March 21, 2012

Wednesday Workouts: Training for a 5k!


I have only ran one 5k (so far), but that's all it took to get me hooked!  I got pregnant afterwards and wasn't able to keep up my normal level of activity.  So, now that we are 2 months post-partum and have the doctor's okay, I am starting to build up my strength again!  I am so excited to get back in shape and ready for 5k number 2!  Follow this link if you'd like to see Self magazine's plan to help you reach your running goals.  It will still be a little bit before I have the energy and strength I need, but I believe half of the battle is just having the goal and a plan to get there.  So if you need a little help conquering a 5k, 10k or half marathon, check out this simple (and easy to print out) guide to get you there!!!

March 19, 2012

Prayer Pail


Just a few weeks ago I happened upon this blog called Passionate Homemaking.  This little "Prayer Pail" craft really stuck out to me.  I love how kid-friendly this is and the real meaning behind it.  Fill your pail (or mug as pictured) with little popsicle sticks; you can let your older kids help write different people, places or things on each stick that you want to pray over at the dinner table.  This would also be great as a "Thankful Pail," as an activity around Thanksgiving or anytime that we need a reminder of our blessings.  Have fun with it and get your kiddos involved.  What a fun way to teach our little people how to give thanks to God for our blessings and show them how to pray for our loved ones!

March 16, 2012

I Love Food Friday: Peanut Butter Cup Bites


Inspired by Tone It Up's recipe, I made a few changes and created these delicious treats!!  The whole family loves them and no one can seem to get enough!  Good thing it made for a pretty big batch!

Ingredients
1c Peanut Butter (I used Smart Balance, Creamy)
1c Agave (or honey)
1c Oats (I used the Instant Old Fashioned, Walmart brand)
1c Chopped Dried Apricots
1c Sliced Almonds (I just threw 2 handfuls of whole, raw almonds into a little food chopper)
1Tbsp Flax Seed
2 Scoops Chocolate Protein Powder
A Few Tbsp Water (if needed to help moisten the batch)

Instructions
Heat (on low) the Peanut Butter and Agave on the stove until warm and runny.  Turn off heat and add all remaining ingredients.  Roll into balls (when cool enough to handle) and refrigerate at least 45 minutes.  Store in a ziplock bag.  Enjoy!  (Approx. 100 calories a piece).

March 14, 2012

A Few Free Printables


Paper Coterie is giving free downloads (in multiple colors) of this "Love Yourself More" print and a few others!  Follow the links below to get them for yourself!




Fun Is Good prints (more colors available)

March 12, 2012

How I Save $$ on Groceries (and More)


I have had a few people ask me for all my coupon-ing resources and ways that I save money buying groceries and finding online deals.  After moving out of the city things have changed a lot for me!  So instead of trying to figure out all the ways I USED to save I'm going to tell you what I do now or plan to start doing to save money.  Any of you who live a little farther out from the "big city" will probably really appreciate this info.  Those of you who are just a few blocks away from every store, get their sale papers mailed to you (or get a Sunday paper), sign up for free rewards cards at every place you can and take advantage of all double/triple coupon grocery stores!


I like to have everything in one place - easy to find.  So I created a bookmark folder labeled SAVINGS! I filled it with my favorite stores (links to their weekly ads - easy to find for weekly sales while creating my meal plan), coupon printing links, coupons to print, savings on mobile devices, apps, etc. (mentioned below), meal planning resources, recipes to try and links to my rewards programs (i.e., My Coke Rewards, Huggies, Pampers, Shop at Home, etc.).  Now that it is finished, I can start SAVING (without wasting precious time or going CRAZY)!

I'll list some of my favorite resources for you and then give you a few tips that I have found extremely helpful in helping me save money when grocery/clothing shopping!  And if you'd like to bookmark this page for the resources, I'll add to it as I find more goodies!


I posted a few days ago about Bountiful Baskets - an online/local food co-op.  Check it out and see if there is anything in your area.  I think this is a great way to get a lot of in-season produce (organic is an option as well), for a low cost!  It always feels great to save on produce!
*NEW* Check out these "Clean 15" Fruits and Vegetables that test lowest in nasty chemicals, so if you can't find good organic or local produce (typically less pesticides), choose from these!


Whether on your smartphone or computer take advantage of printable coupons and no-clip coupons that load straight to your rewards card!  Here's my favorites-list:

Computer Savings:

Swagbucks - Earn swagbucks for printing coupons and searching the web!  It's so easy, and I've earned over $80 in Amazon giftcards...for FREE!

Short Cuts - Online coupons that load straight to your grocery store rewards cards (which are free, and you should always sign up for!)

Cell Fire - Another online coupon site that loads coupons straight to your local grocery store rewards cards.




Store Guides by Hip2Save - Check out these great video guides on how to save maximum dollars at many stores.  While you're there (at Hip2Save.com) sign up for her email newsletter where you will automatically be entered in a weekly $50 Amazon gift card drawing (just for signing up) and receive daily emails of all the great deals she posts - I have found AMAZING deals, coupons, and freebies from her site - it is my NUMBER 1 FAVORITE! (Search around, she has some awesome resources there!)

Here is an EXTENSIVE list of printable coupons from company websites (they reload them so sometimes there is nothing offered, check out your favorites)

Amazon.com - I find great deals here on grocery and especially baby items!  Sign up for Amazon Mom and get free shipping and up to 30% discounts on baby items (usually the best prices around for diapers and wipes)! Check out their coupons page too.

Free Birthday Goodies (extensive list) - sign up at different restaurants and retailers in your area for FREE birthday treats and coupons!


SmartPhone Savings:


Viggle - This has become my favorite app - check in to shows you normally watch and collect points for GREAT rewards.  After a few nights of checking into shows I've won almost 20,000 points and redeemed a $10 iTunes giftcard for just 14,000pts! - UPDATE: I have now earned enough points to redeem 3 $10 iTunes giftcards, and 1 $15 Chilis gift certificate!  Awesome!

SnapAppy (Old Navy) - I have won $20 worth of free stuff and I've only tried 3 or 4 times!

Check Points - Check-in to different stores as you shop, scan items and score points to earn rewards.

Shopkick - (check-in style app)

Check In to Win - (Walmart/Sams stores)

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Whew!  Okay, now that I've loaded you down with some great resources, here is how I work out my grocery list.  I always start with a meal plan.  I'm sure this can be intimidating to some, but I can't go shopping without it now.  I can barely remember the days of our first year of marriage when I would look through the aisles and try and figure out what I needed to "stock my pantry."  I promise if you give it a try you won't want to go back, shopping without a plan and a list is so much harder!


So I look at my calendar (I shop every two weeks), and see what the evenings look like, holidays, date nights, friends over, hubby working late, etc.  I always start with dinner because it is the "most daunting" meal of the day (I can always do cereal for breakfast and PB&J sandwiches for lunch if need be).  I start with the evenings that have plans.  Then that leaves me with usually an average of 4 nights to prepare meals (every month is different, sometimes around the holidays I feel like we have plans every night).  I try and gather yummy sounding and easy to prepare recipes to plug into each night.  Some of them are tried and true family favorites, others are new and experimental.  Or you can sign up for Food on the Table (free using code MARFREE through the end of March 2012) or Cozi.com. Use magazines, apps, websites (I love Martha Stewart, Eating Well, and Rachael Ray)...whatever resources you can get your hands on to get some creative meal ideas!

Now that I have my dinners planned for the week (or two, or month, however you do it), I pick out my breakfast, lunches and snacks.  I've only JUST started doing this to help me eat better throughout the day...at first I'd recommend just planning dinners.  Then go through and write down all the ingredients you need for each recipe/meal.  Now you can add the other items you need for the week, and things you might be running low on.  :::TIP::: Keep a notepad on your refrigerator and write things down throughout the day as you think of them or realize you're running low.

Once all of that is finished I sit down with my coupons, clip new ones, toss old ones (or donate to military families), and search/print coupons for items I plan on buying!  Now I sort according to store (group together $.50 or less coupons to take to my 25-minutes-away-"local" Krogers for doubling and tripling their value, store specific coupons such as Target, Walmart, Kroger, Costco etc. get grouped as well).  Then I get my last step which is Sale Papers...


Some of you may want to start by checking out the local sale papers for items that would make cheap dinners. Planning your meals around meat, produce and sides that are on sale is an EXCELLENT way to save money.  Otherwise, just get the heads up on where to buy certain items that are on sale and head out with your reusable grocery bags (which I store near my purse so I can't forget...and I try to keep a few in the trunk as well).


There you have it!  This is all of my accumulated resources for saving money.  I also use Twitter a lot for finding up to the minute deals by following Hip2Save and others that post great deals all of the time.  Follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I share my favorite deals as I find them. And lastly, be sure and check back here on this post for newly updated and added resources! 

P.S. Check out all of these links, I have thrown in as many good resources as I have spent years gathering...a few of them may be hidden amidst the "lists" of links. =)

Please let me know what you think and what you do to save $$ for you and your family!

March 9, 2012

I'm on Pinterest!



Okay, okay.  I finally decided to check out Pinterest and see what all the fuss is about.  It's actually pretty cool!  I have my own board (which is sadly sparce) that I am adding to often.   Feel free to check it out and follow if you'd like.  Let me know if you're on as well so I can follow you!


March 8, 2012

Running Playlist 2012


It's time for some new tunes!  I asked for your advice, via twitter and facebook, on some good running songs, and after searching it out a bit here's my new playlist.  I have 6 minutes (first two songs) for walking/warm-up and the last 2 songs (also 6 minutes) for walking/cool-down.  The rest of the 1 hour of music I hope to jam to while I'm on the treadmill or outside.  Let me know if you have any favorites!

Warm-Up (6 min)
Song Title                  Artist/Album
Oh, Happiness                David Crowder/Church Music
Make Some Noise    Krystal Meyers/Make Some Noise

Cardio/Endurance (48 min)
Song Title                  Artist/Album
Now               Fireflight/Now
Letting Go     Stephanie Smith/Single
Movin'     Group 1 Crew/Movin'
Miracles     Newsboys/Born Again
Be The Change     The Desperation Band/Light Up The World
The Nearness     David Crowder/Church Music
Manipulation     Group 1 Crew/Spacebound
My One and Only     Rachael Lampa/All We Need
Gloria     Nico Perez/You, Me, and Him
The Veil     David Crowder/Church Music
Sweet Dreams     Krystal Meyers/Make Some Noise
You Found Me     Israel Houghton/The Power of One
Hand Grenade     Thousand Foot Krutch/The Art of Breaking

Cool-Down (6 min)
Song Title                  Artist/Album
You'll Never Know     Krystal Meyers/Make Some Noise
Feel So Right              Krystal Meyers/Make Some Noise

Here's a little taste...



March 7, 2012

My Food Co-op Experience (Bountiful Baskets)

My friend Ashley (or Ash-a-lee as my kids say), mentioned Bountiful Baskets to me a few weeks (or maybe even months) ago.  I finally decided to give it a try to see what I think about it.  Bountiful Baskets is a Food Co-op that is completely Volunteer based which means everyone pitches in and spreads the savings across the board.  I went on Saturday at my local pick up spot and grabbed my box of organic produce priced at only $25 (conventional basket is only $15)!!

Waiting In Line for my Organic Produce!

What a great experience!  The line moved very quickly, everyone was pitching in and helping (it truly is all volunteer!). I'm looking forward to getting more, every other week here at my location!

 

 Look at all that gorgeous produce!  Yummy!  I got mostly everything I would typically buy (and needed) and a chance to find new recipes for items like Green Chard.  So if you're interested in getting great prices on produce, check out BountifulBaskets.org and see if they're in your location!  If they aren't yet consider talking to them about starting and until then check out FruitGuys.com and for a little more $$ you can have fresh produce delivered to your doorstep!

March 1, 2012

Viggle - Watch TV, Earn Rewards! (iOS Devices Only)


I just found out about this Viggle app last week from Hip2Save, I already have 15,000+ points (currently a $10 iTunes gift card is only 14,000 points!!!). If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, download this app and check in during your favorite shows to earn points! It's really that simple.  You don't have to watch the entire show live either.  Sometimes if I'm too busy or about to run out, I check in at the start, do what I need to do and catch the rest of the show on DVR, but still earn my points. Check out their website for more info or Hip2Save's post here! =)

Since sitting and watching TV isn't really the healthiest thing you can do for your body (I always need a little downtime though), here are a few easy ways from Tone It Up to keep your blood pumping while watching TV, sitting in the office or in school!


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