Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to College Rush Savings Tips

The back to school rush is on everywhere we turn. From store to store to home to college parents and students are rushing to get everything that they need at an affordable cost. 

Do you have kids in college? Are you sending them off to school? Have you taken care of everything at home to prepare them for living away from home for the next few months? It seems like we have list after list that has been made to not forget the little important things to survive school and dorm life. 
As the parent, do you remember going away for the first time? Do you remember  being so focused on finding the best deal on the expensive books you needed, finding your new classes, balancing new life without constant parental interaction, trying to know when to eat and sleep that you had little time to run out and get supplies to keep your laundry clean, dishes done and living environment tidy? Whew! I'm overwhelmed by just typing that all of that out!


When it comes to bulk buying for the back to school rush, Sam's Club offers instant affordability on all the supplies needed to last several months at a time. This is reassuring for us parents to be able to get bulk supplies all at one spot. Sam's Club offers cleaning and laundry supplies, room organization products and all the school supplies needed as well as personal care products to last for months at a time. For young women this does include feminine hygiene products and even snacks & drinks for late night snack attacks.
(Our bulk back to school supplies!)

Why buy in bulk? This is the perfect time to reinforce to your teens and young adults that buying in bulk does save money. The cost of tuition, room and board, and textbooks are some of the areas where we have little control of the needed funds. On the other hand, we can turn to Sam's Club to buy in bulk. This saves families money and it is also a great place to buy back to school supplies.


Do you bulk buy? Do you pass that on to your college kids? When was the last time you popped into Sam's? Before you head out, check out the Sam's Club website where you can see for yourself what they have to offer. 



{Easy Appetizer} Mexican Tortilla Pinwheels

Need a quick snack or an easy appetizer to make for your next party? Try these little pinwheel slices because they are so easy to make and everyone loves them. The best part is that you can add your own variety of vegetables and spices! Have fun with it. Get the kids involved, too!

MexicanTortilla Pinwheels

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups Mexican shredded cheese
8 oz diced green chiles
1 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup yellow peppers, chopped
1/2 cup red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
2 teaspoon taco seasoning
8 soft taco shells (for Christmas I use green and red)
Salsa for dipping

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except taco shells and salsa.
Spread 1/8 of the mixture on each taco shell and roll up.
Wrap each roll in plastic wrap for at least 1 hour before needing to slice.
Remove wrap and slice into 3/4 inch pieces.
Serve with salsa.

Kitchen notes

I make these with ranch, too. Instead of the taco seasoning use Ranch dressing powder. Use any other spices and veggies with this. It is such an easy recipe and it is very flexible.



Printable Coupons & Deals end August 31st



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Customer dissatisfaction vs happy customer #HelloBetter


Which do you think a company prefers? A happy customer or a dissatisfied customer? I do not have a MBA but with working with people most of my life I would say that a company should strive to make customers happy. There is that saying though, you can't make everyone happy all the time. With saying that I want to add, BUT YOU CAN SURE DARN TRY!

Where is this coming from? This spring we found out that our cell phone carrier now charges everyone $30 extra to activate a new phone. This is a new charge with no explanation, on top of all the other charges, that we never had before. We have been long time customers and even on their VIP list, yet it is a useless fee that they won't let anyone out of. Just the fact that we are being told to pay $30 extra every time a new phone is activated is very frustrating which makes us dissatisfied customers (we have 5 cell phones.) It takes just one thing like this to turn a customer to seek out other phone carries. 
How about you? Do you have issues with your cell phone carrier? What type of relationship do you have with them? How long have they been your carrier? Did you know that out of 1,208 participants polled across four regions of the country, 56 percent of the respondents admitted to being unhappy with their carrier over the past year but only 35 percent of all respondents have ever broken up with their provider? Where is your satisfaction level? Take the poll below and let your ring be heard!

Have you hear about Hello Better U.S. Cellular plans that encourage people to say goodbye to dysfunctional wireless relationships and say hello to a better experience? They want us to say goodbye neglect, hello respect!

How does that sound to you? What are you looking for that you aren't getting? Are cell phone companies incapable of a satisfying, long term relationship with their customers? I never thought this until our company started the frivolous $30 fee to even their long term, VIP customers.  Just so you know, we did call the company direct, too!


Are we experiencing the "7-year itch" with our company? Yes I think so! This new fee has us questioning the relationship we have them them. Don't we deserve better? Is there anything better out there? A study conducted by U.S. Cellular indicates that 43 percent of individuals are in this "seven year itch" phase with their wireless provider, noting they are comfortable but suspect they are missing out on something better. 


Switching carries frightens us. I'm sure the cell phone carriers do this on purpose. Even though we are dissatisfied we don't want to break our 5 costly contracts. More than one-third of the poll respondents said that they think all carriers are the same, it is too much trouble to switch and they don't want to sign another costly contract. Does this sound like you? I know we can relate.

Just as we had our 2nd new phone activated under the new frivolous $30 fee since spring we have heard the buzz about U.S. Cellular offering unique benefits to their customers. They are offering the only points-based rewards program (they actually want a long term relationship), give freedom of no contract after the first contract ends (so they want you as a customer and won't make you sign and resign a costly contract to make you stay), free incoming calls and texts (did I mention I have 3 teen girls?), free Overage Protection and free battery swap (we always need a new battery before the contract ends) for your device. 

U.S. Cellular believes that we deserve better. They are listening to what their customers want and making it happen. I want simple and easy, don't you? U.S. Cellular treats their customers like neighbors, not numbers. What are you to your carrier? Just another $30 fee or an actual neighbor with a family who needs a simple and easy cell phone carrier? If you are on twitter, use the hashtag #HelloBetter and see what others are saying about their carrier vs. U.S. Cellular. 

I participated in this sponsored post campaign forOne2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

DIY Initial pearl door wreath & bow

Are you ever inspired by what you have seen on Pinterest? Have you ever made any of the crafts or recipes that you pin on your boards? If you are a regular reader here you know that my teen daughter has a series, "Because I saw it on Pinterest." 
Besides her posting about Pinterest projects, I have made quite a few recipes and have many more to try! How about you?

Today I'm featuring a Pinterest inspired project from my Auntie! She made the Initial Pearl Door Wreath & Bow

Auntie finally took the plunge and signed up with Pinterest a few months back. She has fun collection boards which include: 




Here is what she has to say about Pinterest, "I confess I'm an addicted pinner."

Can you all relate?

Here are her instructions to DIY Initial Pearl Door Wreath & Bow

Materials

  • wooden initial
  • paint- whatever color you want the initial
  • bag of various sized pearls
  • glue
  • clear acrylic spray
  • ultra fine glitter
  • ribbon for bow
How to
  • Paint wooden initial. Let dry.
  • Paint a thin later of glue on initial. Add on pearls.
  • When finished, mix a little water with glue. Give the project a painted wash with this mixture. Let dry over night.
  • Spray the initial with clear acrylic and sprinkle on the ultra fine glitter while it is wet. 
  • When dry, tie on bow and hang on door.
Do you need help making a perfect bow? Check the Bowdabra Blog for tutorials.



Super easy!



Looking for another easy door wreath? Check HERE for my featured wreath over at the Bowdabra Blog today. 

Here is one initial wreath that is similar to the one made today. This was is from Our Unexpected Journey  and it is on Pinterest

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tween First Period and how to break the ice

I don't know about your kids but my teen daughters are always finding fun ways to break the ice when meeting new people or when in with an awkward crowd. They are always coming up with some good ones. I've never been one to come up with a good line. How about you?

What got me thinking of this? I've had several friends ask me how I "broke the ice" and started discussing the first period talk with my daughters.  My husband and I had been preparing them for years for the talk (check here for my post where I mentioned the books we used-Learning About Sex series.) I knew that their body changes would signal when I would need to start discussing the actual first period.  Guess what? Even though I knew the facts, I went into momma panic mode after the twins turned 10 years old. They were headed, alone, to a summer camp. It was only 1 week long but it was 2 hours away.  For some reason I went in an all out panic momma mode and decided that I needed to have the talk the night before they left.

Why did I panic? I started my first period when I was 10 and just knew that was when they would start. I knew that they had some physical body changes but my panic momma mode didn't let me see that they would not be starting that first period anytime soon, especially within the next week. Do you know what physical changes their body will have before starting? Check here for wonderful tips on preparing for the talk and click on facts about puberty.

My point is for you to educate yourself on puberty changes, read everything available to you and don't go in an all out momma panic mode. You only panic when stressed and I was stressed about them leaving. Don't let stress ruin everything that you have been preparing for. My ice breaker was, "ok girls you are going away for a week and I want to tell you about something that might happen while you are gone." glup. Don't do that. Really, I did that!! The twins told me years later that I freaked them out. They didn't even start for another 3 years. Over those next few years, we had many talks to help them be prepared and not scared.

I don't think that there has to be any formal break the ice plan. If you haven't started talking to your daughters and you don't know where to start, I suggest checking out The Kotex site for tweens. This site will prepare you for any up and coming talks. Check out the link above for the facts about puberty. It really is one of the most helpful things on the site that I used for my youngest daughter. The other site to check out is U by Kotex for more detailed changes for tweens and teens. I do suggest you checking out both sites before sending your daughter there.

I am a U by KotexTween Ambassador and have written several post on this topic. Check out my other post, HERE!

I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by KotexTween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Back to School with 5 Easy Meal, $1.25 coupon and link up

My favorite item from last week is Cookies 'N Cream Freezer Cake by Busy Mom's Menu Plan. Doesn't this look awesome? Guess what? It only takes 5 minutes to make!

Here are my 5 quickest meals for weeks when I know that we are going to be super busy. I hope you find them helpful.  Some are recent repeats but worth repeating. I have about 30 more recipes to add to my blog but I have been real short on time. I hope to get some new ones posted by next week.

What are your go-to meals? 

DO you want a $1.25 coupon for Scott Brand product? Enter below to sign up for their FREE Scott Shared Values Reward program and get an instant coupon. You don't even need to leave my page to sign up! How cool is that? 
Leave the links below for your quick meals, your menu plan or any other recipes that you want to share! Next week I will feature the top clicked post. Last week we did have quite a few that got a lot of clicks. They are below!
MondayAsian Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing - this is so easy to make if you buy the chicken already cooked. I pick up 2 Rotisserie chickens when I'm going to make this salad. We usually eat it for 2 days and do not get tired of it! The dressing is the only thing that needs to be made and it is worth it. 
Tuesday- Easy Homemade Meatballs & Spaghetti- I"m sure everyone has a go to meal and this is one of them for us. The meat balls are so worth being homemade. I suggest making 3 meals worth of meat balls and freezing them for a quick and easy meal. I buy the healthiest pasta that I can find and my family eats it. Once it is covered in sause and parmesan cheese no one knows how healthy it is! I just purchased Ronzoni Garden Delight- enriched with carrot, tomato & spinach pasta blend spaghetti to try this week. I'll let you know how they like it.
Wednesday- Cook breakfast! Chocolate Chip Pancakes and bacon or sausage. They meat can be cooked ahead of time but the pancakes I make to serve.

Thursday-Pizza Soup- We love this and I make it when we have company, too! It is always a hit and can last for 2 meals or be frozen for another time.

Friday- Fiesta Burgers! Yummy and easy. Of course you don't have to make them this way but grilled burgers are always a hit and super easy. Serve the meal with veggie sticks and a fruit salad. Easy peasy!

I link up at orgjunkie.com and always check out 3 Boys and a Dog menu!

Top clicked from last week

35+ Easy Recipes for Back to School - dinner, lunch and snack or afters chool snack ideas by Crystal & Co.- I've already made a few of these and they are tasty!
Healthy Weekly Menu Plan by Jennifer at Health Kitchen Guide- what tasty ideas she has over on her blog! I can't wait to start cooking some of them!
Semi Homemade Mom, Kelly, shared her menu plan which got quite a few clicks. I am adding this Green Monster Smoothie to my list of to-dos! I alway love stopping in at her blog.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Scott. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating and am able to earn additional rewards throughout the campaign.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Join Scott Shared Values Program for Deals, Rewards & Coupons

How do you handle the rising cost at the grocery store? Are you a coupon user? Do you buy in bulk? How about group buying co-ops? Are you part of any shared rewards program? I personally love using coupons but find that I end up printing way more than I need or should print off. A lot of them never get used. I also end up buying things that I do not necessarily need to buy which doesn't help cut cost. I love trying new products and usually do with a coupon. Unfortunately I'm not saving much money when I do this.

I just recently found out about the Scott Shared Values Consumer Rewards program which targets consumers to give them what they need to help cut cost. It is great to cut cost and get rewarded for your use in the program as well as the friends & family you share it with. 

I signed up for the reward program and it works! I get coupons and rewards for my self and I can share with with my family and friends. This allows us to get full benefits on products we already use and keeps us from printing and buying products we don't really want. Does this make sense? Do you want to know more? 



The program can be accessed here at my link, Scott Shared Values Program and will take you 1 minute to sign up. As soon as you sign up you will have access to unique deals and offers. Click on your deal which will be a coupon or promo code. You then get to share that deal with all your family and friends! You can even share it on your blog! How sweet is that? Up above you can see some of the current rewards. 

When you sign up you will get an immediate coupon for $1.25. This is yours and you then click to share it with your family and friends. 

So are you wanting to earn rewards in the Scott Shared Values Program? Here are some of the current rewards.

-Family Fun Pass - free admission to one of thousands of participating attractions and amusement parks nationwide.

-Hertz rental car discounts.

-3 free Blockbuster Total Access rentals.

-$0.75 coupon for Scott Extra Soft Bath tissue or Scott paper towels.


Click here Scott Shared Values Program to get registered today! Or sign up below. Super easy! Let me know when you sign up! Please share my post and let others know about the Scott Shared Values Program!

.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Scott. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating and am able to earn additional rewards throughout the campaign

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adult Craft Ideas and Pinterest Linky


Hey Crafters! I just opened up a new Pinterest Board called, Adult Crafts. You know the ones you made that you are really proud of or that you have given a repin to from another awesome blogger? Share those crafts with me so that I can pin them into my Adult Crafts board. I want to see them!

I'm also looking for contributors for the board. All that means is that you have access to the board and can pin directly to it. It is a great way to increase your Pinterest followers and meet new, crafty people! To join the board, reply in the comments with your pinterest ID or email me at cafescrapper@gmail.com. 
While you are here today, stop over and enter in The Crafters Dream Giveaway! I have 3 giveaway prizes and there are 19 other bloggers with crafty giveaways!!! Check it out! 

So link up crafts or anything else that you want to get a pin!


HOW TO JOIN THE LINKY below- (do any of the following)

1) Pin this Party Post to Pinterest- Please! Why? To let others know about the party. It advertises the party so more people see it which in turn more people will see what you pin and give you traffic.

2) Add your Pinterest name to the linky. If you aren't on Pinterest and want an invite, leave a comment and emailaddy.

3) Link up anything you want to be pinned! No limit. We just ask that you make sure your post has a decent picture.

4) In turn pin a few things on the linky.

5) If you want to host the party on your blog, scroll down and take the code. Make your own Pinterest Saturday page. That way you will get more attention to your blog.

Please follow my boards on Pinterest- SusieQTpies Scraps of Life and cohost  Crystal and Company and  3 Boys and a Dog. We do follow back.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Crafter's Dream Giveaway hop with hot prizes


Are you ready to enter and win craft giveaways? Then you are in the right place! Welcome to A Crafter's Dream Group Giveaway, hosted by My Merry Messy Life, Earning My Cape and Little Becky Homecky. 

There are 20 bloggers who are each offering her own giveaway worth $25 or more, all related to crafts and homemade crafty goodies. 

Once you enter my 3 crafty giveaway, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post and hop from blog to blog, entering as many as you want! How does that sound? I'm excited to enter these giveaways, too!

Besides checking out the below list, you can use hashtag #ACraftersDream on Twitter to find out about other great prizes being offered or to help spread the word. We'd be so grateful if you did! 

These awesome giveaways will run Thursday Aug. 24 at midnight until September 2nd.

What are my giveaways? I have 3 of them for you from 3 wonderful sponsors.

#1 Amazon $25 Gift Card to buy whatever craft supplies you want

#2 $25 value Scrapbook and Paper Crafting Giveaway

#3 $25 value Jewelry & Jewelry Crafting Supply Giveaway

To enter use the below Rafflecopter form. It is so easy to do and I offer quite a few different entries. Do the 2 mandatory and all the rest are optional. The more you enter the better your chance. Once you enter my form check out all the other blogs and enter their giveaways, too!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wild Salmon Patties & Quinoa - 4 Thumbs up!

I love a good Salmon and Crab patty! I've never found a recipe that I like so I don't make them. I'm always hesitant in ordering them at a restaurant. I don't like a fishy taste. I like chunky, flaky meat. I also want my patty to be moiston the inside and crisp on the outside.

Guess what?
I found a Salmon patty recipe that wasn't fishy, it had chunk, flaky meat and was moist inside and crisp outside!! Best yet I can order and make it myself!!!!


"This Meal Kit contains the perfect blend of ingredients to make great-tasting and nutritious salmon patties the entire family will love! You give us 2 eggs and 10 minutes and we’ll give you 4-6 great-tasting and nutritious salmon patties the entire family can enjoy! To make these patties, simply open our bag of specially blended mix and two cans of wild sockeye salmon (included), add 2 eggs (from your kitchen), form into patties, and saute, grill, or bake for 6 minutes. No hunting for ingredients, no measuring , and no chopping-- everything has been done for you."

The Meal Kit Contains: 1 bag of spice mix, 1 bag Quinoa with vegetables, and 2 cans of wild sockeye salmon.

Their site also states "Our wild (not farm-raised!) sockeye salmon from Vitalchoice is fantastic, the side dish of quinoa with vegetables is delicious, and we provide just the right amount of whole wheat bread crumbs, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, black pepper, and crushed red pepper."

(Post from 2009) I had never made Quinoa before. I've heard people say that the have made it and it never turns out. For my first experience it turned out super! It was very easy to make. I baked it like the directions stated. Now that I've eaten it I plan on adding fresh herbs to it next time. It would be yummy with toasted pine nuts, almonds or pecans tossed too!
Nutrition Information is a big concern when ordering kits. Rest assure that Healthy Pantry is just as concerned. This is what they have to say about the salmon patty:

"Each patty contains a whopping 33 grams of protein and nearly 1200 grams of heart-friendly Omega-3 fatty acids! Research by the American Heart Association has shown that Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart attacks, lower triglycerides, and even lower blood pressure."
and "Wild Salmon is also the richest food source of Vitamin D and Astaxanthin. A single patty contains nearly 100% of the recommended allowance of Vitamin D, which offers uniquely strong bone-building and anti-cancer benefits. Astaxanthin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is a carotenoid-class antioxidant." Finally, "we've added some fiber to these patties in the form of whole grain bread crumbs. Fiber fills us up, slows the release of energy from food, and improves the processes. Getting adequate fiber is an important part weight and appetite control, and has also been shown to have other significant health benefits."

My husband and I loved the patties! We ate them for two days! You can easily cut this recipe in half if you are making it for two. I just made it all at once. We both gave double thumbs up and will order this again! We had lemon slices to splash on for that extra zing.

I have two wishes for this kit. First, it would be awesome if The Healthy Pantry would come up with a tasty and healthy sauce to eat with this. Second, would be able to have the option to just order the Salmon spice packet kit without the Salmon. This would allow me to make the patties with leftover Salmon from a previous meal!

If you have a recipe that you want to be made healthier just fill out their Recipe makeover form! Check out a previous post on a meal kit from The Healthy Pantry! Click to read about their Yummy Gourmet Turkey Asian Burgers!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Green Teen- Top 5 Ways to Save the World!


NO trees were harmed while I wrote this post.

I just finished reading, The Green Teen by Jenn Savedge. You can find her hiding out at www.g2ggreen.org. Her site states that she "is a full-time mom, environmentalist, and author who researches and writes about the two topics that are closest to her heart: children and the environment. As a former park ranger for the National Park Service, Jenn traveled the U.S., learning about the environment in some this country’s most breath-taking wild places. She currently resides with her husband and daughters in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia."

Her two passions filled the entire book! The Green Teen was totally focused on educating the teens on all the environmental buzz words. Her fun writing style will grab the attention of any teen ( I know because I have three) and explain to them how they can take on such issues such as "What can I do about Global Warming, Air Pollution, Deforestation, Sweatshops and Saving the Planet".

She breaks it down in her Top 5 Ways! Each section followed the same format-How to Green something, Top 5 Ways to start, Why Bother doing it, G2G Green Tips, Planning stage with ideas and tips on how to go about it and my last two favorite steps were How to Get your Parents Involved and Surfing Sites! She also included teens who have made an impact with their projects. She clearly pointed out that if you want to Save Your World then start with yourself, your home and your school. Once you've done that then "take it to the streets" and get your idea moving through your community!


Please leave a comment and tell me what you are doing that is "Green"! Thanks!

This is over----To celebrate the book's release, Jenn is going on a blog tour and she'd like to invite fellow Twittermoms to join in the fun! Email EJ Hurst at New Society Publishers, EJ@newsociety.com, with your name, URL, and twitter ID to receive a free electronic copy of The Green Teenfor review. Just for fun, Jenn and New Society Publishers will give a $100 gift card to the Twittermom whose review receives the most comments. The winner will be announced at The Green Teen Twitter Party on May 29th at 9pm EST (#TheGreenTeen) See you there!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School Tips to Make the School Year Less Stressful

All 3 of my girls are away from home full time for school this year. We've homeschooled the past 6 years so this year we had to do different things to get them ready to go. One is a freshman in high school and the other two are classified as homeschool high school seniors as well as 2nd year college students. So everyone had different back to school needs. Here are tips on making the school year less stressful no matter what grade they are in this year! 

Out of all three, the freshman needed the most little things for back to school. Year after year she would reuse folders, never needed a lunch box or backpack or even brand new supplies and clothes. With homeschooling, you reuse it until it can't be used anymore and buy all year instead the week before school starts! To go along with her new school, she got all new supplies, shoes and clothes. We are fortunate enough to be able to provide the tools needed for back to school. That isn't the case for every student in America.
Did you know that the Boys and Girls Club of America wants to help you, too? No, maybe you don't need help getting clothes and supplies for your kids but you might need easy to find, helpful homework tips, fitness and bully information as well as college and reading tips. Click here to get more tips as well as access all the other resource pages from BGCA

Are you all set for back to school? Do you buy last minute or do you spread out your buying? Do you have any good tips or resources to share related to school? Feel free to leave them in the comments! I would love to read them or check out your blog post.

More Back to School Tips

Back to School Security Issues for Kids
Free Common Core Standards eBooks
Get Back To School Organized
Make the school year less stressful this year
10 Teen Budget Saving Tips
Tips for Teen Back To Shopping Deals
Top 5 Ways to Save Big for Back to School...while teaching the kids a lesson
Top 10 Ways to Save $ for Back to School
Wake Up Shake up the Morning Routine



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