July 31, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Poppers

We had a little family Olympic watching party, complete with all finger foods.  My favorite were some poppers I made with little sweet peppers.

Our store has been selling these bags of sweet multi-colored peppers, and I eat them all the time.  At another time during the summer, I put some cream cheese dip inside a raw pepper and thought it was so yummy, it made me want to try to make some sweet poppers that were also low(er) carb.

So, here is how I did it.

First, I mixed 4 oz of cream cheese with some spices.  I don't always measure, so my best guess is about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon each of: turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper and onion powder.  1 large clove of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of chives.

I washed the peppers, then made a small cut in each pepper and put a spoonful of the mixture inside.

Take a slice of raw bacon, stick one end inside the pepper where the cut is, and wrap it around the pepper.

Grill until the bacon is fully cooked, and enjoy!

According to the Calorie Count webpage, these poppers are 177 calories each, with 4.7 total carbs, 38% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, 270% of vitamin C.  Not bad!

July 27, 2012

New 25 cent Tracks at Amazon

Amazon has a new list of 25 cent singles in honor of the Olympics.  The last list was up for about a week, so you may have time to shop a bit.  There seems to be a pretty good variety of older and newer, all inspirational.  Highlights include Mariah Carey's Hero and R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly.

This one is my personal favorite from the list.  So beautiful and haunting:

July 25, 2012

Low Carb Pizza Rolls Recipe

I recently discovered that I was old and fat, so I have been doing a low carb diet for almost three months.  I've lost just over 15 pounds, and it's actually been mostly painless.  I also feel so much better than I did before.  Bonus!  I've been discovering new recipes and making them my own, so I thought I'd start to share a few of my favorites.

So, first... PIZZA!  This is so easy, I shouldn't even call it a recipe.

Low Carb Pizza Rolls

1/3-1/2 C. shredded mozzerella
Toppings of your choice (I used pepperoni for this one)
2 Tablespoons of tomato sauce

Sprinkle cheese in a thin layer in the skillet, then add the toppings. 

 I usually use turkey pepperoni, but I only had the original super greasy ones on hand.

Continue to cook until the cheese gets nice and golden brown.

Once it is browned, remove from heat and let it cool down slightly.  You can slice it like a regular pizza or you can roll, slice, and dip.  I like the pizza roll idea, so that is how I do it.


 I have had this for lunch two days in a row because I've been craving pizza, so I will share that I have tried microwave and a skillet to make these.  Both work and taste the same.  For the microwave, put parchment paper on a microwave plate.  Add toppings, cook for about 2 minutes, then cool, roll, and eat.


July 23, 2012

Cheapout at the Iowa State Fair, 2012!

County fair time always makes me excited for the Iowa State Fair--just a few more weeks!

This is my most popular blog post every year, so I know it's necessary to replay every year.  I updated all the links and information to make them current for 2012.  This is my favorite family activity, with so much to learn and share.

I posted earlier about my love for the fair, and the Iowa State Fair is my all-time favorite. It's been featured in the book "1000 Places to See Before You Die," and I think it would take the whole 10 days to be able to see everything there is to see.  The fair can get expensive, so I want to show all the ways that you can do it for less.

 Cheapout on Ticket Costs
  • Kids 5 and under are free every day!
  • Half price admissions--the last day of the fair (August 19) and every day after 5 pm.
  • Pre-purchase your tickets and buy bundles online.  An adult admission to the Iowa State Fair is $10 this year, but only $7 if you buy them early.  I just went to look for the information on this, and July 27 is the last day to have the tickets mailed to you.
  • NEW! Print your discounted admission tickets at home, fee free!
  • Purchase admission and activity tickets online and have them mailed to you (a shipping and handling fee will apply).
  • Beginning approximately July 1 through August 8, admission tickets will be available at participating Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drugstores, Dahl's Foods and Fareway stores (without fees).
Cheapout on Activities
  • Skip the midway, and focus on the free activities.  There are more than enough free things to do at the fair.  If you do want to go to the midway, buy a Fair Play pack ahead of time.  This gets you some of the basic activities for a very low cost.  (Giant Slide is a favorite for us)
  • Here are a lot of activities your kids can do beforehand to get excited about the fair.  There are coloring pages and scavenger hunts, or you can make your own list up.
  • Sign up for Blue Ribbon Kids.  It's free, and it allows you to gain access to more free activities. 
  • The Paul Knapp animal learning center is my little one's favorite.  She's very young and still remembers the day we watched a litter of pigs being born.  They have expectant mothers of many different species having babies throughout the course of the fair, plus eggs hatching.  Even if you aren't able to witness the miracle of birth firsthand, they have tons of brand new baby animals and videos showing the births that have already occurred.


  • We also love Little Hands on the Farm.  The children get a chance to go around a path and harvest crops, then turn their crops in at the market for a dollar, which buys them a healthy snack.  They also get a free hat.

  • We loved the GRAPE STOMP at Grandfather's Barn!  What fun, and it makes a mess.  You know they love that.  Our kids even got ribbons for participating.

  • For some fun old time activities and learning, be sure to check out Pioneer Hall (husband calling contest, anyone?) and Heritage Village.
  • Don't forget all the stage shows!  There are areas specific to kids, such as the Fun Forest, but the other free events can still be fun for kids.  Mine love the talent show.  Check out my 2012 post on free fair entertainment HERE.

  • There are animal barns all over, and you can certainly go through each and every one of them.  I love the Avenue of Breeds, because you'll see a few of each type of animal all in one place.  You can't forget the big boar.  That's where you'll find him.  The big bull will be in the cattle barn and the big ram will be in the sheep barn.
  •  The DNR building has aquariums and an outdoor pond with ducks, geese and turtles.  They also have many fun activities and coloring pages.

  • There is also a free Petting Zoo (though you buy food to give to the animals)

  • To see the daily program, you can click here and enter the day you plan to attend to see what is going on and help you plan your visit.

Cheapout on Food

This really isn't all that possible, since the food is all expensive, but there are free food samples to be had.  There are also some less expensive and healthier options, though sometimes we save money on everything else so that we can have the money to spend on fair foods.   Here are some ideas:

  • Free samples at the Agricultural Building.  This is also where you see the Butter Cow, and it's a can't miss activity.  While you're there, get a hard boiled egg on a stick or try some ostrich meat.  There will be representatives from every industry with samples to taste.
  • For good food, your best bets are the Cattlemans Beef Quarters for good, Iowa raised beef, or pork chop on a stick at the Pork producers booth.  Dinner Bell is great for homemade breakfast, and Stockman's Inn for a better sit-down meal.  The Cattleman's Beef Quarters is doing daily coupons through their Facebook page!  Check it out HERE.
  • This link lists all the foods available at the fair and where to find them.  There really are healthier options (The Salad Bowl) and some vegetarian options.
  • We all know why you're really going to the fair, though, so here is a list of all the foods on a stick at this year's fair.

Enjoy!  I hope to see you all there.

More Amazon MP3 Deals

Be sure to check previous posts for a $2 credit and a way to get $1 credits for MP3 downloads from Amazon. Most of these deals become free once you add in those credits.

First, Justin Bieber's latest album is only $1.99!  It's one of the longest lasting cheapies I've seen this past week, but I'll bet it won't be for much longer.

Today only (and I would guess before the end of today) Demi Lovato is only 99 cents!

The Brave soundtrack is $2.99, and the deal of the day is $2.99 for Let It Shine.


Hank Williams Jr.'s newest album is $3.99 for a limited time.


Finally, if you are a Phish fan, get all of their albums for $2.99 or $3.99! Keep an eye on the bestsellers list! They've had 99 cent whole albums daily for a week. I've tried to post most as they come up, but I've missed a few.

July 21, 2012

Story County Fair Time!

It's Story County Fair time, one of the best bargains I know!

Since not everyone is local to me, I found a comprehensive list of all the county fairs in Iowa.  I know people who have never been to the fair, but it was a big part of my life growing up in rural Iowa.  If you have never been, go and check it out.  You won't be disappointed.

I put the dates for the Story County Fair into my calendar, but I also wanted to highlight some of the best events.
  • TODAY should be a great day for smaller children.  They will have the small animal shows beginning at 11 am, with dog and cat shows and a rabbit hopping show in the afternoon.  There is also a petting zoo from 3-7 pm.

  • Sunday there will be a family fun night, with a movie in the park.
  • Go try out the food!  The Methodist Church has a stand with tons and tons of homemade pies, and the food prices are so reasonable!  They will be serving all day long, with homemade breakfasts starting at 6 am.
  •  Check out the full schedule HERE.  And did I mention that admission to the fair is FREE for everyone?  Couldn't be better.

July 18, 2012

Get More Free MP3 Credits!

We're all about the free apps from Amazon, and we just got one this morning.  In my mail from that purchase?  A $1 promotional credit for the MP3 store.

I checked it out, and there are a LOT of these on the list.  FREE app, then $1 free MP3.

This promotion runs through September 30.

July 17, 2012

$2 in Amazon MP3 Credit!

Here's a good freebie: get $2 in Amazon MP3 store credits with code HEARTMP3.  Since I can never find where to enter this info, click HERE to get to the page.  You'll just need to click on the yellow enter your code button, and it will pop up a little window with all your gift card balances and give you a place to enter the code.

Hey, that would be 8 of these quarter downloads!

I found some great new songs this evening.

Cheap MP3 Deals Are Back at Amazon!

I apologize for the long lapse in posting. Summer is always a busier time for our family, and we had a long vacation and then too much work to make up for.

But I'm BACK with some great download deals.

Last night, I noticed that Bruno Mars' Doo Wops and Hooligans album was only 99 cents for the whole album, so I took some time to snoop around for more deals.  (EDIT, this one is now back up!)

If you like country, you are really in luck! I found lots of great country artists for $2.99 each.

EDIT: well, that was fast!  Most of these are now back up, so I am deleting the pictures.

Another great list of $2.99 albums can be found HERE.


There are also a LOT of the top MP3 singles for only 25 cents. All you have to do is check out the singles bestsellers list--there are way too many to post.  (these are still available)

Also tons of soul albums for only $2.99 each. So many great deals! I'll be back later with the freebies.