Archive for December, 2007

Free Movie for NYE

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Here is today’s Redbox code- good for one free movie from your local Redbox. When you go to make your order press the button that says, “Rent with a Promotion Code” and then enter this code in 2HVM4L.

The code is good through midnight tonight so get your movie for your fun evening. They had tons of family moves and ones just for the grown-ups too! Happy New Year, everyone!!

Side Note: If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different accounts to charge to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

New Year’s Eve for a Frugal Gal

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

We are excited that my in-laws have volunteered to keep the kids for us on New Year’s. Getting a babysitter for the holiday is tough and a sleepover at Grandma’s will insure that we get a full-fledged celebration in as a couple.

Lots of people dine out and spend oodles of money on drinks or cover charges to go to the latest hot spots in town. We spend our New Year’s at home and avoid the crowds and the drunk drivers on the road.

A few years ago, I started doing a special dinner for us to celebrate the holiday. This one night out of the year, we don’t eat our usual bargain-basement fare. No, we splurge and have delicious foods like a fabulous steak dinner with a bottle of wine. The celebration is completed with cupcakes purchased from the bakery to end our old year in a sweet way.

Maybe that doesn’t sound that exciting to others, but when you are constantly crunching numbers for your grocery budget to work, a little vacation from that can be a wonderful way to celebrate the new year. It is a bit of a splurge, but it is a lot less than a splurge would be if we went out to dinner.

If you think about it, a dinner for two with a bottle of wine would cost between $50-60 for a meal. The food might not even be superb for that price and who knows how long we would wait for a table? We certainly wouldn’t get to have seconds and service, on days like this, is typically slow and has usually left me with little to be desired. We usually are paying the tab and saying to each other, “The dinner was good, but I really love the A, B, or C that we eat at home.”

Sometimes I feel like I am running a factory here because I try to make so many of the foods that people buy. Our desire to keep our grocery budget low has taken some of the fun out of cooking for me. I will admit, that there are times where I feel like cooking is just another chore to complete for the day.

That is why, when it comes to special date nights like these, I love to splurge and purchase fun ingredients that can showcase what I can really cook. This year we will be enjoying marinated steaks with blue cheese butter, baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and crusty bread.

Our evening is spent watching movies (rented from the local library) and playing our favorite board games.

No, it isn’t a wild night on the town, but it will be a wildly delicious celebration to ring in the New Year!

Sound Off: How do you keep your NYE fun and frugal?

Freebie Friday: December 28, 2007

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Special thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for aiding us in compiling our freebies this week!

Health & Beauty
Free 8 Week Trial Membership to Bally Fitness
(Good from Jan 5- March 3, 2008)
Ulta free make-up gift from Smashbox (printable coupon good in-store Dec. 28-30)
Dove T-Shirt Iron-On Kit: My Beauty Rocks & Be Unique, Get Real, See Beauty
Nautica My Voyage Perfume for Women


Nutrition for your Kids:A Dietary Approach to Cancer Prevention (great recipe booklet with fun food art photos)
Jiffy Mix Recipe Book


When Do You Let Your Car Go?

Friday, December 28th, 2007

When do you decide to let your vehicle die? At what point does the fork in the road become clear? I was hopeful it would be clear after I finished paying my car off, but now I am not even hopeful that we can even make it that far. This is the closest I have ever been to owning a car, and now I am just hoping that it lasts until my last payment is over.

I have heard some squeaking going on for a long time, and we had decided it was most likely the brakes. But then we had just replaced the front brakes, so this theory wasn’t making any sense at all. I was still hopeful it was just the brakes so we figured we would replace these after the holiday season.

Then we started to hear a sound like something was dragging under the car. Ryan assured me it was probably packed ice underneath, from all of our snow, so we decided to go with that theory. After all, it was the cheapest!

My car sat in the garage for three days after the packed ice theory, melting our theory in a puddle on the garage floor. Oh no, these things can’t be quite that simple.

Our theory came to a grinding (pardon the pun!) halt that day, as the dragging sound persisted. Ryan and I rarely made eye contact. He would start to talk about it and I would look out the window. “It’s Christmas. It’s the end of the month. This isn’t the right time.”

But when are these scenarios ever the right time? When is a good time to hear a dragging sound under you car?

I took it into the shop yesterday and got a twenty minute rundown of everything wrong with the car from their technician, just an hour later. The rear brakes were shot, but worse, the calipers were cracked and broken. The cost- $575. That would have to be done today.

The car is due for its 100K tune-up ($340), the car is leaking oil and requires a new timing belt ($1,200), the front brakes have 20% left on them ($240). All of these scenarios need to be happening within the next six months in order to keep my car running smoothly.

According to my calculations though, I just need the car to run another six years so that we can pay down all of our debts. Six years seems like twenty now that I receive the estimate.

I agree to the rear brakes and then wonder what is the next best step to take. Do I ditch the car (a ’99 Subaru Outback) or do I pay up and trudge on with my goals in mind?

Despite the bleakness of this, here is what I was thankful for:

1. It is the end of the month and Ryan is only paid once a month. This is a very lean time for us, and we were able to pay for this repair out of our account without putting it on the credit card. Although I felt sick as I handed my debit card over, I knew that we had that money.

2. Here is why we had the money…I have this site. No, I don’t make enough for a full-time income, no I am not rolling in it (by any means- see above for car description for further clarification) but I am a contributer to this household. A little pipe dream paid for my beat-up Subaru to have a little surgery. That made me feel really good. I realize my husband pays for everything else, but when it comes to emergency situations like these, my paycheck is the one that pays the bills.

So we ponied up the money and I have my car back and now we are faced with the decision on how to proceed. We sat down and decided that Ryan could definitely fix the front brakes, but a new timing belt and small oil leak would need to be done by the pros. And a 100K tune-up…well, don’t all cars need that?

With ten more payments to go, do I pay up or start hunting for something else? Sound off!

Gingerbread Waffles

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Source: Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals

Gingerbread Waffles

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron
Syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruits for topping, to pass at table

Preheat waffles iron. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not overstir the waffle batter. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook 4 waffles, 4 sections each. Serve with toppings of choice.

Starbuck Banana Pound Cake

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Source: “Fast Food Fix,” by Devin Alexander

Starbucks Banana Pound Cake

Ingredients: Butter flavored cooking spray, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas, 1 cup sugar, 2 egg whites, 2/3 cup fat-free vanilla or banana yogurt, 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted the walnuts)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350. Mist a 9x5x3″ nonstick loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bananas, sugar, egg whites, and yogurt. Using a sturdy whisk or a spoon, mix until throughly blended. Add the flour mixture. Stir until no flour is visible. Stir in the nuts. Pour into the reserved pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Cool in the pan on a rack for ten minutes. Remove to the rack and cool completely. Cut into eight slices. Serve warm or room temperature. Wrap and refrigerate any leftovers for up to three days.

Faux Orange Julius

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

You can visit this post for our review!

Faux Orange Julius

1 cup milk (I used prepared powdered milk to cut down on using up our milk for smoothies. It worked perfectly)
1 cup ice water
1 (6 ounce) can of frozen orange juice concentrate
12 cubes of ice (I just threw in a whole bunch of ice because I like it really thick)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup sugar

Pour all of the ingredients into the blender and blend for two minutes (or until smooth).

One-Pan Chicken & Potato Bake

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Source: Kraft Magazine

To see our review of this recipes, please visit this post!

One-Pan Chicken & Potato Bake

4 bone-in chicken pieces (1 ½ pounds)
4 large potatoes cut into wedges
1/4 cup Italian Dressing (I used ½ cup because I wanted more flavor to the chicken & potatoes)
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken & potatoes in 13×9” baking dish. Pour dressing over chicken & potatoes; sprinkle with cheese. Bake one hour or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

David’s Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Source: “Perfect Light Desserts,” by Nick Malgieri

These are absolutely delicious AND lower in calories than the traditional cookie recipe. Visit this post for a detailed review and pictures.

David’s Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (about ¾ of a 12-ounce bag) chocolate chips
2 cookie sheets lined with parchment or foil

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside. Beat the butter and sugars together by machine with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well mixed (about one minute). Beat in the egg and milk until they are absorbed and then the vanilla. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled, the flour mixture will smooth it out. Scrape down the bowl and beater and beat in the flour mixture on low speed. Use a large rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough in the bowl for fifteen minutes to keep the cookies from spreading too much while they are baking. Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls or use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies. Arrange the balls of dough 2 inches apart all around the prepared pans. Bake the cookies for eight to twelve minutes, or until they look dull on the surface, have spread, and are still quite moist. Cool the cookies on the pans on racks for five minutes. Slide the papers to racks and cool the cookies completely. For storing: keep the cookies between sheets of wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

Per cookie: 114 calories, 5 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 11 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium

A Favorite Handmade Gift

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Isn’t this tote bag the cutest? My mother-in-law made it and it was my favorite gift of all. She makes the most beautiful things and has such a knack for sewing. I think she should quit her day job as a teacher and start crafting it up full time. Her aprons, baby slings, and bags are always such a hit with her family and friends. Too bad crafting doesn’t have health insurance. I tell you, that health insurance stuff really kills a lot of great dreams.

I just love the little button closure on it. I can see this going with me on lots of trips and it will make a great diaper bag as well.

Lucky for me…a gift card to Starbucks was tucked inside. Now I can tote my library books over to the coffee shop and enjoy a free latte. What could be better than that? In my opinion, handmade gifts are the best in the world!