Birthday Party Made Easier With A Plan! #Grecoville

This past weekend we celebrated Clayton's birthday with his friends. He turned 6 back on December 30th, but this year he asked for a party with some of his friends. So, when planning what to do, where to go and what to eat, I went with the ease of a hosted party, at a fun location and we ordered our food ahead of time from Greco Pizza.

This post is sponsored by Greco. We received pizza and compensation for this post, but all opinions and wording are our own.

Easy, Simple and Stress Free!!

Make Your Own – Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is such an amazing addition to our pantry, and I have recently decided to make my own.

Apple Cider Vinegar is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. The health benefits include gut health, immune boosting to fight colds, alergies and more. It can be used to help clear acne, repel fleas on pets, soothe sunburns, as a hair conditioner and much more.

Homemade Laundry Powder – BORAX FREE

Did you realize how easy and frugal it is to make your own laundry powder or liquid? I have shared two recipes in the past that both contained borax (a naturally occuring substance), but the health warnings and requests to reduce exposure to borax have prompted me to find an alternative recipe. 
This is the simplest two ingredient recipe I have come up, that I like, for keeping our clothing clean and fresh. 

Best Ever Brownies

Best Ever Brownie

This Brownie recipe is my favourite. You can add chocolate chips or nuts to the batter before baking as well, for extra chocolaty goodness and texture.

  • 1/2 cup butter, Melted (in saucepan or microwave )
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Frosting:
    • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

 

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Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a large bowl, pour in melted butter and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. They should brown and pull away from edges of pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Preparing Frosting:

Combine softened butter, cocoa, honey, vanilla extract, and confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth.

Frost brownies while they are still warm to give them an even "glaze" of icing.

EASY Coconut Squares

EASY Coconut Squares wpid-20150617_111105.jpg Last weekend I was making squares for an anniversary party we hosted. My mom sent me this recipe as an easy and super quick square to make. If you are looking for a fast, yummy and easy recipe, this is for you! Ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups graham crumbs
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • Can condensed milk
  • 2 cups coconut
Rub together butter and graham cracker crumbs. Press into an 8x8, greased baking pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes. Stir together condensed milk and coconut. Spread over baked bottom layer and bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. Remove from oven and cool. Ice with chocolate or pink icing. Use pre-made icing or make your own. wpid-20150617_111046.jpg

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

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Just finished whipping up 72 Dishwasher Tabs or Scoops.
I had left over Washing Soda from making my laundry detergent and figured I would try the Dishwasher Tabs.

These are so easy and quick to make. I used a scoop to make mine, but you can use ice cube trays as well, if you prefer the blocks.
They dry fast and you can store in a container with tight fitting lid.

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What you need: 

1 cup borax powder

1 cup washing soda(not baking soda)

1/4 cup lemon juice Two ice cube trays.

  • Mix together dry ingredients. 
  • Mix well since this will be separated into cubes.
  • Then add the lemon juice this will fizz up. 
  • Put into your ice cube trays and evenly distribute over two trays. 
  • Press down and voila let sit and dry for 24 hours.

Here is the cost break down for me. I lucked out and Borax was on sale. 4.99 for borax 2kg which is 8.45 cups equals .59 per cup(regular price is .83/cup) 5.79 for washing soda 3kg which is 12.68 cups equals .46 per cup 1.99 for lemon juice 945 ml which is 3.99 cups which equals .12 for 1/4 cups 19.99 for 5 kg of Epson salt which is 23.25 cups equals .22 per 1/4 cup(bought last year) Now add that all up is 1.39 for 32 cubes equalling .04 per cube.  Regular price would've been .05 per tab. This is before taxes. 

Plastic Easter Egg Stuffing Ideas – frugal & NOT chocolate or candy!!

Plastic Easter Egg Stuffing Ideas - frugal & NOT chocolate or candy!!asked for suggestions on our Facebook page of what to put in plastic eggs and there were some great suggestions! So, I've complied all the great ideas into one post for you and added some photos plus some details for what I bought & put in my eggs. 
The eggs I made are for the Community Playgroups that I Facilitate, the age range is 0-6. So I had to be careful of choking hazards covered eggs and jelly beans weren't good choice for this age group at all for many reasons.
Here are some the ideas, thank you the fans for many of these suggestions!
  • grapes
  • Mini carrot sticks
  • Berries
  • Raisins 
  • Cheerios
  • Healthy chewy snacks
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Cheese or sandwhiches cut with a cookie cutter
 
  • Easter Erasers 
  • new socks
  • hair ties
  • hair Clips
  • stickers
  • easter shaped marshmallows
 
  • Lipgloss
  • small bottles of nail polish
  • Jewelry 
  • Army men
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  • Finger skateboards
  • Lego mini figures
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  • Finger puppets
  • Temporary tattoos 
  • Small toy car
  • Mini yo-yo / slinky
  • Shoelaces 
  • Whistle 
  • Wind up toys
  • Puzzle pieces (love this idea - might use it at home
   
Karen said:
I use the eggs as clue scrolls (gamers know what these are). Each child gets a plastic egg in their Easter basket and must figure out the clues to find their treasure. For example I was thirsty last night for something cold (plastic egg in refrigerator or freezer). Next egg says Margarine got all over my fur so I needed a bath (egg near bath tub). Next egg says Thanks for letting me wash the margarine out of my clothes. (egg near washing machine).
That's is a unique idea - I love it!!
 
I choose to go to the Dollarstore I bought:
  
Easter Stickers 365/$1 
Hopping Bunnies 16/$1 (come in a large plastic egg)
Easter stamps 6/$1
From the party section:
Google eye rings 8/$1
Bubbles 4/$1
Bouncy balls 6/$1
Happy Easter Everyone!
You can also check out Ruth Ann's DIY Easter Basket Article here.

Judy’s Freezer Meal Workshop: the Details!

Smiling woman in the kitchen preparing dinner

Judy's Freezer Meal Workshop with Sunset Gourmet Products
Contributed by Judy Brander

The question is –  What is it and will it be a time & money saver?

What is it: "What's for dinner?" Is that a question that is asked at your home each day at 4:00pm?  Eating at home saves you money and calories. But FREEZER MEALS meals save you TIME!! During the average workshop we prepare a minimum of 10 meals!!! Depending on the size of your family, you can easily double this number of meals!!

You get the Sunset Gourmet seasonings and sauces from me. They are high quality products, tasty and can be used in a variety of ways to make all your meals taste so good!!

Then I give you a grocery list, a lot of the items will be ones you will already have at home. (or will be once you start getting in the habit of freezer cooking, you will start getting chicken, hamburger, crushed tomatoes, etc when it's ON SALE!).

What makes these workshops great is you get to choose the type of meat you like, the leanness of the meat you want, your favorite veggies for a dish, etc. The grocery list lets you know what meal the item is for so you can make substitutions if desired; it may say "Ricotta cheese - slow cooker lasagna", and you can choose cottage cheese if you want to make it healthier!

You will also get a "Prep List", it may include things like "brown 1 lb hamburger" or "cube 2 cups of cooked chicken" for example.. Very simple!

You then bring your groceries to the workshop and I walk you through assembly and give you lots of tips. You will get recipes and labels, all the meals will be made in Freezer Ziploc bags. I will, also, gladly share any other recipes I have to help you use the leftover seasonings and sauces you may have from Sunset Gourmet!

Today's Menu:

  • Cheese & Bacon Lasgna
  • Bacon Ranch Hot Dip Chicken
  • Beefy Vegetable Stew
  • 3 Cheese Baked Penne
  • Spicy Cheesy Chicken
  • Southwest Braised Pork Ribs
  • Balsalmic Roast Beef
  • Southwest Chicken Stirfry

Products being used:

  • Cheesy Bacon Cheddar Dip
  • OH! So Garlic
  • OH! So Onion
  • Bacon Ranch Hot Dip
  • Pasionfruit White Balsalmic Vinegar
  • Three Cheese Italian Dip
  • Southwest Gourmet Seasoning

 

There were a few things to cut & chop ahead of time. We had to dice & slice onions, chop sweet potatoes, slice peppers, chop & shred carrotts, wash & cut broccoli and chop celery.

Sometimes some of the meat needs to be cut or cooked. We had to cook bacon, ground beef, 2 chopped chicken breasts  & as I am using ground chicken that also needed to be cooked.  I also needed to cut some chicken breast into strips for the stir fry and cut up my ribs. That's it prepping done and now I am ready for the meal preparation.

Almost forgot I had to cook Penne.

Bacon ready -

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Chicken pieces cooked -

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Peppers ready for slicing & chopping

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Chopped & sliced -

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Veggies all ready -

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Time it took to prep above: 2.5 hours

 

Cost:

  • Onion 3lbs $1.50 – used 4 so .75
  • Carrotts 3lbs - $2.49 for 2 lbs – I used half  $1.25
  • 2 sweet potatoes  .79lb  = $1.22
  • 3 peppers  - $5.25  ($1.47 for yellow & orange at Walmart – no red so had to buy it at superstore $2.31)
  • Celery – 1 bunch  -$2.69 (only needed 2 stalks so shared it with the others) again none at Walmart for sale price of $1.67  My cost  .65
  • Broccoli $2.50 ( 2 heads so only need 1) = $1.25
  • Broth – 1 box chicken broth ($1.69 at COOP) &1 box beef $2=$3.66 ( no Beef at COOP)
  • Sour Cream 250 ml $1 (shared with another) =.50
  • 1 Bottle Sun Dried Tomatoes $3.49
  • Tomato Sauce .99
  • Shredded Cheese $3.99
  • 28 Oz can Diced Tomatoes x2  $1.09 =$2.18
  • Lasagna Noodles $2.50
  • Penne Pasta Noodles $2.19-$1 (coup) =$1.19
  • 2 cans Cream of Chicken soup .49 (shoppers email coup – can only get 1 so 2nd can $1.59 = $2.08
  • 1/2 cup parm cheese app $1
  • 3 cups Milk app $1.50

A few other things you would have at home already – ketchup, soya sauce, papikra, flour,

Cost: $33.45

Meats:

  • 1 pk bacon $3.99
  • 2lbs ground chicken $3.49 each =$5.98
  • 2 pks chicken breast - 5 in each $10 x2=$20 - ($8 coups) =$12
  • 1 pk ribs $8.57
  • 1 Roast $7.26
  • Stew Beef $4.63

Meat Cost: $52.43

Other items:

  • Freezer Bags  - Extra Large & Large $2.99 each = $5.98 (will only use half) = $3
  • Foil containers – I got 9 - 2lb ones at Dollarama for $1 for pk of 3 – Loves these for freezing smaller size meals. $3

Total Cost $91.86 Cost of Sunset Gourmet products $65 – Total Cost $156.86

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Number of meals: 21 meals

21 most will give leftovers & probably enough for the 2nd meal for us but we are only 2 people. The roast will probably serve  at least 3-4 meals. (2 dinner and 2 lunches – sandwiches etc)

Time to put the meals together at the workshop and clean up: 2.5 hours

Total prepping & making meals app 5 hours but now NO dinner time meal preparation for at least 3 weeks. No mesh in your kitcen only dinner dishes to clean up. All meals go in slow cooker or oven.

Meal time PREP-- Thaw, put in slow cooker and set on low for the day. When you come home from work. Dinner is ready. OR Thaw put in oven for 45-1 hour Dnner is ready.  All you need to do is add rice, potato or pasta if desired.

Cost /Package: $7.45 per package to serve 2 people (based on the 21 packages) or $3.73 per person. Cost will be less if leftovers and used for 2nd meal.

** Note: costs will vary depending on the meats and if you can buy them on sale.

We tried the handy Jokari Hands-Free Baggy Rack Storage Bag Holder during the workshop. It was easy to use – just clip the bags in place and add your ingredients. No mess. No spills.

First meal ready – 3 Cheese Bake Penne

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2 and 1/2 hours later ---21 Finished meals – ready for slow cooker or oven!

Great for busy family, seniors, new MOM (makes a great shower gift – lots of ready cooked meals) or someone sick or just home from hospital.

Love the variety of meals, ability to add or change things to suit your family & to try new things.  If you are interested in hosting a Freezer meal workshop click this link.

Judy is a Rep with Sunset Gourmet, you can reach her on FACEBOOK for more info & send PM. Tell her you read about it on the Moncton Coupon Lady Page.

You need a minimum of 4 people – maximum depends on your house.

One of the dishes prepared:
Southwest Chicken Stirfry

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St Patrick’s day fun

image I am last minute looking for things to do today with my little guy. Are you looking for some fun things to do with your kids today? Here are a few quick and easy activities and crafts I found to try. I stuck to things you may have on hand to make it fun and frugal 🙂 Enjoy! Be sure to let us know if you try any of these in your house. 15 Printables for St Patrick's Day fun Scavenger hunt, colouring, activity sheets image Rainbow in a Jar by Playdough to Plato image Sparkly Lime Jello Playdough from Plain Vanilla Mom image 3D Rainbow Craft by Crafty Morning