November – 2010 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

November 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: Me & Goji Custom Artisanal Cereal

So here’s something you’ve probably never thought of getting for a Christmas gift: cereal. That’s probably because you’re thinking of the boxed varieties lining the grocery store aisles – Me & Goji takes cereal to a whole new level.

The Skinny: This site allows you to create your own custom blend of ingredients or choose from some of their recipes. The ingredients are all high-quality and many of them meet special dietary needs. They are the first custom cereal & granola company where you can design your own cereal from 60+ all-natural ingredients, name your creation, and upload a picture right to the label!  Cereal then arrives in a Cereal Capsule, designed for portability and keeping your mix fresh.

Our Opinion: My opinion wavered back and forth prior to receiving our cereal to try. First, I love the concept. Anything custom immediately appeals to me, because I know it’ll be JUST what I like. When I went to the site, I was initially put off a little by the pricing. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill cereal, and the prices do reflect the quality of ingredients provided. I wondered if the value of the product would be worth the cost. In designing my cereal blend, I became really excited to receive it – I got to add pistachios, pecans, cashews, dried strawberries, dried apples, dried pineapple, and more.

When we received the cereal I was completely surprised with how big the canister is. The site says that the canister holds almost twice as many servings as the typical cereal box, but I really felt like it would be even more than that.

We were really impressed with the quality and freshness of the ingredients. With everything included, I really felt like this could serve as a trail mix of sorts – in fact, I plan to order another container of cereal with that in mind. I’d love to grab a bag of it to snack on at work – I don’t think you even need milk to enjoy this. So, overall impression is this: the pricing is a little high, but the value is definitely there for your money. This is a company that seems to take pride in every aspect of the product, and it really shows.

Buy it For: Mom & Dad, any foodies you know, or anyone with special dietary needs. This could be a really fun gift especially with the customization options for packaging.

DISCOUNT CODE: Enter FRUGALNOVICE at checkout to receive a 10% discount. This discount is good through December 10.

Note: Me & Goji provided me with cereal to review, but all opinions provided in this post are honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.


LunchboxReviews.com Review & Giveaway!

A large majority of my friends own either an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Brian and I both have iPhones, and I think anyone that has both an iPhone and children knows how invaluable the apps can be. As parents of toddlers, it can be a little difficult for us to find new things to download that will suit them well.

This is where LunchboxReviews.com comes into play. It is a site that collects, categorizes and rates apps specifically for young children. I recently went to check it out, and I’m a big fan! The search features are what I love most. I was able to pick the age, category, and device I wanted to search for, and whether I wanted to look at paid or free apps. I could sort results to see those with the highest rating, or those that cost the least. It really made it easy to find just the type of applications I’m looking for.

For my search, I chose to look at the free apps. I like doing this because often I can try the “lite” versions, see if they’re a fit with the kids, and then buy them if it seems like it’ll be worth it. I was surprised to see how many results popped up – I didn’t realize there were that many free apps for toddlers! The site came back with 109 options for me to look at.

This is by far the most comprehensive resource I’ve found, and I have downloaded several of the suggested apps to let J try soon!

Win It

Win what, you ask? Well, LunchboxReviews.com is providing a $25 gift card to Oompa.com for one lucky reader! Oompa is a leading specialty retailer of natural, organic and European toys, gear and furniture. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Wednesday, December 8.

How To Enter

Mandatory: Visit LunchboxReviews.com and try doing a search for apps that would fit your family, and comment here with the name of an app you receive in search results!

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: LunchboxReviews.com provided the gift card for this giveaway, but I was not compensated for this post. Any opinions provided are honest and my own.

Christi

Winners!

This is one of my FAVORITE parts of blogging – getting to announce winners of giveaways! As you know, four of the giveaways for the Holiday Gift Guide ended yesterday. Without further ado, here are the lucky readers:

Congratulations, Amber!!!

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Congratulations, Tara!!

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Congratulations, Lora!!

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Night Before Christmas Kit from

Congratulations, Christin!!

Thanks to everyone who entered – and I’ll be posting another great giveaway TONIGHT plus two more this week!

Christi

Menu Plan Monday Nov.29-Dec.4

Menu Plan Monday

It’s THAT time of year, where holiday things are starting to pop up (and here in Texas it’s finally starting to feel like… well, fall, at least. Most of the time). It’s definitely a busy time of year but I love it! We put up our tree and most of our decorations this weekend – I am in the holiday spirit, for sure! Have you decorated yet?

On to meals for the week:

Monday: Buffalo pizza and green beans

Tuesday: Chick Fil A or Jason’s Deli with friends – free kids’ meals at both places!

Wednesday:

Thursday: We’re babysitting, so we’ll have four kids aged 3 and under at our table. Chicken nuggets, cooked carrots, and french fries it is!

Friday: Holiday party! No food to think about… but I do need to come up with a good White Elephant gift idea.

Saturday: Chicken Taco Soup with guacamole and chips. We may be having friends over for dinner & games, but either way this is a nice easy meal for a Saturday. I love my Crock Pot!

There you have it! While you’re here, please take a second to enter one (or all!) of my giveaways – I’ve got FOUR that end tonight at midnight! They’re all listed in the upper right corner of the screen, or you can click the individual links below to go to a specific giveaway.

• Rubik’s Slide Game (MSRP $19.99)

• BookSwim Three Month Membership (Valued at $74.85)

• Art from MD Anderson’s Children’s Art Program & $10 donation made in your name (or name of your choice)

• Night Before Christmas Kit from RedEnvelope.com (MSRP $29.95)

• A Pair of EZ Sox – perfect for any toddler on your list!

• Corn Dog Maker from Mertado.com (MSRP $29.99)

PLUS, I’ve got MORE giveaways to add this week!! I’m really excited about them all & think you will be too. :)

Have a wonderful week, everyone – and stay warm!

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide – Corn Dog Maker from Mertado

The Skinny: Mertado is a new way to shop with your friends and save more. Deals on Mertado are offered exclusively to members. Each deal lasts only for a limited period of time. You can browse deals to find great products for yourself, or get rewarded in Mertado Cash for making helpful recommendations to your friends.

I got to try the Smart Planet Corn Dog Maker. This device allows you to make carnival-style corn dogs, cheese on a stick, pizza on a stick, and more. Simply prepare your favorite batter, dip them in, place on the rack, and make this treat six at a time. The best part is that there is no messy frying – just plug in and go. This set includes a recipe book and 24 sticks.

Hot dogs prepped & ready to go – we cut ours in half:

Spooning batter into the device:

Corn dogs are cooking!

Finished product:

Our Opinion: We really had a lot of fun with the Corn Dog Maker. When it arrived yesterday we realized we already had everything on hand to make the corn dogs, so we had them for dinner. We had to cut the hot dogs in half to get them to fit, but that ended up working well for the kids. The batter included whole wheat flour and there was NO frying involved, so this is a much healthier corn dog – you could even use turkey dogs if you prefer. The breading still had a nice crispiness too it – these were a hit. We will have to adjust our batter amount next time  (I didn’t use enough on some of them) but other than that they turned out perfectly.

Buy it For: Families or couples, or even college-aged family members. This is a great way to make dinner a little more fun. Mertado.com is running a special on the Corn Dog Maker for Black Friday. Be sure and check it out! I did some researching at a couple of other sites and this is by far the best deal I could find. This deal will go live on Black Friday and will only be valid for 72 hours, so don’t miss out!

Win It

One lucky reader will win their own Corn Dog Maker! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Wednesday, December 8.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Go to Mertado.com and comment telling me what item from their site you’d love to have (besides the corn dog maker, of course!)

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: Mertado.com provided me with a corn dog maker for review and one for the giveaway. Opinions provided in this post remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide – EZ Sox

The Skinny: EZ Sox are fun learning socks for children and a helpful teaching tool for parents. They help build the confidence that pre-schoolers need as they learn to dress themselves. These socks come with animal faces on them and are equipped with “handles” to help make it easier for kids to pull socks on by themselves.

Here’s a video of J in action with EZ Sox – this is his first attempt with the socks:

Our Opinion: Well, J loves these socks. And by love, I mean he doesn’t want to take them off. He’s shown his dad and his grandma and grandpa how he can put his socks on all by himself, and he likes to hop around and pretend he’s a frog.

As a mom, I love these socks too. The colors and animal faces make them really fun, and it was great seeing how proud J was of himself . We like them so much that we’re ordering some for stocking stuffers for both boys.

Buy Them For: Toddlers and preschoolers. They come in sizes 4-6 or 7-12, and there are a variety of color choices that would make these a good choice for boys or girls on your list.

Win It

One lucky reader will win a pair of EZ Sox! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Wednesday, December 8.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Visit the EZ Sox site and then comment telling me which pair of EZ Sox you would pick!

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: EZ Sox provided me with a pair of socks for review and is providing a pair for the giveaway, but all opinions provided in this post are honest and are my own.

Christi

Friendly Friday 11/19

Welcome to Friendly Friday!
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the holiday next week, Friendly Friday will NOT be posted and will instead return at 11 EST on Thursday, December 2nd. Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way for everyone to get even more traffic to their blog.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers! We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Michelle at Blog Be Dandy is an avid and talented soap maker. She started her blog to have a place to put her thoughts, ideas and a few of her favorite things.  When you visit, you’ll find stories from her day-to-day life, recipes, info/photos of her soap projects, and, of course, her favorite things.

Ruth at Living Well, Spending Less is a married mom to two girls, and her family is her passion. She started on a journey of saving money and discovered she actually enjoyed being frugal! Right now she has “30 Days of Holiday Cheer” happening at her blog. It’s dedicated to “bringing you tons of great advice and fun ideas for making the most of this holiday season….without blowing your budget.”

Linda at The Auld Grey Mare has four daughters, all but one grown now and almost eight grandchildren. Her posts are filled with recipes, crafts (she’s an avid cross-stitcher) and decor ideas. Her autumn decor photos are beautiful and inspiring, and her recent recipe post for Pumpkin Puff Pancakes will make you want to head to the kitchen to get started on making some for yourself!

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – be sure to leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the holiday next week, Friendly Friday will NOT be posted and will instead return at 11 EST on Thursday, December 2nd. Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Gift Guide: Night Before Christmas Kit

This post is a little bit different than the rest for two reasons. First, this item is something to use FOR Christmas, and second… instead of writing out details for you, I’ve made a video review! Take a look and see what all is included in the Night Before Christmas Kit from RedEnvelope.com, and then read on for details about how you could win your own kit! If you’d like to check out other Christmas Gifts, they have a variety to pick from.

Win It

One lucky reader will win their own Night Before Christmas Kit, courtesy of RedEnvelope.com! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Monday, November 29.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Comment here with one of the details about the kit I provided in the video. Simple!

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: RedEnvelope.com provided me with a kit for review and for the giveaway, but all opinions included in this post are my own and are honest. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Del Monte Giveaway WINNER!

Congratulations to…

Heather Ratliff! Congratulations, Heather – and thanks to everyone who entered!

Holiday Gift Guide – MD Anderson Children’s Art Project

The Skinny: If you’re in Texas (or even if you’re not), you’ve probably heard of MD Anderson Cancer Center. The mission of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world through outstanding programs that integrate patient care, research and prevention, and through education for undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, professionals, employees and the public.

The Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center helps make life better for children with cancer. Through worldwide sales of young cancer patients’ original artwork featured on seasonal note cards and gift items, the project has returned $27 million to programs that benefit cancer patients and their families. Each year, the project offers Holiday, Everyday and Valentine collections of note cards and gift items.

My Opinion: I love the fact that you can find adorable gift ideas here and help children with your purchase. If you don’t see anything you want to buy, you can make a donation in the recipient’s name. When my kids are a little bit older I think we’ll start donating to this and other causes in their name as one of their gifts – what a great way to share the concept of thinking of others.

Buy it For: Anyone on your list!

Win It

One winner will receive a notepad and notecards from the Children’s Art Project and I will make a $10 donation in your name. This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Monday, November 29.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Visit the Children’s Art Project site and comment back here telling me your favorite item available on the site.

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: MD Anderson Children’s Art Project provided the notepad and notecards for the giveaway, however, any opinions remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Menu Plan Monday – Week of 11/15

Menu Plan Monday

Good morning! Can you believe how close Thanksgiving is? It really feels like November snuck up on us this year. I have to admit, a lot of the reason I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving is that we will be able to put up our Christmas decorations! (We’ve got a couple up already… don’t tell!)

I can tell the holidays are rapidly approaching because this week we’ve got several Thanksgiving activities on our schedule. My work has a big potluck-style meal for faculty, staff & students (I’m bringing appetizers and am still trying to figure out what to bring – ideas?) Wednesday. Then the boys’ school is also having a Harvest Meal – for C’s class I’m making cookies, and for J’s we’re supposed to bring pumpkin pie, which he is incredibly excited about.

I have another thing going on this week that I’m looking forward to – have you ever heard of Taste of Home? They have a cooking school in our town every year, and I love it! It’s basically like watching a Food Network type of show live. They give out bags of samples and coupons (which, if you know me, you know I adore) and a cookbook magazine that the audience can follow along with while recipes are cooked. I’m sure I’ll be trying some of the recipes in coming weeks – I’ll let you know of any good ones I find!

On to meals for the week. We’re following the KISS meal plan because of all the activities going on. :) I don’t know that we’ll end up using all of these meals, either – but it doesn’t hurt to have them ready, right?

Monday: Leftover soup – we had our small group from church over last night. I made tomato basil soup and chicken taco soup, and we’ve got enough left over for dinner tonight – especially since the boys won’t eat it and will have nuggets instead.

Tuesday: Chick Fil A night! Lately we’ve been getting surveys on our receipts where we can get a code for free sandwiches, so this makes dinner an even better deal.

Wednesday: My work’s potluck meal – wish us luck with the kids at this thing!

Thursday: Pizza – we’ll make our old standby options – pepperoni & buffalo chicken.

Friday: Leftover pizza. Exciting, I know.

Hopefully your meals are a little more exciting this week. Anything I should try? I don’t want to fall into a rut just because we’re busy this holiday season, so I’m definitely still on the lookout for more meal ideas.

I want to mention before I go that I have several giveaways going on right now, with more to come this week! The $25 Del Monte gift certificate ends tonight, so be sure to take a minute to enter that one. Giveaways are always posted in the upper right corner of my blog, and of course I’d love for you to enter! :) Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Christi

Friendly Friday – November 12

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way for everyone to get even more traffic to their blog.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers! We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Chances are that you’re already reading and enjoying the warm, friendly and downright hilarious writings at A Nut in a Nutshell… and if you’re not, get with it! This mom of two college-aged children (who often make fun guest appearances on her blog) has a self-proclaimed quirky sense of humor that will keep you coming back daily to see what new product review/giveaways, life stories or just plain nonsense will show up next and make you smile.

The story behind the adorable newlyweds, Emily and Andrew, at The Brady Blog is one that will make you smile. Having first met at the age of 9, this sweet couple and their cat, Bella, enjoy life down South in Atlanta but keep their family and friends back in Ohio up to date by blogging. Through posts about daily life, law school and fun pictures, you’ll feel as though these two are long-distance pals of your own.

The next time you’re thinking of cooking or baking, Sheila at Welcome To My Kitchen has a collection of new recipes (many with video!) to inspire you… and make your stomach growl. This blog-hopping, blog award-winning Cook Extraordinaire has a post about everything from drinks to main dishes to desserts (with reviews, giveaways and shopping tips mixed in) that you’ll be sure to want to try.

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – be sure to leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!