Monday, April 24, 2017

A Message for New Moms: You've Got This

You have brought home your tiny baby.  You may have had a smooth delivery, or you may have had a tense, anxiety filled experience - but either way - you survived and now days, weeks, maybe months later you are at home with this sweet little bundle.  It is the middle of the night - or wait - is it early in the morning?  You're not really sure anymore because all the hours and days seem to be melting together.  You are scrolling through social media and seeing dozens of pictures of people you know, and some you don't, looking perfect.  Smiling.  Happy.  Beautiful.  Holding their well-dressed babies full of joy.  Suddenly, you feel more than tired - you feel.....inadequate.  Your house isn't clean enough.  Your baby isn't sleeping "enough".  You are not cooking enough.  You love your baby but you are not happy enough.  You have't lost enough weight.  You don't know what you are doing - well-intentioned but unsolicited parenting advice is making you feel like you are not good enough.  Listen to me sisters: You've got this.

When the baby won't stop crying and all you can do is tell him you love him give him a snuggle - you've got this.

When you shed a tear because you are overwhelmed by the awesome task you have been given - you've got this.

When you decide to order a pizza because you just didn't get a chance to cook the dinner you wanted tonight - you've got this.

When the laundry is piling up because your baby needed you more than housework - you've got this.

When you feel like you will have a handful of squishy skin around your waistline forever (you won't) - you've got this.

Parenting is so hard.  It is the hardest thing you will ever do.  People will tell you "this goes by so fast", "this too shall pass", "this is a phase" - and it will not make you feel any better (even if they are telling you the truth - and they are).  Remind yourself: Today is one day.  I will love myself and my baby today.  I will not be ashamed to ask for help if I need it.  Tomorrow will be a new day.  

You've got this.

There is no perfect mom.  We are all making mistakes and learning as we go.  No author of any book or theory has ever raised (or met for that matter) your child.  You will find your way and it will not be anyone else's way, and that is OK.  

A Message for New Moms:  Your baby loves you.  Your baby needs you now and forever.  You are strong.  You are a warrior.  

You've got this.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls

I tried to think of something more glamourous to call these - but all the names just started Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls it is.

Kraft Canada recently released a new product - Natural Peanut Butter with Sea Salt.  I picked some up on sale at No Frills for $2.88 a few weeks ago and it is, as one would expect, delicious.  There is a pretty well-known no bake peanut butter ball recipe on the back of most Kraft Peanut butter jars - and I have adapted it slightly to come up with this recipe.

The peanut butter balls I made and ate as a kid were essentially peanut butter, butter, and icing sugar.  They were very delicious, super rich and.....contained lots of sugar.  This recipe is healthier, but still packs a punch.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls
1 cup of Kraft Natural Peanut Butter with Sea Salt
1/4 cup of honey
1 cup of oatmeal (I used Quaker quick oats)
1 cup of chopped pecans
2/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips OR chopped bittersweet chocolate
Coconut - optional

Combine the peanut butter and honey in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, except coconut, and stir.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (I like to leave it overnight).  Form mixture into balls (a tbsp scoop makes this super easy).  If desired, roll balls in coconut.  Enjoy!

Refrigerate when not eating.  This mixture will stay good in the fridge for up to one week.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Great Grocery Project: March Recap

This month seemed to drag on forever.  I have lots to say so lets get to it.

This month we spent $390.00 on groceries.  This is less than the average household monthly expenditure on food (it is $719.00), but still more than I wanted to spend.  Further in this post I will be discussing how we got here.  First, let's break it down....

What did we spend our money on?

Ranked from highest to lowest....

Produce = $122.96  We spent a lot of money on produce this month.  One of the main things driving up our produce spending is my son.  Yes, I will blame this on him - but it is alright.  First, he rarely eats vegetables - but he loves green smoothies - in particular this Going Green Smoothie recipe from Vitamix.  If making this smoothie gets my son eating, er drinking, spinach then so be it.  (I also really like this smoothie recipe).  The main ingredients in this smoothie are grapes (not cheap!!!  I have been trying to get them on sale every week but I think I am spending about $7-10.00 a week on grapes), pineapple (also not cheap - but is often on sale thankfully), bananas (cheap!!) and spinach (cheap!!).  The other "produce development" if you will is that my son is currently enjoying eating pears and apples - with the peel on!  He is not quite 3 1/2 years old so this is huge for me that he can just walk into the kitchen and grab a piece of fruit and chomp away.  I do not want to discourage this habit (it probably won't last) so I have been keeping a steady supply of pears and apples in our kitchen.  So there, I am blaming everything on my son.  But it's not a bad thing.  I will spend some extra money on produce if it means that my son is actually willing to eat healthy foods with no prompting whatsoever.

Dairy = $105.45  A few programming notes here.  My dairy includes eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.  I bought lots of cheese this month because of pizza making with our recently acquired Vitamix.  I also spent $8.00 on a specialty cheese (Smoked yes!!!).  We love cheese in our house.  We moved to Toronto from Europe (although we are Canadian) and we were very spoiled by the low price of specialty cheeses in Europe.  This was a treat for me an I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite of it.
This month I was also reminded of the importance of regularly checking and comparing prices.  Typically butter in Canada retails for about $5.99 a pound (I realize that must seem exorbitant to American readers, but this is the case).  If you watch, you can usually find it on sale ever six to eight weeks for $2.99 or $3.49 a pound, however Costco used to sell it for $2.95 a pound.  I always stocked up with butter at Costco.  Recently I noticed that the Costco where I shop increased their price of butter to $3.95 a pound and so now I will be waiting for butter to (hopefully) go on sale before Easter for $2.88 or $2.99 a pound.  I will be stocking up on butter in April.  I also decided this month that I will likely stop purchasing Liberté yogurt at Costco (but other brands of yogurt are still a very good deal there).  At Costco, you can purchase Liberté Yogurt in packs of 14 for a decent price, but the flavours are predetermined and it is a low fat yogurt.  Because my son loves yogurt (but mainly just vanilla and not low fat), and because my husband and I are particular about the flavours we like, I am now going to purchase my Liberté yogurt at regular retails where I can typically get it in pack of 4 for between $3-4.00.  This allows me to get only the flavours that we all like and will eliminate any unnecessary wasted yogurt.  It will not cost us any more, and in some cases will cost less.

Pantry = $43.48

Meat = $28.78  This amount should have been less because someone (no husbands mentioned here) forgot to take out a turkey to thaw, so at the last minute I bought chicken.  The chicken was reduced for quick sale, but it didn't really feel like a deal.  Nonetheless, it tasted fabulous.

Frozen = $21.23

Bread = $18.97  I did make bread once this month, but we also ate a lot of toast.  That's alright though.  One thing I tried this month was a visit to the Stonemill Bakery factory outlet.  It is in Markham which is not too far from where we live.  Let me just save you the trip and tell you that this is not worth the trip (unless you live very close to the factory and do not have a Costco membership).  At the factory you can get 4 loaves of bread for $10.00 which is about the same price that you can get it for at Costco (3 loves for $6.99 or $7.99 depending on the type) and they only take cash.  Oh well, it was worth checking out if only to know that it is not worth the return trip.

Beverage = $14.74  This is much better than the ridiculous amount I spent on beverages last month.  It is slightly over the $10.00 limit I was thinking of, but I am comfortable with this spend.

Prepared Food = $11.28

Baby Products = $8.37

Where did we spend our money?

Costco = $83.12

Metro = $57.20

Michael Angelo's = $12.29

No Frills = $183.88  I made a conscious effort to shop more at No Frills this month because they have really good prices and I find if I go there first thing in the morning (especially on a Saturday) the produce selection is quite good.  Because of this, I also decided to get a new PC Points card and to try and use it more often.  I had one when the loyalty program first started, but never really started using it.  I am going to try and use it regularly now and I will keep you posted on how I find this loyalty program.

Village Grocer = $11.49

Walmart = $27.00

What did we do to save money this month?

I used some of the coupons that I got last month from Shoppers Drug Mart ($30.00 worth) to purchase various needed items.

I ordered Easter gifts for my son and nephews through Ebates.  We keep it very simple - I ordered them through Chapters Indigo.  Each boy gets a sports ball (yes, you can get these things from Indigo) and a book relating to the ball.  For example, my son is getting a neon mini football and a Charlie Brown book about football.  I picked up some very small chocolate items from Walmart to hide for him for his hunt.

My son had a growth spurt and needed new clothes.  I literally had not been shopping (in person) since August, so one day I drove to the outlet mall in Cookstown where I visited The Gap and Crabtree and Evelyn.  I was able to get some excellent end of season clearouts on pants for my son and some sweatshirts for next season also at an excellent price.  I also got $50.00 in Gap dollars, but I will only use them if it serves a purpose when they are valid - otherwise I will give them to a friend.  In addition, I was able to pick up the final items for Mother's Day gifts.  I purchased two beautiful gift sets from Crabtree and Evelyn at 50% off.  They were 50% off because they were in Christmas tins, but the packages themselves were not festive.  This is perfect.  I will remove them from the tins to make the spa gifts I have in mind for my mother and mother-in-law and keep the tins to either use at Christmas time or as storage for my kids craft/art supplies.

One thing I have been trying to do is really, really make sure I want to buy something before I spend money on it.  I normally do this anyway but this month even more so.  I keep asking myself - do I need this?  Do I need this right now?  Is there something else I can get that is the same quality but costs less?

Frugal Fail:
This month I ate at fast food restaurants on several occasions.  We never (like ever!) eat out.  I would not mind if these meals had been planned, but most of them weren't and so I am disappointed about these expenses.  I really let myself down here.  This will not happen again.

Looking forward...
I have good feelings about April and I am very happy to close the door on March.  We have lots of meat for this month (the frozen turkey that did not get thawed last month, some chicken I cooked today, and some pork I picked up yesterday on sale for $1.77 a pound).  We still have lots of pantry supplies and lots of fruit in our freezer which I am going to start pounding through at a faster rate as summer approaches.

A couple of experiences this month were very humbling for me.  My friend's daughter is doing some missionary work in Guatemala and she posted a picture of a family that she brought a bed to.  Their house was literally built into rocks with sheet metal for the roof.  They have five children and a daughter who was terribly ill and also blind and unable to swallow.  My heart broke when I saw this picture.  We are so truly blessed (not the trendy hashtag blessed), we take so much for granted.

Another friend of mine is a missionary in Kentucky.  He posted on Facebook about a visit to an orphanage where he met a young man whose brain never developed properly because for the firth three years of his life he was only fed water and KoolAid.  I read about this with a very heavy heart.  There are so many children who do not get the love and care they need.  These stories always drive home to me the importance of taking care of my own family and those around me, and how fortunate I am that I have the means to do so.  We are truly, truly blessed.

On another note, spring has arrived and I am looking forward to celebrating Easter with family this month as well.....

Spring, glorious spring!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gift Giving on a Budget (aka Why I Love Dollarama)

I love giving gifts to people.  It is so great to see someone's reaction when they open a gift and know that they are going to enjoy it or have a practical use for it.  I also love putting gifts together.  I don't really know why - I just do.  I love gifting.  This can be a dangerous thing because sometimes we can buy gifts that are junk (maybe not to us) which people will never use.  When I am shopping for a gift I try to ask myself what the person could use, what they might need, and what might they enjoy?  Sometimes the gift is a thing, other times it is an experience.  I also love edible gifts.  These questions are always followed by, what can I afford to give?  The budget always dictates the gift.  Buying gifts for someone that you cannot afford is unwise.  I have seen people do this (especially for their own children), and trust me, it never ends well.  Sometimes people may think they want to give their kids a "special" birthday or holiday, but then they confuse special with expensive.  Special and expensive are so not synonymous.  When I think back to some of my favourite gifts that I received as a child, none of them were expensive.  None.  There is nothing wrong with an expensive gift - if you can afford it.  Debt free gift giving is really paramount to financial stability.  Anyway, I am getting sidetracked... 
One of my favourite places to shop for gifts is a Canadian dollar store called Dollarama.  True, dollar stores are easy places to collect junk - but they are also places where a careful shopper can curate a beautiful gift.  I am going to share below some of purchases from a recent trip to Dollarama and how they can be used to make beautiful gifts.  Did I mention I love Dollarama?  I totally do and they definitely have not paid me to say this.
One Egg Is A Fortune Cookbook and Coffee Table Book - $4.00
I picked up this stunning cookbook and coffee table book, One Egg Is A Fortune, for $4.00.  It was still wrapped in the publisher's plastic.  It is a fantastic book (I found it at online retail outlets for between $30.00 and $45.00).  This was actually a purchase for myself, and I bought one for a friend.  However, it would be an amazing gift on its own or paired with some cookware.
Williams & Sonoma Kids Parties book, $3.00
This Williams & Sonoma Kids Parties book was $3.00.  For the person who loves to host parties, this would be fantastic when paired with some party supplies (perhaps craft supplies to go with an activity in the book, mason jars, a cake pan, cookie sheets, etc.).  There are some really cute and affordable ideas in this book for various themed kids parties.
Star Wars Hot Wheels, $3.00 each.
I picked up these Star Wars Hot Wheels to go with one of my nephews' birthday presents.  They were matched with a pair of Star Wars Crocs (bought on clearance through Crocs using Ebates) and a Star Wars t-shirt ordered from The Bay (also using Ebates).

Children's books, assorted prices from $1.25-$3.00
Dollarama often has a great selection of kids books.  On this trip I picked up some hardcover books, including some Backyardigans storybooks, a bilingual (French and English) Paw Patrol book, and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse storybook.  These books will all be used to go with gifts for my own children as well as nieces and nephews.

These are just a few examples of things that can be purchased at Dollarama and used in gifts for people of all ages,  Needless to say, trips to the dollar store help me to stay on budget and give great affordable gifts to the people I care about.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wedding Spending - Your Dream Wedding for Less

It is another -23 degree morning here and the snow is blowing around, but that is not stopping me from thinking about the upcoming wedding season.  I have read a few posts on different blogs about weddings on the near horizon - and so I decided to share a few tips from my own wedding experience as a bride, and many experiences as a bridesmaid.  It is so easy for weddings to become ridiculously expensive (and ridiculous of course is all relative), but there are things you can do to save money.

Where to spend and where to save?
This is a question only you and your partner can answer.  The most important thing when planning a wedding (aside from the obvious making sure you have chosen the right partner and that you are in a solid relationship) is establishing priorities.  What do you think of when you think of your dream wedding?  What is most important to you?  Do you dream of a live band playing jazz standard into the night, an outdoor wedding at a heritage location, or perhaps you have always wanted a country themed wedding?  Only you and your partner can answer these questions.  Once you have made a list of what is important to the two of you, it should be much easier to decide where to spend and where you can save some money.

The Ring
A lot of couples are starting to forgo the diamond engagement ring and opting for less expensive items such as other gemstones are synthetic diamonds.  My husband got my engagement ring via a diamond wholesaler we had a personal connection to, which saved a significant amount of money.  I love my ring, but going back in time yes, I probably would now opt for an even less expensive option and put any money saved towards a down payment for a house.  My rule of thumb is to never take on debt for an engagement or a wedding.  So many problems in a marriage arise due to financial issues, you do not want to start off by taking on unnecessary debt.  Work with whatever budget you have.

The Invitations
My artistic ability is minimal, and I really wanted embossed (raised print) wedding invitations so I used a professional printer.  It cost roughly $500.00 for approximately 200 invitations.  They were beautiful and classic and I loved them - but if you are handy (of you know someone who is) you can easily make your own invitations for a fraction of that price.  One of my friends spent about $75.00 making their wedding invitations and there was nothing cheap looking about them.  Let's be honest - 95% of your invitations will end up in the recycle bin after the fact anyway.
Other Stationary - I bought all of my "Thank You" cards for the wedding and preceding bridal showers at Dollorama (Canadian dollar store) and Target.  I made my own wedding programs using regular white paper that I folded into a booklet.  I covered the booklet with a folded and cut piece of cardstock (to make a full booklet), stamped the front of the booklet and used ivory ribbon to tie everything together.

The Date
Our wedding was on a Friday evening.  We hadn't planned on this - but the venue we wanted was booked the Saturday of our wedding weekend so we opted for a Friday wedding.  We knew that we wanted an evening wedding anyway (our ceremony was at 7 and our reception started at 9pm), so we didn't have to worry about the majority of guests having to take a day off work to attend.  Sidebar: I loved an evening wedding.  It made the day so relaxed and not rushed.  It was fantastic and our guests didn't have to mill about for hours between the ceremony and reception.
Another great way to get reduced rates is to have your wedding at a non-seasonal time (ie. not in the summer or early fall).

This is where a lot of people can blow the budget.  I wanted a dress that was different and that I loved, and I just never found one that I fell in love with.  So I had a custom dress made.  This was a major expense - however major is again relative.  I know people who have paid $5000.00 for their wedding dress - I did not pay near this much.  My dress was not a traditional bridal gown.  I saw a dark brown evening gown made by Michel Desjardins that I loved and in the end I had a custom version of it made in cream.  I loved it.  It was a little pricey, but I never really regretted spending a bit more money on this.  I think if I had wanted to spend less money I would have opted for a complete different style of gown.  I have seen some beautiful cocktail length dresses worn by brides recently and that is another great way to save money.

But how can you save on a wedding dress?  Here are two great options:
Opportunity Bridal is a Canadian company - it is essentially a traveling bridal boutique that sells demos and ends of high end wedding gowns at steeply discounted prices.  This is a phenomenal way to save hundreds (thousands even) of dollars on a bridal gown.  I know many people who have bought their gowns through this company and it has been a huge money saver for them.  If you live close to the border, with the low Canadian dollar it is probably worth the trip to check out one of their shows.  Due to the nature of the business, their dress selection is always changing.

Another great option is House of Brides online bridal boutique.  The big disadvantage here is that you do not get to try on your dress - which is why for the bridal gown I prefer other options.  However, I did use House of Brides to order all my bridesmaid dresses and it worked wonderfully.

As far as the men are concerned - lots of money can be saved by having them all wear a black suit and just purchasing coordinating shirts and ties instead of renting tuxes.  This is assuming they all own a suit.

The Food
Because I had a very clear vision of what I wanted for our wedding, the food was easy to sort out.  We had an evening reception (it started at 9pm) and there was total free movement (there were tables for people to sit at - but no assigned seating and so it was more of a large cocktail party vibe).  I knew that I did not want a long sit down multiple course meal, nor would time permit that.  Instead we had a massive assortment of finger food and appetizers.  Just to clear up any misconceptions: we had an abundance of food and we got a lot of very positive feedback about it.  We had stations - so there was a large cheese and crudité bar, there was a prime rib carving station where people could have custom baguette sandwiches made, there was lots of seafood, there were servers constantly offering up food to our guests  - things like goat cheese tartlettes, chicken skewers, shrimp, etc. etc.  Food was everywhere and it was good.  Neither of us really wanted a cake, so we had a large dessert bar which included a chocolate fountain.  This was a big hit.  Our dinner was not "cheap" in price, but it was a fraction of what a four or five course sit down meal would cost.  Most people I talk to say that a sit down dinner at a typical wedding venue in our area will run you around $100/head.  Ten years after our wedding, people still mention to us how much they enjoyed the food.
Other ways to save money include shopping around many different types of venues (our reception was at a private members club, but there are lots of community halls and churches that put on great feasts for weddings at very reasonable prices).  I have been to weddings where the bride and groom literally cooked all the food themselves.  This was so much work, but the result was excellent.  One wedding I attended had a make your own beef on a bun bar, an assortment of salads, and then for the midnight buffet they ordered about 50 pizzas from a local pizzeria.  Their cake was made by a friend, large slabs of cake we sliced right before the reception.  Essentially, they also did all the food themselves.  All this food came at a very low cost - and you know what?  It was amazing.  I had so much fun at this reception.  There are so many different things you can do to save money on food while still treating your guests to a beautiful party - because you do want your guests to enjoy a beautiful night out.

The Entertainment

I wanted a live band at my wedding.  I just did.  This was a major expense for us (it was about $2800.00).  We hired a well-known artist and a 4 piece jazz ensemble.  They were great.  People oooed and awes when I announced that they would be providing music for our guests after the toasts were complete.  Yes, it was a big expense.  This was something that was important to me.  Given the technology available today, I have attended weddings where people made their own playlist in advance and hooked up iPods to speakers and sound systems they had access to.  Do what works for you.

The Favours
Favours are an area where you can save a lot of money.  DIY is the way to go.  I highly recommend something edible or plantable, or burnable (a candle) because I think everything else will eventually end up in the garbage (sorry).  Unless maybe you make your own pottery......
What did we do?  There is a great supply company called ULine.
ULine sells retail and food packaging products in bulk.  Through ULine, we ordered food safe (FDA compliant) candy boxes and liners, as well as drawstring bags to put them in.  Ordering them through Uline was again, a fraction of the cost of ordering through a major wedding supplier.  I strongly recommend checking out the different products they offer for favour ideas.
After we had all our boxes, I gathered some friends and family and we did some serious baking.  Our favourite treats.  We then filled 185 boxes with delicious desserts for our guests to take home.

The Flowers
As soon as you say "wedding flowers" dollar signs start dancing around.  We ordered our flowers from a local grocery store (Zehrs) that had a florist on staff.  The trick is to make sure you have a good florist.  Our photographer, who obviously has been to thousands of weddings, commented on how beautiful the bouquets were.  When I told him where they came from and the cost he couldn't believe it.  You can also get great flowers at very reasonable prices from Costco.

Ten years after the big day, all you will have left are your memories and pictures.  This is not an area I would skimp on.  Make sure you have someone who knows what they are doing.

Out of Town Guests
Let's be honest.  People spend a lot of money on your wedding.  People travel.  People take time off work.  They buy something to wear.  They hire a babysitter.  They buy you a lovely gift.  They sacrifice for you.  And they don't have to.  So it is important to show your appreciation to your guests.  We had a number of guests traveling from out of town for our wedding.  Initially I wanted to send a gift basket to each of their hotel rooms (they were mainly all staying at the same hotel where we had a group discount for our guests).  When I looked into the cost of this, I realized it would cost about $100 per basket.  Way out of my budget.  So I decided to make my own.  This was super easy, and was very appreciated.  I bought a number of large gift bags and baskets at the dollar store, then I went to Costco and picked up items such as: San Pellegrino sparkling water, still water, soft drinks, snack bars, individually bagged chips, gum, mints, colouring books and crayons for guests with children, etc.  I made up a selection for every out of town guest and left them at the front desk of the hotel to be given to them when they checked in.  This might have cost me about $15-20 per room.  I can't remember was ten years ago.  These little gestures go a long way to making your guests know that their presence is important to you.

And so there you have it.  There are many things you can do to make your wedding more affordable.  Establish a budget.  Set your priorities.  Enjoy your beautiful day.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Recipe Share: Biscuits

We woke up to 5 inches of snow and -22 temperatures with the windchill.  Surprise!  Well I needed something warm and cozy.  What could do the trick better than homemade biscuits with homemade peach jam?  Sooooo delicious.  Sooooo quick and easy to whip up.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Is a Vitamix worth it?

Yes.  And no.

The answer is no if:
a) You cannot afford it.
b) You do not cook.

The answer is YES if:
a) You can scrape together the money to purchase it.
b) You cook often.

A few months ago we purchased a Vitamix.  I had been eyeing them for years but was not wanting to part with my money (they start at $500.00 in Canada).  A few months ago our blender (which we use all the time) died.  I had received some Costco cash cards as a Christmas gift, and since we needed to replace our blender anyway I decided to take the plunge and purchase a Vitamix at Costco.  The 7 year warranty that the blender comes with is what helped me make my final decision.

Now that we have owned the Vitamix for a period and have been using it almost daily, sometimes more than once a day, I can say without a doubt that for our family this purchase was definitely worth it.  But why?  Well these are the reasons the Vitamix was the right purchase for our family:

a) The Vitamix makes smoothies with ease.  We love smoothies.  Our old blender did an OK job, but the Vitamix does an amazing job at blending all kinds of ingredients together quickly to produce a smooth and delicious treat.  This is particularly important to me because my toddler does not enjoy eating vegetables, but he has been thoroughly enjoying green smoothies made with spinach and other greens using the Vitamix.  I hope to soon expand the smoothie repertoire to include other vegetables like carrots and beets.

b)  The Vitamix makes pizza dough.  We used to spend about $30 - $40 a month getting take-out pizza.  My husband and son have started a weekly tradition making pizza together (from scratch) using the Vitamix.  They make the dough, use a Tomato Basil Simmer sauce that I can during the summer as their pizza sauce, and top it using large blocks of Mozzarella (purchased at Costco - it is about $11.00 for a 2.2kg block of Saputo mozzarella), and other toppings of their choice.  I calculate that the pizzas they are making cost between $3.75 - $4.50 each depending on the toppings they use.  The main expense is of course the cheese.  This is saving us between $5.00 - 10.00 a week on take-out pizza.  Not only is it saving us money - but my son is getting the great experience of cooking with my husband.  The pizza takes about 40 minutes to make from start to finish - which is not longer than it would take for us to order a pizza from somewhere and pick it up.

c)  The Vitamix will do a dry chop.  I have a very small 3 cup food processor.  It is amazing and super convenient for whipping up dips and spreads and chopping a small amount of dry ingredients, however it is a huge pain when I am making larger recipes like carrot cake or coleslaw.  I have been wanting to get a larger food processor for years but we do not have the food space for it.  Enter: Vitamix.  Since purchasing our Vitamix I have used it to conveniently dry chop carrots for carrot cake and it can also dry chop cabbage for things such as coleslaw.  Essentially I now have 2 appliances in one.  Hurray!!!!

d)  It is self-cleaning.  Parents, you can cheer here.  It is so amazing to use the Vitamix, then pour in some warm water with a drop of dish soap, turn it on, and come back in 60 seconds to find it clean and ready to use again.  I love this.  I really, really love it.

There are many other great things about the Vitamix (you can make nut butters, soups that will heat from the blade friction, ice cream, milkshakes, hummous, etc. etc) but these are the four main reasons why I really feel it was the right purchase for our family.  I am sure I will discover more great things about it as I continue to experiment with new recipes.  I may even update this post later.

Just to clarify - I have zero affiliation with Vitamix and I am receiving absolutely zero compensation for this post.  I just know that I hummed and hawed and researched and debated for a long time before taking the plunge and buying one - so if this information can help someone else make an informed decision then.......happy blending!!!