Category Archives: Uncategorized

Free your frivolous trials with sampling

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One great way to save money is to partake in sampling.  This way, you are trying before you are buying, which we all know can be helpful.  Before you begin looking for free samples you’d like to try, I recommend making a “junk e-mail address” with a free e-mail provider like Hotmail or Yahoo.  This way, you have all your updates, newsletters, coupons, etc in one e-mail account and can sort them easily.  Many companies and sites will use your email address to spam you with offers, so just my two cents but it’s better to send that stuff to something other than your main email address so you can look at it when/if you want.  Another rule of thumb I follow is never give out your phone number.  Many “free sample sites” are simply information farms who sell your information to the highest bidder, so unless you want to be spammed by telemarketers, avoid giving your number out.  Finally, I always avoid anything that asks me to pay shipping.  Often times you will pay outrageous shipping for a travel size of something (which you could have probably gotten for a lot less money if you would have just bought it at the store). 

 Many websites offer free samples , even popular ones like target.  However the samples are given on a first come first serve basis, so unless you are checking the site everyday, you may miss out on many of the samples.  Also keep in mind, samples from retail stores like this often require you to qualify for preliminary criteria such as age, sex, or location.  From my experience with free samples, companies that believe their product is good and will have you switching brands will offer the sample at no cost to you.  I’ve gotten free samples of ALL laundry detergent, organic laundry cleaners, wet wipes, diaper cream, diapers, chap stick, shampoo, etc and have saved myself tons of money in the process buying things at full price in a store only to discover I didn’t like them.  P&G is notorious for free samples and great coupons if you sign up on their website.  They are more than likely very present in your household already, so it can’t hurt to sign up and get saving on their popular everyday products.

 

 

Some free samples sites:

Finish Dishwasher products

Quest Protein Bars

Prilosec OTC (only for those who suffer from frequent heartburn)

Emergenc Supplements

Pantene (This is a new years giveaway so time is of the essence)

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“Mug’o’cocoa” brownies

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Here is a fun spin on a yummy Christmas treat.

To make this I used boxed brownie mix, but instead of water I added a little bit of peppermint cream (you can make this by throwing heavy cream and peppermint extract or finely chopped candy cane bits into your blender and mixing until smooth). The frosting i just a plain butter cream I made with a little bit of the peppermint cream for flavor. The handle of the mug is simply the top of a candy cane broken off and stuck in the side. I threw a peppermint kiss, two marshmallows, and some mint cocoa mix on top for decoration – but you can get very creative 🙂

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Fall time is a great time for warm beverages and home made treats!  Also you can get bushels of apples for great prices, so stock up and get started making your apple butters, applesauce, and pies while the “gettin’ is good”.  Here are some of my favorite apple recipes:

 

Honey Applesauce:

Peel/core 10 apples

1 cup apple cider

.5 cups water

1/4 cup honey

1/4 brown sugar

1 tbs cinnamon

 

Put apples/water in large pot, mix in honey and brown sugar.  When apples are soft, mash and mix in the cinnamon.  Cook for a few more minutes.  

This applesauce is my favorite!  I like to heat it up and give it to the girls with some Graham Crackers for a yummy treat.

 

Stuff your turkey with peeled cored apple slices, I use granny smiths.  They give the meat a sweet very juicy flavor and are a healthy alternative to stuffing!

 

Core an apple (without slicing it).  Fill the hole with carmel, wrap in tinfoil, and freeze for 2 hours.  Take out of the freezer and cut width wise so that you have apple rings with carmel in the center.  Serve on top of toasts, cakes, muffins, or by themselves – make beautiful and yummy snacks for kids or friends!

 

 

 

 

Canning creativity

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This is a great time of year to get into canning!  With the winter months coming up, many of your favorite fruits and vegetables will be harder to find in their prime states or for good prices!  Canning things like apricots, green beans, nectarines, plums, raspberries, etc… (see http://snap.nal.usda.gov/resource-library/summer-sizzlers/whats-available-summer)

Canning will keep those fresh tastes so you can fabulous nectarines in late winter.  I like the Ball canning jars for canning my creativity.  Some of my favorite canning practices are  nectarines stored in brown sugar and bourbon (always a tasty treat).  Blueberries in raspberry syrup (and vice versa) and raspberries stored in honey make excellent desert or breakfast toppers.  There is an amazing book called ‘Food in Jars‘ which I highly recommend if you are new to canning or need some guidance.  You can also save a bundle at the grocery store by making your own jams, sauces, canned fruits/veggies, etc.  There is no end as to how creative you can get with it too.  If you know you have a party coming up in a few months (or for big holidays like thanksgiving) you can give some of your appetizers/entree’s a real kick with your creative canned concoctions.  Another great thing about canning, is you can turn it into a party.  Have a canning party where everyone brings some of their favorite farmers market finds!  Have a variety of fresh herbs, juices, spices, etc on hand to allow people to get creative with their canning process.  Print off some cute tags on white computer paper, cut them out, and have them available with twine or string so people can label their jars!  this will be an easy party because you have the entertainment there, and all sorts of yummy food to snack on as you can!  If you don’t want to get messy, you could even keep it as simple as a canning exchange party if you know a few other people that can.  Set up the table with just a few small bowls and plates, colorful napkins and a few candles or fresh flowers for some pizazz.  Have everyone bring a few of their original canned products and have an exchange!  You can have a small tasting party too for those that want to show off their creativity!

Buy guide:

Food in Jars: http://www.amazon.com/Food-Jars-Preserving-Batches-Year-Round/dp/0762441437/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378401804&sr=8-1&keywords=food+in+jars

Canning Jars: http://www.amazon.com/Ball%C2%AE-Regular-Bands–Jarden-Brands/dp/B004YVOS0Y/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1378401870&sr=8-7&keywords=Canning

Jar labels: http://www.amazon.com/Ball%C2%AE-Dissolvable-Labels-Jarden-Brands/dp/B004NGVIIK/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1378402702&sr=8-7&keywords=labels

Dye-it and dont stress

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This morning on the daily show, I thought they made an excellent point during a health short-segment that you can lose a good amount of weight by making two small changes everyday.  First, eat a slow digesting high carb option (their example was an egg-white omelet wrapped with spinach in a wheat wrap).  The second step was to simply get moving.  Forget pushing the rigorous workout if it’s something you can’t keep up with, and just take walk.  Invest in a pedometer if you want to track your daily steps (they recommend 5,000 a day).  Finally, simple snacks can get you through the day and still let you see the results you’d like.  You can eat a whole bowl of air popped (no butter, not sugar, no salt) popcorn, fresh fruits, or humus!  Dieting doesn’t have to be stressful, it can be slow and simple and stress free!  The key is just to get started at your own pace and stick with it!  Finally, make yourself a comfy shirt to walk in and keep you motivated!  Bright colors can help your energy level, and also call attention to cars if you are walking on a road or hunters if you are strolling through the woods.  A Hanes ty-dyed number can help you feel confident and committed to walking (if it’s in your closet hanging in the morning, your going to remember to walk!)  With your feel good tye dyed shirt and and your easy breakfast/snack solutions, you’ll see pounds naturally begin to melt-away.

Donate for school shopping

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As parents gear up to do the much anticipated yearly “back to school shopping”, it is a perfect time for everyone to give a helping hand to families in need.  Donate last years shoes, back packs, lunch boxes, snow-pants, etc … to your local elementary.  Most schools have families in need, and your donations could help gear those children for the school year.  Keep in mind as well, many retailers like office max give you significant savings if you buy more than one of the same product.  For example, 3 Crayola 24-crayon packs (buy 2 get 1 free).  Grab two for yourself, and throw the free one in with your donation!  If your local elementary is not accepting donations, check with the salvation army, local shelters, or your city-hall.

Cranberry-Almond Muffins

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Cranberry-Almond Muffins

(Recipe courtesy of Ocean Spray Cranberries)
1 1/4 cups Trivia
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 cups Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped

(My twist)
A few drips of vanilla extract

–Press a few whole almonds into the top in a flower pattern. Melt a little brownsugar and butter together and brush it over the top.–

Bake 25-30 mins @ 350.