Tag Archives: savings

Making Breakfast Easy | Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

23 Nov

Clearly I’m obsessed with pumpkin. I’ve fallen head over heels for the flavors of Fall. Last night my friend Dillan (Instagram handle: dillandigi) posted a photo of an overnight pumpkin oatmeal he was prepping for the morning. This was the inspiration for the recipe that I’m posting here today.

A few weeks ago, when Kate was traveling in Texas for work, I made myself pumpkin oatmeal in the slow cooker. It had good flavor, but it made a ton and the edges got kind of well done. So last night, I was looking online for overnight refrigerated oatmeal recipes, but decided that I might not like the texture, or that they might not be to my liking once heated up (since I didn’t want cold oatmeal this morning). Of course, typical me, I decided to wing a pumpkin oatmeal recipe this morning, inspired by this Choco-Banana-Chia Oatmeal recipe that Dillan posted on his blog in September (it’s especially tasty)!

pumpkinoats

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

1/2 c Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1 c boiling water
1 TBS 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 TBS chia seeds
1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch all natural sea salt (fine)
1 TBS organic dried cranberries

1) Add boiling water to the oatmeal and stir. I like my oatmeal a little on the thicker side, so I also microwave the oats and boiling water for 25 seconds, then stir.

2) Add pumpkin, chia seeds, coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice and stir.

3) Top with maple syrup, a pinch of salt and dried cranberries.

4) Enjoy!

Notes:
– Be sure to keep a close eye on your oatmeal in the microwave, if left unsupervised it can overflow & leave a mess.
– If you like your oatmeal unsweetened, omit the maple syrup–or for a less sweet option, reduce the syrup to 1 tsp.
– Feel free to use oats that are not gluten-free, the recipe would work just as well.
– Other delicious toppings would include: sprouted almonds, toasted pecans, or whipped cream.

Another great advantage of this recipe is that it is really healthy and costs almost nothing to make. All of the ingredients included in this recipe were items we had in our pantry–can’t get much better than that! 🙂

Gettin’ Old is Rough | DIY Easy Entry Litter Box

19 Nov

We have a 17.5 year old cat. His name is Sitar, and he is the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. I had originally gotten him when he was 4 yeas old from a coworker of mine who was moving back to the west coast and couldn’t take him on the plane with him.

Sitar is a Maine Coon/Siamese mix and apparently his original owner had chosen him out of a litter, he was the most Siamese looking kitten of the bunch and fit in the palm of his hand. He grew to 27lbs at his heaviest!

Fast forward four years, I’m living at my parents’ house and Sitar has become my new roommate. My aunt calls him a lion cub, and he wins over my dad’s heart.

from 2009 one of my favorite Sitar photos

from 2009 one of my favorite Sitar photos

I know he doesn’t get much screen time on the blog these days. He spends most of his time sleeping in a dog bed at the end of our bed, settled into an oldie routine, he knows his meal schedule, and is sure to remind us whenever he can! He isn’t as limber as he once was, he seems stiffer as the years get on. So I decided to research an easier entry litter box for him, so he could just step inside instead of having to hop in and out.

My research did not yield many results for plain easy large covered litter boxes. I found one at Target, by Boots and Barkley, that was large and covered and had a lower opening it retailed for $23.99. I did read a bunch of posts
online, about making your own out of a Sterilite or Rubbermaid container with a lid. So I decided to try it.

DIY easy entry litterbox (L)

DIY easy entry litterbox (L)

Materials

1 18 Gallon Sterilite Storage Bin with Lid (available at Target for $5.49)

1 box cutter or sharp scissors

1 ruler

1 Sharpie Marker

Directions

1) Measure the height of the opening of the current litter box that your senior cat is using. Sitar’s litter box opening was 8″ from the ground. I knew I wanted it to be lower, but he needed to have a little bit of a wall so he wouldn’t have an accident and pee outside of the box, so I made the opening 4″ from the floor.

2) The actual shape and design of the Sterilite container is perfect to use as the opening of the litter box. I just measured 4″ from the floor and then traces the rest of the shape of the plastic front. As seen in the photo above it mimicked the shape of his original litter box opening.

3) Using a box cutter, I cut the straight line of the bottom of the opening first, then continued to cut the rest of the opening outline.

4) Fill the new easy entry litter box with the brand of litter that your elderly cat currently uses. It should be filled about 2-3″ deep. Cover the box with the lid and place it where the old litter box was living.

Notes:
– Sitar is on day four of using his new box, and everything seems great.
– Sitar uses World’s Best Cat Litter with no scent, and it seems to work best for him, since he is probably like having two cats anyway.
– He definitely has an easier time getting into this one, he just steps in and does his business.
– Our friends Casey & Dave modified the litter box that their cat, Wee Wee, was using by cutting the opening down to the floor and that worked for her. That is an alternative to buying a container, if your cat tends to not go to the bathroom right at the front of the box.

sitar our dusty old man

sitar our dusty old man

Sitar loves Halo Spot’s Stew canned food, My Little Lion cat treats, and messing with his two Boston Terrier brothers. He has also been known to enjoy the occasional piece of Sara Lee Turkey Breast and adventures in the great outdoors our tiny back deck. His favorite time of year is Christmas, mainly because it is when we get a real tree and he loves to drink the fresh water for the tree. It’s when the outdoors come in for the holidays 🙂

Two For One | Shredded Chicken & Enchilada Sauce

28 Jan

Make it count Monday, two recipes in one blog post. My ever thrifty self has been trying to meal plan on my day off and make the majority of our meals at the beginning of the week in order to have stress free healthy meals during the week when work is in full gear.

I’ve been using these simple principles:
– Cook at least one protein in the crock pot. Why you ask? Here are my tips… I can stretch one protein such as pork tenderloin, boneless spare ribs, chicken breasts, steak tips, etc. into about 2 -3 meals for Kate and I. Of course I get creative mainly because I can’t stand having the same thing over and over. One week we had steak tips cooked in the crock pot that we had with mashed sweet potatoes and kale chips, which then turned into asian spiced steak tacos with corn soft tacos and fresh lime juice.
– Save your money! Using the crock pot to cook at least one meal a week will save you money on utilities. One of my favorite crock pot recipe blogs, A Year of Slow Cooking, listed that there is documentation that suggests that a slow cooker uses approximately $0.02 of power per hour and that the monthly cost of using a slow cooker is $1.17. The slow cooking method of crock pots lends itself perfectly to less expensive cuts of meat that can be tough if not cooked using the low and slow method.
– Save your time! I only make slow cooker meals that require little to no prep ahead of time. That means less prep time, less dishes, and more time to spend with Kate and the pups 🙂

This week I made the recipe below originally posted on The Honest Company Blog.

Easiest Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
serves 4

Ingredients
3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (fresh or frozen)

1 16oz jar of your favorite salsa
1 onion finely chopped

Steps
1) Pour 1/3 of the jar of salsa covering the bottom of the crock pot

2) Layer the chopped onion over the salsa

3) Nestle the chicken breasts into the onion and salsa that is covering the bottom of the crock pot

4) Cover the chicken breasts with the remaining 2/3 jar of salsa

5) Cover and cook fresh chicken breasts on LOW for 7 hours. If you used frozen chicken breasts cook on HIGH for 6 hours.

Notes:
1) I used fresh chicken breasts and came out amazing, super moist and tender. Yum!
2) The salsa I used was Spike’s Salsa and it was the medium variety, but feel free to use whatever suits your heat level. I discovered Spike’s Salsa one week when it was on sale at the grocery store, it is really good and costs a fraction of the other bigger named salsa brands.
3) I removed the cooked chicken from the crock pot and shredded it using two forks, it basically falls apart on its own so you could use your hands if you want.
4) To store it, I placed the left over shredded chicken in a food safe storage container, we use these Anchor Hocking True Seal glass containers, then I added about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking juices that were at the bottom of the slow cooker. Only use enough to mix into the shredded chicken to keep it moist.

sauce
Tonight I’m turning the left over shredded chicken into an Enchilada Casserole using a homemade enchilada sauce I made this afternoon.

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Tomato Enchilada Sauce
inspired by America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients
1 TBS canola oil

1 14.5oz can of Organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 onion diced
3 garlic cloves minced
1 Fresno chile finely diced, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sugar
2 TBS salsa
1/2 c water

Steps

1) Heat oil in a 1.5 – 2 QT sauce pan using med/low heat.

2) Start to cook onion, garlic, and chile in the heated oil to soften about 5 mins.

3) Add remaining ingredients and stir.

4) Bring sauce to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

5) Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

6) Remove pan from heat, using an immersion blender submerge into sauce and blend until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender a food processor or blender would work just as well.

7) Enjoy!

Notes:
1) The enchilada sauce recipe is totally vegan and low-fat!
2) It will freeze well in a freezer safe storage container, try using a canning jar just remember to leave approximately 1 inch of room in the jar before screwing on the lid.

 

Weekly Deals | World’s Best Cat Litter Rebate

27 Apr

Disclaimer: Cat appears true to size, no magnification was used in this photo, he’s just big-boned!
Sitar came into my life in 1999, when he was 4 years old. His original owner was a friend of mine from work, who had bought him from a breeder, yes.. an intentional Maine Coon & Siamese mix. He was the only one in the litter that looked the most like a Siamese cat and fit in the palm of my friend’s hand.
Fast forward 4 years later and there I am the proud owner of what most described as a “lion cub!” Owning Sitar has always been a challenge. He is one of a kind, and let’s be real at one point he was the weight of two “normal” sized cats weighing in at a whopping 27 lbs. This leads me to this week’s deal: Litter.

I’ve always struggled with litter and Sitar, whether it be the size of the litter box, being too small of course. Or the fact that for some time I was forced to use a multicat litter for my one enormous cat, ha! Some brands track dust and others have clay that gets everywhere, not favorable in the least, especially in apartment living where we have limited space.
I first read about World’s Best Cat Litter on a local pet sitter’s blog and was intrigued. She had totally endorsed it and had posted testimonials from happy clients that she had encouraged to make the switch.

World’s Best Cat Litter is a natural clumping cat litter made from kernel corn. I’ve found that it is super absorbent and has stellar odor control, even in our tiny apartment office where the dreaded litter box is located. They often offer coupons attached to the bags of litter, online, as well as frequent rebate opportunities.

Currently they are offering a FREE bag rebate for any 7 or 8 lb bag. You just need to sign up on their website, print out the rebate form, include the original receipt, and the UPC bar code from the bag of litter you purchased.

Click HERE to take advantage of the World’s Best Cat Litter Free Mail-In Rebate Offer.
 

Recycle…Repurpose…Repeat | Yoga Mat Revival

19 Apr

Earth Day is this weekend so recycling, etc. has really been on my mind recently. And if you haven’t figured it out already, Jess & I are also thrifty/resourceful by nature.

We got a new little rug for in front of the kitchen sink and I was sick of it slipping on the tile floor. I’ve bought non-slip-under-the-rug things from bargain stores but they don’t work that well so I’ve decided to stop wasting money on them — it all adds up! I’m too thrifty to invest in a more expensive option until we have our own house. I figured there had to be an alternative that would work well & possibly offer a little more cushion…then…bing! Idea! Light bulb above head & everything. I remembered seeing my old yoga mat tucked away in the corner of our closet when I was hunting for  my Spring/Summer clothes.

I laid the yoga mat out on the floor; measured a length & width about 1/4″-1/2″ smaller than the rug I wanted to put it under; marked it with a Sharpie marker & then cut it with sharp scissors. It’s been working perfectly & it adds a nice bit of cushion, too (which is great since we’re at the sink every night washing dishes…I can’t wait until we own a home…with a dishwasher!).

I put the remaining piece of yoga mat under a throw that’s on top of a trunk at the base of our bed (the dogs & cat like to use it as a step up to the bed & it’s an antique). It’s holding the throw in place nicely & we no longer have to forever fuss with it to keep it in check. Besides, now the boys have a little bit more of a cushion for jumping, too.

I’m not the only one who has thought of reusing/recycling/repurposing old yoga mats. I found this great link while setting out to write this post. So many awesome ideas!

My favorites are 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 18, 26, 29, 31, 49.
#26 made me wonder if yoga mat would make a good baby changing mat? What about cutting a clean yoga mat down to a smaller size & tucking it your diaper bag? It’s so easy to wipe clean & would make changing away from home a little less stressful.

So…how do you plan to celebrate Earth Day? What things have you cleverly recycled or repurposed?

Weekly Deals | Alaway Eye Drops, Right Guard Deodorant & Scott Toilet Paper

17 Apr

Disclaimer: pup did not actually use any of the products posted in this photo!

When Kate & I met, almost seven years ago, I was living in a one bedroom apartment and my only “roommate” was Sitar, my then 9-year-old, 25 lb,  Maine Coon/Siamese cat. Little did Kate know that dating, then marrying me would be a “package deal” because if she was dating me, she was dating Sitar too…for better or worse. There was just one catch, she was allergic to cats (and we’re talking about an allergy to normal sized cats). We quickly discovered that if she was going to spend any time at my place she would have to take drugs to help with her allergy. One night I had the bright idea that she should take the Benadryl that was in my medicine cabinet to help. Oh it helped, but she promptly fell asleep on the couch. At first I thought it was me — maybe she was bored or not that into hanging out — but to my relief it was actually just drowsiness from the Benadryl! Ha!

These days she takes 24-hour non-drowsy generic Claritin and uses Alaway eye drops. Now that’s love.

This week’s deal via CVS Pharmacy

  1. Alaway: Original price: around $14/box. On sale this week for $9.99. Using a $4.00 coupon I cut out from the CVS circular in the Boston Globe on 4.15.12, my total cost was just $5.99/box.
  2. Right Guard Total Defense 5 Deodorant: Original price: $4.50/deodorant. On sale this week for 2/$6. I used a $2.00 coupon that I printed from redplum.com. Total cost = $4.00 for 2 deodorants. Also, with this transaction I earned $2 extra bucks for my next visit.
  3. Scott Extra Soft Toilet Paper: Original price: around $10. On sale this week for $6.99 (for a 12 or 18 pack). Using a $1.00 coupon I cut out from the Boston Globe on 3.25.12, my cost was $5.99. But wait…I still had my $2 Extra Bucks from my previous deodorant purchase! Including that, my total cost was $3.99 for 18 rolls of toilet paper! Woo hoo!!

Tips…

  • I always cut out coupons for household staples like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc. Even if you have enough the week you do your shopping, the coupons usually don’t expire for a few months so you can use them along with a sale at another time to save $$$.
  • To maximize my savings at CVS this trip, I split my order up into two transactions so I could make use of the Extra Bucks I had earned that day.

Weekly Deals | Silk Soy & Smart Balance Milk

11 Apr

Disclaimer: pup not included!

Kate & I are a two “milk” household. I drink regular cow’s milk in my coffee & she drinks soy milk in hers. Oh and I tend to have more vegan bake-offs using soy milk than she would like..ha!

This week’s deal via Shaw’s Supermarket

  1. Smart Balance Milk: On sale this week! 2/$6 = $3 per 1/2 gallon of milk. Using a $.75 coupon (which Shaw’s doubles!) I cut out from the Smart Source circular in the Boston Globe on 4.1.12, my total cost was $1.50. Woo hoo!
  2. Silk Soy Milk: Original price: $3.99 per 1/2 gallon. I used a $.75 coupon (which again doubled at Shaw’s for a savings of $1.50) that I printed from the Silk website. Total cost = $2.49.

Tips…

  • To get the Silk coupon: go to the Silk website > click on the coupon link at the top of the page > register on the site > print your coupon.
  • Many brands offer loyal customers coupons online (if you register on their websites). Websites I have gotten valuable coupons from (just by registering or signing up for a newsletter) include: Chobani, Silk, Hunt’s, Wellness pet foods, Halo pet foods & Method.
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