Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Daily Contests

Here are a few contests that are happening around the web right now. I am probably missing quite a bit, but these are the ones I have found so far. Most can be entered once per day. They should not require any type of share/tweet but may require an application installation and a "Like" on the page. Good Luck!!

L'Oreal "Never Fake it Again" http://www.facebook.com/lorealparis
Lee Jeans http://www.facebook.com/leejeans?sk=app_170740156314868
Hanes http://www.facebook.com/hanes?sk=app_179497395432665
Little Debbie (Until Dec. 30) http://www.facebook.com/LittleDebbie?sk=app_212112032190740
Quaker http://www.facebook.com/Quaker?sk=app_214321791966976
HSN http://www.facebook.com/HSN?sk=app_120894574683032
AAA http://www.facebook.com/AAAFanPage?sk=app_203079469738616
Red Vines http://www.facebook.com/RedVines?sk=app_270009533032927
Super 8 http://pettysgarage.com/b4s8/
Bounce http://www.facebook.com/bounce?sk=app_181152421965834
Luvs Diapers http://www.facebook.com/luvsdiapers?sk=app_216159105112735
Shopko http://apps.facebook.com/sweepstakeshq/contests/165818
Hershey's http://www.hersheys.com/hersheyscookies/cookieexchange/host-a-party.aspx?ICID=HCE2008
I will add more as I come across them. Make sure to check my Facebook and twitter posts for any other online perks I find!

Thursday, August 25, 2011



'via Blog this'

Cheer is having a contest everyday where you can win a bunch of different prizes! All you have to do is watch a video, when you see boxes pop up double click them and see if you "dig up" an item. Just "Like" them on Facebook to get in on the action!!

Today's Mailbox

Week of August 22 - August 27

 "Bee Yourself" Charm- Facebook Contest. I entered by "Like"ing the Charm-It! page. 
Secret Deodorant Sample- From Proctor & Gamble. Signed up for samples at their Everyday Solutions page. Also pictured is a Free iPod Charging cable. I received this from 1SaleADay

Free Coffee Mug. Won from Barista Prima Photo Contest. (Don't remember entering, but woo hoo!)

I also printed out a few coupons $1.00 off Toll House Cookie Dough and $1.00 off a Hanes Product. 


Heading to the lake this weekend. Should have some great pictures when we get back, 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saving on Back to School

With a child in school and from all my college years, here are some tips to help save on going back to school!!

1. Save Unused Items From the Previous Year. Emma's ruler was barely touched last year so I kept it for this year and used it around the house throughout the summer. Her used binders and folders become places to showcase her work throughout the year, and organizes all of it by subject/month/season. 

2. Check Notebooks for Left Over Paper. I cannot imagine the amount of paper thrown on the last day of school. I try to buy the notebooks with the perforated edges. At the end of the school year, remove the unused pages and put them in a binder. I use those instead of buying loose leaf paper the following year.

3. Save pens, pencils, markers. Although they may not be decent enough to keep for the following year, most left over writing supplies will work well in the home. All of Emma's crayons and colored pencils are put in a bin for the other kids in the house to use. That way I don't have to go out and buy new crayons, markers, colored pencils every time the kids decide to color. Holding on to pens is nice too, we are always running out... and there are only so many banks that hand out free ones.. haha. You may still have to buy new stuff for your student, but at least you are cutting back supply expenses at home.  

4. Invest in a Durable Backpack. Pay extra for the nice canvas or leather bag. It will last a lot longer and hold everything better, giving your back a little rest. This may be difficult with younger students because they are so apt to choose popular TV characters, but as most of us know those bags are just that and won't last the year. Also make try to scope out ones that offer built in laptop cases, multiple size pockets, a secure place for keys/phone/ipod, and padded arm straps are always nice to have on big homework days.

5. Skip the Paper Bags and Plastic Baggies. Use plastic containers from around your home. Tupperware works great and they have a wide variety of products. For those of us on an even smaller budget, keep the plastic containers that you get from the store. Chip dip containers are great for pudding or fruit, Cottage Cheese containers can hold a good deal of spaghetti or salad. Even plastic bottles can be refilled with juice, kool-aid, or milk! Wax paper makes a nice wrap for sandwiches. Find a inexpensive and reusable bag to put it all in. The plainer the better, let the kids design their own!!

6. Don't Be Afraid of Thrift Stores! Anyone can find awesome deals at the local Salvation Army/Goodwill. It may not be brand-spankin' new, but if it is not ripped, torn or stained, and still looks pretty good it will work. No one is going to know where you bought it unless you tell them. For you "name-branders" out there, a lot of new stores are opening that specialize in labels like DKNY, Hilfiger, Ed Hardy, etc. Many places will also give you credit for anything you bring in!

7. Skip the "Must-Have" Electronics. I am sorry, but a 10 year old doesn't need an iPad. Although it may be a handy tool to use, students can use a computer and get the same information. I would have loved to have one of those pens that takes notes right onto your computer and records the lecture at the same time. I was not, however, willing to pay the $120 price tag. Laptops and new computers are another thing you can skip. Chances are the school, your home and the local library have public computers (otherwise how would you be reading this?). If the school requires students to have laptops, then the school needs to provide them. People have received an education for hundreds of years without the use of electronics.

8. Ask About Scholarship Opportunities. It seems like every week Emma brings home another flier for a sport or after school activity. We are usually on a tight enough budget where a $5-10 fee is about it. Have you seen the cost to play hockey these days?!?! It's insane! A couple years ago, Emma really wanted to give a go at the violin. I was really against it because it was close to $300 for lessons (for the school year). Which yea, in a sense is a good deal, but like I could afford that.... its a rent payment! So I went to the office and asked about a scholarship... and what do ya know?! They had one!! With some special program I was able to get a discounted rate and instrument rental. The part that was even better? I didn't have to pay a dime upfront, because of the program I was able to deduct the fee from my income tax return!
Just remember-- it never hurts to ask!

9. Shop Ahead- Clearance Sales. Every parent knows what their child is going to need ahead of time. One thing for us, snow pants and jackets. Kids grow fast, so for quite a while you will have to replace snow stuff every year. It pays to shop the end of season clearance sales (Jan-Mar for snow stuff). Plan on purchasing snow gear for the following winter, during the spring close-out. Buy items a couple sizes up to allow for growth. Chances are you will save at least 25-50% off retail cost. Same can work out for clothing: buy fall/winter clothing in the spring.... spring/summer clothing in the fall. It will save a ton!!

10. Shop Around for Textbooks.Half.com and Amazon are great places to look. All you have to do is search by the ISBN (the bar code on the back). Always make sure you purchase the correct edition, although there are very few changes between editions, it can be a headache for a student when it comes to reading assignments and information  Another new option that is becoming more popular is textbook rental. Campusbooks offers text book rental for those on a really tight budget. Only downfall of renting is you cannot write or highlight in the actual book... which is a pain. Basically, if you aren't able to use financial aid for books (and even if you do) always look around first. School bookstores are overpriced for new books. Unless you know it is a book that you will want to keep around for a while, buy used. 

Well, there are a few! I would love to hear your ideas on how to save! Please feel free to comment and follow! Have a great school year!

~ Sara

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today's Mailbox

I love when my mailbox pays me!! I think the amount of samples I get now exceeds the amount of bills I get!!! 

Today in the mail I received:
- Febreze "Set & Refresh" Air Freshener (Proctor & Gamble)
- Parents Choice Infant Formula- 1 day supply (Wal-Mart)
- Kotex "Fab Freebies Kit": Pads and Tampon Samples (Kimberly-Clark). 
- Florida's Natural Orange Juice Coupon: $1.00 off 59 oz. or larger.

I am going to try something new with the freebies. Last month I had that long list and honestly... I wouldn't have read it either. It was uber boring! So now, I hope to wait a couple days and post about my freebies. I also will include how I learned about them so hopefully everyone out there can benefit too!!

 Like always, be sure to "Like" your favorite products on facebook. Companies are always giving out free stuff. Also, if you purchase something and are disappointed call the company. In my experience, companies are more happy to send you a reimbursement/coupon then having you tell everyone about your experience (Kraft and Pampers rock at this!). 

Oooh! Almost forgot! Here is a cute little notepad I got from 1SaleADay :

It's a pear! I think it's so cool! (Sorry about the fuzziness.)

Until next time! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How about this- Railways?

Once in a while I get a crazy idea about how to fix the United States. I think I am going to start posting them here along with all the other stuff I post. Btw, sorry about lack of posting a lot has been happening around the house so blogging was put on the back burner for a bit. Anyways, here is my idea...

Let's introduce a nationwide passenger rail system. Start with all the interstates and lay the line right alongside of them. Not only will this get people back to work building the thing, it will also help with vehicle emissions as less people would be using vehicles. Make the train faster than the speed limit, so people save time by using the train. We could also reduce our dependence on foreign oil, by exploring alternative fuels (I believe Xcel already has a natural gas powered train?) found in the United States. 

Some of those "small towns" of the 30's and 40s will may come back to life because of the depots that will be needed. Kind of how turnpike systems work? At each stop you know there will be some kind of fast food, convenience store, etc that would pop up. Allow the fare to be reasonable enough that a family could travel cheaper by train compared to cars/planes. Thus boosting tourism and spur of the moment shopping trips. 

As it would progress, hubs could connect the national system to smaller "state" systems and then again to city subways, bus lines, etc. There would be a need for safety and regulations, construction and maintenance, drivers, janitors, etc. What does that mean? More jobs... more jobs... more jobs.

Wouldn't it be awesome to hop on a train, sit, relax, and visit with people instead of cramming into a car and dealing with road rage, idiot drivers and hazardous weather? Not having to wait in an airport for hours on end because there is a storm in Timbuktu? Maybe call it a modernized version of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) but at least it's a step. One of my crazy ideas on how to fix the government... I think I am going to start writing these down more often.... haha

Saturday, August 6, 2011

July Freebies

So I don't have a picture to go with this time (I got too excited and used a lot of these right away). Here is a list of all the items I got for FREE in July!! 

  • SO Delicious Dairy Free- Coupon for a Free Product
  • Suave- Free 18oz Bottle of Suave Naturals Body Lotion
  • Chips Ahoy-  Save $1.00 on Chewy Gooey Product
  • V8- Save $1.00 on any 46 oz variety Tea Beverage
  • Procter & Gamble Coupon Book- Up to $35 in Savings
  • Zipfizz Energy Drink Mix Sample and Online Coupon
  • Secret Flawless Renewal Deodorant Sample
  • Glidden Interior Paint- 1 Quart Sample in Morning Heather
  • Atkins Quick Start Kit- Carb Counter Book, Quick Start Guide, Chef Recipe Book, Two $1.00 off Coupons
  • 2 Atkins Advantage Bars (Chocolate Peanut Butter and Carmel Chocolate Peanut Nougat)
  • One Atkins Daybreak Chocolate Chip Crisp Bar
  • One Sale a Day- Free Business Card Holder
  • VocalPoint- Free Glad ForceFlex Garbage Bag and Coupon Book.
  • Benjamin Moore- Free Sample 1 Pint of Arborcoat Paint
  • Dove Ice Cream- $1.00 Off any Multi-pack Ice Cream
  • Gospel For Asia- Free Book: No Longer a Slumdog. K.P. Yohannan
  • Dairy Queen- Buy One, Get One Blizzard Coupon
  • Purina- Save $2.00 on Any Size/Variety of Purina One Beyond  Dog or Cat Food.
  • Fekkai: Hair Cream, Shampoo and Conditioner Sample
  • Scrubbing Bubbles: One Step Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • SoyJoy- Free Strawberry Sample Bar: Real Fruit Whole Soy, Gluten Free.
  • Crest Sample Pack: Dental Floss, Mouth Wash, Toothpaste and Coupons.
  • Stoner: Two Invisible Glass Wipe Samples and $2.00 Rebate on any Stoner Product.
  • Clif- Free Crunch Bar and $1.00 Off Coupon
  • Bar-S- $2.00 Off and Bar-S Product.
  • Old Orchard- Free 64oz Juice Drink Coupon
  • Harley Davidson- Free Sticker
  • Aveda- Smooth Infusion Shampoo, Conditioner, and Style Prep Smoother
  • Libman- Freedom! Spray Mop Microfiber Cleaning Pad.

It really paid to watch Facebook this month. There really were some great freebies! I am already rolling along with August. Make sure to "Like" the products you use in your home on Facebook so you are up-to-date with any promotions that may benefit you!

Also check out the buttons on the right, there are some great links to other blogs!!

-See you soon!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breakfast Skillet

Here is a recipe I have been making at home for quite sometime now and finally remembered to take pictures as I was cooking it. This is also the first time I have wrote one of my own recipes down! Yay! Go me!! Anywho, here it is.... The Breakfast Skillet! (Any suggestions for names would be appreciated). This meal is great because its not too expensive to make and it is super filling! Plus I don't have to make toast with it because of the potatoes. The basics of this recipe I learned while I worked at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, MN. (Which should be opening again soon now that the MN Government is open again!!)

Part of my job there was to dress as a cook and of course... work in the cook shack. As part of making guests feel more like they were "actually" back in time I had to cook potatoes, onions and salt pork daily. The smell was awesome! I had to expand on it though as eggs, milk and butter were never brought to a logging camp. 

We also like eating this when camping. Its super easy to make over a fire, is excellent hangover medicine, and the wood smell adds to the taste. 

Sara's Breakfast Skillet 
(Or whatever witty name my followers come up with)
  • 5-7 Medium Potatoes peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Onions
  • 1/4 C Butter or Margarine
  • 1/2 Pound Bacon (Your favorite flavor will work), chopped. 
  • 1/8 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 3-4 Slices of cheese
  • 5-6 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Milk
  • Pepper

In large skillet:
On medium heat, add half the butter and all the potatoes. Fry 1-2 minutes until butter has melted. 
Add Onions and the rest of the butter. Stir. 
Add sliced up bacon to skillet. I usually just take a pair of scissors and cut it over the pan. 
Add small amount of pepper. 
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally to ensure potatoes don't get stuck to the pan. 
Continue to cook until potato are soft and bacon is done. 
Drain entire mixture in strainer to get most of the grease off. Put back in skillet and continue to cook on Warm/Low. 
Potatoes, Onions, Cut Bacon 

In second (small) skillet: (Scrambled Eggs)
On medium heat, combine eggs, milk, and pepper (to taste). Cook until almost firm.

Add Scrambled Eggs to Potato Mixture and stir until combined. Mix in Brown Sugar. Layer cheese over entire mixture. Cover and let warm until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Possible Variations:

  • Try Ham, Sausage or all three instead of just bacon!
  • Add salsa, chives, or purple onions for more color. 
  • Milk can be removed for those who cannot have it, the eggs just won't be as fluffy. 
  • Red potatoes can be used with their skins still on. 
  • Use any type of cheese you like (or none at all)! This time we used a mix of provolone and mozzarella. The best in my opinion is regular American sliced cheese. 
  • You don't have to use the brown sugar, I just like the sweetness it adds to the potatoes and bacon. 

Goes great with Orange Juice!
Overall Cost: $6.00. Meal Serves: 4 ($1.50 per serving!)

***Check back soon for new posts!!! Thanks for stopping by! ***

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops

Its been a couple weeks since I actually made this recipe but I still wanted to share it. I did alter the ingredients slightly so I will post the original recipe and my changes in parenthesis. These turned out excellent! 


4 double thick pork chops
2 tbsp. drippings or fat (2 Tbsp. Butter)
1 med. onion, chopped
1 c. chopped mushrooms (1 small can sliced mushrooms)
1 c. bread cubes or coarse crumbs (I used Pepper-ridge Farms)
1 tbsp. chopped parsley 
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sour cream  (1 cup- Philadelphia Cooking Creme- Original)
1/4 c. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pocket in chops. Saute onion in drippings (butter). Add mushrooms and onions, cook about 2 minutes. Add other ingredients. Add enough sour cream (cooking creme) to moisten mixture. Stuff chops, close with toothpicks. Arrange chops in baking dish.
Add any extra stuffing on top and around chops.
Cover for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 30 minutes.

Don't be afraid to over stuff them, you will probably have extra stuffing. We also had mashed potatoes and corn with them and were "stuffed" as well! I apologize that I do not have a picture to go with this one. I cooked the chops until they were no longer pink and the stuffing was golden on the edges (it was closer to 40 minutes after uncovering). The cooking creme added a cheese flavor that went well with the sauteed mushrooms and onions. 

Overall cost for the meal: $13.50  (4 servings and side dishes).

I would recommend this recipe, but save it for a cool day... not only will your kitchen be pretty warm, you are going to want a nap after this one! 

Kind of like this.... 

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment as well. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Build on a Budget

Home improvement or remodeling as we all know can be a major investment. Building from scratch or renovations to an existing home usually comes with a hefty price tag. My family and I are currently attempting to work through issues such as this and hopefully this entry will also give you and your project a couple of money saving ideas. 

Since the beginning of this year, our family has been diligently working on renovating a house out at the family farm. although its been a lot of work and still even more to come, we are very much looking forward to moving out here. We will be out of town! Finally able to get away from annoying neighbors and pesky juveniles, lame city ordinances (did you know its unlawful to have grass on the street in front of your house after you mow???), and traffic speeding by while kids are at play. We look forward to quiet starry nights on the prairie, privacy from the general public, and I don't have to worry about the kids getting hit by a car. 

The house we are fixing up is in pretty good shape although it needs a lot done. I have never been a homeowner, nor have I ever had to be responsible for my own upkeep (the bonus of renting), this experience has taught me the massive amount of care needed.... and trips to the hardware store. Our main repairs we are doing are basics that will allow us to live in the home comfortably and safely they include: 

  • Clean out the home- it was being used as storage for the family. We are working on removing and sorting the items. 
  • Fix water main and heating element- this we found after putting the water in our name. 
  • Clean entire home top to bottom- obviously.
  • Remove cabinets/counters/ appliances from kitchen- the ones in there now are made out of panelling.... I think the manufacturer would have used card board but people may have complained. 
  • Replace sub-floor and floors- we have torn up carpet/linoleum already.  
  • Replace kitchen amenities- so we can eat.
  • Paint- I am super excited for this, I get to paint any color in any room and no manager can tell me no!! (Well Cully can say no, but he would have a good reason to do so).
Then we can move in..... which I have our goal as the end of August... so its going to be a busy summer!

As you can see we have plenty to do and because of that we have a huge materials list. Most of the expense is going to be the floor and kitchen, but I think I may have come up with alternatives to an expensive kitchen set and that is why I am writing on this subject. I want to share the resources I use to save us money.... because like most of us we don't have much extra to throw away on solid mahogany cupboards or granite counter tops. 

Here are a few tips I use to find affordable building products:

This is a great site for buying anything small. I emphasize the word "small".  Ebay is where you go to find bulk boxes of drywall screws or lighting fixtures. Prices can be pretty affordable, but buyers need to watch shipping costs. Obviously the heavier the item, more cost for shipping... Ebay would not be the place to purchase lumber. Also keep an eye out for sellers listing something for extremely cheap, only to hit you with a insane shipping cost. (I once saw a swing set for a dollar... with a 399.99 shipping rate) Auctions like this are illegal and should be reported. On the other hand, many sellers now offer free shipping. 

Not everyone on Craigslist is a killer, I would like to start by saying. However, it is important to play it safe when using this site. Basically, find your state/city/suburb on the list and browse what people are getting rid of. There are items for sale and to give away it all depends on the day. You can also post for items you may need. Here is a sample of what I have posted in the "free" and "materials" sections:

Renovating a modular home outside of town and we are on a tight budget.
We are looking for some used lower cabinets with or without counter tops. We are not picky on materials, color, design... we just need cabinets :) Current ones are 24" deep, we have a space of about 12 feet in length. 
We have very little to spend, so the ideal find would be use-able items from someone who recently upgraded their kitchen/floors and would otherwise be throwing items away. Please contact me with specifics, we would be able to pick-up/haul. 

A few clicks, some post moderation, email confirmations and you are set! Just wait for people to respond. As I mentioned, very few people on Craigslist are killers/kidnappers, but you still need to use common sense. If someone is posting a "1994 Olds Sierra" to "give away" its most likely a scam. Ads like this will ask you to email them (like every other ad on the site), but when they respond it asks you to click a link and watch an advertisement/video.... DO NOT CLICK ANY LINK SENT TO YOU IN AN EMAIL!!!! I cannot stress this enough!!! Links like this can be harmful to your computer and your personal identity. If the seller cannot send you information and pictures within the email.... its most likely a scam.

Craigslist is a touch and go source for items, but the more you get the word out the better chance you have of locating stuff you can use for more than half the cost. 

This is one of my favorite places to look for building materials. The ReStore specializes in home improvement items and relies purely on donations. Also, the proceeds they raise from selling the donated products is put towards construction of new Habitat for Humanity homes in the area. Most items are new at a huge discount. Items will vary by location of course because they are based off donations. For example, the store in Sioux Falls, SD usually has a a large surplus of paint and carpet remnants, but they also carry cupboards, vanities, doors, windows, etc. 
Sioux Falls ReStore

First step for anyone interested is to check out their local store. Some locations (like Sioux Falls) have email newsletters you can sign up for. Every other week I get an email showing a new or on sale product. This option is really nice as Sioux Falls is about 90 minutes away. If I see something that peaks my interest I just email the store, ask what the cost is and see if it is worth the trip. Normally, by checking here you can save at least 40% off retail prices. 

This is my favorite way to find things I may need. Freecycle is a group sponsored by Yahoo. Every item listed is completely free. Basically its an online garage sale, where everything is free! Their mission statement:

"Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community."
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,958 groups with 8,524,583 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them's good people). Membership is free (From Freecycle.org). 

Upon your first visit you will want to find a group that is near you and join it. You may need a yahoo user name, but I am able to login with Facebook so there is a good chance that should work as well. Sign up for the group closest to your home, that way you aren't driving across states to pick up stuff. Occasionally there will not be a group near you, just pick the closest and any time you post mention your location. 

Depending on how populated your area is will depend on the amount of posts. Watertown is pretty active, but I notice a lot of the same people are posting. I use free cycle for pretty much anything I need and don't want to pay for. I also post bulk items I have (like baby food jars) that I just cannot bring myself to throw away. As an example, my last post went something like:

WANTED: Cardboard Boxes
Looking for some small to medium cardboard boxes in Watertown area. It would be great if they were broken down, but I can do that as well. I also can pick up or meet somewhere.

It is really that simple. Make sure you list if you are "Giving away" or "Wanted/Needed" so people know by the post title what your intention is. Also, if you have posted something, keep it updated. Giveaways should always be changed to "Taken" or "Picked up". If you want something, its always an added bonus to be willing to pick it up. People will contact you through the Freecycle post which will be delivered to your personal email. 

I hope this has been a useful guide, in my experiences all of these outlets have been helpful. Hopefully they will be an asset to you as well!


Looking Ahead:
With the holiday weekend I didn't get as many post done as I would have liked to. I am hoping to get more done this week. 

Recipe Review- (Pulled Beef Sandwiches) & (Stuffed Pork Chops)
Dollar Store Shopping
July Freebies 
Entertaining Small Children
Multitasking at Home

Become a follower and check back often for new posts!! 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Freebies!

A big part of my daily routine includes finding freebies. Most of the time I am just scanning for coupons to save during my weekly shopping trips but I have noticed that many companies are giving their product away to those willing to "Like" their Facebook page. I usually only sign up for samples me or my family will use, that way I am not taking an offer away from someone who would actually use it.
There are a few different types of giveaways I have came across:
  • "Like" the page and receive a free sample (Most common). 
  • Fill out a survey and get a sample. 
  • Log on to the company page at a certain time to receive a coupon/sample. (Be advised in giveaways like this, servers crash pretty often resulting in a blank page. Be patient.)
  • Sign up for product sample and return to site after use and write a review. 
  • Free coupon printout.  

Most samples that are sent to you by mail can take up to 8 weeks to receive. 

Here are a few of the items I received for free in June (signed up for in May)
  • Swiffer 360° Duster Starter Pack ($5.00 value)
  • Two Gillette Mach 5 Razors with 2 refill cartridges (around $15 value)
  • Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar and Coupon ($2.00)
  • Vaseline Repairing Moisture Lotion Sample
  • Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo and Conditioner Sample
  • Miracle Worker Eye Cream Sample & 20% off Coupon at Philosophy.com
  • Coupon for $1.00 off Kings Hawaiian Sandwich Buns
  • Coupon for $2.00 off Kings Hawaiian Bread
  • $1.00 off Any Fruit of the Loom Sock Purchase
  • Free Betty Crocker Brownie Mix (Local Grocery Store) ($3.00 value)
  • $1.00 off 2 boxes of Wheat Thins
  • .75 off Oscar Meyer Hot Dogs
  • Buy One, Get One McDonald's Fruit Smoothie or Strawberry Lemonade
As you can see they really add up. I also will have a better idea of what I like and what I should steer clear of when I am shopping. Of all the samples this month I think I was most excited about the Swiffer and the razors (because they are so pricey in stores) and the Hawaiian Bread (it is most delicious, if you have never tried it I strongly recommend it. It goes great with spinach dip, the buns are great for burgers). The Zone Perfect bar was also pretty tasty!

Obviously, it can pay to network on sites like Facebook and Twitter. You don't have to "Like" every company you come across, start out with those products you already use. Another way I go about samples is to keep up with other blogs and pages. Pages on Facebook like "Money Saving Mom" and "Samples for Singles" are great pages that inform consumers about daily deals. I suggest checking them out. 

Another thing I caution people about is not to feel like you are entitled to a coupon/sample. Companies have a limited amount of items available so remember not everyone can receive. I notice a lot of people posting on sites with things like "i didn't get a coupon, so I am banning your product"... or "you page didn't work, you are wasting my time". Most of us will agree it makes you look pretty dumb. Things happen, you aren't going to get something every time... even if you have been waiting 30 or more minutes (I lost the $5 coupon at Bounty last week because I had to go to the Doctor. I waited 2 hours and it was a bummer, but no big deal I will still buy their products). I also always remember to like the post where I found the deal, as well as the company announcement post. Most importantly, I  ALWAYS say THANK YOU! Yea... it's the internet and I am only posting on an electronic wall but I still have manners and I am grateful that the option is available. I also believe if you are polite and respectful, you will get more freebies in the long run. 

With freebies and coupons.... saving money is EASY & FUN! Lastly, don't forget to follow my blog by clicking "Follow" on the left! Thanks!


(I am still working on a couple of the blogs I said I would post this week. Apparently I have more information in my head than I thought! I will have another post soon.) If I don't make it before the weekend, 

Monday, June 27, 2011

On the Road....

Its been a few days since my last post, but we have been busy! This past weekend we went to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. 
I planned on utilizing my time in the car thinking of this blog. With camera in tow, I took pictures almost the entire six hours (one way) from the car. The majority of the ride up with filled with green fields, cows and road construction.
Honestly, I think this is the reason mileage is so low... 

Ended up taking about 130 photos throughout the weekend. Between conversations and baby toy rescues, I look for things that have been "lost in time" so to speak. I love photographing old barns and houses, stonework, abandoned roads, etc... makes me wonder who lived there. What kind of life did they have, when did they first settle there. That could be the reason I love history so much, my mind just wanders there. 

One of the old farm houses along the way. 

We also like to keep an eye out for home improvement ideas. Our current situation finds us within the city limits of Watertown, but have just started renovating a home on Cully's parents farm. Basically, we need visual ideas of things we may like in/on/around our home. 
I thought of this as an option to mowing a ditch every other day...

Another idea that I had was to arrange the gardening and flower beds in the yard so certain smells fill specific rooms within the house. The herb garden would be just northwest of the kitchen window, while the lavender and lilac would be directly west of the bedroom and bathrooms. This probably is not too original of an idea, but I thought it was pretty amazing! So while on our treck to the north-woods, I kept my eyes out for other landscaping ideas, and especially flowers! I was surprised to see the abundance of daisies on the side of the roads and realized there are not too many around home. Another nice surprise were the small, scattered patches of Pink and White Lady's Slippers. The flower of the State of Minnesota, I have not seen it since I was younger but yet there were patches for a good 70 miles or so. I should have stopped for a photo, but since I was driving, both the guys were sleeping... 

 We finally made it up to my Grandpa's house where we spread my father's ashes (For those who don't know, he lost his battle with esophageal cancer in March). The weather cooperated and he had a quiet, beautiful send off, just the way he would have liked. It was an afternoon filled with reflection and spent with family. To my Dad the lake was his second home, he knew every inch of it and could always find the fish. It is the epitome of why I love northern Minnesota so much. 

View of the lake at Grandpas (Dad's Home). 

It was a nice little get away. We were not up there all that long and had no requirements as to time. Although it was only drive up, sleep and drive home, it was very relaxing. 


Coming up this week: 
New Recipe: Stuffed Pork Chops
June "Freebies" and Reviews
Ideas for Building on a Budget
....and quite possibly more!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free Bounty Coupon!

Tomorrow (Friday, June 24th) Bounty will be giving away free coupons worth $5!!

Go to their page and "Like" them to be eligible. Give away times are from 8-10am EST and again from 10am - 1pm EST. Coupon is limited to the first 5,000 customers.

Thanks to Penny Pinchin' Mom
Well, I think I may be starting to get the hang of this. It reminds me a lot of MySpace... remember those days? Anywho...

As an attempt to save money I have been cooking at home. Our family went from eating out three to five times per week, down to once or twice per month (the pizza places are bummed out). Although it is less convenient, it saves a huge amount of money (Well, duh Sara... ) and I am home all the time now so it doesn't bother me to cook everyday. One of my goals is to be able to get my meal cost around eight dollars (for four people). Its going well so far.

Another game I play is to try at least one new recipe per week. I usually find them on the web, searching by what I have in my kitchen or based on my grocery list. I plan on reviewing the recipes on this blog. This past week I tried my hand at a Bacon and Cheese Quiche. I have to tell you, I was a bit apprehensive when I came across it, as so many people hear how cooks hate cooking Quiches' (or would that still be Quiche?). Why? They deflate if bumped in the tiniest of manner! Fortunately, I found out it doesn't really ruin it just makes it less fluffy, and in that case I could feel better about trying it. I did not want to make something new, have it be inedible and be out that money spent on the ingredients. Let me share the recipe with you:

Easy Bacon and Cheese Quiche

You will need:
1- 3oz can Bacon Bits
1/2 Cup-  Chopped Onion
5oz-  Shredded Swiss Cheese
3oz- Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 (9 inch)- Frozen Pie Crusts  
(Pillsbury has these in packages of 2. Usually you can find them for around $2.50)
4 eggs- lightly beaten
1 Cup- Half & Half

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the bacon, onions and both cheeses. Place mixture in the pie crust.
  3. Mix the eggs and half & half in a  bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese mixture. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F (175° C) and bake for and additional 35 minutes, until top of quiche is turning brown.  
  • Make sure not to disturb the quiche while it is baking. I literally tip toed around my home while it was cooking.
  • If you have to open your oven to see if it is turning brown, make sure to close the door gently. 
  • Let it stand for about five minutes before serving. 
Recipe courtesy of Allrecipies.com

Before the oven:
It kind of reminds me of an Egg Bake recipe I have. There were air bubbles popping up as I took this photo, so expect that. The smell in the air while it was cooking reminded me of an Onion Tart, maybe I will try that next! 

After the oven:
I actually forgot to add the onions in the cheese mixture and ended up tossing them on top (before I poured the egg on). That is why you see so many onions. I was super excited that it did not deflate!

Overall, it was fantastic! Cully (my other half) ate a good portion and finished the rest off for breakfast the next morning. I enjoyed mine with Ketchup (of course!) and he put Sour Cream on his. I was nervous thinking the Swiss would be overpowering, but it was quite good. Would I make it again? Yes! 

Total overall cost for this dish about $9.00. I can't even feed two of us at McDonald's for that! I think next time I will have to delve a little in to my grocery shopping process but its time to get something done around here, so until then!