How I Earn FREE Gas!!!

With today's economy, many of us try to do our best to be frugal & save money wherever we can. But unfortunately, gas is one of those necessary evils we really can't do without and the prices seem to keep going up. What if I were to tell you that you can earn free gas?! Granted, not every grocery store offers a gas incentive program and while the store I use, Giant, is a chain store, I realize it's not available everywhere. If your store offers a gas points program though, you should be able to use some of these tips. And if you aren't sure if any of your grocery stores offers a gas incentive program in your area, I'd encourage you to find out.

Since we always have to buy gas and can't get around that, why not get groceries AND gas for the same price or LESS than what it would cost you to get gas alone??

Lately, Giant has had gas deals where if you buy a certain amount of items (usually 4-7 products) you can earn $.30-$.50 off per gallon up to 30 gallons of gas. What makes these gas deals even sweeter is when they are what I call a "money maker" where I may only pay $7 for groceries but earn $12 in gas!

If you are scratching your head wondering what in the world I'm talking about, let me show you some examples of products I got that I made money on.

See that deer park water? I purchased 7 of them which cost me $6.16 BUT I earned $9 in gas so it was almost a $3 money-maker. Just to note, you do not have to buy 7 of the same item. As long as you buy 7 items from that grouping you will get the gas deal. Most deals for me work out better getting the same item due to cost & coupons I am using.

In this section, the hefty foam plates were $1.67 each. To get this gas deal, I had to purchase 6 which equaled $10. Then I had coupons I printed from for $1 off 2, so I used 3 of them bringing my total down to $7. Then when you calculate the free gas earned, I got $15 worth of gas for only $7!!!

To calculate how much free gas you earn, take the amount per deal you can earn times 30 gallons which is the max amount you can receive. So using the above $.50 per gallon, that would be $.50 x 30=$15.00 of gas. 

This week, Scunci hair products were $.50 off plus for every 4 you purchased you received $.40 off per gallon. The Easter hair ties were included so I paid $.49 a pack. So for every 4, I paid $1.96 but I earned $9 in free gas!!! I ended up getting $15 worth of hair ties but I earned $72 in gas, can't beat that deal!

Tissues were another money-maker this week. They are on sale 2/$4. For every 4 that you buy, you get $.30 off per gallon plus there is a coupon for $.55 off 3 (which Giant doubles to $1). And on top of that, when I bought 8, a catalina coupon printed off at the register for $2 off my next shopping order of anything! So to break it down:

I bought 8 boxes which was $16
I used 2 coupons which brought my total to $14
I earned $.60 off per gallon of gas which gave me $18 of gas for only spending $14
AND I earned a $2 off coupon for next time I shop!!! Hey, tissues are something you always need especially with upcoming allergy season.

Just another picture of some grocery items I've gotten in the past that were also money makers! 

I personally try to stick with the gas deals that either break even (I spend $12 but get $12 in free gas) or the deals that are money makers as I shared above. I haven't had to buy gas in 2 months thanks to the great gas deals I've been getting!! In fact, I filled up 2 of our vehicles yesterday using 60 gallons of gas which typically would've cost me $220 but I got it all for free spending 1/3 of that amount in groceries thanks to the money-making gas deals!! 

To get the full benefit of this program, you want to get your full 30 gallons. I realize not all vehicles will hold 30 gallons worth of gas. Giant's rules are you can only fill 1 vehicle per transaction BUT you can fill gas cans in addition to your vehicle. So what I did was I invested in 3 5 gallon gas can (I got mine on sale for $9.99).

So what I do is run my vehicles to about where I only have 1/4 tank of gas left. Then I take my gas cans with me, fill up my vehicle and then put the rest of  my 30 gallons in my gas cans. Then as our vehicles empty a bit, we use the gas from the gas cans to fill them up. By the time we use up the gas in the cans and run our vehicles low in gas, I have enough points earned again for more free tanks of gas!

Do you have a store you shop at to earn free gas? Would you be interested in me putting up a page to share weekly gas deals?

CTC Math

Let's face it, math can be a challenging subject so I always appreciate extra resources in helping my children master it.  So we were excited to be given the chance to try CTC Math which we came to discover, is a wonderful online math program. We were recently given the 12 month Family Plan to review homeschool math.

The founders (as well as those who teach the lessons) are based from Australia and therefore have a soothing Australian based accent as they present the lessons. There is a choice to choose between Aussie & USA math This program provided us with 1 year of online math teaching from Kindergarten to 12th grade for all of our family. It is a full curriculum for at least grades K-6 and a very comprehensive supplement for middle & high school covering:

-Basic Math/Pre-Algebra
-Algebra 1
-Algebra 2

We are told that CTC Math is working on completing the upper grade level maths so they can be used as stand alone programs rather than just supplemental as they are now.

When I first logged on, I registered each of my children's names. We reviewed grades 5, 6 & basic math/pre-algebra as well as a touch of Kindergarten math with my 2 year old. She is a sponge lately and really enjoyed the beginning lessons that went over numbers 1-5 as well as going over patterns. Because the lessons are short, it kept her attention.

When your child first logs in, they choose the grade, the stream then the topic they want to cover. You can go in chronological order or you can choose for your child to just cover the topics they need the most help in. My children chose to take a break from our regular math curriculum and follow each lesson chronologically fully during the time of review. They did about 2-3 lessons a day for 4-5 days a week. If you are unsure of where to place your child, you can have them take the standard or comprehensive diagnostic test (which is available in the elementary grades) to figure out if they need to complete a certain level or not.

Each lesson was presented in a short video of about 5-10 minutes in length. Afterwards there was an online worksheet they would take to test them on what they just learned.

If there were math problems my children weren't able to figure out in their head, they would work out some of the problems on notebook paper. In addition to the video lessons, there were also games the kids could play or even worksheets to print out. There were certificates they could earn after getting good grades which make a nice contribution to portfolios if you have to complete them. 

There is also a parents login where we could see when each child last logged in, the lessons they completed, the scores they got as well as had the ability to see their results report (summary or detailed). It would've been nice if we could've given them assignments to specific lessons from here. I would sit down with each child to determine what lessons they had to complete, which worked out but I am all about assigning lessons ahead of time if I can to save myself time. If I didn't have the time to log in to check on their progress, no biggie as I was emailed a progress report each week!

This curriculum was easy for each of my kiddos to log in on their own with their own login name (they didn't need my help after the first time). They loved the fact that if they had to stop in the middle of a lesson for whatever reason, it saved their spot and when they logged in again, it would take them right to where they left off at. They also appreciated the simplistic videos and that if they didn't understand something, they would go back and rewatch the video.

All my kiddos gave this curriculum a rave review! They each felt this helped them fill in the blanks to certain areas their regular math was lacking. They loved the ability to skip around to watch & complete lessons in areas they felt they needed extra help and they didn't move on to another lesson until they felt they were ready to. We appreciated the fact that they could each learn at their own pace. In fact, my children said they each plan to continue CTC Math over summer especially while we are on break from school to help them keep up on what they have learned.

At the time of this review, the 12 Month Family Plan for homeschoolers is just $118 which is normally $297. This is for 2+ family members for 12 months! This gives you access to ALL the levels!

You can also find CTC Math on Facebook.

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Wordless Wednesday

Ok, I have to say a few words so ya'll know what is behind this picture. Typically I am the one giving away gifts cuz I simply love to but just this week, I was the one on the winning end! A HUGE thank you to 5 Minutes for Mom for hosting the recent Ultimate Blog Party 2014. I was so incredibly blessed to discover I won the Angel Care AC 1200 video movement & sound monitor for smartphone, worth $299!!!! Cue the EEEEKKK!!!!!! What an amazing gift especially for a momma who has lost a baby & worries about something happening to her other babies. I just received it and am loving all the features & clarity.

Thanks again for this amazing gift!!

Mini Egg Bites

If you are like my family, we like to change up our meals and occasionally have breakfast for supper! In fact, this recipe that I am sharing, can be made in a huge batch and froze to make for an easy meal or snack!!! It is also one that you can easily adjust to suit your likes & tastes.

Granted, this isn't the best photo but when the kids are scarfing them down and barely leaving me any for pictures, what can I expect!!!

The easiest way to explain how to do this is to take a muffin pan, spray it well with non-stick spray and add in whatever food you like, whether it's shredded potato, ham, pepperoni, cheese, onion, bacon, broccoli, sausage, etc.

Add whatever "fillings" you like to an oiled/sprayed muffin pan. Then beat several eggs adding some salt & pepper to them (I think I used about 6 or so for 12 "muffins") and pour them over top the toppings in the pan till it's about 3/4 filled. Bake at 350 for about 20 or so minutes, or until the egg muffins are cooked through. These also freeze very well & make for a great on-the-go breakfast!!!

Check out some of my fellow crew members and what they are sharing this week!

Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores

Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Click the graphic below to see the entire group of blog posts!

April Blog Hop

Mexican Chili Cornbread Casserole

What happens when the flavors of chili, taco & southern cornbread decide to come together? You have this amazing mix of savory & sweet flavors all in one bite! This week, my cooking class made what I call "Mexican Chili Cornbread Casserole". This all-in-one dish is easy to bring together. While I came up with a recipe to follow, you can easily tweak the ingredients to suit your taste buds.

mexican chili cornbread casserole

1 1/3lb of ground meat (this amount is flexible a 1/3lb either way and can be any combo of ground meats, I used beef)
1/2c diced onion
1 small pepper diced
1-2 garlic cloves minced
16oz diced tomato, canned or fresh
6oz tomato paste
1 cup corn
1/2- 1 cup black beans (use whatever amount you prefer)
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4- 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes (optional if you like a little spice, we do!)
1/2c shredded cheese
1 box of cornbread mix (like jiffy) plus the ingredients to mix it up (which usually consist of egg & milk)

Saute ground meat, onion, pepper & garlic together. Drain fat. Add in the diced tomato, tomato paste, corn, black beans, chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt & chili flakes. Mix well & cook on low for about 10 minutes. Place into an 8x8 dish. If you like cheese, you could add some on top of this.

Mix cornbread according to directions. Pour on top of meat mixture & spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes uncovered until cornbread is cooked. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of cheese on top & place back in oven until melted. If you desire an extra side, serve with some cooked rice.

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

One of my favorite things to do to welcome the month of April is to participate in the Ultimate Blog Party at 5 Minutes for Mom! I started doing this several years ago. Not only have I came across new blogs to follow, I've also met some great gals who then became friends because of it.  So whether you are a long time follower of Treasuring Life's Blessings or new and stopping by, welcome!

Just a quick intro about myself. My name is Jenn and I am a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom to 7 beautiful children. I parent 6 of my dear children here on earth and parent 1 precious son, Noah in Heaven

I've been married for 15 years to my husband Kevin. I have been a volunteer EMT for 13 years and a CPR/First Aid instructor for 6 years. I enjoy photography and I love to cook (I teach a cooking class for homeschoolers)! 

I also enjoy gardening

as well as traveling while camping & cruising.

I chat about various topics here and give an honest glimpse into our everyday life. Some of the topics & posts you'll find here are:

-frugal living (I also share deals & bargains you can find in stores & online)
-product reviews & giveaways

Overall, you'll find topics & posts here that live out my blogs name, Treasuring Life's Blessings, both big and small, the good and the not-so-good. Each moment of our lives has some bigger purpose and in this little bit of cyberspace I try to share a glimpse of our life with you!

I love connecting and interacting with my readers while hearing their thoughts & opinions! You can also find Treasuring Life's Blessings at FacebookTwitter & Pinterest.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and I look forward to getting to know you! :)

Spelling You See

It isn't very often we get to try out a product that is new and hadn't even hit the homeschool market until now! Enter Spelling You See that we had the privilege of reviewing from the Demme Learning company which is local to me in Lititz PA. This is also the same company who published the popular Math-U-See curriculum! We've had recent success with Math-U-See so we were excited to try out their brand new spelling curriculum! Hannah happened to be the lucky one who received Level E-American Spirit.

Spelling You See has a unique approach in how they teach spelling. This is not a boring, memorize a list of words then test, curriculum! This curriculum was founded by Dr. Karen Holinga, who has 30 years experience as a reading specialist. This spelling curriculum is not divided by grade but by levels and designed to go at the pace of a student. This philosophy follows 5 developmental stages of spelling:

-Skill Development
-Word Extensions
-Derivational Constancy

How this works:
To figure out what level to place your elementary student, you can follow this placement guide. Following this, it showed me that Hannah would be placed in their top level that is currently available, American Spirit. There are 5 levels available with 2 more in the works:

A- Listen and Write
B- Jack and Jill
C-Wild Tales
E-American Spirit

Coming Soon:
F: Ancient Achievements
G: Modern Milestones

This curriculum is divided into 36 weekly lessons spread out through 2 student workbooks consisting of 5 lessons a week. Each lesson takes no more than 10-15 minutes. The key to this curriculum is that the parent sits with the child to do each lesson. At the beginning of the week, you read the passage to your child then help them "chunk" the vowels and consonant pairs using colored pencils (meaning you color the pairs such as ea, ee, ie, ch, ph th, etc).  They also practice writing the passage daily. This helps the student visualize sound patterns, making them recognizable. You will do this for the first 3 lessons of the week. The last 2 lessons of the week involve you dictating the passage to your child for them to write down what you read to them. On day 4 you will help them with punctuation and spelling but the 5th day is sort of a "test" day in letting your child write the dictation completely on their own.
What makes this curriculums approach unique is that they bring together a visual, audio & physical learning experience in helping to learn spelling. And not only is spelling taught but handwriting is also practiced as is reading skills honed since they read the passage along with their parent! This also helps by writing daily the same passage to implant the words and their meanings. 
How we used it:
I read over the instructor's handbook before starting to learn how to really use this curriculum to the fullest potential. While you could possibly use this curriculum with just the student books, there is a lot of great info in the handbook as well as a special code to access online videos & content. So I would recommend purchasing the handbook to make sure you know how to best use this curriculum to the max! 
Each day, I sat down with Hannah and followed the guided schedule. She is a pretty good reader so we would read the passage together rather than the guidelines of me reading it to her. Then she used the colored pencils that came with the curriculum to chunk the vowel & consonant blends. After that, she would do the writing that was required for each day. Each days lessons were contained in a 2 page layout, one on the left & right, so no page flipping was needed.
We enjoyed the fact that the daily readings were tied into factual American history (which is what she has been studying this year for history). So not only was she learning spelling, she was also learning tidbits of history, practicing handwriting and reading all in just 10-15 minutes a day!

Each level contains 2 student books with the option of purchasing an instructor's handbook. Level E- American Spirit, which we reviewed is available for purchase at $30 for the student workbooks & $14 for the instructor's handbook. While there is no exact age or grade levels, this curriculum is for elementary ages or to be used as remedial work for older students who need to work on their spelling skills.
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