Archive for March, 2007

Freebie Friday: March 30, 2007

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Courtesy of

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!

Dollar Stretcher Tips 03.29.2007

Thursday, March 29th, 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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!

Amy’s Notebook 03.29.2007

Thursday, March 29th, 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!

Ask Frugal Momma: Cleaning Out Yo Fridge

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

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 [email protected]. 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!

More Books to Give Away!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

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.

Ask No More!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

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!

Should You Buy Brand Name Detergent?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

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?

Getting the Car Organized

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

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!

Busy Day Activities for Warm Weather

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

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 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!

Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

This is a recipe repeat, but it is such a good one to have in your bag of tricks. We had company last night and she did ask for the recipe! That is always a good sign!

Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein