Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June - week # 3 - Summer Sandal Blister Survival


I don't know about you, but I really hate when I get blisters from wearing my summer shoes after the long winter. It ruins my feet for days after. Used to be I would suffer through wearing a pretty pair of sandals then have to wear compfy slip on flats til the blisters healed. And those unsightly bandaids! So I am thrilled to see that there is hope! I love my sandals and flip flops and all the pretty summerness of them all. Puts me in a great mood to put on a pair of pretty strappy sandals. Just because I am home with my kids doesn't mean I have to wear sneakers to run after them! I always say that I feel my best when I look my best. And lets face it, if I can wear a pretty pair of sandals and still run around with my girls...well thats just perfect! Don't get me wrong I still love my ballet flats, but for summer its nice to let the pedicured toes out to play too! Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

Summer sandal saviors

Right, left, ouch. Right, left, ouch. Right, left… I’m throwing these shoes in the nearest trash can! Sound familiar? There’s nothing like the excruciating pain of a blister to ruin the joy of new summer footwear. I used to think early summer blisters were inevitable, but I’ve figured out a way around them.With the proper cushioning, blisters can heal quickly, if not be prevented entirely. No matter your choice of footwear — from wedges to stilettos to strappy sandals to flip-flops — we’ve got you (and your feet) covered:

For Flats: Foot Petals Heavenly Heels, $4.95, footpetals.comWide, thick pads stand up for the most violated area of the foot: that poor heel. When you’re breaking in new flats, the back of your heel is a hot-zone for blisters.

For Stilettos and Heels: Profoot Care Velvetex Moleskin, $2.85, amazon.comOh, the pinky toe. So often a victim, especially when the weight and pressure of a high heel bears down. Wrap it in moleskin and replace often.

For Strappy Shoes: Peda Bella Cushioning Strap Strips, $3.99, footsmart.comThin, adhesive — and, best of all, inconspicuous — cushions protect the foot and ankle from fashionable-yet-painful straps.

For Flip-Flops and Sandals: Kiwi Select In Between the Toe Cushions, $31.45 (for 6 pairs), shoebuy.comSure, flip-flops and other flat sandals seem like they’d be comfortable, but the space between your toes will tell you otherwise. Wrap these around the base of your sandal thong — and walk a mile in your own shoes!
*Article found in the Skinny In The City newsletter

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June week # 3 - The Expense of Bringing Home Baby

Welcoming a new child into the family is a joyous occasion for all, but the additional expense associated with a new bundle of joy can also be a big worry for some parents, especially in this economy. A recent survey found that the average American family spends a whopping $2,577 on baby-related items when a new baby comes home.Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help bring down the cost of all the "things" you need for a newborn baby.

New parents, take note: online classified websites and places that offer nearly-new items for cheap or even free will serve you well. Believe it or not, the baby won't know the difference between a new crib and a gently-used one.The summer months are most common for new arrivals. That means many expectant parents are looking right now to purchase baby-related items, and need to find the space in their homes to store them. Here are a few ideas to help new parents find the items they need without spending more than they can reasonably afford.

Secondhand sites. Venture beyond the old standards like eBay.com and Craigslist.org. Posting "wanted" ads for furniture and infant accessories at FreeCycle.org could turn up treasures that are absolutely free and connect you with other young parents in your neighborhood. Also, don't overlook second-generation classified ad websites like Kijiji.com ("Kijiji" means "village" in Swahili). This is a free, local, family-friendly website that caters to over 1,000 cities and countries around the world. Kijiji's staff takes every precaution to make sure that local families have a safe place to buy, sell, trade and connect.

Mommy exchange. Purchase the items secondhand that babies grow out of quickly. Look for gently used cribs, rocking chairs, changing tables and strollers. Then, as your baby grows out of them, re-list them on the Internet for other local mothers to enjoy.Hold off on hand-me-downs. As their children graduate from strollers to tricycles, most parents decide to donate those expensive baby items or hand them down to a friend or family member. However, the items their child no longer uses could easily earn them much-needed cash. Only 7 percent of parents said they resell baby items once their child has outgrown them, which means a whopping 93 percent of parents are missing out on potential cash.

Make the most of your space. Stop house-hunting out of your price range just because you're bringing a little one home. Instead, find "hidden" storage space in your current residence. Use hooks, bookcases, shelves and ceiling racks to create extra space. Over-the-door shoe racks are also great for organizing baby's various lotions, potions and small accessories.

Re-purpose a room. Think outside of the box when considering how to use the rooms of your home. Transform your dining room, guest room or home office into a nursery, or carve out space for baby in your living room or bedroom. Hang screens, shelves, curtains or have a temporary wall built to separate each space.

*Article found in the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter

Monday, June 15, 2009

June week # 3 - low fat coconut shrimp recipe - yummy!


Bake up a low-cal shrimp fest


I found this write up this morning and thought the recipe sounds so yummy! I will be trying it myself this week. Let me know how you like it! - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)


Coconut shrimp is always a favorite seafood dish, but most recipes are breaded, fried, and loaded with calories and fat. A restaurant coconut shrimp meal can have up to 900 calories and over 30 g of fat — yikes! But you can create your own tasty, figure-friendly version at home.


Shrimp is a very healthy source of lean protein, and it’s one of the few foods that contain vitamin D — one serving has about 1/3 of your daily need. Shrimp has gotten an unfair bad rap in the past because of its cholesterol content. Though the numbers may be high, dietary cholesterol actually has a minimal effect on blood cholesterol levels; it’s trans fat and some types of saturated fat that are the biggest culprits. You’ll notice this recipe does have a few grams of saturated fat, but that comes mainly from the coconut. Recent research suggests that most of the saturated fat found in coconut (lauric acid) may actually be a cardio-protective fat. So go ahead and enjoy this coconut shrimp guilt-free! Serve it with brown rice, couscous, or a mixed green salad.


Baked Coconut Shrimp

Serves: 5

Total time: 1 hour (including marinade time)


Ingredients:
¾ cup light coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pound of uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined (may buy fresh or frozen)
½ cup flaked coconut
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Nonstick cooking spray (or foil)


Cooking instructions:


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.

  • In a shallow bowl, combine coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar.

  • Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss to coat evenly.

  • Place the bowl in the refrigerator, and let the shrimp marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • Prepare a large baking pan either by coating in nonstick cooking spray or by covering in foil.

  • Remove bowl from refrigerator.

  • Take shrimp out of the marinade and place on baking tray.

  • Sprinkle the flaked coconut evenly onto shrimp prior to baking.

  • Season with the cayenne pepper.

  • Bake 7-8 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm.

Nutrition content: Per serving (about 15 shrimp): 180 calories, 6 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 137 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 296 mg potassium (6% daily need), 137 IU vitamin D (35% daily need)


*recipe found in teh Skinny In The City Newsletter

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June week #2 - The Checkbook Balancing Act

I came across this next question/answer segment in a newsletter I read this morning. I thought it was such a great thing to pass along as I am sure there are more of us that don't reconcile our checkbooks often enough, or even know how to. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

Q - Dear Mary,I have an "embarrassing question" for you. I will soon be 70-years-old, and I have never been told how to balance a checkbook. People just assume I know. Is it too late to learn? Bobbie Y., e-mail

A - Dear Bobbie,You're not the only reader who's ever been embarrassed to ask a question about money and finance. I filled a book with these questions and my answers. A great book I would recommend is "Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card? And Other Financial Questions We're Too Embarrassed to Ask!" I think you'll have fun reading it, and you'll learn a lot in the process.

You should balance your checkbook monthly to catch the bank's mistakes. There are great software programs and online tools that will do this for you. Some of them are free. Check out Wesabi.com, Mint.com and Quicken.com. Here are the basic instructions to reconcile your checkbook against the bank's statement:

Step 1: Determine if you have outstanding checks that haven't cleared your bank. Using your statement, check off your cleared checks in your checkbook register. Make sure that the amount of each cleared check is the amount you recorded.

Step 2: Verify that each deposit recorded on your bank statement is also recorded in your check register, including your direct deposits. Make sure the statement shows all deposits you made. Check off your deposits just as you did for your checks.

Step 3: For ATM withdrawals or debit-card purchases, check off each transaction on the bank statement against your check register. If your statement has items that have cleared that aren't in your checkbook register, record them now.

Step 4: Check your bank statement for bank fees, such as monthly fees or those for (gasp!) bounced checks, and record them in your register. Record any interest earned in your register, too.

Step 5: Go through your checkbook register or duplicate checks and list checks that have not cleared the bank. These will not be listed on your statement. Make note, also, of outstanding debit-card purchases or ATM withdrawals that have not cleared the bank. Total all of these items.

Step 6: List any outstanding deposits that were not included on your bank statement. Total these deposits.

Step 7: Using a piece of paper, your checkbook register, or the form on your bank statement, list the ending balance shown on your bank statement. On another line, enter the total outstanding deposits. On a third line, enter the total amount of your outstanding checks.

Step 8: Using a calculator, enter the ending balance on your statement. Add the total for outstanding deposits. Finally, subtract the total for outstanding checks. This should equal the balance shown on your checkbook register. If you have never reconciled your checkbook, this will be your new balance from which to start.

*information taken from the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June week # 2 - Yummy Outdoors Recipe

Picnic season is officially in full swing. Here is a creative recipe that would make a simple but splashy meal to eat in the great outdoors, since it is good served hot or cold. This easy chicken dish takes little time to assemble and is impressive looking. As a bonus, it is high in fiber and low in fat, which makes it a perfectly healthy addition to your recipe repertoire. So here it is, another healthy cooking recipe from the Quick & Healthy Cookbooks:

Rolled Chicken and Asparagus

1 pound skinless
boneless chicken breasts
24 to 30 asparagus spears (tough ends removed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into 8 or 10 strips, each about 1 inch by 5 inches long.
  • Wrap each chicken strip in a corkscrew fashion around 2 or 3 uncooked asparagus spears. Fasten with toothpicks. Place in a covered baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with lemon juice, green onions, salt and pepper.
  • Cover and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove toothpicks. Serve hot or refrigerate until chilled and serve cold. Serves: 4.

Cook's Note: One serving is a good source of fiber. When preparing the asparagus, snap off the fibrous end and soak the tips in water to remove any dirt.

Nutritional Information: Carb Servings: 1/2Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat

Nutrient Analysis: calories 151, total fat 2g, saturated fat 0g, cholesterol 65mg, sodium 82mg, total carbohydrate 6g, dietary fiber 3g, sugars 2g, protein 28g

Source: Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas, 3rd Edition, © 2008 Brenda J. Ponichtera, R.D.; Published by Small Steps Press, publishing health conscious books for the general population, a division of the American Diabetes Association; retail $18.95. To order call 1-800-232-6733 or visit QuickandHealthy.net. Also available at local and online bookstores

*Recipe taken from the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter

June week # 2 - Matching Up Linens

I am always scanning newsletters for great tips to pass along and this next one I have taken to use myself. It saves me time and keeps everything neat and tidy in my linen closet. no guess work involved. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

I have an easy tip for matching linens. When I take sheets out of the laundry, I fold them and stuff all the pieces of each set into one of its pillowcases. Then, when I make the bed, all I have to do is pull a pillow case out of the cabinet and everything is there, already matched up! Lauretta B., e-mail

*tip taken from the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June - week #1 - Is Shell Fish High in Cholesterol?

As some of you know I recently had my father-in-law come to live with us after a major heart surgery. So we have had to rethink alot of what we eat and do our best to make heart healthy meals. We all love seafood in my house, so I was curious to find out if the cholesterol in shell fish was OK for him to eat. Shrimp is a staple just like chicken around here. Here is an article I found in the Skinny In the City Newsletter this morning. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

Fact or Fiction: If you have high cholesterol, you should avoid shellfish like shrimp, mussels, and clams

Verdict: False

You may have heard that shellfish is high in cholesterol. And while that’s somewhat true, it ends up that dietary cholesterol, found in shellfish and animal products, has less of an effect on the cholesterol levels in our blood than “bad” fat does. In fact, less than half the cholesterol we take in through food is absorbed. Meanwhile, saturated fat and trans fat are the biggest culprits when it comes to increasing artery-clogging cholesterol (LDL). Shellfish have no trans fat and only trace amounts of saturated fat, meaning it’s a good choice for people watching their cholesterol. On top of that, shellfish is a great source of lean protein and contains vitamin B12, niacin, iron, phosphorous, and zinc. Not to mention, it fills you up for relatively few calories. Now that we busted that myth, feel free to enjoy shellfish — shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, and clam — a few times per week!

If you’re trying to bring your cholesterol down, focus on limiting saturated fat, found mostly in animal products such as egg yolks, dairy products (except non-fat, of course), and high fat meats. Trans fat, which is found mostly in packaged snack foods like cookies, chips, candy, and cake, should also be limited. The American Heart Association recommends that we keep our daily intake of cholesterol to 300 mg a day and less than 7% of our daily calories should from saturated fat. Here’s a list of how much cholesterol and saturated fat is in certain foods:

Cholesterol and saturated fat (per 1 ounce, unless otherwise noted):

Heart healthy:
Mussels and clams: 19 mg cholesterol, .05 grams saturated fat
Shrimp: 55 mg cholesterol, .08 grams saturated fat
Scallops: 15 mg cholesterol, .04 grams saturated fat
Lobster: 21 mg cholesterol, .03 grams saturated fat

Not so heart healthy:
Whole milk: 5 mg cholesterol, .6 grams saturated fat
American cheese: 27 mg cholesterol, 5 grams saturated fat
Cream cheese: 31 mg cholesterol, 6 grams saturated fat
Butter (1 pat): 6 mg cholesterol, 1.4 grams saturated fat
Prime rib: 24 mg cholesterol, 3.5 grams saturated fat
Lamb chop: 26 mg cholesterol, 3.5 grams saturated fat

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June - week #1 - Snack Ideas For When You Are In The Car

Hi ladies! Me again!

Those of you who know me, know that I am always trying to think of ways to make my life easier with the kids. And snacks is always top on that list. Lately we have been in the car a lot on long trips between PA and NY. The following tip has made my life easier and the kids think its fun too.

I purchased a shoe box size bin for around $4, to put in the back of my car. And 2 really small boxes that were 2 for $2. I also purchased a box of snack size storage bags.

I purchased a bunch of full bag treats like:
pretzel sticks, Craisens (dried cranberries), Kix cereal, peanut butter crackers, trail mix* (we get the yummy kind with the nuts, chocolate, peanut butter and yogurt chips and cranberries and yellow raisins - Walmart brand flavor is 'Indulgence'), graham crackers (I get the store brand flavors honey & chocolate - then break them into 4's and put half honey and half chocolate in the snack bags).

I filled the snack bags with the treats and loaded up the plastic shoe box with them. Now before we go on our trips I let the girls take their small snack boxes and pick 3 treats for the long ride. And they know that they are not to ask for anymore. But they feel in control of their snack choices and they love it. It makes it special, like an adventure. Pop in a movie and they are set for the ride.

This has saved me many times from stopping unnecessarily during the trip. We still have our scheduled potty breaks and the places we know are the cleanest ;). But this helps stop the tantrums that can come when you stop at a place with junk food like most of the rest areas have. And it helps me stay on track with eating as well. when you are hungry on a road trip you sometimes make unwise choices to eat (fast food). I pack sandwiches if I know it will be around lunchtime. usually something easy to eat in the car like peanut butter and honey. wont slip apart like cold cut sandwiches, don't need to be in a cooler, and easy to hand back to the kids.

This also works great when you take the kids shopping. I bring each child a water bottle and they get to pick one snack from the bin before we enter the store. Great when grocery shopping. You don't hear all the begging for junk food snacks when their belly's are satisfied with a yummy treat they chose themselves.

Hope you enjoy this tip. I know I do ;) - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

*Trail mix - Just be aware that chocolate may start to melt if weather is hot. during summer I sometimes keep these treats inside an pack a cooler with snack bags of fruit (grapes, cherries, blue berries, apple slices, orange slices) for long trips and throw the trail mix in the cooler with it.
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June week #1 - Some Great Kitchen Tips

Hi ladies! I just got my daily Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter and she had some great tips in her Tiptionary section. I thought I would share these creative solutions to common problems we all have :). Hope you enjoy! - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

ICE CREAM SAVER. You can eliminate freezer burn on your ice cream by storing the container upside down in your freezer. It really works! Jan C.

QUICK COMPOST. Even though we compost our kitchen waste, it takes too long to break down when we need the compost now to start our garden. So, we help ours along this way: Every night, we grind up produce peels, leftover coffee grounds and filters, and other items that compost loves, in our food processor. This gives the breakdown process a head start. V.L., Texas

BONUS TREAT. Prevent ice cream from dripping out of the bottom of a cone by pushing a marshmallow into the cone before adding the ice cream. The marshmallow stops drips and is a little extra treat after the ice cream is gone! Brenda S.

SHINY STEEL. We have stainless steel appliances in our kitchen. I always battle getting them to look nice and clean without buying expensive polishing cream. Recently, I tried rubbing olive oil on them and they look wonderful! My husband even commented on how nice the refrigerator looks. Julie J.

MEATLOAF CUPCAKE. For a new twist on meatloaf, I fill the cups in a cupcake pan with the meat mixture and bake for about half an hour. This creates perfect individual-sized servings and I freeze leftovers for quick grab-and-go-meals. Cupcake meatloaf is also a great solution for singles and kids love them, too! Mary, Maine

OUTDOOR KITCHEN. My family enjoys eating outdoors. I've found a cheap way to keep foods chilled on the table on a hot day. I was inspired by expensive trays designed hold a serving bowl over ice, but I make my own for free. I save two-piece domed plastic containers from take-out meals. To travel, I pack the food in the bottom portion of the container and cover it with the lid. I keep it in the ice chest until we're ready to eat. When I unpack the food for our meal, I take the lids off the containers and fill them with ice. Then, I set the bottom portion atop the ice-filled lid and the food stays cold. Lynn

REPAIR WONDER. I had my food processor for more than three years when I started having difficulty getting the cover off the bowl and the bowl off the base. It seemed like the plastic parts had expanded, and I was beyond my warranty period. A new bowl, cover and pusher would have cost about $90. I solved the problem by rubbing the rims of the bowl and lid with vegetable oil. It works like new again! Kris, Wisconsin

*tips taken from the Everyday Cheapskate newsletter

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June week #1 - Stay-at-Home Adventures

This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience, without leaving town.

Make a plan. Determine the dates of your "staycation." Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning.

Notification. Let everyone know the dates you'll be on vacation. In the same way you would not be available if you were flying to another country, they need to know you will not be available during your vacation.

Think like a tourist. Do an Internet search for the name of your town plus the word "tourist." You'll be amazed at what you discover. We're talking hiking trails, bike paths, community events, museums and playgrounds that you may not know exist. Look for special deals and coupons local merchants are offering.

Change the rules. This is the fun part. Decide to break all the rules during your stay-at-home vacation, within reason. Unplug the phone; sleep in late; stay up later; watch videos; play games; go on bike rides; explore places you've never been. A few days of junk food is not likely to create any serious problems.

Camp out. Kids love to camp, so haul out your basic camping gear (borrow or rent if you need to) and set it up in the backyard. Create a fire pit so you can sit around the campfire late into the night (be sure to use proper care and be mindful of local rules and guidelines). Brush up on campfire songs. Determine that you'll cook, eat and sleep outdoors during your camping vacation.

Unplug. This is the challenge for parents on staycation: Everyone has to surrender cell phones and computers to a central holding area for the duration. Sure, it will be an adjustment, but possibly the best move of all. Let the mail collect, to be opened when you return home. When you are not taking some well-deserved naps, let your kids know they have your undivided attention. That will make this a true vacation because you "vacate" the normal routines and stresses of life.

Story tapes. Check your library for audio books suitable for the whole family. If you're looking to buy, a terrific Internet source is Great Tapes for Kids at GreatTapes.com. Tapes, DVDs and CDs start at about $10 plus shipping and handling, not a bad buy if they become family favorites. I recommend "King Arthur and His Knights" and "The Three Musketeers/Robin Hood," all told by Jim Weiss who spins tales so that a five-year-old can enjoy them. Other family favorites include stories of fantasy and hope such as "The Golden Drum," and "Little Heroes" by masterful storyteller Jay O`Callahan.

Memories: Be sure to take lots of pictures and let the kids help to create a scrapbook of memories. Don't be surprised when they call it the best vacation ever!

*Ideas taken from the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter

June week # 1 - Busy Moms Survival Guide


Ever feel like you’re so busy you don’t take time for yourself?

I feel that way all the time! A new mom has a million things to do and is least likely to do something to make herself feel like an individual, rather than a feeding, diaper-changing machine. I am a mom of 3 little girls and I can defiantely appreciate the book If You Give a Mom a Martini: 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself by Lyss Stern and Julie Kappas.

If You Give a Mom a Martini is chock full of great ideas for moms and all women. In general, women are less likely than men to do completely selfish acts and if we do, we’re more likely to feel guilty afterward. But if you don’t take time for yourself, it’s easy to burn out — which will not only affect you, but those around you, too. By taking ten minutes daily to relax, you can actually slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce anger, and improve concentration — in a nutshell, improve your health!

This book, with a foreword by Christie Brinkley and contributions by celebrity moms like Kelly Ripa, gives you quick ways to indulge yourself guilt-free. Check out the smartly written beauty advice, website suggestions, product reviews, and tricks to distract your kids (“Hey, look over there. It’s Elmo!”). Whether you’re giving it as a gift or keeping it for yourself, try out some of the authors’ ideas.

Every good woman should get at least 10 rejuvenating minutes per day — that’s an order!
*Book review taken from The Skinney In the City Newsletter