Just Heather

I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic. I have a piece (okay, two) with my bubble bath every night. A couple weeks ago, I ran out! With my deals and stock-piling, that almost never happens. Luck was with me, though, as the CVS Sweet Reward deal started a week later. Of course, me being me, I never found the time to shop there. I got lucky again when I discovered it was one of their extended ExtraCare Bucks deals.

Yesterday, I managed to organize myself and make a quick CVS run while Brenia was at her first on-stage dance rehearsal. I was also pleased to see that I still had several ECB from my last CVS run to make my out of pocket costs even less.  I had it all planned out – 2 bags of M&Ms, 2 bags of Reese’s Bliss and 3 candy bags. The total should have been $15 before coupons with a $5 ECB printing for next time.

The Reese’s peanut butter cup singles listed in the ad were specially marked in the store and rang up 2/$1 instead of 3/$2. This would have been a great bonus, except that it caused the Sweet Rewards deal to not work properly. The manager fixed it for me and I got my coupons. Here is what I ended up with (among a few additional purchase):

2 bags peanut M&Ms
1 bag Reese’s Biss
1 bag Hershey’s Biss
4 Hershey’s candy bars

I used $3 in manufacturer’s coupons plus my prior rewards so that my candy was basically free. First thing this morning, I discovered the girls had eaten half a bag of M&Ms and almost an entire bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups before I woken up. These would be the girls whose bodies cannot properly handle processed sugar. I’m definitely paying for my candy now!

There are dozens of amazing deals this week at Meijer. I headed out to snag them on Saturday night after dropping Stacia at a friend’s house to sleepover. Quite impressed with the bargains and selection, I moved on to the checkout, where my good impression was quickly replaced. The cashier was rude, clueless and superbly slow.lush

So when I got home with my spoils, I was really not in the mood to put it all away. Since much of it required refrigeration, it had to be done anyway. That was when I realized I had accidentally purchased many of the ingredients for my favorite summer dessert. It’s an old family favorite and I needed only to buy pecans. I put it on my mental list (because actually writing it down was just too taxing at that point).

While digging through the freezer on Sunday (for the ingredients to make grilled pizza), I noticed a nearly empty (but just enough) bag of nuts. I was so excited about my pecan discovery that I immediately twittered about my need for a pitch-in so I could have an excuse to make the dessert. At nearly the exact same time, I got a text inviting me to an impromptu Memorial Day picnic. Friends, fun and an excuse to showcase my bargains in chocolate? Sold!

Just in case you also need a yummy, cool dessert (and/or you scored all the same deals), here is the recipe for Lush (I know—how can you resist something with a name like that?):

Cut 1 stick butter with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Spread into the bottom of a 9×13 dish and bake 10-11 minutes at 375. Meanwhile, set out a brick of cream cheese and 16 ounces Cool Whip to soften. Cool crust completely before continuing the delicious layers. For the 2nd layer, mix cream cheese, 1 cup Cool Whip and 1 cup powdered sugar. If you plop the mixture onto the crust in a bunch of different places before attempting to spread this layer, your crust will remain intact a bit better.

2007-07-031The 3rd layer (this is where it gets really good) is 2 small packages of chocolate pudding whisked with 3 cups milk. Honestly, you could use any flavor you want but why wouldn’t you want chocolate? For the final layer, spread the rest of the cool whip onto the pudding after it sets. You can also garnish with crushed pecans, sugar crystals or fresh fruit (totally kidding—I would never attempt to make it healthy!).dessert You could also use fat free cool whip and fat free cream cheese, but, really—what’s the point?

Spencer and I celebrated our 11th anniversary with a trip down memory lane. We visited old haunts and enjoyed an entire weekend of fun from our dating days. The actual date of our anniversary was spent at Cedar Point and included lunch at the Weenee Hut (Be sure to use a condiment!).

11 Years...

11 Years and counting

Millennium Force

Millennium Force

The Mantis




The Raptor


When we first went gluten free, I had heard Amazon was the cheapest place to buy certain foods. They sell in bulk, have free shipping when you spend over $25 and often have online coupons for $10 off a grocery order.

At first, I didn’t buy anything in bulk as we were trying many different products. I thought once we found some favorites we could start buying online. The idea of having our treats arrive on our doorstep instead of trucking to the specialty store was quite appealing. Last month, I finally took advantage of their grocery special. For the bargain price of $46 I ordered 12 bags of pretzels and 12 bags of animal pasta (aka Spaghetti-Os). It truly was a deal and a half.

I received an email a couple weeks later from Amazon that the pretzels were back-ordered. I had to purchase a different brand at the specialty store while we waited. The other day our pretzels arrived on the front porch. The girls were thrilled. They have already been through 4 bags! At this rate, I’ll have to order again without the benefit of a coupon code. I’m keeping my fingers crossed a good one comes along again soon.

If I don’t keep their favorites in stock, they end of sneaking something else—which then results in headaches, stomach aches, behavioral issues and teary promises that they’ll never do it again. Of course, memory of pain only seems to last so long. That’s why women keep having more kids. I, of course, have managed to develop a great memory for that sort of thing. Which is why we are all done with the baby thing—just as soon as I can convince hubby that I’m serious this time.

In my hometown this weekend, I found myself at Wal-mart. Not my first choice by any means, but options are limited in small town America. As I walked to the U-Scan, I stopped at the fridge to grab a Sunkist.

The guy in front of me said that he had never seen anyone do that with such style and grace. I have no idea what that means, but he proceeded to tell me I was gorgeous. It was very weird, and a little creepy, but I have to admit I still loved hearing it.

What girl wouldn’t want a guy to tell her she is gorgeous?

Allow me to give you a few excerpts from my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

  • Took my sick, crabby baby to the doctor. She either has the start of a sinus infection or will require regular medication for seasonal allergies. I never thought I’d say this, but I really hope my baby is sick.
  • Got a phone call from the principal today. Some psycho kid threw a chair at my daughter. Knowing my daughter, however, I’m sure it was provoked. The kid says she was “saying mean things on the bus” which is odd since she hasn’t ridden the bus for two days.
  • Sent said child to bed without dinner because she threw an all out kicking, screaming tantrum when we tried to talk to her about what may have led up to the Bobby Knight incident. She will not, however, be in trouble for yelling obscenities at the kid on the bus as I would have too if he tripped me every day.
  • Had to call up all knowledge of Heimlich for my baby who choked—real and actual choking—on the food her sister left out after lunch.
  • Caught my 4-year-old stealing candy that I refused to buy for her. This stealing thing has become a problem, though this is the first time it has been outside of our own home. I’m raising a klepto here and not really sure what to do about it. She seems pretty remorseful and I’m hopeful our conversations got through to her.
  • Had an interesting experience at the store when a coupon for $1.99 rang up for $1.00. The idiot cashier told me “that’s how it worked” and offered to “explain coupons” to me! Ha! I wanted to scream, “I’ve been on CBS, the front page of the Chicago Tribune and syndicated across the nation as a ‘coupon expert’ and you want to teach me how coupons work?!” Instead, I used my coupon at the back of the store while I paid for Lorelai’s prescription where the pharmacist had no problem getting it to work correctly. Then I came home and shot off an email to their corporate office about the moronic “manager” and how rudely I was treated.

If you have ever seen me eat, you would be hard pressed to picture me shopping in an organics food store. The recent discovery of my littlest one’s wheat intolerance has found me there quite regularly. I’ve been buying gluten-free toddler puffs and cereal to replace the Gerber puffs and Cheerios she was previously eating. It’s slightly more expensive, but mostly just annoying having to add 1 more store to my weekly errands.

Yesterday I found a new Gerber food that she can eat! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to discover the new Mini Fruits freeze-dried foods where just that—freeze-dried fruit with no additives. As long as we steer clear of the poisonberry flavor, we’ll be okay. I can add yet another mainstream food to the short list of Lorelai-safe treats. Plus, I had a coupon! And we all know how I feel about that.

I’m putting together a list for family in case they want her to actually be able to eat her first Halloween goodies as they will need to be both wheat-free and dairy-free. It started out pretty short—banana chips and fruit cups were all I could come up with—but it’s growing by leaps and bounds as I have researched brand names and ingredients.

  • banana chips
  • fruit cups
  • Fritos or Ruffles chips (She should be able to bite into these soon!)
  • potato sticks
  • Gerber mini fruits
  • Newman’s Own organic dark chocolate bars (Actually, a lot of candy is gluten free, but most chocolate is made with milk and most other candy is too hard for little ones.)
  • apple cinnamon rice cakes

In our infinite patience, we have decided to exclude gluten from Lorelai’s diet even before the the test results are back. In all my panic-driven research, I have realized she has numerous symptoms of celiac disease, though the only common symptom is her weight problem. I also discovered that breastfed babies present with atypical symptoms because the antibodies in mama’s milk protect the infant from serious gastrointestinal infections.

Whether she is diagnosed as celiac or not, it seems a gluten free diet may relieve some, if not all, of her symptoms. Non-celiac gluten allergies and sensitivities present with many of the same problems. Our thinking is that a gluten free diet won’t hurt, but there are many indications that it might help. We plan to keep her gluten free until her 1-year checkup even if the test is negative. We can track her progress and weight over the next 3 months to determine if a gluten free lifestyle would be beneficial.

I made my first visit to Wild Oats Marketplace this afternoon to pick up some cereal and finger foods to replace the potentially-poisonous Cheerios and Gerber Puffs. I was rather pleased with both the selection and the prevalence of gluten-free shelf tags. It made the entire foray into organic shopping quite easy. I also wandered the aisles to see what else was available in case the gluten-free, dairy-free diet becomes long term.

Did you know she can still eat pizza? I can’t imagine that soy-cheese, rice-crust pizza would actually taste that good, but to a child who has never known the difference I suppose pizza is pizza. She seemed to like the organic Teddy Puffs I found for her, which taste remarkably like Cheerios even though they are made from rice and corn instead. I also purchased Gorilla Munch cereal and (gluten-free) arrowroot cookies, a staple among older babies and toddlers.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a phone call tomorrow. Even though I have a plan and am feeling a bit more empowered by newfound knowledge of the disease, I will be on pins and needles until I know for sure.