Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Clean your dryer and avoid a house fire – get rid of the lint!

I am busy with work deadlines and also trying to prep items for a Just Between Friends sale in McKinney this week, but wanted to quickly post something about dryer lint because I think it’s important to share after what I just discovered in my dryer.

While drying clothes, I decided to pull out the lint cleaning tool I bought at Walgreens a few years ago. I had noticed some lint build-up in the dryer, even though the lint trap wasn’t collecting much. I discovered that most of the lint has been by-passing the trap.

Check out this photo showing all the lint that was inside my dryer’s lint trap housing cavity, but NOT collected by the lint trap! I pulled all that lint out using the brush tool (also pictured). Yikes!

I still have to unplug the dryer and clean the dryer vent, because I am guessing it’s also pretty full.

Because this sort of thing can cause house fires (a leading cause according to info I read!), I wanted to alert everyone to clean their dryers on a regular basis. Check out this “How To” article about cleaning your dryer lint posted on

UPDATE: I ran another load of clothes in the dryer after posting this. The lint trap had very little lint, but I pulled another large chunk of lint from the trap housing cavity. I’m not sure why the lint trap isn’t catching the lint, but this just one of many reasons why I won’t buy another Kenmore washer & dryer.

Don’t forget to enter the Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVD giveaway (if you haven’t already). It ends tonight! I have a few giveaways coming up (including software may be especially interesting to those who print a lot of coupons, for example), but I also plan to get back into deal blogging once I get through these work deadlines and consignment sale.

Five of our Favorite Activities

TwitterMoms and Legos are running a new blogging program about ways to spend family time, so I though I would share five of our favorite activities.

1. Game night
I recently taught my daughter how to play the card game, Solitaire (not the online version!). She caught on quickly, and really enjoys it, so when we’re looking for something quiet to do together, we get out a deck of cards. We also enjoy playing board games such as Pictureka. I look for games that have some opportunity to learn something (numbers, reading, etc.) while being fun.

2. Crafts
I spend a lot of time on the computer for work, so I love the opportunities I have with my daughter to do crafts. We paint, draw, sew, make clay figures, create jewelry, etc. It’s also a great time to just chat about whatever comes to mind without lots of distractions.

3. Evening walks
It’s too hot right now, but hopefully within a month, the Dallas temperatures will be low enough to enjoy evening walks again. Either before or after dinner, we like to take a quick walk around the neighborhood to see what interesting things we can spot. We have a special tree that we call the “bubble tree” which we make sure we visit on our walks.

4. Chores
While it doesn’t sound appealing, it can be fun to complete chores together (and makes things easier on mom!). For example, when my coupons need to be sorted, I involve the help of my family to get them organized. My daughter has learned to read dates (to pull out what has expired) and how to sort by product type (all the dairy coupons together go together, etc.). It’s a great opportunity for us to spend time together, get something cross off the “to do” list and give my daughter a chance to learn in the process.

5. Free weekend activities
I regularly check sites like, and to look for free weekend activities to get out of the house. If I can’t find anything interesting, we make sure we visit Lakeshore Learning to do their free Saturday craft.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and LEGO blogging program, making me eligible to get a prize pack. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Now Craving Healthier Savings…

I have been blogging inconsistently over the last several months for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons has been trying to get to the bottom of my daughter’s ongoing health issues. She received a new autoimmune illness diagnosis in March.

After doing a lot of research, I learned about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Many people with Celiac disease, an inflammatory bowel disease and/or Autism have responded well to the diet if they strictly follow it. It removes many complex carbohydrates (say good-bye to anything processed/manufactured) and it pretty much requires that you cook from scratch. Over the last week, I have made yogurt, caramel and a variety of other foods!

We’re only on day six of the diet, but I’m already seeing positive changes not only in my daughter’s health, but also in mine. It’s still too early to know if this will keep my daughter off additional medications, but we’re going to give it a try for at least another month and see how things go.

With the end of the school year approaching, I do not know yet if I will start blogging regularly again before or after June 11. But once I start back, I will post food savings primarily connected to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, including fresh and frozen produce, all natural/grass-fed meats, 100% juice, coconut products and eggs.

I will also post non-SC Diet items if they are free or close to free, but I will not do detailed product match-ups like I did many months ago. It was extremely time consuming, and there are many other bloggers who already do an excellent job of posting the deals on a weekly basis.

I am also investing in kitchen gadgets to help make the process of cooking from scratch easier and more fun for me and for my daughter. I will share some of these if I think they are good deals and worth the investment. I will also share how I paid for these items (e.g. money from survey sites, blog giveaway wins, Swagbucks, etc.).

Occasionally I may post one of the food items I make in case you want to try it. You don’t have to be following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to eat these items!

And finally, I will continue to post sources of coupons, but the focus will be primarily on the healthier coupons.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please leave a comment or email me (susan (at) cravingthesavings (dot) com)!

Tropicana Juicy Rewards

Tropicana started a new program in January called Tropicana Juicy Rewards.

When you purchase specially-marked Tropicana juice products, you will get a code that you can enter on the rewards Web site. The codes generate points that you can redeem for discounts at participating:

– Retail/Online stores
– Salons
– Performing Arts Venues
– Classes & Lessons
– Amusement Parks
– Home Improvement stores
– Travel
– and more.

I’m excited about this program because we purchase a lot of Tropicana juice and it’s always nice to have an extra bonus when purchasing something you consume regularly!

Do you plan to travel before the end of the year?

Save your rewards points and get discounts for your destination city! Be sure to read the offer terms & conditions before redeeming, but I didn’t see anything that would prohibit me from redeeming points to get discounts in Philadelphia this summer when we attend a conference there.

For Dallas readers, here’s a fabulous offer that I’m going to take advantage of this week…

As soon as I replace my printer’s ink, I will redeem 3 points for a Dallas Children’s Theater voucher to buy one adult ticket and get one child ticket free. This will be a savings of $16-21, depending on whether we sit in section A or section B. I usually try to get to their Target Saturday performance since the tickets are $10 each, but we missed it last month, so I was thrilled to see this opportunity.

Check out what rewards are available near you.
I just looked through the Dallas-area ones again and noticed several new ones, so keep checking back if you don’t see something that appeals to you.

Check out the program’s FAQs

Register here and enter the code MOMCE-NTRAL to get a free point.
This one-time use code is valid for new accounts ONLY. Must be entered within 6 hours of creating your account.

– Get free codes by following Tropicana on Facebook and Twitter.

All points must be entered by November 15, 2010, but you can redeem your points until December 15, 2010.

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in the Tropicana Juicy Insiders Ambassador program by Mom Central on behalf of Tropicana. I received 12 free Juicy Rewards points and a $50 Visa gift card to use in redemption of the points and to facilitate my review.

Discover Card – 5% back on Grocery & Drug Stores

While paying my Discover bill tonight, I noticed that March is 5% cash back on Grocery and Drug Store purchases, so I thought I’d alert any of you who have a Discover Card so you can get an extra 4% back this month.

In order to receive the 5% cash back, you need to log into your Discover Card online account (or you can probably call the number on the back of your card) and sign up. While you’re there, you can also sign up for the April-June 5% bonus, which is for on Home and Fashion purchases.

The cap for Grocery & Drug Store purchases is $200, and the cap for Home & Fashion purchases is $400. Not a huge savings, but savings nonetheless.


Appetizer with Ile de France Goat Cheese

I recently received a free buchette of Ile de France goat cheese in exchange for creating an appetizer to enter in their Holiday Bash for Cash $1,000 recipe contest.

Here is what I am submitting:

Croustillant de Chèvre Chaud et Petits Légumes au Coulis de Mûres

(Goat Cheese & Veggie Croustillant with Blackberry Coulis)

This is a simple, yet wonderful appetizer that your family and your guests will love. This recipe is for 4 people.

Besides dough, you will need:

-1 Ile de France Goat Cheese buchette
-2 Cloves of Garlic
-1/2 lb of Portabella Mushrooms
-1/2 lb of Green Beans
-3 Large Cherry Tomatoes
-3 Walnuts
-Olive Oil
-Salt and Pepper

1. Make your own dough or buy some large wonton wrappers. You will need enough to cut out 12 – 2″ by 2″ squares.

2. Prepare a blackberry coulis, either from scratch or by using a jam or jelly base.

3. If you have made your own dough, you must roll it out as thin as possible.

4. Cut the wrappers or your own dough into 12 – 2″ by 2″ small squares

5. Bake the squares at 400 degrees for about 3 minutes. They should be hard, but not yet ‘toasted’.

6. Place 1/2 lb of portabella mushrooms, 1/2 of fresh cut green beans, 2 chopped cloves of garlic and 4 tbsp of olive oil in a pan, salt, pepper and cover. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

7. Cut an Ile de France goat cheese buchette into 12 1/4-inch thick slices

8. Place a small mix of cooked vegetables at the center of each square.

9. Cover the vegetables with a slice of Ile de France Goat Cheese Buchette.

10. Set your oven to ‘Broil’. When ready, broil the squares until the goat cheese melts and the squares are toasted.

11. Place your squares on a large plate – large enough to contain all the squares and leave a bit of room for some extra coulis.

12. Slice 2 or 3 large cherry tomatoes and place a slice on each square, on top of the hot goat cheese.

13. Top each tomato slice with a 1/4 of a walnut.

14. Pour the coulis sparingly on each square (if desired) and pour a larger amount on the plate.

…And voila! An interesting appetizer combining delicious goat cheese, healthy vegetables and the surprising sweetness of a blackberry coulis!

Are you a cheese lover? Join the Ile de France cheese community to get news and coupons.

My Five Favorite Holiday Activities With My Daughter

The five favorite holiday activities I enjoy doing with my daughter are:

1. Creating holiday ornaments and other holiday-themed crafts.

2. Driving around the neighborhood to see all the lights and decorations, especially the street with the 12 Days of Christmas.

3. Eating Quiche Lorraine (family recipe) and oranges with powdered sugar on Christmas Day.

4. Visiting the Northpark Mall Santa (but not the waiting-in-line part!)

5. Watching Rudolph, Frosty and A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV.

This post is in response to a Twitter Moms blogging activity to celebrate the premiere of Dora’s Christmas Carol DVD.

Fire Safety & Prevention and Freebie for Dallas Residents

It has been a sad week. A family of three in my neighborhood lost their lives in a tragic house fire.

From what I have heard, their deaths should have been preventable, but something happened that night that kept them from getting out of the home.

The one positive from this tragedy is how neighbors have come together to help the family’s relatives and the firefighters who responded to the fire. Tonight, one family opened their home to area homeowners and their children (nearly 100 people RSVP’d) for a fire safety and prevention presentation given by Dallas Fire & Rescue.

The fire department brought several educational materials, but the speaker focused primarily on a home fire safety checklist, which I have re-typed below.

You should be able to answer “yes” to each of these items:

1. Address numbers visible from the street
2. Properly installed and operable smoke alarm(s).
3. All sleeping rooms have two accessible escape routes (remove any barriers to windows like furniture)
4. Family has an evacuation plan for emergencies.
5. Fire drills are conducted at regular intervals.
6. Burglar bars are openable from the inside without a key.
7. Electrical equipment and wiring appears in good condition.
8. Use of extension cords is limited and in an approved manner (i.e. not under rugs, over nails or overloaded).
9. Matches and lighters are kept in a secured place and out of reach of children.
10. Kitchen appliances / vent-a-hood free of grease accumulation.
11. Kitchen vent-a-hood is vented to the outside.
12. Gas water heaters vented to the outside and equipped with safety relief valve.
13. Combustibles placed/stored in a safe location, separated from combustible storage.
14. Flammable liquids stored in a safe location, separated from combustible storage.
15. Heating and air conditioning filter clean.
16. Premises free of excessive rubbish and combustible storage.
17. Fire extinguisher available, and responsible person knows how to properly operate it.

Other information from the meeting worth sharing includes:

– If you hear a smoke detector going off, roll out of your bed and stay on the floor. Crawl to the door to check if it’s hot. Do not stand up. If the door is hot, or you see flames, do not open it. If cool or warm, carefully check to see if you can determine the status of the fire and leave the house if it is safe to do so.

– Plan multiple evacuation plans with your family – a primary and back-ups – and designate a family meet-up spot so no one tries to re-enter the home to look for missing family members.

– If you buy a fire ladder, check to make sure it’s not a “one time use” ladder. If it is, you cannot practice evacuating as you will have to throw it away.

– Use surge protectors instead of extension cords.

– There are all-in-one detectors that will cover heat, smoke and carbon monoxide, so you don’t have to necessarily buy one of each.

– Fire extinguishers have three codes:
A = for fires that cause ashes (i.e. wood, paper, plastic)
B = for fires with flammable liquids
C = for electrical fires

– You can get fire extinguishers that will work on all three (A, B, C). Check your extinguisher(s) at least once a year and the fire department rep recommended changing them every year.

– Keep a phone in each sleeping room

– Put a sensor in your attic that detects a rapid rise in temperature.

– Get detectors (smoke, heat, carbon monoxide) that talk to each other so if one goes off, they all go off.

– Get your detectors monitored by your home security company so even if you are unable to call 911, the security company will.

– Only use extension cords that are UL listed for outdoor use if you put up lights during the holidays.

– Have your chimney inspected once a year before the first time you use during cold weather.

– Lint back-up in your dryer tubing can cause a fire. Be sure to thoroughly clean it at least once a year.

If you live in an older home (built prior to the early 1980s), check your electrical panel/circuit breaker to see if it has any of these names on it:

* Federal Pacific Electric
* Stab-Lok
* FPE-Stab-lok
* Federal Electric
* Federal NOARC
* Federal Pioneer

They are known to be defective and cause house fires. The majority of homes in my area of Dallas have this brand in their home, but I believe this brand was also used in other parts of the U.S.

If you have one of the panel names listed, consult with an electrician. I have heard it will cost around $900-$1500 to change one (some homes have more than one), but that’s nothing compared to what a house fire could cost you. Also, if you have one in a closet, make sure clothes are not up against it.

More information about this brand of circuit breaker can be found at

Freebie for Dallas Residents
If you live within the City of Dallas, Dallas Fire & Rescue will install FREE smoke detectors (as many as you need) at no cost! They contain lithium batteries that are supposed to last 7-10 years and are supposed to beep when you need to change them.

I do not think they are the kind that communicate with each other, but they’re free and better than having outdated detectors, or none at all. Call 3-1-1 to inquire about this program.

If you don’t live in Dallas, you might want to check your city/town’s fire department Web site to see if they offer anything comparable.

More Information (PDF documents)

Good information about smoke detectors such as they need to be replaced every 10 years (I think mine are probably original to the home, which was built almost 30 years ago).

Fire Safety Tips for your Family

The upcoming holidays bring an increased house fire risk (tree lights, dried out trees, house lights, burning candles, etc.). Please take a few moments to print this checklist, test your detectors and evaluate (or even better practice) your family’s evacuation plan(s) in case of a fire.

We lost a great family on November 12. Let’s try to keep this from happening to anyone else! Please share this information with family and friends.

Pinecone Research Opportunity

This is one you won’t see every day. Pinecone Research is taking new applications for survey participants. I signed up about a year ago and had to find the “hidden banner” to sign up.

I regularly receive surveys and product trials from them. The surveys are interesting and the payout is usually $3 per survey, which they now send via PayPal, if you request it. Sign up here if you’re interested:


It will be coming down later today, so act quickly if you’re not yet a member and want to sign up.

Five Birthday Celebrations for my 5 year old

My daughter turned five this week and she’s getting five birthday celebrations. This was totally unplanned!

Celebration 1: Dinner at Rain Forest Cafe
The birthday celebrations started Sunday night with dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe – something we had planned to do last year, but my daughter got sick. One of my sisters was in town and had to leave on my daughter’s birthday, so we had the dinner early.

Thanks go to Lea Ann at Mommy’s Wish List for posting the Rain Forest Cafe friends & family $10 off $25 coupon, which came in handy since the food isn’t cheap.

Celebration 2: Pei Wei and Presents at Grandma & Grandpa’s
On Monday night, we ordered takeout from Pei Wei and ate at my parents’ house. This time, my daughter got to open a few presents early. Did you know you can get 25% off your meal at Pei Wei when you place your order online for the first time?

Celebration 3: Cake & More Presents at Home
Tuesday night was my daughter’s actual birthday. We drove my sister to the airport and then had dinner with my parents again, but this time at my house. My daughter got to open her presents and we had cake

Celebration 4: Opening Night at the Circus
On Wednesday night, we piled into my parents’ car and headed to the American Airlines arena for the opening night of the Ringling Bros. circus, thanks to MomCentral.

My daughter was especially excited to get cotton candy, so after walking around the pre-show for a little bit, we settled in our seats and got her some, which came with a hat.

Unfortunately she was exhausted from the busy week (she’s also at day camp this week), so she was a bit restless. Between her moving around and the little guy behind me who kept kicking me in the head and letting out eardrum-piercing screams, it was difficult to fully pay attention to the circus. I highly recommend if you take a small child to the circus that you pick an earlier show or make sure the child has taken a nap (which unfortunately didn’t happen at our house).

Our favorite acts were the motorcyclists (both in the Globe of Steel and on the high wire), the stilts walker, the acrobats and the trapeze artists. The dogs were cute too. And there was an unexpected visit by a porcupine which got my daughter’s attention.

If you are sensitive to loud noise, I recommend taking a pair of ear plugs. The noise level didn’t bother me, but really bothered my father.

I had the opportunity to meet Allison and her family who won the tickets that I gave away last month. I also briefly saw Rachel from Surviving the Stores, but unfortunately I missed Hollie at Happy Couponing, Amy at Amy Loves It, Donna at Way More Homemade, Stephanie at Couponing 101, Dwan at and Alyssa at Kingdom First Mom who were also there.

I checked the Ringling Bros’ Website before heading to the AA Arena and read that still photos were prohibited for commercial use (but I didn’t see the “commercial use” part), so I left my camera at home. Once we got there, I noticed a sign that stated only videos were prohibited. So… I took a few photos with my phone camera, but they didn’t turn out too well (as you can see). If you go, take your camera!

If you’re thinking about going to the circus, check out my past post about the discount provided by

Celebration 5: Pump It Up?
I haven’t scheduled the fifth celebration yet, but it will be her “friend party.” We’re thinking Pump It Up, but I’ve had a difficult time trying to figure out packages because I don’t know who is in town and who will be on vacation. I hate to overpay, but also don’t want to end up paying more because I under-estimated the numbers.

I’ll spend this week finalizing the plans so we can wrap up this birthday celebration marathon!

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