Friday, October 30, 2009

TGIF: Best Blog Posts This Week

Get ready for Halloween. It's weird having Halloween on a Saturday, right? Here's to a rain-free weekend for all of our trick-or-treaters.
Any great blog posts that I missed this week?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Reuse Dryer Sheets

I'm pretty neurotic about this one. I'll take the same dryer sheet and reuse it 3-4 times. It gets clothes just as soft and I save around $10 (cost of two additional boxes of dryer sheets).

Once I've beat up that dryer sheet, I'll usually also use it to either dust the top of the washing machine or to clean out the lint trap (gotta keep that thing clean to ensure your dryer is as efficient as possible). Cleaning the lint trap also help prevent fires.

Remember, recycle those dryer sheets!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

5 FREE Websites That Help Save You Money

Here's another post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...

79004955_3f7180c9f5I was doing research online for a client today and came across some really amazing websites that I had to share with all of you. These websites all offer one thing: free advice or free services that will help us save money.


1. is a financial planning site that helps users track their spending by pulling information from their online bank account, and then uses that detailed information to graph exactly where their money goes.

Yeah, I can hear your heart drop from here, because when I first heard about last year, my heart did the same thing. But I decided to give the site a try anyway, because it had gotten amazing reviews from, who named it the best budgeting site out there, and Money Magazine, who gave it a 5-Star Top Pick.

Well, I got all the way to the part where I enter my bank account and routing number and then I chickened out. I was just too afraid that someone would hack the site and have instant access to my bank account.

I forgot all about until today. I browsed through the site again, and have decided to give it another go. After all, if Kiplinger and Money Magazine have endorsed the site, it has to be secure. And, uses the same security that many major financial institutions do. So, it’s at least as safe as my online banking.

How can help you save money? Well, the site will help you to:

  • Easily create a budget that revolves around your current spending
  • Meet your savings goals
  • See exactly how much you’re spending each month on housing, food, entertainment, utilities, etc. with easy, color-coded graphs and pie charts
  • See exactly how much debt you have, and come up with a plan to pay it off
  • Receive alerts from to help you stay on top of debt repayment and savings goals

Pretty nifty, right? And, it’s completely free.


Are you getting an uncontested divorce? Need some advice on filing for bankruptcy? Need to figure out how to create a living will, or get out of the lease agreement you just signed with your landlord? is a website that offers people and businesses free legal advice on everything from child custody to real estate deals to immigration. Their forums are divided up by very specific topics, and lawyers from all over the country volunteer their time to answer questions.

The site also has an amazing list of free, downloadable legal forms that everyone can access, and there are tons of well-written, well-sourced legal articles that you can use for research.


3. Flickr’s Creative Commons Site

If you have a blog or business and need some copyright-free photos to use (like the one shown on the right), then check out Flickr’s site of photos that fall under Creative Commons License.

The Creative Commons License is a way for people to share their work with others under certain conditions without the strictness of full copyright.

For instance, some photos on the site are available for anyone to use for any reason, but only if you give that photographer credit for the image.

Fair, right?

Other photos can be used without giving credit at all. And still others can be used without credit, as long as they’re not sold or used for commercial reasons.

Flickr gives a very clear explanation of what photos can be used in what ways. So if you want to save money on photos, this is a great way to find some great images without paying a dime.

The full site address is:


If you’ve ever had to pay someone to come out to fix your computer, create a network for your business, figure out why Vista won’t work EVER, or clean up your hard drive from viruses, then you know how expensive it can be.

Well, is a website that offers free, yes free, tech support to people and business owners. Techies from all over the world volunteer their time on the site to help non-tech people (like me) do everything from update software to solve incredibly mysterious and complicated computer problems. has been around for ten years and they’ve been featured on The Today Show, the BBC, in PC World Magazine, and in Reader’s Digest, just to name a few.


If you’re starting a small or home-based business you’re going to need a website. But, you probably can’t afford to hire someone to make you a nice one.

This is where comes in. is a site that allows you to build sleek, professional-looking Flash sites for free. And, it’s practically fool-proof.

The site was designed specifically for people who don’t know how to build websites. So don’t worry if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing; has made it really, really easy to build a great site. And again, it’s all free.

Last Word…

I have to admit that I was overjoyed about the Flickr discovery. It’s so time-consuming to look for photos I can legally use on this blog, and I’m over the moon that so many photographers have generously donated their photos for public use!

I’m also going to sign up for today (and yes, I’m really going to go through with it this time!). I’ll post a review of the site within the next week to let you all know how I like the service, and if I think it’s going to help save me money.

Do any of you know some great sites like these that help you save money? Want to share? I’d love to hear about them!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Squash & Apple Bake Review

As you know, on Friday I provided a list of great recipes that I stumbled upon. Lots of great fall classics were in the list, including squash, pumpkins, apples and general yummy-ness.

Since we bought a share in a community-supported farm, each week we get lots of in-season produce. This has left us with many apples and two giant squash. I did a search for a recipe to use those up and stumbled upon the Squash & Apple Bake.

It was easy to throw together and I added some additional spices including pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. While it was baking, it smelled delicious!! My husband kept saying that it smelled like autumn should.

Everything was great until we actually tasted it. Neither my husband nor I are squash fans. We thought the apples, spices and whipped cream would have killed the taste. We were not that lucky. Needless to say, I ended up throwing out the whole pan of Squash & Apple Bake -- neither green nor frugal. But it delayed the inevitable -- letting it rot in the fridge and throwing it out a week later. Oh well, time to find another squash recipe that does a better job covering up the squash taste.

Anyone care to share some good squash-cloaking recipes?

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Friday, October 23, 2009

TGIF: Recipe Round-up

It's official -- fall is here. At least in NJ it's definitely arrived -- leaves falling, cool weather, lots of Halloween decorations. To wrap up this week, I've listed some of the best fall recipes I've found. I love anything pumpkin-flavored so you may notice a lot of those. Just think, it's the best way to recycle your pumpkin -- use the pulp, toast the seeds.

Feel free to add your own recipes. I'm in a cooking mood! (My husband will be happy to hear that since he's the main cook in our house.) I think I may have to test all of these recipes this weekend. I'll keep you posted...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Create a Weekly Spending Budget

How often do you get spending money out of the ATM each week? I try to limit myself to once a week (unless something unexpected comes up, like one of the kids has a class trip and I need to use cash). Usually I'll take $40 out and try to get that to last the whole week (Sunday through Saturday). I use this cash mainly for breakfast and lunch. However, if I make or bring breakfast and lunch to work each day, I can basically 'save' that spending money towards something else.

That's my incentive, saving that money that I've budgeted each week for something bigger, like a massage or some new clothes. When I know I'm saving towards something that's a treat, it makes bringing in my own food each day (which can be really inconvenient) less painful.

So that's this week's tip -- save towards something more meaningful and it'll be less painful to save!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Can you believe that October is half over already? Where does the time go? I've been slacking on the blogging and I apologize. If you can believe it, I'm still adjusting to the kids being back in school. I'm sure once daylight savings time kicks in, I'll be a mess again.

Without further ado, here are this week's best blog posts:

As always, let me know if I missed any. It's hard to get them all!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get Ready for an EEK-O-friendly Halloween (Part 2)

When it comes to decor, Halloween lines right up after Christmas. Americans spend $1.5 billion decking their homes with the latest in ghosts and goblins, much of it tossed when the holiday is over.

In reality, there is no need to purchase decor. This is a definite area of want. And while we know that most people are short on cash this year, many will still want to make some purchases. If you're one of those, keep these ideas in mind while spending green to celebrate green.

  • Buy less. Whatever your budget, cut it by 25%. Will anyone really miss that life sized witch among all the other yard decor?
  • Buy what will last. Dollar stores do offer great bargains. But poor quality items are likely to end up in the landfill. Better to spend a bit more on fewer items that can become a part of your holiday tradition. Be sure to wrap carefully after October 31, to preserve for the future.
  • Look for local and handmade items, especially those produced from recycled/recyclable or sustainable materials. Check for local artists through

A great solution to the decor challenge is to go DIY (do-it-yourself), preferably using materials you already have on hand, can secure via swap or, best of all, select from nature. This is the perfect time of year to pull together items from nuts to branches to leaves and use them to brighten your home (see activities below). If you feel challenged when coming up with ideas, of course the internet is an incredible resource. Just do a search for "recycled Halloween crafts." Here are a few to get you started:

(Frankenstein as pictured above, is made from a paper towel roll and fabric scraps. The original comes from Let it inspire you.)

When it comes to table decor, simply bringing in a selection of natural items and arranging them in containers or even directly on the table, can create a stunning tableau. Best of all, everything can (and should) be returned to where you found it for totally wastefree decor.

If you're itching to purchase new lighting, look for LEDs or solar. (Get rid of the old ones by recycling them through

Bonus craft: Shadow box picture frame chandelier Here's a project that's easy to assemble, but packs plenty of punch.


  • Shadow box picture frame or any frame that is deep enough for you to place items on the glass without them sliding off.
  • Leaves, moss (if you are taking moss from nature, be sure it is not in an ecologically sensitive area), whole acorns, acorn caps, small pinecones
  • Glue
  • 4 screw eyes
  • Wire, ribbon, rope or whatever you have on hand for hanging


  • Remove all backing from picture frame.
  • Turn frame over so glass rests on bottom.
  • Screw one screw eye as close to each corner as possible while avoiding the area where the two sides meet.
  • Randomly glue items like the acorns etc. to the frame. Use as many or few as you like.
  • Glue on moss.
  • Decide how low you want to hang the chandelier, then cut four pieces of wire to that length plus a few inches.
  • Feed each length of wire through a screw eye, then secure it by winding the wire around itself.
  • Bring the four lengths of wire together in the middle so that the chandelier is balanced. If you have a round item like a nut, you can wind the wires through that to secure. Be sure whatever you use has a large enough opening to hang from a hook in the ceiling.
  • Fill with leaves, acorns, candles (in holders), small pumpkins or whatever you like.

Note: If you prefer, make without screw eyes and wire and simply place in the center of your table.

Of course, when it comes to Halloween activities, trick-or-treat can't be beat. But for parents who are green-leaning, this traditional activity presents challenges. They don't want their kids to miss out on the fun, but neither do they want them eating all the candy. If you're facing this conundrum, you might want to consider inviting the Halloween Fairy/Witch to your home.

Eco-friendly activities before and after the holiday can engage your kids and help them learn about green issues as well. For instance:

  • Visit an organic farm/orchard to select a pumpkin or pick apples and talk to the farmer about how veggies and fruits are raised.
  • Spend an hour outside, hunting for decor. Be sure you have permission before taking items from nature, especially from parks or any ecologically sensitive area. Once you bring the items home, have each child make a special item for the table. Rotate the items during the week preceding Halloween.
  • Roll beeswax candles for pumpkins or other displays.
  • Do craft activities as a family each day leading up to Halloween.
  • Try out new recipes for Halloween menus. If you're hosting a Halloween party, making something to eat is can be a central activity and the resulting treat can be taken home as a party favor (if the kids can wait to eat it!).
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Eliminate Paper

When you think about all of the ways we use paper, you'll soon realize that this is a large part of the waste we produce. From mail to magazines, do what you can to reduce your paper consumption.

Here are some tips:

  • Read the newspaper online.
If you feel that you can't quit your paper fix, please be sure to recycle! Any other paper tips that I may have overlooked?

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Friday, October 9, 2009

TGIF: New Round-up This Week

So every week I usually do the best blog posts, but this week I'm going to change it up. I've compiled some of the best recipes that I could find at some of my fellow green and frugal sites.

While I clearly haven't tested them all out, so I can't attest to the taste or cost, they sound yummy. I may have to do some cooking this weekend...

Okay, I need to stop because I'm getting hungry. If you've tried any of these recipes, do tell me how it is.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Gather Those Coupons

Ever notice that you find coupons virtually everywhere? They're in your mailbox (postal and e-mail), newspapers, magazines and inserts. The key is to try and find a coupon no matter when or where you are spending. Headed to McDonald's? Make sure you have a coupon. A dollar here and 50 cents there quickly adds up. The best way to keep a ton of coupons handy is to buy an Entertainment Book in your car. They have anything from Dunkin' Donuts to local amusement parks. I even found multiple $5 coupons for ShopRite.

What are your favorite coupons? Any that you use on a regular basis?

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Green and Frugal: Let's Here It for Potty Training

I have quite a stubborn 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who I never thought we'd get potty trained. We've officially crossed the potty training hurdle and I couldn't be happier! Next to teething, I have to say that potty training is one of the most stressful times of parenthood. You have no control over when, where or how it will happen. But when it does, it's pure joy.

Although, I have to admit that I'm kind of sad since diapers were the last bit of "baby" left. There are no more bottles, pacifiers, crib and now diapers. *Sigh* I guess I'll have to get a baby fix from my friends with infants because God knows my husband and I are done. My daughter was much tougher than my son, who is 5 and a half. If we had her first, she may have been an only child.

So what does all of this have to do with Green and Frugal Living? Very good question. It dawned on me that not having to buy diapers anymore is like getting a raise!! In addition to being green, we'll save close to $100 a month! Think about diapers, wipes and diaper cream -- they're not cheap and you have to replenish them often.

While the process of potty training is extremely frustrating and can be lengthy, think about the rewards. In addition to your child becoming more independent, you can enjoy a money-saving, environmentally-conversion to a diaper-free lifestyle.

Have any good potty-training or related cost savings stories you'd like to share?

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Friday, October 2, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Whew, made it through another week! I need to get my blogging mojo back. I've been slacking lately. I was training for a triathlon that I completed last weekend. So now I can get back to focusing on Green and Frugal Living.

Here are some great blog posts that I stumbled upon this week:
Let me know if you enjoy these or if there are some posts I may have missed.

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