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It’s too bad that we don’t have a huge backyard, otherwise it may very well be filled with lots of squash plants.  I visited the Downtown State College Farmer’s Market on Friday and hit squash payday!  I found two carnival-acorn squash, two spaghetti squash, one ambercup squash (the little orange one), three butternut squash, and one brown neck pumpkin.

My mother-in-law had one of these two Thanksgivings ago, and then I saw the brown neck pumpkin on this blog and just had to try one for myself.  For scale, here’s a 3lb 4oz butternut squash inside  the hoop of the neck pumpkin I purchased.  Until I cut it up, I won’t be able to weigh it since my scale only goes up to 11lb.  The most common use of neck pumpkin is for pie.  But I use pumpkin in smoothies, cookies, bread, biscotti, and even just plain with a little butter, salt, and pepper.  The farmer said it tastes a lot like butternut on it’s own but can be used in place of canned pumpkin in recipes.  I can’t wait to carve into this thing!

In addition to the teriyaki pork tenderloin that I’ll serve with brown rice and green beans for tonight’s dinner, I’m going to make a fantastic mexican-style spaghetti squash casserole recipe my mother-in-law gave me last summer.  Here it is:

Jane’s Mexican-Style Spaghetti Squash Casserole:

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half, remove seeds, place cut-side down on a lightly greased baking pan and cook for 45-60mins.

While this is cooking mix the following in a large bowl:

1 can mexican-style diced tomatoes (I use a can of the fire-roasted tomatoes and add in diced garlic and jalapeno)

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/4cup finely chopped cilantro

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1 tsp cumin (I love the flavor of cumin so use about 1 Tablespoon)

1/4 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Let the squash cool for about 15 minutes, or until you can pick it up and remove the “spaghetti.”  Mix this into the other ingredients.  Pour into a 1.5-2qt casserole dish and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.  Enjoy.

Can be prepared 1-2 days in advance if you prefer and keeps well in the fridge for a few days after cooked.

Hope you like it as much as I do.

Rite Aid

And not pictured, Bee M.D. throat drops that are better than free after SCR plus this Mail-in Rebate. The crock pot was not part of this purchase :), I have Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin in there for dinner.

Total Before Savings: $49.84

Total Paid: $9.79

Percent Savings: 80%

+UPrewards for next week: 10% off coupon for non-sale items

CVS

Total Before Savings: $26.72

Total Paid: $2.84

Percent Savings: 89%

ECBs for next week: 2

We won’t be needing toothpaste for a while now!

Overall Savings: a whopping 84%!

13Oct10 Shopping Trip

Tonight I made a trip out to Rite Aid & CSV.  I had coupons for nearly everything I purchased and what I didn’t have coupons for was on sale or had extra rewards.  Again, I only buy things I know we’ll use.  My savings are as follows:

Rite Aid:

6 bags Snack Size m&m’s

4 bags Snack Size Reese’s Cups…yep, we’re set for Halloween candy!

2 Crest Pro Health toothpaste

Palmer’s Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Lip Butter – FREE

Sucrets – FREE

2 boxes of Platex Tampons – FREE

6 Garnier Fructis products

2 packs Orbit gum

Advil liquigel – FREE

2 Oral-B toothbrushes

Total Cost:$107.15

Total Paid: $15.82 (Really I paid another $7.98, but I’ll get this back in October’s SCR so I took it off the total I paid tonight.)

Total Savings: 85.24%

CVS:

4 boxes Quaker Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal…this stuff is AMAZING and I keep it at work for a healthy snack.

Crest Whitestrips

2 boxes Colgate Total toothpaste

Method Laundry Foam (This is the first time I’ve purchased this.  I’ll let you know how it works)

Total Cost:$88.64

Total Paid: $47.30

Total Savings: 46.63%

This wasn’t quite as high of savings as tonight’s Rite Aid trip because the white strips are $40/box.  But let’s face it, everyone likes white teeth!

Overall, I paid $63.12 for $195.79 worth of products for a total percentage 67.76%!

My cousin Teresa sent me a recipe for Pumpkin Biscotti with a note that she made it a bit fancier with white chocolate, macadamia nuts, orange extract, and double the pumpkin.  I raided my pantry for something to add and found dried cranberries, perfect!  I did add double the pumpkin but won’t be doing that next time.  I had to ask my husband to help me between commercials for college football and he ended up having to add another 1/2 cup of flour just to get it to not stick to my hands.  What.  A.  Mess.  But anyway, I’ll be making these again only without the extra pumpkin and WAY more spices.  I like things aggressively spiced (chili, guacamole, pumpkin anything, chai tea, salsa, soups, etc.) so the spices the recipe calls for turned out a bit bland for my tastebuds.  I’ll double the cinnamon and add more ginger and a wee bit more nutmeg.  Too much cloves is not  a good thing so that’ll be left at a pinch.  The 2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries worked great and will be used in the future.   Anyhow here’s a picture of my masterpiece during the 2nd round of baking.

Happy baking!

Giant:

Total before savings: $238.39

Total Paid: $130.19

Percent Savings: 45.4%

 

Today’s shopping trip included:

Celestial Seasonings Decaf India Spice Chai Tea for 29 cents (normally $2.29)

Mrs. T’s Pierogies for FREE (on sale for $2 a box, normally $2.19)

San Giorgio pasta for FREE (on sale for 79 cents per box, normally $1.19)

4 Dr. Ortaker cheese pizzas for $1.99 each (on sale for $2.99, normally 3.99…this coupon was not subject to doubling but I had 4 identical coupons to use)

Reynold’s Aluminum Foil for $1 (on sale for $3, normally $3.29)

2 boxes of the new Cinnabon Cereal for $1.34 (on sale for $1.17 each, normally $2.35 each)

5 bags of snack size candy for Halloween for $7 (on sale for $2 each, normally $3.19 each)

 

I did buy some things that I didn’t have coupons for including produce and meats so my savings were good considering the coupons I did have.  I’m picky about veggies & chicken and only buy organic if at all possible–these things are pretty much never on sale so instead I try to pick what’s in season right now.

Lessons learned today: make sure the sale prices in the weekly flyer are actually for the items you purchased.  The Hatfield Pork Tenderloins I got were not BOGO because they were Teriyaki flavored.  Booo!  But we like these anyway so it’s a learning lesson.

 

CVS:

Total before savings: $21.21

Total Paid: $5.21

Percent Savings: 75.4%

This is my all time high percent savings at any store thanks to $12 ECBs and $4 in coupons.

 

Samples in this week’s mail include Head & Shoulders, Dove, Kleenex tissues (the most adorable box of tissues I’ve ever seen!), John Freida Root Awakening Shamepoo & Conditioner, feminine hygiene products, Downy fabric softener, and Wisk High Efficiency laundry detergent.  Many of these came with coupons for future purchases.  Stay tuned.

Savings Sunday

Since my garden’s fruitful season is winding down, I’ve decided to start something new: today is my very first “Savings Sunday” report. Steve and I have made a little early morning Sunday tradition of going to Sheetz to pick up the good newspapers for coupons (The Washington Post, The Harrisburg Patriot News, and the Centre Daily Times), then to Starbucks for my once-weekly Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte, and then to McDonald’s for Steve’s Sausage McGriddle.  Once home, I can go through all the coupons, cutting out only the ones for products that we actually use, and organize them in my zippered 3-ring binder.  I also browse through the ad inserts for the three stores I visit…Rite Aid, CVS, and Giant.

The three papers cost $6.75 total because the WP and PN papers have an increased price due to State College being outside of their normal delivery areas.  And while the CDT doesn’t have the greatest coupons, it does have all of the local ads which are very important because stores run different sales in different locations.  Each paper has slightly different coupons though most of the coupons are the same.  One important tip that April mentioned is to check the newspaper for all the coupons that are supposed to be in there that week because sometimes they get left out by mistake…the first PN that I picked up this morning had only one of the three coupon inserts so I got a different one that did have the three inserts.

Here is my very first Savings Sunday report:

Total Amount Paid Percent Savings
Rite Aid $37.96 $18.96 50.05%
CVS $52.10 $28.52 45.26%
Giant $206.13 $111.86 45.73%

This week’s Giant purchase included 4 completely free boxes of Barilla pasta (priced at $1 each) thanks to a $1 off 2 boxes of the Mini pastas and $1 off 2 Whole Wheat pastas which were both doubled.  Steve eats a lot of spaghetti so anytime I can get it for free is a plus.

In addition to these great savings I also earned $2 +UP Rewards at Rite Aid, $5 Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) at CVS, and $1 off my next purchase at Giant.  Love, love, love saving money!

I know I could save a ton more percentage wise if I “stock piled” (a.k.a. borderline hoarding) like some families are able to do, but with just two of us in the house, I only buy the products that we need and would actually use.  Yes, there are some great deals out there for free or nearly free items after sales and coupons but we simply do not want to store things we do not need.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll put together some pictures of how I organize my zippered 3-ring binder that goes with me to every store I visit.

That wraps up my first Savings Sunday report.  How exciting!

I must admit, I’ve been slacking on my blogging lately.  Between keeping up with the yard and garden, taking our pups to obedience class, Steve and I both traveling for work, and taking Duff to dog shows our last two months have been extremely busy.

First and update on A Happy Garden.  Red-hued impatiens and begonias have filled our front gardens and look like a sea of red velvet…which happens to be one of our wedding cake flavors :o), maybe that’s why I was drawn to reds this year!  The hydrangea flowers are antiquing quite nicely.  An antiqued hydrangea is one that has gone through its peak color and chlorophyll is seeping into the petals.  I’ll post photos here soon.  Pretty much all of my container veggies are past their peak, though I’m still getting some super sweet Blondekopfen cherry tomatoes off my plant; I will be planting this one again next year along with another cherry or grape tomato plant.  The Amish paste tomato seriously pooped out and I think a major factor in this was a too-small container.  My Brandywine tomato did not do well through a high-heat period we had about a month ago and the few tomatoes I did get off this plant were less than stellar, molding quickly which meant they ended up in my composter.  The jalapenos are doing great and for the first time, I have a majority of spicy red peppers instead of the green jalapenos we’ve come to expect in the supermarkets.  And boy are they tastey in Hungry Girl guacamoles!  Two recipes I’ve used are: HG’s Holy Moly Guacamole and HG’s Rockin’ Roasted Corn Guacamole.  BTW, I always add WAAAY more cumin and about double than these recipes call for…gotta love spices!  I’ve converted non-guac people over with these two concoctions!  HG guac + organic celery = a happy tummy!

Now to the in-ground garden.  Well, I hate to admit it but I seriously neglected this one.  I did get about 10lbs of organic all-purpose potatoes from the ground this past weekend (made super tasty smashed potatoes w/ about 1lb for Steve and then potato soup the next day for myself with the small portion of leftovers the next day), fresh and dried-on-the-plant lima beans (there is really nothing like fresh lima beans!), and some beans.  The broccoli that we didn’t cut completely bolted to flower-stage (it’s kind of scary what flowering broccoli looks like) but there are still little bits of normal, non-scary looking broccoli that we are able to trim off for side dishes.  The yellow broccoli flowers have been swarmed with lots of busy little bumble bees which in turn keep Duff and Zoe busy since they feel a need to chase them around the yard (though that’s more Zoe’s “job” than Duff’s).  All of the lettuce bolted to seed as well so that is all pulled up but I’ll be planting another batch this weekend hopefully so we can enjoy fresh fall salads; lettuce seems to taste better when it’s not so hot out.  My first celeriac was pulled this weekend and I can’t wait to try it in a puree type.  Freshly picked, the whole root infused the smell of fresh celery into my nose reminding me of the smell of celery seed that my Mom uses in chicken soup.  Other than that, the garden is going to be turned under here soon to prepare for a fall planting of leafy greens and maybe something a bit more exotic, though I’m leaning towards just growing what I know.

I have gotten into coupons big time since August since attending a Couponing 101 seminar at our local credit union taught by April.  Thanks to April and Shannon, I have been consistently saving between forty and fifty percent on our grocery bills at our Giant since they double coupons up to a value of $1!  Glorious!  With store sales and doubled coupons, a good portion of the products we normally use are coming home with us free of charge or something like $0.05 an item!  Pretty amazing when you think about it.  I have heard of people who can pay nearly nothing for groceries, but I only purchase items that we’d normally eat or use anyway.  I’m toying around with the idea of having a weekly report detailing how much I pay for our groceries vs. how much I would have paid without sales or coupons.  What do you all think of this idea?

That’s it for our updates.  I’ll hopefully blog again sooner than later.