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).


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!!)


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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?


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?


Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle



With a pretty big, milestone birthday in sight, I’ve decided to make some changes and become a healthier person. I define “health” pretty broadly, and include everything from eating more healthfully, strengthening personal relationships, creating a stronger financial footing for my family, and being a bit kinder to the earth around me.


That’s why I’m really excited to get my hands on the just-released Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, a 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).


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. (Can you say everything I’m looking for in one place??)


The only catch with this awesome deal is that only 30,000 bundles will be sold, and they’re only available for purchase 9/10-9/15/14. Once they’ve all be purchased, this deal will be gone!


This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you click a link and make a purchase. These affiliate links help support this blog, and cost you nothing. Thank you for your support! You can read my full disclosure statement here, and the fine print about this bundle here.


Summer Garden Review

It was a disappointing year in my garden. I decided to try starting plants from seed this year, and that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Basically, I started too early, lost a lot of seedlings when I transplanted them, and perhaps don’t get enough full-sun in my garden area. Also, I didn’t do much to amend the soil from last year in my three raised beds, and I don’t think that helped. (Side note: Why does it take so much longer for my composter to create compost, than it’s supposed??) Even the lush tomato plants on my deck, which get full sun, all day, haven’t produced much ripe fruit, yet. (There’s lots of green fruit, so my fingers are crossed for a late, first frost…)

Here’s a list of this year’s disappointments:

  • Broccoli. Barely anything but leaves produced.
  • Brussels sprouts. No actual Brussels sprouts, just lots of leaves.
  • Onions. Nothing happened. Nothing.
  • Beets. Not much more activity than the onions.
  • Spinach. Only one of the seeds I planted germinated.
  • Parsley. Started late, but barely grew.

But, there were some winners, too:

  • Basil. Does well for me, even in partial shade.
  • Lettuce/mesclun mix. Also did well, even in the shadiest parts of my veggie boxes.
  • Carrots and parsnips. I haven’t harvested them yet, but they look great above ground.
  • Chives. grew very well. Unfortunately, I don’t use them very often.
  • Sugar snap peas. One of the few veggies my husband will eat raw, and he loved them.

Last year, I had cucumbers and zucchini coming out of my ears. It was late when I finally got around to looking to buy plants this year, and none were left. This is not a mistake I’ll repeat next year!

Speaking of next year, I’ll probably start a lot of things from seed again, but I won’t start as early, and I’ll use larger, biodegradable containers, to minimize damage during transplanting. Ah, lessons learned…

What about you? Do you have a garden? How did it do this year? What lessons did you learn?



Quick Share: Great Deal on Costco Membership!

We don’t have a Costoco in our area, but I’d be all over this deal if we did!

From Living Social: $55 for a Gold Star Membership with $20 Costco Cash Card and Coupons from Costco Wholesale – Stock up on pantry staples, apparel, and more for the whole family.

Plus, use Ebates to get 3% cash back on this purchase!

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Goodbye, Raisin Bran!

I consider myself a pretty healthy eater, but I guess that’s a very relative concept. I try to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day, I stick with whole wheat/multigrain bread, and try to keep fatty foods to a minimum. (I’ll never give up French fries or cheeseburgers from Five Guys, though!) But there’s also plenty of room for improvement in my diet.

The primary change I’m working on now, is cutting down on processed foods. I was really motivated to make this change by the Don’t Waste the Crumbs blog. Tiffany started changing the way she and her family ate when her husband complained that they were eating out of boxes all the time. While I don’t think this describes the way my family eats most of the time, we definitely have our share of processed foods. For me, the big ones are cold (boxed) cereal and granola bars. I think I hang on to cold cereal because it’s easy (and I can get it very cheaply with coupons), but it’s painfully obvious to me that it’s just not very filling. (I like how The Prudent Homemaker said she noticed that her children were no longer hungry soon after eating breakfast, when she stopped feeding them boxed cereal.) And packaged granola bars are just so convenient! I carry them in my bag at all times, snack on them at work, and put them in my husband’s work lunch bag. I’ve tried a couple of homemade recipes, but haven’t found any that are chewy, but firm, easy to make, and delicious. (Please feel free to share any recipes that fit the bill!)

There are, of course, other processed foods in my family’s diet, but those two are the most consistent offenders. (Okay, we use a lot of sliced bread for work and school lunches, but I’m not ready to take on baking our bread at this point.)

I’m really making this a focus now because I have more time to myself, with my daughter in full-day kindergarten. I’m devoting a good bit of this time to meal planning and cooking, and hope to come up with some great, healthier options for myself and my family. While I’m not embracing any particular diet or style of eating – raw, vegan, Paleo, etc. – I’m certainly open to trying recipes from these and other styles. (Here’s a great, free source for superfood breakfast recipes.)

I do worry that eating this way may be more expensive, but I’ll do my best to keep costs under control by continuing to shop sales and coupon. And, of course, I can’t really put a price on my family’s health.

What’s your family’s diet like? What are your processed/unhealthy food weaknesses? What recipes/tips can you share?

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Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters
Susan Forward , Donna Frazier Glynn Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters(52) Buy new: $26.99 $17.92 105 used & new from $2.98
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Last Week’s Frugal Highs

Happy Monday! We had a lovely weekend of family time. The rain held-off on Saturday, so we walked around our town and took our daughter to a fairy-and pirate-party at the local bookstore, where we met friends and the kids listened to stories. On Sunday, we spent a gorgeous almost-fall day in Lake Placid. We spent some money on a beautiful gondola ride to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain. Such stunning views!


Whiteface Mountain Summit

Lake Placid

Lake Placid from Little Whiteface Mountain

Here are last week’s frugal highs:

  1. Earned cash back from Checkout 51 and SavingStar for purchasing tomatoes, bananas, avocados, and tortilla chips.
  2. Made tomato salad using tomatoes, basil, and chives from my garden.
  3. Cashed in eRewards survey points for a $25 Starbucks gift card.
  4. Finished watching season three of Six Feet Under, and started watching season four on DVDs borrowed from the library.
  5. Received a payment of $18.70 for purchases made via my Amazon store.

Another accomplishment: After two months (!) I finally finished reading Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices! Now on to the stack of library books on my nightstand…

How about you? How was your weekend? What were your frugal highs last week?

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Weekend Plans and Liebster Award

Happy Friday! Now that school has started, it finally feels like summer here – go figure!

When I was growing up, we spent many Sundays at my grandparents’ house, and my grandmother made fabulous Sunday dinners. She passed away about 20 months ago, and I’ve been thinking about her and those Sunday dinners a lot lately.

Even though we don’t live near any family, I’ve decided to resurrect the Sunday dinner concept at our house, and we’ll include family members when they visit, and friends, at some of them. My husband, a big football fan, requested that I make them Saturday dinners during football season, so our first one will be tomorrow. I’m making vegetable lasagna. (Sunday dinners are not meant to be light meals, at least in my family’s tradition!) So prep and cooking will take up a good part of tomorrow, which is fine, since we’re expecting thunderstorms.

I’m not entirely sure what we’re doing on Sunday, but I imagine it’ll include some yardwork and possibly a visit to the farmers’ market. Oh, and I have to see if it’s possible to go apple picking, yet…

What are your weekend plans?


In other news, Kara at The Daily Whisk, was kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award. (Thanks, Kara!) If you haven’t checked out Kara’s blog, you should. It’s always one of my favorite reads!

The Liebster Award rules are:

  1. Answer the questions you were asked
  2. Nominate three other new/up-and-coming (or just great!) blogs

Here are my questions and answers:

  1. Why did you start your blog? I started my blog because I had recently really committed myself to paying off our substantial credit card debt, and blogging about it was a way to maintain my focus and motivation. Also, I had recently started reading personal finance blogs, and I really appreciated the supportive community.
  2. What are your special talents? This is a tough one for me, as I’m pretty ordinary at  most things… I think I’m a pretty good writer (I hope my readers agree!!), and I know that I’m good at translating tasks and responsibilities into skills and well-written statements. This may sound random, but I work as a career counselor, so it comes in very handy. :)
  3. What is your favorite food or meal? This one is impossible, as I love (too) many foods. A few favorites that come to mind are Vietnamese summer rolls, steak fries, well-done cheese burgers, and warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream.
  4. What has been your favorite post yet? Share the link. Hmm, I’m assuming that this refers to my blog, so it would probably be this one.
  5. What do you love most about the month of September? I love that it’s still summer-ish, yet the colors of fall are arriving.

My nominees for the Liebster Award are (and I apologize if they’ve already been nominated and I missed it):

  1. The Budget Mama
  2. The Frugal Farmer
  3. Simple, Easy, Frugal

And my questions for them are:

  1. How would you describe your blog to someone who’s never read it?
  2. What’s your favorite part of fall?
  3. What’s the last book you read?
  4. What was the best part of your summer?
  5. What has surprised you most about blogging?
Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters
Susan Forward , Donna Frazier Glynn Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters(52) Buy new: $26.99 $17.92 105 used & new from $2.98

Fall Side Hustles

After a nice, four-month summer break, I’m heading back to work on 9/16. In addition to my  pretty irregular, “regular” job, I’ll be earning money through via several “side hustles”. For the most part, these are the same “side hustles” I have throughout the year, but the activity level will be increasing.

  1. My very small business. I have had a very small business selling high-quality children’s books, toys, puzzles, and gifts for several years. I mainly sell them at school and nonprofit fundraisers, and community events. The holiday season (October-December) is by far the busiest and most profitable time of year.
  2. My Amazon store. To keep earning some income over this past summer, I started selling my inventory on Amazon. This is a bit less profitable than selling via fundraisers and events, because Amazon takes a cut of all sales.I expect my Amazon business to also increase during the holiday season.
  3. Consignment selling. I sell a lot of my daughter’s outgrown clothing, toys, and gear at the local children’s consignment store throughout the year. In October, I’m also participating in a “family” consignment sale, where consignors can sell much more than just kids’ stuff. It’s like having a garage sale, without actually having a garage sale.
  4. Teaching. I teach a few classes (for adults) at local schools and libraries during the fall and spring. They’re not very lucrative, but they pay a small amount of money and keep additional work activity on my resume.

Starting in October, my monthly side hustle income goals will be going up, in light of the anticipated increase in activity in most of these areas.

What do you do to earn additional income?