Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It's been a busy month so far. A wedding, job searching, doing everything I can to make some money on the side. I did finally find a job (nothing exciting, just a call center, but a job is a job), but they won't be paying me until next month. I kind of failed miserably at that $5/day meal plan thing. Really it was just because this month was so busy. I didn't have time to make everything from scratch like I would have to for $5/day to work. I am still going to try and put together a post detailing how I think it would work - recipes, grocery list, ect., for those interested. I'm also planning on trying some cool things like homemade yogurt, apple sauce and fruit snacks as well as stocking my freezer with homemade microwave meals before I go back to school in September, so stay tuned for that. All four of those are things we spend way too much money on at the store. Oh, and there might be a giveaway coming up if all goes well.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Xbox Kinect Bundle Giveaway

Have you heard? We are having a Techy Summer over at Mom to Bed by 8, theIowa Mom and want to help you continue on with your sensational summer by offering you a chance to win an Xbox Kinect Bundle Pack (including Xbox 360 console, Kinect Sensor and Kinect Adventures Game). Retail value $299.
Special thanks to our lovely co-hosts TechyTribe, I Love To Gossip, Giveaway Bandit, As Mom Sees It and Couponing4you for their support in bringing this gamer giveaway to life!
Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect
Product Description
The Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect. Kinect brings games and entertainment to life in extraordinary new ways – no controller required. Easy to use and instantly fun, Kinect gets everyone off the couch moving, laughing and cheering. See a ball? Kick it. Control an HD movie with a wave of the hand. Want to join a friend in the fun? Simply jump in. Wi-Fi is built-in for easier connection to the world of entertainment on Xbox LIVE, where HD movies and TV stream in an instant. Xbox 360 is more games, entertainment and fun.
Product Features
Kinect Sensor: With the Kinect sensor, you can experience gaming like never before. Easy to use and fun for everyone, the Kinect sensor utilizes revolutionary full-body tracking to put you in the center of the fun. This amazing new technology allows the sensor to recognize your body and mirror your movements in the game, making you the controller. With Kinect Xbox 360 now has the best controller ever made – YOU.
Built-in Wi-Fi: The new Xbox 360 is the only console with 802.11n Wi-Fi built-in for a faster and easier connection to Xbox LIVE. Stream HD movies and TV or download games from Xbox LIVE in 1080p and 5.1 surround sound from anywhere in the house. Compatible with b/g/n networks.
Xbox LIVE: Xbox LIVE brings a world of entertainment to you. Instantly watch movies and TV streaming from Netflix. In crystal-clear HD, or download game add-ons like new levels, characters, maps and songs. Easily jump right into online multiplayer fun and play along with friends around the world. Plus, get your favorite music from Last.fm, connect with friends on Facebook and post Tweets on Twitter. Xbox LIVE is your connection to more games, entertainment and fun.
Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (black): This award-winning, high-performance wireless controller features a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of up to 30 hours on two AA batteries.
More ports: Connect more accessories and storage solutions with added USB ports. Now with a total of 5, (3 back/2 front) you’ll find more places to plug and play. Plus, in addition to the standard Ethernet port and HDMI output, we’ve added an integrated optical audio out port for an easier connection to the booming sound of your A/V receiver.
Kinect Adventures game: Float in outer space. Experience the thrill of roaring rapids. Tackle mountaintop obstacle courses and dive into the deep to explore a leaky underwater observatory — all from your living room. With Kinect Adventures, you are the controller as you jump, dodge and kick your way through exciting adventures set in a variety of exotic locations. Rated “E” for Everyone.
What’s In The Box?
  • Xbox 360 4GB S Console
  • Kinect Sensor for Xbox 360
  • Kinect Adventures game - rated “E” for Everyone
  • Xbox 360 Black Wireless Controller
  • Xbox 360 Composite A/V cable (standard definition)
  • 1 year limited warranty on console

Sunday, July 1, 2012

$5/day on food... is it possible?

After that wedding we went to last month, money is still a little tight. So I set a goal for this month - $5 spent on food each day - and now it's time to see if that's even possible. Again, I want to remind my readers that I'm in Canada - and if this is possible up here (which is a big "if" at the moment), it's possible in the States. A lot of things are cheaper down there. Even if it is possible, I'm going to try and pick up some odd jobs, since my job search is still failing pretty miserably and extra cash wouldn't hurt right now.

The first thing I'm going to try is crock pot bread. So stay tuned for an update on that. Bread is costing us $3.69 a loaf right now and we easily go through 8 loaves a month. I've got all the ingredients for bread already at home, so if this works and we like it we'll be saving $29.52 right there. If only I had a cow in the back yard, we could save another $40!

Anyways, I've made a list of the meat in my freezer (basically, a chicken, a roast and tons of ground beef) as well as the stuff that's on sale at our grocery store. Right now I'm searching for recipes using those ingredients, since the only thing I know how to cook for less than $5 is pasta, and no matter how many variations of pasta I can make I don't plan on having that for both lunch and dinner every day. There will be lots of pancakes, muffins and french toast for breakfast this month, but I don't think anyone will complain.

So I'm off to start meal planning, and I'll be back to show you what I come up with.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

10 Cheap wedding gifts

My husband and I just returned from our friends' wedding. Now, our budget is tight to begin with, and saving for this trip didn't work out as planned. After $500 bus tickets, there wasn't much left over for a gift or buying something new to wear or staying at a hotel... and we still had to survive the rest of the month after the wedding, too.

So the first thing we did is give in to our friends' offer to stay at their house. Originally we were going to get a hotel to have some time to ourselves since we were leaving our son with my in-laws, but there was no way we could afford it. We still ended up having one night to ourselves, though - they spent the night after their wedding in a hotel room and let us stay at their place on our own.

Next I ransacked my closet. The chances of me finding a dress we could afford at the mall were slim, and since our friends were the only ones we knew at this wedding and they've never seen me dressed up before (well, besides at my own wedding), no one would know the dress wasn't new. Luckily black is acceptable to wear to weddings these days. I would have preferred to wear something more colorful, but my choices were black or black and white unless I wanted to go with something less formal. I chose the black and white one so I would feel less like I was going to a funeral, paired it with the only black shoes I own and then I bought a $5 headband to tame the hair I haven't been able to afford to cut in a few months.

My husband went through his closet and finally found a shirt and some dress pants that fit properly. If he hadn't found one, I'm sure we could have borrowed from his dad or brother in law or uncle. I used to be embarrassed to ask to borrow things we couldn't afford, but now I just remind myself that they've all been where we are. They understand and are usually more than happy to help.

Then we got to the gift. We stressed about this for longer than we should have, especially since we both knew they weren't really expecting anything from us. Just being there and helping out was enough. They're amazing friends, though, and we couldn't bear the thought of giving them nothing... so we re-gifted. We had a $50 gift card from our wedding that we had never used, so we checked the balance (which hadn't changed) and made sure there was a store near them that they could use it at and then that became their wedding gift. It's not the amazing gift we would have liked to get them, but at least it's a gift.

Re-gifting isn't always the best option. Our friends didn't care - in fact, they were worried that we'd spent more money and relieved when we told them we hadn't. Plus they already have all the stuff you typically give at a wedding and I know the card will end up being used for something practical. However, some people would be really offended if they recognized the gift as something you had been given... and of course you don't want to gift someone a gift they gave you. So here are some more low-cost ideas:
  1. Make something. If you can sew or draw or paint or do woodwork or have any other talents, make something for them. You might even find something on their registry that you can make yourself.
  2. Wedding services. If you can do anything they might need for the wedding - photography, cooking, bar tending, decorating, babysitting, ect... offer to do it for free. For something like bar tending, get them to pay for the alcohol, but charge nothing for your services - and give them your tips at the end of the night.
  3. Future services. This could be a helping hand in the garden or fixing up their new house or babysitting - whatever your skills are. Get a card and write what you're offering in it. Be sure to put in the number of hours or amount of work you're offering, and make it something you wouldn't necessarily do for free normally. If you already watch their kid for free every weekend, it makes no sense to give them a voucher for free babysitting.
  4. Bake. If you bake regularly, you likely already have most of the ingredients you need in your house. Go to the dollar store for a basket, some tissue paper, some baggies and some ribbon. Then bake up a bunch of your best cookies, candies and snacks, put them in the baggies, tie with ribbon and arrange them nicely in the tissue paper lined basket.
  5. Themed DIY gift baskets. For example, a romantic dinner. Get a basket, a table cloth and some pretty candles from the dollar store. Buy a bag of pasta and some parmesan cheese and make or buy some pasta sauce. Add in whatever finishing touches you want (cheese grater, colander, serving spoon, recipe book) and arrange nicely in the basket. The possibilities are endless.
  6. A magazine subscription.
  7. A bottle of wine and a couple glasses or a box of chocolates. Ask the people at the liquor store to help you find a good bottle of wine within your budget.
  8. Give to a charity - make sure it's one the couple cares about!
  9. Sales! Most of the time you'll know about a wedding a year or more in advance. Keep an eye out during holiday sales to find expensive gifts at a huge discount.
  10. Group up. Maybe you can't afford an expensive gift from the registry, but you and a few friends or family members can if you pool your money.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Welcome to the Literary Addicts Kindle Fire Event where we have teamed up with 10 Amazing Authors and several awesome bloggers to celebrate the
Grand Opening of Literary Addicts a Community for Book Lovers!
Please check out the Fantastic authors bringing the Kindle Fire Giveaway to you! Don't miss out on these great reads even if you don't have a kindle yet. You can download the kindle app for you phone, desktop, or ipad HERE. All of these books are less than a Starbucks Coffee!

  Immortal Voyage Before the time of the great pyramids, there was a place like none other, a city of glass and metal rising from the depths of the ocean. Shrouded in mist, the island of Hy-Brasil and its capital Atlantis lay hidden from the rest of the world by its people, a race of long lived, interstellar nomads. Read more and purchase for only $2.99  

  Give Me - A Tale of Wyrd and Fae All she wanted was a vacation - but Dumnos offered a new life. Lilith Evergreen has always lived in the California desert, but when she receives an antique ring as a gift, she dreams of a castle by the sea, a magnificent tree at cliff's edge, and a mysterious woman who bids Lilith to come to Dumnos, a land of mist and rain. Read more and purchase for only $3.99 Paperback

  Slow Boat to Purgatory (Slow Boat to Purgatory #1) Gaspar De Rouse, an immortal Knight Templar, a man murdered by his brothers for the secret he possessed, resurrected and given a second chance at redemption. Dominicus Bureau, a renegade priest, torn between his vows and the secret he pursues, a secret protected by an immortal. Alex Donovan, a modern day warrior thrust into an ages old war, a war between good and evil, heaven and hell.Read more and purchase for only $2.99 Paperback  

Mark of the Witch (Boston Witches Book 1) Magic flows through Jillian Proctor's veins as surely as blood, but so far her life outside Boston has been peaceful. William Morgan blows into Jilly's life like a hurricane, unleashing her magic and sending her out of control. Unknowingly, William brings an enemy who only wants to posses the power of the witch. Jilly must learn to harness her magic before she loses it - and everything in her life is destroyed. Purchase for only $2.99 Paperback   

The Marriage Bargain Camille Chandler is a tabloid journalist whose career is right on track--until her boss sees a curious ad in the L.A. Trades. Wanted: Single actress for an extended gig abroad. France's mega-rich playboy Julian de Laurent is up to something and Camille's boss expects her to find out what. Who knew the eccentric gazillionaire was looking to hire a temporary wife? Read more and purchase for only $2.99   

Descended by Blood (Vampire Born #1) Brooke Keller is a high school junior who has never spent much time living in one place. She is finally in a town long enough to almost snag the boy of her dreams, until her life is threatened after killing a fanged man in his attempt to kidnap her. Brooke begins a dangerous journey in an effort to find out who is after her and how to stop them. In a world with powerful and prejudiced vampires, Read more and purchase for only $2.99 Paperback      

Dirty Blood I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. Read more and purchase for only $2.99 Paperback    

Taming the wolf (anna avery series, #1) Attacked by a wolf while hiking in the mountains, Anna Avery's life just got a little hairier. Living in the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming, with a group of werewolves who are more animal than human, Anna must try to hold onto her human side. It's not easy when the alpha continues to persuade her into his bed, while another wolf is chomping at the bit to become her mate. To top it all off, dead bodies are showing up and ..Read more and purchase for only $2.99     

Fearless (Kings Series) Tasmyn Vaughn didn't expect much when her dad’s job moved them to a small town in Florida; it was just another new school. But there is more to King than meets the eye, and soon Tasmyn’s ability to hear other’s thoughts is the least of her worries. Entangled in a web of first love, quirky and secretive townsfolk, magic and blood rituals, she discovers the town’s secrets aren’t just bizarre, they’re deadly. Purchase for only $3.99 Paperback  

Secrets (Guardian Trilogy) While Olivia Martin observed life through her camera, the Abyss gazed back at her. She discovers mysterious men follow her around, people close to her are dying, and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved. Olivia is about to find out there is a lot she doesn't know and sometimes what you don't know can kill you. Read more and purchase for only $2.99   These fine authors are bringing you this Kindle Fire Event via Promotional Book Tours and Literary Addicts This contest is open Internationally! Please fill out the form below to enter. 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Calling all bloggers: Xbox Kindle giveaway

The Xbox Kinect Bundle Giveaway Event is a free blogger event. You will receive a single facebook link at no cost as a thank you for participating in this event.

 Prize: Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle includes the Xbox 360 console, Kinect Sensor and Kinect Adventures Game (retail value $299)
Open to: Worldwide (note – if the winner is outside of the US are responsible for any duties, taxes,etc that is not covered by basic shipping cost). The event dates: July 8 at 12:01 am to July 22 11:59pm Options ~ *

Additional links are available for $3 each (please send payment to goodnightmommyboutique@gmail.com via paypal)

Sign up here 

Let them know you were referred by Love and Pennies, please.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

43 ways to clean with vinegar

You can clean almost everything with vinegar. If you can't clean it with vinegar by itself, you can probably clean it with vinegar and salt or vinegar and baking soda or vinegar and dish soap.

My house has very few cleaning products in it. I buy laundry detergent and dish soap (I plan on trying to make my own, I just haven't found time yet) but I use plain white vinegar for most other things. It's cheap, it often works better than other cleaning products, it disinfects, it's eco friendly and I don't have to worry about my son getting into it. Some people are worried about the smell, but it dissipates quickly and you can always add a few drops of essential oil or some lemon juice.

Here are some things I've done with vinegar:
  1. Cleaning dried-on food off of hardwood floors and wooden furniture... no matter how long it's been there. Just lay a towel over the area of floor or over the piece of furniture and pour hot vinegar (I just heat it in the microwave for a couple minutes) over the towel. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then use the towel to clean up the mess. Most of it should come off really easily.
  2. When something spills on the carpet, soak up as much of it as you can with a towel or paper towels and then spray with half water, half vinegar (you can buy spray bottles at the dollar store and have them filled and ready to go). Let it stand for a few minutes and then soak it up with a towel, repeat if necessary. If the stain isn't going away, try adding a bit of dish soap to the vinegar/water mixture.
  3. Unclog your drain with equal parts baking soda and vinegar. Pour down the baking soda first, then pour in the vinegar. When it stops fizzing, rinse with warm water. Repeat if needed.
  4. To clean your microwave, heat a bowl of vinegar for a couple minutes - the gunk will wipe off easily.
  5. A mixture of vinegar and salt will remove tea and coffee stains from mugs.
  6. Remove stickers from most surfaces. Use a cloth to wet the sticker with vinegar, wait 5-10 minutes and wipe it off (the sticker will not be re-usable).
  7. Clean toilets with a spray bottle of vinegar and a toilet brush.
  8. Use hot water and vinegar to mop the floor - about 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water.
  9. Place a bowl of vinegar in a room to remove odors.
  10. Use a spray bottle of vinegar as an all-purpose surface cleaner.
  11. Soak shower heads in vinegar overnight to unclog them. You can do this without removing them, too, just fill a baggy with vinegar, cover the shower head with it and hold it on with a couple elastics.
  12. Use a spray bottle of half vinegar and half water to clean windows.
  13. Use a sponge or cloth soaked in vinegar to remove grease on pretty much anything.
  14. Fill the reservoir of a coffee maker with vinegar and run it (without the coffee grinds) to clean the inside of the machine. Run it a few times with water after this so your next coffee doesn't taste like vinegar.
  15. Use full-strength vinegar to clean and disinfect wooden cutting boards.
  16. Add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of baby clothes to get rid of any urine stains or smells.
  17. If you ever die fabrics (or your kids bring tie-dye t-shirts home from camp), add a cup of water to the rinse cycle the first time you wash them. It will help stop the dye from coming out. So will putting them in the dryer, even if you normally hang-dry your clothes.
  18. Rinse empty jars that you want to reuse (peanutbutter, jam, mayonnaise, ect) with vinegar after cleaning them to deodorize them.
  19. Clean plastic with diluted vinegar - this also stops static-cling, which will make it attract less dust.
  20. Use to disinfect baby toys.
  21. Remove deodorant stains (and almost any other stain) from cotton with a sponge and vinegar.
  22. Remove stuck-on food from a pan by covering it in hot water and adding a few tablespoons of vinegar.
  23. If your dishwasher has a space for a drying agent (like Jet-Dry), vinegar is a cheap alternative.
  24. Soak glasses and vases in vinegar to remove the cloudy white build-up from hard water.
And some other things I've read about but haven't actually done yet (let me know if they worked for you!):
  1. Put a cup of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher and run it (empty) once a month to get rid of odors.
  2. Spray vinegar on furniture, windowsills, counters, anywhere you don't want your pets going. Note: may stain some fabrics.
  3. To clean your sink's garbage disposal, freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray. Put a few ice cubes down the disposal with it running, flush with cold water.
  4. Soak paintbrushes in hot vinegar to remove dried-on paint. Clean with hot soapy water afterwards.
  5. Wipe car windows with water and vinegar (3 parts vinegar, 1 part water) to stop them from frosting over the next morning.
  6. Clean salt stains off of leather shoes with half water, half vinegar.
  7. Wipe CDs/DVDs with vinegar too clean them - this will not work on badly damaged disks, but will get rid of dirt and help with minor scratches.
  8. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle of blankets and towels (cotton and wool only) to make them soft again.
  9. Soak rusted tools in vinegar overnight to remove rust.
  10. Clean your washing machine by running a wash cycle (without the clothes) with a cup of vinegar.
  11. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of vinegar for cleaning metallic surfaces.
  12. Clean eye glasses with a soft cloth moistened with vinegar.
  13. Remove rings that glasses leave on wood surfaces with one part vinegar and one part olive oil. Rub with the grain.
  14. Clean grout with vinegar and an old toothbrush.
  15. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to the dishwater to cut grease.
  16. Get rid of oven grease - you can pour vinegar directly on the door of your oven, let it sit a few minutes and then wipe it off. You can also use it to clean the rest of your oven, and it will discourage the grease from sticking for a while.
  17. Boil vinegar in your kettle to get rid of lime deposits.
  18. Clean can openers with an old toothbrush and vinegar.
  19. If your house has an unpleasant smell (cigarettes, pets, bad food) try boiling a pot of water and vinegar (about 1/4 cup vinegar per cup of water) on the stove for half an hour or so. 

Do you know of any other uses? Feel free to comment!