Friday, November 27, 2009

Swagbucks Holiday Gift Card Blowout!

It's a good time to save up those Swagbucks – and keep an eye on the Swagbucks site!

Starting today through January 1, Swagbucks will be slashing the price of one gift card each day!

You'll want to check the Swagbucks home page every day to see what the featured gift card is – i.e. which gift card's purchase price (in Swagbucks) has been discounted – and you may be able to get your favorite gift cards (limit two per day) with fewer Swagbucks! (I'm going to be on the lookout for a reduction in the "price" of gift cards!)

New to Swagbucks? Click here to sign up and start earning points for prizes! Learn more about how you can earn free books and lunches (like I have done) here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CVS Black Friday Deals

I’m not a big fan of the hype that accompanies "Black Friday" sales. That said, I ventured out to CVS last year and was pleased with the experience – and the bargains! So, here’s the plan for CVS this year. (These sales reportedly start on Thanksgiving Day.)

Since I have some ECBs to spend, I’m planning to do several transactions in order to pay the minimum out of pocket.

Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion – $7.99
Get $7.99 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use $1.50 printable coupon
FREE plus $1.50 overage after coupon and ECBs

Degree Ultra Clear for Women – $4.00
Get $4.00 ECBs (Limit 1)
FREE after ECBs

Colgate 360 Toothbrush – $2.99
Get $2.00 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
FREE after coupon and ECBs

Colgate Total Advanced (4 oz) – $2.88
Get $2.00 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $0.75/1 coupon (SmartSource 11/08)
$0.13 after coupon and ECBs

Bic Soleil Razor – $6.99 each
Get $5.00 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $2.00 coupon (SmartSource 11/15)
Also use $2.00 printable coupon
FREE after coupons and ECBs

Schick Quattro Razor or 4 Count Refill – $9.99
Get $8.00 ECBs (Limit 1)
$1.99 after ECBs

St. Ives Body Wash (16 oz) – $3.99
Get $3.00 ECBs (Limit 1)
$0.99 after ECBs

Herbal Essences Styler – $2.99 each
Get $2.00 ECBs (Limit 3)
$0.99 after ECBs

Hershey’s Bliss Candy Bar – $0.89
Get $0.89 ECB (Limit 1)
FREE after ECB

Mars King Size Candy Bars – $1.59
Get $1.59 ECBs (Limit 1)
FREE after ECBs

And I may take a look at the following…

Magnavox Universal Remote – $6.99
Get $6.99 ECBs (Limit 1)
FREE after ECBs

Phillips Earbuds – $6.99
Get $6.99 ECBs (Limit 1)
FREE after ECBs

Happy bargain shopping!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Walgreens Deals – 11/15 thru 11/21

Grocery shopping last week at Walgreens was very exciting! This week includes more good grocery deals, and I also have some Register Rewards I need to use.

Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
$0.79 after in-ad coupon

Lindsay Olives – $0.99 after in-ad coupon
Use $1.00/2 printable coupon
$0.49 each after coupon

Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice – two for $5.00 after in-ad coupon
Use $2.00/1 printable coupon
$0.50 each after coupons

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish – two for $3.00
Use $0.75/1 printable coupon
$0.75 each after coupon

Buy 1 Aussie Hair Care product – $2.99
Get $2.00 Register Rewards
Use $1.00/1 coupon (P&G 10/11)
FREE after coupon and RRs

Milk (1 gallon) – $2.49

2010 Day Planner – $1.00

All of this for $9.49 out of pocket!

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of last week's trip (confirmed by today's trip) was discovering a Walgreens where the staff are friendly to couponers! On purpose this afternoon, I got into the check-out line with two coupons more than items in the transaction. (Remember the Walgreens rule?) However, the friendly cashier made everything scan just fine – and I was even able to use $2.00 Register Rewards, too! (I didn't try to use more RRs since today was only a test!) Maybe shopping at Walgreens won't be so bad from now on...

I'm planning to go back for the following deal:

Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers – two for $5.00
Use $2.00/1 printable coupon
$0.50 each after coupon

You can see more deals with coupon match-ups at MoneySavingMom.

Thanksgiving Freebies!

Visit Homeschool Freebies by Jamin to get some great freebies to help you have a correct focus with your family and in your homeschool this Thanksgiving.

Included are:
  • Thanksgiving lapbook
  • Thanksgiving unit study
  • Native American unit study
  • Historical background for the holiday, including all the Presidential proclamations
Thanks to Diane at Strength for Today for drawing my attention to these!

Product Review: The Ultimate Cloth

The Ultimate Cloth is an eco-friendly solution for homes – as well as a money and time saver. The Ultimate Cloth is a brand new technology; in fact, it is the only cloth to receive a new patent in the last 25 years. It is a simple, green, and effective one-step cleaning process.

The Ultimate Cloth cleans any hard surface – glass, wood, granite, stainless steel, and many more – with just water! No longer do you have to use harsh chemicals in your home, nor do you need to spend hundreds of dollars per year buying them. The Ultimate Cloth has been lab tested to remove 96% of bacteria, without the use of chemicals. And, it can cut 50% off your cleaning time. The Ultimate Cloth is truly the ultimate in green cleaning.

When you first remove The Ultimate Cloth from its packaging, you will probably be surprised (like I was) to note that it looks and feels like a paper towel. However, it’s really a MiraFiber™ cloth that is far stronger than a mere paper towel! Following the instructions, I simply wet The Ultimate Cloth thoroughly with warm water, wrung it out thoroughly, and went to work!

How does it work? Exclusive MiraFiber™ technology picks up dust, dirt, and grime.

One of my favorite uses for The Ultimate Cloth so far is cleaning the bathroom mirror – it removed all the splash marks (including water spots, hairspray, toothpaste bits, etc.)! The key to a streak-free finish is to wring out The Ultimate Cloth thoroughly.

Another favorite (and pleasantly surprising!) use was cleaning the bathroom baseboards. (Think: Old house, picture molding style!) Our use of hairspray complicates that "normal" dust that settles on baseboards. But the icky dust was no problem for the Ultimate Cloth, and it even removed the black scuff marks left from shoes – with just a little extra rubbing!

I was also pleased with its performance in and around the bathroom sink – shining the faucets and getting rid of the grit in the sink itself. In spite of the claims that it traps and removes a high percentage of bacteria, I did still use disinfectant wipes on and around the toilet, however. Being a cautious type, I hesitate to do anything else!

I'm very pleased with the performance of The Ultimate Cloth so far. I would say that with its guarantee to last five years of general usage, the $6.00 price is a real bargain!

BUT there's even better news! All readers of this blog can receive a FREE Ultimate Cloth! All you need to do is follow Ultimate Cloth America on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook. Details on how to get the FREE Ultimate Cloths will be revealed via Twitter and Facebook.

A complimentary Ultimate Cloth was provided to me, as a reviewer for Mama Bzz, by Ultimate Cloth America in exchange for today’s blog tour.

A big “Thank-you!” to the folks at Ultimate Cloth America for the opportunity to review this great product!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CVS Deals – 11/15 thru 11/21

Here’s the plan for this week – including some great grocery deals!

Dry Idea or Right Guard Deodorant – $2.99
Get $1.00 ECB (Limit 1)
Use $2.00/1 printable coupon (printed awhile ago)
OR use $2.00/1 coupon (from inside flap on select boxes)
FREE after coupon and ECBs

Duracell Batteries – $2.99
Get $1.00 ECB (Limit 1)
Use $0.75/1 coupon (P&G 11/01)
$1.24 after coupon and ECBs

Buy one CoverGirl Simply Ageless Foundation – $13
Buy one CoverGirl Simply Ageless Blush – $10
Get $10 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use B1G1 coupon (P&G 11/01)
$1.50 each after coupons and ECBs

Buy $10 select Ragu and Skippy Products
Get $3.00 ECBs (Limit 1)
My Deal:
Buy one Hellman’s Mayo – $3.00 each
Buy two Ragu Spaghetti Sauce – $1.66 each
Buy three Skippy Peanut Butter – $1.66 each
Use $0.60/1 Hellman’s coupon (RedPlum 11/15)
Use $0.60/2 Ragu coupon (RedPlum 11/15)
Use three $0.40/1 Skippy coupons (RedPlum 10/04 and 11/15)
$0.98 each after coupons and ECBs

Buy two General Mills Cereals – $3.00 each
Get $2.00 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use two $1.00/1 printable coupons
OR use two $0.75 coupons (SmartSource 11/01)
$1.00 or $1.25 each after coupons and ECBs

Lindsay Olives – B1G1 for $1.99 (Limit 4)
Use $1.00/2 printable coupon
$0.50 each after coupon

Kleenex Facial Tissue – $0.99 (Limit 5)
Use $0.75/1 printable coupon
$0.25 each after coupon

Since I didn’t get my Glade rain check items yet, that’s part of the plan, too.

(See more deals with coupon match-ups at MoneySavingMom.)

What's Cookin'?

We're currently a (very busy!) three-member family! (Who isn't busy?!) So, following my brother and sister-in-law's example, I've been working on a plan that involves cooking big batches of two (favorite) main dishes per week that we can combine with other staples (like pasta!) – in an effort to maximize on time, energy, and other resources. So far, we're still in the experimental stages, but I think we've been happy with our progress.

Meat Loaf is definitely a favorite – and lends itself well to this idea. Because I made a double batch of Meat Loaf last week, not only did we enjoy the Meat Loaf itself, we also enjoyed Meat Loaf Sandwiches (with homemade bread) for several lunches. And I almost used some as modified meatballs in spaghetti sauce (but at the last minute forgot to include it/them).

This week, we'll be enjoying Sweet Butter Bread and a huge pot of Chili – along with other yet-to-be-decided additions. One plan is to use the Chili over spaghetti, like they do in Cincinnati!

We're also enjoying fresh, homemade applesauce!

Stay tuned... We'll keep working on the meal-planning and time-saving ideas...

Recipe for Chili

We love chili! It's especially a fall and winter favorite – although I enjoy it year-round myself!

The following is an adaptation of several recipes that (probably) get slightly modified every time I make chili – especially when it comes to the spices. Chili, in my opinion, is a great "use what you have on hand" recipe!

In 2 Tbsp of olive oil, brown the following:

1 lb ground meat
(We use beef, turkey, venison, or a mix!)
(OR ½ lb to 1 lb mild sausage)

1 medium onion (about 1 cup)
(OR 2 to 4 Tbsp dried onion)

½ tsp lemon pepper

1 or 2 garlic cloves
(OR ½ tsp to 1 tsp garlic powder)

Dash of fresh ground pepper

Put meat mixture in large Dutch oven, and then add:

4 to 5 cans (15 oz) beans
(I usually use part pintos plus a variety of other beans, including kidney beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, Pork & Beans, etc. to equal four or five [15 oz] cans.)

OR 4 cups [2 lbs] uncooked pinto beans, partially cooked using the "Quick Soak Method"
(If starting with 4 cups of dry beans, soak them using the "Quick Soak" method in a large pan with 6 to 8 cups of water: Bring to a rapid boil on medium-high heat; then boil two more minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand one hour. Drain and rinse beans and then add them to the chili pot.

Also add:

2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
(The sugar cuts down on the acidity!)

2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes
½ cup ketchup
1 cup spaghetti sauce

Simmer on the stove for at least 30 minutes (if using canned beans) or at least one hour if using “Quick Soak Method” beans. The rule of thumb with chili seems to be: The longer it simmers, the better! Chili is also a great slow cooker meal!

I sometimes add:

2 cans (7 oz) mushroom pieces (in the pot)
1 mild banana pepper (in the pot)
1 green pepper (in the pot or at the last minute)

If I have fresh tomatoes on hand, I like to add two large fresh tomatoes to the pot just before serving up the chili!

Use your imagination with what you have on hand – and enjoy!

making applesauce

It's still apple season! And one of the simplest (perhaps obvious) things to do when there are lots of apples on hand is make a big batch of applesauce!

About a year ago while experimenting with apples that had to be used up, I came up with a healthful (not oversweet) variety of applesauce that we love to eat plain or incorporate into other (especially sweet bread) recipes.

I start with a big pan full of apples. I used mostly the Golden Delicious variety yesterday:

After washing the apples, I cut them into eighths and then peel each section. (Being health-conscious and frugal, I hate to peel apples – so I sometimes boil the peels in about two cups of water, making an apple drink. But I digress...)

I add one cup of 100% juice to the pan, put on the lid, and then simmer the apples on the stove (on a low setting for about an hour), checking the apples occasionally and stirring and mashing them – since the ones on the bottom cook first. It's always fun to note how much "juice" accumulates in the pan, having started with only one cup! (Incidentally, I've used Kiwi Strawberry Juice the last two times – since that's what I've had on hand. The result is quite tasty, and the juice blend is apple-juice based anyway.)

When the apples are thoroughly cooked and mashed, I uncover the pan to allow them to cool. Then, when the applesauce has thoroughly cooled, I package it up for the fridge or freezer, depending on the quantity.

Yesterday's pan full of apples yielded about 15 cups of pure applesauce!


Barnes & Noble: 25% Coupon

Barnes & Noble will be having a Store Savings Event – 11/19 through 11/22.

Use this coupon to get 25% off one item.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kodak Gallery: last day for $15 gift code!

Sign up today for Kodak Gallery's Million Thanks Giveaway and receive a FREE $15 gift code to spend in the online Kodak Gallery!

Hurry! Today (11/18/09) is reportedly the last day to sign up! And the code you receive will expire on 12/01/09. You can go here to sign up.

Think: Christmas shopping!

There are many items available in the Kodak Gallery for $15 or less, including Photo Books, Photo Mugs, Photo Mousepads, Photo Gifts and Ornaments, Personalized Note Cards, and Photo Prints or Enlargements.

I am very pleased with the photo products I've received so far.

Because there is a limit of one gift code per person, you should be able to register an account (and get a FREE $15 photo gift!) for each person in your household.

Happy bargain shopping!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: The Story of Christmas

The Story of Christmas, written by Gwen Ellis and published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., is a colorful retelling of the birth of Christ and the events surrounding it. Based on the Read and Share™ Bible, the book begins with the birth of John the Baptist. Next comes the appearance of the angel first to Mary and then to Joseph, the trip to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, the arrival of the wise men bringing gifts, the flight to Egypt, and finally the return home to Nazareth. The “Can You Retell the Story?” activity at the end of the book is a great way for children to learn to tell the story themselves.

The very first time I read the book to my three-and-a-half-year-old, I was impressed by the clarity and simplicity with which these Bible stories are retold in language she could readily understand – and without extraneous embellishments! As I read aloud the truths I’ve known and loved since early childhood, I was gripped once again by the reality of Christ’s humble birth and the fact that the King of Kings was laid, not in a crib in a palace, but in “the box where the animals were fed” when HE was born!

Besides the reinforcement activity at the very end of the book, each two-page story also concludes with a thought-provoking question. For example, having recounted the angel’s message to Joseph (“Name the baby Jesus. He will save people from their sins.”), the follow-up is: “The name Jesus means “savior.” What does a savior do?” As we endeavor to communicate the message of the Gospel to our little one on a daily basis and as we work to explain the true meaning of Christmas amid our culture’s abundant distractions, I’m thankful for the opportunities this book presents to highlight these Bible truths.

Although designed in a cartoon style, the illustrations by Steve Smallman appropriately capture the realities of the biblical accounts. Watching my little one’s reactions as she listens and looks at the drawings, I appreciate the care that has been taken to produce an excellent teaching tool for little ones like her. The suggested age range for this book is four to seven. Because of the book’s simple yet engaging style, however, I would even recommend it for two-year-olds or younger.

The book comes in a hardcover format and is 24 pages long. The version I received also includes an animated DVD with six stories from the life of Jesus (approximately 17 minutes total length) as well as coloring pages and other bonus features. Two stories on the DVD (John the Baptist and Jesus Is Born) complement the book. The price for the hardcover book is $7.99 and $10.99 for the hardcover book with the DVD. Based on the quality of the materials and the content and educational value, I would say those prices are fair, and I think The Story of Christmas would be a great addition to a young family's Christmas library!

A complimentary copy of the book was provided to me, as a reviewer for Mama Bzz, by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in exchange for today’s blog tour.

A big “Thank-you!” to the folks at Thomas Nelson, Inc. for the opportunity to enjoy and review this wonderful book!

Publix Super Savers – 11/16/09

It’s been an exciting week at Publix! (And the deals are still on – until 10:00 p.m. today!)

Betty Crocker Frosting (12 to 16 oz) – B1G1 for $1.75
Use $0.50/1 coupon (SmartSource 10/25)
OR use $0.50/1 printable coupons
FREE (plus $0.12 or $0.13 overage!) after doubled coupons

Progresso Soup (18 oz or 19 oz) – B1G1 for $2.29
Use $1.10/1 printable coupon
$0.05 after coupon

Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt (4 pack) – B1G1 for $2.50
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
OR use $1.00/1 coupon (SmartSource 11/08)
$0.25 each

All of this for only $0.60 – thanks mostly to printable coupons and overage on the frosting! The hotdogs were the Penny Item for this week.

And these goodies on a second trip ($14.93 total):

Del Monte Fruit Chillers (8 count) – B1G1 for $2.63
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
$0.32 each

Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers (12 oz) – B1G1 for $2.39
Use $0.40/1 coupon (General Mills 10/04)
$0.40 each after doubled coupon

Lindsay Olives (6 oz) – B1G1 for $1.99
Use $1.00/2 printable coupon
$0.50 each

Kellogg's Crispix Cereal – B1G1 for $3.61
Use $0.75/1 printable coupon
OR $1.00/1 coupon (Redplum 11/08)
$0.80 or $1.05 each

The Crispix boxes had coupons on them: $2.50/1 Cheez-It Crackers wyb two Crispix Cereals. So, I got the crackers for $1.49!

Juicy Juice (64 oz) – B1G1 for $3.65
Use $1.00/2 printable coupon
$1.33 each

Emerald Deluxe Mixed Nuts (10 oz or 11 oz) – B1G1 for $5.79
Use $1.50/2 coupon (SmartSource 11/08)
$2.15 each

Tangerines (3 lbs) – $1.88
These are probably the real highlight!

Gotta love those printable coupons! Thanks once again to FiddledeedeeMom for posting coupon match-ups every week!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Birthday Season: Lots of FREE Loot!

We've been celebrating "Birthday Season" for my Dearest at our house, cashing in on some very nice birthday coupons to help us celebrate!

My favorite people, enjoying food and friendship!

Register your birthday on the following sites, so you can print coupons when "Birthday Season" arrives for you! Some sites will send a "welcome" coupon, and most sites will send an email reminder about the birthday coupon a week or two before the date.

I'm listing the goodies by category:

Main Dishes:

Don Pablo's – $10 Birthday Discount on Habaneros Club Card
You have to get the card in the restaurant prior to registering it online.
JM got the $10.79 Carnitas for $0.79 (plus tax) after the coupon.

McAlister's Deli – Coupon for $5.00 off your next meal
JM got the $6.99 Taco Salad for $1.99 (plus tax) after the coupon.

Moe's Southwest Grill – FREE Entree (excluding fajitas)

Red Robin – FREE Gourmet Burger of your choice

Ruby Tuesday – FREE Handcrafted Burger of your choice

Schlotzsky's Deli – FREE "The Original" Sandwich

Sticky Fingers – FREE Half Slab of Ribs (or other menu item up to $13.99 value)

Firehouse Subs – FREE Sub Sandwich
This coupon arrives via US Mail – and does not have an expiration date!

Ice Cream or Dessert:

Atlanta Bread Co. – FREE Cookie

Baskin Robbins – FREE Scoop of Ice Cream (2.5 oz)

Cold Stone Creamery – FREE "Create Your Own Creation" (ice cream + 1 mix-in)

Dairy Queen – B1G1 FREE Blizzard Treat (16 oz each)

Marble Slab Creamery – FREE Regular Cone

My friend Keren at Saving in Greenville links to two other sites with extensive lists of goodies you can sign up for as you approach a birthday:

Freebies 4 Mom
Bargain Banana

So, "Happy Birthday to You!" – from the frugal blogosphere!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Walgreens Deals – 11/08/09 thru 11/14/09

It’s a great week to stock up on baking goods! Here’s the plan, using the $5 off $25 coupon (in the weekly flier):

Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry or Cranberry Pomegranate Juice (64 oz) – on sale for $1.99 each
Use $1.00/1 coupon (November Coupon Book)
$0.99 each after coupon

Buy two Carnation Evaporated Milk (12 oz) – $0.99 each after in-ad coupon
Use $0.50/2 coupon (SmartSource 09/27 or RedPlum 11/01)
OR use $0.50/2 printable coupon
$0.74 each after coupons

Buy two Gold Medal Flour (5 lbs) – two for $3.00 after in-ad coupon
Use two $0.50/1 printable coupons
$1.00 each after coupons

Buy two Sun-Maid Raisins (18 oz.) – two for $4.00 after in-ad coupon
Use $1.00/2 coupon (SmartSource 11/08)
$1.50 each after coupons

Clabber Girl Baking Powder – two for $1.00 after in-ad coupon

Honey (32 oz) – $3.99 after in-ad coupon
(Get the limit of three.)

Other good deals include:

Buy two Nexxus Mousse – on sale two for $5.00
Use $4.00/1 coupon (November Coupon Book)
(Coupon will deduct $5.00 total.)
FREE after coupon

Buy two Cover Girl Lipcolor – B1G1 for $3.99
Use $2.50/2 coupon (P&G 11/01)
$0.75 each after coupon
(Do this deal twice.)

Hallmark White Tissue Paper (20 sheets) – $0.39 after in-ad coupon
(Do this deal twice.)

Of course, I’ll need some “filler items” (e.g. fall decorations already on clearance for 75% off) due to the Walgreens’ rule: “Number of coupons in the transaction cannot exceed the number of items in that transaction!” And I have some RRs I’d like to use as well…

Praising the Lord for His abundant provision!

All of these (mostly) baking goods for $11.46 out of pocket after coupons, $11.50 RRs, and $2.92 from an old (almost forgotten) gift card.

It was exciting (even to those in line behind me!) to see the numbers on the cash register decrease from almost $70 to just under $12!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FREE samples for Mom and Baby!

Click here to sign up for free samples, including:
And the diaper samples often come with coupons that can be combined with diaper sales at our favorite drug stores!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's Cookin'?

It's another rainy (and quite windy!) autumn day in the Upstate – a good day to be inside cooking and baking. And the smell of fresh-baked bread is always so homey!

We'll be enjoying Classic Meatloaf for supper. (I made a double batch – part beef, part venison.) We'll add some frugal finds from the freezer and cupboard in the way of veggies and comfort food (i.e. mashed potatoes)! There's also Sweet Butter Bread in the making – to be enjoyed as part of Meatloaf Sandwiches later this week. Yum!

And since there's still some left, we'll probably enjoy some Chocolate Chip Banana Bread for dessert. (I'll plan to post and link to the recipe later.)

Frugalista Notes:
  • I love to modify recipes! Part of my experiment today should have included adding grated carrots to the meatloaf recipe, but I got in a hurry and simply forgot. I've also thought of adding grated cheese. Adding veggies and/or cheese can be a great way to add more nutrition, of course.
  • Meatloaf is a great way to stretch grocery dollars (or pesos, etc.); I have fond memories of meatloaf meals, enjoyed as a child!
  • Eventually, I'll be baking bread in the oven – instead of assigning that portion of my work load to my maiden, the bread machine. When I do, I'll have to add baking time to the recipe instructions... But until then, I'll enjoy the welcome help!
  • Banana Bread is just a great frugal invention – a wonderful way to salvage bananas that are perishing. And chocolate chips are a welcome addition to almost any dessert!

Recipe for Sweet Butter Bread

Adapted from a Pillsbury bread machine booklet, this is a favorite at our house!


1 cup (warm) water
3 cups bread flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp wheat germ
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
1 large egg (or ¼ cup Egg Beaters)
1¾ tsp (active dry) yeast

Place ingredients in the bread case and insert the bread case into the bread machine. Select the Sweet Bread Mode and press Start.


Recipe for Classic Meatloaf

Oats are what make it classic, in our opinion. That is, part of the identity of meatloaf at our house is that it must contain oats!


1 to 1½ lbs ground beef (or ground turkey or ground venison)
1 cup uncooked oats (½ cup quick oats + ½ cup old-fashioned oats)
¾ cup finely chopped onion (or 3 tsp dried onion)
1 cup spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce or tomato juice)
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ to 1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp seasoning (adobo, etc.)
(½ teaspoon salt)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Shape the meatloaf mixture into a 1.5-quart loaf pan. (Garnish with ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc.)

Bake 50 minutes to an hour (until the meatloaf is not pink in the center, and juices show no pink color). Let stand five minutes before slicing. (Garnish with more ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc.)


Organic Valley: FREE $10 Coupon Book

Click here to sign up for a special-edition coupon book from Organic Valley – with $10 in coupons (while supplies last).

By signing up, you'll also be entered to win a year of free Organic Valley products and a chance to have a donation made in your name to your favorite store's local food pantry.

Toys "R" Us: "The Biggest Game Sale of the Year"

This was worth braving this morning's wind and rain!

Select games are on sale at Toys "R" Us – only until Saturday, November 14!

As advertised in the weekly flier:
Buy $25 worth of Hasbro games, Get a $10 Toys "R" Us gift card.*

Plus, there's a mail-in rebate on select games! You can pick up the rebate form in the store or click here to see the list of qualifying games and download and print the rebate form.

My deal:

Connect 4 – on sale for $9.99 (regularly $13.99)
Qualifies for $3.00 rebate

Candy Land – on sale for $3.99 (regularly $8.99)
Qualifies for $2.00 rebate

Chutes and Ladders – on sale for $3.99 (regularly $8.99)
Qualifies for $2.00 rebate

Memory – on sale for $3.99 (regularly $9.99)
Qualifies for $2.00 rebate

Memory – on sale for $3.99 (regularly $9.99)
(No rebate on a duplicate game)

Total out of pocket: $25.95 (plus tax)
Get $10 gift card
Get $9.00 in rebates
$1.39 each game

* Gift card activates in six hours and will expire on 12/31/09. I'll probably be going back for a non-rebate game I was eyeing – on sale only until Saturday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CVS Deals – 11/08/09 thru 11/14/09

Here’s the plan for this week!

The first deal is good only through Tuesday – that’s today!

Gold Emblem Nuts (6.5 oz to 11.5 oz) – on sale B1G1 for $4.39
My Deal:
Buy six cans of Gold Emblem Nuts
Use $2.00 off any two CVS Brand Nuts coupon
Stack with $2.00 off $10 or more CVS Brand Purchase coupon
(These coupons printed when I scanned my Extra Care Card at the in-store coupon machine on Saturday!)
$1.53 each after coupons

Buy two Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste – on sale $3.49 each
Get $4 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use two $0.75/1 coupons (P&G 11/01)
$0.74 each after coupons and ECBs

Rimmel Mascara – $6.99 each
Get $4 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use $2.00/1 coupon (All You Magazine, November)
$0.99 after coupon and ECBs

EARinse – $7.99 each
Get $7.99 ECBs (Limit 1)
FREE after ECBs

And I’m planning to redeem the rain check from last week:

Buy $10 of Glade Scented Oil Candles or Refills – on sale $2.50 each
Get $3.00 ECBs (Limit 3 deals)

To complete my order, I’ll need to…

Buy three Holders – $2.50 each
Get six Refills – $2.50 each
Use two coupons for Free Refills wyb any Holder (SmartSource 11/01)
Stack with another B1G1 printable coupon
Get $6.00 ECBs
(I already have $5.00 in Glade credit on my Extra Care Card!)
$0.25 each after coupons and ECBs

Then submit SC Johnson rebates and get $10 more back!

Gotta love Cashbaq!

Hurrah! I have most of my Christmas shopping (and even some birthday shopping) done for the nieces and nephews – thanks to the online Fall Clearance Sale at The Children's Place AND the coupons on Cashbaq!

There's a wide selection included in the Fall Sale (summer, fall, and winter), and some of the items are over 90% off right now! And if you're placing a big order, there's even a Cashbaq Coupon for 20% off $75 or more right now. But hurry! It expires on 11/16/09.

I first learned to appreciate the quality of clothes from The Children's Place due to hand-me-downs passed along for my little girl. I couldn't help but notice the great quality of the clothes, still in great shape after being worn by at least two other little girls! So, when I learned of the great combination of clearance + coupons + cash back (thanks to Cashbaq alerts) during the Summer Clearance Sale, I was super excited – and even more so when I found quality clothes for "Wal*Mart prices! (Literally! I even returned a shirt to Wal*Mart this summer after getting a much better one online from The Children's Place for the same price!)

You pay a flat $5.00 shipping fee for any size order from The Children's Place. Another BIG bonus for me was all the time (and travel) I saved. In one evening, I shopped for four boys and three girls! And I'm now hoping to make shopping online for Christmas (through Cashbaq) a habit... Shopping online at The Children's Place, while seated at a computer in South America should be no problem – provided I have a US shipping address. Right?!

Are you new to Cashbaq? You can get a $5.00 bonus when you sign up – which could translate into free shipping from The Children's Place! Plus, you get 3% cash back on your order. Click here to get started! In Shop by Store in the upper left corner of the Cashbaq site, choose "The Children's Place" and you will be taken to the page with current promotional coupons. Choose one of the coupons listed and place your order!

Happy Bargain Shopping!

weekend savings

Besides all the exciting deals at Publix (still valid through today!), Super Savers for the weekend included:

At Target:

Kellogg’s Special K Cereals – B3G1
Used three $1.00/1 Target coupons
Used two $1.00/1 printable coupons
Used one $1.00/2 printable coupon
Total: $0.87 each

At Walgreens:

All of this (coupon details here), PLUS two gallons of milk for only $3.95 out of pocket – after coupons and $15.50 RRs! And with the SC Johnson rebate, I’ll actually be earning $5.00 back on Glade products!

Additional bargains at Walgreens included:

J&J First Aid Supplies – $1.00 each
Herbal Essence Hair Spray – $0.75 each
Dial Soap – $0.64
Almay Mascara – $2.00 each
Hunt's Tomato Sauce – FREE
(Coupon details here.)

And bargains at CVS included:

Buy $10 of Glade Scented Oil Candles or Refills – on sale $2.50 each
Get $3.00 ECBs (Limit 3 deals)

I was hoping for the following scenario:

Buy six Holders – $2.50 each
Buy six Refills – $2.50 each
Use two coupons for Free Refills wyb any Holder (SmartSource 11/01)
Stack with two B2G1 Refills (SmartSource 11/01)
$0.92 each after coupons and EBCs

However, I checked four stores – and all of them were out of holders. (Of course! It was Saturday evening, after all.) I had to adjust my plan, getting three refills at one store and three more at another store (with the B2G1 coupon) and earning $3.00 ECBs. (That’s the beauty of the Extra Care Card – it “remembers” your purchases for you.) I got my first CVS rain check and will be going back for three holders, getting three free refills (with the B1G1 coupon), and earning $6.00 ECBs – and then $10.00 more from SC Johnson rebates! (Limit three rebates per household – with a mail-in deadline of 06/30/10.)

Basically, I’ll end up with nine Scented Oil Candle Refills and three Holders FREE – plus $1.50 overage after rebates! I'm very excited about these Glade deals because I plan to use them as Christmas presents and hostess gifts during extensive travel next year, Lord willing!

Publix Super Savers – 11/10/09

Publix – “Where Saving Is Part of the Pleasure!”

Total vendor coupons: $12.25
Total store coupons: $2.25
Total advertised special savings: $16.51
Total Savings at Publix: $31.01 (plus the value of the Penny Item)
Total out of pocket: $7.39

All these deals (with the exception of the Penny Item) are still valid through today!

Betty Crocker Potatoes (4.6 oz to 6.6 oz) – B1G1 for $1.75
Use $0.40/1 printable coupon
$0.08 each after doubled coupon

Campbell’s Select Harvest Soup – B1G1 for $2.39
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
$0.20 each

Hunt's Tomatoes (14.5 oz) – B1G1 for $1.39
Use $0.50/2 printable coupon
OR use $0.45/3 coupon (from recent newspaper insert)
$0.20 or $0.40 each after doubled coupons

Muir Glen Pasta Sauce (25.5 oz) – B1G1 for $3.59
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
$0.80 each

Kellogg's Special K Cereal (11.4 oz to 14 oz) – B1G1 for $3.99
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
$1.00 each
(And these Special K boxes come with tokens – Collect five to get a $10 voucher for jeans.)

Scotties Facial Tissue (75 count) – on sale $1.25 each
Use $1.00/1 printable coupon
$0.25 each

And the Penny Item was Publix Oats (18 oz).

Gotta love those printable coupons! It’s almost like printing money!

Thanks once again to FiddledeedeeMom for posting coupon match-ups every week!

Monday, November 9, 2009

More printable coupons!

There are some new printable coupons out – and rumor on the frugal blogosphere says that you'll want to print some of the more exciting ones...

$0.50/1 Betty Crocker Frosting Tub: here and here
(There's also one in the 10/25 SmartSource insert.)

$1.00/1 Yo-Plus Yogurt (4 pack): here

And Walgreens has a great deal on Kleenex this week – just in time for cold season!

Buy three boxes of Kleenex Facial Tissue – on sale
Use in-ad coupon (to make them $1.09 each)
Use $0.50/3 printable coupon
OR use the $0.50/3 coupon (10/04 or 11/01 SmartSource)
Stack with $1.00/1 coupon (November Healthy Savings Booklet) (to deduct $3.00 total)
FREE plus overage after coupons!

Don't forget that you'll need some "filler items" because of Walgreens' rule: "Number of coupons in the transaction cannot exceed the number of items in that transaction!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kodak Gallery: $15 photo gift to first 100,000

Last week I received a $15 coupon code from Kodak Gallery, and I used it to bargain shop for Christmas. I'm very pleased with the photo book and thank-you cards I received – for about $3.00 (for shipping)!

The great news is that the offer is back! Kodak Gallery is again giving away another 100,000 FREE $15 gift codes! You can go here to sign up.

Because there is a limit of one per person, you should be able to register an account (and get a FREE $15 photo gift!) for each person in your household. Each coupon code will expire ten days from the day it is sent to you via e-mail.

Plus, if you place your order through Cashbaq, you should get 4% back on your order. And there's another coupon link on Cashbaq for 20 FREE photo prints for new Kodak Gallery members, too!

New to Cashbaq? Get a $5.00 bonus when you sign up! Click here to get started! Then, in Shop by Store in the upper left corner of the Cashbaq site, choose "Kodak Easy Share Gallery" and you will be taken to the page with current promotional coupons. Click on a Shop Now link or choose one of the coupons listed (e.g. 20 free photo prints for new members), and place your order! And don't forget to use your $15 coupon code (received via e-mail) when you check out!

Happy bargain shopping!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review: Girl Talk

It's a book full of practical and frugal tips and amusing anecdotes!

Girl Talk, compiled by Gigi Garner and published by Five Star Publications, is a collection of useful tips, confidences, and anecdotes like the ones we women might share with our girl friends over tea or coffee. It's the kind of book that can be picked up and then easily set aside when the next duty calls – and it’s full of both useful and amusing tips.

Advice and/or anecdotal categories include: Friend Talk, Career Talk, Clothes Talk, Beauty Talk, Health Talk, Home Talk, Kitchen Talk, Mommy Talk, Pet Talk, and Travel Talk. For example, wise advice for young Type-A moms (like me!) includes: “Housework will always be there waiting for you, whereas a child will grow and the sun will set…”

One of my favorite anecdotes is The Secret Dish. As the mother of a K-3 student, I often have to choose my battles; therefore, I could appreciate the creativity of this approach in persuading little ones to eat vegetables and other healthful foods. And I’m especially eager to try out some of the recipes included in the book – such as, Gigi Garner’s Guacamole Dip and “a variety of personalities” for one of our favorite comfort foods – Deviled Eggs. Yum!

Girl Talk is also full of practical and frugal tips. For example, did you know that putting an avocado pit in the middle of freshly-made guacamole keeps the dip from turning brown? Or that a homemade tomato facial can tighten pores and make your face glow? Or that putting some Sweet N’ Low in hair dye keeps it from irritating sensitive skin? Or that lemonade flavored Kool-Aid can act as a stain remover? Or that cereal box liners can work great as freezer bags? And that gift-wrapped cereal boxes can make great (frugal!) shirt boxes? Or that some leftovers (including used tea leaves and coffee) can make specific plants in your garden really flourish? Etcetera! Etcetera!

The book currently sells for $15.95 online; however, there is currently a 24th anniversary promotion for a 24% discount, making the book $12.12 (when you order through Pay Pal). My rule of thumb for what I’m willing to pay for a book is an average of $10.00, so I would say the price is fair – especially if you’re looking for a coffee table or waiting room type of book.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided to me, as a reviewer for Mama Bzz, by Five Star Publications in exchange for today’s blog tour.

Thank-you to the folks at Five Star Publications for giving me the opportunity to enjoy and review this book!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

last week's savings

When I post about savings, a primary goal is that the content be current or educational or both (and not merely the mounting of a virtual moose rack). This week I'm differing from my norm of posting only current deals by posting about savings strategies at the two drugstores I frequent.

Pictured here are last week's savings at CVS:

I didn't compile and post my own "CVS Shopping List" for this trip as I usually do either right before or right after going; at the last-minute I decided the deals posted at MoneySavingMom were too good to pass up.

Total (sale) value: $29.99
Total out of pocket after $10 in coupons and $2.00 ECBs: $17.99 (plus tax)
ECBs earned: $12 ECBs

This was an unusual trip as I had only $2.00 ECBs to spend. I normally have more and end up paying about $2.00 or less out of pocket after coupons and ECBs. This trip resembles more of a Getting-Started-at-CVS scenario – where you actually spend some real money out of pocket in order to build up some ECBs that you can later combine with more coupons in order to get more ECBs, and so on.

Last week I basically got the Cambell's Soup FREE and paid $1.00 per bottle of name-brand shampoo and conditioner and $2.99 for the ($9.00) "Tickle Toothbrush" – which will become either a Christmas or birthday present.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I would say that the biggest money-saving tips are:
  • Use the higher-value printable coupons.
  • Combine those and newspaper coupons with sales and ECBs and stock up on what you'll need – so you never have to pay full price for the everyday essentials of a household!

I find Walgreens to be a good bit more complicated (and perhaps not as user-friendly) as CVS. (You can read earlier thoughts about CVS versus Walgreens.) So, I've adopted a new strategy for shopping at Walgreens. In a nutshell, I get the Register Rewards deals I need or will use, pay out of pocket for them in order to avoid couponing hassles, and then use the RRs for staples like milk and eggs, school supplies, and birthday and Christmas presents.

I still have to watch out for one aggravating rule: "Number of coupons in the transaction cannot exceed the number of items in that transaction." But this new approach has been a lot less stressful than trying to fix botched transactions where coupons didn't scan or RRs didn't print. (I do politely ask if something didn't go as planned, but I've chosen not to argue with individual store cashiers or managers when couponing policies differ from one store to the next. You can read more thoughts on why here.)

Pictured here are last week's savings at Walgreens:

Total (sale) value: $42.21
Total out of pocket after $9.26 in coupons: $33.13 (includes tax)
RRs earned: $32.50 RRs
I basically paid $0.63 for all that loot!

These are savings from trips to three stores. Since Walgreens does not have a store "loyalty card" (like the Extra Care Card at CVS), I visit several stores in order to maximize the savings.

Stay tuned for a post on frugality that factors in time and energy spent.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review of the Rapelli Game

Using a giant piece of bamboo as the game board, Rapelli – manufactured by HaPe International – works on color matching, counting, and even rudimentary logic! It’s terrific for the youngest budding mathematicians (aged 3+). The list price is $29.99, but the game is currently on sale for $21.50 (a savings of almost 30%) on the Timberdoodle website.

The game comes in a sturdy cardboard box – complete with a bamboo handle for easy carrying. Included are: one large bamboo tube (the “game board”), eighteen caterpillars in six colors, one action die, and one color die. The Rapelli “game board” and pieces are made of eco-friendly bamboo with water-based paints. (Specific materials are listed in detail on the Timberdoodle website.)

My three and a half year old was immediately drawn to the colorful caterpillars. “They’re so cute!” Not until after we had placed the caterpillars in the bamboo tube and started playing, did I realize that this was Elizabeth’s first real opportunity to play a board game that involved rolling dice – and taking turns! She’s an avid little learner and caught on quickly.

When she saw the game box the very next day, she begged to play it again. Later that same evening, she was eager to show it to her Tío Matías and Tía Tini, who were visiting for the evening. She has asked to play it every day, and we’ve been enjoying it as our schedules allow.

Basically, depending on the number of players (from two to six), each one chooses one to three colors of caterpillars which start out with only their cute little smiling faces showing on the outside of the bamboo tube. The first player rolls both the color die and the action die to determine which color of caterpillar and how many sections of that caterpillar he will move either forward or backward. There is also a “wild card” allowing the lucky player to pull out the specified color of caterpillar completely! The winner is the first to collect all his caterpillars. We did end up making some additional rules as we went along. For example, if the color die specified a color not currently in play, that player got to roll again to try for another color option.

Basic addition skills can be developed as the youngest players realize that when the action die has three forward arrows, it means that three segments of the caterpillar must be advanced – in addition to however many segments of that caterpillar have already been emerged from the tube. For us, this new game is reinforcing basic mathematics Elizabeth is learning in K-3. “What do two and three make?” and so on. She’s enjoying the new learning adventure!

The Timberdoodle website states: “While Rapelli is a great game to review and reinforce colors and counting, the element of strategy makes it an engaging game for all ages.” And I agree. It quickly becomes apparent that the choice of color to advance will very probably not be your own! Consequently, if you get opportunity to move an opponent’s caterpillar backward, you’ll want to choose the one that has emerged the farthest from the tube. If you have to advance an opponent’s caterpillar, you’ll want to choose one that is just beginning to show rather than the one that is almost out of the tube, etc.

I think an added bonus is the fact that the instructions are in five languages, including Spanish and French – of great interest to our family! Here’s a tip for those learning and teaching foreign languages to children: Say the colors and numbers in the target language(s) as another way to reinforce that vocabulary!

We like educational games at our house – games that teach critical thinking skills to little ones – and we are pleased that Rapelli fits that bill. With Christmas less than two months away, I heartily recommend Rapelli as a great addition to any young family’s wish list. While I personally would not pay the list price for this game, I think the sale price (a savings of almost 30%) is a fair one, given the game’s high quality and educational value.

A complimentary game was provided by Timberdoodle to Mama Bzz reviewers in exchange for today’s blog tour.

I was very happy when I received the email stating that I had been selected by Timberdoodle to review Rapelli! My 3½ year old is an avid little learner who loves games, building things, and learning in general. Thank-you to the folks at Timberdoodle for the opportunity to review this great product!