Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back to the Christmas Tree Farm

We cut our own tree from the Ergle Christmas Tree Farm again this year. It was another fun family experience. That's my husband cutting down the tree and my two sons watching.

Will this become a long-standing family tradition for us? The jury is still out. The tree is not a typical Christmas tree. It is grown in Florida, after all. It's very pretty in it's own way, but the needles are really sticky and tend to fall off easily. Not to mention, they are nearly impossible to vacuum up. It also has kind of an unusual smell.

Sometimes it's difficult to know where to find the balance between tradition, frugality, and eco-friendliness.

Read my post from last year, Our $25 Christmas Tree from Ergle Farm, to find out why we chose to buy a locally-grown Christmas tree, and weigh in with your opinion.

By the way, here's a $2 Coupon for Ergle Farm.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Reuse and Get Organized (Not Cluttered)

I decided to give some attention to that poor neglected middle child of the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle).

I have been saving some of my best quality jars and food containers over the past months with the intention of one day giving them a thorough cleaning and using them for storage and organizational purposes.

The day finally came, and that part of me that loves organizing things was very, very happy.

Of course, saving too much stuff isn't good. That's why the part of me that loves to be organized and clutter-free is sometimes at war with the part of me that likes to reuse things.

Here are some rules I follow to help me strike an acceptable balance:
    • Be selective. I only save the best-quality containers (usually glass or number 5 plastics) with tight-fitting lids. 
    • What's in this thing, anyway?  Clear containers with no labels are easy to see through and make for better organization.  If the container is not clear, be sure to have an effective way to convey what's inside, like a good label maker.
    • Strive for uniformity. Choose to save containers for products you buy regularly, and build up a stockpile of containers of uniform sizes. This makes for better organization. If the containers stack when empty, all the better.
    • Consider safety.  Different types of plastics are designed for different purposes.  Be sure to think about whether the previous contents are compatible with the future contents, especially in relation to food items.
    • Have a good system for preventing clutter. Some might choose to clean as they go. However, I personally choose to save all my containers in a box marked "plastic containers to be reused for storage."  If my box is overflowing, that's when I know I'm saving too much and my effort to reuse is creating a cluttered mess!
    • You want it clean don't you? Before anything goes in the box, it gets an initial cleaning. When the box is full and I have some time to spend on it, I give everything in the box a more thorough cleaning with hot soapy water and bleach. I use Goo Goneto get rid of the labels. 

     Sometimes I need to remind myself why it's worth the extra trouble to reuse....
    • Save $. When you reuse a container, you don't have to buy new ones for organization. Duh.
    • Reduce trash times two. When you reuse a container, you save it from the recycle bin or landfill (at least temporarily). Even better, you completely avoid generating the trash that would have come from any new containers you might have purchased. 
    Want to know how I used my containers? Check out my post today on Raccoon School called Organizing Homeschool Supplies
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      Friday, October 8, 2010

      How Sensory Issues Affect My Family

      October is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Awareness Month. Did you know that at least 1 in 20 people may be affected by SPD? Chances are, you probably know someone with sensory issues.

      If you're wondering what I mean by "sensory issues" and why it's an important issue for me, check out this article I wrote about my family's experience with sensory processing issues called Coming to My Senses: Awakening to the Sensory Needs of My Sons.

      The first part of this article is being featured today on a blog that is very special to me, Harley's Life with 3 Boys. Hartley is spotlighting a different family's story on each day of this month as part of an effort to raise funds for sensory-related research and education. The stories are really powerful, and are all worth reading! The blog is also a great primer for those who are unfamiliar with SPD.

      Be sure to donate to to the SPD Foundation via Hartley's Life with 3 Boys. If you mention my name in the comments section of your donation form, you might help me win one of Hartley's awesome prizes. Even if you don't mention my name, just donate!!!

      Once you read the first part of our story on Hartley's blog, come back to my other blog, Raccoon School to find out how the story ends. I discuss my concerns for our future, our decision to homeschool, my current feelings toward the developmental specialists, and why I believe more research related to sensory issues is sorely needed.
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      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      My Kids Were in the Paper this Weekend...Twice!!!

      There are two major newspaper in my area - The Tampa Tribune and The St Peterburg Times - and this weekend my kids were in both! I assure you that I did not know the journalists or bribe them to take our picture. It was just one of those a strange, happy coincidences.

      The first picture was taken on Friday at the Tampa Downtown Market. A photographer started snapping away as my youngest son was putting sweet potatoes into our shopping bag. That image appeared in Saturday's St Petersburg Times.

      Then on Saturday we went back downtown to go to the Veg Fest. This time, a photographer took some pictures of my boys playing in one of the awesome water play areas in Curtis Hixon Park. It was so neat to see the picture in The Tampa Tribune on Sunday - my two special boys behind a beautiful rainbow!

      We all had lots of fun at both the Tampa Downtown Market and the Veg Fest. Getting our picture in the paper was just icing on the cake.

      The funny thing is, when I showed the newspapers to the boys, they just reacted the same way they have to the countless other pictures we've taken of them. No big deal. Me on the other hand...well, I'm proud mother who is easily amused.

      Have a great day everybody!
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      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Vegetarian Lentil Pot Pie

      This is what we had for dinner last night. It was a perfect meal for cool(er) weather.

      The pie crust is from one one of my favorite cookbook's, Linda McCartney on Tour: Over 200 Meat-Free Dishes from Around the World.I used whole wheat pastry flour to make it a bit healthier.

      The filling was made from a hodgepodge of what I had in the fridge.

      I created a sauce by sauteing mushrooms and onions, adding a dash of wostershire, soy sauce, and flour. Once everything was brown, I added some vegetable stock.

      Then I added carrots, potatoes, sweet peas, and some dry lentils. I added water and let that simmer until the lentils were soft (they only take about 20 minutes).

      Then I added the filling to the pie crust and baked it in the oven until golden brown.

      Want to know how I engaged my oldest son in the preparation of this dinner? Read my latest post on Raccoon School called Flour Sifter.
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      Sunday, October 3, 2010

      Cheap Dirt

      Each time we plant a new vegetable garden our harvests get a little bit bigger.  I know we can do better, though. A lot better.

      I thought about what we needed to change when planting our fall garden, and I realized (if you are a master gardener, this might give you a nice chuckle)......

      ...it's all about the soil - duh!

      Here are a few ideas I picked up over the past few weeks about how to to get the quality soil I need without spending a lot of money:

      • Horse Poo. I was shocked to find all the listings for FREE horse manure on craigslist. As tempted as we were (seriously), we were a little worried about having a big pile of poo in our backyard with two young boys running around.
      • Soil by the Truckload. The next best thing we could find to the free horse poo was a $10 truckload of soil from Cypress Creek Landscape Supply. It actually contained some manure and appeared very rich. We borrowed a truck and put our oldest boy to work shoveling soil into the garden (of course, my husband did most of it). It took two truckloads to fill our 4' x 8' garden.
      • Compost. Creating rich soil of your own for FREE is great incentive for saving all those kitchen scraps. Of course, it's also nice to reduce the amount of trash that goes to the landfill. 
      • Half-Off Broken Bags. I've been told (but haven't tried it yet) that you can get bags of soil half-off at Lowes and Home Depot if the bags are broken.
      By the way, a great online resource for organic gardening (and lots of other things) is Mother Earth News.
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      Friday, October 1, 2010

      Tampa Downtown Market is Back Today

      The Tampa Downtown Market has started up again. Just in time for the beautiful fall weather!

      Every Friday through May from 10AM to 2PM, vendors and musicians gather in Lykes Gaslight Square in downtown Tampa.

      We enjoyed the market last season. I was great to see some positive life going on in downtown Tampa! It's a nice way to get some fresh air with the family. We bought some organic produce at very reasonable prices. We even rode the downtown trolley! We felt very urban on that day.

      By the way, the Seminole Heights Sunday Morning Market starts October 10. Read about My Experience Experience at the Seminole Heights Sunday Morning Market from last season.


      OCTOBER 1, 2010

      The highlights of our morning:
      • Feshly-Made Plain Donuts
      • Sweet Potato Knish 
      • Sweet Potatoes (79 cents a pound)
      • Fresh pineapple ($2.99 each, peeled and cored) 
      • Free samples of hydroponic green beans & tomatoes
      • Public art and lovely fall(ish) weather  
      We got our picture taken by a reporter. I wonder if we'll be in the  
      St Petersburg Times tomorrow?

      Turns out the answer is "yes". We're on page 3 of the Tampa section! 

      Mmm...green bean.
      Chock-full of sweet potatoes!
      Fresh and delicious knish.
      I'm a scarecrow

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      Wednesday, September 29, 2010

      Healthy, Green & Frugal is One!

      A year ago I published my first blog post ever.  Thank you SO MUCH for reading Healthy, Green and Frugal this past year! If I could give you each a cupcake I would. Instead, how about my favorite recipe for chocolate cake with mocha buttercream icing?

      Birthdays are a good time for reflection....check out my recent post Is Blogging Worthwhile? from my new blog, Raccoon School. The blog is about my family's homeschool experience and the ways in which we deal with our sensory processing issues. Come on over and check it out.  Subscribe via email or like Raccoon School on Facebook.

      Here's the chocolate cake recipe. It's from Barefoot Contessa, so you know it's good. Very moist and easy to make. The mocha buttercream icing recipe I like to use is from Epicurious. These recipes are not vegan, but perhaps my husband (aka The Meastro) can help me figure out how to make a vegan version.

      Beatty's Chocolate Cake
      • Butter, for greasing the pans
      • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
      • 2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
      • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
      • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
      • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. 
      2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. 
      3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. 
      4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. 
      5. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 
      6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. 
      7. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
      8. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
      Mocha Buttercream Icing
      • 6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more as needed 
      • 1/3 cup sifted unsweetened natural cocoa 
      • 5 to 6 tablespoons extra-strength coffee or espresso (or 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water) 
      • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      Healthy, Green & Frugal is One!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

      Tuesday, September 28, 2010

      Kid-Friendly Organic Coffee Shop in Lutz

      My wonderful husband took care of the children last night while I had coffee with a friend at this great new coffee shop in Lutz called A Cup of Organic. They offer loads of organic drinks, baked goods and light meals. I had the most amazing chocolate cake!

      The prices are reasonable, and the decor is nice. One of the best features of this shop is the enclosed glass children's play room. There's a television and toys for the kids to play with while you enjoy your coffee. There was a mother's group meeting there and the play room seemed to be working great for them!
      Kid-Friendly Organic Coffee Shop in LutzSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      Coupons for Lundberg Wild Rice, Organic Valley, POM, Tazo and More

       There are lots of great printable coupons at Mambo Sprouts right now. Thanks Frugal Femina!
      • Organic Valley milk and cheese products
      • POM Pomegranate Juice
      • Tazo Tea
      • Lunderberg Rice
      Lunderberg is my favorite brand of wild rice. It's a little on the expensive side, but worth it! For recipe ideas using wild rice, check out my blog post: How to Create Healthy Recipes You'll Love.
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      Monday, August 16, 2010

      LovingHut for Extreemly Creepy Vegan Dining

      I was excited to learn about a new vegan restaurant a couple weeks back from a blogger (Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well) who shares my frustration about the sad state of vegetarian-friendly dining in Tampa.  I had the chance to check it out today with my husband and kids....I think it's safe to say that it was the weirdest dining experience I've ever had.  Let me explain....

      My first introduction to LovingHut came from their website. I was genuinely impressed. It's an international chain with a slick website. The food looks promising. I was expecting something on par with Evos.

      Boy was I ever wrong. The first clue was the location. The restaurant is smack in the middle of "suitcase city". It's a seedy little neighborhood, to say the least, but its proximity to the university makes for an eclectic mix of businesses. So, we reluctantly gave it the benefit of the doubt as we pulled in to the nearly empty parking lot.

      The atmosphere was actually quite pleasant at first glance - it was clean, bright, open - but something just seemed off. On the way to our table we passed a shelf full of pamphlets and reading material covered in pictures of an Asian woman with long blond hair - the same woman on the rather strange sign out front positioned above the more familiar, professional-looking logo I saw on the website.

      Okay, that's weird, but it gets even weirder. Right above our table was one of several large television screens playing a strange news channel at an exceptionally loud volume. The screen was covered in subtitles from a dozen or so languages and the narrator was speaking in this hallow, soothing tone. It certainly wasn't CNN. After closer look, we saw that this channel was called Supreme Master TV.

      As I confirmed from a quick Wikipedia search, LovingHut is affiliated with a spiritual organization headed by a lady who calls herself Supreme Master.

      Now, I don't know anything about this Supreme Master. Maybe she's the next Ghandi or something. But from where we were sitting, being inundated by the telescreen, it was just plain creepy. It was more funny creepy than scary creepy, so we went ahead and ordered.

      I will say the food was okay, but certainly not great. There were very few options on the menu that weren't made from processed soy meat substitutes. Frankly, I was so weirded-out, that I had a hard time being objective about it.

      So, do I recommend it? Not unless your looking for some entertainment and can't afford dinner theater. The experience has left me with two lingering thoughts:

      1) The best veg cuisine consists of whole-foods - not processed meat substitutes.

      2) I hate those moments when trying to adhere to a vegan diet feels like being in a cult.
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      Wednesday, August 11, 2010

      Scholastic DVD Collection $44 Shipped
      on Amazon (Today Only)

      Amazon has priced the Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics at $44 (free shipping) for today only. This is 55% off the regular price. The price fluctuates a lot, but this is the lowest I've ever seen it. So, if you have any interest in getting this DVD collection for your kids, today is the day to do it!

      I paid significantly more than for this same collection a year ago, and I still feel like it was well worth the money. The 16-disc set contains animated versions of 100 quality children's picture books. The titles include Where the Wild Things Are, Is Your Mama a Llama, Strega Nona, and Chrysanthemum, just to name a few.

      I was skeptical about how the animated versions would measure up to the original print version. I was amazed to see that the words and pictures are pretty much identical. Not sure how they do this exactly, but it's as if the books have come to life.

      Of course, watching a video is not a replacement for good, old-fashioned story time. However, I feel like this is a great option for those times when my kids do watch television. They are just nice, wholesome stories. I also think the animated versions can be a good way to enhance comprehension of a story, especially when you pair it with a reading and discussion of the printed version.

      I actually enjoy watching the DVDs myself. A lot of the stories are narrated by movie stars (including Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, and Meryl Streep). Some are better than others, but overall it's a great collection that is well worth the money.
      Scholastic DVD Collection $44 Shipped
      on Amazon (Today Only)
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      Tuesday, August 3, 2010

      Are You Cloth Pad Curious?

      I recently received a free sample of a cloth panty liner from Party in My Pants. Given the delicate subject matter, I'll just say that I loved it and leave it at that. ☺

      If you are curious about cloth pads, click HERE to receive a free sample for the cost of shipping ($3.99). Party in My Pants has also offered a 10% discount to Healthy, Green and Frugal readers. Just use the promotional code: MYHEALTH (expires August 20, 2010).

      Sometimes they have a Surprise Party option under Sales. If you're not picky about the pattern, you can get a really good price. 

      I had never really thought about using cloth pads before, but now it makes perfect sense - they reduce a lot of waste, they save money over time, and they are a lot more comfortable.  By the way, Party in My Pants also offers organic varieties as well as nursing pads and pads for postpartum mothers.
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      Monday, August 2, 2010

      Save 30% on Organic Valley Milk on Amazon

      Use promotional code OVALL454 on Amazon to get a 15% discount on certain Organic Valley milk products (offer valid through September 11, 2010). Combine this with the 15% Subscribe and Save discount to get some really good deals.

      For example, you can get Organic Valley White Lowfat Milk, 8-Ounce Aseptic Carton (Pack of 12)for a total of $11.19 shipped.

      To learn more about how to save money using Amazon's Subscribe and Save program, read my blog post: Amazon's Subscribe & Save = Cheaper Groceries.
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      Thursday, July 22, 2010

      Sunshine Award: Pay it Forward

      I was so touched to receive a second Sunshine Award today from Colleen, author of a lovely blog about homeschooling called Sunrise Learning Lab. My first Sunshine Award came several months ago from Marla at Honest Green who writes a charming account of her day-to-day efforts to become more eco-friendly. I'm so flattered that these excellent bloggers and quality women find my words worth reading. ♡

      It is my pleasure to pay this award forward to a few bloggers that bring sunshine into my life for one reason or another. Some of these people I know in real life, others I know only in the blogosphere. All the blogs have one thing in common - they are platforms for discussing all those meaningful insights that don't naturally come out in daily chit-chat. The barriers that normally divide us - time constraints, physical distance, emotional distance - don't exist in the blog world, and that's why I like spending a little time there each day.
      • Live Corn Free. This is my favorite of all the blogs written by uber-blogger extraordinaire, Sharon Rosen. Make note of that name, because I'm sure you will hear it again. This woman is going places. In addition to her very professional and successful blogs, Dealafina and Giveaway Gal, she has created this slightly more personal platform for creating awareness about the shocking prevalance of corn in modern daily life. I think she's a pretty neat person and I can't wait to see what kind of mark she makes in the world. By the way, be sure to sign her FDA petition while you're on her site.
      • Monologue. A very personal, slice-of-life blog written by my cousin, Elaina provides a glimpse into the heart of a young mother who is working hard to be healthier and happier. Bearing witness to her struggles, setbacks, and successes drives me to my feet to cheer her on and inspires me to do better in my own life. I feel fortunate that she is willing to share her well-written musings with all of us.
      • Hartley's Life with Three Boys. This blog was a source of light to me when I was in the dark about an important issue impacting my children - sensory processing. It gave me the practical information I needed along with some very helpful doses of humor and encouragement. Hartley's candid way of talking about the ups and downs of raising three boys often has me in stitches, and her sense of humor has healing power. Sometimes I see a reflection of my own life in her posts and other times I'm just plain relieved that my boys haven't tried the stunt I happen to be reading about that day (such as flooding the kitchen with the garden hose).  Maybe - just maybe - Hartley might be willing to write a guest post for my blog to explain why anyone who deals with children would benefit from learning more about sensory processing. What do you say, Hartley?
      • The Thrifty Mama. It has been amazing to watch the transformation of this blog over the past year from a "great little coupon site" into a flourishing professional business. To me, Crystal is like the Oprah of the blog world (and anyone who knows me knows how much I love Oprah). This was the first blog I started following when I wanted to take my frugality to the next level, and I will always have a special place in my heart for it.  I'm so grateful for all that it's taught me, and I especially appreciate Crystal's ever-expanding emphasis on environmental and health issues, subjects which are often overlooked on frugal websites. 
      • What Would Juanny Do? Juanny has the following tag phrase on his blog: "Be Optimistically Pessimistic – Something Bad Has to Happen". So, that tells you a lot right off the bat. Juanny - also known as just plain John - was a high-school classmate of mine, but I've only recently come to appreciate his special brand of cynicism that is at times thought provoking and insightful, and at others just plain funny.  Lest any of us bloggers take ourselves too seriously, I challenge Mr. Juanny Cinco to put things in perspective. Or at least help us laugh at ourselves. Plus, I think it would be oh-so-fun to see this girly, bloggy button on his modern-masculine page. Hmm - will he do it?  Will he pass the award on to others? I guess we'll soon find out!
        • Animalcule. My husband John started a blog a few months back about one of his great passions - science. I know I'm a bit biased, but I really think I'm right about this one -  John is an exceptional person. He knows a lot of things about a lot of things and has a masterful way of making connections between all these things. Unfortunately, he is so busy providing for our family that he hasn't had the time he deserves to nourish his passions. It is my intention to help John carve out more time for himself so that he can explore his thoughts and ideas - by blog or otherwise - and release that visionary that lives within. Don't worry John, I definitely don't expect you to put this girly, bloggy button your website.
          Sunshine Award: Pay it ForwardSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

          Tuesday, July 20, 2010

          Creating the Life You Want:
          Intention. Visualization. Reflection.

          How do you create the life you want? Seriously, I'm asking....

          That is the big question for many of us. In particular, how do we make those big lifestyle changes that seem impossible? I've been pondering this question a lot lately. I'm no Deepak Chopra, but here are my humble thoughts on the subject.

          I'm interested in knowing your thoughts.... please share.

          Set a clear and conscious intention for the things that you want in your life, then write it down and communicate it to someone else. Think about all the times we say, "I didn't mean to do that". Instead of floating through life unconsciously, we should mean what we do, and do what we mean to do. The funny thing is that setting an intention and achieving it is not really all that hard.  The hard part is figuring out what it is that will really make us happy. The expression, "be careful what you wish for" comes to mind.

          Once you have set your intention, spend time creating a picture in your mind of what that reality would look like. Use all your senses to imagine that intention coming to fruition. Write about it, cut out pictures and stick them on your refrigerator, draw a picture.... just spend time thinking about it. It is in these moments of positive contemplation that ideas spring forth, paths emerge, plans fall in to place, and the inner strength and motivation that may have once seemed lacking suddenly comes to life.

          As you start to achieve your goals, the visualizations will take on new shapes, become more detailed, and perhaps take unexpected detours. The process of fully realizing the intention can be stymied when you don't take the time to properly reflect on the journey. It's important to process (ideally through writing) all that you have done to achieve your goals, what has worked, what has not worked, and how you want to proceed. Acknowledge the progress that has been made. Allow yourself to appreciate it and use that gratitude to motivate yourself as you carry on.
          Creating the Life You Want:
          Intention. Visualization. Reflection.
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          CSN Stores.... Shop Easy? Let's Find Out.

          I was recently introduced to a massive online shopping portal called CSN. Through this one site you can buy all kinds of products - anything from light fixtures, to kid's stuff, to furniture and housewares.

          The folks at CSN asked me to review my shopping experience with them. In exchange they are giving me $40 to spend at their store.
          Sure, I'll give it a try. 

          So far, I'm impressed with CSN's huge selection and eclectic styles. At first glance, the prices look reasonable, and they claim there is FREE shipping on "just about everything". There are a number of organic and eco-friendly products. They also have a clearance section (which doesn't seem to offer many significant discounts), a rewards program, and price matching. There were a number of somewhat unusual items that caught my eye, including cool bean bags for kids, educational and developmental toys, and a compost bin for the kitchen counter.

          CSN could easily be another go-to place when I'm shopping online. Their tag line is "shop easy".  I'll find out if that's really true and report back to you.
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          Thursday, July 15, 2010

          Healthy Green & Frugal is Now on Twitter

          Are you a Twitterer?
          Well, you can now follow Healthy Green & Frugal on Twitter

          I've also added some new little buttons at the top right corner of the page to make it even easier to  keep up with Healthy Green & Frugal using all your favorite social media! Look for the buttons just above my family's picture under the heading "Ways to Subscribe to Healthy Green & Frugal". The picture shown above is just a picture. ☺

          These are all the ways to subscribe to Healthy Green & Frugal:
          • Facebook. Select the "Like" button on the Healthy Green & Frugal fan page to receive posts on your Facebook wall. 
          • Twitter. Select the "Follow" button to start receive tweets from Healthy Green & Frugal.
          • Feed.  Subscribe to Healthy Green & Frugal's feed via your favorite web portal or news reader.
          • Blogger. Follow Healthy Green & Frugal on Blogger.
          • Email. Sign up here to receive posts directly to your email inbox. Emails go out once a day.
            Thanks for reading. Hope to hear from you soon!
            Healthy Green & Frugal is Now on TwitterSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

            Wednesday, July 14, 2010

            Tampa Bay Veg Fest on October 2

             The Tampa Bay Veg Fest will be held on Saturday October 2 from 10AM to 6PM in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. It's a FREE event geared towards vegetarians, vegans, and healthy eaters. There will be food, entertainment, information, and activities for kids.

            A beautiful downtown park in October, vegetarian/vegan food and healthy-minded people .... sounds like fun to me!

            Grass Root is slated to be there too - even better!
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            Tuesday, July 13, 2010

            Guest Post on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys:
            Good Nutrition for Sensationally Picky Eaters

            Have you ever heard the term "sensory processing" or "sensory integration"?  I certainly hadn't until about 6 months ago when I opened a door into an unfamiliar world full of new ways of understanding my children and their development.

            So, what exactly is sensory processing? In a nutshell, it's the function of the brain that interprets the input that is being received through the senses. It seems likely to me that most everyone struggles with sensory processing issues to some extent, especially young children who are still developing. However, when someone's struggles are severe enough to impact normal daily life, that person may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

            Although neither of my children have been diagnosed with SPD, it has become clear to me that many of the behaviors they exhibit are related to sensory processing. Learning about sensory processing issues and how to deal with them has been nothing short of transformative. I think any person who deals with children would benefit from learning more about sensory processing. I certainly wish I had known about this a lot sooner!

            The resource that has helped me the most with this issue is a blog written by Hartley Steiner called Hartley's Life with 3 Boys.  I got the practical, down-to-earth information I was seeking about sensory processing, along with some very helpful doses of encouragement and humor. Click HERE to view a news interview, in which Hartley sums up this very complex issue quite nicely.

            Hartley has become a bit of a "sensory guru" to me over the past few months, so I was quite flattered when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog.  I wrote about a problem that most mothers face.... picky eaters. I'd love to hear about the ways you cope with your picky children.

            Thanks again Hartley for inviting me to post on your site! 

            Healthy Green & Frugal's Guest Post 
            on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys:

            Good Nutrition for
            Sensationally Picky Eaters

            Guest Post on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys:
            Good Nutrition for Sensationally Picky Eaters
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            Monday, July 12, 2010

            The Slow Cook Has Got Me Thinking

            If you read my blog post from a few days ago called How to Create Healthy Recipes You'll Love, you know that I've gleaned a fair amount of inspiration in the kitchen over the past few years from an article written by Ed Bruske, a personal chef and Washington Post food columnist. So I was tickled to discover this same writer had mentioned my post on his blog a few days later in an article called The Spreadsheet Diet. He was even kind enough to include some of his recipes I wasn't able to find on the internet.

            While his article answered some questions, it also presented some new ones for me....

            First of all, what is this "slow food" movement I've been hearing about? I want to learn more.

            Second, Bruske says in his article: "I don’t eat grains or legumes or other starchy carbs any more if I can help it. But I recognize that many people consider these foods extremely healthful, and I  agree: if you are going to eat carbohydrates, focus on whole grains and legumes with lots of fiber, Avoid sugar, refined grains and other starchy foods (french fries!) at all costs"

            Really? No grains or legumes? Well, that certainly piqued my attention. I'd like to know more about that.

            It looks like I still have something to learn from Ed Bruske. I look forward to reading more on his blog. In the meantime, anyone care to share what they know about these topics?

            On a separate note, a very thoughtful reader was able to find the links from Bruske's original Washington Post article. So, here they are:

            Recipes That Top the Charts 
            Spreadsheet Categories
            How it Works (about 3/4 of the way down)
            The Spreadsheet Diet

            I love this kind of exchange of information. Thanks for taking the time to share your comments and ideas. I always appreciate it.
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            Saturday, July 10, 2010

            Use Books to Wet Your Child's Appetite for Healthy Food

            Good food and good books are two important components of childhood. Isn’t it great when they work together as a team? Books help me combat one the biggest roadblocks I face with my children - reluctance to try new foods. Sometimes certain stories will generate interest in a new food. Other times, books simply make mealtime more fun. 

            One of our favorite games is to read a book and take a bite when we hear a certain word. For example, we'll read Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and take a bite each time the word “cow” is uttered (or uddered as the case may be). We work on literacy skills and my boys eat a good meal - win win!

            The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favorite ways to use books to encourage good nutrition:
            • Green Eggs and Ham. I’m so grateful for all the spinach omelets my boys have eaten because of this book. I put fresh spinach (aka “magic green”) in the mini-food processor, mix it with cheese and eggs, and voila.... green eggs! 
            • The Lorax. I convinced my sons that mangoes were truffula fruits. That got them to try something new. Now they realize how delicious mangoes really are! 
            • Ten Apples Up on Top. This book inspired a yummy and healthy dish of whole grain biscuits with baked apples “up on top”. The baked apples are good even without the biscuits. To make them, simply slice granny smith apples, coat in olive oil and cinnamon, and bake in the oven until nice and mushy. For some extra fun, you can count the apples as you make them and maybe even balance them on your head!
            • Berenstain Bear’s: Mama’s Day Surprise. This book is centered around a special breakfast of honeyed french toast with fresh blueberries. My boys salivated over the pictures, so we made it one day and they happily cleaned their plates. 
            • Berenstain Bear's: Too Much Junk Food. One of my personal favorites with a great message about healthy eating. My kids are more likely to eat carrot sticks after we've read this.
            • The Little Red Hen. My oldest is fascinated with the idea that you can start with a grain of wheat, plant it, and eventually make bread out of it. I’m working on ways to capitalize on his new interest. I'm not sure I'm capable of growing wheat!
            • Richard Scarry’s books are packed full of yummy looking food.
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            Thursday, July 8, 2010

            How to Create Healthy Recipes You'll Love


            Have you resolved to eat better, but you're having a hard time finding healthy recipes you actually like? Perhaps you are veteran healthy eater who is in a bit of a rut. Here is a simple method that may be the jump start you're seeking. It certainly helped me expand my horizons and create delicious meals tailor-made to suit my palette.

            I learned about the method a few years ago from a good friend. She gave me a copy of an article from The Washington Post called The Spreadsheet Diet written by Ed Bruske, personal chef and food columnist. The article struck a chord with me. I keep it in my recipe book and read it every so often for inspiration.

            The article itself is worth reading, but unfortunately the original links to all the recipes and how-to details are no longer there. However, Bruske was kind enough to write a post on his blog in response to an email I sent him. Wasn't that nice? Click HERE to read the post, which includes several full-length recipes. Thanks Ed!

            In any case, I'll do my best to explain the method as I have used it. Basically, Bruske's spreadsheet contained the column categories shown below in all caps. The rows contain your favorites in each of those categories (the ingredients listed here are just a few of the many possibilities). To create a recipe, you pick one or two favorites from each column. The result is a well-balanced, healthy meal using foods you love!
            • WHOLE GRAINS: barley, bulgur, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, spelt, wheat berries, wild rice
            • ALLIUMS: onions, shallots, scallions, chives
            • NUTS: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews
            • HERBS: parsley, cilantro, mint, dill, basil, hyssop, lemon balm
            • TOMATOES: diced, cherry, grape, sun-dried, roasted
            • LEGUMES: peas, chickpeas, lentils, fava beans
            • DRIED FRUITS: raisins, apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, currants, pomegranetes
            • PRESERVED GOODS: olives, marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers
            • VINEGARS: red wine, white wine, sherry, apple cider vinegar, rice wine, lemon juice
            • VEGETABLES: red peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel, broccoli
            • GREENS: arugula, spinach, radicchio, endive
            The key is to pick all the things you love the most.  I know it sounds kind of obvious to say that, but it's not something I thought to try until I read the article. First I followed some of the recipes written by Bruske, then I felt confident enough to experiement. Now I always keep my favorite ingredients on hand, and when things get too busy for proper meal planning, I know I have something healthy I can whip together.

            My personal favorites are:
            • mushrooms (either sauteed or made into a mushroom gravy)
            • roasted red peppers
            • roasted tomatoes
            • olives (I'm in love with the Lindsay Naturals at the moment - click HERE for coupons)
            • shallots
            • roasted garlic
            • toasted pecans
            • scallions (the organic ones are exceptionally good)
            • dried cranberries (Whole Foods carries ones that are nice and plump and contain no high-fructose corn syrup)
            • Lundberg Wild Rice is expensive, but excellent, and mixing it with quinoa adds a nice amount of protein
            Click HERE to view some of the full-length recipes on Bruske's blog. Also, here are some his basic ideas to get you started. The first one is my very favorite (shown in the picture).
            • Wild Rice and Quinoa Pilaf With Toasted Pecans and Dried Cranberries: 2 from grains, 1 from nuts (pecans), 1 from dried fruits (cranberries), 1 from alliums (scallions), 1 from herbs (parsley), 1 vinegar (cider), 1 olive oil. 
            • Hulled Barley With Carrots, Raisins and Walnuts: 1 from grains, 2 vegetables (carrots, celery), 2 dried fruits (dark and golden raisins), 2 alliums (shallots, scallions), 2 herbs (parsley, hyssop), 1 from nuts (walnuts), 1 vinegar (white wine vinegar), 1 olive oil.
            • Brown Rice Pilaf With Roasted Cauliflower, Dried Fruits and Cashews: 1 from grains, 1 vegetable (cauliflower), 2 dried fruits (raisins, apricots), 2 herbs (cilantro, mint), 1 from nuts (cashews), 1 vinegar (lemon juice is considered part of this category), 1 olive oil.
            • Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad With Olives and Feta Cheese: 1 from grains, 1 from legumes (chickpeas), 1 feta cheese (a category in itself), 3 preserved goods (marinated olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers), 1 from tomatoes, 2 greens (radicchio, arugula), 1 vinegar (lemon juice), 1 olive oil.
            • Bulgur and Lentil Pilaf With Fava Beans: 1 from grains, 2 from legumes (lentils and fava beans), 1 from tomatoes, 1 from alliums (red onion), 1 from vegetables (fennel), 3 from herbs (parsley, mint and dill), 1 vinegar (rice wine), 1 olive oil.
            Here of some additional tips that might help. Have fun getting creative in the kitchen! I'd love to hear about the recipes you come up with.
            • Use vegetable broth to cook grains. This adds a lot of flavor to the finished product. Swanson has an organic vegetable broth that is very reasonably priced. I can often find sales and coupons.
            • Use a nice quality olive oil. I like to keep two types of olive oil on hand. One bottle of cheaper light olive oil for cooking and one bottle of more exspensive extra virgin olive oil to use on non-cooked dishes where the flavor of the oil can really shine. My favorite brand is Filipppo Berio Extra Virgin... delicioso! Click HERE for a coupon.
            • Don't be afraid to try new things. Sometimes unfamiliar foods can be intimidating, especially when they come from the produce isle or the bulk bins and have no instructions. The good news is that you can find instructions for anything on the internet. Just look it up. You may have found your new favorite food! 
            • Ready rice is actually pretty good in a pinch.  Yes, yes... whole grains are very important. But sometimes we just can't be bothered to wait 30 to 50 min for the rice to cook. I've found that Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (wild rice or brown rice) is actually pretty good. Sales and coupons abound (click HERE for a coupon). Minute Rice also has a good Ready to Serve rice in single serve containers (click HERE for a coupon).
            • Roasting vegetables properly makes all the difference in the world. The first time I achieved that marvelous caramelized glaze on my roasted vegetables, I never settled for anything less. Click HERE for a helpful guide to achieving flavorful roasted vegetables. 
            • Toasted nuts take the dish from good to great. Unfortunately, toasting takes away some of the nutrients found in raw nuts, but it certainly makes for an outstanding flavor. If that makes eating healthy more enjoyable, I'd say it's worth it!
            By the way, one of Ed Bruske's blogs is called Better D.C. School Food. He's like the American Jamie Oliver! Nice work Ed! He also has one called The Slow Cook that contains lots of helpful information about food, nutrition, gardening, and environmental issues.

            Read the follow-up post: The Slow Cook Has Got Me Thinking

            Become a fan of Healthy Green & Frugal on Facebook.
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            Friday, July 2, 2010

            Coupons for Honest Drinks

            Click HERE for coupons on various Honest teas & juice drinks. The Honest Kids drink pouches are a huge improvement over some of the more popular brands. They are organic, contain no high-fructose corn syrup and the sugar is relatively low.

            Another reason I like these drink pouches is that you can freeze them to keep the rest of your packed food cold. Then when they thaw, you can drink them!

            If you buy a lot of Honest Kids drink pouches, consider clicking HERE to sign up for their rewards program. I haven't used it yet, but it looks like there are a lot of practical rewards, such as coupons for free Happy Baby products and gift certificates to Publix and Target.

            Thanks to Thrifty Mama!
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            Thursday, June 24, 2010

            Free Family Film Festival

            See movies for FREE this summer at Regal Entertainment Group theaters as part of the Free Family Film Festival. The festival runs on select weekdays at 10AM from June 15 to August 12. There is a choice of a G and a PG movie on each show date. Click HERE to find a participating theater near you.

            If you live in Tampa, the theater at Citrus Park Mall is an option. The showings are on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10AM. Click HERE for the details and show schedule. Also, if you join the Westfield WFamily club (membership is FREE), you can get special discounts for food after the show.
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            Wednesday, May 12, 2010

            Get a Refund for Recalled Tylenol & Motrin

            You've probably heard about the recall on certain medication for children including Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl. Click HERE to get a refund or a coupon on any McNeil products you might have on hand.
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            Tuesday, May 11, 2010

            Kids Eat Free at IKEA this Weekend


            They are having the kids-eat-free deal at IKEA again this weekend. Kids 12 and younger eat free Friday, May 14 to Sunday, May 16. No adult purchase required. This is a $2.99 value. You pick three child items to make a meal.

            In case your kids aren't hungry while you're at the store, just pick some of the
            pre-packaged items (i.e., yogurt, applesauce, carrot sticks, milk, or juice) and save it for later! They even have some organic choices.
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            Friday, April 23, 2010

            Great Price on Sprig Toys at Tuesday Morning

            I was so excited to find Sprig toys at Tuesday Morning. The prices were great. The blue car above was only $7.99 (retails for $24.99) and the larger orange truck was only $19.99 (retails for $59.99). I've had my eye on these toys for ages, but I've always found them to be too expensive.

            These eco-friendly toys are made from recycled material. They do all sorts of neat things, but they don't require batteries! That's green and frugal!
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            Thursday, April 1, 2010

            Excellent Prices on Organic Baby Clothes from Happy Green Bee

            Happy Green Bee has some outstanding prices in the clearance section right now. These pants are only $5. There are also onesies, hats, blankets, and some adorable dresses at equally low prices. And it's all organic!

            Shipping is FREE for orders of $35 or more, and $5.95 for orders less than $35.

            I love the clothes from Happy Green Bee! These were my favorite pants to put on my boys when they were babies. They are so soft and comfy and look great with a white onesie.

            This is a great time to stock up on baby gifts. Be aware that the pants run big. 

            Happy Green Bee is a wonderful company to support. Click HERE to read more about the owner's amazing story.

            Thanks Thrify Mama for the heads up on this.
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            Wednesday, March 31, 2010

            The Quest for a Healthy, Green & Frugal Easter

            Easter is here, and again I am facing that persistent old dilemma - how do I remain healthy, green and frugal without depriving my children of simple holiday pleasures?  Here are a few ideas I've gathered over the past few years. I'd love to hear your ideas - please share!

            • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I rarely buy any holiday materials. Rather than buy new baskets each year, I just pull from my mother's extensive basket collection. I use the same paper grass and plastic eggs year after year. If I don't have it already, I probably don't need it anyway.
            • Candy: Quality versus Quantity. Rather than getting loads of "value" candy, I take the same amount of money and buy just a few pieces of high quality candy. When shopping for candy and treats, I avoid high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Organic is always a plus. When shopping for chocolate, I look for high cocoa content (or at least make sure sugar is not the first ingredient). Some of my favorite brands are Yummy Earth organic candy, Green & Black Organic Chocolate, Lindt chocolate, Newman's, Own chocolate, and Annie's bunny cookies and crackers (these are great for putting inside the plastic eggs). 
            • Fresh Food Treats. Why not? There are plenty of healthy delicacies that might be just as exciting to receive as candy and sweets, if presented the right way.  
              • Carrots. I have a vision of a beautiful Easter basket full of fresh carrots with the green cascading from the tops, as if they had just been picked from the garden by the Easter bunny.
              • Fruit. My children love raspberries and mangoes, but we don't get them too often because they are expensive. What a lovely (and nutritious) treat for them!
              • Hard-Boiled Eggs. Rather than candy eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy, why not the real thing!
            • A Basket Full of Junky Toys? Although it's tempting to fill the Easter basket with all those cute little trinkets from the dollar isle, it might be more economical (and green) in the end to actually buy a select few higher-quality toys. When I'm feeling especially tempted by shiny trinkets, I just imagine the flimsy piece of plastic in a landfill a month after Easter is over. That usually does the trick.
            Here are some of my favorite Easter basket toys:
            • Seed Packets. Planting flowers or vegetables with your children - what a fun spring project!
            • Matchbox Cars. You can get pastel colors to keep with the Easter theme.
            • Sidewalk Chalk. Get the best value by shopping in the non-holiday isle.
            • Books. There are tons of great Easter-themed kid's books.
            • Audubon Plush Birds. They offer a full line of stuffed animals modeled after specific species of birds. The birds even make the correct call when you squeeze them! We got the Pileated Woodpecker for our son's first Easter because we have them in our backyard. It's a great way to engage children in birdwatching. It's certainly more educational than the run-of-the mill stuffed bunny. 
            • Schleich Animals. We have quite a collection of these toy animals, and our children love them. It's a great non-electronic, durable toy that inspires imagination. The animals are very realistic, which makes them great learning tools for students of all ages.
             Of course, the best gift we can give our children is time. If you are looking for ideas for Easter-related crafts, activities, songs, and literature, visit Earth's Kids. One of the more interesting projects on the site is the live grass Easter Basket shown above.

            Have a Happy Easter!
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            Monday, March 22, 2010

            Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

            I just watched a sneak preview of the first episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution online for FREE on HULU.  The show debuts on Friday March 26 at 9PM EST on ABC.

            Only one episode, and I'm already hooked.

            Jamie Oliver became a hero of mine when I heard what he did for school lunches in England. To see him taking on American schools brought him up a few additional notches in my book.

            Plus, it's just good TV. I can't wait to see what he does to get the "lunch ladies" on board with his new scheme.
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            Sunday, March 21, 2010

            Sweetwater: Return & Investment

            Today's Sweetwater pickup was robust, a welcome change after a few weeks of harvests made scant by the unusually cold weather. Today's share included: carrot bunches, joi choi, kohlrabi, broccoli, magenta lettuce, green romaine, ermosa butterhead, cilantro, radish, scallions, and arugula.

            I have enjoyed many weeks of bountiful returns. Today, for the first time, I put in a little investment of time. All CSA members are required to volunteer at least four hours of time per season. Today I spend about an hour in the greenhouse thinning seedlings.

            I was a pleasure to get my hands into the soil and spend time with the friendly and capable Sweetwater interns. Most of all, I enjoyed the feeling of being invested in the process of producing my own food. This just doesn't happen when you shop at the grocery store. Maybe next time the weather will be better and I can get out into the fields, and maybe even bring my four-year-old son with me. What a learning experience that will be!

            Registration for Sweetwater's 2010-11 season (November to May) is currently underway for current members. New members can register starting April 1. Click HERE for more information.

            If you don't live near Tampa/St. Petersburg, click HERE to find a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program near you.
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            Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Cereal $2.58 on Amazon

            You can get Bob's Red Mill Organic High Fiber Cereal for only $2.58 per bag if you buy it as a 4-pack on Amazon, using the Subscribe & Save program (see my blog post, Amazon's Subscribe & Save = Cheaper Groceries).

            Compare that to $3.19 at Nutrition S'Mart and $3.35 on the Bob's Red Mill website. Since I rarely see sales or coupons for this brand, I'll take the discounts where I can get them!

            This is the cereal I mentioned in The Perfect Breakfast. I have been enjoying it so much, I decided I would be willing to buy this in bulk. The bag says to store in the freezer, so I'm hoping I can use it all before it expires.

            Don't forget to use your Swagbucks for even deeper discounts at Amazon. See my blog post, Are You Using Swagbucks?
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            Saturday, March 20, 2010

            Grass Root: Organic, Vegan & Raw Cuisine in Central Tampa

            Grass Root is an oasis for healthy eaters right in the heart of Central Tampa. The menu is full of delicious organic, vegetarian, vegan and raw creations. We enjoyed a dinner there last night with our two boys and had a wonderful meal.

            I had a sprout wrap with a delicious dipping sauce. My husband enjoyed his vegetable wrap with a different, but equally good basil dipping sauce. The boys shared the most fabulous PB&J I've ever tasted on some kind of sprouted raisin bread.

            The ice teas are exceptionally great (sweetened with organic cane juice). I've also heard the smoothies there are good. The one made from cocoa looked intriguing, for sure.

            My only disappointment was the "cheesecake" made from cashews, especially since it was a splurge at $8. It didn't quite live up to the raw sweet potato pie we had there several years ago. Oh, well. Not every dish can be tip top, I guess.

            Overall, it's an outstanding restaurant with ideals and practices I'm happy to support. The prices are reasonable, but keep in mind that you are getting quality, not quantity. While the furniture, building, and surrounding neighborhood are quite modest, it has a vibrant and inviting ambiance. The staff are very friendly and welcoming.

            Grass Root has a restaurant in Lakeland, as well. They also offer catering and all kinds of classes and workshops related to health and nutrition.
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            Amazon's Subscribe & Save = Cheaper Groceries

            I recently got turned on to Amazon's Subscribe and Save program as a way to get great prices on certain grocery items without having to chase down sales and coupons. Even better, the products are delivered to your door with no shipping costs as often as you need them!

            Here's how it works.
            1. Some products on Amazon (mostly the type of products you'd buy at the grocery store) have a box on the right-hand column that says "Save 15% with Subscribe and Save".
            2. In that box, you choose how often you'd like to receive this product (every 1, 2, 3 or 6 months). You can easily cancel or edit this later.
            3. Then hit "Subscribe Now".
            4. You will then go on to confirm your shipping address, payment method, etc.
            5. At the end, you will see your order total (notice the no shipping and 15% discount) and you will then select "Subscribe Now" to complete the order.
            6. Once your order has been processed, you can go back and edit your subscription, or even cancel it with no problem. However, you still get the benefit of the free shipping and 15% discount! Awesome!
            7. However, if you find a good price on a product that you use regularly, it might pay to use the subscription service because you've locked in that 15% discounted price and free shipping for all future deliveries under that subscription. Plus, it could be convenient to get certain staples in the mail on a regular basis without having to think about it.
            I've been dipping my toe in the water with Subscribe & Save the past several months, and I'm now starting to really get into it. There are some money saving opportunities, especially if you buy discounted items or multi-packs. You have to be careful to compare prices to make sure you really are getting the best deal.

            One example of when it pays to use Amazon's Subscribe & Save is Bob's Red Mill Organic High Fiber Cereal. This is the cereal I use in The Perfect Breakfast.

            If you buy it as a 4-pack on Amazon, using the Subscribe & Save program, it comes out to $2.58 per bag. Compare that to $3.19 at Nutrition S'Mart and $3.35 on the Bob's Red Mill website. Since I rarely see sales or coupons for this brand, I'll take the discounts where I can get them!

            For even more discounts, be sure to use your Swagbucks. I always buy $5 Amazon gift cards with my Swagbucks, which helps me save even more on groceries when I shop on Amazon. If you aren't familiar with Swagbucks, check out my blog post, Do You Use Swagbucks?
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