Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Baking - Carrot Cake and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This evening I am exhausted after a day full of shopping, baking and cleaning. This morning I hit two different grocery stores to take advantage of their sales and coupons. (I will post more on that tomorrow). Then this afternoon I did my usual Saturday baking and of course I had to clean the house. So now I am exhausted and ready to curl up with a good book, but first, more about my baking.

Friday night hubby picked up some oatmeal raising cookies for pumpkin. Well, they were left unattended and the dogs got them. Since she already knew about the cookies (but not the dogs eating them) I wound up having to make some oatmeal raising cookies today. My all time favorite recipe for these is the Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies recipe. You can also find it inside the lid of Quaker oatmeal. The cookies turned out just as yummy as they always do and are quickly vanishing from the kitchen.

For the last few weeks I have been trying to make a carrot cake and this weekend I finally decided to go ahead and do it. I decided to try this recipe since it had good ratings on Allrecipes. I also wound up making cupcakes instead of an actual cake. Pumpkin loves cupcakes so most cake like items get made into cupcakes anymore. Anyway, I have to say that I wasn't crazy about this recipe and will have to try another one next time. The recipe isn't bad, but it just seemed really bland to me. Now I did leave out the pecans since my daughter will be eating them, but I don't really think the pecans would have made much difference. So does anyone have a good carrot cake recipe they would like to recommend? Since we all LOVE carrot cake I really would like to find a good recipe.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recipe Organization

I have been doing well with cleaning out my cookbooks and getting rid of the ones I haven't been using. However, the recipes I find online that I want to try seem to growing in the night. I was bookmarking them in my Google Bookmarks, but that list was getting a bit long and unwieldy. Thankfully tonight I came this post over at Simple Mom. She talks about using del.icio.us to organize your online recipe links. I like what she had to say and it really seems like it's going to work for me. So I went over and created an account at del.icio.us and I am moving my recipe bookmarks over there. Simple Mom has step by step instructions for this so, if you are interested, check out her article. As you know, I'm always looking for ways to keep things organized. Plus this is a great way to share the good recipes you come across.

If you want to check out the recipes I've bookmarked, you can see them here. For now I just plan to bookmark my recipes at del.icio.us. What ideas do you have for organizing your recipes? If you use del.icio.us, what other stuff do you bookmark?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Uses For Spaghetti Sauce

Last night I posted about the great deal that I got on spaghetti sauce this week. Since spaghetti sauce is something that you can pick up cheap or even make yourself on the cheap, I figured that a list of some uses for spaghetti sauce would be helpful. Spaghetti sauce is a pretty versatile product and can be a great addition to the frugal pantry.

Here are some alternative uses for spaghetti sauce:

  1. Zesty Chip Dip - Combine equal parts sour cream and pasta sauce in a bowl; stir in grated Parmesan cheese, ground pepper and oregano.
  2. Minestrone Soup - Boil 1 jar pasta sauce and 5 cups water. Stir in cooked small pasta, chopped mixed vegetables, canned beans and grated Parmesan cheese; cook until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stuffed Mushrooms - Mix breadcrumbs, chopped mushroom stems and grated Parmesan cheese with a bit of pasta sauce; stuff into mushroom caps, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.
  4. Cocktail Sauce - Mix pasta sauce with horseradish and hot sauce to taste; serve with shrimp.
  5. Pizza Potato - Make a deep slit in baked potatoes, then stuff with some pasta sauce, chopped pepperoni and shredded mozzarella; bake at 400 until the cheese melts.
  6. Buffalo Wings - Lightly coat chicken wings with equal parts pasta sauce and hot sauce; roast at 425 for 40 minutes.
  7. Stewed BLT - Cook chopped bacon in a deep skillet; add pasta sauce and escarole and cook until greens are tender.
  8. Sweet and Sour Franks - Brings 4 cups thinly sliced onions, 1 cup pasta sauce, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons brown sugar to a boil; cover and simmer 40 minutes. Serve on hot dogs.
  9. Taleggio Panini - Spread pasta sauce between 2 slices of crusty bread and top with taleggio cheese; cook in a buttered skillet or panini press.
  10. Italian Quesadilla - Spread some pasta sauce on a tortilla; top with grated mozzarella cheese, sliced mushrooms and shredded chicken; fold in half and pan fry until golden.
  11. Poached Cod - Simmer pasta sauce in a skillet; add cod fillets, cover and cook until just firm; top with chopped herbs.
  12. Eggplant Rolls - Grill or broil thinly sliced eggplant until tender. Spread with pasta sauce and ricotta cheese; roll up and secure with toothpicks.
  13. Greek Beans - Simmer pasta sauce with a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf and a splash of red wine vinegar; serve over white kidney beans; top with feta cheese.
  14. Polenta Bites - Slice a tube of premade polenta into rounds. Broil until heated through; lightly top with pasta sauce and grated fontina; broil until cheese melts.

These tips all came from a pullout in the February/March issue of Food Network Magazine. The pullout is titled "50 Things to Make With a Jar of Pasta Sauce." There are a lot of good ideas in there, these are just the ones that I would like to try first. This little booklet will be going in my recipes to try folder.

For more Works For Me Wednesday, head over to We Are THAT Family.

Wordless Wednesday - Cream Cheese Edition


Umm, Cream Cheese!
For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 Minutes For Mom.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free Ragu and Heluva Good Cheese

Sorry guys, no music post this week. Instead of staying home and working on my music post I went out and did a little more grocery shopping. I know, I know. We don't need more groceries, but I just have a hard time resisting a good deal. It isn't like we won't use the food. Pasta sauce and cheese are staples in this house.


Since Safeway had such a good deal on Ragu and it was the last night of the sale, I just had to go. Luckily I managed to get the last 3 jars in a flavor I liked. It was a great deal because it was $0.99 a jar and I got a $2.00 catalina for buying 3 jars. That made my net cost $0.32 a jar. For those that still had the $1.00 on 3 coupon you actually earned a penny profit per jar. I did that on Saturday and used up the three coupons I had.

Now that I have oodles of spaghetti sauce, I guess it's a good thing that I have the Food Network magazine pull out "50 Things to Make with a Jar of Pasta Sauce." Look for my post tomorrow on some of those uses. With spaghetti sauce this cheap I can get some VERY frugal meals.

On the way home from Safeway I decided to stop at Weis and get some of the Heluva Good cheese that was on sale. It was 2 for $4.00 and I had two coupons for $1.00 on 2. So I bought four bars for $6.00. Since I paid with a gift card we got for transferring a prescription, it was free. What better to go with the pasta sauce then free cheese? Besides, we love cheese in this house and go through a lot of it.

Finally, I am very proud of myself for resisting the siren call of Starbucks while I was out shopping tonight. Not only did I resist stopping at the Starbucks booth in Safeway, but I also drove past a Starbucks on my way to Weis and didn't stop. Believe me, it was very tempting and I was so thirsty. I just had to keep reminding myself of how expensive they are and how I have perfectly good drinks at home. Plus, my puppies and I will be hitting the Starbucks drive thru tomorrow night. Yes, my crazy dogs love having their weekly outing to Starbucks. Go figure.

Fridge Clean Out Time

In our family, every other Friday night is game night. We get together, have dinner and play games. Well, this past Friday was my turn to host so I got to cook dinner. No problem, I had already planned to make Grilled Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones and I knew I had all the ingredients on hand.

Friday evening arrives, I get home from work and start preparing dinner. I get the meat cooked up and pull the pizza dough out of the fridge. That's when I notice that it's out of date. Well, if it was only a couple days out of date I would have used it, no big deal. However, it was a couple months out of date. So I wind up running to the closest grocery store and paying full price for new pizza dough. I did use a coupon, but that store doesn't double. Ridiculous. Anyway, that's when I decided that it was time to clean out the fridge. It also reminded me of why I don't shop at that grocery store.

In the top picture you can see the before picture of my fridge. Yes, it is packed full. As my husband says, I now spend less money on groceries and we have way more food. You gotta love coupons. I snapped this picture right after we got back from the grocery store and before I put anything away. I know, a sane person would have cleaned it out before going to the grocery store, but where's the fun in that.

I wound up pulling the food out and wiping down the shelves. Then, before I put any food back I checked the dates and then put it all back neatly. Now my fridge is much more organized. Although, looking at this picture it really is bugging me that the label on the cottage cheese isn't facing forward. Pardon me while I go fix that.

It felt so good getting the fridge cleaned out that I went ahead and continued on and cleaned the whole kitchen. Well, except for the freezer. I'm not up to tackling that right now. Maybe next week?

For more Tackle It Tuesdays, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom. For more Talk About It Tuesday, head over to The Lazy Organizer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

FREE Redbox Rental Code - Monday Only

The code for today's FREE Redbox rental is:


S39XKT

Remember that you can use this code once per debit/credit card, so if you have multiple cards, you can get multiple rentals. You can read about my previous experience using these codes here. These codes come out every Monday so as long as I keep finding them I will keep posting them. Come back next Monday for another code. This code expires at midnight tonight.


And Homemaker Barbi has a post with a bunch of free Redbox rental codes. I haven't tried any of these so I don't know how long they are good for. It's worth a try if you plan on renting a movie anyway though.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 21


This weekend was busy, but I did manage to get some more baking in. The last of my vanilla scones will be breakfast Monday. My grocery shopping went well and I am trying to use up some of the meats in my freezer. It has been too full in there for too long. I need to make room for some new deals.
Sadly, I didn't get a chance to try making my own ketchup. I will try again this coming weekend. I guess hubby had a good point about the time issue. I still want to try, but I will probably pick up some of the Trader Joe's ketchup next time I'm there too as one commenter recommended. At least my daughter does love my yogurt. She doesn't seem to like the mango version I made her though. I'll have to work on that one some more. A mom's work is never done.

Without futher ado, here is my menu plan for this week:

To check out more Menu Plans, head over to Org Junkie.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Shopping - February 22

This Sunday I decided to take it wasy on the shopping. I'm still not up to running around to all the drug stores to get all the deals. I did that for so long that it burned me out. This week I hadn't even planned on doing any shopping, but we were in depserate need of more infant Tylenol. Since that is something you do not want to run out of, we decided to go ahead and hit Target this weekend. Then, on Saturday I got my $5 Gift of Savings certificate in the mail from Rite Aid. I had completely forgotten about this. Since I had it I figured we would go spend it.

The picture doesn't include verything that I picked up at Target because I had already put some of the stuff away when I thought to snap the picture and I didn't feel like getting it back out. Anyway, here are the details of what I got at Target:

  • Diet Dr Pepper - free after coupon
  • 3 Johnsons Buddies Soap - free after coupons
  • 2 Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Scrubber Refills $4.88 after $3 on 2 coupon
  • Horizon milk singles 3 pack $1.89 after $1 coupon
  • 2 Horizon milk single $1.68 after 2 $0.25 coupon
  • 2 Silk Soy Milk half gallons $4.88 after $1 on 2 coupon
  • 3 Target Brand Infant "Tylenol" $8.97
  • 2 Reynolds Foil $3.58 after 2 $1.00 coupons
  • 2 Ceaser Dog Foods - Free after coupons (won in contest)
  • 9 Lives Free Cat Food - Free after coupon (direct mailed)

Total spent at Target was $26.44 which includes $1.39 in sales tax. My coupon savings were $19.06. I love coupons.

My Rite Aid trip was a much simpler trip. I picked up the shampoo because it was free after rebate and the m&m's were hubby's request. Here's the details for my trip:



  • Garnier Fructis Waves shampoo $1.99 after $1.00 coupon
  • 2 packs Easter M&M's $3.59 (BOGO Sale)
  • Used $5.00 Gift of Savings certificate
  • Out of pocket $0.68 which includes $0.10 sales tax
  • Rebate due of $2.99 for shampoo

My little trip to Rite Aid earned me $2.31. I love it when I can do that.

Saturday Baking - Vanilla Scones & Pumpkin Cookies

I absolutely love Starbucks petite vanilla scones. However, I don't like paying $1.95 for three mini scones. So I decided to try making some myself. So I found this recipe and made went ahead and made them. The only modification I made was to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla to glaze and use milk instead of water for the glaze.

As you can see by my picture. I couldn't wait to try them. Oh my goodness, they were so delicious. I had to walk away from them so that I wouldn't eat them all. I personally think these are even better then the ones at Starbucks because they don't crumble when you look at them. My daughter and dogs also loved these. Since they have all also had the Starbucks version I figured it was only fair to let them have a small taste of these too.

The second thing I made Saturday was Pumpkin Cookies with brown sugar frosting. I printed this recipe out way back in October because I figured my daughter would love them. She has a serious thing for pumpkin. Anyway, I finally got around to making them. They are absolutely delicious. My daughter loves them too. I think the smell of them baking woke her up from her nap. I will say that she likes them better without the frosting, but I think that's because the frosting was still gooey and stuck to her fingers. I personally liked them with the frosting.

This weekend baking thing is getting to be a habit and I have to say that I like it. It is so much fun trying out new recipes and spending time in my kitchen. My daughter loves the fresh baked goodies too. Of course hubby wants chocolate chip cookies every weekend. Can you tell what his favorite is? Since I made them last week I decided not to this week. Maybe if he's good I'll make him some next weekend.

More Free Buddies Soap

When you see the Johnson's Buddies coupons out there, use them on the bar soap (pictured). These soaps are typically just under a dollar at Target and Walmart so you can use these coupons to get the soaps FREE. we have used lots of their coupons this way and my daughter is very stocked up on Buddies soap. Hubbie was joking the other day that she has enough Buddies soap to last her until college, but I still "buy" it whenever I find it free.

Even if you don't have kids, you may want to pick this soap up when it's free. Since the soap comes in a little mesh bag they are great for traveling. You can use it as a soap and scrubber all in one and since you got it free you don't have to worry about lugging it home after your trip. You could also get these and include them with gifts for any small children you know. Anyway, here is a link for a $2 on 2 coupon that you can use to get 2 free bars. And don't forget that you can print it twice and get 4 free bars. We love free Buddies soap around here.

And here is a link to a $1 on 1 coupon. And another $1 on 1 coupon. Same deal, you can print it twice if you haven't printed it already. Keep an eye out for these coupons in your paper too as I have gotten some there in the past.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grocery Shopping This Week

So far this weekend I've hit three grocery stores and we still need milk. I know, I know, I said I was only going to go to one store a week, but I couldn't resist the triple coupons at Super Fresh and the Weis was right around the corner, and well, you get the idea.

Friday night I decided to hit Super Fresh to take advantage of their triple coupons up to $0.99. (Note: this is only running through Monday) They were already sold out of most of the stuff I wanted, but here is what I did get:

  • Red Seedless grapes $1.20 (on sale for $0.99/lb)
  • 2 Packs Shady Brooks Farm Ground Turkey $6.00 (Sale 2 for $6)
  • Friendship Cottage Cheese $2.00
  • Friendship Sour Cream $2.00
  • Del Monte No Salt Diced Tomatoes $1.39
  • Simply Orange with Pineapple $3.00
  • Total Before Coupons = $15.59

Coupons:

  • Del Monte No Salt Tomatoes $1.39 ($0.55 tripled to item price)
  • Friendship cottage cheese/sour cream $1.00 on 2
  • Simply Orange $1.00

Total Spent at Super Fresh $12.20 - This was a little more then I wanted to spend, but I needed the sour cream. I was hoping to get the Daisy, but they were sold out of it. On the first day of their sale. Big surprise, that seems to be the norm around here. Put out a few of the free items and they're gone early the first day of the sale and too bad for everyone else. By the way, I got the last can of the Del Monte tomatoes. I could have gotten another one free if they would have had it.

I also stopped at Weis Friday night since it is literally right around the corner from Super Fresh. I wanted to get some of the Heluva Good cheese that was on sale 2 for $4 since I had coupons to match up with it. But again, they were sold out of the flavors I liked, I did manage to get two extra sharp, but I prefer the sharp or even jack.

Today, against my better judgement, I decided to stop at Safeway. My recent experiences there have left a lot to be desired, but I decided to go for it since they're doubling coupons up to $0.99. I will say that it went much better then my last few visits although I did still have to stop at Customer Service to get them to correct the price on an item. They always have something ring up a few dollars too high. Anyway, here is what I picked up at Safeway:

  • Banana Nut Cheerios $3.49
  • Ragu Spaghetti Sauce $8.91 ($0.99 * 9 jars)
  • Mango Juice $1.59
  • Muir Glen Stewed Tomatoes $4.98 ($2.49 * 2)
  • Muir Glen Tomato Paste $3.10 ($1.55 * 2)
  • Cottonelle Ultra 24 pack $15.99
  • Cascade Crystal Clear Rinse $9.98 ($4.99 * 2)
  • Jello Sugar Free Rice Pudding $3.50
  • Horizon Single Serve Milk $3.58 ($1.79 *2)
  • Windex Antibacterial $3.50
  • Colgate Weekly Clean Toothpaste $2.49
  • Red Delicious Apples $0.94 ($0.99/lb)
  • Yellow Sweet Onions $1.35 ($1.00/lb)
  • Bosc Pears $1.95 ($1.00/lb)
  • Broccoli Crowns $1.47 ($0.99/lb)
  • Fresh Express Salad $1.00
  • Total Before Coupons $67.82

Coupons Used

  • Banana Nut Cheerios $1.50 ($0.75 doubled)
  • Ragu $3.00 ($1.00 on 3 * 3 coupons)
  • Muir Glen $6.00 ($0.75 doubled * 4 coupons)
  • Cottonelle $6.00 (catalina coupon)
  • Cascade Rinse $9.98 (2 free coupons from Home Made Simple)
  • Jello Sugar Free Rice Pudding $3.50 (free coupon from Kraft First Taste)
  • Windex $1.10 ($0.55 doubled)
  • Colgate Weekly Clean $3.99 (free coupon from Vocalpoint, the cashier keyed in the regular price instead of the sale price)
  • Safeway $5.00 off $50.00 coupon from my Entertainment book

Total spent at Safeway $27.75 + tax. My coupons saved me over $40. Yeah! All in all I was happy with my trip to Safeway. I'm still not crazy about their customer service or policies, but I did well enough there this week that I would go there again if the deals were right.

This weekend I spent $47.29 on groceries which leaves me $32.71 in my weekly grocery budget. Since I still need milk and didn't get much meat that is pretty good.

Oh, and the picture is from Safeway today. They had samples of the Right Way pudding out and my daughter rather enjoyed the chocolate pudding. She and hubby naturally stopped to sample while I was shopping.

Edit: I just realized that I received three $2.00 catalinas for the Ragu I purchased at Safeway. That means that all my spaghetti sauce was FREE! I love it. Now I have to decide if I want to go back and get more since I do still have a couple coupons.

Free W Magazine Subscription

Ok, I missed this one earlier, but I'm adding it now. Rewards gold is also offering a FREE subscription to W Magazine. You get this one by completing a short survey on your favorite mascara. This is a no commitment, no credit card required offer.


And if you missed it, check out my earlier post on how to get Business Week and Women's Health free.

FREE Magazines - Business Week and Women's Health

Rewards Gold is offering free subscriptions to Women's Health and Business Week. For Women's Health you have to complete a short survey on your favorite snack foods. That one is also for women ages 30-44 only. For Business Week you have to complete a short survey on your mp3 player. Both are completely free with no commitment and no credit card info required. I've gotten lots of free magazines from Rewards Gold with no problems.

To see my other posts on free magazines, click here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Homemade Condiments Anyone?

I have started to consider making some of my own condiments. Specifically ketchup and chocolate syrup. Yes, I realize that is a strange combination.

It all started with the ketchup. As I've mentioned before I'm trying to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from our diet. Well, my beloved Heinz ketchup has high fructose corn syrup. Since it is the only ketchup I will eat, my only options are to either give up ketchup or try making some myself. So I looked around for a ketchup recipe and I found this one. It doesn't seem very hard and the recipe does have good reviews.

When I told my husband about my intention to try making ketchup, he was not thrilled. Now, to be fair, his issue with it is time; specifically, when will I find time to make things like ketchup (which we can buy cheap) when my schedule is already overly full? I figure I can whip up a batch Saturday when I do my baking. I plan to try this weekend and see how it goes. Am I being overly optimistic? Possibly.

The idea for the chocolate syrup came about this morning because of the yogurt. My daughter likes my vanilla yogurt, but she doesn’t care for the mango yogurt I made her. So hubby suggested making some chocolate yogurt using chocolate syrup. I found a recipe for chocolate syrup here. Again, it sounds easy, but I don’t know how much we would use it. We just don’t use a lot of chocolate syrup around here. I have all the ingredients, so I am tempted to try it this weekend if time allows.

So, is it too much? I feel like we would be getting a much better quality food product with a little bit of effort from myself. Really, I just want my family to be able to eat good quality food without all the additives and crazy chemicals that you find in packaged food anymore. When I make it myself I know what’s in there and we can adjust the taste to our preferences. But is the time I spend working on things like this instead of spending time with my daughter really worth it? I already feel like I get so little time with her; yet I also value her health and I hate feeding her foods with all those chemicals and additives in them. There is no clear answer here. For now I’m just trying to find that balance that works for us and hoping I don’t drive us all crazy in the mean time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

13 Uses For Baking Soda



Baking soda is a wonderfully versatile product and also wonderfully affordable. With coupons I've been able to get boxes of baking soda for pennies. Now that I have all of this baking soda, what am I going to do with it all? Well, for this Thursday Thirteen, I'm listing 13 uses for baking soda.

  1. Eliminate Odors - I think we all probably know this one. I have baking soda in my fridge and freezer, in the trash can and in the diaper pail.
  2. Boost Laundry Detergent - To help get my laundry sparkly clean I add a cup of baking soda to my wash. This allows me to use less soap and still have clean clothes.
  3. Freshen Carpets - Instead of using expensive carpet deodorizers, simply sprinkle baking soda on your carpet, let it sit for a few minutes and vacuum up.
  4. Extend the Life of Cut Flowers - Add one teaspoon of baking soda to the water in your vase of cut flowers and your flowers will stay fresh looking longer.
  5. Strip Hair Product Buildup - While in the shower, get a handful of baking soda wet in your hands, slather through hair and let sit one minute. Rinse it out and your hair will be fresh and clean.
  6. Clean Your Car Battery - Pour a water and baking soda mix over your car battery and all the lovely buildup will rinse right off.
  7. Clean Patio Furniture - Mix 1 gallon of hot water, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Use this mixture to clean off your patio furniture.
  8. Remove Crayon Marks From Your Walls - Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the crayon marks gently. The crayon should come right off.
  9. Extinguish Stove Fires - Keep some baking soda handy in the kitchen. If you have a stove fire, sprinkle the baking soda on it and it will be extinguished.
  10. Clean Your Drains - Dump 1 cup of baking soda down your drain. Follow this with 1 cup of vinegar. Let that sit and bubble for a minute and then rinse.
  11. Clean Stoneware - When you buy stoneware they tell you that you can only clean it with a little rubber scraper. Well, sometimes the stoneware gets bit of greasy buildup. Whenever this happens I sprinkle baking soda on the greasy parts of the stoneware and let it sit. When you scrape the baking soda off the grease goes with it and you don't have to worry about leaving a soapy taste behind on your stoneware.
  12. Clean Your Microwave - Microwave 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for a few minutes. Let it sit for a minute and you should be able to just wipe out all the splatters and mess.
  13. Use As A Scouring Powder (like Comet) - You can use baking soda as a scouring powder to clean showers, sinks and so forth.

There are plenty more uses for baking soda. If you want to search out more, you can simply do a Google search. The ones I've included here and the ones that I find most useful. I know some people use baking soda to brush their teeth, as an antacid or as a mouthwash. I didn't include these in my thirteen because I personally can't stand the taste of baking soda and don't use it like that. However, other people may not mind it. It's the kind of thing that is very individual. If you're feeling adventurous you may want to try.

For more Thursday Thirteen, heave over to Happy to be @ Home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Works For Me - Presto Pizzaz Pizza Oven

Normally I'm not one to go out and buy a "specialty" kitchen appliance like this, but I received the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven as a gift about three years ago. At first I was a little leery of having an appliance taking up space in my kitchen that is only good for heating up pizza. Well, this thing can do so much more then that. I use it to make pizzas (of course), quesadillas, melts and even cookies once. I wasn't crazy about how the cookies turned out, but everything else cooks up beautifully.


To use the pizza oven you simply place whatever you're cooking onto the round tray. The tray rotates so that all portions of the food get time under the heating element. There are top and bottom heating elements and you have the ability to cook with just one or both of them. There are instructions with the oven for cooking the various types of pizza and how long with which elements, but for everything else you will have to do some trial and error.

The Presto Pizzaz Pizza Oven is pretty easy to store. The tray comes off for easy cleaning and storage. I keep the tray with my other baking sheets and the base of the unit gets stored on a shelf on my bakers rack. After three years the non-stick tray has a few scrapes on it, but it is still working. My husband is starting to worry though because we use this so much that we don't want to be without it if something happens. And since we're so frugal we don't want to pay full price for it either. I'm sure that whenever that day comes we'll figure out something.
Keep in mind that just because an appliance says it for this one thing, that doesn't mean that you can't use it for other things. Be creative and keep an open mind.

For more Works For Me Wednesday, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

Wordless Wednesday - Sneaking Snacks

Ok, apparently someone left the playpen a little too close to the cabinet with the snacks in it. I turn my back for a few seconds and this is the site that greets me when I turn back around. Can you tell that someone loves her Bugles?

And Pumpkin sends her love and thanks for Grandmama for these Bugles.

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom and Mom Dot.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free Music - Week of February 17

I don't know about you, but I look forward to Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I make my rounds of iTunes, Walmart and Amazon to see what new free songs they have out. You never know what cool new music you're going to discover. Come back on Tuesday evenings to see what songs I've found each week. Here are the songs I found this week:

iTunes

  • Single of the Week - "I'm Bad" by The Las Vegas
  • Discovery Download - "Hard to Believe" by VOTA
  • Video - "If U Leave" by Year Long DMusic Soulchild feat. Mary J Blige
  • TV - Karlifornication - My Big Birthday Bash
  • TV - Rock Dinner - Akwid
  • TV - FX's Damages - I Lied, Too
  • TV - Pimpeando - Big Wheels
Walmart "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5

Amazon The featured free songs at Amazon change each time you refresh the page so you'll have to head over there and check them out. They have the largest selection of free music I have seen from a reputable source. Click here and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the free songs.

CNET has a new free song featured every day. Plus you can look at some of their previously featured songs and still download them for free. Today's song is:
  • "Nothing Can Come Between Us" by Obi Best
Blender has their March Mix available here. It contains songs from 15 new bands, including the following:
  • "Never Had Nobody Like You" by M. Ward
  • "The Epcot View" by Future Clouds and Radar
  • "Submarines of Stockholm" by A.C. Newman
  • "DJ DJ" by Zion I
  • "A Long Goodbye" by Petra Haden and Woody Jackson
  • "My Sunken Treasure" by The Duke Spirit
  • "Dancers (Radio Edit)" by Circlesquare
  • "Sheffield" by All the Saints
  • "Freak A Zoid Robots" by Bobby Evans
  • "We Here" by Illa J
  • "Thrill Me" by The Soundtrack of Our Lives
  • "Oklahoma City Woman Blues" by The Deep Vibration
  • "Down the Hill" by Verb
  • "Ads For Feelings" by Michael Sapruder
  • "Chicago" by The Uglysuit

You can still get Blender's February mix here and the December mix here.

Walmart Free Samples

Walmart online is a great source of free samples. I have request plenty of samples from them over the last few months and they have always arrived. They change their samples regularly so you should check back at least weekly to see if they are offering anything new. Here is what they are currently offering:

  • Maybelline Air Whipped Liquid Makeup
  • Benefiber Single Serving
  • Viva Paper Towels
  • NicoDerm CQ
  • Metamucil
  • Always Infinity
  • Huggies Soft Skin Wipes with Shea Butter

Talk About It Tuesday - Yogurt Maker

I've mentioned before that I'm trying to improve our eating habits this year. We've pretty much eliminated trans fats from our diet and now I'm working on eliminating high fructose corn syrup. To help with this I've started reading the labels while I grocery shop so that I can avoid foods with ingredients I'm working to eliminate. The more I read about all the stuff in our food and what it does to our bodies, the more afraid I am to eat the stuff you can get at the grocery store.

Well, my daughter and I both love yogurt. Since I've started reading the labels I'm amazed at how difficult it is to find a good yogurt without a lot of extra "stuff." Plus, my daughter loves mango yogurt and the grocery stores in this area no longer carry it. So I've decided to try making my own yogurt. I figure this way I will know what is in there and the yogurt should be much healthier for us.

For Valentines Day I asked my hubby to get me a Yogurt Maker. (Romantic I know, but it was something I wanted and asked for). It arrived yesterday and I started my first batch of yogurt last night. I won't be able to try it until tonight. I'm excited to try it because now I can have whatever flavor I want without all the additives. Hubby even picked up some mangoes already so Pumpkin can have her mango yogurt. Oh, and he picked up some blueberries for me. Yum!

If you have any good recipes for home made yogurt, let me know. I don't really expect to get it perfect on the first try. Knowing me I'll be tweaking this recipe for awhile until I am happy with it.

For more Talk About It Tuesday, head over to The Lazy Organizer.

Tackle It Tuesday - Kitchen Cabinet

This week I have a pretty small tackle. My daughter was sick all weekend and kept us up at night. As a result, I didn't get to even half of what I had planned for the weekend. At least I did manage to get a small tackle done during one of her naps.

This week I decided to clean out one of my kitchen cabinets that tends to collect "junk." This the cabinet where we store our medicine and vitamins and such. As you can see, my container of medicines is overflowing.

To get everything organized I pulled everything out of the cabinet and went through it all before I put it back. We had some old expired medicine in there so I tossed that. There was even an empty medicine bottle in there so that went to the trash too. All of the little packets of medicine are once again their tub. On the middle shelf I put together all the sippy cups and the gum is now neatly housed in a container. The top shelf didn't change much because there wasn't much junk up there to begin with.
I'm very glad that I finally got this cabinet organized. The mess in there was really starting to bother me. Now we need to keep it organized.

For more Tackle It Tuesday posts, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom.

Monday, February 16, 2009

FREE Redbox Rental Code - Monday Only



The code for today's FREE Redbox rental is:



M7DM23

Remember that you can use this code once per debit/credit card, so if you have multiple cards, you can get multiple rentals. You can read about my previous experience using these codes here. These codes come out every Monday so as long as I keep finding them I will keep posting them. Come back next Monday for another code. This code expires at midnight tonight.

Menu Plan Monday


Right now I am seriously sleep deprived. My daughter has been teething and running a fever. Not a good combination as it has led to several sleep deprived nights in a row. Hopefully the teeth come in soon and we will be able to get back to normal. My meal plan this week is a bit lacking in originality as I didn't have much of a chance to grocery shop or work in the kitchen this weekend. Oh well, what can you do?

Here is my menu plan for this week:

To check out more Menu Plans, head over to Org Junkie.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

ELLE Decor - Free Magazine Subscription


Right now you can get a FREE subscription to Elle Decor magazine from Rewards Gold. This offer has no commitments and requires no credit card. You just have to answer a quick survey about your wall painting habits and your favorite paint and the subscription is yours.


Related Posts:

Saturday Baking - Strawberry Muffins

This weekend I decided to bake a little something special for Valentines Day. When I came across this recipe, I knew that I had found that treat. This recipe is for a simple white cake and strawberry icing. I decided to make this as cupcakes since my daughter absolutely loves cupcakes.

To me, these cupcakes tasted like little strawberry shortcakes. I would consider the cake more of a shortcake then a white cake. Either way, it was delicious. I served these with extra sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream on the side. They were so good that I plan to make these again when our local strawberries come in this spring. Yummy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Frugal Friday - Grocery Shopping

I am one of those strange people who actually enjoys grocery shopping. I love planning out my shopping trip, checking the deals and pulling my coupons. It's a blast to see how little I can spend on the food we need and want. For me, it's all part of the grocery game.

For a quite a while I was running around to several of the grocery stores in my area every week picking up all the good deals at each store. That got to be a little too time consuming for me. So now, I check out the sale papers for all of my local grocery stores and decide who has the best deals that week. Then that is the one store I shop at. It's still possible I will hit another grocery store if I'm nearby and they have a really great deal on something we need, but it doesn't happen often. Right now this method is working very well for us.

Here are some tips I use to help limit my grocery spending. You can use these tips whether you shop at one grocery store or several of them. These tips work for me no matter which store I shop at.

  • Plan your meals out before you go shopping. The meals should be based on what is on sale and what you already have on hand.
  • Make a list and stick to it.
  • Pull the coupons you know you will need before you go. This allows you to have the coupons you are most likely to use readily available so that you can make sure you are buying the correct item. I like to clip my coupons to my list.
  • Take all your coupons with you to the store. Sometimes when you're at the store you will come across an unadvertised special of a product you use. If you also have a coupon, you can maximize your savings by combining the sale and coupon.
  • Keep all the coupons you know you are using together in your cart. Once I check my coupon to make sure I have the correct item and put the item in my cart I then put the coupon in a "coupons being used pile." This saves you from having to pull your coupons right before you check out and possibly missing one.
  • Check the meat and dairy sections for "manager specials." Most grocery stores mark down items that are close to their sell by date. If you find these items and they are something you will use or freeze before that date, buy it if the discount is a good one. I have seen items on manager special that I can still get cheaper at other stores, so watch the prices.
  • Know the prices of items you buy regularly. This helps you know when to stock up on items you regularly use. I keep most of these prices in my head, but other people create price books. Use whichever method works for you. You do not need to track prices of every item you buy, just stick to those items that you buy and use frequently.
  • Know your stores coupon and pricing policies. Know if your store doubles coupons, accepts Internet coupons, allows you to combine store and manufacturers coupons, and so on. Many stores have these policies posted. If they don't, stop at customer service and ask BEFORE you shop. Knowing the policies can help avoid problems when you're checking out. Also find out what your stores does if an item rings up at the wrong price. Some stores will give you one of the item free and some will just give you the item for the posted price.
  • Keep an eye out for coupons around the store. You can find coupons in the blinkie machines and on tear pads around the stores. If these items are also on sale, you just may be able to get a good deal. Even if you aren't going to get the item today, you can grab a few of the coupon if it is for an item you use. If the coupon is a manufacturers coupon you can even use it at another store if they have the item for a better price.
  • Get rain checks when sale items aren't in stock. Also find out what the store's rain check policy is. At some grocery stores the rain checks don't ever expire. At others you only have a few weeks to redeem them. If you aren't sure, ask when you're getting the rain check.
  • Be friendly to the cashier. You can accomplish a lot more by being friendly if a problem comes up. Most cashiers are good people who want to do a good job, but if you make them mad, they will be much less likely to try and help you.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to cut your grocery bill. This list just covers some of the ways, you can probably come up with even more. Just keep your eyes open and watch for the deals. And the biggest tip I can give you for avoiding problems is to be aware of your store's policies and sticking to them.

If you have any of your own tips that you would like to share, feel free to post them in the comments section.

For more Frugal Friday tips, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

FREE Marth Stewart Living Subscription

Right now you can get a FREE one year subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine from Rewards Gold. This is a no commitment, no credit card required offer. You just have to complete a survey about your favorite breakfast foods and tell them where you want your magazine sent. This offer is going to go VERY quickly, so don't waste any time. Get over there and sign up for your FREE subscription.

Click here to see my other posts on free magazines.

Decluttering Tips

Homemaker Barbi has a great post on Decluttering Your Life for Simple Living. This is the intro post to a new series she is running on Decluttering Your Life. She has tips and checklists for decluttering your life.

Personally, I'm a much happier person when my life is organized and clutter free. Once that clutter starts accumulating I tend to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. If this describes you, head over and check out her article. The tips are great even for someone who is already working on cutting clutter. And, for me at least, cutting clutter is a never ending task. If your turn your back, it all starts accumulating again. The trick is to get it under control and stay on top of it.

Thursday Thirteen - Going Green and Saving Money


Here is my list of thirteen ways to go green and save some money in the process:
  1. Reusable Shopping Bags - If you look, there are ways to pick up reusable shopping bags cheap or even free. Heck, you could even make some yourself if you're handy with a sewing machine. Then you have to remember to take the bag with you when you go shopping. I have a collection of reusable shopping bags from several different sources and I love them. The bags are so much sturdier then the cheap plastic ones you get at the store, you can carry a lot more at one time and you don't have to worry about the bag ripping as you're carrying your groceries inside. Add to that keeping plastic out of the landfill and possibly getting credit for bringing your own bag at the grocery store and you've got a win - win situation.
  2. Programmable Thermostat - I was lucky, there was already a programmable thermostat installed in my house when we purchased it. We make sure that we use it and it really is great. You just have to review your settings in the spring and fall and you're good to go. My house starts warming up (or cooling down) shortly before I get home and the heat (or air) kicks off shortly after I leave in the morning. I love it because we aren't heating or cooling the house when we aren't home and we don't have to worry about remembering to check the thermostat all the time. It's set and we're good.
  3. Power Strips - I have my computer equipment all plugged in to a power strip. We also have the tv and game systems plugged into a power strip. This way, when we aren't using them we can flip the power strip off and don't have to worry about all those energy vampires. Also try to remember to unplug chargers when you're not using them as they can suck energy too.
  4. CFL Bulbs - We use the energy saver bulbs in almost all of our lights now. We've been replacing them as the lights blow. I just can't stand the idea of throwing out a bulb that still works. These bulbs use less electricity so you save on your electric bill. Just remember that they contain small amounts of mercury so you need to dispose of them properly.
  5. Water Heater Setting - We have our water on the lowest setting. It still provides plenty of hot water and we save money by not getting the water hotter then we need. Some water heaters can also benefit from a thermal blanket. Check the manual that came with your water heater. If it can, you can pick one up at your local hardware store.
  6. Travel Cups and Mugs - We no longer buy water in small bottles for carrying around with you. When have travel mugs and reusable containers for carrying cold drinks around with us. We use to go through about 30 of those bottles every week, so we're definitely saving by not buying water we can get from the tap super cheap.
  7. Full Load Dish Washing - I will only run the dishwasher when it is full and even then I do not run the dry cycle. I just allow the dishes to air dry. Since I switched to air dry, the dishes don't seem to dry any slower then they did when I let the machine dry them.
  8. Cold Water Wash - I wash almost all of my clothes in cold water. The cold cycle is better for your clothes and your wallet. And you don't need special detergent for this either, just use your regular detergent.
  9. Recycling Old Electronics - Instead of sending your old electronics to the landfill, recycle them. Check with your community to see if there are any events where they will do this for free.
  10. Toaster Oven - I love my toaster oven. It allows to me cook small portions quick and easy. Since it's so small you don't have to wait for it to warm up and the food cooks quicker. Plus, you're not heating up a whole large oven. I use this a lot when I'm making a tray of chicken nuggets, or warming bread to go with dinner. This is especially nice in summer when you don't want to heat up your whole kitchen with the oven.
  11. Energy Star Appliances - If you need to replace any of your appliances, go with a new one that will be energy efficient. To find out if it is or not, check the energy star ratings. We replaced our washer and dryer last year and went with Energy Star rated models. This even allowed us to get a rebate from our electric company.
  12. Cloth Towels and Dishrags - Whenever possible I try to use a cloth towel or a dish rag instead of paper towels. This helps to keep trash out of landfills and saves me money because I'm buying less paper towels.
  13. Pass On Used Items In Good Condition - I don't know why, but when you have a house, "stuff'" seems to multiply in the night. It seems like there is always a box or two of "stuff" that we are getting rid of. Whenever we have this stuff we try to see if anyone we know can use it. If they can, we pass it on to them, if not, we donate it to charity. I just hate to throw away something that is still working and in good condition.

There are plenty of other things you can do to help the environment and your wallet at the same time. There are just some of the things we have been doing in our house. Feel free to post any other suggestions you have in the comments section. I'm always looking for new ideas.

If you want to receive daily tips for going green, you can sign up for the Ideal Bite daily email.

To see more Thursday Thirteen, head over to Happy to Be @ Home.

Magazines, Magazines Everywhere

When I picked up my mail this evening, I couldn't help but smile at the combination of magazines I received. The two that were in my mailbox tonight were Town and Country and Garden and Gun. I couldn't help but wonder what my mail lady thinks of me and all the crazy stuff I get in the mail. Most evening my mailbox is crammed full of freebies. I'm just amazed at how much stuff you can get for free.

Here are the free magazines I've received so far this week (yes, just this week):

  • Wonder Time
  • Shape
  • Town and Country
  • Garden and Gun
  • More
  • American Baby
  • Prevention
  • Blender (not pictured)

At this point I get so many free magazines that I barely have time to look at them all. So you're probably wondering what I do with all of them. I like to carry at least one magazine with me when I go out so that I can flip through it whenever I have down time (waiting for appointments and so forth). If I know someone who is interested in any of the magazines I pass it on to them, I've been known to leave magazines I'm finished with in waiting rooms. And finally, we have a magazine desk at work where people bring in the magazines they are done with so other people can read them. When they're done there, they go into the recycle bin. Do you have any other suggestions for what to do with magazines you are finished with?

If you're interested in receiving some free magazines yourself, you can check my previous posts here. A lot of the deals are no longer available, but some of them are, so it's worth checking out. Whenever I come across a good offer for free magazines I post about it, so keep reading because you never know when they're going to come up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Sugar Dispenser


Ok, I am a total tea nut. You probably don't even want to know how many kinds of tea I have in my house. I drink it hot, I drink it cold, I drink it all day, every day. Now, I like my tea sweet (no milk thanks). That isn't a problem with iced tea, but with hot tea it can be a bit of hassle if you're trying to spoon your sugar out of a sugar bowl. I've tried keeping a sugar bowl and it just does not work for me. So what is a tea loving girl to do?

Luckily, I came across the Zyliss Quick Blend Shaker. The label says that you can use it to mix and serve salad dressing and blend protein shakes. It supposedly fits most blenders and has a leak proof spout so you can drink directly from it. None of those uses interested me. Nope, I decided to fill mine with sugar and use it to dispense it into my hot tea. There's no muss, no fuss and no wet sugar getting clumped up in your dish. I love it. I just pop the lid and pour the sugar onto my spoon and then into my tea. There is no longer a need to get out a new spoon every time I fix another hot tea.

I'm also hopeful that it will keep the ants out when they once again invade my kitchen this spring. We'll have to see about that one though. It does seal tightly so it is promising.

I purchased my Quick Blend Shaker at Bed Bath and Beyond. It was priced at $5.99 and I used one of their 20% off coupons to get it for $4.79. (Remember that Bed Bath and Beyond coupons never expire and you can use one for every item that you purchase. I keep a whole pile of these coupons in the cubby of the driver's door of my car.)

For more Works For Me Wednesday posts, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

Wordless Wednesday


Stew Anyone?
For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FREE Magazines - Womans Day, Family Circle and Latina

Right now you can get a FREE 1 year subscription to Woman's Day Magazine from Rewards Gold. I have gotten many free magazine subscriptions from them in the past and I have always received them. If you enjoy Woman's Day magazine, you may want to head over and get your free subscription. This subscription will go quickly, so don't waste any time. You just have to complete a free survey about hair removal products and your free magazines will be on their way. There is no commitment and you do not have to provide any credit card information.

You can also get a FREE one year subscription to Latina Magazine. This is also from Rewards Gold. For this one you have to complete a quick survey about nail polish.

And you can get two FREE issues of Family Circle magazine from Value Mags. This is another no commitment, no credit card offer. Don't you just love free magazines?

Free Music - Week of February 10

I don't know about you, but I look forward to Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I make my rounds of iTunes, Walmart and Amazon to see what new free songs they have out. You never know what cool new music you're going to discover. Come back on Tuesday evenings to see what songs I've found each week. Here are the songs I found this week:

iTunes

  • Single of the Week - "Take Off the Blues" by The Foreign Exchange feat. Darien Brockington
  • Discovery Download - "Above the Bones" by Mishka
  • Video - "Leda Atomica" by Year Long Disaster
  • TV - Gossip Girl Season 1 Bonus Features
  • TV - Disney's "Kid vs Kat" - Let the Games Begin
  • TV - Disney's "Jimmy Two Shoes" - Popsicles/Chez Beezy
  • TV - Nickelodeon's "H2O" - Metamorphosis
  • TV - A&E's "MonsterQuest" Season 3 - Death of the Loch Ness
  • TV - MTV's "Nitro Circus" - Launch Special
  • TV - MTV's "The CollegeHumor Show" Season 1 - Rival Site
  • TV - MTV's "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy" Season 1 - Super Blob
Walmart "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by Marvin Gaye

Amazon The featured free songs at Amazon change each time you refresh the page so you'll have to head over there and check them out. They have the largest selection of free music I have seen from a reputable source. Click here and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the free songs.


CNET has a new free song featured every day. Plus you can look at some of their previously featured songs and still download them for free. Today's song is:
  • "Never Fall In Love" by Sam Bisbee with Leona Naess
Blender has their new March Mix available here. It contains songs from 15 new bands, including the following:
  • "Never Had Nobody Like You" by M. Ward
  • "The Epcot View" by Future Clouds and Radar
  • "Submarines of Stockholm" by A.C. Newman
  • "DJ DJ" by Zion I
  • "A Long Goodbye" by Petra Haden and Woody Jackson
  • "My Sunken Treasure" by The Duke Spirit
  • "Dancers (Radio Edit)" by Circlesquare
  • "Sheffield" by All the Saints
  • "Freak A Zoid Robots" by Bobby Evans
  • "We Here" by Illa J
  • "Thrill Me" by The Soundtrack of Our Lives
  • "Oklahoma City Woman Blues" by The Deep Vibration
  • "Down the Hill" by Verb
  • "Ads For Feelings" by Michael Sapruder
  • "Chicago" by The Uglysuit

You can still get Blender's February mix here and the December mix here.

Tackle It Tuesday - Cookbook Shelves



Ok, it's been several weeks since I've attempted Tackle It Tuesday. Now I'm back and I'm going to try and tackle something every week. There is certainly always something around here that needs tackling.


This week I decided to tackle the book shelves in my dining room. They had become a catch all for the assorted stuff that comes into the house. As you can see in the picture, the top shelf and the top of the bookcase are very piled up with "stuff." The second shelf contains my cookbooks. The bottom two shelves (not pictured) contain some of my daughter's books. I didn't include them in the picture because those are her shelves and I decided not to include them in this tackle.

I started by going through my cookbooks and selecting several of them to get rid of. I posted about my plan to do this yesterday. I will say that it feels good to be getting rid of some more unused cookbooks. I plan to take these to the used bookstore later this month.

Next I cleared off the top shelf and the top of the bookcase. I sorted through everything there and either put it back if it belonged on the bookcase or moved it to where it belonged. Of course I also dusted off the bookcase. Believe me, it needed it.

You can see that there are quite a few less cookbooks. The little pile on the right of the cookbook shelf are printouts of recipes I want to try and some smaller cookbooks. The top shelf is nice and empty now. It seems a little too empty, but I'm sure I will figure out something to do with the space. Maybe I just need to get used to empty.

I am very happy with my newly cleaned bookshelves. It is nice to not have a pile of "stuff" sitting there reminding you of unfinished projects every day. Now we just need to work on keeping it cleaned. That, as always, is easier said then done.

To see more tackles, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom. I love checking out other people's tackles. Sometimes you can get some ideas for things that will work for yourself.

Monday, February 9, 2009

FREE Redbox Rental Code



The code for today's FREE Redbox rental is:


25CH63

Remember that you can use this code once per debit/credit card, so if you have multiple cards, you can get multiple rentals. You can read about my previous experience using these codes here. These codes come out every Monday so as long as I keep finding them I will keep posting them. Come back next Monday for another code. This code expires at midnight tonight.

Free Valentine Images

For those of you out there that are crafty, or just like pretty images, Ten Two Studios if having a Valentines Day Countdown with free images every day from February 1st through February 14th. To get the free images, you just have to link to the Countdown page on your blog.

There will be a total of 27 sheets of free images spread over the 14 days. The images that are already out there are very nice, so I think this is definitely worth checking out. I personally will be using some of these in my journals, but you may want to try making some nice Valentines crafts with them.

Dust Collecting Cookbooks

Org Junkie had a post last week about clearing out your old cookbooks. I used to collect cookbooks so I previously had about 7 shelves full of them. About two years ago I decided it was time to get rid of a bunch of them. At that point we had been in our house three years and I hadn't touched most of them since I put them on the shelf when we moved in. I got down to about a shelf and a half.


After reading the post I got to thinking that it may be time to clear out some more of my cookbooks. I really don't use them. Ever since I found the Menu Planning Monday roundup I've been get most of my recipes from the Internet. It's just so much easier to find recipes on the Internet. If I find something we really like I do save it. I have a notebook full of our family favorite recipes. That I will obviously never part with.


My plan for cleaning out my cookbooks is this. I will go through in one round and pull out all the cookbooks I don't see myself using in the next six months. Those will all go either to the used book store or be donated. Out of the cookbooks that are left, if I don't use them in the next six months, they will go too. That said, I do have one basic cookbook that I will be keeping just because it is the one I go to when I don't have time to look up a recipe on the Internet. Hey, I figure every house needs at least one basic cookbook.


So, what about you? Do you have a pile of cookbooks that you never look at? Why not commit yourself to either starting to use them or clearing them out? If you're not using them, you might as well find a way to get them out to someone who will use them.


Menu Plan Monday


What a week. This weekend I once again spent a good bit of time in my kitchen and I loved it. I have missed taking the time to really cook and now that I'm getting back to it I am so happy. We didn't get to try out everything I had on my menu plan last week so a few items reappear this week. Some nights we just get busy and fall behind schedule and wind up resorting to a quick and easy dinner. I'm sure we've all been there.

Here is my menu plan for this week:

To check out more Menu Plans, head over to Org Junkie.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday Baking - Banana Cake

This weekend I decided to make a banana cake with banana icing. This is an old recipe so I'm not sure where it came from originally. My dad loves these cakes and it's been a few years since he had one so I think he was very happy when I took one over for breakfast today. Yes, we had banana cake for breakfast. And it was good. We did have other good breakfast foods too (Thanks Mom!)

This cake is supposed to be a layer cake. Since I didn't have the right pans to make a layer cake I just used a regular 9x13 pan and iced it as one layer. You could cut this in half and still make a layer cake though. (Mom gets the credit for realizing that).

This cake is definitely banana flavored. We all love it though. Even my daughter who was allowed to have some with her breakfast. It does count as a fruit, right?

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Banana Layer Cake

  • 1 ½ C sugar
  • ¾ C butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ C flour
  • ½ t baking powder
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 ¼ C ripe banana (force through ricer than measure)
  • ¼ C milk
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ¼ t salt

Sift flour and baking powder 3 times and set aside. Cream butter, add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Add milk to bananas and baking soda. Add banana mixture and flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture alternately, beginning with flour. Bake in oven about 375°F for 30 minutes.

Banana Icing

  • 1/8 lb. Butter melted
  • 1 banana through ricer
  • 1 lb. 10X sugar
  • ½ t vanilla

Beat all ingredients together until creamy. Ice cake once it is completely cool. Keep cake tightly covered to prevent browning of icing.

Notes: I don't have a potato ricer so I just mashed the bananas and that worked fine with this recipe. I also used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour and you could not tell. The bananas are the taste you notice in this cake. I also don't have a sifter so I just let my mixer mix the flour and baking powder for a bit.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheap Entertainment Books - Still

In the mail yesterday I received my rebate check from Cashbaq for purchasing an Entertainment book. I love it when I get checks in the mail.

Cashbaq is still running the $10 cash back offer on their Entertainment books, plus the books are 35% off. That makes the Baltimore book (and several others) $19.50. So after rebate you could have the book for $9.50. If you sign up for a new Cashbaq account you get a $5.00 sign up bonus which makes your net cost for the Entertainment book $4.50. Not a bad deal if it has coupons you will use. You can check out a preview of the coupons in your local book online before you buy. So make sure that it will be worth it to you. And remember that you have to go through the link on the Cashbaq site to order your Entertainment book or you won't get the $10.00.

Nothing Frugal About Dogs

For years I was very lucky and was able to just take my dog in for her annual checkup with the vet, get shots, flea medicine and heart worm medicine and I was done for another year. For the last few years my dogs have seemed to get more expensive every year.



Already this year one of my dogs needs surgery (the one in the picture), and that is not cheap. Thankfully we will be able to come up with the money for it by cutting a few items from our budget. It's just setting us back in our plans to pay off our debt and build up our savings. What can you do though? I can't just let her suffer and it isn't so much that I would put her down. So we will manage and move forward. Isn't that all we can ever really do in a crazy situation like this?



It isn't always easy deciding at what point to draw the line on medical treatments for your pet. How do you put a price on a life? In the end, I believe that it is a very personal decision that each family has to make on their own. For us, we based it on what we can afford, the outlook for her after surgery and her general health. The answer isn't always clear or easy. Thankfully in this situation hubby and I agreed that it is worth going ahead on the surgery for her and we worked together to make the plan on how to cover the cost. Now I'm hoping for no more emergency vet visits for at least a year.

FREE Subscription to American Photo


**Dead Deal**

The FREE one year subscription to American Photo is available again. If you're interested, hurry up and grab this because last time it didn't last very long.


Check out my other FREE magazine posts here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

FREE Harlequin Novel Downloads

Harlequin is celebrating 60 years of pure reading pleasures by offering 16 full romance novels for download. They are available as pdf files or a few e reader formats. If you like to read romance novels, this is definitely worth checking out.

Since these are full novels, you should be aware that downloading them to print out and read isn't practical. I personally find it hard to read that much on my computer screen, but I did download a few to try it out. It would be great is a had an e-reader. Maybe for Christmas...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Back to Baking


This weekend I got a chance to do some baking for the first time in months. It felt so good to be back in the kitchen baking. I love cooking and baking, but I just haven't been finding time for anything but the basics since my daughter joined us. Well, I decided to make these Morning Glory Muffins on Saturday. I was completely shocked to discover that we were out of raisins, so I substituted dried cranberries. I also switched the amounts for the white and wheat flour. Other then that, I left the recipe as is.

Please note that this recipe makes 4 dozen muffins. You're supposed to be able to freeze them, but my freezer is full so that is not an option for us. These muffins are addictively delicious. So I had to get some of them out of the house, otherwise my daughter and I would wind up eating them all ourselves. You can see in the picture that some of them had already disappeared. Anyway, I took some to my parents, some to work and my hubby took some to work too. So far everyone I know of has loved them. I definitely recommend this recipe, just remember - Addictively Delicious!

I had so much fun baking again that I plan to bake some more this coming weekend. It's nice to have a homemade treat and it much more economical then buying premade treats. Not to mention healthier since I control the ingredients. No trans fats in this house.

Free Music - Week of February 3

I don't know about you, but I look forward to Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I make my rounds of iTunes, Walmart and Amazon to see what new free songs they have out. You never know what cool new music you're going to discover. Come back on Tuesday evenings to see what songs I've found each week. Here are the songs I found this week:

iTunes

  • Single of the Week - "Dry Grass and Shadows" by Adelia diane
  • Discovery Download - "Camote" by Nevalima
  • Video - "A Thing For Me" by Metronomy
  • TV - "Meeting John & Kate Plus 8" - John & Kate Plus 8 Season 4
  • TV - Disney's "Aaron Stone" - Hero Rising Part 1
  • TV - Disney's "Sonny With a Chance" - Sketchy Beginnings
  • TV - MTV's "True Life: 2009" - True Life Resolutions: Made and Kept
Walmart "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes

Amazon The featured free songs at Amazon change each time you refresh the page so you'll have to head over there and check them out. They have the largest selection of free music I have seen from a reputable source. Click here and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the free songs.

Monday, February 2, 2009

FREE Redbox Rental Code



The code for today's FREE Redbox rental is:

D9P24G

Remember that you can use this code once per debit/credit card, so if you have multiple cards, you can get multiple rentals. You can read about my previous experience using these codes here. These codes come out every Monday so as long as I keep finding them I will keep posting them. Come back next Monday for another code. This code expires at midnight tonight.