*Saving you some money in the Rock River Valley*

Welcome to our blog! While a lot of our deals may be specific to the Rockford area, you'll find many deals that are also good nationwide! We hope that our blog will be fun, informative, and that it will help you SAVE SOME MONEY!

Read here about our "Coupon Ethics"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Freelance Friday - Hotel Information

Do you ever wonder what the inside of a Hotel looks like before you book it?! Check out Oyster.com and you can type in the name and location of a hotel to see real photos and read reviews before you make a reservation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Tip - Why I love Aldi

Have you shopped at Aldi's yet? If you haven't, you need to. Their everyday prices are great, and although you can't use coupons (or credit cards), you can save bundles of money.

If you the last time you shopped at Aldi's was years ago, then you need to go back. When I lived here 7 years ago, I did NOT like Aldi's which surprised me since that's where I shopped in France and Belgium. But now it is my staple store, along with Hilander. If something's not on sale at Hilander and I need it, I buy it at Aldi's. I've bought something from every department:

flour, sugar, chocolate chips, saltine, crackers, mayo & olive oil
milk, eggs, cheese, tortilla shells
grapes, lettuce, avocadoes, limes
frozen grape or orange juice, frozen pizzas or chicken products
canned goods, onion soup mix, condensed soups,
flowers, sandwich bags, sponges, aluminum foil
even our two chairs, folding table, garage shelving, toys

It's great! Their "staples" are there year round . . . then they have seasonal things too. The only thing I don't buy there is meat (because I buy it in bulk when on sale at Hilander). And hey, when fresh mozzarella is $3 instead of $6 or $7, that is a deal to me!

And here is the best part for those of you that are still a little shy about it . . . they offer a DOUBLE guarantee! I've only ever returned something two times in the last 3.5 years, and today was one of them. The grapes I got were obviously not ripe enough, so I took them back. The DOUBLE guarantee is this: I got my money back AND another batch of grapes (this batch is yummy). Can't lose with that guarantee!

(This is a repost from almost 2 years ago - the information is still good and even more valid in view of the current economy)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Meals - Black bean brownies

This is a completely easy, nutritious and frugal recipe!

Black bean brownies
1 box brownie mix, any brand
1 can of black beans

Blend 1 box of brownie mix and 1 can of black beans (juice and all) in the blender. Once blended together, pour in pan and bake according to package. Enjoy! These are more fudge like than cake like but delicious!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Freelance Friday - New Testament Audio Drama

As most of you know by now, I (Anouk) am a new mother - it's hard to believe that our little peanut is almost 5 months old! One thing I've found difficult to do as a mother of an infant is to consistently read the Scriptures every day.

This is where wonderful technology comes in! I'm able to LISTEN to Scripture in a couple of ways on my iPhone. One is a free app, YouVersion, that I can either read on my iPhone or listen to. I've used this quite a few times as I'm feeding my daughter.

Another thing I've discovered lately is "You'veGot The Time" ESV New Testament Audio Drama
(by Faith Comes by Hearing). With this New Testament in audio, you can go through the whole New Testament in 40 days - 30 minutes a day! (This is actually a podcast that is free on iTunes - I just downloaded the whole New Testament into my iTunes, and then didn't subscribe to the podcast).

I didn't think I'd enjoy the New Testament "dramatized" but I really have! Normally I prefer to read than listen to books and Scriptures, but in this season of my life I'm really enjoying and benefiting from the audio version. Hope you enjoy it too!

(OK, I'm super excited - I just clicked the "View More By This Publisher" at the top and see that they have it in iTunes in many different languages like Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and many others! According to their website (Faith Comes by Hearing) they apparently have it in over 565 languages though not all of these are on iTunes).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Toddler Thursday - Ice cube painting

This is a great post on 8 activities for tots that won't cost you anything but our favorite to try is ice cube painting! I have never seen or heard of doing this before! It looks like a fun, easy, and creative outdoor activity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wacky Wednesday - Card Fronts

Thanks to reader Kristin C for sending us some "funnies" to post on Wednesdays! She sent us an email full of funny card fronts. We'll be posting a few every week for a few weeks. Enjoy!

(Starting with 2 about children just because I'm enjoying this new "mother" thing! Hard to believe my baby girl is 4 and a half months already!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Protecting your debit card

Debit cards have become really popular since people have overused their credit cards. Debit cards are being used as a way to only spend what you have in your checking account. The downside is that if your debit card or card numbers are stolen, that money comes directly out of your checking account and you have to fight to get your money back.

Clark Howard has a great article on how to protect yourself if you use a debit card! If you are a frequent debit card user, I highly recommend following his instructions. In just the past two months, I had one friend whose bank canceled their debit card because a store in Rockford had been compromised and they had used their card at that store. I personally received a call from someone saying my debit card had been compromised and suspended, and that I needed to give them my info to reactivate it. I didn't and instead called my bank directly and discovered the callers were just trying to get my bank info!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Meals - Homemade Lemonade

In the summer, we love lemonade at house! The powdered mix stuff is OK - very convenient and quick. I just discovered the frozen concentrate at Aldi - that tastes great, but I was appalled at the first ingredient: high fructose corn syrup! Ah! What?

So I was pretty excited to see this guest post on MoneySavingMom on making your own lemonade! I'm going to be trying this recipe! I love the fact that I don't have to wait for the sugar to dissolve (or just sit at the bottom of the pitcher). Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Freelance Friday - It's the simple things

Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God . . ."

"Like a Bubbling Brook" has an encouraging reminder on Cultivating a Love for Simple Things. Make sure you read her four tips!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Toddler Thursday - Sponges!

Check out this fun wet water sponge toy you can make yourself! This is so simple - grab the kids, make a couple of these, then send them outside with a bucket of water to have some fun!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wacky Wednesday - Funny Cupcakes

Have you seen the movie "Despicable Me"? My favorite line is when the little girl shakes the unicorn stuffed animal and screams "It's so fluffy!"

I just think these minion cupcakes are adorable and funny! Check them out! Cute idea for a birthday party theme.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Price Watch

I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon.com

Recently I discovered camelcamelcamel.com where you can enter in the item you'd like to watch the price for on Amazon.com - if it's already been "researched" before (aka someone else has searched for that item) you'll get to see a chart of the prices throughout the previous months. If it's never been researched before, they'll create a new search for it.

Either way, when you've found the item you want to watch, just type in your desired price and email address and you'll be notified when the price reaches your target price! I've got a few things I'm watching already.

The nice thing about this is that you can watch items of your choice without signing on for an account (you'll just have to watch them individually with the link they give you), or you can create an account and see all of your watched items on one page! When you create an account, I'm pretty sure you can also "price watch" items on other sites such as Best Buy and Zzounds!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Meals - Pizza Balls

We always have some form of pizza on Friday nights. These pizza balls are adorable and an easy way to get the kids involved.

Get the recipe here and and a video tutorial here all from Weelicious.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Freelance Friday - Free fonts

Do you like cool fonts like I do? I was so thrilled to discover that there are lots of cute / cool free fonts to download! Here are two websites where there are many for free! Enjoy!

Fonts for Peas from kevinandamanda.com

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Get Money Smart in 2011 - July

Here is July installment Get Money Smart in 2011 - (find June here)

Increase your financial know-how... Ok, it's the summer so we're giving you a break (I must have taken one myself as this post didn't make it on July 1st!) You have only one task: Read a book on finance. Pick one that covers something you struggle with, such as unloading debt. For a comprehensive primer, check out "Personal Finance for Dummies" by Eric Tyson.

Personally, I like finance books by Dave Ramsey or Mary Hunt!

Toddler Thursday - DIY Playdough Faces

If you have kids, this is a great craft for which you probably already have all the supplies for at home! Go here for DIYPlaydough Faces - depending on the ages of your children, they could make the faces themselves too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wacky Wednesdays

OK readers! We need your help. We're starting to run out of funny things to post on Wacky Wednesday . . . there are plenty of funny things out there on the internet, but we are running into 3 problems:

1. The really cute/funny cartoons are copyrighted so I can't post them here.
2. If I do find something funny, I usually have to link up to the site . . . and trust me, some of the funny stuff is sometimes found on not so great sites.
3. YouTube has a huge selection of cute/funny videos . . . but I can't control what images "pop up" after the video is done and more often than I like, those images aren't great.

So this is where you come in - we need your input! You can help us in one of two ways:

1. Send in something funny that we can post.
2. OR tell us what other kind of posts you'd like to see added to our weekly roster (other than recipes, tips, toddler ideas)

Until next time, stay safe! Remember to wear your helmet! (OK, that makes no sense, but I'm not good with captions - anyone have a better caption?)

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July breakfast

. . . or lunch, or supper (sorry this post is late - I'd like to blame it on the fourth please).

Thought this was a very cute idea for a fun breakfast for kids - no matter what day it is! Check it out here on MoneySavingMom!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freelance Friday - Choosing a Life Jacket

With summer upon us and water water everywhere I thought this was a great article about choosing a life jacket for your baby or child from Baby Cheapskate. Even though both of my kids have had swimming lessons regularly since they were 6 mos. old there are many times when I feel safer with them in life jackets!