About two years ago, my son went to a birthday party and there was an ice cream cake. Based upon the serving platter, we could tell that it was homemade. We tried to figure out how it was made. It looked like it might be ice cream and graham crackers. We were curious and so we asked the host about the cake. Her response was so simple — It’s just ice cream sandwiches and Magic Shell. And from that moment on, our birthday cakes have been the easy ice cream cake.
You simply layer the cake – a row of ice cream sandwiches, a layer of Magic Shell spread over the top, a layer of ice cream sandwiches, and another layer of Magic Shell. You can make the cake as small or as large as you need. For our family, we typically do a smaller cake and only use one box of ice cream sandwiches and one bottle of magic shell. For a larger get together, you’d need several boxes of ice cream sandwiches and bottles of Magic Shell.
We have tried different flavors of Magic Shell and ice cream sandwiches. One of our favorite ways to make the cake is by using Blue Bunny birthday cake ice cream sandwiches (shown above). These specialty ice cream sandwiches are a little more pricey than normal ice cream sandwiches, so whenever Harris Teeter has them buy 1 get 1 free, I pick up a few boxes for the freezer.
Sometimes to give the cake a more birthday cake look we’ll add some colored icing to the cake. It isn’t necessary though. One of the great things about this cake is that it can be made well in advance and put into the freezer until serving time.
So what do you think? Will you try the easy ice cream cake?
October 19, 2014
Hello thrifty readers. Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. Being a teacher, mom, and wife limits my time. I still try to save money wherever I can and so when Harris Teeter had pork roast on sale last week, I snagged one for for freezer cooking.
Yesterday I cooked the pork roast in the crock pot for about eight hours. Normally I would season it with cumin, garlic, onions, and other yummy Mexican flavorings, but I plan to use this one for sandwiches, burritos, and egg rolls. I only seasoned this roast with salt and pepper.
Last night I removed the pork from the crock pot. It was so tender that it came apart in pieces. I let it cool for a little while and then pulled the pork apart. As you can see, there was enough to fill a 9×13 dish.
I separated the pork into three freezer safe containers. I probably could have stretched it a little further for four meals, but my kids are growing and eating like crazy! They are eating like little adults right now. Plus, I like to have leftovers for work lunches.
Cooking this pork was so easy to do. It didn’t take long at all. Let me tell you though, it will save so much time on weeknights. It will be nice to put a container of this in the refrigerator to thaw and then come home with some of the work already done. I’m looking forward to dinners of burritos, pork sandwiches, and egg rolls. Yummy!
July 9, 2014
I was pleased to find out that the clearance aisle at Michaels was on sale for an additional 50% off the lowest price. I stopped today and found some great deals.
I ended up with approximately $55 of merchandise for only $12! That’s a savings of 78%!
- Springfield pop princess doll outfits, regular price $19.99, $5.99
- Springfield argyle tee and skirt doll outfit, regular price $9.99, $1.99
- Art Minds 2-color tie dye kit, regular price $5.99, $.89
- 4 magic paint poster kits (12 sheets each), regular price $1, $.24 each
- Scotch 2 pk super glue gel, regular price $4.99, $.49
- Sculpey Pluffy modeling clay kit, regular price $9.99, $1.99
Alligator Girl is excited to have some new clothes for her American Girl doll. She used her birthday money to purchase these. Both kids are happy to have a few arts and crafts supplies to entertain them this summer.
Have you found any good deals at Michaels lately?
July 9, 2014
Both of my children’s feet have grown quite a bit this year. I knew it was time to purchase new flip flops but I really didn’t want to run out and buy a pair of cheap, thin flip flops that wouldn’t last long. We live on the coast and so during the summer, we wear flip flops a lot. I wanted the kids to have something with more support, but I also was looking for a good deal.
I went to Shoe Department and saw that they had Sperry Top-Sider flip flops for $19.99. I liked the flip flops and knew they had good support and wouldn’t fall apart quickly. I decided to stop by Rack Room Shoes to see if they had the same flip flops. If so, I could get the buy one get one 50% off sale. It turned out that Rack Room didn’t have the flip flops.
I stopped in to Shoe Department today to get the Sperrys for my daughter and was thankful to see they were marked down an additional 50% off! In fact, they have several different shoes in all departments that were marked an additional 50% off. Both of my kids were able to find flip flops today.
Sperry Top-Sider pink flip flops – regular price $29.99, on sale for $19.98, additional 50% off = $9.99
Crevo brown flip flops – regular price $27.99, on sale for $19.98, additional 50% off = $9.99
I just did a little research and found that the Sperry pink flip flops are on Amazon for $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping. The Crevo flip flops sell for $25.45 with free shipping.
I’m happy with today’s bargains and I’m also happy that I’m teaching my kids that they can shop smart and make money go further. :)
June 24, 2014
Hello everyone. I know. I know. I haven’t been posting much. Teaching first graders is tiring and takes a lot of time, but I love them. I’m not home for the summer yet. I just finished attending a math workshop and I have homework! I am also teaching summer school.
I spent some money today, which you all know is something I don’t do very often. One of the reasons I am teaching summer school is so that I will have some extra money to buy school clothes, shoes, birthday presents, and some household things we’ve been needing and/or wanting.
One of my stops today was Ross. I scored some bargains in there today. I think I spent two hours (by myself!) walking around that store. It was nice to shop with quiet.
My Ross bargains are:
- Phytorelax shampoo, 33 .9 oz for $6.99. I actually googled this on my phone while I was in the store to make sure it was a good deal. It sells for $19.69 on Amazon!
- Phytorelax condition, 33.9 oz for $3.99! I found this in the clearance section. Score!
- Anneliese shampoo, 33.8 oz for $1.99. This sells for $24.99 on Amazon. This was also in the clearance section. I am now stocked up on shampoo. What a deal!
- Toy Time dog rope tire toy for $3.99. This wasn’t on clearance, but still a great deal. Have you seen the prices of dog toys? Sheesh!
- Eight piece eye designer kit for $3.99. It sells for $16.99 on Amazon.
- Bed Head hair brush for $3.49. This was on clearance. It sells for $12.99 on Amazon.
- Ionika hair brush for $3.49. This was also on clearance. It sells for $14.99 on Amazon.
- Sanuk brand shoes for $17.99. What a deal! I was looking for some comfy work shoes. I may have to take these back though. I am wearing them inside the house to see how they fit. I think they might be too big.
- Pink Calvin Klein blouse for $20.99 on clearance. The Amazon Prime price for this shirt is $49.23. I am in desperate need of some work clothes. You don’t want to know how old the shirt is that I’m wearing and it was a hand-me-down.
- Two Match It! puzzles for $4.99. My students will enjoy playing these learning games during their learning station time. Our first unit of the year is All About Me so the All About Me puzzle will be perfect for that. I have a little bit of fundraiser money left in my school account, so I will get reimbursed for these.
Lexi wanted to get in the last picture. She wouldn’t move. No doubt she thought food was involved.
The last deal is a rug for my back door and laundry room. The old rug was falling apart and got thrown into the trash. I needed something for the back door that would do a good job catching dirt and water. The waffle print Eco Mat is supposed to do just that. It may sell for $26 on Amazon, but I only paid $7.99. Yay!
As you can see, I spent some money today, but I’d say that I saved way more than I spent.
What deals have you found lately?
May 26, 2014
Rack Room Shoes is offering 10% to military personnel and their families through Tuesday, May 27th. A U.S. military i.d. is required for the 10% savings.
DISCLAIMER: Certain styles excluded. This offer can be combined with earned qualifying Rewards dollars but not with other coupons.
April 15, 2014
Dayspring.com is having a sale just in time for Mother’s Day. Right now you can get their Medallion necklaces for $8.49! These necklaces feature messages of hope and Scripture on six different designs.
Each necklace has a vintage flair with scripture on the back. I can’t decide which one I like the best.
Dayspring also has many other gifts for mom. Also, all Mother’s Day cards are 30% off this month. No coupon is needed.
This post contains affiliate links.
March 23, 2014
During the winter months, the indoor heat and outside cold air can dry out your skin. Although spring is officially here, many of us suffer with dry skin and eczema all year long. I have suffered with eczema and dry skin for over 20 years and have learned some tips along the way. Some of these may help you.
1. Moisturize frequently. It’s best to moisturize your skin within a few minutes of taking a shower or bath. This is because your pores are open and absorb the lotion. Moisturize troubled places throughout the day.
2. Use a humidifier. Heating systems blow hot dry air throughout our homes and work. Humidifiers help replace some of the moisture in the air, which will prevent your skin from drying out. Remember to clean your humidifier each week with vinegar.
3. Use fragrance free laundry detergent and fabric softener. This includes for your clothes, sheets, towels, or anything that touches your skin. Fragrances and chemicals can irritate sensitive skin and cause eczema to flare. Many times I will use vinegar for my fabric softener.
4. Carefully choose hand soaps. Many soaps today are antibacterial and harsh on sensitive skin. Dial, Softsoap, and many others cause my hands to crack and bleed. I do not use antibacterial hand soaps and I have not seen a difference in how often I get sick. The key is to wash your hands properly. Many times I will buy Ivory, Dove, Softsoap Cashmere, or something mild and dilute it into a foaming hand wash container. Undiluted soaps are thick and difficult to remove from your hands, which will dry them out further.
5. Do not hand wash dishes. I put as many dishes in the dishwasher as possible and the other items I wash by hand. Try to use a mild dish detergent for dishes that you must wash by hand. I like to use Ivory or Dawn with Olay. I have tried two bottles of Seventh Generation and both bottles caused a bad break out on my hands. Green products are not always better for skin.
6. Avoid super hot showers and baths. I’ve always enjoyed a really hot shower. The intense heat breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin. Instead, try a warm shower and try to limit time in the water. This one is the most difficult for me to follow.
7. Use mild cleaners. When I had children, I decided to let go of the harsh cleaning chemicals in my home. I couldn’t bear the thought of my little ones crawling around on floors cleaned in chemicals that could be harmful to them. I decided that for most of my cleaning I would use vinegar and water. After making the switch I noticed that my skin started to look better. The chemicals I was using to clean my home were causing eczema flare ups.
8. Consider herbal or natural remedies. Several years ago, I have a terrible break out on my hands. I had blisters on my hands and couldn’t figure out what was causing it. (I later found out that my husband had refilled the bathroom soap and it was a soap that I was allergic to.) I went to the health and herb store and the owner recommended that I take sulfur tablets. After just a few doses of sulfur, I noticed a dramatic difference in my skin. I don’t take it everyday, but it is something that I use whenever my skin gets out of control. Some folks like to take Vitamin E or Cod Liver Oil for their skin. Consult your doctor or local health store.
9. Know your triggers. For some people, it is chemicals. For others, it is animal hair. As you live with dry skin and eczema, you will learn the things that aggravate your skin. Do your best to avoid those triggers.
10. Seek professional help. For the most part, I have learned to keep my eczema under control. There have been times when I needed extra help from my doctor. Sometimes a prescription is necessary to keep skin calm. I keep prescription medication at home for bad flare ups.
These are just a few ways to help severe dry skin and eczema. Stay tuned for a list of my favorite products.
How do you deal with dry skin and eczema?
image (c) Karen Weideman
March 9, 2014
Since returning to full-time teaching a few years ago, I am not the couponer that I used to be. I enjoy using coupons and saving money, but I don’t have much time to match up coupons and sales. I am still saving a lot of money though and I’m definitely getting my groceries for less money than I would if I shopped primarily at a discount store such as Wal-Mart.
Today’s shopping trip is a perfect example of such grocery savings. My grocery bill before deductions was $251.86. After the sales and savings my bill was $121.43. That’s way more than I normally spend, but I did stock up on some great deals including fish, six bags of Carribou coffee, four jars of peanut butter, and lunch meat. The coffee alone would have cost over $60.
We could all use some help in cutting our grocery bill so here are some ways to save without coupons:
1. Use the buy ahead principle. I am a firm believer in the stockpile shopping method. When things that I regularly use go to rock bottom prices, I buy extra and save it to use for later when the prices are not as low. Many food items are at their best prices during specific times of the year. For instance, I know that in November and December, I need to stock up on cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and chicken broth. In January, I usually stock up on soup supplies and canned beans.
Each week, I scan over the sales flyer for Harris Teeter and I plan to only purchase the sales. Of course, I have to buy a few items each week that are not on sale, but those items are few and far between.
2. Get rainchecks for out of stock sale items. As I mentioned above, my grocery bill today before savings was $251.86. After sales and rainchecks, my total was only $121.43. Rainchecks were a big contributor of the savings. Most rainchecks don’t expire and they allow you to purchase sale items when you need them. This saves room in your cabinets. Rainchecks also give you some extra time to plan ahead and look for a coupon.
3. Compare prices. Sometimes the generic isn’t cheaper. Pay attention and take a few extra seconds to compare prices on name brands and generics.
4. Compare price per unit. The larger quantity may not be the best deal. It’s best to compare price per unit.
5. Make a plan. Look through the sales flyer and begin to make a plan of the things you need and the things you want to purchase while they are on sale. Making meal plans saves time and money. I’m guilty of not making meal plans. My pantry and freezer are usually pretty well stocked though, so meal planning does get easier as you build a stockpile.
6. Use what you have. Take a look in your cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator. Make a plan to use the things that are going out of date. If you have a lot of beans and tomatoes, consider putting chili on the menu. If you have hamburger and noodles, put spaghetti on the menu. Then you will just need to pick up a few extra things to complete the meal.
7. Use your leftovers. My hubby and I are known for getting creative with leftovers. One night I made a tenderloin and we had some meat leftover. We took the leftover tenderloin and added it to some scrambled eggs and cheese for breakfast burritos. We froze the breakfast burritos to make mornings easier with the kids. I also like to freeze lunch size portions of spaghetti, chili, and soups to use for my lunches at work.
8. Look for food mark downs. I always check for produce and meat mark downs. About a month ago, I scored a $15 fruit, veggie, and cheese tray for only $1! I was so excited! The tray was going out of date that day but trust me, it was good for several more days. Today we bought some lunch meat that was marked down half price and also got a few packs that had store coupons attached. Sandwiches and homemade lunchables are definitely on this week’s lunch menu.
9. Buy in bulk. This tip may not apply for everyone, but for families this tip is usually a great idea. My pantry and fridge are running low on lunch items so it is definitely time for a trip to Sam’s Club. When I see kids at school purchasing chips for 75 cents per bag, I want to say, “That costs 25 cents at Sam’s.” I’ve had more than one conversation with my children about why they aren’t buying snacks at school.
10. Cook in bulk. It’s almost as easy to prepare two lasagnas as it is one. Just make an extra, don’t bake it, and freeze it for later. I also do this with chicken pot pie. Another favorite is to cook some Mexican style pork or chicken in the crock pot, shred it, and freeze dinner portions to use later for burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. I wait to do this when I find meat at a stockpile price.
11. Avoid convenience foods. It might be nice to save some time, but those prepackaged and pre-cut foods can really add up. Take a few minutes to bag up a bunch of snacks for the week and you can save big.
12. Don’t be brand loyal. I have tried many different brands over the years and I can say that there are very few that I am loyal to. You can find savings in trying other brands that are on sale.
13. Eat before you shop. If you are super hungry when you shop then you might find yourself spending too much money. Thankfully, Harris Teeter has a few samples in the store so it keeps me from feeling so hungry when I’m shopping. ;)
14. Skip a week of shopping. If you have been using the stockpile shopping method, your cabinets are probably looking great. As difficult as it is to pass up a good sale, sometimes I skip a week of shopping to save money. We use what we have at home and avoid the grocery store.
15. Give foods more than one purpose. If you are going to have cole slaw with your barbeque sandwiches, plan to have cole slaw the same week with another meal. That way you aren’t wasting ingredients. It also saves prep time in the kitchen.
16. Keep a list of target prices. You can keep this on your phone or in a small notebook in your purse. Keep a list of items that you regularly purchase and the target price for stockpiling. In an old post about grocery shopping, I wrote about keeping mental notes of these things. Someone teased about it and said there was no way to remember target prices. I honestly don’t keep a notebook of prices. I know that $2 per lb is my target price for boneless chicken breasts. I know that 50 cents per can is my target price for canned beans. If you need to write it down then do so. Knowing your target prices will help you to know when to buy extra.
17. Check your receipt before you leave the store. We get overcharged so many times and most people don’t even notice. I was overcharged today. Thankfully I checked my receipt before leaving the store and I was refunded $2.
18. Avoid sodas, juices, and boxed drinks. We drink a lot of water at our house. We have a water softener and a water filter so we drink it straight from the tap. I have seen people spend half of my grocery budget on drinks. Those drinks add up very quickly. If you don’t want to cut out pricey drinks, budget how much you will spend on them and look for sales. I did buy one 12 pack of sodas today but they were on sale and the 12 pack will last me a few weeks.
19. Sign up for store sales and emails. Many stores have some sort of extra savings available for customers that hold a special card or for those that sign up for their store emails. I have signed up for Harris Teeter’s eVIC and each week they send me an email with sales that are loaded to my card. Many times (but not always) these are items that I regularly purchase that are offered at discounted prices. Sometimes it might be a sale on milk or bread. Other times it might be yogurt, ice cream, or cat food.
20. Look over your cart before checking out. Did you make too many impulse purchases? Do you have too many snack items? Sometimes it’s easy to put something in the cart but we don’t realize how many unnecessary items we have.
I know that there are many other tips for saving money on groceries such as gardening, canning foods, eating simpler, etc. Please leave your money saving tips in the comments.
Image by Karen Weideman. The image shown above is not from today’s shopping trip.
February 23, 2014
The other day, a friend of mine was so excited. She was smiling from ear to ear and had announced that she just purchased a new car. I could see the new car outside. It was bright and shiny and of course, new. I overhead someone say, “Congratulations! You deserve it!”
You deserve it. We hear that so much today. You deserve a new car. You deserve to go on a big vacation. You work hard. You deserve some new living room furniture. You deserve to go out to eat. You deserve that candy bar.
Do you deserve it? Do you deserve to experience a great depreciation in your car as soon as you take it off the car lot? Do you deserve five to eight years of car payments? Do you deserve to be so wrapped up in debt that you can’t afford an emergency? Do you deserve the bondage of debt?
We are quick to rationalize our indulgences. Rationalizing bad behaviors leads to regret and sometimes worse behaviors.
Instead of telling ourselves that we deserve it, we should ask ourselves if we have earned it.
It wasn’t long ago that I was driving a $1,000 mini van. I drove it for about a year. My husband piddled with it here and there to keep it working ok. The slider door didn’t work well, it was a little rusty, and it wasn’t very attractive. I saw people driving around with new vans and cars. It would have been nice to have a new mini van — one that had that new car smell, that didn’t have rust, didn’t make a squeaking noise, and one that the slider door worked properly. Sometimes I would feel a little embarrassed about my van, but then I had to remind myself that I didn’t have a payment. It is really financially freeing not to have a car payment. While driving our old mini van we were able to save up a little and now we have a $4,000 mini van. It’s not new and I’m ok with that. I don’t deserve a new mini van until I have earned the cash to pay for it. Honestly, if I had that kind of cash, I probably wouldn’t spend it on a car anyway.
I find peace in being content. There is not a constant drive to keep up with someone else. There is no guilt or regret from purchasing something I can’t afford.
Of course, I have made my own financial mistakes along the way. But they are mistakes — mistakes I have learned from. If you are currently living with financial mistakes, I hope that you will take baby steps to correcting those mistakes. Let’s change our entitlement attitude of “I deserve it” to one of “I have earned it”.
image credit: seanandlauren