Saturday, August 27, 2011

Free Samples To Stretch The Budget

The Ohio Bridge in pen and ink by Dear Miss Mermaid
Most all pictures on the blog click to enlarge.

Stretchig a tiny budget is fun.  Sure more money is so much easier, but when it is not falling out of the sky, then it's time to do some serious stretching exercises. 

Recently, I was pretty ill, thank goodness, I am much better now. Matter of fact, Harley and I just came back from an energetic walk. He is thrilled I am feeling better, as it means we are getting out and walking more. 

While I was laid up in bed, I would wake up, too tired to actually get out of bed, so I brought my little old computer to bed with me. I use an inverted rectangular basket as a bed desk. Cost of basket was $1.  Can't beat the price for economy. The fact that it allows air to flow freely through it, helped to keep my laptop cool as well. Between sleeping and meditating, I would attempt to work on the laptop. I must have been sicker than I thought, many of my articles for pay, were rejected. 

Since I couldn't seem to concentrate much on work, I went on the internet searching for free samples. There are hundreds of websites catering to this, but I found them mostly useless with old outdated info. A few had good stuff, but it was like a needle in a haystack to find them. So I began scanning down the search list for actual companies that were offering free samples, rather than relying on the websites that write about free samples.  So far four companies have sent me samples that already arrived in the mail recently.

Bragg sent me 3 sample packets.  One each of;  Organic Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning,  Organic Sprinkle (24 Herbs and Spices Seasoning)  and Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning. I already love and use Bragg's organic Apple Cider Vinegar and Amino Acids (natural soy sauce) so it's fun to try out their other products. 

Emergen-C sent me 2 sample packets of 1,000mg Vitamin C Flavored Fizzy Drink Mix in Super Orange and another in Raspberry. I will admit, they are rather tasty. 

Lacoste sent me a sample card with 4 men's fragrances, as they were out of the female samples. So each day for fun, a rubbed a different male sample on my arm.  I thought they smelled pretty good on me, even if they were designed for men. 

Prilosec sent 2 free tablets for heartburn. I no longer have any heartburn trouble at all, but I figured I could toss it in the First Aid kit on board the wheel estate for future reference. 

Harley got into the act and ordered up some dog food samples, but sadly, none have arrived at this time. For a little 6 pound dog, he sure does love variety in his diet. Last summer in Ohio, a pet food store gave us a whole bag full of assorted dog food samples. He enthusiastically tried them all. While the samples were designed to feed a big dog one complete meal, it took little Harley, nearly a week, to polish off each sample. He only eats about 2 tablespoons of dry food once or twice a day. Of course this is supplemented with some "wet" food such as cheese or meat, usually about an ounce of each.  He also eats a vitamin everyday.  A gentle reader sent him a big container of doggy vitamin wafers as a gift. What an angel!  The wafer is a little too big for him, so I snap it into pieces, then toss it in his food bowl. Eventually he passes by the bowl, chowing down on his vitamin.      

I've read about how some small dogs are super peculiar and you have to feed them a strict diet of the exact same food for life. But Harley is different, he likes to try all sorts of things. Some things he will try once but not twice. For instance I gave him some plain yogurt one day which he readily gobbled up, but since then, he won't try it again. 

For some strange reason, he doesn't much care for me to give him treats at all. Maybe he fears we are going into training mode, as I have tried endlessly to train him with treat rewards, but he doesn't seem to care for that method. But if we have company, I can hand them a treat bag, then he readily gobbles up one or two proffered treats.  On about treat three of four, he turns his head away, refusing to eat anymore. 

I guess he wants to keep his cute little puppy figure. 

He seems destined to be perpetually underweight, but he is very energetic and healthy. Lately his coat is looking much nicer, maybe it's the vitamin wafers helping him along. 

Just for grins, I have since signed up for more free samples. Now I know to search more specifically such as "free toothpaste sample" or "free sample tea" and so on. It will be interesting to see what pops up next in our mailbox. 

Of course many readers have also bestowed gifts on us, more for Harley than for me. Harley just has that pathetic needy look about him. One reader sent us a jumbo container of pure Vermont Maple Syrup and a big dog toy for Harley that was a rope attached to a large tennis ball. Harley has since separated the rope from the ball. We play tug of war with the rope plus chase and fetch with the ball. Meanwhile I've been in hog heaven with the real Maple Syrup. I make pancakes then serve them with the syrup. I also make a healthy apple and carrot salad that is soaked in a maple syrup infused homemade dressing. 

Surprisingly, Maple Syrup (the real stuff, not the imitation) and Honey are both acceptable sweeteners for diabetics. 

Well, here I am bragging about feeling so much better, but that sudden tiredness has hit me again. No idea what that is about. So I am going to take a little nap now, to see if that cures what ails me. Then it will be time to walk again, then work, then do laundry, then write, then cook, then live...

This morning I put on dried beans to cook in the little 1.5 quart crockpot. It cooks beans perfectly. An angel sent me a box of assorted organic dried beans. So today I combined 1/3 cup each of black beans, red beans and pinto beans.  Once they are soft, I will decide how to flavor them or what to make out of them. Another thing I do with my bean dishes, is to often split it in half, once I've made the bean dish. Then I use my midget sized food chopper to make bean dip or spread. This way I have a healthy snack waiting in the fridge.  I often combine the bean dish with additional ingredients to make the dip, such as jalapenos and onions or cheese or all three. It just depends on what I have on hand at the time. 

I can also make a sandwich wrap with the bean dip and salad ingredients. I usually use small wheat tortillas, not those jumbo wraps. Those jumbo wraps sold in the stores are often so thick and huge, they equal about 4 pieces of bread, a little too much for my diet. Otherwise I can perk up an ordinary saltine cracker with my bean dip. 

Life is wonderful, I feel so blessed and lucky to have a comfy bed to go nap in, even if I do have to share it with Harley.  He wouldn't dream of letting me taking a nap by myself. Heaven forbid. Even when I napped in the chair one day, he curled up in my lap. Many folks don't have a bed of their own. I know I am lucky.  Angels look out after me.  I don't know why they do, but I  sure am grateful during these wild weird times. 

It's never too late.  I am trying 1,001 things to improve my health and life. So far, I keep waking up alive, so I must be doing something right. Yippee!


Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

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