Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm getting paid to shop!

Yes, that's right, I've gotten "paid" to shop ever since I joined Ebates and Big Crumbs. I earn cash back on online purchases at participating retailers. I just buy the stuff I would normally be buying only I log in through their websites and a few weeks after my purchases my account is credited with as much at 6% cash back! And in addition to the cash I make many of the websites offer additional discounts of as much as 20% for those who log in through these sites.

On the Ebates sign up page you can choose a gift card bonus when you sign up. It's for real, I got one for Home Depot when I signed up. It came in the mail a few weeks later and we used it towards stuff for our bathroom makeover.

Just so you know, they neither company has sent me any junk mail and  I'm not getting any annoying telemarketer calls...just cash! It's so easy to sign up and make some cash of your own!!! 
(FYI- I am not a paid spokes person for either company, this is just my personal endorsement based on my own personal experience, and remember, your mileage may vary.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pinterest Pin of the Day

Taco Plates to help keep your tacos upright for filling and eating! 
With separate areas for the beans and rice.
The perfect Father's Day Gift for my hubster!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I happened across this blog today, it's by a woman who lost 135 pounds. She lost it 5 years ago and has been able to maintain it ever since. She has good, sound advice, a few entertaining stories and some tasty looking recipes such as this Low Calorie, Low Carb Spaghetti Alternative.

The blog is called "Can You Stay For Dinner". Stop by, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Pot Mac and Cheese

I came across this recipe over at Pinterest:

It's a Crock-Pot One Pot Mac and Cheese

It looks delicious! My daughter wants to give this a try so one day next week I'll have HER gather the ingredients and make dinner for us. Did I mention that my daughter is 17 and is leaving home next year to go to college 90 miles away? She's already a pretty good cook and like me, she prefers to make meals from scratch as much as possible. Can't wait to see how this turns out. Based on the ingredients, I expect it will be scrumptious! I'll let you know.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Five Question Friday

I loved participating in stuff like this on my old blog, so I was tickled when I found this today!

I'm joining Mama M. at My Little Life
for her Five Question Friday.

1. What advice would you give a couple getting married?
Establish boundaries with your in-laws from the get go. Never, ever complain to your mother-in-law about your spouse. Always defend your spouse to any and all negative comments from your family. Oh, and DON'T sweat the small stuff and always kiss each other goodbye and goodnight.

2. If you could tell your 16 year old self ONE thing, what would it be?

You're not fat, you're not ugly and he's not the only guy in town who will date you and being a teenage mom is really, really hard. Okay, I know that's more than one thing...but it all ties together. 

3. What do you do to keep cool in the summer? (AC, windows, fans, swimming, etc.)
Open up the south facing windows and let in the afternoon ocean breeze, it's better than AC. We do have a window AC unit in the master bedroom, but that's reserved for use only when it's too hot for my hubby to sleep at night-he drives a concrete mixer through the mean streets of LA and needs to be fully rested to safely do his job. Or if I'm having a hot flash, then I'm turning that thing on high and camping out in front of it!

4. What did you (or your wife) crave most while pregnant?

I only had cravings with baby #4 (of 5) and I craved those nasty tacos from Jack-in-the-Box. I worked the swing shift during that pregnancy and stopped for two of them every night on the way home from work. I still love them, but won't eat them-I've sworn off fast food.

5. Who is your favorite TV mom? Why?

It's a tie between Roseanne and Lois from Malcom in the Middle. They were the most real TV moms in history. Their kids weren't perfect and they knew it and accepted it and loved their kids all the me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Boots and Stuff

The adorable convertible combat boots that my daughter purchased from arrived with manufacturing defects (missing a lace hook and popped stitching on the toe). She was so bummed, she had planned on wearing them with several outfits on our upcoming vacation. I emailed the Go Jane customer service department yesterday afternoon and received a reply this morning. I figured that I would have to send them back at my cost before they could do an exchange or refund, so in my email I asked if it would be possible to get a credit for the return shipping since it was defective merchandise. Much to my surprise, they are shipping out a new pair for her and we don't have to return the defective pair. I love a good customer service outcome!

Yesterday, while the Hubster was checking over our truck in preparation for our vacation (Yes, I am consumed with vacation preparations!) he noticed that the air conditioning on our 10 year old pick up wasn't getting very cold anymore. He did some internet research and then made some phone calls and ended up taking it up to a local (Christian owned) auto repair shop that had several good reviews on Yelp. The mechanic was able to diagnose the problems-it needed a freon recharge plus the motor on the condenser fan was blown. The mechanic took care of the recharge and then explained to the Hubster about the fan and gave him a quote of over $400 to replace it. He also told my hubby that it was something he could easily replace himself in about an hour. Mr. "Gem of a Mechanic" suggested to my hubby that he shop around for the part because the dealer price ($200)  was probably about twice what he would pay at an auto parts store.
While the Hubster was on the phone getting prices of between $89 and $109 I hit the internet and found it for $67 plus shipping. Hubster called the customer service line for the parts website and talked to them about shipping costs ($30)  and times (2-9 days) and found out that they ship out of a warehouse only 15 miles from us. Mr. "Gem of a Customer Service Agent" gave my hubby the phone number of the warehouse and he ordered the part directly and picked it up from them in under an hour saving big on both time and shipping costs. It's so nice to know that there are business out there that are dealing fair with their customers. Sure, the mechanic could have probably convinced the Hubster to have the work done at his shop, but by being honest he has won over a new customer-we will certainly think of his shop the next time we need to take a car in for service. And the customer service agent from the parts website has also earned a new customer for his company as well.

Also, I'm working on my review of the Reverse-A-Purse-look for me to be posting that very soon!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Frugal Wins-Part 2

My daughter did pretty good on her purchases, she found some great wardrobe pieces at reasonable prices and she stayed within her budget, which always makes me smile!

Her purchases:

 Sitting Birds Tie Shirt

Floral Teardrop Top

Stretch Fit Denim Shorts

Zip Up Front Skirt

Exposed Shoulder Top

Original cost on her items was $73.80, she paid $55.28 which is 24% off the original prices. Add to that she got free shipping since her order was over $50. We used the cash back debit card (1.5%) and the Big Crumbs rebate will net us 2.8% back her final total cost is $53.13. 

After she completed this purchase, she headed over to and found these adorable convertible combat boots:

Original price: $29.10
Sale Price: $26.75
Purchased with the 1.5% cash back debit and a 4.2% rebate from Big Crumbs makes these boots a very good deal at only $25.22.

We found the Go Jane website by following a link in a Pinterest pin. So glad we did, the clothes are cute, trendy and reasonably priced.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

This Week's Frugal Wins-Part 1

I did a bit (okay, a lot) of online shopping this month in preparation of our upcoming family vacation. As you might imagine, I love, love, LOVE to score a bargain and I love it even more when I can score multiple discounts on a purchase so this week I was in frugal hog-heaven!

One Stop Plus: I scored this adorable 3 piece set of shorts, capris and hoodie, regularly $59.99, on sale for $44.99. I used a 50% off coupon code (OSPFB9) to score the outfit for a bargain basement price of $22.49! To maximize my savings I used my 1.5% cash back debit card AND logged into One Stop Plus using my Big Crumbs account to score an additional 3.5% cash back. Total cost for each outfit- $21.36.
After it arrived I put it on and wore it around for the day and decided it was THE most comfortable outfit in my wardrobe so I went online and ordered a second one in Dark Taupe. My plan is to wear this during our 4 hour drive-it's comfy enough to stretch out/curl up in and nice enough to get out of the car and go into a casual restaurant in.

Next stop-Macy's: where I picked up these 2 blouses by Elementz:

Originally $44.00, on sale for $17.99. I used the Macy's Mother's Day discount code (MOM) for an additional 20% off to get it for a bargain basement price of only $14.39. I logged in for shopping using my Big Crumbs account for an additional 2.1% cash back and paid with my 1.5% cash back debit card for a final total of $13.87.  I think this little gem will look great with my blue jeans and boots for a fun and exciting night on the town!

This blouse was originally $44.00, on sale for $27.99. I used the Macy's Mother's Day discount code for the additional 20% off to bring the cost down to $22.39. With my Big Crumbs 2.1% and cash back debit card 1.5% the final cost on this blouse is only $21.58! I have both black and khaki slacks to wear this little beauty with!

The total original cost of my purchases (2-3piece outfits and 2 blouses) would have been $207.98. After subtracting the sale prices, discounts and cash back, my final cost for everything is only $78.17 saving me a whopping $129.81! That's a 62% savings over the original cost. Not bad for less than a half-hour of work on the computer!

Tomorrow I'll post my Frugal Wins from my daughter's online shopping spree at the Forever 21 and Go Jane websites.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Travel Tips-Las Vegas Edition

I was doing some pre-trip planning for an upcoming vacation to Las Vegas and Boulder City so I went over to and found some great tips for traveling to Las Vegas. 
Here are a few of my favorite tips from their site along with my own tried and true tips (some fun, some frugal) below:

Tips on Comfort:
What to wear: Yes, Las Vegas is in the desert. And, yes, the temperature gets to be about 115 degrees in the summer. But if you happen to be visiting in the winter (usually from Halloween to Valentine's Day), don't be fooled. A jacket is definitely recommended, especially if the wind is blowing. We know our blood is probably thin from living here, and we may not get blizzards, but consider this your warning -- it's a lot colder here than you'd think.
 Comfy shoes: There are certain places where fashion is more important than comfort -- Tao, Marquee or Haze. However, when you're slumming around during daylight hours, casino hopping or standing in line for a buffet, wear your Hush Puppies or Chuck Taylors. After all, you don't want your fashionable shoes to rub blisters when you're vamping it up at Marquee. For ladies partying all night at the clubs, we suggest gel insoles. From strappy stilletos to go-go boots, you can actually get away with looking cute and being comfy. Oh, and if you choose to ignore our words of wisdom, make sure you've packed your specially selected Band-Aids.
The water of life: Drinking lots of booze at night + walking around in 115 degree heat during the day = dehydration. Unless you're one of those travelers who enjoy visiting local hospitals and getting strapped to an IV, we recommend you drink lots of water. Avoid the tap water (it actually smells); buy one of those trendy bottled waters. The prices for the bottled stuff are quite high at the hotels, so stop by a local grocery store or convenience store and stock up.
Invest in your Vegas future: Player's clubs: Stand in line, get the form and sign up for the frequent gambler card at your favorite hotels. Use the card to accumulate points, since you'll probably be gambling anyway, and perhaps receive something free. It helps to be on the mailing list for a lot of hotels. Who knows, they might pick you for a special room rate or decide to send you tickets to a free show.(I know lots of not so high rollers that get their rooms comped on nearly every visit!)
Vegas IS Family Friendly:  In-house fun: Stayed up a little late last night? Don't want to venture too far from the hotel but need to find something to entertain the kids? Many of the larger hotels have arcades on property, ranging from two or three games to dozens. Best of all, they're guaranteed to keep the younger members of your family busy for hours, and you might even have some fun yourself. One thing to remember: Even though the arcades are for the kids, they still need adult supervision, and the hotels are sticklers about this rule. Click here to find out more about the arcades in Vegas. Also, click here for a more comprehensive list of family friendly activities in Vegas and the surrounding area.
Good Eats-buffet style: The Great Buffet Debate: Here in Vegas, we take our buffets very seriously. Everyone has a favorite. 'Course, some people aren't too concerned about the food as long as the price is dirt cheap. Others are extremely picky and believe that a higher price means better quality. Also, vegetarians can fill up their plates with the myriad meatless choices buffets have to offer. Find the buffet that fits your wallet and taste in our buffet guide.
Fremont Street is a Must See: Free shows: Las Vegas offers free drinks when you gamble, free lounge acts, free parking and a few free shows. Fremont Street is always bustling with activity, including free live concerts on the two main stages. Past entertainment has included everyone from Howard Jones and Survivor to Eddie Money and the Marshall Tucker Band.
Tipping is not just a city in China: Tips on tipping: Because Vegas is a service-based city, tipping is a big, big deal.  Click Here for a comprehensive list of tipping do's and don'ts.
Flying in? You NEED to know this!: Don't get long-hauled: After a couple of hours on the plane, you've arrived in Vegas ready to party. Don't make your trip to the hotel longer or more expensive. When you get in the taxi, tell the driver you want to be taken to your hotel via Swenson Avenue, NOT the airport tunnel. The airport tunnel may seem faster because it connects to the freeway and has fewer lights, but the route is several miles longer resulting in cab fares that are $5 to $10 more. This is called "long-hauling," and taxi drivers can be ticketed and fined if they are caught. Besides, if you hit the airport tunnel route during rush hour (8 a.m. - 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.), any time savings you gain using the freeway will disappear in the exhaust of the morning or evening commute. So say NO to the airport tunnel (the only tunnel in Vegas) and use the extra cash for an extra cocktail instead.

And now for my own personal "Been There Done That" tips:

Ride the Rail: the Monorail that is! It's a quick way to get from one end of the strip to the other and it stops at several major hotels along the way. It's $5 for one trip or $12 for an all day pass. Check the website before you go as the monorail hours of operation may vary by season.

Stop by Gold and Silver Pawn-where they film the History Channel's hit show Pawn Stars. You just might get a chance to meet one of the stars of the show while you're shopping for a new Velvet Elvis Painting for your love den.

Get your drink on: For a fun evening, I'm quite partial to Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill located in Harrah's on the strip. You can't go wrong with Fried Bologna Sandwiches and drinks served in mason jars. I'm fond of the Mason Dixon myself, but be warned ONE may be more than you can handle and you may accidentally "overserve" yourself! They have a live band every evening-and Toby Keith himself has been known to show up unannounced and sing a few of his hits with the band-it's true, I've been there when it happened! Check out the gift shop attached to the restaurant where you can pick up Toby Keith shot glasses, coffee mugs and t-shirts as well as Toby's signature BBQ sauce, seasoned salt and seasoned pepper to take back home with you. FRUGAL TIP: I was there at the end of May and noticed that the menu had special pricing for Harrah's Player's Club members-save $1-$2 on lunch and dinner entrees just by showing your player's card! Best of all- It's free to join!

You gotta know when to hold 'em: I'd love to give you some gambling advice, but since I don't gamble, other than the occasional penny slots, you're gonna have to look elsewhere for help with where not to lose all your hard earned cash. Just remember, the place is nicknamed "Lost Wages" for a reason! Bring only as much money as you can afford to leave behind.

Cheap Sleeps: Wanna save some cash on your accommodations? Check multiple sources for hotel rates-I use,, Expedia, Travel zoo as well as the hotel's websites. Check to see if they offer discounts for their player's club card holders as well as any AAA or AARP or Military discounts as most every hotel does. And a word about resort fees-Nearly every hotel on the strip charges them. You pay these fees above what the stated room price is so remember to figure that into your hotel budget. The Harrah's family of hotels does not charge resort fees which is why if I stay on the strip I stay in one of their 9 hotels. There are lots of off-strip hotels that are clean, safe and offer much lower rates than their bigger competition on the strip, don't overlook these hidden gems.

Bring a "sandwich" to check in and you might score an upgrade! It's been long known that you can slip the front desk folks a $20 (some folks use a $50 depending on how swanky the hotel is) between your photo Id and credit card (the sandwich) as you casually and very politely inquire about any available complimentary upgrades for your stay. Try to be specific, ie strip-view, higher floor, corner room, Jr. suite, etc. I've heard it helps too if you mention that you are in town celebrating an anniversary or birthday or something. Just sayin'.   Click Here for more info. The website has a list of how to's and success rates for many of the hotels on and off the strip. FYI, it doesn't work 100% of the time, but generally if the front desk clerk can't accommodate you they'll return the cash to you.

Visit Wally World: One of my best money saving tips is to head over to the Walmart on E. Tropicana and stock up on bottled water and snack food. Also, if we stay off strip we try to get a hotel room with a kitchenette and then we purchase breakfast foods as well. A few years ago I started carrying my own 4 cup coffee maker when I travel so I can make my own brand of coffee in the morning-I'm just TOO frugal to pay big bucks for little cups of coffee at Starbucks. I also have a travel bag that is loaded with paper plates, paper bowls, napkins, solo cups, paper coffee cups, plastic forks and spoons as well as salt, pepper and sugar packets and a container of coffee mate powder.

It's a Kodak Moment: You simply MUST stop at the fabulous Welcome to Las Vegas sign and take the kitschy tourist photos of yourself and your traveling companions! 

Party Like Royalty: For those of you with bigger budgets, who want to party like Prince Harry on his last infamous visit to Sin City, then you need to check out The MGM Grand and The Wynn when you're in town. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pin of the Day 5/3

I came across this great tutorial on making a Glass Tile Pendant that would be a perfect Mother's Day Gift. What Mom, Grandma or Aunt wouldn't love to have a custom created pendant using a tiny photo of their precious loved ones!