Monday, February 23, 2009

Utilizing Craig's List

Hi all! Craig's List (craigslist.com) is a popular web site in the AA/Ypsi area, although I've found it's not so commonly used up north. Since so many use it here down here to sell items, post events, jobs, pets, etc., it's often a great resource for any Ypsi or AA resident.

I was skeptical (and often still am :)) of using this web site with hopes of success. But I think the real joy of using the web site is that it's free so it doesn't really matter if a posting is successful or not. Ebay costs money to use, and Craig's List is virtually free.

The web site is very easy to use. Just pick your state and your area, and you'll be able to choose from a wide variety of topics, like jobs (from a variety of fields), gigs, events, rentals, and so on. I enjoy looking at items under "free," "arts and crafts," and "garage sales." But the true joy of Craig's List is being able to post items!

I have found someone to regularly pick up my magazines after I'm done reading them. This is eco-friendly in that someone else is getting a use out of them, and I also feel good that I'm kind of getting an extra bang for my buck. I don't charge my magazine girl anything - the magazines are free for her to take, but she does have to pick them up each month so that does mean she's paying for gas to drive her car to my house to get them (she lives in Ypsi, though, so it's not like she's using a lot of gas :)).

Anytime Jason and I have a "garage sale," we also post that on Craig's List and that has resulted in many sales.

But my personal greatest joy was when last week, I posted a wanted ad for Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20% off coupons. I mainly wanted non-expired ones, but I'd heard BBB takes expired ones too (which is true, BTW). I had one person contact me with ten coupons for me!

Saturday, I used two of those coupons, and I've already saved $3.80 by using them. Jason picked them up from WCC's (Washtenaw Community College) library, which is close to our house so very little gas was used. I have eight coupons left, and if I should ever run out, I know just where to go to get more :)

There are some crazy people on Craig's List, as there is anywhere, and I would never meet anyone alone. Always have someone with you when you're going to pick something up or when someone's coming to your house. Obviously, only accept cash (no checks!). Craig's List is a wonderful tool, though, that saves me time, money, and effort in the long haul. It's definitely worth checking out, and you might even find an antique for a great deal or someone to take an old item of yours and is willing to pay for it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Garlic Tricks and Tips


Garlic is a wonderful way to season food, but it is, in my opinion, one of the hardest foods to work with. I've learned a couple of things along the way that has helped to make adding garlic to my food even easier than before.


To get the garlic's skin off, put the garlic in the microwave for 10 - 20 seconds. I'm not sure why, but something, the heat I guess, makes the garlic's skin come off easier.


Once the skin is off, it's time to slice it and dice it. That can often leave your fingers smelling like garlic for quite some time, plus, it can be quite hard to dice it. I use Chef'n Garlic Zoom. I take one clove, cut it in half, and put one half in the zoom. I roll it around on my counter and when it is diced, I add another half clove. I continue until all of the cloves I need are diced. It is super easy to use and can be found at a number of stores. Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells it for $9.99 (a small price to pay if you use garlic weekly), but if you have any BBB 20% coupon (often comes in newspapers or in the mail), you can use that to save $2. BBB takes coupons even if they're expired so save them all and use them whenever you need something - like the garlic zoom!

Here's a link to the item on BBB's web site:

With these two tips, garlic will be easier to use so you can use it more often. And really, that just translates to even better food!
Happy zooming!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saving Moola!

Hi all! In this economy, I think everyone is trying to find a way to cut costs, but it can seem difficult, especially when you're already living rather frugally.

Since Jason and I moved into our Perrin Street apartment, we have changed the way we lived, I think. I hear of people who go to Starbucks every day or buy books at full price, and news shows say, "If you make coffee at home instead of buying at a coffee shop, you can save hundreds per year."

Jason and I don't buy beverages every day or every week! More like once a month. We never buy full-price books - rather, we borrow from the library or buy used. And when we do buy new, we buy with coupons or from amazon.com, which is generally cheap.

So how to cut back when you've already done a lot? Jason and I had decided to cancel our home phone service since we rarely use it - the lack of a long-distance plan on it means it's useless except for local calls and using it to find our cell phones :) - so I called AT&T to cancel it. After telling multiple people, "I want to cancel my phone service," (which was eerily reminscent of the Friends episode where Chandler wants to quit the gym) someone talked to me finally about it. But instead of canceling my phone service, I ended up getting half of my entire bill (including Internet) which basically meant my phone service was free! Jason and I are now saving $26 a month by making that call.

Having an impeccable car insurance history also saves you money. Every six months, our insurance goes down by at least $15 (we have a two-car insurance plan with Progressive) since we have not had any accidents or tickets for several years.

We also scrutinized our cell phone bill to find ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, we're already on Verizon's lowest plan (Family Plan of 700 Minutes), but we canceled my phone's insurance and cut out texts. That saved us $15 a month.

So that's $56 we found per month by making a few changes and by driving safe! I'm sure there's lots of other tips out there so feel free to share what you personally do to save money.

The economy is tough, and there's nothing more imporant than securing your future by living smart now. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been cut, and if Jason and I were ever to suffer that kind of loss, we want to be sure our lives are covered. Making a few changes now can help ensure our future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Scones and Lasagna!

Hi all! Happy Valentine's Day!

Today, I'm bringing two great recipes that are both way easy to make. The first one can be found on Kraftfoods.com:
http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/weeknight-lasagna-toss-95163.aspx

Weeknight Lasagna Toss is both yummy and easy to make. I made it the other night when I got home from work, and I was eating by 5:45! This is a recipe we used to make a lot, and I just started making it again. Since I don't eat red meat, I substitute the ground beef for ground turkey. I also don't add in a lot of Italian dressing. I just kind of eyeball it. It makes a bunch of leftovers (when cooking for two people), I always make breadsticks with it. Salad would be great, too, obviously!

The other recipe can be found on Martha Stewart's web site:
http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/oatmeal-and-dried-cherry-biscuits?autonomy_kw=oatmeal%20scone&rsc=header_1

A couple of notes on this:
I had never made scones before, and Jason claimed not to like them. I made them - so easy! And I watched Martha make them on her show. On the show, she cut them into triangles so I did that too, although the picture makes the scones look kind of square. Anyway, the scones turned out great. Jason loved them!

I don't typically watch Martha Stewart. My mum hates when I mention her (HELLO MUM!), but my mum likes to watch her show and I was at her house and these were on... and I thought, "Mmm, those look good!"

Cherry scones would be a great breakfast on V-day, though, I think!

Happy cooking and baking!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Our Weekends

Hi all! The sun is shining through our windows here in Ypsi which brightens my whole day :) I can feel spring is on the way, and I'm excited at the prospect of less snow in our parking lot!

Jason and I usually have a weekend routine. On Saturdays, we try to get up rather early for a non-work day for me and a non-open day for Jason. Usually, we'd both be up now, but Jason's still sleeping :)

We start off by lazing around and figuring out what needs to get done. Every Saturday, we go to the library to return books we read that week and to pick up books that are on hold for us. It's also a great day to go since the Friends shop is open every Sat. from 11 - 5. The Friends shop is a used book store in the library with books ranging from $1 to $4. Sometimes, we're lucky and we pick up a new release for $4 or find a book we just don't have that we want for $1. Sometimes we find nothing. But the Friends member who usually works on Saturday brings in her dog, Cole (who she needs for her balance), and we like petting him and telling him how handsome he is :)

We also usually make a trip to the bank and the bead store, which are thankfully near each other and also close to the library. They're on the other side of town (like completely out of town, that's how "on the other side" they are) so we usually save all those errands together.

Today, we're also making a trip to the post office, to Target, and to Whole Foods. Oh, and I might need to stop at Joann's, which is near Target so I should probably do those both. It's grocery shopping week - hence Whole Foods. We usually make weekly trips to Joann's to either pick up more yarn for a project I'm working on or random tidbits I need.

Sundays are a lot different. Church is at 10:45 and that's typically the first thing on the agenda. After church, we eat lunch. After lunch, we relax. Jason always works at 4, but until then, no one can leave the house, no one can run errands, we just spend family time together. We either read, knit, cross stitch, talk, stare at the baby, etc. It's very old school.

Saving all your errands for the weekends, well Saturday, might not work for everyone, but I find it keeps me steady throughout the week. It's also good, I think, to have a routine, a set day or way to do something.

Have a great weekend everyone!