Green Links: 10/30/10

MAKING GREEN

Crystal & Co.:  SEO Great tips from her Bloggy Bootcamp experience

SAVING GREEN

Bucksome Boomer: Host a Sponsored Party for Free Entertainment Have you considered this? I’ve seen some of these featured on other blogs – you get a lot of loot! I got an email this week to host a durex condom party – but they only wanted 18-30 year olds. I guess us 40 year olds don’t have sex? *wink*

Eat at Home: Ingredient Spotlight Tiffany has a weekly link-up with ingredients you have in your pantry already. What a great way to cook up something easy with ingredients you have at home – saves you from eating out!

Kansas City Mama: Grocery Cart Confessionals Relates how couponing has changed her financial outlook. Good Stuff.

Coupon Mommie: Debt Free Holiday Handbook Repeat after me: We will not get in debt this holiday season!

While we are on the subject, I’ve got 3 Ways to Pay for the Holidays

Savin Some: The Easiest Way to Save It really does come down to this!

Coupon Cookin: Candy Coupons and Halloween Freebies Do you have your Halloween candy yet?

Linked to It’s Come to This

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GBG List of Three: Planning Ahead for the Holidays

I can’t believe Halloween is this weekend! Everyone in our house is so excited to be able to go trick-or-treating after two years living abroad! However, once Halloween passes, I know the holiday season will be on us in the blink of an eye! So this week I’m starting to plan ahead on my:

I couldn’t believe it yesterday when I wrote it has been 5 months since my last paycheck! My paycheck always allowed us to have the “extras” and the “excesses”.  This year the holidays won’t be as over the top as they have been in the past. But I do have a few ways to make sure I’m still able to give my family gifts they will appreciate while staying in budget! Here’s how:

1. Sign-up for Deal Sites like Groupon

Have you tried any of these sites yet? I’ve been able to get some AMAZING deals. Right now, I am the hero, the stud, the best gift giver on the planet, for buying my husband a $135 gift certificate to a crossfit gym for ONLY $35!!!! That was a $100 savings!!!! I’ve also bought a $50 gift certificate to GAP for only $25, bought a certificate to a local bike store and fixed my daughters bike for half off, and bought a certificate to a local premium jean store – a $100 certificate for only $49!!! Make sure you sign up to get the daily deals in the cities where your family lives, and you may be able to score a gift certificate they love for a price that you can truly afford! What are you waiting for? Subscribe to Groupon’s Daily Deals and see what gifts you can score!

2. Earn Swagbucks and Redeem Them for Prizes

Have you heard of Swagbucks? Swagbucks are digital dollars you earn from the Swagbucks site that you can redeem for prizes. My favorite prize and one of my strategies for earning more towards Christmas? $5 gift cards to Amazon. It only takes 450 Swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon card. And getting up to 450 Swagbucks? Easy. I’ve installed the Swagbucks toolbar and earn a Swagbuck a day for doing nothing but having it installed. I then do a few searches a day through the toolbar and I easily earn about 3 $5 Amazon gift cards a month! By Christmas time, I plan to have $50 in Amazon gift cards I “earned” through the Swagbucks site. And I love going through Amazon to order Christmas gifts because it saves me a trip to the post office! Try Swagbucks, I think you’ll be pleased!

3. Make Do-It-Yourself Christmas Gifts

I’ve already made Vodka Cherry Bounce and planted my Paperwhites. Come back every Tuesday and I’ll have another Do-It-Yourself, Do-It-Ahead Christmas gift idea for you! Coming up this Tuesday? Hmm. How about a hint? It’s healthy, it’s silly easy, and its something Mediterranean!

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Supermarket Strategies: Buying Local

This week we’re exploring shopping local on:

Being the great procastinators that we are, as of Saturday we had yet to buy pumpkins for our jack-o-lanterns. In Colorado Springs, THE place to go for your pumpkin is Venetucci Farms.

What made this year really special, is while I was learning about blogging at the Savvy Blogging Summit this past summer, my oldest daughter spent a day weeding the pumpkin patch. So we had to go to the field where she worked and pick out our pumpkins! It was pretty well picked over since we waited until the last weekend, but we found two perfect pumpkins to bring home.

While we were there, I wanted to explore the possibilities of buying a 1/4 cow or a 1/2 a hog.

The price per pound when you purchase 1/2 a hog is $3.10/lb. However, there is also a slaughter charge and a standard cut and wrapper charge.

The advantages of buying 1/2 a hog are:

  • Knowing the source of my meat and being 100% certain it is free of hormones and antibiotics
  • Superior nutrition
  • The freezer is stocked – no need to chase prices
  • It requires going to a specialty store to find natural raised pork – much easier to just pull it out of the freezer
  • Supports those in the community engaged in sustainable practices
  • Superior taste

The disadvantages of buying 1/2 a hog are:

  • Initial price is high
  • Can probably beat the per/lb price by chasing sales
  • Takes up a considerable amount of freezer space

Not to mention, it’s hard to eat a pig, once you’ve met them.

This poor mama was so tired! She had 4 of the most rambunctious and adorable piglets running amok!

Our freezer is still in storage while our house is being finished. In the meantime, we are working on a plan to come up with the initial cost to be able to support the efforts of one of our local sustainable farms.

Looking outside the grocery store allows us to know the source of our food and to get a superior product – in both nutrition and taste!

Do you have experience in buying 1/2 a hog or a 1/4 of a cow? How did it work out for you?

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DIY Christmas Gift: Plant Paperwhites

How to Force Paperwhite Bulbs

Forcing Paperwhite bulbs is an incredibly easy Do-It-Yourself and Do-It-Ahead Christmas gift you can do now to have beautiful blooms in the middle of the Holiday Season.

I’ve put together this short video to show you exactly how quick and inexpensive this can be! I’ll show you how the total cost of one gift is about $5!

Now that you know how to plant, or force, paperwhite bulbs, you need to care for them for the next 6 weeks until they bloom!

How to Care for Paperwhites

  • Bulbs are planted with the pointed side up on top of a layer of stones.
  • Fill container with water just to the point where it hits the bottom of the bulb.
  • Keep the bulbs in a place where they get moderate light.
  • Check bulbs daily to make sure water level stays just at the bottom of the bulb. Water as needed.
  • The bulbs will grow very tall and may require support to prevent them from toppling over.

Easy to give as gifts and really beautiful ~ you may want to plant a few for yourself!

Looking for more inspiration? It’s not too late to make my Vodka Cherry Bounce! Just use a bag of frozen cherries!

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Green Links: 10/23/10

MAKING GREEN

Blogging with Amy – 8 Ways to Make Money Online This is actually the first post in a series you’ll want to read all of!

SAVING GREEN

Kitchen Stewardship – 5 Ways to Preserve Your Apples Apples are so cheap right now – take advantage of the deals!

Balancing Beauty with Bedlam – Paying Down Your Mortgage This is something we are striving towards as well.

GOING GREEN

New Urban Habitat – Lessons in Car-Free Living After a nasty bike wreck that ended up in an ER trip, our experiment is taking a breather!

Big Green Purse – 10 Ways to Reduce the Climate Change Impact of Your House I’ve done 10 out of 10! How about you?

Simple Organic – Celebrate a Green Halloween A costume swap – Brilliant!

GROWING GREEN

Centsational Girl – Fall Color Clippings Inexpensive and beautiful!

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Supermarket Strategies: Commissary Shopping

Before I became coupon savvy, I went to the commissary weekly thinking I was getting the very best prices on everything. I’ve since learned a thing or two about how to best take advantage of my commissary privileges, and they are all right here on this week’s:

First, the commissary prohibits publication of any of its prices to the public. That is why you can’t (or shouldn’t!) find coupon match-ups online.

But, there is a way to plan out your commissary trip to maximize your savings.

If you have commissary privileges, you’ll want to go to Commissaries.com. You’ll need to log-in with the sponsor’s social security number, but you’ll be able to see what items are on sale, so you can plan what coupons you’ll want to bring. This site even allows you to search by installation!

By keeping a Price List, you’ll soon be able to recognize what sale items are true bargains and good buys!

One of the best benefits to commissary shopping? By far, the commissary has one of the best coupon policies out there because it allows OVERAGE! What is overage? If you have a coupon that is for MORE than the cost of the item, the commissary gives you the full value of the coupon! Therefore, if you have a $2 coupon, and can find the item for less than $2 – you still get the full $2 off your purchases! No adjusting coupons down!

I always look for high value coupons that I can use at the commissary. For example, look at this coupon:

First, it is worth $2! That is what I mean by high value.

Next, notice I circled the word ANY. That means you can apply this coupon to ANY size Pad or Cleansing Cloth. Look for the smallest size, and there is a good chance with a coupon worth $2 that you can find a product that will give you OVERAGE!

Another great part of the commissary? Many companies issue Military Store coupons for exclusive use in the commissary!

As you can see, this coupon can only be spent at the commissary. Want to find more commissary exclusive coupons? Head to MaxiSaver.com. These coupons can usually be found at the front of your commissary.The same couponing principles apply to these coupons. Hold on to them and wait for a sale!

Another site you’ll want to head to is MilitaryShoppers.com. Right now, Kraft Foods is offering a $2/2 Kraft/Nabisco printable coupon for military shoppers! You should be able to print this coupon twice! This should net you something incredibly cheap, if not FREE!

Finally, if you are looking to buy more organics and natural foods, I’d definitely start at the commissary! We can buy things there on a regular basis that are considered FANTASTIC buys in a regular grocer. For the best evidence of that – check prices on Organic Maple Syrup. I do a little happy dance in the aisle each time I get to buy it at the commissary – the price is that good!

Are you a commissary shopper? Is there anything I missed that other commissary shoppers should know about this great military benefit?

Linked up to The Coupon Teacher.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

I had to share my lunch today with you. Right now the key ingredient – butternut squash – is in season, which makes it the perfect season for Butternut Squash Risotto!

I actually made this for dinner tonight, but since it is a double volleyball game, running to two different schools, getting home late and hungry kinda day – I made it early and will just reheat it with some additional broth over low. But after I made it, I couldn’t resist. I had to have some for lunch!

While hearty enough to stand on its own, I’m planning on serving it with Pork Tenderloin cooked on the grill and a tossed salad made with sliced apples and dried cranberries. Anyone free for dinner?

The best part? All of these ingredients will last for months in your pantry, so you can buy the ingredients now to have on hand for risotto later!

Winter Squash such as Butternut Squash can be stupid hard to peel. So first, let me tell you how I easily peel and chop a squash.

How to Easily Peel and Chop Butternut Squash

Heat your oven to 450. Roast the whole butternut squash for 10 minutes. Just toss the sucker in as is! Remove from oven and peel, remove seeds and chop into 2″ pieces.

Ta-Da! No superhero strength required! On to the recipe!

Butternut Squash Risotto

Ingredients

  • 2 C Organic Chicken Broth or Homemade Organic Chicken Broth
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 small Shallot
  • 1 lb Butternut Squash, Peeled and chopped into 2" pieces
  • 1 C Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 C Sherry
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  1. On stovetop, heat 2 cups chicken broth with 2 cups water. Reserve.
  2. In second pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add butternut squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook until it evaporates.
  3. Start adding the reserved chick broth mixture by 1 cupfuls to the squash and rice. Cook, stirring continuously until liquid is absorbed. Continuing adding broth mixture by 1 cupfuls until all the liquid is absorbed. This will take about 30 - 40 minutes.
  4. Serve Butternut Squash Risotto with grated Parmesan and additional pepper.
http://thegreenbacksgal.com/butternut-squash-risotto/

 

If you want to skip the step where you have to peel your own butternut squash, buy frozen or buy it peeled from Costco!

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