Archive for December, 2008

Are you wasting water when you run your dishwasher?

Friday, December 26, 2008 6:42 1 Comment

Think back to when you put those dirty dishes from Christmas dinner into the dishwasher… or other recent days you’ve used the dishwasher.  How many dishes did you pre-rinse before putting into the dishwasher.  If you rinsed any, you rinsed too many!

Dishwashers today (those manufactured since 1995 or so)  are designed to clean dishes even when they haven’t been pre-rinsed to “look” clean.  Now think about how much water you used to rinse those dishes… that was just wasted water, not to mention how much money that cost you, especially if you are in the habit of pre-rinsing dishes with hot water.

Are you certain that your dishes won’t come out looking nearly as clean?  Do a test run one evening without rinsing anything, and see the result… chances are pretty good that everything will come out just as sparkly clean as if you pre-rinsed too.  And don’t forget that many dishwashers also have a “pots and pans” or “heavy duty” cycle… and yes, these cycles will still use less additional water than pre-rinsing would use!

It is also worth hauling out the manual to check and see what the optimum loading instructions are – sometimes dishes that aren’t getting cleaned well enough in the dishwasher is simply because the dishes aren’t loaded correctly to provide optimum dish cleaning performance.  This is especially valuable if you tend to go through a lot of bowls.

Do you not use enough dishes to run a load every day?  Check to see if your dishwasher has a “rinse and hold” cycle on it that will do a quick rinse of the dishes without running a regular cycle, giving the dishes a pre-rinse to prevent the dishes from become crusty with dried food. 

Following these tips will keep you from wasting water when it comes to cleaning your dishes.  Try it and become convinced, and stop the extra work pre-rinsing routine today!

This was posted under category: Cleaning tips

Fresh herbs mix for inside your turkey

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 23:09 Comments Off on Fresh herbs mix for inside your turkey

Ever since we have been warned against cooking the stuffing inside the turkey, people have been getting creative with what to put inside the cooking bird.  There is always the beer can route, ala beer can chicken.  Others will stuff the stuffing inside the bird for cooking during the last half hour or so, when the turkey is nearly done, so you can ensure the turkey will be cooked through and the turkey won’t be contaminated by raw poultry juices.

But an amazingly easy thing to do is simply stuff your turkey with fresh herbs right when you are preparing it for the oven.  The fresh herbs will infuse the flavor right into the turkey as it cooks, leaving a turkey with a uniquely aromatic taste.. and your house will smell wonderful while it cooks!

You can buy fresh herbs at the grocery store, even during winter months.  So next time you are at a loss of what to put inside the turkey, consider using this great combination of fresh herbs instead.  Or you can adjust some of the herbs that work well with poulty in place of the ones we suggest.

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sorrel
  • Savory
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Margoram

You only need a few sprigs of each for an average size turkey, doubling the amount of herbs for a large (25+ lbs) turkey.  When the turkey is finished roasting, you can simply discard the herbs, or you can use them in another dish, provided you are certain the turkey has been completely cooked through, so no uncooked juices remain.

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Holidays

Easy stove-top recipe to make your house smell like Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 7:09 Comments Off on Easy stove-top recipe to make your house smell like Christmas

Certain smells just make you think of the Christmas season.  And something as subtle as the scent in the house can make everyone feel more festive… especially if you have had to cut back this Christmas, or even if you are snowbound!

You need a medium saucepan filled with one quart of water.  Then add 3 cinnamon sticks, 1/4 cup whole cloves (buy in bulk to save money), 2 tbsp lemon juice, zest from one orange, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and two bay leaves.  Place on the stove and simmer to leave your house smelling like Christmas.  If you plan to simmer all day, be sure to check the water level and add more as needed.

You can also adjust the recipe to your own personal preference.  Like orange scents?  Add zest from two oranges instead of just one.  Not a fan of nutmeg?  Drop it back to 1/4 tsp instead of the 1/2 tsp the recipe calls for.  Love allspice?  Add 1/4 or 1/2 tsp of allspice to the pot.  It is all about making it smell like Christmas to you, so don’t be shy about incorporating coordinating scents into the recipe.

We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and is keeping safe while all these winter storm are hitting just about everywhere.  Merry Christmas!

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This was posted under category: Holidays

Brand new coupons section on MomsBudget

Monday, December 22, 2008 6:03 Comments Off on Brand new coupons section on MomsBudget

The coupon stash we post has quickly become one of the more popular spots on MomsBudget, and we were quickly getting stashes that were 300-400+ coupons with both US and Canada coupons.  So we have decided to place all those fabulous coupons in their own section, which also includes a search function so you can search for specific coupons, as well as browse coupons based on categories (so you can browse just the breakfast product coupons, or even the breakfast product coupons for Canada).

We have a bunch of coupons expiring 12/31/08, so while we normally only allow one coupon for each type, we are lifting the limits on these, great if you plan to grab groceries before ringing in the new year.  Our next mail date for coupons is Dec 22, so plenty of time to get them to you before they expire.

We only have about 1/8 to 1/4 of all our coupons online so far (400+ are entered so far), so watch daily (even hourly!) for all the new coupons being added, we have hundreds here waiting to be entered, which we hope to have done in the next few days.  But in the meantime, order away :)

If you are new to our coupon stashes, think of it as a coupon train but with less work… you pick out coupons and we mail them to you, and we ask that you mail back at least the same value in coupons (at least one month prior to the expiration date), so that we can post them and others can get them.  We also ask that you recommend it to others, since the more people that use it, the larger number and variety of coupons we will have available.  Please remember that if you have received coupons from us previously, you must have sent coupons back before you can place your next order :)

Go to the MomsBudget coupons here.

There may still be some kinks to work out, so if you notice anything wonky, please make a note of it in your order comments.  We are still working on adding all the product photos as well as adding all the companies.  So still a WIP we hope will be completed over the next few days :)

So happy couponing!  And watch for some freebies being included to some of the lucky customers along with the fabulous coupons.

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This was posted under category: Coupon Stash, Coupons

Inexpensive and super easy Christmas centerpiece

Thursday, December 18, 2008 4:30 Comments Off on Inexpensive and super easy Christmas centerpiece

Trying to figure out what to do for a centerpiece for Christmas, without spending an arm and a leg, and without having to rush out Christmas Eve to buy a bouquet of holiday flowers that will still look fresh on Christmas Day?  Here is a super easy and inexpensive idea to dress up the holiday table.  And it is a fantastic way to use cranberries for something other than cranberry sauce :)

First, you need a clear glass vase.  Then, head out to your garden or go for a walk in a park, and pick up small fir branches, holly sprigs, and any other festive-looking greenery.  Trim them at home, ready to be placed in the vase.

Fill the vase with fresh water, about half way full.  Then add a generous helping of fresh cranberries to the water for decor (about 1 cup or so, you may need more or less depending on the size of the vase).  Then add the various holiday greenery to the vase, and you have a great looking centerpiece.

The arrangement will last for days, as long as you change the water daily, and give the cranberries a quick rinse as you do it.  This also makes a wonderfully inexpensive hostess gift if you are visiting someone’s house over the holiday season.

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This was posted under category: Frugal Gifts, Holidays

Buy Christmas presents by redeeming your points

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 7:14 Comments Off on Buy Christmas presents by redeeming your points

When you think of redeeming points, do you automatically think only of air miles?  Well, chances are pretty good that you have more than one “points card” that you get for being a frequent shopper at favorite stores.  And many of those stores will allow you to redeem those points for free products you can choose from a catalog, discounts on purchases and even exchange for gift cards.  But most of these companies don’t exactly volunteer that you can exchange those shopping points for anything good, so you need to get on it!

First, go through your wallet and find all those frequent shopper cards you have that track how much you spend (and no, you probably don’t want to know how much you have spent on each of them!!!)  Then, armed with your cards, check out the websites for each company and see what kind of perks you can get with those points you have earned.

If it isn’t a card that you receive a statement for, chances are pretty good you have probably racked up a fair bit without even knowing it, especially if it is something you use frequently, such as while grocery shopping.  You may need to phone their head office to find out your points balance, if you don’t have access to it, then find out what those points are worth.  You could be surprised at what you could exchange those points for.  Or next time you are in each store, a customer rep can help you find out about what your points balance is, and what you can get for it.

This is a great way to stretch your budget over the holidays, especially since it is essentially “free money”.  So be sure to take advantage of it, especially if there are people on your gift list you weren’t able to afford to buy anything for.

And don’t forget, if you are in the giving spirit, most places have charities they work with where you can simply donate all your unused points to charity…. this is what I have done on multiple occassions to support everything from a local children’s hospital to the SPCA, and I know the donation is appreciated by all.

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This was posted under category: Holidays, Shopping

Host a Christmas gift wrapping party

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 4:31 Comments Off on Host a Christmas gift wrapping party

Do you hate Christmas wrapping and tend to put it off til the last moment?  Well, instead dreading the yearly holiday chore, invite some girlfriends over for a Christmas wrapping night!  Plan a fun night of movies, lots of chatting, and lots of presents wrapped for under the tree.

Now, you don’t want to invite too many people so it is chaotic and things are getting mixed up.  Instead, think inviting 3-5 guests tops.  Ask everyone to bring rolls of tape, a couple rolls of wrapping paper to share, gift tags as well as all the presents they need to wrap.  Don;t forget a selection of favorite movies – either chick flicks or holiday movies – that can play in the background as you all catch up on the latest news, because it is a great opportunity to multitask – wrapping AND chit chat!

Everyone will share the wrapping paper so everyone will end up with a variety.  So if someone is bringing over a giantic present to wrap, maybe mention beforehand “oh, you better bring an extra roll so we can all help you wrap that one!”, especially if wrapping paper budget is an issue.  Or get your kids to draw pictures on kraft paper that you can use for original hand drawn wrapping paper.

Once the wrapping starts, have a specific spot designated for each person to put their gifts once they are wrapped and tagged (trust me, sorting through all the presents at the end of the night to see which belongs to who is NO fun!).  So you might put yours on the kitchen counter, another person uses the dining room table, and someone else uses the hallway rug space.  Just so long as they are easy to gather up without mixing up!

What about food?  You can have some light snacks and munchies on hand, you could do it potluck style or you could all chip in and order pizza or Chinese food.  You will need to keep the energy up!  And don’t forget the beverages 😉

Christmas will be here before you know it, so start planning your Christmas gift wrapping party now, so you can avoid those late night wrapping sessions on Christmas Eve!

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This was posted under category: Holidays

Make flavored sugar for frugal holiday gift giving

Monday, December 15, 2008 7:24 Comments Off on Make flavored sugar for frugal holiday gift giving

Flavored sugar is a very trendy culinary gift to give that hard to buy for person on your list.  It is also considered a high end ingredient, but you can make it yourself for barely any cost at all… this is really a great gift you can make for well under $1!

You only need a week or two to make most of these recipes, so you aren’t too late to make these for gifts.  You might also want to include it with one of our many drink mixes in a jar in a gift basket or bag.

We have five different flavored sugar recipes for you to make.

Vanilla Sugar
This is probably the best known of all the flavored sugars, and is widely used in drinks and in deserts.

Lavender sugar
If you have seen any of those lavendar cookies on sale for an outrageous amount of money in a bakery lately, the secret to them is lavender sugar.

Chocolate sugar
This one is a hit with the adults and the kids!  Great in coffee and lattes, and of course, as a delicate desert topping.

Lemon sugar
What would be better to sweeten iced tea with than a spoonful of lemon sugar?

Orange sugar
Another great citrus sugar to enjoy, without the tartness of the lemon sugar.

Feel free to share all your other favorite sugar recipes :)

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This was posted under category: Cooking

Use those KBToys gift cards immediately

Sunday, December 14, 2008 17:09 Comments Off on Use those KBToys gift cards immediately

If you haven’t heard, KB Toys is going out of business, which means that if you have a KBToys gift card, you will want to use it ASAP.  The stores are still accepting gift cards as payment (but are not issuing new ones), which isn’t the case for all businesses going bankrupt.  But since stores can close their doors at anytime, it is best to use those gift cards NOW!

More info here on the Consumerist.

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This was posted under category: Shopping

Turn your backyard into an ice skating rink

Sunday, December 14, 2008 4:58 3 Comments

Now that the kids are off school (or just about to be!) the weather is cold enough in most parts of the US and Canada to make a do it yourself ice rink in your backyard!  It is actually alot easier than it sounds, as long as you have a flat area to turn into a skating rink and cold enough temperature so it freezes!

And, other than the cost of water, it is a great inexpensive activity that your kids can enjoy as long as the temperature stays below freezing, and that all their friends can enjoy too.

Here are some Backyard Ice Rink Tips and some more backyard ice rink how-tos.

Some quick tips before you get started:

  • Wait until the ground is frozen, even though it is tempting once that air temperature hits the freezing mark to get started.
  • It’s all about location… a spot in the shade is better than where the sun will be if the weather warms up.
  • Have fun!

This was posted under category: Gardening & Outdoors Tags: