Thursday, December 15, 2011

Using your stockpile: Clear the Pantry Taco Soup

I made this Uh-MAY-ZING soup last week while trying to use up some stuff in the pantry!  I think there are several variations on this same recipe and I just tried to remember from memory what it was (and threw in a few extra ingredients I"m sure).  In any case, it turned out FABULOUS!

Check it out:

Cook 1-1.5 lbs of ground beef and 1/2 cup sweet onion in skillet until meat is no longer pink.  Drain.
Combine the following in a 5-6 quart slow cooker:
Meat mixture
Taco seasoning packet
Ranch dressing packet
2 cans of Ranch style beans (you can also use pinto and black beans or any combination--I'm sure all would be great!)
2 cans whole kernel corn--I drained one and not the other
2 cans of diced chili-style tomatoes--undrained
Water (maybe 1 cup? I didn't measure!)
3/4 of a can of light beer

Then cover and cook on low 5-6 hours!  That's it!

I sprinkled sharp cheddar cheese on the top and served it with tortilla chips.  You could also garnish with sour cream.

I like to scoop and eat with the chips.  Yummers.

I didn't take a picture because my family literally DEVOURED it.

It makes ALOT so if you have a smaller family, freeze the rest!  I couldn't re-freeze because my ground beef had been previously frozen.  (You can't re-freeze meat once it has been thawed--Yucky).

So that is how you can make use of some of your stockpile pantry items!!!  I would love to hear from you if you make the soup!  This was a GREAT "rainy day" meal!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letting it go (and being okay with it!)

We are officially starting the 12 days before Christmas.  Do you feel the pressure?  I do!  It seems there are a million things needing my time or energy: coupon classes, giving back (RACK), kid's parties, kid's gifts for said parties, designing, couponing, shopping for my own pantry, playing with my kids, all while trying to savor the season.  
It's ALOT.

I was in my mom's group this past Friday where we had a guest speaker talk about her (many!) Christmas traditions.  I love traditions--for our family, some are intentional (Elf on the Shelf) and some aren't (Christmas PJ's).  As the speaker went on (and on!) about her glorious traditions and associated memories, I could see the other mom's eyes glazing over and I knew what they were thinking: Am I NOT a good mom because we don't make cookies/have 5 trees/ buy Christmas PJ's/make a gingerbread house/have an elf on the shelf?  Of course we (should) know the answer: NO!  However, this time of year it is easy to feel obligated, and as moms, it is very very easy to make ourselves feel bad about what we HAVEN'T done. 

I am here to tell you to 

Let it go.

Here is a glimpse at what I haven't done:

  • I haven't RACK'd anyone in 3 days (yes three).  I know it's sorta been "my thing."  Life happens.  Mommies People get sick and overwhelmed. And you know what?  I'm letting it go.
  • I don't have a cool idea every day of where to move my elf.  In fact, I am thinking that next year the Elf might just stay at the North Pole! People take time off, and maybe our elf will too.  The kids will get a nice note saying he is sending secret spies so behave.  And you know what?  We will let it go!

  • I haven't looked at Pinterest in quite a while. Believe me, I love (and I mean really LOVE) Pinterest.  What I don't love is how it makes you feel that Oh-my-goodness-I'm-not-a-good-mom-if-I-don't-make-fabulously-creative-homemade-treats-for-the-classroom kind of feeling.  I love ideas.  I don't love guilt.

  • I haven't made sugar cookies with my kids.  This was a tradition I did with my mom and I try to carry it to our family as well. Oh well.  I'm letting it go.

  • I haven't decorated the outside of my house.  No wreath, no ribbon, not even a Merry Christmas doormat. It's okay and I'm letting it go.

  • I haven't contributed to my daughter's classroom gift for the teacher.  Let me pull a Rick Perry here: "Oops".  I have some coasters and mug and we will make it work (or maybe we won't!  Time will tell!) Either way, I'm letting it go!

  • I have said NO to many "White Elephant gift" type of Christmas party events.  I'll hug you in January and we will call it good.

  • I haven't sent out Christmas cards.  We have moved 4 times in the last 10 years--You want to know what I'm up to?  Find me on Facebook.  You'll see where my 2 year-old is missing two teeth, has had stitches, drinks from the carton of milk and climbs to the top of the pantry.  And that's just one kid!  Case in point of why I don't have the time or patience to try to send out Christmas cards.  I'm just trying to keep that kid alive.  

  • I haven't had our family's Christmas picture made.  Why? Aforementioned two year-old wouldn't sit still for it anyways.  We'll see ya in 2012.  I'm letting it go.

  • I haven't taken my kids to see Santa.  I made a (FREE!) video online where Santa sent them his own (personalized) message and we're good.  See ya in 2012, St. Nick!

  • I haven't used coupons as much as normal! This isn't related to Christmas, but hey--sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  And sometimes that means that you have to buy Poptarts at full price without a coupon.  And then you let it go.  You can't make yourself crazy over missing out on saving $1.

And you know what? Despite what we did or didn't do-- I'M OKAY.  
And better yet, my kids don't even really care. 
The anticipation of the holiday itself is plenty.  PLENTY.

And so maybe this point was a little mostly for my own benefit.  To remind myself that the kids won't remember what we didn't do--truth be told, they probably won't remember what DID do or even that we skipped a year on some many things. 

Because here is what it boils down to: CHRISTmas.  
It's not JACKSONmas or SANTAmas.  Really the only tradition that is important is reminding, and teaching, my kids that point.  
All of the rest of those traditions are just icing on the cake.  

Our guest speaker at that meeting made a great point--when you are gone one day, all that will be left is memories. Presents will make their way to yard sale fodder, food will get eaten, but it's the memories your family will still have of you during the season.  
I don't want my kids to remember a crazy and stressed out mommy.
I want to smile more and find more joy in what I'm doing for the holiday.

What about you?  How do you want to be remembered?

This my RACK for today--this advice for you (and probably for myself as well).  
Let. the. guilt. go. 
Or at least promise you'll try. ;-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Drugstore Shopping

If you have taken my coupon class, you know that drug store shopping is my FAVORITE.  Believe it or not, I don't even go every week!!!  I really depends on how much time I have or how badly I want the items that are on sale.  Remember--it all goes on sale again eventually!

Here is what I did this week--no crazy scenarios, but I still managed to score diapers, medicine, a pedicure for a Christmas party, gifts for my RACK project (candy) and stocking stuffers for my kids for just $11=tax!

Take a look:

Transaction 1:
(2) Triaminic Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer 2 for $10
-(2) $3/1 Q from 12/4 SS
Total OOP= $4 with $3 Register Rewards ($.50 each!)

Transaction 2:
(6) Snicker’s Nutcrackers $39 with in-ad coupon
-(2) $1/2 Mars coupons (December All You mag and printable NLA)
I bought six so I wouldn’t get beepage –all 6 totaled only $0.34!
(3) Nestle Butterfinger Coins at 3 for $1.50
-$.45/3 December Coupon booklet
Kiss Nail art kit $7.99
-$1/1 coupon my Jedi cashier hooked me up with
-$1/1 December Coupon booklet
-Used my $3 RR from Trans 1
Total OOP:$4.05

1 pack Luv’s diapers at $6.99          $2 ECB
1 box Candy canes at $1.27             $1.27 ECB

And after FINDING peelies on the ground PLUS getting a coupon from the coupon machine I got…..
2 bags M&M’s 2 for $5                     $1 ECB
-$1/2 peelie on ground
-$.50/2 CVS coupon from Magic Coupon Machine

-Used Black Friday ECB’s: $2.99, $.99, $4

Total OOP: $3.78                               $5 ECB total                          
My total could have been lower, but I only went with the coupons I had in my coupon wallet (and found on the ground! ha!) so the M&M’s were a last minute purchase!

In total I spent $11.83 and saved $33.48 or 65% PLUS $5 ECB left to spend next week!

What is your favorite drug store to shop???