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27 May 2011   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Updated List of How You Can Help the Tornado Victims

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of you who have donated supplies to The Bridge. They are currently well supplied right now and ask that no additional material supplies be shipped while they work on setting up organizational systems for what is already coming in.

If you are heading to Joplin, you can check their Facebook Page for specific items they do still need. The needs are changing on a daily basis, so it’s best to check in on their page to see what specific items they need that day.

If you want to ship supplies, Frugal Fritzie (who lives in Joplin) is putting together an online donation drive:

Here’s a list of items that are currently needed:

* Non-Perishable Food
* First-Aid Supplies
* Trash-Bags
* Over-the-counter Medications (especially pain relievers)
* Baby Supplies such as Diapers, Wipes, Baby Food, etc.
* Dog Food
* Cat Food
* Toothpaste
* Toothbrushes
* Shampoo
* Conditioner
* Soap
* Body Wash
* Laundry Detergent
* Cleaning Supplies
* Sunscreen
* Insect Repellent
* Paper Plates
* Work Gloves
* Note: Clothing is not needed at this time.

Connie’s Antiques in Joplin has moved to a new location that has a nice big storage in the back and Blake with Connie’s was more than happy to help & has agreed to have all items mailed there:

Mail to:

Disaster Relief/Frugal Fritzie
c/o Connie’s Antiques
5171 N. Main St.
Joplin, MO 64801

You can also use your Swagbucks to purchase items on Amazon for the MOPs Group in Joplin. Check out this wishlist of needed items here.

If you would like to give money, there are a number of relief organizations you can donate to listed here.

If you live in the local area and want to volunteer, or are looking for a donation drop-off point in a nearby city or state, check out the Joplin, MO Tornado Relief Facebook Page. There are numerous opportunities being listed there for volunteer help, as well as physical and monetary donations.

If you have found other specific ways to help, please leave them in the comments.

26 May 2011   ·   154
Love frappuccinos but hate the cost at the coffee shop? Try this delicious homemade copycat recipe!

Homemade Frappuccino Recipe

Love frappuccinos but hate the cost at the coffee shop? Try this delicious homemade copycat recipe that will save you over $300 a year!

Guest post by Sabrina at Kitchen Cheat Sheet

I used to work at a coffee shop, and I not only witnessed people coming in several times a day for an almost $5 coffee, I often purchased that expensive blended coffee drink as well!

A few months ago I made the decision to leave my job and stay home with my two kids. Needless to say, I needed to cut my budget to make this possible. One of the first money saving ideas that most people will tell you is to cut out your daily fancy coffee drink. Although I don’t need a fancy coffee drink daily — or even weekly — I am a hard-working mom of an infant and a toddler and it’s nice to have a little bit of luxury in my day!

How Much I Save By Making My Own Frappuccinos

Using a Magic Bullet, I am able to save over $300 a year (assuming I replace two Grande Frappuccinos a week) and still enjoy my fancy blended coffee drinks. Here’s a cost breakdown:

The Yearly Cost of Purchasing Two Grande Starbucks Frappuccinos a Week (at $4.15 each): $431.16

The Yearly Cost of Making Two Homemade Frappuccinos Each Week ($52 for Magic Bullet + $0.50 each per drink): $104

Total Savings the first year: $327.16 (including the purchase of a Magic Bullet)!

Using the above directions, I usually get a very smooth, thick but drinkable-through-a-straw texture. With all the money you’ve saved, you can afford to splurge on a reusable Starbucks cold cup, if it feels a little more luxurious to drink out of an actual Starbucks cup!

Sabrina Hartman is a new stay at home mom to a 2 1/2 year old and a 9-month-old. She loves to find new ways to save money to compensate for leaving the workplace, and is finding her inner homemaker in the process. She tracks her homemaking life and tips at The Unlikely Homemaker and offers a kitchen tip/guide site at Kitchen Cheat Sheet.

Want more make-it-from-scratch ideas? I highly recommend Easy Homemade by Mandi Ehman. This ebook contains more than 60 recipes for homemade kitchen staples and it’s beautifully laid out, well-illustrated, and packed with great ideas and recipes.


25 May 2011   ·   125
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Is it worth it to participate in a CSA?


Today’s question is from Emily:

I have been doing some research on local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and I was wondering if anyone has participated in this. I would love to purchase local fruits and veggies (and possibly eggs and meats) in bulk, but it seems a little expensive considering that most of the CSAs in my area only run for 15-20 weeks (in the midwest) and cost around $500 and up for a full share. Any additional information including pluses and minuses from your readers would be great! Thanks!

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Money Saving Mom® readers? Read the submission guidelines and submit it here.

24 May 2011   ·   100
Money Saving Mom

How You Can Help the Tornado Victims: Donate From Your Stockpile (+ more)

As most of you know, Joplin, Missouri was hit with a devastating tornado on Sunday evening. The pictures of the destruction are heart-breaking. People have lost everything — their homes, their belongings and their loved ones.

While not everyone is close enough to be able to go personally help with the relief efforts and many of you are on very tight budgets, so donating money might be out of the question, but there are things you can do to help — no matter your budget. Most of us have stockpiles of toiletry items we’ve gotten for free or almost-free. Here’s an opportunity to put them to good use!

***See my updated list of ways to help here.***

Melissa, a MoneySavingMom.com reader who lives very near the destruction, is helping with the relief efforts and she and I communicated yesterday about specific ways you all can help those in great in need in the Joplin area. Her husband’s ministry (Mustard Seed Global Fellowship) has teamed up with The Bridge (another local ministry) to form a shelter and supply distribution hub.

They can use all of the extra supplies you can send. Needs include:

::Non-perishable Food (most are without electricity and gas, so sending food that doesn’t need to be cooked is especially helpful)

::Toiletries (deodorant, shampoo, soap, body wash, razors, shaving cream, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.)

::Diapers, wipes, formula

::Towels

Please send the items to:

The Bridge
3405 S. Hammons Blvd
Joplin, MO 64804

They will distribute them to those who need them most.

Be sure to package your items securely. Wrap any bottles or items that might leak in plastic, to prevent spills in the box. If you are sending towels or clothing, please send items that are in good condition.

If you would like to give money, there are a number of relief organizations you can donate to listed here.

If you live in the local area and want to volunteer, or are looking for a donation drop-off point in a nearby city or state, check out the Joplin, MO Tornado Relief Facebook Page. There are numerous opportunities being listed there for volunteer help, as well as physical and monetary donations.

If you have other suggestions or specific ways to help, please leave them in the comments.

24 May 2011   ·   103
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu Plan: The Road Trip Edition (and where I’ve been the past few days!)

Children’s clothes all packed and ready to go

We survived the whirlwind weekend that included us running a table at our local homeschool used book sale (we sold almost all our stuff and made over $120 to use to buy next year’s homeschool curriculum!), two special missionary services at our church, Jesse’s sister’s graduation, time with Jesse’s other sister and her family who were in from out of town for the graduation and a Josh Groban concert (my husband shocked me big time by surprising me with tickets to this!).

Sunday afternoon, we started packing for our family road trip. Our first stop was to be Joplin, Missouri. Then, Sunday evening, we heard the heart-breaking news of the devastating tornado there. I spent much of this morning researching out ways our family could personally help and specific ways you all could help by donating extra stockpile items. I’ll have a post up tomorrow with more details on that.

In the mean time, thank you for your patience with me today as I was focusing most of my time and energy on Joplin and figuring out Plan B for our road trip. We decided to still go ahead with our planned family road trip, but we headed to Oklahoma City today instead.

Silas getting ready for a dip in the hotel pool tonight

I didn’t get a video done for the 31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget series today. I’d hoped to do it from the hotel room tonight, but it just didn’t happen as we were having too much fun playing in the pool and just enjoying life away from all the usual distractions of life.

I am planning a number of road trip-themed posts over the next few days along with the usual blogging fare, provided I have time and internet connection while we’re traveling. We’ll see. If they don’t get done this week, I’ll be sure and post them next week.

For starters, here’s our menu for the road trip:

Breakfasts
Continental breakfast at the hotel (we always try to stay somewhere that serves breakfast as this saves a nice chunk of money — especially when we get a great deal on the hotel in the first place!)

Lunches
Ham sandwiches, chips, juice
Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks, bananas
Tuna sandwiches, chips, veggies
Egg salad sandwiches, veggies, fruit
Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks, apples
Snack-y lunch (cheese & crackers, pretzels, carrots, apples, etc.)
Cereal, fruit

Snacks
Apples
Carrot sticks
Pretzels
Crackers and peanut butter
Cheese and crackers
Chips
Granola bars

Dinners
We’re planning to eat dinner out every night as this is something we budget for on vacations. We keep it pretty economical, though, and usually spend around $25 to $35 maximum for dinners for the five of us. We did Cracker Barrel tonight and will likely do Chick-fil-A tomorrow night.

21 May 2011   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

My Walgreens Trip — see the full details on this $0.16 shopping trip here.

My Target trip — see the full details on this trip here.

My Dillon’s Trip — see the full details here.

Dollar Tree Trip — see the full details here.

Jesse also stopped by Aldi to pick up some basics and stuff for my Freezing Cooking in an Hour session this week.

Would you like to know what the best deals and coupon match-ups are for your local stores? Be sure to check out the Store Deals section of our site where we post the best deals and coupon match-ups each week for over 100 different stores across the country. You can sign up to receive the top deals in your email inbox each week as soon as they are posted!

Find

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

21 May 2011   ·   97
Money Saving Mom

Books Read in April and May: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Life On the Wire + more

So, I have to confess something to you all: I kind of had a bad attitude about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. I’m someone who tends to go against the grain instead of just following the pack, so I figured there’s no way this book could really live up to the over-the-top rave reviews everyone kept giving me. And, because of this, I had a negative bias from the get-go.

But (you knew this was coming!) I loved the book. I read it in one setting and have been itching to bake crusty loaves of bread ever since. The book made it sound so easy, so doable and so delicious.

I’m sold — and I’ve not even made the bread yet! Provided the bread turns out as well as the rest of the world proclaims it does, this book is a blue-ribbon winner. Stay tuned for later this year when I share about my adventures in baking Artisan Bread as part of my Do-It-Yourself Experiment series.

Also read in April and May:

Life On the Wire — I picked up this book because Dave Ramsey recommended it and it looked like a great book on balancing — an area I can always improve in. I loved the first few pages of the book, but it grew somewhat tiresome to me after that. I think perhaps the book’s method of presentation just didn’t appeal to the way I process and organize my life. That said, if you feel like your work and life balance needs some serious help, this book might be very beneficial to you.

The Blessing of Boundaries — This is a book for Christian women on finding God’s purpose for your life and not trying to be superwoman. While there were some helpful thoughts, overall, I didn’t find the suggestions or ideas to be earth-shattering. And, like Life on the Wire, it seemed to drag on and I felt like I was slogging through it, at times.

31 Days to Clean — Read my review of this ebook here. (In my review, I failed to mention that this ebook is written for Christian stay-at-home moms primarily. If you work outside the home, you might not find it as helpful. I’d also love to see the book professionally edited as I did find some typographical errors, as well as structural dissonance. But overall, I loved it and think it would be a great encouragement to many stay-at-home moms who are feeling overwhelmed.)

Large Family Logistics — I wouldn’t agree with all the ideas and methodology presented in this book and, like 31 Days to Clean, it’s written for Christian, homeschooling, married stay-at-home moms. However, even though we don’t have a large family, I was very inspired by this book and the suggestions and practical tips the author outlined. I’ve been seeking to implement some of them in our home organization with great results. Now I just need to read a book on having discipline to follow through with all my good intentions! 🙂

The Grace and Truth Paradox — A friend loaned me this book and it was excellent. If you’re a Christian who struggles with how grace and truth are to be lived out in our lives, this little volume is packed with food for thought. It was my first Randy Alcorn book and now I want to read everything he’s written!

The Long Winter — The children and I were mesmerized by this book’s tales of surviving a frigidly cold winter. It’s hard to imagine what that would be like as we sit in our comfortable air-conditioned home. And I realize I probably can never complain about the weather for the rest of my life!

24 Books I Plan to Read in 2011

Business and Financial Books I Plan to Read and Review This Year:

January — 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
February — Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

March — Becoming a Person of Influence
April — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
May — Life on the Wire: Avoid Burnout and Succeed in Work and Life
June — Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
July — Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days
August — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
September — America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
October — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
November — Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet
December – Personal Investing: The Missing Manual

Other Books I Plan to Read This Year:
January — Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
February — Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
March — The Possibilities of Prayer
April — The Blessing of Boundaries
May — Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
June — Honey for a Child’s Heart
July — One With Christ
August — A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
September — Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
October — The Rose Conspiracy
November — Disciplines of a Godly Woman
December –Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

What books have you read recently? Any you’d highly recommend?

(Note: The Amazon.com links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

20 May 2011   ·   29
Money Saving Mom

In My Mailbox: Free Gillette Fusion Razor, Free Suave Professionals + more!

Here were the freebies in my mailbox this week:

Free Huggies GoodNites samples

Free Eucerin Everyday Protection samples

Two coupons for free full-sized Suave Professionals hair products

Free Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor

I also received the free package of Kellogg’s cereal and coupons from Vocalpoint.

What freebies have arrived in your mailbox this week?

By the way, if you want to start getting great freebies in your mailbox, just start signing up for the freebies I post every day that interest you. Within 4-6 weeks, your mailbox will start filling up with great freebies!

19 May 2011   ·   60
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking in an Hour: Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Breakfast Burritos, Chicken and Southwest Rollups

I had another successful Freezer Cooking in an Hour session yesterday. I’m amazed at how much I can get done when I set the timer and just work for an hour without distraction (well, other than the typical interruptions you have when there are three children living at your house!).

Here’s how it went down:

3:30 — Stick the chicken breasts in the oven to bake. (I’ve found this is such a simple way to cook chicken and they end up much more tender and juicy than when I boil them.)

3:32 — Mix up the pancake batter and start cooking the pancakes.

3:45 — Chop the vegetables and saute them. Beat eggs and milk together and pour over vegetables. Roll up all the Breakfast Burritos. Continue cooking pancakes.

4:10 — Chicken is done. Chop and mix together Southwest Rollups. Get interrupted multiple times by children, phone calls… I finally let everyone have a snack of chocolate chip pancakes and that keeps them occupied for awhile.

4:30 — Almost done! Finish rolling up the Southwest Rollups and clean up the kitchen.

5:00 — Get dinner finished and feel completely satisfied at having made six meals in a little over an hour! {Then, as soon as the kitchen is clean, I go collapse on the couch and read aloud to the children. Whew!}

Results of my Freezer Cooking in an Hour session:

24 Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal pancakes

10 Southwest Rollups

1 bag of Southwest Rollup filling

1 bag of chopped cooked chicken

20 Breakfast Burritos

19 May 2011   ·   110

Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos

Freezer-Friendly-Breakfast-Burritos

My husband loves McDonald’s Breakfast Burritos and I’ve been hoping I could create a homemade version he’d like, as well. These Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos were my first attempt and Jesse absolutely loved them.

I’m not a huge breakfast burrito fan, but I have to say, I think this recipe is a winner. In fact, I can see myself sneaking these from the freezer for mid-morning snack. 🙂

They are perfect for breakfast-on-the-go, and they are probably loads healthier than the McDonald’s Breakfast Burritos. One thing is for sure, they are significantly less expensive. From my calculations, they would cost around $0.45 per burrito using regularly-priced ingredients from Aldi. If you were able to get some of the ingredients on sale, they could be quite a bit less than that.


19 May 2011   ·   61
Money Saving Mom

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes

If you’ve not noticed, I sort of have a thing for chocolate chips. Throwing in whole wheat flour makes me feel a little less guilty for consuming them at the rate I like to. So, I knew I wanted to try Amy’s Lighter Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes as soon as I saw them.

Of course, in typical Crystal style, I re-did the recipe and also tripled it so there’d be some left over for the freezer. The end result was one our whole family loved!

These Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes are delicious straight from the griddle or served cold as a snack (well, our family might be the only people who thinks they are yummy cold, because we’re weird like that!).