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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicago- Part 1: The Museum of Science and Industry

Between my brother's wedding and reception, we had a couple of days to kill, so we drove north a few hours to Chicago. I had heard great things about the Museum of Science and Industry, so we decided to check it out. I had a BOGO coupon from the Chicago Entertainment Book, but we found it to be more cost effective to buy citypasses. Who knows when or if we'd be back there? The CityPass seemed like a great way to get the most of our Chicago experience. An adult Chicago CityPass is $69, children 3-11 are $59.  Under 3 are free. The CityPass is a convenient little booklet of tickets that you pick up at your first attraction with your voucher that you print upon payment. It also includes other bonuses like admissions to shows at the attractions, but most importantly it saved us HOURS of waiting in line. It includes admission to the Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry and the Skydeck Chicago or the John Hancock Observatory. (When I saw the line at the Aquarium, I was ready to turn around and give up. It really looked like we would be there for at least three hours, fortunately I spotted the CityPass line, which took about 15 minutes.) The CityPass is good for 9 days, starting the day that you visit the first attraction.

Museum of Science and Industry
If you buy tickets online they are $15 for adults and $10 for kids. If you buy at the door, it's $23 for adults and $16 for kids. Parking is $16. As I mentioned above there's a 2 for 1 in the Entertainment Book. Also here's a link to another 2 for 1 coupon. Here's another 2 for 1, but it can only be used with an American Express. Free days for the museum can be found here. Hours are from 9:30-5:30.
This place came highly recommended, and I will not deny that it is amazing. However, we would have enjoyed it more without our children, or if they were a bit older. (My kids are 4&2.) It is geared more towards school-age children and up.  Without small children I would recommend planning on staying for most of the day. For small kids 4 hours was more than enough. It was very crowded and my kids were easily shoved away from the interactive exhibits that they were interested in. (I hate reprimanding other people's children, but it had to be done a few times.)  Also while we were there, several of the interactive exhibits were broken. My husband and I wished that our kids had the patience for us to read more about the exhibits. Mondays are the least crowded day at the Museum of S&I, if you have the luxury of picking that day. It has three large floors full of science exhibits that explain things like weather, physics, how the body works and technology. Even though it was crowded and we didn't get to see some of the things we wanted, I still felt like it was worth it and highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Chicago area. It's a fantastic way to teach your kids about science and technology. Cool things to check out there that we didn't have time for (meaning our children had lost patience): The Coal Mine Exhibit (the wait was an hour and a half) and Imax theaters.

This pic is great, but it doesn't do that place justice. Also when I was there I would say there was at least a thousand more people in the room.
This room was my kids favorite (also not a shot that I took.)
 If you have little girls, you absolutely must stop by Colleen Moore's fairy castle with all of its detailed miniatures in a back corner of the ground floor. The detail is pretty amazing.
Another tip, if you want to see the baby chicks hatch, the best time to see them is during the afternoon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: 101 Things to Do With Chicken

Recently when I was looking for a gift for my dad I came across several of the "101Things" books at 60% off. I have a few of them and have been pleased thus far, so I bought four more. This weekend I read through all of them and I'm so excited to try several of the recipes. 101 Things to Do With Chicken by Donna Kelly and Stephanie Ashcraft had several recipes that look really great, but there were also some that made me think "You don't really need a recipe for that. There are also a few that are repeats from other books in the series. Having said that I still think that it was worth it. At the beginning of the book is a list of helpful hints which I'll share, plus my version of the recipe that I tried yesterday.
  1. Always make sure that chicken is thoroughly cooked. Juices should run clear and there shouldn't be any pink present. Chicken thighs should reach 175 degrees. Chicken and eggs are frequent carriers of salmonella.
  2. Chicken stored in the fridge should be used within 1-2 days.
  3. A whole chicken takes 36 hours to defrost. Chicken pieces usually take 12-24 hours to defrost.
  4. All cut chicken on a non-pourus plastic or glass cutting board. And never cross-contaminate by using the knife you used to cut chicken to cut something else.
  5. Bringing chicken to room temperature before cookin will help it to remain moist and cook evenly.
  6. Soaking in brine with add moistness and flavor to baked or roasted chicken. Add 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water. Place chicken and brine in ziplock bag. For a carmelized flavor, also add 1/4 cup sugar to brine. Soak chicken in brine for at least an hour per pound or overnight. Drain before cooking.
  7. For crispy skin on roasted or fried chicken,  leave chicken uncovered in the fridge for a few hours before cooking.
  8. When roasting or grilling a chicken, allow to set at room temperature for ten minutes before slicing so that the juices can be reabsorbed into the meat.
  9. 1 lb bonless skinless chicken yields about 3 cups of cubed or sliced chicken.
Tangy Strawberry Chicken Bites
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken tenders or breasts cut into small chunks
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup strawberry preserves
1 cup chili sauce
1 can (20oz) pineapple chunks, drained
2 large carrots, sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into small chunks
3 cups of prepared brown rice

1. Cook chicken in oil over medium heat until browned on all sides. Meanwhile steam carrot slices in microwave with 1/8 cup water for 3 minutes. 2. Drain carrots and add to chicken with preserves, pepper and chili sauce. Cook and stir until preserves are melted. 4. Add pineapple chunks, simmer for one minute and serve over rice.

The Verdict: This recipe was actually in the appetizer section, but I decided to increase the pineapple, add some veggies and serve it over rice to make it a meal. I liked this, my husband loved it, my son who isn't feeling well wouldn't try it and neither would my daughter. I thought perhaps if I served it with toothpicks they might be willing to try it. No such luck. I apologize that there isn't picture, the batteries in my camera died, again. :S

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jerky Gun Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the Nesco jerky gun kit is Teri Hadley. Congratulations! May you and your family enjoy yourselves some beef jerky. :) The winner was selected using

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Romantic Getaway on A Budget

This week my husband and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. As I was planning something fun I realized, I can't even remember the last time that we had a real date. Really. If you are in the same situation I suggest that you follow the steps below. Even getting away for just one night can be fun and a simple way to strengthen your relationship.
  1. If necessary, find someone to watch the kids. This is biggest barrier for us. You can find things to do for free, but getting a babysitter can be expensive, plus they're often hard to find. For this occasion, Grandma and Aunty came to visit. If you don't have family that are willing/able, try swapping with a couple with kids whose ages are close to your own kids.
  2. Choose an event that you and your significant other both enjoy. Then look for a coupon. We decided to splurge a little and see Phantom of the Opera but I found a coupon that got us $100 off so we weren't paying full-price. It doesn't have be that big, just find something that you both will look forward to. Camping, football games, dancing, a museum exhibit...Do what works for the two of you.
  3. Get away. It doesn't have to far or long, just away., and are great places to look for a good deal. For this one we booked a room in a 5-star hotel at less than half the average rate through Hotwire. Then we got lucky and when we arrived, they upgraded us to a suite for free. So we got an awesome hotel stay for more than 75% off. There were several options, this was the one I chose because it was close to the theater.
  4. Allow some time for "winging it". Don't put yourself on such a schedule that you're too rushed to enjoy things. The point isn't to see or do the most you can because it's easier without children in tow. The point is to enjoy one another's company without having to focus on the needs of those cute little people. (Although we found ourselves frequently talking about them. 'Oh, the kids would like that' or 'I love it when she says...')
  5. Talk to one another. (Oh, it was nice to have many extended conversations without insistent demands.) Think back to when you were first dating, other fun things you  have done together, things that the two of you have overcome or plans for the future.
Other tips when planning your getaway:
  • Many hotels and ticket events are often cheaper during the week. Try to book Monday through Thursday if your schedule permits.
  • If you can't book Monday through Thursday, business hotels often offer discounted weekend rates
  • Something you want to watch for: some hotels tack on an additional resort fee, I chose ours because it didn't.
  • Casinos often offer great rates on hotel rooms because they count on most of their customers spending a lot on gambling. If you don't gamble, you can snag a sweet deal (like we did).
  • Going to a destination off-season is another way to score deals. Cheapest Months to Travel
  • Take this opportunity to go to eat somewhere you'd like to try but you know your kids would have no interest in experiencing.
  • Wear good shoes, especially if you plan on doing much walking. I made the mistake of thinking "I'm not chasing or juggling kids, I'm going to wear some sexy wedges." I ended up spending more than I would have liked on a new pair of shoes mid-evening because my soles were covered in blisters and I really couldn't make it back to our hotel in those cute, but pain-inducing shoes.
  • Bring a couple bottles of water, so you can avoid paying $8 for the bottled stuff in your hotel room.
  • Remember that if you look for them, there are many free things to do out there.
  • And most importantly be creative, you don't have to spend a lot of money to let your sweetheart know that he is loved.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Strawberry Banana Pie

    It's summer and that means that Heather makes strawberry banana pie. I believe that this pie originally came from my Aunt Margarett, and I always requested it for my birthday when I was growing up. And the best part is that this delicious pie is super easy to make. Because this makes two pies I usually make it for gatherings or when I plan on sharing one with a friend.

    Strawberry Banana Pie
    1 box Strawberry Danish Dessert
    1 small box banana pudding
    2 graham cracker crusts (or the ingredients and recipe therefore)
    3 medium bananas
    4-5 cups strawberries, rinsed, sliced & tops removed
    2 cups milk
    1& 3/4 cup cold water

    1. Line bottom of pie crusts with banana slices. 2. Make banana pudding according to box directions and divide between crusts. 3. While pudding sets in fridge, make Danish Dessert according to box directions for pie glaze. (Pour mix into cold water. Stir occasionally and bring to a full boil for one minute.) 4. Add strawberries and stir to coat. 5. Divide between pies and return to fridge for 3-4 hours.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Ways that Parents Can Reform Healthcare

    Yesterday at work I read a short article on ways that parents can reform healthcare. I know that I've mentioned some of these before, but I think they're worth repeating and not one of them requires an act of congress. Each of them are ways that you can improve the health of you and your children immediately and in the long-run. By taking care of yourself and your children you can decrease healthcare costs for yourself and everyone else.
    1. Eat healthy- Providing healthy meals for yourself and your children is a simple way that can give you more energy and give your body the building blocks it needs to fight off infections. Improving your diet decreases your risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
    2. Exercise-Active kids are far more likely to be healthy. Exercise improves your blood circulation which makes the organs and processes in your body work more effectively.
    3. Prevent accidents- Vigilantly watch your children. Make them wear helmets. Make them wear seat belts. Make sure that you have the appropriate car seat.  Don't let them sit on the ledge of the back of a pickup while off-roading through the country. I know these are boring suggestions, but they are so important! I have seen so many sad stories of kids whose parents didn't make them do these things.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Coupon Books Review

    I used to be of the opinion that I do not spend money on coupons. Coupons are to save me money. I have since learned that purchasing the right coupons can save me a lot of money. Here's the pros and cons of the coupon books that I have purchased.

    St George Treasure Chest- $45 Coupon value used- $265 (Plus I gave away a couple hundred dollars worth of coupons to friends, neighbors and random strangers.) One day someone called my house and asked if I wanted to buy this coupon book as part of a fundraiser for some foundation for children's safety. (Sorry I can't remember the name of the organization.) The book contained around $1500 worth of coupons. All of the food coupons were Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons, which sets me up to spend money that I didn't plan on spending. But many of them were just for free stuff. We got a month's membership at a local gym, a few car washes, a few oil changes, a carpet cleaning and a few hair cuts. Being new to the area, it was great to refer to. Need a haircut? I'm calling this hairdresser who will do it for free. Of course you still have to tip for services, but she is winning too, because she did a good job and we'll go back to her, whereas I never would have come across her business otherwise. Don't want to make dinner? Let's check out the B1G1 coupons. Other than setting me up to spend money I didn't plan on, another downside is that several of the coupons in the book were for local businesses that had gone out of business. A few others had bad phone numbers. Still others wouldn't even honor the coupons. And of course these coupons can only used in the St George area. I'm really glad that I purchased it, however I was expecting the businesses to be a little more cooperative. This book expired June 1st. I found someone who had bought one a few years ago, so hopefully one will come out soon, but I haven't seen any yet.

    Dixie Direct- $35 Coupon value used so far-$75 My husband has a soft spot for marching band, partly because that's where we met, so when one of his high school students asked him to buy this to help him raise money for his marching band trip, of course he said yes. He probably would have bought two if the kid had asked him. This one doesn't have nearly as many "strictly free" coupons. Although it does have many offers for places we go to anyway, and I like that you don't have to take the whole book with you. It comes with a punch card that you keep in your wallet. Most participating businesses advertise that they take the Dixie Direct card and will tell you what their offers are. Not as much bang for buck as the Treasure Chest, but there is a much longer window to use the coupons (six more months). Also it's not nearly as easy to share the coupons you don't plan to use because 90(+)% are on the card and you have to have the card to redeem them. I also liked it because it helped me to get to know what's available locally.

    The Entertainment Book 2010-$35 Coupon value redeemed so far- $5. Now this one is normally $35, but as most of the coupons expire in November of this year, it seems that every other week there is a great sale. I actually got 2 for $7.50 each. A week later I saw an even better deal. The beauty of the entertainment book is that there is one for most areas throughout the nation. So if you're planning a vacation this can be very helpful. The one for the state of Utah is called "Utah Happenings". I didn't buy it because it because glancing through the list that was available online, it seemed like most of the coupons were for Northern Utah. (It could be great if you live up there, but not worth it for us southern desert dwellers.) I did buy Chicago Southwest and Las Vegas. I haven't used any for Vegas yet, but we plan on visiting a couple times this summer and I'm certain that I'll get my monies worth there and then some. The problem with the Chicago Entertainment book is that there are actually two, they're both enormous and I think that I picked the wrong one. For someone who is not familiar with any of the businesses inside, it's a little overwhelming. "$1800 worth of coupons" One place we tried had kind of weird hours and had closed 10 minutes before we got there. And then we used one $5 coupon for a burger place. We had planned on using a couple coupons for some museums there in Chicago, but found that it was more cost effective to just buy a city pass. If we were in Chicago for more than 2 days and had someone with us who knew the area, perhaps we could have used more of the coupons that were in it. As it was I gave the book to an acquaintance who lives near there. (Minus a few coupons that I gave to random strangers, because let's be real, I won't be back before November.)

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Nebraska Children's Museums

    If you ever find yourself driving across Nebraska with small children, I strongly recommend stopping at one (or both) of the great children's museums there. If I had to choose stopping at just one, my favorite was the one in Omaha. My daughter preferred the one in Lincoln, but both a great way for antsy kids to get the wiggles out. The Lincoln Museum is bigger than the one in Omaha, and there is a little overlap in the activities, but we were glad that we went to both.

    Lincoln Children's Museum
    Admission is $6.50 for ages 2-61. Hours are 10-5. This museum has three stories of hands-on children's activities. There's lots of "pretend areas" including a farm, a grocery store, a kitchen area, a stage with lights, curtains and costumes, a puppet theater, cars and planes. In the middle of the museum there is a tree that extends through each story, with a little tree house on each level. My daughter's favorite part was the gopher tunnel area (which I didn't get any good shots of). Check out the website on programs that may be available when you stop. Again, my pictures don't do this place justice, but you can refer to their website for a video tour.
    Also parking in front of the museum is not easy to come by. But there is a parking garage across the street and down a block and a half. If you take parking ticket into the children's museum and pay at the front desk, you can pay half price for parking.
    My kids enjoying the ball contraption at the entrance.
    Pretending to be Nebraska State Troopers
    Shooting water guns.
    A hot air balloon with controls.

    Omaha Children's Museum
    Admission for age 2-59 is $8. Closed on Mondays. Hours are 10-5 Tuesday through Saturday.  Open until 8pm on Thursdays during the summer. This museum has a few "pretend areas", but not nearly as many as the museum in Lincoln. It does have a large arts and crafts area, a firehouse to climb through, activities like parachutes (does anyone else remember playing with and loving those in elementary school?) and a fantasic "ball-popper" area.
    Playing with the light piano.
    Part of the firehouse
    The Playskool Ball Popper on steroids
    My two-year old happily spent almost two hours in this room.
    My husband said that if we bought one of those we would never have to spend another cent on his entertainment.
     This contraption is so big that I can't get it all in four shots.
    A giant pin frame.
    A giant Lite-Brite.

    The only coupons I've been able to find for either of these places was a free admission to the Omaha Museum in the Omaha Entertainment book. If you plan ahead and get a really good deal on the Entertainment book, it might be worth it. Also when I was there they were offering a coupon for a return visit, but we were just passing through.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Jerky Gun Giveaway

    Still on vacation. I miss my house and my reliable high speed internet. Anywho, instead of a real post I'm going to cop out and do a giveaway. And I'm going to giveaway a  Nesco jerky gun because jerky is a must for road trips in our family and having a jerky gun makes it sooooo much easier. (I've done it without and I don't recommend it.)   You don't have to have a dehydrator to make jerky, the gun comes with spices and instructions for making it in the oven, although if you do have a dehydrator, by all means use it.  All that you need is some extra lean ground beef. So here's the deal: 1. Become and follower and post a comment or 2 If you are already a follower and want this nifty kitchen contraption, just post a comment 3 You can get an extra entry for following me on Twitter. Giveaway ends 6/25 at midnight. The winner will be announce 6/26. Good Luck.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    A Few Random Traveling Tips

    Still on vacation. Here are a few things that I've learned in my travels.
    • If you want to save money, leave your wallet at home. Occasionally I see souvenirs that I might buy, but I never want them so bad to track down my husband and get him to pay for them. (I didn't plan this one, but sure is effective. Still don't recommend it because it's such a pain.)
    • Never purchase the kids meals from Taco Bell. A kids meal consists of a cheese roll-up, cinnamon twists and a Caprisun- $4.49 (and it doesn't come with a toy). Separately, a cheese roll-up is $0.89, the cinnamon twists are $0.89 and I have a bunch of Caprisuns in my cooler that I got for $0.10 each.
    • Have change ready for tollways. This is a new thing for us Utahs. We had a small amount of cash ready for them, but we weren't expecting the one last night that wanted 30 cents.
    • Have small prizes for the kids. We have been driving across the country and we don't own a portable DVD player. (Shocking, I know.) Every morning my kids get a small prize to play with. If they behave well they will get a second one in the afternoon. I've been a little surprised at how well this one has been working. Some of the things I've packed in the "prize bag": coloring books, picture books, small cars, blow-up pool toys, hair ribbons, and sticker books. On the first day they each got a bigger prize to play with on the trip (a Barbie and a firetruck sound puzzle).
    • Being trapped in the car is a great time to just enjoy your kids. We discovered that my son can give a hilarious 15-minute rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle". Yesterday we played a game with my daughter where each person took turns making up part of a story. (What's that game called anyway?) It was fun to hear the things that she came up with.
    • Be flexible. We've made changes to our plans as we go, and it's all good.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Denver Downtown Aquarium

    We love the Denver Downtown Aquarium. I have been to several aquariums, and this one is by far the best I've seen. If we lived less than nine hours from it, we would definitely get a membership and visit more often than our once a year. (No one is paying me to say this, we just really like it.) It's a little pricey- Adults- 14.95 each, Children 2-11- 9.25 each, plus you have to pay $7 for parking. But there is a printable coupon at this link for $5 off a child's pass with the purchase of an adult. Although it can be expensive, I think that it is worth the price. There's also an opportunity to swim with the fish, or if you're scuba certified with the sharks. (My kids aren't old enough, so we haven't tried these.)  If you go on a Friday night (we didn't) the kids get in for $5 each (no coupon required) plus free face-painting, animal shows, scavenger hunts, prizes and free parking. Even without these extra things we had a great time. My two-year-old kept squealing "There are lotsa fishies!" They have some enormous fish, plus a large variety. Even without swimming with them, you can get some great views of the sharks. And for some reason there is a tiger exhibit in the middle of the aquarium. This place is awesome. My pictures don't do it justice, but here they are.
    Purple, Blue & Red Starfish
    Look at that enormous fish! (My shot of their 350 lb grouper didn't turn out.)
     This one makes my daughter look like "Cousin It", but I included it so you can see how close you can get to the fish.
    Bounce house

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Myths About Asthma

    Yesterday was a kind of a slow day at work so I decided to brush up on my asthma education. I found several debunked myths about asthma that I thought were interesting.
    Myth: Children usually outgrow asthma
    Reality: How asthma effects a patient varies throughout their lifespan. Even if the symptoms go away, the tendency towards asthma is still there and can flare-up with stress and triggers.
    Myth:Asthma treatments don't work.
    Reality: Newer treatments are actually very effective. But in order to be so you have to have proper inhaler technique, take your medications as prescribed and be aware of environmental changes.
    Myth: Mild asthma doesn't require treatment.
    Reality: Asthma is a chronic disease without a cure that should be taken seriously. Even if you usually don't have symptoms right now, it is important to take care of yourself to prevent flare-ups.
    Myth: The best time to give a child an inhaler is when they are crying, because they get more medicine in the lungs that way.
    Reality: If you give a child an treatment while they are crying most of it stays in the upper airways, not deeper in the lungs where it is needed most. It is best to wait until they are done crying.
    Myth: Steroids aren't safe.
    Reality: Inhaled corticosteroids are actually very safe, even for very young children. They are great for helping to control asthma.
    Myth: If you can tough it out and not use your inhaler you're better off.
    Reality: Going without your inhaler when you really need it does microdamage to your lungs which decreases your lung strength and capacity over time.
    If you have asthma or your child has asthma, it is important to stay on top of it. Don't wait until it gets out of hand to act. Be persistent when giving medications to your child.  If they know that it is important to you, eventually they will stop resisting. Don't make your child feel like their condition makes them weird, it's just a problem that they have that can be overcome.
     If your child's medication isn't helping, they're having a hard time breathing, they can not walk, talk or play, they're lips are blue and or their peak flow is less than half their personal best, take them to the emergency room. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the ER. The only other direction is downhill.
    For more information about asthma go to This site has lots of information and it can refer you to more resources.

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Shopping Online 101

    The other night as I was leaving work I was talking to a friend and she said that I needed to teach a class on shopping online. I don't think that I know enough that I could talk about it for more than half an hour, but I certainly know enough to write a blog post. These are things I have learned through much trial and error. So this is for Teri and everyone else who would like a few pointers on saving money on your online purchases.
    • There is almost always a coupon code. If there is not a coupon, there is usually a discount or rebate. It is always worth looking. Thirty seconds of searching usually saves me at least $5.
    • Places to look for coupon codes: Upromise, Coupon Mountain, RetailMeNot There are many others out there, but these are the ones that I've had the most success with.
    • Places to get rebates: Upromise, Ebates and These places often have sign-up bonuses too. If having to use between a coupon and rebate I usually choose the coupon. But if there's no coupon and I planned on spending the money anyway...why not get a rebate?
    • Compare prices. The internet is the fastest way to do this. I usually use Google Product Search. Even if I'm probably going to purchase an item in the stores, I often do a quick internet search so I have an idea of what a reasonable price is.
    • Look at your employee discounts. I can only speak for my employer and my husband's, but using these discounts has saved us at least a few hundred dollars in just the past year. (My favorites are the 22% off my Verizon bill and perpetual B& discount.) And look both places if you're both employed. For example, for some reason my work gives a great deal to DisneyLand   ticketsand his (which is smaller more local employer) to DisneyWorld. I have no idea why this is, but it has been handy info. Some employers will also extend discounts to extended family. My husband was able to share his discount with his siblings. Ask your family members if they have discounts that they can share.
    • I love At least half the time they have the best prices. Their site can keep track of what you buy for who and give you suggestions for other gift-d on giving occasions based on your previous purchases. You can also make a "wish-list" to make it a little easier for friends and family who never know what to get for you. Or when you come across something that you think someone will like, you save it in a gift-idea list for a future occasion. (Or you can look and see if they've made a wish-list and if there is anything on it that will fit the bill.) Also love their free shipping on $25(+). Plus you can really buy almost anything at Amazon. Some of the many things I have bought there- movies, books, music, baby clothes, a playpen, candy, a comforter, electronics, ace bandages, toys, kitchen tools and spices. Problem is they seldom have coupons that are actually of use to me.
    • I also love Barnes& Their online prices are quite often less than their store prices, plus then you can stack coupons with employee discounts or Upromise rebates. I've also snagged some great deals on music, movies and children's toys from there. Again free shipping  on $25(+), but it's significantly faster than Amazon's free shipping.
    • I find that looking at something online and then coming back to it a day later if I really want it significantly decreases my impulse purchases. Whereas if I bother to drive to the store I am far more likely to make a purchase, because I don't want to drive there again when I decide that I do really want said item. There is less time invested in the purchase this way.
    • Making your travel purchases online can save you so much money! If you plan on taking a trip, at least compare rates online before making a purchase.
    • I do a lot of shopping online because there is no babysitter required and I don't have to feel rushed because my children are throwing tantrums. My computer will still be there when the kids have calmed down.
    • I always use a credit card. I have in fact had my credit card information stolen on a couple of occasions. (I do A LOT of online shopping.) But I just had to call my credit card company and tell them that I didn't make said questioned purchases and every time they have given me the full credit and promptly issued new cards and my credit was not harmed. So nothing lost. Things may not be so easy if they were to snatch your bank account info. (It depends on your bank.) Credit cards also often give extended warranties on products like electronics.
    • I often buy non-perishable grocery items at because they automatically apply some of the available coupons, offer competitive prices and free shipping and I don't have to drag my kids to the store. They will also email you reminders when you're nearly out of certain items if you wish. Last fall they had gift cards for 30% off, which means I'm essentially getting 30% off everything I purchase.
    • Shopping online for birthday gifts and Christmas presents saves me a lot of time and money and significantly reduces my holiday stress. (Why fight the after Thanksgiving crowds when I can sit in my pajamas eating leftover pie and get as good or sometimes better deals?)
    • Shopping online is just one of those things that can make your life easier. Give it a try. You may be amazed at what you might find. And it's always fun to get packages in the mail.
    Anyone else have any other effective online shopping tips?

      Wednesday, June 2, 2010

      Pink: The Easiest Jello Salad EVER

      This great recipe comes from my mother-in-law. It's not exactly healthy, but it is very delicious and easy. It has become a tradition for all summer gatherings.

      1 (24 oz) container of cottage cheese
      1 (8 oz) container of whipped topping
      1 (3 oz) container of red gelatin

      1. Dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir until evenly pink.  Let set for 15 minutes.
      That's it. It's so simple a child can do it. In fact below is my 4-year-old making it. For a twist, when making a double batch use one package of raspberry or strawberry and one package of lemon gelatin. So good, I think I am going to go and eat some right now.

      Tuesday, June 1, 2010

      Giveaway Winner

      The winner of the "101 Things To Do With A Slowcooker" cookbook is Eunice B.  Congratulations! Thank you everyone for sharing your recipes. The winner was selected using a random number generator from