*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!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great ideas for Advent

I'll send you over to MoneySavingMom for her great list of resources for Advent activities, Six Free Printables for Advent. It's a resource of 6 printable activities for advent plus a couple of other ideas.

I have to point out my favorite of the bunch though: The Prudent Pantry's Christmas Book Advent Calendar. I love this idea of wrapping 25 Christmas books to read to your children, then unwrapping one a day to read to them. At first I thought this was a little ambitious because I don't own 25 Christmas books (I think we may have 3) . . . but then she mentioned the library! Duh! She has a nice list to pick from. And I'm going to add my 2 cents and say that you can always "re-wrap" a book for later in the month (just have a fill in book for show so it looks nice, then swap it out after you open the repeated book the first time)  - children love repetition, so I'm sure they wouldn't mind hearing the same story twice in a month!

My second favorite is the Gum Advent Calendar - genius! Especially for kids a little older than my daughter (who is 9 months). I'm tucking this one away in the archives for when she's older. Growing up my mother always got me one of those chocolate calendars from the store. I loved those! It was so fun to "open" a treat every day of December as we counted down to Christmas.


Wacky Wednesday - Doing my nails

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Tip - How to make Christmas meaningful

I love this post by We Are THAT Family on how to make Christmas more meaningful.

Black Friday always reminds me of how much Christmas has been commercialized and focused on what we can get. Don't get me wrong: I think that sharing gifts with others is a great picture (though in an infinitely small way) of God giving us good gifts, the best being the gift of His Son. So that's probably why I love this list of 30 Ways to Make Christmas Meaningful so much: it has helpful ways to remind us of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pinecone napkin rings

Super cute idea from one of my very favorite blogs, IHeartOrganizing! Love this! So pretty and easy! Go check it out! And while you're at it, be sure to check out her Cyber Monday sale on all her printable organizational tools!

RRStar's Daily Deals - 21 of them!

Wow! Have you seen today's Daily Deals? There are 21 of them in honor of Cyber Monday and they are all at least 50% off or more. There are deals for restaurants (Bistro 108, Cimino's Pizza), spas (Allure Salon, Bedazzled Salon), boutiques (Perfectly Posh, Roxy Carmichael), edible gifts (Cookies by Design, Edible Arrangements), and so much more!

Some of these would make great Christmas gifts for that "hard-to-buy-for" person . . . and at 50% or more off the regular price, you can't beat it! I'm in desperate need of a cut and color, so I'm checking out all the salon deals - sounds like the Allure Salon and Spa has the best deal on that!

I've put a picture of all the deals below. Happy shopping!

Monday Munchies - Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

Oatmeal is such a yummy hearty breakfast loved by all! Our family tried this pumpkin baked oatmeal and loved it. The house smelled like pumpkin pie. The leftovers are just as delicious. I left out the dried cranberries and apples because the texture for my kids might be too much. We did not top the oatmeal with more sugar as it was sweet enough but we did add a little milk.

The night before I tossed all the dry ingredients in a bowl so in the morning all I had to do was mix in the wet ingredients and bake.

Thanks to The Sweets Life for the great Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal recipe!

Cyber Monday 2011

It's Cyber Monday 2011! As much as I love to shop once it hits Thanksgiving I avoid stores at all cost. My plan is to have all my shopping done by Thanksgiving but when I can't meet that time frame, I turn to the internet. My one rule of buying online is: pay no shipping fees!

Stretching a Buck has a page dedicated to Cyber Monday and coupon codes! Check it out and enjoy shopping from the comfort of your own home . . . no pushing or shoving involved.

Friday, November 25, 2011

ING Orange Account - Black Friday $107 bonus

I love our ING Orange Account! I opened it for a few reasons: I wanted a checking account that I could earn interest on, and I wanted the bonus for signing up! I really like seeing interest getting added every month to my account (granted, it's not a huge amount, but it's getting DEPOSITED not withdrawn!) And the $50 bonus? Well, it was a bonus! After using the debit card just 5 times, I got the $50 deposited into my account. Gotta love that!

It's super easy to pay bills from the account, transfer funds between this account and my local bank . . . and if I wanted to, I could write checks (but I use my local bank account for that instead). All like a regular bank account, except for the brick and mortar part of it.

Right now, for the next 3 days, ING is offering a sweet deal: get a $107 bonus for signing up with them in the next 3 days (by Sunday). Yay! That's better than the bonus I got this summer.

I receive no compensation or bonus for telling you about this. This is just my personal opinion about this product: and it's just such a great deal/bonus that I wanted to share it with you!

Old Navy Groupon - pay $10 for $20 worth

It's back again - Groupon has a $20 Old Navy gift certificate for only $20! Grab one before they sell out!

Just be sure to use it before December 24, after which it will only be worth the $10 you paid for it. That's the nice thing about Groupon . . . even if you forget to use it before the expiration date, you still get what you paid for it. Essentially, you just lose the "bonus" part of it.

Freelance Friday - Did you go out this Black Friday?

So I'm curious! How many of our readers braved the cold (well at least up north here) and the crowds today? I've done it twice only - once in Louisiana when we were down helping with Katrina relief efforts (a pastor's wife down there wanted to go out but didn't want to go alone), and once just for fun with my husband 2 years ago. Now with the many great online sales, I find that Black Friday deals just aren't that appealing to me! And maybe the fact that I have an 8 month old contributes to the "not-wanting-to-wait-in-line-for-2-hours."

And here's a fun blog to go check out on this fall day - thanks to our reader Charmel for pointing it out to us!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Toddler Thursday - Fingerprint Turkey Napkin Rings

Happy Thanksgiving! If you need a quick activity to keep the kids busy this morning while you prepare your turkey, have them create these adorable fingerprint turkey napkin rings! Thanks Make and Takes for the cute idea!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RRStar Daily Deal - 50% off Bagel Place

Today's daily deal is 50% off $15 to use at Bagel Place on State Street in Rockford. This would be a nice breakfast for home (freeze the extra) or office (make everyone happy!)

RRStar Daily Deals are similar to Groupon, but you end up supporting local businesses. How cool is that? If you've never used this type of deal site, you just sign up with your email, and each day's daily deal will be emailed to you. Then, if you're interested in the deal, buy it; if not, do nothing! The deals are available for a limited time, so be sure to take advantage of the deal while it's available. Once you purchase a deal, you will receive an email with a link to print your voucher/certificate (may be a few hours before that comes to your inbox).

Wacky Wednesday - Funny kids through the decades #2

Here are 3 more, continued from last week:

1962 - Five-year-old Vic, who'd recently become the oldest of four children in his family, confided to his Sunday-school teacher, "Daddy doesn't want any more kids because our toothbrush holder is getting all filled up."

1971 - We were on our way to the doctor's office when my 3-year-old asked me if she and I could exchange doctors. Puzzled, I asked her why? "Because," she explained, "my doctor only gives me lollipops and bubble gum. Yours gives out babies!" (Anna Trotta, New York)

1976 - Six-year-old Susan felt quite sorry for her 14-year-old cousin who wore braces. "the Tooth Fairy will never come to your house now that your teeth are all fenced in," she sympathized. (Mrs. M. Shauers; Kansas)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Grocery Store Deals

When it comes to couponing one of our first suggestions is take it SLOW! One way to accomplish that is to pick your favorite store and follow a blog that posts deals on for that store. Then you can just focus on those coupon matchups and those deals.

Common Sense with Money has compiled a list of 100 plus stores and their grocery deals and coupon match ups. Check it out!! Just look for the letters above the pink grocery stores graphic and you can choose Stores A-B, C-F, etc.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday tips and hints

There are a lot of money saving blogs out there that are doing the legwork of comparing Black Friday deals for us! This is SO nice, especially if you are looking for something specific! Personally I don't need anything this year since my Christmas shopping is all done, but if I did, I'd definitely be checking out these websites! Here are two of my favorites:

The Frugal Find is doing an amazing amount of price comparisons! They have a lot of comparisons for electronics and other big ticket items. They also share how Amazon.com is beating a lot of Black Friday prices! (I'd highly suggest following The Frugal Find on Facebook. They have such good tips and sometimes do some really nice giveaways!)
The Frugal Find - Amazon already beats Black Friday prices
The Frugal Find - Black Friday deals

Baby Cheapskate has a lot of price comparisons on baby and kids' stuff. They also highlight and share how Amazon.com does their Black Friday deals.
Baby Cheapskate - How Amazon does Black Friday
Baby Cheapskate - Black Friday deals

And finally, here is an excellent article on making sure you don't overspend . . . not in the sense of spending too much on an item, but on making sure you don't spend too much overall just because "it's a good deal."

Monday Munchies - Peppermint Mocha Latte or "where my French heritage rules the day"

Where you able to snag one of Starbucks' BOGO drinks this weekend? On Saturday while I was out, I stopped by (the line was long) and got myself a Peppermint Mocha and a Caramel Brulée (which, by the way, bugs me because Caramel in French is a masculine noun, not feminine, so it should be Caramel Brulé, not Brulée . . . but that's another story :). I drank the Peppermint Mocha and put the Caramel Brulée in the fridge for the next day. OH.YUM! I think I liked the drink better chilled! Anywho . . .

This morning I was in the mood for dipping some of my buttered toasted homemade bread in either hot chocolate or coffee. Before you think me unsophisticated, this is a very French thing to do. Every morning for breakfast, my French grandmother would get herself a bowl (yes bowl) of coffee, slice up some day-old french bread, butter it, and dip it in her coffee. As a young girl visiting her during the summer, I would do the same, except I'd do it with chocolate milk . . . and when I got older, with café au lait (half coffee, half milk). Ah, the memories.

Anyway, this morning I wanted to dunk my bread in something yummy . . . I saw something on top of my fridge and was inspired to make my version of Starbucks' Peppermint Mocha. Here's what I used:

1 mug of strong coffee
1 peppermint herbal tea bag (that's what I saw on the top of my fridge) or peppermint extract
1 package of hot cocoa
Milk to taste
Whipped cream (which we never buy, but happened to have from some previous thingy)

And this was the delicious result:

Now I understand that not everyone has peppermint tea bags or peppermint extract around their house. You can make a Mocha Latte instead! I happen to have both because Celestial Seasonings tea bags often go on sale and with the common $1 off coupons in the paper, it makes for cheap winter hot drinks. And I make candy cane fudge every year . . . thus the extract. Hmmm, that sounds good. Maybe I'll have to post that recipe later!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aldi price list

I have made a price list of products I purchase on a regular basis at Aldi. This helps me do price comparisons with other stores to see if the "sale price" is really a good deal. Please note that while most items on this list are at a fixed price, I have noticed that some of them do fluctuate: namely milk and eggs. Also, occasionally, Aldi will have a "price drop" (as we saw this week with the butter and crescent rolls), which is nice!

Anyway, hopefully this list can help you too - it's not exhaustive (only the stuff I buy, and I've already noticed I forgot some items), and it's bound to somewhat change, but at least it's something to start with! Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freelance Friday - Apple Candles

What a fun and inexpensive way to dress up your table with apple candles! Apples are inexpensive right now so grab a few extra and make some apple candles.

Thanks to Moms Need to Know for the post!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hilander/Logli vs. Aldi

Here is, as promised, the price comparison chart between the Hilander/Logli and Aldi ads this week. I have bolded the better prices. As you can see, this week is pretty good at Hilander. Oh, and not on this chart is frozen turkey other than Butterball. With any additional $25 purchase, Schnucks brand is $0.37/lb and Honeysuckle is $0.57/lb.

Aldi vs. Hilander? Are you interested?

Something I'd like to start doing is posting some weekly price comparisons of Rockford Aldi vs. Hilander prices . . . but only if that's going to be helpful to you our readers. Would you take the time to comment and let us know if that's something you would like? I want to make sure that if I'm going to put the time into it, it's at least going to be beneficial to some people. Thanks!

As a general rule, Aldi's everyday prices are better than Hilander's . . . this has never been as true as since Schnucks bought Hilander and the prices went up. I have been encouraged this week, however, to see some good prices at Hilander/Logli, so I'll post the price comparison in a subsequent post.

A few things to keep in mind:
1. Unless otherwise noted, the prices at Aldi are for their store brand.
2. Sometimes it is worth paying $0.25 more for an item at one store instead of running to different stores to get the best price.
3. Some of these prices that I'm noting at Aldi are from my "everyday price list" from a few weeks ago. Aldi does have some price drops and sales, and those are usually noted in their flier.
4. Please bear with me as I try to figure out the best way to set up the price comparison. I may experiment with different colors or formats before I choose what works best.
5. If you live outside of Rockford, these prices are probably different . . . and our Hilander prices are actually out of the Schnucks/Logli flier, not Kroger.

Please comment away! I will do a post this week, and depending on the response, this may become a weekly post!

Toddler Thursday - Candy Experiments

Are you wondering what to do with all that Halloween candy, if you still have any? Check out this website of candy experiments. You can have fun experimenting and save on your dental bill all at the same time.

My kids love to experiment so we are definitely going to try some of these. Scroll down on the left hand side and see your different options!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wacky Wednesday - Funny kids through the decades

So I was able to find some cute funnies in my Parents magazine so I thought I'd share some of them here. Since this was from an anniversary issue, they gave some from different decades. Here are a few:

1927 - A mother was telling her kids about the Pilgrims. "Just think, dears, no houses, no schools or churches, and no stores. This is what the brave Pilgrims faced when they landed on Plymouth Rock." Little 5-year-old Priscilla said: "For goodness' sake, why didn't they go to the hotel?" (Mrs. G.L.C., Rhode Island)

1938 - Gayle Marie, not quite 4, was having some difficulty eating her salad. "Eat your salad so you'll grow to be a big girl," her daddy told her. She looked at her father, puzzled, and asked, "What are you eating it for, then, Daddy?" (Mrs. W.J.B., Missouri)

1953 - After Mary had a tonsillectomy, she was heard to remark, "Of the two times I've been in the hospital, I like being born best." (Mrs. H.B.S., Oklahoma)

. . . and my favorite:

1958 - At Sunday school, little Bobby was inspired by the story of Eve's creation from one of Adam's ribs. Later in the day, Bobby felt a pain in his side. "Oh, Mother," he cried. "I think I'm going to have a wife!" (Mrs. Bevan Shaw)

More to come next week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Target.com BOGO 50%

Today and tomorrow, Target.com is having a sale on most all apparel, shoes, and accessories - even the clearance stuff! Plus if you have a Target redcard debit or credit card, you'll get 5% off AND free shipping! I'm pretty excited - got my daughter some cute rainboots (for next fall) and winter boots (for now) for $11, tax included. OK, so now I have to post pictures of the boots :0)

Just a reminder, the 50% comes off the lowest priced item!

Thanks for the heads' up BabyCheapskate!

Money Saving Mom's new book!

As a lot of you may have noticed, we often refer you to some deals or tips that MoneySavingMom posts on her blog. She always has wonderful tips and deal information! I personally follow her blog every day and would highly encourage you to do the same.

This innovative, creative, and frugal mom Crystal has just published a book! Well, it's not out yet (comes out in January) but it's available for pre-order. I'm sure it's going to be full of great ideas and tips on how to save money.

Also, Crystal is generously offering a free copy of her Freezer Cooking ebook to anyone who either pre-orders her new book, tweets about it, posts about it on Facebook, or blogs about it (yes, I'll be getting my free copy . . . now you know! :)

So pre-order or post about the above book, and get this ebook free:

Tuesday Tip - Decluttering before the holidays

I thought this article on 3 Reasons to Declutter Before the Holidays was a simple, direct, and helpful article. I know I have a lot of decluttering to do, but unlike this picture, most of mine is tucked away in a closet. Maybe I should get some of it out and tackle it a little at a time . . . hmmmm . . .

Friday, November 11, 2011

$2 off Udi's Gluten Free Buns

Coupons.com has a coupon for $2/1 Udi Gluten Free hamburger or hot dog buns. (I found it under "foods" on page 3). Print it before they are gone! Remember, you can print it twice!

$30 credit to Paper Coterie

I don't have time to write a post but didn't want anyone to miss out on this opportunity so I'm just posting a link to the page where I found out about this deal! Make a personalized calendar, growth chart, poster, and so many more things! Thanks WeAreThatFamily!

Freelance Friday - DIY photo holiday cards minus the hassle

Becky Higgins has some wonderful freebies on her website, but I have to say I'm pretty excited about these holiday cards! She has 11 different designs - each one lets you insert your own picture (you do have to have some kind of image editing software). I'm excited about this because you can print them on regular 4"x6" photo prints which often go on sale at Walgreens, CVS, Snapfish and Shutterfly.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Auto Zone $25 GC for $15

Quantities are limited, but SaveMore.com is offering a deal today where you can get a $25 GC to Auto Zone for only $15! If you've never signed up with SaveMore.com, you can get a $5 credit by using this link!

Toddler Thursday - Fun Fall Crafts

Here are several fun fall crafts to download from the Moffatt Girls for free. Great ideas! I love the marble painting on the fall leaves and then writing what we are thankful for on them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Today's Daily Deal from RRStar

Today's Daily Deal is for 60% off Perfectly Posh in Rockton, IL. I've gotten a few things from there before - they have some cute stuff! Go check it out!

Wednesday Wisdom - Choices

Hmm, I should print these out to hand out to people who are miserable in their job and who make it their job to make everyone around them miserable too. Oh, and I should probably print some out and pin them all around my house! :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Fall Party Decorating Ideas

Rachel Ray posted 10 great Halloween decorating tips; however, several of these I would use all fall and especially for decorating a table at Thanksgiving! I hope you find something cute you can use!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Meals - Cheater lunch!

So today isn't a recipe . . . it's a deal for Rockford area readers. Rockford Register Star's Radar Frog Daily Deal today is 50% off a meal for two at Jersey Mike's Subs (15" sub, 2 chips, and 2 soft drinks).

My husband and I have been wanting to try this new place out, and this is the perfect way to do it! We've heard it's good, but I'm happy not to pay $18 for a meal!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Freelance Friday - 25 ways to wear a scarf

I love this video of 25 ways to wear a scarf! It is very helpful to a fashion challenged person like me!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Toddler Thursday - Homemade Pumpkin Spice Playdough

Play dough! Who doesn't love play dough! Homemade play dough is easy to make and much softer than store bought, plus if someone ends up eating it well that's okay too! Here is a great recipe for Homemade pumpkin spice play dough from The Moffatt Girls!

Check out the other fun things in her post too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom - Worry

(Or as Jesus said in Matthew 6:34: " Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.")

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday Tip - Make your own seasonings

Did you know that it's pretty easy to make your own seasonings? And it's also cheaper? I've been excited about finding recipes online to make seasoning with spices I already have on-hand at home. Here are 3 of the latest ones I've found.