Friday, July 30, 2010

Free Cup O' Joe

Do you love coffee? Do you love Starbucks coffee? You can earn a free cup of coffee from Starbucks by bringing in your empty Starbucks coffee bag. No receipt is necessary. So when you run out of coffee at home, treat yourself to a freebie with your old bag!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Perfect Gift...

My mother-in-law loves lavender and since her birthday is in July, she's receiving a lavender-themed gift. Lavender sachets using lavender from my garden, room/linen spray, a bath soak, and homemade lavender-flecked soaps with custom-made labels are sure to delight and make her feel extra special! Homemade gifts are (in my opinion) a perfectly caring and personal gesture that is unmatched by any gift card. I hope this inspires you to try making a gift or two for those special people in your life! (I'll post how to make soap in a later blog.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shower Curtain Magic

I have found yet another use for the shower curtain I recently bought at a yardsale: a tablecloth! I needed a larger cloth for my table when the leaf was in and the curtain did the trick. No hemming required! I originally bought the lovely champagne pick-stitched curtain to make into pillows, but it has become a tablecloth while I procrastinate. Not bad for a $1!

More ways to use a shower curtain:
  • Window treatments
  • Pillows
  • Clothes
  • Picnic blanket
  • Seat cushions
  • Tarp
  • Line the inside of your trunk to protect the fabric (use plastic liner)
  • Frost protection for plants
  • Drop cloths

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ice, ice baby!

Last week, I guillotined my big toe with a cookie sheet of all things! How I managed to drop the sheet from the counter thus sending its edge into my ill-fated metatarsal, I will never know. Needless to say, (while it was turning a hideous shade of mauve) I was not ready to sacrifice a poor unsuspecting bag of frozen peas so I used this little gem to ease my toe's woes. Here's the "recipe" for my homemade ice pack:

1. Combine one part alcohol to 6 parts water.
2. Pour into ziploc bag and seal, removing as much air as possible.
3. Place in freezer.
*Since alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, the pack will stay slushy, which is much more comfortable than a hard ice pack! I didn't have any smaller bags on hand, as you can see, but I recommend the smaller freezer bags. I set out a pre-frozen pack to see how long it would last and it completely melted after about 45 minutes, so expect it to last about 30-45 minutes on your injury.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Swap Til' You Drop

Well, I've officially tried the new craze of hosting a swap party! (If you're not familiar with the term, a swap party is a gathering where everyone brings a certain number of items that they're willing to part with. After everyone's contributions are laid out on a table, each guest chooses items to take home.) It was great fun and the treasures that were brought did not disappoint! The goodies ranged from new DVDs, jewelry, and cookbooks to an entire 8 place setting of dishes. It was so much fun to go "shopping" without spending a dime! (In fact, I had so much fun I neglected to take pictures!) I'm already getting ideas for my next party- check out some tips for themed parties below.

Tips for hosting a swap party:
  • Have snacks
  • State a specific number or items for people to bring
  • Have guests leave with the same number of items that they brought
  • Let guests mingle before swapping so they can view all items.
  • Do swapping in rounds. Have several rounds where guests can choose an item. One item per round.
  • If  several guests want the same item, flip a coin.
  • Tell guests that leftovers will be taken to Goodwill afterwards and they may take the items that they brought back if they wish to keep them.

Swap party themes:
  • Jewelry
  • Media (DVDs, CDs, books)
  • Kid's toys
  • Clothing & accessories
  • Kitchen items
  • Scrapbooking
  • Plants (seeds, cuttings, etc.)

Monday, July 19, 2010


I love the fresh clean scent of lavender- especially when the wind blows through the lavender bush under my window. Whether you grow your own or just enjoy the scent, here are a few clever ways to enjoy lavender.

  • Use the dried blooms to make sachets. (You can find tiny organza drawstring pouches at Michaels in the bridal section.)
  • Put a couple of drops of lavender essential oil onto your vacuum cleaner bag or vent.
  • Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your cleaning solution when you clean floors.
  • Combine several drops with water in a spray bottle and use as a linen spray or air freshener.
  • Toss together 1 cup of sugar and 1 Tbs. of dried lavender blooms. Let sit for 1-2 weeks in an airtight container for delicately flavored lavender sugar. (Sift through a fine mesh sieve to remove blooms before using.)
  • Add several drops of lavender essential oil to epsom salts for a relaxing soak.
  • Make herb-infused honey by pressing 2 sprigs of lavender into the jar. Let steep for 5 days before removing.

*Don't have lavender in your garden? Now is the time to get a great deal at your local garden shop! Most stores are clearancing out their plant inventory now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fun deals!

This week is a great one for extra savings, whether you're grocery shopping or shopping online! The great deals are as follows:
Neutrogena is offering their new Clinical SPF 30, Night, or Eye products for free! Just purchase and send in the UPC code receipt and rebate form for a full refund of up to $40.
Here's the website for the form:

Lands End is having a great sale in their overstocks department. Go to and click on the tab labeled "overstocks". Some items with pretty price tags include: organic cotton bath towels $8.99, men's polo shirts $5.99, women's swimsuit separates (My absolute favorites!) $3.99 & up, women's tanks and tees $4.99. If you have the Land's End catalog, look for the free shipping code on a tear-out card. Don't have the catalog? Try googling "land's end free shipping codes" to find more.

Kroger is having a great buy 10 items get $5 off sale. With the discount, here are some standouts: Kraft cheese (8oz.) $1, Philadelphia cream cheese $1, Pepsi 2 liters $0.49, Quaker rice cakes $0.49, Breyer's ice cream $1.97, Kraft mayo $1.69, Tombstone pizza $2.49.
*Using coupons, I was able to buy mayo for $0.90, cream cheese for $0.50, and 5 bags of cheese for free! (The cheese coupons were for $1 off Kraft deli slices, but they allowed me to use them on shredded cheese.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vacation Season is Here!

Even thinking about vacation can be stressful when you're watching your spending, thus defeating the purpose of a vacation: relaxing! Here are some great tips to help you enjoy a restful and inexpensive retreat.

  • Pack food for the road and/or hotel room. Freeze fruit, yogurt, and water bottles to enjoy as they thaw. Find a grocery store with a good salad bar and have a picnic instead of eating out.
  • Know someone with a vacation home? Try bartering your skills in exchange for a stay. I know many people who do this!
  • Buy an entertainment book for the area and sell on ebay when you're through.
  • Make hotel reservations by calling the hotel directly instead of booking online.
  • Save the instructions for your house/pet sitter on your computer so you can print them off at a moment's notice.
  • Consider renting a house, condo, or timeshare instead of a hotel. Go with friends and split the cost.
  • Buy character-themed t-shirts, stuffed animals, or other souvenir-type items before you go to the theme park. Give them to your kids just before arriving to avoid the pressure of paying way too much inside the park.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Christmas in July!

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas! All it takes is a little planning to avoid a monstrous bill at the end of December and now is the time to start. By trying out these simple tips, you can avoid the buying frenzy and actually enjoy the holidays!
  • When you're out shopping for other things, keep Christmas presents in mind. Don't be afraid to purchase a present in April if you know it will be a sure bet.
  • Keep a list in your purse or wallet of family member's sizes, wish lists, etc.
  • Check out Christmas-themed books at your local library for ideas. These books will be in high demand in December and you may not be able to find the ones you want if you wait too long.
  • If you're giving homemade gifts, decide early what you are making and buy materials as they go on sale.
  • Utilize high-end product catalogs (Pottery Barn is a personal favorite) to harvest ideas. I've used ideas from these catalogs for gifts and have never been disappointed with the results.
  • If you're not into making homemade gifts or shopping early, set aside money every month for gifts. That $10 a month will add up!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

For hair only?

Enjoy these fun tips for using shampoo and conditioner!

  • Shampoo works as a great spot cleaner for laundry and carpets.
  • Don't spend money on expensive specialty soaps! Shampoo cleans delicates perfectly. I use about a nickel-sized dollop for 3 bras.
  • Forgot your shave gel? Try using your conditioner on your legs instead. Mine were so soft after I tried this!
  • Use "people shampoo" on your dog. Our dog has dry skin and dandruff shampoo helps relieve his itching.
  • Rub your metal tools with a rag dipped in conditioner to prevent rust.
  • Rub a small amount of conditioner onto your shower curtain rod for a smoother opening.
  • Coat your kid's slip-n'-slide with baby shampoo for an extra-fast and tearless ride.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Diaper Codes

This post is not only for those of you with ankle-biters! If you like free stuff, read on. Pampers and Huggies diapers have codes printed on the insides of their packages. Create an account, and you can enter the codes into your account to earn free prizes. You don't even have to buy diapers to get the codes. Every time I shop at Kroger, the coupon machine at checkout spits out at least one Pampers code. You can also google "free huggies codes" or "free pampers codes" and websites will come up that have lists of codes that you can put into your account. The prizes range from children's books and toys to music downloads and free photo development. I had a custom calender made with our daughter's pictures on it for her grandmother last year for free compliments of Pampers ($30 value). So if you're willing to take a few minutes to look online for codes, you can score big-without changing a single diaper!

*Websites offering rewards programs: