Diana’s Top 5 Picks This Weekend on Totsy

Yay! April Showers bring Free Shipping?  Well, that’s how it works at Totsy anyway!

So, while you’re not stopping to smell the roses, do a little shopping with Totsy!

This weekend — for the first time ever, enter code SHIPFREE at checkout.*

I suggest starting with my top picks – natch!

Xo,
Diana


Baltex –I know everyone LOATHES swimsuit buying, but, don’t be a hater! Baltex does amazingly flattering, yet still cute/sexy/modern swimsuits.  ITEMS UP TO 50% OFF!! SALE ENDS 5/3!! http://bit.ly/mGgSVW


Designer Sunglasses – It’s almost Mother’s Day — so splurge on yourself with a pair of designer sunnies!  Tons of great choices available, but I love this pair of glamorous Kenneth Cole’s in a fun purple shade!  I see life through rose-colored glasses — don’t you?  ITEMS UP TO 86% OFF!! SALE ENDS 5/3!! http://bit.ly/huGvRc

Melissa & Doug Beach – Get beach ready with this line from go-to toy classic, Melissa & Doug – or as I like to call them, M&D (like I’m in-the-know)! Well, one thing I do know is that there’s nothing like a tunnel to get kids excited. This one is perfect and I’d use it inside too. Rainy days can be fun too!  ITEMS UP TO 30% OFF!! SALE ENDS 5/3!! http://bit.ly/moCZGM

Swank Kouture – Ok. (a) I’m from the Deep South and (b) I have 2 girls. I picked this sale — obvi! You understand! I LOVE LOVE!  ITEMS UP TO 65% OFF!! SALE ENDS 5/3!! http://bit.ly/gQXyTY

Baby UV Swim – Once again, if I had a boy, this is what he’d wear to the beach- but I really love the whole collection- great for boys and girls. Perfect for keeping that sweet, soft little skin safe from sun. ITEMS UP TO 61% OFF!! SALE ENDS 5/3!! http://bit.ly/l7FwvT

*Minimum purchase required: $50. Limit one use per person. Not valid with other offers.  Offer expires 5/1/11 at 11:59pm EST.

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5 Common Coupon Clipping Misconceptions

If someone handed you a quarter, would you think to yourself, “this is worthless” and immediately throw it into the trash? Of course not! That would be silly. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Only instead of throwing away spare change we’re throwing away coupons. Every time we discard a coupon for an item we already plan to purchase, we are throwing away money that has been given to you to use.

Each year, only about 2% of the coupons issued by manufacturers and stores actually get used. There are many reasons for this, but I want to address a few of the most common misconceptions regarding coupon clipping.  These are the most frequent comments that I hear from people that do not use coupons.

1. Coupons cannot save you much money.  

It is the end of April and already this year I have saved nearly $350 with coupons.  I only purchase items we are going to use, I buy several organic products, and I’ve managed to stay under our budget for groceries each month! A couple coupons for 25 cents off cans of tuna may not seem like it’s saving you much, but if you are going to buy 4 cans of tuna anyway, why not use the 2 coupons and essentially get one of those cans of tuna for free.  Put this to the test! Next time you go to the store, take 20-30 coupons for items that you are already planning on purchasing. You’ll be amazed when you see $15-$30 disappear from your total bill at the end, all because you clipped some coupons.

2. You can save more by buying the store brand.

Store brands offer products that are similar to name brand but at a cheaper cost.  In many cases, the store brands are about 50-75 cents cheaper than its name brand equal.  If you have a coupon that is higher than 50 cents, you are more than likely going to get the name brand product for less money than the store brand.  If you stack two 50 cent coupons (one store coupon and one manufacturer) you are going to save quite a bit more than you would if you purchased the store brand.  Most printable coupons are worth 75 cents to $2, and some are worth more! As with everything, pay attention to which would be the better deal.  If the store brand is the better deal, then skip the coupon and go for the best deal!

3. Printing and Clipping coupons is way too time-consuming. 

If you print coupons on a regular basis and collect newspaper coupon inserts, you can pile them up in one folder or basket and after a couple weeks, sit down for 30 minutes and clip your coupons while you watch a movie or TV show.  It is that simple! Not time consuming at all. Plus, if you “Like” Sioux Falls Frugal Mom on Facebook you’ll be updated whenever new coupons become available.

4. There are only coupons available for items I don’t normally buy.

Throughout the year, you can find coupons for just about any product out there.  Even produce and dairy coupons!  Over the past year I have seen coupons for items I thought never had coupons.  My best advice to you is to stock up on those items when you see that there are coupons available. This way you’ll never have to pay full price!

5. You cannot be healthy and be a coupon clipper at the same time.  All coupons are for junk food.

This is another one I used to think, which is why I didn’t clip coupons.  The truth is there are actually many Natural & Organic food companies that provide coupons.  Sometimes you can even find coupons for produce and dairy!  For example, last week I purchased several cereals and they had a promotion for free milk.  I received 2 coupons for free milks, so this week we can get 2 half gallons of organic milk FREE or $4 off two gallons of organic milk. Sounds good to me!

Coupons really can make a difference in your budget each month.  I encourage you to give it a shot! Spend an hour or two reading through websites that offer free Couponing 101 sections (including my site – Sioux Falls Frugal Mom). You’ll be a pro before you know it!

Mom Commitee’s Choice for the Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding is just around the corner!! Some members of our Totsy Mom Committee was asked to share their fantasy outfits if they received the royal invite on BettyConfidential.com.  Check out Diana’s, Vera’s and April’s pick for William and Kate’s Big Day!!

DIANA HEATHER, Chief Mom – Totsy.com
“I put a great deal of thought into what I’d wear. You know, just in case I get a last minute invite. I’d forgo the traditional ladies’ day suit in lieu of a modern yet classic dress, like this one in my best color, orchid. I’ve read proper wedding attire should include hosiery, so I’d make sure to wear some. I’d spice up my orchid colored dress with a pop of bright purple, perfect for a spring wedding. Just one last thing— a diamond ring in the shape of the infinity—because I have no doubt that’s how long the love of Kate and Will’s will last!”

Pictured here: Zac Posen Short Sleeve Bondage Jersey Dress ($1,250.00, bloomingdales.com), Hue Leaf Net Tights ($18, bloomingdales.com), Christian Louboutin Pigalle Plato 120 patent-leather pumps ($695, net-a-porter.com), Philip Treacy hat (spire.com), Nancy Gonzalez Crocodile fold-over clutch ($1,900, net-a-porter.com), Ippolita 18-karat gold amethyst drop earrings ($995, net-a-porter.com), Anita Ko Infinity 18-karat rose gold diamond ring ($5,280, net-a-porter.com)


VERA SWEENY – TheLadyandtheBlog.com
“Getting invited to the royal wedding would be a dream come true. Since it’s never going to happen, I thought to have a little fun with my look. No need to worry about price tags in a fantasy, right?”

Pictured here: Lanvin draped silk crepe dress (1,880 GBP, BrownsFashion.com), Maison Michel hat ($495, Kirnazbete.com), Christian Louboutin Devalavi 120 suede sandals,($845, shopsavannahs.com), KOTUR “Mini Adre” Black Snake Clutch ($560, Shirise,com) G by Guess Lea stretch bangle ($16.50, gbyguess.com), 2 ct. white gold diamond earrings ($8,800, bluenile.com)


APRIL HUSSAR – BettyConfidential.com
“Kate Spade is my absolute all-time favorite; this bright yellow cocktail dress will show ‘em how it’s done across the pond. And I confess … I have always wanted an excuse for a pair of glitter Miu Mius. And there must be jewels and feathers! Now all I need is … an invitation!”

Pictured here: Kate Spade Sunny Elaine dress ($425, Kate Spade), Oscar de la Renta pearl and crystal-embellished floral necklace ($990, net-a-porter.com), Miu Miu glitter pumps ($595, Barneys), Champagne and ivory fascinator ($42.95, Santanica / Etsy.com)

You can read all about Totsy’s Chief Mom and the Mom Committee here: http://bit.ly/ez5AEo – For up-to-date info on sales and other Totsy fun, follow us on Twitter (@totsyfan, @mytotsy) or Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/totsyfan).

How To: Make a Tomato & Parmesan Rice Side Dish

Let’s say you’ve decided to go with chicken for dinner, or fish or even steaks.   However, you don’t want to do the typical mashed potato side.  This yummy rice dish makes the perfect side dish for any main course!  The best part? SO EASY!


Serves 6
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 – 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2oz)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1.5 cups water, the rice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Stir once, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender (~18 minutes).
  2. Sprinkle the rice with tomatoes and Parmesan.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fold in basil before serving.

(Courtesy of RealSimple.com)

Totsy Mom Committee: Meet Courtney!

What’s your go-to fashion item? Shoes…they can make or break an outfit!

What’s been your favorite moment as a mom? Holding a sleeping newborn in my arms knowing I am all that they need at the moment.

What has been your strangest pregnancy craving? Banana Flavored Icees from 7-11

Tell us what the funniest thing your kid has ever said to you.  Is there a story behind it? Oh goodness, just one? My kids say funny things all of the time…the funniest most recent thing was my 4 year old. “Look at the Trees, Mommy…they are Dancing”

There are so many topics to cover in terms of blogging.  How do you determine which ones to focus on and which ones are off-limits? If I second guess myself…then I don’t blog about it…when in doubt…do without 🙂

When did you decide to take blogging seriously and why?  What sparked this? In Nov 2009. I love sharing deals and felt this was an awesome way to share the wealth!

Courtney, you wont a trip to see American Idol, tell us about the experience. Here is a post all about it! http://www.mydallasmommy.com/2009/12/housepartycom-rocks.html


Courtney is a Member of the Totsy Mom Committee.  You can visit her website here: http://www.mydallasmommy.com/.  Follow her on Twitter (@mydfwmommy) or friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DFWMommy.

Diana’s Top 5 Picks This Weekend on Totsy

Happy Earth Day all!!  Not to get on a high horse because I’m certainly not perfect but we do hope you will allow yourself to consider little things you can do to save our Earth!  Every little bit helps and as you reflect, shop my top 5 eco-friendly picks available this weekend on Totsy!

Xoxo, Diana.

Kinderville  – I have been making homemade baby food and these containers are perfect to store baby food in. Dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe and freezer-safe with no chemicals! Items up to 55% OFF!! SALE ENDS 4/26!!  http://bit.ly/fvzlA8

Eco Jr. – Adorable!  This Limited Edition Cableknit Coverall is perfect to stock up on now and use when the chilly months arrive in NYC. Items up to 55% OFF!! SALE ENDS 4/26!!  http://bit.ly/iidIde

Klean Kanteen – With warm weather approaching, I’ll be taking Khloe and Lola bike-riding.  Love this stainless steel bottle. It’s durable, reusable and 100% recyclable! Plus the pink color will have the girls chugging water in no time! Items up to 50% OFF!! SALE ENDS 4/26!!  http://bit.ly/gTlfYN 

Bumkins Organic – My babies lived in hooded towel sets.  Supersoft for baby after a bath and uber cute with its satin trim!  Did we mention it is organic?? Items up to 60% OFF!! SALE ENDS 4/26!!  http://bit.ly/eHibM3

Sacs of Life – This clutch turns inside out and becomes a tote bag! There is also an additional shopping bag included and for $17, you can’t beat the price! Compact, eco-friendly AND stylish!  Items up to 50% OFF!! SALE ENDS 4/26!! http://bit.ly/hmz6VH 

Diana Heather is Totsy’s Chief Mom.  Also a member of our Mom Committee.  Connect with Diana on Facebook and Twitter!

Help Our Kids Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Earth Day is April 22nd, get the kids involved and help care for the Earth!

1. Turn off the television and create a family activity.
Create a jump rope contest with the kids or use large chalk to draw a hopscotch board on the driveway.  Whip out the ball and glove or take a family bike ride.  If the weather is uncooperative, dust off a board game and enjoy the family time.

2. Take a trip to a farmers market and purchase local produce…by foot or bike!
Support your local farmers and decrease your carbon footprint by purchasing your produce and products from a farmers market.  Take it one step further to help our Earth and walk or bike there, if possible.  Shopping for produce with your kids will develop healthy eating habits.  Have your children each pick out a fruit or vegetable to try!  Learn more about purchasing organic vs. conventional produce from our blog “The Dirty Dozen” at http://tinyurl.com/3hwp5ck.

3. Explore a neighborhood park and teach your kids to take care of their community.
Take the kids on a family hike and bring along a garbage bag to help clean up along the way.  Make sure to use a glove if picking up debris by hand or bring along a grabber stick.  This is a perfect time to catch-up and talk with your kids.

4. Plant spring flowers!
Kids love to play in the dirt!  Get down and dirty with them and plant some spring time flowers.  We all know trees produce oxygen, well flowers do too! This is known as photosynthesis, the process by which carbon dioxide is taken in by plant cells, such as those in flowers, and converted, or “synthesized,” into oxygen.  Let your kids get creative for the entire neighborhood to see!

5. Donate unwanted items to a local charity.
Take some time with your children to go through their room or playroom to choose some items they no longer use.  Find a local charity that accepts toy donations.  One good example is the Big Brother/Big Sister program.  Also think of local day care centers or religious organizations that may need the toys for their facilities.

6. Create a craft with recycled items from your home…such as a bird feeder!
You can use just about anything to make a recycled bird feeder starting from the obvious, like milk cartons and plastic bottles or rolling an item such as a toilet paper roll in peanut butter and then bird feed.  For typical container bird feeders, simply make holes for small wild birds then fill with bird seed.  Hang your children’s work of art from a tree with a string or chain.  You can get creative with what is lying around your home and come up with your own ideas on using recycled items for many different projects.

7. Conserve water for the day.
Train everyone in the family to turn off the water when brushing their teeth. An average person wastes two gallons of water with teeth brushing alone.  Fill a reusable cup to rinse your mouth and use the rest to rinse the brush.  Also, have your kids take showers instead of baths and limit the time.  If you take a 4-minute shower with a low flow shower head you’ll save 3 to 5 times the water of an average bath.

8. Do not create waste for the day.
If you go to the supermarket or any other store, bring along reusable bags.  It’s easy to forget that you can bring a bag to ANY store, not just where you purchase food.  Also try to avoid single serving packaged foods.  Significantly more material is thrown away than if you ate from a multi-serving bag or box.  If you haven’t already, make a switch to a reusable water bottle.  According to the Environmental Working Group, every 27 hours Americans consume enough bottled water to circle the entire equator with plastic bottles stacked end to end.

9. Do not consume any processed food for the day.
Make a point to use fresh, whole food with minimal ingredients.  Whole grains, fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, and lean meats are not only healthy and wholesome, but energy is saved on the processing. It’s a bonus if your produce is locally grown and/or organic.

10. Prepare a meat-free meal with your kids!
Consuming meat and poultry leaves a much larger carbon footprint than meat-free alternatives.  Make vegetable lasagna with your kids and incorporate the produce you purchased from your local farmers market.  Using low-fat cheese and whole wheat pasta would be the healthier options.  Your kids will love to layer this delicious dinner and enjoy devouring it when it’s done. Check out our recipe for Vegetable Lasagna at http://tinyurl.com/4el9egq.

Teach your children now to make good choices and the lessons will last a lifetime!  Reduce, reuse and recycle!

Kathleen A. Siegel, RD, CDN and Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD are Registered Dietitians and Co-founders of www.NutritionBabes.com.  Follow them on Twitter @NutritionBabes, and “Like” them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/NutritionBabes/111546645533613