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Archive for August, 2007

Are you always looking for that perfect deal?  Want to get the most you can for every dollar you spend?  Here are 11 different ways for you to find T.H.E. B.E.S.T. D.E.A.L. when you shop.

T.AKE ADVANTAGE OF DOUBLE COUPONS – Many grocery stores offer double coupons, most of the time up to $0.50 (doubled to $1.00).  Cut them out of your Sunday paper and use them!

H.OLIDAY SALES – This is a great time to shop.  You can get great discounts many times throughout the year.  Look for sales in your paper around these times:  Presidents Day; Memorial Day; Labor Day; Thanksgiving; and after Christmas.

E.LECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES – You can usually take advantage of some sort of mail-in rebate or gift card rebates with big dollar purchases like electronics and appliances.  Check around at your local stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Circuit City to get the best deal with rebates.  Only drawback – it can take 6, 8 or even up to 10 weeks to receive the rebate. 

B.OTS – There are Shopping bots such as Shopzilla.com or Pricegrabber.com that make it easy for the consumer to comparison shop and find the deals.

E.XAMINE REVIEWS BEFORE BUYING – Check out the product reviews online before you spend the money.  Often times, they will lead to a discount code, sale or free shipping.

S.TORE CREDIT CARDS – Many stores offer their own VISA or Mastercard sponsored store credit card.  You can really take advantage of some great offers and rebates by signing up for one of these cards.  Sidenote: try to pay off the balance each and every month and only apply for those cards where you frequently shop (you’ll get the most bang for your buck that way).  Example: Kroger (a grocery store) will award points for all purchases made in the store and outside the store using the Kroger Mastercard.  These points are tabulated and rewarded on a quarterly basis with gift certificates that can be used as cash in the store (I’ve gotten up to $80 in one quarter).  PLUS they’ll give you a $0.15 per gallon discount on Kroger gasoline purchased with the card.

T.AKE A LOOK AROUND – Make sure you do some browsing before jumping on that great deal…there may be an even better one right next door! 

D.ISCOUNTS, DISCOUNTS EVERYWHERE – There are always great deals in the: Sunday paper; Val-Pak coupons in the mail; local restaurant coupon deals; and coupon sites such as coupons.com and couponchief.com.  Take the time to check these out…it can save you a bunch of money!

E.FFICIENCY IS THE KEY – Many online shopping carts will allow you to combine or “stack” their deals and codes.  You can get free shipping, 10% off AND receive a free gift all at the same time!

A.SK AROUND – If you see someone wearing a cute pair of shoes or that new tee you’ve been dying for…ask them where they got it.  If they got a great deal, they will be more than happy to tell you about it.

L.OOK FOR USED OR CONSIGNMENT SHOPS – They have great prices on name brand goods and items that have barely been used.  There are always hidden treasures to be found in these shops. 

When you break it down into a formula, it’s not so overwhelming, is it?  Use these steps as a guide to help you find the best deals around.  Happy shopping! 

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Check out the unique, personalized gifts and letters at My Special Note!

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If you Google “weight loss supplement” you’ll find thousands of products claiming to take 30, 50, or 100 pounds off lightning fast.  The truth is: there’s no pill, machine, cream, or anything else that will take off the pounds magically. The only way to healthily lose weight and keep it off is through exercise and the proper diet.  However, you can enhance your diet and exercise program with a quality supplement. 

So how do you know which supplement to use?  Well, there’s not one that works for everyone, but there are some tips you can use to find the supplement that’s right for you.

The first step in choosing the right weight loss supplement is to choose the kind of supplement appropriate for your eating habits and dieting goals.  There are three main types of weight loss supplements you can use.

  • Appetite suppressant.  If your problem is that you overeat and need to cut back on total calories, you’ll want to take an appetite suppressant so you’re not hungry all the time.
  • Metabolism booster.  If you’ve cut back calories and the pounds aren’t coming off, you may need to boost your metabolism.  With these supplements, you can eat the same number of calories, but you burn more and store less.  These help you lose weight and gain energy.
  • Helps you stick to your diet.  There are tons of diets out there that work great, but are so hard to stick to (i.e. the low carb diet).  You can find supplements that will curb your cravings helping you stick to your diet plans.

You should also take a high quality multivitamin while you are on any diet.  This will make sure you get the nutrients you may be missing out on by cutting back your calories.

Once you’ve picked the right kind of supplement for you, it’s time to pick a quality brand.  Here are a few tips to finding good supplements.

  • Go with familiar names.  While your favorite store’s brand name probably isn’t the best choice, you should still look for products that have been around a while and that you’ve heard of.
  • Do research.  This will take a little detective work.  Go online and find clinical trials that prove the product gives results.  Just make sure you research the information to see if it’s factual.
  • Find out who to call if there’s a problem.  Reputable companies should have contact information on the bottle, in the package insert, or somewhere else you don’t have to search for.
  • Look for a certificate of analysis.  This means that someone has analyzed the product to prove that it is what is says it is. 

With a little research, you can find the supplement that is perfect to help take off those excess pounds.  Remember, as with all weight loss plans that you should talk to your doctor before getting started.

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Product Name:  Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000
Rating: 8
Where to buy:  Amazon.com 

Description: The Optical Mouse 3000 is a practical mouse with a tiny snap receiver that will plug directly into your laptop or snaps into the mouse for easy storage.

Review: This mouse is a must have for anyone who has a laptop.  Lightweight, cordless and with soft easy to use buttons this mouse is the perfect addition to your computer equipment.

The optical sensor for movement makes for better durability, speed, accuracy and performance. I have never had a problem with it freezing up or loosing the signal. I have used it on many different types of surface and never had a problem with it. The small size makes it easy to maneuver in either your right or left hand. The finger grooves allow you hand and fingers to rest comfortably while moving it around. 

It’s so easy to install too.  Just plug it in.  No downloading or installing drivers involved.  You can also use it on your desktop or even with Mac.  I have never had an issue with this mouse and my internet connection either.

This mouse is so easy to transport. Just place the tiny snap receiver into the bottom of the mouse and go. It’s small enough to carry in your laptop case even.

There is a power saving feature too that shuts the battery down while not in use.  This extends your battery life up to three times longer.  The 1 AA battery is easy to remove and install.

This mouse comes in 4 great colors. What a great product for a good price. Perfect for the student in the house.

Criticism: I only have two complaints with the mouse.  It doesn’t come with a carrying case.  Even though the receiver will snap into the bottom of the mouse it would be nice to have a case to put it in for extra protection.

Also this mouse is very sensitive.  This can make it hard to get used to in the beginning.

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Spinach Dip of the Sea

Ingredients:

2 Italian bread loaves(12  inches long by 3 to 4 inches wide)
2 10 ounce packages fresh spinach, well rinsed and stems trimmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes rindless Brie cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
One 6 1/2 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 strips bacon, fried crisp, drained and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ounces fresh lump crabmeat (pick out any pieces of shell)

Directions:

Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of the bread and throw away, leaving a 1 inch shell from the bottom half of the bread.  Set the shell and top of bread on a cookie sheet and set aside.  Boil a medium pot of water and add the spinach.  Cook until wilted.  Drain and place in a bowl of ice water.  Remove all excess water by squeezing the spinach.  Chop the spinach and set it aside.  Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a medium pot.  Place the onions in the pot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Next, add the salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne.  Cook for one more minute.  Stirring continuously, add the flour and cook for 2 more minutes.  Stir in the cream and milk cook still stirring for 3 to 4 minutes until creamy and thick.  Add the rest of the ingredients being careful not to break up the crab meat, including the spinach you prepared earlier.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Scoop into the hollowed out french bread and place the top half back on.  Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Once finished, unwrap and let cool for 5 minutes.  Cut and serve.

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Are you getting bored with your traditional workout?  Is going to the gym just too bothersome?  Well then why don’t you get your next great workout at the local dance hall?  Dancing is not only fun to do; it’s great exercise too.

There’s nothing that gets your heart pumping like dancing.  You don’t have to be good; you just have to move around.  The simple act of moving your arms and legs around is enough to get you a great cardio workout.  Studies have shown that ballroom dancing is almost as effective at working your heart as common workouts such as running.  It also doesn’t matter much what kind of dancing you’re doing, whether it’s ballroom, country line dancing, or even belly dancing.  You can even just dance around your living room to the radio (also a great way to work out with the kids!)

Dancing works all the different muscle groups.  Activities like jogging and swimming feature repetitive movements that work the same muscles over and over.  That’s why it’s easy to tell a runner from a swimmer, just by looking at what muscles on their body are developed.  Unless you do the same dance over and over, you’re going to be doing various different movements.  This allows you to work all your different muscle groups giving you a great total body workout you’ll be able to see in a mirror.  This is also a great motivation to take classes and try new styles of dance.

Normally, workouts can be a bit boring, and boredom is actually one of the most common reasons for quitting an exercise program.  With dance, not only do you get to listen to music that is fun and entertaining, dancing can have the benefit of being a social event.  If you have one or more people there with you, you can enjoy the conversation and excitement; you’ll probably completely forget you’re working out.  Try getting a group of friends to go dancing once a week with you.  You can even use the fact that it’s a great workout as a selling point to convince them to join you.  Just be careful; depending on the venue, you may be encouraged to drink.  Don’t burn off all your calories just to add them back with alcohol. 

Dancing makes a great family activity.  You can use it as a time to bond with your spouse or your children.  Remember, they need to get regular exercise too!  If you want to get closer to your spouse, sign up for some lessons you can take together.  And while you can’t take kids out to a lot of dance clubs, you can get a kids dancing tape, teach them to dance at home, or just play around to the music on the radio.  It’s a great way to exercise while stimulating their creativity. 

So what are you waiting for?  Why not change a workout this week to a fun time dancing?

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Caramel Banana Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped 
1 medium banana, coarsely chopped 
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 (12 ounce) jar of hot caramel ice cream topping 
 
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Chop pecans and bananas.  Combine ingredients (except pecans) in mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Pour mixture into small casserole dish.  Sprinkle pecans over mixture. Bake 10-12 minutes until the top is bubbly.  Serve with butter cookies or apple wedges.

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I’ve never met a shower hostess who didn’t run around like a crazy woman cleaning her house before the guest arrived. Sure there are those whose house always looks meticulous, but many houses get the deep clean only when company arrives.

It’s a given that the house will be clean, but the one thing that the guests will rave about is how cute the decorations look.  Then, you will know you’ve done a good job.

Decorating for a shower doesn’t need to be a big deal. If you know the baby’s gender then blue or pink will be the color du jour. If you don’t know, then pretty pastels work well too.

Take a trip to your favorite party supply store and you’ll have no problem coming up with decorations. Crepe paper, balloons cardboard cut-outs abound in these types of stores. You can never go wrong with streamers and balloons. You don’t even need to tape balloons to anything – just merely have them spread across the floor for a festive look.

If you decide on a particular theme, that will make decorating easy… just follow suit. If the theme is simply baby, then you have many choices. You can make or buy banners to hang either inside or outside. Hang balloons from the mailbox to make it easier for guests to find the party place.

Don’t’ forget party plates, napkins and cups. Cake tastes so much better on cute little baby themed plates rather than on your fine china or paper plates, don’t you agree? While you’re at it, don’t forget a table cloth. Not only does it tie the whole look together, it makes for easy clean up.

You may want to decorate a “throne” for mom. Take your biggest, most comfortable chair (but one that she can get out of relatively easily.) and decorate it with streamers and balloons. For an added touch give her a crown to wear.

Sure you want your guests to walk into a beautifully decorated room, but more importantly they will be walking into a room full of love and cheerfulness. It is HER special day…make her feel that way.

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