October 29, 2011

Blogging

Years ago when I started blogging, I felt like God was leading me to it.  I held my first coupon class at the church entitled Couponing in Critical Times in April of 2009, never thinking that I would hold another, much less blog.  Hubby had popped a blog up online as a way to give attendees of the workshop more information, and when my now friend Isha signed up as a follower, I thought I should get to writing.  In the last couple of years this blog has been such a blessing.  I’ve written through good times and bad.  I’ve felt like I’ve been able to offer some of you steps that you could take to lower your grocery budget, reduce waste, and to be a better steward of the resources you have.  Many of you have written me sweet notes and left me kind comments.  Some of you have become friends. 

In the last few months, I’ve been wondering about the blog.  As our family life has become busier, I’ve noticed myself wondering how to balance everything.  I’ve gone back to my tried and true tools—making lists, getting organized, saying no when I can’t do something.  There have been times that I’ve wondered about scaling back, and as you can see by the frequency of my posts, I’ve done that.  Yet, I’ve not noticed much of a change in my stress level.

Last night on my drive home, I was listening to the radio and heard an author talking about balance in family life.  She talked about how important it is to eliminate some things so that you have time in your life to focus on what is really important to you.  It was as if God was talking to me, and I had a sense of peace come over me as I realized that I needed to do that with blogging.  I’ve talked this over with my husband, and this is what I’ve decided to do at this point.  I’m going to take a hiatus from this blog.  I’ll be linking to some deals on Facebook and posting a few things there, mainly because it is much easier for me to do that and not take up much time.  I won’t take the blog down, as I might return to it later.  I tend to enjoy writing most when I’m inspired to share something, and I hope I’ll be at that point again. 

Thank you for your kindness, your patience, your caring comments, and your helpful tips and links over these years.  A daily conversation with you has meant more to me than you know.  I’m going to see if this is the path that God is leading me down and understand that He works in mysterious ways.  He might lead me right back to the blog or He might take me a different direction.  Only through the journey will I find the destination.

Blessings to each of you!

October 28, 2011

The best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten

DSC_6919

Hubby wanted a cake that used my cream cheese frosting for his birthday, and after thinking about what type to bake, we settled on a carrot cake.  I looked all over the internet for a recipe and finally combined elements of about three different ones for this cake.  It was pretty easy to make and absolutely delicious.

For an excellent frosting for this cake, use my cream cheese frosting recipe.  Adjust the amount of sugar you use to your taste.

Ingredients

3 eggs
3/4 c buttermilk (I prefer Cruze Dairy Farm buttermilk)
3/4 c vegetable oil (you can use coconut oil)
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 t vanilla extract
2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white/all purpose flour (alternately you could use white whole wheat or freshly milled spring wheat)
2 t baking soda
2 c grated carrots (I used the fine grate)
1 c dried coconut (I used the kind that is already sweetened)
1 c raisins
1 c canned crushed pineapple (don’t drain)
1 c nuts, optional (walnuts or pecans)

1.  If you choose to use the nuts, toast them in a cast iron skillet over low heat, stirring frequently, until you can smell the nuts and they take on a slightly browned appearance.  Set aside to cool.  Note that I did not choose to use the nuts per Hubby’s preference.  Toasting the nuts prior to baking them helps to prevent them from developing a bitter flavor once cooked in the batter.

2.  Mix the dry ingredients together (flours, salt, soda, cinnamon).  Remove 1/4 c of the dry mixture and set both aside. 

3.  Grate carrots and mix them with the coconut and raisins.  If using nuts, add those to this mixture.  Add the 1/4 c of your dry mixture.  This will help to keep the heavy ingredients from sinking in your cake.  Set aside.

4.  Mix eggs, buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk just add a squirt of lemon juice to the measured milk and let it curdle for a few minutes on the counter before mixing), oil, sugar, and vanilla extract together. 

5.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

6.  With a large rubber spatula, fold in the carrot, raisin,coconut, and nut mixture.  Then fold in the pineapple. 

7.  Cook in a deep 9x13 pan or 3 round cake pans.  Cooking time will vary, but when we cooked this in a 9x13 pan it took just under an hour.  Remove when the cake is set and the toothpick comes out with no liquid but the cake crumbles just sticking on the toothpick.  This will make the difference between your cake being dry and moist. 

8.  Let cool and then frost with the cream cheese frosting recipe.  I chose to store it in the refrigerator to keep the ingredients fresher. 

Get the kiddos involved.  Our daughter was able to ready the mise en place, measure the coconut and raisins, mix the dry ingredients, fold in the raisin mixture, and grease the pan.  She loved helping to make her Daddy’s birthday cake.

Enjoy!

Tip of the day—Expired doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t take it

Now, if we are talking about paper manufacturer coupons for products like canned corn and pasta, you’re probably out of luck.  The only way that I know of that you can use those coupons if they are expired is to donate them to military families (see Swap2Save Coupon Club for details on doing that).  If you have a coupon for a restaurant or store, though, you probably shouldn’t toss the coupon just because it has expired.

  • Call first and ask.  It is always a good idea to check with the manager to see if they honor expired coupons or not.  Sometimes they even honor expired competitor coupons, but it is usually at the discretion of each store or location.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond has one of the better coupon policies that I’ve found.  Not only do they honor expired coupons, but they also honor coupons brought in later with the receipt.  I was once making a purchase only to learn that I had failed to put the coupon in my purse. The clerk told me that all I needed to do was bring in my receipt and the coupon later, and they would honor it.  How cool is that! 
  • Red Lobster recently told me that they honor coupons for the calendar year.  If you have one for 2011, you’re probably safe to use it. 
  • Sometimes sister stores will honor each other’s coupons.  In the example above, Red Lobster is owned by the same company that runs Olive Garden.  It wouldn’t hurt to ask if they honor each other’s coupons and have a similar policy about expired coupons.
  • Don’t be afraid to hear no.  A while back I had a coupon for a local restaurant that had expired the previous day.  We were deciding between that restaurant and another one that we had a coupon for but it wasn’t quite as good of a deal.  I phoned and the manager told me that he would not honor the coupon.  We decided to go to the other restaurant.  I wasn’t snarky about it.  I was polite and straightforward.  He made a decision to not honor the coupon and I respected it.  Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder what an interesting business decision he had made.  Wouldn’t it have been better to have our paying business?  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and all that?
  • Don’t abuse the policies.  As with all couponing, I encourage you to practice under good ethical guidelines.  Treat people how you would want to be treated.  As a business person, I would want a customer to ask me questions because it demonstrates interest.  A happy customer is one that tells others about your business and draws other people in.  Don’t be rude or entitled when asking a question about a coupon policy.  Also don’t mess it up for the rest of us.  In the example above about Bed, Bath & Beyond, I had left the coupon at home as a genuine mistake.  If I did that every single time I shopped there, to me that would be abusing the system.  Even though I’m technically following the rules, I’m not treating others how I would want to be treated.  I’m taking it a step to far.  See the difference?

October 27, 2011

IHOP—FREE Count Spatula Scary Face Pancake TOMORROW (10/28)

ihop sf IHOP is giving kiddos FREE Count Spatula pancakes today, October 28th from 7am-10pm.  Check out the details below:

BOO! Kids 12 and under receive a free "Count Spatula" Scary Face Pancake at participating restaurants on Friday, October 28 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (one per child). See you there and Happy Halloween!

Tip of the day—Making a List and Checking it Twice

How are you doing with your Christmas shopping?  Haven’t started yet?  Are you more than half way through?  Or is your response, “Are you kidding me, I’ve been done for months now?” 

I tend to shop for Christmas presents as I spot good deals, have great coupons, or hear about a friend or family member wanting something specific.  I’m about half way through shopping, and I thought now would be a good time to recap ways to save when shopping for Christmas gifts. 

In addition to the tips below which are focused on getting the most bang for your buck, you might want to also look at the big picture.  Could you suggest to family that you have a gift swap instead of buying for every person?  Could you talk with friends about putting a cap on the amount spent per year?  Could you give family gifts instead of gifts for each person?  You’ll also want to set a budget for your Christmas shopping to help keep you on track with your spending.

  • “Like” all of your favorite stores, manufacturers and artisans on Facebook.  Sign up for all of the e-newsletters that you can.  This is how I find out about the best deals and sales. 
  • Designate a spot in your home for gifts.  Thanks to my sweet Hubby I have an official gift closet.  For years, I’ve crammed wrapping paper, ribbons, bags, bows, tissue paper, and all of the gifts I needed to hide into our office closet.  We cleaned out the closet, moved some boxes and such to storage, moved the filing cabinets to a different location, and voila the gift closet was born.  I can’t tell you how much easier it is now to look in there and see all I have purchased.  Gone are the days when I pull everything out to start wrapping for Christmas only to say, “I totally forgot I had bought that!”
  • Wait.  The last couple of years, I’ve found that the best deals that I’ve found have been on Cyber Monday.  I sit in the comfort of my own home, often in my pjs with a cup of tea and look through my email to find where I can get the most bang for my buck.
  • Use coupons.  A couple of days ago, I went to Mast General Store armed with school coupon book coupons, ready to buy Hubby a couple of pairs of special socks that he likes for his birthday.  Our daughter was proud to make one purchase for him, and I made another.  The school coupon books allow us to patronize local stores with the added bonus of a little discount.  Watch for coupons in mailer magazines like Mint, in the newspaper, and online.  You might be surprised at how much you can save if you just take a few minutes to look for a coupon.
  • Network.  Ask friends and relatives about their shopping deals.  I have a friend at church who often shares with me deals she spots around town, and I do the same for her. 
  • Don’t forget the intangible as a gift.  For years I would bake or make something for neighbors as Christmas gifts.  A couple of years ago,we decided that instead we would donate to a local charity in their honor.  We chose Random Acts of Flowers because I’ve seen first hand the joy that the charity brings to people’s lives and how much they help our community.  The response was amazing—neighbors told us how much they appreciated reading about the charity and how much the liked the idea of supporting it.  This year we are expanding to make donations in honor of other friends.  In this same vein, you might consider buying season tickets to a symphony or theater for a relative, a zoo membership for a child in your life, or an art class for your uber-creative friend. 
  • Be a host or hostess instead of giving gifts.  We have a couple of friends who host a big, all day, open house party instead of sending out gifts to everyone.  It is a great time to catch up with people you don’t get to see very often.  Other friends would host a grown-up, sit-down dinner that always felt so special.  All of us would get decked out in our dressiest attire and dine on lovely food for the evening. 
  • Making gifts.  Probably one of the best ways to lower your out of pocket expense is to make gifts for others.  I’m not an extremely crafty person, but even so I can make rice bags or a gift basket full of home canned items.  What is your talent?  Are you a knitter? Baker?  Candle-stick maker?  Well, use that talent as a way to give to those you love.  A friend of mine says that she is hesitant to gift pottery all of the time because she’s afraid people will get sick of it.  As a recipient, I always tell her that I never tire of her pottery.  If you are concerned about this, though, you might want to have a barter day with friends.  Get together with other crafty people and swap wares.  She might exchange her pottery for some iron work from another person. 

What else?  What ways to you work to lower your costs?

October 26, 2011

Green & Black’s Chocolate $1.50/1 Coupon

gb This is an AWESOME coupon!  Go here to take a short quiz and the coupon will be emailed to you!  Thanks Hip2Save!

Bruster’s Ice Cream BOGO Cup or Cone with Costume

796501318954523FB_Halloween In honor of our old ghostly friend, Halloween, Bruster’s is serving up a Sweet deal! Come dressed in your best Halloween costume, and get FREE Ice Cream @ any Knoxville Bruster's location all day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (October 29-31).  Buy one Get one FREE, any size Cup or Cone.  Forget the candy, Pick a TREAT with Bruster's this year to satisfy that Sweet Tooth...it's Scary Good!

Tip of the day—Reminder about Corner of Your Field

I wanted to take a quick moment and remind you all about this local program through KARM Thrift Stores.  Our church has partnered with Corner of Your Field for almost a year now, and the partnership has allowed us to help even more people.  When we donate to KARM Thrift Stores and include the church’s name, we earn points towards gift cards to the thrift stores.  The church then uses those gift cards to help others in need. 

A snapshot of what we’ve done thus far--

  • Earlier this year the church had our spring rummage sale.  All of the goods leftover from the sale were picked up by KARM. 
  • We received $340 in $10 increment gift cards soon after that donation. 
  • As we’ve learned of people in need, we’ve donated gift cards to them.  For instance, we’ve given cards to 2 families who have had house fires, 1 family who needed clothing for school aged children, 1 older adult in need of clothes with limited funds, and we have cards left to help others.  The beauty of the cards is that they are just gift cards. They carry no stigma or special wording that details that they were given to someone in need.  The only catch is that the card must be used in its entirety, as they won’t carry a balance.  Therefore if you buy something that costs $8 and use a $10 gift card, you’ll either need to buy something else that costs $2 or that money is wasted. 
  • As church members and friends of the church make donations to KARM we encourage them to give the church’s name.  As we have more rummage sales (one is coming up the first weekend in November!) we donate what we have left to KARM. 

If your church is interested in partnering, I encourage you to contact KARM to make inquiries.  Please also support KARM Thrift Stores with your patronage. In my opinion they tend to be cleaner and have better stuff than some of the other thrift stores in my neighborhood.  In fact, I’m heading there later today to do some shopping! 

October 25, 2011

Tip of the day—Don’t be afraid to ask

A couple of years ago, I received a mega sticker shock when I received my bill at the salon.  I had a very straightforward trim and the bill was almost $50.  I paid it, but I vowed that I would never again be surprised by a bill because I was too embarrassed to ask about the pricing.  Larger salons usually have a tiered system with their pricing for cut and styles.  The more experienced stylists charge more and the newer, less experienced stylists charge less.  If you are new to the salon and don’t ask what price your stylist charges, you’ll most likely be shocked like I was. 

Yesterday I made an appointment at a new salon where I had received a gift certificate from a friend for my birthday.  The first question that I asked was how much it would cost to get my hair cut and styled, explaining that I was fine with having the stylist that cost less.  It was a little uncomfortable asking the question, and I could tell that the receptionist hadn’t had the question asked very often.  I was a little flustered after the phone call but that soon faded when I realized that instead of just getting a hair cut with the money on the gift certificate I had enough to also book a thirty minute massage.  Today I look forward to some luxurious pampering!

October 24, 2011

Tip of the day—Double Up

Spend a little extra time doubling up and you might save yourself time later.

  • When quilting, I make a point to cut my pieces out all at once.  I’ll organize them into category as I cut.  This way they are all ready for me when I get ready to sew, and I don’t have to stop and make more cuts.
  • When you already have all of the ingredients out, it only takes a few more minutes to double or triple a recipe.  You’ll be glad to have the leftovers in the freezer when a busy weeknight rolls around next.
  • Instead of chopping half of an onion or only a few stalks of celery, while you have the cutting board and knife ready do the whole thing.  You’ll be glad to have chopped onion waiting for you in the freezer for your next casserole or celery sticks ready for an easy snack later.
  • When setting outfits aside or ironing, why not plan for a few days instead of just the next day?  This will make your mornings go much smoother for the rest of the week.
  • When making a smoothie for breakfast or a snack, mix a little extra.  Pour into popsicle molds or a small juice container for an easy treat at another time.
  • When planting bulbs, I always say that it is just as easy to plant 50 as it is 10.  Instead of digging a hole popping one in, digging another and popping another in, I dig a trench.  The biggest bulbs go in first (triple the diameter top to bottom for the proper bulb depth—if the bulb is 2 inches tall, plant it approximately 6 inches deep, and go a little deeper if in colder climates), then I back fill a little, plant the next size, then back fill and plant the smallest.  In the same amount of time, I’ve planted an entire garden that will require very little work from that point on.  For the most natural look, remember to plant bulbs in swaths here and there throughout your landscape.

Think about other repetitive chores or tasks that you perform regularly.  How much time do you spend gathering up your materials each time you perform the task?  How can you streamline your day by doing a little more work on the front end so that you can take it easy later?  Do you have any other ideas for doubling up on work to make things easier later?

Reminder, Feed Knoxville Starts TODAY

Thanks to Corey who sent me the scoop on this great deal and great cause!  Most couponers reading will have at least 3 food items that they can donate, and I encourage you to give what you can. I’ve seen the face of hunger in our community, and guess what people?  It looks just like any of us.  You might not realize what your friend or neighbor is going through.  Give as you are able, if not to this cause to others like it.  Blessings to each of you!

Chick-Fil-A Is Helping End Hunger In East Tennessee…

Eight local Chick-Fil-A stores in our region have made it their aim to serve our community and help feed those in need through a partnership with Feed Knoxville. Monday October 24th – Friday October 28th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday October 29th from12 p.m. to 5 p.m. participating Chick-Fil-A locations will be hosting on site food drives. You can look forward to door prizes, a family fun day at each location on October 29th, with special events for children, and a FREE SANDWICH coupon in exchange for three donated food items.

Participating Chick-Fil-A’s:

Oak Ridge
357 S Illinois Ave Oak Ridge, TN 37830
(865) 481-3638

Crown Point Plaza
6564 Clinton Hwy Knoxville, TN 37912
(865) 947-2416

Turkey Creek
10916 Parkside Dr Knoxville, TN 37934
(865) 675-7400

Kingston Overlook
9646 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 691-7400

West Town Mall
7063 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 588-0100

Morristown
2141 W Andrew Johnson Hwy Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 581-8181

Hunter’s Crossing
1031 Hunter’s Crossing Drive Alcoa, TN 37701
(865) 981-9993

Chapman Highway
7565 Mountain Grove Dr Knoxville, TN 37920
(865) 573-0023

October 23, 2011

Tip of the day—Read the coupon completely

It is always embarrassing to me as a couponer when I make a mistake with a coupon.  Recently at a local restaurant, I showed our waitress the two coupons we were planning to use.  Then when we went to checkout, they said we could only use one of them.  I asked to speak to the manager, and he showed me on the coupon where it said that they couldn’t be used together.  I had read the coupon beforehand, but I had only focused on the part that said that the coupon for a free child’s meal was with purchase of an adult.  I failed to understand that the adult meal must be full price.  The manager was nice about it, seeing that I wasn’t sure why the waitress had failed to clarify this on the front end, and he honored both coupons. 

The experience made me reflect on how often I’ll read a coupon quickly and not fully grasp all of its regulations.  Manufacturer coupons are usually pretty straightforward, but coupons for local businesses and restaurants are not always so.  Sometimes they have general directions in big letters with stipulations in small writing.  The advertising ploy clearly works—our minds focus on what we want to see.  I wanted to see that our daughter’s meal would be free if we were with her and purchased one.  I wanted the coupon to work for Hubby and my meal as well, and my eyes played tricks on me.  Next time, I’ll save myself a little embarrassment and read over it more than once. 

Weekly Matchups and Deals, 10/23-10/29

earth-fare-market_thumb[2]Earth Fare, Best deals for the month

Picture-26

Office Supply Deals  target frugal mom blogger  columbus ohio

Target

kroger deals kroger sales logo

Kroger

advantage_card

Ingles

Walgreens

Walgreens

cvspharmacy

CVS

A Happy Thought

DSC_6412 “Nothing is ever so good or so bad in reality as it is in the anticipation. ” ~ Marie Bashkirtseff

Two Fantastic Coupons—Maranatha $1/1 and Annie’s 75cts/1

maranatha There are two coupons available for print off of Facebook that don’t roll around very often.  Go here for the Maranatha $1/1 coupon and here for the Annie’s 75cts/1 coupon.

After years of resisting Facebook, I must say that I’m now glad that I have access to all of the coupons on it!

October 22, 2011

Burpee—20% off Fall Plants, Bulbs, and Your Favorite Gardening Supplies

8

Use promo code FGE20 now through October 24th for the discount at Burpee.com

Tip of the day—Air Bubbles in Home Preserved Foods

I thought that this tip might be helpful to some of you who are new to canning.  It gives a good description of what to worry about and what to not.  Happy Canning!

October 21, 2011

Tip of the day—Check your stores

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 if needed.
  • 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 at least a couple of times a year.
  • 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.

FREE 8x10 Collage Print at Walgreens Photo

232323232fp43233_ju=fqqurnh=duvgwu_=FqetdpgaZCOIUGHPV=lodih=f=FNUI;Z42bQfvrdhtb4334aocqflpja44974236_21lsi Walgreens Photo has another FREE coupon code for an 8x10 collage print.  Use CLG8X10 at checkout and have it ready for pickup at your local Walgreens to make it completely free.  We’ve been building a scrapbook/photo book for our daughter by using these codes, and it has been so fun!

Feed Knoxville and Chick-fil-a—October 24-28

Thanks to Corey who sent me the scoop on this great deal and great cause!  Most couponers reading will have at least 3 food items that they can donate, and I encourage you to give what you can. I’ve seen the face of hunger in our community, and guess what people?  It looks just like any of us.  You might not realize what your friend or neighbor is going through.  Give as you are able, if not to this cause to others like it.  Blessings to each of you!

Chick-Fil-A Is Helping End Hunger In East Tennessee…

Eight local Chick-Fil-A stores in our region have made it their aim to serve our community and help feed those in need through a partnership with Feed Knoxville. Monday October 24th – Friday October 28th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday October 29th from12 p.m. to 5 p.m. participating Chick-Fil-A locations will be hosting on site food drives. You can look forward to door prizes, a family fun day at each location on October 29th, with special events for children, and a FREE SANDWICH coupon in exchange for three donated food items.

Participating Chick-Fil-A’s:

Oak Ridge
357 S Illinois Ave Oak Ridge, TN 37830
(865) 481-3638

Crown Point Plaza
6564 Clinton Hwy Knoxville, TN 37912
(865) 947-2416

Turkey Creek
10916 Parkside Dr Knoxville, TN 37934
(865) 675-7400

Kingston Overlook
9646 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 691-7400

West Town Mall
7063 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 588-0100

Morristown
2141 W Andrew Johnson Hwy Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 581-8181

Hunter’s Crossing
1031 Hunter’s Crossing Drive Alcoa, TN 37701
(865) 981-9993

Chapman Highway
7565 Mountain Grove Dr Knoxville, TN 37920
(865) 573-0023

Can you help this reader?

211057_138553919372_4239119_n A reader and friend left a comment on the CICT Facebook wall asking the following question:

Good morning Gabe. Any experience/thoughts about something called E-mealz? It's something that Dave Ramsey endorses. We're thinking about trying it out.

I haven’t used this program before.  Have any of you?  And if so, do you have any feedback you could offer him?

October 20, 2011

Tip of the day—What do you do when you are in a cooking rut?

I was talking with a friend about this subject the other night.  For the last week or so, I’ve found myself in a cooking rut.  Perhaps it is because I had a week where I baked and cooked and sautéed like crazy and maybe I used up all of my creative juices, perhaps it is the change of the weather, perhaps it is just something that happens every so often—whatever the reason, I need a change!  In thinking about what to do to spur my creative juices, I reflected on what I’ve done in times past.  Below are some ideas that I’ll be using in the next few days to reboot.  I welcome any ideas, resources, blogs, or tips that you have to share on the subject. 

  • Use unusual ingredients.  While brine shrimp aren’t really that unusual in my family, since I’ve been in East TN they are a delicacy.  My cousin brought my dad a few packs of them from the Gulf recently, and they are waiting in the freezer for some delicious concoction.  My dad talked about making sauce picante or a Thai soup with them this weekend.  Sounds yummy to me!  Sometimes when I’m in a rut, I’ll try to pick up something that is out of the ordinary for me at the grocery or farmers market. 
  • Cook with someone else.  I grew up with my dad cooking all sorts of ethnic and interesting foods.  One night we might have mole sauce and chicken and then next we would have a Vietnamese soup and the next catfish and pinto beans.  His cooking is anything but boring.  I plan to do a little cooking with him in the next few days as a way to get some inspiration.
  • Look to the experts.  I rarely use recipes from cookbooks, but I have a small collection of cookbooks and love thumbing through them.  Not only does this inspire me to cook differently, it reinforces the basic elements of cooking.  What spices go well with what types of foods?  What basic ingredients make up a traditional recipe?  I also enjoy checking out cooking blogs.  Seeing beautiful photographs and reading the bloggers’ stories about cooking inspires me to do the same.  While we try not to watch too much TV, I am a sucker for a good cooking show.  Probably the only thing that I miss about having cable TV is the Food Network.  Luckily, our local PBS station offers a channel called Create where I find many celebrity chefs cooking what look like fantastic dishes. 
  • Shop without a list.  I know, horror upon horrors—a coupon blogger is suggesting you go to the store without a list.  Gasp!  My cousin gave me this idea, saying that she often goes to the store to get inspired to cook instead of going to the store because she has a list and needs to cook.  Yep, you’ll probably forget something you’ll need, and you might pay a little more than normal, but sometimes it is worth it.  Let’s look at it this way if you end up going to a restaurant because you weren’t inspired to cook, you’ll spend more there.  Why not spend a little more at the store and have a home cooked meal?
  • Shop at a different grocery store or farmers market. Our brains become programmed to look for the same foods at grocery stores that we frequent.  I can tell you exactly where the apples are at my local store and chicken and fish and milk.  Can I do the same at a store across town?  No, and for that reason, you’ll be looking at different foods that might get your cooking mojo going.  Don’t forget the value of ethnic foods stores.  Often you can find great buys on fresh ingredients there.  I don’t normally make sushi or pozole, but if I visit an Asian market or tienda I am much more likely to be inspired to do so.
  • Cook seasonal foods.  I’m hungrier for soups and stews and rich, dark flavors as the weather chills.  For some reason, I often think of French and Irish foods this time of the year.  I’ve been to both countries and know that both have fantastic light dishes that are regular staples, but I so enjoy the deep earthly flavors of beef bourguignon and corn beef and cabbage and similar dishes. 
  • Have a recipe swap with friends.  If you’ve had email for any amount of time, you know what I’m talking about.  These recipe swap emails roll around at least once a year, and while a little corny, I usually glean at least one good recipe from the list.  I may not use it exactly as written, but it will give me a new idea for our dinner plates.

What about you?  As I said before, I welcome any ideas you have to help me get out of my cooking rut. 

Bob Evans 50cts off Coupon

36507222036_20111010595419 Go here to print a coupon for 50cts off Bob Evans Sausage Links or Patties.

Disney Store—25% off today only, 10/20

full_email_20off_20111019_02 Shop the Disney Store online today, Thursday, October 20th, and use coupon code THANKYOU25 for 25% off.

Here's how to redeem your 25% Off Purchase Promotion:

  1. Place one or more eligible items in your Shopping Cart.
  2. Type the Promotion Code THANKYOU25 into the Special Offers and Discounts field, then click Submit.
  3. The Promotion will be applied, if eligible.
  4. Continue Shopping or Begin Checkout.
  5. Use your Promotion Code by 11.59pm PST Thursday, October 20th, 2011
25% Off Purchase Promotion Restrictions: * Offer is valid 10/20/2011 on any single purchase at DisneyStore.com. Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer excludes Shipping & Handling charges, Gift Cards, CDs, Books, DVD's, Blu-Ray Discs, Video Games, Electronics, Club Penguin, D23 Memberships, Limited-Edition merchandise, Duffy – The Disney Bear Collection, Personalization, Gift Wrap and Gift Boxes and items not in stock. No adjustments to prior purchases. Merchandise must be exchanged for identical item or returned at discounted price with valid packing slip. Offer valid on phone orders and orders placed online at DisneyStore.com. Not valid on purchases from Disney Store retail or outlet locations. Promotion Code may not be redeemed for cash. Limit one Promotional Offer per Household. Promotion Code may not be sold, altered, duplicated or copied and will not be replaced if lost, stolen or corrupted. Use of Promotion Code is acceptance of its terms. Disney E-Commerce reserves the right to cancel or modify this offer at any time. Void where prohibited.

October 19, 2011

Couponing at Kroger

 kroger_cincy2-295x300 The Cinncinnati/Dayton area of Kroger has put out a new coupon policy (Thanks Coupon Katie).  While our local stores are considered the Atlanta region, a few of you have said that you are noticing changes in our stores as a result.  My best guess is that this will be policy formally put into place here very soon. 

The new policy limits the amount of coupons per like item to 5—gone are the days of leaving the store with 10 free deodorants.  The new policy also limits the amount of Internet coupons used.  Since the wording is “per customer per day”, I’m wondering how this will impact my purchases for our church.  Usually I go into the store and have 2 transactions.  I’ll ring up one for our family, and then I’ll have a separate one for what I need to buy for the church.  Will this mean that I’ll be limited or will they see the church purchase as a separate customer? 

There is a part of me that is frustrated with Kroger and a part of me that doesn’t blame them at all.  That couponing show on TV (you know the one) has so greatly changed couponing, and I’m afraid it is for the worse.  Years ago, people didn’t clear the shelves as much, and I wasn’t hearing about nearly as much unethical coupon usage.  Stores are trying to protect their interest, and unfortunately that hurts those of us who are trying to coupon in an ethical, reasonable manner. 

I’ve become less and less enamored with Kroger in recent months.  I’ve started shopping more regularly at other Kroger locations, smaller, friendlier stores where the deals aren’t sold out as readily.  I’ve made more of my purchases at Three Rivers Market, since I’m finding better prices for organic and health foods there anyway.  As new stores enter the landscape, I’ll try them out and see what deals I can find there—Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Publix are all known for being great resources for couponers.  I’m sure I’ll still shop at Kroger, but I’m not entirely sure that they will be my “go-to” place anymore.

What about you?  What are your thoughts on the change?  How will it affect your shopping and your budget?

Tip of the day—Do it once, do it right

Ever heard the saying, “Do it right the first time”?  I’ve been thinking about that lately and how it applies to so many areas of life.  Right now it seems like our culture is so focused on the disposable—seeking the quick fix, the next big thing.  Often that has not only big environmental costs but can waste time, energy, and money.  Below are a few tips and thoughts:

  • When making purchases, invest a little more money in something that will last.  There is a big difference in a pair of shoes bought at a discount store and glued together than ones that are made with quality in mind.  Yep, you’ll pay a little more for them, but chances are you’ll have them for years as compared to a season or two.  When I was younger, I often shopped at a chain clothing store that is very popular.  I was pleased with the bargains, but as I became a little older and wiser I realized that they weren’t really bargains at all. The jeans often faded after a few washes and wore thin after only a few months of wear.  The shirts wrinkled like crazy and were a hassle to iron.  The seams often came loose in clothes and the construction of the clothing was poor in quality. 
  • Try to see the big picture and plan ahead.  Buying a 2 door car when you are pregnant isn’t the best idea.  You’ll later find that wiggling a car seat in and out of the backseat over and over again is a pain.  Since we tend to keep our vehicles for about 10 years, we try to think ahead to how we’ll use the car in future  years. 
  • We recently updated the office closet.  By we, I mean of course that I came up with the crazy idea and my husband did all of the work.  Thank you Hubby! ;)  We had an option—do we rig things together and have a hodgepodge of shelves or do we invest a little more money, do it right, and then have a nice closet that might boost the interest in the home if and when we choose to sell it later?  Guess which we chose.  Again, thanks Hubby! 
  • Band-aid vs fix.  Often in healthcare people want the easy fix.  Sometimes the fix isn’t that easy—sometimes it requires work.  Sometimes it requires a lifestyle change.  When I was younger, I had problems with my stomach.  I was prescribed one of those pills to help reduce acid and make you feel better.  Yep, it made me feel better, but then I realized I was popping a pill every day.  I decided to get to the root of the problem.  I exercised more, reduced my stress level, ate healthier and guess what?  No more stomach problems.  It was easier to take the pill, but it was a facade.  It didn’t solve anything and gave me the illusion of a fix. 

What about you?  How does the phrase “Do it right the first time” relate to your life?

October 18, 2011

Fuzzi Bunz Cloth Diaper Giveaway

Cutie-Tooties-FB-store-650x280 I received this great giveaway news from my friend Rebecca of Simply Natural Mom.  Sounds like a fantastic giveaway! 

Enter to win a cloth diaper from Knoxville’s local natural baby store

Simply Natural Mom has a giveaway going on this week to win a one-size FuzziBunz cloth diaper from Cutie Tooties, Knoxville’s local cloth diaper and natural baby store.

Whether you are an old pro at cloth diapering or a newbie just trying to learn the difference of a prefold, a pocket, and what to do with those cute covers with all the fun patterns – Cutie Tooties is a good place to know about in Knoxville.

Cutie Tooties owner Emily Carver is serving as a resource for the natural mom community by offering a space for moms to gather and support one another.

The next two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, she has a Breastfeeding Support Circle scheduled, an information session on the Risks of Epidurals and a baby sign language class!

To read more about Cutie Tooties visit Simply Natural Mom, where Cutie Tooties is featured as a new Simply Natural Mom sponsor this week. And enter for a chance to win a FuzziBunz diaper, for the bottom on your little cutie!

Why self check breast exams are important

Each month as part of my tips of the day posts I try to remind you to perform a monthly self check breast exam. 

A few years ago I found a lump on my left breast.  Our daughter was barely walking, and I remember how scared I was.  My paternal grandmother had fought a hard battle with breast cancer in her 40s.  She had a reoccurrence of the cancer later in life that settled in her sternum.  After having her sternum removed and fighting long and hard, she was cancer free.  Seeing her sweet heart beat through her skin and muscle exposed from the absence of the sternum was a constant reminder of her fight. I had all of that in my mind as I scheduled the appointment for a mammogram and phoned my older cousin to be with me during the experience. 

As in older cousin, reliable fashion, she told me what to expect and was kind enough to take care of our daughter as I went in for my checkup.  The mammogram wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as everyone makes it out to be, and because I was young (denser breast tissue makes a mammogram harder to read) I also had an ultrasound.  I remember how I was almost in tears as the doctor told me that the lump was not a concern and that I did not have cancer. 

Since that time I’ve continued to perform self checks and have annual visits with my midwife and doctor.  All has been normal until about 3 1/2 weeks ago when I found a lump under my left armpit.  Because that is an area where lymph nodes can become swollen, I monitored it for a couple of weeks to check for signs of change.  Seeing no decrease in size, I phoned my primary care physician to ask what to do.  He checked it, felt it right away, and due to my family history of breast cancer sent me to have it checked via mammogram. 

This morning I went to my appointment.  In contrast to the first time I had a mammogram, I wasn’t nearly as frightened.  The risk of cancer was just as real, but there was something comforting in knowing what to expect from the appointment.  I only started to become anxious when I saw the color coded sheet that I was given when I went for check-in.  Mine was pink, a color so feminine and delicate yet it represented something so potentially damaging.  Pink meant that I was there because I found a lump—uh-oh, maybe I should be worried? 

The screener seemed to treat me with kid gloves as she asked me questions, and I had to wonder if pink was the reason for that.  It was almost maddening to hear her call me “sweetie” and “dear” and “honey”, something that I as a Southerner often say to others meaning no harm or disrespect.  Isn’t it almost irksome how God can use any experience as a time to learn and reflect?  Got the picture God—I’ll try not to use the cutesy names as much.

Just as I left the screening room, starting to feel a bit more anxious and with the thoughts of the pink sheet and kid glove treatment in mind, I happened to see a friend in the lobby.  It was such a nice distraction to visit with her for a few minutes.  It was her first mammogram, and telling her about what to expect calmed me down.  What a God-send she was! 

For the next hour or so, I went through a series of tests and waiting rooms.  Kind people treated me, explained what to expect, and talked to me about the tests they were running.  I waited with other women in gowns in dim lit waiting rooms.  I wondered what there stories were—were they scared?  Had they been through this before?  In the last room, the technician told me that the lump was nothing to worry about and that my scans all came back normal.  They encouraged me to continue to perform monthly self checks and return annually to receive a mammogram.  I let out a sigh of relief.

As I walked through each step of this experience, I’ve had a college friend who had lost her mother to breast cancer on my mind.  Because her aunts also had breast cancer, she was checked for the genetic marker and tested positive.  After a series of surgeries, she had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure.  I remember hearing her talk about the experience and how grateful she was to have options for prevention.  She believed that her life was saved because of testing and the preventative surgery.  I thought of how far we have come in the understanding, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer since my grandmother first had it over 40 years ago.  Back then genetic testing wasn’t an option, mammograms weren’t as readily available, the connection between lifestyle choices and prevalence weren’t understood fully, and research on treatment options was in its infancy.   Now we have so many more choices.  My friend and many more like her are alive today because of those choices.

Prevention is a choice.  I choose to perform monthly checks, annual checks with my doctor, and mammograms because I don’t want to wonder “what if”.  I’m so grateful to live in a time when we have more options and a better understanding of this cancer.  Please choose prevention for yourself and remind those you love to do the same.  I know that lack of insurance can be a challenge for many when referring to preventative care.  If you do not have insurance, I encourage you to phone your local breast center or Department of Health.  In the month of October, many facilities are making mammograms available for free as part of community screening.  If you are interested in learning how to perform a self check, you can view instructions here.

Blessings to you and yours!

October 17, 2011

Shopping Trips and Deals

Yesterday afternoon, I did a little shopping with the family.  I’m sure I could have managed a few more deals, but like I said in an earlier post, I was fighting allergies and not feeling up to par.  Below are a few highlights I thought I’d mention if you are shopping this week.

Three Rivers Market—I finally made it to their Grand Opening Celebration Sale.  It was the last day of the sale, and we enjoyed samples of interesting cheeses and many other goodies around the store (cookies, corn cakes, crackers, chocolate, tea, chips, etc).  I picked up the Spectrum Organic Olive Oil for $10.99 after the Co-op Deals coupon.  The price wasn’t too far off from what I saw at Sam’s when last there, and this is organic.  My favorite Tahini for making hummus was on sale for $5. 67, and I added it to the cart.  After a few more purchases of the basics like milk and carrots and sushi (sushi is a basic need, right???), I checked out using my 10% member discount as part of the Grand Opening Celebration Sale. 

Walgreens—I didn’t bother with the other freebies and kept it simple by purchasing the FREE Walgreens brand maxi pads—buy for $2 and receive a $2 RR.  For my second transaction, I bought a couple of cans of Lindsay black olives (99cts each with in store ad Q) and a couple of Morton salts (2/$1 with in store ad Q) and a Puffs 200 count tissue box (in store ad coupon of 2/$3, and I had a $1/1 manufacturer coupon).  I saved right at 67%.

Kroger—I mentioned the snafu with my receipt in the tip of the day today.  I purchased 2 pounds of butter (on sale for $2.50 each, and I had a 50ct/2 coupon), 1 Cover Girl Blush and 1 Cover Girl eye shadow (total came to $8.20, and I had the $8/2 coupon from the P&G earlier in the month), 3 bags of Halloween candy (used the $1.50/3 coupon from yesterday’s paper, 1 was free because of the scan right promise, the other two were $2.50 each), 1 Twix candy bar (FREE with the coupon I received from their Twix game), whole wheat bread, and detergent (I had a high value Purex coupon).  I saved a little over 55%. 

I’ll hope to also make it into Office Max this week for free after rebate paper and Target for a few of the freebie deals.  What about you?  What great deals have you found in the stores this week?

Kroger Deal of the Day=High Value Loadable Coupons

ecoupon_42804 Kroger is offering a  Deal of the Day on their website again, and this means some high dollar coupons are available for download.  This runs through the 25th of October.  Thanks Coupon Katie for the info! 

Weekly Matchups and Deals, 10/16-10/22

co op_deals_standard

Three Rivers Market and Co-op Deals Stores Matchups through 10/18 and produce specials for our local store

earth-fare-market_thumb[2]Earth Fare, Best deals for the month

Picture-26

Office Supply Deals  I’ll be stocking up on paper!

target frugal mom blogger  columbus ohio

Target and here

kroger deals kroger sales logo

Kroger

advantage_card

Ingles

tru_hdrLogo

Toys R Us Candy Deal

Walgreens

Walgreens

cvspharmacy

CVS

Tip of the day—Check your receipt

I try to remind you of this tip every so often, and my trip to Kroger yesterday is a good reason why.  Fighting allergies the evening before and morning of my trip, I was a little more groggy than normal.  When I checked out and my total was $27 and change, I thought it was high, but I couldn’t figure out what had happened.  As I always try to do, I stopped out of the way and checked my receipt before leaving the store.  I realized that two errors had been made.  The first was that a coupon had become stuck in the depths of my pocket, and I failed to give it to the clerk.  Since it was an $8/2 Cover Girl coupon, that amount took a serious dent off of my total.  Also one of the three bags of candy I had bought for Halloween had a different price than I had thought--$3.59 instead of $2.50.  I asked the front desk manager to see if I had made an error or if it were marked incorrectly.  He went to the seasonal aisle with me, and I was pleased to learn that the error was theirs.  This meant that I received the candy for free due to their scan right promise!  The cost of not checking my receipt and discovering those errors would have been $11.59.  Always double check!

October 13, 2011

Three Rivers Market Grand Opening Celebration Starts TODAY!

 web_store_3 Three Rivers Market  is celebrating the recent move to its new location at 1100 Central St.  Commonly called “the co-op,” TRM has been a primary source of healthy and organic food for East Tennesseans for over three decades.

As a ‘thanks’ to over three thousand member-owners for their longstanding support and in celebration of the new location, the store will be hosting its first Member Discount Days from Thursday, October 13th to Sunday, October 16th. During these days, members may pick any one transaction and receive 10% off their entire purchase. As always, you do not have to be a member to shop at Three Rivers Market, but only members are eligible for the Discount Days. Additionally, members may receive an additional 10% off volume purchases of cases.

In addition to discounts for members, Three Rivers Market will have free samples and demonstrations from their local and regional vendors from 12–7 pm, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, and from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday. Customer service representatives will be on hand daily to answer questions and receive feedback and product suggestions.

THURSDAY

  • Thursday’s festivities will answer the question, “How do I get to Three Rivers Market?” Representatives from the Bike Ambassadors, Knoxville Area Transit, and East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition will be on hand from 4-7 pm to talk about alternative transportation in Knoxville. Tennessee Valley Bikes will unveil Knoxville’s first ever public Fix-It Station at 6 pm.
  • From 4 – 7 pm come talk to and sample from local vendors from, including Harry’s Delicatessen, vegetable grower John Ledbetter, Mountain Water Co., and Elle Colquitt and Jon Livengood, authors of the popular Mini Adventure series.

FRIDAY

  • Friday is Family Day at Three Rivers Market. From 12–6 pm members of the University of Tennessee print club will be on site printing t-shirts. You can buy your own t-shirt or canvas tote bag, $10 and $5 respectively, or for $3, bring a t-shirt, bag or apron from home and have it printed right there. All money will go to support students in the print club traveling to a national conference in the spring.
  • Swing by from 4:30 – 6:30 pm to hear live music by the Moccasin Gap Bluegrass Band while you shop. If you have questions about the produce and quality standards at Three Rivers Market, produce manager John Bohnenstiel will be available from 4 – 6 pm to answer questions and offer suggestions.
  • From 4 – 7 pm, Cruze Dairy Farm will be sampling their fine milks and ice creams. Check out the expanded meat section from 4 – 7 pm to query Robert Birkholz, TRM meat manager, about the best cuts and recipes Friday’s local vendor demonstrations will include Neubert Springs Farm, JEM Farm, and—weather permitting—a corn grinding demonstration by organic farmer Jerry Baird.

SATURDAY

  • On Saturday, the store will honor the three institutional lenders and over seventy member lenders who helped Three Rivers Market make the move to the North Central St. location.
  • From 10 am to 4 pm, you can talk health and beauty with Tennessee’s own Thousand Hills Bath Co. and Lilian Skin Care and sample the fine wares of Magpies Bakery and Big S. Farms.
  • Once again, meat manager, Robert Birkholz, will be available to explain about TRM quality standards and vendors. In addition to samples and demonstrations from local vendors, select area businesses in the Downtown North and Happy Holler districts will also be offering discounts to TRM customers on Saturday.
    Members of Three Rivers Market’s board of directors will be available from 5 – 7 pm to help shuttle groceries to your car and to answer questions about Three Rivers Market.

SUNDAY

  • Sunday will highlight the cooperative principles that govern cooperative businesses like TRM. Come take a free tour at 2 pm and learn the cooperative principles and about the many green features of the new location.
  • Hazel & Co, and members of Timberlake Farm Co-op will be in the store from 4 – 7 pm sampling their products. Sunday evening there will be a small celebration for Three Rivers Market members at the Public House from 7 – 11 pm.

October 12, 2011

Taking a blogging break

Our daughter is off for Fall Break, and I look forward to spending some time with her and my husband over the next few days.  Hopefully I’ll get some gardening done and some green tomato pickles made.  I encourage you to check out the Links section for some other fantastic bloggers to keep you posted on the deals.  Have a marvelous weekend!

October 11, 2011

Fall Fun—Camping with Kids

Since many of you have told me you are planning camping trips this fall, I thought you might like to see this repost from a few years back on the subject.  Happy Camping!

When I was a kid, we didn't really camp. My dad had a Winnebago that we drove across country, but that was about as close as we came to camping. I resisted camping for a long time because I'd forever heard about the one camping trip that my mother and father made years ago. Without going into a long story about their adventure, I'll just say that they ended up spending most of the night at the Holiday Inn. My husband had many camping trips as a child and spoke of them fondly, and he convinced me to give it a try a couple of years ago. Even making note that I slammed my own finger in the car door at the end of the first trip, I was completely hooked with the camping bug from the very start. There is something so enjoyable about communing with nature and watching how happy our daughter becomes with every little bit of the experience.

  • Bring a few toys and books for children. A ball or Frisbee is nice for older children. Many campgrounds and trails allow biking, and if you have room, those are fun to bring.
  • If you plan on cooking and/or using real plates, bring a dishpan to help you wash them after use.  This helps to keep down the cost of your trip.  If you prefer to go for ease, use paper or something that can be recycled.
  • Bring your own bar of soap. Almost all of the campgrounds we've been to with bathrooms do not provide soap. A plastic baggie with soap is handy to carry back and forth to the bathhouse. Many campgrounds do not have real mirrors. I guess they figure you really don't want to see what you look like after roughing it in the woods for a few days. If you do want to look at yourself, bring a hand mirror or just use your car mirrors.
  • There was a time that I recommended bringing your own firewood.  Because of so many devastating insect outbreaks in recent times, I no longer recommend doing so.  It may be more expensive to buy your own, but it is better for the forest if you do. 
  • Pack a first aid kit. Remember reading about my finger in the car door experience above?? I even pack a few bandages in my pockets when hiking.
  • Our friends just showed us their "refrigerator" when camping. They have a large cooler packed with ice and drinks. Inside of that cooler they have a tall rectangular pitcher in which they store items they want to keep cool but are concerned about becoming water-logged. (Many stores sell these types of containers in which to store cereal.)
  • When camping in bear country, make sure that you do not leave any food or anything that remotely looks like food out in the open. Cover your coolers or food in your car with a blanket. I had a friend tell me that their car was totaled by a bear when camping out west simply because they forgot to put a blanket over their cooler at night.
  • For child fire safety, use a stick or shovel to draw a "safety circle" in the dirt or gravel around the fire. The circle should be at least 2-3 feet wider in diameter than the fire circle. It is important to review fire safety with children, but let's face it, kids are impulsive little creatures. The visual cue helps to remind them that they are getting too close to something dangerous.
  • Dress in layers, as the temperature outdoors and based on your activity level shifts throughout the day.
  • Bring wet wipes--they are handy for all sorts of things, but especially for cleaning hands after eating a sticky s’more. Yum, yum!
  • Visit your ranger station. You know how I love free stuff! We have picked up all sorts of free goodies at these stations--maps, crayons and fire safety coloring pages, posters of wildflowers, and reading materials.
  • Want a discount when camping? Go to this site for info on national park discounts. Go to this site for information on discounts at Tennessee state parks.
  • Are you fishing when traveling? Go to this site for information about the TWRA lifetime sportsman license. We bought one for our daughter as a Christmas present last year.
  • Bring a pair of slip on shoes for going in and out of the tent. These are especially handy for late night trips to use the restroom.
  • Have fun! Camping allows you to not only value the beauty of the outdoors but better appreciate the comforts of your own home once you return back to it. Share it with your children, and if you aren't up for pitching a tent, well then try for an RV. Our good old Winnebago served us well for many years.

The photo above is from our first camping trip. The arch above is one of the Twin Arches in Big South Fork National Park. This was a wonderful hike, but one where a sling or baby carrier is a must for smaller children.

What other camping trips do you have to share?  I’d love to hear them—be sure to add them to the comments section for all to enjoy.

20 FREE Prints at Target

57_printsphoto_c11_100 Use this $2 off 20 4x6 prints coupon on the Target site and score 20 prints for free this week.  They are priced at 10cts each right now.  Too bad I went there yesterday for my shopping—maybe I’ll make another trip for this freebie.  I like to put photos of our daughter in cards to relatives, and this is a good freebie!

Thanks Mojo Savings!

Fall Flavors—Halloween Recipes

Three of my favorite Halloween recipes are below.  Boo!

DSC_1799Scary Snakes

540200-R1-011-4Cupcake Witches

DSC_7716Little Mummies

Fermentation Workshop, Knoxville, 10/17

ferm Having Frustration with Stagnation?
Try Regeneration with Fermentation!!
Fermentation Presentation
Monday, Oct. 17, 6:00 – 7:30 PM

Fermentation of different foods and beverages, from sauerkraut to dairy to ginger beer, will be demonstrated & discussed. The health benefits and the nutritional importance of live culture fermentation will be covered as well as equipment & techniques. Various fermented foods and beverages can be sampled. A snack table will also be available with other healthy & tasty finger foods. (We normally start our meetings with a potluck, but with time being so limited, we will only have hardy finger foods at this meeting. So, if you can, bring a healthy snack to share!)

Where:
East Knoxville/ Burlington Branch Library
4614 Asheville Highway, Knoxville, TN 37914, 865-525-5431

Directions:
Exit 394 off I-40 in east Knox county. Head back towards town (if you cross the
Holston River, you are going the wrong way). From Chilhowee school (on right @ traffic
light), it is 0.5 miles to the library, on your left. The post office & Chilhowee Hills Baptist
Church (a large church on the right hand side) are across the street from the library.

NO CHARGE - All Welcome!

For more info:
Marty McWhirter: 637- 4029/ email: EastTNfinfan@yahoo.com
OR
Wendy Southern: 405-2633/ email: wen3so@yahoo.com

For more information on the Weston A. Price Foundation: www.westonaprice.org

Tip of the day—Salting foods

Below are a few tips on salting foods.

  • I recently learned that salting eggs before cooking makes the protein in the whites a little tougher.  I’ve experimented with this and have found that it is most noticeable when making a fried egg.  When the eggs are scrambled there doesn’t seem to be as much of a difference.  Since I learned this, I now salt and pepper my eggs over easy after plating them.
  • When cooking a pot of beans, wait until the last half hour or so of cooking to salt if you want your beans to be kept whole.  When you salt earlier in the cooking, the hulls of the beans are more likely to crack and break.  If you want mushier beans, salt early.  If you are using them for something like baked beans or a salad, salt later.
  • If you don’t salt grits when they start cooking, they’ll never seem to be seasoned right.  This is one of the reasons I do not buy grits at Cracker Barrel. 
  • Salting vegetables and meats encourages the cell structure to loosen and juices to be released.  Experiment with sautéing an onion in a bit of oil.  For the first onion, don’t salt it.  For the second onion, add salt when it hits the pan.  You’ll see what a difference it makes and will get a feel for how to use salt when cooking.
  • When prepping game meats, soak them in a brine of very salty water overnight.  Discard the brine and give it a rinse and pat dry before cooking.  This helps to draw out some of the blood in the meat and thereby reduces the gamey taste.
  • When making a sweet dish, I will usually add a dash or two of salt when cooking, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it.  A touch of salt balances the sweet notes in foods, especially in dishes with chocolate or caramel. 
  • Most baking recipes recommend that you use unsalted butter.  This is for a couple of reasons.  First, you can have more control over how much salt you add to your foods.  Secondly, unsalted butter is a higher quality butter than salted. 
  • When deep frying foods, salt the food as soon as it comes out of the oil.  The salt will stick at that point, but if you wait a few minutes until it cools it won’t. 

October 10, 2011

Knoxville News Sentinel Subscription Deal

Knoxville_News_Sentinel Checkout this great subscription info from Real Housewives Clip Coupons:

If you have been looking for a good deal on Sunday Delivery of the Knox News Sentinel I may have a deal for you! Right now you can get 52 weeks of the Sunday paper delivered for just $25!  You will need to use promo code DM-Sunday-77.  Just head over HERE to get started on your new subscription!

If you are outside of the Knoxville area and looking for discounted subscriptions then head over HERE to find current deals!

Awesome!  As I’ve told the attendees of my last few coupon classes, I highly recommend a subscription to the paper.  Many readers email me that they go to stacks of papers at stores and all of the coupons are swiped.  Not only does having a subscription ease that frustration, it is also less expensive per week.  Thanks to Kathryn for the heads up on this deal!

Fall Flavors—Sausage Dressing

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I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe for Sausage Dressing.  Feel free to play around with the ingredients and proportions based on what you have on hand. 

Tip of the day—Guest Post about Azure Standard

header_logo Today’s tip of the day is a guest post from Amber Cooper.  She added a comment on my CICT Facebook Page recently about Azure Standard, a bulk buying program that I hadn’t heard of before.  I hope you’ll be as excited as I was to learn more.  Thanks again, Amber!

If you have been waiting for a natural food co-op to come your way, you just may be in luck! Azure Standard, a bulk natural/organic food co-op from Oregon, is looking to add Tennessee to their route in January 2012. If you have heard of Azure Standard, you know well the outstanding reputation that precedes them. If not, I will share my own experience with you.

Originally from Missouri, I had heard of Azure, their excellent prices, and their beautiful organic produce. But, alas, I lived in Tennessee and did not have access to this co-op. Then I realized I could work out a visit to my mother, still in Missouri, during one of the deliveries. I logged onto their website: www.azurestandard.com, and looked at what they offered. No prices were listed until I created an account, which was as simple as logging into my e-mail. I just entered my name, e-mail address, and password, and I had access to all of their price listings. Though it is required for each order to be a minimum of $50, I had no problem filling that for the month. If I did, I could have had my mother or a couple friends order with me. Azure carries dry goods, canned goods, frozen foods, produce, baking supplies, and non-food items including health and beauty aids, books, appliances, essential oils, and much more. They also run specials each month, which makes them even more affordable.

Ordering was simple. I used a credit card online, but I also could have paid over the phone, mailed a check, or paid in cash or check when the truck arrived. Azure then sent me an e-mail letting me know the day, time, and place of the delivery. She included her phone number, which I used, in case I had questions. Since they are family owned and operated, I was always met with friendly, helpful people rather than an automated recording.

On delivery morning, I pulled into the designated delivery spot (Home Depot’s parking lot) with several other moms in SUV’s and minivans. I had heard rumors that the trucks are amazingly punctual, and I was not disappointed. Almost to the minute, the diesel pulled in and opened the back of the truck. A man and his two teenage children quickly unloaded the boxes. Our items were already sorted, and our names were written on each box. It was as simple as finding your name and loading it into your car. The diesel took off, and we moms went through our boxes to check if everything was present. One item of mine was not shipped, and I asked one of the local moms about it. She said to call Azure and they will take care of it. Sure enough, Azure explained that they do not charge your card until the items are packed onto the truck in case a product is temporarily unavailable for some reason. So, though I didn’t get my broccoli, I didn’t have to go through the hassle of getting the charge credited back to my account either.

When I returned to my mother’s house, we were gushing over the pristine condition of the fruit. The apples were so sweet and crunchy, the oranges rivaled Florida’s, and my proud purchase of 40lbs. of sucanat was, well, heavy! My experience with Azure could not have gone any better. I loved the entire process.

Now I’m back in Tennessee, and I received an e-mail saying that Azure is coming our way. All we have to do is find enough interested people in our area for them to create a “drop-point.” It takes $550 in total sales for them to drive a truck to a city. But with a city as big as Knoxville, I don’t think that would be difficult to do. Azure has asked me to collect names, addresses, and e-mails of each person that is interested in joining the co-op. There is no cost to join and no obligation to buy, but when you see these products and prices, especially their sales, you will be as excited as I was to get in on the savings. You can send me your information or questions at cooptimr at hotmail dot com.

If you are outside of the Knoxville area, you might want to check with Azure Standard to see if they have a drop off point near you. 

October 9, 2011

Fall Flavors—Butternut Squash

DSC_1484For recipes on how to roast, mash, make pepitas, make soup and put a little pizzazz into your butternut squash repertoire, you might want to check out this post on the winter squash that I wrote a while back.  Happy Eating!

A Happy Thought

DSC_1656 “As a person of faith we are called to hospitality.” ~Robert Hodge of El Puente in Knoxville

Weekly Matchups and Deals, 10/9-10/15

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Three Rivers Market and Co-op Deals Stores Matchups through 10/18

earth-fare-market_thumb[2]Earth Fare, Best deals for the month

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Office Supply Deals

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Target

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Kroger

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Ingles

Walgreens

Walgreens

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CVS