Make Some Easy Money!

Not everyone shares this belief, but I have always said that I value pennies. Why? Because 100 of them gives you a dollar. And to me, dollars are valuable. Each dollar you have, the more you can do. Things like bathroom remodels and building a dream home...

I have recently discovered three awesome ways to save money on things that I would already be buying and have to share them. HAVE TO! Using these three easy peasy rebate programs, I've saved nearly $30 in just a few short weeks.

Referral code - Click on my referral code when signing up to help me make money too! I will get $$ back for every person that uses my code! Once you're signed up, share your own referral code to make more money too!
Ebates is awesome if you shop online, like we do. I buy things from Amazon, clothing stores, Petco/Petsmart, etc all the time. What Ebates does is gives you a percent back for your purchases IF you go through their website. This allows them to "track" your visit to (ie) Amazon and can see what you spend. A couple of days later, you'll see the money back you've earned. And then on a quarterly basis, you'll receive a big fat check. I just received my first check in the mail!

One major bummer - I didn't sign up to use Ebates until after Gary and I completed the baby registry on Amazon. Talk about an amazing missed opportunity to save some major dolla billz.

Referral code - Click on my referral code when signing up to help me make money too! I will get $5 (limited time only!) for every person that uses my code! Once you're signed up, share your own referral code to make more money too!

I just started using this cash back program. It's an app for your phone which is super handy. There are specific "coupons" for different products from grocery stores, restaurants, home improvement stores, etc. Most recently, they've added an online apparel component too. Exciting!With this program, you can look to see what "coupons" they have and earn some cash back by doing very easy things like taking a quick poll or watching a 15 second video or reading a recipe using that product. Then you go to the store and buy the product. After you return, take a picture of the barcode on the product and then your receipt. Done! The extra steps are worth every penny.

Sorry folks, no referral code. I know, I'm bummed too.
I use Checkout51 the most it seems. The variety of products seems to fit more with what I buy on a normal basis. Works similar to Ibotta. The only difference here is you do not need to scan the barcode on the product and you can scan your receipt once for all the products you buy.

What's really cool, I found out that I was able to redeem one particular product from one receipt in both Ibotta and Checkout51. I got a total of $1 off milk of all things. Saweeeet. It won't work with everything but keep your eyes peeled for those extra special coincidences across the different apps.


What's for Dinner {25} - Chicken Pot Pie

While babysitting one time, my mom had a few recipes to make for an upcoming event. One of those recipes left me with enough ingredients for what I planned to make - chicken noodle soup. However, I asked Gspice what he might want and it wasn't chicken noodle soup. It was something much more difficult that I was much more afraid to make - chicken pot pie.

Insert a few days of semi-panic feelings here.

Then, when I decided it was probably the last possible day I could use all those ingredients (carrots, onion, celery, chicken, homemade chicken broth) before they went bad/dry, I dived right in. I was really concerned because I still have not yet made a proper roux or bechmel sauce. This was no exception. I was convinced even after putting it in the freezer to make on another day that Gary would not touch it. Why? What was to be lovely creamy pie filling was nothing but soup and the pie crust I put on the bottom was way too small. I could hardly get the two to even close together so nothing would come spilling.

Insert another few days of semi-panic feelings here.

Finally, on April 3, I mustered up the courage to pull it out of the freezer. My bad for not taking it out sooner because it took a really long time to bake. But, much to my surprise, it was absolutely delicious. We even went back for seconds but then soon realized our eyes were bigger than our stomachs...oops.

Glad to put this in the success column!

Chicken Pot Pie adapted from Comfortably Domestic

*2 store-bought, refrigerated pie crusts - I used Pillsbury. Who knew they made these?? Love!
*1 T olive oil
*½ c freshly minced onion
*1 ¼ c thinly sliced carrots
*½ c thinly sliced celery stalks
*2 c red potatoes, cubed (per Gary's request of course)
*Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
*2 c boneless, skinless chicken, cooked and shredded (I may have used more...)
*4 T unsalted butter
*½ c all-purpose flour
*1 ½ c milk
*2 c chicken stock (I used my mom's homemade broth instead)
*½ t dried thyme
*1 c frozen peas, thawed (Gary REFUSED to eat the pie if I added this. So I didn't :( )
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, carrots, potatoes and celery in the pan until soft, but not brown. (About 5 minutes.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the vegetables are softening, shred the cooked chicken. Set the shredded chicken aside in a large bowl.

Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables from the pan, placing them in the bowl with the shredded chicken; set aside.

Heat the butter in the now empty pan (still over medium-high heat.) The butter will foam as it melts. Once the foaming stops, whisk in the flour. Cook the flour/butter for one minute…whisking constantly. Pour in the milk and chicken stock. Continue to whisk until smooth. Add the thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until sauce fully thickens…stirring constantly. (About 1-2 minutes.) ** this is where I failed but kept going...

Taste sauce and adjust salt & pepper, to taste.

Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables in the large bowl; stir to combine.

Roll half of the Pillsbury pie crust on a lightly floured surface into a circle, 12-inches in diameter. **I missed this step entirely!

Gently roll the dough/pastry around the rolling pin to transfer to a 10-inch pie plate. Check that dough is fully touching the bottom and sides of the pie plate. ** Mine was not :) Spoon the warm filling into the pastry lined pie plate.

Roll the other half of the pie crust into a 12-inch circle. Roll the circle around the rolling pin, and transfer it to cover the top of the filled pie. Trim the edges of the pastry, and then fold & crimp the edges. Cut vent slits in the top of the pie. ** Notice my lovely hack job. Brush top with egg wash, if desired.

Bake until crust is fully cooked, top and bottom, and a deep golden brown; about 35-40 minutes. (If edges become too dark, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking until pie is done.)

Instagram comment: My very first attempt at making chicken pot pie. I'm scared...

Let pie rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Instagram comment: Gspice, the pickiest eater I know, gave this an 8. I'll take it


What's for Dinner {24} - Creamy Ham & Noodle Casserole

I decided Easter was the perfect time for me to try making my first ham ever. And boy, was it pretty darn easy. I have to thank my parents for letting us use their roaster, which we don't have, and their nice oven, which we also don't have so I'm sure that made the process a whole lot smoother than it would have gone at our house :) Oh, and thanks for Gspice for helping me out with the honey glaze. He was too jazzed to let me do it. Apparently, I wasn't doing it right...
As proud of myself I am, I wasn't a huge fan of it. I think that was because it was a spiral cut ham and had a little too much fat to pick off for my taste. Though, the ham itself was just fine. Regardless, we came home with a bag full of leftovers. I got it in my head that I wanted to try something else with it and I found this delightful recipe to use up the leftover ham!

Creamy Ham & Noodle Casserole adapted from Mostly Homemade Mom

*2 c cooked ham, chopped
*2 eggs, beaten
*1 c sour cream
*1 1/2 T dried, minced onion
*1 t salt, pepper, basil
*1 c shredded mozzarella cheese (she used swiss but I couldn't find it in the store!)
*12 oz egg noodles, cooked and drained

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and sour cream until smooth. Add ham, minced onion, spices and cheese. Gently fold in egg noodles, turning to coat well.

Transfer to an 8x8 pan or 2 quart baking dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. You may need to put foil over it in the last 10 minutes to prevent edges from getting too brown.

It was sooooo good.

Next time, I'll try making double the recipe and freezing the 2nd pan. Yay for using up leftover ham!!


Little Mr. {Five Months}

Yes, I'm a little late with this one but who cares? I'm busy with our growing boy! Look at these big baby blues. It's so hard to pull away!

As Owen keeps getting older and a tiny bit bigger each month so does the volume of his speech. His voice is reaching higher and higher notes and is so darn adorable even if it hurts my ears. I just keep saying, "what else?" or "tell me more!" and he does with even higher notes. He's definitely learning new ways to use his voice too. For a few weeks he made what we called a monster noise. Low, a little whispery growl. It.was.adorable. And now, it's a more deep and powerful mumble. And then he goes really high again and just squeeeeaaaalllls like crazy. Owen is also starting to giggle. It's not quite a laugh yet but I think that'll come really soon. He's just so happy all the time! He especially loves hearing music and us singing to him. I can sing whatever and it almost always brings a big wide gummy grin to his face. Love it.

Guess what else Owen is doing now.......ROLLING OVER! He's grown to be such a little busy body, always wiggling, kicking his feet and grabbing anything he can to stuff in his mouth. Eventually he began to roll on his side so we knew it was just a matter of time before he did. Well, one day it just happened and guess who missed it? Yep, that'd be me. I was looking away when it happened but let me tell you it was still pretty exciting. He can't always figure out how to turn back over so we come to his rescue quite a bit if he gets annoyed with that position. But Owen just flips back around anyway :) And at this point, he'll stick just about anything in his mouth these days. You have been forewarned.

One of our newest activities is going for walks. Often. Or at least as often as the weather allows. Owen loves it! His eyes will get really big and he tries to take in as much as he can. Then the sun hits his eyes and he wiggles around until I step in the way of the rays. Then it's back to looking all over to see the trees and sky, to feel the wind, and hear all the bustle around us like cars and whatnot. I like it because after all this looking about, he tends to get really sleepy and will take a nice nap so I can walk a little more. My favorite is falling asleep with something he was previously gnawing on like his fingers, toys or a blanket. It's the cutest thing.

As far as struggles for this month, there's really only one teeny thing. The awkward size he's in (between 0-3 and 3-6 month clothing) makes it difficult for me to dress him. I only like a limited number of items that he can actually wear but I don't tend to do laundry all that often sooooo....I'm excited for him to grow a little so we have more to play with!

Oh I lied. The other struggle is not being able to get a weight and height check! So you all have to wait like I do for his next measurements. I know, I'm sad too. My guess is that he's about 14-14.5 pounds and 25.5-26 inches tall. By next month, who knows. We'll probably start feeding him solids pretty soon!

I'll make up for the lack of measurements with some funny photos. Like I said, he's becoming such a busy body. His monthly photos were a struggle but produced some adorablely funny outtakes. Enjoy.

Catch up on Owen's First Year!
ONE  |  TWO  |  THREE  |  FOUR 


Owen's Easter Basket

I have such fond memories of Easter growing up. Honestly, I can't really remember the specifics but one thing that I absolutely loved was receiving a box of cake mix and frosting. I don't understand why I got so excited but man, that was the best.

yes, I'd call this obsessed....

I don't plan to give Owen too many treats or cake mix (for now at least!) but decided on a few things that I thought he could play with or grow to play with in the coming months as he develops further. This year, that includes his "easter basket" pail, a book and a scoop. I scowered Wal-Mart looking for something smaller but this will do. He'll eventually be able to hold it, right? I also assume that like many other little ones out there, he will have loads of fun scooping all of their small toys no matter what they are in to the pail. I see hours and hours of fun in Owen's future! Okay, maybe a solid 20-30 minutes of independent play. I'll take that!


CSA - Community Supported Agriculture

Who else is SUPER EXCITED for summer? ME!!! I cannot wait for all the fresh fruits and vegetables that come with this season. My favorite? Fresh roma tomatoes. There is honestly nothing better. Though I do get all giddy about this, I don't frequent the farmer's market much. I went a couple times in the last couple of years, how awful is that!?! A lot of it had to do with me never having the time. I always seemed to work during the limited market hours. Well not any longer! And because of this, I got way excited about purchasing a share of CSA (aka Community Supported Agriculture) here in Decorah. I heard about this program at work during one of our staff meetings and was instantly hooked. Of course, all I could think about was fresh tomatoes. If you don't believe me:

Remember those photos? Straight from (someone else's) garden!

Oh man I am beyond excited. More than that, I really want us to eat more vegetables and to possibly make Owen some homemade baby food. I hope to share with you all of our bounty from the markets and any recipes we decide to try with them.

Up next, I'll share which local business we bought our share from and what cooking classes I chose in order to get half of our dollars back. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?!

Stay tuned!


What's for Dinner {23} - Spicy Turkey Sausage

Ok, so I didn't have this for dinner but I know that one day it will and we won't ever look back. This was perhaps one of the easiest tasty things I have ever made and can't wait to try it with breakfast, with pasta dishes, on pizza - you name it! I just finished the last of what I froze for future breakfast treats and I must say, I was really disappointed. Can't wait to make them again!

Spicy Turkey Sausage from Our Family Eats

*1 pound ground turkey
*1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
*1/4 teaspoon oregano (or to taste)
*1/8 teaspoon pepper
*pinch of salt
*add 1/2 teaspoon of any of the following according to your preference:
    --crushed red pepper flakes
    --minced garlic
In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together turkey and spices with your hands until spices are distributed evenly.  
Divide mixture into 12 evenly sized patties.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet.  Add patties and cook about 3 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink.
To Freeze: Wrap pre-made patties tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for a quick breakfast later.  Just pop fully cooked patties in the microwave on medium heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until hot.


MMM Yeah

I'm totally channeling my middle-schooler self with this post and sharing some videos from a cutie named Austin Mahone. I'm sure me as a teenager would have had a total crush on this kid! Sorry Gspice. Don't worry though. These videos just make my current self laugh. Out loud.


Fitbit Here I Come!

I still have what looks like a developing baby bump but unfortunately, it's just all the extra weight I still have yet to lose. Yes, I am ridiculously sick of wearing nothing but maternity clothes because all my normal clothes still.do.not.fit. I started taking an hour for lunch everyday so I could go over to Legends and work out but quickly determined that I absolutely HATED sweating and then jumping right back in to my work clothes. Ew. I sweat a lot so I’m sure I'm unbearable smelly. Ew Ew.

Next idea? Fitbit!

isn't she pretty?!?

Sooooo I got it in my head that I really wanted a Fitbit because I think that would be my motivator to at least be a little active. Another reason why I wanted the fitbit devise is because it records sleep patterns and man, I’m totally interested in knowing mine. I struggle to wake up and am sooo tired these days. Annoying. Of course, I told Gspice of my desire to have one of these, but they are a whopping $99! And bless his heart, he said that I could only get one if I proved I would actually use it.
In order for me to get a Fitbit, I devoted to walk an average of 45 minutes a day until Mother’s Day (that equaled about 1800 minutes). So far, I’ve blown that number out of the water. How? Well it’s SUPER easy actually. I have so many opportunities to go out and walk: two 15 minute breaks; my lunch, which varies from 30 minutes or 60 minutes; and walking home after work.  I try to walk with Owen too because he just LOVES it. 45 minutes a day? Easy peasy. One of these days, I may even venture to walk in BEFORE work. We’ll see :)

Fitbit, here I come!