Blog Hopping and Bargain Hunting: Mini Pies, PSL Packets and Spiders that Don’t Scare Me

This new feature of ours will show off some lovely articles we’ve discovered online AND some of the best bargains and deals to start your week off right…And all hopefully enjoyed while you have your hands wrapped around a delicious cuppa – whether that’s tea or coffee, it’s up to you!

Monday Morning blog hopping & bargain finding

Spiders that don’t scare me…I am no green thumb whatsoever. But, I’m determined to try spider plants, because they clean the air and look so beautiful. I’m reading this care guide to try to avoid killing the poor plants before I even get them! (Have any other tips for cat-safe houseplants that are easy to care for? And even where to buy them online?)

Almost Oreos – A little treat of gluten-free Oreo-ish cookies was on my shopping list this week. Verdict? A wee bit crumblier than their wheat-filled counterpart. BUT…they were so nom nom delicious that I made my husband hide the box! (Where, oh where has my self control gone…where oh where can it beeeee!?)

Mini apple pies in a cupcake tin. Mini food is adorable, and when safely contained in one’s hand, it feels even more comforting. Perfect for baking up fall apples, and then freezing the wee pies for a little treat whenever you feel like one. This simple recipe yields mini pies that look photo-ready…and a rating of 5 stars by everyone who has ventured forth and made the recipe. And if you choose to use a tiny ice cream scoop and top these with mini blobs of vanilla ice cream – then all the better!!!

Pumpkin spice latte packets – To say my Starbucks consumption has greatly reduced is a ridiculous understatement. I like that these little packets of PSL mix lets you whip up a foamy pumpkin spice latte at home with just boiling water. Ahhh…fall bliss. Makes me want to grab my latte and go jump in a…pile of crunchy and colourful fall leaves.

Book Outlet bargain books that caught my eye: (And they have an extra 20% off all their titles right now!) Daniel Loves Fall (cute children’s book); a healthy cookbook with less than 6 ingredients per recipe; and how to make astonishingly pretty flowers with crepe paper. Who knew? Those would be a pretty, long-lasting bundle of flowers to give to a friend.

And finally…Homemade Blueberry Syrup. A simple recipe, made extra scrumptious because it contains maple syrup. Ahhh…nothing better. Top off your French toast, waffles or pancakes with this for a special treat. (Thanks to the One Hundred Dollars a Month blog for the recipe link.)

Have a beautiful Monday, everyone. Please pop back next Monday to see what other goodies I’ve found and just need to share with you.

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The Thrifty Three – Three Frugal Things I’m Doing

Putting money into a piggy bank as a result of your savings on food.

It’s the beginning of a new week, and therefore time for another edition of The Thrifty Three! These are just three of the things I’ve been doing lately to try to stretch our money further.

  1. Iced Coffee at home – Iced coffee is my favourite new drink. I think I’ve discussed coffee a few times here on the blog. (Like here and here.) I’ve also talked about how I haven’t had a Starbucks coffee in (gasp!) months! But, I still adore a good cup of coffee. Now that the weather is warming up a bit, cold coffee drinks seem just right. So, I’ve gotten into the habit of brewing up a big pot of decaf coffee (so I can drink the iced coffee any time of day) and then storing it in the fridge to get it good and icy cold. I also add a spoonful of vanilla to the coffee, to make it even more flavourful. Then, when I’m craving an iced coffee, I grab my cute Mason jar glass, add a few ice cubes, fill about 3/4 full with cold coffee and then top up with milk. (We’ve had 3.25% milk lately, as the store we go to always has that in lactose free. I’d recommend a thicker milk for this drink – it’s luscious that way!) You could also use cream instead. Yummeroo! And rather than spending $3-$4 each on a drink, I’m sure it’s only about $0.25 or so.
  2. Filling the soap dispenser with…body wash! Or, even a diluted mix of shampoo. Weird, right? But it works! We bought a few foaming soaps, and I wanted to keep reusing the dispensers for a while. (To be totally honest, I’ll probably keep reusing those foaming soap dispensers until they stop working. 😉 ) So, instead of diluted soap, I’ve used diluted shampoo or body wash. It works great, and provides a nice foamy pump of soap for us to wash our hands carefully. (Is everyone still singing while they wash their hands? To make sure they wash for 20 seconds?)
  3. Different kind of face mask – This time, we’re talking sleep masks! As the days get longer, and the morning sunlight starts to stream through our blinds earlier every morning, I was finding that I just couldn’t get back to sleep. (The sun rises awfully early here in the summer months – this morning I woke at 5:49 am because of the sun!) We had discussed getting blackout curtains and a new curtain rod, but…$$$$! Instead, I searched on Amazon and found these sleep masks, which reviewers claimed really worked at blocking out all light. Well, I’m a fan and now can’t recommend them highly enough! The masks are comfortable, snug without being too tight and when I wake up too early I pop on my sleep mask and fall right back to sleep. The pack of 2 were $19.95, which is a great deal compared to a new curtain rod and set of curtains.

Trying to save money comes in all sorts of different forms – I’d love to hear how you’re saving money during these difficult times. Please leave a comment and let us know the three thrifty things you’ve been accomplishing. 🙂

Maxwell House Coffee on Sale – $6.97 for 925 gram tin

Okay, so once again we’re on the topic of COFFEE. Ahem. Lately we’ve discussed cheap coffees at McDonald’s , the changing Starbucks reward program, and even one of my favourite gadgets to make homemade lattes. But, as attested to by all those long line-ups at Tim Horton’s and Starbucks, well, I don’t think I’m alone in my adoration of coffee.

So, today’s deal should thrill you if you’d rather make your own delicious cup of coffee at home. (A very good way to save money over time, undoubtedly. Depending on where you go for a cup of coffee out, it can cost anywhere from $1 to $5 or more!)


Click on photo for more information or to order from Amazon.

Right now on Amazon, a lovely large 925 gram tin of Maxwell House original roast is only $6.97! Their regular price really varies, but is listed right now at $9.97 so this is a 30% Savings! Definitely the right time to buy a few tins of delicious ground coffee.

Starbucks Reward Program is Changing!

The sweet smell of Starbucks in the morning!

Have you heard? Starting April 16, 2019, the Starbucks rewards program is changing! Cue the dramatic movie music please…

Starbucks Rewards basically rewards you with 2 stars (or points) for every $1 you spend at Starbucks locations. Right now, when you achieve 125 stars you get a free item of your choosing – basically anything on the menu! This has up to this point included pricey lunch options such as salads and sandwiches. (My favourite Starbucks hack was to occasionally save up my stars and get one of their delicious salads for a free lunch.)

But, starting April 16th, you’ll have more ways to spend your accumulated points, or stars. Some people will love these changes, and others might sneer. (Most of us hate change anyway. Slowly easing my own hand up in admission…)

Spending Starbucks Stars

Whereas before, you needed 125 stars to get a freebie, soon you’ll need as few as only 25 stars! Now, we will have a greater choice as to what we want to spend our beloved stars on. BUT, we will also need to save for longer for more expensive options such as those delicious Starbucks salads I mentioned earlier.

Here is what you’ll soon be able to use your stars to get:

  • 25 stars – customize your drink with extra pumps of syrup, substituting alternative milks, or adding an extra shot of espresso
  • 50 stars – (and this one seems like the BEST deal to me) – a free bakery item, or a hot coffee or tea. The Starbucks graphic showed a croissant, but I’m sure there will be more options on the free bakery item at this star level.
  • 150 stars – handcrafted beverage (like lattes, mochas, or cappuccinos) OR a hot breakfast (breakfast sandwich or oatmeal). Since I’m a latte lover, this means my favourite freebie will now cost me 25 more stars. Cue the tears into my coffee cup! (Okay…I’m nearly over it already.)
  • 250 stars – Lunch! These items include a protein box, salad or sandwich. This is twice the amount it used to be!! Meaning, it will be a very infrequent treat for moi, now.
  • 400 stars – This is something new. At this level, you can get a bag of coffee OR choose from a selection of Starbucks cold or hot drink containers, such as travel mugs. This might be something to save up for! Or, this could be a good choice if you want to save up for a gift for a friend.

Bonus Starbucks Stars

I’m assuming that the beautiful Starbucks bonus star offers we receive as registered Gold Card members will not change. I love receiving special bonus star offers in my email! I’ve received up to 200 bonus stars for purchasing certain items. So, hopefully we will still be receiving these awesome bonuses, which really do help the old star balance build up quickly.

Remember – it’s only a good deal if you were going to buy the items anyway! Like many, I have been caught up so much in collecting my beloved STARS that I purchased extra items (like lattes or breakfast sandwiches) that I hadn’t planned on buying in the first place. It’s all a matter of balance, people!

My conclusion on the new Starbucks Rewards

Right, so my take on the changes to the Starbucks program is this: I’m okay with it. (Not really an earth shattering opinion, now was it?) Sure, it’ll take me a little longer to save up enough stars for a luscious handcrafted latte, BUT it’ll take far less time to get a free regular coffee or tea! My husband loves Starbucks tea, so we might just switch our freebies to those from now on. And, since he can get a refill on a tea when we sit and work in a Starbucks cafe – well, he can get a freebie times two!

Please let me know in the comments below what YOU think of the changes to the Starbucks program. Do you like them? Or are you downright disappointed to this change in your daily caffeinated drink?