Friday, October 27, 2006

Freebie Friday: October 27, 2006

Welcome to Freebie Friday. It is an official day of free for my readers, so please enjoy our compiled list. First up, I want to share this week’s letter from one of our readers.

Hi there!

I love your blog and have lately been getting some of the freebies that you post. I thought you might like to know about one offer that I just received through email. For dog lovers...
Greenies Treats. It's an offer for a free greenies treat for your dog. Our dog loves them. After you get the freebie you can also print a coupon good for $3 off your next one at your local retailer.

Thanks for sharing your posts.

Best
Mira

Many thanks to Mira for sharing this wonderful freebie! I am sure the dog lovers will really appreciate this one!

If you have a freebie or a good deal that you would like to share with our blog, please email me at amy@momadvice.com and let us know what it is. We really love our reader letters!

This week’s freebies:

Register to receive a free sample of Claritin RediTabs. This sample will arrive in two to six weeks.

Get a free sample of NIVEA Body Smooth Sensations Lotion. Please allow four to six weeks for this sample to arrive.

Get a free subscription to Travel & Leisure Golf Magazine.

Get a free sample of Basis Soap. Please allow four to six weeks for this sample to arrive.

Receive a free subscription to Rangefinder Photo Magazine.

I am not endorsing Botox in any way, but they are offering a free copy of The Girlfriends Guide to Staying a Hot Mama, if you sign up for their email newsletters.

For a limited time the Coca-Cola Company is taking orders for the free 2007 Coca-Cola calendar. The Calendar starts shipping in November. U.S. Residents can call the toll-free number (1-800-438-2653) between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm Eastern time and request the free 2007 calendar.

Get a free 10 piece cosmetic bag when you register to receive emails from ULTA Cosmetics.

Meijer is offering FREE antibiotic prescriptions! Meijer is leading the industry to a new level of consumer cost savings and our new program covers the leading oral generic antibiotics with a special focus on the prescriptions most often filled for children. The following can be obtained for FREE (No insurance card required) at your Meijer pharmacy, with your doctor's prescription: Amoxicillin Cephalexin SMZ-TMP Ciprofloxacin Ampicillin Penicillin VK Erythromycin. Prescription must be picked up at store in person. Maximum 14 day supply at normal dosage. List may be subject to change. Not valid with any other offer.

Register to receive a free sample of Noxzema Triple Clean Blackhead Cleanser. This sample should arrive within six to eight weeks.

Fill out the quick form to receive a free Gillette Fusion Shaving Gel sample.

Register to receive a free Gooseberry Patch Family Favorite Recipes Booklet.

Xerox is offering a free 2007 calendar just for filling out their form. It is showing that they are requiring a company name on their form. You should receive this calendar within seven to ten business days.

This one will go quick. Sam’s Club is offering a free travel sample of Cottonelle Flushable Wipes. You are not required to fill in a membership number, so anyone can apply for this freebie.

Good luck & may your mailbox be overloaded with goodies!

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dinner is in the Bag



I will admit it. By the end of the week, I am shot. I am too tired to do anything except sack out on the couch and watch television with the family. I don’t feel like cooking and I also don’t feel like running out to get anything for dinner. This leads to the scenario where my husband and I both look at each other and go, “So…what are you hungry for?” I then reply, “I don’t know, what you are you hungry for?” You can kind of see where this is leading, can’t you? Then we wait another five minutes and repeat the scenario…until someone gives in and breaks out the cereal. It is a sad, sad situation we have going over here in our house.


I am trying to break this cycle so I have our dinner in a bag…literally. I decided to mix up my newest edition to the fifty thousand pizza dough recipes I have and throw it in a bag. I marked it with, “Pizza Mix” and wrote down the two liquid ingredients that needed to be put with it. All I will have to do on Friday night is throw in the bag, add the water, add the oil and hit dough cycle. Since I was making one of the mixes, why not four? So now I have mixes for every Friday night this month and it took ten minutes to do this.


This recipe yields enough for two thin crust pizzas or one thick crust pizza. I prepare one of the pizzas as a…um…pizza. The other recipe is made into breadsticks. I can’t take credit for this one because it comes courtesy to you from my girlfriend (Becky- thanks!) For my breadsticks, I drizzle a little olive oil on top, and sprinkle with dried parsley and garlic salt. I then prepare my sauce (enough for three pizzas) and we dip our breadsticks in the sauce and enjoy a homemade pizza.


You might want to incorporate this little recipe into your family night this week. It is easy as pie and *so* good!


Amy’s Latest Pizza Dough Recipe (Part Three)
*Here are the links to versions
one and two*


1 cup water
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups flour (all-purpose or you can do half & half with whole wheat flour)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon yeast


Put all ingredients into your bread machine per your manufacturer’s instructions. Choose your Dough Cycle. When the pizza dough is done, punch down and roll out onto a floured surface. Cook the pizza in a 425 degree oven for fifteen-twenty minutes.


Amy’s Yummy Pizza Sauce


2 cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Italian dried seasonings
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste


Bring the mixture up to a simmer and cook for twenty minutes. Allow mixture to cool before pouring on top of the pizza.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Making Restaurant Food From Home

Welcome to this edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday. After being on hiatus last week, it is up and rolling again. Please visit Shannon's blog for a listing of all the participants and their solutions.

I have decided that I no longer enjoy going out to dinner. The only time I really enjoy it is for a special treat or a really nice date night with my husband. If it is not a special occasion, chances are that you will find us eating at home.

I do enjoy certain foods from restaurants, but the hassle and the poor service usually outweighs the desire to go out to dinner.

When I am really hungry for restaurant food, I go to my recipe files and pull out these recipes (for whichever food I am craving that particular night).

Craving Olive Garden?

Italian Veggie & Pasta Soup

2 lbs ground turkey, 3 carrots, chopped very small, 4 stalks celery, 2 cans diced tomatoes (do not drain), 2 cans red kidney beans (drained, 3 cans beef broth, 1 jar spaghetti sauce, 8 ounces noodles (elbow macaroni works great), salt & pepper to taste.

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Drain fat from turkey and place in the slow cooker. Add to the slow cooker all of the ingredients except for the pasta. Cook soup on low for seven to eight hours or on high for four to five hours. During the last thirty minutes (if on high) or one hour (on low) add the pasta.

Rosemary & Cheese Breadsticks

1 cup grated Parmesan, Asiago, Romano cheese (made by Kraft in the dairy aisle) 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves, 1 (11-ounce) container refrigerated breadstick dough (recommended: Pillsbury), 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper. Pour cheese and chopped fresh rosemary on a paper plate to roll the dough in. Separate the dough strips. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut each dough strip in half lengthwise to form thin strips. Working with dough strip at a time, coat each strip with the cheese mixture, pressing very gently. Twist each cheese covered dough strip and place onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the salt, if you wish.
Bake until the breadsticks are golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the warm breadsticks to a basket or tall glass and serve.

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1 egg beaten, 4 teaspoons butter, 2 cups spaghetti sauce, 4 slices mozzarella cheese & 1 teaspoon of grated parmesan.

Pound chicken to flatten. Salt & pepper to taste. Dip chicken in egg; then in breadcrumbs. Fry in butter in hot skillet, turning & browning for ten minutes or until chicken is done. Remove from skillet. To skillet, add the spaghetti sauce & heat thoroughly. Add chicken back to the skillet. Place slices of mozzarella on top of chicken and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Cover & cook until the cheese is melted. Serve this with a side of spaghetti.

Craving Red Lobster?

Easy Garlic-Cheese Biscuits

2 Cups Original Bisquick, 2/3 cup milk,½ cup shredded Cheddar Cheese,¼ cup butter or stick margarine melted, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix Bisquick, milk, and cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 30 seconds. Drop dough by ten to twelve spoonfuls about two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake eight to ten minutes or until golden brown. Mix butter and garlic powder; brush on warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm.


Linguine with Clam Sauce

1 pound linguini, Salt, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of butter, 4 cloves garlic, chopped, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 cup dry white wine, Juice from ½ a lemon, 2 (15-ounce) can whole baby clams, with their juice, Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the linguini and cook as directed or until al dente. The linguini will continue to cook in sauce, later.
To a large skillet heated over medium heat, add oil, butter, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook together. Add wine and the juice from the clams to the pan and give the pan a shake. Finally, add the clams. Drain pasta and add it to the clam sauce. Toss and coat the pasta in sauce with clams until the pasta absorbs the flavor and juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt, add parsley and serve.


Salmon Baked In Foil

4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets, 2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, Salt and freshly ground black pepper, 3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained, 2 chopped shallots, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Craving IHOP?

Pumpkin Pancakes with Yogurt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour,1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 3 eggs, 1 cup plain yogurt, 3/4 cup milk, 1 cup pumpkin, canned.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, adding yogurt, milk and pumpkin puree. Mix well. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Spoon the batter onto a preheated, oiled griddle, using 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes slowly over a low-medium heat for approximately 4-6 minutes, flipping after 3 minutes.

Fluffy Pancakes

1 egg, 1 cup flour,¾ cup milk, 2 tablespoons margarine, melted, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt.

Beat egg until fluffy. Add milk & melted margarine. Add dry ingredients.

Banana Pancakes

1 cup flour,1 tablespoon white sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 egg, beaten, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 ripe banana

Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder cinnamon, & salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, & bananas. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop batter onto the griddle, using approximately ¼ cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.


Oven Fried Bacon

Use a large, rimmed baking sheet, such as a jelly-roll pan, that is shallow enough to promote browning, yet tall enough (at least 3/4-inch in height) to contain the rendered bacon fat. To save time, you can add the bacon to the oven before it reaches 400 degrees, but exact cooking time will vary from oven to oven. If cooking more than one tray of bacon, exchange their oven positions once about halfway through the cooking process.Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bacon slices in a large jelly-roll pan or other shallow baking pan. Roast until fat begins to render, 5 to 6 minutes; rotate pan front-to-back. Continue roasting until is crisp and brown, 5 to 6 minutes longer for thin-sliced bacon, 8 to 10 minutes for thick-cut. Transfer with tongs to paper towel-lined plate, drain, and serve.

Craving Tacos?

Slow Cooker Taco Meat

3 tbsp taco seasoning, 1 cup chicken broth, 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Dissolve taco seasoning into chicken broth. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour broth over them. With two forks, shred the chicken meat into bite-size pieces. To freeze, place shredded meat into freezer bag with juices. Press out all the air & seal.

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey, 1 can chili beans, with liquid, 1 can kidney beans, with liquid, 1 can whole kernel corn, with liquid, 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, 2 cups water, 1 package of taco seasoning mix.
In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain & set aside. Place the ground beef, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, & taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend and cook on Low setting for eight hours.


How about a burger?

Amy’s Famous Burgers

1 pound ground beef, 1 egg, 1 package dry onion soup mix, ½ cup cheddar cheese, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, 1 t. oregano, Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all ingredients together and form into patties. Grill according to grill instructions. I usually throw these on the George Foreman grill for ten minutes to cook quickly.

Amy’s Butter Burgers

1 ¼ pound 80% lean ground beef, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce, Salt and Pepper, 1 pat of butter per burger

In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire Sauce, salt, and pepper. Shape into four patties and make an indentation in the center of each burger. Fill this indentation with a pat of butter and gently shape the meat around the butter until the butter is sealed. Grill five minutes on each side or until you have achieved desired doneness.

Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

10 ounces ground sirloin or lean ground beef, 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, 2 large (4 1/2-inch-diameter) English muffins, split horizontally

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Combine meat, onion, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in medium bowl; blend well. Divide meat mixture into 2 equal portions. Shape each into ball. Poke deep hole in each ball and fill each with half of cheese. Mold meat around cheese to enclose. Flatten each filled burger to 3/4-inch-thick patty. Grill burgers to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium. Grill muffin halves until beginning to color, about 1 minute per side. Serve burgers in muffins.Serves 2; can be doubled.

Oven Steak Fries

5 russet potatoes, cut into thin wedges 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon dried thyme. 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning or, salt and pepper.


Preheat oven to high. Cut potatoes and spread out on a cookie sheet. Coat potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, dried herbs and steak seasoning or, salt and pepper. Spread potatoes to the corners of the cookie sheet. Cook potatoes in very hot oven 25 minutes. Turn potatoes once, half way in the cooking process. Serve fries hot from the oven.

Now you know some of my cooking secrets! I hope you can reach for one of these recipes if you are in the mood to dine out. It will be much friendlier on your wallet!

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Powdered Milk & Christmas Drink Mixes

If you would have asked me a couple of years ago if I would ever prepare powdered milk, the answer would have been no. My mom tried to get us to drink this when we would run out of milk, as children, and I thought it tasted horrible. I can remember thinking that I would NEVER serve powdered milk to my children. I would NEVER shop at Aldi. I would NEVER be one of those moms…Guess what kind of mom I am? Guess which mother likes to remind me of what kind of mom I said I would not be and then became?

I have discovered the joys of powdered milk through one of my favorite resources…the great Hillbilly Housewife website. Miss Maggie offers a great tutorial explaining how to prepare powdered milk and the things that you can make from it.

The price of powdered milk is so much better than its fresh alternative. I can purchase a large four pound box for a mere $6.99 from Aldi Supermarket and it makes twenty quarts of milk. If I get fresh milk on sale, a real deal would be $1.50-2.50. The dry milk is a steady $1.40 per gallon, all year long, so dry milk is much friendlier on the wallet.

In the beginning, I bought the powdered milk to use when making my hot cocoa mixes. Then it sat there taking up space in my cupboards for a long time. Then this summer we discovered Magic Milkshakes and I found a new way to use up the milk.

As I was preparing dinner one night, I figured why not use powdered milk in my recipes? I mean, who could taste if the milk was powdered or not in my mashed potatoes or my waffle batter mix? The taste was essentially the same thing and so I thought it might be worth using for that. Sure enough, no one in my family suspected.

Since that worked out so well, I thought we could try it on our cereal (we were taking baby steps here!) and so I suggested this to my husband. The look I got from him was as if I had grown three heads, but he said he would try it, for the sake of my milk experiment. He found the taste to be “different” and said it had a bit of an aftertaste to it. He said he would be willing to drink this if he HAD to, but would rather not drink it. To me, it tasted similar to skim milk although I would still prefer the fresh alternative over the powdered stuff. It is more a mental thing than the fact that it tastes different. When mixed in my cocoa or in my food though, it performs just as the fresh milk would.

For the sake of your grocery budget, give powdered milk a try and see what your family thinks of it. Even if you end up just using it for cooking, the savings is worth it!

If you are looking for hot drink mixes to give away as Christmas gifts, many will include the infamous powdered milk. Here are a few recipes to get you started for the holidays!

Good Night Cafe

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and whir until finely ground. Store in an airtight container.2/3 cup powdered nondairy creamer1/3 cup instant coffee granules1/3 cup sugar1 tsp. ground cardamom1/2 tsp. cinnamon1/8 tsp. nutmegAttach to jar:Mix 1 tbs. into 8oz. boiling water.

Café Mocha

1 1/2 cups instant coffee granules1/4 cup each unsweetened cocoa, and powdered nondairy creamer6 tbs. confectionary sugarPlace all ingredients into a blender or food processor and whir until finely ground. Store in an airtight container.Attach to jar:Mix 1-2 tbs. into 3/4 cup boiling water.

Cinn-Mocha-Sation

1 cup powdered nondairy creamer3/4 cup sugar2/3 cup powdered dry milk1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa1/3 cup instant coffee granules1/4 cup brown sugar1 tsp. cinnamon1/4 tsp. each salt, and nutmegPlace all ingredients into a blender or food processor and whir until finely ground. Store in an airtight container.Attach to jar:Mix 1/4 cup into 3/4 cup boiling water.

Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix

11 Cups powdered dry milk1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer2 1/2 cups confectionary sugar1 pound container of instant chocolate drink mixSimply mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container! Attach to jar:For a great cup of gourmet hot chocolate, measure out 3 heaping tablespoons of mix into your favorite mug, and add 6-8oz. boiling water! This recipe makes about 250 servings, and can be cut in half.

Malted Hot Chocolate

3 1/2 ounces of malted milk powder5 1/2 ounces of powdered non-dairy creamer1 pound of powdered dry milk1 pound of confectionary sugar14 ounces of instant chocolate drink mix8 ounces of mini marshmallowsStir and store! Attach to jar:Use 3 heaping tablespoons of mix to one mug of boiling water.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Freebie Friday: October 20, 2006

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Welcome to this edition of Freebie Friday. This is where I give everything I can to you for free. Consider it a little treat to start your weekend off right. Each week I compile a list of freebies that you can partake of.

First up, this week’s letter comes from Annabel:

I have recently fallen in love with your website! I really enjoy all of your content and I have read articles in your archives and I just printed out all of the slow cooker recipes. I wanted to pass on a link for your freebie Friday:

http://www.redbox.com/

You can get a free rental by giving your email address for a free DVD rental! I really like the red box because it is so much cheaper than Blockbuster and I don’t have to wait for new releases at the library. You can check out a DVD at a kiosk (even place a DVD on hold online) and return it to any other location.They gave me a code word and I will enter the code into the kiosk.

I also saw that Showtime and HBO will be free to Dish network subscribers this weekend.

Thank you and keep up the great work!
Annabel

Thanks to Annabel for sharing this great freebie. I actually recently had rented a movie from a Redbox for the first time and it is awesome. If you are my buddy or you are local, they have a Redbox kiosk in Martin’s Supermarket now (both the South Bend & Granger locations).

Each kiosk holds over five hundred DVDs and they add new movies each Tuesday.
This month’s coupon code is BREAKROOM (I can’t reveal my sources, but I have an insider who hooks me up).

You can order your DVD online or just flip through a touch screen to see what is available. Next you swipe your card and then it spits the movie out like a vending machine. You take the movie and are charged one dollar per day (unless you use the above coupon code and then it will be FREE!)

To return the movie, you simply shove it back in the same slot that you took it from. Movies must be returned by 7PM, in order to only be charged one day...Unless you would like to keep it and pay more!!

I guess I had never realized that this was a nationwide thing. It appears that they are making their debut in McDonald’s (dinner & a movie!) and Smith’s Food & Drug as well as supermarkets.

Thanks again to Anabel for sharing this great info and thanks to Redbox for being so innovative. It is one of those moments where I am slapping myself on the forehead wondering why I hadn’t thought of that.

My next freebie comes from my sweet buddy, Beth, who is now residing in Ohio. She shared that Dale & Thomas Popcorn is free. You do have to pay shipping & handling on it, but it is still a great deal. You can order a two pack and only pay $2.95 per bag. The flavors are dreamy (chocolate, peanut butter, cinnamon) and it is one of Oprah’s favorite things! Beth suggests adding it to a gift basket to give someone a little something gourmet. Throw in a bag of cocoa & a mug and this would make a lovely treat!

Now for some more freebies:

Join LEGO Club today and receive 12 free issues of LEGO Magazine. Call 1.866.534.6258 (Mon-Fri 8-10PM or Sat-Sun 10-6PM). Give the operator this special code: EGG26. Offer is limited to one free membership per person. Please allow four to six weeks for the arrival of your first mailing.

Fill out this form to receive a free sample of Nourifusion for your skin.

Sign up to receive a free magazine and/or catalog request to Cross Country Stitching.

Get a complimentary one-year subscripiton to Horticulture Magazine. The survey is lengthy, but you can quickly select, “No Thanks” to every single offer.

Register for a free sample of the Healing Gardens Organics Wild Honey body lotion. You can expect this sample within four to six weeks.

Receive a free subscription to The Nest Magazine. This is a “mini-subscription” to their magazine and you will receive your first free issue in Spring 2007.

Get up to four Specialty Catalogs from Sears. This catalog offer includes their Wish Book, Room for Kids, Kitchens, & Power & Hand Tool Catalogs. You will receive your selections within two to three weeks.

Get your free coupons for up to $13 savings on Febreeze Products.

Register with BabyCenter and get a free subscription to their BabyCenter magazine. They offer health, beauty, fitness, & fashion tips tailored to your lifestyle.

Get a one year free subscription to Child Magazine. Quantities are limited on this one so make sure to sign up quick! You need to sign up with Start Sampling and then click no (unless you are interested) in the offers listed.

Get one Redbook magazine for free. Quantities are limited on this one too. You will also need to sign up with Start Sampling and then click no (unless you are interested) in the offers listed.

Sign up to get a free sample of PRIA Grain Essentials Orchard Apple Cinnamon Crisp bar. You can click “Skip” to the optional questions. You will receive this sample within six to eight weeks.

Sign up to receive a sample of Tasters Choice. They will send one to you for completing their short survey. This sample will arrive within six to eight weeks.

Nestle has a new Very Best Baking 2006 Holiday Magazine out. Simply fill out the form and wait to get this great freebie in the mail.

Get a free sample of Tampax Scented Pearl Tampons. You should receive this sample within six to eight weeks.

Hopefully this one will not be a dud by the time I post it because it is a great freebie. Get a free Travel Mug. You will need an 11-digit offer code (WMGOHO-2006). Your travel mug will arrive within six to eight weeks.

Sign up to receive a free subscription to Cruising World Magazine.

Get 20 free4x6 photos from Clark Color Labs.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Nicorette Fruit Chill Gum.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Frugal Momma's Test Kitchen: The Glorious Pumpkin

One of my favorite fall ingredients is pumpkin. I could eat pumpkin anything! It is so inexpensive & flavorful, which makes cooking with it so easy. I wanted to share a few recipes with you to show you some new ways you can use pumpkin in your cooking.

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

First up, did you know that you can make your own pumpkin puree? It is very easy and a great way to get your money back on the pumpkins you bought. The Tightwad Gazette recommends not cutting into your pumpkin until October 30th. Save the cut out portions in your fridge and the day after Halloween, you can begin to process it. Simply cut the flesh away from the skin and dice it, just as you would do with squash. Fill a pot with your cubes and add two inches of water to the bottom. Simmer the pot until the pumpkin is soft. Then all you have to do is run it through your food processor and you can freeze this into two cup portions (the equivalent size of the canned stuff). How easy is that? Heck, if you are super frugal you could just ask your neighbors what they are planning to do with their pumpkins and use those too! Few people take the time to do this, but why waste it? When unthawed, the puree will be more watery than the canned version. Just allow the water to drain out and use the pumpkin as usual.

Make Your Own Pumpkin Pie Spice

If you haven’t been over to our forum recently, you are missing out on a gold mine of recipes & great tips. As with all things on our site, there is no charge for membership or anything! One of my most faithful posters, Marva, shared her recipe for making your own pumpkin pie spice. This is definitely a recipe to keep in your back pocket with all of your holiday cooking. Many thanks to Marva for sharing her recipes with our readers!

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice

4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Mix well. Store in an airtight container. Use this as a substitute for store bought pumpkin pie spice. Yield: 7 1/2 teaspoons.

Now moving on to my favorite pumpkin recipes…

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup milk

1 cup pumpkin (canned or your homemade pumpkin puree)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, adding yogurt, milk and pumpkin puree. Mix well. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Spoon the batter onto a preheated, oiled griddle, using 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes slowly over a low-medium heat for approximately 4-6 minutes, flipping after 3 minutes.

Makes eight servings.**If you want a really sweet pancake, substitute the cup of sour cream for one cup of French vanilla yogurt and decrease the sugar to a ½ cup.**

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts, if desired.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Pumpkin Pie

2 9” pie shells

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

½ cup white sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 ½ cups milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 cups pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. IN a large bowl combine eggs, egg yolks, white sugar, & brown sugar. Add spices. Gradually stir in milk & cream. Stir in pumpkin. Pour into the pie shells. Bake for ten minutes in oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for forty-five more minutes or until set.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (and Variations)

Cake: 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin 3 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 8 tablespoons butter, melted 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Variations:

For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

And the latest recipe to add to my collection is a dish that we had for dinner last night. It is for a pumpkin pasta dish. Please do not wrinkle your nose until you try it! This was inhaled by myself, my super picky husband, my four year old little boy, and my ten month old daughter. The flavor resembled a delicious homemade macaroni and cheese. I tweaked the recipe with the flavorings that I knew our family would enjoy, but feel free to adjust things to your family’s tastes.

Please try this one- you won’t be disappointed!

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil

1 pound package of Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (removed from its casing)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 can chicken broth

¼ cup heavy cream (I substituted with half & half to cut down on the calories)

½ cup sour cream (low-fat or fat free)

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp white pepper

1 tsp sage

2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

¼ cup Romano Cheese, shredded

1 pound penne or rotini pasta

In a large skillet sauté the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat. Add the turkey sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking the meat up with your spoon as you cook it. Remove turkey sausage and garlic from the skillet (I put it into the serving bowl we were going to use that evening, to cut down on dishes). Pour the chicken broth into the skillet and deglaze the pan using a wire whisk, to bring up all of the flavors stuck to the pan. Whisk in the cream and seasonings. Simmer for ten minutes. Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and stir into the pumpkin mixture along with the turkey sausage, simmering for another three minutes or until the sauce thickens and hugs the pasta. Stir in parsley and garnish with Roman and more parsley.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Take the MomAdvice Challenge: Bring Back Family Night

When I was growing up, we always had a designated night that was for spending time together as a family. No one was allowed to make any plans with other people and all family members had to be committed to staying home with one another & sharing time together. Our family night had consisted of a pizza or special treat & and good old family sitcoms on television. It was a special night that everyone looked forward to.

Now that I have my own family, I am starting to see the joys in having a designated time like this together. Although every night can be a family night, isn't it fun to have just one official night that you all can look forward to?

I challenge everyone to have a family night this week. Think of some things that you can do as a family that will bring you closer together. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Play board games.
Make dinner together. Designate each child to have a task to help in the assembling of the food.
Pop popcorn and watch a family movie.
Drink hot cocoa and snuggle up with a big stack of books and READ to your child. If they are older, have them read to you.
Look through old photo albums together. Show your children how much they have grown and share with them how special they are to you.
Put together puzzles.
Work together to write a letter (or draw a picture if you have a smaller child) to someone in your family.
Go on a bike ride together.
Color with your child.

Please feel free to post a comment and share something you do together as a family. It is neat to see the traditions that other people have created in their homes.

I really do hope that you can create this tradition in your home. Making family night a priority is important and helps the relationships grow between yourself, your spouse, & your children.

Let us know if you decide to take us up on the challenge and share your family night experiences!

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saving More on Your Christmas Shopping

This entry is really more of a, "Play It Again, Momma!" type entry, but I did want to add a couple of things to entice you to sign up for an Ebates account. I also wanted to remind people about this program, since many of us have begun our holiday shopping.

I absolutely love Ebates and it has greatly simplified my holiday shopping. I can go to their website and click under their Special Offers link. The offers are listed alphabetically so I can see quickly at a glance if Children's Place is running a sale this week or not. Scroll down or click through under the letter of the place you are looking for. You can also sort these offers by type. Say that you don't want to pay shipping or you are looking for money off coupons, and the offers will be sorted this way. Categories are available too!

I frequently search just under a keyword search. If I am looking for a new coffee machine, I can search under that. I then sort this by price lowest to highest (you are shopping with me, remember?) and then I can see quickly who has the best deals and how much I would get back with the cash back rewards. It even calculates the exact amount you would get back, down to the penny, so you can see quickly how much you could potentially put into your check.

Recently, in an Ebates blog entry, they highlighted the top three cash savings tricks for Ebates. The suggestions that they came up with were:

1. Deal Layering: The deal with Ebates is that you usually get cash back on your purchases. For example, if you bought a shirt from the Gap (clearanced out, of course!), you would get 5% back through a cash back reward. When searching for the Gap under the Special Offers Link, you can look for a coupon to go along with your cash back reward and you can credit the savings towards your purchase and also receive cash back on your purchase. That equals more money in your wallet!

2. Each Tuesday Ebates has a deal with one company where they promise to double your cash back. A few weeks ago it was Fossil and this company doubled their normal eight percent to sixteen percent. That is a huge cash back return! You can check each Tuesday to see who the offer is with. Choose to shop with that company, when doing your holiday shopping, and you will receive more money back in your cash back checks.

3. Finally, be sure to sign up with their Ebates Reminder Tool. Don't you hate it when you order something, pay for it, and then realize later that you could have gotten a reward for purchasing it? Thanks to their little Moe Money Maker program, a little pop-up will come up when you are shopping with an Ebates merchant. It basically redirects the page to shop through the Ebates site. Now I will admit, that I started to get a little annoyed with this feature when I just wanted to go to BabyCenter because my kid was sick and I was trying to look up what to give him and it kept redirecting me to shop. We have two browsers installed though (Firefox & IE- because our family is techy like that!) and so I only use one browser to shop with. This software is optional, but it is certainly handy when you forget to cash in on your rewards.

I received my first Ebates check, this past week, just so you know that the offer is legitimate. Many rebates programs never actually pay out, but I can tell you that this one does.

If you want to read more about Ebates, please check my past blog entry. I also share how smoothly my first purchase went with Ebates when I purchased my little French Press insulated coffee mug. (I am still using this every single day and I have only been to Starbucks twice in the past two months!)

If you would like to sign up with Ebates, you can use this provided link. I do get a $5 check if you sign up (just didn't want to be sneaky about that!), but you will get a five dollar credit in your account if you sign up too. Basically, this is a win-win situation. The five dollars is credited to your account upon your first Ebates purchase.

Happy holiday shopping!

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Parent Product Review: Philips LCD Digital Baby Monitor

Philips Baby Monitor The folks over at Philips Company contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing a new baby monitor that they were coming out with. Despite the fact that I already had a baby monitor in my possession, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to accept the offer and see what the differences were between my old monitor and the new one that they could send me. Seriously, how different could two baby monitors be? Don’t all monitors do the same thing? Don’t they just tell us if our little ones are crying?

I received the package in the mail and opened it up. Boy, was I ever wrong about baby monitors. My monitor must have been invented in the dark ages, or Phillips is ahead of the times because this monitor is AWESOME!

Let me begin with the design aspect because that was one of the coolest parts. This monitor looks like an iPod. It is white and bright yellow- not ugly nursery room colors. It is sleek and, much like a cordless phone, has a charger that you can charge it up, but no cords to be dragging it around. The first powering up happened overnight and then in the morning the monitor was fully charged. The receiver in the baby’s room can also be battery operated, but we decided to plug that one in.

I browsed through the handbook and my husband and I had a great time trying out all of the features. One thing that I have always wanted is to be able to talk back to my little girl when she is fussing. Being the super cool parents we are, my husband starts talking into it and we make up all these little scenarios that we are going to start saying into it to Emily. He leans into it, presses the button and goes, “YO, BABY! Stop your crying.” Laughter erupts and then we start acting like we are fifteen again. Can you figure out when our last date night was? This was probably the highlight of reading through the instructions.

The things that I absolutely loved about this monitor:

It has a little nightlight on it, which makes it visually interesting to our daughter

It plays lullabies for her. It has lots of lullabies on it, or you can make a "mix tape" of all of them for your baby. We tried it out while she was eating her dinner and she stopped eating and started smiling the biggest smile. They are not annoying lullabies and you can adjust the volume. You can also start the lullabies up from your own receiver and play them into the baby’s room without coming into their room to do it.

You can talk to your baby. This remote feature and the talk feature were so nice when I was taking a shower and she started to fuss. I cued up her music, told her she was fine, and hurried up and got out. I do feel like I am Oz or something. I am sure part of her stopping crying was her looking for where the heck I was? Whatever! It worked for us!

It has a cute carrying case so you can take it on trips with you. It is not a cheap pleather case either, it is well made and holds the units well.

It monitors the temperature in the baby’s room. At first, I thought this was a bit excessive because I am not one of those people that puts television monitors in our room to watch our baby or sound alarms on her mattress if movement is undetected. Despite thinking it was a little bit over the top, I actually began to realize just how brilliant this idea was. Should there ever be a fire in our home, I would know because the monitor would sound a warning beep and let us know if her room became too cold or too hot.

This monitor will not interfere with your neighbor’s monitor because it finds and searches through channels until it finds a channel that is not in use. I don’t fully understand this, but what I am getting from this is if I am talking about Mr. Wilson across the street and the fact that I think he has made his grandkids slaves to his perfectly-perfect lawn, he won’t be able to pick that up on their monitor at their house.

Because the design is not baby monitor ugly, you could actually use it later as an intercom in your home when you no longer need it for your baby. This way, instead of me yelling down the stairs that dinner is ready and to get their rears in gear if they want to eat, I can now just shout it into the monitor. That is going to be *so* nice!

The things I disliked about the monitor:

The lullabies sometimes end abruptly when you choose to play them all. It almost starts into replaying the first song again, and then switches after the first beat.

I wish this had white noise on it or the lullabies played continuously. It is listed as a feature that the lullabies automatically go off, but we are a white noise kind of family. My son has a white noise machine, we have a white noise machine, and our daughter has one. It kind of sounds like a thunderstorm in the Amazon among a trickling creek, should you venture upstairs while we are sleeping…which would be creepy and weird…so please don’t!

If you are interested in learning more about this super cool monitor, you can find out more at hearmybaby.com.

Thanks to Phillips for allowing me to test drive this! Our family greatly appreciated the opportunity and we think your monitor rocks!

If you are a company that would like a product review on my blog, please contact me at amy@momadvice.com to discuss it with us. We love to share these reviews with our readers.

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Freebie Friday: October 13, 2006

This week’s letter comes from one of my most dedicated readers. She frequently comments on my entries (this always scores big points with me!) and she sent me some great tips that I wanted to share with all of you. Please keep those reader tips coming! They make this segment of my blog so much better!

Amy-

Just wanted you to know you've given me another reason to love Fridays!

My weekly "reward" to myself when I go grocery shopping is the weekly issue of "Quick and Simple" by Good Housekeeping. It's the greatest! And this week's issue (with chocolate on the cover) has a whole page of freebies! There are 25 in all and some of the products are right up your alley!

Also, another way to get freebies...when you use a product and LOVE it...call the 1 800 on the box and tell them! I did this when my laundry detergent got my sons bloody nose off his brand new pj's. I called ERA and they sent me a new Swiffer duster just for commenting! I just tried the Tide to go stick and I'm crazy about it so I'm calling them next!

Thanks Amy!!!

Tracy


Monica, over at the Homespun Heart, shared some of her freebies this week on her blog. Be sure to read her entry on all the goodies she scored and how she does it!

How about a free $5 Starbucks Coffee gift card for sharing your opinion? What do you love about your local Starbucks? What would you like to see improved? Join Customer Connections and you'll get the chance to let us know! In return for your membership, we'll send you a Starbucks Card loaded with $5 and keep you updated on all the latest happenings at your neighborhood store*. You'll also have the chance to receive exclusive monthly news about all things Starbucks. Unfortunately, our area is not included and only certain states apply. I hope your state is included. Don’t tell me or I will be green with jealousy!

Need help with potty training? Huggies is offering a free DVD called the “Guide to Successful Potty Training.”

Order a free PhotoCollage Kit. The kit come complete with a large expandable style envelope that can hold pictures up to 8" x 10" as well as a CD case for your digital pictures. Once you have determined the subject, size and number of pictures you want simply fill out the easy to follow form, place your photos in the envelope seal and send.

If you missed my past blog entry on Folgers Gourmet Coffee, they are now offering it through the Walmart freebies. Be sure to get one of these!

This freebie was posted in the past, but my mom wanted me to post it again. She works as an optical technician and if interest in this free program subsides, there is a good possibility that they will no longer be offering it. Bausch & Lomb offer a Wear & Care Program for people who wear contact lenses. You receive twelve free contact lens cases & lens replacement calendar stickers, a Wear & Care DVD, care & cleaning mirror sticker, and a free sample of Baush & Lomb ReNu MultiPlus lubricating & rewetting drops. I have received this freebie and it is wonderful! It is definitely worth taking advantage of!

Dish Network Providers have some free preview weekends this month. They are offering a preview of HBO on 10/19 - 10-23 (Channels 288-295) & a Cinemax preview on 10/26 - 10-30 (Channels 288-292).

Get a sample of OS Signature Cologne, from Old Spice. You will receive this sample within six to eight weeks.

Get a free sample of the new St Ives Mineral Therapy Lotion & Body Lotion. Limit one sample per household. When I signed up for this, I got an error message. I hit the back button and it went through fine after that.

Clean Home Journal is giving away 2,500 Fall Fast Cleaning Gift Packs. It includes a Pledge Duster Plus Starter Kit & a refill pack with two disposable dusters and a coupon booklet. Limited quantities, but I did want to include this.

Sign up to receive a sample of Seattle’s Best Coffee.

If you receive Better Homes & Garden magazine, they have a pull out coupon for a free Signature Collection body care product with any purchase up to a $10.50 value. It includes a coupon for yourself and for a friend. This is located in their November issue.

Enter to win a trip to New Orleans & receive your free two ounce sample of Community Coffee Private Reserve, Louisiana Tour Guide & Map.

Get a free sample of Golden Moon Tea and pick the flavor that you are most interested in. They have tons to choose from. They will send you an email confirmation to click on and then this will confirm your order.

Receive a free sample of Pledge Multi-Surface Wipes.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Maple Tea from the New England Tea Company.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Halloween: Homemade Face Paints & Kookie Creatures

Fall has got to be my favorite season of all. There is just something about the crisp leaves, the cool air and the changing colors that make me really happy. As soon as fall approaches, I whip out our fall linens and blankets and run out to buy all of the fall foods that I find so comforting. Apples are piled into baskets on the table and jugs of apple cider are waiting to be warmed to go along with my evening snack. A pot of soup, chili, or beef stew is bubbling on the stove to be enjoyed throughout the week and hot cocoa with marshmallows and whipped cream are waiting for a special treat.

I also love Halloween and the opportunity to dress our little ones in those sweet little outfits. This year our son is going to be a lion and our daughter is going to be a monkey. Fortunately, they do not make those paper thin costumes for little ones anymore and I know that they will be bundled up and kept snuggly warm as we go from house to house. I have jack-o-lantern pails sitting in the basement, waiting to be overloaded with candy that I purchase at the end of the fall season at our local thrift store.

This year, no make-up is required with the costumes, but I know that some mom out there has to benefit from my handy homemade recipe for face & body paint. This is a recipe for a wonderful face and body paint that is very similar to store-bought grease paint make-up that you purchase in the stores. The great part about this is that it is made with all of the ingredients you already have on hand- no need to run out to get one thing for this recipe. I hope you will find this recipe beneficial!

Homemade Face & Body Paint

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons solid shortening
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4-5 drops food coloring
Small make-up sponges

Directions:
Mix shortening and cornstarch together in a small bowl until smooth. Add four to six drops of food coloring. Mix until the color is evenly blended. Apply face & body paint to arms, legs, and face using a small make-up sponge. Remove paint with soap & water.

Tips:
Children can use face & body paint to transform themselves into green spacemen, yellow goblins, or even circus clowns.
Add one teaspoon of glitter to face and body paint to create sparkle make-up

For a fun little Halloween craft, why not make some Kookie Creepies? This is a no-bake concoction very similar to an expensive toy store solution used to create rubber-like creatures.

Kookie Creepies

Ingredients:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons white glue
½ tablespoons liquid tempera paint
Assorted candy molds

Directions:
Mix liquid tempera paint and white glue together in a small bowl.
In another small bowl mix gelatin and hot water together until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Add the gelatin/water mixture to the glue/paint mixture.
Stir until the concoction begins to thicken. This can take as long as six to seven minutes.
When the mixture thickens, quickly pour it into a candy mold or cookie cutter.
Place the mold in the freezer for five minutes or until firm.
Carefully remove Kookie Creepies from the candy molds or cookie cutters and allow them to dry for one hour on each side. Store in an airtight plastic zip bag.

Tips:
Play with Kookie Creepies just as you would any other kind of rubber-type creature.
Allow Kookie Creepies to air dry for two to three days and they will transform into hard plastic-like creatures.


Happy Halloween, Everyone!

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Spice Up Your Bake Sales!

Anyone ever participate in a bake sale? I haven't had the opportunity yet, although I have gotten the opportunity to bring a treat to my son's school. I wish that my son's school did participate in a bake sale, unfortunately they opt to use other ways to raise funds. I say, bring back those bake sales!

If you do participate in bake sales and find that your bake sale is lacking that certain something- look no further! Reynold's is currently running a sweepstake that they would like to share with our readers, and are hoping to help you spice up those tired looking treats.

Consumers can write into Reynolds and explain why their bake sale needs “shaping up” for a chance to win a FunShapes “Shape Up Your Bake Sale” kit. Reynolds will be giving away sixty of these kits each week for six weeks starting September 22, 2006. Each kit includes a variety of FunShapes samples, a CD-rom with tips, recipes and signage for hosting a successful bake sale, a FunShapes tablecloth and a FunShapes calculator for quick tallies of customers’ bills. In addition, the “Shape Up Your Bake Sale” kits will include a disposable camera and entry information for an exclusive photo contest, with a chance to win a $500 donation to their organization from Reynolds FunShapes Baking Cups.

Recipes for special treats can be hard to come by so please click on our comments and share your child's favorite treat!

To start the recipes off, I wanted to direct you over to Martha Stewart's website and introduce you to her cookie jar. Each month they include a new recipe for a cookie to try. These recipes would work great for a bake sale or for your holiday cookie platters.

Here is a family favorite from our kitchen. Please be sure to share some of your favorites!

Chewy Granola Bars
Yield: 12 servings


4 1/2 cups oatmeal (quick cooking works great!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup corn syrup - lite

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease on 9x13” pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients (minus the chocolate chips). Stir in chocolate chips. Press into pan & bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool for ten minutes, and then cut into bars.

*You can trade out the chocolate chips for anything of your choice- nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, butterscotch chips, or peanut butter chips. Don't be afraid to switch this recipe up!*

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Freebie Friday: Free Samples & Walgreen Rebates Program

.

Thanks for visiting my blog for our very unofficial (but, oh so cool!) Freebie Friday. If you click through the links to the left, you will see that I have included some type of freebie each Friday, for quite some time now.
I received a wonderful letter full of great information on the Walgreen’s Rebate Program, that I wanted to share with all of you!!

Dear Amy,

I have been a tentative lurker of your blog for some weeks now, and am now a confirmed addict, ever since the Freebie Friday sample I very skeptically sent off for arrived in good time and removed all my doubts on that score.

First, per your last Freebie Friday post, thank you SO much for sharing these! I LOVE the free stuff - after the first soul-wringing angst of questioning whether I really wanted to risk giving away all my contact info for who knows how much prospective junk mail was overcome, I have signed up recklessly for pretty much everything you link to, and hardly a day goes by that some free sample doesn't turn up in my mailbox. Lovely!

Second, I wonder how you manage to keep your freebies straight. Of course they all are limited to one per household; how do you remember if you've signed up for a particular deal or not? Or do you just sign up again if in doubt, under the assumption that if you already signed up, they just won't send it? I ask because your recent review of Folgers gourmet coffee rings a bell, and I think I may have signed up for gourmet coffee recently, but it may have been another brand....and I was just wondering how you manage to keep it all straight.

Finally, you solicited requests for more freebies. You may have already run a post on Walgreens' Easy Saver in the distant past, but it's such a great deal that it bears repeating. For those lucky enough to live near a Walgreens, there is no reason NOT to get wonderful free stuff every month. Here is a link to the website; click on the Catalog button to see this month's deals. In its most simple form, you can use it as a rebate. Simply buy all the items listed in the middle of the flyer, which are advertised as being free, from your local Walgreens; fill out the rebate form; and send away for your check. You will get a rebate check for the entire amount of the purchase, less, of course, sales tax. If you choose to follow this option, then you will probably only want to buy the stuff you can actually use (sanitary pads, toothbrushes, etc.) because you are going to be stuck with the cost of the sales tax.

However, the way I use the Easy Saver rebate is to elect to receive my rebate in the form of a Walgreens gift card instead of a check. If you choose this option, you will get not only your money back, but also a 10% bonus, which easily covers the cost of the sales tax AND the stamp used to mail off the rebate each month. Once you receive the card, you can choose to simply reload it in future months, saving time in the mail. I always get my rebate reloaded onto my card well in time to buy the stuff for next month.

Because I use this gift card system, I have a sort of 'revolving balance’ with Walgreens on this rebate system, which enables me to buy every free item every month, no matter how useful to me. I gamely buy everything they offer and decide how to use it later. Some of the medications (cold, flu, nasal stuff, etc.) that we wouldn't use I can give away. Some items (reading glasses) I can donate to missionary causes. Some of the random stuff (hemorrhoid treatment, anti-itch cream) I can save for gag gifts and such.

It's all free, and the more stuff I buy, the more of a balance I accrue on my gift card. I think I started off by spending about $25 on the rebate items the first month I tried it out, and I've now worked up my gift card balance to around $40. So I am still 'out' my initial investment of $25, but I've gotten a year's worth of free stuff for it, and anytime I decide to opt out of playing this game, I can choose to have my final purchase refunded to me in the form of a check, completely cashing me out and then some.

A caution: you do have to follow through with the rebate paperwork. I am not good with details, so I have to MAKE myself fill out the paperwork the instant I return from shopping. The instructions in the flyer are pretty clear, but it is a bit of hoop-jumping: you have to fill out the rebate form, circle the items on the receipt, and write the offer numbers by each item. There is, thankfully, no requirement to include UPC symbols. I make a copy of the paperwork before I mail it, just to be careful. You MUST follow the instructions scrupulously, you MUST buy the stuff (and send off the paperwork) within the allotted time frame, and you MUST make sure that the item does indeed cost less than the maximum rebate amount. Walgreens is usually pretty good about making sure that if they advertise something as free, the price will be less than the rebate amount; but I still have to watch it and make sure I don't buy the wrong size shampoo and end up paying more than I will get refunded.

Anyway, hope that helps! You certainly have brightened my life with your freebies and your crockpot recipes. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

~Rose

Raise your hand if you love Rose right now! Isn’t this just the best letter? It explains anything & everything that you would ever want to know about the Walgreens Rebate Program. I have never taken advantage of doing this because I didn’t really understand how it worked. I can’t wait to give this a shot and see what other things I can bring home for free. Thanks so much to Rose for sharing this invaluable information with all of us.

Rose also asked a good question about how to keep track of your freebies. I actually keep a list of these in a Word document and that is how I know what I have already posted. If you keep them in a Word document or in a spreadsheet, it can be easy to know exactly what you have and haven’t applied for. One method could be just bolding the things that you have already received, that way you can see what you applied for (and never arrived) or what you need not apply for again.

I try to only post freebies from companies that I KNOW will actually send us the freebies. For example, I know that I can count on Walmart freebies and that they will arrive in (a maximum) of two weeks. I also know that Dove is a great company that offers freebies and always delivers. If, for example, I start to see a pattern with a particular company and nothing ever arrives to my house, I am quick to remove them from the list for the following week.

If you have first-hand experience with the Walgreens Rebate Program or any freebies that you found to be one of the best freebies of all time, feel free to reply by clicking on the Comments button.

Keep those letters coming and I will contact you, should I chose to use them in the blog, and make sure that it is okay with you to reprint these.
Many blessings to Rose & her family for sharing their great freebie techniques!

Get a complimentary 512 MB USB drive & a product catalog from SunUSB. These are sent out on a first come, first serve basis. Offer good while supplies last.

Try a free Luna Sunrise Nutrition Bar.

Register for a free sample of Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Foot Crème. This offer is good while supplies last.

Join their mailing list and get a free five pound bag of Natural Dog Food. The link to it is in the right hand corner of the page.

Request a sample of the new Bic Duo Pen (this is available to the first 10,00 who sign up). This pen will arrive in six to eight weeks after your request.

Receive a free sample of Eucerin Redness Relief.

Register for a free Senseo Gourmet Coffee Pod System. You will receive an email confirmation if you have been chosen. When completing the survey, stating that you host a book club definitely helps your chances. If you are chosen, they will email you within the week and request your shipping address. It will take one to two weeks for your new coffee pod system to arrive. Good luck on that one!! I received mine yesterday and it is FANTASTIC! Brand new and in the box. They also offer a letter of suggestions for events you can use your new system. This will make a lovely Christmas gift, if you already have one (like I do!)

Need coffee pods for your new free one cup coffee pod system? Visit this site and call the number listed for a free sample of Baronet One Cup Coffee Pods

Nature’s One is offering a sample of their organic toddler dairy or soy pediatric formula. You will need to call the number listed on the site for your free sample.

This is a really good freebie- a FREE Swiffer WetJet. It will arrive in the mail within two to four weeks, and will have complete instructions for completing an online product survey to thank them for giving you this wonderful freebie. Hurry and get this one quick!!

Get a free sample of the new Cheer True Fit laundry detergent. Look for your sample to arrive in six to eight weeks.

Receive a free sample of Madison Lange Cosmetics. Only fill in the address portion and click yes, to receive a sample of their cosmetics.

I will add this one to the comments section of our birthday freebies post. Cold Stone Creamery now has a birthday club that you can join and have your children join. They will give you a free creation on your birthday! Join their club today!!

Get a free sample of True Lemon. You will need to give your email address and then confirm it, before they will send you the sample. Check your email to get this one!

Free dryer balls for answering a few quick questions about your fabric softener usage.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WFMW: CheckFree Works For Me!

Thanks for swinging by my little blog. I am participating in the Works-For-Me Wednesday this week, despite feeling very uncreative. For more creative ideas than what I am offering, please visit Shannon's blog and get extremely inspired for your week.

I wanted to recommend a service that I have used to pay my bills online. I have blogged about it in the past, but didn't really share this solution in the WFMW spot. I have been using CheckFree for years now to pay all of my bills, and just like the title says... it is free.

We had looked into paying our bills through our bank, but (much like everything in our bank) they charge to do this. I did some research and happened upon this website and I have never used anything else.

How is it free? I guess they have relationships with these companies. The companies want their money, they will pay someone to extract it from our bank account, and we have our accounts extracted for free...um, sort of.

Click the companies that you want them to work with, plug your account information into it, and then let them do the work for you. Saves on stamps because you aren't mailing anything. Saves on paper because you don't need to print every single bill out. Makes tax time a cinch because you have one place where everything is located. Finally, think of the clutter you will reduce in your home if you pay your bills online.

I did want to mention that I am hesitant to have things automatically taken out of my checking account, so instead I wait for the friendly email reminder from CheckFree to remind me that the electric bill is coming up. I then pay things as they come in, that way I can check all of my bills for any inaccuracies.

And if you were wondering, yes, those sales people just *love* me!

Past Entries:
Cleaning Up Yo' Grill
Good Ol' Plastic Bags
Easy Carrying & Storing
Find Just What You Are Looking For
Target Pharmacy
Say No to Hand Cramps
Foamy Soap
Adventures in Shipping
Frugal Exercise Solutions
Microfiber Obsessions
Sand Between Your Toes Blues
Giving the Gift of Magazines (Frugally)
Solution for Cheap Trash Bags
Programming Your Cell Phone
Free Up Pantry Space: Make a Snack
Weeding Through Your Child's Art Work Creatively
Using the Coffee Maker With Ease
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Maximizing Space

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Frugal Momma's Review: Folgers Gourmet Select Coffee


I received an email a couple of weeks ago, asking if I would be interested in trying and reviewing the new Folgers Gourmet Select coffees. As we all know- 1) I am cheap and 2) I love freebies. I decided to take them up on the challenge and was looking for my envelope in the mail.

Imagine my surprise when the postman delivers an enormous box to my home. Inside were three full size packages of their new coffee. Within the box was a letter that requested I review the coffee honestly (even if it was bad) and to share it with the company and in my blog.

I drink Aldi coffee so, of course, I was excited to get a chance to drink the real deal. I will admit that I was skeptical that it would be *that* good or that I would want to buy it. I am satisfied with Aldi coffee and my occasional trip to Starbucks.

I decided to open the Vanilla Biscotti first because that sounded delicious. I poured the coffee into my handy little French Press coffee mug and had a big swig. I swear, it was like drinking a cookie. Usually when I buy store brand coffees, I can barely taste the flavoring that they have in the coffee. I knew exactly what I was drinking and it smelled divine.

Let me also say that this coffee can double as an air freshener too. We went to the Air Zoo (taking advantage of National Museum Day) and I drank my coffee on the way there. We were in the museum for four hours and when we opened the door to my car, the car even smelled like a cookie. Now how in the world did they accomplish that?

I haven’t had a chance to sample the other two yet, because I am too addicted to the first coffee that I have tried. It has even curbed my urge to hit the drive through at Starbucks and that says a lot!

The Folgers Gourmet Selections line includes a range of eight ground varieties: Morning Cafe, Espresso Roast, Lively Colombian, Lively Colombian Decaf, Vanilla Biscotti, Chocolate Truffle, Hazelnut Crème and Caramel Drizzle. The Lively Colombian, Vanilla Biscotti and Hazelnut Crème varieties are also available in whole bean. Folgers Gourmet Selections will be packaged in premium bags (depending on the specific variety in 10 to 12 oz.).The suggested retail price is $5.99 a bag, which turns out to be much cheaper than my trips to Starbucks.

If you are interested in enjoying a cup of this coffee, you can get a free sample of Folgers Gourmet Selections. You will receive your sample within six to eight weeks.

I love you, Folgers! You can continue letting me be your guinea pig anytime!

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