Monday, March 31, 2008

Money Monday - CVS

There are not a lot of excellent deals at CVS right now, but I picked up a few things this past weekend.

Transaction #1:

I went in to CVS to scan my card and to see if they had the vitamins in stock yet. They did not, but as I was walking past an isle a 75% off CLEARANCE tag caught my eye. These NexCare products were 75% off AND were a monthly ECB deal! They were each on clearance for $2.50 or $3.00 and each gave $4.00 ECB back! WOO HOO! MAKING MONEY AT CVS WITHOUT COUPONS! I was so excited that I failed to check the boxes to see if there were coupons inside. Lo and behold, there was a $1/1 Nexcare coupon in each box. I was so sad when I got home - I could have made $11 instead of $6! Lol - well, okay - I wasn't that sad. I mean, I did make money on my trip. But you know. :)

Anyway, so that trip was free, since I used ECB to pay. I "paid" $14 and made $20! WHOOP!

Transaction #2:

FINALLY the vitamins were in stock! I got two softsoaps (used $1/1 coupons on each), two bottles of vitamins, and a bottle of thyme (since I am out). I "spent" $15.80 (CVS gift card) and got $15.96 back in ECB. :) A fairly successful trip.

Money Monday - Menu For The Week (March 30th-April 5th)

First of all, I want to say thank you to those of you who participated in the "How Much Do You Spend On Groceries?" poll! It was interesting to watch the poll fluctuate, but in the end it came out to be a very even vote.

Now, onto meals for this week. I made several grocery stops this weekend. (You can read about them here, here, and here). As I mentioned in one of those posts, I did spend more than my normal $50 this weekend, but there were some EXCELLENT deals this week at both Meijer and Kroger, so I will just cut back on the rest of the month of April in order to make up for this weekend's spending. (This week I spent $79, instead of the normal $50).

Here are our meals for this week:

Sunday: We ate FREE pizza rolls from Meijer. :)

Monday - Today is my older daughter's birthday. Since we had to run errands anyway, I stopped at BK and we had our occasional $3 breakfast (2 orders of french toast sticks and an order of cini-mini's).
Tuesday - cold cereal, yogurt
Wednesday - oatmeal w/ raisens
Thursday - eggs toast, and bacon
Friday - cold cereal, peaches
Saturday - pancakes, sausage, yogurt

Monday - Since we were at the grocery store until 1pm and I was totally lazy today, I stopped at Arby's and grabbed the 5 items for $6.95. I know...way to spoil the budget, right?
Tuesday - fish sticks, peas, crackers
Wednesday - PB&J sandwiches, peaches
Thursday - hot dogs, cheese slices, pasta
Friday - ravioli
Saturday - sandwiches

Monday - Out to eat with the in-laws for Sienna's birthday!
Tuesday - tacos
Wednesday - chicken and rice bake
Thursday - spaghetti w/ meat sauce, garlic bread
Friday - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies
Saturday - chicken, fried potatoes, carrots/corn, homemade biscuits

I made biscuits this weekend and cooked up some bacon circles, so I pre-packaged biscuits with meat and cheese (we also have some frozen sausage patties) for him to grab each morning for breakfast. We got a few bread bowls at church on Sunday, so he's taking soup in a bread bowl for 2 days' lunches this week. Other days, he can take deli meat sandwiches, pretzels, some of that FREE Chex mix, chicken salad sandwiches, or yogurt.

So there you have it. I am so excited about our meals this week - we have not had much meat lately! Yummo!

Money Monday - Kroger

I didn't take a picture, but I picked up LOTS of meat from Kroger this week. I spent more than our weekly grocery budget (all $30 I spent at Kroger was over our budget), but the meat should last us through the month of April, so I'll just cut out $10 for the rest of the month).

If you have a Kroger nearby, be sure you don't miss the great deals on b.s. chicken breasts ($1.57/lb) and ground chuck ($1.47/lb)!

Money Monday - Another Stop at Meijer

Since the deals are so incredibly good this week, I made another stop at Meijer this afternoon. Since my kids were along, it was a quick stop. But thank you, Meijer bakery, for the free cookies to keep them occupied for the first 5 minutes!

Here's what I grabbed:

Total before sales and coupons: $25.00

Total sales savings: $9.17
Total coupon savings: $8.72
Total OOP: $7.11

I can typically get bread for less than $1 per loaf, but we LOVE this bread, so $1 is a great deal on it. (It's usually $2.99). The pizza rolls and margerines were FREE with doubled coupons, the coffeemate was FREE with coupon, and the Lysol cost me 28 cents each with doubled coupons. If it hadn't been for the $1.87 eggs and the $3.09 cheese, my total would have been much more impressive. But those were necessary this week. *Sigh*

Still a decent shop though!

Money Monday - Walgreens

I don't do a ton of Walgreens shopping. I tend to focus my attention on CVS because the whole process seems easier to me. However, I do stop by Walgreens when the deals are easy and quick. Last week, I made one quick stop and spent 58 cents on the following:

Not a bad deal. Excedrins were on sale for $1.99 each and I had $2/1 coupons for them. Then, for a filler item, I grabbed a big Hershey kiss for my hubby (75% off from Easter).

I also want to mention that this Wednesday, April 2 you can get 1 free printer cartridge refill per person with in-ad coupon at Walgreens. It may take a few days to get your cartridge back, but that's a significant savings, so it's worth it to me!

Money Monday - Meijer Rocks This Week!!

If you are an avid coupon clipper like me and you have not headed over to Meijer yet for their 10 for $10 sale, DO IT NOW. I totally made out like a bandit this week, getting LOTS of free food items. I'm sure the picture doesn't do it justice at all, but here is what I got:

Here is the rundown...
FREE stuff is in bold. Italicized stuff cost less than 25 cents.

6 tubes of Crest toothpaste
1 box Gerber baby cereal
1 Gerber sippy cup
3 2-pk Gerber baby food
2 boxes Nerds candy
2 pkgs Cheerios Snack Mix
2 pkgs Chex Mix

1 loaf WW bread
1 pk tortillas
2 cans spaghetti sauce
2 tubs I Can't Believe It's Not Butter margerine
2 cans chicken (like tuna)
2 boxes garlic bread
6-pk kids yogurt
3 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios
5 boxes Totinos pizza rolls
2 crtns ice cream
1 bag pretzels
3 lbs baby carrots
2 pkgs deli meat
1 box Quaker muffin bars
7 pkgs cookie mix
2 Johnson's buddies soaps
1 3-pk popcorn
4 pkgs cat treats (no, we don't have a cat, but these were free)
2 bottles Lysol kitchen spray
4 bottles Lysol toilet bowl cleaner
2 bottles Lysol pourable

It took 3 transactions (because Meijer will only double two identical coupons per transaction). But here are the numbers:

Total before coupons and sales: $145
Total coupon savings: $49
Total non-coupon savings: $55
Total OOP:$41

YAY FOR ME!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend Worship - Judging Others

I am sick and tired - and I mean SICK and TIRED - of hearing Christians say "Don't judge me!" in response to someone pointing out a blatant sin in their life.

As Christians, we are allowed - no, REQUIRED and EXPECTED - to confront a fellow believer if they are in a pattern of sin. It is our duty as a brother or sister in Christ. That kind of "judging", if you so wish to call it that, is perfectly acceptable and is in fact necessary for the body of Christ to flourish.

The kind of judging we are instructed to stay away from is judging another in an area unspecified in Scripture - that is, in an area of Christian liberty. Christianity is not a set of rules that we must follow or else. We have guidelines set by our Heavenly Father for our own good. But aside from those guidelines, we may live as we please in order to glorify God.

I am slowly learning what all of this means. It is hard for me to accept the fact that, regardless of how my children pick up their toys, I should be happy they are picking them up. It doesn't matter if they put the puzzles away first and then the cars or the other way around. There is nothing unbiblical about either, so I should not bother getting upset about it. Just because I would put the puzzles away first doesn't mean they are doing it wrong by putting the cars away first.

Here's another example: When I bake a cake, I get all of my ingredients out and put them on the counter. Then, as I use each ingredient, I put it back in the cupboard or fridge where it belongs. That way, when I'm ready to stir, everything has already been put away. It's easier for me because I hate a big cleanup and doing it this way tricks my mind into thinking I haven't cleaned anything up. HOWEVER my husband does things the exact opposite way if he bakes a cake. He gets out the ingredients as he needs them and then leaves them all out until he is finished stirring and has put the cake into the oven. Does it matter what order these things are done? Of course not! But if I walk into the kitchen toward the end of his process, I can very quickly get my toga in a bunch (as our pastor says) over the mess. But it doesn't really matter.

Now, if I walked into the kitchen and my husband started swearing at me because I had missed a spot when I cleaned the bowl, that would be a different story. But in the case given, there is nothing unbiblical about either method of making a cake, so it is not my place to judge how he does it. I can have an opinion and offer suggestions, but that is the end. I cannot insist that he do it my way just because it's my way and I think my way is better. (Even though it is, of course). :)

But here's my point: Stop walking around in sin and telling people to stop judging you for doing it. That IS their place.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fitness Friday

Today I walked around the Children's Museum with a 15-lb baby in a front carrier, and two toddlers (25 lbs and 30 lbs) in a 20-lb double stroller. As far as fitness goes, I'm gonna call it a day. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Throwback Thursday - The Evolution of the Washing Machine

On March 27, 1797, the first U.S. patent for a washing machine was granted to Nathaniel Briggs of New Hampshire.

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine life without a washing machine. Well, okay, I can imagine it, but I'd rather not. Anyway, here is a brief history of the washing machine....

The very first washer model was invented in the mid-1700s and was known as the box mangle. Following the box mangle came the wringer:

The first U.S. washer model was the scrub board, invented by Nathaniel Briggs in 1797, and probably looked something like this:

In 1851, James King patented a washing machine with a drum:

The electric washing machine was first mass-produced in 1908. It is not known who first invented the electric washer:

In 1937 the Bendix Corporation introduced the world's first automatic washing machine, which is what we use today:

I wonder where the washing machine will go from here.....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wacky Wednesday - More News of the Weird

When a 72-year-old Levis, Quebec, woman cleared her walk with a snowblower in December, sending some of the snow onto the adjacent property, the 43-year-old neighbor grabbed his blower and sent it back, and the two spent about 10 minutes blowing snow on each other before they stopped. (They "faced each other," "engines roaring," wrote the Canadian Press.) The neighbor then allegedly punched the woman (and her husband, who had come to help her) and was charged with assault. [Edmonton Sun-CP, 12-5-07]

Miss Fayetteville (N.C.) 2007 Jenna Walters is scheduled in court in April to answer for her November arrest in which police said she had veered recklessly through traffic in Southern Pines, N.C., in order to harass driver Angela Thomas. She pulled in front of Thomas, blocked her path, then got out, screaming and taunting the woman, but then quit and drove off, only to return moments later from the other direction, bump Thomas' car and resume screaming, then left but returned yet again, bumped Thomas' car from behind and yelled some more. In the 2006 Miss Fayetteville pageant, Walters was voted Miss Congeniality. [Fayetteville Observer, 2-2-08]

In February, a court in Cardiff, Wales, once again released Thelma Dennis, 50, to get therapy for her addiction of making bogus emergency ("999") telephone calls, even though she has been prosecuted about 60 times in 24 years on similar charges. In an earlier case, Dennis agreed to a therapy that sent painful shocks through her body every time she dialed 999, and she remained free of problems for four years but reoffended recently by making up a bomb threat against a store. [BBC News, 2-8-08]

Some parents, in exuberant yet inexplicable expressions of devotion to their babies' supposed happiness, stage lavish birthday parties at such young ages that the supposed beneficiaries could not possibly remember or appreciate them. For example, the party by Sheila Chapman and Ray Reed for their precious "Prince" Clayburn Reed in February in Tampa Palms, Fla., celebrating Prince's first birthday, featured 60 guests and a professional party-planner, pony rides, a magician, a pinata, centered around a rented room at the local country club. Said Chapman to a St. Petersburg Times reporter: "These are the memories I want him to have. I want him to know how important and special I think he is." [St. Petersburg Times, 2-24-08]

A Chicago man was accused on Monday of walking into a muffler shop brandishing a gun and demanding money. A worker told him that there was no money and that a manager, who was not at the shop, was the only one with information about how to get in to the safe. The gunman then gave workers his cell phone number and asked them to call him once the manager arrived so the safe could be unlocked. When the man returned, he was arrested. [Chicago Sun Times, 3-25-08]

A 22-year old man who robbed a KFC restaurant in Camas, Washington was chased down and confronted by a 66-year old grandmother of 12. She then put him in a choke hold and held him until police arrived. The woman's daugther is so proud of her that she plans to make her mother a red superhero cape. [KOMO TV, 3-21-08]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tasty Tuesday - Puppy Chow

WARNING: This is not actually dog food.

I realize that most of you already know that the recipe for puppy chow is on the back of the Crispix box.


My husband and I tend to improvise on recipes. So if you're a peanut butter lover, here is OUR recipe:

Puppy Chow

7 cups Crispix (NOT Chex)
1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter
powdered sugar

Put peanut butter and chocolate chips in a bowl and place in the microwave. Check often and stir until melted together.

Pour melted mixture over large bowl of Crispix and gently stir. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Pour 1/4 cup powdered sugar into a large clean bag. (We use a 13-gallon garbage bag and then save it for the next time we need a new garbage bag). Shake bag to coat with sugar.

Add refrigerated coated cereal and shake. Add more sugar if desired.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Monday - Coupon Mania!

I started intensely clipping coupons about 2 months ago and have, since that time, cut our grocery bill significantly. In addition to cutting our grocery bill, we have also given away 2 boxes of food to friends in need and are planning to give away a few more bags this week. As I seek to learn how to shop wisely with the money the Lord has blessed us with, He blesses even more by allowing us to have an abundance in order to bless others! It has been an incredible adventure that I look forward to continuing!

Last weekend, two managers (one at Kroger and one at CVS) complimented me on my coupon book (a.k.a. Trapper Keeper STUFFED full of coupons). I was happy to know that they didn't mind me using so many coupons in their stores. But it got to me thinking. Perhaps I should share with you how I coupon and you could share with me how you coupon. We are always learning and who better to learn with/from than fellow couponers?

So this afternoon (my normal coupon-clipping time), I took pictures of each step for couponing my way, so you can see how I do things.

Step 1: Gather your coupons. I get coupons from my friends, neighbors, and family members - I typically end up with 3-4 copies of each circular each week.

Step 2: Lay out all coupons. Like coupons go on top of like coupons. I'm sure you could have figured that out on your own. You can see that I have 4 identical coupon sheets in each pile.

Step 3: Staple over product picture. Stapling over the description works just as well, but the idea is to make sure you don't staple over the bar code. Be very careful to line up the coupons exactly so you don't cut off bar codes, expiration dates, etc.

Step 4: After you staple all like coupons together, cut them out. Again, double check to make sure you are not cutting off expirations dates or bar codes.

Step 5: Sort coupons alphabetically. I can now say from experience that alphabetically is the very best way to sort your coupons. I originally organized my coupon book in categories because I thought it would be more efficient. Then I read a book that suggested I try doing it alphabetically. I was wary, but I gave it a shot. It is SO much better! Here are my coupons sorted alphabetically by brand name (Dove, Lysol, Betty Crocker, etc.). I file store-specific coupons under the store name (T for Target).

UPDATE: I have heard several people say that this sounds like more work than categorial filing. So I do need to clarify a bit. By alphabetically, I do not mean every single letter. I mean only the first letter. All the 'A's go together, but not necessarily Aleve and then All and then Angel Soft. If you did things that way, you would constantly be moving coupons around and that would never work.

Step 6: File coupons. As I mentioned before, my coupon book is a trapper keeper. I use baseball card holder sheets for all of my coupons.

Here is another shot of my coupon book. You can see that it holds scissors, paper clips, pens, notecards, calculator, etc. to keep my shopping trips as organized as possible. On the far left, you can see a tip of a store circular. They fit into the wide pocket. Sorry about the glare.

Whew! So that's my method. It does take me about 2 hours each week, but I try to look at it this way: My 2 hours of coupon clipping saves our family an average of $50-$100/week (or more)! I don't mind getting paid $25-$50/hour just to clip and organize coupons each week!

What do you do? Have you blogged about your coupon method? If you have, send me the link and I would be more than happy to link to your blog so we can all learn from each other.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekend Worship - The Power Of The Tongue

If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell....But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison....From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. (James 3.2-6, 8 ,10)

There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.
(Proverbs 6.16-19)

Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit; With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, but inwardly he sets an ambush for him.
(Jeremiah 9.8)

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear....Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
(Ephesians 4.29, 31)

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Proverbs 15.1)

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another.
(1 Thessalonians 5.11)

I'm not sure that anything else really needs to be said, but I just want to stress the importance of our words. With a single phrase, we can either encourage the heart of another or crush their spirit. We can build up or tear down. We can tell rumors and lies or speak the truth in love. We can glorify our Lord or dishonor Him with our words.

The choice of what we say is a choice we make at every moment of every day. Let us be sure that we are honoring the Lord in all we do. He hears all. And we will be accountable for every word we utter.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fitness Friday - Fitness Myths

5 Fat Loss Myths: Why Long, Slow Boring Cardio is not the Best Fat Loss Program to Increase Your Metabolism and Burn Belly Fat...

Myth #1 - You Have to Do Cardio in the Morning on an Empty Stomach in order to Burn Fat

There is no fat loss magic to doing cardio on an empty stomach. In fact, most trainers “in-the-know” are using intervals instead of slow, boring cardio to help their clients burn fat fast. Plus, who wants to be doing boring cardio at 6am while their stomach is rumbling? If you could find a better way to burn fat, wouldn’t you do that instead?

Myth #2 - You Have to Do Cardio in the Fat Burning Zone

By exercising in the fat burning “Zone”, as some folks like to call it, you only burn a few extra calories than if you weren’t doing any exercise at all! Slow, boring cardio workouts are not the best way to lose belly fat. If you truly want to change your body, you need to use short, burst exercise workouts.

Myth #3 - You Have to Do Cardio 7 Days Per Week

You don’t need to workout everyday. The truth is, you only need to do 3 short workouts per week of 45 minutes.

Myth #4 You Have to Do Cardio for at Least 20 Minutes Before You Start Burning Fat

We’re burning fat all the time, even while you sit here and read this message. Sure, exercise increases our fat burning, but it’s not as though the first 20 minutes of any workout don’t burn fat. That makes no sense at all! I’ll show you how the short, burst exercise system helps you achieve more fat loss in less than half the time of a regular cardio workout.

Myth #5 – You Can’t Gain Muscle & Burn Fat at the Same Time

Scientific research and my experience says, “Yes, you can!” A recent study found that men and women can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time if they use a component of my Turbulence Training system.

By Craig Ballantyne, Men’s Health Magazine Expert, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, and Author of Turbulence Training

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Throwback Thursday

Ok, it doesn't appear that anything exciting happened this week in history (or at least anything I feel wouldn't be TOO controversial to discuss), which means I have no idea what to write about. But this works out well, since I'm on vacation right now. :)

I do plan to write the rest of the upcoming blogs for this weekend/beginning of next week, but I will just go ahead and take today off. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tasty Tuesday - Developing a System For Your Kitchen (Part 4)

Just a few tips for you today!

Keep your trash can close to where you work.
We had moved our trash can across the kitchen (we have a fairly big kitchen) for a Christmas party and just finally got around to moving it back a few weeks ago. It really does save a lot of steps!

Use freezer bags instead of freezer containers.
It is amazing how much faster things thaw when they are only 1-inch thick instead of 3-4 inches.

Buy in bulk.
I always try to buy my meat in bulk (only when it's on sale, of course). I then divide it up into appropriate amounts and cook or freeze it that way, so it is ready to pull out when I need it. I portion my ground beef into 1-lb freezer bags. Sometimes I cook it first; sometimes I don't. I flash freeze my chicken breasts and then put them all into a large freezer bag. Portioning before you put your food in the freezer saves on waste. (I.e. "All I needed was 1 lb of ground beef - now what am I going to do with the other 2 lbs?")

When you're in a hurry, use aluminum foil.
I don't know about you, but I HATE doing the dishes. Since I typically don't put my pans into the dishwasher (mostly because they don't fit), I try to wash them as little as possible. I do this by lining the pan with aluminum foil before I bake anything on it. We do this with cookies, fish sticks, french fries, garlic toast, chicken....well, ok - you get the idea. Pretty much anything frozen (or NOT frozen). Obviously this is the most economical route, but it sure saves me the hassle of washing dishes!

Arrange your kitchen to suit your needs.
Don't put your glasses across the kitchen from the refrigerator and your plates right next to it. There are very few things that you pull out of the fridge or freezer and stick directly on your plate. On the other hand, you probably will do that with your drinks. Also, keep in mind the placement of your dishwasher. Since dishes are probably your heaviest item in the dishwasher, you don't want to have to drag them all the way across the kitchen. Put them in a cupboard close to the dishwasher and save time when you unload.

Save your grocery bags.
Ok, first go through and see if you can find any that don't have at least 3 holes in the bottom. Once you have done that, stash those bags away for when you need to throw out a chicken bone or some rotten produce and trash day is still 4 days away. (Make sure you tie the bag up well! This is where the no-holes rule comes into play). This is much cheaper than using a ziploc and must more pleasant (to your nose) than not using anything.

Hide the appliances you rarely use.
Don't clutter your countertops with them. If you only use them once a month (or less), put them in a bottom cupboard, a basement, or your garage. You will learn to love your open countertops and find that they are much more efficient when it comes time to cook.

Buy two at a time and buy before you need to.
If there are items that we tend to use often, I try to buy two at a time. If I notice that we are low on applesauce or oatmeal, I will buy two or three so we are well-stocked. I keep an "extras" box on the floor of our pantry.

What are your tips for maintaining and organizing your kitchen?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Money Monday - Get Paid To Blog!

This is a new endeavor of mine.

I just got my blog approved through and am looking forward to blogging for pay! I have heard from others that this a fun easy way to make a few extra bucks here and there. If you'd like to give it a try, click the link below. Once approved, in addition to getting paid to blog, you will also receive $15 per referral! (A referral has to have a reviewed, approved, and accepted blog in order for you to receive the money). I signed up through a referring blogger online and am happy for her to be receiving $15 from me! If you'd like to check it out, here is the link:

Next Week's Money Monday - Coupon Mania!

Next Monday, I will be posting a blog about the method I use to collect, clip, sort, and file my coupons. If you would like to be a part of that blog, please email me with a link to your blog about couponing and I will link to you next Monday!

Money Mondays - Groceries For The Week (March 16th-22nd)

This week's grocery list was a little different for us because we will be going out of town to visit my parents for Easter, so I only had to plan a few meals and then get some snacks for the trip. Kroger is running a GREAT special right now, which is how I stocked up on all the cereal, cereal bars, and fruit snacks!

I took an aerial shot this week because I wanted to do justice to the number of cereal boxes in the back! Lol. So here is what I picked up:

We don't typically buy soda, but we do like to keep it around when we are taking long trips. (It helps keep us awake!) :) The 1/2 gallons of milk were on sale again for $1 each and I found several loaves of bread on manager's special for 50 cents/loaf. I also grabbed a bag of sugar snap peas (on manager's special) for $1.49.
Other things you see pictured: 2 bags croutons, 2 toothbrushes, american and mozz cheese, 2 cts of canola oil, applesauce, margerin, cream of chicken soup, chicken base (MUCH cheaper than bouillon!), 2 boxes of pasta, 3 boxes of granola bars, 4 boxes of cereal, and 2 boxes of fruit snacks.
Total before coupons and specials: approx $66
Total after coupons and specials: $39
I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to send with my hubby for breakfasts this week, but there's a good chance it might be cereal. :) We also have a few pop tarts in the pantry and some frozen pancakes and waffles that he could take. Today he took leftovers for lunch and will probably take a sandwich or leftovers tomorrow and Wednesday.
Meals for this week:
Monday - cold cereal, peaches
Tuesday - oatmeal w/ raisens
Wednesday - pancakes w/ peaches
Monday - ravioli
Tuesday - hot dogs, rice, apple
Wednesday - peanut butter sandwiches, peas
Monday - stir fry (rice w/ sugar snap peas and carrots)
Tuesday- homemade pizza
Wednesday - rice tacos (This is an experiment - if you see it on a menu plan in the future, it was a hit....or at least tolerable). :)
Obviously, we're leaving on Thursday. We are not planning on coming back until Tuesday, so I have not thought through our grocery shopping or meals for next week yet. Of course, the sales circulars aren't out yet anyway, so how could I plan?
If you have not yet voted in the grocery poll on the top left side of the screen, you only have a few hours left! Please cast your vote and then come back here and leave me a comment telling me how many people you feed on your grocery budget. So far, the votes appear to be very even. It will be interesting to see how the poll ends.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Did you find any great deals worth mentioning?

Money Monday - Walgreens

I have only been playing "the CVS game" for about a month now and am just starting to get the hang of things over there, but this week I noticed some great deals at Walgreens too. Since I had some items to return there anyway (from a previous FAILED attempt to get some great deals there), I decided to try out the Walgreens coupons + manufacturer coupons.

I didn't get much, but I was pretty proud of myself for what I did get. :)

1 bottle Sunsilk shampoo

1 bottle Sunsilk conditioner

4 pk Trident gum

The Sunsilk was Buy One @ 4.29, Get One Free. I used 2 $2/1 coupons. There was a BOGO Trident coupon in the Walgreens ad and another BOGO manufacturer Trident coupon (I had 2 of these), so my total came to 29 cents! :)

Money Monday - CVS Is The Greatest Store On Earth

OK, I've finally updated this post.

I paid a total of $11 OOP for all of my CVS stuff.

Somehow in the midst of all the vacation mumbo jumbo, I managed to lose a few receipts so I don't know exactly how many ECB I received, but it was at least equal to what I spent. Sorry about the lack of info this week.

Here is what I picked up:



...and finally...

No, I don't typically buy foam bath letters during my routine CVS shops. And no, there were no ECBs generated for buying them. :) But my older daughter's birthday is coming up next week and I realized I had not bought her a present yet. So....wah-lah! Free birthday present!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Worship - My Passion

Seven years ago, I received a Bible from my parents for my 16th birthday. (Ok, so now you all know how young I am!) When I first got my Bible, everything was brand new. The pages were crisp. The outer lining was a perfect, shiny silver. And there were no markings anywhere in the whole book. I was almost afraid to touch it; it was so beautiful!

But I quickly learned that a beautiful Bible is, in fact, not so beautiful at all. A perfect Bible is not ever picked up. It is not read daily. It has not spoken the truths of God to its owner. It has been touched by neither pen nor highlighter and therefore does not contain any helpful notes. It has no history with it's owner. And that is indeed the greatest tragedy of all.

So I decided that it needed some character. And, of course, there is no way to mark it if it has not been read. The first thing I did was turn to a few passages of Scripture that I love and "box" the stories with my pen (and a ruler). For the next several months, I ALWAYS used some sort of instrument to make perfectly straight lines for all of my underlining and notes. Eventually, I realized that straight lines do not make it any easier to read and I gave up on that idea altogether.

But let me go back to the beginning for a second. Shortly after I got my Bible, I was reading through 2 Corinthians when the Lord showed me a passage that had never struck me the way it did that day. I read it over and over again and finally decided to "box" it in like I had done with those other passages that I really liked. I neatly highlighted all of the verses and outside the box I wrote in perfectly clear handwriting "My Passion".

As the years have passed, I continually find this passage while flipping through my Bible, and I read it again to renew that passion in my heart. I want to share it with you because I believe it is what every Christian's desire should be:

Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation - giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardship, in disresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true, as unkonwn yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

2 Corinthians 6.2-10

I am learning more and more each day that the Lord has placed a hole in my heart that can be filled only by Him. In a child's Sunday School class, they sometimes call it the "God-shaped hole" in your heart. :) As silly as that sounds, it is exactly the truth. God has created us to get the greatest satisfaction in life by worshipping and serving Him!

If you are interested in learning more about the joy and peace that comes from having a personal relationship with Christ, do not hesitate to email me with any questions you may have.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fitness Friday - Family Fitness

Kids these days are spending too much time sitting still, and it's becoming a major health risk. American children 8 years old and above spend an average of 6.5 hours a day engaging with media technologies including watching TV, using the computer and playing video games. Studies have shown that the more TV kids watch, the more likely they are to be overweight.

Increasing physical activity improves cardiovascular fitness, helps prevent obesity, promotes a healthy lifestyle, boosts self-esteem and confidence, and reduces stress. You don't need to have a lot of fancy equipment or a membership at a health club - there are many ways to make your family's lifestyle more active.

To overcome resistance from reluntant youngsters, it helps to make the activity fun. For example, don't just run with a young child - run like a penguin or hop like a kangaroo. Or have a destination like a park or the zoo!

Here are 15 ideas for getting your family on the move:

  • Take active vacations (hiking, swimming, skiing)

  • At the mall or when running errands, use the stairs rather than the elevator

  • Get pedometers and have a contest to see who takes the most steps in a given week

  • Start a new tradition: take the whole family out for an after-dinner walk around the neighborhood or park

  • Take on active chores as a family (gardening, raking leaves, shoveling snow, or washing the car)

  • Spend an afternoon at the local park

  • Play a sport together (basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, touch football)

  • Dance to your favorite music

  • Go for a family bike ride

  • Plant a family garden

  • Play miniature golf

  • Go to the zoo

  • Take the dog for a long walk

  • Whenever possible, take short walks instead of using your car. When you drive, park a little farther away from the store.

  • Play games that your kids love (tag, Simon Says, Red Light-Green Light, Duck-Duck Goose)

This article was taken from

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Throwback Thursday - Homeschooling

I realize that I'm only "throwing back" a few weeks this time, but I want to talk about the California homeschool ruling that took place on February 28th. A child abuse case was brought before Judge H. Walter Croskey and, instead of ruling on that case alone, he decided to rule homeschooling for the entire state of California illegal unless the parent is a certified teacher. Thankfully, Governer Schwarzenegger and other elected officials are standing up for the rights of parents and are, at this time, saying there is nothing to worry about. There are several actions in place right now to overturn this ruling and it appears that homeschooling parents in the state of California may not have to wrestle this issue as hard as was first expected.


The idea of the government taking over the rights of parents in any way is outrageous! Regardless of whether or not you plan to homeschool your children, this should still be of grave concern to you. We are the parents. We know what is best for our children. The government does not!

Did you know that right now there is UN bill waiting to be passed in our country that would declare ALL homeschooling illegal? This treaty has been passed in every UN country in the world except the United States and Somalia. So far, we have had someone in office who is competent enough to keep it unsigned. But as soon as we get a President in office who has government-regulated education as part of their agenda, you can be sure this will be one of the first papers signed.

Homeschooling is a right and a joy that should never be taken away from parents. Read this blog on one mommy's wonderful homeschooling experience. If you would like to help overturn this CA ruling, you can sign the Petition to Request Depublishing of California Court Case In re Rachel L.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wacky Wednesday - Twelve Opposums


In case you're a little foggy on your biblical history, let our junior church students help you with this complete overview of the Bible, compiled from their essays:

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, Darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one,' but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, Give me a light!' and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. God fed theIsrael Lights every day with manicotti.

Then He gave them His top ten commandments. These include don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's bottom (the Bible uses a bad word for bottom that I'm not supposed to say . But my Dad uses it sometimes when he talks about the President). Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua, who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 Porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of the New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn, too, because my mom is always saying to me, "Close the door! Were you born in a barn?" It would be nice to say, "As a matter of fact, I was.")

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead. Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven, but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

There! Now you understand it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tasty Tuesday - Developing A System For Your Kitchen, Part 3

Plan ahead and save!

Planning and preparing meals for the week saves you time, energy, and money. This week, I want to share something with you that has helped me tremendously. I don't always do this, but it sure does help when I do...

Since my husband's schedule requires him to eat both breakfast and lunch at work, I have quite a bit of food packing to do for each day he is working. I could choose to pack his food each night OR I could prepare everything at the beginning of the week and have it ready for him to grab on his way out the door. I really prefer the second method. It takes me between 5 and 10 minutes if I pack his lunch each night. If I do it once a week, it takes 15-20 minutes. So I save anywhere from 10-30 minutes each week by doing everything all at once. Perhaps that isn't worth it to you, but to me it is!

Here is what I made this week:

You can see that he has the option each day to take any combination of the following for lunch: a salad, sandwich, baked potato w/ sour cream, sugar snap peas, apple, yogurt, or pretzel sticks. I typically like to have sausage biscuits, ham and cheese on an English muffin, or some other healthier option for breakfasts. But this week, to make it easier on me, I sent him with a box of cereal and a half gallon of milk for breakfasts. (The decision was pretty easy for me since I got the cereal FREE and the half gallon of milk was only $1).

If you find yourself thinking that your lunch takes too long to prepare each night or morning, give this method a try and let me know if you like it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Money Monday - Budget, Part 7

You only have one more hurdle to go before you are completely debt-free! It's time to pay off your mortgage!

There isn't really much to say about this part. After you have begun contributing to your retirement plan and are saving for your child's college education, tack as much money as possible onto your principal mortgage payment each month. (Be sure you have a little fun with your money now though. After all, you are nearly debt-free including your home!)

The only thing I want to explain today is why it is ridiculous to keep your mortgage around just for the tax deduction. This concept seems to be popular these days, but in reality, it's just plain stupid. Let me explain...

Let's say your mortgage interest each year is $10,000. You can deduct that, right? Yep! Know what you'll get back? About $3,000. Hmmm...wait this doesn't make sense. So if you send $10,000 to the bank just to get a tax deduction of $3,000, you're still losing $7,000? That's right! See how stupid that is?

And here's another thing: If you are thinking about keeping your mortgage just to get a tax deduction, consider this instead: Give that $10,000 that you're wasting each year to a charity. Fully deductible and a MUCH better cause than the success of the bank!

It's up to you, of course, but it only makes sense to me. We certainly won't be keeping our mortgage payment around just for a tax deduction!

What do you think? What are your plans for your mortgage when you are debt-free? I'd love to hear input on what all of you plan to do!

Links to other parts of this series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Money Monday - My Best CVS Shop Yet!

Hi. My name is Heidi and I am a CVS-aholic.

This is becoming an obsession for me. Lol. Last week was an EXCELLENT week for CVS shopping and I got some GREAT deals. I sometimes shop on Saturday nights (when the sales overlap), which is what I did this weekend. So in case any of you CVS-aholics are curious, that's why I have overlapping specials. These items were purchased over a 2-day period at 3 different times in 6 transactions. It may not seem worth it to some of you, but it was totally worth it to me!

Oh, and by the way, I am SO excited! There is a new sign up the road from me. Wanna guess what it says? "Future Home of CVS" (or something to that effect)! I am psyched! Ok, but here's the part that makes me a HUGE dork. The nearest CVS right now is about 2 miles down the road. This one will be a half mile. Lol. What? I'll be saving on gas! :)

Ok, so back to what I bought this weekend. After all of my transactions, here is what I got:

1 pk of Huggies diapers
1 Fusion Razor
1 3-pk of Mach3 razors
3 bottles of Pantene shampoo/conditioner
2 bottles of Garnier Fructis shampoo/conditioner
6 bags of Hershey Kisses (various kinds)
2 bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs
1 King-sized Reese's Cup
1 bag tootsie rolls
1 bag sour gummy worms
5 Chapsticks
5 pain patches
5 Colgate Total toothpastes
1 Snickers bar

Total before coupons and sales: $133
Total after coupons, sales, and ECB: $9 !!!! (The price of the diapers alone!)
AND...the make things even better....I got $9 in ECB back! So I basically got all of that FREE!!

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I'd just like to say it again...I love CVS! :)

Now, I want to add my reason for buying all of these things. The CVS topic came up this week during playgroup and one of my friends said "Yeah, but you don't NEED all that stuff." I agree. I don't need it. BUT, I explained to her, there are people who do. I have a pile of stuff that I'm about to drop off for our church's charity organization.

This "game" is so much fun to me. And I will not need to purchase any toiletries for quite some time! Thank you, CVS!



One of my readers suggested that I post exactly HOW I did all of my purchases in order to lower my total price by $124. Since that seems like a legitimate request, I will do that here:

Trans #1
1 Fusion razor $9.99 (used $4/1 coupon)
1 3-pk of Mach3 razors $7.99 (used $3/1 coupon)
1 pkg CVS Tootsie Rolls $.99 (used $.99/1 candy coupon)

Used $6 in ECB. Paid $5.70 OOP. Got $11 ECB back ($6 from Fusion, $5 from Mach3).

Trans #2
5 pain patches $1.99 each
1 King-size Reese's $.99

Used $10.94 ECB. Paid $0 OOP. Got $10 ECB back ($2 per pain patch).

Trans #3
5 Colgate Total Advance Toothpastes $2.99 each ($2.50 in various coupons)
2 Nivea shave gels $2.99 each (2 coupons for $2/1)

Used $4/$20 CVS coupon and $10 ECB. Paid $.85 OOP. Got $14.95 in ECB back ($2.99 per toothpaste).

Trans #4
5 Lypsyl chapsticks $2.99 each

Used $14.95 ECB. Paid $0 OOP. Got $14.95 back in ECB ($2.99 per Lypsyl).

Now here's where it got tricky. The system was actually unusually strange and I still haven't quite figured out if I got a better deal or a worse deal because of it. This is not how I planned to do things, but this is how it worked out:

Trans #5
3 Pantene shampoo/conditioner $2.88 each (used 3 coupons for $2/1)
2 Garnier Fructis shampoo/conditioner $2.99 each (used 2 coupons for $1/1)
4 bags Hershey kisses $.99 each (limit of 4) (used $1.50/3 coupon)
1 bag mini Cadbury eggs $2.99
1 Snickers bar $.79
1 CVS sour gummies $.99 (used $.99/1 CVS candy coupon - printed in store)
1 pk Huggies diapers (used $1.50/1 coupon)

I also used a $5/$15 CVS coupon. Then I used $14.95 ECB. Paid $1.08 OOP. Got $4 ECB back ($2 per Garnier Fructis product).

For some reason, both the cashier and I thought I had reached my Hershey's limit (there was a Buy $10, Get $5 ECB back promotion running), but apparently not. This is where I decided to buy one more bag of kisses to make things work. When she rang it up, it rang at $.99. Typically when there is a limit of 4, it is per card. But for some reason, it seemed to be working per transaction. So I bought 3 bags of candy instead of 1 and got to use a coupon!

Trans #6
1 bag Cadbury mini eggs $.99
2 bags Hershey kisses $.99 each

Since I bought three, I could use another $1.50/3 coupon. So I did that, which brought my total to $1.65 OOP.

After I paid and my receipt printed, there was STILL no ECB printed, so the cashier just gave me a $5 gift card instead (which is better than ECB because I don't have to get my purchases exact!) And I still have the $4 from Trans #5, so I have equivalent to $9 ECB, including the gift card.

Money Monday - Groceries For The Week (March 9th-15th)

I've decided to continue posting our groceries for the week for a few reasons.

1. It keeps me accountable to only spend $50 each week.
2. You can *hopefully* reap ideas for frugal meals for your family.
3. It drives my husband crazy that I take pictures of our groceries each week.

Lol. Ok, so that last reason isn't actually legit, but I do think he's starting to think I'm a little crazy. At any rate, I know he is happy that I'm being responsible with the money for which he works so hard. :)

Ok, so this week was a lot of staple foods. I found myself out of almost everything - flour, salt, baking soda, etc. All of those things that you don't think to buy because they last a long time. (Well, flour doesn't exactly last a long time in our home, but I do buy it in bulk so I don't have to get it every week). Anyway, I did my shopping at Walmart and Kroger this week. I actually spent $51 this week, but since I only spent $48 last week, it worked out. Here is what I got:

Walmart $17 (after coupons):

Kroger $34 (after coupons):

At Walmart, I actually made $1 by buying those 4 hair putties (thank you, coupons and clearance isle)!'s hard to tell, but there are actually 6 boxes of that cereal in that second picture (which I paid absolutely nothing for!) and 3 bags of flour (1 whole wheat, 2 white). I am learning to always check the organic section at Kroger as I walk past it. I don't typically buy organic (mostly because of the price) but I have found that there is almost always something on manager's special (i.e. half price) that we would buy anyway and the price is then equivalent. It makes me feel a little bit better about the food choices I am making for my family.

As far as meals go this week, here is what we will be having:

Monday - cold cereal, pears
Tuesday -oatmeal w/ raisens
Wednesday - eggs and toast, pears
Thursday - pancakes, peaches
Friday - cold cereal, apples

Lunch (kids)
Monday - fish sticks, peas, apples
Tuesday - PB&J, cheese cubes, pretzel sticks
Wednesday - ravioli
Thursday - pasta, cheese slices, corn
Friday - hot dogs, peas, pretzel sticks

Monday - spaghetti w/ meat sauce, garlic bread
Tuesday - chicken rice bake
Wednesday - baked potatoes w/ broccoli and cheese
Thursday - dog food.....JUST KIDDING! chicken parmesan over spaghetti
Friday - homemade pizza

Since my hubby eats breakfast and lunch at work, I made all of his lunches this evening so he has choices each day. (I will be blogging more about that tomorrow). This week for breakfast, I sent him with a box of cold cereal and a half gallon of milk. For lunch, he can mix and match the following:

deli meat sandwiches
baked potatoes w/ sour cream
pretzel sticks

I admit that I don't always plan all of his lunches at the beginning of each week, but I do try to make a few at a time. It saves me time and energy and also saves him from asking the inevitable question that follows not having a lunch: "Is it ok if I run to McDonald's today?"

So there is our week at a glance. Don't forget to vote (if you haven't already voted) in the grocery poll on the top left side of the screen. It's been very interesting to see how much money my readers spend on groceries for their families. And as I mentioned last week, feel free to leave a comment after voting to let me know how many people you are feeding on that budget! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekend Worship - Tithing

I have to admit....I get so SICK of my Christian friends telling me that they "cannot afford to tithe" or that they "tithe when they are able". As if it's even their money to begin with! These friends of mine seem to have their thoughts a little bit backwards. God allows us to keep 90% of our income and requires that we give Him ONLY 10%. I'd say that's a pretty good deal!

The problem with people thinking that they can't tithe is simply a misunderstanding of how the world works. People who say they can't afford to tithe think that, because they have a job, their money is theirs. WRONG. God provided the job and God gives the money. None of our money is ours. None. It all belongs to the Lord and He is so graciously allowing us to use it while we live here on earth.

The most irritating part is that these people - the ones who "can't afford to tithe" - have money for lots of other things. They are the "owners" (and I put that in quotes because, of course, the bank actually owns them) of brand new cars, they go on expensive vacations, they eat out often, they have all the latest toys (and so do their kids)....and they have the audacity to tell the high and mighty God of heaven and earth that they "can't afford" to give Him 10% of what is already His???

I realize that this sounds more like a rant than anything else, but I am very passionate about this subject. Don't tell me you "can't afford" to tithe back to the Lord who has freely given you all things. Why? Because it's His money anyway!

That just irks me!

Now, I realize that I have faults of my own. I am by no means perfect - not even close. But God has clearly laid out in Scripture that all of my possessions (including my money) belong to Him. They are not mine; therefore He has a right to at least 10%.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fitness Friday - Exercise On The Cheap

This excerpt is from

25 tips on how to exercise inexpensively:

Tune in to TV exercise
Coach potatoes need not think too far outside the box. Dance, workout right in front of the screen and feel productive with these easy everyday tips.

1. "I record Denise Austin's workouts on the Lifetime channel. She has two half-hour workouts, five days a week, and every workout is different. Not only do I never get bored, as I did when I was purchasing workout videos, I am toned and fit."

2. "Every morning while I'm waiting for the coffee to brew, I exercise to the MTV or VH1 channel, depending on which one is not showing a commercial. I dance and do exercise moves to the music and then top off the 15-20 minute routine with as many crunches as I can manage."

3. "I have recently found Exercise TV on Demand within my cable system. I can pick and choose whatever workout I am in the mood for, be it cardio, Pilates, yoga, or tai chi. And it's not extra on my cable bill. If I need weights I use the heaviest cans of food such as soup cans or jars of tomato sauce as my weights."

4. "I invested in a 'dance pad' for my Xbox and play Dance Dance Revolution ... it's not necessarily an intense workout, but it's a fun way to burn a few extra calories. I also bought a chin-up bar for $20 and do pull-ups every time I walk underneath it in my apartment."

Get cheaply equipped
Of course, working out at home would be convenient, but the cost of machines and accessories can stunt good intentions. These readers secured exercise equipment without paying the full price.

5. "For Christmas last year I asked for exercise equipment. I received an exercise band and a fitness ball, together with instructions and sample workout. I picked up a weight bench for 50 cents at a garage sale, and my mom gave me her unused hand weights.

"Together with a treadmill I purchased on sale and workout videos picked up at garage sales, I now have a home gym that provides a full body workout. More workout routines can be obtained from the library any time I get bored."

6. "Run a want ad in a local Sunday newspaper for your preference in used exercise equipment. I'm sure you will find an enormous selection of near-new equipment of nearly any type. "Oftentimes you can find really good stuff for less than the cost of a couple of months of a health-club membership."

Don't be a stranger to familiar places
What's in your neighborhood? If you live close to a park, school campus, community center, resort or farm, you might have some untapped exercise resources. Here's how our readers made use of their surroundings.

7. "Go to your local community center. Diabetes and heart disease are in the news so much they are putting together initiatives to help us keep them manageable and in check. As a result, they are offering lots of programs involving nutritional planning and exercise for free.

"Also check out your medical coverage. Blue Cross Blue Shield has an 'Eat Well for Life' program I am taking part in as an employee of Pittsburgh Public School. The nutritional planning and cooking classes are free."

8. "Exercise DVDs are available for rental, for a week, at my local library. There are all types from Tae Bo to tai chi. I can experience a different workout every week for free."

9. "We join water-aerobics classes at the local high school pool. That way, we don't need to join an expensive gym and we save on fuel consumption since the classes are very close to home."

10. "I moved to a farm and now I don't need to go to a gym. There is so much work to do and it gives you a feeling of accomplishment while you exercise. Maybe people could find a farm to volunteer at and they may even get paid with produce."

11. "Local park district programs offer some outstanding classes for the wintertime. The cost is between $5 and $9 per session. The programs offered near my home are aerobics, Pilates and yoga.

"When the weather is better, nothing beats taking your two-wheel bike out for a 30-minutes-to-an-hour ride. Walking is also great -- in inclement weather there is always an inside mall."

12. "I'm 45 and work in a box -- a cubical -- as a computer programmer. I took a part-time weekend job involving parking and security at a local ski resort. The job comes with a season pass and I get exercise by hiking around in a beautiful winter wonderland all weekend."

13. "I wanted to do more swimming, but didn't want to pay a big membership fee at a health club (that I would only use during the winter months), so I called the local park system and they directed me to some area high schools and middle schools. They have open swims and adult swims throughout the week and it only costs $1.50. If I don't go swimming for a day, I don't pay and I don't feel guilty that I'm wasting money."

14. "I learned that a public park near my home has a gym (equipped with weight machines, treadmill, and stationary bikes) open for free for residents like me. To use the machines correctly, I borrowed a book from the public library for free. I also learned from others in the gym to do exercises using the parallel bars in the park, when the gym is closed."

15. "I put on my tennis shoes (and coat during cold weather) and head outside to walk around campus for each of my 15 minutes breaks. It gets me away from my work, clears my thoughts, and revives me. I also have a puppy, so must walk her before and after work."

16. "I jog or walk, with inexpensive wrist weights, around the local high school track and break it up with runs up and down the stadium bleachers. In the winter, I do the same, sans the bleachers -- instead I find some local hills to trek up."

17. "This runner jogs in my neighborhood daily and buys running shoes once a year. To extend the life of my shoes and my joints, I supplement the shock absorption benefits with cushy inserts. A great way to exercise, protect my body and save dollars."

Closer to home
For time-constrained parents and working individuals, sometimes leaving home for hours at a time to work out isn't practical. Don't despair: You already live in a potential gym.

18. "Best exercise: Clean your house and yard, adding some music to move to. Results: a clean home and a trim body."

19. "Dumbbells are incredibly versatile. You can find inexpensive iron weight sets at discount sporting goods stores and many authors tout them as resistance training superior to barbells and many machines.

"I do the majority of my workout with dumbbells, and if it were the only piece of equipment I had, I'd be able to replicate most of the ones I use other equipment for now. I've gotten weight sets as cheap as $50 on sale at a discount store."

20. "I found the Royal Canadian Air Force Fitness Program when I was in high school. Now that I'm middle age I wish I had started this six-minute program sooner. There are five daily calisthenics exercises -- a stretch, sit-ups, a back stretch, and modified push-ups followed by a walk/run/run-in-place program. The book is out of print, but I've found the program information on the Web."

21. "I use an exercise book called 'The Core Program' for core strengthening. It does not require expensive equipment; just adjustable weights which were purchased at a discount store. I also have a couple of aerobic compact discs for inclement weather days. I am 46 and in the best shape I've ever been in my life."

22. "The cheapest, easiest, safest and I feel, most rewarding thing to do is to have a set of interlocking dumbbells. Simply choose the amount of weight you would like to use. There's an initial cost but likely less than the cost of a three-to-four month membership at a gym. Resistance training is far superior to aerobic for weight loss, bone strength and of course muscle toning and building. I would however recommend some form of aerobic training, but running is still free."

23. "Instead of paying for a gym, which requires not only money and motivation, but the time it takes to get there, change, workout, and get back, I try to be physically active every day. This includes performing such chores as walking the dog, doing much of my own gardening (including some of the heavier labor) and cleaning my own house."

24. "I keep a jump rope, free weights, stretch bands, a large ball, and stepper at home and use them regularly. Nothing is of any use, if not used regularly. Know thyself; I will not work out unless it is early morning, because I fatigue easily. Know the time of the day when you are most likely to be energized."

25. "My son left home at 18, and we have turned his room into our 'rumpus' room. For the cost of one year's membership at our local spa, we have furnished our play room with a Bowflex (for strength), a Healthrider for cardio, hand weights and a massage table. In addition, he walks the dog and I play tennis. He lost 85 lbs the first year we were married (of course, I fixed very healthy meals for him)."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Throwback Thursday - Frozen Foods

I apologize in advance for the formatting on this post. I'm not sure what's going on, but hopefully it's just a fluke....

On this day in 1930, Clarence Birdseye, food expert, industrialist, and inventor, introduced
prepackaged, quick-frozen food to American consumers.

When I first read that, I pushed it aside and kept searching for something about which to blog.
Then I started thinking about it. Frozen foods? They must take up 1/10 of every grocery store
in today's culture. We buy TONS of frozen foods - from vegetables to meat to individual serving-
sized meals. Where would we be without frozen foods?

Mr. Birdseye, probably most well known for his frozen vegetables, became interested in the
preservation of food by freezing while working as a field naturalist for the United States
government in Labrador, Canada, between 1912-1915. He had taken the job to help pay for his
education as a biology major at Amherst College. He was taught by the Inuit how to ice fish
under very thick ice. In -40°C weather, he discovered that the fish he caught froze almost
instantly, and upon thawing, it tasted very fresh. He knew right away that the frozen seafood
sold in New York was of lower quality than the frozen fish of Labrador.

Conventional freezing methods of the time were commonly done at higher temperatures, and
thus the freezing occurred much more slowly, and this gave ice crystals more time to grow.
Because of Clarence Birdseye, we now know that fast freezing produces smaller ice crystals
which cause less damage to the cellular tissue structure (and tastes a whole lot better!).

It's funny how I've never even considered life without frozen foods.

(For a full biography on Clarence Birdseye, you may place your cursor here and click).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wacky Wednesday - Funny Signs

My favorite part is that this sign is gold-plated:

Note the last two lines:


I'm thinking about posting this one in my kitchen:

Perhaps they should have spent the money on an editor:

Not sure what to say about this one. But I think the restaurant name is great!