Friday, February 26, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Today I threw out an onion (it was in a bag with a bunch of others) and some leftover cornbread. Apparently I need to stop making cornbread because we never use up the leftovers. I just need to plan to use it the day after I make it, because it does not look appetizing after sitting in the fridge for a few days!

Thanks to The Frugal Girl for her inspiration to waste less food every week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Get ready for tomorrow, Thursday the 25th...

You can get a free 8x10 at Walgreens when you bring in this coupon. It could be tough to get to Walgreens tomorrow, depending on what happens with the weather this afternoon and evening!

If we do end up with another snow/ice day, be sure to celebrate Swagbucks 2nd birthday! It looks like there will be a bunch of opportunities for Swagcodes to earn some extra SB. Many times the codes are on a specific place on their site, but another great way to get swagcodes is through the toolbar (this is my favorite option).

Join Swagbucks today and get 3 SB just for signing up - and the potential for a bunch more tomorrow! Then Friday, the Swagbucks newsletter comes out (via email) and usually has a Swagcode for 1 SB. There are so many ways to earn this week!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review: The Search for God and Guinness

The Search for God and Guinness by Stephan Mansfield
If you have ever enjoyed a dark, frothy, Guinness, you've been a part of the legacy of a family that gave the world so much more than just a extraordinary beer. Arthur Guinness founded his brewery in 1759, and though he loved brewing, believed that a man needed to serve others. His example led to generations of descendants who not only brewed beer, but treated their workers exceptionally well, lived in the slums and cared for the poor, and worked as pastors and missionaries.

I have been a Guinness lover for some time now, but I never knew the whole story until reading Mansfield's history of the beer. The work of the Guinness family challenged me to think about the importance of day to day life. All activities in life can be set apart and make a difference. The Guinnesses could have said they were just brewers and chosen self-centered life. Instead they used their position and wealth for the good of many: for workers who were rewarded for living in cleaner housing, for Irish children who were introduced to Sunday Schools, for soldiers on the front lines in 1939 who were given a Guinness in their Christmas dinner, and for their industry by innovating new ways to serve their iconic brew.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and only would have preferred shorter chapters more conducive to reading in their entirety in a single sitting.

To comply with regulations by the Federal Trade Commission, I am disclosing that Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for my honest and objective review. All opinions and evaluations are my own. Learn more about BookSneeze.

Free (brand new) books!

I love to read. It is probably my favorite hobby of all time. I recently found out about a program through Thomas Nelson Publishers where they give new books away in return for a review of the book! With this program, all you have to do is publish a short (200 word) review of the book you were given on your blog and on a site that sells book (like Amazon). I am so excited to be a part of this program and be reviewing books. For more information about the program you can click on the picture below!

I review for BookSneeze

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Avoiding food waste - buying cheese in bulk

We go through a lot of shredded cheese, mostly because we get such a good deal on it at Costco. I buy 5 pound bags of both shredded cheese and mozzarella cheese for just over $2 a pound. This is about half as much as I could get it for at the grocery store.

The problem we found with having so much cheese on hand is that it will go bad before we can eat it all if it is just stored in the fridge, and if we put the whole bag in the freezer its a pain to break off pieces of frozen cheese to use when needed.

So I came up with a method for dividing our cheese up so that it can be frozen and then easily thawed in manageable portions. I use plastic wrap and portion out about 2 cups of cheese on each piece of plastic wrap.

Then I wrap up the cheese into little packages and store them in ziplock bags in the freezer.

We keep a small container of cheese in the fridge. When that container is empty, we grab a package of cheese out of the freezer and add it to the container - easy! I've also found that the 2 cup size is about the amount of cheese we use when we make homemade pizza. It takes a few minutes to get all of that cheese packaged up, but it is such a time-saver and money saver, because we never waste cheese any more!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Homemade Bagels

Over the past few weeks I had several friends make bagels, so while we were snowed in, I set out to try my hand at making homemade bagels! I was impressed with how easy it was and how good the bagels turned out. I make a good bit of yeast bread from scratch, which is pretty easy, but takes a while because of the different rises. These bagels were easier and quicker!

The recipe that I used can be found here. I followed it pretty exactly, though since I used my Kitchen Aid, I only had to knead for 2-3 minutes.

The recipe:
4 cups bread flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water

Mix all ingredients together:
Bagels make a thicker and more stiff dough than regular bread dough

Knead until you have a smooth dough, then divide into 8 pieces and let the dough sit on the counter for 10-20 minutes.

Use 2 hands and roll each ball into a snake until it is longer than both your hands side by side.

Take one of the snakes and wrap it around your hand so the two ends meet.

Then use the counter and a rolling motion to fuse the ends together and create a circle (this is surprisingly easy!)

You'll end up with a little family of rings. Let them sit on the counter for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water on the stove, and preheat oven to 425 F. The bagels will start to look puffy after 20 minutes.

Once they have rested for 20 minutes, boil for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to flip each bagel over and boil for another 1 minute. I put them on a bamboo cutting board for a minute or two so they were not soaking wet when I put them on a greased baking sheet. Then bake at 425. The recipe I linked to says to bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more minutes, but I found baking for 15-20 minutes without flipping worked fine too.

Here is a look at my assembly line:
Bagels boiling, cutting board to let them dry a little, plate full of cinnamon sugar that I dipped the bagels in, and lightly greased baking sheet with my bagels.

And the finished product? They looked, smelled, and tasted like real bagels! (You'll notice in this picture that there are only 7...we had already sampled one...)

Little munchkin agrees - they are delicious!

We also used them to make pizza bagels for dinner. I may have to double the recipe next time, because we ate these in 2 days!

Friday, February 12, 2010

$100 P&G coupon book

Did you stock up on P&G products at Rite Aid the last few weeks like I did? I hope you saved your receipts! Any purchases made after February 1, 2010 will count towards this coupon book.

Purchase $50 worth of any P&G products between February 1, 2010 and April 15, 2010 and receive a coupon book with $100 worth of coupons for P&G products. The $50 is before any coupons or tax.

Mail your original receipts (multiple receipts ok) with this form to P&G Year of Savings, Dept. T, PO Box 460643, El Paso, TX 88546-0643 by April 30, 2010.

You can see the full list of coupons and check on the status of your coupon book on P&G's site. It also looks like the form will be in the P&G insert later this month.

I'm keeping my qualifying receipts in an envelope on my fridge so I can keep track of them!

Food waste Friday

Today I threw out a little bit of leftover cornbread. It sat out a little long the night I made it and got dried out, so no one really wanted to clean up this little bit.

I also had to throw out a tomato on Saturday. I check it last Friday and thought it was fine; we were going to use it in an omelet Saturday morning, but it was already growing things!
Remember to visit the Frugal Girl today and see others who are working to reduce the amount of food they throw out every week!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kraft First Taste freebies

I introduced Kraft First Taste a few weeks back when I wrote about coupon resources. One of the great things about this site is that there are many opportunities to try products for free! Just yesterday I submitted for a coupon for a free package of Oreo Cakesters, and a few weeks ago I received a coupon to try the new Digiorno pizza for free! (the pizza was great, by the way)

Sign up for Kraft First Taste here. You may not be eligible for the Cakesters offer as a new member, but another freebie is likely to pop up soon!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Last week I wrote about online surveys and how I earn extra money by giving my opinion on various topics. I really do enjoy taking the surveys, but by far the more consistent way that I earn a little extra is through Swagbucks. I know that I have written about Swagbucks many times before -- it really is worth taking about again, though!

Swagbucks is a search engine that is powered by Google and, and rewards you just for searching the internet (something nearly all of us do on a daily basis). I usually earn between 2 and 4 Swagbucks a day. On a typical day I earn one sometime in the morning and one sometime later in the day.

I know that it can be hard to remember to use swagbucks if you are used to using google for searching. The way that I have found to make Swagbucks easily accessible is through the swagbucks toolbar. If I need to look something up, my search window is right there in my browser.

A newer way to earn swagbucks is through the special offers page. By signing up for any of the offers, you will earn extra swagbucks BUT if you choose to click through all the offers and NOT sign up, you will still receive a code for 1 Swagbuck! The Special Offers page is reset every Thursday, so each week you can add another Swagbuck to your account.

I usually spend my Swagbucks on $5 Amazon gift cards because they only cost 45 SB. $5 may not seem like a lot, but think about it over a whole year. If you only earned 1 SB per day you would have 365 after 1 year, which equals $40 worth of Amazon gift cards! If you earn 2 SB per day plus 30 SB for various swagcodes throughout the year, you would have $85 in Amazon gift cards...thats looking a lot more impressive!

I am a big fan of Swagbucks, and I am really excited about always having something to spend in my Amazon account! To sign up for Swagbucks today, click here, and you'll get 3 SB to start you off!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rite Aid: Feb. 7-13

I am really excited about a bunch of the sales at Rite Aid this week because so many of them are things that I needed! Also, this is the last week that P&G purchases will count toward the Visa Reward Card. Items marked with (***) are participating P&G products. Here are some of my favorite sales with coupon match-ups.

***Pringles, 4 for $5
use $1/4 from 1/31 RP

Comtrex Cold Med., $3.99
use $1.25 from 2/7 SS
receive $1 SCR

Dove Men +Care
use $1.25 from 1/31 RP
receive $4 SCR

***Duracell Rechargeable Batteries, $11.99
use $2 from 1/17 P&G
receive $3 SCR

Finish Automatic Dishwasher Detergent, $4.49
use $1 from 2/7 SS (NOT in the DE News Journal) or $.75 Printable (sign up required)
stack with $1 Video Values coupon
receive $1.50 SCR

***Pampers Jumbo Pack, $8.99
use $1.50 from 2/7 P&G
receive $2 SCR

***Vicks Nyquil or DayQuil, $3.99
use $2 from 1/17 P&G
receive $1 SCR

Remember to bring you $5/$25 coupon or $5/$20 coupon, as well as the Rite Aid Coupon Acceptance Policy. This is a great tool, especially if you are ever told that you cannot use a coupon, but you know the policy allows it! One other thing I learned from reading the policy, you can only use 1 money off your total purchase coupon, like the ones above. They often will accept 2, but they really are not supposed to. For a great article on coupon ethics, check out this post by Mindi @ Moms Need to Know!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Food Waste Friday

All I had to get rid of today was a very little bit of cream cheese. This was left at our house after a get together, which is probably why we forgot about it.

Have you gone through your fridge lately? I have a few things I noticed while looking through today that I have plans to use over the next few days so I do not have to toss them.
As always, thanks to The Frugal Girl for her inspiration to waste less food every week!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Online Survey Opportunities

One thing that I do to earn some extra money is taking online surveys! I was skeptical at first because the idea of getting paid to do something online seems like a perfect scam opportunity...and there are places out there that will scam you. On the other hand, there are also legitimate websites that will pay you for your opinion!

I have been doing this for about a year now. Originally, I signed up with nearly every site I could find. I have since weeded through the different sites and unsubscribed myself from ones that sent too many emails out, did not pay enough, or just were not enjoyable. I also had more time when I first started, because I would take surveys when my daughter was nursing. But now that she's running around the house, its a little harder to find the time! I do try to look through the survey emails every few days and take as many as possible.

The list I'm sharing with you today is based on my experiences, and I'm sure there are other people who have had different experiences than me. I will continue to tweak this to make a "master list" of all of the companies that I've used, even briefly, that are legitimate.

Two helpful things that I've learned to make survey-taking a more enjoyable experience. I have a separate email that I use only for survey websites. This makes it so much easier to see what survey opportunities I have and to keep things separate from my personal email. The second is an amazing program called RoboForm. This is free for download and will fill out forms on the internet for you! You input your information initially, and then all you have to do is click a button and it will fill in a form for you. You only put in the info you want, so I chose not to add my phone number and other more personal information. This really helps speed some of the basic surveys along.

Pinecone Research

This is my favorite website, but is also the hardest to join. They only open up membership for small periods of time, and I will let you know the next time they do. I usually do 3-4 surveys a month for Pinecone. The best things about Pinecone are that you never screen out of a survey, they are usually pretty interesting, and they always pay the same, $3.

As of 2/4 it looks like registration is open!! Click here to sign up!
Update: Pinecone registration is already closed! It fills up very quickly, but I will post ASAP next time I hear that it is open!

Lightspeed Consumer Panel

Lightspeed was one of the first survey sites I used, and I am still happy with them. Most surveys are between 150-300 points, which works out to about $2 each, though periodically there are higher value surveys (500 points each or more). The best redemption option I have seen through Lightspeed is giftcards for restaurants. To sign up for Lightspeed, click here.

Opinion Outpost

I seem to go through cycles with Opinion Outpost in terms of qualifiying for their studies. I had gone weeks without qualifying for a survey until the other day when I did 4 and made $8 in just over 30 minutes. I like that the screener questions are usually very short with OO, so you don't spend 5 minutes answering questions just to find you did not qualify. Also, you are given an instant win chance for $50 at the end of every survey for which you do not qualify. I have never won, but my sister did! OO uses a point system where 50 equals $5, at which point you can request a check or an Amazon gift certificate. Go here to sign up with Opinion Outpost.

When I first joined MySurvey, I was a little disappointed because I rarely was sent any survey opportunities (probably 1 every month or so). Over the last few months, however, I have gotten surveys weekly, some of which have been really interesting! I think it may just be that it took a little while to get me in the system. Surveys are usually very short (2 or 3 minutes max), and are worth around 10 points (10 cents) but will many times qualify you for a longer survey. Points are easily turned into cash (1000 points = $10) and you can request a check at $10. To join My Survey, go here.

Global Test Market

Global Test Market sends out a few screener emails a week. If you do not qualify for the survey, you will still be given Market Points (5 per screener). Sometimes they do send out surveys where the only reward is a sweepstakes entry, and I choose not to do those. You can request a check at 1000 points ($10). To join Global Test Market, click here.

American Consumer Opinion Panel

American Consumer Opinion sends out relatively few survey opportunities (at least to can be different based on your demographics) but they are usually higher value surveys, and I feel like they tend to be more enjoyable than some of the lower value surveys. The minimum to request a check is $10, but you can probably hit that payout in just 2 surveys! To join American Consumer Opinion Panel, click here

Ipsos I-say

I-say has had some of the most interesting and interactive surveys that I have taken. This is another company that rewards you for taking a screener, even if you do not qualify for that particular survey. At the end of every survey you also have the chance to take part in a poll guessing game, and depending on how well you guess you are given entries into a sweepstakes of your choosing. You can cash out at 50 points ($5). To join I-say, click here.

Focus Forward

Focus Forward is one of the newest sites that I have joined. They offer both online survey opportunities as well as in person and over the phone focus groups. I have participated in their surveys, but have yet to qualify for one of the focus groups. You need to have $20 in your account in order to request a check. To join Focus Forward click here.

If you have any questions about online survey opportunities, feel free to send me an email at!

As a full disclaimer, I want to say that some of these sites do give me credit when I refer someone, so many of the links I have posted are my personal referral links. I am not hoping to get rich through referrals, and so if you would not like to be referred, feel free to sign up directly through the various companies. If you heard about these companies through me or were motivated to sign up for online surveys because of the information that I have provided, I hope that you would use the links that I have posted! Thanks also goes to Carrie @ Money Saving Methods, who got me started with online surveys.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Its been up for a few weeks now, but I wanted to highlight the widget in the left sidebar of Thrifty Living. I am really excited about this, because I hope that it will make it simpler to print coupons when I mention them in a post. Its really simple to use too, and in my opinion is way better than the normal website because you do not have to click through 14 different pages worth of coupons! There is a little button on my widget that says 'see all coupons', which will allow you to just scroll through the available coupons from

New coupons are up now that February has begun. I just printed $3/2 The Fragrance Collection by Glade and $1/2 packages of Kraft Natural Cheese (which is on sale at Walmart this week).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recycle Dress Shirts Into Pilllows

For Christmas, my grandmother gave each of her granddaughters pillows that she made out of some of our grandfather's old dress shirts. I got the instructions from her because I had been holding onto another shirt of my grandfather's since he passed away several years ago. The idea actually came from Country Living, and is a simple project.

It starts with a dress shirt. Iron first to remove any wrinkles. Button the shirt and pin the back to the front.

Measure the size of your pillow (pillowforms go on sale at Joanns for 50% off all the time - mine was just $8), then add 2 inches to both the height and the width. My pillow was 16x16, so the square I cut out measured 18x18.

Flip the fabric so that the unfinished sides are facing outward and the finished sides are facing inwards. Sew around all four sides. Unbutton the shirt (the buttons will be on the inside) and turn the pillowcase so it is right side out. Here is a close up of the fabric I used:

Sew around the edge of the pillowcase at 1/8 inch from the edge and then 3/8 from the edge to create a clean, finished look. Insert pillow, button up the shirt and you should have something like this:

I love how this fabric goes so well on our couch and with the other pillows that I made nearly 2 years ago!

My favorite part about this pillow project is that it is so easy to insert the pillow into the pillowcase. When I made the other four pillows, I had to leave a small hole and then stitch it up by hand -- and one of those seems has busted. But with this pillowcase there is no hand stitching to worry about!


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