Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bag Some Swag!

Just in case any of you are not yet signed up with Swagbucks, you should sign up, pronto! I love Swagbucks because it pays me for doing something I do anyway - search the Internet. Since November of 2009, when I started using Swagbucks, I have redeemed eleven $5 Amazon Gift Cards, just from doing a few searches a day.

To use Swagbucks, you can either download their toolbar, which I didn't do, because I don't like to download a bunch of stuff, or you can remember to go to the website to perform your search. It's very simple to use, you just type your search in the way your normally would. If you win bucks for your search, a notification will come up in the upper right corner or at the top of the screen, flashing. Search results are provided by Google and Ask, and I've found them to be reliable.

I have discovered a few tricks from using the site for the last nine months. If I perform a search and don't get Swagbucks right away, it helps to check all pages of results. Sometimes they pop up on the second or third page. You can get 50 Swagbucks for registering your birthday on the site, and one Swagbuck each for checking the Survey section and the No Obligation Offers section (just select "skip" for each offer you're not interested in) and participating in the Daily Poll. If you care to participate in any of the surveys, you can earn bucks that way too. It gives you an indication how likely you are to qualify for each survey before you start. I like this, because if my odds are slim, I don't waste my time! If you do any shopping on the Internet, you can earn points like that.

Don't forget to check Twitter, Facebook and the official Swagbucks Blog. From time to time they will give out codes that you can input to get additional Swagbucks. You can also win Swagbucks if your name comes up as the Hourly Random Winner on the site. I have never seen my name come up, though. Fridays are MegaSwagbucks Days, and you can win more Swagbucks per search on Fridays.

When you have some Swagbucks accumulated, browse around the Swag Store until you find something you want to redeem them for. At the time I'm writing this, my preferred prize, an Amazon e-card, is going for 450 Swagbucks. After you order, they send you an email you need to confirm, and then you have to wait a week or so for your prize to post.

If anyone wants to sign up, please use my link:

They give you 30 Swagbucks just for signing up. Once you are signed up, you can also earn points when your referrals earn points.

I hope you like Swagbucks if you sign up, and that you are able to earn a lot of great prizes! If you have any questions about Swagbucks, feel free to leave a comment and ask me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bushels Of Uses For Seasonal Bounty

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the abundance of delicious, fresh fruit. Your neighbors are begging you to take it off their hands. It's on sale at every grocery store, and available at local farm stands. The only question is, how to use it all up before it spoils!

Stone fruits, such as peaches, plums and nectarines have a myriad of uses. They can be grilled, tossed into salads, blended in smoothies, cooked into jam, sliced up and made into a topping for ice cream or crepes, baked into pies or cobblers, canned, frozen or dried for later use, or made into wine or liqueurs.

Melons, such as cantaloupe, watermelon or honeydew, can be scooped out with a melon baller, and frozen for later. The texture will be slightly less firm, but it will still taste great. They are terrific in salads and in chicken entrees. They can be dried and eaten later, or frozen into sorbets. They can be juiced. Watermelon rind can be made into pickles.

No matter how you eat them now, or preserve them for later, summer fruits are a delicious way to add important nutrients to your diet. Please share your own ideas for using the fruits of the season!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

You'll Go Bananas For This Icy Treat

Hot summer days are here. Are you looking for an easy, healthy alternative to ice cream? Look no further! This sweet, frosty treat has no fat or cholesterol if you use soy milk, and very little if you use nonfat or low fat milk. It's also full of vitamins and minerals, and pretty inexpensive, too. The soy milk or juice version is great for those who are lactose intolerant, or vegans.

I always buy some overripe bananas on sale, peel them, and keep them in a gallon-size storage bag in my freezer. When I want a treat, I pull out one or two, break them into chunks, and throw them in my blender. If I want a more ice cream-like concoction, I add low fat milk or soy milk. If I want more of a sorbet, I add whatever fruit juice I have laying around. Add it a little at a time, until you get just enough where it can blend without bogging down the motor, but not so much that it's too thin. You want it as thick as possible. If I want chocolate "ice cream", I add a little hot cocoa mix. If I want fruity ice cream or sorbet, I add a little jam or a piece of overripe fruit. Blend until smooth. Use a rubber scraper to transfer the mixture to a bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer. Remove it every fifteen minutes and give it a stir, until it freezes to the right consistency.

Enjoy your guilt-free summer treat!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cheap Cheats

There are little tricks we can employ in every area of our lives to save money. I like to call them cheap cheats. Each of them will save just a few cents here and there, but using all of them together can really add up over time. I'd like to share a few of mine with you.


-Make your own pickles for pennies. Buy a cucumber on sale. Plunge it into boiling water using tongs for a few seconds to kill any bacteria. Slice thinly and pack the slices into a jar of juice you've saved from store bought pickles. In a few days they are ready to eat! Every few times you'll have to buy a jar of pickles from the store and start over.

-Use clean hotel shower caps you've collected while on vacation to cover bowls in the refrigerator. Make sure the plastic doesn't touch the food, as it's not food safe plastic. I wash mine in the top rack of the dishwasher and reuse them. Just make sure they can't fall through to the heating element and melt!


-Flatten the toilet paper roll slightly with your hand before you put it on the holder. It won't roll so easily, preventing family members from accidentally rolling out too much at once and wasting paper.

-Water down those little shampoo samples left over from the hotel and use as hand soap. Just save a pump dispenser from store-bought soap and use it over and over again.

- A small rubber band wound a couple of times around the base of your soap or lotion pump will keep too much from dispensing at once.


-Use newspaper or catalog pages to clean grease out of pans, pet messes- anything too nasty for your washable cleaning rags. No need to buy paper towels.

-Even though we use our reusable grocery bags, we still manage to accumulate some plastic ones. Use these to line trashcans instead of buying trash bags.


-If you use fabric softener, the sheets can be cut into narrow strips, and still work just as well. This can really stretch a box.

-Vinegar added to the rinse cycle is an even cheaper, natural fabric softener.

Heating and Cooling:

-Keep the windows open at night and early in the morning while it's cool, and close them before it starts to heat up.

-Close all the blinds on the sunny side of the house until the sun goes down or goes around the other side.

-Reverse the blade direction on your ceiling fan in the winter to help push the heat down from the ceiling.

Do you have any cheap cheats of your own? I'm always interested in hearing your money-saving ideas.