Sunday, May 30, 2010

Food Lion Deal Alert

Food Lion is currently having a sale that's worth reporting. If you buy 5 qualifying items, you get $5 taken off your bill at checkout. Check out the deal in the Food Lion flyer or online at Here are some prices after the $5 off:
  • Country Time lemonade: $1.00
  • Kraft mayo or Miracle Whip: $1.50
  • Kraft salad dressings: $1.00
  • Kraft singles: $1.39
  • Kraft 8oz. bar or shredded cheese: $1.50
* You may have coupons for any or all of these, making the discounts even deeper!
* Also, you may only take advantage of this offer in one transaction. If you want to repeat the offer, just get back in line and check out again!

Free Date Night (Sort of)

I stumbled across a little island near the frozen food section in Kroger today. It was full of Tostitos chips, salsa, popcorn, Twizzlers, and boxed movie candy. The deal is if you buy any three of the items on the island, you get a free Redbox movie rental. Well, since I can't reccommend it til' I try it, I bought 3 of the cheapest item (boxed movie candy: $1 each). Sure enough, a coupon for a free Redbox movie rental printed out with my receipt. (The free rental is via a promotional code printed on the coupon.) So for $3, I get to have a quiet date night at home with a movie and way too much chocolate. It doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Cable Fairy is Here to Cancel Your Subscription!

I do realize that I will be stepping on some toes by addressing this, but it's a valid money saver, so here goes! If you are serious about trimming the extras from your budget, have you considered "pulling the plug" on your cable or satellite service? I checked pricing on cable packages and found that they range from $30-$90 per month. Here's what it looks like over the long run:
1 year: $360-$1,089
2 years: $720-$2,178
5 years: $1,800-$5,445
That is a lot of money to dedicate to in-home entertainment- especially if you work full-time and are not even  home most of the time! Think: 5 years of cable or a used car? We have never had a cable bill and since we don't get a great signal in our home, standard tv isn't an option either. Honestly, I don't think we've missed a thing! But don't despair, oh lovers of entertaining tv shows! You can watch your favorites on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX network websites the next day. My personal favorite is for catching up on favorite shows. Yes, you may have to avoid the usual water-cooler chats about last night's show, but it's a small price to pay compared to that cable bill! Here's a fun and informative website dedicated to helping you continue to enjoy cable shows without the cost:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Popcorn Comparison

I love popcorn. It's probably my favorite snack. Several years ago I converted from the microwave variety to an air popper and was pleasantly surprised by the more pronounced flavor and ability to control the fat and salt. One of the best features of using a popcorn popper is the savings. Yesterday I cut open an unpopped bag of microwave popcorn to measure the kernels for a cost comparison. The results are in! A bag of microwaveable popcorn will set you back about $.50 if you get it on sale. The exact same amount of popcorn prepared in a popper will cost only $.15 regular price. "What about the price of the popper?" you ask. Check yard sales and thrift stores. I found mine for $4 at a thrift store, brand new and found a new one at a yard sale last month for a friend for $2. I thought I'd post a picture of the unpopped microwave corn. It's covered in some sort of solid fatty substance that looks and feels like shortening. So keep an eye out for a popcorn popper- your arteries will thank you!

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Man's Junk...

I have a story in the making concerning craigslist, so I'll keep you posted on how it ends. We have 3 lawn mowers in our garage, none of which are working. We've bought used ones every time an old one died and just never got rid of the old ones. My husband has been cleaning out the garage and mentioned that he needed to go to the landfill to pitch the lawn mowers. I cringed at the fee ($9 just to toss them into the landfill) and the environmental cost. So I decided to try something else: craigslist. Last night I put all three broken mowers up for sale for "best offer" and by 7:00 this morning I had 3 emails from interested buyers! Not only will we not have to pay a fee to dump the mowers and increase trash in our landfill, but we'll actually make money off of them! I have resolved to put all of our junk (no matter how useless it may seem) up for sale and I'll post the grand total when it's all gone.

Another example of how to utilitze craigslist comes from a friend of my sister's. She wanted a large amount of apples to make apple butter but couldn't bring herself to pay the high price. She posted an ad on craigslist stating that she needed apples and would come pick them herself. She picked all of the apples she needed, and for free! You never know what you'll find (or what will find you) on craigslist!

Check out your local listings at

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Untold Powers of Baby Wipes

Now wipe that smirk off your face, all of you without babies in diapers. You just may be inspired to get out and buy a pack after I sing the praises of these must-haves!
Wipes are perfect for the following tasks:
  • Shining shoes
  • Cleaning computer keyboards
  • Quick-cleaning the bathroom (Go over area with the wipe and follow up with a dry rag to shine.)
  • Dusting off the dashboard of your car
  • Removing stains from carpet, upholstery and clothing
  • Removing white deoderant residue on clothing (my personal favorite use)
  • Removing makeup

Now that you've used them all up, here are some great ways to reuse that container:
  • Twine or yarn dispenser
  • Piggy bank
  • Plastic grocery bag storage
  • Rag storage
  • First aid kit
  • Organize your stuff (receipts, bills, recipe cards, coupons, small tools, craft supplies, photos, crayons, etc.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Great Dates!

A wise man once said "Take your wife on a date once a week. It's cheaper than paying for counseling!". I couldn't agree more! Regular dates are an important way to reconnect with your spouse. (Not to mention, they're fun!) Here are a few ideas for memorable dates on the cheap:

  • Eat dinner at home and go out for dessert and coffee.
  • Meet your spouse somewhere for a date. There's something special about seeing them walk toward you from across the room.
  • Enjoy free local concerts and festivals.
  • Take advantage of happy hour for a quick drink.
  • Go on a run or walk for charity. Spend time training for it together.
  • Go on a picnic together and try out a new park or trail.
  • Explore! Take a coin with you and flip it every time you reach a light or stop sign. Assign sides for left and right and turn according to what you flip. Who knows where it could take you!
  • Take $5 each and go to a store (gas station, Wal-Mart, Dollar Store, etc...). Split up and see what treats you can buy for each other!
  • Call your local winery to see what events they have scheduled. We frequently enjoy live music, wine tastings, and fresh air at our local winery- all for free!
  • Exercise together. Try tennis, hiking, or walking or biking in a different park or neighborhood.
Here's one of my favorite dates that my husband and I shared:
He abducted me and drove out to a local park. He had picked up a pizza, which we ate in the car as darkness fell. After dinner, I was treated to a movie! Dan had brought along his laptop and a DVD and piled the back of the SUV with pillows and blankets. That was the best drive-in movie I've ever seen!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Sweets

Hot days call for cool treats! Try making this sweet and cheap custom treat instead of the typical ice cream bar or popsicle. It's sure to be a hit with kids and adults too! The steps are below:
  • Cut 2 bananas in half, insert popsicle holders or sticks.
  • Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 tsp. shortening over low heat.
  • Coat bananas in chocolate.
Makes 4 servings

*The chocolate will harden quickly, so you can serve immediately or freeze for later.

For a fun variation: after coating with chocolate, you can roll the banana in the following:
  • Chopped nuts (I used peanuts in the ones pictured)
  • Toasted coconut
  • Chopped candy bar
  • Sprinkles
  • Crushed cookies (Nutter Butters, Oreos, etc.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring & Summer Blooms

Well, the results are in: having flowers in the house is scientifically good for you! (According to a Harvard study, anyway.) The final study results demonstrated that flowers impacted people emotionally at home, causing them to feel less anxious and more compassionate. They even reported a boost of energy that lasted through their day! Fresh-cut blooms can be expensive to buy, so my advice is to grow your own. Whether it's growing from seed a bed of flowers for cutting or planting perenials around the yard, you are sure to be thrilled with the results! I plant a patch of Zinnias in my garden every year on honor of my mom. (Zinnias are her favorite.) The cheerfully colorful blooms are beautiful, long lasting, and so easy to grow from seed. Check out the gardening tab for a list of great cutting flowers to incorporate into your landscape!

Some flowers are difficult to display due to short stems or heavy blooms. The peonies that I cut today (pictured above) were no exception. Can you guess where I got the vase? How about the bathroom? Yep, that's a toothbrush holder! Don't waste your money on those expensive grid-style vases. Just pick up an extra toothbrush holder. (I snagged this one at Goodwill for $0.25) If you need one now and don't have one handy, just create a grid by overlapping scotch tape onto the mouth of your vase. Peel it off and toss it when you're finished with the arrangement.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seed storage

I have used a gallon-sized Ziploc bag for storing my seeds in the past. I have to say that it’s pretty frustrating to pull out a bulging bag of seed packets that are hopelessly jumbled up every spring. This year, I came up with a handy new way to store seeds and I have to say that I’m already loving it! Simply tuck your seed packets into a coupon organizer! You can label each section so that you can see where each group of seeds is located. No more digging through plastic bags! Sections can be labeled by spring, summer, and fall crops or by types of veggies. Now you can actually enjoy pulling out your neatly labeled and organized seed packets next fall or spring!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cheap Thrills

These items may seem like unlikely ingredients for fun for you, but your toddler will have a field day with them! Our 2 year old will play with this stuff for hours! I just fill them with water and get out of the way. (If only our dog were so lucky!) There's an added bonus for you safety-conscious moms out there. You don't have to worry about lead paint, small pieces, or recalls with these little gems. If they're safe enough to store edible products, they're safe enough as toys for your little one. The more variety the better! Any kind of squeeze bottle is always a favorite. Take a few with you to the beach. You won't have to worry about lost toys- if you lose one of these you can always find a replacement. For free none the less! By repurposing the containers you're also keeping them out of the landfill. So go rescue that bottle of old salad dressing that's languishing in your fridge. Now that's my kind of recycling!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Salad dressing bottles
  • Ketchup and mustard bottles
  • Bottles with screw-on lids
  • Juice bottles
  • Yogurt containers
  • Spice jars (perfect for sandboxes)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dinner on a Dime and Short on Time

Strapped for ideas on what to make for dinner? Strapped for time too? Look no further than your grocer's freezer case. You can snag pre-cooked family pasta dinners for around $3-$6. (I know that Bird's Eye Voila dinners are good.) Now, for the fun part! These dinners serve only 2-3 people, so you can make them stretch by adding whatever veggies you have on hand. Throw in a little extra pasta and you've made dinner and used up those veggies in the fridge! Craving Chinese take-out? Grab an aisan dinner and toss in a can of water chestnuts, chopped carrot, celery, and extra rice. The meals are already seasoned, but if you want to add more, doctor it up with pesto, fresh herbs, a seasoning blend, or stir-fry sauce. So serve your "pseudo-homemade" dinner with pride. Your family and your wallet will thank you! Click on the link for a coupon:

*Check out the cooking tab for a great seasonal recipe for dessert!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day Ideas

Don't forget that Mother's Day is just around the corner- Sunday, May 9th to be exact. Here are a few no-fuss, easy, and affordable ideas that I've had success with. I hope you and your mom can enjoy them too.

  • Make a power-point slide show of various photos and video clips of your kids. Add fun background music and give to a grandparent.
  • Make a linen spray from water and essential oils and top off with a classy label.
  • Grab a pretty terra cotta pot and plant a miniature herb garden inside. You can also do this with flowers- it's much more affordable than buying one pre-made!
  • Give her a favorite plant or tree for a lasting gift.
  • Give her a book instead of a card.
  • Make your own custom card on the computer, complete with inside jokes and photos to make it personal.
  • Make a coupon book. Suggestions for coupons: free car wash, dinner (you cook), one house cleaning, manicure (you paint), etc...
  • Write a few memories down in story form, print out and tie with ribbon. I did this for my grandmother and included stories from childhood visits to her house. She loved this so much and it's a great gift idea for someone in a nursing home or for someone who has everything.