From the category archives:

living on less

My Staples EasyTech Total Support Experience

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 6, 2014 · 0 comments

A couple of months ago I shared a quick overview of the Staples EasyTech Total Support program. If you missed it, you'll definitely want to read up on it -- it's a must-have service for parents that have to share a computer with their kids.

Besides offering anti-virus protection and internet security, EasyTech Total Support also provides an accident protection program that covers drops, spills and malfunctions! It even includes a 1-time battery replacement, all for the low price of $160 for a new computer. Really wishing we'd picked up this plan before my kids spilled a bowl of milk on one of our laptops... It's just a useless hunk of metal currently.

Lesson learned, though -- we took our new laptop to Staples to learn firsthand about the EasyTech Total Support service. Many of you probably know that I'm pretty attached to my MacBook Pro, but the deal on this Toshiba laptop was too good to pass up. The downside? I have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to Windows 8. It's just not intuitive for me at. all. and I hated that I had no idea how to get back to my desktop, even with the touchscreen features.

Luckily the nice supervisor that was working the EasyTech Total Support counter was super patient and took the time to explain all of the ins and outs of Windows 8 to me, even giving me a pamphlet with handwritten keyboard shortcuts so I could find my way around. I was impressed at how he went the extra mile to make sure that my experience was positive.

Because I took my laptop over for my EasyTech installation later in the day, I did have to leave it with them overnight. The technician ran a complete diagnostics, removed some minor viruses that must have come with some of the bloatware that was preinstalled, and also installed and setup my antivirus and spyware protection software. He also took the time to remove and uninstall some of those bloatware installations that I'd mentioned I would never use, freeing up more memory.

My laptop was ready for pickup early the next day. Once again, the supervisor took the time to go through all of the details on the software that was installed and the benefits of the EasyTech Total Support package, making sure that I was comfortable using everything and that I knew how to check the diagnostics reporting in the antivirus software.

I was more than happy with my Staples EasyTech Totally Support experience, and I'd highly recommend it. When you consider that the cost of service for one virus incident is $149, you can see what a great value this is. The accident protection plan alone makes it worth it for me, and you get so much more!

This post is brought to you by Staples. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Do You Have A Cold/Flu Get Better Kit?

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 1, 2014 · 0 comments

The weather is turning colder, which means that, unfortunately, we're on the brink of cold and flu season. We've already passed one particularly nasty cold around our household, and I'm definitely not anxious for another bout.

So when Walmart asked me to put together a Cold/Flu Get Better Kit, I couldn't help but think to myself, "What a fantastic idea!" I mean, how convenient would it be to have a small arsenal of meds and such to combat our family's colds and flus already on hand? Usually I'm running to the store for this and that on an as needed basis, which is not only stressful and frustrating for me, but leaves the sick family member in misery far longer than necessary.

Walmart is a one-stop shop for cold/flu needs, so I made a list of my necessities and went shopping. My first stop was the pharmacy area to stock up on pain relievers and more. Here's a list of what I bought for my kit:

  • Equate Ibuprofen
  • Equate Acetaminophen
  • Equate Junior Strength Ibuprofen
  • Equate Junior Strength Acetaminophen
  • Equate DayTime/NiteTime Sinus
  • Equate Nasal Spray
  • Equate Children's Multi-Symptom Cold & Fever Liquid
  • Halls Cough Drops
  • Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick

As you probably noticed, I chose the store brand Equate products in almost all instances. I've always been very pleased with how well they work for our needs, and choosing store brand is a simple and easy way to save in the pharmacy area.

I think all of the items are pretty straightforward for a cold and flu kit, but you might be wondering about the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick. I discovered these when my kids were very young while looking for something to soothe their chapped cheeks in the wintertime. It's now a staple in my purse each winter because it's perfect for soothing chapped skin and lips, most especially around the nose area that gets rubbed raw from tissues. And the scent is just heavenly!

Speaking of tissues, no cold and flu kit would be complete without several boxes of Kleenex. I'm a big fan of the Kleenex Cool Touch tissues -- they're so cool and soothing, and I tuck the Kleenex travel packs into purses, backpacks, sports bags, car consoles, and more.

I also picked up a couple of cans of Progresso Chicken & Dumpling soup to keep in the pantry. I think it's safe to say that we all far prefer my homemade chicken noodle soup when we're sick, but the Progresso will do for an easy lunch when one of us is feeling under the weather.

In my opinion, prevention is far more important that treating the symptoms once we're sick, so I also grabbed a bottle of Bolthouse Farms C-Boost juice. The extra vitamin C will help boost my kids' immune systems to hopefully help them fend off germs before the get sick. I also do a lot of reminding them to take extra care in washing their hands thoroughly and frequently.

Rice Heating Pad

One last thing I'd recommend for any cold and flu get better kit is one of these no-sew rice heating pads! We actually have several of them, keeping some in the freezer for bumps, bruises, headaches and such, and several others that we can warm in the microwave to soothe aching muscles.

What items do you keep in your cold and flu get better kit?

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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Fight Hunger, Spark Change With Walmart

by Tara Kuczykowski on September 30, 2014 · 1 comment

Our family has been through some pretty lean times, but we've always managed to put food on our table -- something I know so many struggle with each day. In fact, one in seven Americans, including 12 million children, turn to the Feeding America food bank network for food assistance each year... That's a pretty staggering fact, isn't it?

The sad truth is that food banks across the nation are facing a growing need for donations these days. To help combat the historically high rate of of food insecurity, Walmart has joined with Feeding America to support food banks and local partner agencies across the country in the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign. Even better, they've enlisted the help of six of the nation's largest food companies, including General Mills, Unilever, Hormel, ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo/Quaker and Kellogg Company.

How You Can Help Fight Hunger

So how can we help out? A great starting place is by voting voting online for your local food bank at www.walmart.com/fightinghunger! You can cast one vote per day, and at the end of the voting period, the top 50 food banks will each receive a $60,000 grant. Food banks really know how to stretch that kind of money -- that's the monetary equivalent of 37 million meals!

Currently, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank (my local food bank) is in 17th place, making them a strong candidate for receiving one of these much-needed grants. I'd love to see my local friends jump in and vote daily to help keep them there! Or if you'd prefer to support your own local food bank, you can easily search for it by state.

When you place your vote, you'll also received information on how you can donate or volunteer to take a direct action in the fight against hunger in your local community. Together we can make a lasting impact in helping to reduce hunger in America!

But don't wait -- voting is only open through this Sunday, October 5th...

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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My October Weeknight Meal Plan + $50 Cottonelle Giveaway!

by Tara Kuczykowski on September 29, 2014 · 104 comments

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

While I've shared in the past that sticking with a meal plan isn't one of my virtues, I'm going to give it an honest go for October. We've got a busy month coming up with three weekend soccer tournaments and a business trip for me mid-month, so hopefully having a plan in place will help alleviate some of the stress!

Two things before we get to my plan... Weekends are almost always up in the air for us until the last minute, so I'm only going to plan out our weeknights. Also, we rotate through a number of different side dishes, so I'll just list a specific side when it makes sense and share some of our other faves apart from the main dishes after the plan.

One Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken

:: Week One (9/29-10/3)

Snacks
chocolate chip coffee muffins
freezer smoothies

Dinners
grilled honey lime chicken, coconut milk rice
dinner out
one pot cilantro lime chicken w/ corn & blackbeans, leftover coconut milk rice
grilled lemon basil pork chops, lemony basil orzo pasta salad
homemade pizza night

Cilantro Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Thighs

:: Week Two (10/6-10/10)

Snacks
crunchy homemade granola bars
apple muffins

Dinners
cilantro chipotle barbecue grilled chicken thighs
Italian wedding soup, bread machine sourdough bread
leftovers (business trip)
pizza carryout (business trip)
dinner out (soccer tournament)

Banana Bread Recipe

:: Week Three (10/13-10/17)

Snacks
no bake peanut butter bars
banana bread

Dinners
beef barbacoa burrito bowls, coconut milk rice, Mexican sweet corn cake (if I'm feeling ambitious)
leftovers
creamy tomato basil soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
4-ingredient mini chicken pot pies
dinner out (soccer tournament)

Mango Bread Recipe

:: Week Four (10/20-10/24)

Snacks
mango bread
pumpkin bread

Dinners
homemade chicken and dumplings
zuppa toscana soup, homemade breadsticks
leftovers
walking tacos
homemade pizza night

Easy Chili Recipe

:: Week Five (10/27-10/31)

Snacks
apples with homemade caramel sauce
chocolate-covered pumpkin pretzels

Dinners
slow cooker chili
leftovers
slow cooker cola pulled pork sliders
leftovers (Trick-or-Treat night)
dinner out (soccer tournament)

Roasted Sesame Asparagus

As I mentioned, we're pretty laid back when it comes to side dishes. Usually I can throw together at least one of the sides below with whatever comes in our weekly produce box and/or what's in my pantry -- and my family is fine with that!

Now it's your turn to share... What's on your menu this week or month? Share in the comments or leave a link to your menu plan post and you could win a Cottonelle prize package valued at $50!

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Today, one lucky Deal Seeking Mom reader will win $50 in Cottonelle products!!! Follow the instructions in the widget below to be entered to win...

Be sure to check out the Pick Up The Values website for more valuable printable coupons, including savings on Cottonelle products!

This post is brought to you by Kimberly-Clark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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GelPro Elite | Make Your Kitchen More Comfortable

by Tara Kuczykowski on September 25, 2014 · 1 comment

I received a GelPro Classic mat a few years ago in conjunction with a giveaway that I did here on Deal Seeking Mom, and I immediately fell in love with how comfortable it was to stand on while doing the dishes. And since doing a LOT of dishes is par for the course with a large family, it's received a fair amount of use since then and was starting to show a little wear and tear.

So when a GelPro representative asked if I'd be interested in trying out their new GelPro Elite mats, I answered with a resounding YES!!! And then I waited by the front door every day until it was delivered...

Well, not really, but I definitely was very much looking forward to its arrival, and let me just tell you, it did not disappoint. When they call the GelPro Elite the "world's most comfortable floor mat," they are NOT exaggerating! It's at least twice as thick as my original GelPro, and I'm not kidding when I say that standing on it is like a dream.

I really didn't think anything could be more comfortable than my GelPro Classic mat, but I was wrong! Four different layers combine to create a cooling, soothing, ultra-comfortable mat that comes in a variety of colors to complement any decor. I received the Linen pattern in Granite Gray, and it looks great with our hardwood floors.

Other qualities I love:

  • Stain- and abrasion-resistant surface
  • Easy to clean and safe for pets and children
  • Beveled and reinforced edges will not curl or wear down
  • Non-slip bottom surface with antimicrobial properties keeps the mat safely in place

A new GelPro mat would make a fantastic birthday or Christmas gift for anyone that needs to spend a lot of time on their feet -- most especially moms! The new GelPro Elite mats start at $119.95, but GelPro also has an array of mats to fit any budget. Be sure to sign up for their email list to receive a 15% discount right now!

This post is brought to you by GelPro. All opinions are 100% mine.

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