New Year's Giveaway

Head on over to Common Sense with Money to enter another great giveaway for one of two $30 Wal Mart Gift cards. Enter by commenting on how you celebrate in the New Year. Giveaway ends 12/31 so head on over now.

New Coupons coming Right UP!

Can you believe it? Not only is the year coming to a close but the end of the month means new coupons, as always. Here's what you have to look forward to from Cellfire. Be sure to log in on the right-hand toolbar to download your coupons to your store loyalty card. It's amazingly easy and a Super Cool Idea!

These coupons are available to be saved until 1/11/2010 and redeemed until 1/25/09.

For Safeway Customers Only save through 1/31)

BC Cookie Mix/Frosting Save $1 - Save $1.00 on TWO when you buy any flavor 17.5 OZ OR LARGER Betty Crocker® Cookie Mix AND ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting.

BC SuperMoist Cake Mix Save $1 - Save $1.00 when you buy TWO any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® Cake Mixes.


BC Box Brownie Mix Save $.50 - Save $0.50 when you buy any flavor Betty Crocker® Box Brownie Mix.

Select GladWare® Save $.50 - Save $0.50 when purchasing any of the following GladWare® containers- GladWare Big Bowl®, Entree, Deep Dish and Tall Entrees Storage Container.


For Kroger and ShopRite Customers

Scotch Fur Fighter Save $4 - Save $4 on a Scotch(tm) Fur Fighter(tm) Hair Remover Starter Kit.


For Kroger and Safeway Customers

Any Biore Save $1 - Save $1.00 when purchasing Biore products.

Any Curel Save $1 - Save $1.00 when purchasing Curel, 13oz or larger.

Jergens Lotions Save $1 - Save $1.00 when purchasing full size Jergens (excluding Jergens Natural Glow).

Root Awakening Save $2 - Save $2.00 when purchasing any Root Awakening product, 6 oz - 8.45 oz)

Purina® Dry Cat Food Save $1 - Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Cat Food, any size, any variety.

Purina® Dry Dog Food Save $1 - Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Dog Food, any size, any variety.

Purina® Dog/Cat Treats Save $1 - Save $1.00 on two (2) packages of Purina® brand Dog Snacks and/or Cat Treats, any size, any variety.

Toll House® Dough Save $.55 - Save $0.55 when you purchase any (1) variety of Nestle® Toll House® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.

Toll House® Morsels Save $.50 - Save $0.50 when you purchase any (1) variety of Nestle® Toll House® Morsels

PB Rolled Pie Crusts Save $.50 - Save $.50 when you buy TWO packages of Pillsbury® Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts.

Green Giant® vege's Save $.50 -Save $.50 when you buy TWO any variety Green Giant® Frozen Boxed Vegetables.

PB Sweet Rolls Save $.40 - Save $.40 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Sweet Rolls OR Grands!® Sweet Rolls.

Pillsbury® Crescents Save $.50 - Save $.50 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Crescent Dinner Rolls.

PB Refrig Grands! Save $.30 -Save $.30 when you buy TWO any size/variety Refrigerated Pillsbury® Grands!® Biscuits.

PB Cookie Dough Save $1 - Save $1.00 when you buy TWO PACKAGES any variety Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.

Progresso® Soups Save $.50 - Save $.50 when you buy TWO any flavor Progresso® Soups.

BC Fruit Snacks Save $.50 - Save $.50 on TWO BOXES Betty Crocker® Fruit by the Foot®, Fruit Gushers®, Fruit Roll-Ups® OR Fruit Roll-Ups® Fruit Stickerz® Fruit Flavored Snacks.

NV Granola Bars Save $.40 - Save $.40 when you buy ONE BOX any flavor/variety Nature Valley® Granola Bars.

Fiber One® Chewy Bar Save $.40 - Save $.40 when you buy ONE BOX any flavor Fiber One® Chewy Bars.

Cheerios® Cereal Save $.55 - Save $.55 when you buy Original Cheerios® cereal (the one in the yellow box).

Trix® Cereal Save $.55 - Save $.55 when you buy Trix® cereal.

BC Potatoes Save $.40 - Save $.40 when you buy any flavor Box or Pouch Betty Crocker® Potatoes (Except Potato Buds®).

BC Fruit Shapes Save $.40 - Save $.40 when you buy ONE BOX any variety Betty Crocker® Fruit Flavored Shapes.

BC Warm Delights Save $.50 -Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any flavor Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Bowls OR Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Minis Bowl

PB Holiday Cookies Save $.75 - Save $.75 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Refrigerated Holiday Cookies.

Progresso® Broth Save $.50 - Save $.50 when you buy ONE any variety Progresso® Broth.

PB Savorings® Save $.55 - Save $.55 when you buy any flavor/variety Pillsbury® Savorings® products.

BC Frosting Save $.50 - Save $.50 when you buy ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting.

Mommy: Short Order Cook at The Toddler Cafe

First off I should say that even though Comfort and Joy are toddlers they do a pretty good job of eating. But they are toddlers.

Secondly, much of our amusement features around the renaming that Comfort have given to many of her favorite foods. Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Coffee Cake [from Once a Month Mom] has been abbreviated to Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cake. Parmesan cheese is 'cheesy sprinkles'. Ravioli is 'cheese hats'. Sausage is 'meat circles'.

It got DH and I to thinking that it resembled, in some ways, a short order restaurant. Then my mind began to think about the menu at Toddler Cafe. Of course, there would be pasta and chicken nuggets and dip. Dips would vary based on the item being dipped. If it's waffles - the dip is syrup. If it's nuggets - the dip could be 'yellow' [honey mustard], 'red' [ketchup], or 'white' [Ranch]. Same would hold true for veggies, except I doubt if anyone wants to use syrup, Ick.

Breakfast items that work well at our house:
  • Eggs
  • Meat Circles
  • Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cake
  • Waffles and Dip
  • Cereal - Tiger Cereal or Daddy Cereal [Translation: Frosted Flakes or Mini-Wheats]
  • Cereal Bar [Translation: Pop-Tart]
  • Blueberry Muffins
  • Cheese Danish

Lunch and Dinner Items:

  • Pasta with Cheesy Sprinkles
  • Chicken with Dip [Yellow Dip especially]
  • Cheese Hats with Cheesy Sprinkles
  • Cheesy Pizza
  • Cheese Quesadilla

By now, you've noticed that my kids love cheese. They do take after their mom. In fairness, they do enjoy fruit and veggies too but these items don't have cute names - except for broccoli - which is referred to as 'trees' and generally eaten raw and plain.

I also kinda like that Comfort has adopted my mispronunciation of 'syrup'. Both of us only give it one syllable and even though her striking accent isn't mine, some of her speech patterns undoubtedly are. And as our Adventure Girls get older, and Joy begins talking more, I kind of hope that they don't leave too much of this behind. It's true that no server at a restaurant will ever figure out what they mean when they order cheese hats but it's still part of their background and part of what makes them unique. And personally, I think that's a Cool Idea.

$5 Cookbook Giveaway

Erin at $5 Dinners is doing a great giveaway to promote the publishing of her new cookbooks. She's giving away 10 copies everyday! Just sign up and you get a chance. It's that easy and that Cool!

Happy Holidays!

What a year! Thanks for sticking around for the ride. I've had fun and learned a lot and I hope you have, too.

Merry Christmas - which might be the Coolest Idea ever.

Giveaways Runneth Over

Mrs. Moneysaver has another giveaway that you'll want to run over and comment on to get your name in the virtual hat for. She has $25 gift cards to Marshall's/ TJMaxx - and we all know how far we can stretch that much money at one of those stores! The giveaway ends on 12/26 so you've got some time and this is one Cool Idea!

Another benefit of the stockpile

We have a ton of snow on the ground. More than this part of Virginia has seen in over a decade and I can tell you that I didn't have to rush out to the grocery with everyone else on the planet.

Why? Because my freezers were full and I've been stockpiling.

Even though I haven't done a weekly grocery trip for anything other than perishables and baking items in almost a month we still have plenty in the pantry to get us through. I hope. Stay tuned an see how it goes.

This assumes that we keep power, too. If we don't then it won't matter how much I have in the freezer or stockpiled because I can't cook it anyway:) But mostly I know that we have enough food even if it doesn't all go together to make perfectly beautiful meals. Oh and we have toilet paper and diapers and milk and, I can bake bread, and all those other things that people run to the store for.

But still I'd like the snow to stop falling now. It's beautiful but we don't need anymore right now. Everything in moderation is a Cool Idea!

Great Holiday Deal from Restaurant.com


Restaurant.com Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250

Are you still looking for the perfect gift for someone special in your life? Do you have someone that is difficult to shop for? Restaurant.com has certificates 80% until 12/25! Use discount code SANTA for this great deal. Get dinner of the month or dollar certificates - this applies to everything!! So, for a $25 certificate you only pay $2! Yep, it's a great deal.

Check out each restaurant's policy but usually certificates are good for a year so there's plenty of time to stock up and enjoy which is always a Cool Idea!

More Giveaway Goodness

Jenn at Frugal Upstate is hosting a great giveaway. She has a $30 Wal Mart Gift Card to help make the holidays easier especially when it comes to putting meals together. Have you seen Wal Mart's $20 Meal Deal? Check out her post and enter right away. The giveaway ends on 12/19!

Coupon Update

First of all, there's news that PGesavers coupons will not be downloadable to Kroger-family store loyalty cards after December 31st. Personally, I find this sad. However, as many of us know, there are always good P&G coupons in the paper.

Secondly, here's the Cellfire coupon update! These coupons are available for saving now through December 31st and must be redeemed by 1/11/2010 (unless otherwise noted) at all Safeway and Kroger banner stores. Nearly $30 in savings!!!

BC Cookie Mix/Frosting Save $1 / Save $1.00 on TWO when you buy any flavor 17.5 OZ OR LARGER Betty Crocker® Cookie Mix AND ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting. (Safeway Only) (Redeem by 1/1/2010)

BC SuperMoist Cake Mix Save $1 / Save $1.00 when you buy TWO any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® Cake Mixes. (Safeway Only) (Redeem by 1/1/2010)

BC Box Brownie Mix Save $.50 / Save $0.50 when you buy any flavor Betty Crocker® Box Brownie Mix. (Safeway Only) (Redeem by 1/1/2010)


Scotch Fur Fighter Save $4 / Save $4 on a Scotch(tm) Fur Fighter(tm) Hair Remover Starter Kit.(Kroger/Shoprite Only)

Select GladWare® Save $.50 / Save $0.50 when purchasing any of the following GladWare® containers- GladWare Big Bowl®, Entree, Deep Dish and Tall Entrees Storage Container. (Safeway Only) (Redeem by 1/1/2010)

Any Biore Save $1 / Save $1.00 when purchasing Biore products.

Any Curel Save $1 / Save $1.00 when purchasing Curel, 13 oz. or larger.

Jergens Lotions Save $1 / Save $1.00 when purchasing full size Jergens (excluding Jergens Natural Glow).

Root Awakening Save $2 /Save $2.00 when purchasing any Root Awakening product, 6 oz - 8.45 oz)

Purina® Dry Cat Food Save $1 / Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Cat Food, any size, any variety.

Purina® Dry Dog Food Save $1 / Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Dog Food, any size, any variety.

Purina® Dog/Cat Treats Save $1 / Save $1.00 on two (2) packages of Purina® brand Dog Snacks and/or Cat Treats, any size, any variety.

HOT POCKETS Save $.55 /Save $.55 when purchasing 1 box of HOT POCKETS® brand BREAKFAST sandwiches.

Toll House® Dough Save $.55 / Save $0.55 when you purchase any (1) variety of Nestle® Toll House® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.

Toll House® Morsels Save $.50 /Save $0.50 when you purchase any (1) variety of Nestle® Toll House® Morsels

Huggies® Diapers Save $3 / Save $3.00 on any two packages of Huggies® Diapers.

Cottonelle® Save $.25 /Save $.25 on any ONE (1) 4-pack or Larger COTTONELLE® Toilet Paper.

PB Rolled Pie Crusts Save $.50 / Save $.50 when you buy TWO packages of Pillsbury® Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts.

Green Giant® vege's Save $.50 / Save $.50 when you buy TWO any variety Green Giant® Frozen Boxed Vegetables.

PB Sweet Rolls Save $.40 / Save $.40 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Sweet Rolls OR Grands!® Sweet Rolls.

Pillsbury® Crescents Save $.50 / Save $.50 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Crescent Dinner Rolls.

PB Refrig'd Grands! Save $.30 /Save $.30 when you buy TWO any size/variety Refrigerated Pillsbury® Grands!® Biscuits.

PB Cookie Dough Save $1 / Save $1.00 when you buy TWO PACKAGES any variety Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.

Progresso® Soups Save $.50 / Save $.50 when you buy TWO any flavor Progresso® Soups.

BC Fruit Snacks Save $.50 / Save $.50 on TWO BOXES Betty Crocker® Fruit by the Foot®, Fruit Gushers®, Fruit Roll-Ups® OR Fruit Roll-Ups® Fruit Stickerz® Fruit Flavored Snacks.

NV Granola Bars Save $.40 / Save $.40 when you buy ONE BOX any flavor/variety Nature Valley® Granola Bars.


Fiber One® Chewy Bar Save $.40 /Save $.40 when you buy ONE BOX any flavor Fiber One® Chewy Bars.

Cheerios® Cereal Save $.55 / Save $.55 when you buy Original Cheerios® cereal (the one in the yellow box).

Trix® Cereal Save $.55 / Save $.55 when you buy Trix® cereal.

BC Potatoes Save $.40 / Save $.40 when you buy any flavor Box or Pouch Betty Crocker® Potatoes (Except Potato Buds®).

BC Fruit Shapes Save $.40 / Save $.40 when you buy ONE BOX any variety Betty Crocker® Fruit Flavored Shapes.

BC Warm Delights Save $.50 / Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any flavor Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Bowls OR Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Minis Bowls.

PB Holiday Cookies Save $.75 / Save $.75 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Refrigerated Holiday Cookies.

Progresso® Broth Save $.50 / Save $.50 when you buy ONE any variety Progresso® Broth.

PB Savorings® Save $.55 / Save $.55 when you buy any flavor/variety Pillsbury® Savorings® products.

BC Frosting Save $.50 / Save $.50 when you buy ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting.

My Good Deal at CVS

It's been a while since I've CVS'd and this week I made a good deal. Here's what I did.

I had a $5 in Extra Bucks and knew that we were out of Advil. Now, I'm not fussy about the brand of my Advil. I'll pop any brand of pain reliever in my mouth as long as it works. The CVS brand of ibuprofen looked good to me and the 100 count box was B1G1 for $5.99 - this is good at my CVS until 12/19. Just in case you need help making sure you buy them in a set - they even have them wrapped together - you know, for the holidays.

But I also got another nice deal. My contact solution, which is normally $9.99, gave me $9.99 in Extra Bucks. So, essentially it was free. Of course, this just gets me to go back to CVS but it's next to my Kroger and I haven't done weekly grocery shopping in a couple of weeks so odds are that I'll be there soon.

So, there we are. I got 200 tablets of ibuprofen for almost free using the Extra Bucks that I walked in the store with and I got my contact lens solution for free using the Extra Bucks I walked out of the store with. All in all it was definitely a Cool Idea to run to CVS today!

$5 Magazine Subscriptions at Amazon

There are some fantastic deals on magazine subscriptions over at Amazon right now. You can get O, The Oprah Magazine (1-year) for $5 for a 1 Year Subscription! How's that for a great gift for a friend, or your mom, or maybe even a nice stocking stuffer for yourself?!?!?!

Also, Parents (1-year) is $9.97 for a 1 Year Subscription and you'll receive $5 off when you subscribe so it's even less expensive and isn't that definitely a Cool Idea!

Let the Parties Begin!

Today is my first holiday party of the season and that means I've made my first batch of fudge. I love making fudge because it looks and tastes like I did a lot more work than I did - and isn't that a great return on investment!

Personally, I suck at making traditional fudge recipes. I know people who do it and God Bless Them for keeping the tradition alive because I can't do it. However, I don't use marshmallow fluff either - probably because I've never in my life eaten this stuff and I'm a little afriad of it, if you want to know the truth. Or mabe I'm afriad I'll like it:)

I use Eagle Brand Condensed Milk. This stuff is amazing. I don't know how it works and I don't need to - because I'm female - but it does. And this recipe is super easy. In case you don't have this recipe memorized yet here it is.

I use a double boiler but I think you can do this in the microwave, too. Pour a can of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk in with 2 Cups of chips [I use semi-sweet] and let them melt. Add a dash of salt [about 1/8 tsp.] Stir the chips until they're melted then remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla and stir that in. Pour the melted chocolate into your prepared pan.

Here's how I prepare the pan - I use my brownie pan - a regular 8x8 hard square pan which I line with foil and also spray with vegetable spray. Once you have the fudge in the pan put it in the fridge to set. I do it overnight. In the morning, I turn the pan upside down on a cutting board, strip off the foil - which is nice and easy because of the spray - and cut the fudge to whatever size I need.

There you go. Super easy. Always a nice treat and definitely a Cool Idea!

Giveaway Goodness

Run over to $5 Dinners and get in the cue for a great giveaway. Erin is giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card and some great stuff from Carnation Evaporated Milk. Head over to $5 Dinners to enter. Giveaway ends on 12/15. And while you're there, check out the new cookbook that's coming out. Personally, I'm hoping that's in my stocking this year!

Another great giveway that would make the holiday so much easier is from Mercedes at Common Sense with Money. She has two $30 WalMart Gift Cards so that you can buy a wonderful holiday meal. The mouthwatering details on her site. The giveaway ends on 12/15.

And just in case these aren't Cool enough for you, Mercedes has another giveaway, too. She's offering a $100 Visa Gift Card from Carnation as well. This giveaway ends 12/13 so don't be slow.

My New "Mom" Shoes

I have shoe issues. First of all I require that they fit. I know. Picky, picky.

Next, I require that they be comfortable. Thirdly, I'd like them to be classic or cute. Sometimes I score shoes that are both, but that's rare and mostly those are summer shoes.

My winter shoes - and I use the term loosely - have been old sneakers or Crocs that I wear with thick socks, but this winter has started out like a bear and my feet are already cold. Sneakers that 'breathe' are not your friend when it's 30-40 degrees and the wind is whiping through the trees. Neither are my Crocs. Cute as they are, they are not keeping my feet warm even inside the house.

So, I went shoe shopping. This is not easy. Not as hard as it is for my friend Hope, I'll link back to our cross-post about summer shoe shopping later, but winter shoe shopping is a different kettle of fish for me. Why? Because socks are involved. And the toes of the shoes are enclosed.

This makes a huge difference in how shoes fit for me. I have wide toes. Not wide feet but I like to spread my toes out so I need a wide toe box and this cuts out most shoes made for women unless you buy the 'comfort' varieties. Or my beloved Birks. Yep, I have a bunch of those, too.

I also need good support because I had foot surgery almost a decade ago and I don't wish to go through that again. So, now my requirements are growing - the shoe needs to fit, be comfortable, have a wide toe box, and provide good support - preferably with some squishy-ness under the 'palm' of the foot.

Yes, I am a high maintanenace shoe shopper. I won't just buy any old shoe because I saw it on televison and it looked cute on so-and-so's foot. It has to work on my foot. Thankfully, I've found a shoe that works on my foot and learned something that tons of people in the world already knew.

Dansko Women's Professional Pro Cabrio Leather Clog is one of the most comfortable shoes ever made. Yep, I've joined the ranks of suburban moms and professional chefs and nurses and bought a pair. I fully expect them to last the rest of my life and keep my feet warm and hopefully I won't hurt myself as I learn to wear something taller than a sneaker again because, holy shmokies - these are a Cool Idea!


Britax Giveaway at Mrs. Moneysaver

I think I need to update my Blog Roll but in the meantime you still need to head over to to Mrs. Moneysaver [formerly Frugal in Virginia] because Dana is hosting the most marvelous giveaway - a carseat from Britax! We are a huge believer in Britax but, as you know, if you've priced them - they are pricey. Personally, I don't think there's anything I'd rather spend money on than the safety of Comfort and Joy but realities are realities and I know that it's not possible for everyone to afford a Britax. So, if you are in need of a new carseat or if you know someone who is - run over and enter. The giveaway ends 12/8.

Back to Real Life

Not that November and NaNo wasn't real life for me but now I need to actually make sure that all the rest of the pieces of our lives are picked up, too. So, I've begun to notice things around me a bit better.

Like the fact that it's the beginning of the month and the coupons have reset. Did you catch that, too:) Yep, the coupons.com and cellfire coupons are available and there are some great deals. Personally I'm grabbing more pie crusts and the diapers. Once a Month Mom has some great pie and cinnamon roll recipes with the pie crust and the diapers are self-explanatory.

Also, I'm off to Old Navy today to buy Comfort some long-sleeved shirts. Apparently while I was writing 70K words it turned cold here in Virginia and she only has long-sleeved shirts from last year and they are getting a bit tight. I noticed yesterday that Deal Seeking Mom had some great tips for shopping at Old Navy. Don't forget to head on over there and learn what you can.

And to add a bit of fun to your life, head over to Tia's Saving Cents and learn how you can download a copy of the UP soundtrack. Our whole family loved that movie and you can bet that Comfort and Joy are getting that on DVD for Christmas.

NaNoWriMo Comes to an End



Cyber Monday is coming to a close and Turkey comas are almost done and in a few short hours thousands of writers across the United States and Canada will be posting their word counts into the official NaNoWriMo server to get credit for writing a novel in a month.
I've been posting my word counts all along and the widget to the immediate right has kept a tally of my progress. This year I'll finish somewhere over 60K words, officially. My unofficial count, per my word processor is at almost 70K words but now my eyelids are tired and I'll be heading off to bed.
The good news, I think, is that I still have plot left in my story so I'll still be writing on into December until I finish this draft. Then I'll put it away for a bit. I have other projects that need attention and this story could use a little time to percolate.
If you've been doing NaNo, I hope you had a great experience. Whether you win or not it's about getting words on the page. And even if that doesn't happen sometimes just learning something about yourself and your writing process is worth not winning.
For those of you who have ever thought about writing a novel but haven't sat down to do it consider doing NaNo next year or make your own Novel In a Month event and find someone to help keep you accountable. Fifty thousand words in thirty days comes to 1,667 words a day and if you work on it every day and complete your novel than you can say 'Hey, I wrote a novel' and it's that a Cool Idea!

Cyber Monday is Getting Closer

Cyber Monday is is just a few days away but there is still time to take advantage of great deals. Don't forget that shopping online affords you some great flexibility - no fuel bills, no parking lot headaches, no standing in line to pay, etc.

Just hop right over to Amazon to check out the great Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals. You won't be disappointed. I think you'll find they are most definitely a Cool Idea!

Stock up for the Holidays with Restaurant.com


Restaurant.com Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250

Restaurant.com has more great deal for us for Black Friday through Cyber Monday. {Yeah, I'm behind the times and didn't know that was a real thing. Sorry.}

Use the discount code SAVE through 11/30 and get $25 certificates for $2. That's 80% off of the regular price and makes for great presents for teachers, friends, relatives or stocking stuffers.

Remember to read the 'rules' for each restaurant but most certificates are good for a year.

Make someone happy with the gift of a nice dinner out and buy a gift certificate through Restaurant.com. It is definitely a Cool Idea!

NaNoWriMo heading for the Home Stretch

There are only a few more days left in National Novel Writing Month and from the widget on the right you can tell I have a few more words to write. The kicker is that according to the word count on my word processor I'm actually closer to the 50K endline but c'est la vie. I'll just keep writing so I can actually win this year.

But since Thanksgiving is still between now and the end of the month and several other days when there will be many people in my home and day without school it could still be tight. So, there may be fewer posts here. I'm sure you'll be able to live without me. Check the widget for my progress if you care to and I'll see you soon.

Farmer's Markets aren't just for the Summer

Even though the CSA season is over the Farmer's Market is still open and available and - let me tell you -the veggies are just beautiful. I took Comfort and Joy on an Adventure Girl morning to the market today and all I can say is - WOW!

We have a bag of beautiful salad mix, about 10 apples [red and greens], and about 12 peppers [carmen and bells] all for under $10. I could never have done that at the grocery store especially this time of the year.

First of all, even if I found those items certified organic this time of the year they would be plenty pricey. And second, I'd have to drive nearly 15 miles one way to find a Whole Foods or Trader Joes that might even have them in stock. As it was, I drove across the river 1.2 miles, we got to see the magnificent, swollen, churning James River as an added bonus, and had a bevy of wonderful produce at our fingertips by buying from our local farmer.

So, check in your area and see if your farmer's market is still open. You might just be surprised. Personally, I'm excited to get some additional veggies to use for Turkey Day and what I don't use will go into the freezer. Now doesn't that sound like an awesomely Cool Idea.

Get a Bonus from Coinstar

Don't miss out! Now you can get an extra $10 when you take your coins to a Coinstar machine and change $40 for a certificate.

Choose from big name brands like amazon.com, Lowe's, iTunes, JCPenney and more – with absolutely NO FEE!

There's never been a better time to bring your coins to a Coinstar machine and change them into something you love.

Hurry! Offer ends 12/6/09.

Adorable Cookies From Frugal in VA!

You have got to go check out these cookies! If they taste even half has good as they look they must be delicious because they are just adorable. Dana at Frugal in Virginia is hosting a giveaway. There are several easy ways to enter, so head on over to check out these mouth-watering goodies and then sign up. This is a wonderfully Cool Idea!

New Cellfire Coupons Ready to Load

Cellfire coupons are ready and will be available to load to your Kroger or Safeway family of stores loyalty card until 11/30. You'll have until 12/14 to use them though. Check out the list of all the great coupons that are waiting for you:

Pillsbury® Crescents Save $1

Save $1.00 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Crescent Dinner Rolls.



BC Cookie Mix Save $.40

Save $0.40 when you buy any flavor 17.5 OZ. OR LARGER Betty Crocker® Cookie Mix.



BC Frosting Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting.



BC Potatoes Save $.40

Save $0.40 when you buy any flavor Box or Pouch Betty Crocker® Potatoes (Except Potato Buds®).



BC Warm Delights Save $.50 Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any flavor Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Bowls OR Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Minis Bowls.

Bisquick® Save $.60

Save $0.60 when you buy 40 OZ. OR LARGER Original Bisquick® OR Bisquick Heart Smart® Baking Mix.



Chex Mix Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy any flavor 4.5 OZ. OR LARGER Chex Mix® OR Chex® 100 Calorie Snack.



Chex® Cereals Save $1

Save $1.00 when you buy any TWO Chex® cereals.



Cinn Toast Crunch Save $.55

Save $0.55 when you buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch® cereal.



Green Giant® Vege's Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any variety Green Giant® Frozen Boxed Vegetables.



PB Cookie Dough Save $1

Save $1.00 when you buy TWO PACKAGES any variety Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.



PB Pie Crusts Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy TWO packages of Pillsbury® Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts .



PB Refrig'd Grands! Save $.30

Save $0.30 when you buy TWO any size/variety Refrigerated Pillsbury® Grands!® Biscuits.



PB Savorings® Save $.55

Save $0.55 when you buy any flavor/variety Pillsbury® Savorings® products.



PB Sweet Rolls Save $.40

Save $0.40 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Sweet Rolls OR Grands!® Sweet Rolls.



Progresso® Broth Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any variety Progresso® Broth.



Progresso® Soups Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any flavor Progresso® Soups.



Yoplait® Cups Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy SIX any variety Yoplait® Yogurt cups (Original, Light, Thick & Creamy, OR Whips!®) OR any flavor Yoplait® Original OR Light Smoothie.

Huggies® Diapers Save $3

Save $3.00 on any two packages of Huggies® Diapers.



Cottonelle® Save $.25

Save $.25 on any ONE (1) 4-pack or Larger COTTONELLE® Toilet Paper.



HOT POCKETS Save $.55

Save $.55 when purchasing 1 box of HOT POCKETS® brand BREAKFAST sandwiches.



Scotch Fur Fighter Save $4 (At Kroger and ShopRite)

Save $4 on a Scotch(tm) Fur Fighter(tm) Hair Remover Starter Kit.



Purina® Dry Cat Food Save $1

Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Cat Food, any size, any variety.



Purina® Dry Dog Food Save $1

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Purina® Dog/Cat Treats Save $1

Save $1.00 on two (2) packages of Purina® brand Dog Snacks and/or Cat Treats, any size, any variety.



Nature's Pride Bread Save $.75

Save $0.75 on any one loaf of Nature's Pride® bread.



SELECT 55 6-pack Save $1 (Only available at Vons in the San Diego area)

Save $1.00 when you purchase any one (1) SELECT 55 6-pack.

NaNoWriMo moves into the Middle

So, I'm over the mid-point of the word count and into the land where I don't really know what happens next in the story. I know where the story is headed but the road beyond the headlights is getting darker and darker. My daily word count is getting harder to meet, too.

As a way of motivating me to continue to hit the count that I need I've posted the NaNo word count widget. Now everyone who sees this page will know where I am in my quest to hit 50K - as long as I've updated the NaNo site with my new words. I haven't been good about this but I'll try to keep it up to date at least every couple of days.

Word count widget as accountability tool. Definitely a Cool Idea!

Thoughts on Writing and Romance

I'm at 28K words or so into my NaNo book and on target to finish somewhere around November 22 according to my online report card. Whew. It's true that slow and steady wins the race. Not that I've won yet. There's still Thanksgiving to get through and Joy is getting tubes put back in her ears this week. So many more struggles here at home to compete with my time.

Remember when I wrote about the details of the Romance Publishing industry this summer. Where here are some new numbers to grapple with:

· Romance novels currently comprise the largest share
of the consumer book market as reported this fall in Time Magazine. More
than one out of four books sold is a romance and romance novels earned nearly
$1.4 billion in sales last year. The happy ending feature of romance
novels seems to be the uplifting aspect that appeals to people even more in a
recession.

· Some of the challenges the publishing industry
struggled with in 2008 and is continuing to in 2009 include the following:
imprints reorganized, independent booksellers struggle, mass merchandisers like
Wal-Mart continued to dominated the book-selling scene; proliferation of
used books, book piracy, increased competition for consumer leisure time.

· Americans only spent 3.9 hours per week reading
books in 2008, while they spent 15 hours online and 12.1 hours watching
television. The biggest challenge for the publishing industry to overcome may be
increasing the perceived value of reading. Industry analysts believe the
book business should remember that the future of content isn’t about whether
it is seen, but whether it is valued.

So, while it's not all peaches and sunshine the Romance industry is still keeping the publishing industry afloat. While you may not think that 'romance' is for you I would venture to bet that there's a romance book out there somewhere that you'd love. There are so many subgenres within the romance umbrella that it's almost impossible not to find something you don't love.

If you like funny - try a Jennifer Crusie. If you like suspense - try Linda Howard. If you like terrorists - try Cherry Adair. If you like vampires - well, there are so many to pick from:) And if you just want to get more ideas you can take a look at the reviews I've been writing or go over to my sister blog and see the books I've been reading over the course of this year.

Kindle for the PC

Tia's Saving Cents and Frugal in Virginia both posted that Amazon has a new app - Kindle for the PC. [The app for Mac is supposed to be available shortly]. The download is quick and easy and once you're done you can read Amazon Kindle books from your PC. Isn't that a Cool Idea!


I Love Neutrogena!


If you love Neutrogena, too, grab this and you'll get free samples with every order, as well as, free shipping with orders over $25! Buy any 3 items and you get 25% off your entire order. I think that sounds like a Cool Idea!

Be Safe On The Road

Yep, we can file this under 'rant' but I hope it makes you stop and think.

For those of you that live in Virginia did you know that there is a law that requires you to turn on your headlights when your windshield wipers are on? Yes there is. And while I don't know anyone who's gotten a ticket for not doing it that doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

Especially in the fall and winter time when the sky is gray and visibility is diminished and when rain bounces off the roads it's very hard to see what's going on. So, just turn on your lights so that your car is easier to see and we'll all be safer.

And better yet, next time you buy a car try to buy one with Daytime Running Lights. I love these! In fact, I was pissed when I got home after buying 'Lightening McQueen' [which is what Comfort and Joy call our car] to find that for the first time in a DECADE I did not have DRL]. Daytime Running Lights are a great safety feature and make it easier for other cars to see you. It's as simple as that. Not to mention that you get a better rate on your insurance if you have DRL so it's always a good thing to look for.

That's it. Turn on your lights when it's raining. It keeps us all safer and personally I think that's a very Cool Idea!

Stewardship of Resources: Your Home

I've been doing some Fall Cleaning around the house to help take care of what we have. What? You never heard of Fall Cleaning?

Well, it's like Spring Cleaning but done in the Fall. Yeah, catchy title, I know.

But it's important to take care of the house, because it's something that is in yours and will work much better if take care of it along the way.

What kinds of things have I been doing?
  • Cleaned the stainless steel of the appliances with WD-40. I can't remember where I read this - maybe on the Everyday Cheapskate emails - but it really does work
  • Scrubbed my porcelain kitchen with Barkeeper's Friend. Another great tip from Everyday Cheapskate.
  • Cleaned the coils of the fridge.
  • Weed the front garden and trim back the hedges.

Obviously, there are other things that need to be done and would need to be done if we had a lawn or different type of property. Mostly the point is to take care of what you have responsibility for and your home is just one more thing that falls into that category.

So, look around the house or the yard and check out those things that need to happen before it gets too cold and yucky. Make a list and start working your way through it. Your house will appreciate it and it's an important part of stewardship. I promise.

Another Great Giveaway at Common Sense with Money

Mercedes at Common Sense with Money is also giving away at $100 VISA gift card [courtesy of Carnation Evaporated Milk]. There are several ways to enter - head on over for he details and read all the good ways to incorporate Evaporated milk into your cooking. It's a Cool Idea!

one small message, one mighty impact

Head on Over to $5 Dinners!

Erin is giving away a $100 VISA gift card to help with holiday baking [sponsored by Carnation Evaporated Milk]. Head on over to enter!

Payout from Inbox Dollars



I just hit the payout threshold with Inbox Dollars and requested my first check. It's taken me a little while but I don't click on all the emails that they send me. But if you are diligent I don't think it would take long to hit the cashout amount. Personally, if you're already in your email inbox and just sitting in front of the TV you might as well be making some cash for yourself. Right? Sounds like a Cool Idea to me, too!

Opinion Outpost Surveys has new Payout Threshold!


Opinion Outpost now pays out at 50 points - or $5 - if you choose an Amazon.com gift card as your reward. So, no waiting around until you hit $20 anymore and then waiting for a check. And since most of Opinion Outposts surveys are at least $1 this shouldn't take too long to tally up.

So, just in case you're in need of some more gift cards for your holiday shopping make sure to do your Opinion Outpost surveys as soon as they come into your email box. If you aren't signed up with them. It's easy to join. Just head on over and fill out your profiles to get started. It's definitely a Cool Idea!

Swedish Meatballs on Special at IKEA

I just love IKEA! In fact the only thing I don't love is that I live over an hour away now and have to make due with only periodic trips to this Scandinavian House of Practicality. But this weekend, November 7-10, the Swedish Meatball plate in the IKEA Restaurant is only $1! Truly, how can you beat that!!

And if you haven't made it to the IKEA Restaurant yet let me tell you that it's fantastic. Not only is the food great but you if you want to substitute something it's no biggy. And the kids food isn't fire-blasting hot. The mac-and-cheese tastes great and is at a temperature that is ready to eat. As a mom who always has kids ready to gnaw off their own arm at about that time in the trip this welcome. They also have utensils especially for kids if you look near the bottle warming station. Oh and if you forgot your own baby food for the little one, yep you can pick up a jar in the restaurant. And around the corner in the family changing room there are always extra diapers and wipes.

It really is a place where you can come and take a break for a few minutes. Let the kids sit at tables their own size, if you want. Make sure they eat something healthy - because there's always yogurt and milk and veggies, too - and that way you don't have to deal with the sugar crash that'll happen later at the end of the shopping trip.

So, just in case you're planning to go to IKEA this weekend - we'll be at the one in Woodbridge - be sure to grab your plate of meatballs for a $1 and enjoy because this is definitely a Cool Idea!

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

March of Dimes reminds us all that November is Prematurity Awareness Month. 543,000 babies are born too soon each year and thankfully, due to increased funding and research many of those babies go on to live long and healthy lives.

As a mom who struggled with infertility and who has friends who did as well I, unfortunately, became well acquainted with the virtual bands as a way to honor those who were born too early and didn't survive. But I can also say that Comfort has her own band, too. She was born a month early and I wanted to create a band as a thank you for the hard work that the doctors and nurses did for her while she in the NICU.

One way that the lives of our premature babies can be acknowledged is to buy a virtual band , either in memory or in honor of the child, as a donation to March of Dimes. If you have a premature baby in your life consider donating a virtual band in their honor and helping March of Dimes give more struggling babies a greater chance.

Great Giveaway in the Works!

Head on over to Money Saving Methods and sign up for the $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, kids books and Cherrios giveaway that Carrie has going on. You can get up to 6 entries so maximize your chance of getting some great books for yourself and your kids.

Coupons are reset!

The beginning of the month means that the coupons.com coupons are reset. Check out all the great options for saving. There are the usual suspects - Yoplain, Big G Cereals, Kellogg's, Pillsbury cookie dough, etc. But there are also some great coupons for Hasbro games so if you are looking for holiday gifts already head on over to the coupon bar on the right handside and see if there's something there for a little person in your life.

Remember, too, that the cellfire coupons [available in the right sidebar] are still available if you have a Kroger or Safeway family store in your area. Just download those to your loyalty card.

Don't forget to check out shortcuts.com and p&gesavers for coupons, too. Also, Upromise ecoupons don't come off your grocery bill but the money goes toward your upromise account. Pgesavers and upromise can be bundled with other coupons but the others cannot. Optimizing your coupons each month is always a Cool Idea!

NaNoWriMo Begins Today!


For the rest of the world that is not pestered with voices in their head and who may not know what that means. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. NaNo, as it is mostly abbreviated, requires writers to write 50,000 words of original material in the month of November. If you do - then you win. What do you win? Nothing but the ability to say that you finished a novel, which is something that most people say that want to do in their life, but let's face it, they rarely accomplish.
So, for those of you who may be thinking that "Hey, I could do that!" Well, you're right! 50K words is something like 1,667 words a day. If you can keep up that pace than you really don't have any huge worries.
Ahem, of course, you'll need to plan for the flu, several early dismissal days from school, the 4 days that your in-laws will be visiting for Turkey Day and various other distractions but otherwise it's totally doable.
But some of the best things about NaNo is that you're not doing this alone. There are several levels of community for you to be part of. There's the national level, then you can find a local group, or maybe even an online group. I went to a local kick-off a few years ago and it was amazing. Not something I need to do again by myself but there was a lot of energy there!
For me, I'm all about the online communities. I have 2 online writing communities of which I am part and we have a NaNo discussion set up already. Also, the NaNo site allows you to set up a buddy list using your NaNo username. These communities and buddies are to keep encouragment up and make sure you know that you're not alone. You might still go crazy but you won't be alone.
This announcement is also to say that posts to this blog in the month of November will either b a) sparse or b) used as a way to avoid the novel I'm supposed to be writing. It probably won't be hard to figure out how the writing is going after the first week!
Probably the most amazing part of the NaNo process is that it's a volunteer/ non-profit site. There's a fund-o-meter to let people know if they've met their expenses for the month to keep the servers up and to fund the educational projects they run. You see, it's not all about a bunch of people putting their butts in a chair and typing. It's also about teaching kids about the power of story. And truly, that may be the Coolest Idea of All!

My New Gig!

I've got a new gig that I'm kinda excited about. As well as catching me here, where I write about living smart and being accountable, I'm going to be writing for Examiner.com in the Richmond Area as the Romance Novel Reviewer. Clearly not a surprise to those of you who have noticed the "What I Am Reading Column" over the past months. I'll keep the column going but you'll get much fuller reviews as well as interviews over on my page at examiner.com. Check it out because it is a super Cool Idea!

My Mailbox Runneth Over

Oh, My! Right now I have a bunch of products that I'm in the process of testing and I gotta tell you it's almost confusing. In fact, when I saw the box on the porch today, I thought, "Oh no. What do we have to eat now!"

But really it's all good. Some of it I'll get to share with you. Like the produce from Glade that is scenting my living room. Some of it is not for sharing. In fact, most of it is not for sharing. Make that 5 products right now that are not for sharing! But I'm careful to keep it all straight so I can record the right information for the correct company.

So, how did all these products arrive at my house? From filling out surveys for the most part. The only exception is the Glade product which is from BzzAgent. Surveys not only pay you money but they are often seeking people to test products. In the past I've tested baby wipes, disposable training pants, toilet paper, shampoo - to name a few items.

If product testing is interesting to you, then definitely check out BzzAgent and see if it's for you. Also, keep an eye on the surveys that you fill out and see if one of them is hinting at a product test. You never know what you might be getting for free to test in the privacy of your own home! And as far as I'm concerned as long as it's not fish it's definitely a Cool Idea!

Stewardship of Resources: Looking out for the Environment

Personally, for me doing good things for the environment comes down to something basic and simple. God made it and we should treat it well.

So, how far am I willing to go? I like to drink clean water so I'd like to make sure that we keep bad stuff out of the water. I like to breathe clean air so I think we should keep bad stuff out of the air.

I know we need to balance prosperity and commerce with our impact on the world but I think the world should get a bigger vote since it was here first. You know, sort of like the Native Americans should have. Yep, you get the picture.

This comes down to a do-unto-others thing in my view and it can start small. Comfort and Joy walk to school as many days as we can even though this is clearly not the norm. In fact, I don't see any other kids walking to school. This not only gives us time together as a family but time to enjoy the world around us. We look at the colors change and the leaves drop from the trees. It's a magical time in Virginia and if we were in a car we might be speeding right by too quickly to notice or too quickly to be able to have a conversation about it. Every day. And I do mean Every Day.

Our choice to eat organically when we can afford to is another way to support the environment, but you've heard me discuss that before when I've discussed buying locally. It just makes sense and it's such a Cool Idea that I don't have any more to say on the environment issue. Next, we get closer to home.

Get a Treat from Restaurant.com


Restaurant.com Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250


Use the discount code TREATS to get a great deal at Restaurant.com! Get $25 certificates for $2!! As always, remember to read the details for each restaurant you're considering so that you know what their specifications are. Most of the time certificates don't expire for a year, but double check. This TREATS is good through Oct. 31. Enjoy because it is definitely a Cool Idea!

If a Mommy Owned the Redskins

So, how 'bout those 'Skins? Yeah, that's what I figured. I didn't even stay awake for the end of the game last night and yet I'm pretty sure I know how it ended. How is that? Because it's raining today instead of dropping confetti from the sky that's how.

I know that some people really get into how 'their' team does on a weekly basis. I keep tabs on them and root for them but it's been a long time since I knew the names of the players or could pick them out of a lineup. It's a strange feeling especially since I grew up in the DC-suburbs and several of the players used to come eat a little restaurant where I had my first job. It was at that job I learned a few things - football players dodn't drop the ball much because they have huge hands and we as fans should be thankful that they wear grills and masks most of the time. A lot of those guys are just not pretty.

But even though I'm not a die hard, bleeding fan it pains me to know that they are doing so poorly and to hear - even as remotely as I am, cut off from speculation since I rarely read the newspaper and not a guy - that Snyder will likely fire the new coach.

I think this is Snyder's key to all disappointments. Just fire 'em. To me it sounds a bit like Marie Antoinette but then I'm probably mixing my metaphors. Because of these kinds of management changes he keeps jerking the team in different directions every couple of years and each time it creates a new problem that takes a few years to settle and rebuild and then he fires that guy. Seriously, is there anyone with a pulse that doesn't see this as a problem.

So, I was thinking that if a Mommy ran the Redskins there would be a very different management philosophy. I think that instead of deciding to fire a coach half way through a season - his second season coaching EVER - the Mommy would get the coach a mentor to help the coach out. Give him some personal bolstering and professional words, if necessary. But mostly, Mommy owes her associates respect and alliance and they should know that at all times. If they don't, they won't feel comfortable to go out on a limb and make hard decisions or courageous plays.

Mommy would also let the coach know that to learn is to make mistakes, and to make mistakes is to learn. Snyder has to realize that some of the problems with the depth of the bench is because of the flip-flopping that's been going on. Shoot, even I remember the years when the dork from California tried to make the Skins into a passing team. Like that was ever going to happen. Let Coach use this season as a training and building season.

Devil's Advocate is going to remind Mommy that this will be a very expensive process. Sure. But if you fix it this year then you're done and you will have the undying respect of Coach and the Entire Washington Redskins Fan Base and there isn't any other like it in the world. In fact, if you could bottle it and send it that into battle I figure we'd be out of the Middle East in record time. And even if it doesn't work, what have you lost really? Time? You were going to loose that anyway. Respect? Unless you give it you don't get it back.

I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed for my home team and hope that Coach gets a break and Snyder keeps off his back for the rest of the season and if there's a Mommy out there with a few hundred million dollars who'd like to implement these philosophies give me a call and we'll see if Snyder is open to negotiation.

Stewardship of Resources


This will be the first of several posts on this topic because there are many levels that I want to talk about. First we're going to look BIG PICTURE!

I'll be one of the first to admit that I've been mightily spoiled by the incredible riches of our state and national parks. The United States obviously has the opportunity to set aside so much space because we have so much space. But I'd also like to think that it's because we, as a nation, value setting some of our land aside. Whether it be for it's beauty or it's history or for reverance - we value what this means.
In a sense, it's like tithing. The reason for tithing is so that we learn to live on less than we make. Setting aside parks not only allows everyone to hold this land in common, to enjoy and use, but it means that we have to learn to live on just that much less land.
Some parks are very large. In fact the largest National Park is "Wrangell-St. Elias located in the Eastern region of South-central Alaska. The Chugach, Wrangell, and St. Elias mountain ranges converge here in what is often referred to as the "Mountain Kingdom of North America." It is the largest national park in the United States, six times the size of Yellowstone. Wrangell-St. Elias encompasses over 20,000 square miles of mountain wilderness - that's over 50,000 square kilometers, or 25% larger than Switzerland!"
Some of these parks are very small. The smallest being in Guthrie, Oklahoma to commemorate the land rush but it ended up being so small due to the deed being written improperly.
But no matter what the size they all have a story to tell and stories are what make us different from other animals. Stories are what we will pass on to our children and the next generations.
So as we continue to think about stewardship let's consider what it means to be a Steward of our natural and national park resources in the sense of keeping them available for future generations. This is never the sexy part of any government's budget but one that we would all miss if it left or if we had to start paying, or paying substantially more, for the opportunity to enjoy and explore the wonders of this great land. I know, I'm a geek, but I think it's a Cool Idea!


Coupon for Children's Place!


We love Children's Place! In fact, it's the only store I've ever found where the sizes are actually true to Comfort's age. Amazing. Even better than the great sizing are the cute styles and wonderful use of color.

That said, I don't shop there unless there's a coupon involved because it's usually out of my price range. Even better, a coupon and a sale going on and if you are a reader of Common Sense with Money you'll have heard that there is in fact a great sale going on at Children's Place online.

So, hurry and grab a coupon and get some cool clothes during this seasonal transition sale. I know I will because this is definitely a Cool Idea!

Give your Two Cents with Survey Head



I promise you'll make more than two cents with Survey Head, though! In fact, when you get invitations from Survey Head you'll find out the percentage likelihood that the survey is a good fit for you. Pretty good, huh. The cash out threshold is $25 and can be done in Amazon gift cards, cash or donations to charity. Again, Pretty neat. Signing up to do surveys through Survey Head is definitely a Cool Idea!!

Resolution Recap: Trading Time for Money

One of the things I do to help our family budget is mystery shopping. You've heard me talk about this before but not, perhaps, in the context of Stewardship of Time.

In the past several years one thing I have had more of is time. As opposed to money:) Of course, I couldn't do a great deal with it because I always had Comfort and Joy with me but I had time on my hands. Literally. That's when I started trying to find ways that I could work from home while I watched the girls.

Mystery Shopping isn't a great option in this case because I have to have someone else watch the kids unless I find a meal Mystery Shop but that doesn't mean that these shops aren't useful to us.

But now that the girls are in school, remarkably, I actually have less time for the work I'm trying to do so I'm more careful about the mystery shops I take on. In September I took on too many and it was a little crazy. I intentionally backed off for October and I've only been accepting assignments slowly throughout the month.

One great thing about being careful about doing your reports is that companies learn when you are reliable and when they need someone they'll give you a call. I've picked up 3 shops this way in October alone. So, the calendar has changed drastically. At the beginning of the month I had one mystery shop scheduled [dinner for the family at a burger place]. As of now, I've also added:
  • 3 grocery store mystery shops
  • 2 cosmetic store shops [these are nice because they don't require a purchase!]
  • Hardware store shop
  • Pizza delivery mystery shop

I also have a long-term shop that is coming to completion by the end of the month. And there's still another week left, too. I might pick up some more. But I'll wait and see if it's something that I really need and make sure that it doesn't take up a huge amount of my time because now that I have less time I want to make sure that I use it carefully and wisely because being a good Steward is definitely a Cool Idea!

Stewardship of Time

Just as it's important to use our money to have a say about what's important to us, it's also important to use our time to show what we value. Strangely, if most of us look through an accounting of how we actually spend our day we'll likely find that there's a lot of stuff that we don't value that we're spending the bulk of our time on.

Why do we do this? Sometimes, we don't know it's happening. If this is the case, once we have the information we then have the opportunity to change. It doesn't always have to be a huge change but if it should make a big enough difference in your life for you to notice.

Sometimes we do things we don't value because we feel we have no choice. Why? Because it's our job, or a loved one enjoys the activity, or - for whatever reason you have chosen to spend time doing something that you do not enjoy or value. You just need to decide if this is okay with you - for now. It doesn't have to be forever. Just for now. Give yourself a set increment of time and then check back in and decide if you're still okay with spinning your wheels. If not, then make the change.

And sometimes we make a conscious effort to use our time with care to do something for someone else. This is important, too. Stewardship of Time shouldn't always be about ourselves and what we want and need. We need to think outside of ourselves to see the bigger picture. This perspective takes maturity but it helps us remember that there's more to life than whatever gossip might have been on TV that day. Stewardship of Time reminds us to be conscious of how we use our time, to value the time that we have, and to consciously consider spending our time to help other people. Personally, I think that's a Cool Idea.

Cellfire Coupons reset!

Here we go! The Cellfire coupons have been reset and are available for saving to your Kroger or Safeway family of store brand loyalty cards from now until Monday, November 02, 2009. They will expire 2 weeks later on November 16, 2009.

Here are the coupons that you can load:

BC Cookie Mix Save $.40: Save $0.40 when you buy any flavor 17.5 OZ. OR LARGER Betty Crocker® Cookie Mix.

BC Potatoes Save $.40: Save $0.40 when you buy any flavor Box or Pouch Betty Crocker® Potatoes (Except Potato Buds®).

BC Warm Delights Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any flavor Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Bowls OR Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Minis Bowls.

BC Frosting Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting.

Bisquick® Save $.60: Save $0.60 when you buy 40 OZ. OR LARGER Original Bisquick® OR Bisquick Heart Smart® Baking Mix.

Chex Mix® Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy any flavor 4.5 OZ. OR LARGER Chex Mix® OR Chex® 100 Calorie Snack.

Chex® cereals Save $1 Save $1.00 when you buy any TWO Chex® cereals.

Fiber One Muffin Mix Save $.50 Save $0.50 when you buy any flavor/variety Fiber One(tm) Box Muffin Mix.

Green Giant® Vege's Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any variety Green Giant® Frozen Boxed Vegetables.

Hamburger Helper® Save $.75: Save $0.75 when you buy THREE any flavor Hamburger Helper®, Tuna Helper® OR Chicken Helper® Home Cooked Skillet Meals.

Kix® cereal Save $.55: Save $0.55 when you buy any Kix® cereal - Kix®, Berry Berry Kix® OR Honey Kix®.

NV Granola Nut Clustrs Save $1: Save $1.00 when you buy ONE BAG any flavor Nature Valley® Granola Nut Clusters.

PB Cookie Dough Save $1: Save $1.00 when you buy TWO PACKAGES any variety Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.

PB Frozen Grands! Save $.75: Save $0.75 when you buy any TWO Frozen Pillsbury® Grands!® Biscuits, Cinnamon Rolls, OR Mini Cinnamon Rolls.

PB Italian Meal Bred Save $.40: Save $0.40 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Italian Meal Breads (Includes any Loaves, Breadsticks, Dinner Rolls, and Pizza Crust).

PB Rolled Pie Crusts Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy TWO packages of Pillsbury® Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts.

PB Refrig'd Grands! Save $.30: Save $0.30 when you buy TWO any size/variety Refrigerated Pillsbury® Grands!® Biscuits.

PB Sweet Rolls Save $.40: Save $0.40 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Sweet Rolls OR Grands!® Sweet Rolls.

PB Holiday Cookies Save $.75: Save $0.75 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Refrigerated Holiday Cookies.

Progresso® Broth Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any variety Progresso® Broth.

Progresso® Soups Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any flavor Progresso® Soups.

Romano's Mac Grill kit Save $1: Save $1.00 when you buy any flavor Romano's Macaroni Grill® Restaurant Favorites® Dinner Kit.

Yoplait® cups Save $.50: Save $0.50 when you buy SIX any variety Yoplait® Yogurt cups OR any flavor Yoplait® Original OR Light Smoothies.

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Stewardship of Money

Being a good Steward of your money is very important. I personally feel that we 'vote' with our money. We make value judgments based on products we buy. That's why people boycott companies whose practice they cannot abide. They don't want their money going to help causes/ people who believe in things that they don't believe.

Being frugal allows us to better live within our means. Is it a perfect means? Not always but it is smarter than always paying full price for everything without even thinking. That way lies madness.

Being a good Steward of our money also means generously giving it away. It may seem oxymoronic that giving away your money is good for you but it truly is. Not only will it make you feel better, but it's better for the community at large and that's a good enough reason for me to donate my money when I can.

Here's where Being a Good Steward of Your Money and Donation go hand in hand. Know the people to whom you donate or at least do some research. Give to your local church or faith community. Go through the Unitied Way or even a small non-profit that you have personal contact with. Don't hand out money to people who call you over the phone. That's not being responsible with your money. That's being taken for a ride.

Money is the way that budgets are made for organizations and this time of the year is extremely important as non-profits struggle to make ends meet between the rock and a hard place - more people are in need and they have fewer dollars in which to help them. In this climate of economic downturn I don't know anyone who isn't being cautious and that's a smart plan. But if you can, please make some provision for a donation to a non-profit in your area. There are so many programs that will not be available in the New Year because of a lack of funds. Then there is the trickle down - those programs are led by people. Those people won't have jobs, etc., etc., etc.,

The Stewardship conversation may start with our money but it's not going to stop here. We'll continue to talk about ways in which we can give back to our community, take care of what we have and be Good Stewards. This is definitely a Cool Idea!

Season of Stewardship

Odds are that if you belong to community organization, church, or other faith community you've heard the word stewardship lately and probably in the context of the organization as it comes together to create its budget for next year. People in churches laugh at the euphemism and sometimes joke that attendance drops so that people can protect their wallet when 'Stewardship Sunday' roles around.

It's unfortunate that Stewardship has taken on the connotation of revolving around money. It's true that stewardship of money is important and definitely part of the conversation, but it's not the whole conversation and it's not the only conversation.

Over the next several days we'll be looking at what it means to be a good Steward. How we can be a better Steward of that which has been entrusted to us and what this means going forward.

It's a Cool Idea. I promise. Really.

$5 Dinners on Debt-Proof Living

I've been a subscriber to Mary Hunt's Everyday Cheapskate e-newsletter for quite a while now. I enjoy getting it in my inbox everyday. Most days it reminds me of good ways to cut costs and reduce our debt. Other days it provides helpful hints for around the house - some of which I definitely would never have though of.

Recently, Erin of $5 Dinners has been added to these emails. I already subscribe to Erin's emails but I enjoy seeing her in this new space, too. It's a great forum and great recipes, too.

I hope you'll head on over see the most recent recipe and go ahead and subscribe to the Everyday Cheapskate. I promise you'll get a lot out of the emails. It's definitely a Cool Idea!

Life Gets in the Way

I don't know how you guys do this but I'm still having trouble merging real life with our school life. I think I had more time to get things done before Comfort and Joy were in school. Or maybe I'm just trying to get so much more packed into so little time that my frustration is bubbling over.

Perhaps, the key is to manage my expectations and not presume that I can keep the house picked up, do the grocery shopping, find a well paying job, write the great American novel, and solve world peace when I only have 2 uninterupted hours a day in which to work. But, I say to myself - I have 5 days a week x 2 hours - shouldn't that account for something?

A ten hour a week job is barely even part-time, I remind myself. I'm trying to jam a LOT of stuf into a very small timeframe. Probably I should be glad that it's working at all but mostly I'm still trying to keep my head above water.

The only saving grace is that because the girls are dead dog tired they don't fight going to bed at 7:30pm and then I have the evenings to get back to work without guilt. Of course, I'm missing television and stuff like that but that's what Netflix and retirement are for. Right now I need to keep pushing on and see what I can create, produce, and make for dinner and hopefully at some point I can acknowledge that some of it will have been a Cool Idea!

Review: Harry Connick, Jr Sings Your Songs


I'm old enough to remember going to see the movie "When Harry Met Sally" in the theatre and hearing "It Had to Be You" and thinking "Wow, that guy sounds great. I wonder who that is." Since then I've followed and enjoyed Connick's music since - of course it doesn't hurt that he has the face of a male model! - and admired the work he's done in his native New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina so when One2One Network gave me the opportunity to review his new album Your Songs I jumped at the chance.
This album includes classic songs that you'll know from other places and by other artists. Like:
  • All The Way
  • Just the Way You Are
  • Can't Help Falling in Love with You
  • And I love Her
  • Close to You
  • Besame Mucho
  • The Way You Look Tonight
  • First ime Ever I saw Your Face
  • Your Song
  • Some Enchanted Evening
  • And I love You So
  • Who Can I Turn To
  • Smile
  • Mona Lisa

While I appreciated the music and enjoyed Connick's interpretation of these songs I can't say that I thought these were the best versions of these songs I've ever heard or his best work. Sometimes I just think his voice wasn't the best match for the song. However, I think this is a good album and good background music and if you are a die hard Harry Connick, Jr. fan then you'll want to get this album for sure.


More Help with Meal Planning


As regular readers to this blog know, Menu Planning was one of my New Year's Resolutions and it has been my biggest challenge. I still don't have a reliable plan. In fact, I cannot tell you what we will be having for dinner tonight and it's after 2pm. So, I'm thinking that I might be trying out something like this very soon.

Services like relish! are popping up all around. Some are free and some are subscriptions based. This one is a subscription [at $7 a month] but it it seems that you get to pick your 5 dinners from a list and they guarantee that your weekly dinners will cost less than $85. That includes entrees and sides and the prep is 30 mins or less.

So, if you are menu planning challenged like I am head on over to relish! and check out what they have to offer because it genuinely looks like a really Cool Idea!

CrockPot Lady's Book is For Sale!

Just in case you were not around on one of the many days that I blogged about finding the A Year of Slow Cooking blog or you are not one of the bazillions of people I have emailed the link to the apple butter recipe recently, that's all right. The Crock Pot lady has you covered, so to speak. Stephanie O'Dea's book Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking is available October 13th! Woohoo!!

Oh, but it gets better. Stephanie will also be on Good Morning America Tuesday the 13th! So, Check it out!!


Check it out with Restaurant.com


Restaurant.com Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250

Restaurant.com is offering the $25 certificate for $2 again! Use discount code FOUR until Oct. 12th to get this amazing deal.

It's getting to be that time of the year when we need to stock up on inexpensive presents for family, friends, and co-workers. These certificates make great gifts because they are inexpensive to you, offer a great value to the recipient and they don't expire until a year after purchase. [Remember to read the details for each restaurant though.]

Take a look at the restaurant offerings in your area. They can change as the year goes on - some restaurants will come and go from the program - but the price of the certificate is always a wonderful Cool Idea!

Nourish+ Your Hair with Aveeno


I had the opportunity * to try AVEENO's new NOURISH+ hair care products to see what the big deal was. I'm a big fan of products that use natural ingredients to do their work and AVEENO has blended the natural benefits of wheat germ oil and wheat protein into these products to help restore and revitalize hair naturally.
These are words that I love. Truly. I love it when companies use products this way. I wanted to love these products with all of my heart so I took all the other hair care products out of the shower and I only used AVEENO NOURISH+ MOISTURIZE. The information from AVEENO says that after just 3 washes you, and other people, will begin to notice positive changes in your hair.
I got to day 3 and wasn't sure I could do anymore but this is a review and I wanted to make sure I was giving the product a fair shot. I kept going. Seven washes and my hair did feel better. Two weeks now and it's great. Look great. Does anyone else notice? Not sure Comfort and Joy would notice if I wore a clown wig but it does feel better and not as dry as before since my primary reason for selecting the MOISTURIZE Shampoo and Conditioner is that as my hair is graying it is drying out.
So what were the drawbacks for me? They weren't the way the product made my hair feel after I got out of the shower. That part was great. The drawback for me was the way my hair felt during the shampoo process. The shampoo lather is great. The smell is a bit funny but I chalked that up to a lack of perfumes added to the product which makes sense if AVEENO is going to keep with the natural thing. But when I rinsed the shampoo from my hair, my hair felt tacky, almost like I'd just put paste in my hair.
I did read through the literature that very explicitly mentions how important it is to use both the shampoo and conditioner and I would agree. Once again, not for how your hair will feel out of the shower, but for how your hair will feel inside the shower. It's a complete process and you need to do it from start to finish. But that's okay because a little of the product goes a long way. I've been using AVEENO NOURISH+ MOISTURIZE shampoo and conditioner everyday for two weeks and it looks like I've barely put a dent in the bottle. I do have short hair but since I don't wear my contacts in the shower I'm not careful about using a 'dime size' portion of anything;) And speaking of not wearing my contacts in the shower I can thank AVEENO for making the tops of the bottles different colors so that even without my contacts, and without the ability to read the bottles, I can tell the shampoo from the conditioner before I make the mistake of trying to lather the wrong one into my hair. Much appreciated!!
AVEENO NOURISH+ has additional products in this line, too. REVITALIZE is made for hair that sustains everyday damage and those who have trouble combing through tangles. VOLUMIZE is made to provide bounce to hair that is fine and flat. SOOTHE is for people with itchy, dry scalp and there's even a CONDITION leave-in treatment or hair that is intensely dry and damaged.

No matter what products we use how we use them can make or break the efficiency of the product. Here are some great reminders from AVEENO:

  • Turn down the temperature of your shower and end your shower will cool water. Hot water wicks away moisture leaving hair dry and dull.
  • We all know that hair is vulnerable when wet so was it gently. Use your palms to spread the shampoo evenly from the roots to the tip.
  • Washing your hair is a 2-step process. Never skip the conditioner.
  • Don't brush out tangles. Use a wide-toothed comb and start at the ends of your hair and work your way up to the roots until all the knots are free.
  • When you're styling your hair wait until your hair is at least half dry since this limits the damage that heat can do to your hair.
  • To boost limp hair flip your head over and blow the hair away from your scalp.
  • Only use flat irons and curling irons on dry hair since they will damage damp hair and won't create the effect you wanted anyway.
  • Don't fight your hair. Let it go. If it's curly figure out how to work with it. If it's sraight learn to enjoy that.
  • ~~ And I'll insert my own motto here: Embrace the Gray!

So, there you go. AVEENO NOUISH+ MOISTURIZE did leave my hair feeling great once I got out of the shower. I would love for you to give it a try and/or joing the conversation about AVEENO NOURISH+. If you'd like a sample of AVEENO MOISTURIZE shampoo and conditioner please leave me a message in the comments and I'll send them out until I have no more. Also, if you'd like to join an online conversation about AVEENO NOURISH+ you can go to ChatThreads.com and enter 101 289 451591

*Disclaimer: I received the products for free to try and I have received samples to give away. No money has given to me and my review has in no way been influenced.

Dinner in a Dash

I'm still having a hard time adjusting to the new school year. Today I forgot to pack Comfort's blanket for rest time and for the first time EVER she ate all of her lunch and didn't have anthing to eat for afternoon snack.

So, in the middle of Comfort's homework I panicked that there was not yet a plan or dinner. Here is what I did:
1. Place frozen chicken breast in a pocket of foil.
2. Squirt with 30-minute Marinade. This has been in my pantry for months. I used Teriyaki flavor that I'm pretty sure I got for less than $1.
3. Seal foil pocket and cook in 350 degee oven until they smell done.

I also got the rice cooker going and at the last minute nuked some frozen peas and there we go. Not a great plan but the chicken sure was tasty. I wasn't sure what it would taste like starting with frozen chicken but it worked great.

So, not a plan in the traditional sense but it worked for me today and the girls actually ate a few bites before they went back to the rice and peas.~

Read for the Record


Very Hungry Caterpillar

Today, people all over the world are reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Not only is this an awesome book but Jumpstart is using this event opportunity to promote the need to provide a 'jumpstart' for at-risk kids.

If you want more information about how to get involved, just check out the Jumpstart site.
So, be part of the record today and read this great book with your kids or with any kids. It's just such a Cool Idea!

Free Breakfast at IKEA!


IKEA does it again! Join them for FREE breakfast Oct 10-12. YUMMY!

Sale on Britax at Amazon


If you are in the market for car seats I can't say enough about the wonders of Britax. They are among the safest in the world. Yes, the WORLD - and from now through October 18, you can enjoy savings up to $50 on top-rated car seats from Britax. So, whether you are just celebrating your child's first birthday by moving to the big kid car seat or you are upgrading to a booster seat remember the safety and convenience of Britax and enjoy this great deal from Amazon! Safety and money off - definitely a Cool Idea!