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Showing posts from January, 2010

Getting Married doesn't have to be Expensive!

Thinking about how I used my wedding dress to make baby blankets for my children made me think about my wedding. As you may have guessed, I didn't pay a whole lot for my wedding (as far as weddings go.) Like college and everything else, I paid for my wedding myself. I don't say that to be a snob, I've just been independent from my parents for a very long time.

So back to weddings. Our wedding had about 100 guests. Okay we had 100 RSVPs and paid for 100 meals, but I'm not sure how many actually attended. I paid for every part of our wedding except for the bridal shower and groom's dinner. We negotiated an amazing rate for our groomsmen's tuxedos and my bridesmaids and flower girl only had to buy shoes.
I kept a spreadsheet to keep an accurate account of all of our wedding expenditures and was outraged when the total came to $3000. The dresses & accessories, the flowers, the decorations, pictures, invitations, church rental, a catered dinner for 100, cake, gif…

Homemade Quality - LOL

I make a lot of my own things and sometimes it intimidates my friends. But I don't do it to be a "super mom." I make stuff because it's fun for me and because it usually saves us quite a bit of money.
But to show you that "homemade" doesn't always mean "awesome," I thought I'd show you my children's blankies.
I made them with the super soft minky fabric (love it) and scraps of my wedding dress. I know that sounds sacriligous but seriously, was I ever going to wear it again? I'm hoping not to anyway!
But with everything, hindsight is 20/20 and wedding dress satin isn't really machine washable. Their poor blankies have been through the wash a zillion times and the satin has long since worn away. They still love them and carry them everywhere. But the blankies are beyond embarrassing. My children love to tell people "my mom made me this" and I try to hide when people see the ratty construction of their overly loved blanki…

A new way to think of stem cells

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of CryoCell International. All opinions are 100% mine.
Stem cell research is a hot topic. Nobody wants to think about embryos and babies when they consider medical research, but most people also recognize the potential those precious stem cells hold. I tried (in vain) to get my hospital to donate the cord blood from both of my children's births. I wish they could have been used for their stem cells.

Beyond the umbilical cord, I thought stem cells could only come from embryonic tissue or bone marrow. Fortunately, I was wrong. I read something pretty amazing on the C'elle Blog . Did you know that menstrual blood contains stem cells? Yes, the same stuff we try so hard to get rid of each month has life saving potential.
According to C'elle : These menstrual stem cells are unique because they have many properties and characteristics similar to both bone marrow and embryonic stem cells; they multiply rapidly and can differentiate int…

Saving on Organic Produce

Every once in a while, I hit the stores at exactly the right time. What do I mean? Sometimes, I happen to be at the store when they mark down meats or produce that they need to sell quickly. A lot of times I feel like I'm the only person that walks through our grocery store's organic department.

Everything looks the same and products sit there a little longer than they should. When that happens, the grocery store drastically slashes the price. I've scored organic pears and apples for half the price of my usual best prices for conventional produce. But they usually need to be eaten immediately! So how do you eat 3lbs of pears in one day? For meat it's easy because you can throw it in the freezer without losing much taste or quality.

Here's what I do for produce:
We eat as many as we can!Bake tasty desserts.Use them in smoothies, yogurt, cereal, sundaes, and more. Dehydrate them. The picture above is from a time I dehydrated apples and pineapples at the same time. As an…

What would I do with an LG Chocolate Touch?

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of LG Chocolate Touch. All opinions are 100% mine.It's no mystery that I am a complete Granny when it comes to technology. I currently use a pay-as-you-go phone that costs me $53 a year and have yet to send my first text message. I could only imagine how cool it would be to go "online" with my phone. I did say "Granny," right?
So what would I do if I had a phone that could make calls, send texts, use the internet, use social media, take pictures or video, and has a music player with Dolby Mobile technology? Well, I'd have to wrestle it away from my husband and put sparkles on it to keep him from taking it again. After that, I think it would most likely be the coolest phone ever. Can you even call it a phone when it does so many things?The LG Chocolate Touch does all of the above (calls, texts, internet, social media, pictures/video, music.) One of the reasons I don't have such a groovy phone is because I…

Walking on Water

Today was a good day. I dropped my son at a birthday party and headed to Trader Joe's for some detailed price checking. Meanwhile, my husband took my daughter out to ride fourwheeler on the lake. The verdict for Trader Joes....I still like the store, but ever since Target started carrying grass fed beef, cage free omega-3 eggs, and grass fed milk, I love them even more. I bought some unrefined sea salt at TJ, but I won't feel an urge to go back until my salt runs out.
So, I joined my husband and daughter on the lake. I'm not a huge risk taker and I haven't set foot on a frozen river or lake in years. As a child, my brother and I went through the ice on the Mississippi. We were out on his fourwheeler just as it started to warm up in early spring. Our backend went through the ice and we waged a long, wet, and exhausting battle against the river to get the machine free and get back to safety. As a teen, I used to sneak out with boys that had a little too much to drink and …

Winning Swagbucks Multiple Times Each Day!

Many of you have tried Swagbucks and are probably winning at least once a day. I read somewhere that you could win twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Since that coincided well with when I'm actually online, that's what I did for the last few months.
I consistently won at least 2 swagbucks every day. And every month I cashed them in for Amazon and Target gift cards. Yay! But I wondered if it could be better. Could I win more than twice a day?
Thankfully, the answer is yes. Over the last 2 weeks I have been winning at least 3 or 4 times a day. Most of the time I only win 1 swagbuck each time, but I come across a few 2s and 3s. And honestly, I'm not doing anything I wouldn't normally do. I search the internet. I'm always looking for answers and information so I search a lot. And now that I've allowed myself to search at random times during the day, I am consistently winning each time I'm at the computer.
My tips for winning? Search genu…

Using Vitamins and Supplements to Round out a Healthy Diet

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of VitaDigest. All opinions are 100% mine.I try hard to eat a balanced diet of "real" food. In a lot of ways I don't feel like I need to take a vitamin supplement. But I'm not perfect and neither are my children. I'm sure we end up with nutrtitional holes in our diet. I'm most concerned about Vitamin D, Omega-3's and the B vitamins.
Let me explain why. I live in the northern US, where the sun is pretty much absent for about 5 months. On the days when the sun does shine, it's still so cold that we are bundled from head-to-toe. We are most likely missing out on Vitamin D.
I try to limit the animal products we eat, so that makes me think a lot about B-vitamins. Processed foods, grain-fed animal products, and vegetable oils contain a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, so I'm always looking to balance out my consumption of omega-3 to omega-6.
All of that being said, if I use supplements I want to use high qual…

Good Butter, Bad Butter, Expensive Butter!!

In my quest to eat more real, natural foods; butter has been a stumbling block. I like the taste of butter, but I hate the saturated fat of butter. Blah! I just can't get over it. All of the books I've been reading lately suggest that grass fed butter is much healthier than corn-fed butter products. Okay, I can believe it. I can believe that grass-fed butter in moderation might be okay. But everywhere I find grass-fed butter, it costs about $8-9/lb. That's not a typo!

So I've been ruminating on these little numbers for quite some time. I considered organic butter, but that's still from mainly grain-fed cows. And organic butter is about $4/lb. Friends, I only buy butter when it's 48-98c/lb during the holiday season. It freezes well and we don't use it all that often.

But that's a lie. I have been buying the little butter tubs. I loved the land o lakes butter and olive oil spread because the only ingredients were cream, olive oil, and salt. It seemed natu…

Aloe Cadabra from Live Well Brands

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Aloe Cadabra. All opinions are 100% mine.We are trying to make every product we use in our home more natural and more organic. So when Live Well Brands asked me to sample their organic and natural personal lubricants, I said why not. Then I realized I'd have to write about it and suddenly I was super shy. But seriously, going green is important to me. And so is choosing natural products! What we put on our body is just as important as what we put in them. So putting all teenage akwardness aside, let me tell you about Aloe Cadabra's products.
Aloe Cadabra personal lubricants come in three great scents: French Lavender, Tahitian Vanilla, and Natural. They all smelled wonderful, but the Natural scent was my favorite. I prefer most things scent-free, but I have to say that both the lavender and vanilla scents were pleasant and not overbearing. The best part about these products: the ingredients! There wasn't a super long list …

Keep your Little Ballerina Warm

Do you have a little ballerina (or gymnast) that's been freezing in little tights or bare legs this winter? I recommend you make her a pair of leggings. I made these for my daughter 3 years ago (when baby legs were all the rage) and they still fit! She wore them as a baby, during gymnastics, and now during dance. She even puts them on her arms when she dresses up. It's so 80's, it's funny.
I bought a few 2 packs of bigger girls (tween age) knee highs at Walmart for $1 per 2 pack. Then I cut the feet off and used a serging sewing machine to make a cuff at the bottom. If you don't have a sewing machine, I think you could use fabric glue to "hem" the bottom. Or just cut the feet off and let them last for one season. If they are used for dance or gymnastics, you probably won't need to worry about washing them very often.
I personally thought the adult size knee-highs were too big and didn't come in as many great colors. I'm guessing that these leg…

Growing Garlic in the Window - Part 2

The Garlic in my window has really taken off! My husband saw garlic for sale at the store and showed me the price. He thought it was ridiculous that I would plant something that cost us so little to purchase. I guess he just doesn't understand the "joys" of gardening. The real test will come in a few months when I try to harvest cloves. I'll also be planting garlic in the garden; just because I love it so much and it's an inexpensive (& healthy?) hobby.
Speaking of hobbies..... Check out my newest Cat toy creation. It's a snake. :)

$25 Amazon Gift Card & Thyroid Awareness Giveaway

{This giveaway has ended: Congratulations to #60 Mike}January is National Thyroid Awareness MonthThe thyroid is a small gland located in the middle of the lower neck, which produces hormones that regulate many functions including temperature, weight gain, and weight loss. Many Americans experience various problems with the functioning of their thyroid. Some red flags to watch for are:sudden weight gain or increase in body fatinability to lose weight despite proper diet and exercisefatigue, insomnia or restless sleep, anxiety or panic attacksgas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipationchronic sinusitis or lingering infections

Progresso Souper You Gift Pack Giveaway

{This giveaway has ended, Congratulations to Sue #228} Everyone wants to make fun and healthy changes for the New Year, right? Well from January 4th though March 15th, 2010; you can visit www.Progresso.com/SouperYou to enter the Progresso "Souper You Debut" contest for a chance to win a full makeover in New York City. Have you been to New York City? It's definitely a city worth visiting, and who doesn't love a makeover? The makeover includes full airfare and accommodations, plus a $1000 shopping spree. Check out the site for all the details.
While you are at the Souper You site, you can also print off a $1 Progresso soup coupon. Progresso has an extensive line of "light" and 100 calorie soups. I've tried them and they taste really good. I've personally been trying to make all of our food, including soups, but it's nice to have a few cans on hand for quick and easy meals.
MyBlogSpark is offering one Suburban Jungle reader a chance to win some of …

Link & Win Mondays: Stop in to List and Win Tons of Giveaways!

Link up your giveaways in the Mr. Linky below. Be sure to check out all of the great giveaways for your chance to win! My giveaways this week: 5lbs of Organic Whole Grain Wheat Good Health Natural Foods Bunny Prints HairCoverings.com Flirty Aprons Juno Baby (coming later in the week)

Your Shape for the Nintendo Wii

Earlier this month, HouseParty gave me the chance to try out Your Shape for the Nintendo Wii. I love fitness games, I love video games, and I love exercising, so I was so excited to get this game.
What I liked about this game: It was really fun to see myself exercising on the screen. It was awesome in the way that working out in front of a mirror is awesome. I could see myself do the moves, I could see if I was doing it correctly, and I could see if anyone was watching me from behind. The moves were good and there weren't extensive breaks, so you could get a legitimate workout from this game.You could select your workout time: 15, 30, or 45 minutes.The webcam can be used with your computer, so it's serves a dual purpose.
What I didn't like about the game: The camera sensor just didn't seem to like my arms. I was clearly doing the moves correctly and even when I was "in sync" with Jenny, I got constant reminders to "watch" my arms. Even though this did…

Flirty Aprons Review & Giveaway!

{This giveaway has ended: Congratulations to #259} I love to cook! I'm always in the kitchen trying to make yummy treats or find a way to make our favorites a little bit healthier. But anyone that's stumbled upon me when I've been in the kitchen knows that I'm a messy cook. I get ingredients everywhere!
I know what you're thinking: I could either slow down and make an effort to be neat OR I could wear an apron. Much like a purse, I've never really been an apron person. But then again, I've never had a cute apron. Flirty Aprons to the rescue!
FlirtyAprons.com sent me this super cute cupcake apron to review. I had fun wearing it, although I'm thinking I should have selected something that didn't make me think of treats. Not that I needed much encouragement in that area, but just seeing cupcakes made me want to whip up something sugary. lol
But in all seriousness, this was a fun, high quality apron. It fit, it kept me mostly clean (hairnet anyone?) and …

A Childhood Statistics Lesson

When I read medical studies, I always dig into the statistical significance of the findings. Alot of times, it seems you can find a correlation to almost anything (lol) but here's something I've found to have an almost 100% correlation: My children got a gum ball machine for Christmas and ever since it was filled with candy, their piggy banks shrink at about the same rate as the candy in the jar. I think there's a correlation. LOL

Growing Garlic in the Window

This winter, I started some garlic in a small flower pot and set it in a south facing window. And it sprouted! Our winters are pretty low on light, so I'm hoping it will continue to grow and grow. I'm kicking myself for only planting one. lol If we successfully grow indoor garlic, I'll let you know. Our indoor lilly went dormant (as expected) and I'll report if it re-sprouts this spring or not.
Either way, this years garden is going to be an herb extravaganza. Last year I was so impressed with our fresh basil and thyme that I'll be expanding our herb section. This year I'll be adding garlic, cilantro, scallions, and catnip (lol) to the mix. Oregano, parsley chives, thyme, and basil are already in my yearly rotation.

Last Day to Win Free Yogurt

Today is the last day to win Free Fiber One Yogurt at The Suburban Jungle.
About Yoplait Fiber One 50-calorie yogurtYoplait Fiber One 50-calorie yogurt isthe only leading nonfat yogurt with 50 calories and 5 grams of fiber.Available in four flavors – Strawberry, Vanilla, Peach and Key Lime Pie – Fiber One 50-calorie yogurt is a delicious snack that is good for you, contributes 20%of the recommended daily value of fiber and is a good source of calcium as well as vitamins A and D.Instead of munching on boring lower-calorie foods, you can now snack with zero guilt on Fiber One yogurt, a tasty way to help watch waistlines and keep calorie counts in check.Fiber One 50-calorie yogurt features a ‘Hungry Girl Seal of Approval’, the first nationally distributed yogurt to receive this endorsement.Yoplait Fiber One 50-calorie yogurt is available in the yogurt section of grocery stores nation-wide
Enter your information in the microsite below. If you are one of the first 50, you will be mailed a c…

More FREE Yogurt - First 50 Win!

It's Day-4 of the Yoplait Yogurt Giveaway. The same rules apply today, the first 50 people to fill out the entry form in the microsite below, get FREE yogurt. If you missed it today, come back again tomorrow. Yoplait is giving away free Yogurt at The Suburban Jungle every day this week (Monday through Friday.)This opportunity, the free coupons, and information were provided by Yoplait.

Free Cat Beds

As we are preparing for kitty, I've had fun making cat toys and researching the best food options. I have a feeling that our kitty will sleep wherever she pleases, but just in case, I've been digging through things to make a few comfy spots for her. Since she'll be living in the laundry area for the first few days (until she feels like joining the rest of us), I put together this free bed with a basket and an old baby blanket. The basket was originally free and the blanket was a gift. So all free to me. :)
Then I made two beds out of a few used towels. We still have all of our towels from our college days (and they originally came as donations from our parents' old collections.) My husband recently told me it was time for them to go. I couldn't handle throwing out perfectly good towels, so I hid them in the back of the closet. Hoarding, anyone? But I knew they would have a purpose! I made this bed as a prototype. It's a little ugly but now that I've got my mea…

First 50 get FREE Fiber One Yogurt!

It's Day-3 of the Yoplait Yogurt Giveaway. The same rules apply today, the first 50 people to fill out the entry form in the microsite below, get FREE yogurt. If you missed it today, come back again tomorrow. Yoplait is giving away free Yogurt at The Suburban Jungle every day this week (Monday through Friday.)This opportunity, the free coupons, and information was provided by Yoplait.

First 50 get FREE yogurt - Hurry!

It's Day-2 of the Yoplait Yogurt Giveaway. The same rules apply today, the first 50 people to fill out the entry form in the microsite below, get FREE yogurt. If you missed it today, come back again tomorrow. Yoplait is giving away free Yogurt at The Suburban Jungle every day this week (Monday through Friday.)
This opportunity, the free coupons, and information were provided by Yoplait.

Organic Whole Grain Review & Giveaway

{This giveaway has ended, Congratulations to Kristy #150.}My husband bought me a Vitamix for our anniversary and I have been dying to grind wheat with it. Thanks to Tropical Traditions, I finally had my chance. Tropical Traditions graciously sent me a 5lb bag of their Organic hard red spring wheat. I was so excited when this arrived. It didn't take long for it to be ripped open and put to work. It was so amazingly easy to make flour. It literally took me less than 1 minute to grind this wheat into flour. Fresh organic flour! And then the baking extravaganza began!
Here are a few of the things I've made so far:
Fresh Bread and Rolls
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (photo taken before rising)
Half whole wheat/half white flour chocolate chip waffles (a little less healthy than usual...)
I really loved reviewing this organic whole wheat! It was so fun to use and so good to know we were using a real, whole ingredient in our baking. I've also real…