Friday, August 14, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Salmon Cakes

Welcome to a new "feature" on Cheap and Cheerful. Saving cash in the kitchen while still cooking up nutritious and flavorful meals can be a challenge. I will be posting recipes on a weekly basis that will add some variety to your menus while helping you stick to your grocery budget.

Salmon CakesRecipe
courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

2 strips bacon, cooked until crispy, crumbled, bacon fat reserved
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lemon, zested
1 (14-ounce) can wild salmon, checked for large bones
1 baked or boiled russet potato, peeled, and fluffed with a fork
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Cool the onions for a bit. Mix the bacon, onion, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the salmon and potato, mixing gently after each addition. Form the mixture into 12 small patties. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper, to taste. Coat the patties in the bread crumb topping. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cook the salmon cakes in batches until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil, as necessary. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Favorite Things: Wooden Toys from Ikea

Ikea is not just a spot to get a free cup of coffee, a $.99 meal, or a fun table and chair set. You can also find some great wooden toys. This $7.99 bead roller coaster is a favorite at our house:

Don't miss these classic stacking rings. Beautiful for a gift and only $5.99!

This easel is only $14.99 and it folds flat for storage. It might not be tough enough to handle a destructive two year old, but it is perfect for the preschool and up set.

So, head to Ikea and enjoy a dollar ice cream cone for me while you're there. That is certainly a yummy deal as well.

Deal of the Day: Croc Mammoth Clogs on

Croc Mammoth Clogs are 60% off today (August 14th) on For just $11.89, you can pick up some cozy clogs for any little friend in your life. If you're not a fan of the furry version, search for deals on regular Crocs on Amazon. With a little search time, I've been able to find Croc Cayman for as low as $14.99.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beg, Borrow, and Steal: Adorable Printable List Templates

On Erin Vale Designs, she often posts free printable lists and cards. Not only are her designs practical, the fonts and colors are adorable. Link here to see her printable grocery list. Getting organized and surrounding yourself with cute stuff don't have to conflict. Right?

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: How do you keep a calendar? On paper? In Outlook? On your PDA? Time is money -- how do you keep on top of your tasks and schedule time for fun?

Deal of the Day: 25% off from 5 - 9 pm at Banana Republic

If you are looking for something special for Fall, this mini-sale could be worth a look. Banana Republic has some good looking men's suits that would make a solid buy at 25% off. Click on the image above for a printable coupon.

Favorite Things: Ikea Table and Chair Set

Little furniture doesn't always have a tiny price tag. It boggles my mind when a pint sized chair costs $45! At Ikea, you can get a sturdy table and two chairs for $39.99. The Svala set is a favorite at our house and has taken daily abuse without getting damaged. The set comes unfinished but that is part of the fun! Buy a quart of paint (or use leftover paint you have on hand!), choose a decorative theme, and start painting. My handy husband has painted these sets as gifts for friends and family and they always look great! See here for an animal themed table that he painted for our niece and here for a table that my sister gave our daughter. As far as final colors and designs, your options are only limited by your imagination.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Challenge: Deal Detectives On The Loose

Another awesome find for Katie in Walnut Creek. A Lucy Sykes dress for $4 at the TJMaxx in Moraga. Regular retail price is $72. Now that's a bargain. As she stated in her report, it is 1/18th of the original price! Katie is the current leader for this month's challenge prize. The deals are out there dear readers! Spot all you can and report back:

Favorite Things: Old Navy Tanks

I wear some sort of tank top or cami on a daily basis so having a good stock on hand is essential.
This Saturday, August 15th -- while supplies last! -- Old Navy ribbed tanks are just $2. Limit 5 per customer. Click here to find a location near you. See you there!

Deal of the Day: Men's Wearhouse "Freebies"

Not every suit at Men's Wearhouse is super fabulous, but the discerning shopper can find some solid wardrobe pieces there. Plus right now, there are some great bargains. There is a TV commercial running that offers a free dress shirt and tie with the purchase of any suit. Also, there is a buy one suit, get one for $100 deal listed on their website. If your man is in the market for his own tuxedo, MW is a great place to pick one up. For the price of about two rentals, your dapper dude will have a suit tailored to fit and ready to wear anytime.

Cheap and Cheerful Chatter: Special Guest Blogger

USED is NOT a Four Letter Word...Score big and cash in on Consignment Shops*
by Sarah Tucker
(*This is based on my experience as a consignment junkie)

I admit that I was slow to come around to consignment stores. The few that I had been in were stocked with cruddy stuff and smelled like musty basements. When I had kids, all that changed. I was overwhelmed with supercute clothes that I couldn’t bear to sell for 50 cents at a garage sale. Besides, the thought of having a garage sale gives me a panic attack. So I started searching for a good consignment home for my gently used (and often brand new, never been used) stuff. Lo and behold, there are tons of moms who had the same idea and my addiction to consignment stores was born.

Just today, I went in to collect my monthly check. I walked out with a brand new Pottery Barn Kids corduroy Barn jacket (orig. $48) for $8 and a Gymboree Sweater with original tags (orig. $33) for $7. I walked with my clothes..$81 bucks worth, for $15..and a check for $35! Of course all consignment stores aren’t the same. I have found that chains (Apple Tree) or ones located near malls aren’t as good-at least in my area. Look for independently owned stores, in nice areas. The nicer the area, the better quality clothes and generally they are in better condition. The markups tend to be comparable, and in some cases less than chains, who may to be bound to a pricing formula. Also, you can get to know the owner, and this can be a huge plus (more on that later).Check back often. I try to hit my store at least once a week. More now that my daughter’s enrolled in the dance school next door! The good stuff goes fast, and people bring stuff everyday!

When consigning, a few rules that will net you the most on your stuff. First, the obvious. CLEAN IT (or at least Febreeze it)!! No one, including the owner of the store wants dirty, stained and stinky clothes. Ditto with toys, baby gear, books, frames and whatever else your store accepts. Consignment stores aren’t in the cleaning business. Second, the obvious. If its torn, stained or generally unappealing, donate it or trash it. Constantly bringing crap to your consigner diminishes your “cred”. Don’t bring your stuff to the store in trash bags. The perception is that it is trash. I take it folded in either a storage bin or a laundry basket. If you really want to make an impression, take things on hangers. They love that and will often give you back the number of hangers you bring in. Plus because they don’t have to do anything but tag it, you are all but guaranteed rack space.Take your stuff in batches. Ok, you have 30 onesies, 10 blankets and 20 sleepers. So does every other consigner. I tend to break up my drop-offs so I make sure to maximize the number of my items that make it to the racks. Ask what season of clothing they are accepting, or what they may need—even if its off season. My store desperately needed bathing suits in late Feb./early March for Spring-break shoppers. Look for a store that sells a little of everything. I have consigned everything from keepsake boxes, old hair bows, old toys and pregnancy books to car seats, crib bumpers and even a diaper champ. PJ's SELL. They are the one things you can put in in moderate condition, and people will buy, especially if they are character, or from Gap or Old Navy. Kids just sleep in them, so their condition is negotiable. As long as they are clean and dont stink..consign them!!

DON’T GET RIPPED OFF! Consignment shops pay you a percentage of what your items bring. Don’t go for one under 30% --find another place or sell it on Ebay. Mine pays me 40%. If you can get more—YAY for you. To me, 40% is fair. I don’t want the stuff anymore, I don’t want to have a garage sale and want to make a little dough. I’ll pay 60% for someone else to do the work. Plus 40% of the consignment price of all my stuff adds up. It's worth it.Look for a consignment shop that donates overstock or unsold items to charity. If your stuff doesn’t sell, at least you know its going to a needy home.Finally. Get to know the owner. This is important on a couple of levels.They may not immediately put the occasional trashbag drop-off you have in the donate pile.Your stuff may get a bit more floor time, which equals more sales. If you know them, they tend to look out for items you request, or hold items back for you. I needed a size 4 ballet leotard, in pink with a chiffon skirt. A couple of weeks ago, I got a call. They got one in and were holding it for me if I still wanted it. I did and got a great deal!

The same tips apply to adult consignment shops. For a little bit of effort (but not nearly as much as a garage sale or ebay), you can score big..not only finding killer deals (did I mention the pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans I found for $34 at my adult consignment store), but making a bit of extra money off your consignments. Take your stuff, let them do the rest and shop for killer deals. Happy consigning and may your old stuff be another’s treasure and may someone else’s old stuff be you treasure!!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deal of the Day: Summer Costume Sale at Glitzy Kidz

Perhaps August is a bit early to ponder Halloween? But, then again, maybe not! Especially with this great sale at Glitzy Kidz. Whether you're looking to stock up your dress up trunk or outfit your little ballerina for trick or treating, there are some nice looking costumes at can't beat prices. The Native American costume pictured here is only $12.95. All of the other costumes I browsed were unique designs, made with nice fabrics. Some sizes and styles are limited but if you have a costume idea in mind, this sale is worth a look.

Favorite Things: Monogrammed Diaper Covers

Call me old fashioned but I always match a diaper cover with any dress my daughter is wearing. And nothing is more fun than the monogrammed diapers covers I've found on Etsy. Several shops on Etsy offer these white cotton covers with prices starting around $9. You can get your favorite kid's name, initials, or even a stitched design. Easy to mail in a cute padded envelope, these make fun gifts too! I recommend searching Etsy for a shop that matches your tastes in fonts and thread colors. Just be warned -- there are so many cute choices out there, you may not be able to stop yourself from buying in multiples.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Favorite Things: Multi- Purpose Halloween Costumes

My very clever sister-in-law and I agree about a lot of things, especially on aiming for Halloween costumes that aren't just "one shot wonders". Our little niece will be sporting a skirt similar to the one shown above, pairing it with a cute polo and throwing on a cardigan if she gets chilly. Grab a pink neck scarf, pull on a cute pair of ruffle socks and slip on some Mary Janes you've already got on hand and you've got an adorable costume! After the treat bucket is empty, she can still wear all of the costume items again. Now, that's what I call cheap and cheerful! [Find the adorable skirt here.]

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Where do you find your best Halloween deals? What are some fun costumes that include reusable items?

Cheap and Cheerful Chatter: LA Times Article on Best Inexpensive Makeup

Thank you to Liz in Los Angeles who pointed out this great LA Times article on drug store makeup deals from the perspective of a professional makeup artist. Definitely worth a read! Saving money on makeup does help bring out your inner beauty because, after all, being thrifty is sexy.

Deal of the Day: Sales, Sales Everywhere!

There are so many deals today that I couldn't pick just one so here is a fun assortment of money saving tidbits:

* Children's Place: Uniforms are now 25% off. While supplies last.

* Gymboree 15% off coupon, good through December 24, 2009 by signing up for email notifications. Plus, it is Gymbuck earning time, Back to School Sale, and Fall/Halloween preview.

* Kids $10 Sale at Old Navy: $10 deals on shirts, hoodies, and more for sizes 5 and up. While supplies last.

* Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Users is 47% off today on Amazon. Just in time to edit all of those summer photos.

* Check out HauteLook, the bargain shopping spot online for those with expensive tastes. Join their email list for 36 to 72 hour sales on brands like Splendid, Seven for All Mankind, and more!

* Kmart: All shoes are buy one, get one free.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What sales are you planning to hit? So many deals, so little time!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Challenge August: Spotted -- Our Second In Store Deal

Katie from Walnut Creek sent in the following, "I tried on a cute red Badgley Mischka skirt yesterday at the insane TJMaxx in Moraga. MSRP: $328. TJM clearance price: $25 (Unfortunately, $25 is still too much when it doesn't fit...a size too big). Not to worry, got some cute Hudson's for $60! Love that particular TJM - crazy good stuff!"

Thanks for entering the contest and thanks for the great reminder about finding "the best" of the discount chain locations. Who knows what might be hiding at your local Ross, Marshall's or TJMaxx? Anyone out there have suggestions for locations of these stores that consistently stock quality merchandise? Please share!

Deal of the Day: Stationery Savings

I've written about my love of nice paper before. I simply adore pretty cards and am crazy about personalized stationery. You can get your stationery fix online and on sale at Fine Stationery. Check out the current promotions that are available. Some of my favorite designers -- Boatman Geller, Sweet Pea, and William Arthur -- are featured in these discounts. I just scored some free Boatman Geller cards through a Shutterfly promotion and I love them. Do I dare think about my holiday card in August?

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Where do you get your holiday cards? What kind of sales or coupons for holiday cards have you used in the past?

Favorite Things: KBM Games

KBM Games, a family run company, carries perfect party favors and more. You can now link to this great site through a button at the bottom of thispage. Check it out! My son loves his stomp rockets and parachute "guys"! They also carry bubbles, soccer kits, jump ropes and many more fun items for the whole family to enjoy. Fast shipping and friendly service. What more could you ask for?


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