Archive for August, 2006

WFMW: Find Just What You Are Looking For

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I am stumped for ideas on what to share with you this week for the official Works For Me Wednesday segment (sponsored by my blogging friend, Shannon) so I have decided to take a different approach this week.

Here are the top twenty keyphrases, that people have searched under, and happened upon our site. Maybe one of these links will answer a question that has been pondering your mind. Or perhaps, you will think I am a lazy lady today who is stumped for ideas. Hmmm? I believe that both of these statements would be true!

1. Motherload- This would be the name of my blog. That you are looking at right now. We have had 179 hits (just this month) searching for this keyword.

2. Aldi Supermarket-I write frequently about Aldi Supermarket because it is my favorite store. In fact, if you type in that keyphrase, my site is now one of the first things to pop up on the search engines. In some cases, our site pops up before the official Aldi Supermarket homepage (which really cracks me up). This is why I get tons of emails complimenting their products, requesting refunds, and I have even had one poor lady email me that she would like to know if I could check my North Carolina store for her wallet that she happened to leave there. If you want to know more about Aldi, here are some links to some important Aldi information.

Aldi Supermarket: The Real Deal?
Aldi Fall/Winter Menu Planner
Aldi Menu Planner
Aldi Price Sheet

3. School lunch ideas- I actually had a blog entry on some frugal ideas for school lunches. I also had included a link to my free lunchbox love notes. These can be printed out for your sweet child or hubby (whoever is being nicest to you!)

4. Mom Advice- That is the name of my website, which is not to be confused with the name of my blog (The Motherload). Trust me, it confuses me too! In the beginning, I didn’t really want my blog to link to my site because I was blogging about personal things in our life. I have changed it to just ideas for saving money & time. It seems to be working better for me and that is why we have joined these together.

5. Freezing zucchini- This was never written by me, but was posted on my forum. I guess a lot of people have questions on how you can freeze this vegetable. If you are looking for recipes or trying to find a way to use up zucchini, please check out this thread.

6. Gap Love Beads- Again, this one was not posted by me. This was a freebie that someone shared with us on the freebie section of our forum. If you are looking for some Gap Love Beads, check out this thread. I am known to share freebies though, each Friday of my blog, and if you are looking for free samples check out this past week’s post.

7. Swiffer Coupons- We had a link to this on our forum. If you go on the Swiffer website right now, they have tons of coupons. $1 off on the Swiffer Sweeper, $3 off on the Swiffer CarpetFlick, $5 off the Swiffer WetJet, $5 off the Swiffer Sweeper+Vac, and $1 off the Swiffer dusters.

8. Eat Free On Your Birthday- This is becoming a popular link on our blog. I put together a list of all the places you could dine for free on your birthday. If your birthday is coming up, take advantage of some of those freebies and read my post.

9. Diaper Bag Essentials- I wrote an article on everything you should keep in your diaper bags. There is also a diaper bag checklist that you can print out and hang on your fridge. You must SAVE it first and then print it. For some reason, this one shows a blank page, but when saved & printed it works fine.

10. Mom Groups- I wrote an article on all of the national mothers groups out there. I would be nothing without my mom’s group. If I had not had their support, I would have never been able to do this site or to have felt so good about making the decision to stay home with my children. If you are looking for a support system, please read this article.

11. Dinner Ideas- I have an article called, “Picky Eater Dinner Ideas.” If you can’t think of something to fix for your picky children, you should read this article. Recipes are included!

12. Pizza Dough Recipes- I love pizza. I also love talking about pizza. I wrote a blog entry on how to make your own pizza at home, hoping to save our family some money. I then revisited pizza dough and reviewed a new recipe that I really loved.

13. Aldi Supermarkets- Plural of entry #2.

14. McDonald’s Birthday Party– We had our son’s birthday party at McDonald’s and it was the best one EVER! I shared this as a frugal party option (when you don’t feel like hosting a party in your house).

15. Aldi Phone Number- There is no phone number for Aldi. They do not have a listed number that you can call. People are always looking for this, but no Aldi has a listed phone number. You need to go to the store to find out information.

16. Free On Your Birthday- Visit keyphrase #8 for all the freebies that you can receive.

17. Mother Load- Same as keyphrase #1

18. McDonald’s Birthday Parties- See keyphrase #14 and take your kiddos to the dang McDonald’s for their birthday!!

19. Aldi Recipes- Lots of those listed under keyphrase #2

20. Moms Advice- That’s what I give- hope you like it!

Past WFMW Entries:

Target Pharmacy
Say No to Hand Cramps
Foamy Soap
Adventures in Shipping
Frugal Exercise Solutions
Microfiber Obsessions
Sand Between Your Toes Blues
Giving the Gift of Magazines (Frugally)
Solution for Cheap Trash Bags
Programming Your Cell Phone
Free Up Pantry Space: Make a Snac

Weeding Through Your Child’s Art Work Creatively
Using the Coffee Maker With Ease
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Maximizing Space

This Week in Festivals & Carnivals

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

The Festival of Frugality is over at Blogging Away Debt.
MotherLoad Article: Aldi Supermarket Price Sheet & Store Information
Must Read Article: Frugal Cooks

The Carnival of Debt Reduction is located at the Mighty Bargain Hunter.
Must Read Article: War of the Off-Brand Sodas

The Carnival of Personal Finance is currently at My 1st Million at 33. They are taking votes on your favorite posts so feel free to leave a vote for whose article you enjoyed the most.
MotherLoad Article: Aldi Supermarket Price Sheet & Store Information
Must Read Article: Selling My Books on Ebay (be sure to read the comments!)

Monday WAHM Spotlight: Sprezzatura Systems, Inc.

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Name: Ellen Ferlazzo

City/State: Pleasanton, CA

Name of Company: Sprezzatura Systems, Inc.

Two or Three Sentences About Your Company:

I write web content (copywriting) for high tech companies. At various times in the past I’ve also worked as a user interface designer, on both Windows and web applications.

Two Tips for Moms Trying to Work-At-Home (these tips can be how you stay organized, how to be successful, how to get started- anything that you feel would help someone just starting out):

1. Set a schedule and keep it! I like to keep my work hours as close to a normal workday as possible now that my kids are older and off to school most of the day.

2. Have an office space of some kind and a separate phone line that the kids know not to answer. I’ve gone from the dining room to a spare bedroom, but always have a space of my own.

**If you are interested in being featured, we will be selecting a mom for each Monday of my blog. You can read more and apply. Email confirmations are sent to each mom if they are chosen. Please remember to do your own research on these companies. If there are obvious red flags on BBB, I do not post them. Check my scam article to find out more about the potential dangers of work-at-home businesses.**

Raising a Self-Sufficient Teen

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Teens don’t learn responsibility overnight. If you haven’t been working with your teen on gradually giving them a sense of independence and ownership of their lives, then you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

By the time your children are in high school, they should be doing for themselves a lot of the things you’ve been doing for them all of their lives. What does your teen do when they have a problem? Run to you? Or try to solve his/her own problem, maybe coming to you for advice when they’ve exhausted their own resources?

I don’t know about you, but I want my daughter to be self-sufficient when she heads off to college. I want her to be able to choose her own friends, manage her own expenses, be up to the challenge of solving everyday problems in an effective and positive manner, and generally get her adult life off to a good start.

Sound difficult? Not if you start out with the small things. My teen told me most of her friends don’t even know where their moms do their grocery shopping. I couldn’t believe it. My daughter is involved with planning our meals (it’s in her interest if she wants a say in what we’re having to eat), and she goes to the grocery store with me every single week and helps me mark each item off the list. She reads labels, compares prices, and tells me when she thinks I’m spending too much money on something. And why does she care how much money I spend you might ask? Because our family’s finances are tight, and she knows that any money we save at the grocery store our family will be able to spend somewhere else. What a great life lesson.

Because our family’s finances are tight, my daughter has also learned how to budget. She is not directly involved in our financial planning, but she sees me making our budget and deciding the way we spend our family’s money. She knows that when more money than expected has to be spent in a certain area, that something else has to give. She knows that money doesn’t grow on trees. She’s started to budget her own money–tithing, spending some, and saving some.

A lot of my daughter’s friends wear expensive designer clothes. She knows we can’t afford to buy clothes like that for her, so we frequent local thrift and clothing consignment stores, shop bargain sales, and do a lot of yard saling. Sure, I wish I could spend more money on her clothes, but she still finds much of the same designer clothing her friends wear. Other friends are jealous of the good buys she finds. When my daughter grows up part of me hopes she can afford nicer things for herself. But deep down, I’m grateful for the life lessons she’s learning. Whether she has money or not, she will never want for anything because she knows how to get by no matter what her circumstances.

You might think your teen would think it a chore to go grocery shopping and shopping for second-hand clothing. My daughter doesn’t look at it that way. Partly she’s bored and wants to get out of the house, but going through these daily routines together is much of the time we spend together, hanging out and talking about other things on her mind. More than half of the time we spend in deep discussion takes place in the car driving from one place to another. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

I’m not worried about whether or not my daughter is going to be able to take care of herself when she goes off to college. I’m certain she’ll be up to the challenge.

A freshman in high school this year, she has four more years to practice before she’s on her own. She cooks dinner once a week or so, does some of the laundry, and helps clean up after our pets keep the house clean. At her age, homework is most important to us and that takes priority over other things, so we don’t overload her with chores, but my main concern is that she knows HOW to do these things. Especially with something like cooking it takes time to learn some of these skills. And if you don’t have enough patience to help them learn something like how to cook, then let them learn through trial and error. Let them cook what they want to cook and let them even go buy the groceries to make it.

Let your teens schedule their own appointments and make other phone calls you normally make for them. I think everyone has a little fear of the phone at first, but after the first few times they’ll enjoy the responsibility they’ve earned.

And did you notice what effect these changes will have on your life? Less responsibility and demands on you! It’s a little hard to let go at first and you might have to take baby steps in handing over the reigns a little, but you’ll be so proud of your teen the first time they take initiative on their own. When they leave home you’ll worry less and know it was a job well done.

Freebie Friday: Free Samples

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Fill out the form for a free sample of Tide Simple Pleasures Laundry Detergent in one of two scents- Vanilla & Lavender or Rose & Violet. This sample also includes an additional sampling of their Downy Simple Pleasures Fabric Softener (in the Rose & Violet scent). Look for your sample in the mail in the next six to eight weeks. Limit one per household.

Print out this Target coupon for a free Downy Simple Pleasures with the purchase of Tide simple Pleasures. This offer is valid through 09/30/2006.

Fill out this luggage tag registration and receive a free luggage tag. Please allow eight to ten weeks for your luggage tag. Limit one luggage tag per address.

More free coffee? Get a free sample of Folgers Select Premium Coffee. Be sure to pick your flavor first (before filling out the form); otherwise it will come up with an error message. I picked Vanilla Biscotti for my chosen flavor. Can’t wait for this freebie to come in the mail!

Receive a free sample of Nexxus Therappe Shampoo & Humectress Conditioner. Offer only good while supplies last!

Receive a free sample of SunSilk Hairspray. Offer only good while supplies last!

Past Freebies:

Free Samples

Free Samples

Free Museum Passes

Free Samples & Subscriptions

Eat Free on Your Birthday

Freely Treating Yourself

Simon Mall Kidgits Program

What Do You Use Your FoodSaver For?

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

My recent trip to Goodwill was well worth the effort. While browsing through the housewares, I ran across a donated FoodSaver. I paid my five dollars, picked up some bags at Walmart, and brought it home.

I am looking for any ideas for how you use your FoodSaver- conventional & unconventional. If you have one of these handy little gadgets (and would like to share), please click on the comments and share your FoodSaver experience.

I would greatly appreciate it!

Frugal Momma’s Test Kitchen: Homemade Croutons

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

I love to make homemade bread for our family, in fact, my bread machine is one of our most used appliances. With only three people eating bread in our house though, we usually only manage to make it through a half to three quarters of a small loaf. Since homemade bread lacks the preservatives of store-bought bread its demise comes quickly. By day two, it seems too stale for eating, but perfect for toast. By day three, it has completely lost its star quality and is in need of a makeover. In the past, the bread has simply made its way to the trash, but lately I have taken up a new hobby- making croutons!

I never realized how much better a homemade crouton tastes, compared to the prepackaged kind, but there is absolutely no comparison. You can add anything you would like to your croutons- Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, fresh garlic, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (just to name a few). You can make these croutons just how you like them- spicy, salty, or cheesy!

In the recipes that I ran across, they suggested cutting off the crust. I decided to go ahead and take the risk and included the crust. The results were delicious and there is absolutely no need to omit it.

I used homemade bread, but feel free to use up whatever bread you have laying around your house. You can use the heels of bread (toss them in your freezer for a big batch), hot dog buns, hamburger buns, or loaves of day old bread. Although those mentioned may not be as glamorous as a homemade loave of bread (I am sure Martha would not approve), this blog is all about being frugal!

Here is my recipe for homemade croutons. These turned out so unbelievably delicious. This recipe is just for a basic crouton, but you can throw in any ingredients you like. Enjoy!

Amy’s Homemade Croutons

6 slices of bread (any kind, but don’t tell Martha!), ¼ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, liberal sprinkling of garlic salt (to taste).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube bread into desired size and toss into a bowl. Sprinkle all of the seasonings on top of your bread cubes. Drizzle olive oil over the cubes and then toss gently with your fingers. When all pieces have been coated, put cubes into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. Allow to cool. Place in an airtight container and these can be stored for up to weeks in this container.

WFMW: Target Pharmacy Works For Me!

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Welcome to this week’s edition of Works for Me Wednesday. As always, I am honored to participate in this, each week, and encourage you to swing by Shannon’s blog for more great tips from moms just like me!

This week, I just wanted to share with you all my favorite place in the world to get prescriptions- Target Pharmacy. If you are already a Target Pharmacy customer, please disregard this post because it is all about how wonderful it has been for our family.

Pictured here is their redesigned bottles. Notice that they are clear (making it easy to see how much/how little of a medication you have) and that they have a handy little ring around them. This ring is color coded and each family member gets a color for their prescriptions. This makes it easy for me to find my son’s medication (he is blue) versus my daughter’s medication (which is purple). For a my tired eyes in the morning, this has prevented us from a lot of medicine mix-ups.

You can also see that this bottle is flipped on its head. This helps to get all of the information on the front of the bottle and to make it easier to read. Tucked on the side, (see that little flap) is the little sheet with all of the side effects. Don’t know about you, but this usually gets thrown into the trash.

The best part for me, as a mom, is giving the medicine to my children and how they have improved this little factor. Anyone who has had a screaming & tantruming child who hates to receive medicine, knows that the teaspoon just doesn’t cut it. Target has also introduced bottles for liquid medicines that include a syringe dispensers that fits tightly into a specially designed cap on the bottle. To dispense liquid medication to a child, one can easily insert the syringe, turn the bottle upside down, and fill the syringe with an exact dose rather than the messy alternative of pouring into a teaspoon. This cuts down on the mess and I also am able to make sure that I get every last drop out of that bottle because it is inverted.

Other services that I have also appreciated are that they automatically refill my medication (if I request it), contact my doctor if I need a refill (which doesn’t involve me calling the doctor and then calling the pharmacy), and I can request refills by telephone or online (how convenient!)

If you have the choice of where to get your prescriptions filled, I highly recommend getting them there. The new bottle is just one part that I love about it. The other part is the shopping I can do while I am waiting for my prescription.

What is not to love about Target?

As always, I am including links to my past entries. Feel free to browse around and leave your comments. I really, really love the comments!!

Past WFMW entries:

Say No to Hand Cramps
Foamy Soap
Adventures in Shipping
Frugal Exercise Solutions
Microfiber Obsessions
Sand Between Your Toes Blues
Giving the Gift of Magazines (Frugally)
Solution for Cheap Trash Bags
Programming Your Cell Phone
Free Up Pantry Space: Make a Snack
Weeding Through Your Child’s Art Work Creatively
Using the Coffee Maker With Ease
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Maximizing Space

The Festival of Frugality #36

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Festival of Frugality. Please do not dispair that your finances are in terrible shape- just visit our site & this festival for great tips on how to save money.

There were many great entries this week and I am honored to be the hostess. Be sure to visit the festival next week over at Blogging Away Debt.

Here is just the inspiration you have been looking for!


“Free advice is worth the price.” Robert Half

No Credit Needed revisits a past entry and shares a link to free graph paper. Now I can start drawing up graphs of high chair placement in our house. For some reason there is nowhere to put this. I will have to put this freebie to use in our house. I also will graph out placement of husband, two children, and dog…

Money & Values gives you the scoop on how to see plays and concerts for free. You will have to read that blog entry to find out more about these great opportunities.

How about some free money? The Good Human shares how a bank’s system of rounding up their purchases has beefed up their savings account. They even get free money from their bank every single year. I don’t know about you, but my bank doesn’t give us crap…oh, that’s right. They fee us! Thanks Wells Fargo!

HollyRhea shares stories of her life growing up…and dumpster diving. You read that right- how about getting something for absolutely nothing, just by doing a little hunting through someone’s trash. Read her tips of the trade here.

I am also including my own blog entry on Aldi Supermarket. How about menu planners, information, and an entire price sheet for the store in one blog entry, all for free! Hope you can get some use out of this one!

Financial Wisdom

Money will buy you a bed, but not a good night’s sleep, a house but not a home, a companion but not a friend.” Zig Ziglar

Free The Drones shares tips on how to keep your kids from busting your budget with demands for designer clothes. I would personally introduce them to a couple of little places called Goodwill & Salvation Army and let them dig for those hot brand name items.

Debt Free offers a whole slew of money-saving tips on how to save your money. Learning to cut your own hair & line drying your clothes, are just a couple of the topics covered. Just when you think you couldn’t save enough, you find out there are even more ways to save yourself some cash. For those of you who scoff at saving money, Debt Free says it’s okay to purchase a plasma television. Bet you wanna read it now!

Frugal Wisdom from Wenchypoo’s Warehouse offers a compelling look at the poor here in the United States versus the poor in other countries. It is a long post, but eye-opening, about how the poor in various countries differs.

Nina, from QueerCents, shares on an article she read on Americans and excess. This is a great entry on how we have become conditioned to take what is offered- even when we can’t afford it or don’t need it. Great read!

Becoming & Staying Debt Free has shared an entry on how just about everyone already is a millionaire. Don’t believe him? Read his post to find out more. (Be sure to read those comments because I find those just as intriguing.)

Ask Uncle Bill answers if getting your MBA at a big name school versus a state school is worth the cash. He shares his personal experience with this situation.

< a href="">FDBryant shares a tip on making payments to those nasty creditors. Why not pay two times a month instead of once? Following the wise Clark Howard’s advice, you just might shave off some of that interest paid on your debts. Read more to find out how!

Cheap Living & Traveling

“Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Free Money Finance says if you want to save big, you best be moving. Take a peek at this post on the cheapest places to live and how you can make your home there.

Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood offers their experience with finding low cost shelter. This is part two in the series and Stephanie shares some conventional and unconventional ways their family has been able to afford their housing.

It’s Just Money shares some tips for how you can attend out-of-town weddings for really cheap. Read this post before planning your next trip.

Then Things shares her tip on getting the cheapest plane tickets. Another great post to check out before you head on your next vacation.

DIY (Do It Yourself)

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” Groucho Marx

Help with everything shares a list of websites and questions to ask yourself before making that purchase…you know…that one!

Frugal Homemaker Plus shares her frugal mistakes with her readers. If you have ever put something off for tomorrow and suffered a financial loss, you have experienced just what she is talking about.

Five Cent Nickel shares an experience where sometimes you have to spend money to save money. Much like the Frugal Homemaker post, putting things off for tomorrow could lead to losing some money today.

Need some new magnets for your fridge? Bling On a Shoestring shares a craft for making some beautiful magnets for little or no cost.

We’re In Debt discusses how switching your auto insurance can save you, particularly when you are being overcharged for your neighborhood. We used to live in Massachusetts and I worked as an auto insurance representative so I could definitely relate to that one!

Warning: this one is for the girls only. Have you ever noticed how much you spend on tampons or pads? Have you ever considered reusable menstrual products? You can even make these yourself. Visit Tired but happy for the scoop.

Visit The Common Room for a very frugal recipe…Curried Legumes.

Doesn’t Free Just Taste Better?

Monday, August 21st, 2006

We went to a family picnic at my father’s work and had a great time this weekend. They supplied all of the food and entertainment- all for free! The food was great, but the best part about the meal for me.. Real soda! Not the generic version, but an actual Diet Coke. The real deal. The enchilada of sodas. Yup, I am really that pathetic.

Brand name soda doesn’t get purchased in our house. I might regret saying that when Coke approaches me to represent their product, but I must say that Coke is just a tad out of our price range.

Since we do not purchase regular soda, I have been on a quest to find the best generic soda out there. I have tried every kind of generic that you can imagine- Aldi, Walmart, local store brands, etc.. and they have all fell short of my expectations. If you like regular ol’ soda, like lemon lime or orange, this is a great option for you. The problem is that I like the more obscure types of generic. I like diet orange, diet lemon lime, diet cream soda- and these options are hard to come by. After much hunting, I have finally found the generic that stacks up the best- Meijer brand. They actually have all of these obscure types of soda! Currently the pricing is at $1.99 for a twelve pack so I feel like this is a fair deal and it even comes in those handy fridge packs. If you are not in the Midwest region, Kroger makes a great off-brand soda with a fair price too.

Now even though I have found the almighty supplier of generic sodas, even I will not turn down free brand name soda (and neither should you). Right now CVS & Pepsi products are running a deal where you come out with four 12-packs of soda for absolutely free. Really!

Check this week’s flier and on the front page it should show you that they are currently running a sale on their soda for four 12-packs of Pepsi products for ten bucks. Flip the page and you should see a handy little rebate form…for ten dollars back on your purchase. Simply attach the receipt & UPC codes and keep on checking your mailbox for that ten dollar check.

You can imagine how good that soda tastes when it is free. No longer does my husband have to endure the commentary of his horrible off brand soda at work (Mountain Lightning? What the heck is that? Big K Soda? Where did your wife pick that stuff up at?) I picked up three cases of Mountain Dew for him and a case of Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi for me. You would have thought it was Christmas in our house!

Don’t miss out on your free soda- check your local CVS for a rebate form or your local paper.