No Need to Dust

I was raised in a busy household with 7 children, a cat, and a bird. And always someone’s friends. There was always something to, and someone to do it with. 

In this pic, I’m on the lawn, playing Build-A-Bear with my little sister. 

Notice the alien in the attic window? Within the first few years of living there, my mom put it up there for Halloween…and never took it down. 

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Now, I live in an apartment on my own. I always thought I wouldn’t want that, but now I do and I love it. However, there is something that I am just now realizing… 

Until I lived on my own, I never had to dust. Now I have to dust! Look at all this dust!

While trying to figure out why this never happened growing up, I was thinking “maybe mom just did it all…?”

But who am I kidding. The mom who bragged that “I haven’t mopped my floor in 10 years” (because it was always something the kids did…usually me) would not choose to dust. 

I even asked my mom if she dusted when we were younger…she said there was no need, because we never had any dust in the first place. 

So then I thought some more, and I think I figured it out. 

You see, in our house, nothing had ever been still long enough to collect dust! Every surface was climbed on, played on, or used in some other way. 

No room was off limits. We could play and go anywhere in the house. Well, with the exception of the siblings yelling “STAY OUT OF MY ROOM!”

Even outside…one time I called my mom while I was in college. She was looking out the kitchen window, watching the kids rig up a zip line from the roof of the garage down to the trampoline…using yarn…and a belt as a harness…and she just wanted to see if they could figure it out. We were encouraged to experiment, but I thought that was taking it too far! She didn’t, though…and hey, they were fine!

From looking though old pictures, I found several pictures of kids sitting on the kitchen table, coffee table, or kitchen counter…which is something that I have since learned is indeed frowned upon in most households. 

This was a common way to get down the stairs…

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The kitchen table was okay to be on…

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Same kid on the table, just a few years later…this was actually mom’s birthday…Brigdon got her a can of soup…from our pantry…he wrapped it up in printer paper and everything. He was so proud, and she was so grateful. It was precious. 

And that fire extinguisher? We had it as a joke for when she blew out her candles. 

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It was even okay for mom to be on the kitchen table!

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Even I sat on the kitchen counters (this was on Wacky Tacky day in high school…though it isn’t far from my usual attire)…

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The coffee table was often just another thing to sit on…sometimes even stand on if we had a performance in the works!

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We would often catch the two youngest troublemakers on top of the entertainment center…not allowed, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen often. 

Moral of the story: There was no need to dust. 

And hey, we turned out alright! This is us kids and mom from Thanksgiving 2015.

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Filed under Family, Thoughts

The Best Money Saving Apps

final collageI have recently come across some money-saving apps and after just a few weeks I have already earned and redeemed a $25 Amazon gift card and a $5 Target gift card, and am on my way to more!

Here are the apps I use to save money!

If you download them, please use my referral code and I will get extra money, too!

First I’ll do a short version, then I’ll go into a longer version for those who want more details…

  1. Ibotta
    Basically, you find rebates through the app and get cash back for things you buy. You can withdraw your money into Paypal or a gift card when you have a certain amount. My referral code is ekiudqk (I’ll get $5 when you redeem your first rebate). 
  2. Shopkick
    Basically, you earn “kicks” by walking into stores, scanning specific products, and buying certain products. You can redeem your kicks for gift cards that you must use the same day you click “redeem.” OR you can redeem them for cool items!On your phone, click on http://get.shopkick.com/sunset71041 (I’ll get 50% of your kicks for the first 2 weeks). 
  3.  Checkout 51
    Basically, you find rebates through the app and get cash back for things you buy. When your balance reaches at least $20, you can “Cash Out” and they will mail you a check. Snail mail, yes, but it’s $20 so that’s fine!
     
  4. Find & Save
    Basically, you can get cash back by spending money at stores you’re going to go to anyway. When your balance reaches at least $25, they transfer the money to you through PayPal.
    My referral code is K9ZG (I’ll get $3 when you redeem an offer!)
     
  5. MyPoints
    Ok, technically not an app. It’s through email.Basically, you click on emails to get points. You can redeem your points for gift cards.
    It’s not all emails. You can get points for shopping online, buying gift cards, taking surveys, watching videos, searching the web, and more. My mom did it when I was younger and I signed up as soon as I turned 18. I’ve gotten so many gift cards from them!
    I have to email referrals individually, so if you know me and you want to sign up, let me know and I’ll email you my referral code!

And that sums it up…

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Now, if you want more details…read on for a longer version.

  1. Ibotta
    There’s a ton of “any brand” rebates, which are the best. It’s on things like any brand of: cereal, milk, tomatoes, bread, eggs, bananas, and more. It’s also got specific items such as Cheerios, Kid Cuisine, Stouffer’s Entrees, Kleenex, Progresso Soup, Glade Aerosol cans, Krusteaz Cookie Mix, Windex, and A TON MORE!!
    Is this starting to sound like stuff you’re going to buy anyway?
    Well, it is!
    So you might as well get cash back for buying it, right?!
    There’s also some stuff on there I’d never buy, but that’s okay. After you’ve chosen the store you’re at, you’ll choose your item…IMG_0824

    Then you’ll tap whatever item you want to “unlock”…

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    You will then see a fact, a “getting acquainted” question, a short video, a recipe, or something like that. 

    Click tap on unlock, and it’s ready to be used!

    Then you can shop as usual. When you get home (or to the car!), you’ll tap “Verify Purchases” and you’ll choose where you shopped and scan the barcode on the items you bought (if applicable….for example, bananas don’t have  a barcode sometimes), then submit your receipt by taking a picture of it through the app.

    You’ll get the cash deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours…mine has usually taken less than 12 hours!

    When you have the minimum balance, you can withdraw your cash! I love Amazon, so I was saving up for the Amazon gift card. 

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    The gift card options are Best Buy, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Sephora, Walmart, Express, Regal, and iTunes. They might add more over time, but as of when I wrote this post, those were the options. 

    I chose the Amazon card, they emailed me the redemption code, and I bought a new book for my Alice in Wonderland collection!

    Now, get Ibotta and don’t forget to use my referral code: ekiudqk

  2. Shopkick
    There are so many stores you can get kicks for just walking into! Sometimes you can just drive by near the entrance and it will register that you are there, then you can go along your merry way.
     

    Also, you can scan products. It will list products, tell you how many kicks per scan, and sometimes you can get additional kicks for purchasing that item. It’s stuff I’m personally not interested in buying, but obviously someone would.The items that there are to scan are usually the same or similar at multiple stores, and I’m scanning them each time I go, so after the first time it is faster because I know exactly where the items are and don’t have to spend time searching.

    You tap on the store you are at. Target this time for me. When you walk in, you open the app. It says you need to have Bluetooth on, but I’ve done it both with and without Bluetooth on, so I don’t know why it says that.

    Anyway, when you walk in, that blue circle will pop up. Tap it and you get your kicks!


    Then it will show that you can get “0” for walk ins. Don’t worry, you can get some next time. Unless you go way often, like I do.

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    But don’t worry, you can still scan stuff!

    Here’s a screenshot of when I was scanning at Walgreens.

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    You tap the item, a scanner pops up, and you scan the barcode!

    Now, let’s talk about getting kicks for spending money.

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    First, the “Purchases” section. I use this all the time. You enter your card info and they track the purchases and give you points for how much money you spend. In most cases, you can get 1 kick per $2 spent, but some places are 1 kick per $1.

    In the screenshot below, all I did was have my card connected to Shopkick, spend money at Target (1 kick per $2), and go on with my life. Not much later, I got this notification. And BOOM, I’m 20 kicks closer to a gift card. Win!

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    I connected both of the cards that I use most often, to be sure I am getting rewards for purchases, no matter which card I use.

    If you’re not comfortable connecting your card to this app, then simply don’t. You can still earn kicks with walk ins, scans, and submitting receipts, which we’ll come to next…..

    Now, the “Receipts” section. I haven’t used this one yet. If you buy an item that has a “KickBate,” then you get however many kicks it lists.

    In the following screenshot, you can see that I can scan Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blank and get 25 kicks. If I buy it and submit my receipt, I’ll get 150 kicks.

    You’ll see that The Dreaming Tree wine has a grayed out scan…because I already did it. However, the whole section isn’t grayed out because I can still get a KickBate if I buy it and submit my receipt.

    You’ll also see that the Straight Talk Wireless Phone On Display is all grayed out because I scanned it and there is no KickBate, so I’ve done all I can with it.

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    If you scan an item at one store, sometimes it will let you scan it at another store and sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it will open up a few days later, too. Just check on it.

    Ready to redeem your kicks?
    Choose your reward! For my first one, I chose a $5 Target gift card.

    ONLY REDEEM THE DAY YOU WILL USE IT, OR YOU WILL LOSE IT!

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    Tap “Redeem”…then it will tell you that once kicks are redeemed, it’s final. Tap okay, and you’ll immediately get a code for the cashier to scan! I whited stuff out on mine to post….

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    When it’s time to pay, tell the cashier you have a gift card, show them the barcode on your phone, they’ll scan it, then tap on “Mark as used”….you just used a reward! Woo hoo!

    Check it out!

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    Remember when I mentioned items? Yep. Items. Check out these options! I’m working towards the red camera now!

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    It’ll take me a long time to get there, but the Sony Cybershot I have right now is about 10 years old and is on the end of it’s life…so, I’m saving my kicks for a new one!

    Now go get kicks and redeem them for gift cards or items!!

     

  3. Checkout 51
    Similar to Ibotta in some ways…they put rebates on their app, you buy them, and redeem for cash!You can “Star” the items you want to purchase, that way they are easy to access.

    IMG_0865After you buy them, you upload your receipt.

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    Then you select which items you bought.

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    Then, it credits your account and notifies you when it’s finalized!

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    It even works for things you buy online! See the area I boxed and starred below.

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    I haven’t redeemed enough rebates to get my cash back yet, but I’m almost halfway there! When your balance reaches $20, you can request your check…snail mail…but it will get to you!

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    Now, go enjoy Checkout 51!

  4. Find & Save
    If you download this one, please use my referral code – K9ZGThis one is a bit different…you just spend money at certain stores and you get a certain amount of money back. They include stores such as Best Buy, Family Dollar, Claire’s, Target, Walgreens, DSW, Lowe’s, ALDI, Ulta, Kroger, Advance Auto Parts, and more! Sometimes you get a small percentage back, sometimes it’s a few dollars back. Either way – cash back! 

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    You simply shop and then tap on the store you shopped at.

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    Tap “Add Receipt” and take pictures of your receipt – super easy. Then you’ll get an email saying that it was received!

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    On this one, you get your money back through PayPal…see the bottom of the screenshot below:

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    Now, go Find & Save as much as you can!

  5. MyPoints
    I have to email referrals individually, so if you know me and you want to sign up, let me know and I’ll email you my referral code!MyPoints is something amazing I have been doing for a long time.
    I’ve been a member of MyPoints since September 2007 and check this out:

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    I’ve redeemed $325 in gift cards simply for clicking and shopping.

    Here’s how this one works:
    You will get emails.
    MyPoints Emails
    You click on the emails and you can get points for simply going to a webpage.

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    Check that out. Just for clicking “Get Points” you will get 5 points. And if you go further and request a quote (which I did), you will get 100 more points.

    There are many other ways to get points. There are 6 listed below!

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    Now, I’ll tell you a bit more about the top 3 of those…

    Surveys are easy – if you have time, go through the whole survey and get all the points. If you don’t have time, don’t let yourself qualify! Just say you are 5 years old or something, and it will still give you 5 points for trying!

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    You can also print coupons and redeem them at the store. I’ve never used that, but it’s an option.

    Another way to earn points is searching. You can get up to 100 points for searching!

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    Here’s what I do…I type in a letter and click “Search & Earn” 41 times in a row. Boom. 100 points. You can do this once a month. Easy!

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    You can also get points by purchasing things online, and even for purchasing gift cards! I use that one. I’ll get a TON of points for purchasing gift cards to places that I know I’m going to spend money anyway – and I get points for it!

    Also, watching videos on their website can get you points. You get 1 point for every video you watch, up to 75 videos each day. It used to be that you could start the video, mute it, and go on with your life doing other things on the computer, going back to click on a new video every few minutes, and rack up points that way.
    Now they’ve got it set up where the video pauses when you navigate away from the video. SO, just start a video, mute it, and go on doing other things around your house, leaving the video up and running, and come back to change it every few minutes.
    Or, you know, sit and enjoy the videos…

    Now, let’s talk about redeeming your points. I like to get Amazon gift cards. They also have Banana Republic, AMC, American Eagle, Barnes and Noble, Chili’s Bath and Body Works, GAP, Game Stop, Jack in the Box, Olive Garden, Nike, Target, Starbucks, Walmart, and SO MANY MORE!!!!!!!!!

I know this is a ton of information about these 5 amazing ways to save money. Seriously – do at least one of them!
If you have any questions, let me know, and don’t forget to use my referral codes!

You can also check out my five-dollar savings plan by clicking here!

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Porch Glider and Table

I used my Five-Dollar Savings Plan again!!!!

Click here to read more about how it works in detail….the overview is that you save every $5 you come across, and save it to buy yourself something. 

Now, here’s my new setup! I bought a glider and a table!

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So, I started with $275. I thought of many things to spend this on. The only one I can remember right now is a new point-and-shoot camera (the one I have now is more than 10 years old). Anyway, I finally decided on furniture for my porch/patio!

Why? Because the sun sets riiiiiight there. Quite the view in the evenings. 

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Ok, so I had a $275 budget. 

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And I REALLY wanted a swing. For my porch. See? It needs something to keep the gnomes company. 

But, after much measuring, I decided that a swing won’t work. Too small of an area. You see, it would FIT, but then I wouldn’t be able to get into my front door…so I was looking for chairs…so I went looking for chairs with my 2 awesome girls. 

And I found a glider at Home Depot!

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But I wasn’t sold. I tend to like dark furniture. That seat was so light. 

Then Natalie found this set! 

They didn’t have the glider in the store, but she saw it in the booklet!!!

So, I went home and looked at it online, measured my porch, and tried to decide…

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It looks lighter in that picture, but the one at the store was darker…so I went with it! I did it!

Now, I had paid for it online, so I had to take my $5 bills and deposit them into the bank…

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I chose to have it delivered to the store (shipping was free that way), and my friend and his Jeep helped me get it home. 

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Then it was time to assemble!

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And I did it! And I felt great! It was beautiful!

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And then I had sticky stuff on the metal from the stickers that they’d put on it….but I know how to deal with THAT!

After it was all cleaned off, I took it outside!

Then I realized I needed a table. I had $40 left, so I went searching…at Target. 

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And I found one!!! 

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Now, excuse the night picture, but check it out!

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And hey, check it out! I’ve still got $15 to start me off for next time!

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Now, go forth and save!

I’ll just be here enjoying my porch…

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Click here if you want to learn more about the $5 savings plan.

Click below to see other things I have bought with my $5 savings plan:
A Kitchen Aid
Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection
A sitting apparatus…well, 2

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Changing the Date

I love doing this before I leave work. 

 

 

For me, it means “another successful day as the teacher.”

And that is a wonderful feeling. 

 

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Homemade Cream Soup Substitute

Alright….I’m slowly straying away from canned foods. This includes “cream of ___ soup” that is so commonly used in recipes. I’m a casserole girl. Love ’em. Cream of “whatever” soup is so necessary in American cooking….so I found a substitute using ingredients I always have on hand!

fontcandy.pngYeah, I’m not willing to pay for any apps so I can’t remove that watermark in the corner…anyway…back to the recipe…

Cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery, you get the picture. 

It takes about 10 minutes.

One batch equals one 10.75 oz can of cream of ___ soup. 

Here’s what you need:
-2 Tablespoons butter (I use unsalted)
-3 Tablespoons flour
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1/2 cup milk (I use 2%, but you can also use 1% or whole)
-1/4 teaspoon salt (you can also use garlic salt!)
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Here’s what you do:

  1. Measure everything out, since you’ll need it ready to pour when it’s time. 
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Whisk in the flour. It will become a clump that looks like Play-Doh. Let it cook, stirring it around, for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly stir in chicken broth. This is where I had to use a spatula to scrape the flour mixture out of the bottom edges….
  5. Slowly stir in milk.
  6. Whisk until it begins to thicken….it takes a few minutes.
  7. Let it simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally
  8. Add the salt and pepper and STIR. 
  9. Add to your recipe of whatever you’re making!

It’s that easy! 
Here are some pics of my process. 

Gathering the goodness….

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And when you add the flour, it gets lumpy like this and can get stuck up in the whisk….just shake it off…

And add the liquid and stir….I had to use a spatula here to get the flour mixture out of the edges…

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Add the rest, and let it thicken!

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Enjoy! Let me know how yours turns out!

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Curious

Books.

I am currently reading three books:

The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s by Temple Grandin

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

The most recent addition to my bookshelf is Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy. I saw it at Costco and it was cheaper than on Amazon, so I couldn’t pass it up. It’s next in line for reading. I’ve never read it before, but Binchy’s Tara Road has been one of my favorite books since high school, so I want to read this new one. 

I usually have more than one book going at a time, usually from different genres, so I can pick up the kind of book I’m in the mood for at the time.

A couple of days ago, I watched the movie Saving Mr. Banks. It became an instant favorite, and I watched it again today. I think I will watch it very often over the next few months, that’s how much I love it.

It inspired me to re-read all of the Mary Poppins books. There’s 8 of them. It’s probably been over 10 years since I last the first 4, and it’s about time I do it again, and read the last 4 as well. However, I don’t want to just borrow them from the library. No, I want to own them. So, I made a list of all the books so that when I am at the thrift store I can search for them.

Then I couldn’t stop, so I made a list of many other books I want to own…then went to one of my bookshelves for some inspiration.

While looking through my bookshelf, I noticed something curious. On the Romanian books, the titles on the spine are printed opposite the American books. See what I mean?

Curiouser and curiouser.

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Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups

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Delicious. Take a look at that. Yes, I like a lot of cheese. You don’t have to add so much. But I love it. If you want some tasty Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups, here’s how you do it!

You will need:

  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (go here to see how I do mine quickly and easily)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (yes, you can use black pepper)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (no, you don’t have to use whole wheat – but why not?)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 2 cups pasta sauce of your choice (I always use SimplyNature Marinara from Aldi)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Put noodles on to cook, according to package directions
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. In a medium bowl, combine shredded chicken, cheeses, milk, and pepper
  4. In a 13×9-inch baking dish, spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce
  5. Spread a little less than 1/2 cup of the chicken and cheese mixture on each lasagna noodle
  6. Roll in a jelly-roll like fashion….
  7. Arrange lasagna noodles seam-side down in baking dish on top of the pasta sauce
  8. Top with remaining pasta sauce
  9. Sprinkle feta cheese on each lasagna roll
  10. Cover with foil
  11. Bake for 30 minutes
  12. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese. 

I sprinkle the extra Parmesan on right before serving. The ones I saved as leftovers don’t have the Parmesan on them yet – I sprinkle it on after I reheat it. It’s best that way. 

Also, a side note on the lasagna noodles. When they were done cooking I took them off the burner but left them in the water. I took them out one at a time to put the mixture on them and roll them. That way they didn’t get all sticky together while they waited their turn. 

Here are some pictures of the process!

This is the 1 cup of pasta sauce spread on the bottom of the pan. 

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This is how I spread the mixture. I took 2 noodles out and worked on the one closest to me while the one farther away cooled. After I rolled the filled one, I turned over the one farther from me and put it closest to me to work on next, and took the next noodle out of the pan (that still has the noodles and water in it) and let it start to cool while I worked on the one closest to me.

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Here it is right before I covered it with foil to put it in the oven.

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The deliciousness covered in the Parmesan cheese, about to be consumed!

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Enjoy!

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