Michelle at Scribbit graciously opened up her blog to guest posters a while back and, given my love of sharing great deals, I jumped at the chance to talk about some of the low-cost, fun options for families in the north Florida area. I know there are tons of places I didn't cover, so feel free to comment here or at her place to give everyone a chance to know about your favorite, cost-effective family-oriented activities!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Well, I've been out of pocket with Menu Plan Monday for quite some time. And, for quite some time my dinner hour has been hectic! I didn't realize how much easier it made my life to know what is for dinner each day. I could just write it down on our family calendar, and maybe I will start to do that, but I'll try posting it each week again first to see how it goes. I used to try to incorporate lots of new things into my menus, but since my husband has been off work (and, therefore, home in the evenings) I don't experiment as much. Kitchen experiments do not make him excited like they do me and the kids! We normally made Mondays meatless, but during the transition we are still figuring things out. This week it's Thursday, but that just doesn't sound catchy--"Meatless Thursday." It's not working for me. I'll have to change that next week back to Mondays. It's hard to get into a new dinner groove when you're husband has worked nights for the last 12 years!
Monday: Hamburgers, home fries, fresh fruit
Tuesday: Chicken and rice, peas, homemade rolls
Wednesday: It's So Easy BBQ Ribs, baked beans, garlic bread, green beans
Thursday: Blender Whole Wheat Pancakes with blueberry or raspberry syrup
Friday: Homemade pizza with lots of toppings
Saturday: There's no telling....maybe take the kids out to eat
Sunday: Beef stew in the crock pot with potatoes and carrots and a fabulous dessert of some kind that I'll figure out later...suggestions anyone?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Since this time last year, I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to master the coupon game. At first, I tried to do it all--I tracked deals at CVS, Walgreens, Publix, and Winn Dixie, as well as several online deals. After several months, it became overwhelming. To solve the problem, I started focusing on one store at a time. I mastered that store's policies and developed a general strategy for getting the best deals. Then, I added another one. I have found this is much easier! So, my advice to you today if you are new to couponing is to begin with one store and add on others as you become more proficient. Below are links to a couple of sites that will help you get started with CVS.
Couponing 101 - CVS
iheartcvs.com - CVS for Newbies
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
So, a blog is sort of like an online journal, I guess. But there are just certain things I'd rather not publicize to the world. I've seen some of the online journaling sites and always felt like they were too vulnerable. I guess I still think they are. But, I recently attended a Time Out for Women event in central Florida and learned about LDSJournal. I poked around the site tonight to see what all the hype was about. The thing that caught my eye the most was the beautiful bound book on display at the conference. It was gorgeous and seemed very reasonably priced; a great way to preserve memories for future generations.
Now, I know I'm starting to sound like a commercial, but I can promise you that's not the case here. I haven't made the leap into hawking products or making money from ads on this blog. I just think modern technology is pretty neat and sometimes I can't help but tell other people about the cool sites I visit.
While I'm still not sold on the whole journaling online thing (I don't care how secure the site is, I don't think anything is really "private" online), I do like how easy it is to use. I have to admit, though, that some of the neatest things I have in my possession are samples of my deceased grandparents' handwriting from old letters and recipe cards. All of that nostalgia is lost in online journaling. Maybe one day I'll be converted, but not today.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I came across an article today on Pioneer Thinking that caught my eye. I could have saved the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute a lot of work on their study about how tracking your calories and exercise helps you lose more weight! I had no idea I was letting everyone in on a secret when I posted this the other day. I love SparkPeople! (By the way, this is not a paid advertisement!)
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I mentioned several weeks ago that our hamster had two babies. Unfortunately, one died due to a wound on its back and the other was apparently consumed by its mommy. I've heard of something being so cute you wanted to eat it up, but this was ridiculous. We reunited mom and dad hamster shortly after this incident due to dad hamster constantly escaping and winding up in mom hamster's cage any way. And, what do you know!....now we have seven baby hamsters. A week later, I am happy to report that all are accounted for and appear to be doing well! We finally figured out how to keep dad hamster away, and I think it will remain that way forever. And ever.
I recently joined SparkPeople at the recommendation of a friend. I mainly used the fitness tracking feature to keep up with my daily exercise, but decided I would get a lot more out of it if I would use the nutrition tracker to keep tabs on my calorie consumption each day. WHAT AN EYE OPENER! I think I cut my consumption by around 1/3 to 1/2 after only a few days of using this feature. No wonder I was gaining weight these last several months! I've lost a few pounds (in conjunction with also starting a regular exercise program that includes two BodyPump classes each week) since I joined.
So, what does this have to do with transportation? My household was recently selected by the federal Department of Transportation to participate in a one day survey of our travel habits. No biggie, I thought. I'm game. (The small monetary incentive certainly didn't hurt.) So, for one day I wrote down every bit of travel for our household for a 20-hour period including bike rides and walks. Let me tell you--it was another eye opener! In one typical Friday I made 17 stops, only one of which included a short walk and there were no bike rides to be had among any of us. The bike riding part wasn't the shocker though, as we live on a fairly busy street. But, the number of stops seemed completely ridiculous! By the end of my 1.5 hour call with the DOT representative where she recorded all of my information such as miles between stops and time it took to drive there (this 1.5 hours didn't even include my husband's or kids interviews), I was completely embarrassed. I was told it typically only takes about 20-30 minutes.
This got me thinking--while I do not consider myself a particularly "earthy-crunchy" person, I am sure I can do better than 17 trips per day where 16 of those involved cranking up my car. I got tired just talking about all of those trips. So, SparkPeople...are you listening? Could you possibly add another feature to your site that helps me track my car mileage? It'd be nice to have it all in one place so I can work on trimming that as well!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
As many others are feeling the crunch of the economy, it finally hit close to home this past week. My husband's employer has decided to put everyone on lay off for a period of time with hopes of bringing them back in several weeks, but at part-time status. He has suspected this was going to happen after a major lay off occurred last year, so it wasn't a complete shock. We are disappointed but not devastated.
All in all, we try to be prepared for the unexpected or inconvenient circumstances. For instance, how could we know that in this time of semi-crisis, we would have another mouth to feed? Earlier this year the girls used their Christmas money to buy some hamsters. While we asked the gentleman at the pet store to kindly give us two of the same gender, we learned quickly from the look of things that he had not. Our suspicions (and fears!) were confirmed on Thursday of this past week when the 8 year old started screaming, "Baby hamsters!!" Two baby hamsters, actually. Here Charlie is seen holding mommy hamster, Brownie.
And, who can resist taking in this little guy? Or is it a gal? I suppose there is only one way to know for sure. Hamsters anyone?