11/29/10

So Good Review and Giveaway

I have a terrific giveaway courtesy of So Good!
 As I am sitting here typing up this post I am enjoying a wonderful latte made with vanilla flavored So Good soy beverage and fresh grated nutmeg, Yum!
I have been buying the new light vanilla So Good for my morning latte but it was sold out.  I guess everyone else thinks it's So Good too!
 
My kids really like the vanilla So Good on their cereal in the morning and prefer the chocolate So Good for drinking.  I actually have to keep an eye on my vanilla So Good and try to hide it in the back of the fridge because the kids will polish it off in no time.

What I really like about So Good
  • It tastes good!
  • It comes in many different varieties including fat free, light, unsweetened, omega DHA
  • a 250ml serving includes 30% of my daily calcium requirement, 6-9gms of protein and 50% of my Vitamin B12.
  • 100% Canadian made with no GMO soy beans and has facilities in the East and West
  • So Good is Health Check approved by the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation
  • So Good is free of lactose, gluten and cholesterol
  • Soy is a complete protein suitable for Vegan diets
  • Coupons!
Since I purchase So Good soy milk weekly I appreciate that I can always find a coupon either in store, in magazines or through the So Good website and it goes on sale often.
Right now if you go to the So Good Facebook page and send a friend a message in a bubble you can get a $1 off coupon through save.ca to use on a 1.89L So Good Beverage of your choice!

I received free product coupons for this review and giveaway.  All opinions are my own

Giveaway!
I have $50 worth of So Good free product coupons to give away to 1 winner.  The contest is open to Canadians only and will end Dec 6/2010 @ 11:59PM EST. A winner will be chosen at random. I will notify the winner on Dec 7th, 2010 via email (please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize or another winner will be chosen) 

Mandatory entry
Visit the So Good site and tell me which flavor/kind you would like to try 

Extra Entries(leave a separate comment for each)
*"Like" MSCM's new Facebook page

*"Like" So Goods Facebook page
*Follow me on Twitter
*Follow my blog using Google Friend Connect or tell me if you are already
*Tweet this(can be done daily) $50 So Good #Giveaway ends Dec6/2010 Enter to #Win with @MoneySavingMomD http://bit.ly/fgFH1I
Winner, Tracy!!  Congrats

Baking up some fun and frugal holiday treats!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  In the past week I have pretty much finished my Christmas shopping, put up the tree, painted some new ornaments and listened to all of my Holiday CD's.

Now it's time to start making some festive, frugal goodies!  In the next 2 weeks we have a few outings such as a Girl Guide enrollment party,  school Christmas party and Girl Guide Christmas party.  I got to thinking about something I could make that everyone would like, something that would make a lot, could be made ahead of time and of course it has to be economical as well.

I came up with mini chocolate cupcakes!  Wal-Mart has the Betty Crocker cake mixes and icings on for $0.98 each! 
  When using the mix for cupcakes you will get approximately 24 regular sized cupcakes or about 4 dozen minis.
 First I put on a Christmas CD then I iced the cupcakes and the kids had fun putting the sprinkles on.  Some sprinkles made it on to the cupcakes,  the floor and the island but hey, we all had fun!

I think the cupcakes turned out wonderfully!  We iced 1 dozen to "test" them out since we had company for dinner that night.  The other 3 dozen went in the freezer.  Grand total for 4 dozen mini cupcakes including cake mix, icing, eggs, oil and sprinkles is about $3, you can't beat that!  I think the little 2 bite cupcakes from the grocery store cost somewhere around $3.49 a dozen.  If you calculate it out that is a savings of almost $11 for 4 dozen mini cupcakes!

We are together, we are having fun, we are thankful.



11/28/10

Snack Pack Share a Smile Campaign

Calling all Canadians!  Right now Snack Pack has a wonderful campaign on Facebook.  Snack Pack would like to raise $20,000 to Food Banks Canada.  

It's easy to participate!  All you need to do is head over to their Facebook page.  Every time you share a smile with a friend Snack Pack will donate $1 to Food Banks Canada.
When you share a smile you'll receive a ballot for their weekly draw(for those who have registered for the contest) and you will earn points towards one of the fun Smile badges.  Remember, the more you Smile the more donations, points and ballots you'll collect!

If you would like to spread the word on Twitter you can use the Hashtag #SnackPackSmile

What makes you smile?  I smile when my husband gets up before me and makes the coffee, when the kids bring home a special craft from school made especially for mommy and for a quiet moment snuggled  up in my favorite chair with a good book and hot cup of tea.


I try to spread smiles by doing fun things like putting notes and jokes in my kid's lunch bags (check out these sites fruit labels, lunch box jokes, lunchbox notes)  Some gloomy Winter mornings I put on crazy rhinestone glasses, my apron and talk with an accent while I cook breakfast for the kids, they can't help but giggle and smile! Everyone smiles when I plan a super fun surprise family game night with board games, Wii games and some goodies like popcorn and punch.

Come on Canada!  Head on over to Snack Pack Canada on Facebook and start spreading some smiles!
Disclosure - I am participating in the Snack Pack program by Mom Central on behalf of Conagra Foods Canada. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

11/26/10

If you live in the Toronto area be sure to check out this fabulous free family event!

This Saturday Toronto lights up the sky for one night only with an official holiday celebration - Cavalcade of Lights - now in its 44th year! Cavalcade of Lights will kick off the holiday season and features some of Canada's top musical talent, a spectacular fireworks show, and a DJ skating party on the iconic Nathan Phillips Square Rink.

New for this year, we'll have Debbie Travis on-site, showcasing two of her six new Christmas lines!  From 5:30 to 7 pm the public will have a chance to meet with Debbie Travis, and enter to win a Debbie Travis holiday look courtesy of Canadian Tire. They'll also receive a coupon providing a discount on holiday products at Canadian Tire. Guests can pose in one of two Debbie Travis rooms for a photograph, which is then used for a greeting card that the guest can take home!  

This spectacular celebrations will feature the lighting of Toronto's official Christmas tree, live musical performances by Divine Brown, Shawn Desman, and Sarah Slean, under the music direction of Wade O. Brown, and a thrilling trampoline performance by Montreal's Haut-Vol. The concert culminates in a spectacular fireworks display at 8 pm, followed by a skating party Celebrating 40 Years of the JUNO Awards with DJ Tony Sutherland.  This free event offers families the chance to experience the magic of Toronto this holiday season.
Photo: www.toronto.ca

11/25/10

Sears Black Thursday & Fridays Deals! A bonus code too!

This year Sears is running Black Thursday and Friday!  Click to check out all the deals! Black Thursday & Friday Sale

Also don't forget to use bonus code below for $10 off $100 purchase!
Take $10 off purchases of *$100 or more at Sears.ca. Enter bonus code: 941612868 at checkout.

11/24/10

Great deals today @ Sobeys

Looks like my Sobeys might be rearranging in the baking/condiment aisle.  Lots of items marked 50% off!!!

Found Today:
Brand name whole wheat pasta $ 1.15
Jar of pimentos $ 1.40 (for my hot cheese broccoli dip I make @Christmas)
Maille Dijon mustard $1.65
Magic Baking Powder $1.74 (I got 2, it's good till 2013)
Franks Red Hot $2.25-$1.00 coupon =$1.25!
Beatrice milk $2.99 with $30 purchase
5 Roses Whole Wheat flour 2.5kg bag $2.50  (I got 2 bags! great for baking muffins for the kids lunches)

There were also assorted salad dressings and pickles on for 50% off.  Check out your Sobeys and see if these great markdowns are at your store too!

Easy Microwave English Muffin Bread

Yes, you heard right microwave bread.  I was given this recipe years ago and make it often with soup or stew.  It takes 5 minutes to make(plus rising time) and is delicious!

2c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour(I use 1-1/4c white and 3/4 c + 2 tbsp whole wheat)
1 envelope of dry yeast (or if you purchase yeast in a large bag like me measure out 2 1/4tsp)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm skim milk 
1/4 tsp baking soda


In a bowl mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.  Add in the milk and give it a good stir for about 20 seconds.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a draft free place to rise until double(about 45 minutes).  I put mine on the top of the fridge to rise.

In a small glass mix 1/4 tsp baking soda with 1 tbsp of warm water to dissolve it.  Add it to the batter and stir until the dough becomes stretchy.  Scrape the bread dough into a glass loaf pan that has been sprayed with Pam.  Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise until the pan is about 3/4 full(about 45 minutes)

To cook, microwave on high uncovered until the top of the loaf shows no wet spots.  In my microwave it takes 5 minutes.  Remove from the microwave and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes.  Slice, toast and top with butter.  YUM

11/22/10

Making healthy breakfast choices

So you all know that I encourage healthy eating and healthy cooking.  I also think breakfast is so important to start your day off right.  I know we are all livin' life in the fast lane but a good breakfast should never be ignored!


I love cereals!  They can be hot or cold and don't take a lot of time to prepare.
For cold cereals I usually purchase the Go Lean Honey Almond Flax and mix it with fruit and yogurt. It has enough protein and fiber to keep me going till lunch.
photo: kashi.com
I just tried the new Kashi Honey Sunshine.  I had to laugh the first time I tried it because it faintly reminded me of Capt n' Crunch without the sugar overload.  Is has 100 cal for 3/4 of a cup and lots of fiber from the seven grains.  The protein  is low but that's because there aren't any nuts like granola has but don't forget that 1 cup of skim milk adds about 8g of protein.  
These corny pillows are bite size, slightly sweet and made a perfect little snack last night while watching Heartland on TV.  On top of being a morning breakfast cereal adults and kids would both enjoy it would make a good on the go snack for little ones to keep in your purse.  

A great on the go snack I keep in my purse sometimes for me are Kashi bars.  Every Mom out there can relate.  You get busy, you have errands to run and kids to shuttle around.  Sometimes you take care of everyone else and you forget to eat, it happens.  
photo: kashi.com
The thing I love about Kashi bars is that they come in great flavors like dark cherry chocolate, dark mocha almond and peanut peanut butter.  They all have about 140 cal , 3.5-5 g of fat, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar and 6g of protein to keep you going.

When I want a hot breakfast I usually go for old fashioned oats or cream of wheat and make a big pot full.  It is easy, quick, cheap and good.  I set out a plate of toppings like nuts, seed, dried fruit and cinnamon so everyone can create their own masterpiece.  I really like steel cut oatmeal but it does take about 20 minutes or so to cook so I usually make it on the weekends when I have more time in the morning.

Happy eating!
Disclaimer:  I received product from Kashi to facilitated in the writing of this post.  The above is my honest opinion about the products mentioned.




Let's talk Finances

Have you ever had a conversation like this?

Person #1:  I just went to the bank and I'm not sure if my paycheque was deposited 3 days ago.  We should have more money then that in the account
Person#2 I was wondering the same thing.  I went shopping today and my debit card was declined
Person #1 Where did the money go?
Person #2 I don't know. (insert shoulder shrug)

Keeping your finances in order is easy to do but you must make the commitment to keep up with it.  If you are not planning in advance for large purchases or creating a basic budget to stick to it is easy for things to get out of hand.  $20 here and $5 there adds up to, "Where did all my money go?"

A great way to keep in check is to create a budget.  You can find software for budgeting on-line as well as several different budget calculators to help you keep things on track. 

Some budget basics:
#1 Track Your Income.  You need to know exactly what is coming in.  This is done easy enough by keeping track of your (and/or your spouses) paycheques. 

#2 Track Your Expenses  Take a look at your bank statements and bills.  Make a list of all of your fixed expenses such as mortgage, loans, taxes ect.  Then make a list of your variable expenses such as groceries, phone, TV, household expenses ect.

#3 Find Variable Expenses you can tweak  There may be things in your budget you can reduce or eliminate all together.  I would start by looking at things like restaurant, takeout coffee, magazine subscriptions, entertainment expenses and cash withdraws.
If you are serious about wanting to save money I would limit restaurant meals & takeout drastically and eliminate magazine subscriptions.  Go to the library,  you can read magazines for free! Limit yourself to a weekly allowance and then put away your debit card.

#4 Shop around  When it's time to renew your car or house insurance shop around.  Don't just stay with the same company and assume you are getting the best deal.  

Use a mortgage broker when you are ready to purchase or renew you mortgage.  They will do the shopping for you and find you the best deal!  

Don't pay for a bank account.  Unless you need a foreign currency account or business account I would recommend seeking out a no fee bank account.

After doing all of the above you may find that you have some extra cash.  Don't forget to establish an emergency fund.  If possible, it is a good idea to put away enough money to carry you for about 3 months in the event of an emergency.

Also take a look at your mortgage, loans or credit cards you have.  Put a bit of extra money on the highest interest loan or credit card first. 

11/18/10

Old Navy, Gap and Banana Rep Coupon Code Nov 18-20 Only!

Woo Hoo!  Free shipping on orders over $50 and free returns!  I love that you can shop these stores in Canada(on-line) now, so handy.  Use code SAVEMORE @ checkout

Christmas shopping deals

Some deals from my in-box.

The Body Shop-Today (Nov 18) only!  Get a free Cranberry Candle ($16 value)with any purchase plus get 20% off with your Love Your Body card instead of 10%.


American Eagle- This Sunday (Nov 21) save 20% off with your SPC card.



11/16/10

My fave posts from the past year

I can't believe how quickly a year has gone by since I started Money Saving Canadian Mom!  I have been lucky enough to have "met" a great bunch of mom/frugal bloggers out there in the Blogosphere (and actually meet some of them in person too! ) 

I have a contribution in the current December issue of Today's Parent Magazine.(click here to see) For those of you coming from the Today's Parent magazine article I send you a warm welcome!

I was reflecting back on the past year and some of my favorite posts.  This post right here is my 200 post! 
So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy the read.
Nov/09
Welcome!
Money saving list of thing everyone can do
Money Saving household cleaners
Challenge Yourself

Dec/09
Inexpensive Entertaining foods
Inexpensive, yummy dinner idea!

Jan/10
Easy, Frugal Pizza
15 homemade beauty treatments

Feb/10
Frugal Chuck E Cheese fun
Inexpensive Family Fun
Free Financial Calculators

March/10
Saving Money with a plan
Money Saving Tips for laundry

April/10
Standby Power, Phantom Load and Vampire Power

May/10
Inexpensive summer fun
5 Ways to use coupons wisely
5 Money Saving Ideas you can do today!

June/10
More Affordable fun for the whole family
Maple Leaf Foods Round table Discussion-Food Safety

July/10
Get Inspired!
Summer Fresh, easy pork chops
SPC Discount Card

August/10
SupperWorks!
Perfect Gift for A special girl!  Bugalug

Sept/10
Make being Mortgage Free a Top Priority
Do you eat Canadian Produced food?
Healthy Packed Lunches, time to take junk out of the bag
Summer Produce-Processing for Winter

Oct/10
Blue Mountain-a great place for a fun getaway
Free Home Decorating Ideas & Advice

Nov/10
Save money by purchasing meat in bulk



11/15/10

Save money by purchasing meat in bulk

Did you know you can save money by purchasing meat in bulk?  I looked into the price of purchasing a half hog recently and this is what I found out.


The farm where we get our pork from is raising their hogs naturally.  They produce their own non-GMO feed and are not fed any animal by-products, hormones or antibiotics.  You can really taste a difference in this pork over regular grocery store pork.  I have seen similar meats(naturally raised) at the grocery store and they are very expensive.  Since I cook meals containing meat 3-4 times per week 1/2 hog will last us a very long time.  This is an instance where I would rather pay a bit more for a better quality product. 



I can purchase 1/2 hog @ $1.99 per pound(price includes cutting and wrapping).  With purchasing 1/2 hog I will be bringing home approximately:  
-15lbs chops
-7lb butt chops or roasts
-3 lb side ribs
-1.5lb back ribs
-5lb Shoulder roast
-15lb sausage
-15lb ground
-12lb ham steak or 2 smoked roasts
-6lb smoked bacon
 1/2 hog weight is approximately 100lb and I will be getting abut 80lb of meat from it. 100lbx$1.99=$200
$200/80lb=$2.50/lb  All meat will be cut and wrapped to my specifications and I can even choose to have some of it smoked.

To give you an idea of the savings here are some of the prices from the same producer for cuts.

chops-$4.99/lb
ground-$2.99
bacon-$5.49
shoulder-$3.58
ham steak-$4.39
sausage $5.22

If you are not particular about naturally raised, no GMO feed, drug free pork you can save more buy purchasing pork that is not naturally raised as it is less expensive.  

11/12/10

Mangiamo Pizza Bufffet Oakville

My family and I recently ate at a new all-you-can-eat pizza buffet called Mangiamo located at 
579 Kerr St, Oakville, ON L6K 3E1

View Larger Map
Wonderful aromas greet you as you enter the restaurant.  We were quickly seated and told that fresh pizza would be out of the oven in a few minutes.  This gave us a chance to get our drinks and start with the other offerings on the buffet. 
A small fresh salad bar with homemade dressings
The salad bar was small but all the offerings were very fresh.  Salad is one of Kid#1's favorite things to eat.  She piled a plate up high with a bit of everything and wanted to lick the creamy dill dressing off her plate when her salad was finished. The salad aficionado gave it 2 thumbs up.

To the right of the post are the 2 soups of the day, to the left is the pasta


After our salad we tried out the pasta and soup.  There were 2 types of pasta available, spaghetti and rotini.  Anyone with very young kids will appreciate the rotini!  The 2 sauces available were a homemade red sauce, and a homemade red sauce with meat.  We all had the spaghetti, plain red sauce for me and meat sauce for everyone else topped with parmesan.  I'll admit it.  I had my doubts.  I have some Italian in me, I pick and can my own tomatoes to make homemade sauce. I have rarely eaten spaghetti in a restaurant and enjoy it.  Chef Mike delivered.  It was similar to what I would serve to my family at home. 

The soups of the day were creamy spinach and mushroom barley.  I love soup, really I do, I was anxious to try these.  They were both wonderful.  The mushroom barley soup tasted like soup my grandmother would make.  The real kicker was the creamy spinach soup, it was a bowl of creamy deliciousness! Money Saving Dad who isn't big on soup had 2 helpings.  


Pizza time!  

First we started off with a pesto veggie pizza.  The crust was thin but not so thin it would flop.  It had a nice homemade taste with a hint of yeast, just like bakery bread.  Next was mac & cheese pizza.  Kid #2 took one bite and said,"Mom you have to make this for me at home, it's my favorite."  It was cheesy and chewy and the crust was crispy.  It was an all around favorite for everyone. 
Money Saving Dad enjoying a slice of BBQ beef pizza

Other gourmet flavors we tried were sweet chili with smoked pork and cilantro, BBQ beef and veggie, grilled veggie, mustard with cold cut and everyone's favorite, cheese and peperoni.


Time for Dessert!
Dessert Pizza!  Smore pizza, & apple with brown sugar & cinnamon. Delicious!
Time to hit the Martini bar!

O.K. not the type of martini you are thinking of.  Mangiamo has a martini bar with different food offerings during the suppertime hours.  Martini bar selections includes taco martini bar, mashed potato bar, chili martini bar and roast beef with gravy and mash potatoes martini bar all with many fresh toppings to add to your creation.  The kids thought it was great and loaded their roast beef and mashed potatoes with lots of toppings.  The gravy was awesome!
Roast beef with gravy and mashed potato martini bar

At this point we were as kid #1 used to say,"full top head!!" 
If you are ever in the Oakville area stop by, you won't be disappointed.  Mangiamo restaurant is very clean, bright and kid friendly with great prices.

Buffet prices as of right now are $8.99 for adults, $7.99 for Senior's, $4.99 for kids under 10 and kid's under 3 are free.

A big thanks goes out to Raja (Manager/Partner) for his wonderful and friendly hospitality and to Chef Mike for his wonderful culinary delights and attention to detail.


Disclaimer:  My family was treated to a meal free of charge to facilitate in the writing of this post.  The above is entirely our own opinion of Mangiamo Restaurant.

11/11/10

30% off coupon for Give and Get

Yeah!  It's give and get time again!  From today(Nov11th) until Nov 14th  

Save 30% on Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap Factory Store, and Banana Republic Factory Store. They will  also give 5% of what you spend to their non-profit partners: Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Canadian AIDS Society, CARE Canada, Humane Society of Canada and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.  Way to go!!


Click here for you coupon and to find out the deets.


 Happy Shopping!