Giveaway: Build a Budget that Works by Jessi Fearon

So, you all know that I try to be thrifty by doing DIY projects, making food from scratch, using coupons, find deals at the Thrift Stores and finding the best deals on the new items or services we need to buy.  Well, another way is by keeping your family on a budget (and one that works is even better).

Jessi Fearon sent me a copy of the Build a Budget that Works  book to review as part of her book launch.

I am glad I got it since it reminded me of categories that I sometimes forget to budget for (like recently needing tires for our truck [which I found a sale on] and now it sounds like we will need them for the car also this year – ouch,  definitely not something I planned for, but I will be looking for a deal on those also).

I will continue to tweak our budget using the tips in Jessi’s book.

So,  would you like to win a FREE copy of the Build a Budget that Works book?  I was given one copy to give away to a reader.

Between now and Thursday 20 November 2014 make a comment (which will be delayed in posting since I have to approve them) with your name and email address.  After that I will pick a winner using a Random Number Generator (hey, I have to use something nerdy).

Good luck!   – H

Grocery Outlet – bargains and Gluten free

Note:  I got nothing from Grocery Outlet (or any of the brands listed) for this review.  I am just really happy that the Grocery Outlet opened in our town.

Since my favorite grocery store closed last year I have been bouncing around the local stores and Costco for my shopping.  I was happy when a Grocery Outlet opened locally.  I knew from extended family (and other blogs) that they didn’t always have everything, but when they had something they usually had a good price on it.

Did you know that each Grocery Outlet is locally owned?  The statistic is that for every $100 spent in a local store $45 stays in the community.  I am definitely willing to try the local stores to keep the money and jobs here.

So, here are some of the items we have been buying there lately.

Morasch Meats  – Beef New York Striploin Steak (2 pack, 14 oz,  $5.99) – Wow, we put some Dry Rub on these yesterday and cooked them on the BBQ.  They were great!   The husband and I were able to share one of them so we have the second one for another meal.   (Note – I went back today and bought two more packages of them since it was so good.)

Organic chicken legs – I got a great price on these (I cooked them up the same day and took them on our camping trip a month ago).

Smart Balance spread for $1.99 – this is a great price and the expiration date is way out there

Individual Garlic Bulbs (3 for $1.00)

Flaked Coconut

Cans of soup – today I picked up a can of Muir Glen Organic Homestyle split pea (14.9 oz) for $1.49

Frozen Ore-Ida potatoes (I just picked up a bag of Zesties for $1.49 for the first time today so I will let you know what we think).

Hummus – Since I am the only one in the family that really likes hummus I bought a container for a great price (don’t remember the cost now since it was a month ago), and then froze it in smaller containers.

Gluten free mixes – Arrowhead Pizza crust mix , 1-2-3 gluten free Rolls Mix and Poundcake Mix (haven’t tried them yet, but I know their prices were definitely cheaper than other places)

They also have bags of Gluten-free All Purpose Flour and other gluten free mixes which I am thinking of trying in the future.

So, now I stop at the local Grocery Outlet before I head to any other grocery store.

Have you checked out your local Grocery Outlet store lately?  Here is the link to their website if you want to find your local store:  https://groceryoutlet.com/

Let me know if you try them out and what bargains you found.

Later – H

Udi versus Rudi Gluten free bread and Walmart

So, for a few years now we have eaten Udi Gluten free bread.  The family likes it toasted and plain (when we rarely eat a sandwich).  Up until now we have been buying it at Trader Joe’s.  Well, this spring Costco (yeah!) started carrying a larger loaf in the frozen food section (in ours it is near the frozen berries – who would have guessed).

Anyways, I had seen coupons for Rudi Gluten free bread, but had never seen it in a store.  Well, the last time I was in Walmart (yes, I go there now, but not often) I went looking around and I found Rudi Gluten free bread in the frozen food section so I picked up a loaf.

The first time I tried the Rudi Gluten free bread I made it into toast.  It was tasty and didn’t fall apart.

On Father’s Day we took a picnic so I took some Rudi Gluten free bread (frozen when we left the house, but defrosted by the time we got there).  I hate to say it, but the bread fell apart as we were eating it.

(Note:  I did email the company that makes Rudi Gluten free bread and got a response that their bread does crumble.)

So, even though I don’t go to Walmart often I will be using the coupons I find to get some reduced gluten free bread for making toast in the mornings.

Oh, and both Udi and Rudi Gluten free bread are made in Colorado.

What new gluten free products have you tried lately?

Later – H

I love a vacuum – Dyson DC41 Animal

If you haven’t figured out by my blog title I am an Engineer (Electrical) by degree and sometimes I can act like a nerd (did I really just admit that?).

Pepper (the now one year old Golden Retriever) decided in late April/May to lose most of her winter coat (and I mean tons of hair) in a few weeks. Considering she is only allowed in our great room / kitchen you would think our old vacuum cleaner would be able to handle it.

dyson, review

Well, it didn’t – we could still see fur on the carpet after vacuuming and it was starting to overheat every time I went to use it.

At that time Target, Kohl’s, etc were running big sales (think Mother’s Day presents) on the Dyson vacuum cleaners.  I have always thought that the Dyson Vacuum was a pretty neat design (engineer coming out in me), but I had never considered buying one due to the cost.  But, when I found out that they were highly rated for pet hair, on super sale, etc I seriously started looking at them.

I had to order the unit online and when the Dyson DC41 Animal showed up it was pretty easy to put together and start using.

I go so MUCH dirt, sand, dog hair out the first time I used it I had to get out the scale and weigh it (yes, I weighed it) – 12+ ounces of ‘stuff’ came out of my carpet!  (I told you I have some nerd tendencies in me.)

dyson, fur, dirt, sand, review

Dirt, fur and sand that the Dyson DC41 picked up the first time

I am happy to report that the amount of dirt, sand, pet hair definitely went down after the first few uses, but I usually have to empty the canister twice between vacuuming the whole house.

The model we bought also came with different attachments which I have used a few times: for cleaning couches, etc.

One feature that I didn’t realize it had has come in handy – I am able to turn off the bristles and ‘suck’ the dirt off the tile and throw rugs.

The unit also has washable filters and I just washed them out for the first time.  Besides doing that I also used the air compressor and blew out the vacuum (canister, hose, {any part that looked like it could hold dust},  etc).  I was shocked at how much dust came out (I was even filthy afterwards).

Note: I also wipe down the outside of the unit with a damp cloth after vacuuming the house since there is usually some fur ‘stuck’ (due to static cling I think) to the unit.

Since my last vacuum lasted about 10 years (I wasn’t even able to get a new HEPA filter for it anymore) I decided even though this one cost more it was worth it (especially when I saw how much dirt, sand and pet hair the old vacuum wasn’t getting out of our carpet).  I am hoping that by removing some of the dirt, etc from the carpet my allergies will not affect me as much either.

What is the latest appliance you bought that you ‘love’?

Note: I got nothing, but a cleaner house for this review  🙂

Later – H

Cleaning a Dry Erase Board using a natural item

Do you have a Dry Erase Board at home and/or work?  Have you ever looked into what is in the Dry Erase Board Cleaner?

If you know me very well you know I have allergies – dust, mold, etc and was diagnosed with Exercise-Induced Asthma a few years ago (I knew I always hated running as a kid and always wondered why it seemed so harder for me that everyone else, but that is another story).  I have also recently realized that my asthma will flare up when I am around spray chemicals.

Where I worked we always had MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for the ‘chemicals’ we used (including Dry Erase Board Cleaner, White-Out, etc), but I never thought about it for home.

Due to my allergies, etc I started investigating Essential Oils to see if I could find something that would help me out versus over-the-counter (and prescription medicines).  I am still investigating that so when I figure out what works for me I will write a post.

I realized the other day that the pump bottle of Dry Erase Board Cleaner we had was almost empty.  When I turned over the bottle I was surprised to see what the ingredients were and the safety precautions:

* Ingredients: Contains 2-Butoxy Ethanol / Acetate, Isopropyl Alcohol.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even know what 2-Butoxy Ethanol was until I just did an Internet Search:

Per Wikipedia:         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2-Butoxyethanol

– 2-Butoxyethanol is an organic solvent with the formula BuOC2H4OH

(Bu = CH3CH2CH2CH2). It is a colorless liquid with a sweet, ether-like odour.  It is a butyl ether of ethylene glycol.

* Safety Warnings on the package: Flammable. May be harmful by ingestion or by skin contact. May be harmful if swallowed. Eye irritant.

Per Wikipedia:   Moderate respiratory exposure to 2-butoxyethanol often results in irritation of mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat.  I know this isn’t an issue for my household since we have a small (about 1 ft by 2 ft) dry erase board.

Yuck, did I really want anymore of this in my house if I could find something natural that would work?  I saw the other day that a drop of Lemongrass Essential Oil on a cloth could be used as a Dry Erase Board Cleaner – really?  So, I just tried it.

dry erase, essential oil, lemon grass, natural cleaner

Wow, I was surprised at how clean the board came (without erasing the writing first) and how dirty the paper towel was. And the board now has a nice Lemon smell instead of a chemical smell.

Like the husband said Lemongrass it is used in Thai and Chinese cooking so it is definitely natural. (Essential Oils are usually made by steam extraction.)

I definitely won’t be buying anymore commercial Dry Erase Board Cleaner especially since I already own the Lemongrass Essential Oil.

* Note: These opinions are my own and I was not sponsored to do this review.

What cleaner, etc in your house do you wish had a natural replacement?

Later – H