Monday, March 31, 2008

Doing a Good Deed with Goodsearch

Have you heard of

It's a search engine powered by Yahoo but with a philanthropic twist. Each time you use them for a search they donate 1 cent to the charity of your choice. That doesn't seem like much, but it adds up and as you know for many charities every penny counts!

I came across it through the greyhound adoption group I work with - Midwest Greyhound Adoption. In the few years that MGA has been participating in Goodsearch they have raised a couple of hundred dollars for the greyhounds and through no extra effort other than asking their members to type in when they are looking something up on the web.

The challenge is getting people to use it and CONTINUING to use it. If most people are like my husband they say "Google is faster and how much money am I really going to be able to help contribute so why bother?" To which I roll my eyes and say "if you don't use Goodsearch you won't contribute anything, so at least give it a try it, OK? For the dogs??? Please?????" Personally, if I don't find what I need after using Goodsearch I will go to Google, but at least I start with Goodsearch.

This is such an easy way to help - why not do it? If you don't find a charity that you support already listed with Goodsearch please consider supporting the greyhounds - Midwest Greyhound Adoption.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Less Is More

I like to think of myself as smart with my money. Not "cheap" or "frugal" just a smart spender.

I do have my indulgences (shoes for my 3 year old daughter, yarn, Starbucks mochas and a bi-weekly cleaning service) so I'm certainly not a diehard by any means. However, I admit to getting an abnormal amount of happiness from saving money - sometimes so much that it can make or break my day which I know is not good and is probably an indication of some sort of deep-seeded childhood trauma or other disorder.

In light of that admission I've noticed that it seems that being "cheap" is beginning to be popular. Recently I have come across several movements that are popularizing "cheapness" like "Freegans" or "The Compact" . Actually, their purpose is larger - not just to be cheap, but also keep stuff out of landfills and be good to the environment.

I read about groups such as these with a lot of respect and admiration for their commitments to their beliefs and actually doing something to put those beliefs in action. I also recognize that these are two extreme examples and realistically I know my limitations. At this point in my life I probably won't be able to go quite that far, but it's encouraging to me to know they are out there, trying to counter some of the consumerism and waste.

Today I read an article about Jeff Yeager and his book "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches: A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less".
I read the article with interest and even nodded my head in agreement a few times, especially with his suggestion that everyone have regular "fiscal fasts".

Then I glanced at the photograph in the article and he lost me.,0,1335225.story

It was a picture of the author holding a pastry syringe in one hand and a donut in the other. The caption read something like "To save money he buys day-old donuts and fills them with jelly himself".

My first thought is "another weirdo, making us smart spenders look bad" followed by "does he REALLY need to eat jelly donuts that badly??" to "hey, that is a donut with a hole in the center - how can you inject that with a filling and not have it squirt out all over the place?"

I don't believe that he really does that - buys donuts and fills them with jelly himself - I think that was a dumb publicity photo. Maybe the book is really supposed to be humor and not about smart spending.

Anyway, I won't be buying the book but I wouldn't have anyways since I prefer to borrow my books from the library. That's ironic, isn't it? If his target audience are really cheapskates they will all be checking this book out at their library or splitting the cost of the book with several friends and sharing one copy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!
I know the true meaning of Easter is much deeper than all the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs hoopla, but I did indulge myself and made these with my daughter yesterday.

It was a really forgiving recipe - at least the dough was - and I would recommend it for anyone with kids that like to "help" in the kitchen. You also don't need to worry if they eat the dough because there is nothing raw in it, just lots and lots of sugar and fat! Covering the egg shapes was a little more challenging, hence the somewhat odd blob-look of my chocolate peanut butter eggs. Oh well, they still taste good!

You can find this recipe at one of my favorite websites or just click on this link

Hubby Cooks!

Yummmmmmmmm, look at this - I only wish you could smell the garlic and shrimp!

Something my sweet husband just decided to "whip up" for dinner.
He worked all day long, then came home and since it was a Friday during Lent decided to cook shrimp sauteed in garlic then tossed it with some green peas and pasta. Not a gourmet meal by any means - the pasta was frozen as were the shrimp and peas now that I come to think of it! But it tasted great and was even better because MY hubby cooked it. I'm a lucky girl!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I love Freecycle!

Freecycle - have you heard of it? Until recently I hadn't but after reading a blurb in the Trib about it I absolutely fell in love with the idea. Now that I have used it (as a Freecycler and a Freecyclee) I love it even more.

Freecycle is a community of people (all volunteers) that have decided to try and keep good, useable "stuff" out of landfills and instead try to get them into the hands of people that can use them - it's like eBay but completely FREE!

I quickly went to the Freecycle website to sign up but found my own town didn't have a group. However, a few surrounding areas did, so I signed up on three boards in neighboring towns. Within hours the postings (via email) started flying in. People that are trying to get rid of stuff post "OFFERS", people looking for stuff post "WANTEDS". Then it's usually first come, first served, so if something is really a great freebie you had better be able to respond within minutes of the posting. For a few weeks I watched with curiousity at the various items that came across - someone looking for a cell phone because her toddler had thrown hers in a toilet, another offering books on various computer programs, someone else looking for a 2 man tent for his kids, another offering a gas dryer. Wha???? A gas dryer? OMG - I responded to that one as fast as I could and held my breath waiting for an answer. Our own gas dryer had been on the fritz for months and we were dragging our feet knowing we would rather buy a new one than try to repair this one, but not really wanting to part with the money. Now we had the opportunity to grab a FREE dryer? Wow, I was tingling with anticipation. Oh please, please, please let us win this dryer ("win" this dryer? Now the eBayer in me was showing it's face...)

We did "win" the dryer and it is working just fine. It came to Freecycle because that Freecycler had bought a new washer/dryer set when his washer broke down but since the dryer still worked fine he posted it. My husband picked it up that Saturday and things couldn't have gone more smoothly.

Other cool things we have snagged are a maple wood Shaker-style rocking chair (needs a little work but well worth the price - FREE!) a gently used pair of girl's pink snow boots (of course my daughter's FAVORITE pair of shoes are the FREE ones) an interactive Solar System thingy that will be nice when she is a little bit older and a fire escape ladder to keep upstairs "just in case", God forbid we ever need it.

I've since offered a few items myself - one was a queen sized feather bed that we no longer used. Since it is technically bedding I hesitated to donate it or put it in a garage sale thinking who would want something that other people had slept in? I wouldn't! But giving it away for free... that seemed like a good idea. I posted it and within 8 hours I had three people practically begging me for it. WOW! It was that easy? I wrapped it in a large bag, put it on my front porch and when I came home later that day it was gone. I LOVE IT!!

You can check it out at If you don't have a group in your area, maybe you can start one up yourself?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Men in Hats

Who are these two mysterious (but very handsome) men? And who created those works of art on their heads?

Check out and find out!

Homemade Peeps?

As I've said before, I love to do all kinds of handi-crafts and I've always thought it would be so much fun to share those with my children. I've had some friends tell me how lucky my kids are because when they get older they are going to LOVE that I like to make all the little creations that I make, especially being able to do all the projects with me. Kids do tend to like projects, don't they?

Now that my daughter is three she is getting to the point that she can be relatively helpful with kitchen stuff, like baking and cooking. She has almost perfected the art of cracking an egg into a bowl without losing any bits of shell. I know some adults that can't do that! Here is a shot of her very enthusiastically making marbled cupcakes:

One of my very wise and insightful friends (Jennifer) mentioned to me her theory that some activities geared for "kids" are really meant for the adults. It's the adults that think it would be fun to tromp around the woods in 25 degree weather for a one hour "Maple Syrup Hike". The kids really don't care and would probably wonder why they were being tortured except for maybe the syrup sampling at the end of the hike.

So, when I came across this project - making homemade marshmallow chicks - I thought of Jennifer. Would this be fun or would this just be an insane project to undertake with young children??

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink?

I'm a water drinker and I say that proudly. Other than my morning cup of hot tea and my favorite Starbuck's drink (tall, skim, no-whip mocha, please) that is really all I drink. I don't drink bottled water - I'm a recycler too and I also don't believe in all that plastic (I've become very aware of all the evils of plastics since I had children - namely BPA (bisphenol A). Bottled water is also a silly waste of money - Dasani and Aquafina (bottled by Coca Cola and Pepsi) have publically disclosed that their water comes from municipal sources which means it's TAP WATER.

I faithfully use my Brita pitcher, regularly change the filter and feel like I'm doing a good thing for my family - my husband drinks more water now and my 3 year old daughter drinks only milk or water - no juice or sugary drinks for her! I'm so proud of her and it makes me feel good to know she isn't putting a bunch of junk into her little body.

So, I was especially horrified when I read this article in the Chicago Tribune. Although I have heard the term "reclaimed water" and I know that Chicago has its own Water Reclaimation Plant I hadn't (or didn't want to) really thought about what that meant. Where was all that reclaimed water coming from and what did it have in it? This article told me everything I didn't want to know.,0,6589847.story

And then coincidentally a few days later I saw this on

As if all of that information wasn't disturbing enough, my dear friend Jane forwarded this to me from You Tube. I always was a little queasy about asking for lemon in my water when I went out to eat, but this confirms my worst fears. So not only do I not want to drink the water when I go out I definitely do not want to have any lemon in it either.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Hello there! For a couple of years I have thought it would be fun to write in my own blog, but haven't ever done it. Now that I'm a mother of two children (1 and 3 years old), working full-time and struggling with having enough time to do everything I need to do, I thought "why not now?" Ha!

I follow several really wonderful, fun and witty blogs and don't have any grandiose ideas that I can ever compete, but I would like to have a place to write my thoughts, post my pictures, recipes and other ideas and if anyone else out there finds it interesting then I'll consider it a bonus!

I'm a 40-something mother of two, I live in the suburbs of Chicago and work in the city. I love working in the city but now that I have two little ones, it's a little tough but I'm adjusting.

Pre-kids I had lots of hobbies - I loved to read, cook, play with my dogs (I had a greyhound and an Irish terrier), bike, walk and do all kinds of crafts. I made handmade paper, homemade soap, mosaics, needlepoint and knitting.

Post-kids I still have one greyhound but really only have time to knit and read the paper (but only on the train ride commute to and from work). Thank goodness for the train, my little slice of peace and quiet (but for the wonderfully inconsiderate cell-phone-talkers but that's another post!) My life right now is figuring out the balancing act of (and in order of priority) marriage/children/work but haven't quite figured it all out, especially where the "ME" fits in. However, I'm determined not to lose out on that one - ME! I'm lucky enough to have a fantastic husband (who I met on the internet, but that is also another post :-) and I'm very blessed to have along with me for this adventure.