The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile
A big thank you to Laurie from The Frugal Farmer, for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! The goal of this award is to show appreciation for and get the word out about other bloggers whose work you enjoy. Nominees must: (1) share seven random facts about themselves, and (2) nominate seven other bloggers for the award. Here goes…
Seven random facts about me:
  1. In college, I thought I wanted to be a therapist. As a result, I have a masters in clinical social work, which I don’t really use in my current line of work, but I couldn’t get my job without it. (A masters degree in counseling or social work is required.)
  2. When I want something, I tend to see only the positive things about it, and give no thought to the negative ones. Therefore, I was completely shocked at how much work parenting and owning a home are. This trait probably also didn’t help with some of my past, unwise spending decisions…
  3. My husband and I met through friends, were good friends for four years, became roommates (2-bedroom apartment), then started dating six weeks later. (Once our 2-year lease was up, we moved into a 1-bedroom apartment.)
  4. My commute to work is close to 50 minutes, but I don’t mind at all. The drive itself is beautiful, and I get to listen to NPR the whole time. (I can’t watch or listen to the news much when my daughter is with me.)
  5. I really wish I could meditate, but so far all attempts have been complete failures. I have become a big believer in the importance of deep breathing, though, and it’s been very beneficial to me. (Wow – this one makes me sound more new-agey than I think I am.)
  6. I have terrible vision. I wear contacts all day, and glasses at any other waking moment, otherwise I can’t see a thing. I feel terrible that this trait will surely be passed onto my daughter.
  7. I despise winter – cold and darkness, what an awful combination!! – but I can’t ever see myself living outside the Northeast. (Actually, I tried it once, and it wasn’t for me.)

And I now nominate:

  1. Jessi at The Budget Mama
  2. Christina at Northern Cheapskate
  3. Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs
  4. Rachel at Grow a Good Life
  5. Sara at Sara’s Simply Living
  6. Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker
  7. Kelly at The Nourishing Home
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Last Week’s Frugal Highs

Happy Monday! It feels like our weekend flew by, since we drove four hours each way, to and from MA yesterday and today. We saw my sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and parents, and attended my nephew’s 2nd birthday party.

  1. Found a $1 bill during my run on Monday!
  2. Received SavingStar cash back for purchasing yogurt and multigrain tortilla ships
  3. Dropped some items off at the children’s consignment store, and picked up $42.63 for items sold.
  4. Used Discover cash back to pay for a purchase on Amazon.
  5. Used a $0.97 per gallon gas credit, (earned through a grocery store promotion), when filling up the tank.
  6. Received a free container of buttermilk at the grocery store! There’s wasn’t any in the case, and it took a little while for the cashier to track down someone to get it for me from the back. When he brought it out to me, he said it was on them because I had to wait so long!
  7. Brought home some leftover pizza and goodies from the birthday party, which we enjoyed after the long ride home.
  8. Finished reading Skinny Bitch, borrowed from the library. I didn’t learn a whole lot of new information, but it definitely made an impact on me.

How was your weekend? What were your frugal highs last week? Would you pick up a $1 bill on the side of the road? What about a quarter? Anything smaller? :)

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Weekend Plans

Happy Friday! I had some friends over for coffee this morning, and will be planting a bunch of spring-flowering bulbs in our yard this afternoon. I’m also doing a quick grocery run, mainly for buttermilk to try this buttermilk pumpkin waffles recipe tonight. (It’s breakfast-for-dinner night, so I’ll also cook some leftover bacon I have in the fridge.)

Tomorrow morning, we’re taking a road trip to MA for my nephew’s 2nd birthday party. We’ll spend the night at my sister’s house, then head home late Sunday morning. My parents will also be there, so it’ll be nice to see them, as well.

Speaking of breakfast, have you downloaded this free book of superfood breakfast recipes, yet? Today is the last day… Some of them are a little ambitious for me, but I’m going to give a couple a try.

BreakfastCriminals_Affiliates_5

What about you? What are your plans for the weekend?

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What I’m Reading Has Me Thinking…

At the recommendation of a friend, I recently started reading the book, Skinny Bitch. I haven’t quite finished it, but I’m really enjoying it. If you’re not familiar with it, it was a best-seller about ten years ago – I’m always late to the party with these things – and it’s essentially about, well, getting skinny. While I certainly could stand to shed a few pounds, it was recommended as a source of good ideas for how to eat a healthier diet. This is something that has recently become more important to me, thanks in part to my reading of blogs such as Don’t Waste the Crumbs.

skinny

Skinny Bitch is written in a pretty snarky, sarcastic tone, and includes it’s share of vulgarity, as the title suggests. The authors are both vegans, and that’s the diet they’re pushing. With that in mind, there’s a chapter that discusses factory farming, that focuses on the treatment of the animals. Nothing in it was news to me, but there are several pages of graphic quotes from current and past factory farmer workers. They were painful and disturbing to read, and they lead me to what feels like a pretty big decision I’ve made for our family: we will no longer buy factory-farmed meat and eggs.

I’m not going to discuss the horrendous conditions under which these animals live and die, but I encourage you to seek out this information if you eat meat. It’s truly awful, and I don’t want my family’s food dollars to support this treatment. I’ve held off on making this commitment in the past because I was concerned about the cost of meat and eggs from more humane sources. However, I’ve become aware of several farms and stores that sell non-factory-farmed meat in my area, and I ready to start visiting them and comparing prices. I typically prepare two meat-based meals per week, so meat is not a huge contributor to our grocery bottom line. Ditto for eggs, which I probably go through at the rate of one dozen every 2-3 weeks.

I feel great about this decision, and am excited to learn more about new (to me) sources!

Have you read Skinny Bitch? What did you think of it? Do you eat meat? If humanely-sourced meat and eggs are important to you, where do you get them?

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Sure Signs It’s Fall

I approach fall with equal parts excitement (sweaters, pumpkins, leaves!), and dread (here comes cold and darkness, aka, winter). And for better or for worse, it’s definitely arrived here in the Northeast, regardless of what the calendar says. Here’s how I know:

  1. I’m back at work. The students are back on-campus where I work, so I’m back in the office.
  2. The heat is on. It was 59 degrees when I checked the thermostat the other morning, so I switched our system to the heat mode, and cranked it to a balmy 62. (The house warmed to 65 degrees on it’s own by 10am.) I bet our next propane delivery is just around the corner…
  3. Time for some shopping. My neighbor, whose daughter is 18 months older than mine, stopped by with her semi-annual delivery of outgrown clothes for me to shop from. (She has great taste, and sells everything to me at garage sale prices.)
  4. Apples are coming out of my ears. I’m desperately seeking recipes for all the apples we picked last weekend. (The price was $1.39 per pound, which is cheaper than at my grocery store at almost any time of year.)
  5. Time for some selling. I’m busy prepping items for the semi-annual “family” consignment sale in my area. It’s the only consignment sale in this area that accepts items other just children’s clothing and gear. I think of it as having a garage sale, without actually having one. Also, the local children’s consignment store is looking for inventory. I’ll bring any unsold items from the consignment sale, plus other things that are outgrown as the season passes.

What about you? Does if feel like fall where you live? And how do you feel about the approach of fall?

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Button Up, Baby!

Here in the Northeast, fall has come on quickly and hard. Overnight lows in my area have routinely been in the 40s, and I heard a nasty rumor that there may be a frost at the end of the week. (Goodbye, tomatoes…)

For me, this time of year means layers, lots and lots of layers. (Seriously, I love cardigans.) My daughter, however, does not. She doesn’t like sweaters of any kind, and, on top of that, will only wear dresses and skirts – no jeans, corduroy pants, or pants of any kind. So I am sure to get good quality, heavy cotton clothing for her. Although I’m very cost-conscious about most things, this is one where I prioritize quality over price.

One of my all-time favorite brands for quality, durable children’s clothing is Tea Collection. The cotton is super soft and thicker than many cheaper brands, the prints are gorgeous, and the company is very globally- and ethically-minded.

tea

I’m fortunate to have a couple of sources for free (thanks, Grandma!), and deeply discounted (thanks, friend with an older daughter!) Tea Collection clothing for my daughter. But I also purchase a few staple items during big sales. For example, select fall styles are currently 25% off. (Use discount code FALLFAVS at checkout.) The Fall Favorites Sale runs today through Thursday, 9/18/14. So if you’re in the market for durable, warm cotton clothing for your kids, this is a great time to stock up!

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You’re Good, TarJay!

I’ve read a number of posts over the past few months (like this one), recommending that we identify our spending triggers as a way to reign in our spending. While I knew I was a sucker for a good deal, I didn’t realize just how bad it was until yesterday.

As you may know, Target – it’ll always be TarJay to moi! – included a “$10 off any $40 Up&Up brand purchase” coupon in this week’s flyer (and on their website). I reflexively tore it out, and stuck it in my envelope of coupons for the week. Later, I found myself adding Up&Up brand products to my Cartwheel app, and searching for applicable coupons on the Target website. Only then did I start thinking about which items to purchase: aluminum foil, paper bowls, straws, plastic wrap, contact solution, etc. And while I use all of these items, I don’t actually need any of them right now. I was just so excited about this “good deal”, that I was creating a way to use it.

I’m certain I’m not the only person who succumbs to this – it’s at least partly what motivates companies to offer coupons, after all – but I didn’t realize how bad it was. I was prepared to spend, probably $25, I didn’t need to, just for the sake of getting the deal. And while I generally believe it’s a good idea to stock up on commonly used products when they can be acquired cheaply, our finances just don’t allow for this right now.

Now that I’m aware of the crazy lengths my love for a deal will make me go, I have to force myself to be more thoughtful about my shopping. After all, once I realized what I was doing with the “$10 off $40″ coupon, I I knew I had to stop the madness. I need to use my increased awareness of this powerful spending trigger to think through my shopping plans (and actions), before following through with them.

You’re good TarJay, you’re very, very good!

What about you? Have you ever been driven to extremes by your spending triggers, or a passion for a good deal?

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Last Week’s Frugal Highs and a Reminder

Happy Monday! Here are last week’s frugal highs:

  1. Received a payment of $59.66 for items purchased from my Amazon store.
  2. Started reading Little Girls Can Be Mean and Skinny Bitch, both borrowed from the library.
  3. Watched several episodes of Six Feet Under, Season Four on DVD, borrowed from the library.
  4. Harvested pear and cherry tomatoes from my garden for snacks.
  5. Received cash back from SavingStar and Checkout 51 for oranges, yogurt, and bananas purchased at the grocery store.
  6. Cashed in points from MyPoints for a $10 Home Depot gift card.

And speaking of frugal… just a reminder that today is the last day to purchase the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle! Through today, get this set of 73 eBooks and 7 eCourses, plus $200 worth of bonus products – a $1,030 value!! – for just $29.97 (PDF version) and $39.97 (eReader version).

bundle

Topics covered include alternative health & home remedies, healthy children, real food recipes, gardening & homesteading, meal budgeting & planning, seasonal, special diets, green cleaning, natural beauty & skincare, and fitness. (Everything I’m looking for in one place!!)

uhlb-buy-now-purple

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Weekend Plans

Happy Friday! We started off the (almost) weekend with a stomach bug. Seven days into the new school year; that must be a record! My daughter threw up at about 6:30 last night, and is home from school today, but seems to be fine. She’s kept apple juice and white bread down, so I think she’s on the mend. Now the question is, will my husband or I get it?? (Our experience has been that she throws up and is fine within an hour. But if one of us gets it, we’re sick for days.)

Assuming we stay healthy, our plan is to have a low-key weekend at home. There’s a 60% chance of rain tomorrow, indoor activities seem like a safe bet. There’s a Nutcracker event at the local bookstore tomorrow, so we’ll probably take our daughter to that. She’s loves ballet, and its a free event – a win-win! I’d also like to visit the farmers’ market tomorrow, again, weather-permitting.

Sunday we’re going apple-picking! I love getting out in the fall, and while the apples are great, my favorite part of apple-picking is biting into a warm, cider doughnut,. Heaven!

I also plan to attempt some new recipes this weekend, but that may change, depending on everyone’s gastrointestinal health. :)

What are you up to this weekend?

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September 11, 2001

I was chatting with a friend yesterday, and we both shared our experiences of where we were on September 11, 2001. It feels to me like perhaps the single most memorable day for many Americans. My parents, who are in their sixties, can still recall exactly where they were and what they were doing the day President Kennedy was shot, and how they felt at the time. September 11th feels that way to me, and probably always will. One day, when my daughter is older, my husband and I will tell her about our experiences of that sad and shocking day. Here’s mine:

I grew up about 60 miles north of NYC, and because much of my father’s family still lived there, we spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. I also attended graduate school there, and while it took a little while for me to get used to living in such a crowded, loud, energetic, and sometimes scary place, I eventually fell head-over-heals in love with NYC. I lived there throughout my two years of graduate school, and for another year, before the company I worked for asked me to move to the San Francisco Bay Area for my job. I was resistant at first, but eventually decided that it would be a great personal development experience, and went for it. Although I firmly believed that NYC was the center of the universe and the best place on earth to live, I moved in July, 2000.

On September 11, 2001, I was getting ready for work, and had the TV on in the background. I was in the bathroom, when I heard Katie Couric’s voice. It was not yet time for the Today Show to start, (I was on West Coast time), so I went to the TV to see what was going on. That’s when I saw everything unfolding. I eventually went to work that morning, but no one even attempted to do any work. It was a confusing day, with friends and family members from around the country checking in with each other. More than anything, I remember feeling like I belonged in NYC, and desperately wishing I was there. It felt like my true home, and I couldn’t believe I was across the country while this was happening.

I also remember my feelings of complete shock, disbelief, and confusion as to why this had taken place. I remember the news coverage was constant, and some of the channels didn’t run any commercials for the first few days. I remember falling asleep in front of the coverage those first few nights, trying to make sense of it all. I remember a dear friend and mentor telling me, “I hope we find whoever did this, and bomb them ’til they glow.” Harsh words, but I think they captured the anger many Americans felt in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. I also remember feeling powerfully relieved that no one I knew was directly impacted by the attacks that day, and complete and utter devastation for the people who weren’t so lucky.

What about you? Where were you on September 11, 2001? What do you remember most about that awful day?

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