Getting Crafty with the Cake – My First Ever Attempt at Decorating a Child’s Birthday Cake (Plus, a Few Budget-Friendly Party Ideas)

My youngest little guy is turning two this week and after checking out the creative cakes recently on the website, Life As Mom, I became inspired to bake and decorate his cake this year.  In previous years, I had relied on my mother-in-law and father-in-law (made wonderful character themed cakes), my sister (awesome cupcake maker who has her own cupcake business) and in a pinch, the Food Lion Bakery. 

However, this year I wanted to give it a shot and see what I could come up with.  It was a simple family gathering (we also celebrated both his grandfather’s birthdays and his aunt’s birthday). So, I figured if my cake was a pitiful flop, the family would laugh about it, eat it anyway and that would be the end of my cake decorating. However, my two-year-old lit up when he spotted his cake and was very excited, so mission accomplished!

There was no question what the theme for the cake would be this year as he is a little Elmo-addict.  Since he loves Elmo, we had a lot of Sesame Street figures to work with.  And, he received a Sesame Street boat for Christmas so I decided to go with a Sesame Street water theme.  I had noticed that one of the cakes linked up to the Life As Mom Creative Cake Roundup had a water theme in which you create “waves” by giving the blue icing a messy look, as opposed to smoothing it out.

Since the boat on the cake had a fishing hook hanging off the back of it, I purchase some gummy Swedish fish candy to add to the cake.

That was it.  Yellow cake mix, white icing, blue food coloring, Swedish fish and Sesame Street toys…and a cake was born!

Budget-Friendly Party Ideas

An idea for a table centerpiece at children’s parties is using the toys they already have (as shown above).  I have done this for various themes, such as Thomas the Tank, Scooby Doo, etc.  Also, if you are going to use a pinata at your party, you can place it in the middle of your table for a centerpiece while everyone is eating and then remove it when time to hang it up.  This gives it two purposes before getting smashed.

Here is another example of using “toys” you already have on hand to incorporate the party theme.  I used my son’s Elmo trick-or-treat basket as the napkin/utensil holder (as pictured above). Also, I wanted to point out the Sesame Street party plates I found at Dollar Tree.

Some of the larger Dollar Tree stores have a wide variety of party theme plates and items and it is definitely less expensive than going to a party store to pick up the items.  Same goes for helium balloons. You can get them at Dollar Tree or Dollar General for only $1 compared to $3 – $5 each other places.

To cut down on party costs, make your own veggie and fruit trays.  You may recognize the veggies I used in the picture above, along with the chips, dips, salsa, etc. in previous pictures from this past week’s $60 Weekly Grocery Challenge Harris Teeter shopping trip (The party gathering is why I had an extra amount of chips and that kind of thing included this week).

This post is linked up with Alicia’s Homemaking for Try New Adventures Thursday!

Hot CVS Deal on Nature Made Vitamins ($1.49 for Two Bottles – Reg. Price Would’ve Been $22.98)

This has been a week of great deals! I have another extra good one to share with you tonight. Through Saturday, CVS has all Nature Made vitamins on sale for buy one, get one free. This alone makes it a good buy.  However, stacking coupons with the sale makes it a wonderful buy! 

Here is a breakdown of my
Nature Made purchase:

Purchased two bottles of Nature Made Multi Complete Vitamins (130 ct.) – Buy one, get one free  (Reg. price is $11.49 each)
Redeemed a $5.00 off any Nature Made Vitamin coupon (Received this coupon in my mailbox this week with some ads/flyers)
Redeemed a $3.00 off any Nature Made Vitamin coupon (Received this coupon in my mailbox this week with some ads/flyers)
Redeemed $2.00 in CVS ExtraBucks that I received from my shopping trip earlier this week that I posted here.

Total – $1.49 (plus tax) for TWO bottles
(If I had walked into the store and purchased two bottles at full price they would have been $22.98)!

It is important to note that several varieties of the Nature Made vitamins were less expensive (I just needed the multivitamin so I went with that option).  For example, I noticed the bottles of the Vitamin C, D, etc. were only $6.49 which means this week you could get two bottles for $6.49. 

If you didn’t receive the coupons in the mail like I did, there were also five Nature Made vitamin coupons that you could use from last Sunday’s newspaper coupon insert. And, there are $1.00/$2.00 off printable coupons available – click here to print!

$60 Weekly Grocery Challenge – Spent $61 for $143 Worth of Groceries at Harris Teeter!


What is the $60 Weekly Grocery Challenge?

Each week my goal is to spend no more than $60 for food, drinks, groceries, toiletries, diapers and medicine for my family of five! Then, I report on this blog the items that I bought, the best sales and coupon match-ups that I found and hopefully by doing so, help you stretch your family’s grocery budget, as well!

How Did I Do This Week?

Harris Teeter – Spent $61.75 for $143.12 worth of groceries

The coupon matchups and sales that I used for Harris Teeter are shown below.  However, be sure to visit, and for additional coupons for items that are on your own shopping list this week. 

 Harris Teeter Deals and Coupon Matchups 2/2 – 2/8

Colgate Toothpaste – BOGO Free – $1.44
Coupon – $.75 off X 2 (doubled)
Total – FREE
Note – As you may know, Harris Teeter buy one, get one free deals ring up half price and you can use a coupon on one.  However, if you purchase two, the first one rings up at full price and the second one is considered free (so you can’t use a second coupon).  However, I noticed in addition to the buy one, get one free sale, there were quite a few Colgate toothpastes also on sale for $1.09.  You can purchase as many of these that you have coupons for (I hope this makes sense).

Coffeemate – E-VIC Special – $.99
Coupon – $1.00 off – Coupon from a home mailer!
Total – FREE

French’s Worcestershire Sauce – $1.69
Coupon – $.75 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.50 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert!
Total – $.19

French’s Spicy Mustard – Sale – $1.69
Coupon – $.75 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.50 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert!
Total – $.19

Jello Gelatin – $.57 per box
Coupon – $.55 off when you buy three X 2 (doubled) = $1.10 – Click here to print!
Total – $.20 per box when you buy three

Luck’s Pinto Beans – $.49 per can

Kraft Cheese Cubes – Sale – $2.00 (Reg. price $3.35)
Coupon – $.75 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.50 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert!
Total – $.50 (GREAT PRICE)

Texas Toast Croutons – $1.50
Coupon – $.50 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.00 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert or click here to print!
Total – $.50

Wolfgang Puck Soup – BOGO Free – $1.62 each
Coupon – $.50 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.00 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert!
Total – $.62 each

Heluva Good Dip – Sale – $1.79
Coupon – $.55 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.10 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert or click here to print a coupon for $1.00 off!
Total – $.69

Kraft 2% Milk Singles – Sale – $1.79
Coupon – $1.00 off – Click here to print!
Total – $.79

Chex Mix – BOGO Free – $1.39 each
Coupon – $.50 off when you buy two X 2 (doubled) = $1.00 off – Click here to print!
Total – $.89 each when you buy two

Harris Teeter Old-Fashioned or Thin Sliced Bread – $.99

Pringles – $1.50 each
Coupon – $1.00 off when you buy two
Total – $1.00 each when you buy two

Cheerwine 2-Liters – $1.00

Gorton’s Frozen Popcorn Shrimp – BOGO Free – $2.19 each
Coupon – $1.00 off – Coupon from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert or click here to print!
Total – $1.19 each

Cape Cod Chips – BOGO Free – $1.75 each
Coupon – $1.00 off when you buy two
Total – $1.25 each when you buy two

Grande Tortilla Chips – Sale – $2.00
Coupon – $1.50 off when you buy two
Total – $1.25 each when you buy two

Tostitos Salsa – $2.50
Coupon – $.55 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.10 off
Total – $1.40

Old Orchard Healthy Balance Juice – $2.50
Coupon – $.50 off X 2 (doubled) = $1.00 off – Click here to print!
Total – $1.50

Whitehouse Apple Juice – Sale – $1.50

Bag of Baby Carrots from the Produce Dept. – $1.50

Hi-C Juice Boxes (10 pk.) or Kool-aid Jammers (10 pk) – $2.00

Harris Teeter Spiral Sliced Fully Cooked Honey Hams in the Meat Dept. – GREAT DEAL!
I paid $11.53 and saved $17.88 for the one I bought.  I love these and also love that it will last for several meals 🙂

Did you find any great grocery/drug store bargains this week? 

If you have a blog, link up below.  If not, feel free to comment on this post with your grocery savings!

Food Lion Weekly Deals – FREE Dove or Degree Deodorant & CHEAP Vlasic Pickles

From 2/2 – 2/8, Food Lion has Dove and Degree deodorant on sale for $2.00 (reg. price $3.19). If you use the $2.00 off Dove or Degree coupon from last Sunday’s (Jan. 30) newspaper, it is totally FREE! If you don’t have the coupon from the newspaper, there is also a printable coupon for $1.25 off when you purchase two Dove deodorants, which would make them $1.25 each.  Not a bad price if you need to purchase it anyway this week.  Click here to print this coupon!

Another notable Food Lion bargain this week is the Vlasic pickles. All varieties are on sale for buy one, get one free (they ring up half price if you only purchase one). I purchased the Hamburger Dill Chips “Ovals” and with the sale they cost only $1.08 (reg. price $2.17).  Then, I redeemed a manufacturer’s coupon for $.55 off (click here to print this coupon), making this jar of pickles only $.53! If you purchase the Vlasic relish, it will cost even less (I believe it would be in the $.30 – $.40 range).

I did the rest of my grocery shopping for the week at Harris Teeter this morning.  I found A LOT of great deals this week and was thrilled to see my $143 total drop to $61 after handing over my VIC card and a big handful of coupons!  I will post a picture and a list of Harris Teeter deals and coupon matchups later today.

Thrifty Tuesday – The Awesome Deals I Found Today at Target, CVS, Walgreens and Kohls!

My first stop was Target…

You really can’t beat paying $.25 for a box of cereal.  This week, Target has the brand new Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cereal on sale for $2.50 per box.  Here is how I got the price down from $2.50 per box to $.25 per box:

– Purchased two boxes at $2.50 each
– Redeemed two $1.00 off manufacturer’s coupons from a Sunday newspaper coupon insert (came out 2 weeks ago, I believe)
– Redeemed a Target store Kellogg’s coupon (click here to print) – Buy one Kellogg’s cereal, get a FREE box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereal
-Once the coupons were applied, my total was only $.25 each!

Note – For a long time, I didn’t realize that you could combine store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons.  However, they are considered totally separate.  Store coupons are basically just a store discount; whereas, manufacturer’s coupons are reimbursed to the store by the manufacturer of a product.  You can really maximize your savings by combining both!

The next great deal I found at Target was…

…these plastic M & M’s hearts for my boys for Valentine’s Day!  They are $.99 each; however, I redeemed a coupon for $1.00 off the purchase of any 2 Mar’s Valentine’s Day candy.  This made each heart only $.49. Click here to print this coupon!

My next stop was Walgreens…

This week, the Walgreens’ ad has a Walgreens’ store coupon for Russell Stover Assorted chocolates.  With the coupon, the price is only $3.99 for the box shown above (regular price is $8.99).  Then, I applied a $1.00 off Russell Stover Sunday newspaper coupon (came out 1-2 months ago) and paid a grand total of $2.99!  Shhhh!!! Don’t tell my hubby…I am giving him this for Valentine’s Day 🙂 

Next, I continued on to Kohl’s…

Kohl’s has their Christmas items now marked to 90% off.  I got the large rolls of 70 sq. ft. Christmas wrapping paper for only $.59 each (originally $5.99). 

I also noticed the Christmas monogrammed letter candles and many ornaments were marked down to $.99. For any of you fellow Kohl’s credit card holders, you can also use the additional 15% discount card that was recently mailed to your home to get some really inexpensive Christmas items for next Christmas! 

I also found some other items with GREAT prices due to clearance markdowns in various other departments, however, I can’t share these on here because several of them are gifts 🙂  Just take my advice, if you stop by Kohl’s, check out the clearance areas throughout the store.

I also want to take a second to recognize Kohl’s for their impeccable customer service! It has been one of my favorite stores for years for many reasons, but I was further impressed today.

Something happened that had NEVER happened to me before.  I had earned $10 in Kohl’s cash a few weeks ago, tucked it away in my wallet and OOPS – discovered yesterday that it was only valid through Saturday.   Eek – how could I let my Kohl’s cash go to waste like that?  I simply forgot.  Not expecting much…or really anything…I stopped by Kohl’s customer service during today’s shopping trip and explained what happened. 

Yes, you guessed it, they honored it! Just told me I would have to use it during today’s shopping trip which was no problem at all…:) Just another reason why I love Kohl’s….

Finally, I Saved the BEST for Last…My CVS Trip

My total for everything shown above was -$1.51.  Yes, that is a negative sign! After tax, I spent a grand total of $.51.  Even better, I have $2.00 in ExtraBucks to spend at CVS the next time I go. This has to be one of my best shopping trips ever! 

I used two transactions (both triggered ExtraBucks – the first one printed $5.00, the second one printed $2.00), three coupons for FREE Coke 12-packs from MyCokeRewards, coupon for a FREE snack-size bag of Ruffles (mailed to me from a Facebook offer), the Gillette shampoo was on clearance which I paired  with a coupon, etc. It was all a matter of matching up coupons to everything and taking advantage of ExtraBucks offers. 

CVS Shopping Trip from a Homemaking Mom Reader


A big thanks goes to one of my Homemaking Mom website readers for submitting this picture from this week’s CVS shopping trip. Only $2.16 was spent (including tax) with 93% savings! That is remarkable, as we all know vitamins aren’t cheap!

I hope you all have also found some great shopping deals this week.  Remember, plan your shopping trip in advance, strategically pair coupons to sale items and you can save A LOT of money!

I also wanted to note that all of the stores I visited today are very close to each other.  With gas prices rising, you could easily spend more in gas that you are saving on sales/coupons if you have to dart all of the place to get to the stores.  I purposely combined these stops into one outing today when I was going to be in the area anyway.

Quiznos Prime Rib Sub Only $2.99!

Two Reminders – Final Day to Print January Coupons from AND Final Day to Purchase $25 Restaurant Gift Certificates for $2!

Today is the final day to print the January coupons from, and before they reset tomorrow with the February coupons. currently has approximately 150-160 free coupons available depending on your zip code. 

Glance through them and print any that you may need in the upcoming weeks. The coupons that jumped out at me included the ones for Valentine’s Day candy, numerous pet items, honey, Shake & Bake, etc.

Print FREE Grocery Coupons at Home

 Also, today is the last day of the promotion offering $25 restaurant gift certificates for only $2 (They are on sale for $10; however, enter the coupon code MEAL at checkout to receive it for $2). 

With Valentine’s Day approaching in two weeks, you may want to take a look at the gift certificates available in your area. Many times they are for some of the nicer restaurants. When you purchase a gift certificate from, there is no waiting as you print it immediately, directly from your computer.  Some restaurants have certain restrictions, so be sure to check out the details. Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250

FREE Valentine’s Day Items (Pay Only Shipping) – Custom T-shirt, Tote Bag, Coffee Mug, Photo Flip Book & More!

For a limited time, get 6 Valentine's Gifts- FREE!

You may remember leading up to Christmas I posted a similar offer from Vistaprint.  Many of you let me know how happy you were to order the free photo calendars, photo books, etc. Here are the free items that are included in the Valentine’s Day promotion:

One free custom t-shirt
One free custom canvas tote bag
One free custom coffee mug
One free 4 X 6 photo flip book
100 free postcards
10 free personalized note cards

Click here to learn more about the six FREE Valentine’s Day gift ideas! Limited time only! The only thing you pay is shipping (which is typically $3-$6 depending on the item). Note – When I order from Vistaprint, I typically choose the “Slow” shipping (21-day) option. It never takes this long; however, if you order these items for Valentine’s Day, I would place your order ASAP to ensure on-time delivery.

Mealtime Monday – Double-Coated Corn Flake Chicken Recipe

Last night, I fixed Double-Coated Chicken with Corn Flakes.  I found this recipe on the back of the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal box.  I made this one other time a few months ago, but this time I took pictures step-by-step of this easy recipe to share with you.

This is a great, healthy alternative to fried chicken.  The chicken is baked and the corn flakes give it a crunchy consistency.  As you can see below, I used 1% milk, Best Life buttery spread (which has added vitamins and no trans fats) and 99% fat free Perdue chicken tenders which all together help reduce the fat and calorie content of this dish.

This was also a very inexpensive meal as you may recognize the corn flakes and chicken from last week’s grocery shopping trip at Harris Teeter.  The corn flakes were only $.59/box, the Best Life buttery spread was free during super double coupons and the Perdue Chicken Tenders were on sale last week for only $2+ per pack. Once you add in the little bit of milk, flour, salt, pepper, and one egg, I would estimate this dish only cost about $5.50 to make.

Double-Coated Chicken with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes


  • 7 cups Kellogg’s Corn Flakes® cereal (crushed to 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces, (without or with skin) rinsed and dried
  • 3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted


Place corn flakes cereal in shallow dish or pan. Set aside.

 In medium mixing bowl, beat egg and milk slightly. Add flour, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.

 Dip chicken in batter. Coat with cereal.

Place in single layer, in baking pan coated with cooking spray or foil lined. Drizzle with margarine. Bake at 350° F about 1 hour or until chicken is tender, no longer pink and juices run clear. For food safety, internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 165ºF. Do not cover pan or turn chicken while baking.

Here is the final product right out of the oven. Serve hot!

Recipe Notes:

1.  If you use chicken tenders (like I did), as opposed to chicken breasts, you will need to reduce the cooking time to 40-45 minutes (based on your oven).

2.  The finer you crunch up the corn flakes, the crispier your chicken will be.

My Harris Teeter Grocery Deals Picture From This Week Included Tonight on Southern Savers!

I am very excited to see that the picture of my Harris Teeter deals from this week’s $60 Weekly Grocery Challenge is one of the pictures featured on tonight!  If you want to check it out, click here!  It is the 11th picture in the Friday Finals photo slide show displaying reader’s best grocery deals from this week.  Yay!!!! 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with, it is a wonderful resource (and hugely popular site) featuring coupon matchups and deals for stores nationwide. I am super excited to be included on it tonight 🙂 Thanks, Jenny!