Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Give me a gift...and it's free!

Ok, so tomorrow is my birthday...and that makes it the perfect time to ask for a favor from my readers (even if this is the first time you've looked at this blog)! What I would like is feedback on what you've read over the past year or even the past week...What interests you? What topics related to saving money, DIY projects, volunteerism, etc. most appeal to you personally? I would love to incorporate topics that will be most gift-wrapping required...just a quick comment with your response and I will be a happy birthday girl! Thanks!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Targeting Literacy

Target really hits the bullseye when it comes to charitable work! Recently the company partnered with "Heart of America," a national literacy foundation, to help makeover an elementary school library in Aurora, Colorado. Pictured here is a school library made over in St. Louis. It's just one of the projects to help them reach $1 billion dollars for education by the end of 2015! More companies should learn from their example! To learn more check out and go to the Corporate page for community involvement.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Put a little of yourself into your greeting cards!

I know...I keep trying not to admit it, but Martha has some really good ideas! My latest favorite is her idea of customizing cards. One for a birthday shows a photo of a woman holding a cupcake with flags in it saying "Happy Birthday Leah"...great idea for your BFF! Or the Valentine shows a woman holding a chalkboard heart with a personalized message on it. You've got to check this out! Great project for kids too!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hide and seek...finding lost pets offers some useful tips for recovering a lost pet. Naturally, the best thing you can do is have your pets micro-chipped, but even a tag with your pet's name and your name, address and phone number can go a long way to helping Fido (or Fluffy) get back home! It's also good to include your cellphone number on the tag (then if someone locates the pet while you are out searching, you will know right away)!

First, you need to remain calm. If your pet is chipped, then file a report. Print lost pet posters and canvas about a 2-mile area surrounding your home. Be sure to put up the posters as you go and also leave them with neighbors, veterinarians, shelters and area parks. (And have a favorite toy and some treats on hand for your lost pet).

Don't forget to call your local animal shelters, vet offices, Humane Society and even the police department. Someone may have turned your buddy in already!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Document this!

Most of us are well-acquainted with NetFlix and Hulu, but here's a great site you may not have tried!
Visit to choose from over 2,000 streaming documentary titles...and they even let you "snag" your favorites to post on Facebook or your blog! Make some popcorn and have a movie night!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An apple a day?

While I admittedly pulled this item from AARP's magazine (5/11), I would like to preface this by pleading the Fifth on my age! But said article notes that certain foods can ease pain (i.e. backaches, sore knees, etc.). Some of these "remedies" include cherries, fish and ginger. For more information check out

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's the secret password?

So many passwords, pin numbers, user names...argh!!!! What is a person who lives in a "virtual" world to do? Redbook (Sept.'10) offered a great suggestion from author Karen Dolby ("You Must Remember This") when coming up with new passwords. Pick your favorite quote or song lyric and use the first letter of each word to make your password. An example: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" would be WLGYLML as a password. The cool thing is you can use this on multiple one could guess this! Anyone else have any tricks for creating passwords (and then remembering them!)?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Movie munchies less the guilt!

One of the toughest places to go when you are watching your calories is a movie theatre! You are a captive audience surrounded by junk food addicts. Next time try these ideas courtesy of

* Pass on butter on your popcorn (will reduce fat and calories in a huge way!)

* Nachos are a "no-no" - just a tub of waxy, fatty pseudo-cheese anyway!

* Choose diet soda or water when getting a beverage.

* Bring in your own snacks...easy enough to smuggle a mini bag of microwave popcorn, unsalted nuts or other healthier choices.

* And, if you absolutely have to have some sweets, split the goodies with a friend or opt for smaller boxes of lower calorie candies such as Sour Patch Kids...

And, remember, you went to a movie...not a meal! (I know...chocolate makes everything better!).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Are you Type A?

This is right up my alley...and maybe yours? If you like to share deals, advice and help others consider being a contributor at

You get paid for sharing your tips on budgeting, parenting advice, etc. The more people who read your articles, the more money you make (100% of the ad revenue you generate for the site)!
A nice way to supplement your income!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free "Parking"

Mark down June 21st, 2011, on your calendar - that's the date that every national park in the US will offer free admission (you save $25 per carload)! Happy first day of summer!

Other free days include Sept.24th (National Public Lands Day) and Veterans' Day weekend
(Nov. 11th - 13th). Plan your visits now!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Poolside reading

The lazy days of summer, beach and poolside reading is fast approaching. Prepare your e-reader (or smartphone or laptop) by choosing from a huge selection of free downloadable books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Pass the sunscreen, the lemonade and pick-up a good (virtual) book!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Party on (someone else's dime)!

OK...this sounds amazing!!! Spring inevitably brings graduation parties, baby showers, wedding showers, prom name it! What about tying these to a free event sponsored by leading brands or companies who want to share their products with you and your friends...?
Check out and see how easy it is to "join the party!"

According to the website, there is an amazing range of parties including TV viewings, Wine & Chocolate pairings, kids' parties. If you throw one, please review the service and post a photo for us!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring cleaning for the perpetually unorganized!

Ironically, I am an organizational neat freak at heart; I buy baskets, organizers, multiple calendars, hooks, file name it! But, in practice, I can manage to make even those organization tools a mess! Slowly but surely this spring I have vowed to work through this and put things in their proper place. No promises, but I'm trying. And on this topic, I saw some great ways to organize some everyday items (Redbook magazine's 5/11 issue) are a few that I thought were really clever:

- A mesh utensil holder... store costume jewelry (for earrings you can even poke them through the mesh and put the backs on to keep them together). put all of your teabags in one place (really nice for guests as well). organize hairbrushes, clips, curling irons, etc. in one place.

- A spice rack... store nuts, bolts, nails, screws, etc. on a workbench. store beads or scrapbooking items in a craft room. separate pushpins, rubberbands, paperclips, etc. in an office space.

- A clear plastic bath caddy... hold napkins, silverware, etc. for your picnic table. hold straws, cocktail picks, twizzle sticks, paper umbrellas and lime/lemon slices for picnics or a party.

- A wire 3-tier hanging basket (not just for vegetables anymore!)... hang in your closet to hold belts, scarves, etc. hold kids toys in their room or play area.

Yes!!!! It just makes me want to go out and buy a hanging basket, several bath caddies, a mesh utensil holder and a spice rack or two (or three?)...Spring is in the air!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Breakfast is served!

I loved an idea I just saw in the May 2011 issue of "Redbook" magazine and your family might think it's fun too. Set up a pancake buffet filled with items to add to the batter. Everyone gets to pick their favorites. Here are some suggestions:

- Fresh fruit ( zest or berries sounded good!)
- Chopped nuts
- Dried fruit (maybe cranberries?)
- Chocolate chips (or white chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips)
- Spices - cinnamon or nutmeg?
- Extracts - almond, vanilla, peppermint (just go light on these or it will overwhelm your diners)

Check out for sauces to top your pancakes off! This could be a great idea for slumber parties or the morning after prom, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Take-out made easier!

I love "take-out" nights, but when your favorite menus get misplaced or ripped (yeah, that never happens!)it can take longer to order a meal than to cook it yourself! There are some cute options online for folders to store your menus in, but you don't need to spend a mint to do this. Pick up a presentation folder,an inexpensive binder with plastic page protectors,an accordian file folder or even a shoe box...insert your menus and you are good to go.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Make a difference on Mother's Day!

I love to post ways that my readers can make a difference without even spending a dime! Check out:
For every message of encouragement that is posted on this site, Proctor & Gamble will donate $1.00 (up to $250,000) to Special Olympics Team USA to help "fulfill the wish of every Special Olympics mom - to see their son or daughter get the chance to reach their full potential." Take a moment to make a mom and their special child happy on Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Father knows best!

Your dad and grandfather probably collected a treasure of information that you should keep alive and pass along to your own family. Check out Erin Bried's book "How to Build a Fire and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew." Once example cited on tells how to salvage leather shoes stained by road salt (ok so I don't have this problem in Phoenix, but I do remember it from my childhood in Michigan!):

Mix a tablespoon of vinegar and a cup of water and wipe the salt off the leather shoes. If you just need to buff out scuff marks, simply dab on a bit of non-gel toothpaste on the mark(s) and buff with a moist rag. Ta dah!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Free speech!

Yes, I've posted a few options for free language classes, but here's another one that seems to top them all! I plan to try this one later this week and report back to you: -
It allows you to choose from four European languages and the site provides you with videos, audio and quizzes as well as a "quick fix" section that provides key survival phrases in 40 languages. Anyone tried this yet? Let us know! Merci, danke schoen, gracias, etc!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Protect your goodies!

Occasionally, I post recipes or cooking tips to fit your budget (and mine!). When we find one that's a "keeper," we don't want to lose it, so here's a great, cheap way to protect these "goodies" (a la Martha Stewart - thanks again, Martha)!

Buy a clear plastic envelope (18"x12") from an office supply store (usually in price range of a few dollars). Place your cookbook (opened to the page you are using) or insert the recipe card you are following. What an easy way to keep your favorite recipes clean so they are legible every time you need them! I would also suggest clear zip-lock bags or scrapbook page inserts for this same purpose.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Micro" Management

As we draw to the end of another school year, a moment I dread is also fast approaching...the inevitable (and yes, most likely, the annual) cleaning of my son's dorm room microwave...yuck!

Yes, you and I know that it's best to clean your microwave as soon as a spill occurs. But for tough cases like the one I have heading my way soon, try Heloise's suggestion (Good Housekeeping, 10/10):
* Fill a microwave-safe bowl with 1C of water and a handful of cut-up citrus fruit and rinds plus a few drops of vanilla or peppermint extract (or some cloves). Be sure that the bowl itself is 4C or larger.
* Heat this mixture on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until the water is bubbling then turn off the microwave but don't open the door for at least 15 minutes.
* Remove the bowl and wipe all of the internal surfaces of the microwave with a damp sponge.
*Wipe off outside surfaces with multipurpose cleaner on a towel or sponge (but not on knobs or controls.

OR...better yet, give these instructions to your college student...yet another life-skill that is likely to be ignored!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some new coupon sites to bookmark!

I try to keep up with the best of the coupon sites, but here are a few I don't believe I've posted before:
(great deals for moms!)
(Ok, I admit I haven't tried it yet, but you must admit the name alone is appealing! It apparently has 100 new deals/day on electronics, clothing and home goods along with rebates and closeouts.)
(gives best deals in over 38 grocery chains)
(provides discount codes for over 2,000 online stores - anyone ever try this one? Let us know!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Color my world...

Ok, so I am no longer a "natural" brunette...with age comes grey and I'm willing to admit that! I've found that I can color my own hair without looking like I do (hence without paying the outrageous salon prices for a similar result). But, I just found what calls an "old trade secret" that may help you if you color your own hair and have a sensitive scalp.

Add two packets of "Sweet 'N Low" (yes the little pink packets you find in restaurants!) and an ounce of skim milk to your color formula before you apply the mixture to your hair. Apparently this prevents any reaction to the hair dye chemicals! I plan to try it next time, but if you do, please let us know (even anonymously!) if it works for you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Honey, I'm home!!!

Ok, so admittedly, I've taken a rather long break from my blog, but I'm back and have lots of new "penny pincher" ideas for you! Be sure to share the link with your family and friends...given the ongoing issues with the economy, it certainly can't hurt to save a little money! Look for new ideas starting tomorrow and, as always, please share your own! Happy (bargain) hunting!