My Three Favorite Gadgets

So you know, frugal readers that just because we like to save money on most things, doesn't mean we deny ourselves of some of lifes simple pleasures and conveniences. Sometimes these pleasures and conveniences cost money, but of course we can try to frugally obtain these items.

I am a gadget hound. I love to get the newest things and I use them. Some I don't really need, but some I convince myself I really, really need. I'm dreaming of getting another computer (which admittedly I don't need) But I was at a conference where everyone had Apple Macbooks, and if those aren't the coolest, fastest, slimest machines made on earth. But they cost an arm and a leg. I'm scheming how to get one on a discount by waiting for tax free school sale (this three-day tax holiday is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 2, 2013, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, 2013) see FL DOR publication here. This year the tax break includes up to $750 for laptops and computers.

Anyway, heres my list of my three favorite gadgets:
1. Ipod Shuffle - I got this little music machine about seven years ago for entering sweepstakes where you sign up for a bunch of stuff to get points. So it was free, but I had to set up a spam email account and then cancel some some I signed up for with a prepaid debit card I had. It was kind of a hassle, but this is my favorite gadget so far. I use it everyday when I ride my bike to work, and then again when I go for a walk. I have it loaded with songs that have 120-140 bpm for optimum workout pleasure.

2. Android Samsung S4 phone - I've had smartphones for several years now and they have helped me save tons of money with my Grocery Tracker app, and avoid getting caught in rainstorms with my Weatherbug app. I also can track my finances on Mint app, and Dropbox is the most effective way to store documents when you use multiple devices such as Ipads, laptops, desktops, phones and my wifi camera. And since the demise of Google Reader, I have started using Feedly to capture my daily web feeds.

3. Ipad - I bought this refurbished last year and it has performed flawlessly so for $299 this Ipad2 has been worth it. I usually use it at home in place of the laptop, or when I want to read or watch a movie in the backyard. Amazon prime offers thousands of movies and TV shows for free and this device is great for that. I probably don't really need this gadget, but it is fun to have.

What's your favorite gadget?

My Publix Trip - Spent $0.87, Saved $49

I went to the store thinking it was the last day of last weeks sale, putting Al Fresco sausage and Fresh Express lettuce in my cart - just to have to pull them out of my order at the register as I noticed the prices. Just a frugal reminder, always watch your register as everything rings up.
The new ad this week doesn't have anything we need, except we did get Tostitos since I had a coupon. I did find some Snausages for my raincheck and that made it worth it. Later this week I might get a couple Ben & Jerrys ice cream but I used all my frozen food coupons already and I don't really want to pay $1 each for ice cream. So I might skip it. Anyway, I spent $0.87 and saved $49.
4-Jul 24   64.81 19.94 44.00 tax 0.87 26 -98.66%
Product qty price subtl B1G1 -Q 0.00 total Q# Q details
Snausages dog treat  (raincheck  BOGO) 10 2.99 29.90 14.95 16.00   -1.05 15 $1/1 or 1/2 MQ + $1/1 PQ paws
green pepper 1 1.19 1.19       1.19    
cucumber 1 0.65 0.65       0.65    
banana 2 0.68 1.36       1.36    
mushrooms 1 1.99 1.99       1.99    
Tostitos BOGO 2 4.99 9.98 4.99 2.00   2.99 1 $2/1 PQ donation sheet
Sundown Vitamin D or B6 6 3.29 19.74   21.00   -1.26 9 (6)$2/1 GAB PQ + (3)$3/2 MQ
Winn Dixie $5 off $30 1 0.00 0.00   5.00   -5.00 1 $5 off $30 In the City x12/30/13
I may get some rainchecks this week for razors ($3 off Schick) since they will be out of stock I'm sure. These help bring up the totals for next week when the new regional PQ comes out, $5 off $40 this Sunday!
I also got a $3 off 3 Kraft items, Sweetbay coupon in the local Spanish paper. It's a single page ad, so keep an eye out for it possibly in the Sunday paper.

Happy 4th of July

I hope you're all having a wonderful and safe holiday today! We got the day off work and enjoyed the local neighorhood parad with some friends, and then went to a free cookout hosted by Bulluck Law Group. It was my lucky day and I won the final grand prize at the raffle contest - a BBQ dinner for 8 from Luptons! Yummy
Enjoy some fireworks tonight too!

The Missing Blog

A week ago I went to a blog conference and it was a great opportunity to meet other bloggers and learn how to grow my blog. I don't earn much from this blog, just enough to cover expenses - but I know it has potential. I need to focus on a goal and strive to meet it. One of the things that everyone at the conference encouraged me to do, is to transfer my blog to Wordpress. But without it generating income, I can't justify the expense of self hosting and then there's all the tech support and design needed to make it look really professional.
But, I'm determined to grow. I decided to sign up for a free blogging class online offered by Blogelina. Along with the class is a free year of hosting offered by Godaddy. So, I took the plunge and decided to move my other personal blog to Wordpress and hosted by Godaddy. That was last Sunday. I haven't seen my blog since. It's in lala land somewhere transferring. Despite several calls to Godaddy tech support, it's on its way, but still missing.
Granted, I don't really know what I'm doing but it sure seems to me these companies could make it a little easier. How am I supposed to know that you have to change the A Host IP address so it points to the new server? This option is buried in about 4 sub menus of  the domain control center. Which I didn't even know existed until yesterday. I also learned that I transferred from a host with 4 servers to a host plan on 1 server. So now, I need to figure out how to change my settings so there are more host name servers. Luckily these days, there is a ton of help online in forums and those friendly YouTube videos. I'm determined to teach myself how to do this. Then I might transfer this blog, but then again maybe I won't. Blogger has done me good, and now that I learned how to set up Google Analytics and Google Adsense, and use better keywords - it might make more sense to just stay put.
You might ask, why don't you just pay $79 and hire someone to move your blog to Wordpress? Is that the frugal thing to do? Maybe. But I'm capable of learning myself, and who knows, maybe I would learn enough to be able to offer those services myself someday, or at least do a video series on YouTube.
So the frugal side of me wants to learn all this. Others tell me it will be best in the long run. But the feeling of being overwhelmed is not exactly comforting. Wish me luck.

Weight Loss Breakfast: Zucchini Patties #Recipe

This is one of my favorite diet foods since it is quick and easy to reheat premade patties for  breakfast. They are filling and healthy. You will love them too! Serve as a breakfast item with some bacon or sausage, or serve as a vegetable side dish for lunch or dinner.
Nutrition Info: 95 calories for 3 patties (14 gm protein, 6 gm carb, 2 gm fat) 
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 medium zucchini, shredded by hand or in food processor (top blade only)
1 T. green onions, chopped
2 T. parmesan cheese, ground
1 egg, or 2 T. of egg beaters
Spray Pam or Olive oil for skillet lubrication
1. Shred zucchini and place in a mixing bowl.
2. Add onions, parmesan cheese and egg.
3. Stir mixture until well mixed.
4. Put skillet on medium heat stove top burner, add lubricant, warm up the pan.
5. Place spoonful of zucchini mixure into pan, flatten and shape as desired. About six or seven spoonfuls will fill a skillet.
6. Cook zucchini patties until brown on bottom, then flip with spatula and cook other side too.
7. Place 3 or 4 patties on plate to serve, or cool for eating later.
Serves 2

My Publix Trip - Saved $121, Spent $1.24

What a great week to have the $5 off $40 PQ to go along with a sale! There are a lot of deals where I wish I would have had more newspaper coupons, but oh well - take what you have and be happy. The Mayo deal only worked Thursday because the PQ expires today. I wanted to get Snausages dog treats but there was only one lonely bag on the shelf for this BOGO deal. But a raincheck works too. And of course the elusive Seagrams Ginger Ale was nowhere to be found again. I asked my store to order it for me last time and still have not received a call. I think Coca Cola is slow on the stocking here. Plus they only have a small space for that flavor.

I had to buy some of the expensive B complex vitamins to get my order up over $70 so I could use the stacking Winn Dixie $5 off $30. Sometimes it's worth it to buy something you don't need (a filler item) to be able to buy something you want. That's a strategy that is hard for new couponers to understand and practice doing.

Anyway, I used the overage from the mayo, and the WD and PQ's to get some pork spareribs which are on sale. They are a pretty good deal, and with the BBQ sauce from last week, it makes for a cheap outdoor meal this upcoming holiday next week.

In the end it worked out to spending a little over a dollar on my Publix gift card, and saving over $121 dollars, saving over 98%.

27-Jun 35   106.60 35.23 71.00 tax 1.24 47 -98.84%
Product qty price subtl -B1G1 -Q 0.87 total Q# Q details
Pork Spareribs 1 8.82 8.82   2.00   6.82 2 $1/1 Pork MQ + 1/1 PQ fresh meat baby club
Pork Spareribs 1 8.79 8.79   1.00   7.79 1 $1/1 Pork MQ printable
cucumber 1 0.65 0.65       0.65    
Fresh Express Ceasar Salad Kit BOGO 2 3.99 7.98 3.99 4.00   -0.01 2 $2/1 MQ
Arnold Sandwich Thins bread BOGO 2 3.89 7.78 3.89 3.00   0.89 3 $1/1 MQ print + $0.50/1 TQ print
Reynolds Baking Cup 10 0.99 9.90   10.00 0.64 0.54 10 $1/1 MQ 6-23ss
Hellmans Mayo 30oz BOGO 10 4.77 47.70 23.85 30.00   -6.15 20 $2/1 PQ print + $1/1 MQ 6-23ss
Temptations Cat treats BOGO 4 1.75 7.00 3.50 4.00 0.23 -0.27 4 $1/2 TQ print + $1/2 MQ 6-16rp
Sundown B Complex vit 2 3.99 7.98   7.00   0.98 3 $2/1 PQ purple flyer + $3/2 MQ print
Publix coupon 1 0.00 0.00   5.00   -5.00 1 $5/$40 PQ 6-16 paper
Winn Dixie coupon 1 0.00 0.00   5.00 0.00 -5.00 1 $5/30 In the City booklets

30 Day Weight Loss Results

A month ago we stepped off a cruise ship after a long holiday weekend of lazing around and eating lots of yummy, fattening food. We each gained several pounds that needed to come off so our clothes would fit better and we would feel healthier. Here's a picture of us at St Johns USVI where we went on a nice catamaran and snorkling excursion. This is the "before" picture.

This is us each five pounds heavier, the "before" photo UGH
At first we kept up our regular meal plan of a carbohydrate rich breakfast of raisin bran with a banana, or homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal. But the problem was we were hungry for a morning snack about an hour later. Recently, the past couple weeks we've made turkey bacon for breakfast, alon with zuchinni patties (shredded zuchinni, parm cheese, egg beaters fried in a pan) Snacks in the morning are protein snack bars, cereal bars, almonds, beef jerky, fresh cut up melon or berries. Then lunch is a lettuce salad with chicken and veggie toppings, along with a nonfat yogurt for dessert. After work, we have a small snack of hummus or corn salsa on chips, then dinner is usually something from the stockpile like fish, pasta, rice or pork and of course frozen veggies steamers. Oh, and a couple beers. But no night time snacks, no eating after dinner for me.

our lunch salad, and a yogurt
I track my food and exercise using the MyFitnessPal app on my smart phone, If I am trying out a new exercise I track it live with the CardioTrainer app which uses a GPS to calculate steps, miles, calories, time etc so I know what it's all worth (It's a 2 mile trip around Busch Gardens). I try to eat about 1200-1400 calories a day, and burn up 400 to 600 calories with exercise (biking, walking. treading water in pool) each day. On Fridays and Saturdays, I may go out to eat (love those buffalo chicken wings!) so my calories can jump to 2000 per day. But my activity is up too so I think it evens out.

 I also read a diet book I checked out from the library (an ebook) The Adaptation Diet by Charles A Moss, which outlined a basically low carb diet with other ideas too. I've implemented some of the ideas, like eliminating anti inflammatory pills like Aleve or Advil because they cause a "leaky gut". I've pretty much cut out bread, and corn products and potatoes. I've cut back on drinking beer and we've never been sugar lovers, so sweets are easy to ignore.

Well, I'm pleased to report we have each lost five pounds in a month with this plan. DH doesn't bike like I do, so his plan includes less exercising, but men lose weight easier anyway. And the wonderful thing is, this lifestyle is frugal. There are no special foods, or pills, or drinks needed to lose weight. It's good old fashioned healthy diet and exercise. It's a lifestyle that can endure and be long lasting, with occasional treats that will not sideline your efforts because overall a healthy lifestyle can sustain the bumps in the road.

When we lose 5 more pounds, I'll post an "after" photo. Stay posted.

Easing of Rules: Electronics On Airplanes

I just got back from a conference this weekend in Cincinnati, OH and wasted a whole bunch of hours of my life on an airplane. As usual when traveling, I packed a lot of electronic gadgets to entertain me, connect me and enable me to keep up with the web. I also packed a good old fashioned hardback book, (Ironhorse by the estate of Robert B. Parker). I also was excited to use my mobile app on my Android phone to access my boarding pass, therefore avoiding the stupid security TSA rep, scribbling meaningless doodle on my boarding pass while giving me the evil eye and exasperated sigh for using my phone app.
Anyway, as you know, we earthlings are prohibited from operating electronic gadgets below 10,000 feet cruising altitude in an airplane. This means the time from backing away from the gangway all the way up to cruising altitude, we must shut off our electronics. For many flights, this is at least a half hour of sitting there with nothing to listen to, no pictures to be taken out the window, and no reading to be done.
But not me, I break the rules when they are simply there to annoy me. When breaking the rule does not hurt or offend anyone, I'll do what I want. So, I listened to the music on my ipod. I did have my book to read legally - I don't break all the rules. Nice picture landing in Cincinnati, huh? I only put my phone on airplane mode rather than powering off all the way. OMG you rule breaker! But, really. Wait - its actually quite harmless these days with weaker cell signals and more insulation on planes. Just today, it was announced that efforts are underway in the FAA to lesson restrictions on electronic devices on airplanes.
Expect the rules to allow expanded electronic activity as early as this fall 2013.

How to Open Wine w/o a Corkscrew

I was out of town this past weekend at the Savvy Blogging Conference, and it absolutely blew my mind. There were a ton of other great bloggers who shared their tips of the trade, and also some techies who explained how to do the computer stuff. And of course, there was lots of swag. One of the items was a bottle of wine, compliments of ALDI. But, since I packed light and didn't plan to check any bags on the flight, that meant I had to drink the wine at the conference. Well, on Friday night for the dinner and dancing, I did this frugal hack by just unscrewing the handle off a hanger and then screwing it into the cork until it pooked through on the other end. Then I simply poured the wine out of the hole in the cork. It only took a couple minutes and it worked like a charm.

How To Find Amazon Prime Lending Library Books

If you have Amazon prime, you probably are aware of the benefit of getting one free "prime eligible" ebook per month of your membership. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find books that fit into this category unless you apply a few filters. Here is an easy way to browse the free "lendable" books. These thousands of books can be borrowed using any Kindle device, but they are not transferable to other devices such as Ipads, Smartphones or PCs. There are no due dates, the book remains on your device until you return it. You can not "check out" a new book until you return the previous one.
1. Go to Amazon and make sure you're logged in. In the search box, select the drop down arrow and select the BOOKS department.
2. Then scroll down and select Prime Eligible. You must be signed into your Amazon account for this selection to show, if you don't have prime, you won't see this choice.
3. Then select Kindle Edition from one of Formats.
This will show you all the Kindle books that may be borrowed on your Kindle for free. Now to actually check out the book you must do this through your Kindle device.
So, to make this easier when you are on your Kindle, I browse the books I want on the computer, and then put them on my ebook wishlist that I created. Then when I am on the Kindle, I just click the shopping cart and go to my ebook wishlist and check out the book that way.
Good Luck and Happy Reading!