Friday, August 19, 2016

Save Money with Honey!

As an avid online shopper and penny pincher, I will jump at the opportunity for a good promo code, deal or discount and often spend more time researching and comparing prices online than actually shopping. I recently discovered a new way to save even more when shopping online and it's name is as sweet as the savings! HONEY.

Honey is a service that makes it ridiculously easy to save money and time. Honey automatically finds coupon codes for the site you’re shopping at and applies them to your order when you check out, saving you money and coupon searching time.


How easy it is to get:

Install the Honey browser extension. A 
 button will be placed in your browser bar. While shopping at a supported store, click on 
to view all available sales and coupon codes. During the checkout process, simply click the "Find Savings" button in the browser extension and Honey will automatically find and apply the best coupon(s) for you.


How it works:

Shop online. Honey works on thousands of stores. Just look for the 
 button in your browser bar. Some of the more popular sites are Amazon, Target, Macys, Groupon and so many more. When you get to the checkout screen, the Honey sidebar will automatically slide out with the button “Try Codes”. When you click the button, Honey automatically tests coupon codes, saving you the hassle of searching for coupon codes before you check out. 

 Click here to start saving big time today: joinhoney.com/ref/aogqtp




Friday, August 12, 2016

Free Audible Trial with 2 Free Books

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Some of the popular books I have in my library are (save big with an Audible membership):


 



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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Back to School Savings At Amazon

It's that time again... time to start thinking about Back to School and all of the supplies and clothes that go along with it. It is also a great time for savings! Amazon has plenty of great deals and promotions geared just for parents and students. Check out some of these deals:
Back to School Deals

Off to College Deals

Prime Pantry Savings: Free Shipping on Back to School Essentials
Purchase any of the 4 qualifying products below and receive free shipping (a savings of $5.99). Savings will be applied at checkout. Limited time only.

What Is Prime Pantry? Prime Pantry is a unique shopping experience on Amazon.com. Prime members can shop popular household essentials and have them conveniently delivered. You can buy as much or as little as you want for a flat $5.99 delivery fee per Prime Pantry box. Save gas, save money, save time. Learn More

Back to School Deals on Software Browse software titles discounted by 50%

Monday, September 1, 2014

DIY Homemade Natural Herbal Foot Soak

I am an avid heel wearer and in the summer I live in sandals plus I do a lot of walking. By the end of the day, my feet are tired (and living in a big city, not always the cleanest!). I like to end the day by soaking my feet in a therapeutic and cleansing mini-bath. I usually buy natural foot soak salts (my favorite is Earth Therapeutics, see below) but since I have an abundance of herbs in my garden right now I thought I would try making my own. I love the scent of fresh rosemary and lemon balm and since both have good cleansing and aromatherapy qualities, I am using these first. The smell of these two herbs together as I poured boiling water over them was so soothing and pleasant that I think I may try a facial steam with them too! I also purchased some pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil for added benefit, though it is not necessary.

Here is my recipe:
Ingredients
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs of fresh lemon balm
1/4 cup of epsom or sea salt (I also used course Kosher salt)
1-2 drops of tea tree oil
enough water to fill your foot soak tub or bucket to cover your ankles

Pour about 2 cups of boiling water over a few branches of rosemary and lemon balm and let sit for about 20 minutes to cool.
The hot water will release some of the fragrant and medicinal natural oils in the herbs.
Add 1/4 cup of the salt. Add warm water and the rosemary water and test to make sure the temperature is good for you.
Add a few drops of the tea tree oil (it is pretty strong so only 1-3 will do!)
Soak feet for 15 minutes or so.
If you don't have lemon balm you can substitute with some fresh lemon zest shavings or even lemon slices.

Following your soak with a little scrub using a pumice brush or sugar rub also helps get rid of dead skin. I also like to use a little peppermint lotion afterward to cool and refresh while retaining moisture. Burt's Bees makes an excellent peppermint foot lotion that really cools feet after a long hot day. Made with natural ingredients like peppermint oil, coconut oil, beeswax, tea tree oil and witch hazel, this lotion is a great way to naturally pamper your feet!

You can purchase Burt's Bees at Amazon.com at a great price by selecting Subscribe and Save to receive up to 20% off - Click here: Burt's Bees Peppermint Foot Lotion, 3.38 Fluid Ounces

If you don't make your own foot soak, check out Earth Therapeutics Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak. The scent is lightly minty but not over powering. One capful of salts does a great job at softening rough skin.
Purchase this foot soak here: Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak 10 oz

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Selecting a Holiday Tree - a few facts about the different types

Balsam Fir
Many people choose to have a Christmas tree this month and opinions about what type of tree is best are as varied as anyone can imagine.  Many people argue over whether or not a fake tree is better than a real one...and is more sustainable because you can reuse it every year.  Well, think about where the tree comes from and how it is manufactured and that will give you insight on which is better.  The fact is that most real trees sold as Christmas trees are FARMED, just like many other crops and food sources and are planted every year.  That fake tree is most likely made of plastic using petroleum, harmful chemicals and excessive energy to produce and the fake tree often releases harmful toxins into your home even years after you open the box!
Here is an interesting statement from the National Christmas Tree Association:

MYTH #4: It's better to use a fake tree because you can re-use it each year.
BUSTED: That’s a very short-sighted perspective. According to research, most fake trees are only used 6 to 9 years before they’re disposed. Even if you would use one for 20 years or more, it will eventually be thrown away and end up in a landfill. And unlike Real Trees, which are biodegradable and recyclable, fake trees are always a burden to the environment.

 
For more myths and answers about Christmas trees, go to: http://www.christmastree.org/myths.cfm

Another commonly held belief is that a live, potted tree is better... well, it's a nice thought but more often than not, these trees, even when planted promptly after the holidays, do not live because they have either been exposed to drastic temperature and humidity changes or were not properly cared for.  So is it worth it to buy a potted tree instead of cutting one down?  If you keep it outside and partially bury the pot - possibly but then you miss out on having that Christmas Tree scent in your home!
More Christmas Tree Facts from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service:
  • Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
  • There are more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States.
  • For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. 
  • There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas Trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry.
So the more GREEN option seems to be purchasing a cut tree from your local tree farm or in my case, the street corner or plant store.  But now your decision is "Which type of tree do we buy?"
The following evergreen tree species or types are sold and grown in the United States for Christmas Trees and are thought of as the best for different characteristics.

Fir Trees: Common name (Botanical name)

Balsam Fir(Abies balsamea) – Native to the northeastern United States, the Balsam Fir is named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on bark.  The needles are flat, ¾” to 1 ½” long rounded at the tip and generally last long on the branches.  The color is dark green with silvery cast.  Balsam Firs have good form and are fragrant.  Factoid: Balsam fir oil is an EPA approved nontoxic rodent repellent.


Fraser Fir
Fraser Fir – (Abies fraseri): The combination of form, needle retention, dark blue-green color, pleasant scent and strong branches has led to Fraser fir being a most popular Christmas tree species. Fraser Fir has dark green, flattened needles with a medial groove on the upper side and two broad silvery-white bands on the lower surface and are ½ to 1 inch long. When crushed, the needles have a very pleasant woodsy scent. Factoid:  Named for the Scotish botanist, John Fraser, who explored the southern Appalachians in the late 1700’s.



Needles of White Fir


White Fir or Concolor Fir(Abies concolor): Commonly found in the western/northwestern US, the White Fir has  blue-green needles are ½ to ½ inches long.  They have a    nice shape, good citrus-like aroma and good needle retention. White Fir is named for its light-colored bark and the silvery or "glaucous"  color of its needles. Factoid:  In nature the White Fir can live to 350 years.

Douglas Fir branches
Douglas Fir(Pseudotsuga menziesii): Although not actually a fir, the Douglas Fir is one of the most popular trees for Christmas Trees. They are softer with  1” to 1 ½” flat needles and have one of the best aromas among Christmas trees when crushed. Douglas fir has a good conical shape (and often are sheared on the farm to maintain the "perfect" shape).  Named after David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800’s;  can live for a thousand years. It is also the state tree of Oregon.


Pine Trees - Common name (Botanical name):

White Pine
White Pine(Pinus strobus):
This pine has soft, blue-green needles, 2 to 5 inches long in bundles of five and retains needles throughout the holiday season with a very full appearance. White pine has little or no fragrance so has less allergic reactions as compared to more fragrant trees - this is a good choice for families prone to allergies or sensitivities to fragrances. As the largest pine in Eastern United States it is also the state tree of Michigan and Maine. It's slender branches will support fewer and smaller decorations as compared to Scotch pine. It’s wood is used in cabinets, interior finish and carving. Native Americans used the inner bark as food. Early colonists used the inner bark to make cough medicine. Caveat: Branching can be too dense for large ornaments. Needles can be too slippery and soft for heavy ornaments but it's soft appearance takes on an elegant appearance simply with just white lights.


Scotch Pine branches
Scotch Pine(Pinus sylvestris): Another common Christmas tree, the Scotch Pine is native to Europe and Asia and is predominant in Scotland. It is readily identified by its combination of fairly short, blue-green leaves and orange-red bark.  It has stiff branches, stiff, dark green needles in pairs one inch long and holds needles for four weeks - needles will stay on even when dry which makes it very popular for indoor Christmas trees. It has open appearance and more room for ornaments and also keeps aroma throughout the season. The Scotch Pine was introduced into United States by European settlers. Factoid: Pinus sylvestris is the only pine native to northern England and is the National Tree of Scotland.

Spruce Trees - Common name (Botanical name):

White Spruce branches
White Spruce – (Picea glauca): Leaves (needles) are needle-shaped, and are often somewhat crowded on the upper half of the branchlets. Needles are usually 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, blunt at the tip and green to bluish-green in color.  Crushed needles have an unpleasant odor but have good needle retention. As a Christmas tree, white spruce has excellent foliage color, short stiff needles and a good natural shape. Needle retention is better than some of other spruce species.  Factoid: State tree of South Dakota.  


Blue Spruce branches
Blue Spruce(Picea pungens): Color is dark green to powdery blue with very stiff needles, ¾” to 1 ½” long. The needles are 4-sided and have a very sharp point on the end. It is this point which gives the species its name "pungens", from the Latin word for sharp as in puncture wound. Needles are generally dull bluish-gray to silvery blue and emit a resinous odor when crushed; good form; will drop needles in a warm room; symmetrical; but is best among species for needle retention; branches are stiff and will support many heavy decorations. Factoid: State tree of Utah & Colorado. Can live in nature 600-800 years.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Prepare for Cold Season with this Natural Flu Shot Recipe

Last year my whole family was struck down by the flu and multiple severe colds. After spending all of the holiday season sick last year I am determined to do whatever it takes to prevent the same from happening this year! So when I woke up this morning with a stuffy nose and mildly sore throat, I dug up a recipe that a good friend sent me last year (after I had been sick on and off for nearly 2 months!). This recipe has been spread across the internet but I tried it last year and felt it worked so I'm trying it again.

I made this in my blender by juicing the lemons, adding 3 cups of frozen pineapple chunks (couldn't find pineapple juice - don't know why but the frozen pineapple worked great!) and adding several cloves of garlic (I found that the garlic is pretty strong so if you are scared off by the thought of consuming a whole bulb of garlic, start with a little). Then I added the honey, cayenne pepper and grated FRESH ginger, which I really prefer as it tastes great. Blended until smooth and drank 1 cup.

It is powerful but very refreshing! The pineapple really add sweetness and you can start with just a little cayenne pepper then add more depending on how hot you can stand it. As I drank it, I felt that the garlic and cayenne really went to work fast and probably killed any germ, cold or flu bug that could exist in my throat!
If you can't read the photo above, here are the ingredients:

Ingredients

6 lemons - use the juice only
1 bulb garlic (not clove, the whole cluster of garlic cloves)
2 tsp grated ginger (or dry ginger powder)
3 c pineapple juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
2 Tbs honey
 Blend all ingredients thoroughly and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Take 1 cup 4 times a day until symptoms are resolved.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Stay healthy,
Sprout

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Delicious low-sugar Recycled Muffins

My favorite way to use up (or recycle!) left-overs is to make mini muffins!  Who doesn't love a little muffin?  The kids sure do gobble them up so it's a great way to get them to eat their veggies and provide them with a healthier snack!!  This is also a good way to re-use those left-overs instead of throwing them away...
I have made several varieties of this recipe: zucchini-carrot-banana, pumpkin-apple-ginger spice, peas-carrots-green beans with cornmeal and carrots-banana-blueberry (pictured above).  Today I have some bananas, peaches, carrots, applesauce and fresh ginger! You can use any combo of veggies and fruits, just put them all in a food processor or blender (add a little juice or water if it's too dry).  No matter what you put in them, you can make them yummy with honey, vanilla and cinnamon or other spices like ginger or nutmeg.  I usually make these low-sugar for the kids so you can increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if you need the sweetness. I have found that including applesauce not only makes them sweeter but also moister.

makes about 48 mini muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups wheat or unbleached white flour
1/2 cup quick oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons honey (optional)
1 egg
3 cups blended, mashed or pureed vegetables and fruit (whole or mashed) (if the mixture is too thick or dry, you can add some fruit juice so it is more like the thickness of applesauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon (less if you don't love cinnamon) or any other spice you like


Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Spray mini muffin pans or rub with olive oil (or you can use muffin paper cups my favorite: If You Care Mini Baking Cups, 90-Count Packages (Pack of 24))
3. Mix all ingredients with fork or mixer on low speed - just till blended
4. Fill muffins 2/3 full with batter
5. Bake 15-20 minutes until or toothpick comes out clean
6. Remove from oven a let cool about 5 mins. in pan
7. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack or wood cutting board
8. Store half in an air tight container.


These Freeze really well in an air tight container - let defrost on the counter over night

tip: If you don't have 3 cups of vegetables, you can add unsweetened apple sauce or mashed bananas; you can also add dried fruit like raisins to add some sweetness

substitution:  If you want corn-veggie muffins, use 1 cup flour and 1 1/2 cup of corn meal or one box of Jiffy Corn Bread mix (made in Michigan right down the road from my parents!)  I also make mini corn muffins with Jiffy mix + 1 can of creamed corn adding a couple TBSP of flour

Happy baking!

Click images below to purchase at best prices!
 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

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