Thursday, December 30, 2010

Coupon Savings and Monthly Spending - a year in review

This year I had decided to keep track of not only how much I was saving by using coupons & rebates but to also keep track of how much I saved by buying items on sale (when known). I also decided to give myself a budget and to track the spending to see if I could stay within that budget.   Now, the budget was only for items spent towards food (including dog food) and health/beauty items (such as over the counter medications, lotion, body wash, etc).    Husband and I charge everything (and yes we pay off the credit card every month) so the budget is more of a virtual budget than actual cash. If I went over, no big deal, but the game was in trying to stay below that number.

My monthly budget this year was $330.  I came up with that number by looking at my spending for part of 2009.  In June 2009 I decided to start keeping track of how much was being spent on food and health/beauty supplies and was surprised that 4 of the months I went over $400.  That seemed really high for a family of 2.   I thought $330/month would be a challenge yet within my grasp.

A couple things, before I show you the numbers.  I track coupon savings for everything, not just those items I include in my budget.   I also know that I didn't mark all the coupon savings because I forgot, usually this would pertain to restaurants and online shopping.  These numbers do not include gift cards either.  The advertised sale number is only from items found at grocery stores and stores such as Target, Walgreens, etc.  So basically, mostly just on food and health/beauty items.

I saved $2,017.25 by using coupons and rebates.  Seriously!  That's a lot of $$$$ just for clipping coupons and sending in rebate submissions.  Now, that is down $256.92 from last year, however, since I also changed my eating habits that meant I was using less coupons at the grocery store, so I'm ok with that.

The coupon usage isn't just limited to what I can get out of the Sunday paper.  I also printed some coupons from the internet.  I also used coupons at book stores, restaurants, craft stores, and clothes stores.  Basically, if I'm going shopping, I'll look for a coupon before I leave the house.  As you can see, the time it takes me to clip/search for coupons pays off.

I saved an additional $2,881.56 by buying things on sale.  I didn't happen upon the sales either, at least not most of them, I'm one of those who looks at the ads every weekend to see what is on sale and what I have a coupon for. If I can get an item on sale and I have a coupon, that's when I buy it.

Between coupons and advertised savings, I saved a total of $4,898.81.  That comes out to over $400 a month. I couldn't imagine spending an extra $400 a month on stuff!   Now, I realize that on a lot of items I stockpile, so chances are I wouldn't have paid an extra $400 each month, but over time I would have spent that much.

Also, I mentioned we use a credit card for all our purchases.  We do this because we get points that we then redeem for cash.  In August of this year we redeemed enough points to receive a $500 check.  I didn't include that with the coupon/rebate savings since I didn't think it counted towards either one.

As far as sticking to a budget, I did a lot better than expected.   Remember, my goal was to spend no more than $330/month.  My average spending was $286.52.  I do believe I impressed myself. haha!   I didn't go over $330 at all, although I came close two months ($329.57 and $323.95).  What is impressive is that I had 7 months where I spent below $300.

The two months that I spent the most were during the summer and I imagine that was due to having family over for pool parties and that meant we spent more on groceries.   We also had both sides over for Christmas, yet in December I spent below $300.  I think that's because both sides helped out with the food.

I was thinking about how it is I was able to cut my spending down so much.  Part of this was paying even more attention to sales and buying items when I could match coupons, sales, and rebates.  Oh yes, there are several items I bought where I actually made money because I could match up all three.  Part of this was also do to the fact that I was able to take advantage of some sales and stockpile items and therefore didn't have to buy them for the last several months (such as body wash, shampoo, contact solution, etc).

I think the most important factor, however, was being aware of what I was spending.  Now that I was paying attention to what I was spending, I was a lot less likely to buy something that I wanted, but didn't need.

Next Year
I will continue to track spending and savings for 2011.   It's going to be interesting to see how 2011 goes.  Now that I eat more organic items, my grocery spending is going up. Now that I'm more aware of harmful chemicals in every day items, my health/beauty spending is more expensive.   However, in some areas this is causing me to spend less. I don't buy as much junk food or processed foods like I used to, not even close. I think this kinda cancels out the increase of spending on groceries.   I also don't use as much paper towels, cotton balls, etc as I used to, which means I spend less on those items.    Keeping all this in mind, I had a tough time coming up with a new budget for 2011.    However, knowing that I spent less than $300 most months in 2010, I finally decided that my budget would be $300/month.  This will include groceries and dog food, and all health/beauty supplies.  I believe I bought some stuff online or at specialty stores that I forgot to include in the spending budget last year (because it never dawned on me that I should), so this year I'm going to include that as well.  I'm also going to include all make-up and fingernail purchased, not just those at your normal stores but also the specialty stores (where I buy most of mine).  So, not only am I lowering my budget, I'm also adding things to it.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, spending time with family and friends, and hopefully relaxing (or running!).  I'm hoping I have time to take some pictures of the different decorations around my house and share them with all of you, but if I don't, I wanted to share this.

For those who run, or know a runner, I think you'll enjoy this.  This was an email I received from the Fleet Feet running store.

How the Grinch Got Fit
Every Who down in Whoville liked Running a lot...
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did NOT!
The Grinch hated Running! The whole Running season!
Would you like to know why? Well, I might know the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right,
But it could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
Yes, I think that the most likely reason of all
Is that his running shoes were two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason, his head or his shoes,
He stood there all brooding and hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown,
At the runners all running about in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Whoville below,
Was busy now, jogging around in the snow.
"And they're running in comfort!" he snarled with a glare.
For the Whos shopped at FLEET FEET (and Fitlosophy's there).
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find some way to stop Whoville from running!"
For tomorrow, he knew, all those ridiculous Whos
Would wake bright and early. They'd rush for their shoes!
And then! Oh, the fun! Oh, the fun!
Fun! Fun! Fun!
That's the one thing he hated! The FUN!
Then the Whos, young and old, would go out for a run!
And they'd run! And they'd run! And they'd run!
They would run down the road, they would run up the streets,
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!
And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Would all run together and all have a ball!
And they'd jog and they'd laugh and then run some more!
"It must be," he thought, "because of that store."
And the more the Grinch thought of the Fitlosophy bit,
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop that FIT!
For fifteen years I've put up with this now!
I must stop Whoville from Running! But HOW?"
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
"I know just what to do," the Grinch laughed as he grabbed
A white little label to use as a tag.
And he chuckled and clucked, "This will cause quite a stir!
I'll be Whoville's first phony Fitlosopher!
I'll provide the wrong fit! The Whos won't know
What caused the big blister on Whoville's big toe!
All I need is an S3..." The Grinch looked around,
But, since S3's were scarce, there were none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch? No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find an S3, I'll make one instead!"
So he found an old calculator, some plastic and glue,
"It isn't quite right... but I suppose it'll do."
Then at night that old Grinch in disguise headed down
Toward the store while the Whos lay asnooze in their town.
The windows were dark, quiet snow filled the air,
When he came to the dear little store on the square.
He sneaked into the shop with a wink and a pinch,
For he was a sly one, that awful, sneaky Grinch.
He saw all the shoes on the wall in a row.
"These shoes," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"
And he mixed up the shoes-stability and style-
And then what he did, with a terrible smile,
Was fill all the FLEET FEET water bottles with rocks!
And replace the synthetic with all COTTON socks!
He created new flavors of Sport Beans and GU-
Like Monkey Brain Punch and Swamp Water Stew!
Then he snatched all the Garmins (and in this he found pleasure)
And replaced those devices with a simple tape measure!
He knocked down the books that were tidy and stacked
And took the reflective gear-and painted it black!
Then he viewed all the damage and cackled with glee,
"This will stop the Whos from running. I did it! ME!
PoohPooh to the Whos!" he was Grinchishly humming,
"They're finding out now there will be no more Running!
They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry BooHoo!
That's a noise," grinned the Grinch, "That I simply MUST hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Fitlosopher was there, busily cleaning
And re-organizing the store-from the floor to the ceiling.
They were fitting for socks! They were fitting for shoes!
They were fitting for running! They were fitting the Whos!
The store was wide open! And the talk of the town
Was how even a Grinch couldn't keep FLEET FEET-ers down!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, "How could it be so?"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe FLEET FEET," he thought, "is more than a store.
Maybe FLEET FEET... perhaps... means a little bit more!"
And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch's small shoes grew three sizes that day!
He went to be fitted-yes, the Grinch! Got fitted! It's true!
The Grinch went to FLEET FEET to find the right shoe!
He sat on the bench and had his feet evaluated.
Then he ran on the sidewalk... and over-pronated!
He was given a shoe with the proper stability and fit
(And it's a good thing, too, for he hurt quite a bit).
Yes, the Grinch overcame his chronic Grinch-itis
And even bought inserts for his plantar fasciitis.
And the minute the old Grinch's feet stopped their aching,
Every Who in Whoville's hand the Grinch started shaking.
"Who would have thought I'd be FIT?" he asked. "Who would have thought I'd have fun?"
And then HE, HE HIMSELF! The Grinch went for a run! 

All of us at FLEET FEET hope you
have a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lifestyle change - why?

I didn't have this blog last year so I can't link to a post where I talked about the changes I planned to make.  However I wanted to talk about the changes I did make and reflect on how I did.  This is the first post regarding my lifestyle change.

Let me give you a bit of a history lesson on little ol' me first.  Growing up we always had chips in the house, but not a lot of chocolate or sweets.  When we did, it wasn't something we could just eat as we wanted, we only ate it in moderation.  We had soda in the house but us kids weren't allowed to drink it unless we had pizza for dinner. Soda was something my Dad drank.

Fast forward to when I'm a teenager and have a job.  I would buy junk food and soda and candy, etc. I would eat it all. Fast forward to when I moved out of the house at age 20, the soda and junk food and candy consumption got 10 times worse.  I had stopped being active but didn't gain much weight so I didn't see the point in changing how I ate.

I did try to kick the soda habit over the years but was never successful.  I would do ok for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month, then it was back to drinking a 20oz every day at work.  The problem was that deep down I didn't see a reason to stop. I knew it wasn't healthy, but I loved the taste of it.

Then in November 2009 I stopped cold turkey.  The thing was, I finally thought of a reason why it was worth it and I decided a lifestyle change was in order.  While I had gaining some weight due to not working out (injured) that wasn't too big a deal, heck I was still considered "normal weight", the other reason was.   I had hopes that Husband and I would be starting a family soon. I knew that whenever that happened and whenever I became pregnant I would want to eat healthy for the baby.  I knew I couldn't stop all my horrible eating habits at once, but I could focus on one and then when that was under control I could focus on another.  If I did it this way, I had high hopes that by the time we decided to start a family, my eating habits would be under control and I wouldn't have to change much for a pregnancy.

Once I decided this, things seemed to fall into place for me (as far as eating goes anyway).

Stay tuned for more posts regarding my lifestyle change....don't want to put it all in one post because it's too long, so instead I'm going to be doing a series of posts.  I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I don't comment on the sh*t you eat, don't comment on what I eat

I don't know if this just happens to me or if this is something that happens to others who eat (mostly) healthy and are fit.

I take my lunch to work 99.9% of the time and I usually take my lunch break around the same time.  This means that the same people are in the lunch room with me.  Some of these people feel that it's appropriate or fun or something to comment on what I eat.  I get the "Eating healthy today?"  or "Oh...that's not on your diet" or, well, various other comments most of the time.

Sometimes when I'm at somebodies house and sweets are around and I ask if I can have one, I get the comment "That's not part of your diet."

These comments are not made lightly, there is a bit of a mean under tone to them.

Here's the thing, I eat relatively healthy.  I made the decision November 2009 to change my eating habits in order to be healthy. I did not set out to lose weight, I didn't really have a need for that. I decided a lifestyle change was in order (don't worry a post about that is coming soon).  I went from eating chips and drinking soda almost every single day to only eating that stuff once a month (as far as soda is concerned) and a couple times a month (as far as chips are concerned).  I eat salad 3 times a week, normally.  This is mostly out of convenience than anything else.  Sure, I like it. If I didn't I would eat it. But it's also cheap and healthy.

I tend not to talk about my eating habits with most people. I know they don't care and some of the changes I've made aren't for them.   I certainly don't talk to those who comment about my food choices about it, unless asked.

So why these people feel the need to comment on what I eat, is beyond me.  I don't like it. It makes me mad. One of the ladies that does this is extremely over-weight and doesn't eat healthy.  I'm thin and eat healthy. When she comments on my food, I feel like looking at hers and saying "Are you going to eat that? I don't think you need it" just to be mean (but I never will). I don't care what she eats, that's her decision, her body, her life. I don't feel it's any of my business.  Yet, she feels the need to comment on mine.  Go figure.

Another thing that happens to me a lot is that people tell me I can "afford" to eat something.  I love sweets, love chocolate and candy.  Part of my lifestyle change was to limit that. Some months I do awesome, some months I don't do so well.  When I'm offered candy and sweets I try to resist. Normally when I resist, people tell me to eat it and that I can afford to eat it and that it's not going to hurt me and that I need it.  Well, I get angry. I usually just laugh it off but inside I'm pissed.  If I ate all the candy and sweets I wanted to, I would be over-weight.  Part of why I'm thin is because I don't eat all that (ok..and I workout).

I really, really just don't understand why my weight and what I eat has to be the topic of conversation with people that I'm not friends with. It's really none of their concern.  All these people know I work out and they see me eat a lot, so it's not like they are concerned I'm not eating or have an eating disorder or am unhealthy about it.

The thing is, they feel it's ok to comment on my weight and my eating habits, however if I decided to start commenting on the eating habits and the weight of people who were over-weight, they would get upset with me and I would be "mean".  Yet when they do it, they don't see it as being mean.

I'm tired of it. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep my mouth shut.

Why is it ok for people to comment on the weight of those who are thin but it's not ok to comment on the weight of those who are overweight?  Ok..stepping off the soap box now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fill-In's

1. What in the world did I do to deserve a cold that has lasted 12 days (and counting).

2. I was well fed last night, Husband couldn't stop talking about the huge amount of pasta I ate.

3. Go for a run, somebody, please. I haven't been able to in over a week due to a cold and I'm going a bit crazy.

4. sent out all my Christmas cards last feels good to be done.

5. I keep forgetting I'm not supposed to sit with my knee bent (putting lower leg on chair) because it causes it to hurt.

6. TO go to bed the minute I get home or not?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to resting, tomorrow my plans include 2 hours getting lab work done (at least the dr said to plan on being there 2 hours) and Sunday, I want to finish making some Christmas present and listen to Voyager by Diana Gabaldon!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homemade Croutons

I can't help it, if I'm going to eat a salad it better come with croutons.  I do enjoy a good salad, but there's just something about a crunch crouton to make it better.

On my quest to do away with most processed foods and to make more from scratch, I tackled my crouton obsession.  I do limit the amount of croutons that I'll eat in a salad but since I eat an average of 3 salads a week for my lunch at work, that's still a lot of croutons.

Now, my favorite are the Texas Toast Croutons and price isn't really an issue since they go on sale for $1 a couple of times a year and I always took that opportunity to stock up. Plus, I can normally use coupons to make it even less.  However I still wanted to try homemade. I didn't for a long time though because I figured it wasn't worth it, it would cost more for me to make them.
image source 

Then it dawned on me, it would actually be more eco-friendly for me to make my own.  Here's why.  Husband is the one you normally eats sandwich bread in our house. I tend not to take sandwiches for lunches during the week and I rarely eat toast. I can go several weeks without eating any sandwich bread.  He eats it almost every day.  However whenever I bring home a new loaf of bread, he will stop using the current loaf.  This means that I tend to throw away at least 5 pieces of bread from each loaf.  It bothered me, but by the time I would go to use the bread it would be stale so I wouldn't use it either.   Then one day the light bulb went off.  Duh!  Use the bread he discards for my croutons!  Then I'm not actually buying anything specific for the croutons, which solves my issue of it costing more to make than buy, and I'm saving food from being wasted.  Plus, since I'm not buying a bag of croutons from the store, I'm not throwing away a bag in the trash that will live in a landfill for the next 50 years (at least..or so I'm guessing).   How is that for being eco-friendly, eh?

I've made croutons twice now and liked the way both batches turned out. I think that making croutons is something that I'll have to do every 2-3 weeks since I don't make a lot each time.  It's so easy and fast though, so I'm not worried about it.

To make croutons, all you need are spices, bread, and olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer).

I cut the bread into squares.  For me, since I normally have around 5-6 pieces of it, I just stack it up on a cutting board and cut it all at once.

I mix the spices with some olive oil.  So far I've been using about 1/4 tsp of the following spices: garlic powder, oregano, and parsley.  All of which I already had at home and didn't need to buy.  I've also been known to sprinkle in some onion salt but don't put it in too much or it will be salty.  I'm also planning to try doing this with just garlic powder. I do love garlic. Oh, and fresh Parmesan cheese. I think I'll sprinkle on some of that next time too.  I haven't measured the amount of olive oil I use.  I just kinda pour some in a bowl and mix with the spices.  The more bread, the more olive oil.  You don't need a lot though.

Pour the mixture over the bread and stir.  Don't stir too much or too hard, if you do you risk breaking up the bread and then you get crumbs and not croutons.   You basically just want the bread to be coated with it.

Spread the bread out evenly on a cookie sheet. I do spray mine with Pam first so it doesn't stick.   Then place in an oven at 325 degrees, for roughly 10-12 min.   You want the croutons to be crunchy but not burnt.  Once cool, store in an air-tight container. I've read some sites that say to only keep for a day or two, but I keep mine for over a week and so far they haven't made me sick and they have tasted fine.

That's it!  Anybody can do that right?  You get tasty croutons without any preservatives, you save bread from being thrown away, and you keep bags from ending up in the landfill.  Sounds like a win-win solution to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Change the World Wednesday - enjoy local foods

This current challenge for Change the World Wednesday will run for the next several weeks due to the busy holiday season.  The challenge is:

This month, find and enjoy local foods. Research what items are local in your area and then incorporate them into your family meals. Let us know (through a post or comments on this challenge) how you found local foods, which items are available in your area, and how you used them. 

I'm actually lucky, because this is rather easy for me.  Here in St. Louis we have a store and cafe called Local Harvest.  I actually happened across this company by accident.  Several weeks ago I had a hankering for some Imo's Pizza (local pizza company) and drove to the closest one on my lunch break. I happened to pass by Local Harvest on my way.  This is in an area that I don't normally hang out in since it's roughly 20 miles from what I call home.  However the sign intrigued me so I looked them up online and I'm so glad I did.  Confession time: I have to admit that I have not visited the grocery, but I do plan to. I love what they are about.  Confession time #2: The reason I haven't visited yet is because I'm lazy. It's cold outside and I don't want to go outside in the cold to get there on my lunch break. (yeah..I know...I need to just do it, because I know I would be happy if I did).

According to the Local Harvest website, here is what they are about:

We all love our food, but how well do we really know our food? Do you know where your food comes from, or how it was grown or processed? What do you know about the store where you buy your food?
At Local Harvest Grocery, we want to give you the information you need to be a knowledgeable diner, from start to “I’m finished.” After all, the story behind how your food is made and where it’s from is just as important as its nutritional information. We’ve found that the best way to get people to know their food is by providing it primarily from local sources. Our goal is that 50% of our products come from within 150 miles of St. Louis.
When you buy local, you know your food on three levels. First, you know that your food will be fresh because it’s picked at its ripest and doesn’t travel far. Second, you’ll know the food you buy helps support the community because we work closely with local farmers and ranchers. Finally, local foods require less fossil fuel to travel to your place, and we use recyclable materials and other sustainable methods to help reduce our waste.
It may not seem like much, but knowing your food means healthy, great tasting food for you and a stronger, greener environment for your community.
Thanks for supporting our independently owned and operated grocery store!

Here's some more info from their website, don't you just love facts? I know I do. So enjoy these:

Some Local Harvest Facts!
Amount we've paid to local farmers & ranchers since June, 2007
Amount we've paid to local food & non-food artisans since June, 2007
Donations made to area schools, community centers & non-profits by Local Harvest since June, 2007
Amount of each dollar spent at Local Harvest that stays in the community
Over $.85
Tuesdays with LHG
Come shop on Tuesdays and, if you spend over $50 you will get $5 off your entire purchase!

Now you see why I want to start shopping there? 

What about you?  Do any of you have a similar store in your area? 

I just found out about this website (Thanks to Food, Inc posting about it on Facebook) and I just had to share.  Funny how I found out about it today, 12/15, after Reduce Footprints let's us know that the challenge is to find locally grown foods. 

Check out this website called Real Time Farms.   I entered my location, I used my zipcode. If you play around on it you can find different farmer's market in your area (for me it gave distanced based on zipcode as to how far from me it was). It also let me look at farms in my local area (which there aren't that many listed). I was able to click on the different farmer's markets and farms and get more info (although some wasn't available yet).   What a wonderful website!  I know I'll be checking out from now on.

***Yet another Update 12/29/10***
I had been familiar with Oberweis Dairy but had never read anything about them. However I recently decided to check out their website (because of this CTWW) and found that they are basically organic, although they don't mark their milk as being organic.   I'm mentioning Oberweis with this post because they could be considered local for me, with farms in IL.  They don't provide products in all states either, only those close enough to the farms for the items to be fresh.

Not only do I love the fact that they get their milk from local, family owned farms, but the farmers promise to not use artificial hormones.  It's also noted that the cows are treated humanly and the farmers know them by name.  Don't take my word for it, you can read about this on their website.

Another added bonus is that the milk comes in glass bottles.  The downside is that when you purchase the milk there is a $1.50 bottle deposit.  The plus side is that when you return the bottle you get your $1.50 back.     The grocery stores in my area carry this milk, but there is also an Oberweis store close to my house.  The milk is cheaper if I buy it from the store, it comes to $2.99 for a half-gallon.  That's still expensive, but cheaper than organic milk of the same size at the grocery store.  Plus, I like that the bottles are re-used.  That means less product either in the landfill or that gets recycled.

Also, the company will deliver milk (and other products) to your house!  How cool is that!  There is a delivery fee, so it's not something I'll participate in, but I love that it's an option.

Also, I'm happy to report that since reading about the company, I have switched to buying milk from the local Oberweis store.  I tried to do this for Husband's milk but he complained about the price, so I switched back to buying him the generic store brand from the grocery store.  However, as for me, the milk I drink is now exclusively the Oberweis brand.    I like knowing that I'm supporting a company like this.

Friday, December 10, 2010

And you thought recycling was a new idea

Did you know the ancient Roman's recycled glass?  According to Discovery News large quantities of glass were recycled in Britain during the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.  Archeologist have found that the majority of the glass that came to Britain during that time period was made from recycled glass.

Of course, they did it because they didn't have the raw materials and not in an effort to go green.

It's an interesting article, I recommend reading it for more information.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

If you had brought over paper plates, I wouldn't have used them anyway

I used the above line several weeks ago when Husband's Brother and his wife and kid were in town.  They came over one night after we got off work for dinner. My mother-in-law come over as well.  We ordered pizza and when it arrived I got out my dishes.  My mother-in-law, in trying to be helpful, said something like "oh, I'm sorry. I meant to bring some paper plates but forgot them."  My response was "If you had brought over paper plates, I wouldn't have used them. But thanks for thinking of us."   In fact, she says something along those lines whenever we have people over at our house for a meal or a celebration. I usually have the same response.

In fact, even if I wanted to use disposable plates she wouldn't have had to bring any, I have a cabinet with tons of unopened packages.  I just refuse to use them if I don't need to.  So why do I have them?  I've bought them when they have been on sale, where I could get a good brand (ie..not the cheap stuff that will bend and drop your food on the floor within 10 seconds of you putting your food on the plate) for around $1.   This is something that I always feel I need to have on hand in case we run out of regular dishes.  We don't have a lot of dishes, it's just the two of us.  However a couple times a year we have my family over for pool parties and since my sisters keep having babies, I'm quickly running out of dishes.    I suppose I keep these as backup, just in case they are needed.   I've stopped buying them though, once I realized that chances are I'll never use them and it's rather embarrassing to open up the cabinet and see how much I own.  

Every time I'm tempted to use them, I don't.  I just can't imagine using one and then throwing it away when there are perfectly good dishes in my cabinet that I could wash and use again.

In fact, we are having Christmas this year.  I'm not sure I'll have enough dishes.  I think I'll stop at a store and look for some cute, but inexpensive, plastic dishes that the kids could use.  Then we aren't worried they will drop them or push them off the table, and I know I won't have to use disposable dishes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Change the World Wednesday - composting

Little ol' me actually suggested the topic for this week, which is on composting.  I've been wanting to compost for awhile but just haven't (for various reasons, #1 being that I procrastinate). I've gone as far as to look online for compost bins, only to find that the ones that seem to work the best or that I seem to like the most are well over $100.

So then I went on a search to find out how to make my own. I don't really want to build one out of wood.  I don't know why. Seriously I don't, I just know I don't want to.  I'm also not sure where the best spot is to put it in our yard since there aren't any fences.  That means it's either going to be out in the open calling attention to itself or near the house (and I read that's not the best option because of the bugs it attracts).

I found one post on a blog, and now I can't find it again. I hate when that happens.  However I meant to save it because it show show to start one out of a rubber maid storage bin.  Those are rather in-expensive, less than $10.  I immediately wanted to do this, but what held me back was spending the money on a perfectly good bin only to drill holes in it and use it for compost.  However I haven't been able to find any used ones since.

Today in an effort to finally come up with a game plan, I found this video on how to make a compost bin out of a garbage can. I love this idea because it's so much easier to roll a garbage can around instead of trying to mix stuff in a square rubber maid container.   Again, the issue is that a new trash can costs more than a rubber maid container would.  Now, several of our trash cans have huge holes in the bottom and I would like to replace them, and I wondered if one of these would work. However they have wheels on them and would not be sturdy.   Dilemma's Dilemma's!   Oh..I just looked on Craig's List and there was one trash can listed for $5. This would be the much better option since I would be re-using something that somebody is trying to get rid of. It would save me money and would save something from the landfill.

Upon doing even more checking on the internet, I found that some sites say you can start small, even with a plastic pail that is at least 24 inches tall.  It makes me mad that last year I had the perfect pail, but I recycled it.  We have an in-ground pool and had a big pail full of chlorine tablets.  At the end of last summer last year we converted to a salt water pool and have no need for those chlorine tabs any longer so I have no hopes of getting another pail like t hat.  grrrrrr    I do know we have some pails around the house that we have used, but I don't think any have lids.  I'm going to go on a search though.  If I can find one and find a lid, then I'm all set!  I think this would be perfect for me too because I can easily move it around the yard if needed. I can easily put it on it's side and roll it around to mix up the waste. It won't be a huge unsightly mess.  If I mess up..the clean up won't be too bad.    Plus, as I fill one pail and wait for it to be used as compost, I could easily start the process over again with another.  Eureka! I could eventually have one that is currently being added to and compost is being made and one that has already turned to compost and is ready to use.

So there you have it!  This post was going to be about how to start composting, with the idea of using a rubber maid container but quickly became a post regarding a couple different ways to make a compost bin, with my pluses and minuses about each one, until I finally find the one that works best for me.   Now that I've decided on the pail option, I'm super excited to get started!

Duh..just thought of another one.  Paint sometimes comes in big pails, gallon drums I believe,..and I think I recycled the ones the previous owners left us last year.  Why oh why didn't I see the potential of it before I did that?  I do think I'll be checking the garage and basement for possible items to use this weekend, or possibly tonight now that I'm excited about it.

I also think I'll email some relatives to see if they have a pail that would work, if I don't find one around my house.  Another option would be to wait till spring and talk to my neighborhood home owners association.  There is a subdivision pool and I bet it hasn't been converted to salt water yet.  When it's time to renew the pool tabs I could ask to see if they have any of the pails and if I could have one or two.

I'm so excited!  Who knew that composting would get me this excited? Don't tell my husband.

Green Blog Hop

Here's How to Hop Along: 
* Create a new Green Blog Hop blog post on your blog and include the Green Blog Hop button by copying and pasting the code above. 
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Coupon Savings for November

I just realized I never created a post regarding my coupon savings and budget spending for November.

The good thing about November is that retailers are more likely to have coupons which helps with my holiday spending, er, savings.

My goal is to keep all the grocery (including dog food) and health/beauty spending under $350/month.  This year I was able to keep that goal by only spending $271.57.

I ended up saving $214.58 by using coupons and an additional $93.03 in advertised savings (when known).  This makes it a total of $307.61 saved for the month.  I just love when the amount saved is more than the amount spent!

Only one more month for the year and it will be difficult to stay within the budget.  Husband and I are hosting my family for Christmas this year, so I'll have a lot of food to buy.

Do any of you keep track of your spending?  How did you do this past month?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great River Road Run

This past weekend was the Great River Road Run.  This is a 10 mile race held in Alton, Il every year.  The last time I ran this race was in 1996.  Yup..over 10 years ago.  This is the first year I was able to work back up to running 10 miles.

Husband chose not to go with me.  In his mind it was an hour drive, then over an hour of waiting in the cold, then an hour drive home.  He's not a runner and doesn't like cold weather.  I don't like cold weather either, if that makes a difference.   So I drove myself.  It didn't take me an hour, I drive faster than google maps estimates.

I did meet a co-worker at the race.  While she normally does longer miles and has run 1/2 marathons and full marathons before, we didn't run the race together because we have different paces.

A couple of things.  First...I thought for sure the elite athletes would be passing me when I was only at the 2 mile marker. haha!  This race was 5 miles out and then 5 miles back.  I'm happy to report that the first guy passed me well after the 2 mile marker, it was around 3.5.  That's right, while I was only at 3.5 miles into the race, the first runners were at 6.5. Wow!  The first girl passed me at the 4 mile marker.  Impressive.

Second..these were real runners. It felt good to be running with them.  When I run the shorter races, you do have a lot of runners but then you have a lot of people who are doing it for charity.  Sometimes it feels a bit weird because I'm in my running clothes and they are in normal workout clothes.  By running clothes, I mean tights.  I either were short tights, capri tights, or long tights depending on the weather.  While I feel comfortable in these clothes, when I'm surrounded by a lot of others and nobody else is wearing tights, well, it can be a bit uncomfortable.  This race, everyone was either in tights or shorts (crazy!).  I felt like I was around like individuals. I felt like I belonged. I felt like one of them.  It felt really good.

I had high hopes going in to this race and was disappointed when I immediately had pain in my heel.  I was so disappointed.  It eased up a bit, but for the most part it hurt the majority of the race.  I hit the wall at around mile 7.  I think I was just so upset that my heel hurt and I had trained and looked forward tot his race.  I didn't stop though. I kept at it and even surged at the end, not much because I was tired, but a bit.

I ran the 10 miles in 1hr and 26 min.  According to the official race results I had an 8:37/mile pace.  That's incredible!   My co-worker was exactly 10 minutes behind me.  Later that day when Husband and I were looking up the results online, we found that I came in 488 out of a tad over 1100 runners.  I felt really happy about that.  I finished in the top half!   The Husband had me do a search for his co-worker (I didn't realize his co-worker was running it) and, well, his co-worker came in 50th!  That's amazing!

What's up next?  Well I did run on Tuesday and my heel is still hurting.  I'm going to try another low mileage run this weekend to see how it feels.  Oh, and tonight I have soccer, so I suppose the run this weekend will really depend on how it feels after tonight.   Next week I have an apt with a sports medicine doctor to see why my knee has been hurting for a couple of months.  

As far as my next race.  I have signed up for the Castlewood Cup.  This is a 15k (9.3 mile) trail run at the park by my house.  This race is February 26th.   The race is described like this:
The race will be a true test of trail running with a 15k course that includes uphills, downhills, switchbacks and even a creek crossing.

This race will truly be a test for me.  While Husband says I should be able to do it no problems, I did just run 10 miles, I know it's not as easy as that.  The race I did was mostly flat, I trained on flat trails.  This upcoming race is a lot of hills.  I run those hills, I can do short runs on those hills but no way I could go out this weekend and do 9 miles on them.  I also hate cold weather.  So to get me to actually go outside in the cold temperatures and run and do hills, that's going to be hard.  I was telling Husband about this race and showing him pictures from the race this year, including the creek crossing which had high water.  He said there was no way I would cross the creek or run in the cold weather.  So I signed up to prove to him that I could do it.  In fact, since I live only about 2 miles from the park, I'll start training on the trails within the next couple of weeks.   Only 400 people are allowed to enter this race, I don't want to be the last person to finish.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Change the World Wednesday

Are you impressed? I'm actually going to post about this challenge on the actual Wednesday that it is posted on the host blog.  I think I'll give myself a pat on the back.

Ok, this week's challenge is:

This week, rather than shop in stores for new holiday gifts, shop in your "closets". Open up boxes of stored items, check jewelry boxes and dresser drawers ... venture into the basement and up into the attic. Look for special items to give this year. This can be something fun and silly ... or something meaningful, like an heirloom.

Or ...

If this is something you regularly do, we'd love to hear about some of the special gifts you've given.

I have to admit, I'm actually pretty much done with my Christmas shopping already.  The few things left to get are specific items Husband wants that I have to order online.  So I can't really participate in this one this year.  Unless I find something that would be something extra.  However, part of the problem, is that when I'm finished with something I tend to donate it, so I don't have a lot of stuff stored away in boxes.

Now, recently, I did loan a bunch of pants and jeans to my sister.  I've gone down several pant sizes within this past year and my oldest sister is headed back to work after the latest pregnancy and needed bigger work pants.  My pants were all stored for when I would need them in the future so I loaned them all to her to use as long as she needs.  I didn't want to get rid of the pants because they are in excellent shape and if I'm ever pregnant they are pants I can wear as I grow out of my current ones and before I need maternity pants. Plus, if I gain weight I could wear them again.  (I learned this the hard way. When I gained weight a couple of years ago I got rid of all the pants that no longer fit, now I could fit into them but no longer have them.).   So while this isn't actually re-gifting since she'll give them back, it is a way to help somebody so they didn't have to buy new clothes for a limited amount of time.

Ok...more towards the re-gifting though.  While I don't have anything to gift, I will mention that I have a ton of Christmas bags and decorative boxes that will be re-used this year.  I can't tell you when I last bought a Christmas gift bag.  It's been years.   Each Christmas when I receive one, I save it so I can re-use it in years to come.  My guess is that I'm re-using ones that I've given away too since my sisters do the same thing.  I also save the white clothes boxes and decorative Christmas boxes.  I re-use these to gift wrap too.   This not only helps us save money, but it's better for the environment too because we aren't throwing it away or recycling it.  

If you plan to re-gift something, I would love to hear what it is.  Heck, maybe it will remind me of something similar that I have and could give away.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tom's of Maine Toothpaste review

I have been a bzzagent for awhile now and was recently given the opportunity to test toothpaste by Tom's of Maine.  I jumped at the chance since this product is more natural than other toothpastes on the market and since I'm trying to get away from harmful chemicals this company has been on my radar.

I have been using Tom's of Main Wicked Fresh toothpaste, cool peppermint flavor.  At first I was a bit worried since I have sensitive teeth and in the past if I have used a non-sensitive toothpaste for more than a couple of days my teeth would get really sensitive.  I'm happy to report that I've been using this toothpaste for a couple of weeks and have had no issues like that.  The sensitivity I have is roughly the same as when I'm using a sensitive toothpaste.  I also looked on their website and they do have a sensitive toothpaste, so I'll definitly be trying that one in the future.

I was also worried that the taste would bother me.  Any time I have tried to use a more natural toothpaste in the past I haven't been able to handle the taste.  I suppose I should have a disclaimer here and let you know that I'm very picky when it comes to tastes and a lot of normal toothpastes I can't handle either.  While I can't say this toothpaste has the best taste, it's actually pretty good.  It's a lot better than I expected and I'm able to handle it with no problems.  This is a major plus for me.

One of the reasons I wanted to review this product on my blog is because it is a more natural toothpaste and the company is environmentally friendly too, which makes me want to support them and tell you all about them.

This toothpaste does contain fluoride in order to help fight cavities however it DOES NOT contain alcohol or any other artificial ingredients.  Heck, the company even lists all their ingredients on their website and tells you the purpose and the source for the ingredient.

I recommend checking out the company's stewardship model too.   Here's a brief glimpse of what you can find mentioned in their stewardship model and why I recommend this company:
No animal testing or ingredients
Sustainable practices are a priority
NO artificial colors, flavors, fragrance, or preservatives
They use recycled materials and their packaging is recyclable

I also like that this product is very easy to find, I've seen it at my local grocery stores and mass merchandise stores.  I do believe I've seen coupons for this brand as well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving: from my house to yours

This time of year will find everyone mentioning what they are thankful for, I'm not going to be an exception.  However instead of telling you how thankful I am for my friends and family, because let's be honest, everyone says and thinks that, I'm going to tell you why I'm thankful for something else.  (oh..and my blog readers are included with the things I"m thankful for...I wouldn't be here without all of you and I really appreciate those who find the time to comment and those who read the ramblings I type).

This year I'm incredibly thankful that I can run.   Yup, you heard me right. I'm thankful for running.  (I told you us runners were a strange breed.)

I've had a bit of a strange past with running and to show why it's not silly for me to be thankful that I'm running, let me explain.

First off, I have a 10 mile race on Saturday.   I never thought I would do this race again.  The last time I did the race was back in the 1990's when I was in highschool.   I'm incredibly thankful that this year, I'm trained and ready to run the Great River Road run.

Let me go backwards a bit.   This time last year I was recovering from a heal fracture.  Not just any little heal fracture, but one that basically fractured my heal in half.   The injury was officially diagnosed in August and I was in a boot the rest of that month and most of September.  I started walking on my foot again in October and in November 2009 I was walking regularly for exercise but still in a lot of pain. I was determined to run again, but sometimes it felt like I wouldn't make it.  I started to run short distance, not even a mile, in December and gradually moved up the mileage. I had some setbacks along the way though, that caused me to take weeks off from running (the last one was in April) and then slowly work up again.  I did the p90x program over the summer, part of it as a dare and partly because I felt it best to give my foot a break because I was still in a lot of pain.  Even though I'm set to run 10 miles on Saturday, I'm not completely pain free. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it doesn't.  I have yet to decide if it's mental or not.   In fact, it still hurts me to the point that my next pair of shoes will be a minimalist shoe and I've been working on changing my running form in anticipation of said shoe.

For me, to know that this time last year I couldn't even run and now I'm running a 10 mile race?  That's a big deal.  I'm incredibly thankful that I can do this.

My history with injury and running goes further back than last year though.   In February 2007 I became injured with a herniated disk.   I ran 3 miles one day, woke up 2 days later in extreme pain.  I didn't know exactly what was wrong with my back, Husband and I thought maybe it was a pinched nerve.  I started to do some exercises to strengthen my lower back (where the pain was) but couldn't do much because the pain was so bad. I went from running 3 miles, to only being able to walk for about 5 min before the pain was too bad (to give you an idea, the specialist said it was one of the worst he has ever seen). It took me several years to get mostly pain free (I opted not to do surgery or steroid shots and instead do strength training exercises for my back). I was able to jog again the spring of 2009.   Yup..that's right. I finally got to where I could run, mostly pain free in my back, only to be injured again about 4 months later.

If I was to go even further back, than I would also have to mention that I hurt my knee playing soccer in highschool and it has never stopped bother me.  Then about a year after that I had to stop running due to pain in my heel (At the time the dr's just said to wear better shoes on a day to day basis and it was never diagnosed as anything wrong. Now, after having that same heel diagnosed with a heel fracture, I call tell you that the pain was the same and I believe the original injury was a heal fracture too).

So for me, being able to run 10 miles is a pretty big deal.  I've overcome a heal fracture and a herniated disk (within the last 3 years) in order to do this.  I run with knee pain for the first half mile or so of every run.  Yet, I can run 10 miles.   I'm not saying it's always easy.  Heck, I'm not even saying I do it pain free.  Between my bad knee, my herniated disk, and the heal fracture, most days I'm in some kind of pain.   However, this isn't about how I run with pain or manage pain on a daily basis.   Nope, this is how I'm able to overcome most of that and still do something I'm crazy enough to love, run.

This year, I'm thankful that I can run. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stylish Blogger Award

Thanks so much Alison!  Alison was kind enough to give me the Stylish Blogger Award.  I'm tickled pink.  If you haven't checked out Alison's blog, Welcome Sunshine Home, I highly recommend you do so, and not just because she has a Saint Bernard.

I am supposed to share 7 things about myself, so here it goes:

1) I'm the youngest of 3 daughters.  My two sisters have 4 kids between the two of them (and another on the way) and so far they are all boys.   My father is no longer with us, and I believe he's upstairs pulling some strings to make sure we all have boys since he was stuck with all girls.

2) I chatted with a stranger for 20 min this past weekend, all because she had a handsome mastiff and I wanted to pet him.  This isn't the first time this has happened either. If you have a big dog and I see you, be prepared.

3) I'm accident prone, a klutz.  I feel I haven't always been this way, Husband says otherwise.  The last two weeks of the current session for soccer, I was hit in the face with the ball. ouch.

4) I love color.  We have some white walls in the house still, and I'm amazed I haven't painted them yet. I like bold colors too.  Wall colors in our house are green, blue, brown, grey, orange, and red.

5) I love to organize.  I'm crazy.  This past weekend I was finally taking my summer shirts off their hangers to be folded for the winter and hanging up the winter clothes, and decided to reorganize the clothes that are folded in the closet.  My running clothes are now all organized by type and it's oh so pretty.  It makes me happy. I also realize that I'm addicted to blue running clothes.

6) I'm addicted to running clothes in general, in case you couldn't figure that out from the post above. I blame it on living in a climate where we do go through 4 seasons a year.  I have to have appropriate running clothes if I'm going to be outside right? (and enough to get me through a week)  Tanks and short tights in the summer.  Short sleeve shirts and capri tights in the spring and fall.  Long sleeve shirts and long tights in the winter.

7) It's been a year since I gave up soda (for the most part..I'll drink about 1 soda every month or two) and made an effort to eat healthier.  I'm surprised I've lasted this long, but surprised in a good way. I've read a lot about eating healthy and some stuff scares me, it gives me nightmares.  I lost almost 10lbs within the first 2 months of giving up soda.  I don't weight much, 10 lbs is a heck of a lot.  I guess that's what all that sugar does to you though huh?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hoo are you #24


Here are this week's questions!

1. Name 5 things you are grateful for!
I think friends and family are both a given.  I'm also thankful for my dog, Myla.  She's such a cutie.
I'm thankful for friends who know what I'm currently going through and "feel my pain".  I'm thankful that after 3.5 years I'm finally going to be getting custom bookshelves in my library, I think I've been pretty darn patient.  I'm thankful that Husband and I both have jobs and spend money wisely, so that the current state of America hasn't impacted us too much. Along with this last one, I'm thankful that most of those I know and love haven't been impacted too much either. 

2. What is you favorite dish at Thanksgiving dinner?
Personally, I think I must be the only person who isn't fond of traditional Thanksgiving food.  Turkey?  No thanks.  Gravy? Never. Mashed potatoes? I liked mashed potatoes but am very picky about them, which means that I don't like most mashed potatoes.  Green beans? I'll eat 'em, but don't love them.  Pumpkin pie? No thanks.     

3. Do you have any family traditions for Thanksgiving?
When I was in grade school, wish I knew what age we started this, but my parents and sisters and I started going to the zoo with a friend of the family.  That was a long long time ago and I'm happy to report that we still do it.  Now, I don't always go. Some years it's just too hard for me.  Other years I've had Thanksgiving at my house and spent the morning preparing.  This year, I think I'll be skipping it again. I've kinda been in a ba-humbug mood about the holidays.  Once I have a kid, I'll be sure to go every year, but for now, I think I'll skip it. 

4. Are you staying home or traveling for Thanksgiving?
I'm traveling in the sense that I have to go to two different houses for Thanksgiving meals, but not traveling outside of my city.   We have lunch at my Grandparents and then dinner with the in-laws.

5. What else do you do on Thanksgiving day besides eat?
Well - see above for Thanksgiving traditions.  Otherwise, that's about it. I'm sure Husband watched football, but that's not my thing.

Change the World Wednesday - post for 2 weeks

Update from last week (which I missed posting):
I skipped participating two weeks ago, mostly because the goal had been to visit a goodwill or resale place.  Buy something used instead of something new.    I hadn't visited a shop like that in years and hadn't been able to visit one last week either, so I ended up not participating.

I did, however, stop buy a Goodwill place this past weekend to drop off some clothes and decided to go in.  I was hoping there would be a large selection of items other than clothes, but was disappointed.  Clothes were the largest selection, toys being the second.   I honestly doubt I'll shop there again.  Nothing grabbed my interest, most of what was there were things that I wouldn't buy, new or used.   As for the clothes, I'm picky when it comes to clothes. I have a hard time shopping for clothes at places like that, even retail stores, where the clothes are all lumped together and I have to look at each one to see if I would like it.  I prefer to see the item of clothing, then see all the colors it's offered in. Do you know what I mean?  Where the table has the same item, I don't have to look at each item folded on that table, each stack is the same item.  Anyway, I realize I could get some deals if I used re-sale shops, but it's just not for me.  Or maybe it's this particular shop that isn't for me. It's the closest one to my house which is why I stopped at it.

On to this week!
(or was that last week...)Where I still haven't completed the challenge but plan to.  This week's challenge was:
This week, plant something edible indoors (in your homes, offices, schools, etc.). Some ideas are lettuce, herbs, spinach, kale, and even tomatoes.

OR ...

If this is something you already do, we want to hear about it. Please tell us which items you grow, share any tips for success and comment on your overall feelings about the process.

I don't already do this.  I had thought briefly of growing herbs but then never have. Of course, I think that's because I've never thought of doing it inside.   So I've been thinking about it with this challenge and feel like herbs would the easiest thing to start with.   I had hoped to stop at a local hardware store this past weekend and pick up some seeds but didn't get the chance too.  So while I didn't officially plan anything, I've been preparing for it.

I picked the spot: the windowsill for the window above the sink in the kitchen.  This way it's a daily reminder that I need to take care of them and I have no excuse for not watering, etc.

I picked what the plant them in: I saved several food cans that were used this past week.  Instead of recycling them, I washed them out and plan to put the seeds in those.  I'll make them pretty..probably paint them.

That's about it!  I'm all ready to start, I just need the seeds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Bloganza

It's time to enter the Holiday Bloganza!  Don't forget I'm giving away these snowflakes (they're pretty darn cool if you ask me! haha!)  

Don't forget, if you heart my shop on Etsy, you can enter an extra entry into the giveaway.  Visit each blog and read their Holiday Bloganza post regarding the giveaway too because several are offering extra entries.

Here are the rules to sign up:

 Follow Every Blog participating in the Super Holiday Bloganza by Google Friend Connect.   If you do not do this.  Your entry and all other entries you make will be eliminated.

1. After you have followed each blog.  Come back and Let us know in a comment  that you have followed every blog ( Do this in one comment)

2.  For extra entries, you can follow on Twitter, Networked Blogs, Etsy and Facebook.  (each blog should have this posted in their giveaway page to make it easier)                
 When you post a comment for extra entries, be sure to state which blog you are commenting on. 

3. Make a separate comment for every extra entry you do.  Do not say, I followed My Journey With Candida on twitter, facebook and networked blogs.  Make it 3 separate entries.  

.Place all comments in the linky, where it says Click Here To Enter.  
.Place your comment where it says Contest Entry.  
.You can enter your link if you have one and want to enter it.
YOU MUST ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (I have no other way to contact you if you win) Your email is NOT  published.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Glee Gum - a review

I recently read a review of Glee Gum over at Tips 4 Green. I was anxious to try the gum since it is free of aspartame, something I can find in all the gum for sale at major stores (such as Walgreens, Target, etc).  I looked on the Glee Gum website and found that their gum is sold at Whole Foods. Now I'm really excited because I love to shop at Whole Foods.  I was at the store this past Tuesday and picked up a packet of Glee gum in the spearmint flavor.  It cost $0.79 for 18 pieces, which I thought was decent since other popular brands cost over $1.00 for 18 pieces.

Unfortunately, the gum didn't live up to my expectations.  I chewed one piece and it was so small it was like I wasn't even chewing on anything.  Plus, there was hardly any flavor.  The gum also got hard rather quickly.   Next time I tried chewing two pieces at once.  While this made the gum the right size, for me, the flavor wasn't improved.  Plus, because I'm now chewing 2 pieces at once, I really only get 9 uses out of this gum (in fact, I only have 2 pieces left and I've only been chewing it for 3 days).

The flavor is not very strong and is gone within a minute.  That doesn't cut it for me.  I chew gum at work to help with bad breath after I eat. Since I eat every 3 - 3.5 hours,  this is at least 3 times during the day.  The gum doesn't work for what I need/want it for.

I'm really sad to have to report that the gum didn't work for me.  I really wanted to support this company and chew a gum with no aspartame.

Have any of you tried this gum, this specific flavor, and been happy with it?  If so feel free to leave a comment so others can get another review of this gum.  

I haven't given up on this gum completely, yet.  I'm going to buy the peppermint flavor to see if that is more to my liking.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yellow Pages, I don't need no stinking yellow pages (or..How to stop home delivery of the Yellow Pages)

I can't remember where I first read about somebody wanting to opt out from receiving the yellow pages that are delivered to your home. I'm sure it was on a post for Change the World Wednesday, but can't be sure.

Anyway, today I went on a hunt. How can I do this? I never use the Yellow pages, why would I when I could just look it up online.  Not every place will take the yellow pages to be recycled either, so they either end up collecting dust in my closet or I put them in a recycling bin hoping they can be recycled.  Wouldn't it be better for the world if I just didn't receive one at all?

I went online to the local phone company that publishes one of the two phone books I receive.  I didn't find anything so I did a search on their website, and didn't find anything.  So I resorted to a google search. 

If it all works out, than by golly, I hit the jackpot!

Check out this link for Yellow Pages Goes Green

On the home page there is a link you can click on that says "Stop home delivery of your local yellow pages".
Once you click on that you then have to click on another image but finally you are on a page where you can enter your zip code. Once you do that and hit enter it will display the companies that publish/deliver the yellow pages in your area.  

For me, they provided the company name, phone number, and a link.  One of the links took me to an opt-out form.  The link for the other company took me to a page where I could fill out a form to tell them how many phone books I wanted.  I wasn't sure about this one at first because it needed my name, phone number, email address, and delivery address.  Then just gave an option for submit but there wasn't anything for the number of copies I wanted.  I clicked submit anyway to see what happened and that did take me to a page where I could request how many of each directory I wanted, which I changed to zero.  

Since I just did this today, I can't tell you if it worked or not.  However, I have my fingers crossed that it will. I still wanted to share this info, though, so you can do the same if you wish. 

Last but not least, on the website the following info was listed as to why it's a good idea to opt out and I thought we would all agree with it:

Why opt out?
  • Helps conserve energy - companies that print them are burning up 3.2 kilowatt hours of electricity.
  • Saves trees - companies that print yellow pages had more than 19,000,000 trees destroyed.
  • Saves Fuel - companies that print yellow pages are wasting 7,200,000 barrels of fossil fuel.
  • Saves time - easier for consumers to find up to date listings online.
  • Good for the environment - stops unsolicited delivery of 540 million books per year.
Bottom line..... It's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Re-post from Eco-Crap: Fiji Water

Eco-Crap: Fiji Water: "I just read that most people regard Fiji as a brand of water from an exotic place. Fiji is a country, a country comprised of about 300 is..."

I think Argentum Vulgaris summed up his views on buying bottled water pretty well in the above post when he said: "What's wrong with bloody tap water, I drink it!"

I have to agree with him. I really really don't understand the draw behind bottled water, much less Fiji water. Why pay for that when you can just get it from the tap at home? Worried about it not being as pure and chemical free as you want it? Buy a water filter and use the water from that to fill up a re-usable bottle.

My thought, and part of what I commented on his blog, is this: Somehow we need to make drinking tap water out of a re-usable container cool.
If we can get those in the spotlight to start doing this hopefully those who worship them will do so too.