Kasey is an ants in her pants funny girl who can’t sit still to save her life. Luckily she doesn’t have to! Between taking care of her family in Tennessee, homeschooling two kiddos and running the popular time2saveworkshops.com couponing blog, this girl is hopping from dawn to dusk and loving every minute of it. A soon to be published author (look for her book coming out March 2013, Kasey has been featured in Parade magazine, on NPR’s All Things Considered and spoken at countless women's expos as she strives to teach others how they can save money and become purposeful givers. Kasey never set out to own a business, run a blog or set foot on the first stage. She set out to save money when her family needed it most. Now 5 years and several hundred workshops later people still follow her out of the store asking her secrets. Passionate by nature, Kasey gets excited about things she believes in. And with a husband and 8-year-old daughter at home who face the daily reality of Type 1 Diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation is a cause near and dear to hear heart. While she works hard to juggle her family, work and passions, at the end of the day, Kasey loves to kick back with some gummy worms, a Diet Coke and a good book.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am fresh out of creative lunch ideas for my kids. Now, when I say creative I’m not talking about those fancy Pinterest-inspired lunches that look like they’d take an hour and a full creative team to orchestrate. I’m referring to a twist on the traditional sandwich like the fun shaped sandwiches I posted about here or these fun Sushi inspired sandwiches my friend Jamie told me about.
- Flour or Wheat Tortilla
- 4 Ham Slices (my favorite is Land O’Frost Bistro Favorites Honey Glazed Ham)
- 1 Cheese Slice
- Optional Condiments: Mayo, Mustard, etc….
Instructions to make the night before:
The night before, lie your tortillas out on a plate or cutting board. Cover with 4 slices of Land O’Frost lunchmeat. Fold your cheese single into thirds, then going along the fold lines, tear it into 3 equal strips. Place 2 cheese strips side by side in the center, and the extra cheese strip near the top or bottom of the tortilla. Fold/roll like a burrito, you’ll need to kind of press it flat so your meat/cheese stays put. Wrap each rolled tortilla tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
In the morning, pull out a wrap and let thaw for about 5 minutes. (Use that time to make coffee!) Remove the plastic and slice the wrap into several coins or “Sushi Rolls”. Put them in the lunchbox with an ice pack and they’ll stay cold, but thaw out perfectly by lunchtime! Or, if you homeschool like me put them back in the fridge until lunchtime.
You could even make a grown up version by layering Land O’Frost Turkey and spinach on top of creme cheese. I’m sure you could think of LOTS of ideas – here are a few more:
- Honey mustard, ham and cheese
- BBQ Sauce, chicken and cheese
- Guacamole, Turkey, Bacon (Arrange the bacon much like the cheese)
My story with couponing started five years ago. I had recently quit my job to stay home after our second child was born. To supplement my income, my husband and I started building spec homes on the side. The first house we built sold before we finished, so we decided to build two the next time. Almost as soon as we broke ground on those two houses, the real estate market bottomed out. Guess what happened, those two houses………well they sat empty for two years. Including the house we lived in, we ended up with three mortgages for two years. If that wasn’t enough, during that time my father had been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. The day after his funeral my husband lost his job in pharma sales due to a merger that closed his entire division. We had three houses and no income. I had to figure something out.
After lots of research and trial and error, I started couponing. As I began to save a little each week, my savings began to grow until the amount I was saving was comparable to a part time income. Had it not been for couponing during that time I don’t know what we would have done. Since that time, we have faced two additional unexpected job losses. When I say that I understand what it’s like to NEED to save money, I do.
Although most people would like to cut their grocery bill in half, the perception that doing so would require investing tons of time keeps many people from trying. You know what? I understand! I don’t have time to spend hours each week cutting out coupons or scouring the internet looking for deals. In fact, I don’t like coupons. That’s right, I don’t like coupons. I do however, like to save my family money. Coupons just happen to be the tool that allows me to save my family hundreds of dollars a month.
Personally, I spend less than an hour a week preparing to go to the grocery store. Is it worth it? To my family, yes as doing so has cut our grocery budget in half. I am not an extreme couponer. My philosophy is simple, whether I save $5, $50 or $100 dollars I am still saving my family money. Here’s the thing. If you need to save your family money but were a little weary of couponing, remember it needs to fit into your life….not become your life. My hope is that you learn to coupon effectively in a way that you can maintain. One that allows you to save money, shop wisely and find that all important balance.
I’ve shared in previous posts, our journey with my daughter’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. Although, I am very thankful that it is a treatable disease and she can live a long healthy life, we have definitely had to make adjustments. Our days are filled with finger pricks, carb counting and insulin dosing. I am not a diabetes expert, doctor or educator. Instead, a wife to a type 1 diabetic for 16 years and mamma to a type 1 diabetic for 6 years.
I had the unique experience of walking with my husband on this journey for eleven years before our daughter’s diagnosis. I heard first hand from him how certain comments or expectations from others affected him. Having his personal input has been a priceless blessing in disguise. As a result, I share with you our unspoken commitments we have made to our daughter.
- We will never shame her or make her feel responsible for having diabetes.
- We will always try to be flexible and remember that she is a little girl first, her identity is not found in diabetes.
- We will not whisper to our friends or strangers that she has diabetes in front of her. We never want her to feel ashamed of what she cannot control. If they need to know, we will explain out loud by her side and/or give her an opportunity to share.
- We will lovingly educate our friends and family who are integral parts of my daughter’s life about diabetes.
- We will be understanding when she doesn’t feel well as a result of a low or high blood sugar. Chores and school responsibilities are still expected to be completed, however, we will offer flexibility when needed. (Not a free pass).
- We do not offer rewards or incentives based on “good blood sugar readings,” there are too many variables that are outside of her control. We do not believe it would be fair. Instead, rewards/incentives are based off of choices just like any other child without diabetes.
- We will always encourage her to try new things, new adventures or new sports. We understand that it may mean more finger pricks, insulin adjustments, etc. however, we will not make decisions based on our convenience.
- We will do everything that we can to make her life as normal as possible. No, she might not be able to go to a friends sleep over until she is older, but we can have a rocking fun sleep over at our house.
- The word “no” does not have to be followed up with “because of your diabetes.” There are so many things that she can do, we will focus on those.
- We will always be thankful that diabetes can be managed, even on the toughest of days.
Please understand, I don’t have it all together and often fail miserably. However, I am committed to making sure that diabetes does not dictate my baby girl’s life. Like I have said before, she might have diabetes, but it doesn’t have her.
This week has been filled with Christmas baking at the Trenum home. Yesterday, we made Party Mix, Snowman Crunch, Chocolate Pretzel Wreaths and our favorite Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders!! I was feeling really behind, until then. Still lots of baking to do but at least we got started. In case you are looking for easy recipes to make with your kids, my kids helped with all of these!
Every Christmas Eve we have a smorgasbord of appetizers for dinner. Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders are by far my favorite – I remember my mom making these when I was little. I added them to our Christmas Eve menu a couple of years ago and my family always eats every single one I make!!
Ham & Cheese Sliders
- 24 Small Dinner Rolls
- Land O’ Frost Honey Ham (My favorite is Bistro Favorites Honey Glazed Smoked Ham)
- Swiss Cheese Slices
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds (optional)
- 2 Teaspoons Onion Flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tops off of rolls, without separating into individual rolls and place in a baking pan or cookie sheet. Place ham and cheese on the bottom of the rolls. I fold over the ham over and use a generous amount on each roll. Replace tops. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over rolls, allow to sit for 10 minutes then cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake for 1 additional minute. Allow to cool a bit and serve!
You can also prepare the day before and place in fridge until ready to bake. A great make-ahead party dish.
Here’s a simple fun snack I made up for the kids yesterday while they were waiting on the Party Mix to bake. I dubbed it Snowman Crunch!
- Rice & Corn Cereal – May use both kinds or either.
- Candy Coated Chocolate Drops
- Cheese Crackers
Combine all ingredients together and enjoy. You could also add other Christmas candy you have on hand. This is an easy-peasy recipe, change it up as you desire. My kids loved it and were so excited to munch on marshmallows and chocolate candy!
I’ve been making these Chocolate Pretzel Wreath’s for my family at Christmas for years. It’s one of the easiest recipes, and every time I take it to a Christmas party it’s always a favorite! Since it’s so simple my kids can almost make it by themselves as long as I supervise and handle any steps that require the oven or microwave.
Chocolate Pretzel Wreaths
- Pretzels – I used round this year but have also used square, and regular pretzel mini’s
- Bag of Kiss Shaped or Bell Shaped Milk Chocolate Candies
- Candy Coated Chocolate Drops
- 1/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips, Melted
Spread out pretzels in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Place one unwrapped kiss shaped or bell shaped chocolate candy on top of the pretzel. Place in a 275 degree preheated oven for 3 minutes to soften the chocolate. Remove from oven, SLOWLY push down each kiss shaped or bell shaped chocolate candy with a candy coated chocolate drop. Allow to cool – if you are in a hurry to start snaking, place in fridge to cool. Measure 1/4 cup white chocolate chips and pour in zip lock bag (unsealed) in the microwave for 1 minute on 50% power. Turn over, continue to warm in 30 second intervals on 50% power until the white chocolate chips melt. They keep their shape,so you’ll need to feel with the back of a spoon. Cut a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners of the zip lock bag, push all of the melted white chocolate chips to the opening, then squeeze bag to drizzle on top of the Chocolate Pretzel Wreaths. Finish with red and green sprinkles. Enjoy! Warning – these are highly addictive!!
I love Christmas traditions, especially those full of Christmas wonder and magic. My kids still believe in Santa, and all things related that are holly and jolly including the importance of feeding Santa’s rambunctious elves. The past couple of years, we’ve made reindeer food that we sprinkle in the front yard on Christmas Eve before they head to bed. I’ve included the recipe below in case you’d like to try it!
- Raw Oatmeal (Cause reindeer LOOOVE them some oats….)
- Glitter or sprinkles (To sparkle in the moonlight and guide them to your home)
Toss some out on the lawn on Christmas Eve, to give those poor over-worked reindeer something to munch on while Santa’s doing his chimney business.
My story of our daughter’s diagnosis of type I diabetes in honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month.
A couple of months ago, I shared a video of my kids and I talking about type 1 diabetes. You see in my family both my husband and daughter are type I diabetics. The question I get asked most often is “How did you find out your daughter was diabetic”? Were there signs that you noticed”? In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, I thought it was the perfect time to share my story of my daughter’s diagnosis.
Morgan – 9 Years Old
Morgan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two months after her third birthday. Since my husband is a type 1 diabetic, it was always something I was very aware of. As most children her age, we started to have issues with her wanting to get out of bed at night to go potty, a lot (frequent urination is a symptom of Type 1 Diabetes). At first, we thought it was normal, she was excited about new freedoms that come with being “officially potty trained.” Almost as an aside, I remember asking my husband, “what if she’s diabetic, and we don’t know it?” Since he got very sick before he was diagnosed, we decided to use his glucometer and check her blood sugar.
279! Her blood sugar was 279 – in those few minutes I cannot articulate in words all the thoughts that ran through my mind. For those of you that don’t know, a regular blood sugar is between 70-120. The emotions that we felt were overwhelming; we knew what that number meant. We knew from that moment forward that our life would change. It took everything within us to muster up enough courage to remain calm in front of our daughter. She didn’t know nor could she comprehend what we had discovered. So, after lots of extra snuggles, we tucked her back in bed, prayed for her and called her doctor. We were told to monitor her through the night, and bring her in the next morning. To say that it was a sleepless night was an understatement. It was all I could do not to lay beside her and stare at her all night. If she wasn’t such a light sleeper, I probably would have, but to be honest with you, I cried most of the night.
The next two days were a blur. At her pediatrician’s office the next morning, we heard the official news. Although I knew her blood sugar was high the night before, I had hoped with everything within me it was a glitch. That wasn’t the news we heard. Instead, the next day, we were to go to an endocrinologist to begin learning how to care for our daughter. At the time my husband had been living with diabetes for 11 years, however pediatric diabetes was and is a different ballgame. The next day we spent 6 hours at the endocrinologist office meeting with doctors, nurses, diabetes educators, nurse practitioners and nutritionist. Thankfully, we had caught her diabetes extremely early before she got sick. Many times, children get very sick before a diagnosis is made that’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms (see list at the bottom of this post).
Morgan, her brother Caleb, and friend Leah at this years JDRF Walk for Diabetes.
Since that day, our lives have changed dramatically. What rocked our world almost 6 years ago has become our normal. So much so that we don’t really remember what it was like before. Morgan is an absolute trooper. She rarely ever complains. She’s been pricking her own finger for a long time, and is now learning with our guidance how to operate her insulin pump. Morgan is happy and healthy. She’s passionate about life, smart, giving, kind, a good student, a great athlete, a caring sister and so much more. Notice I didn’t mention diabetes. Yes, it’s a part of her life……..not her whole life. Diabetes doesn’t define her or our family. As long as we take good care of her, and teach her how to care for herself diabetes is manageable. We have much to be thankful for!
What are the signs to look for? I have copied the symptoms below from JDRF.org.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes (T1D)?
The symptoms may occur suddenly, and include one or more of the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness, lethargy
- Sugar in urine
- Sudden vision changes
- Increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
- Heavy, labored breathing
- Stupor, unconsciousness
If you think you or your child has diabetes, call a doctor immediately, and drink fluids WITHOUT SUGAR, if able to swallow, to prevent dehydration.
In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, there’s an app you can download to your phone to experience what it’s like to be T1D (yype 1 diabetic) for a Day. Click here for more information.
I don’t know about you but I love fall. It’s my favorite time of the year! Each new season presents itself with opportunities to enjoy activities with our family’s. My kids love to get in the kitchen and cook. They especially love baking and decorating cookies. Recently, we made fall themed cookies for their homeschool group. Not only were they REALLY yummy (I ate waaayyyy too many), but I think they turned out really cute.
Now, as much as they love decorating cookies, and I enjoy baking with them, I don’t enjoy the extra mess. After lots of trial and error, we’ve come up with a system that works great for us to help limit the mess (key word here – limit, not eliminate). I’ve learned that by taking a couple of purposeful steps on the front end it frees me up to truly enjoy the experience with my kids. I know everyone is different — what works for my family may or may not work for yours. It’s important to figure out what works for you. Treasure the moments, and be intentional to make lasting memories with the little ones in your life.
Don’t Stress about the Mess! See my tips below:
- Use disposable plates/utensils/bowls as much as possible: There are simply some things that are within my control and some that are not. By the time we got finished decorating all of the cookies, the last thing I wanted to do was wash a bunch of dishes. Thankfully, I had taken purposeful steps before we even started baking. For example, I used paper bowls for all the different colored frosting and plastic knives/spoons to decorate the cookies and mix in the food coloring. I also covered the baking pan with aluminum foil and placed wax paper in front of the kiddos to make clean up a breeze.
- Tame the Sprinkle Monster: Kids love sprinkles, but they can get out of hand … FAST! If I give my kids the container of sprinkles, they’ll end up everywhere. Instead I shake out small amounts at a time in a small glass bowl. Then, give them a spoon (plastic of course) to dip out the sprinkles and shake over the cookies. Of course they can still spill the sprinkles but at least it cuts down on the amount that can be spilled.
- Have Fun; Enjoy the Moment: Enjoy the moment! Besides a quick pep talk when we get started about being careful I don’t say anything about else “making a mess.” I want my kids to enjoy the experience. I also want them to remember mom having fun with them, not talking about cleaning up. We are all wired differently. Depending on your personality, it might be a challenge for you, but it’s so worth it. I know we’ve all heard that one day when the kids are grown up and gone we’ll miss these kinds of moments … mess and all.
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 3 1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (Can use rapid rise)
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar (or raw sugar)
- 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- Land O’Frost Bistro Favorites Honey Glazed Smoked Ham
- Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese (may substitute any kind of cheese)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine warm water, yeast, salt and sugar. Stir with wooden spoon or with a Kitchen Aid Mixer using dough hook until the yeast is dissolved and the ingredients are mixed well.
- Carefully measure flour and add to mixture. (Tip: Don’t pack the flour in the measuring cup). Stir with wooden spoon, or mix together with Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
Cover with towel and put the dough in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. Time will vary depending on room temperature. Approx. 45 minutes. (If you used rapid yeast skip this step – and jump down to dividing the dough between two greased loaf pans).
Punch the dough back down with a wooden spoon.
The dough will be really sticky, divide into two greased loaf pans. Let dough rise until it touches the top of the loaf pans.
Bake for approx. 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Brush with butter, cool before cutting.
- Melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet or any kind of frying pan on medium heat. Make sure to spread the butter out so that the bottom of the pan is covered.
- Place ham & cheese sandwich in skillet and brown bread on both sides, using a spatula to flatten so that the cheese melts.