Life Update – 3/11/16

Hey all,

As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t posted anything since Sunday. I had such a busy, stressful, and hectic week taking care of other things, I barely had any time to write!

Never too busy to fit in some retail therapy, though!  😉 I picked up quite a bit of stuff at Marshall’s in River Plaza, Bronx, NY, as well as at a nearby Payless. Here are a few pictures from our adventures taking the train in and out of Manhattan and into the Bronx via the 1 train:

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Recently, the strap on my favorite (and only) purse popped and broke 🙁 I was sad to see it go, but I replaced it with this beautiful Christian Siriano cross-body tote from Payless for half off of $44.99!

Christian Siriano cross-body tote from Payless

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It is slim, yet roomy, lightweight, and very comfortable to wear. My previous purse was a cross-body bowling bag from Forever 21 that was very bulky and heavy.

I also spend nearly 2 hours at a Marshall’s a few days ago and now I gotta say I’m in love with this store! I went there with the intention to find a really nice birthday card for my best friend and a new pair of shoes for my husband and left with more than I came for – but for the sake of this trip, that is not a bad thing!

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Men’s athletic shoes, children’s clothes, bag of fudge, flavored ground coffee, jug of chai latte, and a cat-nip cat toy! That wasn’t all of it either!

I had never been to a  Marshall’s until the other day. It is a lot like a Ross. My husband has been way overdue for a new pair of shoes but we’ve put it off for such a long time because of the cost. When it comes to shoes, we knew we needed to invest in something of good quality, otherwise he’d wear it out too quickly.

When it comes to something you’ll be wearing everyday – all year long, it’s a good idea to shop around for something that will last – that’ll save you a lot more money in the long run. If you can manage it financially, always go with the better quality product. In any situation, it is always best to shop around because it is likely you can find a good-quality product at Walmart prices if you do your homework first  (coupon, look for sales, ect.). 

I’m sure you can guess how happy I was to snatch up these Under Armour athletic shoes for less than $25 bucks at Marshall’s! Under Armour is a great brand, but it is on the pricier side. Their shoes are generally in the $80-150 range, so we really landed a deal here.

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Last but not least, here is another dollar item from my Wish.com order that finally arrived in the mail. How cute are these markers? They double as stamps (heart, lips, flower, and cloud). How adorable is that!?

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FYI – If you follow my Instagram or Twitter account, you can get a small glimpse into my everyday life. A lot of details don’t make it into the blog, but I am quite active on my other social networking sites.

Over the weekend, I’ll be adding another column/tab on my blog for flash sales and ongoing deals. I will also be posting a new meal plan along with their recipes. I can’t wait to share with you folks my husband’s delicious homemade lasagna recipe!

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Frugal Foods: Sausage Jambalaya

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Hey folks! We’re at it again with another blog post on frugal foods! If you haven’t already seen this week’s meal plan and grocery list, our main objective to simply buy less ingredients by using a lot of the same vegetables for each meal. This week we’re making use of a lot of onions, celery, and garlic! Not only is this incredibly affordable, but these ingredients also make an amazingly flavorful base for so many soups and stews. A few days ago I made a Cheesy Chicken & Veggie Chowder, and today we’re having Jambalaya!

I love southern cuisine, and one of my biggest dreams is travel to New Orleans and have the real deal – a warm bowl of seafood gumbo over grits, for example! That day is not today – so we improvise!

This is a super simple, fail-proof version of Jambalaya!!

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Ingredients:

  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Garlic (and lots of it!)
  • Green bell-pepper
  • Crushed, or stewed tomatoes (chopped if stewed)
  • Chicken stock
  • Rice
  • Your favorite sausage (smoked, kielbasa, and/or a variation of spicy sausage such as andouille) Because all-beef smoked sausage or kielbasa is cheaper, we went with that.
  • Precooked chicken (optional)
  • Shrimp (optional)

How-to:

  1. Start by browning onion, garlic, celery and green bell-pepper in a big stew pot.
  2. Next add your stewed tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes that have been chopped), 1 cup of chicken stock, and 1 cup of water.
  3. Let that simmer for a bit. In the meantime, go ahead and add your seasonings. If you’re like me, you’d just buy pre-made Cajun and old bay seasoning, but if you don’t have that here is what you need:
    1. Celery salt
    2. Garlic powder
    3. Onion powder
    4. Cayenne pepper
    5. Black pepper
    6. Paprika
    7. Thyme
    8. Dry mustard
    9. Ground cinnamon
    10. Red pepper flakes
    11. Allspice
    12. Ginger
  4. Next add in your sausage. Feel free to add in some pre-cooked chicken, or even shrimp! I would have added shrimp, but for $12/lb, it just wasn’t happening today. LOL
  5. Let them simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Now that it’s at a rolling boil, add in 1-1/2 half cups of rice.
  7. Set the heat down to low, and let the rice cook for 30 minutes. You will need to check the rice periodically (probably once every 5-7 minutes), and stir the pot to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom. Add more water as needed. 

Enjoy!

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Wish.com – Product Review (Super Cute $4 Wallet!)

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Hey guys – so, yesterday, I also received this wallet in the mail from Wish.com! This is my first time ordering anything from this website, and I’m actually very pleased with the result. The wallet arrived in great condition ; all of the zippers work, no problems with the seams or anything. It’s a large, roomy wallet that can hold a ton of coins, cards, cash, and probably even your cell phone. There is also an additional pocket on the back as well. This is really a hold-all clutch.

Link to product here! It’s $4 + $1 shipping! Not a lot of places you can get such a cute wallet (with a coin pouch built in) for $5!

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Frugal Foods: Ultimate Cheesy Chicken & Veggie Chowder

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This is my all-time 2 favorite soups: broccoli cheese soup and chicken corn chowder, merged together into a heaping pot of happiness.

Best part? This delicious, hearty, veggie-filled soup is so simple and easy to make! This recipe makes so much soup too! You could go back for seconds (or even thirds!) and easily still have more than half a pot left for another dinner, or lunches through-out the week.

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Ingredients:

  • Cream-style corn
  • Chicken broth or stock
  • Milk or cream
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Bacon
  • Pre-cooked, leftover chicken
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

How-to:

  1. Cut up your bacon into cubes and brown in a large soup pot.
  2. When the bacon starts to excrete some fat, add diced onion, celery and carrot.
  3. Once your onion, celery and carrots have softened, add your corn, broccoli, cubed potatoes, and chicken broth/stock to the pot and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now that the potatoes and broccoli are tender, add in your cream-style corn, a cup of milk, and let that simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Now add your precooked chicken and a few nice handfuls of cheddar cheese.
  6. Season to taste – I like to add black pepper, dried thyme, parsley and cayenne pepper, but feel free to add whatever you want!
  7. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

 

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$34/Week Meal Plan & Grocery List

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So for this week’s meal plan, we’re focused on making 5 large wholesome meals for 25 ingredients or less. To do this, we will be using a lot of the same ingredients in order to reduce the amount of items we need to buy.

Meals:

Grocery list:

Meals-

  •  3-4 quartered chicken legs $1.75
  • Ground beef $2.50
  • Boneless pork chops $3
  • Carrots $1
  • Broccoli $1
  • Cream-style corn $1
  • Fresh, canned, or frozen corn $1
  • Bell pepper 50¢
  • 5 lb bag potatoes $1.50
  • Celery $1.50
  • 2 lb bag onions $1
  • Pork gravy packet $1
  • Brown gravy packet $1
  • Crushed tomatoes $1.50
  • Box of chicken stock (or chicken bouillon cubes) $1.50
  • Corn tortillas $1.50
  • Can of black beans (or bag of dry beans) $1
  • Enchilada sauce $1
  • Cheddar cheese $2
  • Mexican blend cheese $2

Breakfast & Lunch- (keeping it simple w/ cereal and leftovers!)

  • Milk $3
  • Cereal $2.75 (family size bag – generic)
  • Leftovers

= estimated $34.00

 

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Frugal Foods: Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas w/ Green Chile Sauce

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This is probably one of my all time favorite meals, especially along-side Spanish rice. I love it because it’s so full of flavor, but so easy on the wallet.

To get started, let’s look at our ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken quartered legs
    • Season your chicken, then bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degree. Let cool, then de-bone.
    • I almost always go with quartered chicken legs because they can be found as cheap as 49 cents /lb at local grocery stores.
  • Cup of black beans
    • To cut costs, buy dry beans and soak them overnight. Black beans are the quickest and easiest beans to cook. Simmer them on medium heat for 1 hour or until tender.
  • Canned or bottled green Chile salsa (optional, if you like a nice extra kick, I recommend this.)
  • Can of green Chile enchilada sauce (white sauce)
    • I like to buy mine from Target because it’s self price is only 1.09! It often goes on sale for cheaper as well.
  • Mexican blend cheese, or any cheese of your choice.
  • Corn tortillas.
    • I can purchase a pack of 50 tortillas for about 1.50.
    • If you don’t like corn tortillas, flour tortillas works just as well, but it can be a bit more costly. Because the cost of tortillas is so cheap, I like to double layer mine. It keeps them from falling apart as well.

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How to:

  1. After your chicken is cooked and shredded, and you’ve got your black beans all ready, set your oven to 325 degrees. While the oven preheats, start making your enchiladas.
  2. Go ahead and add your chicken, black beans, salsa, and a little bit of cheese to your corn tortillas and roll it as tightly as you can. Repeat as many times as you want, or until you fill your pan. Any rectangular baking dish works fine, or even a brownie pan.
  3. Any remaining salsa, go ahead and pour on top of your enchiladas.
  4. Next, pour the enchilada sauce evenly over all of your enchiladas.
  5. Sprinkle as much cheese as desired over the enchiladas.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Keep in mind that everything is already cooked – what we really want is for everything to mold together and the cheese to get nice and bubbly. Check the enchiladas after 10 minutes. If it’s just starting to brown over, it’s ready!

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Order Update: Wish.com, Hollar.com, Shopmissa.com

Hey Gang,

So, about a week ago, I made a few small online orders from Wish.com, Hollar.com, and Shopmissa.com – these are large online discount/dollar stores that have become fairy popular with frugal folks. So, I thought heck! I may as well see what all the hype is about! Though I will share an unboxing when the packages arrive, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned so far about these retailers.

Let’s start with Wish.com. The most important thing I’d like to mention about Wish.com is the fact that they do not ship all your items together. In fact, every single item comes from it’s own retailer (so far, all from Asia), and is shipped directly from them. If you make a large order, you will get a package for each item and will have to track each separately which can be kind of a pain. If you look closely at your cart (checkout), you’ll realize each item has it’s own shipping fee as well. Even if you pick up a bunch of $1 items, your shipping will double the total cost of your order if the shipping cost is $1 each – Yikes. The bright side? I notice retailers will ship out your items fairly quickly – usually within 48 hours.

Hollar.com: Like I mentioned in my other article, Hollar.com carries many of your favorite brand named products at great prices. However, they take some time to ship out your order. I did not get a shipping confirmation until 9pm tonight – that’s nearly a week after I placed my order.

Last, but not least, Shopmissa.com has been phenomenal. Not only is this a true dollar store where every item is actually $1, they have free shipping with orders over $25 and ship locally. This will more than likely be the first order I’ll receive in the mail.

When I do, I will be sure to provide an unboxing as well as a Shop Miss A look w/ ELF cosmetics! I will also provide a review of the other products I’ve received (I’ve got some hand cream, as well as a lip scrub coming my way, among many other products). I know a lot of you folks have purchased cosmetics from Shop Miss A, and I’m really interested to hear what your favorite products are!

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thredUP – $10 credit + 20% off + FREE GIFT from us!

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I can’t express how excited I am to share coupons, a free gift, and a $10 credit for my favorite online thrift store – thredUP! with you guys! Squeal*

thredUP is an  a-m-a-z-i-n-g-l-y HUGE online thrift store that specializes in high quality department store brands for up to 90% off retail price. These are like-new, lightly worn clothing, shoes, accessories, and more with prices starting at just $4.99!!! 

Best part? Minimalist in Manhattan is offering a limited time $10 off coupon and a FREE GIFT! ! Click here <– to claim this offer. Is this your first time shopping with thredUP? Take an additional 20% off your order with coupon code: 21DGEFX1

…Or use another e-mail address, and make a new account…

You didn’t hear this from me, of course, because I would NEVER do something like that…ever… 😉

Have fun shopping! <3

 

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A Budget Babe’s Guide To Quality & Affordability: My Top 5 Online Shopping Picks (Plus Sizes Too!)

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When it comes to fashion frugality, piece selection is crucial. This is where minimalism comes in! A minimalist generally will not buy anything they don’t absolutely love. I don’t buy anything that I can’t envision pairing with a lot of clothes I already have.

I’m no fashion expert, but I tend to stick to items that layer well. I also buy a lot of basics because they’re cost effective and easy to pair with something a little more colorful or wild. Most of my 2-go picks are basic tee’s/tanks, tunics, short dresses, skater skirts, and cardigans. I also own over 15+ pairs of leggings which I wear for every occasion, whether lounging at home, or layered under my clothing to go out. I wear booties and flats with everything!

Most of my wardrobe is comprised from these top 5 shops (these shops offer an extensive variety of straight and plus sizes) Why are these my top 5? Because they always offer in-season, contemporary, chic, and trendy options with fairly good quality fabrics that last. And they’re affordable!!

  1. http://oldnavy.gap.com/ Let’s start with basics. I buy most of my basic tee’s and tanks from Old Navy. When it comes to price, Old Navy is your best bet both online and in store. Their holiday clearance and sales are always phenomenal and I often can find many pieces for under $5. I wear straight sizes at Old Navy – their XL and XXL sometimes run 1-2 sizes larger than other stores (if you wear 1-3x in other stores, you may fit into straight sizes at Old Navy).
  2. http://www.forever21.com/ I get majority of my skater skirts and dresses from F21. This is also a great option for accessories and cosmetics on the cheap. F21 also offers trendy children’s clothing for both boys and girls.
  3. http://www.charlotterusse.com/ CR is very similar to F21. They’re running a $5 sale on plus size leggings right now! There is also tons of knit scarves in clearance within the $3-5 range! Grab it while you can.
  4. http://www.rue21.com/ Rue21 offers affordable Junior’s clothing in both straight and plus sizes. It is definitely a bit younger in style/fashion sense – quite a bit of character and graphic tee’s. They have a really cute selection! Right now, they’re running an additional 50% of clearance sale! You can find nail polish, lip gloss, and hair accessories in the $1-$1.50 range right now!
  5. http://www.newlook.com/ This is currently my favorite online store. New Look offers styles similar to ASOS, without the huge price tag. It is comparable to H&M, with a larger selection for Plus Sizes. Alike H&M, they’re an international store, with over 600 stores worldwide, however, online prices are listed in euro. They offer next day delivery to anywhere in the UK. Standard shopping to the U.S. is under $10, and arrives promptly in under a week!

 

I suggest subscribing to all of these stores (email), so you are immediately alerted of any big sale they’re having – especially those that take off an additional 25-50% off already marked down clearance!

What is your favorite online store? Share in the comments!

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