Monday, August 16, 2010

Coupon Class

I'm super excited to be attending a couponing class by Sister's on a Shoestring.   Sister's on a shoestring is a local blog by two sisters, Lisa and Sara.  They have their own blog about local and nationwide deals.  The discuss the use of catalinas and other couponing jargon.
I attended a coupon a few months back and learned a ton of info; some of which I have shared with you.  Internet coupons, catalinas, use of an organizer, importance of having store policies with you and stacking to name a few.
I learned a lot at the last class, but since I am a working mother, decided to primarily stick to coupons (sunday paper and internet) and one store, Giant Eagle since they double their coupons under a dollar. 
I might consider broading my knowledge base even though I am still a novice in couponing.

Here are a few of the blogs out there that I am aware of that share some secrets:
Sister's on a shoestring
Coupon Craving
Surviving the stores
Hey, Its Free!
Briana's Bargins

Hopefully, I will have something blog worthy from tomorrow's class!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wagon Trails: a safari ride

This last Friday we went to Wagon Trails in Vienna Ohio.  Wagon trails is pretty much just that,  A wagon that takes you on a ride through the trails of their reserve where they have everything from ants to zebras.  Ok, I'm just guessing on the ants part, but the do have zebras, camels, llamas, ostriches, cows, water buffalo, deer, antelope, pigs, kangaroos, macaws, wild turkeys and I am sure I am missing a few other animals.
It was a blast though.  You ride on the car and animals come up to you (they know you have food) including Hermes, the camel, who runs along with the wagon at times and loves to stick his head in to see what he can see. 
What was really amazing to see were the Zebras; they are different.  You can see it in their eyes.  They are hunters.  They are slow to come over, appraising and beautiful!!!

In addition to the wagon ride, where they give you a bucket of feed, there is a "petting zoo" where you can feed the animals like the goats, kangaroos and turkeys.
green cone
to animals

In a word where we talk about "going green" and leaving less of a "carbon footprint" on the world I was happy to see that Wagon Wheels had adopted a little bit of this philosophy.  You can say what you will about having animals in captivity but what I found "green" about this palce was that when you bought the feed for the petting zoo it came in ice cream cones that you could feed to the animals too!   No waste; no little white cups to litter everywhere.   I found this really cool.  I don't know if they were special ice cream cones since they were green but what a great idea!!!!

J feeding

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Donating to the troops.

My friend Shayna is married to a college friend Bryan who is over in Afghanistan.  She is trying to raise support for the troops.  Below is a very easy way to donate without even donating a cent.  All you have to do is click.
Each person who helps out, Go Energy, will donate a dollar to feeding the troops.  Please check this out and consider donating

Christine has invited you to help Thanks-A-Bunch without donating a penny.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Neighbors, Do you know yours?

In an increasingly technological world the words "neighbors" takes on a new meaning.  But, I'm talking about the people who actually live next to you and across the street.  We moved into our house about 6 years ago.  We know most of our neighbors on some basis.  We visit and talk to several of them.  I've even shared gardening tips (ok, she shared, I listened) with one.  I've asked to borrow a can opener from another.  I've also at times thought about borrowing the proverbial cup of sugar but chickened out.
So, my question is do you know your neighbors? Would you notice if they didn't sit on the porch, didn't mow their lawn, suddenly got a new car or even moved out.  Most people don't get daily newspapers so you wouldn't see the papers pile up at the end of the driveway. 
I'd like to think I am a good neighbor.  I've helped a neighbor stuck in her driveway, my husband has plowed many driveways and we let people post signs for garage sales on our corner lot.
But today, I was surprised at how unneighborly people can be.   I neighbor we've never met (supposedly 2 blocks away) knocked on our door a preceded to beret us for our loud barking dog who was out in 90 degree weather with no water.  She never introduced herself except to say she lived two blocks away.  I still don't know her name.  She then went on to threaten us with going to the city council about our dog being in 90 degree weather without water.   Let me state for the record our dog is an inside dog.  He does go outside.  He will even stay outside for periods of time.  He does bark.  He barks at people as they go by, when he gets his line stuck, and at squirrels etc.  He does NOT stay out all day.  The one time we left him out for a significant amount of time (cleaning the oven I think as it makes the house stink) he does get water outside.
But I digress, I wondered 1) why wouldn't my neighbors we know say something.  were they immune, scared, not bothered? and 2) What does the city council have to do with anything??????  My first thought was to inform her she was wrong we didn't neglect our dog, the second was to want to say, "Don't you mean the humane society?"   So anyways, besides ranting about this on my blog I decided to see exactly what my city council might have to do with alleged inhumane behavior to a dog. I checked out their webpage and saw all the normal projects they work on: budget allocations, repaving roads, zoning,taxes etc.  I even get that she could go to a open meeting and complain but um, still, isn't this an issue for the human society???
So, further digging was in order.  Perhaps I was still missing something?  So I checked other more general sites.  Unless they were to pass a city wide ordinance about dogs or something it still seems her threat was more likely her blowing hot air. 
So, now my dog's barking inside instead out outside and is nicely pampered in his air conditioned home with pleasantly of love and water....oh wait, I think he has to pee...maybe I can find her yard ;)

Ever had any situations like this with your neighbors?  If so, how did you handle it?

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I was having a conversation, as much as you can have one on facebook, with a college friend.  She was bemoaning the price of groceries and comparing what she spent to what her parents spent.

My basic argument in a nutshell, was that we pay more due to several reasons 1) inflation.  For a cool webpage with an inflation calculator click here.  Here is the example it kicked out for me:
What cost $25.00 in 1985 would cost $49.19 in 2009.
Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2009 and 1985,
they would cost you $25.00 and $12.22 respectively.

This does not necessary accurately reflect groceries per se but it gives you a general idea.   2) healthier eating.  We all know how easy it would be to get a cheap meal at McDonald's or some other fast food restaurants.  Also, go to the store and check the prices between white and wheat bread on the same brand; even if its store brand 3) We typically pay more for convenience food.  By this, I mean, since most of couples with or without kids are both working.  They are not always using, for example, dried beans or making bread from scratch on a regular basis,  This something I know my mother did as we were on a very tight budget.

So, what are you spending a week on groceries?
This month I am tracking my groceries.  I'm not particularly on a budget, but want to see what I am spending in a month for our family of three (diapers included).  I'm hoping that we spend less than $400 (100 per week or 33.33 per person per week).  My running Tally is in the blog August and Everything.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini cake

I had 2 zucchini picked from my garden that I needed to use.  I had been searching for something good to  do with zuchinni.  The stuffed zucchini I made earlier was good but I wanted to try something different.  I found a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake and modified it some. I posted this picture on facebook and immediately got requests for my recipe.  Below is the recipe I used and OH is it good!!!!

I made a "small" cake.
1 c. flour
1 c sugar
1/4c + 2 T cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix dry ingredients together
Add 2 eggs
3/4 c applesauce (you can use oil instead if you want)
1 1/2 c grated zucchini ( i pureed mine)
and 1/2 or more chocolate chips
cook @ 350 for 45-50 min
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat :)

Its so moist and chocolatey!  In my opinion the chocolate chips are key and I am glad I pureed my zucchini as I am not sure about the texture of grated zucchini in a cake.  
I am taking the rest of the cake to work otherwise I'd eat the whole thing this weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An old favorite and shake recipies


I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this stuff.  PB2 rocks.  Its basically powdered peanuts.  Ingrediants read Peanuts, sugar, Salt.
What so amazing about it is the caloric content.
My regular peanut butter which contains Peanuts and less than 1% salt has 200 calories for 2 TBSP and 16 g of fat.  PB2 contains just 53.2 cal for 2 TBSP and 1.87 g of fat.
The big trade off of course is that its powder.  You have to mix it with water to make peanut butter.  But I see that as a plus for cooking, adding to shakes or other recipies.
I've been using PB2 for awhile now.  I've mixed it with water to make PB&J sanwhiches, ants on a log etc.  By far the wierdest thing I did with PB2 was to mix it with diet cocoa powder and coolwhip and mini chcolate chips to make a low cal dessert.  Its actually pretty good. 
Well, the PB2 had been sitting in my cupboard for awhile until I started making shakes.  Its a perfect way to get the taste of peanut butter into a shake without all the calories and best of all its not filled with chemicals!

Shake Recipes:

Vanilla shake:

8oz milk
1 serving of Jay Robb whey powder, vanilla flavor ( or othe protein substitue)
Mix and drink. 

Chocolate Shake:
Vanilla shake recipie
1 TBSP coca powder
1 packet Sun Crystals or other sweetner

PB Chocolate shake:
Chocolate shake recipie plus 2 TBSP
Chocolate banana shake:
Chocolate recipie plus half a banana

You can even make a Chocolate peanut butter with banana

Strawberry shake:
Vanilla shake plus 1/2-1c strawberries blended

add  1/2 a banana for a Strawberry banana shake.

And now for a shake without milk as a base!

Strawberry Orange shake:
8 oz orange (or orange based liquid)
1 serving of of whey protein
1 cup of strawberries

Note I used orange pineapple juice and found this too sweet so the next time i made it i used 4oz milk and 4 oz juice.

Future shakes I want to try--pumpkin cinammin
Failed shake: PB&J shake which used strawberries and PB2