Archive for November, 2010

Fantastic frugal fun can be found!

Last night we went out and except for the cost of a babysitter, I was a really cheap date.   I also advocate for swapping babysitting with friends to avoid this cost as well but it’s a crazy travel week. Anyway, we made (free) reservations online at OpenTable for dinner and I had specifically looked for restaurants offering 1000 points to dine as usually you only get 100. With only 2000 points, you get a $20 gift card to any of their participating restaurants so we were 1/2 way there when we checked in.  I also happened to have a Living Social coupon for the restaurant so our meal was 56% off the regular price. We ended the evening with a concert at a local venue where we had a buy 1,  get 1 free coupon for their music series from the Entertainment book.

We typically don’t leave the house anymore for any dining or entertainment without scouting out the above sites or these below:

Some of these sites are affiliated with a specific city but the majority have something to offer to everyone.  Let me know if there are other sites where you save!

Green Friday

I’m (un)officially going to declare today, “Green Friday”. As opposed to crazy long lines, insane hours and people physically harming one another to get great deals on Black Friday, I’m going to suggest shifting your focus to others on Green Friday. Mind you, it’s still about the shopping but how about looking at gifts that can give back? I’ve chosen green as it symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and has been known to have great healing power.

The most comprehensive site I’ve found is thehungersite.com. The same site where, in a click of a mouse, you can give free food also has hundreds of gifts to give, all of which give back in some way. From one site, I am managing to get all of my shopping done (see below) and today if you enter GOBBLE at checkout, you get $10 off $40 order, Also $4.95 US shipping every day.

(Every purchase funds at least 25 cups of food, many 50 cups!)

I know I put it right here!

Big thanks to my sister, Ashley, for turning me onto I Can’t Find My Phone.  No frills, no surfing through pages or ads, simply type in the phone number of the cell phone or home handset that you have lost track of and they will ring it for you. I just tried it and it’s brilliant. With so many people giving up landlines for cellular service only, it’s hard to call yourself when you’ve misplaced your phone. Now if they could just manage to help me find my keys!

Love that crisp, sweet dry cleaning smell?

About.com tells us that the “smell” you love is the scent of the chemical known as perchloroethylene, or perc. Perc is also called dichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, PCE, dichloroethylene and a handful of other hard-to-pronounce names. The chemical solvent has also been under investigation for years by the EPA, the Department of Labor, the American Cancer Society, and has been linked to cancer by several scientific investigations. According to the National Institutes of Health: “long-term exposure to perchloroethylene can cause leukemia and cancer of the skin, colon, lung, larynx, bladder, and urogenital tract”.  It can also get released into the environment and seep into drinking water supplies, where it’s notoriously difficult to remove.

BUT I CAN’T – I WON’T – GIVE UP MY DRY CLEANING!

Luckily, there are other options. Nodryclean.com can help you find a nontoxic dry cleaner near you that uses safe, dry cleaning alternatives. Click here to watch a video to see how green dry cleaning works and make the switch today. If you are unable to find a green cleaner near you or, for some other reason can’t make the switch, take dry cleaning bags off of your clothes as soon as you get home and air them outside for at least 5 minutes.

“Fall back” into reading

With the nights getting darker and the mornings brighter, you may have some extra time on your hands so why not sneak in a few minutes of reading. Here’s my top 5 suggested fall reading picks and, as usual, a little something for everyone.

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter –  “The funniest way-we-live-now book of the year.” -Time magazine (great for a book club)

Faithful Place by Tana French – “Faithful Place takes readers into a grim corner of Dublin where families do their best to suffocate dreams and cops are to be avoided at all costs”.  – NPR

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf? (Local St. Louis author, signed copies at Pudd’nHead Books)

The Film Club by David Gilmour – The true story of a father who let his son drop out of school – if he watched three movies a week.

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman – Bittman demystifies buzzwords like “organic,” “sustainable,” and “local” and offers straightforward, budget-conscious advice that will help you make small changes that will shrink your carbon footprint — and your waistline.

I had picked 4 out of the 5 before I realized that they all started with “F” so I had to make sure the 5th one did as well. So enjoy these fantastic, fabulous, phenomenal fall picks! Feel free to add your suggestions as well – thanks!

Tested Time Savers

I don’t think anyone will argue that our time is getting more valuable and I’ll admit to saying NO a lot more this year if something doesn’t align with my priorities. (Thanks 168 Hours!) Needless to say I’m always trying to find more time in my day and these 2 FREE services have helped me tremendously.

1) Running errands – a necessary evil for me and a lot of times my kids. Route4me.com is the best route planner I’ve found! You enter up to 10 stops (or less) and it will route out the most efficient way to go. You can pay to add more stops but c’mon you don’t need to do more than 10 errands in one day! This has been a saving grace for a geographically challenged person such as myself who seems to backtrack a lot.

2) HATE to be put on HOLD? lucyphone.com users can hang up, and are then called back when a customer service representative finally picks up. On the free service’s Web site,  users type in a customer service number (or click on one of many stored on the site), and when a human being finally answers the site will ring you at your given number. After multiple occasions of screaming into my phone ( see AGENT!!! post ), this allows me to quite possibly change the world while “lucy” waits on hold.

30 Day Giving Challenge

In my newsfeed today, I found this “call” to participate in the 30 Day Giving Challenge  from Mandi who blogs at Motherhoodyourway. Earlier this morning I had been perusing my “drafts” to see what shortcut, suggestion or solution I could offer to simplify lives on this first day of November but hadn’t zeroed in on one. This challenge really excited me so I spent some time thinking how I wanted to participate. (Free book giveaways – see more details below)

From Mandi – “The idea behind the challenge is simple. Each day in November, we will intentionally look for a way to give. It doesn’t mean you have to donate money all 30 days — or even at all. It doesn’t mean you need to spend hours volunteering each and every day this month — or even at all. Giving will look different for each and every person . The goal is just that giving is a mindset that doesn’t have to be limited by your available resources.

Bake cookies for a neighbor. Send flowers to an old friend. Mail a thank you note to your pediatrician. Give up your weekly (daily?) latte and donate that money to a cause. Go through your basement and pass items on to someone who could use it. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Visit the local senior center. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Really, the possibilities are endless, and there’s no right or wrong way to participate.” Read the rest of this entry