January – 2011 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

January 2011

Safe Driving

I’ve always been a pretty cautious driver, and after having children I’m even more aware of other drivers on the road too. I know not all people are safe drivers, so that makes me very alert when I’m driving with my boys.

I do think technological advancements can really help with safety on the road. GPS tracking is one feature I love – there’s no need to attempt to look at a map when you’ve got a voice telling you where your next turn will be. I think distracted driving is dangerous driving. Technologies like GPS tracking allow drivers to be much more focused on the road, making it a safer place for everyone to be.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3

Friendly Friday 1/14

Welcome to Friendly Friday – the first of 2011!

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):

Natalie, a brunette, shares about her life and her “blonde moments” on her blog Blonde at Heart. Her writing is so fun to read! You’ll find posts about her husband and her nephews (and shopping – who doesn’t like reading about that?). She recently turned 29, so stop by and wish her a belated birthday!

Jen @ My Secret Home is a 23 year old stay-at-home-mom of 1 little guy, who is the love of her life! She loves trying out new products, going to restaurants, going for walks, traveling & shopping. She is a *green* mommy and through her blog hope to provides families with eco-friendly product suggestions. You’ll find a lot of great giveaways on this blog!

At Mom to 2 Posh Little Divas you can read all about the blogger’s two sweet daughters. She shares funny stories about the things they say, provides activity ideas that you can try with your own children, and really lets you feel like you’re a part of her adorable family!

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!

Resource for Small Businesses – Lendio

In a dream world I’d love to own my own gift shop, selling all hand-made items. I love to make things and have a ton of talented friends whose products would be great to include too. I don’t have a clue about getting something like that off the ground, but I do know there are companies like Lendio that exist to help small business owners get matched up with financing. Lendio can even help with things like writing a business plan.

If I ever get to the point where I’m ready to make the dream of the shop a reality, I think Lendio would be a great resource for getting started.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3

Jewelry With a Meaning

What girl doesn’t love jewelry? I think every female I know has spent at least some amount of time daydreaming about engagement rings. I remember in college some friends and I surfing the web just for fun and showing each other rings we liked (Brian ended up doing a great job picking out a ring, by the way).

A couple of months before we got married, Brian and I went together to look at wedding rings. There are SO many more options out there for women than men, but I guess that’s because we care about what our rings look like a little bit more. We had fun picking out our rings together.

I know where I’m from it’s really common for people to get promise rings, too – kind of a pre-engagement ring. I didn’t have an official promise ring but Brian did give me one for our anniversary one year that I wore until we got engaged. It’s kind of a nice way to show your intentions even before taking the next step of engagement, I think.  I love jewelry that has a sentimental meaning behind it – the pieces I love most all mean something special to me.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3

Betty Crocker, GladWare, and Safeway Stores Giveaway

This year, why not start a new tradition for Valentine’s Day? With a little help from Betty Crocker, GladWare® and the Safeway Family of Stores, you can keep your loved ones’ hearts and homes filled with the homemade goodness of Betty Crocker. Whip up a plate full of cookies using a recipe from BakeSweetMemories.com and give someone you love a sweet treat. You could even host a cookie swap and invite your friends or family over for a night of swapping cookies and recipes.

Once you’ve finished baking, share it in GladWare! Glad® food storage products are the perfect solution for preparing, storing and transporting your baked goods.

Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix is a way to cut down on the time it takes to make cookies –  that makes it even easier to share the love with your family & friends! I got to try the mix, and I decided to make cookies for my coworkers. I also bought a bowl of buttercream icing so people could have that too if they want. Everyone really loved the cookies (I doubt anyone could tell they weren’t made from scratch!) and they disappeared quickly.

Wouldn’t you like to make cookies for your friends or family, and have handy storage for them? And wouldn’t it be nice to have, say, a $25 gift card to the Safeway family of stores (which includes Dominick’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Vons, and Genuardi’s) to buy even more cookie-baking supplies? Well, you’re in luck!

Win It

Safeway, Betty Crocker, and Glad through MyBlogSpark has provided a prize pack for me to give away!  This includes a package of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, a GladWare sample pack and a $25 Safeway gift card (also valid at Dominick’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Vons, and Genuardi’s)! This contest is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Wednesday, January 19.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post telling me what your favorite Betty Crocker or Glad product is and why!

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.

  • Share a link to this giveaway on your Facebook wall {2 extra entries}
  • Blog about this giveaway and link it back here {3 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Google Friend Connect {2 extra entries}
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed {2 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Twitter {1 extra entry}
  • “Like” Frugal Novice on Facebook {1 extra entry}
  • Tweet about this giveaway {1 extra entry per tweet; 2 tweets (not back-to-back) per day}

Note: Safeway, Betty Crocker, and Glad provided me with the gift pack for review, information, and additional gift pack for giveaway through MyBlogSpark.

Christi

Kix Prize Pack Winner!

The winner is….

Congratulations, Amber! Thanks to everyone who entered. I have another great giveaway I’ll be posting Wednesday. I’m pretty excited about this one – it’s another from MyBlogSpark.

Solar Power for Your Home?

Brian and I, like many people lately, are always looking for ways to cut costs. I know with how hot it gets in the summer our electric bill for a pretty small house can jump as high as $250. We’ve looked into home solar power in the past, because the idea of reducing energy costs is really appealing.

We don’t plan to be at this house for much longer, but we may think about panels for the future and would probably look into solar financing to make it work with our monthly budget. The cost of solar power can be more affordable than people realize with financing options that exist.  I hope some day we’re able to do solar panels on our house for both the financial and ecological benefits to be reaped.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3

Homemade Mac & Cheese Recipe with Tillamook Cheddar

I love cheese. I’m one of those that gets giddy over the cheese section of the grocery store, and I seriously think I’d be fine living on cheese and bread alone if I had to. I had never tried Tillamook before, but I got the chance to sample two of their cheeses recently:

• Tillamook Sharp Cheddar is naturally aged for over nine months to achieve a full-bodied flavor marked by sharper accents than the medium cheddar. We loved the flavor of this cheese for sandwiches or shredded on tacos. It’s got a nice sharpness to it, but isn’t overpowering.

• Tillamook Smoked Medium Cheddar (aged 60 days) is infused with natural hardwood smoke to produce the distinctive flavor of this uniquely delicious cheddar. The smokiness of this cheddar is SO good. This is one of new favorites. It adds a real depth of flavor to dishes like macaroni and cheese but is great to eat all on its own, too.

Tillamook has been farmer owned since 1909. They’ve worked hard over the years to distinguish ourselves as great supporters of the local and state dairy industries and as committed stewards of the environment.

I thought it’d be fun to share a macaroni and cheese recipe so you could go get some Tillamook smoked cheddar and see how it adds a new twist to an old favorite! This recipe is from Nestle Carnation:

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 2/3 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 Nestle Carnation evaporated milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar (note from me – try the smoked cheddar!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. Combine cornstarch, salt, mustard and pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in evaporated milk, water, and butter. Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted. Add macaroni; mix well. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown.

Note: I received coupons to try Tillamook cheese for free, but my opinions in this post are all honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Menu Plan Monday January 10-15

Menu Plan Monday

How was your first full week of 2011? Ours was BUSY, but good! I’m feeling a whole lot better now because we spent some time this weekend getting the house more organized – and when I’m organized, I’m a happier person!

We didn’t make any official resolutions this year, but we – like many people, I’m sure – are trying to be better about our budget. We want to be better about saving, and we have improvements on the house to make that we need to set money aside for. Because of that, we’re trying to be consistently good about cooking more and eating out less, and menu planning has taken on even more importance. Here’s our menu plan for the week:

Monday: Blue cheese burgers – we got spinach to put on the burgers too and I think it’ll be a nice flavor profile. The boys actually don’t care for burgers too much but if we crumble up the meat they’ll eat it. I love making our own burgers at home because I know exactly what’s in them. I recently read an article about what all is in fast-food burgers and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get a fast-food burger again! At HEB I buy the all-natural angus beef that is ground in the store daily.  We’re having our burgers with fries & raw veggies to snack on.

Tuesday: We’re eating at Pizza Inn – I recently found out they have free kids’ meals on Tuesdays too, and I have a pass for a free adult buffet too!

Wednesday: Sour Cream Chicken from Food on the Table. We’re serving it over egg noodles and will have green beans plus spinach salad to go along with it.

Thursday: BBQ chicken pizza – an old favorite from Food on the Table.

Friday: Yet another Food on the Table recipe – Asian Beef & Pepper Saute. It’s supposed to be spicy and it sounds really good! I’ve never used chile paste before, either, and am looking forward to giving it a try.

Saturday: Leftover buffet! I got this idea from orgjunkie.com and think it’s a fun way to make leftovers seem a little less boring. This way there are options and the fridge gets cleared out for the next week.

Have a GREAT week, everyone!

Christi

Friendly Friday January 7

Welcome to Friendly Friday – the first of 2011!

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):

Fair warning: If you have never visited Twinsomnia before, I almost guarantee that you will spend the majority of your afternoon going from post to post and nodding in agreement and/or cracking up. From hilarious or moving stories about her three kids aged five and under (including adorable identical twin boys) to photographs that look like they’re straight out of a magazine, Megan takes precious time that should be spent sleeping and writes a blog that you won’t want to miss.

When you hear the title Grandma, you might picture a sweet old lady in a rocking chair knitting… but that’s not what you’ll find at Grandma’s Guide to Life. Carli writes about working out, shopping and her love for couponing, bargains and saving money. Whether you’re looking for freebies (she has great Mailbox Mondays posts), store deals, giveaways, family talk, craft ideas she has come across and more, this Grandma is blogging her way through it all.

Journaling their daily adventures, Holly’s posts at Popsicles and Pigtails range from visits with family to shopping trips to fun blog hops (present company included) and more and feature her warm personality and great photos of her gorgeous daughter, Darbee. A sweet compilation of reasons why Holly is blessed to stay home and watch her daughter grow up, these memories are ones that she will have captured online forever.

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!

Kix Cereal Review & Prize Pack Giveaway!

Both of our boys love cereal. On the mornings they have it for breakfast they like to snack on it from a bowl with their cups of milk. We try to pick healthier cereal options for them so that they get a good start to their day. I used to love Kix as a child, but hadn’t tried it in a while. We recently got the chance to review Kix and Honey Kix – the boys loved them both! It was nice to add a new cereal to the mix, and this one that’s easy for both J & C to snack on.

With the same great taste kids have loved for more than 70 years, Kix makes it easy to serve your family a simple and healthy breakfast! Whether you choose to serve Original Kix or Honey Kix, you can be sure that your kids are getting a wholesome food with nutrients they need to grow.

The “Kid-Tested Mother-Approved”cereal is made with whole grain corn and is an excellent source of iron. It also is a good source of calcium, fiber, and Vitamins C and D. Original Kix has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

To find out more, visit the recently launched Kix website, www.KixCereal.com, featuring background on the history of Kix, nutritional content, and special offers.

Win It

Kix, through MyBlog Spark, has provided a Kix “Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved” prize pack for me to give away! This pack includes a 24-piece counting-themed floor puzzle, fun learn-to-count flashcards, a sippy cup, a portable snack container and a box each of Original Kix and Honey Kix cereals. This giveaway is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST Monday, January 10.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post answering the following question: “How do you make your busy morning routine special for your family?”

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.

  • Share a link to this giveaway on your Facebook wall {2 extra entries}
  • Blog about this giveaway and link it back here {3 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Google Friend Connect {2 extra entries}
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed {2 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Twitter {1 extra entry}
  • “Like” Frugal Novice on Facebook {1 extra entry}
  • Tweet about this giveaway {1 extra entry per tweet; 2 tweets (not back-to-back) per day}

Note: Kix provided me with the gift pack for review, information, and additional gift pack for giveaway through MyBlogSpark.

Christi

Sour Cream Salsa Chicken – Crockpot Recipe

Menu Plan Monday

Hi everyone! As the new year begins I’m trying to be a little more organized with meal planning again. Here’s what we’re eating this week!

Monday: I’m trying a new recipe for the Crock Pot, called Sour Cream Salsa Chicken. I think Mondays are perfect days for slow cooker meals, don’t you? Here’s the recipe I’m trying:

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 package reduced-sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream

DIRECTIONS

Spray the crockpot with cooking spray. Add the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with Taco Seasoning. Top with salsa. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. When ready to serve, remove the chicken from the pot. Place about 2 T cornstarch in a small amount of water. Stir well. Stir the cornstarch mixture into salsa sauce. Stir in 1/4 cup of light sour cream.
Tuesday: Chick Fil A night!
Wednesday: Sandwiches made on our panini press, with homemade tomato basil soup. I’ll do nuggets and veggies for the kids.
Thursday: Pasta with marinara sauce and garlic chicken, with veggies.
Friday: Another slow cooker meal – this time it’s BBQ chicken sandwiches. I’m going to bake sweet potatoes for me and Brian, and the boys will get to have french fries.
Saturday: Leftovers – boring, but easy!
Hope you all have a great week and that it’s a wonderful start to the new year.
Christi