Monday, July 29, 2013

Sneaky Pete's - BOGO Offer!

While we've been enjoying a nice leisurely summer, it won't be too long before the school year starts again.  And that means packing lunches!  Last school year, I packed well over 150 lunches for the kids (give or take a few sick days!).  I take care to pack lunches which are healthy, filling and will give the kids energy throughout the day.  Thanks to the folks at Sneaky Pete's, I've found something new to add to the kids' lunch boxes that's good for them (which I love!) and tastes great (which the kids love!).

Sneaky Pete's is a refreshing, all natural, wheat-free, certified vegan fruit flavored beverage that packs 3 grams of fiber (as much as a bowl of oatmeal) with only 40 calories.  Sneaky Pete's contain no artificial colors or additives and is naturally sweetened using stevia extract, erythritol and evaporated cane juice.

So, how does it taste?  Great!  We tried Peach and Mango and enjoyed both flavors.  Smiles all around especially from the little ones!

To help you with packing lunches for your kids (or your work lunch!), Harris Teeter is currently offering an amazing 3 for $5 deal on all Sneaky Pete's oat beverages now through December.  For even more savings, enjoy this Buy One, Get One Free coupon courtesy of Sneaky Pete's!   


Mary Ellen

Disclosure:  I was provided a coupon to sample Sneaky Pete's oat beverages.  All opinions are mine.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Before & After - Ball & Claw Foot Side Table

After reading Inspired You by Marian Parsons (of Miss Mustard Seed fame), I knew I wanted my next trash to treasure project to be a milk paint project.  My first milk paint project to be exact!  Lucky for me, my favorite local antique shop started carrying Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint line about the same time I came across this ball and claw foot side table.  A little beat up, but very solid with beautiful lines and curves.

 The beauty of milk paint is it allows you to paint over surfaces without any priming.  For the table legs, I chose Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Shutter Gray.  My first coat of milk paint (with bonding agent added) seemed a bit uneven and bubbly.  But by the second coat, the color was very solid and smooth.

My initial plans were to stain the table top in a dark walnut color - reminiscent of the many beautiful pieces Miss Mustard Seed features on her blog.  But, no matter how much Dave sanded (he burned out one sander!), he could not remove all the finish.  Plan B - paint the top in Typewriter.   

To bring out the details and provide a protective top coat, I went over the entire piece with Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.

I placed the table for sale on Craigslist.  I wasn't sure if there would be any interest since it was only the single piece.  But, it was bought by a lovely lady who thought it a perfect match for her similarly styled furnishings!  She was so intent on getting the table home, she made her very tall husband climb in the back of their two door car to give the table more room upfront!

Mary Ellen

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kroger to Buy Harris Teeter & Super Doubles

My Harris Teeter Super Double deals from the weekend:

3 Purina Cat Chow .89 each
2 Finish Gel Pacs .75 each
2 Bayer Low Dose Aspirin FREE!
2 Reynolds Baking Cups FREE!

Last week it was announced that Kroger reached a definitive merger agreement with Harris Teeter.  If you heard a loud noise, it was a collective NOOOOO! from all the couponers in our area!  While Kroger  does have low prices on organic and natural foods and great markdowns, their coupon policy stinks.  The stores recently stopped doubling in our area.  Prior to the policy change, the rules for coupon usage seemed to vary by store, by manager, by cashier.  Harris Teeter is more expensive, but with Super Doubles, triple coupon events and Buy 2 Get 3 Free sales, good deals can be had.  Plus,  the customer service at Harris Teeter is top notch.  I'd even compare it to stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and The Fresh Market.  According to the release, Harris Teeter will continue to operate separately and top management will remain in place.  Of course, that's what they always say in the beginning!  I'm hopeful the Harris Teeter coupon policies and special events will remain.  But, I wouldn't be surprised if the stores eventually changed to reflect Kroger's current policy.  At which time I will dust off my Lowes Foods Fresh Rewards card and anxiously await the arrival of Publix!

Mary Ellen    

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

After seeing many mentions of homemade laundry detergent at various frugal living forums and blogs over the years, I finally decided to make a batch for myself!  I was reluctant to try homemade detergent/laundry soap in the past (despite the potential savings)  because my Mother took care of the laundry for us.  And since she was kind enough to take on the laundry and ironing, I figured it best to stick with what she preferred (she's a diehard Gain fan!).  Since I've taken over laundry during her recovery, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new.

I used this recipe for the homemade laundry soap.  The blogger gives a review of the laundry soap after having used it for a year.  I also found the comments helpful.

The Process:

Instead of grating the Fels-Naptha bars by hand, I used my Salad Shooter.  One of the best yard sale buys we ever made!  I never used Fels-Naptha before, but had previously read about it having an unpleasant smell.  I actually found the smell to be quite pleasant - a clean, soapy smell!  I also was surprised to find it readily available in our area.  Wal-Mart and Kroger had plenty as did a local country store.

Once the Fels-Naptha was grated, I used my Vitamix (the dry container) to blend together the Fels-Naptha with the baking soda.  I wanted to create smaller bits that would dissolve easily in the wash.

The Fels-Naptha and baking soda blended together

I found it was best to work in small batches of baking soda and grated Fels-Naptha.  Also, to "rev" the machine a couple of times instead of letting it run continuously.  With one batch, I had to scrape out a baking soda-soap paste from the bottom of the container (combination of overloading and running the machine just a bit too long!).  So, there were a few larger chucks in the final mix.

Finally, mixing the Fels-Naptha/baking soda mix with the remaining ingredients.  In hindsight, I should have separated into two batches (like my husband suggested!) instead of one large batch.  Just to ensure a thorough mixing of the ingredients and equal distribution of the softener beads (I love those things!).

Bella inspecting the final product

The resulting homemade laundry soap
I didn't have a pretty canister, so I used what was on hand - several large pickle jars and canning jars!

How it Works:

So far, so good!  After making the laundry soap, of course I wanted to test it out.  I did a large load of towels in cold water and a load of linens in warm water.  No problems dissolving completely in either warm or cold water, and everything was clean afterwards.  I've read about the possibility of a residue when using homemade detergent/laundry soap over time.  But, the consensus seems to be using vinegar to solve the problem.  

The Math:

Cost of ingredients:

1 box Borax $4.79 (Kroger)

3 bars Fels-Naptha .99 each (Wal-Mart)

1 box (4lb) baking soda - already on hand {I normally buy a large bag from Costco since I use baking soda not only for baking, but homemade cleaners, homemade carpet deodorizer and the litterbox}

1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda $3.29 (Kroger)

4lbs of Oxi-Clean $11.05 (12 lb box from Costco)

2 small containers of Downy Unstopables $4.97 each (Wal-Mart)

Total spent: $32.04
I'll give an update on the performance of the homemade laundry soap in about a month!
Mary Ellen

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Patriotic Marshmallow Flags

A fun and festive project for the kids on the 4th - patriotic marshmallow flags!  I came across this cute idea as I was thumbing through an issue of Kraft Food & Family.  Start with the new Jet-Puffed StackerMallows (they're flatter than regular marshmallows).  

Using blue and red frosting tubes, draw the canton and stripes.  Then, add star-shaped sprinkles! 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Garden - My Breathing Space

In the past few weeks, I've watched my garden go from the above...

To looking like this!  One of my simple pleasures is to go out and look over my little garden squares in the still and quiet of the morning.  A sort of centering activity before the start of my day.  I study the leaves and blossoms.  The vegetable buds and the bees going busily about the plants.  I rejoice and feel thankful when I see the promise of something wonderful growing!

A yellow squash growing

The distinctive shape of a patty pan squash starting to form

A little jalapeno pepper growing!

Mary Ellen