $1/1 CoverGirl any product coupon

Total OOP $21.50, Received $2 +UP for Pert, $10 +UP for CoverGirl

Transaction 2 -
Prevacid 28 ct $21.99
Clearance Kids Sunglasses $1.74
2x Clearance Eclipse Gum
Clearance Orbit Gum (receipt is weird for gum, cashier entered them strange...)

Used: $4/1 Prevacid coupon
$2 +UP
$10 +UP

Total OOP $10.99, Received $10 +UP from Prevacid

Will be submitting a mail-in-rebate for Prevacid for $17.99 and a P&G mail-in-rebate for $10. And the CoverGirl cosmetics came with codes for Taylor Swift gear. I am getting 2 t-shirts, 2 keychains, and a journal for free!!

So total spent was $32.49. I have $10 left to spend at Rite Aid next week. I will be receiving $27.99 worth of rebates. And I will be getting the free goodies as well. Got 'paid' to purchase items we needed. All in all, a successful shopping trip! Definitely a change from the past few months at Rite Aid. =)

Monday, May 30, 2011

The End is Coming!

No, I'm not talking about the end of the world, a zombie apocalypse, or the supposed 'rapture'. I'm referring to the end of all things baby in this house. Monster is now working on potty training. For good. He's been back and forth about using the potty for almost a year now - some days using it almost exclusively, while other days he flat out refuses.

A week ago I hit a breaking point. I decided I was NOT going to buy anymore diapers (that's not entirely true, but I'll touch on that in a moment). Monster is almost three and a half now. He understands how to tell when he needs to go and whatnot, and he is definitely old enough to be done with diapers.

All things considered, he's been doing pretty well with it. We use underwear exclusively during the day. And during the night he wears a pull-up, as mama isn't quite ready to deal with the stresses of night training. A couple accidents (which are to be expected), but nothing too messy or untimely so far.

So this mama is happy dancing. I am so ready to be done with diapers. They're expensive, gross, and a big pain. They are the last remnant of the baby days, and I look forward to their departure. Once monster is completely done with diapers (day and night), we are throwing a party!

Coming up later this week... I found a potential way to make some extra scratch on the side online. I'm going to test it out and share my thoughts.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When I Grow Up...

As monster is growing and getting closer to being in school, I am trying to figure out what I want to do as far as a career. I've had my ups and downs being a stay-at-home-mom, and I'm glad that I was able to be with monster for these early years, but I am just about ready to re-enter the working world. The only problem is - I have NO idea what I want to do.

While I enjoy doing many things, there isn't anything that I am particularly skilled at. Nothing that I can see myself doing regularly for any significant amount of my life. I get bored very easily. If I do the same thing for too long, I get burned out and want to have a change of scenery.

I wish that I had decided a career path before having monster. I wish I had done my schooling, got a degree, and knew what I wanted. Taking a break to stay home and then going back into the field would have been so much easier. I -could- go to school now (and I'd like to eventually, not sure what for though), but I don't want to have more school loans and debt for something I might tire of in the very near future.

Schooling for and a career in massage therapy has been in the back of my mind for a couple years now. And I've recently begun doing a lot more research on it. But I'm still very unsure. Maybe I'd be more suited for a career in the nonprofit sector. I love to help and connect with people. And I want my life (insignificant as it may be in the grand scheme of things) to positively impact the world in any way possible.

Why is it when you ask a young child, "What would you like to do when you grow up?" they know exactly what they want (even if they don't later pursue it)? But when you ask me, I don't have a clue. Eh, guess I'll figure it out someday...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy Surprises

Let me start off by saying - I have the best husband in the world. All the ladies that think they have the greatest are sadly mistaken. Sorry, but they just don't hold a candle to my amazing hubs. Ok, fine... Other gals might have husbands that are great for them. And for that I am happy. But my husband is the absolute best for me, hands down. And I cannot imagine my life without him. He is my world.

Yesterday there was an unexpected knock on the door. The UPS man brought a package addressed to me. I wasn't expecting anything, so it caught me off-guard. I brought it inside and opened the personalized message. It read, "Because I love you. Because I appreciate everything you do. Because I respect who you are, and want you to be a happy panda. You're the best part of my world, and I'm thankful for you."

Aww. I was content with just that little surprise. But then I opened the box to find this assortment of goodies:

Like I said before my husband is the best. I love him with all my heart, and the love I have for him grows more each and every day. We have our ups, we have our downs. But through thick and thin he is there for me and loves me for who I am. And for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pizza Perfected

Sorry for the minor hiatus. Had a busy week and even busier weekend. Here's the pizza dough post I promised...

Finding a good pizza dough recipe can be a long and daunting task. You find one that seems promising, but it ends up being too thick/thin/doughy/whatever. I know I tried several different recipes before finding one that we all really, really like. The original recipe can be found HERE.

The first time I made it, I followed the directions as closely as possible. But the next time I made a few changes. Each time since then I've tweaked it a bit here and there (not so much the ingredients, moreso the process) to make it the best for my family's tastes. Here's what I've come up with, and it's by far the best homemade pizza dough I've tried.

Ingredients (for two large pizzas)
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups cold water

Start off by chilling the flour in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together (I start with a metal spoon, then mix by hand) until equally distributed.

Split your dough into two equal pieces. If you are not feeding a large group, freeze one dough ball (they stay fresh for up to a month in the freezer). I stick mine into a freezer bag and spray some olive oil in there, works great. Take it out of the freezer the day before you plan to use it and place in refrigerator to thaw. Then let it sit out for an hour or two on the counter right before you plan to bake it.

Sprinkle the counter with flour, and then roll your dough ball in it. Work the extra flour into the dough until it is more manageable. Then roll the dough out to an even 1/8 - 1/4". Place your sauce and choice of toppings evenly over the pizza dough (and not too thick, or the center will remain doughy). Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on how done your family prefers it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First BzzAgent Campaign -

Completed my first BzzAgent campaign for a site called, which is a social networking hub. You create a profile with and you can connect your friends and readers to your Facebook page, Flickr account, Twitter page, or blog just by sharing a link to your profile page.

The site itself is pretty easy to navigate. You are able to customize various aspects of your profile. Stock profile images to select from are slim pickings. So if you want something more interesting, it's definitely best to use a personal photograph. There is a 'biography' section, but not a lot of room to write much about yourself there.

The concept behind the site is pretty cool - connecting all your sites in one central location. But there are applications that currently do that (or very similar), so it's not particularly unique. However, there is definitely potential there.

It's worth checking out for sure. And if you sign up today they can receive a free pack of business cards from MOO. Check my profile out: and sign up at

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Theme Song Tuesday

Such a blah morning. Not feeling too hot. Exhausted. No motivation to do anything whatsoever. So I bring you today's theme song...

Hoping I can kick the blahs soon. This is no fun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Menu Planning Monday (Week of 5/2)

I'm not very good at doing things like this regularly, so no promises that this will actually happen each week. However, I will try and post a weekly menu (weeknights only, as weekends are generally spur of the moment decisions regarding food) whenever I remember to.

Monday: Herbed chicken, rice pilaf, steamed broccoli, apple slices
Tuesday: Homemade chili, rolls from scratch (hopefully... if I find a good recipe, I'll share)
Wednesday: Roast with potatoes and onions, beef gravy, green beans
Thursday: Teriyaki chicken and broccoli stir-fry over rice
Friday: Homemade pizza (stay tuned for my pizza crust recipe post later this week)

All meals are subject to change on a whim. I cook, therefore I make the rules.

I think I may also attempt some blueberry/pineapple/carrot muffins (something I have yet to come up with, but it's in the works) this week. I know it sounds weird, but in my mind the flavors blend perfectly. We'll see.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day Rite Aid Run

I didn't really -need- anything today. But I realized that I had a $3/15 coupon that expires on Wed, and a $10 +UP that expires on Saturday. I did two transactions. Here's the breakdown:

Transaction #1-
2x Revlon Beauty Tools emery boards, $0.75 each
2x Profoot Heel Rescue foot cream, $5 each
1x Profoot Flex-Tastic, $5

$3/15 Rite Aid coupon
$1/1 Profoot Heel Rescue
$1/1 Profoot Heel Rescue
$10 +UP from Cleaning

Subtotal - $1.50
Tax - $1.28
Total - $2.78

Got back - $4 +UP from Revlon Beauty Tools, $2 +UP from Profoot, will submit receipt for $10 SCR on Profoot

Transaction #2-
2x Revlon Beauty Tools emery boards, $0.75 each
1x Peepsters, $2.49
1x Palmer's Peanut Butter Egg 6 pack, $0.99
1x Cadbury Caramel Egg 4 pack, $1.79

$4 +UP from Revlon Beauty Tools
$2 +UP from Profoot

Subtotal - $0.77
Tax - $0.14
Total - $0.91

Got back - $4 +UP from Revlon Beauty Tools

Total out of pocket was $3.69 and spent $10 +UP. Will be getting back $10 SCR and have another $4 +UP to spend next week. Of course, I could have had more +UP to play with next week, but the Easter candy clearance sucked me in.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Perspective - It's a Bitch

Back before monster I thought I was 'too fat'. I was not comfortable in my own skin, and always wished to be thinner, prettier, more whatever. I wasn't huge, but I wasn't thin. I had hips, a booty, and nice curves.

Fast forward to today - Oh how I wish for my pre-monster body back!!

Everything on my body has shifted and changed. The ONLY good thing that came from the pregnancy (aside from monster himself, of course), is the fact that I actually have boobs now. Yes, the boobie fairy visited me and I am no longer flat-chested. *happy dance* But I would give them up in a heartbeat to have my body go back to what it was before. Heck, there's a lot I would give up in order to rewind my body's history. But alas, that cannot be done.

Now I could sit here, bitching and moaning all day long about how I wish things were different. But the fact of the matter is that things are the way they are and the past cannot be changed. However, hope is not lost. I can push myself to create a new body that I am able to love. Having knowledge of my body past and present will help me to remember to love my body in the future.

I share this to say enjoy where you are in life. You may wish things were different, but always remember things could be much worse. I may not like how my body looks these days, but instead of constantly putting myself down I can use my current state to push myself harder. I am a work in progress, and where I am today is not where I must remain for the rest of my life. All it takes is one step in the right direction...

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." ~Maria Robinson

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My First Recipe - Pumpkin Bran Muffins

I found a can of organic pumpkin pie mix in my cupboard that I bought a while ago and decided I wanted to use it up. So I thought about what I could make. I was already planning on baking some bran muffins this afternoon/evening. A-ha, a light bulb appeared above my head, I would make pumpkin bran muffins. 

I had used THIS recipe for applesauce bran muffins before. But I wanted to make my pumpkin muffins with less sugar/fat/calories. This is what I came up with:

Pumpkin Bran Muffins 
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c crushed bran cereal
1/4 c + 1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 15oz can organic pumpkin pie mix
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 c egg beaters (whites)
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Grease muffin tin with nonstick spray. Fill baking cups 3/4 full. Bake for 15 mins. 

I didn't want to publish this until I had tried them, in case they were terrible. But they turned out amazing!! Definitely will be making these again.

Baby Steps - One Must Crawl Before Running a Marathon

One of my many flaws is that I sometimes dream dreams bigger than I can achieve, at least not as quickly as I'd like to. I get ridiculously excited and dive in head first. Things are going great in the beginning. But soon I begin to feel overwhelmed. I had done too much too quickly, and get burned out. But instead of simply cutting back a bit, which would be the logical thing to do, I find it easier to quit. Why? I'm not exactly sure. But it's what I tend to do and I am aware of it.

So I am attempting to take a different approach to my workout and weight loss efforts this time around. I am sticking my big toe into the water and easing myself back into things. I'm hoping that through taking it slow I can keep myself motivated and stick with it for the long haul.

This is about more than just the weight loss. I am in need of a lifestyle change, a complete overhaul of my day to day. My health suffers, my quality of life suffers, everything about me suffers the longer I allow things to continue. Therefore, I am taking baby steps to get me where I need/desire to be.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Turning Over a New Leaf... Again.

Spring has come again (at least the calendar says so, even if the constant drizzle begs to differ), which means summer is right around the corner. Warmer weather means shorts, tanktops, and swimsuits (UGH). I find myself dreading summer more and more with each passing year. I prefer to wear and am most comfortable in jeans, a hoodie, and flip-flops.

My recent doctor visits have shown me something I'd been pretending wasn't happening - I have been gaining weight. Again. I didn't have struggles with my weight until I was pregnant with monster. I wasn't thin by any means, but I could eat whatever crap I wanted and barely work out without worrying about gaining weight. Heck, I lived on McDonald's, Starbucks, and ramen noodles in college and a couple years after. But now my weight is a constant battle.

After having monster, dealing with post-partum depression, going crazy, and all that jazz, I had decided enough was enough. January of 2009 I began eating healthier and working out. I busted my butt, tons of sweat and tears, and fought my way down 35lbs. A hospital visit threw off my groove, and I had fallen off track. Fast forward to today... I'm back up to the weight I started at in '09 (and hating myself for letting it get out of hand again), and I have dealt with several other medical issues. But enough is enough, and I am ready to begin anew once again.

I know it will be a tough road - I've been there. But I know I can do it - I've done it before. No more excuses. I need to take the time to take care of myself. Not just for swimsuit season (that is simply an added perk). I need to take care of my body. I need to be there for my son, for my husband. But most importantly, I need to do this for ME. I share this all in hopes that blogging about my struggles, venting my frustrations, and celebrating each little accomplishment and milestone will help to keep me accountable.  

"Visualize what you want out of life and think big. Don’t feel undeserving. We're all deserving of living our dreams—some of us realize it and some don't. You’re not doing anyone any favors by living small. Embrace these truths and step up. The world is waiting." -Jillian Michaels

Annnnnd I will end with this nonsensical song, the chorus of which is my current mantra. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Results Are In - Cherry Clafouti

The cherry clafouti was uhh... interesting. It tasted like a mix between crepes and custard. Most everyone who ate some said it was good. It was alright to me. Edible at least. Will I be making it again? I don't think so. There are too many other recipes out there with much more potential. 

Oh well, c'est la vie. You simply cannot win them all.

It's the Little Things that Count the Most

As I sit here, sipping my morning coffee, I begin to reflect on the little things. So I figured I would share some of those things that make my heart happy... 

waking up next to the love of my life

the joy on monster's face as he discovers his Easter goodies
simple yoga stretches that make me feel rejuvenated

the anticipation (on my part and monster's) of today's family get-together

my kitchen herbs that are thriving so far, delicate as they may be

ginormous hugs and a giddy 'Happy Easter' from monster

warm blankets

kisses of all varieties

The list could go on and on... I love my little family and the life we share. Happy Easter (those that celebrate) to all my friends, family, and followers!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Delights of the Dessert Variety - Cherry Clafouti

I absolutely love to bake. Making sweet treats for friends and family to enjoy is like a drug to me. Searching the web, perusing my cookbooks, and ultimately finding something new to experiment with is something I thoroughly enjoy. Of course, if I baked as much as I'd like to, I would be constantly gaining weight at an alarming rate. So I save my goodies for special occasions and get-togethers. Tomorrow is Easter, so I have been searching for the perfect recipe to try out.

I've come up with Cherry Clafouti, which I found HERE. The recipe is pretty simple and straightforward, but it looks absolutely mouth-watering. Mine turned out alright, I suppose -

Lets hope the Taylor Clan finds it to be as tasty as I hope it is. Will report back with details after it has been devoured...

Friday, April 22, 2011

For the Love of Freebies

I love free stuff. Absolutely LOVE it. But I think that is a common sentiment. Those who say they don't like free stuff are either lying or really, really crazy (and not the good kind, mind you). My favorites are full-sized items or free product coupons. But whatever the freebie is, it's more than welcome in my house.

It's especially fun when you sign up for freebies so often that you forget about them. Then when the mail comes it's like Xmas day. You have NO idea what the envelope/box contains, and the excitement is overwhelming (ok, so maybe not quite overwhelming).

For Earth Day this year I got a fun freebie. I brought in a partially used facial cleanser, and the gals at Origins gave me a free, full-size facial product. I used it and for the first time ever, my skin actually -felt- clean after I washed it. Whether or not it dries out my skin like so many other cleansers remains to be seen. But so far, two thumbs up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Couponing 101 (The Ali T Version)

First off... If you've been watching Extreme Couponing on TLC and it has sparked your interest in couponing and saving money, that's cool. But if you're expecting to do anything like on the show, know right now that it is completely unrealistic. Notice how every cast member says it's their 'biggest haul yet'. Yeah, there's a reason for that - it's NOT normal. People don't coupon like that on a daily, weekly, or even monthly (with few exceptions) basis.

Start off slow. If you dive in head first, you'll get overwhelmed. Remember, you're starting to save money on things for which you'd normally pay full price. So any savings you may have is just that - savings. Begin by getting the Sunday newspaper. Find out which local paper has all the inserts and the best place to acquire it on Sunday. Some dollar stores sell the Sunday paper for only a dollar. And they are generally well stocked.

Learn one local store or drugstore at a time. If you try to learn too much at once, you will likely get confused or again, overwhelmed. Each store has a different coupon policy. Some are simpler than others. Throw in a store loyalty card and you've got a hot mess.

Take it all one day at a time. Couponing is a constant learning process. You win some, you lose some. But deals are constantly cycling. Some cashiers/managers might give you a hard time. That's where knowing the coupon policy inside and out can come in handy. But don't let a bad day or a lost deal discourage you. The more you know, the more you will save. But all in time.