Monday, July 30, 2012

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli - Pinterest challenge

Today we tried a new recipe for dinner - Crockpot Beef and Broccoli (inspired by a pin on Pinterest leading me to Chef-in-Training).

I can say the recipe is fool-proof.  My husband had the day off from work today and wanted to be a part of the dinner making process, so who was I to argue?    As I gathered up the ingredients, he cut up all of the beef into small strips and all of the broccoli.   Then he just started tossing everything into the crockpot - before I even had a chance to combine the sauce ingredients as the recipe specifies.  His logic ? -  well it's all going to end up together in there anyway.   Insert me rolling my eyes here.    But hey, I figured if it was a flop, I could give him the credit for that!!

Not a flop at all!!   We did need to add some extra cornstarch near the end to thicken it up more but that's minor.  We could have thickened it even more, but the rice we served on the side soaked up the juice beautifully!  The broccoli was only a tad bit mushy, despite being in the crockpot for the entire cooking process and not just being added near the end, but it still held its shape and flavor!    He had even threw in a handful of carrots for some extra color and flavor.    

Here's how our version turned out!    All 4 of us loved it, so it's definitely going into our tried and true recipes!!!

Here's Chef-In-Training's recipe:

1 lb. boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consomme
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
Hot cooked rice

Place beef in crock pot.
In a small bowl, combine consomme, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil and garlic.  Pour over beef.
Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
In a cup, stir cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add to crock pot.  Stir well to combine.
Blanch broccoli florets and add to the crock pot.  Stir to combine.
Cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes on HIGH or until thickened.
Serve over hot, cooked rice.

MIY - Menu Planner board - Pinterest Challenge

Ready for a shocking disclaimer?  I don't enjoy cooking!!  I cook solely because my family needs to eat.    When I go grocery shopping, I do make sure that we have enough things to cook dinner each night, but up until recently if one of my boys had asked me what was for dinner on a typical day, chances are high that I wouldn't be able to tell them until about 5pm, when I went to the freezer and grabbed something and started cooking.   And sadly, my repertoire of recipes was limited to a few tried and true family favorites.

But we are now in week two of a new family tradition.  Now instead of me being the sole planner for dinner, I've enlisted the help of my husband and both of our boys.    After all, since they'll be eating dinner, it's only fair that they have some input into what we'll be eating each week.  So far the boys input has been limited - but how easy would it be if we could alternate between spaghetti and tacos each and every night!  And my repertoire of tried and true recipes will hopefully grow too, because I'm challenging myself to try at least 1 new recipe each week. 

Last week it was Crockpot Rotisserie chicken, Tacos, Spaghetti, BBQ porkchops - this week it's Beef and Broccoli, Orange Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese, Parmesan Crusted Pollock and Dijon/maple crockpot chicken, hamburgers and a leftovers night!

In keeping with my Pinterest daily challenge, yesterday I decided to put together a menu planning board to put on the refrigerator (Inspired by a post on The Creative Mama.)   With the board prominently placed,  there's no more asking 'What's for Dinner, mom?'   And with the boys involved in the planning process, they've even been wanting to help out a bit in the actual prep work and cooking work, which doesn't hurt my feelings at all.

Here's my creation:

Construction was pretty easy and used things that we already had around the house.  We have a small inexpensive (in other words CHEAP!) chest of drawers down in the basement that has been repurposed into a shelf unit because the drawers kept falling apart and my menu board uses the bottom piece of the drawer.  I just took my spray adhesive and covered it up using black coverstock.   Seven clothespins and a few other scrapbooking papers and embellishments,  my Cricut and a box (I used a gelatin box cut almost in half and covered with paper) down on the corner to hold other meal idea cards later and assembly was finished.

I do still need a more permanent method to attach the board to the side of the refridgerator, just because it's a little heavier than I'd initially envisioned.   For now I've glued a few old magnetic business cards to the back of the board, but I really think I need some stronger magnets.  But other than that little aspect, I'm so excited to have something that will help us plan our weekly meals and that looks cool while doing so.    Now if only I could find someone who'd want to volunteer to come over and cook our planned dinners every night, I'd be even more excited!!!

Do you plan your meals for the week too or do you use my old 'grab whatever and go with it' process?  Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a planning board that you'd like to share, please post the link!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Pinterest Daily Challenge!

I've been such a bad blogger for so long, but I'm going to try to be better, and I think I have the perfect motivator to do so!!!  My motivator?  My own personal Pinterest Daily Challenge.      For those of you that don't know, Pinterest is just the coolest thing.     Basically, it's a online social photo sharing website where you can create your own 'boards' and then 'pin' pictures that you are inspired by.    I currently have 13 different boards, including 'Foods to Try', 'Ideas for my House', 'Crafting with the Kids', 'Crafts to Try' and my 'Pinterest Daily Challenge'.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.  And if you'd like an invitation to join, please let me know and I'll be happy to email one to you!

I've been a member at Pinterest for a few months now and really hadn't done too much with it, other than add a few pins to my boards for someday.   Well, someday has come. Why wait for someday when I can start implementing some of these things that I'm inspired by, now?   And so my daily challenge was born.    For the past couple of weeks, I've been doing at least one thing that I've seen on the site and done them myself.    It can be anything, a decorating idea, a new recipe, a household cleaning tip, whatever.    

So far in the past 20 days, I've tried 9 new recipes, started making homemade cleaners (who knew you could do so much with vinegar and/or baking soda!) and have done a few new home decor tips, and I thought I'd start sharing my Pinterest adventures with you!

My first daily challenge had me upcycling 2 broken hockey sticks to create new curtain rods in each of my boys' hockey bedrooms!  (inspiration by an idea from Better Homes and Gardens).   Over the next few days, I'll fill you in on some of the other things that I've done!

What was my project for today?    A Menu Planning board for my kitchen, inspired by one that The Creative Mama posted on her blog.    My glue is still drying and I still have a few more finishing touches to make, but come back tomorrow for a picture!!!

 If you've been inspired to try something that you've seen on Pinterest, please feel free to share below!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

BJ's Wholesale Club - 1 Day Shopping Pass

Are you a member of BJ's Wholesale Club?  If you are, then you must know that they carry everything from groceries to books to furniture and even tires!!   But if you aren't, keep reading because this offer is for you! 

BJ's Wholesale Club is offering a 1 Day Shopping Pass, so that you can go in, check out their huge selection of products and take advantage of their prices!!!

Why BJ's?


  • BJ's Members can save over $500 on groceries a year!*
  • BJ's is the only club to accept manufacturers' coupons!  And a cool fact that not everyone is aware of is in some instances, you can use multiple coupons on a multi-packed product.  Of course there's limitations, such as each individual package in the multi-pack must have it's own UPC code.   But V8 for example, comes in a 2 bottle multi-pack -  so you could use 2) $1.00/1 coupons for each 2 pack that you purchase.      Things like multipacks of soap where each individually wrapped soap does not have a UPC code, you could only use 1 coupon on.   It's a little tricky to get used to which products you can use multiple coupons for, but there's definitely times where it's worth the effort!!


  • BJ's carries top brand names like Pampers®, Similac®, PediaSure®, Safety 1st®,
    InSTEP®, Little Tikes®, Eddie Bauer®, Disney®, Gerber® and more!
  • BJ's even carries products you can't find anywhere else, like
    Pampers® Cruisers® +Ultra Absorbency—extra-absorbent zones help give up
    to 12 hours of protection against leaks!


  • BJ's has a great selection from the leading brands of hair care, skin care, oral
    care, deodorant and vitamins, even some cosmetics.


  • Shop any time, anywhere at
  • BJ's Wholesale Club stores are only located in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida,
    Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
    North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia.  Click here to find the location nearest you.

*Over $500 per-year savings are compared to supermarket prices in research conducted by Warehouse Club Focus, October 2010.
  Savings are based on the per-unit price of a market basket of items. Savings may vary based upon market area and items purchased.

Save 10% at the Outlet (through 1/7/12)

Since our house has a husband that still plays recreationally several nights a week, and  2 sons active in the house- league at our local rink,  hockey is a hot topic around here, and you'll often find's website on my computer screen!!!     

Through tomorrow, 1/7/2012, is offering 10% off everything in their Outlet!!    And since everyone has their favorite team,  they make it easy to find the things just for your team.

If you take a peak and nothing catches your eye today, be sure to check often, as they often have great promotions going on.  You can even stay informed with the promotions by following them on Twitter at  or Search "NHL Shop" on Facebook.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pixel of Ink - if you've got a Kindle, you're going to love this site!

A few months ago, I entered a picture of my kiddos in an online photo contest sponsored by Mambo Sprouts, and I was absolutely ecstatic when they notified me to tell me I was one of their winners.   The prize - a Kindle. 

I think it was my best win ever!!!   I've always loved to read, but had discovered that I had to actually make time to enjoy a good book.   That is definitely not the case anymore.   My Kindle fits perfectly in my purse and is a perfect tool for when I find I have a few minutes to kill.   Whether I'm waiting for an appointment or sitting in my car in the school parking lot waiting for my kids to get out of school, or laying in bed when sleep is eluding me, you will not find my Kindle very far away from me.    I've read more books in the past 6 months with my Kindle than I've read in the 3 years before that, and that is no exaggeration!!

Soon after receiving my prize in the mail, an online friend of mine suggested I check out Pixel of Ink, and I am so glad that I did.    Every day they post alerts to Kindle books that are either free or that are a great bargain.  I've got close to 400 books on my Kindle right now,  and I am adding more almost every day.    It's a great resource to find new authors and read books in a new genre than I'm used to reading.  

This year for Christmas, we gave my mom a Kindle Touch.   She's probably the biggest reason that I love reading as much as I do and it seemed only natural that I give her back something that I know will make her love reading even more than she already does.    Naturally, when she opened up her present, the first words out of my mouth were that she needed to go to and start loading up her libary for little or no cost, and I would love to pass that advice on to you as well!!!


Have you joined the SuperPoints Network yet?         I bet some of you are asking yourselves 'what is this SuperPoints Network that you are speaking of?'    In a nutshell, it's a site where you can win and earn Superpoints™ that can be redeemed for great rewards, including my favorite - giftcards to     I've been a member for a little while now, and all of the points I've accumulated have come either from clicking on a daily email to claim the points that I've won, or by clicking on the SuperLucky button (up to 30 clicks per day to start).    Some days I have more luck with the SuperLucky button than others... today was a slow day, only winning 6 points with my 30 clicks.

The Network aspect is because they encourage you to invite your friends so they can be part of your own network, and everytime they win superpoints, so do you!!  

You do need to be invited by a member to join, but I have several invitations available and I'd love to have you on my 'team'.   If you'd like me to send you an invitation, you can either email me at  or leave a comment here - be sure to include your email address - and I'll send you an invite!!  

10% off at Sports Authority (through 1/7/2011)

Shop Sports Authority Now To Save 10%

Since I have 2 sons and a husband that all play ice hockey, sales from sporting stores always catch my eye.   Starting today and going through 1/7/2011 is offering 10% off.

As of this moment, we're stocked up on tape and their skates and the rest of their equipment all fit  perfectly, so we don't need anything, but it's still fun to look. 

One item that my boys (they're 7 and  9) would absolutely love is the Carrom Super Stick Hockey game.   There's a similar bubble hockey game down at the rink, where we spend alot of time, and a lot of quarters over the season's time..    Hmmm, wonder if I can convince the boys to start saving their quarters so they could have one of these down in our basement so they could play, even in the off-season.  Probably not, so it will just have to remain on their wish-list.

Sports Authority has a wide selection of products for all athletes and sports fans.   So if you've got any sports products on your need-to-buy list, check them out and even if you're not in the market right now for anything, check them out... you might just see something that you never knew you needed!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

CouponsToTroops - Send your expired and unwanted coupons to overseas military families!

If you’ve been a reader of mine for awhile, you know that I’m involved with CouponsToTroops, where we work to spread awareness that US Military families who are stationed overseas can use manufacturer’s coupons up to 6 months past their expiration date. We also help put families and groups here in the states in touch with overseas families so that they can mail their coupons on over.

One of my favorite parts of my day is checking my email and seeing messages from people here in the states who are looking for an address of a military family to mail to, and messages from overseas families who are hoping we can help them find coupons in their mailbox.

Here’s just a few of things that the military families have said:

~I LOVE to use coupons to help stretch our budget. If you can help us out I would be so grateful.

~It is very hard to find any good coupons over here. Any help will be greatly appreciated. You will not just be helping me and my family but many other military families
Thank you for offering this program to us! It is much appreciated!

~I am not sure if you know how much of an impact your services have out here but I can tell you it helps our families tremendously!!

~thank you for helping out so many military members. It means so much to know that there are so many people that want to help members that are stationed overseas!

It amazes me how something so simple as taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to cut coupons from your Sunday paper and mail off an envelope of coupons overseas can mean so much to someone half a world away. And to know that they are going to a US military family who sacrifices so much for us every single day…. who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

A Google search will yield you pages upon pages of information on sending coupons overseas to our military families. Our program is one of the few that recommends mailing directly to a military family and I’d like to explain the reasons why we do that.

• Some groups have you ‘adopt’ a base and you send your coupons to a generic address on base – usually to their Family Support Group. We’ve heard so many horror stories from military wives that there are not enough volunteers on base to get the coupons distributed quickly and they end up with stacks and stacks of boxes in their back room that ultimately end up in the trash because by the time they do get distributed, the coupons are well past the 6 month expiration window of opportunity.

• Other groups have you send your coupons to a collection point here in the US and they’ll send them overseas for you. It costs the same exact postage to mail overseas as it does to mail to a collection point in the US. (who will then turn around and spend MORE postage money to get them to their final destination.)

When you mail directly to a family on our contact list

• you KNOW that your coupons are getting to someone who will use what they can and share the rest with others on base. (Some groups have you ‘adopt’ a base and you send your coupons to a generic address on base – usually to their Family Support Group. We’ve heard so many horror stories that there are not enough volunteers to get the coupons distributed quickly and they end up with stacks of boxes in their back room that ultimately end up in the trash because by the time they do get distributed, the coupons are well past the 6 month expiration window of opportunity.)

• the coupons will be delivered overseas quicker since they won’t be making an extra stop along the way.

Right now CouponsToTroops is in an interesting predicament. The families that we help out overseas have been talking up the program so much that right now we have a LOT of new families who have signed up to receive coupons. We do receive emails from people wishing to send coupons every day, but we can always use more, so I’m hoping for a little bit of help from all of you, so that we can help that many more military families.

Please help us spread the word about the CouponsToTroops program and the Facebook page ( and/or our email address ( and help us find more people who are willing to mail coupons overseas. Post about us on your blog, on your Facebook page, tweet about us, tell your relatives, your neighbors, your co-workers, your church group, your couponing group, your Moms Group, etc. And don’t forget to tell them to tell us that you sent them!!!

If you do help us spread the word, please leave a comment below. Be sure to include links to where you’ve posted…. You just might find a shout out from CouponsToTroops on our Facebook or Twitter page!!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Congratulations to Yogi Bear DVD winner

Thank you to everyone who entered for a chance to win the Yogi Bear DVD. 

congratulations to #185
Matty and said... 185

Tweeted giveaway:!/MattyNSarabeth/status/50256634555023361

Keep an eye out for your email from me!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Looking for military families who are stationed overseas - can you help me so I can help them??

Q:  Expired coupons - Trash or Treasure?    

A:  For U.S. Military families who are stationed on overseas military bases, the answer is undoubtedly Treasure!! 

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I'm a huge advocate for sending expired and unwanted manufacturer's coupons overseas to U.S. military families, where they can use those coupons for up to 6 months past their expiration date.

As the admin at the informational website,, I am always receiving emails from families and groups around the country asking for my help in putting them in contact with an overseas military family that they can send their coupons to, and I'm more than happy to help.

I do have quite a few military contacts on my contact list, so it hasn't been a problem for me to put people in touch with an overseas family until now. As of right now, I've got 12 military families who have either recently moved back to the States or will be moving back soon, so they no longer are in need of coupons. And because of these families moving back, I've also have the 50+ people back here who have been mailing to them, who are now going to be needing new names to mail their coupons to.

I am waiting to hear back from the others on my list to see how much more they can each handle receiving, but I know that it will be best to add some new names to my list, so I hopefully won't find myself in this predicament again in a few months.

So I'm asking for you help - if you have any family members or friends who are currently stationed on an overseas military base who would be interested in receiving coupons from families back here in the U.S. please have them contact me.  

Just so you know how I do this, when I receive an email from someone looking for someone to mail their coupons to, I pick a name off my contact list and forward the email to the the military family and then they reply, providing their mailing information. For privacy and security reasons, I do no give out anyone''s address unless I have been given permission to do so on their behalf.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I would appreciate your help with this!!!