Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crazy deals at CVS!

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that my local CVS is doing inventory and had a HUGE table of goodies marked 90% off! They were still putting out more things when I left. I don't know if all CVS stores are doing this, but it may be worth your while to check it out. I found packs of blank CDs (20 per pack) for $1.50, tubs of high-end body butter for $.99, socks for $.25, and lip balm for $.10!! Somebody pinch me!

The Golden Egg

This week's golden egg was a craigslist find. (If you are not familiar with craigslist, it is a free classified ad website. You can select your city and state on the website and browse local listings for just about anything. The website is .) I found a small bunch of cookbooks for sale for $5 total and I had been looking for one of the books in particular. The seller and I made arrangements to meet. She drove up in her black SUV and I arrived in my black SUV. She handed over the cookbooks and I coughed up the dough. "Awkward" you must be thinking! Actually not! The seller was a lovely lady named Shari and we ended up laughing together about how it looked like we were doing a drug deal when really we're just stay-at-home moms just trying to make and save a little money! Anyway, the five cookbooks were all in brand new condition and I think I'm going to enjoy all of them when I only was expecting to use just one. So Shari if you're reading this, thanks for providing the golden egg of the week. You made my day...and my dinner!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Seasonal shopping

Take advantage of post-holiday clearance! Stores will often drastically reduce seasonal or holiday items. Look for solid colored items such as napkins, plates, and gift bags that can be used for other things. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Valentine's day: pink or heart-themed items are great for a girl's birthday party or anniversary. Use solid red napkins and plates for Christmas or July 4th.

St. Patrick's day: use green items for Christmas or for a boy's birthday party.

Easter: pastels are perfect for baby showers, kid's parties, and spring birthdays.

July 4th: use the red and white items for Christmas and the blue for summer parties.

Halloween: use Halloween candy for Christmas stockings. Just make sure the expiration date will still be valid and try to stay away from Halloween-themed packaging.

Christmas: save for next year or use year-round. Red and green are great colors anytime!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Goodbye old man winter!

Winter here was brutal, with record breaking snowfall and frigid temperatures. I have never been so happy to see spring arrive! To celebrate spring’s arrival (We’re already 6 days in!) I’m going to share some fun ideas that I’ve incorporated into my home this year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Cut spring flowers from the yard and place them in a glass vase. Dress it up by making a coil of the leaves from the plant and place into the bottom of the vase. Not only is it pretty, but the leaves help to hold the flowers in place.

Am I the only one who is more than just a little annoyed by the leftover strands of plastic Easter grass? Defying all logic (and my vacuum) those pesky little stinkers can be found in my house virtually any time of year! Make your own, custom paper grass in no time flat. Just throw some colored paper into your paper shredder, and out comes beautiful Easter grass! Use old scrapbook paper, cards, construction paper, whatever you can find. Get creative with different colors and textures! It's also recyclable. Pictured here is solid green cardstock. *Hint: this works best by using paper that is colored on both sides.
Display Easter candy in decorative glass canisters, vases, or baskets around the house. Those colorful foil-wrapped candies and jewel toned jelly beans are too pretty to sit around in a bag!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The hostess with the mostess: you!

Spring is in the air and that means plenty of visitors in our house! (The human kind, that is.) Having no family nearby means frequent visits to our home, which we LOVE! Try out this fun no-sew pocket towel pictured here. Try out a few of my favorite tricks to lavish on your guests!
  • Hang a fluffy robe on the guest bedroom door
  • Place a basket of goodies on the nightstand and tailor it to your guests. I like to set out good chocolate, water bottles, maps of the area, local guide books, flowers, linen spray, and magazines.
  • Set out a vase of fresh-picked flowers from your yard. (If your guests don't have allergies!)
  • Plan special meals, but don't spend too much time in the kitchen- try to cook ahead.
  • Make an excel spreadsheet of frequent visitor's likes, dislikes, and allergies in the food department so you're never left wondering if Aunt Mable enjoys eating cucumbers!
  • Offer suggestions of activities, but allow them to choose.
  • Have a basket of sample-sized shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and spare toothbrushes in the bathroom.
  • Buy a hairdryer for the guest bathroom.
  • Make sure there are plenty of extra blankets in the bedroom.

 Here's a fun, no-sew idea for adding an extra-special touch that will delight your guests!
Place towel right side down.       Fold towel in half       
Fold 1/4 of towel under
Fold other half                    Drape over larger towel

*Fill the pocket with a washcloth and toothbrush, sample sized lotion, shampoo, soap, or tuck in a fresh flower. Since the pocket is not secured, the contents must be lightweight. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Orange Golden Egg

In honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, your usual golden egg has been dyed orange. I bought this structurally sound trunk with a sad exterior at a yard sale last spring for $5. My Dad's birthday was last week and he is one of those people that has everything- yikes! He is currently planning to add a game room to his vacation house, so with creative juices flowing, I set out to refinish the trunk. The trunk will now be a perfect game chest for the new retro-beach inspired room. Success was sweet- he loved it!
Cost of project: trunk $5, paint 2 cans at $4.49 each, painters tape $2.99.
Total: $16.97- not bad for a one-of-a-kind gift!
Disclaimer: please excuse the messy garage in the following pictures-nobody's perfect, right?
 Here are the steps if you are interested in taking on a similar project:

Exhibit A: One ugly trunk!

Exhibit B: Painter's tape and a good dusting

Exhibit C: Two cans of spray paint later!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Golden Egg

This week's golden egg can be many things if you shop at Kroger. They are having a killer sale this week that ends on Sunday. Kraft 8 oz. shred or bar cheese is $1 a bag. I know several Krogers around here had a coupon dispenser for $1 off 2 Kraft cheeses, which makes them $.50 a bag! I bought about 8 bags and froze them. Tuna pouches are $.49, which means you'll gain $.06 after the $.55 coupon. Mott's apple juice is $1 a bottle, and so on. Enjoy the savings and create your own golden egg! Go to and click on "weekly ads" for the sale flyer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clean Bathroom= Happiness

Next in my spring cleaning routine are the dreaded bathrooms. Before you begin, try to picture in your mind what the bathroom of a spa or 5 star hotel looks like. I know when I go into one of these plush powder rooms I want to stay and relax! Use this for inspiration to make your bathroom an inviting place to be. Let's face it, we spend a lot of time there! Try decorating your bathroom just like any other room with pictures, flowers in a vase, and baskets. Keep a basket with hotel shampoo and soap samples, washcloths, and sample sized toothpaste under the sink so you can set it out when guests arrive. Another nice touch is to put a few drops of essential oil on the inside core of the toilet paper roll for a fresh scent. (By the way, this photo is not of my bathroom, but it is something to aspire to!)

I've been reading about non-chemical ways to remove soap scum, so I've done a little experiment. The three methods I tried were vinegar, lemon juice, and dryer sheets. Can you guess which worked the best? Believe it or not, the dryer sheets WAY out performed the others- even my heavy duty bad-for-you soap scum cleaner! Vinegar came in second, with a so-so performance, and lemon juice did almost nothing. So the verdict is to use both: spray on with vinegar and use dryer sheets to wipe away the soap scum for an extra clean bathtub. I swear, I will never be the same!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Breakfast, anyone?

Hello everyone! You are in for a real treat (in more than one way). This post is contributed by my very talented Registered Dietitan sister Susanne, so sit back and enjoy her wisdom! If we're lucky, we'll get more posts from her later!

Granola. Another word for goulash or gorp! With winter coming to a close, I have been using up my stores of both frozen and pantry foods, making room for the fresh foods of spring and summer! One of our favorite breakfasts and snacks is yogurt. After hitting a great yogurt sale last week, I decided it was time to make granola to round out yogurt breakfasts. First off, here's a tip for you to save money and calories. Buy the 32 oz. size of plain yogurt and customize your flavor. My kids prefer a spoonful of strawberry jam mixed in to make strawberry. You can also use honey, blueberry, raspberry or peach jams. The sky's the limit! I prefer to skip the flavors and add fresh fruit and a pinch of sugar along with granola of course. Here is the recipe I use, passed down from my mother. The great thing about this recipe is the adaptability of it! You can substitute just about anything (and clean out your cabinets while you are at it) and it will taste great! Warning - this recipe makes a ton, I often half it. Other uses for granola- should this recipe make too much for just yogurt- include topping for ice cream, cereal (just add milk), topping for fruit and straight up as a snack. Enjoy!
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour)
6 cups oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup wheat germ (here I substituted some of the wheat germ for ground flaxseed I needed to use up)

Mix these ingredients together and set aside

1/2 cup water
1 cup oil (may substitute part of the oil with orange juice)
1 cup syrup (may use pancake syrup, honey, maple syrup, 1/2 cup of water and 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, or corn syrup)
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
cinnamon to taste

Combine these ingredients and then mix with the dry ingredients above.

Spread evenly on a cookie sheet (or 2 ) sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 300 degrees until firm (about 40 minutes). Turn off oven and let the granola stay in there until the oven cools. It will harden to the perfect consistency.

*Fun things to throw in after granola cools: dates, raisens, banana chips, dried strawberries, craisens,almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds - whatever you have on hand!

Notice how little granola is left- this is a common problem around here!                            

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Final Fave!

Here at last is my final top 5 favorite: my Victorinox paring knife.
Truly a cut above! I have to thank my sister for this one! (One of my favorite Christmas gifts, I might add!)This little gem is a must-have for every kitchen. It is incredibly sharp and lightweight and slices through fruit and veggies like butter! It retains its sharp blade and is maintenance-free. I have 2 words for this product: LOVE IT! You can find one at for $4.99. And I apologize for the ratty carrots-hey you've got to work with what you have!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Golden Egg

This week's golden egg goes to Land's End. I got a catalog from them in the mail and decided to paw through it with no intention of buying anything. Well, tucked away in the shoe section was one of those annoying perforated cards but it wasn't just any card- it was for free shipping! After browsing the website, I got a much needed bathing suit bottom for $9.99 (reg. $52.50), cute shoes for $9.99 (reg. $39.50) and free shipping to boot. If you're interested in some great bargains like these, go to the "overstocks" tab. My code for free shipping can't be reused, but I found another code that a reliable website recommends. To take advantage of the free shipping, the code is GIVEAWAY and the PIN is 7041. Remember to think ahead and keep gifts for others in mind while you shop!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Herschel's Lucky Day

Today we experienced the first 60 degree day since probably October. I knew that spring cleaning should have been first on my list, but oh the sunshine! Well, I compromised and gave "Herschel" my beloved car a much needed interior cleaning. (By the way, if you wish to name your car and aren't sure of the gender, honk the horn. High-pitched horns are always girls and louder deeper horns are boys.) Yes strange, I know! Anyway, I tried out a few new cleaning methods that worked beautifully so here they are!
  • For windows, use a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water combined in a spray bottle. This left no streaks and was much quicker than Windex.
  • For dashboard, vents, and stains, use unscented baby wipes. The wipes got every stain out and left no greasy stinky residue behind on the dashboard like Armor-All.
  • For carpets, add a few drops of essential oil to baking soda in a tupperware container and shake to combine. Shake onto carpets and let it sit while you clean the rest of the interior. Vacuum up.
  • Rub a drop of essential oil onto an air vent for a fresh breeze.
Here are some organizational tips to help keep your pal pristine:
  • Keep a tote bag in the car to transport things to and from the house. I use a medium sized L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag that I adore. It's great for hauling sippy cups, papers, mail, water bottles, coupons, and anything else you can think of.
  • Keep a small box or bag containing essentials in the car at all times. By essentials I mean granola bars, napkins, baby wipes, bottled water, tissues, gum, ibuprofin, coffee filters, sunscreen, and CDs. (In case you wondered, coffee filters are perfect for holding kid's snacks in the car. Plus they're disposable!)
  • Keep a bag in the car for trash and empty it when you fill up.
  • Rotate your kid's toys and books to banish traveling boredom.
Now, if I can only take my own advice...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Number 4 of My Top 5!!

When it comes to storage and gift giving I'll put all of my eggs in one basket! Baskets are a classy way to dress up a gift or to hide clutter.
The trunk-sized basket pictured here cost me $2 at a yard sale and now hides my toilet paper and towels.

Here are some of my favorite uses for these tried and true gems:
• Organize your pantry by storing smaller items in baskets. Now all of your oatmeal packets, granola bars, and seasoning packets are in one place.
• Utilize dead spaces by incorporating baskets. In my small house, space is at a premium! Here are some areas that I utilize baskets for storage:
 * Under a coffee table
 * On changing table shelves
 * Toy storage
 * In the bathroom for holding toilet paper and magazines
 * In the closet for storing belts, scarves, gloves, and hats.
 * Onion and potato storage
• Baskets are also perfect for gift-giving. Here are a few ways I’ve used them:
• For out of town guests at our wedding, we purchased lined baskets and filled them with snacks, bottled water, maps, and entertainment guides. Each guest received a basket when they checked in at their hotel.
• Fill with homemade muffins and jam to welcome a new neighbor.
• Give a fun "date at home" basket as a couple's gift. Tuck in a DVD, microwave popcorn bags,   movie candy, and a fun bottled drink.

Get creative- the possibilities are endless!

These baskets hold diapers, wipes, crib sheets, and pajamas.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I'm already in spring mode and I've been cleaning my house with all the enthusiasm of a bulldog chowing down on a porkchop! My new favorite pasttime (I know this will sound pathetic.) is vacuuming. I'll soon convert you too! Just drop 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil onto the outside of the vacuum cleaner bag. Now every time you vacuum, instead of that horrid "vacuum cleaner funk" smell, you'll be treated to a delicious extravaganza for the senses! I currently have lemongrass oil on mine and it's pure heaven! If you have a bagless vacuum, I've heard that you can place a drop of essential oil on the vent, but I've not tried this method.

I've also discovered that instead of buying those Swiffer type refill pads for my mop, I can make my own reusable ones from old towels. After mopping, just toss it in the washing machine! This method is free, allows me to use my old rags, and is better for the environment. What's not to love? And the best part of all is that it requires no sewing. Here's a step by step guide:
  • Pin a refill pad onto an old towel or rag to use as a template
  • Cut around the pad
  • Clip onto your mop- you're done! (It resembles a diaper doesn't it?)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring Fever

I know it's only the second day of March, but I've already come down with a bad case of spring fever. Even though early March is technically still winter, I can't help but feel the first hints of spring. (I'm writing this as snow is falling outside my window!) The sheep where I am "farm-sitting" had a baby girl on Sunday! I named the little beauty "Eunice". There is just nothing cuter than a brand new baby lamb. I couldn't resist sharing, so here is my new charge!

 Yesterday, I planted the seeds for our garden. We're planting all heirloom seeds this year so that we can save them and avoid buying seeds for next year's garden. For excellent selection and lightning fast shipping, try out Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at For those of you who are new at gardening, it's really simple. Simply poke a hole in the bottom of each cup in a cardboard egg carton. Fill with potting soil, plant 1-2 seeds per cup, water, and place in a sunny spot in your house. Keep moist- I use a spray bottle filled with water to prevent over-watering. When the seedlings outgrow their egg carton homes, just plant them in a larger container, cup and all. The cardboard is biodegradable, so you don't have to remove it from the plant. Mine are sitting atop a lid to a plastic bin to avoid water leakage. For information on when to plant in your area, click on the gardening tab to access the plant hardiness zone map.

                                  Beautiful seed packets from Baker Creek

Monday, March 1, 2010

Golden Egg of Last Week!

I apologize for the untimely posting of last week's golden egg. It seems that it was overlooked along with many other things I should have accomplished! Though belated, it is a fine sight to behold. Not bad for for $2.88!
Here's the breakdown:
Milk- free (took advantage of cereal promotion)
Hand soap: they paid me $.12 after coupon
Turkey Hill Ice Cream: $1.50 after coupon
Surf: $.50 after coupons
Tampax tampons: free with coupon
Reach flosses: free with coupons
All detergent: $1 after coupons