Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taking survey's for cash

Most companies want to know what you like and dislike about just about anything. They will pay good money to find this information out. That's where marketing companies come in. They ask questions, correlate data and give the corporations answers that help them make better products. Its a great process. Getting paid to give your opinion is a wonderful part of that process. In today's world most people don't feel they have time to stop and answer 25 minutes worth of questions. Marketing companies now offer incentives to get the information they need. Some ways include gifts, points for gifts and sometimes cash. Not all companies pay cash reliably. This company, Super Savvy does. You get emails throughout the week that offer you money for asking questions. If you respond you may qualify and get paid, if you don't,  its no harm done. This is something that is great for a stay at home mom. You can do the surveys while your baby naps, when your kids are playing in their rooms or at night after they go to bed. Surveys pay anywhere from $2 to $20 and more. Its fast, easy and if you are comfortable clicking on dots and reading and answering questions, stress free.

Usually there are several questions to see if you qualify to participate. If you don't, you may use 2-5 minutes of your time and get entered in a weekly sweepstakes for cash. If you do qualify, you get paid. Money is usually paid about 6 weeks after you answer the questions.

If you are interested in joining, click here to find out more

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do Something!

Wednesday night, after a very long day, I sat down with my true love to watch Food Inc.  I have skimmed the book and knew the jist of the film, but I really wanted to see the entire thing, so I sat still for the two hours it took to watch the documentary. I have to say, I was shocked. The very fact that our food system is still so out of whack despite the efforts of people to show the public what our food supply has become is amazing to me. Its really very scary. This has been going on for years and yet it still going on. When I find myself talking with someone about the quality of today’s food, I usually get blank stares. I guess as they look at me, they are thinking I am already a wack-o anyway. I homeschool, I garden, I can foods, I try to live as green as possible, I love Jesus…you know; I’m an extremist :P But I digress…my point is that food is very important to me. Its required for life and if we are filling our bodies with trash, one would assume(or at least I do) that our quality of life will deteriorate. 

The prevalence of cancer is on the rise...the body is reacting at a cellular level to all the toxic foods that enter it. Our bodies can only beat off so many bad things and then it becomes exhausted. If we don’t get back to basics and feed our families unprocessed, well-balanced foods most of the time, I am willing to guess that cancer will become a 1 in 3 person occurrence in the next 20 years.

This ain't your mama's junk food
When I was a kid, we ate junk, but our "junk" and today's "junk" are two different things. Having my one soda a day(my mother was liberal, wasn't she?) was a soda made with real sugar. Not corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup, not aspertame or GMO beet sugar. It was plain sugar; something my body recognized and could deal with. Bread's while starting to become the pasty white that they are today, still had some wheat in them. Vegetables were fresh and they were not genetically altered. TV Dinners, while new to the scene, were not a daily affair. My mom stayed home and cooked dinner. Now, from birth, kids are exposed to chemicals. From formula, to fast food, to gummy bears and sugar-laden cereals. All of it is processed and 90% has GMO products in it. Our detoxification systems are in high gear from the get-go.

What's wrong with this picture?
As I watched the movie, my insides were screaming. Why is it that people don’t find these things out for themselves? Why isn’t this being aired on ABC or NBC? Is it too inconvenient to avoid the easy processed meal? Why do people continue to buy foods like this? I realize our government is not helping by subsidizing the very thing that is in all of those processed foods; corn. If the powers that be were to subsidize potatoes and cabbage and broccoli and carrots. If they were to assist the farmer in growing things that are good eaten raw and whole and not turned into other powders and syrups and byproducts, people could afford it and would eat it. As it stands now, a head of broccoli and a bag of potatoes, costs more than 4 value burgers at a drive thru.

I have discovered that as we changed the way we ate to a more wholesome, less processed lifestyle, when we did eat out, we would get sick. It’s a sad state of affairs because I do love pizza and Chinese food and burgers just like the next guy. We have learned in all of this that there are places you can eat and things you can choose that are better than others. There are stores you can walk into that won’t require you to read labels and as you make changes; like getting all your produce organic or only purchasing meat from the local beef farm, it becomes a new “normal.”  You have to plan your meals, often relying on evenings for planning the following nights dinner, but it can be done, even when you work.

As I watched the film and saw the families trying to figure out what they could get that was healthy, I was saddened. If a person does want to make an effort, it is NOT easy. ABut diabetes, and cancer and the myriad of health problems that come with eating poorly is not easy either. There are so many people that either don't know, don't care or feel helpless, drowning in a system that doesn't promote health and well-being. I was recently told of a woman that walked into the gas station convenience store to get some candy for her kid for school. Apparently she needed enough for all the classmates. She wanted packages but the convenience store didn’t have them. They only had single bars. The attendant told her that Food Lion(a local grocery store), which was right down the road, had them and they were cheaper, the lady said she didn’t have time and purchased single candy bars with her WIC card to the tune of $58. How is it that food stamps can buy candy now? Is that what social services had in mind when they gave her a stipend to feed her family healthy? I doubt it, and yet that purchase was accepted by the card.

As I watched the cattle, knee deep in feces, gorging on corn(which raises the risk of e-coli in their gut), I was nauseated. Images of forklifts forcing a deathly ill cow to her feet so they can say she was standing when they slaughtered her. That very meat is then stamped by the FDA and ground up and fed to us. I watched the story of a mom, who lost her 4 year old son to e-coli. The meat had been discovered to be contaminated with e-coli, but was not recalled for another 16 days. During that period, the child died.

After the film, I looked at my husband and we were both speechless. The few companies that own our food sources have taken a simple product called corn, genetically modified it to make it herbicide-resistant and then processed it into so many products that it makes one’s head spin. I was raised in Illinois. I watched the fields of corn rise up from the earth each summer. What once gave me a warm fuzzy feeling as it grew knee-high by the fourth of July, now causes me to feel a deep sadness. We have taken something and altered it to such a state that it causes illness and death to life as we know it.

Do Something.
We can make changes in our food supply. Our dollars speak loudly to these companies. Our voice needs to be heard at the federal level. If you want to save the few small farms left so that you can buy local foods, you need to fight for them, partner with them, help them by purchasing their products. If you don’t like that HFCS is in your kids cereals, don’t buy it. Boycotting products speaks volumes. HFCS is become much less popular because people stopped and said “NO.” Make a difference at home. Grow a garden, teach your child how to plant seeds. If you have too much, share with a neighbor. Shop at the farmers market, from LOCAL GROWERS. Join a CSA. If none of this looks like familiar to you, read. Learn about the issues. Make a difference!
Here are some books that I highly recommend:
What will you do?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coupon Adventures: Printables

Banquet meals rarely have a coupon and the meals are very inexpensive. Much to my surprise, today I got a link to a coupon for them. Its for $1 off any Banquet Family meal.
Click here for coupon

Also, Marie Collanders has a new asian line. The coupon is for $1 off any one Marie Callender's Asian Recipe or Pasta Al Dente.  Here's a coupon for that as well: Click here for coupon

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coupon Adventures 4/16

If you get the food lion Shopper's Companion email each week, you probably saw the coupon for mac & cheese. Well print it. Its for $1 off 2 boxes and this week at food lion, their mac and cheese is on sale and with the coupon, its only four cents a box!
Happy Couponing!

Garden Adventures-Starting with Seeds

As spring is ushered in, my gardening instincts go into high gear. Often, when hardly anyone has given a thought to a garden, I am starting seeds in my dining room and basement. Yes, I said dining room. My mother got me a small portable greenhouse and I set it up to start seeds. My reasoning is simple. Our basement is COLD and seeds do not like to germinate(even on a warm seedling mat) in the winter. So I start them upstairs in the somewhat warmer house. I make pots out of everything from soda bottles to toilet paper tubes, oatmeal containers and milk jugs. Last year I acquired two garbage bags full of plastic greenhouse pots, so this year, I am using those. I already have my garden plan outlined as I do this in the dead of winter. So I pull out all my seeds and "commence ta plantin'".
I have an abundance of herbs and vegetables planned this year. Since we have only been living in our current home for a few years, most of the property is not garden-friendly. We have no pasture; we have five acres of woods. Full sun is not a term my yard is familiar with. Each year I try new tactics to expand my growing area. This year we are doing fabric pots and tire gardens in addition to the raised beds I made out of recycled window frames and the rows and beds that I have in one small area of the yard.

Isn't it a lot of work? 
You might wonder why I don't just buy plants at the corner feed and seed or home improvement warehouse? Mainly because if I start my own seeds I can often use seeds I saved from a previous year. But I can also save a lot of money. A packet of seeds, that might plant 50 tomato plants is less than $2.00. Six small plants can cost anywhere from $2 and up. I don't have to use all the seeds I purchased either. If kept in a cold, dry place, the seeds will last for years. Its a sound investment. Another reason for me, is the availability of heirloom and open-pollinated, organic seeds is much more plentiful than flats of the same. If you were lucky enough to happen across a flat of this type of plant, its unlikely that it costs $2.00!

the dining room green
house is the perfect
warm, moist environment
for seeds.
Getting Started
I am a long-time fan of square foot gardening methods for seed starting. I have tried organic mixes and found them to be useless. Most seem to be loaded with spores for various molds and I battle damping off and fungus; something I rarely had issue with when I used my own dirt. On this property, the lack of dirt has hindered my ambitious plans. We have clay and rocks. We also have rocks and clay. None of these are conducive to plant growth, unless you plan to raise moss. So, I have tried making my own mix this year using sifted compost and putting a small hole of vermiculite in the center to start the seeds off right. After placing a seed in each hole, I water with warm water that has been infused with chamomile tea. Chamomile tea inhibits damping off. Then
I label the pots using a variety of different types of labels. My favorite is to take a plastic tub, like for sour cream or cottage cheese and cut it into strips. I mark the plastic tags with a black permanent marker. I have found it best to label each pot since they get moved around and if you only label one in a flat, you may not know what you have later.

shoplights make great seed
starting lights
Once they germinate, I move them to the basement. I have a make-shift set up that involves shop lights outfitted with daylight florescent bulbs strung over a table that has a seedling mat across the top. I have also been known to wrap it in plastic to keep in the warmth on cold nights and to keep out the occasional mouse that finds anything green a tasty morsel. This spring it has been warmer, so I have not had to wrap things up. The mice don't care about being in the basement when its not too cold outside.

Are you wondering about the aforementioned mouse? One morning last year, I went down to dote on my seedlings, only to find all of the lovely plants completely gone; nibbled down to the soil's surface. Needless to say that set me back a few weeks. I replanted and wrapped everything up. A few weeks it happened again. The solution was to not only wrap it all up, but to add mousetraps all over my table. The traps would go off as I tried to unwrap my plastic barriers to water the plants. That was a cumbersome mess!

I bring my seedlings out during the day if weather allows and then bring them in at night. I try to keep the stronger, older seedlings in one tray as they can stay out longer and only let the little-guys out for a short time so they don't get fried in the sun.  Once the time nears for setting plants out in the garden, I leave them out for longer and longer periods of time to allow them to acclimate to the sun and wind. Then, on a cloudy day, I transplant them and water well. After that, I watch for new growth, which tells me that they are happy in their new home. At that point I can clean up the flats and set up for my fall garden, which I start planting in July.

This year I have planted 3 varieties of lettuce, cabbage, collards and peas. When it is warmer we will have 8 varieties of tomatoes, 3 varieties of cucumbers, 2 types of squash, 1 small watermelon and will put out 4 varieties of beans. In addition, we have garlic, onions and variety of herbs.

What have you planted in your garden?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Green Pastures: How to take it

I get questions all the time about how to take Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil, how I get my son to take it, and how we can stand it :)
Lets face it folks, its fish oil. Its not going to taste good if you don't like fish and its oil, so it sticks to your tongue and your mouth and your teeth and it doesn't go away easy. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

1. Take it with something. 
My son likes to get it squirted in his juice. It floats and some of it lines his cup when he is through, but most of it gets in his stomach. I have squirted it in his mouth prior to drinking komboucha or fermented grape juice. Its also good followed up with orange juice. But having a "chaser" is one way to go. I have had customers also say that a warm chaser helps get rid of the oil in your mouth.

2. Put it in something
Try squirting it on a piece of bread and then eating the bread.

3. Mix it in a smoothie
It was suggested that you mix with yogurt and frozen fruit and blend it well. You can use the unflavored kind for this or maybe a fruity orange flavor. Try with strong flavored sweet fruits that mask the flavor of the oil.

4. Try the gummies
Now they have gummy fish. Kind of like the swedish fish in size, they have the kid-appeal of gummies. If your child KNOWS he has to take it, this makes it acceptable to some.

5. Capsules
While not the most economical method of taking it, the capsules are easier to swallow. No gummy residue in your mouth. Take with food, which prevents the fishy burps that may result in taking on an empty stomach or with your morning juice.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Swidget 1.0 2

I have been using Swag Bucks for some time now. I am amazed at how quickly the points add up and I am able to order gift cards at my favorite places. Recent winnings have included, Target and Starbucks. Sometimes I use the cards myself and sometimes I give them as gifts. Either way, its amazing that I can win prizes for doing a simple search! Try it out for yourself!

Food Lion Mobile Deals

Food Lion has a new Mobile Club that sends texts directly to your phone with coupon deals you can use at an FL store if you have an MVP card. By using texts, you can load your card with some great deals.
One current promotion is for a box of Simple Living cereal. Its free once you have signed up and send in the offer codes.

To sign up for the Mobile club, text CLUBFL to 467467

For the free cereal, text FREECEREAL to the same number. Offer good through may 15th

Friday, April 9, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wandering back to Egypt...

Khan el Khalili bazaar
On my trip to Egypt last year, one highlight that comes back to me over and over was our trip to Khan el Khalili, a bazaar in Old Cairo. The bazaar is over 1,000 years old and contains over 500 shops. We ate at Naguib Mahfouz. A restaurant, named after Egypt's Pulitzer Prize winning author. I tasted several new dishes. My favorite was a wonderful dish considered a staple there. Its name is Kosheri.
Once I got home, it was the first thing I craved. I searched and searched for a recipe that was similar to what I tasted there. This was the end result…

* 1 cup lentils
* 1 quartered garlic clove
* 1 tablespoon cumin
* 3 large onions
* 1 cup oil
* 6 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
* 2 cups dry rice
* salt
* chicken stock or vegetable stock
* 1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
* 1 dash lime juice
* 2 minced garlic cloves
* 1 dash yellow mustard
* 2 tablespoons vinegar

Garlic vinegar(a condiment)
3 cloves of garlic chopped mixed with 3/4 cup vinegar. Warm and set aside.

Chop the onions into small pieces ( I use the small electric food chopper and chop them in batches ) Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped onions for use later in the sauce. Heat the oil on med high heat, you want the oil to be very hot before putting in the onions. Add the onions in batches and fry until you get a deep brown (but not burned) color. You want them to be crispy. Be sure to watch them carefully as they go from medium brown to dark kind of quickly. Drain them onto paper towels and set aside.

Boil lentils in water (about 4 cups) along with 1 clove garlic cut into quarters, and 1 tablespoon cumin until cooked, drain and set aside.

Boil the macaroni until done (about 10 min). Cook the rice in the chicken stock, adding salt if the stock is unsalted. Put them all together in the same pot and mix well.

Now make the sauce.
In 1 tablespoon oil heated over medium heat add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped onions that you reserved from before, and a dash of salt, stir and fry about 2 minute. Add 1 and ½ teaspoon sugar to the onion garlic mixture and mix well. Add tomato puree, 2 tablespoons vinegar, a small squirt yellow mustard and a dash of lime juice. You can adjust the amounts according to your personal taste but it should have kind of a slight puckery bite. Sprinkle in a dash of cayenne pepper according to taste. I liked it kind of hot.

To serve, put the kosheri onto a plate and add a SMALL amount of sauce to the top. (A little goes a long way, and you can always add more according to taste) Sprinkle the whole thing liberally with the fried onions and a bit of the garlic vinegar. Mix together and enjoy!