Monday, January 31, 2011

Mamavation Monday

It was a good week, it was wrought with its own challenges, but I persevered and albeit a small loss, I lost weight this week.

Keeping track of my food certainly helped, but a work event on Friday at a Cooking School, was just enough to put me over my PointsPlus values for the week. It wasn't so much that what we were making was that bad for me, but it was a lot of different foods and it combined with some wine and cheese at the cooking school and my regular eating during the week prior to the event did not work well for me. As the instructor said at the end of the class, when they teach these classes, the intent is not that you would go home and actually prepare all of those items as one meal, but rather that you would take 2 or 3 of the dishes and pair them with some easier/lighter fare like a salad for a meal. Our menu was brunch and we made our own sausage patties, baked french toast with a blueberry maple syrup, Florentine egg cups, sweet potato hash, and a fruit tart. With it we also had a Raspberry Bellini. I've never actually eaten creamed spinach before, but the one that we used for the egg cups was made with sharp cheddar and it was awesome! Does creamed spinach always involve cheese? I think I might have to make just the creamed spinach as a side dish at dinner one night. I also enjoyed the sweet potato hash and think it would make a nice side for dinner as well. I guess that I should have expected more eating at a cooking class and prepared earlier in the week, by not using as many of my weekly PointsPlus values on the other days. But, if it weren't for mistakes, I wouldn't learn so much.

I exercised each morning - except for Friday, when I totally failed to set my alarm clock. Seriously? I've been setting an alarm clock for so many years, I would have thought it was a habit by now and am not sure how I missed that. Since I went to cooking school that day, I probably could have really benefited from exercise that day too!

I'm looking forward to another great week. I plan to continue with my P90X workout plan and plan to continue to use the eTools to track my eating and calculate my PointsPlus values. I feel that without the disruption of an event like cooking school, that I should be able to step it up.

Weight loss to go: 22.2#.

This post shared at Mamavation Monday. The sponsor of Mamavation Monday this week is Earh Footwear, who asks : What does “wellness” mean to you? To me, wellness is a total package - it means eating right and remaining active. It doesn't mean dieting, just eating the right stuff and the right amount of that stuff. It doesn't mean following a workout regimen, but remaining active through your week whether it is working out or playing hard.

No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider for the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program and have received complimentary online access to Weight Watchers, an IPad with the Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion App downloaded, a Flip Camera and other tools to help me on my weight loss journey, using Weight Watchers. 'People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1 - 2 pounds per week.' I’m writing this post as an entry to a blogging carnival sponsored by Earth Footwear and could win a pair of shoes from Earth Footwear

Menu Plan Monday

In addition to the mid-week trip to the store for some cheap pasta and other deals, I made a regular shopping trip on Saturday, since we were out of milk. I stocked up on supplies for the week, as well as many other things. I did my trip at Giant Eagle and saved a good amount. I was able to get 3 packs of Kraft Singles for $2.50 ($.63/ea), 4 boxes of Green Giant Vegetables for Free and 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes for $1 ($.25/ea). I also picked up a deal that they had on frozen pizzas. I used a number of coupons that I had that were expiring on Monday, including some free coupons that I had. I learned though, that they no longer accept internet printables over $3 and they do not accept internet printables of Free or Buy One Get One Free coupons. I was a little disappointed with this and returned the orange juice and bagel chips that I was planning to buy. I will have to pick those items up elsewhere.

Once again, some of the free turkey products have returned to my menu planning. I picked up some more to restock the freezer over break. There is turkey in the Skyline Chili, the tacos, and the turkey meatloaf.

Chili and Cornbread


Cube Steaks

Chicken Gravy over Biscuits



Chicken Romano

Most days, it is cereal for breakfast for everyone. As for lunch, my son will either buy or pack, based on the menu for that day. I tend to pack. My husband will do a bit of both.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

CVS Scenarios - week of 1/30

There are a lot of deals going on again this week at CVS. There is a good mix of health and beauty, as well as pantry items.

Transaction #1
4 - Special K (I'm hoping that they have some of the Chocolate)

-$3.33 BOGO Special K IP
-$3.33 BOGO Special K IP

Total $6.67 OOP, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Nutrition Bars
1 - Aussie Shampoo
1 - Aussie Styler

-$1 Nutrition mfg coupon
-$1 Nutrition mfg coupon
-$2.98 BOGO Aussie Styler mfg coupon

Total $5.98, pay with $4 ECBs and $1.98 OOP. Earn $1 and $2 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Dayquil with Sinex (hoping that they are part of the deal again this week)

-$4 Sinex mfg coupon

Total $.99, pay with $1 ECB adjusted down. Earn $1 ECB.

Transaction #4
2 - Softsoap Body wash
2 - Irish Spring Body wash
2 - Softsoap soap

-$1 Softsoap mfg coupn
-$1 Softsoap mfg coupon
-$.50 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$.50 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$.35 Softsoap mfg coupon
-$.35 Softsoap mfg coupon

Total $12.30, pay with $2 and $1 ECB and $9.30 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

Total OOP for the trip would be $17.95, with $5 ECBs to roll for $45.31 in product at sale prices. A savings of approximately 64%.

I'm also thinking that I will try to pick up some of the Naturemade Vitamins that are on sale BOGO. I have a number of coupons and there is a $5 rebate when you purchase $30 in vitamins. I am in my last bottle of my multivitamins and could use some Vitamin C as well.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
1 - Dayquil with Sinex

-$4 Sinex mfg coupon

Total $.99 OOP, earn $1 ECB.

Transaction #2
1 - Aussie Shampoo
1 - Aussie Styler

-$2.98 BOGO Aussie Styler

Total $2.98, pay with $1 ECB and $1.98 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Olay Body Wash
1 - Olay Moisturizer

-$2 Olay Body Wash mfg coupon
-FREE Olay Moisturizer wyb Olay Body Wash mfg coupon

Total $4, pay with $2 ECB and $2 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

Total for the day would be $4.98 OOP, with $2 ECBs to roll for approximately $22 in product. A savings of about 80%.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

CVS Deals - 1/28

I headed out to CVS to pick up the Cottonelle TP/Wipes/Kleenex deal that I had a rain check for, because I realized that my wipes coupons were expiring. I wasn't well prepared and couldn't locate my tissue coupon and wasn't prepared to pick up this week's deals, so I might make a return trip to get some other things.

1 - Cottonelle 18pk
6 - Cottonelle Wipes
3 - Kleenex tissues
1 - Kashi Go Lean Crunch

-$.50 Cottonelle mfg coupon
-$3 $1/2 x 3 Cottonelle Wipes IP/mfg coupon
-$3 Kashi mfg coupon

Paid with $20 ECBs and $1.99 (plus $1.63 tax) OOP. Earned $10 ECBs.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Samples and Freebies


Breathe Right Advanced samples
John Frieda FrizzEase Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Serum sample (Kroger)

Kleenex Share a Package

Grocery Deals

I made a quick stop to Giant Eagle on Wednesday, before the ad changed. They had the Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta on sale for $1/box and when I went earlier in the week, they were out and I failed to get a rain check.

2 - Diced Tomatoes
2 - Tomato Sauce
4 - Ronzoni Smart Taste Spaghetti
2 - Skittles
1 - 5# bag of flour

-$1 $1/2 Ronzoni mfg coupon
-$1 $1/2 Ronzoni mfg coupon
-$.50 $.50/2 Skittles IP
-$.50 double

Total $8.29 OOP. Plus, I picked up a rain check for 12 boxes of the pasta.


My husband was near BJs, so I had him pick up the free bananas and mini corn bread loaves that I had printed coupons for from their website. Unfortunately, the bananas cost $.20 more than the coupon, so they weren't entirely free, but $.20 for 3# of bananas is still a good deal.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paper Plates No More

Lately, I've been trying to be both a little more green and save some money. A while back, we made the move to cloth napkins. This has been going very well for us. We still use paper napkins on occasion at dinner or lunch, but generally, we are using the cloth napkins. My husband was uncertain that it would work, but with nearly daily laundry, we rarely are without napkins in our napkin basket.

After my son's birthday party, I identified another opportunity to save money and be a little more green. Paper Plates. (Although, really, most of them are other materials, I just still think of them as paper plates.) Purchasing disposable plates was an infrequent expense since we bought larger packages of plates, but a still something that we used regularly enough for the assorted picnics, parties and more.

I will not question that using a paper plate is simple and easy. But, when I think about the number of plates that we purchase, use and dispose of, it really can start to add up. Here are some of what I saw as the pros and cons:

Save money over time
Easier to store
Better for the environment
Always have on hand, don’t have to remember to buy before the next picnic/party/gathering
More durable/less flimsy when serving heavy or wet foods

Initial outlay to purchase reusable plates
Have to wash (but I have a dishwasher)
May not have enough if the crowd is large
Have to replace any that are broken

I struggled to find what I was looking for. I knew that I wanted something that was reasonably lightweight, making them easier to use and store, and something that was durable.

At first, I thought that I would try to go with plastic or melamine for the plates. The problem I was finding is that they were all expensive. One of my goals was to save money by moving to reusable plates that I could use for feeding a crowd, spending the type of money that I would have to to buy these was not going to be a savings. I decided to keep looking and hope for a clearance sale.

While visiting my brother's house after a family wedding, I noticed that he was using some of my old Corelle bowls that I had given him when he graduated college and I was getting married. The bowls had been part of a set and I remembered how the plates were durable and reasonably thin and lightweight.

Then, after my Kraft Homestyle House Party back in September, I found myself with some coupons for the Pyrex store, which also carries Corelle dishes. We have a store at the local outlet mall, so I made a trip to the store. They had stacks of plain beige on clearance. It turns out that it was a color they were discontinuing - who discontinues beige? I had about five coupons that were each good for one item, so I walked up to the register to ask if I could use all of the coupons in one transaction or if I had to break it up. She said that she could use them all in one transaction. The clearance stickers on them were all different prices, but she charged me at the lowest price for all of them. When she rang up the coupon, she wound up taking the discount on not just five items, but all of my plates. I purchased 24 plates and 4 bowls (the bowls are for everyday use - they are the perfect size for oatmeal and ice cream) for just under $40, plus tax.

Understandably, it will take me a few picnics and parties to recoup my cost, but every time we use them, we are throwing away that many fewer plates. After a few events, we will start to save money. Plus, since we frequently have a weekend full of guests when we do have a party, they will get multiple uses on a single weekend.

Do I think I am completely done with disposable plates? No. I still think that I will purchase cake plates to coincide with the themes at our birthday parties. But, overall, I will purchase and use a lot less paper plates. I also think that I will try to pick up a few more plates over time. I just didn't want to spend anymore than I did and 24 should be enough to get me through most events that we have. Plus, I still have my everyday dishes if I need a couple more.

My next goal in an effort to live green and save money - find silverware for using at the picnics and parties. I got the idea from a friend who has a large tin full of silverware that she uses exclusively for gatherings. It would be nice not to have to worry about purchasing all of that plastic cutlery. So far, what I have found is a little more expensive than I want. Part of my challenge is that I pretty much just want the components of a three piece set, but I need service for 24.

This post shared at Frugal Friday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Princess Party

I'm clearly a few months behind in some of my planned posts. Back in November, we celebrated my daughter's fourth birthday. This year, her request for a theme was to have a Princess Party. I thought that this sounded like a wonderful theme. For during the party entertainment, I picked up some dresses and tutus, as well as some Prince crowns and capes from I figured the kids could dress up during the party and then have an outfit to take home with them after the party. The cake was not a hard decision for me, I always thought it would be fun to make one of those princess doll cakes, and that is what I set out to do.

I had a vision in my head of what the cake would look like. I was a little uncertain on exactly how I would decorate the cake. I finally decided that fondant would be a great way to get a flowy looking ball gown for the princess cake.

I was able to find a ballerina Barbie doll, that had a bodice that was painted on. I figured that not having to make a top would make decorating the cake easier. Fortunately, there was one available in purple - my daughter's favorite color and the planned color for our Princess Doll Cake.

I started by making two cake mixes. I made one mix in an oven proof glass bowl and the other one in two 9" round cake pans. Because I prefer to offer both chocolate and white (or yellow) cake, I made one of each. After baking the cakes and allowing them to cool. I used a small glass to cut a round hole in the middle of each of the layers - this would be where I could place the doll when I was done decorating. Then, using a thin layer of frosting (I make a homemade butter cream), I stacked the cakes. Then, I frosted the cake with a thin layer of frosting. I took my marshmallow fondant from the refrigerator and kneaded in purple frosting color. (It's a bit of an arm workout to knead it in to refrigerated fondant and get an even color). I rolled it into a rectangle of sorts.

I removed the skirt from the ballerina and wrapped her lower body in plastic wrap, to keep her from getting covered in frosting. I dropped a spoonful of frosting into the bottom of the hole in the center of the cake, to hold the doll up. Then, I lifted my fondant and draped it around the cake. To finish the edges, I piped some purple frosting along the top edge and then, to accent the dress, created a bunch of small purple flowers on her dress.

Here was the result:

When my daughter saw her cake for the first time, her eyes just lit up. It was wonderful.

I enjoy making cakes for my kids - the best part is seeing their reaction when they see the cake.

You can see the cakes that I have made over the years here:

Blue's Clues
Cars - Lightnin' McQueen cake
Space - Solar System cake
Wiggles - Big Red Car cake

Abby Caddaby - Princess Wand cake
Star Wars - Dueling Light Sabers cake
Phineas & Ferb

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday and the Ultimate Recipe Swap Birthday Cake Roundup.

Monster Jam!

The Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam is coming to Cleveland for three exciting shows February 19th - 20th (and possibly a town near you soon - find more shows here). The shows in Cleveland are Saturday, February 19th at 2pm and 7:30pm and Sunday, February 20th at 2pm.

Want to go to the show? I have a coupon code to share with my readers for a discount on tickets to the show. Tickets must be purchased by February 18th.

DISCOUNT: Flat $15 tickets on ALL performances (additional fees may apply)
RESTRICTIONS: Not valid on Front Row or Gold Circle seats; no double discounts; limit 6 per order; discount ends on Friday, February 18, 2011.
LINK to purchase tickets:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gerber Graduates for Preschoolers

Recently, my family had the chance to try some of the Gerber Graduates for Preschoolers products through BzzAgent.

When my kids were younger, we were regular consumers of the Gerber Graduates line, which is designed with the development of the child in mind. We must have gone through countless bottles of Puffs - of course, they were still sort of new when my son was a baby and I can remember that we had trouble finding them (or maybe it was just one flavor - its been a long time now) and my mother in law found them and sent us 6 bottles. My son was still snacking on Puffs long after he might have been otherwise. My son liked the banana cookies - was it the flavor or the fun banana shape?

We had not yet tried any of the Gerber Graduates for Preschoolers line. We have now tried the Fruit Twist, Cereal Twists, and Juice Treats. When the box arrived with our sample, I told my daughter that I had some special snacks for her to try. She couldn't wait! My son, of course, wanted to try them too.

The kids seemed to enjoy the Cereal Twists, which are cereal bars filled with fruit and yogurt twisted together. I like that the bars are smaller, better portioned for a preschooler. Looking in my cabinet, many of my cereal bars are around 1.25 to 1.5 oz each, the Cereal Twists are .7 oz each. Normally, when I pack my cereal bars in my bag as a snacking on the go option for the kids, I have them split them. With this smaller bar, one bar is the right portion for a quick, on the go snack. I also like that they are made with whole grains, real yogurt and fruit. They provide 3g of whole grains per serving, as well.

The Juice Treats are similar to what the kids know as fruit snacks. The Gerber Graduates for Preschoolers Juice Treats are made with concentrated fruit and fruit juice (99% for the one I'm looking at right now) and have a soft texture. The kids enjoyed these as well. I'm not sure how the size compares to standard fruit snacks, but I believe it might be a little bit smaller of a package.

The one that they were most excited about was the Fruit Twists. My guess is because they look a little bit like candy - think Twizzlers. The Fruit Twists are also 99% real concentrated fruit and juice. They provide 1/2 a serving of fruit each and contain no artificial flavors or sweeteners. With the individual package, these also make a great, right sized snack for on the go.

My kids enjoyed all of the snacks that we tried and I picked up a couple more boxes for the pantry. I must say, now that I have actually taken them on the go - the smaller size snacks fit much better in my purse too!

No compensation was received for this post. As a participant in this BzzCampaign, I received free product to try and coupons to use and share, as well as information about the product. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and those of my family.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mamavation Monday - A New Beginning

Growing up, Little House on the Prairie was always one of my favorite shows. I can remember watching it on Monday nights - at one point, there must have been a show that my parents watched at the same time, because I can remember heading down to the basement to watch it by myself. Looking at the years it was on, I was kind of young to be watching it by myself in the basement - it makes me wonder if I watched reruns. All of this, really has nothing to do with this post, except that is what my title for this post reminded me of. That last season, which technically was a spin-off, was called Little House: A New Beginning.

Only three weeks have passed in this new year, but my most standards, my resolutions have been thrown out the window. Only, I didn't through them out the window, they simply were the victims of circumstance and I thoroughly plan to reengage and reinvigorate my resolutions. The first circumstance, was when I cut my thumb on the mandolin, trying to make my family, my guests and myself a healthy snack of Veggie Chips. It was poorly located and made many things challenging, not the least of which was exercise. This lead me to be off track for a period on exercising. Unfortunately, my measuring and tracking of my food intake also started to suffer near the end of that second week. Getting the stomach flu the following week was the proverbial straw. When I finally was ready to eat, I wasn't watching what I ate at all, simply looking for things that wouldn't turn my stomach. But, this is a new day, a new beginning and I started out strong (weak, actually, it was very challenging and my muscles felt very weak) this morning with P90X Chest and Back. Tonight, it will be Ab Ripper. I am also starting afresh with measuring and tracking my food choices. I am starting with a good breakfast and have packed myself a healthy lunch. I think I am going to start attending the local Weight Watchers class to get some added support.

Despite all of my setbacks, I am determined to move forward in strong fashion. I must say, that at the very least, I have lost a 1/2# since the start of the new year and when I started the P90X challenge (which I haven't been a very active participant in). That is at least one positive.

This post shared at Mamavation Monday. This week's blogging carnival is sponsored by Fiber Plus, who asks: How are you getting more fiber in your diet this New Year? My answer is that I continue to eat my daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. In addition, when I choose a snack, I look for products that are made with whole grains or are fortified with fiber.

No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider for the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program and have received complimentary online access to Weight Watchers, an IPad with the Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion App downloaded, a Flip Camera and other tools to help me on my weight loss journey, using Weight Watchers. 'People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1 - 2 pounds per week.' I’m writing this post as an entry to a blogging carnival sponsored by Fiber Plus. I will be receiving free product in return.

Menu Plan Monday

Well, last week, with me not feeling well over the weekend, I wound up not actually planning a menu. It really is a challenge to me when I don't at least have some thoughts about what we will eat in the week to come. I am happy to report that we ate every night, but some of the nights were a little random. Sure, there were good nights with pasta, chicken gravy over biscuits and pork chops. But then there was the night that we had cereal and sausage - it was supposed to be breakfast for dinner, but the kids weren't interested in eggs or pancakes and I wasn't interested in pushing the issue. And, then, there was the night that we had fish fillets, chicken nuggets and french fries. Not the most balanced meal, but hey, it helped me clean a few things that weren't enough for a meal out of my freezer. And, I did make smoothies to go with it, so the kids got yogurt, fruit and milk to start with.

This week, I am happy to be back to planning. I made a run to the grocery store today, but since I stopped at an unexpected time, I didn't have my full list (I hadn't put it into Our Groceries yet!) or my menu plan with me. I missed only a few things, but then I also failed to get a rain check for the pasta that was on sale, so I guess I will need to head back mid-week. I did stock up on some frozen meals for lunches, they were on sale, I had coupons and I earned bonus Fuelperks!.

Once again, some of the free turkey products have returned to my menu planning. I picked up some more to restock the freezer over break. There is turkey in the Skyline Chili, the tacos, and the turkey meatloaf.

Skyline Chili

Chicken Patty Sandwiches


Turkey Meatloaf


Rattlesnake Pasta


Most days, it is cereal for breakfast for everyone. As for lunch, my son will either buy or pack, based on the menu for that day. I tend to pack. My husband will do a bit of both.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

CVS Scenarios - week of 1/23

Well, I never did make it back to CVS like I had hoped to you yesterday. It turned out to be a rather busy day, but more about that another time. Looking at this week's CVS ad, there are only a few deals that look interesting to me. I must also say that I was a bit surprised to see Easter candy in the ad. Isn't Easter in April this year? Not to mention, we haven't even finished with Valentine's Day yet.

So, here are the deals that I am considering (assuming that I succeed in making it to CVS this week!):

Transaction #1
1 - Crest ProHealth Rinse
2 - Kashi Go Lean Crunch

-$3 Kahsi Go Lean Crunch mfg coupon
-$3 Kashi Go Lean Crunch mfg coupon

Total $3.97 OOP, earn $3.99 ECBs. There are some Crest Rinse coupons out there, but I think that they are all for the larger bottle - I will double check before I go to the store, just in case. Sometimes, the ones that come in the mail with samples don't have the same size restrictions as those from the Sunday paper. My kids love the Kashi Go Lean Crunch and we got a couple of sample packs recently that came with the $3 coupon.

Transaction #2
1 - Planter's Nuts
2 - Ritz/Wheat Thins
2 - VitaminWater
2 - Coke 12 pks

-$1 Planter's mfg coupon
-$1 $1/2 Nabisco crackers mfg coupon
-$1.50 BOGO VitaminWater IP (

Total $12.50, pay with $3.99 ECB and $8.51 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs. We aren't big Coke product drinkers, but if you are getting 12 packs for $2 a piece, after ECB, might be the way to go. If you have access to enough computers, you could get 10 bottles of VitaminWater for $2.50, after ECB.

Transaction #3
1 - Visine
3 - L'oreal Lip Color (from ad)

-$2 Visine IP
-$2 Visine CRT
-$5 $5/2 Loreal Cosmetic mfg coupon
-$2 Loreal Cosmetic mfg coupon

Total $9.49, pay with $5 ECB and $4.49 OOP. Earn $1 and $5 ECBs.

Transaction #4
3 - Ensure

-$6.99 B2G1 Ensure mfg coupon
-$3 Ensure mfg coupon
-$3 Ensure mfg coupon

Total $7.98, pay with $6 ECBs and $1.98 OOP.

Total OOP for the trip is $18.95 for $67.45 worth of product, a savings of 72%.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
1 - Crest ProHealth Rinse
2 - Kashi Go Lean Crunch

-$3 Kahsi Go Lean Crunch mfg coupon
-$3 Kashi Go Lean Crunch mfg coupon

Total $3.97 OOP, earn $3.99 ECBs.

Transaction #2
1 - Visine
1 - Xtra Laundry Detergent
1 - gallon Milk

-$2 Visine IP
-$2 Visine CRT
-$1 Xtra IP

Total $4.17, pay with $3.99 ECBs and $.18 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

Total OOP is $4.15, with $1 ECB to roll, for $19.16 in product. A savings of 79%.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

CVS Deals - 1/22

So, we have all been sick around my house and have used up some of our medicine. I knew that CVS was having a deal this week on the Dayquil/Nyquil and included those with Sinex. So, I headed out this morning, knowing that my coupons were in my car, to CVS to pick up a box to replenish our supply. I got there and went to pull out my coupon, only to discover that I had all of my coupons, except the P&G ones. I noticed that the Blink boxes, across the aisle from the Dayquil/Nyquil, all had the $4 peelie coupons on them, making them free after ECB, so I bought that.

1 - Blink Tears

-$4 Blink peelie

Total $4.51 ($3.99 + $.52 tax), earned $4 ECBs. Unfortunately, my ECBs are all $10 ones, so I wound up paying out of pocket for it, but since I earned the ECBs, it still was essentially free other than tax.

I hope to stop back later today to get the Dayquil. I asked about a rain check, so that I wouldn't have to run back today, but was told that they couldn't write it if they had it in stock.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yoplait Original Yogurt

As a busy mom, I have had to make many changes to my routine. Some are for the better and some, well they are just different. My life seems more hectic and I have had to shuffle things around. I've started exercising in the morning, which took away my habit of eating breakfast at home every morning. I tend to grab things to go that I can eat at work. I've moved grocery shopping to the weekend, as I can't imagine having the energy after work and dinner to run to the store. I've started prepping food ahead of time and trying to cook once for several meals. I've started going to bed earlier. I somehow used to have time to work, workout, eat, and play all on the same day. Were there more hours in a day back then? I'm sure that in part I simply needed less sleep, but I also think that with fewer responsibilities there was more time for everything.

    With hectic schedules and many things to keep track of, consuming a sufficient amount of calcium may not always be our top priority. Luckily, Yoplait is committed to making it easier for women to add more calcium to their diet every day with the newly reformulated Yoplait Original style yogurt.

    Now with two times the amount of calcium of the leading yogurt, that’s 50 percent of the Daily Value in one convenient 6-ounce cup, Yoplait Original yogurt provides women with an easy and delicious way to get the calcium they need. Yoplait Original also contains 50 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin D, which helps with the absorption of calcium. Yoplait is committed to women’s health and is proud to offer a product that has even more of the calcium and vitamin D they need for strong, healthy bodies.

    In an effort to further educate women about the importance of maintaining strong, healthy bones through an active lifestyle and a diet rich in calcium, Yoplait is partnering with TV host and celebrity mom Nancy O’Dell on a one million cup giveaway of Yoplait Original yogurt, beginning December 13th. Visit Yoplait on Facebook to sign up for your free cup and make a personal commitment to meeting your calcium needs each day. While you’re there, take a moment to enjoy daily calcium tips from Registered Dietitian Katherine Brooking and healthy lifestyle advice from Nancy O’Dell.

    Yoplait Original Style yogurt is available in 4-cup packs and easy-to-store 8-cup fridge packs in 23 delicious flavors including Strawberry, French Vanilla, Harvest Peach, and Blackberry Pomegranate.

Want to try some Yoplait Original yogurt? Visit Yoplait on Facebook to “Like” the brand, and get your free cup of Yoplait Original yogurt by pledging your commitment to consuming more of the calcium you need. A coupon will be sent to you.

Thanks to Yoplait and MyBlogspark, I have the opportunity for one reader to win a Yoplait Yogurt Gift Pack, which includes Yoplait Original yogurt gift pack that includes a *VIP Coupon for a free sample of Yoplait Original yogurt, as well as a duffel bag, speed rope, water bottle and sport towel. (*This coupon offer for Yoplait yogurt is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Tennessee.)

To enter: Leave a comment with the answer to this question: What challenges do you face in getting enough calcium and how do you incorporate more calcium into your diet?

Additional Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one):
  • Follow @ABusyMomofTwo on Twitter.

  • Follow @YoplaitYogurt on Twitter.

  • Tweet about this giveaway (you may do this once daily): Enter to win an @YoplaitYogurt prize pack. Hosted by @ABusyMomofTwo #myblogspark

  • Follow A Busy Mom of Two. Subscribe to updates in your feed reader or in e-mail. Leave me a comment letting me know that you signed up, or that you already subscribe.

  • Share this giveaway with friends - on your blog or on Facebook. Leave me a comment letting me know how you shared.

  • Leave a comment with a link to your blog where you have either my button or have a link to A Busy Mom of Two in your blog roll.

  • Giveaway will remain open until February 8th at 6 pm. One winner will be selected using a random number generator. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

    No compensation was received for this post. Yoplait and MyBlogSpark provided a Yoplait Original Yogurt Prize Pack for my family to experience, as well as information about the product. They will also provide a prize pack to the winner of the giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Disney On Ice - Toy Story 3

    So, this weekend (right before I managed to succumb to a stomach bug) the family headed to Cleveland to enjoy Disney On Ice - Toy Story 3. As has been my experience with Disney on Ice productions, the show was great. The kids were thoroughly engrossed in the show. Ever the critic, my son was quick to point out songs that were from Toy Story 2 and scenes from Toy Story. But, that aside, he still enjoyed the show. My daughter liked it but felt that there needed to be more Buzz Lightyear in the show - he wasn't in every scene if you can beleive it.

    The show opened with a welcome by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck.

    I'm always amazed by the talent of the skaters performing the show. I spent half the time trying to figure out if Ham was one skater or two. Seeing Slinky Dog and Bullet on ice was impressive - you know that there likely was two skaters in those costumes, making it all hte more impressive how choreographed and in sync their moves were.

    There were so many fun parts, I'm not sure which one was my favortie.

    I enjoyed the scene with the green army figures. For their initial entrance - one guy even "parachuted" in, which was pretty cool. To add to the effect, the screen on the backdrop showed the shadows of other army guys parachuting in. It was also neat to watch them march in formation around the ice (sometimes when I skate, I feel a little like I'm marching, but they did it with a lot more grace and form).

    The flashback to Toy Story to the Pizza Planet and the "spaceship" that Buzz climbed into was fun. All of the martians and "The Claw" were even part of the scene. I didn't notice at first, but all of the martian skaters came out on their knees!

    Another part that we really enjoyed was when Ken modeled all of his clothes for Barbie. The kids were pretty impressed that he would grab an outfit and come skating out in a matter of moments in the new outfit.

    Overall, it was a wonderful experience.

    No compensation was received for this post. As a Feld Family Activator, my family received complimentary admission to the show.


    Sometimes, you just have to take a break - from one or many things in life. Sometimes these breaks are necessitated so that you can fulfill other obligations. Sometimes these breaks are because you want to simply spend time with the family without any distractions. Sometimes there are breaks because you are so stressed out that you need to get away from things. Sometimes your body tells you it needs a break. Whatever the reason, breaks can be a great thing, giving you a chance to reconnect, to recharge, to refresh, to renew, to heal.

    There are good breaks: going out to eat for dinner to take a break from cooking; getting away for a weekend to take a break from every day life; turning off electronics for the day and just playing as a family; taking a quick nap; taking a vacation day to simply relax. Of course, there are also not so good breaks.

    There are short breaks and long breaks.

    There are happy breaks and sad breaks.

    There are breaks that you take alone and those that you take with others.

    You might have noticed, I recently took a break from blogging (you wouldn't have noticed, but I took a break from a lot of things!). Unfortunately, this one wasn't for anything fun. We've had a couple of variations of flu bugs floating around our house and this past weekend, I was "lucky" enough to catch a bit of the stomach version of the bug. Needless to say, there was no Mamavation Monday happening here - the thought of working out was the furthest thing from my mind. There was no Menu Plan Monday - the thought of food made me queasy. There really wasn't much of anything. I went through the motions, simply to get to the end of the day. Even when I was no longer "sick" and headed off to work, I still had that squishy stomach feeling. I wasn't afraid to eat normal food, but I was still afraid of anything with a strong smell or taste. I did enjoy getting to bed early for a few nights in a row, the added rest was good for me.

    I have a number of things that I plan to post, but being sick certainly has me behind in all areas of life, so it may take a while to catch up. My son, for instance, found out he was out of uniforms for school (OOOPS!!) - so I'm multi-tasking and listening to the washing machine run in the background, so that I can move it to the dryer as soon as it finishes.

    Taking breaks work for me, although I must say I prefer the good breaks. Having the chance to refresh and recharge and to get away from the everyday can be such a good thing. It can keep you from getting to the point of running yourself completely ragged. This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    CVS Scenarios - week of 1/16

    There are some different deals this week at CVS - which is good, because I am pretty well stocked in many areas and wouldn't benefit from more of the same. Again, I wish that I had a $/$$ coupon, but alas, I never seem to get them.

    Transaction #1
    1 - Charmin 16 rolls
    1 - Duracell 20 pk
    6 - Puff's Tissues

    -$.25 Charmin mfg coupon
    -$1.50 Duracell mfg coupon
    -$.25 $.25/3 Puff's mfg coupon
    -$.25 $.25/3 Puff's mfg coupon

    Total $23.75 OOP, earn $10 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Boost 12pk
    6 - Fancy Feast Cans
    3 - Power Bar

    -$3 Boost IP (seems to longer be on where I printed it yesterday)
    -$.65 $.65/3 Fancy Feast IP
    -$.65 $.65/3 Fancy Feast IP
    -$1 Power Bar BOGO CRT

    Total $14.70, pay with $10 ECBs and $4.70 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

    Transaction #3
    2 - Valentine's M&Ms
    1 - Tom's of Maine Toothpaste
    2 - Orbit Gum (BOGO sale)

    -$1 $1/2 M&Ms IP
    -$1 M&M CRT
    -BOGO Orbit Gum IP

    Total $6.99, pay with $5 ECBs and $1.99 OOP. Earn $1 and $3 ECBs.

    Total OOP $30.44, with $4 ECBs to roll, for about $58 in product. A savings of about 50%.

    I might also check out the American Greetings spend $15 get $3 ECB deal. I have a CRT for one free card when you buy 3 (up to $2.99). So, if I select 4 cards around $3 each and 3 of the $1 value cards, I can get 7 cards for $9.

    For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

    CVS $5 Challenge
    Transaction #1
    1 - Crest ProHealth

    -$1 Crest mfg coupon

    Total $1.99 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Tom's of Maine Deodorant
    2 - Orbit Gum (BOGO sale)

    -BOGO Orbit Gum IP

    Total $3.99, pay with $2 ECBs and $1.99 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

    Transaction #3
    2 - Valentine's M&Ms

    -$1 $1/2 M&Ms IP
    -$1 M&M CRT

    Total $3, pay with $3 ECBs. Earn $1 ECB.

    Total OOP of $3.99, with $1 ECB to roll, for product worth $14.56 at sale prices. A savings of 74%.

    For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Delirious - a review and giveaway

    I love to read. I used to read all of the time, but now I see it as a luxury. I'm not sure why, I could just as easily read for 10 or 15 minutes when I climb into bed instead of doing Sudoku (which I love as well), but still, when I was younger (read before children), I would spend evenings reading - not just a few minutes each evening. Still, I enjoy reading and think that it is important for the kids to see me reading. They both enjoy books now, but I want them to see that it is something that they can enjoy even when they are older.

    Recently, I was invited to read the debut novel by Daniel Palmer. As you might have guessed from my post title, the book is Delirious.(book cover image borrowed from
    The book was wonderful! I started reading it and was disciplined about reading just a few chapters each evening before bed, out of respect for the fact that I do have to get up in the morning and be to work on time. Then, the weekend came. We took a car trip to meet my cousin's family at an indoor waterpark and I found myself with some time to read, nearly uninterrupted. (Want to get your kids to talk? For me, all I have to do is open a book in front of them...suddenly, they have a hundred things to say, even if they are occupied by a movie!) When we got to the waterpark, I only had about 80 pages to go. I could barely pull myself away from the book to get out of the car. Then, I found myself sneaking a few minutes here and there just to read the book, I didn't want to put it down. I wound up staying up later than planned that night, but I just knew I had to finish the book. I had to know what was going on - was it Charlie, was someone setting him up and either way, how was it happening - I couldn't stop until I was done.

    The story is about Charlie Giles, an inventor who sold his start-up company to a larger firm. Everything seems to be going well for him until one day, things start to happen and his life seems to unravel around him. Things that are happening to him and around him stop making sense to him. He starts finding notes that he left for himself, only he doesn't remember leaving them. Eventually, the notes seem to point to him being a killer. Given a family history of mental illness, he starts to wonder what is going on - is he losing his mind or is someone out to get him?

    Daniel Palmer does a nice job developing the three main characters - Charlie, his schizophrenic brother Joe and their psychologist Rachel. Initially, I wasn't sure I liked Charlie, he just seemed to be one of those people. But, as I learned more about Charlie and the situation started to unfold, I couldn't help but start to like him and found myself rooting for him, convinced that it couldn't be him - only, if it wasn't him, then how could all of these things be explained. It certainly seemed like it had to be him, only it couldn't be.

    I love thriller/mystery books like Delirious. I enjoy how books like this captivate me and leave me wanting more, every time I close the book. I really felt like I knew the characters and this made me want to do all I could to help them through the things that were going on. The book left me a little daunted, concerned at the reaches that technology can have in our lives - I found it a little disturbing to think that technology could do that.

    Want to read more? You can start by visiting here, where he has shared the Prologue and the first three chapters. The book itself is scheduled for release on January 25th and is currently available for pre-order here.

    GiveawayOne lucky A Busy Mom of Two reader can win a signed, Advanced Reader Copy of Delirious, courtesy of Daniel Palmer.

    Primary Entry:
    Leave a comment answering the following questions: Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book?

    Additional Entries:
    • Follow @ABusyMomofTwo and @DanielPalmer on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. You may complete this entry once per day. (You may use the following or write your own: Enter to win an autographed copy of @DanielPalmer debut techno-thriller #Delirious, hosted by @ABusyMomofTwo #giveaway

    • Follow A Busy Mom of Two. Subscribe to updates in your feed reader or in e-mail. Leave me a comment letting me know that you signed up, or that you already subscribe.

    • Share this giveaway with friends - on your blog, on Facebook or by e-mail. Leave me a comment letting me know how you shared.

    • Leave a comment with a link to your blog where you have either my button or have a link to A Busy Mom of Two in your blog roll.

    Giveaway will remain open until January 31st at 6 pm. One winner will be selected using a random number generator. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (be sure to leave one!) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

    I received no compensation for this post. I received an autographed advanced readers' copy of Delirious from Daniel Palmer to read and review. In addition, he also provided an autographed copy of the book for me to use for a giveaway.

    CVS and Acme Deals

    I wanted to run out to CVS to pick up the deals I wasn't prepared for when I went earlier this week. Unfortunately, they were out of the toilet paper, the wipes, the Airwick Freshmatics and refills, so I wound up with only a few odds and ends and a bunch of rain checks. I'm a little worried about how the rain checks were written out. I think I am going to attach the ad, so that I can get the ECBs. The new rain check form doesn't have a place for the ECB amount or event code - this seemed a bit odd to me. I hope it doesn't mean that you can't rain check ECBs anymore!

    1 - ruler
    1 - 2pk children's toothbrush

    Paid with $1, $.89 and $1.59 ECBs and $2.37 OOP. I didn't really plan to buy the toothbrushes when I started the journey, but my shopping assistant was insistent that she needed a new toothbrush and after carrying them around, she managed to open the package and I felt obligated to buy them. They weren't falling out or anything, but they were open and I know that if I found an open pack, I wouldn't buy them.

    While I was out, I stopped at Acme to pick up Chicken Noodle Soup for my son, who was sick (he didn't think Progressive with Penne Pasta was the same). I grabbed a few other deals and picked up Moro Oranges that were on sale. Reading the description in the ad for the Moro Oranges had me intrigued.

    2# bag of Moro oranges
    4 cans Chicken Noodle Soup (some Toy Story themed)
    2 bottles Powerade
    2 Gerber Graduates Preschool snacks

    - $.25 Campbells mfg coupon
    -$.75 Gerber Graduates mfg coupon
    -$1 Acme dollar

    Paid $13.13 OOP and earned $.30 in free gas.

    This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Samples and Freebies

    Crest 3D Whitestrips sample
    Free Sneeze Catcher Kit (quiz for child to take to become a certified Sneeze Catcher, with parent's e-mail can receive kit. The kit includes: Member ID card, Sneeze Catcher Hat, Sneeze Catcher T-Shirt, Activity Book, Kleenex® Brand Pocket Pack of Facial Tissues, Facial Tissue holder, and Coupons)
    Cream of Wheat Cinnabon sample

    Purina One SmartBlend Dog Food ??? Must have clicked the wrong thing - I have a cat! Will be sharing with a friend.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    CVS Deals - 1/11

    I decided the other morning on my way to work to make my stop at CVS. We were expecting snow and I knew that I didn't want to get to the end of the week and realize that I had missed out on all the deals. I quickly grabbed the stuff I needed to do two of the deals (I thought I had the stuff for a third one but missed a couple of coupons) and headed inside. As I was checking out, a friend stopped in to fill a prescription. In talking, I failed to separate my order. When I realized that the clerk had put it all on one, I said that I meant to split it into two orders, could she please remove the last three items. She told me it was too late! What? I hadn't paid. She wasn't one of my normal cashiers (or one that I had even seen before). I was frustrated, having overspent by $10, but what could I do!

    2 - Izze 4pk
    2 - Amp 4pk
    1 - Gatorade
    1 - Mountain Dew 12pk
    1 - Hershey Dropps
    1 - Milky Way Caramel
    3 - Benefiber Flavored Sticks packs

    -$1 Izze IP (Facebook offer)
    -$1 Izze IP (Facebook offer)
    -$3 Benefiber CRT
    -$4 Benefiber IP
    -$2 Benefiber mfg coupon
    -$2 Benefiber mfg coupon

    Paid with $4 and $.50 ECBs and $28.64 OOP ($27.75 + tax). I earned $1 (Green Bag Tag), $10, $10, $1.59, and $.89 ECBs. With an $18.98 increase in ECBs. my net cost was $9.66. Normally, I would have paid that much for just the Amp, so it was still a good deal - I just could have had less out of pocket. Although, I guess now I will just have less out of pocket on my next visit.

    This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion

    A few weeks ago, Weight Watchers launched a new free iPad App called Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion. I have been exploring and using the new app for a couple of weeks now on the iPad that Weight Watchers provided to me as a tool in my role as a Weight Watchers Insider (Thank You so much!).

    It took me a little while to find some of the features, but I think most of that is because it is my first experience with iPad (or any other i-products).

    App Features:

      Everyone who downloads the app will be able to:
      Get the latest 10 featured recipes
      Save up to 10 favorite recipes
      Create custom shopping lists
      Set cooking timers in recipes
      Watch cooking technique videos
      Share recipes with email or Facebook
      Browse through recipes in book view
      Get step-by-step instructions in cooking view

      Subscribers to Weight Watchers Online & eTools have access to all features and can also:
      Find thousands of Weight Watchers recipes
      Access complete shopping, ingredient and equipment guides
      Get cooking primers and technique videos
      View exclusive recipe collections hand-picked by our editors
      Use the Recipe Builder to create and edit recipes
      Send recipes to your Plan Manager for tracking

    I signed in with my eTools user information and all of my comments apply to Subscibers access. Portions would be the same for non-subscribers.

    I started by exploring the recipes that appear on the page when you first access it. They feature nice product shots and the PointsPlus value per serving for the recipe. The first thing that I noticed is that recipes are everything from appetizers, to salads, to main dishes, to desserts, to beverages. I liked seeing that the PointsPlus value varied - the screen I am looking at has items with a PointsPlus value of 1 through 9. I think this is great, a long time ago, I had a Weight Watcher leader say that you have to watch - you don't want to 2 Point yourself to death. She was commenting of course on the fact that you can quickly get in a rut, filling your day with a lot of the same food and although you might meet your target, you will get bored, which can be a motivation killer.

    As I click into the first recipe, I chose some delicious looking cupcakes with a chocolate drizzle. They are called Vanilla Cupcakes Drizzled with Chocolate and have a PointsPlus value of 4 and make 12 servings. I liked that the recipe uses real ingredients - things that I would reasonably have at home or could easily pick up at the grocery store. In fact, if I decide that I want to make this recipe and need to pick up some ingredients, I can simply click on the icon in the lower right corner and select 'Add to Shopping List'. It puts all of the ingredients on the list and you can edit it as needed. Then, when you take it to the store, you can cross items off as you pick them up. The shopping list is fully editable and you can add other grocery items as well, allowing you to fully plan your shopping trip.

    Another recipe that I checked out was Grilled Pizza with Sausage, Onions and Peppers. It has a PointsPlus value of 6, for each of the four servings. The recipe sounds really good to me, but let's say that I want to use a little less sausage or I want to swap the sausage for chicken. Click the icon in the lower right corner and select 'Add to My Recipe Box'. This takes you to a screen where you can click on any of the ingredients and change the amount of the ingredient used and update the recipe. If I adjust the sausage from 6 oz to 4 oz, I see that the PointsPlus value changes to 5. If I want to remove an ingredient, I can select edit (doesn't appear until you have made a change to the recipe?) and then select an ingredient and delete it. Select 'Done' and then select 'Add Ingredient' to include a substitute or additional ingredient to the recipe. After you make all of your modifications, select Save and it will be added to the 'My Recipes' section.

    So, after I explored a few of their recipes, I thought it was time to play with one of my own. From the front page, I select 'Menu' and then choose 'My Recipes'. It has a list of all the recipes that I have built over the past few months in Recipe Builder on the eTools. I can open those recipes and edit them or I can build new recipes. As I enter ingredients in a new recipe, I have the option to select 'Lighten Up'. It pulls up a list of ingredients that you might want to lighten up in a recipe and when you click on them, let say eggs in this provides a recommendation of using egg whites or egg substitute for whole eggs. It recommends the replacement quantity and even provides tips. For eggs, it recommends adding a little tumeric to give it a more natural egg color in frittatas and casseroles. For Mayonnaise, it lets you know when you can and shouldn't use certain replacements.

    When you select 'Make this Recipe', it takes you to screen that allows you to mark off ingredients as you use them (might help with the "have I added it yet" question) and allows you to step through the instructions. There are highlighted words that will take you to information about cooking processes, cooking tools, and more. You can also click on the times in the recipe to set a timer on the iPad.

    Want more of the information on cooking, cooking tools and more? Access them from the 'Menu' button on the main page, select the 'Guides' tab to see Articles, Videos, Cooking Basics, Equipment, a Well-Stocked Pantry and the Skinny On.

    You can share the recipes on the app out to Facebook or send an e-mail, but I couldn't locate this functionality for my recipes. The post to Facebook includes a link to the recipe on the web, allowing your friends to check out that recipe (probably why I can't share my recipes - there wouldn't be a link available).

    Overall the app is really impressive to me. I like the recipes, the access to my recipes, the tips and tools that are all accessible in this app. I will caution that you can't use it exclusively; while it let's you track the recipes that you are preparing, it doesn't currently allow you to track that glass of wine or the roll that you are enjoying with your meal (would be a nice upgrade!). You'll still need your eTools or mobile app to track all of the non-Recipe components of your daily intake. I will tell you from my experience that you can't use the standard eTools on the iPad (Flash is not supported), but you can use the mobile site. Of course, if you have used the mobile site, you know that it is not fully functioning like the standard eTools, but can work 90% of the time.

    No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider for the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program and have received complimentary online access to Weight Watchers, an IPad with the Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion App downloaded, a Flip Camera and other tools to help me on my weight loss journey, using Weight Watchers. 'People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1 - 2 pounds per week.'

    Free Textbook Rental!

    When I went to college, I remember always being amazed that a textbook could cost so much. It seemed that the smaller the textbook, the more it cost to buy. Now for some books, that were very specific to my major, I could see some value because I planned to keep the book as a reference. But, for many of my general ed classes, I would buy a book and then sell it back. This was a challenge when the instructor changed the book or the edition changed, not to mention, they always paid only a fraction of the upfront costs to buy them back. Now, there are more options. Some books are available electronically and there are bookstores and services that offer textbook rental.

    I received the following information in a press release yesterday:

      "Neebo, a nationwide network of college bookstores, today announced plans to give away 100,000 textbook rentals, worth an estimated $6 million. The giveaway celebrates the launch of Neebo’s new website,, which provides students with everything needed to enjoy the best possible college experience and get more college for their money.

      Starting today, students can go to’s textbook rental giveaway microsite, select the book they wish to rent, “like” the Neebo Facebook page ( and receive their one free rental. The student will pay only a small fee for shipping. In addition, once the free rental transaction is completed, the student will have the option of going to to order all of his or her textbooks at a 10 percent discount. The promotion will run through the end of the month or until the free rentals are gone."

    My husband is a student pursuing a second degree, so I plan to have him check this offer out. It would be nice not to have to purchase one textbook this semester. Plus, if he likes his experience, it could help us save money in future semesters too.

    So, if you are a college student, head over to , click through their Free Rental box, and look for a text book that you need. Once you find it, select it, "like" them on Facebook and receive a free rental. They are giving away 100,000 rentals, offer ends this month or when all 100,000 have been given away.

    There were still 98,000 rentals remaining when I stopped by this morning.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Opposable Thumbs

    Do you ever take things for granted? Are there things you have that you just don't appreciate until it's gone? That is how I have felt about thumbs. You take your thumb for granted, but without it's full-function, there are a lot of things that can become a challenge. Some things you can adjust and find a way to accomplish without the full use of your thumb, but others are still a challenge.

    Last week, I hosted a Weight Watchers Virtual Event In-Home party. It was a good time and the food was excellent, the only thing that was not good was when I sliced the tip of my right (and primary) thumb on my mandolin, trying to make Chipotle-Lime Veggie Chips. I quickly stopped, but really, who could go on when you realize you sliced your thumb?, and tried to administer first aid. The first bandaid was a fail, because of the position of the slice. Then, I dug into one of my free first aid kits I pick up in the travel section of CVS with the $1/1 coupons for Johnson & Johnson that periodically surface and found a fingertip/knuckle style bandaid. Bonus! I got myself all tended to and went back to work with food preparation, switching to the easier to use chef's knife.

    Only, you know what, turns out you do use your opposable thumb to help you grip a knife. With the chef's knife, I was able to modify my grip and make it work.

    Know what else you use your thumb for?

    Typing - yes, it generally is just a space bar assist, but being right-handed, I learned that I rely on my right thumb to do all of my spacing when I type. Unfortunately, the slice on my thumb was on the tip, and on the outside, the exact surface that I use to tap that space bar. Ouch! It made for a couple days of awkward and inefficient typing, as I attempted to modify an art I learned back in high school when I took typing (yep, it was typing back then, no computers in my typing class. We had some electronic typewriters where you could type the full line of text and then hit return, affording you a brief opportunity to correct before it was printed, but most of our typewriters were standard issue electric where as you keyed, it typed it on your paper.). Needless to say, 20+ years of doing things the same way definitely makes it a hard habit to change.

    Buttons - have you tried to button your pants or shirt without using your thumb? Not easy. Some might say impossible, I say anything can be done if you set your mind to it. The first few times I buttoned pants, it was a challenge but then I got it down. Then, I wore jeans - okay, so those buttons a little more difficult to do without a thumb and wow! does it hurt when you do use a thumb with a wound. I also learned that a thumb is a great help when it comes to other clothing and accessory wearing - trying to clasp a necklace or an undergarment say, typically is easier with the use of your thumb.

    Texting - okay, no surprise here. Who hasn't seen a report on the potential thumb injuries caused and/or exacerbated by texting. Again, I've adapted. I was sending a text the other day and my husband looked at me funny - I was texting with my left thumb and my right index finger. He asked, why are you texting like that - then he recalled my injury and realized why.

    Opening jars/tear packets/etc - I'm right-handed, that's the hand that I am going to use. It is a challenge to grip a lid on a jar to turn it to open without using your thumb. I guess if I had one of those fancy Pampered Chef jar openers, it might have made it easier. Tear packets like fruit snacks, ketchup, and small candy bars were all a bit of a challenge to open as well. Again, notice how you grip the packet between your thumb and index finger.

    Using knives - I mentioned this one above, but when it comes to chopping potatoes to boil them for mashing, I never noticed how I use my thumb to push on the potato as I guide the knife through the potato that I am holding. Amazing how a little discomfort can make you aware of new things.

    Some other thoughts - fingertip/knuckle style bandaids are a life-saver when you slice the end of your finger/thumb open, but it seems to me that I have to change the bandaid two or three times a day because they come loose. Even the one that I tried at work that claimed to be waterproof seemed to come loose too easily in the course of a normal day's hand washing and such. I had my husband give my daughter a bath one night to help me avoid an additional bandaid change and I learned to wash dishes with my thumb up to minimize the moisture it encountered (thank goodness most of my dishes go through the dishwasher!). Nice fitted gloves are not easy to wear over a bandaid either - on Thursday, when I was still in a bit of pain, I only pulled my glove on about half way. It was way too cold to consider not wearing it. By the next day, it was not so tender that it couldn't handle the pressure of the added bulk inside the fitted glove and I could wear it correctly. I also learned that I tend to start to remove a glove by pulling on the thumb - that can hurt when you have a cut on your thumb.

    Thankfully, there is much less pain associated with my thumb nearly a week later. It is still a tad tender, but the bandaid cushions most of it and it no longer feels like it is going to pop open if I apply too much pressure. But, the experience definitely has made me appreciate my thumb and how much it assists me every day. Having an opposable thumb - works for me!

    This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday.

    Mamavation Monday

    I'm not feeling so motivated. I have been participating in the Mamavation P90X Challenge, but unfortunately, when I hurt my thumb last week, I had to change course briefly. I tried to do the Yoga X that next morning, but there was too much pressure on my thumb in downward dog. I decided it was probably more important for my thumb to heal and decided on an alternate routine. I went with one of Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home DVDs. I still put in a good workout, it just was a different intensity and format. I have done her workouts before and enjoy them, but for some reason since it was an alternate and not my planned workout, I found the experience disappointing - not the walk itself, the experience. Then, I decided that using my hands for hand weights on Friday and push-ups on Monday was going to be a challenge. So, I have been doing the alternate workout plan in the morning. I think I need something like P90X to get me out of bed (the walking workout is better for me in the evening and that is generally when I do it), a workout that is going to get me going. So, unfortunately, after Thursday's failed yoga attempt, I have been struggling to get out of bed. I know that I will be able to return to the P90X program soon - targeting tomorrow morning! - and hope that will bring motivation back into my life.

    Eating hasn't been too bad - except for this weekend. We had a great time this weekend meeting my cousin and her family at the waterpark. Unfortunately, that meant 4 meals in a row with dining out and more snacking than I would normally do. I also made a batch of Caramel Puffcorn to take along, that with it's salty sweet combination I find absolutely addicting. If I assume that there are 25 servings, when I build it in the Weight Watchers eTools Recipe Builder - it comes out to a PointsPlus value of 6 per serving. Definitely a treat, and if I could only eat in in moderation, one that I enjoy. To be realistic, I do actually tend to nibble on it - 4 or 5 pieces at a time. It's just that I find myself going back for a nibble more than one time in an evening. Next time I make it, I might find myself counting the puffs in a bag so that I can better determine the number of 5 piece servings and get a more accurate PointsPlus value.

    I am hopeful that a return to routine will leave me feeling more motivated this next week.

    This post shared at Mamavation Monday.

    No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider for the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program and have received complimentary online access to Weight Watchers, an IPad with the Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion App downloaded, a Flip Camera and other tools to help me on my weight loss journey, using Weight Watchers. 'People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1 - 2 pounds per week.'

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    CVS Scenarios - week of 1/9

    Despite my good intentions, I never made it back to CVS last week. I'm not sure what it is, but there seem to be less hours in the day than ever and I seem to have no motivation to run out in the evenings. Oh well! You can't buy every good deal and in some ways, my waiting turned out to make the Benefiber CRT I got last week a more powerful coupon. There seem to be a lot of high value ECB offers this week. I don't seem to have the magical coupons (or quantities) that others have been sharing, so I can't get it all for free, but I feel like it is shaping up to be a nice week at CVS. Now, if only I could get one of those elusive to me $/$$ coupons in my e-mail or from the coupon machine.

    Transaction #1
    1 - Airmatic Starter Kit (the refills are no good if I can't use them!)
    2 - Airmatic Refills
    2 - Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner (unless I can find some coupons for Finish)
    1 - Hershey Dropps
    1 - Snickers Singles

    -$4 Airmatic Starter Kit mfg coupon
    -$5 BOGO Airmatic refill mfg coupon
    -$1 $1/2 Lysol TB cleaner mfg coupon

    Total $14.48 OOP, earn $10, $1.59 and $.89 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    11 - Cottonelle Wipes
    1 - Kleenex Bundle Packs

    -$5.50 11x$.50 Cottonelle Wipes mfg coupons/IP
    -$.50 Kleenex 3-pk mfg coupon

    Total $19, pay with $12.48 ECBs from Transaction #1 and $6.52 OOP. Earn $10 ECBs.

    Transaction #3
    2 - Izze
    1 - Amp
    3 - Mtn Dew 12 pks

    -$1 Izze IP (like them on Facebook)
    -$1 Izze IP

    Total $18.98, pay with $10 ECBs from Transaction #2 and $8.98 OOP. Earn $10 ECBs.

    Transaction #4
    3 - Benefiber Stick Packs

    -$3 Benefiber CRT
    -$4 Benefiber IP (from a while back)
    -$2 Benefiber mfg coupon
    -$2 Benefiber mfg coupon

    Total $12.10, pay with $10 ECBs from Transaction #3 and $2.10 OOP. Earn $10 ECBs.

    Total OOP for the day is $32.08 with $10 ECBs to roll, for $93.56 in product at sale prices. A savings of about 69%.

    For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

    CVS $5 Challenge

    Transaction #1
    2 - Maalox
    1 - Benefiber powder

    -$5 Maalox mfg coupon
    -$5 Maalox mfg coupon
    -$3 Benefiber CRT
    -$4 Benefiber IP

    Total $4.57 OOP, earn $10 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Snickers Single
    1 - Hershey Dropps
    1 - Fantastik
    1 - Scrubbing Bubbles
    1 - all laundry

    -$.75 Fantastik mfg coupon
    -$.75 Scrubbing Bubbles mfg coupon
    -$1 all mfg coupon

    Total $9.97, pay with $10 ECB adjusted down. Earn $.89, $1.59, $1 and $1 ECBs.

    For the day, the total OOP would be $4.57 with $4.48 in ECBs to roll for $34.04 in product at sale prices. A savings of 88%.

    For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Disney On Ice - Toy Story 3

    In case your holidays were busy like mine and you didn't get a chance to purchase tickets for the upcoming Disney On Ice show in Cleveland, I wanted to remind you about the show and the ticket offer available to you. The Disney on Ice show coming to Cleveland this year is Toy Story 3 and will playing at the Quicken Loans Arena from January 7th to January 17th.
    The kids really enjoyed the Disney on Ice show that we saw last year and since they both love all of the Toy Story movies (my daughter would watch any of the Toy Story movies daily), I am really looking forward to seeing this show with them.

      The summer’s biggest hit movie, Toy Story 3 and famed moments from Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are hitting the ice in this sensational live production coming to Cleveland.

      Catch all the heroic action when Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and the Toy Story gang escape from the rambunctious Sunnyside Daycare tots and hit the ice, in their most daring adventure ever, introducing Barbie’s groovy bachelor Ken and Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. It’s the biggest Toy Story experience on ice, jam-packed with fast paced adventure including Buzz’s galactic battle with Emperor Zurg and a hoe down on the set of Woody’s Roundup.

      Rediscover the humor, friendship and unique toy ingenuity when Disney On Ice presents Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 takes family fun to infinity and beyond!

    I’m excited that I have been provided with a special ticket discount code for A Busy Mom of Two readers!
    CODE: MOM2
    OFFER: Tickets for $11 each (service/facility fees may apply)
    RESTRICTIONS: Not valid on Front Row or VIP seats; no double discounts; limit 4 per order
    LINK to purchase tickets:

    For more event details including show times and ticket prices visit the Quicken Loans Arena website.

    No compensation was received for this post. I am a Feld Family Activator and will receive tickets to take my family to the show.

    Weight Watchers Virtual Event

    This evening I invited friends over to watch the Weight Watchers Virtual Event. As an Weight Watchers Insider, I was provided with a package of goodies to share with my guests. One of the goodies was the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Cookbook. I had plans to make a few of the recipes, but as I was preparing the Chipotle-Lime Veggie Chips, I had an unfortunate run in with my mandolin - I cut my thumb, so I wound up cutting my menu back to just a few items. (It seems to be a reasonable cut. I had to change my bandage once, because after doing some dishes it was too wet. The bleeding had stopped, but because it is on the end of the thumb on my dominant hand, as I was trying to open and squeeze out some antibiotic cream I managed to cause it to open up slightly. It's not a big deal and really, this isn't the focus of my post.)

    As I was saying, I invited over friends to watch the Weight Watchers Virtual Event. We had an evening full of yummy food (although less than planned) and good conversation.

    My plan had been to have a spinach salad with feta cheese for dinner and then to share a number of fruit and vegetable snacks as an accompaniment. The first dish I prepared was the Sour Cream and Roasted Red Pepper dip recipe that I found on the new Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion iPad App (love the app, but more about that another time). It was a really simple to prepare dip that gets a boost of flavor and a bit of heat from fresh chopped cilantro. The second dish I prepared was the previously mentioned Chipotle-Lime Veggie Chips with a Zero PointsPlus value. I found this recipe in the PointsPlus Cookbook that Weight Watchers provided as a gift for my guests. It used thinly sliced (I switched to a knife, so my slices weren't as thin as they might have been) carrots, parsnips and sweet potato tossed with a bit of oil and some seasoning including lime zest and chipotle red pepper. Then you bake them in your oven until they brown and crisp. I also had some Chick Peas that I was planning to turn into a toasted snack, but they will wait.

    This morning, I had the sweet potato sitting on my counter next to the bananas. As my 4 year old daughter grabbed a banana that she wanted for breakfast, she asked about the funny looking banana. I thought it was cute. I must normally buy yams and not sweet potatoes - the sweet potato was white not red.

    As I prepped the vegetables for the chips, my son asked about the Parsnip. I have to say that unless I have had it in a recipe, I don't think that I have ever had a Parsnip. He started by trying the small end that was left after I cut the chips. He immediately asked for more. I went ahead and peeled and chopped a second parsnip. I tried it. The parsnip is similar in appearance to a carrot, but is white. To me, it had a bit more of a bite than a carrot and the flavor was more earthy. I love that we had a chance to try a new vegetable. I love that my kids are adventurous and will try new things - not because I ask, but because they are curious and want to.

    When the dip and chips were ready, we all prepped our plates so we could watch the video. There was a bit of a delay in the show starting due to some technical difficulties, so we ate and talked while we waited. The dip was delicious served with celery, carrots and parsnips and it also doubled well as a dressing for the spinach salad. The veggies chips were really good. Since they were thicker, they weren't as crispy as I would expect of a chip, but they were flavorful and had a good texture. After eating the parsnip cooked, I think I prefer it that way to the raw - which is interesting, because I prefer raw carrots to cooked ones.

    Not only did my guests enjoy the food we tried, but so did the kids. In fact, my son kept coming over and taking more and more of the veggie chips. I was okay with it, except I would have liked to have had more myself!

    The virtual event finally started and was informative. They shared information about the new PointsPlus program and shared insight on why they made some of the changes. I thought it was interesting when they made a comment about the fact that on the old program that a 100 calorie apple and a 100 calorie bag of chips were both the same Points value. This was something that was corrected in the new program where fruits have a PointsPlus value of zero and the PointsPlus values are based not on the calories, but on where the calories come from - the carbohydrates, fats, protein and fiber. They also provided a demo about their free Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion iPad app and shared their new commercial and a performance by Jennifer Hudson.

    Then, to end the show they moved on to a cooking demo, where they made Easy Fried Rice. You can find the recipe link on their Facebook page. They also showed some other things that they made - including a Black Bean Brownie. I'm not a black bean eater, it's a texture thing, but maybe pureed and mixed with chocolate, I might have to try these. They also showed a zero PointPlus value Cauliflower Popper (or something like that). I am hoping they share the recipe - the kids and I really enjoy cauliflower.

    Since they had problems with the broadcast tonight, they will be replaying it tomorrow. I don't know when, but would check back on their Facebook site for details.

    I wish I had pictures to share, but between getting everything ready and cutting myself, I managed to forget.

    No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider and was provided with a party pack for tonight's Virtual Event. It included a gift card to purchase fruits and veggies for the party, and vegetable peelers, cookbooks and Mint Cookie Crisp Bars for me and five guests.

    CVS Deals - 1/3

    Monday evening, after dropping some pasta off at the local food pantry, I had a few minutes and stopped in at CVS. I didn't have my coupons with me, I was just stopping in to see what they had on Christmas clearance, in hopes that they had the M&Ms that everyone was talking about. I did pick up some Clearance items, but sadly they were out of M&Ms.

    The good news is that I got some good coupons from the coupon machine, sadly no $/$$ coupons like the woman in front of me who got them at the machine and at checkout - where is the equity in that? I got a $2 off coupon for Tylenol Precise, which I will combine with the $2 coupon I have to get it for free after ECB. I also got a $3 on Benefiber coupon, which I will combine with a $4 IP I have from a while back to get it for under $1 for 16 flavored drink sticks. I looked ahead and am not seeing this as an ECB deal next week, so I will use it this week to get it cheap. I did get the M&M coupon as well, maybe I will hang onto it and see if they have a Valentine's Day M&M deal.

    Here's what I got on Monday though:

    4 - Christmas Pencils with Giant Erasers
    2 - Caramel Santas (not diet friendly, but oh so yummy!)

    Total $.98 OOP.

    Also, if you haven't done the Kellogg's cereal deal, there is a coupon for a BOGO on Special K available on their website. This will make it a pretty good deal, I just hope that they have Chocolate.

    This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Mamavation Monday

    Admittedly, I was a little more challenged this week than I was the week before. I wasn't doing my formal exercise workout and was instead relying on activities that I had planned with the family. Those activities were excellent workouts and I received activity points every day. Unfortunately, many of those events seemed to wind accompanied by eating events. I did not do such a good job of tracking my PointsPlus values and the actual food consumed. In addition, we had company in and wound up eating out an additional meal than originally planned.

    When I first learned about fruit being Zero PointsPlus value, I thought that a fruit smoothie would be a great treat with a very low value - just frozen fruit and a bit of milk or yogurt. Well, it still is a great treat, but I learned today that when you use fruit in a recipe, that you count the full PointsPlus value for it - it is only Zero PointsPlus value when you are eating it whole. When I made my smoothies last week, I simply entered the ingredients in the tracker and got 0 for all of the fruit and a few points for the yogurt, but then when I entered it through Recipe Builder today, I learned that the smoothie that I expected to be only a few points for the milk or yogurt is actually closer to 4 or 5 PointsPlus value per serving. Those were some PointsPlus values that I didn't account for last week, which I'm certain also didn't help me. Guess I will stick to eating my fruit instead of drinking it!

    In the end, I wound up not losing and actually had a slight gain (but expect that to disappear quickly!).

    But, as I mentioned the other day, I did a little shopping at VS and I was able to go down a size - okay, not a major change but evidence of progress.

    Now, looking forward...

    This week, I started the Mamavation P90X Challenge. Nothing out of the ordinary for me, but since I am sharing my experience through comments at Mamavation, I want to push myself harder. I took my measurements this morning and will use them as a benchmark to measure my progress through the coming weeks. Because I am in Phase 3, I am not restarting at Phase 1 with those that are just starting today, but will instead take recovery weeks with the others but otherwise continue to follow the alternating weeks of workouts approach of Phase 3.

    I am back and focused on tracking my food and the associate PointsPlus values (tracking was even the topic at tonight's meeting). Would you like to learn more? There is a Weight Watchers virtual event on Wednesday that you can participate in (see my post here).

    I am confident that I will have success in the new year. I am already starting the year ahead of where I was this time last year, which is a positive from my perspective.

    This post shared at Mamavation Monday.

    No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider for the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program and have received complimentary online access to Weight Watchers, an IPad with the Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion App downloaded, a Flip Camera and other tools to help me on my weight loss journey, using Weight Watchers. 'People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1 - 2 pounds per week.'