Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oh Dollar Tree

Oh Dollar Tree, oh Dollar Tree
How lovely are thy prices
Oh Dollar Tree, oh Dollar Tree
How lovely are thy prices
Much cheaper than the other stores
But is the value really more?
Oh Dollar Tree, oh Dollar Tree
How lovely are thy prices

How's that for a little Christmas ditty? It literally just popped into my head one day as I was brainstorming for this post. Because inevitably, any blog about saving money has to include at least one post about the Dollar Tree, right?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cereal Killer

When the weather outside is frightful, what could be more delightful than a warm, hearty bowl of oatmeal? I've enjoyed the stuff ever since I was little--we always had those little microwaveable Quaker packets in our pantry next to the cereal boxes, and occasionally, my mom would treat us to "stove oatmeal." But this semester, from an economic, health, and taste standpoint, my appreciation for oatmeal has reached a whole new level

At the beginning of the semester, after wincing at the prices and ingredient lists on most of my favorite prepackaged cold cereals, I purchased a large container of plain oats instead. Despite the appeal of getting 30 servings of one-ingredient goodness for just a few bucks (not to mention the minimal packaging, making it a win for the environment as well), I wasn't sure how long I could last without my daily dose of flakes and clusters. 

And almost four months later, I'm not sick of oatmeal yet!

But how? Oatmeal is kind of plain and boring, right? And on warm days, ugh. And doesn't it take a long time? I'd rather sleep.

Well, I'm glad you asked!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recent Recipe Round-Up

Hi everyone! 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, fun, and family. I know mine offered plenty of all three! Every other year, my parents, sisters, and I travel to Akron, Ohio for a reunion with my mom's crazy, loud, and incredibly wonderful extended family. This year, even though we were missing a few people for various reasons, we still totaled 45 family members in attendance! That's a lot of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie--not to mention stories, hugs, and laughter. I'm in total agreement with my cousin Jarrod, who suggested that we start making "I survived Thanksgiving [insert year]" t-shirts to commemorate the occasion.

Last week, it occurred to me that it's been a while since I've shared any recipes! Now that everyone has hopefully had a chance to recover from the pre-feast cooking frenzy and the seemingly endless leftovers are starting to dwindle, here's a few fun recipes to try before the second round of holiday food prep commences. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

(Inner) Strength Training

Why hello there!

I feel like it's been ages since I last posted when it's really only been a week! It was quite a week, though--19-page group paper, anyone?! Thankfully, most of that stress is now a distant memory, and I'm once again blogging from the comfort of my home in full-out vacay mode. (IU gets a week off for Thanksgiving this year, much to the dismay of no one.) Since my arrival on Friday night, I've enjoyed everything from baking brownies in my pjs to teaching my younger cousins the "cup game" at our grandma's birthday party (search the game on YouTube if you've never seen it before--it's pretty sweet!) to seeing the new Twilight movie with my mom and aunt. Aaaaah....Home sweet home. 

There's just one thing missing from this equation. Usually, one of my favorite things to do on breaks is visit Club Newtone, the local gym at which my mom works as a group exercise instructor. It may sound a little silly, but this place is kind of like my second home. When I was a baby, I stayed in the nursery while my mom taught classes; when I was a little older, I had my birthday party at the club pool; and when I was in high school and finally a member myself, I would drive there on my way home from school and do homework in the lobby until my favorite afternoon cycling class began (nerd alert!). So I've literally grown up at Newtone, and along the way I've developed a love and appreciation for the people, the classes, and the general atmosphere of health and positivity. In addition, one of my favorite ways to spend time with my mom is by working out with her.

Unfortunately, though, it doesn't look like I'll be visiting Club Newtone anytime soon-- in fact, my entire regular workout routine is going to be on hold indefinitely.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 34 million tons of food was discarded in 2010. Given that the 2010 census indicated a US population of 308, 745, 538, that amounts to .11 tons, or about 220 lbs, of waste per person. Yikes! Food waste is the second-largest contributor to the total municipal solid waste stream, trumped only by paper/paperboard. Since so little of it gets recycled, it is also the largest component of the municipal solid waste stream that actually makes it to the landfills. As it rots, food waste generates large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas.

In addition to its harmful environmental effects, food waste can also be a hazard to a tight budget. The first time I had to pour sour milk down the sink this semester, a little voice in my head (which sounded uncannily like my mother's) reminded me that throwing away food is like throwing away money. As I watched my hard-earned dollars literally disappear down the drain, I vowed to be much more careful in the future in regards to food purchasing, storage, and consumption.