Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category



Coming soon… a new way to save!

While getting ready for a blog re-launch after a very long hiatus, a “Hello World” message mistakenly went to everyone who is subscribed to my blog.

I apologize for that email!

Since it went out, I will announce now that Craving the Savings will return within the next few weeks with an exciting new way to save money on groceries.  Subscribers to this blog will be the first to hear of this new tool.

Stay tuned!

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from CravingTheSavings.com

If you are celebrating Christmas today, I wish you and your family a very merry one!


Mamapedia Sweet Deal: $12 for Cooking for the Clueless 2-disc DVD set


Mamapedia Sweet Deal: Cooking for the Clueless 2-Disc DVD set

While I have become a bit more comfortable with cooking mostly from scratch over the last six months, I still feel like I have a lot to learn. I have picked up a few techniques here and there from the free Williams-Sonoma technique classes, but feel like I am still missing some of the basics that might make my time in the kitchen a little easier.

I looked into Dallas-area cooking classes tonight, but only found one that sounded like a good match – the Food and Hospitality certificate/degree program at Dallas County Community Colleges. But I don’t want to pursue a degree or certificate…. I just want to take classes to learn the basics. I tried to see if they offer Continuing Ed classes, but the e-Connect site is down for maintenance.

Then I got an email from Mamapedia about their national “Sweet Deals” and one caught my eye… the Cooking for the Clueless 2-disc DVD set for 50% off ($12 + $2.95 shipping). It sounds interesting and it’s much less than taking classes, so I went ahead and bought it.

The DVD set includes:

• The Restaurant Factor
• The Italian Way
• The Classic Meal
• No-Cook Cooking
• It’s a Piece of Cake
• Stocking your Pantry
• Knives, Chopping & Cutting Boards
• Chef’s Opinion: Pots & Pans
• Food & Wine Pairing 101
• Bonus Footage & More

If you are “clueless in the kitchen” or know someone who is (this might make a nice gift), check out this deal. It will be available through Friday (12/3) and if you buy one, 5% of your purchase will go to the school of your choice.

If you live in Dallas and know of a place that offers classes that teach cooking/baking/food prep basics and are priced reasonably, I’d love it if you could leave a comment letting me know!



Holiday Blog Hop Giveaway – Opportunity for Five Bonus Entries

I hope everyone has been having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

In case you missed it…. buried at the bottom of my Cooking.com/OXO Food Mill Review is a chance to get five bonus entries in the upcoming Holiday Blog Hop giveaway, but you must leave a comment by November 28.

There are approximately 200 blogs participating in the Holiday Blog Hop and each blog will be hosting a giveaway(s) for either cash or gift cards! I will be giving away these gift cards to four winners:

– $25 Kroger gift card
– $25 Cooking.com gift card
– $25 AMEX gift card (sponsored by NAKANO rice vinegar)
– $10 Amazon.com gift card

If you would like to receive 5 bonus entries in the giveaway to win any of the above gift cards, leave a quick comment here telling me what your favorite kitchen gadget is. I will add your five bonus entries into the blog hop giveaway for you.


20% cash back from Discover on Groupon.com Purchases


20% cash back for Groupon purchases

If you have a Discover Card and plan to buy anything from Groupon.com, be sure to go through ShopDiscover.com first to get a 20% cash back holiday bonus on your Groupon purchase!

And if you haven’t already signed up for double cash back on internet purchases, head over to ItPaysToDiscover.com and register your card. Once you sign up, you will receive 2% cash back on all Internet purchases (up to $1000) through the end of the year instead of 1%.

Don’t have a Discover Card? You can still earn cash back on your Groupon purchases by going through sites like Ebates.com (3%) or MrRebates.com (8%).


My Favorite Road Trip: The Coast of Ireland – 1992

During my junior year of college, I studied in Toulouse, France where I lived for approximately 10 months. During each break, I took a road trip (or a train trip) to visit other areas of France, as well as other countries in Europe. One of those road trips was a week-long drive with my grandmother along the eastern, southern and western coasts of Ireland.

It was spring break and my grandmother flew alone to Dublin from Southern California. We met at the airport baggage area prior to going to the rental car office.

We decided prior to our arrival that I would drive since the Irish drive on the left side of the road. We agreed that if there was an issue, my reflexes might be better suited for quick action.

I planned out the entire trip – mapping out our stops at the traditional tourist hot spots as well as the lesser known areas along the route. I also selected the hotels, restaurants and rental car company. But there was one thing I forgot to do… check the minimum age requirements for renting cars in Ireland. I had just turned 21.

When we arrived at the car rental office, the employee informed us that I was too young to rent a car. He said he didn’t want to see two American women on the front page of the morning’s newspaper for causing a car accident “or worse”. I told him if he didn’t let me drive, then the chances would be much greater that he would see us in the paper. And with that, he allowed me to rent the car as long as I promised to drive slowly and cautiously.

Unfortunately before we even left Dublin, my grandmother became ill and did not feel like exiting the car at any of the stops except for one, but she insisted we still make the drive. So at each stop, I hopped out, took some photos and jumped back in the car so we could end the day early and she could rest. It was a good thing I was allowed to be the primary driver on the car or we may have been stuck in Dublin for the entire week!

Here’s a photo of my grandmother waiting in the car:

Ireland Road Trip

I do have a couple of photos of her outside of the car somewhere, but I am not sure where I put them.

Even though we did not get to spend much time at any of the stops, we did get to view the beautiful scenery that changed so dramatically as we drove south along the eastern coast from Dublin, along the southern coast and then up the western coast before heading back across the middle of Ireland to Dublin. One minute, the land was a lush green with lots of vegetation. The next, it was a barren field of rocks. And then almost as suddenly, the landscape changed yet again to rugged cliffs with crashing waves below.

Here are some photos from the trip:

Ireland Road Trip
Ireland Road Trip
Ireland Road Trip
Ireland Road Trip

We also received reminders along the way to slow down and enjoy the scenery, including one time when a family of sheep ran for more than 20 minutes in front of our car as I drove less than five miles an hour behind them!

Ireland Road Trip

Only once along the trip did I have any issues driving on the left side of the road. On one stretch of two lane country “highway”, whenever someone passed a slower car, the driver would come into my lane and expect me to move into the shoulder. I did so initially to avoid head-on collisions, but then noticed other drivers did the same thing so I realized it must have been a rule of the road or a courtesy thing. I wanted occasionally to steer to the right during these situations, but kept the car rental guy’s voice in my head and kept telling myself he would not see us on the front page of the newspaper!

Despite my grandmother not being well enough to fully enjoy the trip, exploring a foreign country by car was a wonderful way for us to spend some one-on-one time together. My grandmother passed away five years ago and our trip is a memory I will always cherish.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Discount Tire blogging program, making me eligible to receive a $50 gift card and be entered for a chance to win a prize valued at $1,000. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


Fun, Inexpensive Gift Idea for Teachers or Others

I recently read a post on Thrifty Decor Chick about a hidden memo board she created inside of her cabinet.

What caught my attention, though, were the magnets she made. I thought they would be a fun craft that my daughter could make to give to my mother for her birthday and to her teachers for the holidays. Best of all, they can be personalized to each gift recipient!

Here are some photos of the magnets we made for my mother’s birthday gift:

Magnet Gift Idea

I decided to place the magnets in a magnetic tin that I found at the Container Store. The magnets can go inside, or another idea would be to put them around the top or outside area and fill the center with candy or some other item. There are so many different types of containers you could use.

Magnet Gift Idea

What you need for this project:

– Glass Marble Accents – found in the floral area at craft stores. There are many sizes and colors, but I liked the 1 1/2 inch flat clear ones for this project. They cost around $2.99, but I used one of the 40% off coupons that you can get from Michaels and Jo-Ann in Sunday papers.

– Magnets – These were the most expensive part of this project. I used a 40% off coupon to get 50 ProMag magnets at Michaels. I think they cost less than $10 before the 40% off coupon, but can’t find my receipt to confirm. You could save money by purchasing smaller or thinner magnets.

– Clear-drying glue – I used a glue stick to stick the photo paper to the glass. I also tried some instant decoupage I had in my craft bin and that worked too.

– Paper – You will need either scrapbook paper or photo paper, depending on what you plan to do. You can print photos at a store, but I used photo paper I got for free at Staples a few months ago to print my photos at home.

– Two inch Circle Punch or two inch cardboard circle – I used a 2 inch cardboard “coin” that we received in the mail recently to trace around the photos. For the teacher gifts, I plan to purchase a two inch circle punch to speed up the process. You can find the circle punches in the scrapbooking area at craft stores for less than $10 (use a 40% off coupon!).

How to do this project:

1. Decide how you want to decorate your magnets. Photos? Drawings? Pre-printed paper (like what Thrifty Decor Chick did with the Christmas theme)? A combination?

2. Trace around the photo or paper design with the two inch cardboard circle, or use the circle punch. If you are going to draw on the paper, cut out the circle first and then do the drawing.

3. Apply glue to the glass marble. The marbles are not perfectly round, so keep this in mind when you trace a circle. The paper won’t always fit perfectly, so hold the marble over the paper and turn the marble around until you think your photo, drawing or design will display best through the glass. Then apply the marble to the paper. Hold for a couple of seconds then set aside to dry. Once you touch the marble to photo paper, you won’t be able to move it. I was able to move the scrapbook paper though.

4. Once dry, cut off any paper that is sticking out over the edge of the marble.

Magnet Gift Idea

5. Apply glue to one side of the magnet and apply the magnet to the paper on the back of the glass marble. Hold it for a few seconds and then set it aside to dry. I found the magnets will shift a bit when I set them aside, so once you set down your marble, move the magnet into the center.

That’s it!

Depending on how many you make and whether or not you use 40%-50% off coupons to purchase all the materials, you should be able to make a nice set of personalized magnets and put them in a tin (as displayed above) for less than $10.

Look for opportunities to get craft materials for cheap during after-Thanksgiving sales. I do not plan to use the 20% off your entire purchase coupons unless the coupon is good on sale items and the sale items are something I need for this project. But I have found that Jo-Ann will put several items on sale for a certain number of hours during a holiday sale, so I plan to stop in and see what I can get for 40% or more.

If you live in Dallas, stop by the Preston/Forest Jo-Ann and pick up the “Celebrate our Remodel” flyer. There are three 50% off coupons – one good for December 2, one for December 3 and one for December 4. Be one of the first 50 customers each of these days and receive a $5 Jo-Ann Gift Card and Reusable Tote Bag (hope they aren’t the ones made in China with the lead paint!).

Since I go by Jo-Ann every day, I plan to buy three bags of the glass marble accents. There are around 21 per bag and since my daughter has several teachers, three bags should cover them all.

If you are giving teacher gifts this year, I’d love to hear what your plans are!


Bing “Our School Needs” Voting – now through 11/7

Have you heard that Bing is giving $100,000 to one school in need? And the school with the most votes in each of three categories (K-6, 7-9, 10-12) will also win $50,000 in the Bing “Our School Needs” contest.

Voting is open until Sunday, November 7. To vote, you must watch the finalist videos (or read the stories) and then register for an account and vote. You can return daily to vote for up to five schools.

I watched most of the videos and was touched by the Patriot Elementary School’s project submission. The majority of the children at the school have a parent who has been deployed to protect our country. These kids want to be able to share their accomplishments with the parent who is away, but cannot due to lack of financial resources to pay for the technology to do so. The school wants to be able to help their students through this difficult time. Read the details here.

There are other deserving schools that made the final 15. Learn more about the contest and be sure to vote for the one(s) you like best!

Please Note: I tried to register to vote, but got an error message. I contacted Bing to find out why since their error message does not provide any details as to what went wrong.

Highlights:
– Bing is awarding a quarter-million dollars in prize money divided among four schools in need.
– The entry with the most votes wins $100k, and 3 others will each win $50k.
– Bing is giving away up to $900,000 to schools in need through DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit website where public school teachers can post classroom projects that need funding. Be one of the first 30,000 to vote for your favorite finalists each day and receive a $3 donation code to redeem for the classroom project of your choice! Here’s a photo of singer Josh Groban visiting a local middle school in Queens, NY to drop off brand new musical instruments and participate in chorus class as part of the “Our School Needs” campaign kick-off:

Josh Groban - DonorsChoose.org and Bing Contest

– The voting phase starts Friday, October 29 and runs through Sunday, November 7. America will be asked to vote on the 15 Our School Needs finalists as determined by the panel of judges. The winners will be announced Tuesday, November 9.

Many schools struggle with finding the funding to support a variety of programs. My neighborhood public school and my daughter’s school both have very active parent groups that go above and beyond to raise money to support the schools. A ton of work goes into raising the funds! It’s nice to see the Bing will be helping some schools with their financial needs!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Bing and received a gift card and DonorsChoose.org giving code to thank me for taking the time to participate.


Finding Balance & the SCD

I am still trying to figure out the best way to save money on healthy foods so I haven’t blogged about many grocery deals since starting on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I hoped to have figured it all out by now, but I’m still struggling!

I have several more reviews and giveaways to post (which I will do this week), but then I plan to start blogging about the process I’m going through: trying to figure out ways to keep our grocery bills down while completely changing the way we eat!

I am going to set a weekly budget and figure out our meals for the week based on the purchases I will make that week. I will also post some of our menu. I hope that by documenting the process, I will be able to figure out how to make this a less expensive process.

We are now approaching month six on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and my daughter and I have had great results! We started it because of my daughter’s multiple inflammatory illnesses that started at age 2, with the hope that through following a healthier diet (that is known for helping people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s), her health will improve and perhaps we can eventually reduce or eliminate her medications.

My daughter is only six and sees all the various foods her friends eat at school and birthday parties, but she has told me she wants to continue on the diet because it makes her feel so much better. About three months into the diet, my daughter’s lab work showed her inflammation levels had dropped by about 45% and nothing had changed except our diet We are looking forward to seeing what the next test shows.

I had been experiencing pain in my lower right side for years that had gotten worse over the last year. I decided to see a doctor about it but she couldn’t find a cause. Since starting the diet, the pain has completely disappeared! I have also lost more than 25 lbs., which came off almost immediately after starting the diet. My sugar and carb cravings disappeared within the first weeks of starting this new way of eating. I just feel better overall too!

It has not been easy – especially for someone like me who doesn’t like to cook and who has very little experience in the kitchen – but I will continue to keep at it for as long as we see health benefits.

Recently someone posted this Huffington Post article on the SCD Yahoogroup I belong to. I was encouraged to hear this little girl’s story and it was some more proof that diet may be the answer we have been looking for for my daughter. If you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease, I encourage you to read/share the article!



New Blog Roll Page

I finally updated my blog roll. There were some really old, abandoned blogs on the list!

If you are a blogger and want to exchange buttons, please let me know.




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