December 28, 2015

Earn Money via Cash Back With Find & Save App

One of the newest smartphone apps to earn money when you shop is Find & Save.  Once you sign up, simply snap and submit receipts for various stores and get either a set amount ($1 or 2), or a percentage of your receipt sales.  The app also has the latest sales flyers and coupons for the stores in your area, so you can always find the best deals on the go.

The Find & Save app is pretty self-explanatory - simply open the app on your smartphone and look to see which earning opportunities are available and follow the instructions for that particular event.  Sometimes there is a short deadline, and there are new opportunities popping up all the time, so make sure to check daily so you don't miss one.

One of the great things about Find & Save is that once you reach the minimum of $25 to cash out, you don't need to do anything at all; the money is sent directly to your PayPal account without any further action on your part.

Look for Find & Save in the Google Play Store of your android smartphone, or your iphone app store.  When signing up, please use my referral code:  CWGS.

~ Marie Anne

August 3, 2015

Who Needs New Washcloths?

I'll admit, the quality of washcloths I buy aren't usually something I put a lot of thought into.  I buy whatever cheap cloths I can find at Walmart or wherever and call it good.  Still, I was very happy to  be offered the opportunity to buy this set of 24 wash cloths for a discounted price on amazon in exchange for my honest review, because some of my current face cloths were showing a lot of wear and would need to be replaced soon.

My first impression when I opened the box of wash cloths was eh, they're white wash cloths, nothing special about these.  They are a decent size (I measured just over 12" x 12"), and seemed to be much like the washcloths you might find in a standard motel.  I was concerned about how well they'd hold up in the wash, so I waited until I'd used and laundered a few of them several times to make sure I could give a valid review.

Well, I'm impressed.  They've held up very well after being washed several times, and I love the way they feel.  They're not super thick, but exactly the way I like them.  I don't like a cloth that's too thick that you can't feel through them, but not so thin that they're threadbare before you know it.  These are perfect, in my opinion.  I've not washed them any differently than any of the rest of my laundry, but these cloths are much softer after laundering than any of my other cloths.

This photo shows several of the cloths before laundering, and one that's been machine washed and dried several times.

The listed price for this package of 24 wash cloths at the time of this writing is $13.97, and even though I got mine at a discount, I think that's still a very good price - that's less than .60 each!

 ~ Marie Anne

Memory Foam Mattress Topper Test and Review

Wow.  I was allowed to purchase this memory foam mattress topper on amazon in exchange for testing it out and giving my honest review, and what a great deal that was!

I'm going to be honest ... I was going to put this on my bed long enough to give it a good ride and write the review, and then make a dog bed out of it for Molly.  The cover on her bed is in great shape, but the innards are nothing but shredded foam (or something) and it's a mess.  I figured I could cut this mattress topper to fit and get at least a double thickness out of it, but guess what?  If Molly wants a more comfortable bed, she's going to have to climb in with me!

The instructions said to lay this mattress topper out flat and leave it for (I believe) 24 hours to make sure it would flatten out appropriately, but I didn't have anywhere to let it set for that long, so I unrolled it right onto my bed and checked on it in a few hours.  Well, it flattened right out, so I made the bed and climbed in a few hours later.  There were no lumps or bumps at all, and it hasn't shifted.

My biggest concern before getting this mattress pad was wondering whether my regular fitted sheet fit over it all.  I'm happy to report that it's not been an issue at all; my fitted sheet stretched over my mattress and this topper with no trouble.

It's been a couple of weeks and it's still in the same spot I put it, hasn't shifted at all, and it hasn't lost its memory.  It molds to my body, no matter how many times I move around, yet doesn't leave that indentation from my butt like my regular mattress does.  Score!

Bottom line - I'm extremely happy that I was able to review this memory foam mattress topper, but not so happy that I have to find another bed for Molly.

~  Marie Anne

July 19, 2015

Cute little silicone chocolate molds

Ohmagorsh ... aren't these the cutest?  You've seen me post about silicone cupcake/muffin liners and other silicone bakeware ad nauseum lately and I was scoping out what else was out there and found these adorable rectangular baking cups.

 (Make sure to click through to see the rest of the photos and see just how cute they are).

At first I thought they were mini loaf pans, but they're even smaller than that.  I think they'd be great for fudge or other other types of chocolates - how about something layered, like peanut butter and chocolate, or white and milk or dark chocolate?  The possibilities are endless!

I haven't bought these yet, but as soon as I come up with more crazy ideas of what to use them for, I plan on it.  They'd be great for individual little cakes, but also kid-sized treats like Jello or ice cream.

What else do you think these rectangular silicone muffin cups would be useful for?  Please share your ideas!

~ Marie Anne

July 16, 2015

Baking Zucchini Cookies With a Grill Mat

Yep, MA's been in the kitchen testing out new bakeware again.  This time I was given a set of nonstick grill mats to try out and give an honest review of, but since I ended up not cooking out over the Independence Day holiday weekend, I used the grill mats on my cookie sheets and made zucchini cookies instead (link to recipe follows).  I had to come up with something to use up some of the zucchini that my buddy gifted me.

Grill mat on top of old, stained cookie sheet
© Marie Anne St. Jean

So how did they work out?

Short version - these grill mats are absolutely amazing!

Longer version -

The grill mats are super simple to use - simply swish in warm, soapy water before using, wipe dry, and put on top of your regular cookie sheet and bake your cookies (or whatever) as usual.  You don't need to make any adjustments to temperature or baking time at all.  I concocted a new zucchini cookies recipe last week and expected that the cookies wouldn't stick, but what I wasn't prepared for was for them to actually fall off the grill mat as I was bringing the cookie sheet over to the cooling rack.  Yes, they're that slick!

Cookie dough on the grill mat, ready for the oven
© Marie Anne St. Jean

Cookies slid right off the grill mat!
© Marie Anne St. Jean

I still haven't tried them on the grill, but imagine they would work just as well there as they do in the oven.  They're super lightweight, a breeze to clean, and can be stored right on top of your baking sheets, or rolled up and tucked into a nook in your cabinet.  You get a set of two grill mats, but you might want to grab an additional set - one for the baker and one for the grill master. Great gift item too!  Do you go camping and picnicking?  Take the grill mats along so you don't have to worry about the nasty grill at your picnic site.  Use them for pizza, chicken, fish, pork chops - anything that'd you'd cook on a grill or in the oven on a flat surface.

Now on to the yummy stuff - the recipe for the zucchini cookies turned out great!  They're not a real sweet cookie and are great with tea or coffee, or whenever you want a little something to snack on that's not completely overloaded with sugar and other junk.  They freeze well, so go ahead and raid your garden, or thank the neighbor who dropped a basket full of zucchini on your front step.

Zucchini cookies
© Marie Anne St. Jean

I have a recipe for a moist, cake-like chocolate zucchini bread coming shortly, so don't go too far!

~ Marie Anne

July 10, 2015

Old loveseat DIY repurposed to ... what?

I picked up this old loveseat a couple of years ago for $15 and it was actually for a friend, but somehow it ended up staying at my house for the dogs.  It was old and the fabric was getting nasty, but it didn't smell, and had no bugs, so I just put a slipcover over it and called it good.  It was actually pretty comfortable and I'm never going to have nice furniture with three dogs anyway.

Fast forward to today ... after a couple of years with the dogs in my house that has high humidity, it started to stink.  I bought a new couch and loveseat last month (got a great deal at the local thrift store when they had half price on everything in the store), so this nasty thing had to go.  I was going to try to give it away, but really didn't feel anyone would want it, and it's too big to leave out for the trash, so I tucked it into a corner of the kitchen while I figured out what to do with it.

(Click photos to enlarge)

Before ... pretty nasty loveseat, but has good bones.
© Marie Anne St. Jean

I decided that I was going to do some purging and decluttering this weekend, and that loveseat was definitely in the way, so after some thought, I decided to see if I could tear it down.  I figured maybe I could repurpose it in some way since the fabric is what stinks, but the frame is in great shape.  If it turned out to not be any good for anything else (or if I'm not the person who can pull it off), at least I could finish busting it up where it could be hauled away easier.

I spent a couple of hours this evening tearing the nasty fabric off, ripping out cushions, and tearing out foam padding and the like.  I've got it almost to bare bones now, with just the skirt and back fabric left.  I still need to take out all the staples, and then figure out a way to get the spring supports out of there, but that will be another day.  I'm pooped!

So ... here's where I'm at.  Now what?

During ... almost to bare bones.
© Marie Anne St. Jean

Where are my talented upcylcling, repurposing friends?  What should I do with it now?  I haven't really put a lot of thought into the end product yet, but I was thinking either figure out a way to paint/stain the wood so that it would survive the elements outside, and get some outdoor fabric for seat cushions, or just cover back and seat with plywood and paint/stain entirely and use it for a bench -  either indoors or out.

I'm open to ideas.  And be forewarned ... I'm notorious for starting a project in grand fashion when I really don't have a clue what I'm doing, and end up with a mess of nothing, and scrapping the whole thing.  But gosh, look around on Pinterest and some of the DIY and upcycling websites out there and there are scads of people making all sorts of neat stuff out of junk.  And have you seen the TV show "Flea Market Flip"?  Some of the stuff they come up with is fabulous!  Surely I can do something with this loveseat, right?


~ Marie Anne

July 1, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins in My New Silicone Muffin Pan

Yep, another muffin post, and yep, it's about silicone bakewear again!

I've decided that silicone kitchen wear is my new favorite thing, so whenever I see any at a discount or as a freebie, I snatch it up.  I got this 12 cup silicone muffin pan at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review, and was anxious to try it, and since a friend was bringing me some zucchini, the timing was perfect to try a batch of muffins today.

I've never made anything with zucchini before, or if I have, it's been so many years that I don't even remember, but I do love zucchini bread and muffins, so decided that would be on the list to make.  I looked around for recipes and came across one for chocolate zucchini muffins that sounded really good, so that was first into the oven today.

Chocolate zucchini muffins ready for the oven
© Marie Anne St. Jean

I followed the recipe pretty closely, except I substituted applesauce for half of the oil, and I used cinnamon but not the other spices (I added more cinnamon than the recipe called for, but didn't really measure, just dumped it in).

They came out awesome!  They're very moist, but held together well.  There was just enough chocolate flavor in them to make them a sort of sweet treat, without being over the top like some specialty muffins you see in the bakery with all sorts of frosting and other toppings.  I really shouldn't eat them at all (carbs!), but figured cheating with a chocolate zucchini muffin was better than cheating with a chocolate candy bar.

Chocolate zucchini muffins, hot from the oven
© Marie Anne St. Jean

So ... the muffins were amazing, but I wasn't absolutely crazy about the silicone muffin pan.  It's ok, but the muffins did stick at the bottom just a little, which surprised me since the silicone cupcake liners are made from the same stuff, but those didn't stick at all.  If I use this silicone muffin pan for baking again, I think I'll grease lightly and see if that makes any difference. The muffins weren't ruined, but they weren't quite perfect on the bottom.  I had a little batter left so I filled a couple of the large and small individual silicone cupcake liners and baked at the same time as the silicone muffin pan, and the individual muffins came out so much better, didn't stick at all, so I know it wasn't me.

I liked the pan well enough and it definitely cleans up easier than a metal pan, so I'll still use it, but probably not as much as the individual liners.  I can still use the silicone pan for other things, and I think my egg muffins will work well since they're a little greasier and literally slide out of the cupcake liners.  Yes, that's what I'll do, I'll earmark that pan for my egg muffins, and use the liners for muffins and cupcakes.  Problem solved!

Now will you look at these zucchini?  My friend said he was bringing me two regular sized squash, and showed up with those, plus two huge ones.  You can't really tell by the photo just how big these zucchini are, but the smaller one is still larger than a good sized cucumber, and the other two are immense.  They could be used for baseball bats!

Zucchini overload
© Marie Anne St. Jean

This shot with my hand should give you a better idea of the size of these monster zucchini.

Monster zucchini!
© Marie Anne St. Jean

I see lots of zucchini bread and muffins in my future.

~ Marie Anne