Friday, January 29, 2010

Chocolate Cheerios {review, recipe, giveaway}

When I was growing up, we ate very PLAIN cereals. Occasionally my mother bought Kix (my husband describes them as "little styrofoam balls" when I suggested buying them for our household. But 95% of our breakfasts was a bowl of plain Cheerios. I sprinkled a little sugar on mine but my brother sweetened his bowl with spoonfuls of sugar which left a syrupy glop in the bottom. As I grew older, I preferred less sugar. I also like the Honey Nut version now. But when I heard there is a Chocolate Cheerios!? I think this may be too sweet for breakfast. I would probably feel guilty as if I ate cake for breakfast. I think this would make a good snack though. As I mentioned, I stash sweets for emergencies.

And Twins make 5! - A Mommy Blog: Chocolate Cheerios {review, recipe, giveaway}: "@andtwinsmake5."

Natural Awakenings features GumdropSwap

GumdropSwap is the featured News Brief in Feb's "Natural Awakenings" magazine for Fairfield County. It's in the "Fairfield Green" section. Pick up your free issue today! I get my copy at the public library in downtown Bridgeport.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Yummy Cookie Mishap

I had a hankering for something sweet. It's time to go grocery shopping and I'm all out of stashed treats that I hide from my daughter and hubby. (Hubby has not self control when it comes to sweets and he is trying to diet so they are banned from the house.) So, I desperately nibbled at the bag of Nestlé semi-sweet choc chips and took notice of the recipe on the back of the package. It's for their classic choc chip cookie. I did stock of the cabinets and I had all the ingredients except nuts which I could easily do without. But their recipe would yield 5 dozen cookies. WHAH? Where I am supposed to stash that many cookies? I decide to half the recipe and then I improvised a bit. I felt the batter was a bit dry as I mixed it, so I added about a tbsp of hazelnut spread (off-brand Nutella) which gave it a smoother texture. The finished batter was fluffy and airy which concerned me. But the final cookie was moist and delish! And when I folded in the choc chips I added Reese's peanut butter chips.

  • Preheat oven 350º.
  • Mix dry ingredients in small bowl: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt
  • Mix these ingredients in a separate larger bowl: 1 stick softened butter, about 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 large egg, tbsp hazelnut spread
  • Use cake mixer to blend contents of larger bowl well. Then slowly blend in dry ingredient mix.
  • Fold in your desired amount of choc chips and/or peanut butter chips.
  • spoon about 1 tbsp balls of cookie batter at least 2 inches apart (don't try to fit it all on one cookie sheet like me and unintentionally make a cookie cake)
Here is a photo of the too large batter scoops.
 And the cookies that ran together.

 I let them cool on a wire rack and then used a butter knife to cut apart at the "seams" where the cookies met. They were chewy and scrumptious!

Donating Clothing? Beware For-Profit Drop Boxes

This article was borrowed from

Donating your unused clothing makes a lot of sense; you can help out a charity... while cleaning out your closet. You’ll even score a small tax deduction. But choose whom you give you clothes to carefully; for-profit companies are now setting up clothing drop boxes and then reselling your duds to consignment stores or textile recyclers.

Misleading clothing donation boxes
I learned about for-profit clothing drop boxes a couple weeks ago when my parents told me about a bright red donation dumpster they saw in a shopping center parking lot. When they red the fine print, they realized the drop box was not sponsored by Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or another charity, but a for-profit company that donated a tiny percentage of its profits to charitable causes. The practice is misleading at best, illegal at worst.

Clothing recycling boxes
While some companies solicit clothing donations under the guise of charity, others—like U’SAgain—are unashamed to be collecting your old clothes and making a buck.

Unscrupulous charities
Finally, there are even some non-profit organizations soliciting clothing donations that you may want to avoid. Planet Aid is one such company that has drop boxes in certain locations around the country and brags supporting a variety of causes in Africa. There are allegations, however, that Planet Aid, U’SAgain, and other clothing recyclers have links to criminal organizations.
Whether or not the group skirts the law, annual reports reveal that just 11 percent of Planet Aid’s income goes to charity. While non-profit organizations cost money to operate, it seems reasonable to question just how Planet Aid spends the other 89 percent.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

GumdropSwap is on GreenMaven Search Engine! was accepted into the green directory on Jan 12, 2010! is the world's most comprehensive "green search engine" which allows users to search the Internet for trusted websites and news related to environmental and social values.

"People want to go green, but they often don't know where to start or even what questions to ask," says Joey Shepp, founder of Green Maven. "Green Maven makes searching for all things green as easy as using Google. If you search for socks, you get organic socks. If you search for cars, you get hybrid cars. Our mission is to make it easy for mainstream to go green."

Recognized in's Top Ten List of Best New Websites of 2006, Green Maven uses Google's recently released Co-op Search technology to make searching fast, easy, and relevant.

"Going green has never been easier than with Green Maven," reports Lee Ettleman, TIME.COM. "Editors at the site hand-pick web pages and news items related to the environmental movement—about everything from eco-friendly cities to organic socks—that can then be searched using the Google tool on the homepage or browsed through using a directory."

Launched in late 2006 by a team of Green MBA graduates, Green Maven has reached a total of 5,000 websites since its launch. GreenMaven was designed with Open Source software by the leading sustainable website development firm,, developers of and

Visitors can search on, or they can take the green web with them by installing an easy browser plug-in. Businesses who want their sites included in the green search engine can submit their URLs to Green Maven's team of editors for approval. is responding to a growing segment of the Internet community searching for news, products and services that match their environmental and social values. By making it easy to "go green", is making a green lifestyle available to everyone.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am a Frugalitarian!

I stumbled upon a site when reading another blog one day, When I read the definition of what a frugalitarian is, "One whose philosophy asserts that life is sweeter and the planet is healthier when we keep it simple, waste nothing and reinvent just about everything," I felt I had been pegged! It might as well have been my personal mission statement! I sent the woman behind the movement, Jodi Olson, a quick email expressing my enthusiasm about her efforts. And within days, she invited me to be a guest on her upcoming live web radio show on that she does every Wednesday (4pm EST). Her weekly show is one hour. So, I was on yesterday's show. During the hour,  Jodi and her co-host  gave many tips on simple ways to save money. It was a blast even though I was nervous. I had to listen to the podcast to remind myself what I said, because it happened so fast. The words were spilling out of my mouth so fast! You can download the MP3 here (Frugalitarian 1-20-2010)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unintended Use

Since I have become a mom (almost 2 years ago) I have found out about products that I never had a need for before. But since I found them, I have discovered other uses for them that may be more valuable that what they were designed for. I thought I would share with others. I am not being compensated in anyway by these companies. But I wouldn't turn down any free product!

The first is A&D ointment. Let me say my daughter has only had minor diaper rash maybe 2-3 times in the 2 years she has been wearing diapers. And those few times have been when I didn't use this stuff. When she was a newborn I tried Desitin cream. I didn't like the texture or consistency. So after trying this ointment, I haven't tried another product. I usually buy 2 or 3 tubes at a times. I keep one in her diaper bag, one with her changing table and another for backup and personal use (I'll get to that). Now, let me say I use this on my daughter at EVERY diaper change as a preventative measure not a treatment for existing diaper rash. I suggest using it that way. A little goes a long way. The consistency is like a less-tacky petroleum jelly. Now, for my personal use. I ran out of Neosporin and in a pinch tried this on a minor cut and it worked pretty well. I used this stuff for winter dry skin (hands and heels) and then I got really adventurous and used it as a lip balm! I have triend the Equate (Walmart) and Up&Up (Target) brands and I am satisfied with those formulas too. I know once my daughter is potty trained, I will still keep a tube around.

The other product I like is Johnson & Johnson Baby Safe Q-Tips. They are especially shaped so you can't go to deep into the infants ear. They are okay as far as q-tips go. I like they are more padded than the average q-tip. I find that they bend easily for my personal use. They are great for toddler craft projects too. I found them to be equally useful to remove boogers and clear toddler noses when they have a cold. I prefer them for this use. And the shape fits perfectly into little nostrils.

Infant washcloths make great dishrags! I save a fortune on paper towels now that my daughter has outgrown those thin, small newborn washcloths. I clean my kitchen counters and wash dishes... and then they take a spin with the household laundry and they are like new again.

A fellow mommy friend told me that baby wipes make great stain removers on clothing. I doubted her but I was out one day and dropped food on my shirt and had the baby bag with me. I was surprised how well it removed the marinara. I still stain treated it when I got home but the quick fix allowed me to hide my clumsiness and not be embarrassed to walk around until then.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Items I Don't Want to Live Without

Ain't technology grand? I'm usually one of the last to purchase some new gadget. I'm always worried it's a fad. Plus, I'm extremely frugal so I need to wait for the popularity and price to drop. I was still trying to buy cassettes for my car in 2002, when Best Buy stopped selling them. When I asked where I could find the cassette section after walking around the store aimlessly, the sales person actually told me, "No one buys cassettes anymore". And I thought, "Well, I would buy them if I could find them". So then I was forced to buy cds. next thing I knew, everyone was moving on to the #MP3 player! See? That's what I was afraid of. The first ones had little mini cd looking discs. That was silly to me. Why would I trade a cd for a smaller version that is easier to lose and just as likely to get scratched? I was gifted an ipod in 2007, and I haven't purchased a cd since. I use that same ipod to this day, cracked screen and all. And, if it died, I would purchase another.

I was hesitant to buy a smart phone until my cell phone company offered a deal I couldn't refuse. I still don't think I'm using my Blackberry to it's full capabilities. But now that I'm a busy mompreneur, it's convenient to check my email on the go. I can check my multiple email accounts all in one place. I wouldn't want to go back to just a cell phone. The funny part is the phone came with a Bluetooth and I never set it up. I didn't want to be one of those people in a store looking like I was talking to myself. It's really something I should use since it's illegal to talk and drive in my state. I actually put my phone on speaker while I'm driving and clip it to my seatbelt. Don't laugh!

I have a horrible sense of direction. I was compelled to get a GPS after seeing it's use in my husband's car and bought one 2 Christmases ago. It's so much easier than mapping a route and reading the directions while driving. Now that is a great invention.

I remember hearing about TiVo years ago. Since, I became a mom I don't have much of a schedule. I could never keep up with the latest reality show craze or when a new season of some of my favorite shows would happen. The DVR changed that. Now I can record in advance and watch days later when my daughter is napping or even rewind when I miss a detail in something I'm watching. It's worth it just to fast forward through the commercials.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

None So Innovative As Mom

Business Journalist, David Zahn, wrote an excellent article on me and GumdropSwap for the newspaper, CT Post.
None So Innovative As Mom