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Monday, November 30, 2009

Morning Coffee: The USO's On Patrol Magazine

I've received several issues of the USO's quarterly magazine, On Patrol. It's simply fabulous. I'm always left in awe of the courage of our country's service members, and a strong urge to do what I can to help. I already donate money to the USO (as I mentioned before, I like to donate to Operation Phone Home). Now I'm thinking that I will start sending packages through AnySoldier.com. The boys will get a kick of that, too.

Today is the last day of Amazon's Black Friday Deals Week(I think). Again, there are a lot of Lightning Deals, including a Dell Laptop(regularly $499.99) at 10 a.m. PST, Taylor Swift's Fearless (Platinum Edition, CD & DVD)(regularly $14.99) at 2 p.m. PST, and many mystery deals. You can also find deals in Electronics,Video Games,DVDs,Toys,and more.

Mommy Snacks has details on how to get free Sharpies to go with your free Duracell batteries from Staples. Don't forget to go through Ebates or another shopping portal for cash back! (Learn more about Ebates here.)

Coupon Saving Family has details on how to get $25 worth of free scrapbooking supplies. Note: I could not get the store site to load for me, probably because the server is so busy.

Toys R Us has an online only Cyber Monday Sale.

Finally, if you're looking for something specific or want to peruse a whole bunch of deals, check out GottaDeal.com.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review & Giveaway: Hallmark Recordable Cards & Gold Crown Gift Cards (2 winners)

Hallmark sent me a couple of recordable holiday cards to try out, and I have to say, they are fabulous. They are going to make wonderful greetings for relatives who don't live nearby – I just love the idea of being able to give the boys' voices to them. The best part is, the cards are affordable and incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is remove the tab from the center, then hold down on the button inside and wait for the beep. After your greeting, a song will play – and you can pick a card and song that goes with the intent of your greeting (holiday, birthday, etc.). If you have farflung loved ones who will miss you this season, I definitely recommend checking out the recordable cards at your local Gold Crown store.

And to help you stay within your gift-giving budget, Hallmark is giving 2 lucky CFO readers a $25 Gold Crown gift card. Note that the gift cards can only be used at Gold Crown stores, and not online.
To enter this giveaway, simply fill out the form below. (If you're reading this in a feed aggregator or email, you may need to click through to the post to reach the form. If you're having trouble filling out the form, try going directly to the published form.)

For an additional entry, subscribe to CFO via RSS or email and fill out the form again to let me know you've done so. You'll get the latest on CFO delivered right to your favorite feed aggregator or inbox, so you don't miss any weekly giveaways. (If you're already a subscriber, just fill out the form to let me know.)

For a third entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. Then fill out the form to let me know you've done so (include the link to your update).

For a fourth entry, blog about the giveaway on your own blog. Then let me know about it by filling out the form again with the link to your post.

You can enter up to four times (one for each type), and you must complete the form once per entry. Only one entry of each type per email address will be counted. I'll select the winner using Random.org and announce them here on CFO as well as contact them by email. The winner must respond within 48 hours, otherwise their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

The giveaway ends at 9:00 p.m. PDT on Friday, December 4, and is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two recalls today: Pendants & Hoodies

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

Team Work Trading Expands Recall of Children’s Metal Pendants Due to Risk of Lead Exposure - Click through for additional photos.



Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings Recalled by Allura Imports Due to Strangulation Hazard - Click through for additional photos.


Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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No new Ralphs ad this week

There's no new ad for Ralphs this week, but last week's deals are good through tomorrow.

Thanks to clippergirl at Slick Deals, I do have a few more deals to share, too:

Del monte canned vegetables 3/$2 - use $1/8 from 11/15 RP; pay 55 cents each when you buy 8

Mentos gum $1.29 - use 55 cents/1 from 8/16, 9/13, 10/11 SS; pay 29 cents/1 (only one coupon will double per transaction)

Bounty xtra-soft .99 - use 25 cents/1 from 11/1 P&G (note: some stores - like mine - have higher prices); pay 24 cents/1 after tripled coupon

Dole canned pineapple and mandarin oranges $1.00 - use 50 cents/1 printable coupon, or 55 cents/2 from 11/8 SS

Healthy choice frozen meals $2.50 - use $2 printable coupon if you still have it, or $1/2 from 10/18 SS

Challenge spreadable butter $1.25 - use 55 cents/1 printable coupon or 50 cents/1 found in package of sticks; pay 25 cents/1

Coupons Inc.
Banner via Logical Media

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One recall today: Boy's Velour Warm-up Sets

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

Boy's Warm-up Sets Recalled by Fashion Options Due to Strangulation Hazard


Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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Review & Giveaway: Musselman's Applesauce

We – and especially our two boys – really enjoyed trying the new Musselman's applesauce products last month (read my review of the Totally Fruit and Healthy Picks applesauces). So when I was asked to try Musselman's traditional and cinnamon applesauces, I eagerly accepted.

We loved both the traditional and cinnamon applesauces! Really, was there ever any doubt? The boys wolfed down the cinnamon variety as dessert. I served the traditional version with sweet potato latkes (shredded sweet potato pancakes – I've used this recipe as a starting point for years). But I actually liked the applesauce better as is – it's sweeter than the organic version I usually buy from Trader Joe's, and has a little bit more texture that's pleasant.

Would you like to try Musselman's for yourself? You can! Musselman's is giving one lucky CFO reader one jar each of traditional and cinnamon applesauce.

To enter this giveaway, simply fill out the form below. (If you're reading this in a feed aggregator or email, you may need to click through to the post to reach the form. If you're having trouble filling out the form, try going directly to the published form.)

For an additional entry, subscribe to CFO via RSS or email and fill out the form again to let me know you've done so. You'll get the latest on CFO delivered right to your favorite feed aggregator or inbox, so you don't miss any weekly giveaways. (If you're already a subscriber, just fill out the form to let me know.)

For a third entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. Then fill out the form to let me know you've done so (include the link to your update).

For a fourth entry, blog about the giveaway on your own blog. Then let me know about it by filling out the form again with the link to your post.

You can enter up to four times (one for each type), and you must complete the form once per entry. Only one entry of each type per email address will be counted. I'll select the winner using Random.org and announce them here on CFO as well as contact them by email. The winner must respond within 48 hours, otherwise their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

The giveaway ends at 9:00 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, December 1, and is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Stork Craft recalls 2.1 million cribs

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

Infant Entrapment and Suffocation Prompts Stork Craft to Recall More Than 2.1 Million Drop-Side Cribs - Click through for more pictures.


Here's an excerpt from the press release:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc., of British Columbia, Canada, today announced the voluntary recall of more than 2.1 million Stork Craft drop-side cribs, including about 147,000 Stork Craft drop-side cribs with the Fisher-Price logo. The recall involves approximately 1,213,000 units distributed in the United States and 968,000 units distributed in Canada.

CPSC urges parents and caregivers to immediately stop using the recalled cribs, wait for the free repair kit, and do not attempt to fix the cribs without the kit. They should find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby. Consumers should contact Stork Craft to receive a free repair kit that converts the drop-side on these cribs to a fixed side.

The cribs’ drop-side plastic hardware can break, deform, or parts can become missing. In addition, the drop-side can be installed upside-down, which can result in broken or disengaged plastic parts. All of these problems can cause the drop-side to detach in one or more corners. When the drop-side detaches, it creates space between the drop-side and the crib mattress. The bodies of infants and toddlers can become entrapped in the space which can lead to suffocation. Complete detachment of drop-sides can lead to falls from the crib.
Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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Morning Coffee: Make your own waffles during the Eggo shortage

I recently learned that production at two of the four Eggo plants has been disrupted, leading to an Eggo shortage in stores that's expected to last until mid-2010. So it seems like the perfect time to extoll the benefits of homemade waffles. I hesitated a lot before taking the plunge with the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker.I didn't think the boys would like Belgian waffles, and this was the best rated "regular" waffle maker and at $29.95, it's very affordable. I discovered that there's nothing like a freshly made waffle that's crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The boys love them too. Because I add fruit like blueberries and bananas, they do sometimes stick to the waffle plates. I scrape off as much as I can, and consider the first waffle of the next batch a loss - it lifts off the black flakes that I couldn't get out by hand, and the rest of the waffles are perfect.

Today's Amazon Video Game Deal of the Dayis my favorite Wii workout, EA Sports Activefor $39.99. That's the lowest price I've ever seen it - list price is $59.99, and I paid $49.99 for ours this past the summer. The lower body and cardio workout is great, and I love that you don't need any special equipment. (You can use the Wii Fit board, but you don't have to - and we don't.) We gave up on the resistance band, though - it just wasn't very effective, so for an upper body workout, just do some push-ups :)

Common Sense with Money has details on how to save 50% off at SeeHere (through today, prints excluded). I went ahead and ordered 5 small paperback photo books for less than $20. (Shipping is free on the books.) Slowly but surely, I am crossing holiday gifts off my list!

Amazon Black Friday Movies & TV Dealsstart today. Click to view the Lightning Deals schedule.

Food Bank ButtonMoneywise Moms has a $10 Food Bank Challenge - take $10 and buy as much food as you can to donate to a local food bank. I've got a bag full, but I have a few more things I want to add from this week's sales before I go.

Stretching a Buck explains the changes to Target.com's printable coupons. They are major changes, but I'm hoping it makes using coupons easier.

Stretching a Buck is also giving away a copy of the book Baby Bargains, which I found invaluable when I was preparing for my first baby (ends 11/25), and a Halo Sleepsack, which I adored because of its safety aspect (ends 11/24).

Select Comfort is giving away a queen size Sleep Number bed set and accessories (ends 12/15). They'll also have big discounts in the Thanksgiving Day online only sale, and the Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale.

If you have or want a pay-as-you-go cell phone, Sharpen Your Scissors has info on how to get free minutes by shopping as you normally do at Kroger.

Coming tomorrow: Another Musselman's Applesauce giveaway!

Coupons.com
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Evenflo recalls First Choice Car Seats Model No. 3604098 for missing label

Evenflo has recalled 3,700 First Choice infant car seats model number 3604098, manufactured between January 16, 2009 and September 29, 2009, because they are missing a label that has legally required information. Owners should contact Evenflo at 1-800-233-5921 to receive a free label (labels will be sent automatically to registered owners). The model number and date of manufacture can be found by turning the seat upside down and examining the white label on the bottom of the seat. Read the NHTSA press release and Evenflo's press release for more details.

Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the NHTSA web site.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Morning Coffee: Can you build an awesome gingerbread house?

Today's Amazon Deal of the Day is the pictured Gingerbread House Kit,which reminded me of last year, when Alex and I made a gingerbread house using a kit I picked up at Trader Joe's for less than $10. The one pictured is on sale today for $19.97, but it has a list price of $50 - I mean seriously, who pays $50 for something like this? Even $20 is pushing it - although this one includes a snowman and gingerbread kid, plus all of the candy, so if you can make it look decent (and last year's experience shows that I could not), then it would be worth the cost of not having to bake your own gingerbread.

Get a free sample of Flint River Ranch Dog Or Cat Food. (Via A Thrifty Mom.)

Box Tops for Education has a 30-day sweepstakes, in which they're giving away gift baskets plus Box Tops for your school.

Fabulessly Frugal has a microwave hot fudge sauce recipe that requires ingredients you probably have on hand at all times.

Common Sense with Money has the details on how to get monogrammed Ralph Lauren towels for 50% off with free shipping from Neiman Marcus. FYI, I ordered a few bath sheets and the estimated delivery date is Dec. 14.

Just Bento is giving away a copy of The Manga Cookbook. Ends 11/22.

Enter the Cesar Share The Holiday Love Instant Win Game once a day for a chance to win free Cesar product coupons and other dog products. (Via My Good Cents.)

P&G has recalled certain lots of Vicks Sinex Nasal Spray. Click through to the FDA press release for details.


Banner via Escalate Media Affiliate Network

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two recalls yesterday: Pacifiers & hoodies

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

Grand World Recalls "Bobby Chupete" Pacifiers Due to Choking Hazard = Click through for additional photos.



Children's Hooded Sweatshirts and Jackets Recalled by Century 21 Promotions, Inc. Due to Strangulation Hazard



Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.


Banner via MySavings.com

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Mini Farfalle With Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Now that I'm menu planning again, I have started pulling out recipes from my enormous "to try" pile. This recipe is adapted from the December 2007 issue of Cooking Light. The original calls for onions and shallots, which Marc and I don't care for, and wild mushrooms, which I didn't see at Trader Joe's. I also omitted the white wine, since I didn't have any, substituted half and half for whipping cream, and doubled the amount of cheese.

The original recipe calls for a pound of uncooked pasta (farfalle = bowties), but I reserved 1 1/2 cups of cooked pasta for the boys in case they didn't like the mushroom sauce (they didn't).

Mini Farfalle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce (adapted from this Cooking Light recipe)
Serves 8

14 ounces uncooked mini farfalle (I used Barilla Piccolini, but any farfalle or even rotini would work)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. (Or use the same pot that you cooked the pasta in if it's nonstick.) Add onion powder, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and mushrooms, and cook 12 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the half and half, cheeses, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Sprinkle in the parsley or use it as garnish.

Coupons Inc.
Banner via Logical Media

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ralphs: 11/18 - 11/24/09

Note: This summary of deals is based on the ad I get in Los Angeles, where Ralphs stores double coupons up to $1 (one like coupon per transaction). I don't list all of the deals, only what I consider to be really good ones. If I missed any, please let us all know in the comments.

Triple coupons continue this week, but again, only up to $1. I'm seeing some really good deals, probably because all of the markets are competing for our baking and Thanksgiving dollars.

Coupon Deals
Oscar Mayer Sliced Bacon $1.99, limit 2 - use $1/2 from 11/15 SS; pay $1.49 each wyb 2

Best Foods Mayonnaise $1.99, limit 2 - use $1/2 from 11/15 RP; pay $1.49 each wyb 2

Butterball Turkey 99 cents/lb, limit 1 - use $2/1 printable coupon

Farmer John Skinless Pork Links $1 - use 75 cents/2 sausage links from 11/8 RP; pay 50 cents each wyb 2

Country Crock Sides $3.99 - use $1/1 from 11/15 RP; pay $2.99

Duracell $1.88 - use $1/1 from 11/1 P&G; pay 88 cents

Mrs. Cubbison's Dressing 2/$3 - use 25 cents/2 from 11/8 RP, triples; pay $2.25 for 2

Swanson Broth 4/$3 - use 25 cents/4 from 11/8 SS, triples; pay $2.25 for 4

Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup 4/$3 - use 25 cents/2 or 25 cents/3 from 9/20 SS, 25 cents/3 from 10/11 SS, 25 cents/4 from 11/8 SS, $1/4 printable coupon

French's Fried Onions $2.99 - use 50 cents/1 from 11/8 SS; pay $1.99 each

Wesson Oil $2.99 - use 25 cents/1 from 11/15 SS, triples; pay $2.24

Eagle Brand Condensed Milk $2.50 - use 55 cents/1 from 11/8 RP; pay $1.50

Smart Ones 5/$10 - use $3/10 printable coupon, $1/5 printable coupon (registration req'd), or $4/10 printable coupon (registration req'd) note: I haven't personally used these links but hopefully they work

Nabisco Crackers $1.99 - use $1/1 from 11/8 SS; pay 99 cents

Purex liquid detergent $2.99 - use 35 cents/1 from 10/4 SS (triples) or 50 cents/1 printable coupon; pay $1.99

Challenge Butter 16 oz $3 - use 30 cents/1 Real California Milk product from 11/1 SS or 8/9 SS, or 55 cents/1 printable coupon

Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, Crescent or Cinnamon Rolls $2 - use 30 cents/2 Grands Biscuits from 10/4 GM, 11/8 SS, 11/15 GM; 50 cents/2 Crescent Rolls from 9/13 GM, 10/4 GM, 10/25 SS, 11/8 SS, 11/15 GM; 25 cents/1 from 11/15 GM; 40 cents/2 Sweet Rolls from 9/13 GM, 10/4 GM, 10/18 SS, 10/25 SS, 11/8 SS; 50 cents/2 Crescent Rolls printable coupon; 30 cents/2 Grands Biscuits printable coupon, 40 cents/2 Sweet Rolls printable coupon

Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Dough $2 - use 50 cents/1 from 10/11 SS or $1/1 from 11/1 RP; pay $1

Reddi Wip $2 - use 50 cents/1 from 11/15 SS; pay $1

Knudsen Sour Cream $2 - use $1/2 from 11/15 RP or 50 cents/2 from this week's Jon's insert; pay $3 for 2

Other Deals
Tendergold Turkey 37 cents/lb
Whole Lobster Tails $7.99/lb
Stove Top Stuffing 88 cents, limit 2
Russet Potatoes 69 cents/10-lb bag, limit 2
Green Beans 69 cents/lb
Red Yams 59 cents/lb
Asparagus $1.99/lb
Fresh cranberries $2/12 oz bag
Broccoli or cauliflower 99 cents/lb

Coupons Inc.
Banner via Logical Media

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McDonald's Arch Cards Giveaway Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered the McDonald's Arch Cards giveaway. Congratulations to the lucky random winners:

Kathy R. (LKAR****@comcast.net)
and Denise (denise_2****@yahoo.com)

Kathy and Denise, I've sent you an email, and you have 48 hours to respond with your address.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

What's new at Swag Bucks: Some improvements, some disappointments

Search & Win

I've mentioned Swag Bucks many times before, but as a quick recap, it's a "search & win" site, where each search is an opportunity to win random "Swag Bucks" in the amount of $1, $2, $3 or $5. Swag Bucks can be redeemed for prizes, such as gift certificates, video games, and memorabilia. You can read my original review from last year and an update from earlier this year.

There have been some changes to Swag Bucks recently that I think are worth mentioning. First, there are more Swag Codes than ever. A Swag Code is a code that you can enter on the homepage to get a free Swag Buck or two (or occasionally more). They're awesome because they're usually free. However, they tend to expire quickly, and some of them are more difficult to find than others. Places you'll frequently find Swag Codes are in the Swag Bucks blog, the Swag Bucks toolbar, Twitter and Facebook.

A new way to find a weekly Swag Code is in the Special Offers page. Once a week, after you go through all of the special offers, you'll get a Swag Code that you can enter for a free Swag Buck. An easy way to see if there's a Swag Code available is to check the Swag Bucks widget, or "Swidget." You'll see the swidget in the left side bar of Chief Family Officer - the top black bar will alert you when there's an active Swag Code.

Second, you'll get a free Swag Buck when you connect your Facebook page to your Swag Bucks account by the end of November. Read more at the Swag Bucks blog.

And third, the change that's really disappointing: You can now redeem only five of the same prize each month. That means a max of five $5 Amazon certificates per month. Sure, there are $25 and $50 Amazon certificates, but they are 315 and 590 Swag Bucks, respectively. The $5 certificates are only 45 Swag Bucks. Breaking down the math, the $25 certificate is 64 Swag Bucks per $5, and the $50 certificate is 59 Swag Bucks per $5, making the $5 certificate the best value by far. Since I had been redeeming my Swag Bucks for more than five $5 Amazon certificates each month, my enthusiasm for Swag Bucks has waned considerably with this change.

However, just because Swag Bucks is a lot less attractive than it used to be doesn't mean it's not worth using. On the contrary, Swag Bucks is still a great way to make some free money. It's virtually effortless, requiring only the effort to remember to use it as your regular search engine - something that you get used to quite quickly.

If you're new to Swag Bucks, you'll get three Swag Bucks when you register. If you use my referral link, I'll receive bonus Swag Bucks when you win, so thank you!

Kotex Free Product Sample
Banner via MySavings.com

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Meals from my Pantry, Fridge & Freezer

Our bills this month are substantial, because I finally paid some of the big hospital bills, we had to buy a big boy bed for Tyler, and some insurance premiums and property taxes are due. The insurance and tax bills are taken care of by our infrequent bills account (easily one of my top 10 best financial decisions ever), but I still hate to see our savings dip so much in one month. So I've decided to cook mostly from what's already on hand. I'll still hit the stores every week for loss leaders and perishables, but for the most part, our grocery bill should be less than half of what it usually is for the rest of the month.

I tried to vary my menu, and some of the things I keep on hand may surprise you. But I hope my list sparks a few ideas for your own menu. (Note: I always put a small serving of the entree on the boys' plates, but they rarely eat more than a few bites. I'm okay with that. They get enough to eat at dinner through fruit and starches, and they generally have substantial lunches so they're in no danger of not getting enough calories. I think it's good for them to be exposed to the type of food that Marc and I are eating, and figure that e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y they will come around.)

Our November Menu:

Butternut squash risotto with scallops - I have a large squash that I'm going to use this weekend; the scallops are already in the freezer

Butternut squash and potato gnocchi, using Cheap Healthy Good's recipe as a starting point

Baked rotini with meat sauce - I have some ground beef in the freezer, and an open jar of pasta sauce that needs to be used up

Potato & Pancetta Frittata - I am going to experiment with freezing the five pounds of potatoes sitting on my counter, and use some leftover diced pancetta that's already in the freezer, using my own Spanish tortilla recipe as a starting point

Potato & Shrimp Frittata, using frozen shrimp

Homemade pizza

Pasta Puttanesca - I always have anchovies in my pantry

Slow Cooker Chili, using more frozen ground beef

Pan Bagnat

Tuna Melts

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Pasta Salad, although now I leave out the pine nuts for allergy reasons

Chicken Nachos, using frozen chicken

Beef Tacos, using frozen beef

Of course, there's Thanksgiving to think about. I don't have to cook the turkey, but I will be making a couple of side dishes and at least one dessert!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

LAUSD Program Choices: Application Deadline is December 18, 2009

I've previously discussed the various public school options in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which most notably include magnet schools. Since Alex will be entering kindergarten next year, I've been monitoring the eChoices web site, which is LAUSD's informational site.

Last October, there was an informational session at UCLA, so I kept waiting for the announcement about this year's session. But October came and went without any announcement, and I had to conclude that the session was a casualty of the district's massive budget cuts. In fact, the site remained unchanged from last school year.

Until this week.

For the first time, there was a new date at the upper right, indicating this year's application deadline of December 18, 2009. That's almost a month earlier than last year (when applications were due on January 9 of this year).

Applications were mailed to the homes of current LAUSD students on Friday, November 6. For those like me who don't have any students enrolled yet, you can pick up an application at your local LAUSD school, Los Angeles Public Libraries, and at Local District offices in late November, or at the Student Integration Services office at 333 South Beaudry Avenue, 25th Floor, in Los Angeles (90017).

One thing to keep in mind about the magnet program is that each year that you're rejected, you accumulate "wait list" points that can help you get accepted the following year. Several of the magnet schools start in the first grade, so my plan is to apply to one of the few kindergarten magnets with the hope of getting rejected. (You don't accumulate points if you get in and then decline to attend.) Then if we decide that a magnet school is in our best interest come first grade, we'll be in the best position possible to get into that school.

MyPoints
Ads via MySavings.com - Read my MyPoints review!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ralphs: 11/11 - 11/17/09

Note: This summary of deals is based on the ad I get in Los Angeles, where Ralphs stores double coupons up to $1. I don't list all of the deals, only what I consider to be really good ones. If I missed any, please let us all know in the comments.

There's a new site called Softcoin that has e-coupons you can load onto your Rewards card (different from the other e-coupon sites). You'll have to register for the site before you can use it, even if you've previously registered at Ralphs.com. It's not a huge selection of coupons, but hopefully this site will stick around longer than Kroger's last attempt at e-coupons.

Also, triple coupons are back. However, as with last time, it's only up to $1. And unlike last time, there aren't any triples deals jumping out at me in the ad.

There's a 30% off frozen foods sale, but without prices, it's hard to tell if anything is a good deal.

There are two Buy 4 deals:
12 pack Pepsi, Diet Pepsi or Crush 4/$10 when you buy 4, limit 4 offers

General Mills cereal & bars 4/$6 wyb 4, limit 2 offers - The picture shows Quaker Life cereal, Quaker Fiber & Omega 3 bars, and Honey Nut Cheerios, but the ad also says selected varieties and sizes. So you may be able to use these coupons: 75 cents/1 Total from 11/1 SS, $1/2 from 10/25, 11/1 or 11/8 SS, $1/3 from 10/4 GM or 10/18 SS, 55 cents/1 Original Cheerios, 75 cents/1 Multigrain Cheerios, $1/2 Chex, 75 cents/1 Kix, 75 cents/1 Total

Coupon Deals
Smart Ones 5/$10 - use $3/10 printable coupon, $1/5 printable coupon (registration req'd), or $4/10 printable coupon (registration req'd) note: I haven't personally used these links but hopefully they work

Duncan Hines Cake Mix 88 cents, limit 4 - use 55 cents/2 from 10/11 SS

Gallo sliced salame $5.99 - use $2/2 from 9/27 RP

Nestle Cookie Dough $2 - use $1/1 from 11/1 RP or 55 cents/1 from 10/11 SS

Tyson Chicken or Any'tizers 3/$10 (looks like the boxes) - use 55 cents/1 from 8/2 SS, 55 cents/1 breaded chicken from 10/11 SS, $1.50/1 AnyTizers Chicken Breast Chunks or Crispy Breaded Wings with Sauce Packets from 10/11 SS if included

Padrinos tortilla chips $2.50 - use $1/1 from 9/13 SS

Prego pasta sauce $2 - use 75 cents/2 from 10/4 SS

Keebler Town House crackers $2 - use $1/2 Flipsides if included

Duracell batteries $1.88 - use 75 cents/1 from 11/1 P&G

Rubbermaid containers $2.50 - use $1/2 from 9/13 SS or $1/1 from 11/8 SS

Other Deals
50% off Foster Farms Chicken
Farmer John Full Half Hams $1.59/lb
Top Sirloin Steak $1.99/lb
Pork shoulder butt roast $1.69/lb
Cantaloupe 49 cents/lb
"Crisp" Iceberg lettuce (that's how they describe it!) 67 cents/lb
Ralphs frozen vegetables 88 cents
Ralphs eggs 99 cents/dozen
Vitaminwater 88 cents + CRV
Ralphs flour 99 cents/5 lbs, limit 2
Sara Lee Classic bread $1.99
Philadelphia cream cheese bricks 3/$5

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giveaway: $25 McDonald's Arch Cards (2 winners)

Are you playing the McDonald's Monopoly Game? I received some Arch Cards from McDonald's for the game, but unfortunately not in time to go out to get some game pieces. But if you have game pieces that you haven't entered yet, make sure you enter them by November 16. Check out the McDonald's Monopoly site or the McDonald's Facebook page for more information.

Best of all, I have some Arch Cards to give away to CFO readers. Two lucky readers will win $25 in Arch Cards.

To enter this giveaway, simply fill out the form below. (If you're reading this in a feed aggregator or email, you may need to click through to the post to reach the form. If you're having trouble filling out the form, try going directly to the published form.)

For an additional entry, subscribe to CFO via RSS or email and fill out the form again to let me know you've done so. You'll get the latest on CFO delivered right to your favorite feed aggregator or inbox, so you don't miss any weekly giveaways. (If you're already a subscriber, just fill out the form to let me know.)

For a third entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. Then fill out the form to let me know you've done so (include the link to your update).

For a fourth entry, blog about the giveaway on your own blog. Then let me know about it by filling out the form again with the link to your post.

You can enter up to four times (one for each type), and you must complete the form once per entry. Only one entry of each type per email address will be counted. I'll select the winner using Random.org and announce them here on CFO as well as contact them by email. The winner must respond within 48 hours, otherwise their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

The giveaway ends at 9:00 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, November 17, and is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Big Recall Today: All Maclaren Strollers Sold Since 1999

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

Maclaren USA Recalls to Repair Strollers Following Fingertip Amputations - Click through for additional photos and instructions on what to do if you have a Maclaren stroller.


Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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It Pays To Re-Evaluate Your Services

I didn't set out to reduce my monthly landline and DSL bill by $20 per month, but that's exactly what happened when I called AT&T recently. I'd had a momentary lapse (or at least, that's what we're going to call it) that caused me to forget to pay the bill online before the due date. I remembered a couple of days later and immediately paid the bill, but a day or two after that, I received a statement showing a past due amount and a late fee.

Since I'd never paid the bill late before, I knew I had an excellent chance of getting the late fee waived. And indeed, the customer service representative I spoke to looked our account over and agreed to waive the fee without hesitation.

Then she asked if I had a few minutes to review my bill and services. I agreed, and she suggested a couple of changes that would result in a lower monthly bill and a $20 Visa gift card. The changes involved giving up two services we never used, but which had been included in the bundle I'd signed up for two years ago. That had been the best deal at the time, but the phone company had since changed their bundles, and the new bundle is definitely a better deal for us.

I just got our statement from the phone company, and it's $25 lower than our previous bill. I don't know yet if that will be the new monthly amount, or if it's a little lower than normal because of some credits resulting from the change in service.

I also periodically review our insurance coverage with our agent, and while that hasn't really resulted in any savings on the premium (since our deductibles are quite high to begin with), we've tweaked our coverage over the years to ensure that we have the right coverage. For instance, for an additional $10 per year, we added extra rental coverage that came in handy when our car was in the shop for over a month after we were rear-ended last year. I estimate that ending up saving us $150 to $200.

So although this is the busiest time of year for many of us, don't forget to make some time to review your services - it just might save you enough to buy some nice holiday gifts.

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Morning Coffee: Awesome Board Game Deal at TRU

There's an amazing deal on board games at Toys R Us this week. First, if you buy $25 worth of qualifying games, you'll get a $10 gift card. Second, many of the games are just $3.99. At my store, the regular price on these games was $8.99 to $12.99. And third, there's a TRU/Hasbro rebate that will get you up to $69 back (the rebate on the $3.99 games is $2 each). So, if you buy 7 games, pay $27.93 plus tax, get the $10 gift card and submit for 7 $2 rebates, you'll end up paying just $3.93 plus tax for 7 games, which will make terrific birthday and holiday gifts. You need the original rebate form, which you can only find in store, so your best bet on these is to head to your local TRU, grab the rebate form, and look for the games listed. One note: The rebate form says character games are excluded (except for Memory), but there were character games under the sign for the rebate at my store, so I took a chance that these would be honored for the rebate, since I'd rather give the Disney Princess version as a gift and $3.99 (minus $1.60 for the prorated gift card) is still an awesome price for the games. If you'd rather be sure you'd get the $2, avoid the character games.

If you plan to be in Orange County (CA) next Monday, Nov. 16, then you might want to head to the Daily Grill in Irvine or Newport. Those restaurants will be collecting donations of canned goods for the Orange County Food Bank. For every 5 cans donated, Daily Grill will provide a $10 promo card good for food and non-alcoholic beverage (valid January 1 - February 28, 2010). For more info, check out the Daily Grill Facebook page.

A couple of Amazon deals, because it's that time of year when great deals abound: Get 2 free accessories when you buy a Flip Ultra(ends 11/18). Also, there's a sale on digital frames for less than $80(ends 11/15). I see a few Sony and Kodak frames included in this deal.

Speaking of deals, Freebies 4 Mom has an astounding freebie: 50 free photo cards from SeeHere by FujiFilm.

MommySnacks is giving away a $100 Target gift card from Shop at Home.

Every month, I'm blown away by A Thrifty Mom's summary of her shopping. In October, she spent $95.57 on $461.84 worth of items. The best part of her post is her explanation of her philosophy of shopping at the end.

Stretching a Buck has details on how to get 6 free photo book pages at Shutterfly. You have to buy an 8x8 photo book to take advantage of the deal. The books start at $15.99 right now. I don't quite understand the expiration date, which may be 11/11 or 11/25 based on the terms and conditions of the offer, so it would be safest to purchase your books by 11/11.

The Science of Being Dad is giving away 4 $100 Sam's Club gift cards (subscription required). Ends 11/13.

Why was The Happy Housewife not in my home when Alex was a newborn, giving me advice on the benefits of "room time"?

Sweetnicks claims to have the only sugar cookie recipe you need. There's only one way to decide that for yourself, of course ;)

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Flat Stanley Christmas Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the Flat Stanley Christmas giveaway. Congratulations to the lucky random winner:

Beth T. (wordy****@earthlink.net)

Beth, I've sent you an email, and you have 48 hours to respond with your address.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Two Recalls yesterday: Playsets & Easels

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

Adventure Playsets Recall to Repair Backyard Swing Sets Due to Fall Hazard - Click through for additional photos.



Children’s Art Easels Recalled by MacPherson’s Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard


Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Giveaway: Progresso High Fiber Soup Prize Pack

Progresso has come out with a new line of soups that have 7 grams of fiber per serving. The new varieties include Chicken Tuscany, Creamy Tomato Basil, Hearty Vegetable and Noodles and Homestyle Minestrone. You can print a coupon for $1 off any three Progresso soups at Coupons.com.

One lucky CFO reader will get to try Progresso High Fiber Soup for free, courtesy of MyBlogSpark. The lucky winner will receive a sample of the Chicken Tuscany soup to try along with a prize pack that includes two branded soup mugs and two branded spoons.

To enter this giveaway, simply fill out the form below. (If you're reading this in a feed aggregator or email, you may need to click through to the post to reach the form. If you're having trouble filling out the form, try going directly to the published form.)

For an additional entry, subscribe to CFO via RSS or email and fill out the form again to let me know you've done so. You'll get the latest on CFO delivered right to your favorite feed aggregator or inbox, so you don't miss any weekly giveaways. (If you're already a subscriber, just fill out the form to let me know.)

For a third entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. Then fill out the form to let me know you've done so (include the link to your update).

For a fourth entry, blog about the giveaway on your own blog. Then let me know about it by filling out the form again with the link to your post.

You can enter up to four times (one for each type), and you must complete the form once per entry. Only one entry of each type per email address will be counted. I'll select the winner using Random.org and announce them here on CFO as well as contact them by email. The winner must respond within 48 hours, otherwise their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

The giveaway ends at 9:00 p.m. PDT on Thursday, November 5 12, and is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ralphs: 11/4 - 11/10/09

Note: This summary of deals is based on the ad I get in Los Angeles, where Ralphs stores double coupons up to $1. I don't list all of the deals, only what I consider to be really good ones. If I missed any, please let us all know in the comments.

There's a bonus rewards deal on gift cards, where you get double the points when you buy $50, $100 or $200 in gift cards. The deal is good through December 25. I'm thinking of buying Ralphs gift cards if those count toward the deal, since it's basically double points for money I'd be spending at Ralphs anyway. Update: Ralphs Gift Cards, Ralphs "Wishes" Cards and Green Dot Gift Cards are excluded from this deal.

The rest of the deals this week look good too. The Mega Savings Event continues, so get $5 off when you buy any 10 participating products. You'll find more participating items in store. All prices are after MSE discount:

2-liter Coca-Cola 77 cents, selected varieties

Lean Cuisine $1.99 - use $2/3 from Sept. All You or $1/5 from 9/13 RP; pay $1.67 or $1.79 each

Yoplait Multi-pack Yogurt $2.49 4 to 6-packs, selected varieties - use $1/1 Yoplait Yo Plus or YoPlus Light Yogurt 4-pack from 9/13 or 10/4 GM, 35 cents/1 or 75 cents/2 Yoplait Go Gurt, Yoplait Kids Yogurt Cups, Yogurt Drink or Trix Multipack yogurt from 10/4 GM, $1/1 Yoplait Fiber One Yogurt Multipacks from 9/13 or 10/4 GM, $1/1 Yoplait Delights Yogurt Multipack from 9/13 or 10/4 GM not included in MSE, 80 cents/2 printable coupon, 40 cents/1 Kids Cups, $1/1 Fiber One Multipacks

Ghirardelli Brownie Mix $1.99 - use $1/2 Ghirardelli Baking Products

Smart Balance Spread $1.99 - use $1/2 from 10/18 RP

Kellogg's Special K bars $2.49 - use 75 cents/1 Chocolatey Pretzel Bars or $1/2 any Special K bars

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars $2.49 - use $1/2 any Nutri-grain bars (registration required)

V8 V-Fusion Juice $2.49 - use $1/1 printable coupon

Betty Crocker Specialty Potatoes $1.49 - use 40 cents/1 any box or pouch, 25 cents/1 from 9/13 or 10/4 GM

Kozy Shack Pudding $2.49 - use $1/2 from 10/4 SS

Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies $1.49 - se $1/2 any Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies (registration required)

Cheez-It Crackers - use $1.50/2 from 10/4 RP

Pepperidge Farm Milano or Distinctive Cookies $2.49 - use 75 cents/1 from 9/27 SS

Other Coupon Deals
Campbell's Condensed Soup $1 - use 25 cents/2 from 9/20 SS, 25 cents/3 from 9/20 or 10/11 SS

Del Monte Vegetables 50 cents, selected varieties - use $1/5 from 9/20 RP

Sweet Golden Pineapples 88 cents/lb - use 75 cents/1 Del Monte Gold if included in sale

Duncan Hines Cake Mix - use 55 cents/2 Duncan Hines Cake, Brownie Mix or Frosting from 10/11 SS

Other Deals
18 pack Ralphs eggs $1.77
French Bread $1.27
Russet potatoes 99 cents/10 lb. bag (limit 2)
Fresh Express Salads 99 cents, selected varieties
Green cabbage 50 cents/lb
Fresh spinach 77 cents/lb
Pears 79 cents/lb
USDA Select Beef Roast Buy One Get One Free, selected varieties
Fresh Chicken Split Breast, Drums or Thighs 99 cents/lb

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Changes to Amazon Marketplace: Charge When Ship

I've written before about selling used items on Amazon Marketplace, which I think of as my online garage sale. In a nutshell, I decide what items I want to sell and how much I want to sell them for, create a listing on Amazon, and wait for someone to purchase the item.

Recently, Amazon instituted the "Charge When Ship"system, which requires sellers to confirm shipment of orders before they can receive payment from Amazon. Amazon assumes the risk of nonpayment by the buyer, which creates security for the seller. At the same time, Amazon provides a better customer service experience for buyers, by creating an incentive for sellers to ship promptly and notifying buyers when their order has shipped.

There's a delay of a couple of hours between when you notify Amazon that you've shipped an item and when the payment appears in your account. Nothing else has changed, so you can request a disbursement once every 24 hours or wait until Amazon does it automatically for you.

Worth noting: Money Saving Mom recently wrote about selling books, and recommended a site called Cash4Books as an alternative to sites like Half.com and Amazon for certain books. Also, The Family CEO recommended selling on eBay, something I've stopped doing just because I don't think the money is worth the stress. But I can see definitely that for some people, and certain items, the income is worth the stress.

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