Friday, March 30, 2007

Freebie Friday: March 30, 2007


Courtesy of Flickr.com.

This is the last day for the Good Kids Bad Habits book contest. I have FOUR copies to give away to the very best entries. Please have your entries to me by 5PM tonight and I will post the results by Monday. For more information on this contest, please visit this past entry.

Yes, I realize it is not Friday yet, but consider it an early surprise as I am posting the freebies tonight. I have a busy day tomorrow filled with making loads of bows for the Easter season, so I will need the time to be working on those.

Get a free sample of Post-It Sortable Cards. Please limit one sample per household and allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Complete the form to receive a free sample of Ball Simple Creations Mild Fiesta Salsa Mix. This freebie includes recipes and a coupon. This promotion ends on 09/30/07. Use the promotion code t0h01. Please allow two to four weeks for delivery.

Wal-Mart is offering a free sample of Pledge Multi Surface Dust Wipes. Allow up to four weeks for delivery of this freebie.

Sign up for a complimentary one-year subscription to Hallmark Magazine. Simply add it to your cart and checkout. The total should be zero in your cart. I changed the one-year to offer me three years for free. Just adjust the amount in your cart. Hurry, this freebie tends to go fast. I tried to post this the last time it was offered and it was gone before I even could!

This is a great freebie for that special grandparent in your life. Sign up to receive a complimentary one-year subscription to Grand Magazine. You can answer, “No, thank you!” to all of the offers.

Get a free fashionable pet tag for registering with Pet Style. This offer is good only while supplies last.

Sign your hubby up to receive a free copy of the Exclusive World of Golf DVD from SAP. This has business & golf tips- don’t the two just go hand in hand?

Mr. Cheap Stuff shares a listing of television shows that you can watch for free and includes links to all of the major stations.

Request a free trial of Lipitor by filling out the form.

Get ten free minutes of call time from Skype by visiting this page.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Pantene Pro-V Restoratives shampoo & conditioner of your choice. This sample will arrive within six to twelve weeks.

Wal-Mart is offering a free sample of Kotex Ultra Thin Pads with Wings. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Get a free Cycling Training DVD for free. When you visit the site enter the promo code: drmfbh3ap to activate the offer. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Educators can request an Arbor Day: The Holiday that Makes a Difference video for their classroom.

Print out a printable coupon for a free two ounce Benjamin Moore color sample. This will come in handy as we are planning to redo our kitchen and I would love to test our color!

Order a free Healthy Habits Activity Book for kids from Lysol. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Get a free sample of Hamburger Helper Singles for your microwave. This expires on 04/30/2007. Quantities are limited so please sign up quickly! This sample will arrive within three to six weeks.

Get a free DVD from DVD Play. Enter in coupon code PLAY to get this freebie!

Sign up to receive a free subscription to eWeek Magazine.

Wal-Mart is offering a free sample of Alavert Allergy Medicine. Please allow up to four weeks for this freebie.

Download a voucher for a free ticket to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13, 2007. Just print and complete the voucher and bring it with you on the day of the event.

This is a great freebie for contact wearers and has been up a few times on Freebie Friday. This freebie includes twelve free contact cases, rewetting drops, and a small sample of saline solution. I LOVE this freebie courtesy of Bausch & Lomb.

There is free information for parents with children affected by autism through the Treatment for Autism foundation. Included within this free packet of information is a free DVD from the BBC Documentary, “I Want My Little Boy Back.”

Honda dealerships nationwide are inviting owners to participate in Honda Car Care Days this April for a free inspection .In conjunction with the National Car Care Council's "National Car Care Month," participating dealers will provide Honda owners a free, 40-point inspection to help keep their Honda in great shape . Get a professional examination of your engine, brakes, drivetrain, suspension, and steering components. Listings are available on the site by state. If you live in Michiana, Ft Wayne appears to be one of the closest.

Fill out the short survey and receive a coupon for a free Ensure single serving shake and a coupon to save on your next purchase of Ensure products.

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone!

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dollar Stretcher Tips 03.29.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Natural Plant Protection

I use garlic powder anywhere that I want to keep the varmints out. This works around flowerbeds, vegetable plots and containers. Just sprinkle garlic powder (I get mine at the dollar store) around whatever you want to keep the rabbits, deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, etc. away from. This works for several days and doesn't hurt the plants, animals or the environment. I have been doing this for at least ten years. However, you have to keep up with it. For me, it's the best.
DJ

Part-Time Work

I needed to start a second job in order to pay off some credit card debt. In the past when I needed a second job, I worked retail during evening hours and weekends. I missed my time with my husband. I found the perfect job for me, which is worth a shot for some women (or even men) that live in resort areas. I live in Florida and I started cleaning condos on Saturdays. This pays by the unit and not the hour. Depending on how many units I clean, I can make a very good part-time income. Many people do not like to work weekends, so resorts may hire for Saturdays only or weekends. I didn't start working until 9:00am (because it was my first day), and in four hours, I made $105. I was home by the afternoon. Florida's minimum wage is $6.15 an hour. If I found a job working for minimum wage to earn as much as I did on my first day, I would have had to work 17 hours. If you have kids and time is precious, this is the perfect way to go.
Debbie in Ft. Walton Beach, FL

Cereal Substitute

Cereal is so expensive, and if you have school age children, cereal can really eat into a grocery budget. In the mornings before school, I make minute rice in the microwave. Then I add milk and sugar, and I have a great substitution for cereal. The kids love the taste, and it is nutritious to boot.
Holly S.

Easy Clean Combs

When it's time to clean my combs, I just drop them into the laundry along with my whites, which I wash in warm to hot water and a touch of bleach. Then, I let the washer do the work. They come out totally clean and sterilized.
Carol

A Wise Weeder

It is time to do the dreaded task of weeding my flower gardens. With the mild winter we have had and the rain, I have a million (looks like it) weeds that have sprouted up on the top of the mulch beds. I went to the kitchen and looked around for something that would make it easier to pull the weeds instead of the usual garden tools that I have. After a few minutes, I decided to try a good old fork! It is small and easily handled. It will pop the weeds right out of the ground, even the ones that have deeper roots. I chose a fork that is not one of my good ones, so it's no big deal if misplaced! This has been a great help to me!
Jonnie C.

Stinkless Shoes

Instead of buying those expensive foot powders or charcoal inserts for less than fragrant tennis shoes, try putting a teaspoon or two of baking soda into the offending shoes before you wear them. I tried this with my husband's work shoes and it worked like a charm! Now we just add a little baking soda every month to keep them smelling fresh all year.
Deborah B.

Ants!

Ants abhor white flour. They will not cross it. Sprinkle some on window ledges and around doorways, and they will stay away!
Krystyna C.

It Pays to Check

I had collected a large box full of used batteries from all of our kids' toys. When it came time to recycle them, I decided to see if the batteries were all really dead. I used an electrician's multi-tester that I had bought for $5. To my surprise, over half the batteries still had a good charge in them. Apparently, the batteries did not discharge at the same rate in the toys. I saved over $50 in batteries that day! Now when I test the batteries in a toy that has stopped working properly, I find that usually only one or two of them need to be replaced.
Bill S. in Grandville, MI

Company's Coming

When putting away dishes that are used only occasionally or on special occasions (such as punch bowls, large platters, dip sets, etc.), it works really well to cover them with plastic wrap and stretch it so it forms a tight seal around the edge. By doing this, there is no need to wash because of accumulated dust when you take them down again. For punch bowls, I also store the cups inside (protected by paper towels so they won't chip). This saves a lot of time in not having to wash these items before using them again.
Janette

A Touch of Color

When you would like to add a little color to a kitchen or bathroom, it only takes a drop or two of food coloring. I just add the coloring to the near empty liquid soap dispenser and fill with clear liquid soap. Shake a little. It's just that easy to get a nice addition to a room for a few cents.
JHP

Use That Credit Card!

I recycle credit cards and use them as pot scrubbers. They do not scratch pots and save you money in that you don't have to buy pot scrubbers. I haven't bought a pot scrubber in years.
T.

Homeowner's How-To

My husband has shown me numerous times how the sprinkler system works, where shutoff valves are for our plumbing, or how to program the thermostat, but I never remember and never really got it in the first place. So he's taking digital photos of all these things, such as toilets, sinks, thermostats, garage door opener, furnace, hot water, lawnmower, etc. He's then putting the photos into a Word document and writing directions for me. I call it the "Make-Me-Less-Stupid Manual," but it's really a house manual. When it's done, we'll "walk the estate" together and work our way through the manual. I think what prompted this idea was when I came home from 48 straight hours of travel with my handy husband still on the road to find a broken garage door and a problem toilet at 9:30pm. I need to be able to handle these minor things myself! And the cost? A lot of my wonderful husband's time, attention, thought, and care.
Clueless in Colorado

Sweeeeet!

Keep your indoor trashcans smelling fresh by sprinkling some baking soda in the bottom of the can before putting in a liner. It will stay much fresher, especially in the kitchen.
Jen W. in Roanoke Rapids, NC

My Turn!

I have three grown children now, but when they were younger, they were always fighting about things like whose turn it was to ride up front in the car. So I started putting their names on each day of the month on the calendar. The person that was assigned that day got to ride up front, but he or she was also the first to take a bath that night. It stopped a whole lot of arguing. You can use that system for other things like who gets to pick the dinner menu for a particular day.
V.

Southern Snake Prevention

I'm from South Carolina originally, and I live in Atlanta, GA now. Growing up in a farming family, it is a Southern custom to use lime. Lime irritates and eats away at a snake's or any reptile's skin, so they stay miles away from it. You can buy bags of lime at any feed and seed store, your local Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowe's. We in the South have always sprinkled lime under our houses and around our yards and gardens. It's a proven scientific method, and it's not harmful to humans at all!
Stephanie R.

Baking Soda Shampoo

I've been washing my hair for a few months with baking soda, and it works great. I've read that it helps to get your scalp back into balance from the chemicals that regular shampoos have in them. I found the recipe online. It said to make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it into your scalp. Then massage it in before washing it out. However, I usually just mix a tablespoon or less with water in a two-cup measuring cup, and pour it slowly over my head as I massage it in with my other hand, making sure it goes everywhere. Then I wash it out thoroughly. After that, if you want, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water is a good conditioner. Not sure if it's perfect for thick hair, but it works for mine. The baking soda alone seems to work for me. I love using the baking soda. It's so easy, quick and cheap! And there are no harmful chemicals for the environment or me.
Francie

Long Lasting Shirts

I never run the dryer to dry shirts. I wash them as usual but hang them for a day or so until they are dry. Iron them if you wish. This not only minimizes the expense of running the dryer, but with the elimination of the dry heat, shirts do not shrink. I have shirts that I still use on a weekly basis that I bought over ten years ago.
PJS in Philadelphia

Anniversary Party Idea

Instead of a guest book, print a 5" X 7" black and white photo of the couple, and then buy a large white matte (the matte can be any size that will accommodate the number of signatures of those attending) and a simple, metal black frame. Put it together and set it up on an easel so each guest can sign the matte. Be sure to have at least three good permanent "black" ink pens attached to the frame. After the party, insert the glass to protect the photo and signatures. Now the couple has something they can display and enjoy, remembering this very special day and all that love them. Guest books just seem to be put away never to be seen again.
Bobbie R. in Medford, Oregon

The Sunday Paper

I work in a large office building, and much to my surprise, I learned that many of the offices carry full weekly newspaper subscriptions, even though they're only open Monday through Friday. I have had two smaller offices approve giving me their Sunday paper coupon inserts for free. I also utilize the Sunday comics from time to time to wrap gifts for children (and children at heart). Of course, all leftovers get recycled!
Rachel R. in Minneapolis

Easy Open

We bought a house with a detached garage. We asked our son (who is an electrician) to run wiring so we could have the opener in the house instead of the garage. He suggested we buy another opener and program it to our opener in the garage and hang it next to the back door. Then when we want to open the door, we use the opener. This saved us a bunch of money and time.
Janice H.

Garden Clogs?

It's spring and I'm in my garden a lot, even with all the mud. Instead of buying those rubber garden clogs, which would still have to be washed off, I use plastic grocery bags. I slip one over each shoe and then tie it up around my ankle. When I leave the garden, I just untie or tear off the bag and throw it away, and my shoes stay clean. Mary R.

My Personal Trainers

A lot of us want to exercise more, but with busy schedules, it's difficult to find the time. On the other hand, our children have an abundance of time. I put the two concepts together, and now, I have two personal trainers, ages 10 and 12. After weeks without so much as an after-dinner walk, I was sadly out of shape. On Saturday morning, I did get a walk with my 12-year-old. I ended up complaining because she went so fast and I huffed and puffed the whole way. An idea was born. The kids are allowed to "take Mom for a walk" up to one time per day. The kids can each earn $1 if they set a pace that Mom has trouble keeping up with or the walk lasts at least 30 minutes. This is a win/win: * We are all getting exercise. * The kids are definitely motivated. * We have good conversations, fresh air, and sunshine. * And it's cheap! Last week, I got two exercise sessions. I shelled out $4 for my personal trainer. I don't know any gym that could beat that price.
D.

Wash the Fleas Away

I have multiple dogs. A few years ago, these poor pups were just infested with fleas. No matter what we tried and to what expense, we could just not eliminate the problem. After talking to their groomer about all the products we had tried, she gave us a simple solution. First, use a pump sprayer for gardening and fill it with a mixture of Ivory dish soap and water. (2 parts water to 1 part Ivory) Spray your entire yard with it. Then bathe the dogs using Ivory dish soap. The Ivory kills the fleas and flea larva in the yard (and makes it smell great too!) and takes care of the fleas on the dogs! It worked! Within two days, we were flea free and have remained so. Remember to go out and spray the outer property lines once every couple months or so with the same mixture to keep the fleas out. I also continue to shampoo my dogs with Ivory dish soap each time I give them a bath. If you shampoo twice, you can use the dish liquid for the first wash, rinse, and then use your favorite doggie shampoo. It truly worked for us and we have never had a problem with fleas since!
Francine

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Amy's Notebook 03.29.2007

Be Mom of the Year:

Don’t toss out your kid’s old socks. I wouldn’t dare suggest making a sock puppet out of them, but visit Parent Hack’s website for another great use for these.

Want to keep track of your child when you are on a trip? Have you ever thought about putting a USB drive around your kid’s neck? This idea is pretty darn amazing, I must say!

Did you know that you can get your infant a free eye exam? Read the Baby Cheapskate post on this wonderful freebie.

Make a birthday cake for your son or daughter for only $2. Moms the Word shares some tips for having a beautiful party cake without spending twenty bucks!

Meredith shows what your kids can accomplish using something someone threw away. Her son seems to have her painting skills. Visit Like Merchant Ships for a cute art project idea.

Be Cheap:

Zen Habits offers great ideas for cheap date nights. Be sure to read this list as there are tons of great ideas on it!

Thrifty Mommy shares four thrifty stain removers. We love thrifty. And we have stains. Thanks, Thrifty Mommy!

Have a Donna Reed Moment:

Scribbit shares some great tips for tulips and a whole heck of a lot of tulip links. Find everything you would ever want to know about this little flower!

Chow offers instructions on how to make your own Peeps. Yum! Who can resist those little guys?

Crafty Daisies shows how to make perfectly hollow eggs to decorate.

Another gardening tip and this one is courtesy of Frugal Upstate. She includes a fabulous tip for making plant markers for only pennies.

Get Inspired:

Amelia, from Sweet Feet Boutique, shares pictures from her new craft space. The colors are wonderful and I love to get inspiration to create my own room to craft in.

News You Need to Know:

Apartment Therapy gives you the scoop on a recent recall on the Infantino Sling sold at Target, Wal-Mart, & Babies R Us. Very scary recall- PLEASE READ!

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Ask Frugal Momma: Cleaning Out Yo Fridge


Today’s entry request was to cover the topic of cleaning out your fridge. Now ladies, I have been plagued with cleaning questions and ya’ll are making me feel pretty bad about my house. Maybe some money-saving questions might be a better fit for this tired mom? I will continue to answer cleaning questions as they come in, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT look around my house or the items in question. I do enjoy the research though and it has inspired me in ways I didn’t think possible so continue to throw your questions my way. Please email requests to amy@momadvice.com. The column will continue to run until I run out of questions. Be sure to check out next week’s entry where we talk about that nasty toaster oven sitting on our counters.

I do not enjoy cleaning out my refrigerator, but it one of those things that must be done. I wait until the day before grocery day to do it though because this is the day where there is the least amount of items that need to be moved around. It is also a great time to check my inventory before making the shopping trip to see if I really do need half the things on my list.

When I clean out the fridge, I break out two dishwashing tubs & a cookie sheet to accomplish this task. I fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water (no need to measure this, just an idea of how much to use). The cookie sheet is used to put all of the condiments on and drawers are emptied into the other dishwashing tub to move items quickly in and out of the fridge.

Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.

I use a rag to do the interior and just get the rag wet with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and wipe off all of the surfaces and interior of the refrigerator. If the washing solution begins to look nasty, be sure to chuck it and get another tub full to clean with.

For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow this to set on the stain and then scrub gently and allow the paste to remove the gunk.

Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink. Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water. Now use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout too. Dry throughly with a terry towel.

Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is just not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub, at this time, to their proper homes.

The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, tiny little fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, use my homemade all-purpose cleaner and spray this on your fridge. I then use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside as it is still gentle on the appliance but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.

If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel. If you have soft water, that won’t show any water marks, you can just use the water to clean the exterior.

Now when was the last time you saw the top of your fridge? You might want to hop up there on occasion and give that a good wiping too. If you have a handheld vacuum, use that to suck up any crumbs and debris. After that, use the all-purpose cleaner and give that a good wiping down too.

Just as a side note, after I clean out my fridge, I also empty the ice out of our icemaker and clean it with the same solution and dump all of the old ice out. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is an easy addition to my routine since I already have everything out.

Additional Tips:

When cleaning out your fridge, always use baking soda and warm water to wipe the insides of your refrigerator and freezers- soap or dishwashing liquid will leave a smell and can taint food.

Once every few months, remove all the food, switch off the refrigerator and wipe down all the surfaces. Defrost the freezer at the same time if necessary.

A box of baking soda can be added to your fridge and freezer to neutralize those smells.

Frugal Momma’s Money-Saving Tip:

Make sure that the door seals on the refrigerator, freezer compartment, or freezer are working efficiently by closing the door on a piece of paper. If the paper can be pulled out easily, the seal is worn and should be replaced.

Make sure to vacuum your refrigerator coils (located on the back of your fridge) twice a year. It is recommended that you do this more often if you have pets in the home. Just use your vacuum with the crevice attachment attached to the vacuum hose and give it a good vacuuming. The coils are located either on the bottom of your fridge or in the rear of your fridge. Doing this will save you money because if these are clean, your fridge won’t have to work as hard lowering your bills!

Suggested Reading:

Tips to Keep White Appliances from Looking Yellow (Warning: This does include bleach so be careful with your floors and clothing!)

What else would you like to see featured here? Please drop me an email or reply by leaving me a comment!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Books to Give Away!

Our book giveaway entry deadline is this Friday and I have good news to report. The folks over at HarperCollins took pity on me and offered up three more books for our giveaway. That means you have three more chances to win and I would love to give you one of these great books.

Please send your entries to me by Friday and share how you teach your kids to be healthy. Your responses have been so incredible and you are providing a world of information to parents who are trying to do the right things for their kids.

Hurry, hurry! Enter today!

For all of the contest guidelines, please visit this entry.

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Ask No More!

Thank you all for your heartfelt responses and comments to my request to find out the direction we should take the site.

Everyone seemed generally happy with what we were doing, but we are trying to continue to push new ground on the website and keep the material and ideas fresh.

It seems that many of our competitors (and there are MANY!) are taking the community route versus the content route. Relying on all of our readers would be a lot easier on me as I struggle to come up with unique & fresh content. I try to write everything myself and be very detailed when I do articles for the site, so it takes me longer than someone who may rely less on unique content or who has a pool of talent to pull from. The important thing for me is no matter what we do, that we never lower our standards and that I stay focused on what has been working.

We are looking forward to introducing some new features to the site and appreciate all of your feedback. I hope that you will continue to enjoy what we are doing and that you will welcome the new additions to the site as they come up.

The good news is that the search function is now available on the website and blog. You will notice the box is located to the left on all of our pages. Type in whatever you are looking for and just wait a little bit for the results to appear.

I hope this makes surfing my site a bit easier and thank you all for your invaluable feedback!

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Should You Buy Brand Name Detergent?

I received a package from Tide which included some samples of their new Tide Simple Pleasures Vanilla & Lavender scented laundry detergent for review. It was a nice little package including a Tide To Go pen (a necessity for any mother’s diaper bag!) and two cute Tide retro t-shirts that had their logo on the front and a, “You’re Dirty” message on the back. You have to love a company that has a sense of humor like that!

I admit that I never buy brand name detergent and getting enough free brand name detergent to accomplish my laundry this week was a nice surprise. Since I never buy the big name detergents, I was very curious to see how this detergent would perform against my usual generic.

The first difference that I noticed, for me, was how great the scent of the detergent was. With my generic detergent, there is usually a scent when I throw it in, but rarely a scent when it comes out. In fact, the scent of my clothing remains neutral after being washed and dried. The clothes washed in Tide held their scent throughout the washing and the drying, and they just smelled cleaner. Environmentalists would say that this is a poor indication of a good detergent, and to aim for detergents that do not contain fragrances, but I secretly enjoy the scent of a good detergent.

The second difference that I noticed was the amount of lint in my dyer was considerably less with the brand name detergent. When I would use the generic detergent, I could practically make a blanket out of the lint that comes out after doing a load of laundry. When I used the Tide, however, the amount of lint was minimal and I almost didn’t need to even clean the vent at all. This indicates to me that this detergent might be easier on my clothing than the generic detergents.

I am no expert though, so I looked to Consumer Reports for the real scoop on laundry detergents. Consumer Reports performed the studies under controlled conditions and washed clothing in a variety of stains that every mother would cringe to see listed- chocolate syrup, blood, grass, coffee, purple grape juice, spaghetti, mud. If you see these items regularly, can you please raise your hand? They ran the clothes through rigorous testing and pitted the brand names versus the generics to see which would perform the best.

In the top three listed, Tide was listed the best for performance. Their top three products were Tide with Bleach, Tide Cold Water (washed in cold water), and Tide HE. To my surprise, the powders topped the charts over their liquid competitors. As someone who has always purchased the liquid detergent, this was very interesting to me.

Unfortunately, Tide is also listed as the tops for cost per load at $.33, $.31, & $.36 per load for the top three choices. Consumer Reports did name Great Value Ultra Mountain Fresh liquid (Walmart), Kirkland Signature Ultra HE (Costco), or Ultra Plus with Fabric Softener HE (Sears) detergents as achieving very good ratings and named those brands the Consumer Reports Best Buys for detergent. The cost for loads was between $.09-$.14 per load for these best buy winners.

My normal detergent, Purex, was near the bottom for their performance report and received pretty bad reviews overall. The cost was the same as the ones I listed for best buys for detergent, so buying this brand doesn’t really save me any money and it does not perform as well.

Whether you buy the name brand goods or the generic, you can always reduce the amount of detergent you use and see if it performs the same as the recommended amount. You can also wash your clothing in cold water and save yourself ten cents per load. Throwing a cup of vinegar into your fabric softener dispenser will save you on the cost of the softeners and will allow you to omit the fabric softener sheet altogether. A cup of baking soda is also a great addition to help the cheaper brand perform better. I just sprinkle this on top of my load and run the cycle.

I thank Tide for giving me the opportunity to try their new scent! This new fragrance is neither too floral nor too strong. The vanilla and lavender complimented each other well and the clothes smelled wonderful. This is great for the scent-conscious consumer and, as noted above, Tide is the best there is when it comes to the performance of detergents!

Share your thoughts on detergents. What is your favorite? Do you have any money-saving tricks when it comes to washing your clothes? How about any homemade stain fighting remedies?

Labels: , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Getting the Car Organized


This week's Works-For-Me Wednesday solutions are all ideas for your car. Shannon requested any great ideas for moms on the go. It is great timing to read all of these entries with Spring Break fast approaching. Be sure to read all of the entries there!

I like to keep a tidy home, but the car is a completely other story. It seems like we are in the car a lot and somehow cleaning out the car becomes last on my task list.


A couple of weeks ago, the warm weather got me out to finally clean my
car though and I must say that the car is looking much better this month. Whether or not we can maintain that is yet to be seen, but I do like some of the solutions I came up with for organizing it (for now!)

- I had two small milk crates that I put on each side of the back seat of the car for each child. My son's crate is filled with crayons, paper, flash cards, and workbooks for him to work on. My daughter's crate is filled with lots of baby toys for her to play with. Each child's also contains a clean sippy cup. This solution has worked really well for us if we visit people's houses who don't have toys or when we go into a restaurant and want to keep the children entertained. The container is small enough that my son can carry his own and I have been toting my daughter's around when I meet friends for coffee and such. This is much better than toys haphazardly thrown around in the back and they now have their own organized space.

- In the front seat, I have a small folder and today I am working on printing out directions to all of the local parks and a few day trips in the area. This will be a great reference for us if we want to get out of the house when the weather is nice out and it will save me a step when we need to be somewhere. I also keep directions to other people's homes that I frequent. I belong to a good size mom's group and to try and remember where everyone is can be difficult. This makes for a great reference and saves me from printing the same directions out multiple times.

- In my trunk, I have a small tote bag filled with a few things that the kids can do when we go to the park. I put two Frisbees in there, bubbles, and bubble wands. I am planning to hit our dollar tree to get a few more things to add to the mix, but it is a nice thing to have to keep the kiddos entertained.

- We also keep a spare phone book in the trunk of our car. This makes it easy to call for directions or place reservations with restaurants.

- Take advantage of times when you are filling your gas tank, to clean out wrappers and such out of the car. I keep a tissue box filled with plastic bags under our seat and I pull that out to make gathering trash up a little easier.

- One thing that I try to do is keep a spare backpack in the trunk of our car. Sometimes we are on the road and aren't able to get home to pick up a backpack before I have to drop my son off for school. This spare backpack comes in handy for those occasions and helps the teacher too!

Feel free to share your own car solutions and be sure to check out all of the entries this week!

Labels: , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Busy Day Activities for Warm Weather

I just want to say thank you all so much for the fabulous entries that you have been sending in for the “Good Kids Bad Habits” book giveaway. I have gotten so many great entries that I think I will have to give my copy away too because it will be so hard to choose. Keep them coming and I look forward to publishing them all.

I am sorry that it has been awhile since my last blog entry. The weather here has been so beautiful these past few days that we have been taking full advantage of it. It has been so nice to get to go for walks, to work on the yard a bit (which is suffering from serious neglect), and visit the park. The best part for me about it warming up though is the fact that I feel like we can take on more social engagements because of the gorgeous weather.

In the winter, there just isn’t that much to do around here. I don’t enjoy the cold weather and what usually ends up happening is that I begin to meet my girlfriends for lunch, coffee, or hook up at the mall for the kids to play. I don’t always want to entertain at my house, but finding a neutral location during the winter can be difficult. All of these solutions though seem to put a dent in my allowance for the week, and we know how much I love to spend money.

Here is some fun and frugal things you can be enjoying this spring & summer. Feel free to add to my list as I am sure you all are much more creative than I am. What are some activities that you do in the summer that cost little to nothing?

1. Go to the parks- find out what is available in your area to do. Many parks offer free classes during the daytime and free outdoor concerts that you can be enjoying in the evening time. Pack a lunch or pack a dinner and enjoy the fresh air with the kids. It makes cleanup from the mealtime simple and they can burn off some energy & calories while playing on all the playground equipment.

2. Join a summer reading program. Have your children commit to reading a certain number of books or challenge them to a reading contest and see who of the children (or how about yourself?) can read the most books by the end of the summer. Try to incorporate some of the suggested reading materials from your child’s teacher.

3. Stock up a container with craft supplies and instructions for completing crafts. This container will come in handy when it is raining outside and the children are bored. Visit FamilyFun.com and print out the instructions to go in your container.

4. Speaking of bored…create an “I’m bored” list and write down some activities that your children can be doing instead of telling you how bored they are. You can incorporate some of the ideas from this list.

5. Plan a day trip. Visit your library to get suggestions in your state (or neighboring states) of day trips that you can do together.

6. Find out what summer programs your library is offering. For example, our library shows movies during the summer, does an ice cream social, and offers different types of crafts to do each month.

7. Take your child’s art supplies outside and set up shop out there. Messy crafts, such as painting, can be done outside without a lot of clean-up.

8. Make your kids a magic milkshake or slushie.

9. Hit your local dollar store and stock up on stuff to do outside.

10. Take a hobby with your child or children. What could be more fun than learning a new skill together? Take a course or check out books and learn a craft or hobby together and use that time to really bond with your child.

11. Start working on gifts for Christmas. Working with your child on these types of activities now will make them seem less overwhelming when it gets closer to Christmas. Painted mugs, anyone?

12. Host an outdoor playgroup. Use this great website to get ideas for theme ideas.

13. Set up the sprinkler or kiddy pool and run through them with your kids. Watch as they look at you with bewilderment as you run like a crazy lady in your regular clothes in that cold water. Watch your husband’s mouth drop open and look at you as though you have been doing drugs….yes, I have done this. Can you tell?

14. Make a popcorn table and fill it with sand toys for your kids. Take it outside and let them throw popcorn around with wild abandonment. No messy sand to clean up.

15. Stock your beach bag with the essentials and store it in your car for a day at the park or a day at the beach. Don’t forget the baby powder!

More Sunny Weather Reading:
Summer Survival
Organized Travel
Gearing Up for Summer

Whatever you do, here in the Midwest, we enjoy the warm weather as long as it lasts! I hope you enjoy some sun-filled days too!

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Friday, March 23, 2007

Good Kids Bad Habits Book Contest


I am holding in my hands a copy of the new book, "Good Kids Bad Habits" by Jennifer Trachtenberg, M.D., and it is ready to go to the person who offers the best suggestions for raising healthy children.


This book is a guide to raising healthy children and it offers suggestions to parents on ways they can help their children avoid problems such as childhood obesity and chronic adult diseases. Ms. Trachtenburg is a pediatrician and also the mother of three children. She has authored this book to encourage parents to help their children make healthy choices and she shows how problems such as sleeplessness and video-game addictions can be avoided by guiding our children towards healthy options.


Please email to me at amy@momadvice.com, your suggestion for raising healthy children. Do you have a special snack? Do you have a way you encourage your children to be active? What are healthy choices you teach your children? Please email your suggestion, along with your name & mailing address, and I will post the results next Friday with our freebies.


For more information on this book, please visit their website. Many thanks to HaperCollins for giving us the opportunity to run this contest with our readers!

Labels: , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Freebie Friday: March 23, 2007

Here are a couple of tips from our readers- thanks so much for sending these to me! I really appreciate it! Keep those tips coming- it really helps a bunch!

Hi!

My sister, Monica (homespun heart), steered me to your blog. I just got on for the first time last week, but I’m already hooked. Thanks for the great ideas and advice, and also for researching all those free offers—I clicked on several last Friday and am excited to watch and wait for them to come in the mail.

Monica recommended your Pizza Hut dough recipe to me, and I made it over the weekend. Delicious!

Here’s a possible free offer to post on Friday: http://www.3m.com/us/home_leisure/scotchbrite/tsoffer.html

Thanks again—I’m excited to have found this on-line community of others who are interested in being frugal homemakers!

Blessings,
Carrie

Amy,

I got this link from an Orville Redenbacher newsletter. Though it isn't completely free, 2 upc's are required - it's pretty close. It's for a popcorn bowl
http://www.orville.com/promotions/freebowl_form.pdf

No shipping & handling!

Thanks for all you do,

Jennifer

Claim a complimentary one-year subscription to Philadelphia Style Magazine which covers lifestyle, retail, fine dining, home design, the arts and fashion with an innovative & cutting-edge approach. Each issue profiles interesting local & national personalities and offers complete guide to upscale living for the Philadelphia area. You can answer, “No, thank you!” to all of the offers.

American Diabetes Association is offering a Wizdom kit for children with diabetes.

Target is offering a free sample of Fruit Ripples and a free 8x10 with no sitting free from their portrait studio. This is great for all of those Easter photos!

Membership in the Amato's Tamatos Club entitles you to some truly fantastic benefits including special coupons and a newsletter with exclusive discounts and contests that only club members can win. Join today and we'll send you a certificate for a FREE Real Italian Sandwich! They also send you freebie coupons on your birthday. (Amatos is only in certain states, however, they allow NH, ME, VT, RI, MA and CT to join the club even though there may not be a franchise in that state)

This is a great freebie to help you raise financially aware kids. It includes thinking games to paly with your children, free kid card fold-out poster, & free blue mesh carrying bag. Please call the toll free number listed at the top of the page for this freebie.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Beautiful Woman Magazine.

Claim a complimentary one-year subscription to Boating Life Magazine. You can answer, “No, Thank You!” to all the offers.

Sign up to receive a free six ounce bag of Purina Naturals Cat Chow. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Aquaphor Healing Ointment for baby. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Get a free sample of Dove Energy Glow which contains a subtle self-tanner. (Note: If you set up a registered account with Dove, obtaining freebies from this company goes a lot quicker!)

Sign up for a free sample of Carnation Instant Breakfast. Please allow four to six weeks for shipping of this freebie.

Request a free sample of 3M Print to Last Paper.

Don’t forget to sign up for free tickets to see The Peaceful Warrior. You can receive up to ten free admittances to this show.

Get a free sample of Ultra Downy. They offer two sample choices, Experientials Tahitian Waterfall or April Fresh scent.

Try the new Calgon Vanilla Swirl Body Mist.

Get a complimentary sample of Nautica Island Voyage.

Get two free luggage tags with your picture placed on them. One set of two labels per person.

Order a free Breast Self-Exam Shower Card. Please limit one per household.

You must live in Orange County, CA or in the surrounding area to be considered for this freebie. This is a summer fun bag filled with items you will need for the summer. Please apply only if you live in this area.

Request a free Crossed American Pin. You must supply an explanation for why you would like to be considered for this freebie.

This offer is good for Canadians only. You can try the new Kirkland Signature Premium Diapers from Costco for free. This sample will arrive within three weeks.

The Children’s Place offers a free birthday club. They will send you a special surprise on your day and your child’s big days.

Use this printable coupon for a free ten dollar haircut at Master Cuts. This coupon expires on 06/30/2007.

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Amy's Notebook 03.22.07

Save Some Money:

Baby Cheapskate shares about the new Amazon program for parents. They will automatically ship your diapers at regular intervals and knock off fifteen percent. Not sure if this would be that good of a deal? Check Baby Cheapskate for the nitty-gritty details.

Boston Gal’s Open Wallet shares a Fortune Magazine article that discusses whether you should pick paper or plastic when you are at the grocery store. There are some very interesting quotes in this one.

Frugal for Life shares the different ways you can stop buying books without using the library. Our library rocks though so I can’t imagine not using it, but there are some people who are funny about using that resource.

Mighty Bargain Hunter has an excellent post about the social needs we have that require us to give gifts for occasions and certain people in our life, just because it is obligatory. How does one break this cycle?

MyMoneyBlog has a great post on discussing whether homes are a good investment or a horrible investment. Some of the statistics that were quoted were quite interesting!

Apartment Therapy discusses an article from the Wall Street Journal which states that children are not going to the library as much. The parents are purchasing the books for children or children are relying on their computers for information.

Make Some Stuff:

Visit The Sampler to get instructions on how to turn an umbrella into a kite. This would be a great way to recycle my umbrella that turned itself inside out last year!

Foodie Food:

Home Ec 101 shares how to make your grocery dollars scream in mercy. They suggest roasting a chicken and have some really great tips on how you can roast the perfect chicken. I love these ladies!

Moms the Word shares ten frugal date ideas that you can accomplish without spending more than twenty dollars.

Clean & Organize:

The Simple Dollar has compiled a fabulous list of all the things you should be keeping in your car, should you ever face an emergency. Be sure to read this one!

Get Rich Slowly shares a timeline for when you should replace those common household items.

Carnivals & Festivals:

Carnival of Debt Reduction

Festival of Frugality

Carnival of Personal Finance

Make it From Scratch

Carnival of the Recipes

Carnival of Family Life

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Ask Frugal Momma: Happy Homemaking the Homemade Way


I am not going to launch into a preachy prose about how bad commercial cleaning products are today when it comes to cleaning your home. It is common knowledge that a healthy home is not doused in heavy-duty bleach and preserving our environment should be tops on our priority list. The truth is, if you peeked inside of my caddy of cleaners though, you would see some of these harmful products in there. The fact is that I am trying to rely less on these cleaners and rely more on homemade cleaners. I am in the process of making the transition over to using only healthy homemade cleaners, and I feel a lot of pride when I take the time to do this. I know how much better it is for our environment….and for my wallet!

Making cleaners does not mean that you need to purchase a ton of items; in fact, most cleaners can be made from things you already have in your house. The main components that I like to work with are white vinegar, baking soda, liquid dishwashing soap, and lemon juice. One purchase that you may need to make though, to begin getting started, is purchasing a few spray bottles. I pick these spray bottles up from our local dollar store. These clear spray bottles will make it easy to measure and label your new cleaners in your house.

If you do decide to use these types of cleaners regularly, I would suggest making a trip to your wholesale club to buy the ingredients. A small box of baking soda can cost around fifty cents at your local grocery store. The same baking soda, in a twelve pound bag, from Sam’s Club costs about $5.42. What a savings! All of these products can be purchased in bulk and once you begin using them regularly, you will go through them quickly.

While you are at the warehouse store, be sure to swing by the automotive section and pick up a bag of microfiber cloths. The cloths sold at the warehouse store are larger and thicker than the ones you can get in other stores, and these are great for all of the jobs around your house. You can use these wet or dry. You can also use these just using water and not even bothering with a cleaner because they are that amazing.

Be sure when you launder your microfiber cloths that you do not use any type of fabric softener and use a very little amount of soap or cleaner on them. If you overload them with cleaning products, they will become less and less effective, particularly when you are trying to attract dust towards them.

Because these cleaners are homemade and use less harsh ingredients, they will require a little more elbow grease than your commercial products. There are lots of great recipes on the internet though and typing in the search phrase, “homemade cleaners” should you give you lots of different ideas and give you an array of recipes to choose from to find which one works best for the jobs you have around your house. Everyone uses different measurements; it just depends on the difficulties of the jobs around your house.
Here are some of my tried and true recipes that we use in our house:

All-Purpose Cleaner- Mix together two tablespoons of mild dishwashing soap and two cups of water in a spray bottle and give it a shake. Use these anywhere that you would use a commercial all-purpose spray. This cleaner is particularly great for countertops, bathroom surfaces, and high chairs.

Glass Cleaner- Mix together one part white vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. Spray this solution on your mirrors and windows and dry your windows with newspaper. The newspaper is great for lint-free drying and is a great way to repurpose some of those old papers you have laying around.

Homemade Oven Cleaner/ Deep Kitchen Cleaner- Mix a paste of three parts warm water to one part baking soda to clean away kitchen stains or to clean your oven.
Bathroom Cleaner- Mix dishwashing liquid with baking soda until you have a thick paste and use this throughout your bathroom.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner- No measuring is required with this recipe. Sprinkle a little baking soda into your toilet bowl and then pour a little vinegar in and watch it fizz it up. Give it a swish with your toilet brush and then flush.

Floor Cleaner- Add ½ cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. The scent of the vinegar will fade in approximately an hour, but you can also add a couple of drops of essential oil to help with the scent. I like the smell of Tea Tree Oil, but you can buy any essential oil that smells best to you. Essential oils can be picked up at stores offering nutritional supplements or can be purchased online.

Furniture Polish- Mix ¼ cup olive oil with four tablespoons of vinegar and two teaspoons of lemon juice. Pour into a spray bottle and shake well before using. If you do not use all of it in one cleaning session, store the remainder in the fridge, as the lemon juice can go sour. You can also substitute the lemon juice with twenty to thirty drops of lemon essential oil and then you won’t have to refrigerate it. Using the essential oils though will up the price a bit on your homemade product.

Silver Cleaner- Although I don’t polish silver very frequently, this is a great to have in your bag of tricks. This will clean all of those nooks and crannies that are hard to reach in more detailed pieces and is great if you have a big batch of silver that needs cleaning. In a large bowl (or you can use your kitchen sink) place strips of aluminum foil in and place the silver pieces on top. Cover the silver with boiling water and then add three tablespoons of baking soda and soak for ten minutes.

By making your own cleaners, you will save hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. For example, a bottle of window cleaner will usually run you around two or three dollars. A bottle of your homemade window cleaner though, will cost you about five cents. What a difference that will make to your grocery budget and helping the environment is a wonderful benefit of your fabulous frugalness.

For more tips visit the following links:


Next week, I have received a request to discuss cleaning out the fridge so I will share some tips for that next week. Please, please send me your questions about anything! Email your questions to amy@momadvice.com and I will be sure to add your requests to my list. Without your requests, this column wouldn’t be possible and I would love to keep this going. I have enjoyed sharing through this format and it helps me come up with more content for our site. The answers will be added to our website as articles for quick reference!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Please Help Us!

We are trying to figure out where we want to go with our site and we need your input. Please take our poll and share your opinion!

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bellazandra Custom Designed Jewelry: A Mother's Gift You'll Remember


I was contacted by the owner and designer of Bellazandra jewelry to see if I would be interested in doing a product review of her custom designed jewelry. One look at her website, and I knew that I would be more than happy to be able to share about her product, particularly because she is a work-at-home mom who is doing what she can to remain home with her daughter.

Zandra was an interior designer and was born and raised in Sweden. She moved to the United States in 1999 and was looking for a way to be able to stay home with her daughter Bella. She wanted to implement her creative background in some way, and decided to apply her background as a mother and as a designer towards designing jewelry.

Zandra offers bracelets for mothers, birthstone bracelets, children's bracelets, fathers bracelets, necklaces, & earrings. Most importantly, she also makes awareness bracelets, in which part of her proceeds are donated towards great causes such as St Jude's Hospital, breast cancer awareness, and Operation Smile.

Because all of her jewelry is made for each individual, you get the opportunity to pick anything and everything that goes into making your piece. You can choose the charms, the style of clasp, the birthstones, and the size of your bracelet.

I received my bracelet this afternoon and I am in utter delight & awe at just how pretty it is. My bracelet has my son & daughter's names on it with each of their birthstones surrounding their name. I chose a toggle clasp, which is easy for me to open and shut myself, and a small charm that says happiness on it. The happiness charm is to remind me of just how lucky I am to have these two kids in my life.

The best part about it, for me, is that the bracelet is made to fit me. You are able to provide the measurements of your wrist to the company and they will make the bracelet the proper size for you. I have tiny wrists and usually bracelets end up looking like the size of necklaces on my wrist. It was so nice to have one that fit perfectly for me!

There is so much thoughtfulness that has went into this product. The bracelet was packaged in a small brown pouch and placed in a Tiffany blue box with a brown bow. She also includes a thank you note and instructions with each piece detailing how to care for your jewelry.

I can't rave enough about how nice this product is and how much I admire moms who are able to create a niche for themselves in the work-at-home world, doing something they love while having the benefits of being home with their children.
This bracelet would make a lovely Mother's Day gift (hint, hint to the male readers out there!) and you can place orders for Mother's Day up until April 26 to insure that your bracelet arrives on your special day.

Many thanks to Bellazandra for giving us this opportunity to share our opinion on such a beautiful product! Please visit Zandra's site to view all of the great choices that she offers.
*If you are a mommy inventor and would like to see your product showcased on our blog, please email me at amy@momadvice.com*

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Friday, March 16, 2007

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: The Final Results


Meredith has posted her last meal of the contest, a Cheese & Spinach pie that she found in an old cookbook. Be sure to check her post to get her recipe and more creative ways that she is able to stretch her grocery dollars.

She also compiled all of the meals and the total amounts spent so that you can easily reference all of our dinners and the cost breakdowns. Included in this post is also the final results for the contest, and I am shocked to say that I beat her by a dollar. One mere dollar! This means that my Aldi shopping and her sales flier shopping are pretty much on equal ground. For those of you who do not have an Aldi near you, this is great news! You can shop anywhere if you take advantage of all of those great loss leaders and still be under budget.

This was such a fun week and I have enjoyed all of your comments more than you can imagine. I know that many people read my blog, but I have to be honest and say that the comments are what fuel me creatively. Your ideas and cheerleading through the comments is what keeps me motivated on this site! Thank you all for your invaluable feedback.

Much thanks to Meredith for challenging me this week and for being such a wonderful friend! Her blog has provided much inspiration to me and challenged me in my daily life. She is resourceful, thoughtful, and kind. I know her readers would agree!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Freebie Friday: March 16, 2007


Olay and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery proudly present "Bring a Buddy" Free skin cancer screenings. That's two potentially life-saving screenings for the price of one all during May! For more information please visit their site.

Who can resist a “Hot Mom Driving” bumper sticker for your car?

Register as a free member of CBS Games and get a free deck of cards.

Get a free subscription to In Motion from Castrol, designed specifically for those whose businesses depend on their trucks.

Claim a complimentary one-year subscription to Sweet 16 Magazine. You can answer no to all offers, making this truly free!

Claim a complimentary one-year subscription to Flying Magazine. Again, you can answer no to all offers.

Register to receive free samples of Avalon Organics products made especially for baby. You must put the word SAMPLES in the comments section. These samples should arrive within the next two weeks.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Kodak Inkjet Photo Paper. This offer is valid only while supplies last and please limit one per household.

This is a great freebie for those of us who suffer from allergies. Get a free $6 coupon for a 6-count box of Alavert Orally Disintegrating Tablets or you can use this coupon on any other Alavert product. This valid is good through April 9, 2007.

Do you have a university student in your household or are you part of the faculty? New York Times Select is now available to university students for free. You will need a valid college or university email account for this freebie.

Get a free sample of Purina’s Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys. This sample will arrive within four weeks. Just click on the Free Sample button.

I have not tried this freebie yet, but the site is called PoshPoints. It is a trading community that is free to use and they offer fifteen free points for signing up. This looks like something that I will be checking further into!

This freebie is just for educators. A&E is offering a free subscription to, “The Idea Book.” This is a biannual teacher’s magazine of ideas for your classroom.

Receive a free sample of Natural Liquid Organic Fertilizer. Please limit one per household.

Best Buy is offering up to ten free tickets to see The Peaceful Warrior. IT will take a few minutes for the page to load, but be patient. These tickets are good for the opening weekend only, March 30-April 1. Come early to guarantee a seat at the show!

This freebie is good for California and New York Residents only. From Parenting Magazine- Join us for the Parenting Film Festival at The Pacific Northridge Theater on March 24th and at Clearview Cinemas on April 14th for FREE movies, entertainment, and giveaways for your family. To RSVP, call 310-268-7104 in Los Angeles or 212-522-4551 in New York. For more information, visit this site.

This is a fabulous freebie! Receive a printable certificate for free GNC Mega Men Multivitamins or GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Multivitamin. This offer is good through March 18th or while supplies last. This freebie is an $8.99 value!

Just a reminder that Dunkin Donuts is offering the FREE iced coffee on March 21st all day and all evening! Don’t forget to cash in on this freebie.

SoyJoy Bars are offering three free nutrition bars. Enjoy a freebie for yourself and give two to friends. That is a nice freebie! These will arrive within three to four weeks.

Johnson & Johnson is offering a New Parents Pack. You will need to call for this freebie. Call 1.800.526.3967. Selection options 1, 1, & then 1 again!

Get a free one-year subscription to PC Magazine by filling out the survey. I have had trouble with this free magazine site before since the magazine offers are based on occupations, but it is worth a shot!

This freebie comes from Mr. Cheap Stuff, for the men out there! You can watch the NCAA March Madness online for free. Visit his site for the scoop!

That’s it, folks! Hope you are enjoying all those freebies! This has been a busy week for my blogs so if you only come for the freebies, please take a look around. I just completed an Iron Chef Moms Challenge that is great for anyone who is looking to eat on the cheap.

Don’t forget to submit your questions to, “Ask Frugal Momma.” You can ask me anything. Honestly. Can’t say I will always have the answers, but I promise to try to hunt them down for you. Submit your questions to amy@momadvice.com

I have already received four great requests so I will be adding these to my week!

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: Day Five- Mini-Meatloaves & a Great Conclusion


This is the final day of the Iron Chef Moms Challenge and I have been both challenged & inspired by the dishes that Meredith & I have put together. I hope that you walk away with a sense of what we were both trying to accomplish. Meredith has proven that it is possible to eat very inexpensively by just going to your local supermarket and picking up the items that are on special at the stores. I was trying to prove that Aldi offers many affordable choices for your dinner hour.

I think more than that, at least for me, I wanted to prove how you can eat well and not spend a lot of money. I think a lot of times people walk away with the impression that if they go to a discount store, that they are reduced to eating processed meats and chips. I know about this impression, because that is how I had thought of it a few years ago. The food, at that time, looked like a bunch of junk food to me and I didn’t see anything there that would be worth serving to my family.

When we moved here though and my husband’s salary drastically decreased, we had no choice but to cut corners. I did not know a lot about cooking and never had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom before.

Aldi Supermarket does offer good food for low prices. I do miss the frills of the other supermarkets- a bagger, picking my groceries up at the door, and the thousands of choices of each product. I don’t miss the price tag though, which keeps me shopping there.

Despite Aldi being my favorite store, I do love to shop the other grocery stores for the exact reason that Meredith has pointed out. Shopping loss leaders in the fliers can be a huge savings to your family. My well-stocked freezers prove that theory! I have tons of meat and cheese that I have purchased at greatly reduced prices and I enjoy shopping the end of the day when the manager’s special tags are calling my name. I have gotten great deals from the supermarket and do feel that shopping the fliers can save you a lot of money. Imagine combining the Aldi shopping with one extra trip to a supermarket to pick up the very best deals of the week.

Setting aside ten dollars even, to shop the loss leaders at the other stores, can be beneficial in the long run to your grocery budget. Coupon cutters can get even more savings by bringing their tote of coupons with them. I know many people, with proper planning, that get food for free or even get money back on their purchases! That is amazing and a tribute to what good shoppers we all could be if we invested a little time into it.

I hope you see through my meals, the desire to provide good food that looks like restaurant-quality eating, but costs you only three or four dollars compared to the twenty or thirty dollar tab you would run if you went out to dinner.

I am anxious to hear all your thoughts and what you have gained from this challenge. What meal was your favorite? What has changed about the way you want to shop? Are you able to eat less expensively than you thought?

For our final day, I made one of my favorite foods for the kids…meatloaf. For some reason, my children are not big meatloaf fans, but make meatloaf muffins? Well, now that is a different story entirely! The best part about preparing meatloaf in your muffin tins, in my opinion, is how much quicker it is to do these versus in the loaf pan. Smaller portions cook up in thirty to thirty-five minutes instead of an hour like the larger loaf. They also transport well for lunches. This recipe tastes like meatballs to me and it is so yummy.

Please ignore the fact that we are eating instant mashed potatoes. Those are my husband’s favorite kind and they are much easier for me to make, so how can I argue with that request?

I served these with a side of steamed broccoli. I love the fresh broccoli hearts because I get the part of the broccoli that I really want. The frozen variety carries more stems than anything else, but mixed in a casserole or dip, they are just fine. If you want to save a little money though, prepare the frozen variety using the microwave instructions, but cook them just a hair under then what it says on the bag. Then take a handful of parmesan cheese a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle it on top with a little salt and pepper. Give it a light toss and the kids will love it more because it has a little cheese on top.

I can make just about anyone a lover out of broccoli. My only trick is I cook them just until they are done so that the broccoli still has a bite to it and it is still that pretty bright green. My kids will even eat it this way. I just cook the broccoli in an inch of boiling water. Put the broccoli heads in and let them cook four minutes. Drain them and let them sit in the hot pan until the rest of the dinner is ready (about five to ten minutes). They will be perfect!

Meatloaf Muffins
Yields Four Servings


1 pound ground turkey (purchased in the frozen section)

1/3 cup breadcrumbs (the Italian variety work well or fresh breadcrumbs)

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

¼ teaspoon garlic powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, but only use about ¼ of the tomato sauce in the meat mixture. Press the meat into the muffin cups (you should be able to get eight out of this amount of meat). Top with a dollop of tomato sauce on each one. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Serve two per person.


This was served with freshly steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes (we like the butter-flavored variety).

Cost Breakdown:

1 pound ground turkey for $0.89
1 egg for $0.07
1 can tomato sauce for $0.19
I package of broccoli hearts for $1.29
1 package of mashed potato mix for $0.40

Total Cost For a Family of Four: $2.84
Total Cost Per Person: $0.71

My overall total for five meals, feeding a family of four, was $15.38. This means that my average cost per person for an entire week of dinners was $3.85!

I am feeling pretty pumped about this! This is how we eat every week so this has helped justify all the time and effort I put into our dinners. What a savings for our family! We could not eat out once for that amount of money unless we dined on nasty fast food.

This also demonstrates how our $50 a week budget works. I still end up with about thirty-five dollars leftover for the other stuff. We also keep an extra ten out each week for maybe a little splurge here and there. This is usually reserved for those little social engagements like coffee with a good friend or those unexpected events where I have to pitch in a little money at a playgroup. There are weeks that go by where I never even spend this money. If I can go under the fifty dollar amount and still provide great food for my family, I have a little extra for a special treat for myself or for the kids.

Please share with me your thoughts. Was the Iron Chef Moms Challenge worth it? Would you like to see another face-off with a different type of shopper? Share away!

Please check Meredith's blog for her final tally and her last meal. I am sure she has something wonderful going in her kitchen and I will be anxious to see the final totals!

Note: This recipe will be added to
"the Aldi Queen" and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week's worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop! I am running a little behind today so the planner will be up by this evening.

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Amy's Notebook 03.15.07

Thrifty Mommy shares a fabulous free way that you can give to women’s shelters. With just a couple of clicks, you can donate to a shelter without even leaving your desk!

Frugal For Life points out a fun read that I literally devoured. I got a pen and paper and wrote stuff down. It is that good. The article shares how to look oh-so-chic by just shopping at thrift stores. I attempt this , but the brand names were ones I never heard of. When it first came through my feed, I actually thought Dawn had wrote it. I thought to myself, “Who knew Dawn was such a fashionista?” Then I figured out she was just sharing the article. I am sure Dawn is still highly fashionable though. No doubt!

Punny Money asks the question, just how much can you afford when it comes to gigantic televisions? I loved his formula and the picture tutorial at the bottom. Great to read before making your next television purchase. According to his calculations, we can afford a five dollar television. I wonder how big that will be.

The Simple Dollar shares tips for shopping at your local farmer’s market. This is definitely something I would like to do more of this summer!

Skip to My Lou has a great activity for Easter. How about making Easter Egg Sidewalk Chalk? Check this blog for the instructions!

Parent Hacks has a great tip for baby-proofing your hotel rooms when you are on vacation.

Crafty Daisies have quick and beautiful candle holders made from platters and bowls. These are super cute and easy to make!

Anyone else following Top Design on television? DIY Maven suggests taking on the Top Design challenge and painting a plate.

It’s Just Money had a lovely dinner at McCormick Schmick with a great promotion they are running to get people to utilize their online reservation system.

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Ask Frugal Momma: The Amazing Dishwasher


I have decided to start a weekly segment on getting to know items in your home. I got some emails and comments about my post yesterday, regarding some tips for your dishwasher, and I thought it would be great to start a little segment explaining frugal tips for caring for your appliances. If you have an appliance or item in your home that you would like to be featured, or you have a question about an item in your home that you would like to know more about, please email me at amy@momadvice.com and I will try and hunt for all those answers for you. Consider it a Frugal Momma question and answer column and ask away! I am not an expert in anything so take my advice with a grain of salt!

I don’t know what I would do without my dishwasher! There is an urban legend out there that says that washing dishes by hand is cheaper than washing them in the dishwasher. You actually waste less water by using your dishwasher, which makes the dishwasher a great addition to a frugal homeowner’s house.

First, there is no exact science to loading a dishwasher, but there are a few guidelines. Heavy duty stuff (pots, pans, plates, & utensils) go on bottom & delicate items and glassware go on top. Place everything in the upper rack facedown and put everything on the lower rack aimed towards the center. Silverware should have forks and spoons alternating, otherwise you will get spoons stuck together and they will need to be rewashed.

The important things to know to keep your costs low for running a dishwasher are pretty simple and straightforward. First, it is not economical to pre-rinse your dishes, especially with the newer models that they have out now for dishwashers. If you have an older dishwasher, like me, a quick pre-rinse with cold water only is the most efficient way to get your dishes clean.
Secondly, try and run the most cost-effective cycle on your dishwasher. Try the shorter cycle first and see if your dishes come out clean. If you need to still run the full cycle, don’t run the drying cycle and allow the dishes to air dry. It is more cost-effective and there is less chance of spotting on your glassware.

It is also important to read the manual for your dishwasher to see the recommended amount of dishwashing detergent you should use. The manufacturer will have the best suggestion for the amount of detergent you should use. Are your dishes looking a little gritty? Do you have a nasty residue on your glasses? The remedy to that problem is decreasing the amount of dishwashing detergent. If you don’t have the guidelines handy, you can always look them up on the manufacturer’s website or you can do your own test run to see how much you actually need to get those dishes clean.

If your glasses are looking spotty then you might need to add something to your dishwasher to make it perform better. I fill our rinse agent dispenser with white vinegar. Vinegar is great for removing spots on dishes and it leaves everything squeaky clean. Just fill the rinse aid dispenser as you would with the commercial stuff and stand back in amazement. You won’t believe how much better your dishwasher will perform with just this simple household solution.

I noticed that our dishwasher was looking pretty bad on the interior and I found the quickest way to get your dishwasher looking like new again is just running an empty cycle and filling the detergent cup with a drinking mix with citrus in it. You can use any citrus drink mix and fill it just as you would with your regular detergent. Any drink mix will do- lemonade, Tang, Crystal Lite, or any other drink mix with the citrus ingredient in it. We had a drink mix that the kids just didn’t like and that ended up going in the dishwasher instead. Doing this once a month will help keep your dishwasher looking like new.

Stubborn spots on the dishwashing door are also bothersome. If running a cycle of citrus drink powder doesn’t do the trick, you can try using other products on the door to get rid of the stains. Tomato-based stains will just have to fade with time, but you can sprinkle a little baking soda on your door and let it set for awhile. Take a soft dishtowel and add a little water to make a paste. Then rub the heck out of it and see if that removes the stain. The baking soda paste is also great for countertops or for burnt on gunk on your dishes.

There is a feature on dishwashers that I have never used, and only after writing this article would I even be aware that it even exists. The feature is the Rinse & Hold feature. This is a great feature for those dishes that you just absolutely cannot picture leaving in the sink until the dishwasher is run in the evening. Instead of washing a few dishes, you can run the Rinse and Hold cycle and have the dishwasher rinse them off for you. But how frugal is this feature? According to Consumer Reports, using this feature only takes two gallons of water compared with four gallons for a typical hand-washing. The energy needed to heat the water though, makes this a less than frugal feature so only use this feature when absolutely necessary. It is much more energy efficient to run your dishwasher with a full load.

Finally, you can make your own dishwashing detergent for a fraction of the cost. All you need to make dishwashing detergent is Borax (at our local store a box of this runs about $3.99), baking soda (cheapest at your wholesale club store) and regular old salt. Mix one cup Borax, one cup baking soda (you can also substitute this with washing soda, but most people don't have this on hand) and 1/4 cup salt. Add a tablespoon of this to your detergent dispenser and run it through a normal cycle. With vinegar added as a rinse aid, the dishes will be clean & spot free.

These blog entries will be added as articles to our Organize section of the site, for quick reference.

Up next week, Amelia's question on making your own cleaners! I can't wait to talk about this one!

Don't forget to submit those questions. I hope that this will be a fabulous addition to the blog!

Labels: , , , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: Day Four- Breakfast for Dinner

Today's Featured Cookbook: The Joy of Cooking. This is a great reference book that I refer to often when cooking new dishes. There are lots of frugal recipes and great tips on cooking techniques for the novice or the expert.


Pantry Items of the Day (according to Martha): Today’s pantry item is vegetables. Store only hardy vegetables such as potatoes, onions, garlic, and dried wild mushrooms in your pantry. Potatoes should not be refrigerated; keep up to two weeks’ worth in baskets or bins in a cool dry, dark, well-ventilated spot. Do not store them in plastic, which can encourage mold, Keep onions, shallots, and garlic in the pantry (do not refrigerate) up to one month, and dried mushrooms for several months. Store each vegetable in a separate basket or bin. It is especially important to keep potatoes and onions apart since they can cause each other to spoil.

Is it just me or is this Iron Chef Moms Challenge going by so quick? I have been having a blast planning these meals and Meredith has so many great dishes cooking in her kitchen. My guess is that she is going to beat me with her shopping. There is just no denying Meredith’s shopping skills…as if I could anyway?

One of the ways we save money on our grocery budget is by doing breakfast once a week. My kids will eat anything with syrup on it and I have never had anyone once say, “Delicious pancakes AGAIN?” Breakfast foods are so inexpensive to make and it is a breeze for me to clean up and to prepare.

In my opinion, a griddle is a must in our house because I can prepare dinner in about ten minutes flat. Throw six pieces of French toast on at the same time and we have three people served and happy. You just can’t beat it!

On my Aldi blog I am incorporating a “Fast Food” night. This night isn’t a rush out to Wendy’s night, but maybe just a quick and simple dish that you can get on the table when there are no dinner plans or you have had a rough day with the kids.

I was having one of those kinds of days yesterday, so I prepared my French toast. I do love to make this in mass quantities, for breakfasts for the kids or for my hubby to take for lunch the next day. The funny thing is that he took this one week to work and got tons of comments on how good his lunch looked. If only they knew how little it cost to throw a meal like that together!


If you have a large family, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and put a cookie sheet inside of it. As you do batches of the French toast, transfer them to the cookie sheet to keep warm. Our family is small, but sometimes I do this and cook up the whole loaf. This is also one of the best ways to keep all the food warm when you serve dinner to guests. We did this as a birthday brunch for my mother-in-law and it was a hit. I just served coffee, orange juice, and a roll of cinnamon rolls. It was easy and inexpensive, but a great way to celebrate her day!

Here is my recipe for French toast- I hope that you thoroughly enjoy it!


Amy’s French Toast
Scaled to serve four

½ loaf of white bread (can substitute with whole wheat)
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 cup milk (just a splash to thin out the egg coating)

Beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, sugar, & cinnamon. Turn your griddle to 350 degrees or put your skillet on medium-low heat. Dip bread in the egg mixture (on both sides) and drop the bread into the skillet or onto the griddle. Cook until golden brown on each side.

I served this with turkey bacon. I use the Joy of Cooking cookbook’s recommendation and actually put all the bacon on a cookie sheet. Turn your broiler on high and cook for ten to fifteen minutes. The bacon took about twelve minutes and it was crispy. Make a little extra for a BLT for your lunch!

Cost Breakdown:
White bread- $.45 a loaf, used half for $0.23
3 eggs- $.89 a dozen, used three for $.21
Syrup- $.89, used a third of the bottle for $.30
Turkey Bacon- $1.69, used half for $.85

Total Cost To Feed Four- $1.59
Cost Per Person- $.40

Note: This recipe will be added to "the Aldi Queen" and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week's worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How We Accomplish a $50 Grocery Budget

I have actually read of people who budget less than us and I think that is amazing and I applaud anyone who can do it for less than this. In our family of four, fifty dollars a week seems to work for us and I was asked to share ways that we save on the extras in our grocery budget.

- We do not buy a lot of paper products, the only exception being toilet paper, which I haven’t figured out a way around yet. We use cloth washcloths for faces & dirty hands, another set of cloth washcloths (in a different color) as baby wipes, cloth diapers, cloth napkins, and microfiber cloths (purchased inexpensively at your local wholesale club in the automotive section) for cleaning the house.

- I just buy toilet paper in bulk and usually purchase this when our local Meijer runs a good sale on their store brand of toilet paper. Our toilet paper is our Kleenex. I know…we live a glamorous life!

- Our dishwashing soap and detergent are purchased at Aldi and I have been really happy with the performance of both of these products. I actually prefer the Aldi brand dishwashing detergent over other store brands and I have tried many including Wal-Mart & Target. This seems to perform the best in our dishwasher and we have hard water. To make sure that it performs even better though, I fill our little dispenser on the door with white vinegar and this helps cut down on spotting on our glasses. Periodically cleaning my dishwasher with a citrus drink mix (Tang or any other citrus type drink) also helps our dishwasher performing well and keeps it looking nice & clean.

- I make the majority of our household cleaners utilizing white vinegar and baking soda. If I do purchase any cleaners, I love The Works cleaners that I purchase at our local dollar store. This brand works well, again on those tough hard water stains, and the price is great!

- For hand soaps, I buy the dollar store brand. I received some of those pretty foamy soaps from Bath & Body Works as a Christmas gift and I just refill these foamy dispensers. I fill the soap dispenser about ¼ of a way up and then the rest gets filled with water. Give it a shake and you have foaming hand soap. One dollar can fill four hand soap containers for us and this lasts a long time. The foaming hand soap containers also work really well for baby soaps as it extends your bottles a lot longer.

- We don’t buy expensive shampoos or conditioners. I try to watch for good sales at our drugstore or I purchase Suave hair products which give us the most shampoo for our money. Leave on conditioners are made out of filling spray bottles with a ¼ the way full of conditioner and adding water. Give it a shake each time you use it and you will have leave on conditioner without the price tag.

Here are some other entries for saving on your grocery budget:

Cleaning the House:

Disposing of the Disposable Items
Frugal Solutions for the Swiffer
Microfiber Obsessions
Frugal Carpet Steaming
Solution for Cheap Trash Bags

Toiletries:

Homemade Skincare Products
Foamy Soap
Making Your Own Cleaners
Cloth Diapering 101
Frugal Momma Bath Tips

Saving on Groceries:

Wholesale Club Shopping
Grocery Shopping
Sam’s Club Click N Pull
Quest to Find Cheap Baby Food
Saving on Groceries

Please feel free to share ways you save on your groceries! What is your grocery budget? How do you accomplish it?

P.S.- We are working on a search function and also a VERY exciting project that I can’t wait to tell you all about! It will be big news for MomAdvice.com! Stay tuned!

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: Day Three- Caesar Chicken Pasta Salad

Today's Featured Cookbook: Cooking Light Magazine. This is a great one to pick up from your library or pick up their books chock full of dinner ideas!

Pantry Items of the Day (according to Martha): Today I am sharing her excerpt on spices. “Most spices will lose their potency after about a year, but their flavor will deteriorate faster if stored improperly. Keep them in airtight, light-proof containers, away from the heat. Choose an accessible drawer or cabinet or a wall-mounted rack. Do not hang your spices above the cooktop.”

Welcome to day three of the Iron Chef Moms Challenge. I hope that you are getting some great ideas for your dinner hour between our dishes and Meredith’s tasty fare. It has been a lot of fun to see how this is all playing out. Meredith is an excellent shopper and I admire her knack for finding the best deals and finding ways to utilize those ingredients. She is certainly making me a believer that it is possible to eat very inexpensively by planning your meals around the fliers. Her meal today is a mere $.59 per person! That is pretty darn incredible! Great job, Meredith!

I choose to shop Aldi Supermarket for a number of reasons, but the main reason has always been the savings to our family. There are savings to be had, not only because the food is so cheap, but because you are not tempted by all of the other goodies available in the store.

For example, when I would go to Wal-Mart, I would go with a list in hand and plan to get those items only. That was it. Nada. Nothing else. Then I would be lured to other areas of the store or I would find myself putting items in my cart that I could have done without. Maybe it is lack of discipline, but shopping at a superstore is a super drain on our budget. With Aldi, I walk in and out with exactly what is on my list. On occasion they will have a special purchase available that is worth going a dollar or two over, otherwise I stay on the straight and narrow. I also enjoy the convenience of going to only one store to do my shopping. It is so nice to be able to walk in and out of the store and have everything I need. The only disadvantage is that you have to plan properly before entering the store for your meals that week. Aldi has select ingredients so it can be difficult to plan sometimes. Thank goodness for “the Aldi Queen” blog though, because you will never have to worry about that again!

For our family’s grocery budget, we budget fifty dollars a week. This includes all of our toiletries, paper products, and cleaners. I don’t find it a challenge to stay within our budget because I enjoy planning menus and I consider sticking to my budget almost a game. I love to go under budget and my husband always gets a kick out of my cost breakdowns for the things we eat. “Oh, you love this dish? Guess how much it cost…go ahead, guess! Two cents and not a penny more- can you believe it?”

I think what has always been important to me is no matter where I shop, that I make really good food for my family. We eat very well and I am proud of what I am able to make and to make it so inexpensively is just the icing on that cheap cake we are eating!

Let’s begin talking about today’s menu. Yes, I do realize that I have done three chicken dishes in a row. We eat a lot of chicken in our house, but I promise to do better the rest of the week. I have some other meats unthawing for our next meal, so be sure to check back for a non-chicken dish.

It was very warm yesterday (I am posting these a day ahead so you can view this in the morning) and the last thing I felt like eating was a hot dish. I made a Caesar Pasta Salad dish because it was a nice cold dish and it makes for really great lunches for the week. In the original recipe, I use feta cheese instead of the parmesan, but feta is not available at Aldi…just yet! This dish was taken from Cooking Light Magazine. Enjoy!

Caesar Chicken Pasta Salad

1 pound chicken (about three small breasts)
½ pound penne pasta (This ingredient is available this week at Aldi. If it isn’t at your store, you can substitute with elbow macaroni)
1 romaine heart, chopped
½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup Caesar dressing
A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top

Bake chicken breasts as directed on package on a cookie sheet. While the chicken is baking, chop the romaine heart and halve the tomatoes. Cook pasta until al dente, as directed on package. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Dice the cooked chicken and put this in a bowl. Toss in pasta, tomatoes, lettuce, and the dressing. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. This can be served with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.


Amy's Notes
- Because I wanted plenty of food for leftovers, I actually cooked the entire box of pasta and kept all the other ingredients the same. This stretched the dish further and we have enough for four more lunches. Additional dressing can be added to leftovers to keep pasta from tasting dried out. Basically, for forty more cents you can feed another four people! That makes this a great dish to entertain with!


Cost Breakdown:

Chicken breasts- $5.99 a bag, used one pound for $1.71
Penne Pasta- $.79 a box, used half the box for $.40
Romaine heart- $1.59 for three, used one for $.53
Cherry tomatoes- $1.79 for a container, used half for $.90
Total Cost To Feed Four- $3.54
Cost Per Person- $.89

Note: This recipe will be added to "the Aldi Queen" and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week's worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: Day Two- Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks

Today's Featured Cookbook: The Complete Tightwad Gazette- it is full of cheap & thrifty recipes that a frugal cook just can’t do without!

Pantry Items of the Day (according to Martha): Here are the canned and bottled items you need for a well-stocked pantry. Italian plum tomatoes, tomato paste, green & black olives, olive paste, anchovies, anchovy paste, capers, chickpeas, black beans, hot sauce, mustards, Italian oil-packed tuna, low-sodium chicken broth, canned fruits, chutneys, fruit jam. Heed expiration dates; otherwise, most canned and bottled goods, such as preserves, pickles, and relishes can be kept unopened, for up to one year. Once opened, glass bottles should be refrigerated; transfer unused canned goods to airtight containers and refrigerate for three or four days. This is especially important for canned acidic foods such as tomatoes or pineapples; once the interior of the can is exposed to air, the acidity is likely to cause rust. If you do see rust on an opened can of food, the can & food should be discarded.

Welcome to day two of the Iron Chef Moms Challenge. Please be sure to visit Meredith’s blog where she will be sharing ways that you can stay within your budget just by utilizing the sales flier. Yesterday she shared tips for cooking with loss leaders and the fabulous Southern-style birthday dinner she was able to make out of ingredients she purchased on sale. Her total beat me by $1.65! Great job, Meredith!

Meredith has already posted her day two results, as she has thrown a dinner together in the slow cooker (I love those kind of recipes!) using cabbage that she found on sale at her local supermarket. Her daily total came to $4.55 or $1.13 per person. I am excited to say that my total today was $3.14 or $.79 per person, which seemed more reflective of Meredith’s total yesterday. This puts me at $1.41 ahead today, but still $.24 behind, overall.

I have a little confession to make that might surprise you…I actually have never in my life cooked chicken drumsticks so last night’s dinner was a bit of an experiment in our house. If I purchase chicken, I tend to go for the white meat because it is the healthiest option. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive option so I have been trying other cuts of meat to keep our expenses down.

When I happened upon these two recipes, I was very excited to try something a little different. When I put it together, I realized it will be a perfect meal for us to take on our next picnic and it was a cinch to put together.

Here is a one little tip for today that I would like to share. This might be common knowledge, but it is a little trick that I use when I am cooking chicken with a coating or breading on the outside. I take a jelly roll pan and then rest our cooling rack on top of that and spray it lightly with cooking spray. I then bread the meat and rest it on top of the cooling rack. The reason I do this is because I absolutely hate it when you have a nice crisp side on one side and then a soggy mess on the flip-side. By using the cooling rack, I am able to get the heat to circulate on the bottoms, which help keep that crispy coating on all the sides of the meat.

Although the chicken was divine, I have to admit that I was most surprised by the simple side dish and how tasty it actually turned out to be. Potatoes prepared in the microwave? Covered in only a tablespoon of butter? Could Cooking Light Magazine have been mistaken when putting this dish together? I was wrong though- the amount of butter and the swiftness of the microwave made for some very tasty taters. My husband, who will only eat the fry variety of these, actually gobbled them up and asked if we could have them again.

Best of all, you just can’t beat the price tag on the meal itself!

Parmesan Chicken

4 drumsticks (the Aldi’s bag contains five drumsticks, but there will still be plenty of coating)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (in the dairy section, not in the shaker)
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I make my own and store them in the freezer)

In a shallow bowl, mix together cheese and breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, beat egg until lemon colored. Dip chicken in egg, coating well. Roll in cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

Amy's Notes: I removed the skin on the chicken drumsticks. Simply slip your fingers under the skin and pull to remove. I then proceeded with the coating. My drumsticks took 50 minutes to bake.

Microwave Taters

1.5 pounds potatoes- red or Russet. 1.5 pounds of potatoes equals about four cups of diced potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
Any seasoning of your choice- I used a teaspoon of Italian seasoning & salt and pepper

In a shallow baking dish, place a tablespoon of butter in the dish and microwave for fifteen seconds (or until the butter is melted). Dice the potatoes and put them on top of the butter. Top the potatoes with any seasonings of your choice. With a spoon, lightly toss the potatoes until they are all coated in the butter. Pop the bowl in the microwave and microwave for fifteen minutes. Every five minutes, just give them a little stir to make sure all of the potatoes get heated evenly.

Cost Breakdown:

Chicken Drumsticks- $1.89
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese- $1.89 for the container, $.95 is amount used
1 egg- $.89 for a dozen, $.07 for one egg
1.5 pounds potatoes- $1.49 for 10#, $.23

Total Cost To Feed Four- $3.14
Cost Per Person- $.79

Note: This recipe will be added to
"the Aldi Queen" and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week's worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Monday, March 12, 2007

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: Day One- Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein



Today's Featured Cookbook: Cheap, Fast, Good by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross

Pantry Items of the Day (according to Martha): Here are the basic baking staples you need for a well-stocked pantry. Pure vanilla extract and other extracts, vanilla beans, baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened and semisweet dark chocolate, Dutch- process cocoa powder, unflavored gelatin, dry yeast, cornstarch- store ingredients in airtight containers, away from heat and light sources. Extracts will last several years; leavenings lose their potency after about one year, and should be discarded on their expiration dates.

I had anticipated on spending a bit more time in my cookbooks this weekend, but my daughter & I both came down with a nasty strep infection and my time has been spent trying to sleep it off and care for Emily.


Despite the setback, I am excited to begin sharing with you some of the meals that our family enjoys, utilizing ingredients purchased from Aldi. I hope that this week’s menu plan provides you some new ideas for your dinner hour, as well as providing you a very budget-friendly dinner.

One of my favorite take-out foods is Chinese food. I love a good Chicken Lo Mein and was so excited when I happened upon this excellent recipe to make this dish at home. With some of my own modifications, I was able to make this dish with ingredients purchased at our local Aldi.

This dish is a hit with our entire family, even the broccoli & mushroom haters in the bunch. This dish just has something for everyone in the family. Because it is a pasta dish, the chicken and vegetables are easily stretched, keeping you well under budget.

To be honest, we do not normally serve a side with this dish, but we were to include a side with this dish so I will add a side of applesauce for the kids.

I love to double the recipe to eat it for lunch or a yummy late night snack!

Please check Meredith's blog for her breakdown and meal plan for the evening. It sounds like she has something very yummy going in her kitchen. I think I would like to eat over there!



Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein
Adapted from Cheap, Fast, Good!


8 ounces thin spaghetti (if linguine is available, I prefer this over the spaghetti)
2/3 pound skinless, boneless chicken (3 chicken breasts, dethawed overnnight)
1 cup fresh button mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 bag frozen broccoli pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon ketchup

Cook pasta as directed. Clean & chop mushrooms. Heat oil. Cut chicken in bite size pieces. When all the chicken is cut, add it to the skillet. Add mushrooms and broccoli to the skillet. Cook for five to six minutes or until mushrooms have released their liquid and chicken is cooked through. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and ketchup. Stir to combine. Add cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Serve with ramekins of applesauce.

Cost Breakdown:

8 ounces thin spaghetti- .25
2/3# chicken breasts (approximately 1/4 of a bag)- $1.75
1 cup fresh mushrooms- .79
1 bag frozen broccoli- .79
1 jar applesauce- .69
(Other ingredients listed are considered staple items according to Iron Chef Mom guidelines)

Total Cost To Feed Four: $4.27
Cost Per Person: $1.07

Note: This recipe will be added to "the Aldi Queen" and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week's worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Friday, March 09, 2007

Freebie Friday: March 9, 2007



Cue the Rocky theme music...Have you heard about the big competition coming up? I have already started lifting weights and practicing my mad knife skills to compete against Meredith in a little money-saving challenge. Meredith and I will be facing off in a fight for our lives (or, um..whatever!) to see who can save the most money- someone who shops the sales fliers or someone who just does their shopping at Aldi Supermarket.

I have to admit, I am getting a teensy bit nervous after reading a half dozen blogs this morning talking about it. Meredith is one smart cookie and she knows how to make her dollars scream for mercy. She is going to be tough competition so I am going to have to really be working hard this weekend to try and come up with some brilliant menu plans. My husband suggested carrots for dinner one night and a piece of bread the next night. He thought this would be the best way to keep the budget on track. This displays what type of family we are..we aim to win!

For the full scoop on the contest, please visit this entry or visit Meredith's entry for her take on the contest.

In all seriousness, I am looking forward to sharing some of the ways we save on my new blog, "the Aldi Queen." Be sure to check there for this week's planner and grocery list!

Now on with the freebies for the week...

Get a free Sausage McGriddle from McDonalds if they have a Society for the Morning Impaired in your area. (Note- if you live in Michiana, they do not have a group currently, but you can submit an email address should they start a group).

Request a free sample of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery of this freebie.

Wal-Mart is giving away a free sample of Garnier Nutritioniste. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and a limit of one sample per household.

If you have a TiVo DVR, you can register with Amazon Unbox and get $15 in videos free. This offer expires on April 30th. This offer is not available for Direct TV subscribers.

Sign up to receive a free one year subscription to Blender Magazine. I am pretty excited about this freebie because this is a magazine that my husband & I both enjoy!

Sign up to receive a free sample pack of shampoo, conditioner, & detangling shine spray from Sunsilk. Please allow six to eight weeks for these samples.

Wal-Mart is giving away free samples of the new Almay HydraColor Lipstick. Please allow up to four weeks for the delivery and there is a limit of one sample per household.

Sign up to receive a free magazine subscription to, “Living the Country Life.”

Sign up to receive a sample of the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. Click on the free sample link in the yellow box to sign up for this freebie.

Don’t forget that there are free coffee days coming up! March 15th is free coffee day at Starbucks (between 10-12) . Dunkin Donuts will be having a free iced coffee day on March 21st (offer is good for 24 hours- I miss my Dunkin Donuts!)

Billy Graham is offering another free Christian book. I hope you didn’t miss last month’s which was an awesome book by Beth Moore (one of my favorite Christian ladies!) This book is, “Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight,” by Jennifer Rothschild. This is an actual book, not a pamphlet! You will need to confirm the request, so be sure to check your email for the confirmation letter to click through.

If you live in Florida, you can get a free 145 load box of Surf Laundry Detergent. Use the following code: STR553659A to receive this freebie.

Register to receive a “Complaint Free World” bracelet. This is sponsored through Christ Church Unity and they will provide an envelope, if you would like to make a donation to their cause.

Rita’s Ice is giving away a free regular Italian ice on March 21st, to celebrate the first day of spring.

iTunes is offering free children’s downloads. There are six Sesame Street Videos that range from 17-42 minutes each. A Is for Asthma, Music Works Wonders, Lead Away, Happy, Healthy, Ready for School
Talk, Listen, Connect, & You Can Ask.
There is also 1 for the older kids from Nickelodeon. A show called El Tigre-Sole of a Hero / Night of the Living Guacamole.

LibriVox provides free audiobooks, read by volunteers and available for free to download.

Complete the quick questionnaire and receive a coupon for a free bag of 5 pounds of Natural Choice Dog food or 4 pounds of Natural Choice Complete Cat Food. This offer expires on March 31, 2008. Please allow three to six weeks for delivery of the coupon.

Order a free magnetic frame that has temperature guidelines on it for food safety.

Request a free sample of Petite Cuisine Gourmet Cat Food. Please allow seven to ten days for delivery.

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Iron Chef Mom Challenge




Meredith, over at Like Merchant Ships, emailed me to tell me how much she has enjoyed my new blog. For her though, Aldi Supermarket is a bit of a hike and she believes that she can do just as well by buying the loss leaders at her local grocery stores and planning her menu around the sale options. She decided to offer up a friendly challenge and see who could save the most money, an Aldi Shopper or a Sales Shopper. I told her I was up for the challenge and am excited to see how well we both can do.

The game will begin this Monday and I will be posting my meals each day, but include a daily total for the day versus the weekly totals that I normally do. I will also include some tips for shopping on that particular day, as part of the challenge. Meredith will also be doing the same thing on her blog and I will include a link to her entry too.


Here are the rules of the game:

I will purchase everything from Aldi Supermarket.

Meredith will be doing a freestyle menu with no coupons and only using the grocery sales current from that week. She will not be using any items from her stockpile, only items purchased that week.

A daily breakdown will be given each day. The breakdown will include the menu, recipe, and cost breakdown.

The menu will serve four people. In larger recipes, we will be adjusting the cost to estimate a four person meal, or split the cost if one meal actually will be used in two different ways.

The menu will include a main dish and sides. Desserts and drinks will not be included in this challenge.

Staple ingredients under a ½ cup are “negligible,” for example in the case of flour, sugar, salt or pepper. Otherwise, these will be figured in as price per ounce and multiplied by the number of ounces used.

There will be a wrap-up at the end of the week and you, as readers, can feel free to critique our strategies, or offer up some of your own strategies.

Just for the record, I do want to say that this is just a fun and friendly competition. The idea behind it is not to see who will do better than the other, but more to share techniques for two different ways to shop. Both of these options do not require any coupon cutting and will show you ways that you can plan affordable meals for your family using two other types of techniques.

We are both very excited to be doing this contest and our families are excited to be eating so well this week.

Thanks to Meredith for posing such a great challenge! I hope that it will be as much fun for you as it is for us!

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Amy's Notebook 03.08.2007

I thought I would share a few of my favorite posts for this week…

Get Rich Slowly has a great article called, “An Introduction to Making Money Selling Digital Photography” authored by one of their readers, Mike Panic. There are a lot of really excellent tips in this post on how to decide whether or not this could be a good business for you to try.

Instructables has a neat post on how to make homemade laundry detergent. One thing that I truly love about this site is the photo tutorials, as this can be particularly helpful to those of us who are visual learners. I love the pink soap that was chosen, however any Ivory soap will do.
This is one of my projects on my to-do list.

One Money Dummy Getting Smarter has a great post on what her goals for life really are and how others achievements make her feel because her goals are so different. It is beautiful and heartfelt- I adore this post!

Home Ec 101 has some great tips for getting the bottoms of your pots looking shiny & new again.

One Hour Craft shares a new tutorial on how to make a super cute hand puppet with the kids. These are really cute, and according to One Hour Craft, highly addictive!

Paper Palate shares a review of Ina Garten’s Double Chocolate Layer Cake and how to decide whether or not to make a boxed cake mix or the real deal.

Scribbit shares a how-to for making Sugar Easter Eggs. These are absolutely beautiful!

The Frugal Duchess shares some ways to see those Broadway shows for absolutely nothing.

Frugal for Life shares 30+ ways to save a dollar a day. There are loads of great tips in this post!

The Simple Dollar shares some spring cleaning tips and ways you can clean your house with cheap homemade cleaners. Lots of great recipes and ideas are in this post!

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Thrift Store Finds

Earlier this week, I went to the thrift store and found a couple of great things for our house.

The first item I found was a small bench. It was covered in a shiny & very ugly polyester, which was frayed and torn. The pictures of this fabric don't do it justice. It was much more hideous in real life than what is pictured here. The piece itself was really nice though so for ten dollars, I took it home and got to recover it. I still had some fabric leftover from when we recovered our dining chairs so I used some of that. The vinyl is nice because it could easily be wiped off, which is important in a house with a four year old and a one year old.

Originally I had planned to put it near our front door, but the sizing didn't seem right. I think a bench larger than that needs to be there, but we did have a corner in our bathroom that I had been trying to decide what to do with. I had one of my dining chairs down there and when we needed it for company, I would have to walk downstairs to get it and haul it up. The bench seemed to fit perfectly and I love the worn legs on it and how well it goes with the decor in our bathroom.

I also ran across these beautiful table linens. Now that you all are aware of my table linens obsession, you can imagine how excited I was about this! I had no idea if the tablecloth was the right size, but I was willing to take a gamble on it for $2. It had six napkins at a quarter a piece, and it is very rare to find a tablecloth and napkins all together in a matching set. I also found a few vintage floral-printed napkins too, all in various colors.

I washed the linens and placed them on the table. The tablecloth is a beautiful baby blue and it is soft just like a blanket. When washed, I did notice a small spot in the center, but it could easily be disguised with a napkin centerpiece. One of the floral napkins was perfect for resting our centerpiece on it. Do you happen to recognize this centerpiece?

I am always amazed at what one can find in their local thrift store!

Labels: , , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fighting The Continous Battle of the Cheerios

I have no idea how I ended up with such a messy kid, but my daughter is the messiest eater ever. She has grown accustomed to dumping a plate of pasta on her head and throwing dishes in protest. Her main protest is that she wants to be removed from her high chair. When this kid wants out of her high chair...She. Means.. Right. This. Second. Not a moment less than that!

Every day I bust out my Shark Cordless Sweeper and go to town cleaning up the mess. That sweeper has been a Godsend to a mother who doesn't have the energy (or inclination) to whip out her sweeper four times a day.

Imagine my dismay when my two year-old Shark decided to stop working. I figured it might need to recharge so we plugged it in. For two days. Nothing happened...and so I began the quest to find a replacement.

I love cordless sweepers, but the fact is, very few are made very well. If you look on Amazon, you will usually find a bunch of unhappy reviews about cordless sweepers. It just doesn't seem like anyone can get it right.

Determined to replace our old sweeper, I headed over to Target and pulled every single sweeper down. I pushed it around through the aisle (Yes, I do know this is weird) to test the weight of them and the design. I read through all of the descriptions on the boxes and aisle tags. After careful reading and buzzing through the aisle like a maniac, I made my choice. My mind settled upon the Dirt Devil Vibe Cordless Sweeper.

It needed to charge overnight and I couldn't wait until I could test run this. Lucky for me, my daughter is a willing participant and she just let me have at it today. She threw her plate and tossed crumbs, her mashed sandwich, and a hundred Cheerios all over the floor.

This sweeper has two settings- the carpet or the hardwood setting. To be perfectly honest, I find the carpet setting worked best in both location so I just used that setting rather than switching back and forth.

I zoomed over to Emily's high chair and watched in amazement as it scooped everything up. I have included before and after pictures (please ignore the fact that my hardwood is in need of a good cleaning!) of what the results were.

All in all, I am really happy with this purchase and I am hoping that this sweeper lasts me a little longer than the last one. The cost on it (currently) at Target was $49.99.

If you are thinking about purchasing a cordless sweeper, I have a couple of suggestions for you:

1. You will be much happier with whatever you are purchasing if you can test drive it. Borrow one from a friend or just take them through a spin in the aisle. It would be ideal if you could use it, but if you can't just try pushing it around to see if it glides easily.

2. Pick a store that has a good return policy. I knew that Target is pretty good about returns, so I picked that store. In the case of the Shark, I read a story of one lady who had went through three in a month so it is good that the return policy would allow her to do that.

3. Online stores are great and might have more affordable pricing on these, but the pure and simple fact is, if it is defective or you just plain hate it, you have to ship that back. Who wants to be running a sweeper over to the post office? Physical stores are better in this case.

4. Sometimes extras (which cost extra) aren't worth it. Stick to the basic functions and look for ones that offer the best sweeper for your money.

5. Just like all things, the highest price does not make it the best. Some of the higher priced models had a lot less power than the one I purchased.

Do you have a cordless sweeper? What has been your experience with these?

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

A Tutorial On Painting Kitchen Cabinets

We are going to be refinishing our cabinets and I happened upon this great tutorial on how to update them. Has anyone had any experience in this? Have any tips to share?

Labels: , ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Monday, March 05, 2007

Worthy of a Double Post: Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Frosting


I know that I have posted these over on my other blog, but these were just too good not to post here too. After watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa, I was inspired to make a batch of these cupcakes. I didn't have all the ingredients on hand to make her recipe, but I was able to dig up these recipes from Recipezaar.com to create something similar.

These cupcakes were chocolate cupcakes, but they do not have a rich chocolate flavor. If you wanted a really chocolaty treat, you could add an additional amount of cocoa powder.

What sets this cupcake apart from other cupcakes, is this amazing peanut butter frosting. I could have licked the bowl and skipped the cupcakes altogether. It is just so heavenly and light!

I am going to be mixing up the dry ingredients for these to have on hand just like I have my other mixes in our cupboard. These will be great for a last minute treat or for those countless potlucks & school functions we have. Just mix up your dry ingredients and write the wet ingredients and baking temperatures on the outside of the bag.

I hope you can enjoy this sweet treat!

Easy One-Bowl Milk Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
Courtesy of Recipezaar.com

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (sifted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup milk or half-and-half cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup salad oil (use Canola or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Set oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 regular size muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, sifted baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon (if using); mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
In a two-cup measuring cup or bowl whisk together the milk, egg, oil and vanilla.
Add the milk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients; mix very well with a wooden spoon to combine well. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Divide the batter evenly between the lined muffin tins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (don’t overbake!). Cool, and frost with favorite frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting
Courtesy of Recipezaar.com

1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth
5 tablespoons margarine, softened
1 cup powdered sugar (or more, to taste)
1-3 tablespoon milk (only if needed to thin) (optional)

Beat butters together with electric mixer, add sugar. If too thick, add a little milk.

Labels: ,

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS

Friday, March 02, 2007

Freebie Friday: March 3, 2007

)

Friday Features:

Visit “the Aldi Queen” blog where you can get free menu planners, recipes using Aldi ingredients, and great dinner ideas for your entire family!

Get in the spring cleaning mode and read our articles on, “Frugal Storage Solutions” & “Spring Cleaning for Today’s Mom.” Do you need to reorganize the entire house? Just visit our Organization section for inspiration on how to tackle each room in your home and create a routine that you can live with.

Are you missing any important records in your house? Find out where to go to replace these priceless documents.

Freebie Friday Samples & Offers:

Get a free sample of Nicorette Fruit Chill & a $10 coupon towards your next purchase.

Stainmaster Carpet is offering a free subscription to Savvy Home Design Magazine. This is a quarterly source for home interior style solutions. Sign up and you will automatically begin receiving this publication.

CVS Pharmacy is offering thirty free prints on their website, if you order your prints online.

Sign up for a subscription to Custom Home Magazine. This is for construction professionals, professional architects, or those of you who are planning to build your own home.

If you sign up for a MyPoints.com account, they will give you 500 United Airlines bonus miles for creating this free account.

Take a short survey and receive a free sample of Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant. This sample will arrive in six to eight weeks.

Join the LongHorn Restaurant email club and receive a complimentary appetizer.

Sign up for Culver’s eClub and receive a free gift for signing up.

Get a free 2-load sample of the new Snuggle Exhilarations Fabric Softener. Please allow six to eight weeks for this freebie to arrive and limit one entry per household.

Sign up to receive a free subscription to Games for Windows Magazine. You can sign up for one or two years to this publication.

This is a great freebie for the cooks out there. Cooking Light Magazine is offering a free DVD and mini-cookbook to aid you through the process of hosting a Supper Club. Just sign up for their monthly newsletter full of tips & ideas, and you will receive this freebie. This freebie should arrive by the beginning of August.

Receive a free sample of Cutivate Lotion made especially for people who suffer from eczema. You will also receive a $20 coupon towards your next prescription of this lotion.

Get a free sample of the new Dove Cream Oil Body Wash. Simply click on the, “Free Sample” link for this freebie. This offer is good only while supplies last. This free sample should arrive in six to eight weeks.

Join the Family Fun Magazine Reader Panel where you can share tips and ideas with their readers. If you answer just two of their email questions, you can receive either one of Family Fun’s newest craft kits or a one year free subscription to their magazine. This does have a quick survey that you will need to fill out in order to qualify for their panel.

Receive a free six ounce sample pouch of Naturals from Purina Cat Chow Cat Food.

Join the OJ Quench Club from Orange Julius and they will send you a coupon for a free treat and special coupons just for members.

Delta is offering 250 bonus Delta SkyMiles if you take their short survey.

If you are planning a trip to Disney World, this is a great freebie. Disney is now offering Customized Maps where you can receive a free, full-color, keepsake quality map of the park you will be visiting.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is offering a free day on March 3rd & 4th (tomorrow & Sunday), in celebration of their opening weekend. Visit their site for more information on these free days.

Franklin Park Zoo, in Boston, is offering free admission if you share your past experience visiting their zoo. Complete their survey and they will send you a free guest admission. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link under, “Guest Experience Survey.”

Receive a free sample from Godiva’s new chocolate line, “Chocoiste.” Just take a quick survey and choose your favorite type of chocolate. This is a free 1.5 oz tin! Please allow six to ten weeks for delivery.

Are you a yoga or pilates instructor? Do you know someone who is? They can register to receive a wonderful YogaFit gift pack full of information and freebies! Check this link for all the details. The form was not showing up for me, but it does offer an email address and phone number where you can make your request.

Have someone in your life who is getting married? Have them register for the Macy’s Wedding & Gift Registry Dream Book.

This is not technically a freebie, but it is a great buy one, get one free offer. Mrs. Smith’s is offering a take the cake challenge. You can receive a coupon for a free Mrs. Smith Pound Cake if you purchase one and get your rebate in by March 31, 2007. Visit this link for more details.

Register to receive a coupon for one free Atkins Advantage Nutrition Bar.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Charisma Magazine. This does have a survey, but you can reply, “No, Thank You” to the offers listed.

Visit this site to print your own free customized Warning labels for your home.

Sign up to receive a free can of Mighty Dog Food. The link is in the bottom right-hand corner of the website.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Labels:

ENJOYED THIS POST? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS:

Click to share on StumbleUpon STUMBLE This Click to share on kirtsy Add to KiRTSY Click to share on Mixx Add to MIXX Click to share on DeliciousIt's DELICIOUS