Quick Recipe: Easy, Healthy Brownies!

IMGP8542.jpgIn the search for healthier yummy recipes to feed Lil’ Man, I stumbled upon a recipe for black bean brownies. Ok, so stop making that face and read on. Oh, and this one is GLUTEN FREE!!

I read the recipe, and a bunch of comments and did some more investigating online and made a few tweaks to the recipe and got to cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 T. sugar free applesauce
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. Hazelnut extract (You could use vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 t. instant coffee crystals (optional)- I used 1 t. of very strong coffee instead.
  • 1 C. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 8×8 baking dish. I used an 8 inch round baking dish.
  3. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips. This is important.  I didn’t do this!
  4. Pour batter into greased baking dish and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 25-35 minutes.  The brownies are super fudgy. If you want cake-ier brownies, add a pinch of baking powder.

 

If you like your brownies really sweet, add 1/4 c. white sugar. I like my desserts not super sweet, so I opted to use a little less sugar, and I’ll top mine with a scoop of ice cream- Yum!

They are not bean-y.  If I didn’t know they had beans in them. I wouldn’t be able to tell.  They are very moist, fudgy brownie. And if you use a flax egg and vegan chocolate chips, you’ve got a yummy vegan recipe!

 

Coupon Clubs: Friendship & Savings!

deals_and_Coupons_version_2 (2).jpgOne of the questions I get frequently  is how do I get so many coupons?

I used to subscribe to FIVE Sunday papers (so much waste!!), but the best way is that I belong to a coupon club!

A what?  A coupon club.  We meet once a month, bring our extra coupon inserts, clip, trade, nosh, gossip and share tricks and tips.  We have a private Facebook group, so we can discuss deals and post our “wishlists”.  Each of us posts a list of coupons that we would like, and as the next meet up draws near, those who are attending clip and print coupons for each other.  Each meet up is like Christmas morning, we trade envelopes of the clipped coupons we requested.  We also talk about deals, frugal living strategies, and help each other. We’ve been together about 7 years!!

In addition to trading coupons, we also have teamed up with a local American Legion Post. They collect Sunday coupon inserts from members. We clip them and return them (taking whatever coupons we’d like). The Legion mails the coupons overseas for those military families living on base overseas. Overseas Military commissaries (that’s the on base grocery stores) accept coupons expired up to 6 months after the expiration date. So not only do we get access to multiple inserts, but, we are able to help others.

We also collect sample sized toiletries and items that we are able to get for free and donate them to the American Legion Post for their homeless veteran outreach.

If you are interested in starting a coupon in your local area, check out Facebook or meetup.com- there are lots of coupon clubs all over the country.

I have a Facebook group for people in my local East County San Diego area. We meet twice a month during the week. If you are interested in joining, check out our group:  Weekday Frugalistas: East County

I post freebies, deals, and other stuff between meetings, and I post a run down of what we discussed at the meeting afterwards, so even if you cant go, you’ll still be up to date!

If you can’t find a local coupon group, there are website dedicated to helping couponers. My favorite is:

 

Visit Hotcouponworld It's all about the deals.HCW has forums for all the major stores, including grocery, drug and mass merchandisers. Trade coupons, find freebies, and find local coupon groups.  You can trade coupons and view their coupon database! I’ve met lots of friends on HCW!

And if you are looking to print coupon online, check out my list of printable coupon resources here.  Every coupon you print helps support our blog!

Saving Money in the New Year on Clothes!

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The tote of clothes to grow into!

I’ve written about clothing swaps before, but I wanted to share some additional resources and tips.

Last night I was pulling out the 24 month clothes for Bitty Bird, and making a pile of 18 month clothes that she had outgrown and I thought about how there were probably other moms (and dads) doing the same thing!

I try to keep clothing in the next size up for Bitty, but Lil’ Man hasn’t bee growing very much, just wearing his clothes out, so I only have a few outfits in the next size up for him. Everything lives in a tote in her bedroom. But don’t worry, she can’t get into it. It’s part of her changing table set up.

We rely on clothing swaps and hand-me-downs for the bulk of our kids clothes. There is no reason that you have to spend thousands of dollars on dressing your kids!

Here are some tips to how we save big on kids clothes:

Trade with friends!

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The Pile of outgrown clothes!

We lucked out that a lot of our friends had girls about a year before Bitty was born. We received a bunch of hand me downs prior to her birth, and we continue to as well. This is great because I turn around and share them with friends who have kids after Bitty has grown out of them!

Handing down clothes or trading with friends is a great way to keep costs down and keep unwanted/outgrown clothes out of landfills!

Some of our favorite outfits have been hand me downs!

Check Craigslist Free Section! 

I have found tons of clothes (not just for the kids) in the free section of Craiglist. People move, or don’t have time to sell or donate clothing they no longer want. Instead they post on Craigslist! I’ve scored Jack and Janie, Gymboree, and even Nordstrom brand kids clothes all for free!

And in a similar vein:

Check out Clothing Swaps! 

Here are a few in Eastern San Diego County:

  • Finders Keepers Dates change. Usually quarterly in La Mesa
  • Skyline Church Clothing Plus Swap Takes place twice a year.
  • Pathways Church Clothing Swap Takes place once a year.
  • Foothills Church Shop and Swap Once or twice a year
  • Miss Charity’s Closet Monthly swap at Sonrise Church 8805 N. Magnolia Ave Santee, CA 92071 (2nd Saturday of each month)

And these two, while not specifically clothing swaps, do have clothing available for those in need

  • The Closet on 54th: Open 3 times a month on a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday 11:00am to 2:00pm. Located at Calvary Lutheran Church, 3060 54th Street, San Diego, CA 92105. Men, womens, and childrens clothing.
  • Naomi’s Closet: at Santee United Methodist Church 8964 N. Magnolia St. Santee, CA 92071 Wednesdays 10 AM – 12 PM and every 1st & 3rd Saturday, 9 AM – 1 PM (ladies clothing only, men are not permitted)
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My Helper, making soup for her babies.

Last night after separating and pulling out all of the outgrown clothes, I made two stacks. One was clothes to pass along to friends, and the second was clothes that were in play condition. A little wear, some staining, but still in ok shape (good for playing outside).

The play clothes I posted on our local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook.

I’m really looking forward to some clothing swaps this year! I have a bunch of clothes in my closet that I want to swap out!

A New Month (and Year!) Means New Coupons!!

file000786402730Here is your monthly reminder!  A new month means new printable and electronic coupons!

Check out the following sites:

One of my favorite websites to help me plan out shopping trips is Hot Coupon World.  Remember if clipping coupons isn’t your thing, but saving money is, check out my list of Smartphone apps that can save you the big bucks!

Here are just a few of the new coupons that have me excited:


$1.00 off one Suja

$1.00 off one BUSH'S Hummus Made Easy

$0.75 off one The Laughing Cow

$2.00 off one Tyson Naturals

$1.00 off one Cadbury Premium Pouches

$1.00 off any 2 Sargento Natural Cheese Slices

Legoland on a budget: It can be done!

DSC06398.JPGWe love Legoland, but it can get to be pricey. Here are a few tips that we personally use that can keep our trips more affordable!

Tickets:

  • Look for coupons savings. A quick search of Google is a good place to start. Frequently fast food or quick service restaurants will have Buy and adult pass, get a kids ticket free. Recently Denny’s had coupons up front near the register.
  • Sometimes schools and libraries also have these coupons. Our school had some in the front office last year, all you had to do was ask!
  • A few times a year, Legoland will have buy one day, get a second day free for the same price as a 1 day pass. That’s the perfect chance to enjoy two days to play and explore!
  • Don’t forget to check Costco or Sam’s Club! They frequently have discount 1 day, multi-day, or annual passes.

Snacks:

  • Take water bottles or travel cups with straws. Most restaurants with fountain drinks will fill your bottles or cups with filtered water for free. There are also tons of drinking fountains in the park.
  • There are lots of picnic areas, and places to sit and eat. We always bring our snack backpack (it’s this one) stuffed with applesauce cups, granola bars, dried fruit, popchips, 100% juice pouches, and other yummy snacks.
  • 180s.jpgSplurge on one snack or treat. Our favorite treat in the park are Granny’s Apple Fries! They are soooo good. It’s a batter dipped apple slice that’s flash fried and served with vanilla whipped cream. They are heavenly.
  • There are so many places to eat in the park too! Check eat location for specials like Kids Eat Free (last time we were there, the pizza and pasta buffet was having a promo after 3pm).

 

Souvenirs:

  • Our tradition is to buy a new min-figure keychain on every trip. I let Lil’ Man chose. He also gets to spend $20 on whatever he wants in the main gift shop. He earns money helping around the house and also when we do secret shops (he loves it, he thinks he’s being a secret agent).
  • Unlike Disney and other companies with theme parks, you can’t really get deals on Legos or buy them at discount shops and give the kids the goodies once in the park (that’s what we do with Disneyland). You can however bring in your own glow sticks and glow necklaces if you’ll be there after dark to save some money.

Etc:

  • There are tons of play areas in the park. If you are tired from waiting in line for rides, stop by a play and build area. There is a great Duplo themed one in Heartlake, and large play area in Castle Hill, complete with slides and tunnels! Take time to play and let your kids build and use their imagination!
  • Bring towels if you’ll be in the park when it’s hot. There are multiple water fixtures and splash pads for the kids to cool down. No need to pay to get into the water park (which is only open seasonally).
  • Bring a mini-figure or two to trade! Most Park employees have min-figs on their name tags and they will trade.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for saving at Legoland!

Ring in the New Years at LEGOLAND!

Ya’ll know how much our family LOVES Legoland, right? Well if you are looking for a family friendly way to ring in the new year and have the kids to bed before the real big ball drops, consider spending the day at Legoland!

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The grand finale of Holidays at LEGOLAND® California Resort is the annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve party! This lively party begins with special musical performances from kid favorite groups Twinkle Time and Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band on Fun Town Stage and in Heartlake City.

Then, for the first time, the party moves to San Francisco in Miniland U.S.A. where like the famous Times Square party, guests gather for the countdown followed by a huge LEGO® brick dropping 22 feet into 2017 and spectacular fireworks at 6 p.m. to end the night(with plenty of time to spare to get home for bed!).

And right now, the deal gets sweeter!!

LEGOLAND California Resort is offering a gift for holiday guests: From Nov. 21, 2016 through Jan. 1, 2017, buy a one day admission to LEGOLAND California and return a second day to LEGOLAND California and SEA LIFE® Aquarium for free between Jan. 2, 2017 and March 1, 2017.

All Holidays at LEGOLAND California Resort activities located inside the Park are included with regular Park admission (Kids 3–12 $89; Adults $95; Parking $15).

For more Holidays information, visit www.LEGOLAND.com or call (760) 918-LEGO (5346).

I’ve had such a great year being a Legoland Blogger, and I hope to continue next year, bringing you great promotions and sharing news straight from Legoland!  I’ll be sharing some tips on how to save money when planning your Legoland trip in the next few days, just in time for NYE!

Fun in Nature with Baby Wearing!

 

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try out a new baby carrier. I love baby wearing- It’s a great way to stay close to your little one while being active.

We hike, play, and have adventures all while babywearing. I am able to take Lil’ Man out on hikes to places that aren’t quite good for unsteady toddler feet. We can hike Cowles mountain, explore Old Mission Dam, and even pop out to the tide pools!

Screen Shot 2016-12-28 at 8.44.18 AM.pngYou can check out the carrier on Amazon here. 

It’s got a ton of pockets, which is great for stashing keys and snacks.

The kiddo rides pretty high because of a plastic saddle type insert.

Bitty Bird totally loved being up high and snuggled onto my shoulder and fell asleep.

You can also wear this as a backpack to back carry, which I love for long distance wearing, like when we go for hikes.

Pros:

  • It’s cotton, and machine washable.
  • It’s easy to put on and take off by yourself.
  • Tons of pockets

Cons:

  • Because it was made overseas, the waist strap is kinda small. If you wear over a size 20 US ladies dress size or a mens pant size 44, the waist band will not fit you.
  • (this may not be a con for some people) The child rides really high, so they are in your face.

If you like to try out this carrier, I am happy to offer a coupon code! 20% off coupon code UPWX8RBS.  This deal expires on 12/31/16.