Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Made In America Christmas-Alex and Ani

Christmas is getting closer and closer now that Thanksgiving is in our rear view mirror! If you haven't caught any of my other posts about a Made in America Christmas let me explain. I am challenging everyone to buy at least one item that is Made in the USA while you are doing your Christmas shopping this year. A lot of people have the wrong impression that it's difficult to find gifts made here, or that you're going to pay an arm and a leg. That's where I come in, I'm doing all the leg work for you. There are a ton of great brands out there making high quality products that are affordable right here in the good ole U-S of A! If you missed my previous two posts be sure to check them out to find out what other great brands I've featured!

Today I'm highlighting a brand that I really love, Alex and Ani. They make affordable jewelry that all age groups can appreciate! I really love these bracelets and so does my teen daughter. Pictured above is our matching Celestrial wheel bracelets, mine Leo, hers Sagittarius. These bracelets look great worn alone or stacked. You can keep them all gold or silver tone or mix and match. Alex and Ani offer a ton of different charms so you'll be sure to find one for anyone on your list. What I really like about them as well is they offer charity bracelets. These bracelets donate a portion of the proceeds to the charities which are named on each bracelet design. They also offer seasonal charms so you could make a tradition of getting the Christmas charms each year.

Alex and Ani doesn't just make bracelets, they also offer necklaces and rings as well. Now is a great time to add Alex and Ani to your jewelry collection since they are offering free shipping with no minimum! You can check out all the amazing jewelry they make with love in the USA by clicking here.

Keep checking back for the next featured brand in my Made in America Christmas series. The next few posts we'll be featuring gifts for the guy in your life! Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Ebates Paid For My Thanksgiving!

If you're not familiar with Ebates then this article is for you! First let me explain what Ebates is, then I'll tell you how they paid for my Thanksgiving! Ebates is an online shopping site that if you use their link before making a purchase you earn cash back! The amount varies from store to store and not every store you love to shop at will participate. Ebates also finds you promo codes that might be available saving you even more money on your purchase. You can visit Ebates website and search for a store you plan to do some online shopping with, just click the link for that store and you are on your way to earning cash back. You can also get the Ebates button and it reminds you to use the link automatically when you visit online retailers. This feature saves me a ton of money since I can't always remember to use their links before visiting a store online. Ebates pays out quarterly, so purchases I made from July first through September 30th make up my 'Big Fat Check' payment. The money that I earned from that period was estimated to be paid on November 15 but it actually came on November 7. If you don't earn the required ten dollars to get your payment it will roll over to the next quarter until you've reached that amount. As you can see from the above photo I'm already at $12.63 for this quarter, so I will qualify for my next payment! You can also see that since I first joined I've earned a total of just over $106, not too shabby for just clicking a link and buying things I was going to buy anyway!

Now let's get to how Ebates paid for my Thanksgiving this year. As I mentioned above the money I earned for the 'summer' quarter was paid out to me the first week of November. That 'Big Fat check' payment was $60.14! I will say that part of the reason my earnings were so high this quarter was that we did a remodel and had to buy a new refrigerator and stove and a few portable air conditioners. I made that purchase through Lowe's online with the Ebates link and just like that earned my cash back! The money comes via PayPal and I did some online shopping with mine. I went to Target and got a lot of my essentials like the makings for green bean casserole, boxed stuffing and the cranberry sauce all with free shipping and great prices. I spent a total of $31 with Target on those essentials leaving me with about $29 left in my PayPal account. In case you didn't know you can get a PayPal card which will allow you to spend your PayPal money anywhere. So I used my card and took it to my local supermarket and shopped the sales. I scored my turkey, two pies and a few other needed items all for $27! So basically Ebates paid for my Thanksgiving!

It's free and easy to sign up for Ebates and if you haven't done it yet now is the perfect time. It's almost Black Friday and I'm sure tons of online retailers will be offering amazing deals. Using Ebates not only gives you cash back on purchases you were going to make anyway, it also helps save you the most money! Wanna know what's even better? If you sign up now you can earn $10! Simply click this link and start shopping! It's that easy! If you already are a Ebates member I'd love to hear how much you've earned by shopping with them, just leave me comment! Happy Shopping...and Saving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How To Make The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is pretty special to me because my daughter was born the day before Thanksgiving and her first birthday fell on the holiday. That year I decided to cook for the family as a way to celebrate my daughter's special day. Cooking your first Thanksgiving dinner for twenty or so people could be pretty intimidating but I had an ace up my sleeve. My husbands grandma! She came over early that morning and taught me how to prepare and cook my turkey. I've followed her steps ever since and haven't ever had a bad bird yet. Not everyone might know how to handle the turkey so I thought I'd share my preparations with you. I generally cook a twenty plus pound bird but this year I only got a seventeen pound-er, the biggest my local store had. These directions will work for any size bird though, and whether you are using grandmas old roasting pan like me or those aluminum pans, either way I've got you covered!

The first thing you will need to know is if you plan to use a frozen or fresh turkey. If you buy frozen it's handy because you buy ahead of time and keep frozen. You'll have to allow enough time for the turkey to thaw in the refrigerator, never thaw the turkey on the kitchen counter. How long it needs to thaw obviously depends on the size of the bird. Since I'm feeding a crowd and have a big turkey every year I always take mine out a week ahead of time, so tomorrow will be the day mine moves from the freezer to the fridge.

Great, so now it's Thanksgiving morning and you need to get that turkey ready to go in the oven. Here's the first step-Take the turkey out of the fridge and put in your clean kitchen sink, you'll need to clean it again when you're done with this step. Next, get some kitchen scissors and cut open the packaging around the turkey. Doing this in the sink makes clean-up easier. The turkey has two cavities and you'll need to remove the neck and gizzards from the cavity. Place those items in the bottom of your roasting pan, they give the gravy you'll make later good flavor. Once you've done that give the turkey a rinse and then pat dry. Take a hand-full of salt and rub the inside cavity of the bird. Go ahead and transfer the turkey from the sink to the pan at this point. Now take a stick of butter (I use real butter not margarine but use what you have) and rub all over the bird, rubbing it into the skin. Place some butter on the inside of the cavity and under the skin. Once you've used up the butter you can add a bit of water or broth to the bottom of the pan. Keep in mind that the turkey will produce it's own juices as well, so you won't want to put too much liquid in the bottom. If you are stuffing the bird you can go ahead and do it at this point.

Now you're ready to put it in the oven, you'll cook the turkey according to the temperature on the package. The most important part of the cooking of the turkey is the basting! I baste my turkey every fifteen minutes. I set a timer if I'm doing too many things at once so I remember. There is nothing worse than a dry turkey. Also, cover the turkey! I have a covered roasting pan but if you don't own or can't borrow one then go ahead and make a tin foil tent to cover the turkey. Most turkey's these days have the pop-up timer that will let you know when the bird is done, I've never had one lie to me! So it's very easy to know when your bird is done. Sometimes it's done before I expected it to be. When that happens don't panic. All you have to do is keep the oven as low as it can be and keep basting it. You can remove the lid if you need to brown the turkey up a little, it doesn't always get golden brown with the lid.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for any size crowd can be a little scary but relax! Enjoy the preparations as much as you enjoy the food and time with your family. There is nothing more important than family and getting together to share a wonderful meal! If you have any additional questions or need any Thanksgiving advice feel free to ask! Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Made In America Christmas - Part Two

Christmas is sneaking closer and closer and what I'd love is if everyone would commit to buying at least one item that is made in the USA. If you missed the first post about this you can check it out here. There are so many great companies that make products right here at home, in the weeks leading up to Christmas I'm going to share some of them with you. You'll be sure to find something for everyone on your list and without having to spend a fortune. Common belief is that products made in America cost more but that's not always the case.

Today we are focusing on a product that any gal who loves makeup will appreciate. That company is Beauty Blender! From what I could gather from their website, Beauty Blender was created by a make-up artist by the name of Rea Ann Silva in 2014. The beauty blender is an egg shaped sponge that you use to apply your make-up. This brand is going to make any girl happy from pre-teen to adult. You can visit their website and check out all their products, including their holiday gift guide by clicking here. I noticed they were offering free shipping on all orders, so now would be a great time to shop! You can also find the Beauty Blender in-stores at Sephora. What I like about the original Beauty Blender brand is they are made in the USA and are latex free.

If you know of any great companies that sell products made here in the USA feel free to leave a comment. I'm always looking for new great products made here. Check back soon for part three of Made in America Christmas where I'll be featuring a company sure to please any guy in your life! I hope everyone can commit to buying at least one item Made in the USA this Christmas!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Wal-Mart Raising Online Prices

Online shopping has become a very important part of my life. I live in a small town that doesn't have very many stores to choose from. I also do a lot of stuff online where I earn PayPal or Amazon money that I want to spend online. Whatever your reasons are, shopping online has become an important part of our lives. Many stores offer deals on shipping so it can actually save you time and money.

Last week I had sixty dollars in my PayPal account from Ebates (look for another post about this) and I was looking to shop for some Thanksgiving basics online. I headed over to Walmart.com because I know they have good shipping deals and low prices. I was shocked to find that their prices were higher than I expected. What made it worse was they gave an online price and then a cheaper 'in-store' price. Obviously I wasn't going to pay more to shop online and I certainly wasn't driving all the way to Wal-Mart in the next town over. So what did I do? I headed over to Target.com who actually was having a great sale. I stocked up on lots of my basics for Thanksgiving like poultry seasoning, cranberry sauce, mini marshmallows and more. Target was having a deal where if you spent $25 you got free shipping. I ended up spending $31 and the best part was UPS brought my package the next evening. I was really surprised how quickly it came! Also when I compared the prices from Target to my local supermarket's holiday sales, I still saved money!

This morning as I was watching the news, a segment came up about how Wal-Mart is charging more on certain food and home items online to try and drum up more in-store business. Well I'm sorry to tell you Wal-Mart but I'm not paying more to shop online and I'm not going to head over to a store to save either. What I'll continue to do is price shop online to find the best prices or just shop at my own local store in person. I sure hope Wal-Mart takes a second look at this idea because it seems kinda silly to me. Online shopping makes up a huge portion of business for stores and some of us really like to shop from home in our pj's!

Would you pay more to shop online?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Made In America Christmas - Part One

Christmas is coming right around the corner and we'll soon be doing all of our shopping. I want to challenge all of us American's to have a Made In America Christmas this year! I think it would be great if we found and bought at least one item for someone on our list that was made right here in the USA. I'll be doing a series of posts leading up to Christmas featuring brands that are made in the USA!

The first of the companies that I think will make great Made In America gifts is Tervis! They make insulated and stainless steel tumblers mugs and even wine glasses! They were founded in Detroit in 1946 and then the company was sold and moved to Florida in 1960. What I like about Tervis tumblers is they have a style for anyone. You could literally find a cup for mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle and even the kids. You can also customize them, which always makes a gift a little more special. Tervis also stands behind the quality of their products offering a lifetime guarantee. Click here to check out all their products.

Tervis is just one of the many brands out there who make quality products made here in America. There are tons of websites featuring brands that are fully or partially made here. Be on the look out for my next post featuring great made in America gifts for Christmas. Let's all have a Made in America Christmas this year!

If you know of a great made in America product feel free to leave a comment about it. **I have no affiliation with Tervis or any of the companies and I'm going to feature.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November Fishing In Cedar Key

As the weather gets a little cooler in Florida the fishing starts to turn on! We went out a few times over the last weekend, fishing the low tide in-shore. My husband and I walked out with our mud boots on a mud flat and fished the deeper water off the flat. The Redfish were on fire! We caught a few spotted sea trout as well. We were using live mud minnows that we caught as bait.

I caught my biggest Redfish to date, outdoing my previous Cedar Key Red. This guy was too big to take home for dinner and was put back in the Gulf of Mexico to get a little bigger. My husband also caught a few over-sized Reds that also went back into the water.

Even if the fish aren't biting it's still not a bad day when you are surrounded by Florida's natural beauty. Getting out at low tide and seeing the bird's feeding, mullet jumping and checking out the critters from the water is my idea of a great day. Add a few nice fish and it's heaven! So get out there and cast a line, the fishing is turning on!