Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Save Money On Printing

My husband is my web guy so he knows a few things about computers. Through his experience, we have been able to save ourselves some money by doing these things every day. Now if you know a few things about computers these ideas might not be mind-blowing, but I still think they are worth mentioning for the novices out there.

- When we print documents (unless they are needed for something important) we always use the "Draft" mode and the "Black & White" mode for printing. When you go to print, you can select, "Options" and you will select the black & white mode (should you have a color printer) and the draft mode. This will cut down on your usage of your ink considerably.

- If you work somewhere where you do a lot of printing, bring home your recycled paper for the kids or even for yourself. My husband brings home his paper for our son and it doubles as great paper for coloring for him.

- When you are home printing, use both sides of the paper to do your printing instead of just one side. You will use much less paper. You can save paper from junk mail, school announcements, fliers, etc.. and use these as paper for printing on too. Anything with one blank side is fair game in our house for printing or coloring on. This paper is basically free so it works well for a tightwad like me!

- Don't pay full price for inkjet replacements. There are great sites out there that you can get your ink through without spending an arm or a leg. Websites like 123 Inkjets, offer up to eighty-five percent off of the regular price on these cartridges. Companies like these use remanufactured cartridges and refill them (often times with more ink than you would have gotten in the original cartridge). Consumer Reports tested remanufactured ink cartridges versus their brand name counterparts and felt that the brand name ink cartridges did perform slightly better, but using these would only be preferable in situations where the quality of your printing is of the utmost importance. For the regular old computer user, it usually does not matter.

- When printing from another web page, sometimes you are printing extra pages of advertisements or printing items on the page that you don't need. I like to highlight what I need and plop it into a Word document so that I don't end up with the extra cost of ink & paper. If you want to avoid opening Word, you can highlight what you are wanting to print you can select the File button at the top of your web browser. Next select Print. Then go under Print Range option and choose the Selection button. Only the area that you would have selected will be printed.

For those of you who are more technical than the average Joe, check LifeHacker out, as they have featured a free download that you can add as an extension to Firefox that allows you to customize pages and change their color, dimensions, or remove selections completely.

- Before making a printer purchase, always compare rates on the ink cartridges first. Even if the printer you are looking at is dirt cheap, you might be putting yourself in a worse financial position over time as the cartridges need to be replaced.

- Empty cartridges can be taken to your local office supplies stores for recycling. Call around in your area and see if they recycle the cartridge and if they offer anything in return. Some office supplies stores will give you money off of your next purchase or they will give you free paper for dropping your cartridges off at their location.

- If you have a large print job, it is usually cheaper to do these print jobs at copy centers. Ask if they offer any types of paper that are cheaper than others or how to reduce the cost on your job. Doing the printing yourself at a self-service copier is cheaper than having them print it for you.

If you have ideas that you would like to share with the readers, feel free to share under the Comments section.



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Monday, January 29, 2007

Budget-Friendly Ideas for Kid's Rooms

First, do not be intimidated by the bright colors on our son’s walls. What appeared to be a cheery Granny Smith apple shade assaulted us with its fluorescent glow instead when applied to the walls. Although the color is a bit brighter than I had hoped, where else except our children’s rooms could we be so bold?

I had been looking for some cute artwork for his room since we had tons of empty wall space, begging to be filled with cute artwork. We did not have the budget though to go out and blow tons of money on artwork so when I happened upon this clever idea in my Real Simple Magazine, I jumped right on it and was so pleased with the results.

The magazine had suggested using book cover jackets as art for your walls. As my son has received wonderful hardcover books from his grandparents, I had been removing the jackets and putting them on a shelf in his closet (for fear that they might be damaged or torn). Two of the jacket covers were for two of his favorite books, “How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight” & “How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food.” The artwork on them was just perfect for framing.
I went to the Dollar Store and purchased two frames. I then used the cardboard insert to map out how I would frame the pictures to size them and then cut them out. For one of the pictures, I just used the picture that was on the front of the jacket. I used the back of the other cover because it contained some of the story within the picture.

My son was so pleased with his new pictures on his wall as were we! What a great way to really bring to life and share your children’s favorite stories.

The linens on his bed were also in need of being replaced. My son suffers from very bad bloody noses and I could not remove the stain no matter how many times I washed it. My mom had suggested contacting the lady over at MomAdvice to find out how to fix this (obviously I get a lot of jokes about that one!), but apparently she had no idea either.

When I hit a local thrift sale in the area though, I hit the jackpot. Tucked away in a corner was an entire Pottery Barn Kids comforter set. The set included sheets, pillow cases, comforter, shams, bed skirt, and curtains. The total price on the whole thing was only $25. The colors matched perfectly with the theme we already had so these worked wonderfully.

As a side note, you will notice that our son has his bed backwards. One of the truly great things about daybeds is that you don’t have to purchase bedrails to keep them secure in bed. Simply switching the bed around (with headboard on the opposite side) and scooting it next to the wall keeps him safe in his bed without making a bed around bedrails. We will be purchasing this same type of bed for our daughter because it has worked so great. If you are worried about when they have friends come to stay the night, you can invest in a trundle bed that can be tucked underneath and can be popped up when needed. It is an ideal space saver.

I hope these ideas inspire you in creating a special space for your little ones. Feel free to share some of your own ideas by leaving a comment!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Freebie Friday: January 26, 2007


Is it Friday already? This week has flown by and I am excited to share all of these great freebies with you. It happens to be a good week for freebies this week so I hope that you really enjoy these.

As I was sitting at the dentist’s office this morning, I noticed that they had a big stack of the new Michiana Family Magazines out. My dear friend Betsy is running this magazine and she is doing such an outstanding job with it. We are honored to be included among her writers and to have the opportunity to share more ways to save money with some of the local residents. Welcome to all of our new readers. Please be sure to introduce yourself or just leave a comment and let me know that you are out there. It helps to have the community support in our efforts here at MomAdvice.com. Please be sure to be looking for the March issue of the magazine. We will be including frugal ideas for organizing all of the clutter in your house. Don’t worry if you don’t live in this area! These articles will be appearing on our site too in the months ahead.

Now here is this week’s round of freebies:

Receive a coupon for a free jar of Prego Spaghetti Sauce. There is a printable form to print out to receive this freebie. You will need Adobe Acrobat to print out this form. This offer expires 03/31/2007 or while supplies last.

Fill out the form to receive a free sample of Advil Pain Reliever and a coupon for $2 off your next purchase. The coupon will come to you as a free downloadable coupon after completing their form.

Receive a complimentary subscription to Boating Magazine. You can answer, “No, Thank You” to all of their offers. This is good for a one-year subscription.

This freebie seems almost too cool to be true. If you register on this site, you will receive a free Chinese Hand Painting Silk Handkerchief. This should be mailed to you within two to three business days.

You will need to go to a dealership for this freebie, but this site is offering free tickets to the Chicago Auto Show (great freebie for the local residents here!)

Receive a complimentary subscription to Vacations Magazine. Simply answer, “No, Thank You” to all of their offers. This is good for a one-year subscription.

Nature’s Bounty is offering a free sample of their Omega-3 Fish Oil Caplets. Please allow four to six weeks for delivery.

Kenmore Appliances is having a free House Party on Saturday March 10, 2007. It is a play date of sorts that they are sponsoring. They suggest getting dirty doing fun science experiments, let the kids watch “Grossology” (a new Discovery Kids cartoon) and relaxing with your friends while your washer cleans up the mess. You will receive a free DVD featuring three episodes of Grossology, enter to win a contest for new laundry products & a new washer and dryer, sample new Spray & Wash Products, and use their new free website tools.

You will need a company name for this freebie, but this company is offering a free 128 MB USB flash drive.

RogerOger is offering a free full size bottle of Windex Multi Task Sparkling Lime. Please allow four to eight weeks for delivery.

Dawn is offering a free Kid-Friendly Sponge. This will be available while supplies last. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Get your free 2007 Dessert Calendar from Mrs. Smith. Supplies are limited- order today. Your order will arrive in two weeks.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Garnier Nutrioniste of Ultra-Lift or Skin Renew.

Receive a complimentary subscription to ReadyMade Magazine. This is good for a one-year subscription while supplies last.

This one was posted before, but just in case you missed it….Banquet is offering refunds on their Banquet Wings, Drumsticks, or Crock Pot meals. You can receive a refund or a coupon booklet by visiting their site.

In appreciation of all the great teachers across the United States & Canada, AMC & Paramount Pictures is offering an exclusive opportunity to see the new Freedom Writers movie for free between January 26th to February 1st. You must present a school-issued ID or pay stub and a valid photo ID. Visit their site for more information.

Purina is offering a free print publication of the Dog’s Life Magazine for free.

Enjoy your freebies, everyone!



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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Getting the Silent Treatment

Have you felt like I have been giving you the silent treatment on my blog? I feel like my blogging hasn’t been at its best, but all of those things that you put off because they cost money or time, seemed to demand my attention these past couple of weeks so I have been busy doing those things instead of my normal socializing. The things that I had to accomplish these past two weeks:

- Going to get my eyes examined. It had been since 2004 since my last visit and I had a baby between now and then. Did you know that your prescription can change just from that alone? I needed to get in and get this taken care of for quite some time now and they happened to have an opening that day so I got this done. Unfortunately, it took an hour and a half for this visit. I needed my eyes dilated and this required some waiting time. Imagine a baby screaming every time the doctor looks at her or talks to her. Imagine even louder screaming when the doctor tries to check my eyes. Yes, that visit was most unpleasant, but it is finally done. All that time and effort only to discover that my prescription is exactly the same. Well, I guess it will save on glasses then!

- My daughter needed new cloth diapers. It was evident that she was outgrowing them because she was wetting up her back and soaking through them because they were too small. Although cloth diapering saves us a lot of money, the initial investment is a bit of a sticker shock when you move up sizes or when you begin the first time. I bought my diapers off of another cloth-diapering momma and was able to save quite a bit of money. I am now trying to unload our last round of diapers to hopefully help us break even. Imagine diapering your baby for free? That is basically what we are doing by buying used and selling them back.

- I have an oil change scheduled for tomorrow. I called around and priced out who could offer us the best price and found it at Bittersweet Automotive (the only competitor being Wal-Mart) in Granger. Although changing our oil costs us some money, the results have been great for keeping our cars running longer. I always try and be very prompt about scheduling these. I would hate for my car not to run because I was too lazy to make it over for the oil change. I have had experience with this, as I was not very responsible when I got my first car, and my cars never lasted very long.

- I also have a dental appointment scheduled for tomorrow. I hate getting my teeth cleaned, but would hate getting them filled or replaced more. Hopefully there will be no cavities and I will be able to enjoy some time away from the dentist for a few months.

- Grocery shopping and menu planning. Although this happens every couple of weeks, I was trying to incorporate many more recipes to our plan this month so that I could share them with all of you through my blog. That takes a bit of planning, but hopefully we will have lots of new dishes to share with you.

- I had to write an article for the site and it is done. Be looking for that in the next week! I am sharing some frugal ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day without totally busting your budget.

- Tonight I will begin working on this week’s Freebie Friday. I don’t get to do this until late in the evening or on Friday itself because the offers come and go so quickly. I apply to each of these myself to make sure you don’t get error messages or find out that the offer wasn’t available in the first place. Besides, who loves a freebie more than me?

I still have laundry, house cleaning, and bill paying to do…but, it’s a start in the right direction.

I am looking for feedback from our readers and am asking for suggestions on future article topics. What are you interested in reading about? What free downloads would you like to see added to our Downloads section? Please let us know so that we can improve the site for 2007!

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Cloth Diapering Mommas- Diapers for Sale

Our daughter is moving up a size in diapers. Anyone who is interested in taking these off my hands is welcome to them. I accept PayPal payments to [email protected]. Please just send me your name and address and I will calculate shipping for you.

Fuzzi Bunz Size MEDIUM

9 White Fuzzi Bunz. All are in good condition- normal pilling from regular use, but they were used in a large rotation. One of the Fuzzi Bunz has a label that is only halfway attached and one has some light staining. All diapers are $10 each.

1 White Fuzzi Bunz that is in good condition- normal pilling from regular use. The stitching is coming loose on the back of it though so I am only asking $8 for this one.

2 Periwinkle blue Fuzzi Bunz that are in good condition- normal pilling from regular use. One has no staining the other has a small stain that could be sunned out. Both are $10

3 Pink Fuzzi Bunz in good condition- normal pilling from regular use. Asking $10 each.

2 Butter Yellow Fuzzi Bunz. Good used condition- normal pilling from regular use. Asking $10 each.

1 Sage Green Fuzzi Bunz. Good used condition- normal pilling from regular use. Asking $10 each.

5 Purple Fuzzi Bunz. Good used condition- normal pilling from regular use. Asking $10 each.

Bumkins Medium Diaper Covers

1 Pink Nova Print (see Bumkins.com for the pictures) in EUC asking $8

1 Pink Fish (Dr Suess) print in EUC asking $8

Bummis Medium Super Whisper Wrap

1 White Bummis Super Whisper Wrap in EUC asking $8

Hemparoo Inserts Medium

I will include these with the purchase of a Fuzzi Bunz for an additional two dollars. These have staining on them, but are in good condition.

Happy Shopping!!



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Frugal Momma's Test Kitchen: Roast Chicken Recipe #2

I have started sharing my roast chicken recipes because a whole chicken is so darn cheap and so good! Last week, I shared my Roasted Balsamic-Glazed Chicken recipe that I happened upon through the Food Network website. If you haven't tried it, I do highly recommend that one.

This recipe came out of just the types of ingredients I happened to have on hand. Grocery day was looming, but still so far away, so I had to be a little more creative in the kitchen. Time was also in short supply so this recipe had to be quick and require no monitoring on my part.

The chicken turned out moist and delicious. Despite dumping an entire contents of a dressing packet on top, the chicken is not salty at all and just leaves a pretty crust on top of the chicken.

As with all my recipes where I use a chicken in the slow cooker, I always make a rack of tin foil before putting the chicken in so the meat doesn't become soggy. Simply ball three pieces of tin foil up and make a rack for the chicken to rest on. Place the chicken on top and when it is done cooking, remove the tin foil and you should have a lovely broth on the bottom to spoon over mashed potatoes.

Hope this recipe is a hit in your house too!

Amy's Quick & Easy Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
3 lemons
1 packet of Italian seasonings dressing packet (zesty or plain)

Clean chicken and remove the giblets and extra fat on the chicken. Make a rack out of tin foil by balling three pieces of foil up and putting them inside of your slow cooker. Rest the chicken on top. Cut the three lemons in half. Juice two of the lemons over the chicken and then rest them around the chicken. Put the other two halves of the third lemon inside of the chicken. Empty the seasoning packet on the outside and inside of the chicken. Cook on low for six to eight hours.



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Monday, January 22, 2007

LetterPop! Makes Family Newsletters More Bearable

I am probably among the select few who do not publish a family newsletter detailing the events in our family over the years during the holiday season. First of all, I don't think there is anything all that interesting going on in our lives that is newsletter worthy. An exciting day for us would be going to the supermarket tantrum-free or getting together for a playgroup with my friends. Not exactly newsworthy! Maybe we are just too boring and other people are much more exciting.

We have received very sweet and heartfelt letters from family & friends though and I do appreciate their efforts. For long-distance buddies, this has been a great way to feel a part of their lives. For others, it offers a humorous slant into their homes and makes me chuckle. I have received some rather amusing letters too detailing not just the positive things in their family, but the negative too ("Johnny received a D in his class this semester and is now grounded off of the television until he can bring his grades up. Suzy continues to be lazy and we are trying to encourage her to get her rear in gear or else she won't graduate.") To be honest, the last letter usually cracks me up the most. I figure, at least they are being honest!

Now there was a time when I did a newsletter for the website and we have gotten lots and lots of emails questioning when the next newsletter will be. I am sad to say, but I am not sure when we are going to get back on the newsletter wagon. With the growing number of accounts, it has become a huge expense for us to do and consumes much of my time during the month. The newsletter has sort of been replaced by the blog. With running a website, a blog, writing the articles, and running/moderating a forum discussion my time has become far too limited to expand it further or to justify the expense for my sporadic newsletters.

My husband did happen upon this great service from a company called LetterPop! though and I thought I would give it a test run with a smaller version of a newsletter to see what you guys thought about it. Is it easy to navigate? Do you have trouble reading the newsletter? Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

I think LetterPop! is a great free alternative for publishing our newsletter, but I need your opinions too! Let me know what you think!

LetterPop! is currently in beta testing right now so not all of the features that it will offer are currently available. They are offering FREE accounts though for this first year, so get it while it is free and publish up some of your old family secrets. They have great holiday templates and you can include pictures of your sweet little angels in your updates.

Visit our test-run newsletter and let me know what you think. This is a much shorter version than I will be issuing monthly, but it is a great way for you to sample the service and maybe create your own free account.

Thanks to LetterPop! for offering such a great & invaluable service! I hope Johnny & Suzy's mom find it- I would hate to be without their yearly updates!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Freebie Friday: January 19, 2007

February 3rd is All Things Baby day at participating Wal-Mart stores. Between the hours of 10 Am and 4 PM you can receive bundles of information, helpful ideas & solutions, and product samples. Please visit this link for more information.

Enjoy a free subscription to Grand Magazine, the official magazine for grandparents, by filling out their quick form. This would make a great gift for the grandparents in your life!

Fill out the form to receive a free sample of Claritin RediTabs Tablets. Please allow two to six weeks for shipment.

Request to receive a trio of sample products from Jergens.

Sign up to receive an email for a free welcome gift for joining Fazoli’s E-Family.

Click here to receive a free subscription to Dime Magazine.

The first 5,000 to register can get TaxCut Online Basic for free, plus a twenty percent discount on all TaxCut Premium products.

Register to receive a free Tropicana product when they launch their new spring flavors. Click on the, “Big News & Free Product” link once the page has loaded.

Try the new Degree Ultra Clear Deodorant for free. This sample will arrive within four to six weeks.

GM is offering a free travel mug to thank you for visiting their site. Once the page has loaded, this freebie should pop up on the left side of your screen. Please allow three to four weeks for delivery.

Get a free one year subscription to Games for Windows Magazine. You will need to become a member of Start Sampling in order to receive this freebie.

Get a free one year subscription to LEGO Magazine. The link is underneath the “Club” category.

Click the email address and forward your contact information to the company to request a free sample of Bug Away. Make sure to tell them your preference of either Tall Kitchen (Indoor) or Large Trash Bag (Outdoor) samples.

Depending where you live, this site should give you a coupon towards your next purchase of Malt-O-Meal cereal. Some people only received money off of their coupon and others have received a coupon good for up to $4, depending on their location. You will need to register with this company, but they offer tons of coupons on their site.



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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are You Looking for Redbox Codes?

I love using the Redbox kiosk that is located within our grocery store. For those of you who live in the Michiana area, these kiosks are located inside Martin's Supermarkets.

We tried a movie club, but we didn't watch enough movies to really justify the cost. We also rent a lot of movies from our local library, but sometimes you want a new release that day.

Redbox has been a great alternative for us. You can rent the movie, as long as you want, for only ninety-nine cents a day. Since we typically keep our movie one night, it is only a dollar to watch a new release. You can reserve your movies online through the Redbox website, or you can just pick a movie when you get there.

Recently I discovered this great website called Inside Redbox. I have been using this site for several weeks now and I absolutely love it. The website shares all of the current coupon codes for the month. People can add codes they have used or report codes that no longer work. I have been using these codes for my movies and we have yet to be charged for a single one.

If you like movies and you like free, then please visit Inside Redbox.

As a side note, the reason I had not posted this site before was because I was afraid that it might be shut down with the traffic they would receive or that Redbox, the actual movie company, might be upset that people are sharing these codes. Luckily, the guy who runs the site recently reported a great conversation he had with the VP of Marketing at their company...Guess what? Redbox loves the site and so do we!

Please visit Rocks in My Dryer for more great ideas!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Birthday Freebies

Today is my birthday so I wanted to remind you guys of this great post that lists all of the wonderful things you can get for FREE on your birthday. Who doesn't love a freebie on their special day?

Don't forget to read the comments so that you can get the scoop on other freebies that weren't covered within my post!

I will be back to blogging tomorrow!



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Friday, January 12, 2007

Freebie Friday: January 12, 2007

Get a free sample of Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners

Family Circle Magazine is offering free sample of Swiffer Dusters.
I was ineligible for this offer because I have applied for it before, but if you didn’t get this deal earlier you can get it now!

Get a free sample of Metamucil. This Fiber Starter kit includes a sample of wafers, powder, & capsules plus calcium. There is also a guide to explain how to eat a high fiber diet. Please limit one per household. This sample will arrive within four to six weeks.

Receive a free sample of Maximum Strength Pepcid AC by filling out their quick form.

Scholastic Books is offering a free digital audiobook download. They offer over ninety books and these include many of the classics for kids. This does not require putting in your address or credit card information.

The current coupon code for a free rental from Redbox is ICICLE.

This freebie, offered by RogerOger, is for the new Swiffer CarpetFlick. I hope this is the real deal because this would be a fantastic freebie! Please allow four to eight weeks for delivery.

Please complete the form to receive a free sample of Estroven PM and a money saving coupon from the company.

Try a free sample of Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance Therapy pills. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery. Currently the only sample available is their pills for children.

Get a free sample of Move Free Advanced for joint care relief. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Try a free sample of Viactiv Flavor Glides Vitamins. Please limit one per household and allow up to four weeks for delivery.

I am very, very excited about this freebie. Get a free copy of An Inconvenient Truth on DVD. There is no catch, just fill out the form. They should send you a confirmation email for this one. I do want to note, a nonprofit organization runs this venture and they are trying to get as many people to watch this as they possibly can. I understand it is a very inspiring movie full of information that we should all be seeing if we want to preserve our earth. Please do not apply for this freebie because you just want to sell it or don’t care to really see it. These people are doing this to help spread the word about caring for our earth, so please be respectful of their time & efforts. Many thanks to them for making sure these get in the right hands!

DVDPlay is offering a free movie rental using the coupon code DVD123. Please visit their site to find a location near you.

Get a complimentary subscription to Spin Magazine. Just answer no to all of the extra offers when filling out the survey.

Bicardi Silver is giving away Shake Up the Party cards. Limit one per household and no purchase is necessary.

Sign up to receive a free ten count pack of Charmin Freshmates. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Try a sample of Kotex Maxi Pads or Poise Ultra Plus Pads from Sam’s Club (you do not need to be a member to apply for this freebie.)



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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Frugal Solutions for the Swiffer

I love my Swiffer WetJet and have used it for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, like all of these types of products, I need to purchase refills on the solution and the mop pads.

Once I ran out of the solution though, I began filling it with my own homemade solutions. I have done every type of solution known to man. I have filled it with a mixture of hardwood floor cleaner with water, a vinegar & water solution, and other floor cleaners in our cabinets. They all worked wonderfully and cost us a fraction of the cost. As a disclaimer though, the company suggests that you use only their cleaners, otherwise you risk clogging the unit and they will not warranty the product anymore.

I also did not want to pay for the pads, as they too cost quite a bit of money for something you just throw away. I tried using microfiber cloths, but they wouldn't hang onto the mop head well. I then tried just using the regular pads (as they cost a little less) and ended up with a soaking mess.

The solution that I found works better than anything I have ever tried and I promise you, if you buy these, you will never have to buy the disposable stuff again. These terry mop heads fit my Bissell Steam Mop (which they no longer sell) and they fit on the Swiffer WetJet PERFECTLY!. They have a little adjuster on it that can help you hug the mop head tighter and they do not come off. They are made out of terry cloth and when you are done with them, just throw them in the wash with your towels. I had bought several packages, for fear that they would discontinue selling these like they did my steamer, and I absolutely love them. This is a great reusable solution that will cost you much less in the long run. You receive two mop heads in a package and they are currently listed at $9.70.

Product endorsement over- hope you can try these! You won't be disappointed!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spinach & Tomato Orzo with Chicken

This week's Works-For-Me Wednesday has a theme and the theme is sharing a low-fat recipe with everyone. I wish I would have saved my low-fat chocolate chip cookie recipe for this week, instead of last week, but hopefully you can still enjoy that recipe.

Here is one of my absolute favorite low-fat dishes that I love to eat. The chicken in this dish could be omitted if you wanted to keep the dish vegetarian.

This recipe came from one of my Rachael Ray cookbooks and it was originally prepared without the chicken, and was served as a side dish. I thought the addition of the chicken would make it a wonderful main dish.
This is one my favorite recipes to bring to potlucks because it something different than people normally prepare and it can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I do. The only bad thing about this dish is that it isn't as good reheated the second day. The tomatoes make it a mushy mess. The good news though is that there are rarely any leftovers! Enjoy!

Be sure to swing by Rocks in My Dryer for more great recipes!

Spinach & Tomato Orzo With Chicken

1 pound spinach, washed, dried, stems removed
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lemons, zested
1 1/2 cups orzo, cooked to al dente
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
24 basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
1 pound cooked chicken breasts, diced
Salt and pepper

Pile spinach leaves in stacks 1 on top of the other. Thinly slice stacks of leaves to make spinach confetti. Pile shredded spinach into the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl. Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl. Add the zest of 2 lemons to the bowl and save the lemons in the refrigerator to juice for another recipe. Next add, the cooked chicken to the bowl. Add hot cooked and drained orzo pasta to the mixing bowl. The heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach and warm the tomatoes at the bottom of the bowl and get the juices flowing from veggies. The heat of the pasta will also release the flavor and oils in the lemon zest. Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over the pasta and toss to combine the veggies and orzo. Add basil and salt and pepper and toss to combine. Taste your orzo to adjust seasonings and serve.h

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Frugal Momma's Test Kitchen: Roast Chicken Recipe #1

I am a big fan of roasting whole chickens, particularly because they are so darn affordable. I can get a good five to six pound chicken for only around$3.50 at Aldi. For only $3.50, we are able to get a dinner out of the chicken and usually enough for sandwiches or for taco meat the next day.

Since we eat roasted chickens often, I wanted to start sharing my chicken recipes and different variations that we experiment with. I ran across this recipe and thought we would give it a try.

This chicken is incredibly moist and flavorful and the smell drove me mad because my stomach growled the entire two hours that this cooked.

This recipe is very simple, but elegant enough to entertain with. We served this with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

I do want to warn you to either spray your roaster really well with nonstick cooking spray or line your roasting pan with foil because the balsamic vinegar became almost like a tar on my dish and required much scrubbing and soaking before I was able to get all of the vinegar off of the bottom.

I hope your family can give this recipe a try. The thing that I loved most about it was that these were ingredients that I already had in my pantry so I didn't have to buy anything special to make this dish.

Make sure to make two of these because you will regret it if you only make one...they are that good!

Roasted Balsamic-Glazed Chicken (adapted from Food Network)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 medium lemon, juiced and halves reserved
1 (5-6 pound) roasting chicken
4 sprigs rosemary
8 cloves garlic (I omitted this and used garlic powder instead)
1 thinly sliced white onion (also omitted because we do not like onions)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, and lemon juice in a bowl, whisking until emulsified. our over the chicken, taking care to completely coat it. Insert the reserved squeezed lemons, plus the rosemary & garlic into the cavity. Layer the onions in a roasting pan and place the chicken on top (I just used a roasting rack). Put the chicken in the oven and cook at 350 for two hours, basting it occasionally.



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Friday, January 05, 2007

Freebie Friday: January 5, 2007

I was able to make this cute button for free on our site thanks to Laurie, over at Blooming Lily, featuring a cool site of the week on her blog. I must warn you, the site is extremely addicting and I came up with a zillion different buttons to use. I know all the moms out there have hours on end to kill, so here is a great time waster for you!

The week in freebies:

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels offers a coupon for a free pretzel to you, should you choose to join their mailing list. This will be a great freebie the next time I am at our mall!

Walmart is offering a free sample of Olay Definity. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Get a free two ounce sample of Head & Shoulders shampoo by completing this quick form.

As far as I am concerned, this is the best freebie of the week. I am extremely addicted to flavored creamers in my coffee and love the fat-free choices that Coffee-Mate offers. My friend Tracy sent me this link as I was on the site, so much thanks to her for helping me locate this freebie. You can sign up to get a free seven day supply of Coffee-Mate. It is a coupon (valued up to $3.99) for a free creamer of your choice. YES! That should definitely help the addiction & the grocery budget this week! I will not put this freebie in hot pink or in all capitals, but this is one worth applying for, if you are a coffee drinker, so get over there now!! This offer expires February 28, 2007 or good only while supplies last.

While we are on the coffee kick, one of my favorite sites is TolerateMornings.com from Folgers. They are now offering free morning wake-up calls. If you can’t get your rear out of bed to go exercise in the morning, you might like a wake-up call to remind you. What a great way to accomplish a New Year’s resolution this year. There are three wake-up calls to choose from. I choose Sheldon- how about you? Of course, the Eagle one is a great way to have a really good pep talk in the morning. If you need a reminder how awesome you are, preview the Eagle one!

How about a free lunch for you and up to five of your co-workers? The rebate requirements have you host your lunch at work by February 3, 2007 and purchase a maximum of six single serve Michael Angelo’s frozen entrees, submit a receipt, and include a story about your lunch together. Playgroup, anyone? Lunch is on me!

Use Target’s Photo Services and get ten free prints. This will be handy for all of those Christmas pictures you took.

Sign up for a free one-year subscription to BabyTalk Magazine.

Print out this coupon for a free ten pack of CD-R Media Discs. This freebie is valued at $9.99 and must be picked up at your local Office Depot. This offer will expire on February 10, 2007.

Discovery Health Channel has launched their National Body Challenge for 2007. By completing their form, you can receive a free eight week pass to Bally Total Fitness to get a jumpstart on the new you! There are a lot more benefits with this freebie so be sure to check this one out!

The National Arbor Day is offering a free gift tree. Visit this site to learn more!

Kraft Foods is offering a free meal & fitness plan service on their site this year.

Tylenol is offering a free pedometer. Hurry and get this freebie before it is gone!



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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Making Your New Year's Resolutions Work: Light Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently ran across a recipe in my Redbook magazine for a light chocolate chip cookie. I was intrigued by the ingredients because there were no fat substitutes or sugar substitutes and only four tablespoons of butter. How could a cookie with no substitutes and little fat actually be yummy?

That is the goal in Nick Malgieri’s new cookbook called, “Perfect Light Desserts.” He makes fabulous cookies, pies, and more made with real butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. What a concept, huh? This is the kind of cookbook I have been looking for and all of the recipes are under three hundred calories per “generous serving.”

I was able to check the cookbook out from my library and I was not disappointed at all. The desserts are exactly what I would want if I was trying to eat better, and have no replacement ingredients that leave you with a nasty aftertaste in your mouth.

First, I had to share a picture of my new dessert set of plates & mugs that my best friend got for me for Christmas. Each of the plates has a different design on it and they came with a matching little espresso mug & napkins. Aren’t they so cute? She knows me so well!

Back to my review… I made these Light Chocolate Chip cookies and they were absolutely divine. Not too soft, not too hard, chewy, but not too chewy. Mine did come out a little flatter than I had hoped, but that second tablespoon of whole milk, probably ended up being four tablespoons so I fault only myself.

Each cookie contains a mere 114 calories and five grams of fat. This made me think…how much fat were in the ones I was eating before? I shudder to think! These are perfect if your New Year’s resolution is to lose that extra baby weight or just to eat healthier. (Chocolate chip cookies are healthy, right?)

Hope you can give these a try. Feel free to post your impressions of the recipe under our comments section!

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

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free is Just So Good!

I went to the Supermarket on Monday afternoon. I returned some movies that I had gotten for free at our local RedBox (Coupon code: PAPERBOY). Next, I made a pitstop at the Starbucks in the supermarket where I used my gift card to get a free cup of coffee. I then headed over to the cat food aisle and picked up a bag of Purina One Cat Food, which I had received a coupon (value good up to $7 and some change) for and handed the bag to the cashier.

She looked at the coupon, looked at me, looked at the coupon and then rang my order up. When she handed me the receipt she said, "It must be nice to get things for free." What I wanted to say was, "Oh, ma'am, you have absolutely no idea!"

How do you even begin to tell someone how you live your life looking forward to your mail instead of dreading it? How do you explain the joy of figuring out free things to do with your kids? How do you explain that living a life free of debt is my goal? I think it would take more than a quick stop in a grocery line to explain all of that.

Isn't free just so good?

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Product Review: Kashi Kashes in With Moms

Don’t you just love that play on words in the title? I hope you didn’t miss it! In all seriousness, I was never familiar with the Kashi company or any of its products. The supermarket that I shop at does not carry their products, so I was excited when a representative from Kashi sent me an email asking if I would try their new frozen dinners and give my opinion on them. Assuming that they had planned to send me some coupons, I told them I would be more than happy to try their new frozen meals if they would direct me where to purchase them since I had never tried any of their products before and wouldn’t even know where to look for them.

Imagine my delight when two short days later I receive not one large box, but two large boxes full of Kashi products to try. They sent me five different kinds of cereals, Fruitabu snacks for my son (which reminded me of a fruit leather minus the sugar factor), crackers, granola bars, and nine different frozen dinners to try. Our family was in Kashi heaven! We spread the box out and acted like we had never eaten before. My husband tried two kinds of granola bars and a bowl of cereal within the span of ten minutes. My son begged for the FruitaBu saying how much he enjoyed his new candy (can you tell that we don’t give our kid very much sugar?) and I devoured a bowl of cereal myself.

This past week I have tried almost all of the frozen dinners, which was the whole reason Kashi contacted me in the first place, and they are delicious! I will be the first to raise my hand when saying that I don’t buy frozen dinners very often because they aren’t very good for me and I don’t find them to taste very flavorful. I am not going to waste my money on more junk food for our house, but these dinners really tasted delicious and were packed with whole grains, protein, and lean meats.

The nine flavor choices are: Pesto Pasta Primavera, Chicken Florentine, Lemongrass Chicken, Black Bean Mango, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Southwest Style Chicken, Chicken Pasta Pomodoro, Lime Cilantro Shrimp, & Lemon Rosemary Chicken.

Of all of the flavor choices, the Chicken Pasta Pomodoro, the Lemon Rosemary Chicken, & the Chicken Florentine were my favorites. They all tasted amazing though and incorporated some really great flavor combinations.

I do also want to mention that the FruitaBu is about the best thing that has ever hit the fruit snack world. My son has been begging for these every chance he gets. He calls them his, “special treat” and I don’t mind giving him these as they actually use real fruit. These contain minimal sugar, no artificial flavor, and no preservatives. Best of all, they are not messy. Anyone who has ever had to take a vacuum to the back of their car because their child had a party in the back mashing up Cheerios can totally relate to where I am coming from. They are thin so they take up very little space in a lunchbox and would be perfect to stick in your child’s backpack for a special snack.

We thank Kashi for the opportunity to review such great products. It was truly our pleasure to review such great food and we applaud them for encouraging families to eat healthier, without sacrificing the flavors that we love.

For more information on Kashi, please visit their website.

If you would like us to review a product for you, provided it fits with our audience of moms, please email me at [email protected] .



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Sponsored Post: Chefs.com Helps Moms With Dinner

Here is a familiar scenario in our house. It is five o’clock and my husband is on his way home from work. He is looking forward to a delicious meal and I am looking for the fastest way I can get something on our dinner on the table, without a clue in the world what that something is going to be. This is usually one of those days towards the end of the week where I am drained of ideas and energy. Where can a mom like this go to get some answers?

Chefs.com is providing a lot of answers to my questions with a very well-designed site full of recipes for nights just like these. Check out their Quick & Easy Recipes section for dinners on the fly. They also have recipes to entertain with so you can stop dreading all of those potlucks and bring a really unique dish to your friend’s table.

With forums, a cooking blog, podcasts and information on culinary schools, this site is geared towards the most experienced chef and the mom who never was a chef, but is skilled in the art of Kraft ala Macaroni & Cheese.

This site has everything that I love about a good cooking site- interaction, a recipe box to store my favorites, reviews from other chefs, and it is very well-organized.

I hope we have found a new favorite site for you and when that five o’clock dinner hour rolls around, you can really shock your hubby with a really spectacular dish! Microwave Salmon, anyone?

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Make Your Own Scented Oil Refills

I have an obsession with making sure our house always smells really nice. House that smells really nice= six or seven of those scented oil plugins all over the house. The problem with having all of these is the cost to maintain them.

My first solution was to find the generic versions at Aldi. They had lots of scents to choose from and they are only $1.67 per plugin. That was a better deal than most places, but times that by six each month and that was quite the cut into the grocery budget.

I was reading a list of tips from Mary Hunt, that are provided by her readers, and I saw this tip. This is one of those tips where I literally smacked my head and said, "Why didn't I think of that sooner?"

The tip was to take scented oils, from cheap places like your local Dollar Store, and refill those puppies yourself.

I went to our Dollar Store last night and picked up an apple cinnamon scented oil. I brought it home and took the oil refill apart. The generic ones basically come apart by being pulled. I am sure the brand name ones probably can screw apart. I then took a small funnel and poured in the new scent. I dipped both ends of the scent-stick-thingie in the oil, just to give it a good start, put it back together & plugged it back in.

Total cost, about five cents a pop! Isn't that such a brilliant idea? I just love when I find a good idea like that!

Oh, and our house smells like a dream. I did get a few weird looks from my husband as I was performing my science experiment, but whatever!

Be sure to visit Rocks in my Dryer for more great solutions!

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Thrill of the Hunt

I am passionate about getting good deals, which makes me extremely passionate about going to garage sales and visiting our local thrift stores. There is nothing that thrills me more than to get to spend an hour hunting through all of the "junk" to find that one memorable treasure to bring home with me. I have always been this way, even when we had much more money than we do now. Thrifting has always been an outlet for me and now that we are eating at home more, I am able to use our dining out allowance to score some really great thrift store finds, without busting the budget.

It is hard to explain this passion to someone who doesn't experience it...like my husband, for example. He loves me and patiently nods as I go through each deal I found, but I don't see the passion for it although he does appreciate the things that I find that are just for him.

This weekend our parents kindly offered to watch the children for New Year's Eve. They came and picked the kids up at one in the afternoon and we had an entire day to do whatever we wanted. Guess what I begged my husband to go and do with me? Yup, hit the local Goodwill and he wasn't exactly jumping for joy.

He tried to be a good sport about it, but I could see that this and the craft store were not how he planned to spend the day. I told him how much fun it would be and about the people that work there, how nice it is...basically, anything to convince the poor guy that this was worth doing.

Imagine my surprise when my husband enjoyed going to Goodwill with me. He hunted through books and browsed the housewares with me. We pointed out things that we had when we were little and laughed at some of the more vintage pieces. We honestly had the best time.

When we walked out of there with two enormous bags full of goodies for only twenty bucks, he looked at me and told me he finally understood why I love to do this type of shopping. It is a cheap thrill that allows me to escape. Sometimes I might find some great deals, some days I leave with nothing. The point is, it is the thrill of the hunt and knowing that I am not blowing our budget in the process.

On this occasion, here are some of the highlights that we managed to leave with.
Two pictures for the walls in our kitchen ($1.50 each).

A vintage set of wooden dominoes (one of my favorite purchases and only $5)

A Liz Claiborne Purse (which my husband shook his head at me and told me he didn't like it because he said I already have enough purses- $2)

A Pampered Chef apple slicer, peeler, corer with wooden stand (which I had planned on having a party just for this item because it is so pricey- $5)

12 Little Golden Books (which I am saving to give for the countdown to Christmas that I give to my son to countdown the days of December- $6)

I also left with a husband who understands my need to thrift. Now that, my friends, is PRICELESS!

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

Maybe I am the only one in the world who feels this way, but there are a lot of things that intimidate me when it comes to cooking. Working with dough is one thing that I have always been intimidated by. I watch people make bread and pastry doughs on cooking shows all of the time, but I always feel like they know more than me.

Since I have always had this fear of making bread, the bread machine was a great way for me to practice and start learning how to work with dough. When using a dough cycle, all you have to do is throw in the ingredients and wait until the machine beeps. When you hear the beep, you know that the dough has already risen and is ready to either be rolled or put directly into the pan to bake your loaf.

Since I have been more open to working with dough, I offered to bring the rolls to our Christmas dinners. I am always worried that a dish isn't going to work out so I made sure to do a practice run since I have never made rolls before. I was extremely worried that they wouldn't turn out or that my poor kneading or rise times on these would make a flat & yucky roll.

Now that you know how worried I was about working with dough, you will know that this recipe is completely foolproof. Despite being nervous, I am happy to report that these rolls were amazing. They honestly looked like something you would get in a bakery and I had to convince my husband that I actually did make these and didn't buy them.

These rolls are buttery and light. They are great out of the oven or cold. In fact, we had two leftover from our Christmas dinner and we fought over who would get to eat them on the way home.

I guess what I am trying to say is...make this your year to overcome something that you might be intimated by in the kitchen. Maybe it is pie crust? Maybe you have never roasted a chicken? Maybe you just don't know how to cook at all? This might be the year for you to learn a new skill in the kitchen that you can feel really proud of.

What is one thing that you have never tried and wish you could do? Is there something you have always been scared to do because it seemed too difficult? Please share!

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls Recipe #65340 (Courtesy of Recipezaar.com)

1 cup warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

In bread machine pan, put all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. 4. Divide dough into 24 portions. Shape dough into balls. Place in a greased 13 inch by 9 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-16 minutes or until golden brown.

**Amy's Notes**- I actually cooked these for about twelve to fifteen minutes at 350 because that seemed to work better. Otherwise, I prepared these just as directed.



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