November 30, 2010

Walgreens 15% and 20% off Tomorrow, 12/1

Wednesday, December 1. Get 15% OFF your in-store purchase and enjoy 20% savings on all Walgreens and W brand products. Give your coupon to a cashier at the photo or beauty counter before you check out. And don't forget to share extra coupons with friends and family!Time to stock up on stocking stuffers at Walgreens—the Walgreens Friends & Family Sale is tomorrow!  Head into Wags with this coupon tomorrow, 12/1, and score 15% off your purchase at Walgreens and 20% off of Walgreens and W Brand products.  Be sure to use these at the cosmetics counter and make sure you have enough items with your coupons to avoid beepage.

7th Annual Emporium Holiday Extravaganza, Knoxville: 10% off Coupon and FREE Lunch

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December 3 & 4th shop the 7th Annual Emporium Holiday Extravaganza

Admission is FREE! Featuring hundreds of beautiful, handmade gift items by nearly 30 local artists, live holiday music performances, and lots of cheer!
Free lunch on Friday and Saturday with a $10 Extravaganza purchase!
Click here to print a coupon for 10% off any Extravaganza purchase!

Chili’s Holidaily Specials

CHILIS

Coupon Mommie posted that Chili's is having a HOT deal from now until December 24th, each day there will be a new Chili's coupon.  Today is a Free Brownie and tomorrow is Free Chips & Queso—yummy!  Don’t you just love free???

Thanks Jennifer!

Free Sample Packets of Sun Crystals

Get a Free Sample of Sun Crystals

Go here to request free sample packets of new Sun Crystals all natural sweetener

Free Sample Biolage Volumatherapie Shampoo and Conditioner

Free Biolage Volumatherapie Shampoo and Conditioner Sample

Fill out a short form on the Matrix website to request your free sample of Biolage Volumatherapie Shampoo and Conditioner while supplies last.  You must have your pop-ups enabled, as the form is in a pop-up window. 

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice $10 off coupon

The Sorcerer?s Apprentice 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack - Best Value

Log in or sign up for the Disney Movie Rewards program and you can print a $10 off coupon for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice combo pack.

Independence Days Update, 11/22-11/29

DSC_4846 We participate in Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge.

The skies have been gray and the weather cold in our area lately.  The steady rain outside will mean that the house won’t be heated from sunlight today. 

We still haven’t turned on our heat, which will mean that we will finally make our goal of waiting until December 1 to turn it on after 4 years of trying!  The temp inside the house read 59 degrees this morning, and though chilly, it hasn’t been unbearable.  A little hot tea, warm breakfast, and cozy clothes keep us comfortable.  We’ve been building fires at night, and I’ve been baking a lot more than I normally do to stay warm.  We are also using space heaters and rice bags that we warm in the microwave to keep us warm.  We, including our 4 1/2 year old daughter, haven’t been burdened by the cold.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for others.  We have good insulation, reasonably new windows, a pretty well sealed house, two fireplaces, cords of wood stacked, and the money to turn on our heat if we want to.  We have choices and options.  I encounter so many who don’t have those choices.  I know I’ve said this before, but it is heartbreaking to know of so many whose choices lie in keeping their house heated, eating, or buying medications. 

If this need speaks to your heart, I encourage you to contact your utility board to ask about making a donation to the heating fund or making a donation in the pastor’s discretionary fund at  your church.  Churches, community centers, and synagogues are phoned so often this time of the year by people with genuine need. Unfortunately, the funds are not always available to help.

Plant— Nothing planted this week, though after looking at the seed catalogs which are now steadily arriving I wanted to plant and plant and plant

Harvest—Kindling for the fires, parsley, green onions, bok choy

PreserveKumquats and cranberry mustard both canned; turkey soup for the freezer (approx 10 quarts)

Waste Not/Reduce Waste— I’ve been keeping the compost bucket in steady work this week.  I used the water from canning to water the houseplants.  I used the leftover syrup from the kumquats to sweeten a few batches of tea.  As I said above, we still haven’t turned on the heat in the house.

Want Not/Prep/Storage—I cleaned out the freezers and our daughter fed some of the bread that was freezer burned to the birds.  She so enjoyed watching them come and take bits and pieces away.  I cleaned out and organized our laundry room.  We put up our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, which was the earliest I’ve ever put it up.  The advantage is that we’ve been putting up a little decorations here and there, and the house is beginning to look and feel festive. 

I’ve been planning what fruits and vegetables I want to grow this year.  The only problem is where to put them all!  I have a few graphs that I’m starting to draw so that I can make it all fit. 

Building Community Food Systems— A friend shared some chicken broth with me for when I was recovering from surgery. I don’t know about you, but when I’m still not feeling perky, broth is the perfect remedy. 

I talked with our milk farmer about resuming the milk co-op over the winter and need to make some calls to the participants about that.

I will be working in the food pantry later today to make up some more holiday food boxes for distribution.

Eat the Food— Thanksgiving wasn’t the same this year, but it was still nice.  We missed seeing my in-laws, tasting Great Grandma’s homemade noodles and her pumpkin pie, and visiting with everyone.  Even though it was different, my sister and dad did a great job with the cooking and it was wonderful to be with them and play with my little nephews. 

I’ve been recovering very well, and I told my husband that I feel more like myself than I have in almost a year.  Returning to canning and cooking in earnest felt so good.

Weekly Matchups and Deals 11/28-12/4

Office Max—FREE office supplies!

Free Batteries at Staples and Office Depot

Dollar General Olay $1

Co-op Advantage Stores/Three Rivers Market through 11/10-11/30

earth-fare-market

November Matchups and Deals for Earth Fare

target frugal mom blogger  columbus ohio

Target

kroger deals kroger sales logo

Kroger and here

advantage_card

Ingles

Walgreens

Walgreens

cvspharmacy

CVS and here

 

Knoxville Coupon Bloggers: Merry Merry at the Library

As I’ve mentioned, I recently had the pleasure of meeting for lunch with some of the local coupon bloggers in our area.   At that meeting, we decided to ban together to bring you some of the best ways to save your family money this holiday season.  Stay tuned now through December to hear some of the best tips and ways to save from Adventures in MomvilleBlue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Coupons Are Money, Frugalissa Finds, Frugally Farming Family, Knoxmoms.comKnoxville MamabelleKnoxville on a Dime, Sharing Savings with You, and me/Couponing in Critical Times. 

Here is a listing of the titles covered thus far:

Today’s posts are from Julie of Sharing Savings with You.  She has a couple of great posts that detail activities and events at the Knox County Public Libraries and the Blount County Public Libraries.  If you are outside of the East TN area, I highly recommend that you phone your local library branch to ask about what events are available there.  If your library system has a website, you might find even more information available there.

I am going to mark my calendars to be sure to attend the Frugal but Fancy Gift Wrapping Workshop.  I love getting little tips and ideas like this that I might not have ever thought of before!  Can’t wait!

Tip of the day

It is the end of the month, don’t forget to print your coupons!  Coupon sites often refresh coupons at the first of the month.  If there are some you want to be sure to snag, print them before it is too late. 

November 29, 2010

Meal Planning, Week of 11/29

The meal plan below is for Hubby, me, and our daughter with an occasional guest or family member joining us. 

NOTE—I often make enough food to freeze or have for another meal.  Because of this, leftovers are counted as $0 on the menu.  If we go to a restaurant, it counts in a different part of our family budget.

Monday

Snack supper (our daughter’s favorite type)

A cup of leftover soup $0

Clementines $1

Cheese and crackers $1

Carrot sticks and dip (dip bought on super sale at Walgreens with coupon) 50cts

Boiled eggs $1

Approximate cost: $3.50

~~~~~

Tuesday

Pan seared chicken (organic chicken bought marked down and with coupon) $1.81

Pasta (free after coupon and sale, dressed with the pan drippings) $0

A bit of lettuce greens dressed with a little olive oil and vinegar (lettuce free from the garden)

Approximate cost: $2

~~~~~

Wednesday

I’ll be making the meal for the children at church tonight with a friend.  Because we’ll be Christmas caroling, we’re keeping it simple with nachos

Approximate cost: $0 (from the church budget, though both the chips and cheese were leftover from our Faithstock event and the only expense will be a bit of sour cream and salsa)

~~~~~

Thursday

Lamb stew (stew meat bought from a local farmer) $6

Potatoes and onions from the garden (free)

Carrots 50cts

(potatoes, onions, and carrots cooked as part of the stew)

Homemade Irish soda bread and butter $1

Approximate cost: $7.50

~~~~~

Friday

Venison tenderloin (free from my brother-in-law)

I’m going to try cooking it with rosemary (from the garden) and some of the cranberry mustard I made. I hope it turns out good!

Cost of mustard approx 50cts

Roasted sweet potatoes (from a local farmer) $3

Roasted yellow potatoes (from our garden) $0

Summer squash from the freezer (from the garden earlier in the year) $0

Leftover soda bread and butter

Approximate cost: $3.50

~~~~~

Saturday

Either leftovers or

Quesadillas $5

Saffron Rice (free after coupon) $0

Fruit for dessert 50cts

Approximate cost: $0-$5.50

~~~~~

Sunday

Tuna Salad (tuna bought on sale) and Crackers $3

Crudités and dip (dip bought on super sale at Wags with coupon) $1

Cup of soup from the freezer $0

Approximate cost: $4

Tip of the day—If you are making popcorn strands for your tree….

Don’t use oil to pop the popcorn.  It makes a mess, and it might put a little damper on your holiday decorating spirit. Air pop the popcorn instead.

Yep, you guessed it, we had a little hiccup last night when decorating our tree.  I decided that I wanted to stick with a more earthy feel for the tree decorations this year and wanted to try making popcorn strands.  I didn’t realize that if you used oil to pop the popcorn then it would end up making your hands greasy and stranding the popcorn not so much fun.  Oh well, live and learn.  Hopefully you can benefit from my mistake.  Better luck next year!

November 28, 2010

Cinnamon Kumquats

DSC_4836 I was reading a book about fruit the night that I made this recipe.  They said that while kumquats resemble citrus, they aren’t a true citrus fruit.  The general consensus among those who have tried the fruit say that they are too tart to eat them, therefore for centuries people have been preserving them in sugar or honey before serving. 

Part of my family is from southeast TX.   When my great aunts from that part of the family came through town right before Thanksgiving, they brought us a bag full of kumquats and persimmons (Sharon fruit).  My aunt said that they were from her backyard, and I can only imagine the delight of picking fruits like this just a few feet away from your back door. 

While most of us like them raw, my dad was afraid that they would spoil before we could enjoy all of them.  Luckily, I found the recipe below for cinnamon kumquats from my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving cookbook.  One of the jars didn’t seal, and I popped it in the fridge for us to enjoy.  I tasted one of the fruits the day after I made them, and they were sweet with just a touch of tartness left, soft and delicious.  Plus, the jars are absolutely beautiful with the orange yellow fruit suspended in the syrup.

I didn’t have a quite full 2 1/2 lbs, but since the syrup was a basic mixture it didn’t matter. 

Ingredients

2 1/2 lbs kumquats, stems removed, outside brushed and rinsed clean

2 T. baking soda

Boiling water

2 cinnamon sticks (4 inches long)

6 c. granulated sugar

Directions with my notes in italics—In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine kumquats and baking soda.  Add boiling water to cover and set aside for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a colander placed over a sink and drain thoroughly.  Rinse three times in cold running water.  I have no idea what they meant by this.  I rinsed thoroughly, let it drain, and repeated another 2 times.  Prick each kumquat twice with a toothpick to prevent bursting.

In a large clean stainless steel saucepan, combine kumquats 8 c water and cinnamon sticks. I always use filtered water when cooking or canning. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and heat gently for 7 minutes.  (Be careful not to boil, as boiling may cause the fruit to burst).  OK, here is where they lost me—didn’t they just tell me to bring it to a boil? I didn’t bring it to a rolling boil, as I normally would when making preserves.  Instead I brought it just to a boil and then turned down the heat.  Add sugar and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly but gently, until sugar has dissolved and liquid has almost returned to a boil.  Discard cinnamon sticks. 

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.

Using a slotted spoon, pack kumquats loosely into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar.  Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover kumquats, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process both 8 oz and pint jars 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and remove canner lid.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Then remove jars, cool and store.

Yield—the batch that I made weighed right at 2 1/4 lbs, then I had to discard a couple because of blemishes.  The batch made the jars shown plus another pint jar that was in the refrigerator. 

A Happy Thought

clip_image002"Give freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God's blessing in everything you do, in all your work and ventures." Deuteronomy 15:10 (MSG)

November 27, 2010

Cranberry Mustard

DSC_4841 I have been wanting to make homemade mustard for a while now.  I had some leftover frozen cranberries from the Angel Food box we bought to help contribute to Thanksgiving this year, and so I decided to give it a whirl.  This mustard is tangy with a hint of sweetness.  It would be perfect on a roasted turkey or ham sandwich or with a bit of goat cheese or brie on French bread.  I plan to give a few away in gift baskets this Christmas.  Since cranberries tend to be a seasonal item in the grocery, you might want to pick up a bag sometime this week if you want to try this recipe.

Source credit: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Editors Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine

Makes about seven 4 oz jars (mine made about 8)

Ingredients

1 c. red wine vinegar

2/3 c. yellow mustard seeds

1 c. water

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 3/4 c. cranberries (fresh or frozen)

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. dry mustard

2 1/2 t. ground allspice

Directions with my notes in italics—In a medium stainless steel saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil over high heat.  Remove from heat and add mustard seeds.  Cover and let stand at room temperature until seeds have absorbed most of the moisture, about 1 1/2 hours.

Prepare canner lids and jars and set out the rest of the ingredients while you wait.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine marinated mustard sees (with liquid), water, and Worcestershire sauce.  Process until the mustard seeds are well chopped.  This step took a little longer than I thought it would.  The recipe said that you can use a blender, but I can’t imagine that a blender that was not an industrial strength would work as well.  You want the mixture to remain slightly grainy in texture.  Add cranberries and blend until chopped.  I used frozen and didn’t defrost them first.  The next step will just take a little longer with frozen.

Transfer mixture to a stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  I didn’t have the patience to stir constantly, but you don’t want to leave it and let it scald on the bottom.  Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Whisk in sugar, dry mustard and allspice.  They are right, a whisk is the best utensil for this because the mustard tends to clump.  Continue to boil gently over low heat, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes.  I measured the depth with the rubber spatula that I was using to stir and sort of eyeballed the reduction level.

Ladle hot mustard into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if needed.  I tapped the jar on the counter to help it settle.  Then I used my plastic spatula and did the best I could to remove bubbles, though I didn’t really notice any come to the top.  Wipe rim.  Center lid and screw band to fingertip resistance is met. 

Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and remove lid.  Let it sit for another 5 minutes and then remove jars. Cool and store.

Build-A-Bear $5 Holly or Hal Moose, ends 11/28!

Build-A-Bear Holly and Hal 5 dollar sale

UPDATE—I just phoned the local store at West Town Mall, and they sold out of these yesterday morning.  Bummer!

I can’t believe I missed seeing this on Coupon Mommie’s site upon first glance.  Good thing that it isn’t too late—the deal ends on the 28th.  Shop at Build-A-Bear Workshop (both online and in store) between 11/25/2010 – 11/28/2010 and get a Holly & Hal Mooster for only $5 each from Build-A-Bear.  These are regularly priced $16/$18.  For a little extra gift, throw in Holly’s coat & hat or Hal’s coat & goggles for just $5 more. 

She notes that these are while quantities last, so your mileage may vary on what you can still get.  Outfits and accessories sold separately. 

American Express Cardholders, Support Small Business

This deal goes along with my post yesterday about supporting local businessesCheck out Hip2Save’s info here for all the details.

Charley’s Greenhouse $10/$75 Coupon, Expires 11/29

I really like this company for gardening supplies.  I have some tomato cages I bought there almost 10 years ago that still work great.  When I was running a horticultural group program at work, we bought many of our supplies through them, and they gave us great deals because we were a not-for-profit agency.  On top of all of that, they are so nice and helpful.  Order now through 11/29/10 and score $10 off of a purchase of $75 or more at Charley’s Greenhouse when you use coupon code SAVE10.

Chavrie Goat Cheese $1/1 Coupon

Chavrie Rolled In Dried Cranberries

Go here for a $1/1 Coupon for Chavrie Goat Cheese. I  love using their cheese in my stuffed chicken recipe. Yum!

Going to the movies? FREE Small Drink at Regal

Free Small Drink with purchase of any size Popcorn

This coupon doesn’t expire until 1/2/11 so print it and pop it in your purse for the next time you are at the movies.  Score a FREE Small Drink with the purchase of any size popcorn at Regal Cinemas.  Limit 1 coupon per person.

Free 8x10 Collage Print from Walgreens—ends today!

Enjoy one FREE 8x10 Collage Print. Our little way of saying thanks ! Enter coupon code THANKSGIVING at checkout thru Saturday, November 27.* Only one per customer.

Use coupon code THANKSGIVING at the Walgreens Photo website to score a FREE 8x10 Collage Print.  The deal ends today (11/27)!

Tip of the day—use that syrup

Yesterday I was canning kumquats (I’ll try to post the recipe soon) that my great aunts had brought us from Texas when they were passing through this week.  After I filled the jars, there was a lot of syrup leftover.  Instead of throwing it out, I used it to sweeten the tea I had brewed for supper.  The hint of orange with the cinnamon and sugar worked perfectly with the orange spiced iced tea I had made.   Normally we drink unsweetened tea.  Not only did using the syrup prevent waste, it was also a nice treat for us to enjoy.

Next time you have a bit of syrup left over from canning or from a jar or can of fruit, try using it as a sweetener for your tea.  If you happened to be baking or plan to bake the next day, reserve some of the syrup to brush on your cake or quick bread when it is fresh from the oven.  It will give the bread a glossy look and make it moister.

November 26, 2010

Tip of the day—Watch for freebies everywhere

Today we went to the doctor’s office, and I was very surprised to see coupons and freebies at the check-in window.  Not only did we find out that she didn’t have strep (thank you, Lord!), we scored some high dollar coupons, a travel size shampoo, and a lotion. 

Vote with your dollar—support local businesses

Support your local businesses now and always.  Frugally Farming Family sent me a great post she wrote about the importance of supporting local businesses, and I highly recommend that you check it out.  When I was younger, our family ran a local store in the West TN area which after years of business had to close because of low sales.  Big stores move in and the little guy sometimes has to close down.  I’m not suggesting that the big stores are necessarily bad (though some have business practices that are questionable at best), but we need both.  Having locally owned and operated stores, helps the local community.  Just this morning, my sister told me that she drove into the county where she works so that they would benefit from her tax dollars.  “The tax dollars help the schools where I work.”

Yea, but how can I afford to buy from local businesses when it is cheaper to buy online?

I’m not usually a big Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper.  I didn’t even know what Cyber Monday was until I became a blogger!  Most of the shopping that I will do is completed by this time of the year because we budget and spread out our purchases year aroundI’m able to watch for deals and wait for coupons while being mindful of what people have mentioned wanting or liking.  People are always surprised when they open something in December that they mentioned wanting in June. 

Yea, buy where am I going to find…?

I’m not saying that we don’t buy from places like Target or Gymboree, but I’ve noticed that over the last few years more and more of our gifts are either homemade, locally or regionally produced, or from local sources.  I’ll either shop through a distributor/vendor like Usborne books or Premier Jewelry, supporting a friend, or I’ll buy from local stores.  For example, we bought our daughter a bike for Christmas from Target and bought the bike helmet from a locally owned store earlier in the year.  She’ll get some new clothes that I bought on a super-duper sale at Gymboree early in the year and some books that we bought from an Usborne distributor.  It isn’t perfect, but it is a balance that works for us.

For some great ideas on what to buy from local sources, I noticed that Sweet Deals recently posted some links with coupon information for those in the East TN area.  Be sure to check out those posts and look in Hannah’s post for gift ideas from Cedar Springs.

Two other types of gifts that we give that support the local economy are home canned foods and in-honor-of donations to local charities.  We buy much of the produce that I can from local farmers markets or pick-your-own farms.  While I always wish that I’d canned more, in looking at my shelves recently, I’m pretty pleased with all we have put up.  I plan to start making gift bags and baskets this week, adding in a few store bought things here and there as needed.  Last year we started making a donation to charities as gifts.  We have a friend who started Random Acts of Flowers, and last year for Christmas we made donations in honor of each of our neighbors.  It was so nice to not have to worry about baking or making something at home (one year I made over 30 rice bags for all of them!), and you know what?  They seemed to appreciate it more than the homemade stuff. 

Yea, but I like the thrill of Cyber Monday and Black Friday?

You might be surprised at how many emails I’ve received in the last couple of days from local stores and local vendors ( a local Homemade Gourmet distributor and Cutie Tooties, for instance) with deal offers and discounts on shipping.  Many of the deals associated with Cyber Monday are around free shipping.  When you order through local stores, in-store pick up is usually free.  If in doubt, call the store to see if they are offering any deals.  Also, plan ahead for next year and make sure you are on the mailing list and email newsletter list for all of the stores you like in your area. 

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to not only support local businesses, but to do so and also stay on your gift giving budget.  Happy Shopping!

November 25, 2010

FREE Baby Carrier from Seven Slings

Northern LightsA reader and friend, Erica from Child Organics passed on the following freebie info to me:

I wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving by sending you a promo code for 100% off on the baby carrier of your choice at www.sevenslings.com !

These high quality carriers make great holiday and new mother gifts! Get an early start on your shopping so you can relax and spend time with family and friends during the season!

The code is "Thanksgiving".

Go to www.sevenslings.com , click on “Shop Now” and select the correct size sling or gift set you would like (be sure to visit the sizing page for instructions on how to select the right size carrier for you). Once you have selected the sling or gift set you would like - enter the promo code Thanksgiving into the promo code box and click “Apply Code”. This will bring your total from $39.00 to $0 for one of the carriers or from $44.00 to only $5 for a 3-piece gift set - all you are required to pay is the shipping fees!

This promotion code is valid once per transaction! You can use it more than once –you just have to open a new window to do so. Have a great holiday!

All you will have to pay is shipping, making a baby carrier only cost around $11!  You can opt for a sizing/exchange insurance at $3.50 in case you are worried about the size and fit being right. Thanks Erica!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cornucopia Coloring PagesI hope that you spend time with your loved ones today, enjoying a delicious meal and lots of laughter.  Have a very blessed holiday!  Gobble, gobble!

Tip of the day

Once a month check your food stores.  This not only helps to prevent spoilage and waste, but it also helps you to keep better tabs on what you have on stock to use for meals.

  • Check your freezer.  Discard what is freezer burned or what might be beyond use.  Give it a good wipe down and refresh the baking soda box.
  • Look in your fridge.  Use any leftovers, the last of the olives, that last teaspoon of jelly, anything that might need eating to make way for fresh foods.  Give everything a good wipe down and replace the baking soda box in there.  Check the temperature and make sure it is at the proper level.  Vacuum the coils so that it is running properly.
  • What do you have in dry storage?  Onions starting to sprout?  Chop them and put them in a bag in the freezer.  This will help to streamline your prep work for supper on busy nights.  Potatoes starting to sprout?  Consider planting them this year as part of your garden.  Garlic getting tough?  Roast or dehydrate it so that you can use it before it goes bad.  
  • What about your pantry?  Organize.  I like to put the cans so that I can see the labels, because I’m anal because I like to see what is available with a quick scan.  Make a habit of putting the new cans and jars in the back so that you can use them in a first in first out method.  Check any food that you have preserved at home for spoilage and discard what is unsafe to use. 
  • Check your spices.  If you can’t smell them, then they are probably too old to use.  Most spices do best if stored for 1-2 years. 
  • Plan a meal or two using the odds and ends that you found in your kitchen quest. 

November 24, 2010

Knoxville Coupon Bloggers: Black Friday Deals and Couponing for Charity

As I’ve mentioned, I recently had the pleasure of meeting for lunch with some of the local coupon bloggers in our area.   At that meeting, we decided to ban together to bring you some of the best ways to save your family money this holiday season.  Stay tuned now through December to hear some of the best tips and ways to save from Adventures in MomvilleBlue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Coupons Are Money, Frugalissa Finds, Frugally Farming Family, Knoxmoms.comKnoxville MamabelleKnoxville on a Dime, Sharing Savings with You, and me/Couponing in Critical Times. 

Here is a listing of the titles covered thus far:

Today’s post comes from Margaret of Blue Frog Creations.  She has listed the hottest deals at CVS and Walgreens on Black Friday.  Be sure to read her information on Couponing for Charity—her work is inspiring.  Shelters, food pantries, and community aid organizations are very much in need of assistance, and this is a simple and inexpensive way to offer help.  Plus, in case you haven’t caught the couponing bug yet, it is fun!

Tip of the day—Pack your sense of humor

Today holiday travelers will descend upon the roadways, rail lines, and air ways to reach family and friends for Thanksgiving.  Along with your toiletry bag and clothes, be sure to pack your sense of humor, too. 

One of the things that I like least about myself is that I can get carried away in a moment and forget what really matters.  In an instant, stress can take over and I’ll feel like the world is going to end if (fill in the blank) happens, or doesn’t happen depending on the situation.  Ever feel that way?  Frustration fills every part of my body.  Then the moment passes and all of the sudden I realize I spoke harshly, wasn’t as kind as I could have been, or burdened someone else with my bad attitude.  UGH.  I feel worse than I did to start with, and it was all because I let myself be caught up in a moment of stress.  Like in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, I let the devil on my shoulder win out over the angel. 

I find that, in addition to using the stress busters that I told you about earlier in the week, deciding to have a sense of humor is helpful.  Wake up, look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, and tell yourself that whatever happens you’ll roll with it.  You’ll decide to look for parts of those stressful situations that are funny.  You’ll find ways to bring joy and peace to others instead of stress or frustration. 

Hey, you won’t be charged an extra baggage fee to pack your sense of humor so why not bring it along?  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2010

Knoxville Coupon Bloggers: Kid Friendly Events and Activities Around Town

As I’ve mentioned, I recently had the pleasure of meeting for lunch with some of the local coupon bloggers in our area.  We are banning together to bring you some of the best ways to save your family money this holiday season.  Stay tuned now through December to hear some of the best tips and ways to save from Adventures in MomvilleBlue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Coupons Are Money, Frugalissa Finds, Frugally Farming Family, Knoxmoms.comKnoxville MamabelleKnoxville on a Dime, Sharing Savings with You, and me/Couponing in Critical Times. 

If you missed the post from Melissa of Frugalissa Finds about Black Friday you can see that HERE.  You can check out the online shopping post from Kathryn of Knoxville on a Dime for some great tips in preparing for Cyber Monday.

Today’s post comes from Ali of Knoxmoms.com and it covers free holiday events and activities for families in the Knox County area.  I was excited to see this list because our daughter is now older and better able to enjoy all of these.  What are your favorite ways to celebrate around town?

Ali also reminded me to not forget the Fantasy of Trees tomorrow. Caregivers/parents of small children get in for half price if they arrive in the morning between 9am and 12pm  on Wednesday November 24th. There is a dedicated area for Tinsel Time for Moms and Tots and usually lots of freebies. There's also a big free indoor play area and lots of other inexpensive activities. Be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds!

And if that weren’t enough, she also has a chance for you to win free tickets to the Appalachian Ballet Company's Nutcracker (it is a double pass).  Leave a comment with your email address to sign up for a chance to win!  If we don’t win, I hope that one of you do!!

Dover Publishing Company $20/$40

Secret Sale! Save $20. One Week Only. Ends 11/30/10

Shop at Dover Publishing Company now through 11/30/10 and score $20 off of a $40 or more purchase with code HD2X.  If you order $50 or more, you’ll also receive FREE shipping!  We love their coloring, paper dolls, and sticker books.  Happy Shopping!

The Anyway Project

As you know, we participate in Sharon Astyk’s Independence Day Challenge.  Each week we make records of what we’ve planted, harvested, preserved, and what other steps we’ve taken to live a more sustainable lifestyle. 

Sharon has a new challenge for her readers that is called the Anyway Project.  From what I gather, the idea behind it goes back to the argument I’ve always had with folks who don’t think that there is such a thing as global warming.  Even if there isn’t, I should be living a simple, less consumer driven, more sustainable lifestyle ANYWAY. 

The categories she has added to the project include:

Domestic Infrastructure - these are the realities of home life, including making your home work better with less, getting organized, dealing with domestic life, etc…

Household Economy: Financial goals, making ends meet, saving, barter etc…

Resource Consumption : in which we use less of stuff, and strive to live in a way that has an actual future.

Cottage Industry and Subsistence:: The things we do that prevent us from needing to buy things, and the things we produce that go out into the world and provide for others. Not everyone will do both, but it is worth encouraging.

Family and Community: Pretty much what it sounds like. How do we enable those to take the place of collapsing infrastructure?

Outside Work: Finding a balance, doing good work, serving the larger community as much as we can, within our need to make a living.

Time and Happiness: Those things without which there’s really no point.

Below are my goals for the rest of November, and since we are almost at the end of November, these goals will last through December.  I hope that the project will help to give me a little focus on my goals for our home.

Domestic Infrastructure: Clean out the laundry room.  I have a lot of our storage for paper products, linens, cleaning products, extra sewing supplies, canning jars, and just about anything else I could cram in that small space included in the room.  Hubby and I were talking about better organizing what we have in there, adding a few shelves and a rack for hanging clothes. 

This month I’d also like to clean out the freezer and make sure we are using foods in there before they go bad.  Hubby and I noticed that we still have quite a bit of venison that needs using before a deer is taken this year. 

Household economy: Lately we’ve gone a little crazy with our restaurant and entertainment budget.  We need to return to a bare bones budget for dining out so that a couple of things happen—we’ll appreciate our time out more and our daughter won’t think that going to a restaurant is a regular occurrence and we’ll save money in our budget to be used towards a vacation next year.

In this same area, I need to start working on gathering all of my tax information together so that I am not waiting until the last minute to do it. UGH!

Resource Consumption: I’ll focus on composting everything I can, even if it is cold outside and I don’t want to make a run to the compost bin.  We have the goal of keeping our heat off until December 1.  The weather shifts to very cold in our area late this week, but I’m hoping we can manage it.  We keep track of our electrical, gas, and water usage.  We were way down for October, and I’m hoping that November will be the same. 

Cottage Industry and Subsistence: I have had a goal all  year to monetize this blog.  I’m hoping that I can find a way to do that without the ads becoming intrusive or the blog becoming too commercialized.  I’m lucky to have friends who are bloggers on which to rely for their expertise.

As far as ways to prevent outside spending, I am making some gift baskets this year which include our home canned foods (jams, jellies, relishes, etc). 

Family and Community: Hubby and I haven’t been entertaining at our home as much as we normally would.  My goal is to have one playdate for our daughter and one dinner party at our home before the end of the year.

Outside Work: I’ve been doing a little better about balancing the time that I spend working from home and need to continue that.  In the next few weeks, I hope to return to a regular exercise schedule that allows me some de-stressing time in between work.  I am going to start tracking the amount of time I spend on the computer so that I can work on making my time there more efficient.  I don’t want our daughter to think that my face is stuck to the screen!

Time and Happiness: As with many other women, I am terrible at taking time for myself.  I’m going to make an effort to regularly schedule in time for me exercising, running errands, spending time with friends, etc. 

Hubby and I find that as our daughter gets older we are less likely to have date nights.  Time together and away from everything else is so important, and my goal is to have at least one date night between now and the end of the year. 

So what are your plans and goals? You can post them here or link to your blog and we can talk about it. Let us know what you are struggling with, and what you’ve accomplished. Spread the word – get a lot of people involved. It should be fun – and we can all use a little support!

Hallmark $10 Off Coupon

Hallmark has a new $10 off coupon.  It is for new or expecting moms, but our daughter was born in 2006, and it still let me print.   You just register to receive emails from Hallmark and then you can choose either a $10 off $10 purchase coupon or a 25% off for Hallmark.com.  For some people, a valid scan code isn’t printing.  Mine worked fine, though, and I’m hoping yours will too.   The coupon does say participating Gold Crown stores only so there is a chance some stores will refuse your coupon.

I’m really hoping that this coupon can be used with the $5 off coupons that are found in magazines now.  I just found one in my most recent Woman’s Day.  Last year I scored an awesome deal on wrapping paper and a few gifts with that coupon, and I can’t wait to see what I find this year!

Thanks My Frugal Adventures!

Martha’s not coming to Thanksgiving!

I found this post hilarious and had to share it!  Maybe I’ll post it on my front door this year?

Tip of the day

Preventative health measures are not just good for your wallet, they could save your life.  Today perform your monthly self check breast exam and encourage those you love to do the same. 

November 22, 2010

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving, Part 4

Season and Holiday Stencil - ThanksgivingIf you have been reading my blog, you have read the other parts of this series, Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3. I hope that these tips and ideas have helped you get prepared and organized for Thanksgiving and to save a bit of money, too.  For some other money saving ideas, check out my post Ways to Save on Thanksgiving.

Below are some ideas for this week’s preparations.  Since this is the big week, I’ve also made some notes about the day of Thanksgiving.  Keep in mind that everyone’s holiday experience is different.  Do what works for you and your family!  Don’t worry about what Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray would have on their holiday table—do what you think will be memorable and important to your family.  Don’t stress about the rest.

For example, Thanksgivings are usually spent with my husband’s family.  We travel, visit with relatives, play games, dote on the kiddos, dine on one of the most delicious meals of the year, and tell stories until late at night.  This year, it will be a bit more low key.  Because I’m still recovering from surgery and unable to travel, we’ll be staying home.  My sister is coming into town with her family, and she and my dad will cook most of the meal.  While unable to help much this week, these last few weeks of posts have allowed me contribute to the prep work of the meal.  I’ve planned a few crafts for the kids, chopped the veggies for the stuffing, shopped the sales, cleaned the house (before surgery), and have helped my dad to get his place “guest ready”. 

This year I’m very thankful.  I’m grateful for having people in my life who care about me.  I’m grateful for the health of myself and members of our family.  I’m grateful for our home, our country, our church, and our freedom.  I’m grateful for all of you who drop in each day, who write comments and send me emails, who encourage me and say that they have been encouraged by me—you all make my days a little brighter, and I thank God for each of you!

Now to the tips for this week:

  • Pull out your planning notebook and review what you’ve accomplished thus far.  Look at how much you’ve accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts!  Give yourself a break and take a few things off of the list that you don’t think you’ll have time for.  If in doubt, ask, “Is this going to matter in the grand scheme of things?  Will anyone else notice?  Is it restoring or draining of my energy?”
  • Continue to incorporate the theme of Thanksgiving into your homeschooling, Bible study, story and craft time with your children.  We’ve really enjoyed making it a part of our story time.  I think I’ve learned almost as much as she has!
  • Continue to take a little time for yourself each week.  This is the season when people tend to put on a few pounds.  Make a preemptive strike by exercising, drinking more water, watching what you eat, and adding in more fruits and vegetables.  (Before starting any exercise routine, check with your healthcare provider first).  Take time each day for prayer and meditation.  Spend time in  your garden if that is restorative.  I found that the walks that I took in the park with a few friends really helped with my stress level.  Once I’m cleared by the doc, I want to get back to walking and yoga.
  • Prep casseroles and dishes as needed.  The day of Thanksgiving you want to mainly focus on warming the foods, cooking the turkey, and making the gravy—not cooking or prepping much else.  One catering trick is to cook the casserole about 2/3 the way through.  Cool and chill in the fridge.  The day of when you are warming the casserole it will cook the rest of the way without becoming dry or tough.
  • Chill wine and other drinks.  My Grandma-in-law always has a fridge full of sodas as a special treat for all of the guests.  If you are serving a white wine or sparkling juice as part of the meal, pop it into the fridge.
  • If you are making cranberry sauce from scratch, now is the time to do it.  If using canned, jazz it up with a bit of orange zest.
  • If you are making dessert from scratch, whip it up.  If buying from a bakery, make sure you order ahead of time if you haven’t already.
  • Defrost your turkey.  You don’t want for it to be frozen in the middle when you go to bake it on Thursday.

DSC_7966 

A day or two before Thanksgiving:

  • Set the table if you haven’t already.  If you are concerned about dust, cover it with another tablecloth.
  • Make a flower arrangement.  A few pinecones in a basket will do in a pinch.  If you have any nandina in your garden, it makes a nice centerpiece.  Above is a very simple arrangement that is perfect for either Thanksgiving or Christmas to use as an example.  I used a pyrex container, a piece of burlap, some clementines, pinecones, nandina, holly, magnolia leaves, and evergreen branches.  Super simple and, except for the clementines, free!
  • Set out the Tupperware, zip top bags, aluminum foil and plastic wrap.  It will make wrapping up leftovers so much easier.

Thanksgiving Day:

  • Make tea if you are serving it.
  • Wear your apron to avoid getting stains on your outfit.
  • Set up the coffeepot to brew for dessert.
  • Roast or fry the turkey, make the gravy, warm the casseroles, brown the rolls.
  • Unload the dishwasher so that your dishes can go straight in to wash after you eat.
  • Freshen up.  Windex is your best friend when you want things to look fresh and tidy and don’t have time to really clean a lot.  Shine the sinks and faucets, and you’ll be amazed at how much better things look.
  • Freshen up yourself.  If the hostess isn’t happy, no one is.  Take a few minutes to freshen up your makeup (if you wear it), put on a clean outfit, and run a brush through your hair.
  • Get the camera ready, put on the music, and welcome your guests.  Don’t forget to let them help if they ask what they can do.  People like being useful.  Have them pour drinks, entertain the kids, put the foods on the table, or just visit with you while you finish your prep work.

Above all else, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tip of the day--Destress

This is a repost from last year, but it is just as relevant for this year’s holiday season:

The hectic holiday season is in full swing--anyone having any holiday stress yet? Whatever the source of your stress these days, there are some simple stress relievers that you can integrate into everyday life to help alleviate some of the upheaval. First recognize that stress impacts all parts of your being--mind, body and spirit. When we see all parts of ourselves working together, we can intervene at any of these points to have a positive affect on the whole self. Examples of stress relievers in each of these categories follow.

Mind

  • Stop trying to be perfect and accept yourself. This is a daily process and one that requires reminders. I keep this quote from Jill Churchill somewhere around my computer, "The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one."
  • Instead of automatically responding when someone asks something of you say, "Let me think about it," instead. When we over-commit to activities, we tend to become more stressed.
  • Go on a mental vacation. You can do this anywhere you want, with your eyes opened or closed. Think of a pleasant place and experience, one that brought you peace and happiness. Let yourself "be" in that place as much as possible. What did it look like, feel like, smell like? These mini vacations can break the cycle of dwelling on worries.

Body

  • If you don't already have deep breathing in your arsenal of stress busters, I highly recommend that you try it out. Do this anytime you feel stressed and use it as a preventative measure by doing it periodically throughout the day. Take a deep slow breath in through your nose, try to use your diaphragm to inhale the air deeply into your lungs, hold it for a second, and then slowly breathe out. If it helps, think, "I'm breathing in peace and breathing out worry." Insert anything positive for the word peace and any negative for the word worry that is relevant to your situation. Repeat the deep breathing for a few times during each "session" if possible.
  • Try some basic stretches through the day. Look into taking a yoga class to learn some simple poses to help.

Spirit

  • If you do not already have some sort of daily meditation, start one. Meditation does not have to be sitting cross legged on the floor and chanting. Decide what works best for you and roll with it. Prayer, mantras, guided imagery, and even singing are examples.
  • Embrace nature and our connection to the world around us. Somehow studying the details of a snowflake on the windowsill or looking at how beautiful the orange of the butternut squash you are preparing for dinner is can bring you out of a dismal state.
    I hope some of these tips are helpful in helping you to de-stress over the holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

November 21, 2010

Independence Days Update, 11/15-11/22

We participate in Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge.

I spent much of this weekend recovering from surgery.  One of the perks of being in the hospital is I was able to watch lots of Food Network and flip through my seed catalogs and gardening books.  I was so inspired to get in the kitchen or get my hands dirty in the garden, and alas, I can’t do it yet.  I began making a few notes in my gardening journal on types of seeds and sources. 

I know I have mentioned having surgery but haven’t gone into much detail.  I promise I’m not trying to be cryptic, and I do appreciate all of you who have emailed me to check and see how I am doing.  I was telling one of the readers that you all have become an extension of my friends and family.  However, because I’m a social worker, I try to keep boundaries of how much personal information I share here.  I don’t want anyone to feel burdened.  I mentioned the surgery in the meal planning post because when we aren’t feeling well, meal planning can be a struggle.  I mention it in this post because of how wasteful I noticed hospital settings being.

Plant— Nothing planted this week

Harvest—Other than kindling and a bit of firewood being collected, there wasn’t anything harvested

Preserve—Nothing harvested this week

Waste Not/Reduce Waste— I was a little appalled at how wasteful hospitals are.  There wasn’t an option for recycling that we could find.  Disposables were everywhere.  I know that there is a movement among hospital associations to try and be greener, and I’d like to do some more research to find what local hospitals are doing to move towards this in Knoxville.

We still haven’t turned on the heat at the home and haven’t had a bit of problems.  Later this week, the weather is scheduled to be much colder.  We’ll see if we can hold on to December 1st as we had hoped.

Want Not/Prep/Storage—Hubby chopped some of the fallen wood from a windstorm we had earlier in the week.  I stacked firewood under shelter so that it would dry out.

Prior to going to the hospital, I did what I could to get the house in order, prep for Thanksgiving, and clean up. 

Building Community Food Systems— I made up holiday boxes for the food pantry at church.  I helped a friend prepare the meal for the kids on Wednesday night, using some of the foods we had preserved from the church garden this summer to feed the kids.  A friend made me some elderberry syrup for pre and post op to boost my immunity.

Eat the Food— It always is such a comfort to have people who bring you food when you aren’t feeling well.  My cousin brought us jambalaya and pumpkin bread, which definitely helped me to feel better.

Menu Planning, Week of 11/22

Gobble, Gobble—Thanksgiving is almost here!

This meal plan includes Hubby, daughter, and me, and this week my sister and her family will also be in town. Normally we travel for the holiday and get to spend time with our extended family.  This year, it will be a little more low key.  Since I’m still recovering a bit from surgery, my sister and my dad are going to do most of the work for Thanksgiving this year.  It will be the first time since I can remember that I will not be helping as much.

NOTE—I often make enough food to freeze or have for another meal.  Because of this, leftovers are counted as $0 on the menu.  If we go to a restaurant, it counts in a different part of our family budget.

Monday

I’m going to try and convince my hubby to make us homemade pizza. 

Approximate cost: $5

~~~~~

Tuesday

Roasted chicken and rice (chicken was part of the Angel Food box—see below)

Corn on the cob (from Angel Food box)

Green beans (from Angel Food box)

Approximate cost: $8

~~~~~

Wednesday

We’ll be eating at my dad’s, no children’s church tonight due to the holiday. 

Approximate cost: $0

~~~~~

Thursday

Thanksgiving Dinner

(Splitting the cost between my sister, my dad, and us.  I purchased an Angel Food holiday box this year so that I could help with the meal.  Cost of the Angel Food Box is $36, but we won’t be using some of the food it includes for this meal.)

Brie and crackers as appetizer (brie was free from Earth Fare, crackers were ones bought on sale with coupon) $1

Organic Turkey (bought by my sister, herbs and onions from our garden)

Ham (bought by us as part of the Angel Food Box)

Dressing (made by my sister, venison sausage used was from a deer my brother-in-law took over the winter, vegetables from our garden used)

Gravy (either homemade or using the gravy mix from the Angel Food Box)

Corn (froze this summer when bought on sale at Earth Fare) $1

Green Bean Casserole (cans of green beans bought on sale, Dad has the onions, my sister is making the soup from scratch) $1

Cranberry Sauce (part of Angel Food box)

Whole wheat bread (part of the Angel Food box)

Herbed butter (butter was free from Kroger, herbs are in the garden)

Sweet potatoes (made by my sister) or she said she might be roasting root vegetables.  If that is the case, I’ll contribute onions, sweet potatoes, and some butternut squash.

Relishes from our home canning—pickled beets, pickled green tomatoes, dill pickles, sweet pickles (from my sister-in-law), and jalapenos

Canned pears (home canned from pears that a friend gave me) 25cts

Allergen free ice cream (my sister will buy for her and my nephews to eat with the pears)

Pumpkin pie (from the Angel Food box)

Tea, sparkling organic cider (bought on sale for $1.50 and I used a $1/1 coupon!), organic milk (from a local farmer),and ginger ale (bought on Mega Event sale)

Approximate cost: $21-$25 (our portion)

~~~~~

Friday

Tons of leftovers….and Tums

Approximate cost: $0

~~~~~

Saturday

Turkey Soup made with the leftover carcass and veggies from our garden

Approximate cost: $0

~~~~~

Sunday

Either leftovers, or Hubby will make rice and a P.F. Chang’s frozen meal (bought at Walgreens with sale and coupon)

Approximate cost: $0-$4

Tip of the day—Sweet Potatoes

Fall is sweet potato season.  I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without Yum Yum Sweet Potato Casserole or Winter Soltice Supper without roasted sweet potatoes.  Below are some tips on sweet potatoes.  Be sure to check out the links for some yummy recipes to bake this fall.

  • My favorite local farmer to buy sweet potatoes from is Bob Due.  He is usually at the Laurel Church of Christ, Harvest Town,  and Market Square Farmers Markets in the Knoxville area.  You’ll pay more for his than the ones at the grocery, but once you’ve had his, you’ll never want to eat a store bought one again.  Each year I stock up only to find that I didn’t buy enough to satiate our appetite and last us through the winter. 
  • Sweet potatoes that are small and round are the sweetest.  Ones that are two thin will be stringy and the bigger ones will be starchy.
  • When you microwave or boil sweet potatoes, they will get stringy.  Bake them in the oven instead.
  • Don’t waste the juices.  When baked, fresh sweet potatoes will release a little juice if you have wrapped them in aluminum foil.  Make sure that juice gets into your dish because it is nice and sweet.
  • If buying sweet potatoes from farmers markets or harvesting your own, leave the dirt on.  Washing off the dirt will remove some of the protective layers of the sweet potatoes and make it more likely to spoil. 
  • Store them away from apples in your dry storage, an area of your home that is ventilated, dark and cool.  Storing them in a basket will allow them to have some breathing room and help prevent spoilage. 

A Happy Thought

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“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reach by the frost.” –J.R.R. Tolkien

November 20, 2010

Crabtree & Evelyn 20% off through 11/23

 

Customer Appreciation Days - 20% Off Storewide In-Store & Online

In stores and online you can receive 20% off your purchase at Crabtree & Evelyn through 11/23.  When you buy $65 or more online, you’ll receive free shipping, too.  I love their Gardeners line of fragrance!

November 19, 2010

Tip of the day—Scan your CEUs

If you have a professional license, you most likely have a required number of classes that you must take each year to meet licensure requirements.  If that is the case, you might find this tip helpful.  If not for you, I’m hoping you might know someone else who can benefit from this:

If you have a home scanner, make a habit of scanning your continuing education certificate into your computer and saving it as soon as you arrive home.  Store the certificate in a file for that year.  If for some reason you misplace the certificate or need to make a quick count of how many credits you have, you can pull up the saved document on your home computer. 

November 18, 2010

Free Scoop of Ice Cream with $10 Gift Card at Ben & Jerry’s

FREE SCOOP of Ice Cream when you spend $10 or more on GIFT CARDS  at Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop.

Now this is a gift card deal!  Spend $10 or more on gift cards at Ben & Jerry’s and get a FREE scoop of ice cream!

Tip of the day—Volunteering and Donations not just for the holidays

This time of the year people begin to think about ways to give to others in their communities.  It is true, there is a great need during winter months, and I very much encourage you to give of your time and money to worthy causes.  However, I also encourage you to mark your calendars for 2011 and make an effort to volunteer and donate regularly.  Food pantries need food and goods year round. Volunteers are needed 364 days of the year just as much, if not more, than on Thanksgiving Day. 

Not sure where to volunteer?  Think about what your passion in life is and find a program, center, or organization that has a similar theme.  If you need some help, contact your local United Way office to get some ideas of programs in the area.  If you belong to a church or synagogue, ask your pastor or rabbi about what mission projects and outreach programs are available. 

Mark your calendar at least once a season as a prompt to get you and your family involved in some sort of volunteer effort.  Beware—altruism can become addictive.  It makes you feel so good to help others that you’ll want to do it all of the time.  ;)

November 17, 2010

Knoxville Coupon Bloggers: Online Shopping Tips

I told you last week that I had the pleasure of meeting for lunch with some of the local coupon bloggers in our area.  We are banning together to bring you some of the best ways to save your family money this holiday season.  Stay tuned now through December to hear some of the best tips and ways to save from Adventures in MomvilleBlue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Coupons Are Money, Frugalissa Finds, Frugally Farming Family, Knoxmoms.comKnoxville MamabelleKnoxville on a Dime, Sharing Savings with You, and me/Couponing in Critical Times. 

If you missed Monday's post from Melissa of Frugalissa Finds about Black Friday you can see that HERE.  Today’s post is from Kathryn of Knoxville on a Dime on the topic of online shopping

My favorite tip that I learned from her is on comparison shopping:

There are so many ways to comparison shop online.  You can Google an item, use Swagbucks and earn points when you search for items, you can also use one of the price comparison sites out there like BizRate, NexTag or PriceGrabber.  These sites search online merchants for the item you are looking for and list where to buy it and how much it is.  The best thing to do is have your list with you while doing this and jot down the price and where it is because next you will want to check for coupon codes and free shipping offers.

Love that idea! 

Earth Fare—FREE Organic Sugar with Purchase

Make a $5 or more purchase at Earth Fare and receive a FREE package of Earth Fare Organic Sugar.  While printing this coupon, check out the coupons for organic turkey and shrimp, too.

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Part 3

Season and Holiday Stencil - ThanksgivingIf you have been reading my blog, you have seen the first and second parts of this series, Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Part 1 and Part 2.  I hope it will help you to get prepared and organized for Thanksgiving and that it will provide you with tips and ideas to make things easier and more inexpensive.  Speaking of inexpensive, for some other money saving ideas, check out my post Ways to Save on Thanksgiving.

Below are some ideas for this week’s preparations.  Keep in mind that everyone’s holiday experience is different.  Do what works for you and your family!  Don’t worry about what Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray would have on their holiday table—do what you think will be memorable and important to your family.  Don’t stress about the rest.

  • Pull out your planning notebook and review what you’ve accomplished thus far.  How is your menu looking?  What about the guest list?  Add any items to your list of to-do’s that you didn’t get accomplished in the last weeks but still feel are important.
  • Continue to incorporate the theme of Thanksgiving into your homeschooling, Bible study, story and craft time with your children.  They’ll appreciate what the holiday means and will be more excited about the big day.
  • Continue to take a little time for yourself each week.  This is the season when people tend to put on a few pounds.  Make a preemptive strike by exercising, drinking more water, watching what you eat, and adding in more fruits and vegetables.  (Before starting any exercise routine, check with your healthcare provider first).  Take time each day for prayer and meditation.  Spend time in  your garden if that is restorative. 
  • Set up food stations.  Having an area where guests can make or pour their own drinks or an area for snacks while watching the parade or game allows guests to help themselves as they are hungry or thirsty.  For a drink station, gather glasses, cocktail napkins, soft drinks, any other drinks that don’t require refrigeration, an ice bucket, and an extra bar towel in case there are spills.  If serving wine, put out a bottle opener.  If using plastic glasses, put a sharpie next to the glasses so that guests can label as they pour.  For a snack station, pull out bowls that you will be using, any non-perishable snacks that you will be serving, any serving pieces that are needed, napkins, and small plates. 
  • Iron tablecloth and napkins.  If using cloth, now is the time to iron if you need to do so.  Ironing is about my least favorite chore of all, and it is the last thing I want to have on my mind when my guests are about to arrive. 
  • Continue to shop the sales.  Watch for deals on any of the ingredients you have on your shopping list for Thanksgiving.  Pick them up when you have a good coupon or the price is right.  Remember that next week the stores will be jam packed.  If you don’t want to fight with other customers over the size of the turkey you want, pick it up now.  I try to stay out of the grocery unless the need is very great on the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Set up a craft station for the kids.  Children might not want to watch the football game and might become bored or restless while waiting to eat.  Plan ahead and have a few activities for them that don’t involve video games. 
  • If you are traveling this holiday season, map out your trip.  Have a map of the states in which you will be traveling even if you have GPS.  You never know when a road you are traveling isn’t on the GPS most updated file, and you don’t want to get lost and be late for dinner.  If you have AAA, ask them to make a trip tick for you so that you’ll be aware of any road construction or detours.
  • Decide on music.  If you’ll be playing music during dinner, have it ready.  Download music, use Pandora, or pull out a few CDs. 
  • Games. Our family loves to play games after we eat.  We almost always have a new board or card game that someone has bought, and we have the traditional favorites that we are always sure to play.  Pull out any card or board games so that you won’t have to dig around for them on Thanksgiving. 
  • Charge the cameras.  Charge any camera or video camera batteries.  If using real film, have it ready. 
  • Get ready for Christmas and holiday cards.  I try to start my Christmas cards right after Thanksgiving.  To streamline the process, I have my Christmas card addresses saved so that they can be printed on labels.  I have free return address labels that we’ve received from various sources.  If you will be sending a photo in your cards, now might be a good time to have a photo shoot with your family or at least the smallest members of your family. 
  • Look at the outside of your home.  Try to make it a little more welcoming if needed.  Cut back the bushes, weed around the shrubs, add a few pansies in pots on the front porch, decorate the mailbox—do whatever you find refreshing and energizing and don’t stress about the rest. 
  • Look at the menu and prep.  Look at the menu and recipes on which you’ve decided.  Consider what you can do now to save you a bit of time next week in the kitchen.