It’s BACK! Free FroYo Day!

Is it wrong that I look forward to this every year?

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.37.39 AMFebruary 1st is National Frozen Yogurt Day and that means free Fro Yo at Menchie’s!

It’s from 4-7pm on Monday, February 1st!

Fine Print: The first 6 ounces are free on February 1, 2016 from 4pm – 7pm. Additional ounces are at cost to the consumer. Limit one cup per guest while supplies last. Flavors are available at participating locations, while supplies last.

This is going to be a great after school treat for our family! As more Free Fro Yo offers are announced for other fro yo companies, I’ll post!

DIY Frozen Pizzas!


A cheese pizza baking away (and a calzone)!

We love Pizza. Probably too much. About 6 months ago, hubs bought How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food,10th Anniversary Edition by Mark Bittman. It’s amazing. We’ve cooked a lot of stuff out of it, but the best is probably the pizza crust recipe.

It’s easy -only three ingredients, but I usually add a few extra!  You can make a few batches, put a ball of dough in the freezer, and save it for when you want pizza, but are feeling lazy. OR- You can make a couple frozen pizzas (which I do once a month), and when you are feeling really lazy, you’ll have no need to call Noid or Cesar (wow, both of those totally date me, right?)

DIY Frozen Pizza

Makes 1 pizza

Crust (recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s):

  • 3 c flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 2 t. yeast
  • 1 c. very warm water (90-100 degrees)
  • 2 T parmesan cheese (it’s ok to use the Kraft in a green canister stuff)-OMIT IF YOU ARE VEGAN!
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together until a soft sticky dough ball forms.
  3. Turn out onto a floured board or counter top and knead briefly.
  4. smooth a round ball of dough into a clean bowl. Cover bowl with a cool, damp cloth and allow to rise someplace undisturbed for 1 hour.
  5. After an hour, punch the dough, and turn out onto a floured board or counter top and knead for 2-3 minutes. At this time, you can roll the dough out and move onto the next step, or you can do a secondary rise (makes the crust extra crispy and chewy). If you elect to do a second rise, repeat step 3 and 4.
  6. After dough is rolled out to your preferred size and shape, lift into well greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. pierce the crust with a fork several times. This keeps the crust from getting weird bumps and lumps during the par-baking.
  7. Par-bake crust for 3-5 minutes. Allow crust to cool completely.

Now that you have cooled par-baked crust, it’s time to get topping! Transfer the pizza to a large piece of aluminum foil.

  • 1 cup or so of sauce, your choice
  • 1-2 c. cheese
  • Assorted toppings (precooked meats, veggies, fruit, herbs, etc)

Top the pizza as you like,, wrap the foil around the pizza, loosely around the top of the pizza so you don’t squash the toppings. Place in a large freezer zip top bag (don’t forget to label what kind of pizza it is) and freeze. pizzas should freeze at least 24 hours before cooking.

To heat, bake pizzas at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes

IMG_2938Some of our favorite pizzas include:

  • Gyro (Sprouts sells it wit hthe pre-sliced deli meat!), feta, and spinach
  • Caramelized onions and peppers and sliced meatballs with cheese
  • whatever veggies we have in the house (broccoli, spinach, onions, peppers) topped  with cheese
  • chicken, bacon, and pepper jack cheese


You can substitute in whatever your fav crust is, whatever sauce, cheese, and toppings you like! And because the pizzas are room temp/cooled when you top them, it’s a great opportunity for kids to help assemble pizzas. These pizzas are a frugal way to have a yummy dinner- Each pizza costs about $3.00 and feeds the three of us!



Healthy Recipe: Pumpkin Protein Shake!


We drink a lot of protein shakes. I have 1-2 a day. They help me stay full and keep me out of the fridge, and they give me the energy I need to wrangle the munchkins.

This is an easy, yummy recipe- especially if you like pumpkin!

Pumpkin Protein Shake

Makes 1 shake


  • 1 scoop or pouch vanilla protein powder/protein shake (we use HMR 120)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not the canned pumkpin pie filling, but the plain canned pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup water (You can add up to an additional 1/2 c. if you want your shake thinner)
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes (You can add more if you like your shake thicker)
  • 2 T. sugar free butterscotch pudding powder
  • 1 T. sugar free vanilla syrup (like Torani)
  • cinnamon & nutmeg to taste


  1. Place all ingredients in blender or magic bullet and blend for 1-2 minutes, or until all ingredients are blended and ice is broken down.
  2. Serve immediately.


  • If you do not use protein powder, substitute 1/2 c. fat free plain greek yogurt, and reduce water to 1/3 c.
  • If you are vegan, use soy yogurt (like Silk Brand).
  • If you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixer into the ice cream maker and use machine as directed for yummy pumpkin ice cream!

Calories for base recipe with no modifications: 225 Calories

Schoola: $20 for You. $20 for your Friend. + $25 Gift Card to Amazon

I love Schoola, so I’m stoked to hear about their latest promotion!unspecified

Check it:  $20 for You. $20 for your Friend. 40% to Schools. + $25 Gift Card to Amazon

In the month of January 2016, refer at least 3 friends and Schoola email you a $25 gift card to Amazon. WOOO HOOO!!

To get started, click here. New to Schoola- that’s cool too. Sign up here and score $20 in new to you clothes for you, or your kiddos!

Here is a photo of Birdie in her latest Schoola outfit (and her forever photo bombing brother):




Sensible Swap: PB Cup Shake

It’s really hard to lose weight and eat well, especially when there are restaurants like Sonic Drive-In. They have these yummy, thick rich shakes and blasts (which is soft serve ice cream with cookies or candy mixed in and topped with whipped cream), but good lord, do they have tons of calories.

This recipe is a Swap. We swap out stuff with crazy high calories for lower calories ingredients to make a yummy, less calorically dense treat. For reference, a MINI Reese’s Cup Sonic Blast is 580 calories and is about 8 ounces (oh, yeah, they come in four other, progressively larger sizes!). The HMR recipe is 380 calories, and the Swap version is between 380-420 calories depending on which brand of light ice cream you use. Oh, and the recipe makes about 20 ounces! Hooray for more volume and less calories!

I’ve included two versions: One with HMR ingredients (you can substitute your favorite brand of vanilla protein powder and PB Protein Bar), and one using ingredients from the grocer.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 5.29.21 PM

Peanut Butter Cup Shake
Makes 1 large shake (or I guess you could split it and share, but trust me, you won’t want to!)


  • 1 packet Vanilla HMR Shake (or scoop if you use the 120 version)
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter(I used the choc. PB2, it’s all we had)
  • 1 HMR Chocolate Peanut bar, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces and frozen
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 10 oz water
  • Optional, but yummy: 3 T. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup


  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, except for the syrup
  2. Blend on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Mixture should be thick and frosty.
  3. Swirl the syrup in a cold glass.
  4. Pour shake into cup and serve with both a spoon and a straw.
Freaking Delish! I have one of these about once a week!

Here is the second recipe, for those who just want to eat a little better:

Peanut Butter Cup Shake
Makes 1 large shake


  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Vanilla ice cream (Your favorite brand)
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
  • 1 Atkins Endulge Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces and frozen (there are two in each serving- if you want your shake extra yummy, you could use both of them)
  • Optional, but yummy: 3 T. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup


  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, except for the syrup
  2. Blend on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Mixture should be thick and frosty.
  3. Swirl the syrup in a cold glass.
  4. Pour shake into cup and serve with both a spoon and a straw.

We have both a  Ninja NJ600 Pro Blender and a Magic bullet.  The Magic Bullet is great for making shakes at the office (for hubs) and the Ninja is great for making multiple shakes at once at home.

Enjoy The Great Outdoors at Mission Trails Regional Park!

Exploring the Dam is one of our favorite activities!

IMG_2796When I was a kid, my dad took my brother and I hiking a lot. We had all kinds of fun adventures, but I always loved Mission Trails Regional Park, specifically Old Mission Dam.

As Lil’ Man gets bigger, we are looking for more fun outdoor adventures. This last rain storm would be the catalyst for two days of big outdoor fun.

Friday, we loaded up and headed over to to dam. The past week of rain has really changed our usual path, so we got to explore some areas we’d never seen together.

IMG_2833It was a great chance for him to check out new trails, see erosion in action, splash in the cold stream water (there were a couple times we had to jump over streams to continue on, and well, we didn’t quite make it!), and see shells. There are a lot of little fresh water clams that make the river their home, as a result, we saw lots of shells!

We climbed, discovered, and navigated our way through the park for about 2 hours. IMG_2817By far the most exciting thing we found was an old, rusted car that had been shot at many, many times in the past. When you area four year old boy, nothing is more exciting than a rusty old car.

After stopping for snacks and water, we continued on to explore nature and hopefully find some cool rocks (another favorite pastime).IMG_2818

On Saturday, we headed over after lunch to the Visitor & Interpretive Center. It was closed, but we checked out the nature flora and the amphitheater. Then we did the loop around the center. It was a fun, easy walk (no pictures, we were too busy exploring).

It’s a quick 1 mile loop with a couple foot bridges and it overlooks the river, which is “raging” (as much as it can here) right now.

If you are in the San Diego area and haven’t been to Mission Trails Regional Park, you are missing out. There is tons of fun to be had and nature to explore. There are paths and trails for every skill level, and there is even a paved path along Father Junipero Serra Trail if you aren’t feeling adventurous, but still want to get outside. Parking is free, admission to the park and Visitor & Interpretive Center is free (but they do accept donations!). Most paths, except the paved road are not stroller friendly. Most paths are bike and/or Equine friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome.

And of course what better IMG_2835way to end a fun day of hiking, than with a little park yoga:


Review: Coobie Seamless Bra

UGH. I hate writing less than stellar reviews, but Ya’ll need to know. I teased the review about the Coobie Seamless Bras here.

I promised no photos of me parading around in my bra, so I’m not parading. And I’ve cropped out my naked, pale flesh.

Well, I’m not impressed. The ladies on the website must either all have had really good breast lifts or have not breast fed two babies because the Coobie is NOT supportive. I couldn’t exercise in it, and by the end of the day, my poor ol’ boobs hurt. Adjusting the straps didn’t give me any extra “lift”.

Hubs remarked that I had a “uni-boob”, which ya know, no one wants to hear.

I had to remove the triangular shaped pads on each side as well. They looked like they were for the smaller size bra (oh, Coobie Bras only come in two sizes), and sat super weird on my breasts, almost giving them a lopsided cone shape. There is an opening inside the bra under each arm for removal.

So, there ya go. They didn’t work for my floppy mom boobs, but if you have naturally perky, pert boobs, the Coobie Seamless Bra may be for you.


Thanks to USFG and Coobie for giving me the opportunity to review the Coobie Seamless Bra. I received it for free to facilitate my review.

DIY Powdered Laundry Detergent….

IMG_2769So I did it. I broke down after years and years of saying I’d never make my own laundry soap and I did it. If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you’ll see a lot of recipes that makes a 5 gallon bucket of thick white (or off-white) gloppy laundry detergent. With two curious kids under 5 years old, I didn’t think having that around my house would be a good idea. Plus, where the hell would I keep it? Our garage isn’t attached, and my washer and dryer are in a closet in the hallway. 5 gallons of water weighs 40-ish lbs, so 5 gallons of liquid laundry detergent would be about the same, maybe more. That’s a lot more than my poor, flimsy laundry closet shelf could handle!

However, after tons of research and testing out ingredients, I cobbled together a recipe for powdered Laundry detergent. Here are the ingredients I used and the reasoning behind each one:

IMG_26871 Large Bar Zote Soap, grated: My great Grandmother used this soap (as well as Fels-Naptha, but I couldn’t find it in my local store) to wash their laundry in the days before they had indoor plumbing in their farmhouse (BTW, that was the 1950’s). She had an old style washing machine like this, complete with ringer. Her laundry was always super clean, so I knew that starting with a good soap was key. (It makes roughly 4 cups of grated soap) If you don’t care for Zote or Fels Naptha, I’ve seen others use Dr. Bronner’s Castille bar soap.


IMG_26864 Cups Borax: This is a pretty controversial ingredient because Borax is toxic if ingested. News Flash: DON’T EAT LAUNDRY DETERGENT. You wouldn’t pop a Tide Pod in your mouth and start chewing, so home made detergent shouldn’t be any different.  Borax is great in your wash if you have gross little boys (or not so little boys).  Here is a pretty good article that talks about how Borax works. I use a little Borax in every load of laundry, with commercial detergent too!

4 Cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA- THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION!!): Washing Soda is also another ingredient that people get crazy over. It’s NOT baking soda. It is not to be ingested, it is slightly caustic (I wear gloves and a mask when I work with it). This page tells you about it and how it works. Basically it acts as a solvent to help removes stains, it also helps soap or detergent foam and clean better!

Directions are easy: Grate your soap. I used a hand grater, but you can also use a food processor (I don’t have one).

Mix all your ingredients together and store in clean, dry jars. I used Ball Mason Jars because it’s what I had on hand, but whatever you have will work. A friend re-uses her empty protein powder canisters.

All you need is 1-2 tablespoons per load (for the record I use 2 T. per load because our clothes get really dirty playing outside and exercising every day).

Using 4 cups of each ingredient will yield a little less than 12 cups of detergent (The grated soap settles down once everything is mixed together) which is approx 144 loads of laundry. I paid about $12.50 for all of the ingredients, and I still have leftover Borax and Washing Soda for my next batch.

This detergent will not get sudsy/bubbly, however, your clothes are getting clean. Our clothes have never been cleaner and honestly, it’s one of the few detergents I’ve used (and trust me, as a couponer, I’ve used pretty much every brand of laundry detergent there is!) where I don’t have to pre-treat every single stain and scrub.

Scent: Some recipes call for essential oils or even Downy Unstoppables to add scent. We personally don’t like over scented detergent, so the light lemony scent from Zote is more than enough for us. If you like you clothes to smell like something, you can add 10-20 drops of Essential Oil (lavender is popular), or 1/4 cup of Downy Unstoppables (I REALLLLY don’t recommend this since it has softeners in it too).

About Fabric Softener: We don’t use fabric softener like Snuggle or Downy Unstoppables because it just coats the fabric with a waxy residue and leaves a film on it. After years, towels can stop being absorbent, and clothes can feel sticky or turn another color. If you need fabric softener or something to keep the static down, I recommend a vinegar rinse in your washer (like you would with liquid Snuggle), or wool balls in your dryer.



New Year’s Resolution #10: Reduce, Reuse, recycle

So this is the last one! I’ve been meaning to post this for a week or so, but I hurt my wrist (I fell while hiking!), so I’ve been off the computer a lot.


#10 is a big one for our family! Reduce, re-use, recycle!


  • Buy less stuff. That one is pretty simple.
  • Use what you have on hand.  There are some pretty awesome websites like Recipe Key and Recipe Matcher that help you find recipes based on what you have in your pantry.
  • Reduce your waste out put.  I’m not asking you to hold it when you gotta go, but put your eggshells and coffee grounds in your house plants and tomato plants.  Try composting.  You’ll be  reducing your carbon foot print and you’ll make your plants happier!


  • Re-purpose items!  This includes eating your leftovers.
  • Here, here, and here are some great Pinterest boards that have re-using ideas.
  • I love this one: Making re-usable shopping bags out of old t-shirts (they make a great gift too).
  • Mend your clothes- including fallen hems, loose buttons and minor tears.  Sewing kits are inexpensive.  If you don’t know how to sew or even thread a needle, check out YouTube for some tutorials. And hey, you’ll learn a new skills!


  • In some areas, recycling is done by weight (like the majority of the recycling centers we have here).  You bring all of your aluminum cans crushed up or your glass bottles in big garbage bags and they are weighed, and you receive a per lb. price.
  • In other areas (like where my in-laws live back east and very few locations here in So Cal) there are machines that you deposit bottles and cans into one at a time and a per piece bottle deposit is returned to you. Re-Planet is one of those companies.
  • Some areas mandate recycling- Where we live there are special cans: Black for trash, green for yard waste, and blue for recycling.  The items that cannot be returned for a bottle deposit like milk cartons, soup cans, cereal boxes can be placed into the blue bin.
  • Recycling doesn’t only mean bottles and cans , it can also be to give an item a new life and a new home.  Donate clothes and other household items to charity or use freecycle and help your neighbors. I especially like the Buy Nothing Movement.
  • You can also sell items on Craigslist, have a garage sale or sell your items via a consignment shop.  They will go to a new home, you will have kept the stuff from a landfill, and you’ll have a little cash!
  • Did you know that in some states you can recycle your unwanted house paint? Check out PaintCare here for more details!

How do you incorporate the three R’s into your daily life?

When DIY meets frugality….

About 6 months ago, I scored 6 new pillows for less than $10 at Sears, using Sears Shop Your Way Rewards, coupons, and a BOGO sale.

When you get new pillows, you need new pillow covers. I headed over to our local AmVets Thrift Store when all of the linens were on sale and picked up 9 pillow covers for .25/each.  What I didn’t realize is that 3 of them were smaller than a standard pillow, and they didn’t fit. I set them aside, thinking I would find something else to do with them.

Fast forward to this morning. I am pulling the sheets, blankets and pillowcases off the bed, and I notice the pillow cases look gross. Like, we’ve had them since before we were married and they just don’t come clean anymore… That kind of gross. I’ve washed them with Oxyclean, borax, you name it, I’ve tried it to get them clean. Enough. I figure 8 years of rotation means they’ve served a good life.

I rifle through the linen closet to discover that about 90% of our pillow cases need to get pitched. Then, I discover the 3 small pillow covers, and I am struck with inspiration.

warposterSee, My motto for for remaining the frugal steward of our family is, “Use it up, wear it out, make do”. That means, basically: USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

I remembered that I also had a few yards of Eyelet lace in my sewing box. BUT, it’s offwhite. The pillow covers were white. But, wait… We have a box of awful tea in the cabinet. I mean it tastes like burnt rubber and camp fire smoke- blergh. But, it’s perfect for tea dying! Ever notice when you spill tea or coffee on your white clothes, it never comes all the way out? Imagine if you took light colored fabric and soaked it in boiling tea or coffee for about an hour and then washed it?  That’s tea dying.

I pull out the sewing machine and some supplies and set to work. I trim the zippers off the pillow covers, measure the lace, and sew it onto the open end of the pillow case. This serves a few purposes:

  1. Lengthens the pillow case about 31/2 inches. Now it will fit a standard pillow case
  2. Makes the pillow case look nice
  3. I am using up what we have in the house, and now I don’t have to go out and buy new pillow cases.

While I was in the closet with my fabric, I also found a piece of unbleached muslin that I cut into a pillow case. I had enough lace, so why not. If you’d like to make a pillow case, here is a pretty easy tutorial to follow.

I boiled my icky tea, wet the pillow cases, and tossed them into the stockpot. I covered the pot with a heavy plate to weight the fabric down so that it will take the dye evenly.

After about 30 minutes, I turned the stove off, and left the mixture until it cooled… Next, I rang out the pillow cases and tossed them into the washing machine to get out any extra tea (and the gross smell).  And now… Ta Da!  Three refurbished pillow cases and a brand new pillow case!

  • Total out of pocket: Zero Dollars
  • Time: about 2 hours (most of it was waiting for the dye pot to cool)

Now if you want to make your own pillow cases, the tutorial I linked to above is pretty easy to follow, and it’s a great way to use up scraps of cotton fabric that you may have hanging around the house.  Since pillow cases and fitted sheets tend to wear out first, you could also cut up orphaned flat sheets too.