Archive for the ‘ St. Louis ’ Category

What’s your time worth?

In one single encounter the other day, I believe that I made a choice that would make my mother & Laura Vanderkam proud, while simultaneously embarrassing my children (always a bonus). We were in the midst of another week where we all seemed to be running, coming & going. Recently I went back to work full time after 3 years of part-time work and we are all still adjusting.

While driving my daughter to soccer practice, I noticed a lawn care truck in front of a neighbor’s house. A seemingly nice man was putting away his mower when I shamelessly accosted him and asked if he had any time to cut our grass. Typically this falls into ‘husband’ category, not that this Kentucky girl hadn’t handled a SNAPPER mower on my childhood farm for MANY years, but said husband had been dealing with his own crazy work stuff and getting home late and exhausted. Lawn care is certainly not in our budget, but at this moment when our grass had gotten to an almost embarrassing level, I decided that I could shave some money from one budget line or work a few additional hours JUST TO GET IT DONE.

My kids says that in the heat of the moment that I told Ron Busken (Busken Lawn Care) that I loved him when he agreed to the task (I’m denying it) and off we sped to soccer. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Deals – are you missing out?

Lately I’ve gotten a few questions from friends about sites that are similar to Groupon as I don’t show up anywhere for anything without a coupon anymore. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  1. Groupon – The first one on the scene to offer great deals – sign up for other cities if you are traveling. Great app.
  2. Living Social – You can get a family or escape edition of deals in addition to their daily ones. Great app.
  3. Eversave – My latest find & I’m loving their daily deals.
  4. City Steal – Great local steals.
  5. Scout Mob – The coupon is free. If you see an offer you like, just click a button to receive the coupon via text message or e-mail. You’ll only pay when you show up – only in a few cities right now but growing!
  6. St. Louis Daily Fix – Outstanding deals at local restaurants, salons, spas and more in St. Louis.
  7. Care 2 Daily Deals – Organic, green, good-for-you, good-for-the-planet products at up to 70% off.
  8. 8 Coupons – Lists all the deals from the top sites (including Groupon, Tippr, BuyWithMe and others) & lets you search via map or zip code.
  9. Buy With Me – Like many other sites, if 3 friends buy from your referral, yours is free.
  10. Daily Candy Deals – Offers limited number of coupons so you’re not fighting with hundreds of other purchasers, but limited cities currently.
  11. Spa Finder – Only in NYC, LA, Boston, Philly & Miami

Others I’m missing? Let me know!

April 22 is Earth Day 2011

Sometimes I can overwhelm myself by focusing all my attention on ways that I’m not “green” instead of celebrating the small changes we have made. As Earth Day 2011 approaches, I thought I’d share with you the 11 ways we’ve changed:

  1. Get to know Earth911.com. Great resource for the latest in all things “green” but what we use most is their search feature that lets you type in anything you want to recycle along with your zip code and it directs you to the best place.
  2. We use Nellie’s PVS Free Dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. They help clothes dry faster, aid in wrinkle & lint removal and act as a natural fabric softener.  I know, I know… we should hang clothes outside and be even greener but I’m not there yet.
  3. Educate the kids! Read Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax about a creature that speaks for “the trees”, watch The Story of Stuff or borrow the DVD of Wal Mart: the high cost of low price from your local library.
  4. Support green companies. We’ve loved Bloomin for a while for their fantastic seed cards, gifts & green practices but a few weeks ago they also did their own Earth Day article that carried suggestions for ALL WAYS to reduce, reuse & recycle. Locally, here in St. Louis, check out Home Eco or the fantastic new Verde Kids.
  5. Turn off water while brushing teeth. Leaving the tap running during the recommended two minutes of brushing can waste up to five gallons of water a day.
  6. Buy local food. Join a CSA, grow your own with the help of Backdoor Harvest or frequent any of our (or your) fantastic farmer’s markets. Additionally, here in St. Louis, Local Harvest Grocery has just moved down the street into a fantastic space and is better than ever offering at least 50% of their goods from within 150 miles.
  7. Buy secondhand clothes. Read the rest of this entry

Step Up your Spring Break (for free)

No matter where you are headed this Spring Break or even if you are having a “staycation”, you can kick it up a notch with geocaching. But what is it? Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. There are over There are 1,304,804 active geocaches around the world and I noted more than 10 listed within 1 mile of my zip code in St. Louis.

Easy Steps to Geocaching

  1. Register for a free Basic Membership.
  2. Click “Hide & Seek a Cache.”
  3. Enter your postal code and click “search.”
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
  6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
  7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
  8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

For my friends ‘across the pond’, they can also try letterboxing. Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places. It takes the ancient custom of placing a rock on a cairn upon reaching the summit of a mountain to an art form. It started when a gentleman simply left his calling card in a bottle by a remote pool on the moors of Dartmoor, in England.

Happy Heart Day!

No matter to who or how you plan to say I Love You this Valentine’s, I’ve got some suggestions to hopefully make it your best yet.

For the tea/tea party lover, pick up a set of these beautiful ‘inside out heart’ cups from nordstrom.com.

For a dapper fella who’s always in a suit, gift these ‘suggestive’ collar stays which will keep him grinning throughout those long meetings.

For the book lover, a copy of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

Locally, take your special someone on a Valentine’s Night Hike at Shaw Nature Reserve.

For the person who’s all business, this great Lifestyle File Tote is practical and with every purchase 25% will be donated to the American Heart Association.

Uncommongoods provides a fantastic Love Meter so that you are able to gauge your own “commitment level” and shop accordingly.

Last, but not least, consider the give of life and contact your local Red Cross to make a blood donation or head to organdonor.gov and register to be an organ donor.

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!

“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!

I Heart Resale!

St. Louis is blessed to have a number of resale shops to choose from but if I had to narrow down to one childrens and one adults, it would be Kangaroo Kids and Next– both located at the corner of Manchester and Sappington. Kangaroo Kids not only does resale (childrens, maternity, toys, equipment…) but offers KKidsparent and breastfeeding support groups and are retailers for Baby Jogger, Medela, and Motherlove Herbals. But my most favorite thing is the fact that they offer FREE events such as Estate Planning Basics for New Parents ( Monday, September 20th 6:30pm) on top of everything else. It’s truly a one stop shop and did I mention that you can get coffee and snacks there? Life Simplified fans & followers can get 25% off resale until September 24th if you mention this article at Kangaroo Kids or Next!

Careful not to lose an afternoon at Next Woman’s Resale Boutique  – rated #1 in Vintage & Resale by KTVI 2010 Hot List.  Dana, the owner of NEXT, prides herself on her shop’s personalized customer service for both her shoppers and sellers, carefully selected and always changing name brand inventory, Nextand a friendly atmosphere where everyone feels welcome. Whether you need something for a special occasion or a wardrobe make over, come visit NEXT any time. 

Dana states, “I’ve furnished NEXT the same way I would like to encourage you to fill your closet. Next was created using 98% resale, recycled or other wise repurposed items from local resources. Read the rest of this entry

No Better Time to Shop!

imagesMany states will be offering a tax free weekend this weekend or sometime in August so grab your back-to-school lists and get shopping! Check out the following states for details: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C. & West Virginia.

Locally, St. Louis’ tax free weekend is this weekend (August 6-8) and applies to:

  • Clothing under $100
  • School supplies under $50
  • Computer software under $350
  • Computers/computer equipment under $3,500
  • Note: Some cities and counties in Missouri elect not to participate.

If you happen to do any of your school shopping at Target, they will begin offering a great new program in the fall which entitles you to 5% off everything in the store with a Target credit card.  The new 5%-off program (for every purchase, every visit) will replace Target’s current program in which account holders receive an initial 10% off coupon and existing cardholders earn coupons for a future shopping visit. No exact date has been set but I’ll make every attempt to post the date when it’s announced. For more great tips on back-to-school shopping and the tax free weekend, check out this great article on About.com.

All She Does is Wine, Wine, Wine!

My friends like to tease me that I’m a seasonal wine drinker – white wine in warm seasons and red wine in cool seasons. Needless to say, I enjoy my wine and now more than ever I’m finding fun and functional accessories that I believe are worth sharing.

The Vinturi Red Wine Aerator breathes life into wines instantly, with or without a decanter. The simple act of pouring wine through the aerator ravi-wine-chillerincreases pressure as you pour, drawing in and mixing just the right amount of air to help wines open up to their full potential. I mentioned the Ravi  Wine Chiller in a previous post but I’m still a big fan of this great gadget that instantly chills your wine from room temperature to its ideal serving temperature.

What to do with all those corks? Turn them into a creative Trivet with this winecorkDIY-thumbnailgreat kit from Greenfeet or if you have a huge amount, send them to Yemm & Hart who are one of the few places that recycles them. My friend, Kristina, turned me onto the potpourriburners_2111_22951214Woozie, an insulated sleeve for your wine glass. They are made from neoprene and are stretchable, washable and reusable. They can be purchased from a variety of places online or locally here in St. Louis at Embroider the Occasion in Webster Groves. Perfect for these hot summer days & nights.

Many of the items mentioned here would be great gift ideas or think about “adopting a vine” for a special wine person in your life. Both Taylor Brooke Winery and St. Helena Winery both offer such programs. Cheers!