Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I forgot to add earlier today...

More information about the new bumGenius can be found on the Cotton Babies blog! The most recent blog post is written by the founder and creator of bumGenius and is a further explanation of the new changes and why Cotton Babies made the changes.

New BumGenius!

Yesterday, Cotton Babies (the maker of bumGenius) announced the new version of their famous Bumgenius diapers. This diaper is an updated version of the bumGenius version 3 (that I recommend and use). The new features for the updated bumGenius include (from Cotton Babies):

NEW! Generous sizing accommodates larger babies.
NEW! Easily replaceable elastic keeps your diapers fresh.
3x3 snap down design adjusts the sizing to fit small, medium and large sizes (approximately 7-35+ pounds).
Trim, snug and comfortable stretchy tabs provide a custom fit.
Waterproof insert stopper prevents leaking at the tummy.
Diapers are bundled with two inserts: a newborn insert for newborns and a one-size insert for your older baby.
Wide slot opening makes it easy to stuff and remove insert.
Slot cover protects your baby from wetness.

(all images via Cotton Babies)

The other exciting new feature is that bumGenius now offers their one-size diaper in snaps. I think snaps work well for older children, but definitely prefer the velcro closure for young babies.

Another new feature is that the velcro fasteners have been improved to be more durable and remain sticky longer. One of the only complaints that I have had with my bumGenius is that the velcro fasteners are not quite as sticky as when they were brand new. I think its great that bumGenius listened to their customers and really sought to make an improved product!

Since Cotton Babies is fazing out the bumGenius version 3 diapers, they have a special sale on them (while supplies last)!

This is a great time to get started with cloth diapering for a discounted price. While the new bumGenius and definitely improved, I still recommend the version 3 bumGenius also. They have worked very well for us, and this sale is a great deal.
Remember, Cotton Babies has a lifetime warranty on all of their diapers!
If you have any questions about using cloth diapers, especially bumGenius, let me know! When we wanted to start cloth diapers, the biggest thing holding us back was that we didn't know anyone else who used cloth diapers. I want to be a resource for you because I have benefited so much from using cloth diapers!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Smarter Spammers - Beware!

Over the last week, I have received several different "spam" emails that appear to be from totally legitimate companies (Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Hallmark). The email has the logo of the company in it and looks very official. The tip off is that all of the emails have attachments and the message of the emails tells me to "open the attachment to see _______" whatever it is that particular company might really email me about.

For Hallmark it was an e-card, but Hallmark e-cards tell you who they are from (this one did not) and there is a link to follow to the online card (not ever an attachment).

For Facebook, it said I had a new message (which can be viewed on facebook's site, not an attachment to an email).

For Amazon, it was in reference to an order with an order number (but there was no link, just the attachment).

Be very cautious with emails like these! The first few did not go into my spam folder because they looked real. After I reported them as spam, they have been going to the spam folder. I have also only noticed these in the email address that I use for my survey companies/free samples. This may or may not be a coincidence, so just be aware that these emails are looking much more like legitimate emails than they used to!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I've been participating in Food Waste Friday with The Frugal Girl for a while now; I go through our fridge (and freezer) on Friday and toss anything that has gone bad. I also take a look at what needs to be used up so that it does not go bad and try to work that into our meals over the next few days. This has really helped us to throw out less food (and so we're actually buying less because we're using what we've already bought!).

Nothing to throw out this week! I was able to use up some leftover chicken at lunch yesterday that I was sure was going to end up in my Friday picture - success! We'll see how next week goes...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homemade Finger Paint

Last week I made homemade finger paint for the first time, and it is great! We used this to paint both on paper and on the sidewalk. It is completely washable and non-toxic, and way cheaper than store-bought! There are tons of different recipes out there, so I read a few a modified them to fit my needs. I primarily looked at Thrifty Fun.

In a saucepan, I added 1/3 cup cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 1 cup of water and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

This part seemed a little long, because nothing happened to the mixture until probably 7 minutes in - then it started to thicken gradually. I ended up cooking it for closer to 12 or 13 minutes also.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. I let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Divide into containers for storage. I used old mustard jars that I have lids for, but baby food containers would work great too. This recipe made enough for a good bit of two colors.

We stirred food coloring into the paint with a wooden spoon handle. At this point you could also add a little bit of (preferably clear) dish soap to scent the paint. I didn't see the need to do this; it doesn't smell that strange!

The paint turned out nicely thick, much like store-bought finger paint. It does not spread as well, and I think it would be hard to get a good "hand print" painted on a piece of paper. For storage, I just put the lids on the jars and kept them at room temperature. They seemed to thicken a bit more, so the next day I set them in a little warm water before we used them.

The paint washed out of the white shirt we used as a smock, without staining at all. This is a great option for a easy, messy kids activity!

Monday, June 21, 2010

50 Free Mommy Cards from Kodak Gallery

This is a great offer from Kodak Gallery! These photo cards are 2.5 inches by 3 inches (business card sized) and have a photo of your choice on one side, and have space for any contact information that you want included on the reverse side. These are great Mommy or Family cards to easily give your contact information to new acquaintances, school teachers, coaches, etc.

Your first 50 are free (a $20 value), and all you have to pay is $3.99 shipping! No code is required, simply click here to get started!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Links I Love

I've been wanting to share some interesting links on a more regular basis, but this is the first chance I've had! Have a great weekend, and Happy Fathers Day!

Free 8x10 Photo collage - tomorrow is the last day for this Walgreens freebie. Remember to opt for pick-up in the store to get it for free!

Using coupons makes you buy things you don't need (couponing myth #1) - I love the way Mindi writes about converting friends to getting things free through true!

Decorating with books - This is such a great idea for frugal decorating! I have quite the soft spot for old books, and I'm already plotting to get started stenciling. (via A Soft Place to Land)

30 New Amazing Birthday Cakes - My mom always made us a special cake on our birthdays, and I remember flipping through her magazines for hours to pick out my cake each year. These ideas are so brilliant, and really are simple. I especially like the Gumball Machine and the Star Wars lightsaber cakes!

Free books in the MOT area - For my local readers, be sure to check out the Silver Lake Elementary School Bookmobile! My friend Maura recently wrote about her experience and how great they were with the kids. This week's copy of the Middletown Transcript had info as well. The dates are June 22, July 13 and July 20 (all Tuesdays) and the route is Dale United Methodist Church (Lake St) from 1-1:20pm, Millbranch neighborhood playground from 1:30-1:50pm, Middletown Village playground from 2-2:20pm, and Silver Lake Park playground from 2:30-3pm. Each child will get 2 free books, along with ice cold treats!

Food Waste Friday

I've been participating in Food Waste Friday with The Frugal Girl for a while now; I go through our fridge (and freezer) on Friday and toss anything that has gone bad. I also take a look at what needs to be used up so that it does not go bad and try to work that into our meals over the next few days. This has really helped us to throw out less food (and so we're actually buying less because we're using what we've already bought!).

This week I threw out a leftover hotdog and some risotto. I really should have used up the risotto, but it was forgotten about in the chaos of our weekend (we had a gas leak!). The good news is that I planned our meals really well this past week because I didn't know how long our gas would be out. We are using up leftovers tonight, which should put us in good shape for next week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last Minute Father's Day gift (and its free!)

Walgreens is offering an 8x10 photo collage for free through Saturday, June 19th. If you opt for in-store pick-up, shipping is free too! I have done these before and they are simple and come out looking great.

Go to Walgreens Photo to get started. The coupon code to enter at checkout is GOBIG8X10.

(Thanks, Moms Need to Know!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fish Taco Recipe

Last summer we were first introduced to Baja Fresh fish tacos. While I'm sure there are many other places where you can get more authentic fish tacos, we really enjoyed them at Baja Fresh, especially because it was more of a sit-down restaurant than fast food.

I've been experimenting with making fish tacos at home, and we are quite satisfied with how they've turned out! Many recipes call for Mahi Mahi as the fish, but I've used Tilapia too. We chopped up lettuce, tomato, slices of avocado, and shredded cheddar cheese.

The main ingredient that makes these tacos taste great is a white sauce. Again, there are many different recipes, but the one I use is quite simple: equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream, lime juice, chili powder, hot sauce, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. This is what our white sauce looks like:

Finally, we copied Baja Fresh again, and served our tacos with black beans on the side. I added a little hot sauce and cumin to the beans and heated them and they added so much to the meal! We also enjoyed the beans with a little bit of the white sauce stirred in to them.

Fish Taco Recipe:
Fish (tilapia, mahi mahi, or whatever else you prefer)
Cheese, shredded
Tomato, chopped
Avocado, sliced
Cook fish however you prefer (I usually bake it in a cast iron skillet with lemon juice, salt and pepper, cumin, and butter). Build tacos to your liking (we found putting the white sauce directly on the fish to add to the flavors), and serve with black beans or rice on the side.
White Sauce Recipe:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
lime juice (I have used lemon also)
chili powder
hot sauce
salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients, adding more or less seasoning to taste. For optimal flavor, chill for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to set.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Buying from eBay

I've been buying things off of eBay for years now. I've also dabbled in selling from time to time, but mostly I've found eBay great for buying hard to find items at reduced prices. You really do have to be careful, because the ease of finding so many random things can make it really simple to buy a ton of "collectible" junk that is quite unnecessary. (I have bought random junk for super cheap off eBay before....)

Last week I paid $6 for these Crocs for my daughter. They are in perfect condition (even though the seller said they had some wear on the bottom, I can't see any), and the $6 included shipping!
These retail for $15 on the Crocs website, plus shipping, so I was thrilled.

I thought I would share a few of my tips for getting a great deal on eBay (and hopefully avoiding adding junk to your home!).
Look for something specific. This is one of the best ways to avoid those impulse purchases no matter where you are shopping. If you have a specific item you need/want, that will help keep you on track. I searched for Mary Jane Crocs size 5 and knew I was not going to pay more than $8, so that really helped to narrow my search.
Have a firm "top price" before you bid. I mentioned above that I was not going to pay more than $8, and that included shipping costs. The great thing about eBay is that you can put your maximum bid in and it will automatically bid for you up to that price. This is how I was able to win the Crocs, because someone bid in the last 20 seconds, but eBay automatically bid for me since it was still under my maximum bid.
Be ready to let "IT" go. Once you start bidding on an item, it can be easy to keep bidding, even if the price goes over your maximum. But one of the best things about eBay is that someone else will almost always list that thing that got away from you another time. Patience takes some work, but you may find yourself getting a better deal the second time around.
Do you use eBay? If you have any other tips or questions about eBay, feel free to share!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I've been participating in Food Waste Friday with The Frugal Girl for a while now; I go through our fridge (and freezer) on Friday and toss anything that has gone bad. I also take a look at what needs to be used up so that it does not go bad and try to work that into our meals over the next few days. This has really helped us to throw out less food (and so we're actually buying less because we're using what we've already bought!).

I am so excited to say that I have nothing to throw out today! The best part about this (for me) is that we had a lot of leftover cornbread from dinner one night and I was able to use it all up! I have had trouble getting to cornbread leftovers before they get hard and gross, so this is big progress! Unfortunately, I did have to throw out part of a head of lettuce earlier in the week. I had only bought it a few days before, but it went bad from the inside for whatever reason. So I can only claim part responsibility for that one!

How did you do this week? Were you able to use up some leftovers too?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review: Rick & Bubba's Big Honkin' Book of Grub

Rick & Bubba's Big Honkin' Book of Grub is a comedic look at food by two guys who unashamedly love to eat. This book was different than what I expected originally; I thought it would be more of a cookbook. There are several recipes in this book, and the ones I've tried are very good indeed.

Rick and Bubba are radio personalities who have also written a number of books. I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading their thoughts on food. I am very much a food lover myself, so I appreciated the way they wrote about loving meat, the importance of eating pizza with your hands instead of a fork and knife, and the conspiracy of 10 packs of hot dogs and 8 packs of buns. I also enjoyed the chapter on their top 10 favorite restaurants, which included Five Guys and Ruth's Chris Steak House.

My conclusion is that this book is great for what it is, but not something that is my preference to read. It would make a great gift for the food lover in your life (which may also mean it could be a great Father's Day gift...especially if you have Amazon money in your account from Swagbucks)!

Thomas Nelson provided me with a free copy of this book in return for my unbiased review. All opinions are 100% mine.

I review for BookSneeze

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Monday, June 7, 2010


I've been making my own yogurt for some time now. I loved it, my husband loved it, and my daughter especially loved it. Then a few months ago I realized that I did not love it anymore. In fact, I found myself trying to find ways to use it up quick before it went bad. There were several factors that let to my homemade yogurt burnout.

1) I made too much of it a few times, so it was hard to use it up before it went bad.

2) I used a yogurt starter that was a little older, and I'm pretty sure the cultures were not as "live and active" as they should be. I'm also pretty sure that this led to runny and sometimes lumpy yogurt that was way less than appealing.

3) I was struggling with nausea and lack of appetite because I'm pregnant. Yogurt was just one of those hit or miss foods.

After probably a month and a half of being quite sick of my own yogurt, I decided to take a break. I kept my eyes open for good deals on store-bought yogurt, and stocked up when it was on sale. I also told myself (with accountability from my husband) that I was not going to abandon homemade yogurt entirely; rather, I would take a break for a month and make my own again.

Over the last few weeks, I've been back to homemade yogurt. The best part is that it tastes better than ever! A big part of this has been because I was able to address and deal with all three of the reasons I had grown tired of homemade yogurt.

1) I've been making just one quart of yogurt at a time. This has kept the amount that needs to be used up quite manageable.

2) I used a yogurt started that was recently purchased, so the cultures were very 'live and active' and have made my yogurt smooth and creamy.

3) I'm finally over the nausea hump in the pregnancy! (Oh, and we found out last week that we will be adding a boy to our family this time!)

Have you ever suffered from homemade food burnout, even of something you really love?? If you have any other suggestions on getting over burnout, please feel free to share!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Father's Day Photo Deals

Shutterfly is offering 3 free photo greeting cards in honor of Father's Day! They come out beautiful, as many of you may know from the Mother's Day cards they recently offered. Each card can be different, and they do not even have to be specifically Father's Day cards. You will have to pay shipping, but it is usually just $.99! (offer expires June 10, 2010)

Kodak Gallery offered a free Mother's Day card also, but I don't see one yet for Father's Day. They are offering 30% off of Photo Gifts, Mugs, Frames, and Collages. This does not include Prints, Photo Books, Calendars, Cards, PhotoStamps, or Same-Day Pickup orders. (offer expires June 9, 2010)

Snapfish has a few items that are 50% off, including a photo t-shirt ($6.50) and a desk calendar ($7.50). Read more on the Snapfish site. (offer expires June 14, 2010)

Do you know of any other photo deals for Father's Day?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I've been participating in Food Waste Friday with The Frugal Girl for a while now; I go through our fridge (and freezer) on Friday and toss anything that has gone bad. I also take a look at what needs to be used up so that it does not go bad and try to work that into our meals over the next few days. This has really helped us to throw out less food (and so we're actually buying less because we're using what we've already bought!).

I didn't get to post a picture last week because we left town early Friday morning, and by now I can't remember what I even threw out! This week I have some hot dog that my daughter did not finish one night and the end of a loaf of homemade french bread (I am not about to pull it out of the bag because its all sorts of different colors and may in fact be stuck to the bag! gross!)

I've got a little big of chicken left to pick off a rotisserie we had earlier and then I'm going to make some stock with the carcass.
Have you gone through your fridge recently? Its amazing what you can save before it goes bad just by knowing what is hiding in the back of the fridge!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paid Telephone Interview with Inspired Opinions

One of the ways that I earn a little extra money is through online surveys. Inspired Opinions is a company that does paid in-person focus groups, paid telephone interviews, and paid online surveys.

I recently received an email from them asking for participants for a telephone interview. The interview will take approximately 60 minutes and you will be compensated $50. Here is the information and they specific people they are looking for this time:

~ Males Age 18+ who have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer to participate in a 60-minute telephone interview. We have times available June 3rd through the 15th. IF YOU ARE CALLING ABOUT THIS STUDY PLEASE ASK FOR BRIAN (x302)

~ Males & Females Age 18+ who have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease in the past 2 years to participate in a 60-minute telephone interview. We have times available June 3rd through the 18th. IF YOU ARE CALLING ABOUT THIS STUDY PLEASE ASK FOR JEFF (x312)

If you think you or someone you know may qualify please call toll-free 866-236-1754 and ask to speak to the appropriate recruiter (noted above). You will be asked a few questions to see if you qualify.

This is a totally legitimate company that I recommend. Their online surveys pay via Amazon gift certificates, but I am not sure how the phone interviews and in-person focus groups pay. I receive about 2 emails a week about focus-group opportunities in Philadelphia. I have been called about participating in these, but have never been able to do so because I would need to find a babysitter! To join Inspired Opinions click here. This will set you up with the online surveys as well as the focus groups!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

Lately, we've really been enjoying frozen strawberry lemonade, especially on a hot evening after a walk. This really isn't anything fancy, although you would probably pay $3-4 for something like this in a restaurant.

I've been using lemonade mix since I can get it really cheap from Costco. Of course, you could use fresh squeezed lemonade, and I'm sure it would taste immeasurably better. To make to 12oz glasses I start with 2 quarts of lemonade. There are quart markings on my blender (a KitchenAid that I absolutely love!) which make it really easy to measure.

Then I add about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of ice cubes, and a handful of strawberries. I've been using frozen berries leftover from our local U-pick strawberry outings, but this time I actually used some that were not frozen. Either tastes great!

Blend on high speed until all the chunks are gone. This makes a slushy consistency drink. You do not have to use a straw, but I've found that it is not too thick for a straw. Of course, adding more or less ice and lemonade will make it more or less thick, depending on your preference.

This makes two 12oz glasses, or you can opt to fancy things up with something like this!

No matter what, this is a refreshing drink for any hot day! Enjoy!
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