January – 2011 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

January 2011

Fandango Giveaway #3

Here is the third of FOUR posts today where you have the chance to win a pair of tickets to Fandango, courtesy of Offermatic.com.

The first 5 people to do the following will win a pair of tickets:

Easy, right? I’ll be checking each winner to make sure you’ve completed all three steps. If you’re not fast enough this time be sure to check back later – there will be ONE more opportunity to win later today!

Note: I have comment moderation on my blog to avoid spam comments. If you post your comment and it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry – once I approve your comment it appears in the order it was received once it is moderated (which I will try to do as quickly as possible with each post)!

Fandango Giveaway #2

Here is the second of FOUR posts today where you have the chance to win a pair of tickets to Fandango, courtesy of Offermatic.com.

The first 5 people to do the following will win a pair of tickets:

Easy, right? I’ll be checking each winner to make sure you’ve completed all three steps. If you’re not fast enough this time be sure to check back later – there will be two more opportunities to win!

Ready, set…. GO!

Note: I have comment moderation on my blog to avoid spam comments. If you post your comment and it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry – once I approve your comment it appears in the order it was received once it is moderated (which I will try to do as quickly as possible with each post)!

Fandango Giveaway #1

Hi everyone! It’s time for the first of FOUR posts today where you have the chance to win a pair of tickets to Fandango, courtesy of Offermatic.com.

The first 5 people to do the following will win a pair of tickets:

Easy, right? I’ll be checking each winner to make sure you’ve completed all three steps. If you’re not fast enough this time be sure to check back later – there will be three more opportunities to win!

Ready, set…. GO!

Note: I have comment moderation on my blog to avoid spam comments. If you post your comment and it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry – once I approve your comment it appears in the order it was received once it is moderated (which I will try to do as quickly as possible with each post)!

Reminder – Wednesday’s Giveaways from Offermatic!

Just wanted to remind y’all that Wednesday is the day for Fandango ticket giveaways from Offermatic.com!  Here’s what I posted earlier about how it’ll work:

Offermatic has provided me with a pretty sweet giveaway for my readers – TWENTY pairs of Fandango tickets (and each ticket is worth $12!).

Here’s how it’s going to work… I’m really excited about this and think it’ll be a lot of fun!

Wednesday I will post at four random times throughout the day. For each of the posts, the first 5 people to do the following will win a pair of tickets:

Easy, right? I’ll be checking each winner to make sure you’ve completed all three steps.

Can’t wait for this, it’s going to be so fun! See y’all Tuesday!

Christi

Offermatic Review & Giveaway!

I love finding out about new ways to save money, and anyone who knows me knows that I love coupons! Well, I’ve recently been introduced to a new site that is all about saving money: Offermatic.com.

Offermatic is a company that provides savings in a completely new way. Users register their debit or credit cards, and then Offermatic sends specific offers based on spending habits.  The offers come in the form of discounts and istant rebates targeted to users based on credit & debit card transactions.

Offermatic assures users that registering card information is 100% secure – and is anonymous. According to their site:

“To create an Offermatic account, you simply provide us email, password, and zip code. We do not ask for your name, address, social security number, or other personally identifiable data. Once you’ve created your account, you securely link your credit or debit card to your Offermatic account by entering your login credentials for your card issuer. This is the username and password you use to login to your bank online to view your card statement. You only provide these login credentials once, so that we can securely link to your financial institution and automatically download your transaction data. We don’t store your credit or debit card login credentials on our servers, and we never have access to your card account number(s). So while we will have have anonymous access to your transactions (in order to save you money) – we don’t know who you are, your address, or your card account number(s).”

To read more about their security measures, click here.

Once a user links a card, he or she will be sent e-mail offers for instant rebates. These are automatically applied once the user clicks to activate the deal. This way you don’t have you use coupons or rebate forms.  All offers are discounted 50% or more, and Offermatic will only send offers that are related to a user’s interests, location, or spending habits.

Offermatic has provided me with a pretty sweet giveaway for my readers – TWENTY pairs of Fandango tickets (and each ticket is worth $12!). Here’s how it’s going to work… I’m really excited about this and think it’ll be a lot of fun! Tomorrow I will post at four random times throughout the day. For each of the posts, the first 5 people to do the following will win a pair of tickets:

–       “Like” Offermatic on Facebook

–       Write on Offermatic’s wall: “FrugalNovice.com sent me!”

–       Comment here letting me know you’ve done so.

Easy, right? I’ll be checking each winner to make sure you’ve completed all three steps.

So, come back tomorrow and you just might win a date night out to the movies! Don’t forget, there will be four posts throughout the day that you’ll have the chance to win on. I’ll publicize each post on the FrugalNovice Facebook and Twitter pages too.

Note: As stated above, Offermatic.com is supplying Fandango tickets for tomorrow’s giveaway. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.

Freshology Review & Giveaway

Edited 8/12/11 to addI’m doing a long-term, two-month review of Freshology. Come follow my progress and find out more about the food I’m eating!

I’m sure many of you have heard of meal replacement programs before. I recently learned about a program called Freshology. This company uses “green” packaging and gourmet recipes with high-quality ingredients. I got the opportunity to sample some of Freshology’s meals and desserts for review, and was really impressed overall with my experience.

When the food first arrived, I wondered if there would be a difference from other frozen meals I’d tried before.

Once I tried the food, though, I quickly realized that the quality of Freshology is much better than the typical frozen meals. First I tried Ancho Chile Beef with rice, black beans, & southwestern vegetables:

Next, I tried the (chicken) sausage pizza with braised kale:

Then I tried a breakfast option – Ham & Cheese Egg Layer Cake with pineapples & blueberries:

And last but not least, I tried two of their dessert options – Parisian Macaroons & Chocolate Cake:

I was really impressed with Freshology’s quality of food. I’d be curious to try it for a month or so and see what weight loss results I achieved with it! Here are my overall thoughts on Freshology:

Now, here are a couple of really cool things. First, Freshology has set up a special discount for Frugal Novice readers – 10% off! Just enter the code FRUGALFRESH10 at checkout. Second…

Win It

One lucky reader will win SIX meals from Freshology! This contest is open to U.S. residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST Monday, February 7.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: “Like” Freshology on Facebook and write “The Frugal Novice sent me!” on their wall.

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: Freshology provided me with the food for review and is providing the food for the giveaway. All opinions provided in this post are honest and my own. I am not being compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Healthy Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

Menu Plan Monday

Did you have a good weekend? Mine was just what I needed. Friday our younger son was sick (and cranky!) so it felt like a long day, although it was really nice to be home with the boys. J did NOT want to go to day care when he found out I would be home with C, but he was kind of sad to miss show & tell, so we did it at home (which was adorable! He was so proud, and C clapped for him, which made it even more exciting to him). Anyway, C felt better Saturday morning and the weekend has been a nice mix of down time & productivty at home and getting some errands accomplished. I even got to have a pedicure Saturday and go see a movie with a friend last night! I felt pretty pampered. AND I get to be home with the boys today, which I’m excited about. I’m going to try to NOT be productive, but just have fun with them. I always have to remind myself that even one year from now I won’t care at all that the dusting was forgotten, but I’ll cherish the memories with the people I love. And I know the boys don’t care if the house is messy – it really feels like they prefer it that way, with the way they contribute to the situation!

Ok, on to the menu plan for the week! I have officially signed up for Weight Watchers thanks to inspiration from some friends and am hoping to lose the baby weight (I can still call it that almost 2 years later… right?) plus eat healthier. I’ve done some searching online to find low point meal options, and I’ve found two new ones to incorporate this week that I’ll share. Also, read below about a really cool food-related giveaway I’ll be posting later today!

Monday: Grilled chicken with spinach & baby greens, cucumbers, and carrots. We found, through a friend, some salad dressing that’s yogurt-based and has a much lower fat & calorie content.

Tuesday: Chick-Fil-A – I’m going to go ahead and get either nuggets or strips (I have to look up and see which is healthier) but am going to forego fries for fresh fruit, and have water instead of coke or (sigh) sweet tea.

Wednesday: Paninis and sweet potato soup. The soup is one of the new recipes and I’m hoping it’s as good as it sounds! WW people, one serving is 2 points (6 servings total with this dish):

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fat-free chicken broth
  • 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free half & half
  • 2 packets Truvia (this is my first time cooking with stevia, but my mom and dad have used it for years and love it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

Directions:

  1. At night, bake the sweet potatoes at 375 degrees until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes, then store covered overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Right after you get home from work, blend the sweet potatoes and chicken broth. You can either use a blender/food processor or an immersion blender (We have an immersion blender and it is WORTH IT! I love that thing).
  3. Pour the mixture into a large pot. Add the half & half, Truvia, salt, dry mustard and allspice.
  4. Cook on medium-low, covered, for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Thursday: We never ended up making the Asian beef with bell peppers from last week, so we’ll give that one a try!

Friday: Another new recipe- Lemon Garlic Chicken. This one’s a crock pot recipe, yay! This makes 8 servings, and each one is 3 points on WW. We’ll also be serving it with roasted new potatoes & carrots.

Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lemon pepper seasoning
  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Mix together lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, and salt. Coat the chicken with the spice mixture.
  2. Place the coated chicken in the crock pot. Cover with chicken broth, garlic, parsley, onions, and lemon zest.
  3. Cook on low for 4-6 hours (I’m going to try letting it go for 8 hours or so while at work – I’ll let you know how it goes).

Saturday: Leftovers! Exciting Saturday night meal plan, I know. It’s funny to me how in college that was the night to go out for dinner and now it’s the night we just want to crash!

I mentioned earlier that I’ve got a giveaway to post later today – it’s from freshology.com, and it’s a good one! I’m really excited about it & think you’ll like it too.

Edited to Add – Here’s a link to the giveaway!

Christi

TrueWomb Giveaway!

I am a huge proponent of swaddling infants. With both of our boys, swaddling helped them calm down and sleep better at night, meaning better sleep for us (well, better sleep for me, if we’re being honest here – Brian could sleep through anything!) – if you’re a new mom or have been through the newborn stage, you know how valuable sleep is.

When J was a newborn, we swaddled him with receiving blankets. We had to redo the swaddle over and over again because he’d always slip out. Later we discovered swaddling blankets, which made things a lot easier.

Well, upon seeing the TrueWomb I was completely jealous that we didn’t know about this when our boys were newborns! The TrueWomb has a pouch for the baby’s legs that allows his legs to kick or stretch, but returns them to the naturally desired fetal position while at rest. My favorite part of the blanket is the pockets for the arms to slip into. In other swaddling blankets, babies’ arms are pinned down to their sides. With the TrueWomb, the baby’s arms wrap around his front, a much cozier position that really mimics what newborns are used to from the womb.

TrueWomb was recently awarded the Seal of Approval from the National Parenting Center. Testers said the blanket was easy to use and loved that instructions are imprinted right on the blanket in case you need help.

I received a pink TrueWomb for review, but didn’t have access to a newborn to test it out on, so I saved it for a giveaway! Even if you don’t have a little girl to use this on, it would be a perfect shower gift.

Win It

One lucky reader will receive a pink TrueWomb, valued at $39.99!. This contest is open to all US and Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST Wednesday, February 2.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Follow me through Google Friend Connect (located in my sidebar – just scroll down and click “follow!”), then comment here letting me know you’ve done so. If you already follow me through GFC, comment letting me know.

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: I received a TrueWomb for review. All opinions provided in this review are honest and are my own.

Christi

Protecting Your Marriage

When Brian and I got engaged, we did premarital counseling at the university we graduated from. We were so glad we did it because the counselor had us talk about issues we might never have thought to discuss, and it gave us insight as to how each of us approach things that can be hot button topics, like money management. In our case it was really nice to find out we were on the same page about most things.

I think most people would agree that their marriage is one of the most important things in their life. Sometimes couples encounter bumps along the road and may even feel like they are drifting apart. Marriage counseling is a great option to help bring problems to the forefront so they can be resolved. Some people might not like the idea of bringing someone else into what can be personal problems, but marriage help can be the answer if it’s hard to resolve problems by yourselves.

There are a ton of resources out there, from finding a marriage counselor to books to finding resources online. Whatever solution is chosen, there are many great ways to protect or salvage a marriage.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3

EA SPORTS Active 2 & House Party Review

I’ve written about House Party before back when we hosted a Hasbro Game Night. I’ve gotten the chance to work with them again on an EA SPORTS Active 2 party. I can’t say enough about how great I think House Party is. You don’t even have to have a blog to participate! Once you’re selected to host a party, simply share with the online House Party community all the details of your party, including photos & video. There are always a lot of parties available to apply for, too. It’s a great way to discover new products, share them with your friends, and enjoy fun freebies.

I thought I’d share with y’all a little bit about the latest product we received – EA SPORTS Active 2 for the Wii. I’ve tried other fitness games for the Wii before and I can honestly say this one is my favorite. I knew it was going to be a little something extra just by seeing all of the peripherals included with the game:

There’s a leg band to track motion, an arm band that tracks motion AND your heart rate (LOVED this feature), and a flash drive that plugs into the Wii and can also plug into your computer so you can participate with an online community of other people using the game. You also get a resistance band that helps with many of the exercises.

I signed up for the 9-week program and am excited to track my results. The workouts are challenging and there are a ton of different options so you can avoid getting in a rut. There are different intensity levels to set so you can get the challenge you need without going overboard.

This is a great workout option for me, because it’s really hard with two kids to find the time to sneak out to the gym. With EA Active 2 I can work out in the living room after the kids go to bed. I mentioned earlier that the arm band tracks your heart rate – I think this is my favorite feature, because I can really see how my body is responding to the exercises. There are even tests you can take to see how fast your heart rate recovers after an intense activity, giving you an idea of how your fitness improves over time.

I’d definitely recommend this game for anyone who wants to add convenient workouts to your routine.

Note: I received the EA Sports Active 2 game and extras for participating with House Party. I was not required to write a blog post, and all opinions included in this post are honest and my own.

Online Transactions

How many of you have direct sat tv? I have heard several people say that you can save a lot of money with direct  tv and am curious what your opinions are. This year we’re trying to make smart decisions with our budget, saving money where we can and just being more organized in general.  I like to pay bills online as much as possible because a) I’m not having to pay for postage and b) it’s a lot easier to keep track of everything.

Online transactions have come a long way from when I first started paying my own bills in and right after college. Now security is even tighter and you can even have a digital signature to add another layer of safety.  I think by the time our children are grown the concept of mailing a bill in will be a foreign concept – everything will be done online.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3

CSN Stores Review: Fiesta Ware Plates

I’ve written about CSN Stores before on my blog. Each time I go to their site I find yet another product that they carry. When I had my latest opportunity to do a review for them, I chose to receive Fiesta Ware plates.

When Brian and I first got married, we registered for three shades of Fiesta Ware – turquoise, sunflower, and cobalt blue.  It’s been over 7 years now, and I’ve gotten a little tired of that color scheme, but it seemed a little extravagant to go out and buy a bunch of new place settings. I wished I could just order single plates… and then discovered that at CSN Stores, it’s possible.

I received the Tangerine, Scarlet, Plum, Shamrock, and Peacock plates. I think having the multiple colors is fun, and being able to just get the plates is a lot more practical. Everything arrived quickly, well-packaged and intact.

A friend told me she has dinner plates for different holidays, and I think that’s a really fun idea. You could order scarlet and white to have plates for Valentine’s Day, and then add some shamrock plates to make them perfect for Christmas. Black and tangerine would be perfect for Halloween – the possibilities are endless.

Note: I received the Fiesta Ware plates for review from CSN Stores. All opinions provided are honest and are my own.