*GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*

The buzz all over the cloth diaper universe is about Eco Sprout detergent.  I was lucky enough to be sent a sample to try out and tell you all about it!

THE PRODUCT

Eco Sprout was created by a WAHD who wanted something “that was environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and 100% natural.” After doing his research, he developed a detergent that is great, not only for CDs, but for all of our laundry. It has no dyes, no brighteners, no enzymes, no phosphates, & is SLS free.

The detergent is available in a variety of scents, including Lavender Chamomile, Warm Vanilla Sugar, and even In the Buff (unscented!).  It is great for use with HE or regular machines, hard or soft water. Whatever you have, this stuff can take it! We have a top loader and hard water.

THE REVIEW

When I first opened my sample of Eco Sprout, I was very very surprised. It came in a cute drawstring bag, and the powder is so fine. Honestly, despite all of the rave reviews all over the place, I was skeptical.

The makers of Eco Sprout recommend that first-time users soak for several hours, overnight if possible, to help draw out any build-up left by other detergents.  What I learned: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! The first time I used this detergent, I just used it like I would any detergent: in the diaper laundry. The diapers came out clean, but there wasn’t that AWESOME clean everyone was raving about. The ammonia was still there after it was peed on, etc.  Thought about just giving up on this new, fancy detergent. But then, I did the most unthinkable thing ever: I read the directions that came with the sample.

Now, since diaper laundry is done 2-3 times a week in our house, it wasn’t long before another load was ready. And this time, I soaked them overnight in our bathtub first. Anyone who has ever done a soak like this knows that the water gets really ugly, really fast.  I was tempted to just throw them in the wash and be done with it. But I just shut the door and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, I drained the water and then (after squeezing as much excess water as I could out) hauled the diapers in a wet bag to the washer and dumped it in. After following the directions this time, 2 hot washes later, the microfiber inserts (which are the worst part!) came out feeling softer than they had gone in.  My brow furrowed and my lips pursed: could this be working? Sniff test. *sniff sniff* No, no residual stink.  No waxiness at all. And many of the stains were either completely gone, or greatly faded. Huh, this may have worked.

But it was time for the ultimate test: the babies.  As my regular readers know, I have a 2 in CDs.  And as I can count on one of them to have a wet diaper at least once an hour, I knew I wouldn’t have long to wait.

About 20 minutes later, #2 starting getting fussy. She absolutely hates being in a wet diaper. And it is the fussiness, accompanied by the ammonia smell, that lets me know it’s time to be changed. I check her and yes, she is quite wet.  *sniff sniff* But no smell. None.  Ok, good.

The rest of the diapers from that load went through the same test on both kids and passed with flying colors: no ammonia stink. I also was able to do a load of regular laundry with what was left of the sample and it worked like a charm. Normal kid stains: gone.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

This is a great detergent, not only for use with cloth diapers, but for anyone with sensitive skin, or who is looking for an eco-friendly detergent. But if you are battling ammonia stink with cloth diapers and have tried everything, I mean absolutely everything: you must try this newcomer.  It stands head-to-head with their competition, Rockin’ Green.

BUY IT

You can pick up your own bag of detergent over at Eco Sprout’s new website.  A 24 oz bag is $7.98, and a 48 oz. bag is $13.98.  Or see if a retailer near you is carrying it. (And if they’re not, ask them to!)  It looks like they are working on more products, so be sure to Like them on Facebook for first-hand news!

WIN IT

Eco Sprout was generous enough to offer a 2 oz. sample bag of their Sandalwood Vanilla scent to one lucky Green & Frugal Mama reader:

Please be sure to include your email address in your comments, so I know how to contact you if you win. Use the format: greenfrugalmama at gmail dot com to reduce spam!

MANDATORY ENTRY: There will be only this ONE entry.  Head over to Eco Sprout’s website and tell me something you learned about the company or detergent (not covered in my post).

That’s it. You’re welcome to blog, share, tweet, what-have-you about this, if you wish. But I wanted something simple this time: just one entry.

This giveaway is open to my readers who are 18 year of age or older. US RESIDENTS ONLY.  The giveaway will end on January 18, 2011 at 9am CST. The winner will be chosen using the True Random Number Generator at Random.org and notified via e-mail. They will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Good luck, everyone!

Disclosure: Green & Frugal Mama received no compensation for this review. Eco Sprout provided me with a free sample of this product. However, I was under no obligation to write a positive review, nor to sponsor a product giveaway in return for this free sample.   All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Product

Some of you may have already heard of soap nuts and for some of you, this may be completely new.  I was sent a sample from EcoNuts to review.

Soap nuts are not actually nuts at all, but are dried fruit berries. They became known as “nuts”, because they have a hard, dried nut-like appearance.  So, anyone who has a nut allergy: you have nothing to worry about! These are completely safe. They are also highly recommended for people with skin allergies, psoriasis, or eczema, because they are gentle on your skin and clothing.

Soap nuts are completely biodegradable, containing saponin, which is a natural surfactant. This is a huge plus for anyone who is eliminating harmful surfactants from your cleaning products and personal care products. But because it is a natural surfactant, it does not produce a large amount of suds or foam, as you would expect with mainstream soap. This does not mean that it isn’t working. And soap nuts are safe for septic or gray-water systems, and can be used with top-loader or front-loader machines.

To use them, simply put 4-5 nuts (or nut pieces) into the provided bag and pull the draw string shut. Put into your wash and use as you would use detergent normally.  Remove the bag from the load as you move it to the dryer/drying line.  Let dry between uses.  That’s it!

You can also use EcoNuts to create an all-purpose cleaner, a stain remover, or even taken on camping trips to clean just about anything you could think of!  Instructions and recipes for most of these come with your order, or can be viewed on their website. It is truly a versatile little berry.

The Review

Now, the main reason I was excited to try the sample from EcoNuts was because these are highly-recommended for cloth diaper laundry.  And you can also reuse the “nuts” up to 5-7 times in Hot water OR 10 times in Cold water before the saponin is completely used.  (And once that happens, into your compost bin these go! A closed circle system! Love it!)  But, as stated previously, these can be used for all of your laundry needs, not just diapers.

I very excitedly opened my box from EcoNuts upon receiving it and took the picture at the top of this review.  My husband’s reaction:  “What are those?” The skeptic.  Followed soon after with, “We are NOT washing the diapers with those. What if they ruin them?”  Remember, this was one of the reasons I had wanted to try them.   (I need to break in here and explain that my husband does 90% of our household laundry. And this is for one reason only: the washer & dryer are housed in our basement which is infested with spiders. And I. Hate. Spiders. Not just a little bit. A lot. The sight of even a little one paralyzes me. So, my Prince Charming does most of our laundry until it’s cold enough to freeze the little creatures…)

So, DH was convinced to use these (at first) on our regular laundry.  I filled the little bag and instructed him to use these just like he would detergent; which with our top loader means you fill the washer with the amount of water needed with your detergent added, THEN you add the laundry.  We did several loads of regular laundry this way (Cold water) and were very impressed.  The clothes didn’t come out with any particular smell, which was something I was concerned about. But they were definitely clean.  Even the little spots, etc. that come from having a toddler and a new-to-rice-cereal-baby came out from their clothes.

Then DH went to work and here is where I tried to sneak in a load of diaper laundry.  In general with diapers, we do a rinse cycle, then a full wash cycle in Hot water with detergent and an extra rinse – then on to whatever drying method we’re using. Dryer in winter and on rainy days, or when we’re short on time. And line-drying when possible. DH had put a load of diapers on their rinse cycle just before he left.  When it was time to start the “soap load”, as we call it, I braved the spider-den.  Started to fill the washer as normal, put the EcoNuts in the washer in their little bag, everything going great. I can see the “suds”, but as promised, there aren’t that many.  I’m getting excited. This is kinda cool.

And all this time, I am very, VERY consciously trying to look only into the washer. Not onto the wall. Not into the overhead beams. Not into the window wells. Only. Into. The. Washer.  (I know those little 8-legged things are around. Must. Not. Look.) Finally, when the washer was only about 1/2 full, I just couldn’t take it any more.  I threw the diapers in and closed the lid.  And then very quickly ran up the stairs where my 2-year old was standing at the gate at the top, yelling “Mama!” the entire time.

The reason I tell this story is because when the load was done, DH pulled it out, (yelled up the stairs, “What did you do?”) and decided they needed to go through again with the “real” detergent.  Apparently, they didn’t seem clean.

And I do not blame the soap nuts. I blame myself completely (well, and the spiders a little bit), because I did not use them as I would normally use detergent, or in how our manufacturer advises for our machine.  I have read many, many positive reviews and feedback and am confident that these should have worked wonderfully on our cloth diapers.  We were very pleased with the effectiveness of the soap nuts on our regular laundry and would definitely recommend these to anyone.  Whether you are looking for something to use that is easy on the environment, or you are just exhausting the possibilities because of your sensitive skin, this is a great product for you to try.

BUY IT:

If you are interested in buying some for yourself, you can get a Regular size (50-90 loads) for $12 or a Large size (200-360 loads) for $34.95.  There is also a Trial size available for purchase (6-10 loads) for $4, if you want to conduct your own experiment. EcoNuts also offers a Laundry Club, where you can have a box of EcoNuts delivered to your door periodically and you don’t have to ever worry about reordering!

Fan EcoNuts on Facebook for the latest news!

DISCLOSURE: Green & Frugal Mama did not receive any compensation for the above review. However, I did receive a sample of the above product for the purpose of providing a review. All views and opinions are my own.

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I have made no secret of the fact that I love my cloth pads.  My journey with using them on a monthly basis started when my skin started to react to conventional “plastic” maxipads and tampons.  And they would dry out my skin so much that it would make the whole thing painful.  Looking for an alternative, I stumbled onto this entire world of softness, comfyness, and just utter decadence.  Pretty prints just for me?  It makes the entire process not so “icky” and just a part of my life.   There are several retailers out there, as well as several patterns for you to make your own, if you are so inclined. I am not so gifted. LOL.

Green Things

Because I have been so open about my love for cloth pads, I was contacted by Cindy at Gentle Cycle Pads and asked if I would do a review of her products for my readers.    I advised her I had recently stopped nursing my youngest and while my cycles were not completely back to normal, I did use cloth pantiliners most days and would love to review these for all of you.

She sent me this pantyliner in a stars & moon print.It’s made from a really soft flannel and has metal snaps to snap it into your panties. At first, I was a bit skeptical.  I’m used to pantyliners that seemed a bit more substantial.  But within a few hours of wearing this, I was convinced it would work fine for what I needed it to do.  The material was soft and comfy. The pad never moved and I wasn’t even aware it was there after a bit.

It was even possible to fold it into itself, with a little effort.  Which is an essential for me if I need to put one in my purse wetbag, or to have an extra.

It has held up after multiple washes and I am convinced it would continue to wear well in my cloth pad rotation for the next few years.

Cindy makes all of her pads by hand, so each may show imperfections or irregular stitching. This did not affect the effectiveness of the product in any way.

BUY IT:

Gentle Cycle Pads can be found on Etsy, as well as on Facebook.

Other Products:

You can also purchase AIO pads, as well as pads without wings from her Etsy shop.  Prices start around $10.  Personally, I am more inclined to use a pad system that allows for easy changing-out of a soaker pad, and not the entire pad, but you may like her system more. To each her own. For a pantyliner design, Gentle Cycle Pads work well and I am glad to have it in my collection.

Disclosure: Green & Frugal Mama received no compensation for this review. Gentle Cycle Pads provided me with a free sample of this product. However, I was under no obligation to write a positive review.   All opinions expressed are my own.

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader. Choose one of the options at right!

This giveaway is CLOSED.

The Product

Anyone who has used cloth diapers in the last 10 years or so is familiar with the terms “diaper build-up”, “stripping”, or even just plain “diaper stink”.  These all refer to the soap or detergent build-up that can occur when you are using diapers made of synthetic materials.  Most modern cloth diapers, including BumGenius, FuzziBunz, Happy Heinys and other brands, use microfiber, microfleece, and other products.  Over time, some detergents cause this build-up and this has resulted in elaborate laundry routines and, for some, the never-ending quest for the best cloth diaper detergent.

And the invention of Rockin’ Green laundry detergent came out of this quest.  Developed by parents who were having problems finding a detergent that a) didn’t irritate their kids’ sensitive skin and b) would work with their hard water.  (Ugh! Hard water! The bane of any cloth diapering mama’s existence!)

Now available in THREE formulas: Classic Rock, Soft Rock (for soft water) and Hard Rock (for hard water). And all three formulas are available in the following scents (copied from the Rockin’ Green website) :

  • Orangevana – orange and cream combine together to reach a new level of cleaning awareness
  • Smashing Watermelons- this juicy watermelon blend is like a kick to your senses..Best Seller!
  • The Green Tea’s – the zen like blend of green tea and aloe, is sure to make it to the top of your playlist.
  • Rage against the Raspberry- this raspberry and honey blend will have you running around the laundry room looking for the mosh pit! Best Seller!
  • Mötley Cleän – there’s clean and then there’s Mötley Cleän. This fresh blend has hints of ocean, fresh linen, and sunshine.
  • Lavender Mint Revival- this medley of lavender and mint is like nothing you have heard or smelled before!
  • Bare Naked Babies- because we love the smell of babies, we offer an unscented variety too!

These different options make it possible to completely customize your detergent to fit YOUR preferences, YOUR needs, and YOUR water system. This is so much better than trying to find something already ready-made. And sometimes that quest can cause any good-natured, semi-crunchy parent to abandon all hope.

This is a powdered detergent and is compatible with top-loader and front-loader machines.  Ingredients: sodium carbonate , sodium percarbonate, natural chelating agents, sodium sulfate, biodegradable surfactants, natural fragrance oils (if scented is chosen).  It is phosphate-free, dioxin-free, petroleum-free, biodegrable, and is never tested on animals.

Not sure which formula would work for you? No worries! Rockin’ Green has a great graphic of the United States to give you an idea if you have hard or soft water, and even offer trouble-shooting tips for users with front-loaders, diaper rash problems, and diaper stink issues.

The Review

After studying the RG map, I chose a sample of the Hard Rock formula in the Lavender Mint Revival scent to try it. (You can always buy samples to try out a formula or a new scent. They’re $.75 each and do 2 loads in a top-loader or 4 loads in a HE machine!)

This was me being brave, because I am not a person who enjoys scented products.  I am very sensitive to scents (DH nicknamed me The Beagle, because I can smell just about anything, no matter how faint).  I could have chosen Bare Naked, but I wanted to see how Rockin’ Green fared in this aspect.  When we got it, I immediately opened the sample just to see how strong the smell was and was pleasantly surprised. While there was definitely a scent, it was not overpowering.

And because we always have a load of laundry ready to go in the washer, the sample was barely in our mailbox before it was being tested on our regular laundry.  We own a top-loader, so we were able to get 2 loads out of each sample packet.  Each load came out of the dryer smelling fresh and clean (we do NOT use softener or dryer sheets).  Normal “kid stains” were completely gone.

And then the über-test: the cloth diapers.  We did at least 2 loads of diaper laundry using our samples.  Stains were almost completely gone (we had some pretty bad, pretty cooked in stains!) and everything smelled “clean”. (For those with cloth diapers, you know what I mean… )  I only wish I had more samples now to do a soak of all of my diapers, because that would get the last of the nasty old detergent out of them! I skipped this step in my eagerness to just try the detergent! But you can see how awesome the diaper soak works on the Rockin Green YouTube channel.  I guess that just means I will need to buy some more detergent!

BUY IT:

You can buy Rockin’ Green directly from their website or from any of their retailers.  Prices start at $13.95 for the Classic or Soft Rock formulas (45/90 loads) and $15.95 for the Hard Rock formula (45/90 loads).   Be sure to also check out their accessories, including a laundry scoop, diaper sprayer, and dryer balls! Everything you need in one place.

WIN IT:

Rockin’ Green has very graciously offered to give a Green & Frugal Mama reader a bag of Rockin’ Green (45/90 load bag) in the scent and formula of their choice!  And I am so excited, because this is the VERY FIRST Green & Frugal Mama Giveaway! Please be sure to include your email address in your comments, so I know how to contact you if you win. Use the format: greenfrugalmama at gmail dot com to reduce spam!

MANDATORY ENTRY:  This entry must be completed for all other entries to count.

Head over to Rockin’ Green website and tell me what scent and formula you would choose, if you won.

EXTRA ENTRIES: Please write a new comment for each additional entry. If something is worth 2 entries, be sure to leave two comments. For example: “I follow you on Facebook #1” and “I follow you on Facebook #2” should be two different comments.

  • Join Rockin’ Green’s mailing list.
  • Follow Rockin’ Green on Facebook.  Leave me your FB username, because I will check.
  • Subscribe to my RSS Feed. The link is in my right sidebar.
  • Subscribe to my blog by email (+2).  Also in my right sidebar.
  • Follow Green & Frugal Mama on Facebook. Include your FB username in your comment. (+2)
  • Suggest Green & Frugal Mama to 5 friends on Facebook who are not already fans. (+2)
  • Grab my blog button. The code is at the top of my right sidebar. Leave me a link where I can find it on your site. (+3)
  • Share this giveaway, either on your blog, Facebook page, on a giveaway linky, etc.  If you share in your Facebook status, be sure to tag me using @Green & Frugal Mama in your update. Leave a comment here with the link where I can your post. (+5)
  • Follow at least one blog on my More Green & Frugal Blogs page.  Leave them a comment on their blog letting them know I sent you.  Leave a comment here for each blog you comment on (and I will check).  (1 entry per blog)
  • Comment on another post on my blog (and “posting for giveaway entry” does not count!).

This giveaway is open to my readers who are 18 year of age or older. US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY.  The giveaway will end on September 30th, 2010 at 5PM CST. The winner will be chosen using the True Random Number Generator at Random.org and notified via e-mail. They will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Good luck, everyone!

Disclosure: Green & Frugal Mama received no compensation for this review. Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper Detergent provided me with a free sample of this product. However, I was under no obligation to write a positive review, nor to sponsor a product giveaway in return for this free sample.   All opinions expressed are my own.

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader. Choose one of the options at right!

———————————————————-

This post is part of the Green Giveaway linky over at Eco-Friendly & Frugal. Head over to see more great green giveaways.

Facts

This ceramic cup stands 5.75 inches tall and holds approximately 15oz.  It has a silicone lid, as well as a silicone sleeve.  The sleeves are imprinted with catchy eco-friendly sayings and come in different colors. Mine reads: “Saving the world one cup at a time”.  🙂

General

It looks exactly like a disposable cup that you would pick up at popular coffee-shops. But this one is reusable, which is what I am all about.

Pros

The biggest thing that I love about this cup is that it is DISHWASHER and MICROWAVE SAFE! How awesome is that?  One of my biggest pet peeves is hand-washing dishes and that lonely insulated mug never seemed to get clean, or water would get in the inner sleeve, etc.  Just a pain.  With this, I pop it in the dishwasher at night and in the morning, voila! Clean cup.   You do not need to remove the silicone sleeve to wash it, but the ceramic underneath will get cleaner if you do.  Although I put the silicone in the dishwasher also (top rack) and coffee, lipstick, melted chocolate (don’t ask) comes right off.  And because it is ceramic, I don’t have to worry about BPA or other chemicals leeching into my hot coffee or tea.

Cons

As much as I love this cup, there are a few things I would change about it if I could.

The lid doesn’t always stay on. Now, if you’re walking down the street this probably isn’t that big of a deal. But when you’re in the car and want to pick up your cup… which the cupholder in my car is directly beside the seat and I have to grab the cup by the edges and lift up… if the lid comes off, you end up with coffee everywhere. Big mess.

Second, the silicone sleeve seems to get hot.  I can still hold the cup, but it just seems warmer than my insulated travel mug did. I know this is also an issue with disposable cups, but I thought I would point it out.

Lastly, it just doesn’t seem to hold that much. Maybe I drink too much coffee?  My old travel mug seemed to hold almost 1.5 times the amount that this cup holds. I find myself refilling the mug more.  Of course, I realize that my travel mug is probably larger than 15 oz.

Last Thoughts

My overall experience with this coffee cup has been fairly positive.  I love how easy it is to clean and I am adjusting to the smaller volume size.  If the lid would fit more securely it would be perfect.

Buy It

This mug can be purchased from Amazon or at some Walgreens locations (find your local store here).

DISCLOSURE: This product was purchased by me for personal use, not for the purpose of a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Facts:

General:

When I walked up to the market, my first thought was, “This is it?”  The market is very small: one tent.  There are roughly 2 small aisles worth of produce, with an endcap of shelving.

Pros:

There are a few things that I liked about this market.  The main one being that they are open multiple days, and are open both Saturday and Sunday.  Most markets are on weekdays and I work full-time.  And the few that are open on the weekend are not convenient are too far away to make the drive worth it.

The other thing that this market had going for it was that what organic produce they did have was very well priced.

Cons:

Maybe I had very high expectations for this market, but I left quite disappointed.  First, the Size.  This market is very, VERY small compared to others I have visited. They look to only have the one vendor, which obviously will cut down on selection.

Which brings me to my next point, the Selection.  Most of these varieties and products were not from local farms (and by local, I mean 150 mile radius). This is one of the main reasons I like Farmers Markets: supporting local agriculture and knowing that it didn’t have to travel far to make it to my table. What I saw at this market were varieties as you would find in your local supermarket, including brand names like Driscoll and Dole. There were also very few organic varieties. Those that were available were the brand names (I purchased organic & conventional, because I had planned to make this my main produce shopping this week and conventional is better than none at all).  There are several local farms that would be able to provide organic produce to them.  This honestly appeared to be the produce section of a grocery store.  I kept looking to see if maybe there was a store in the mall that I had missed somewhere. One that had this tent as an outdoor section, like a greenhouse. I can usually count on seeing and trying new varieties that I haven’t seen before, or being able to ask the farmer about growing practices, best ways to prepare a new item, etc.  Also, their “special items” shelving included processed foods with high fructose corn syrup and refined flours.  Not what I’ve seen at other spots.

Lastly, the Prices.  Overall the prices were fairly comparable to what you would see at your local Dominick’s or Jewel.  Usually at markets I will see things marked a little bit higher, but their selection is different. For what organic produce they had, the prices were very competitive.  You can see what I spent here.  If the mainstream stores had their organic produce marked at these prices, 1) more people would be buying organic and 2) I wouldn’t have to write this blog!

Last Thoughts:

While I did like the price of their organics, the selection overall was so poor that I am not planning on making a special weekly trip there. But if I am already at the mall, I will definitely stop by.

Website: www.couponmom.com

Cost: FREE (you are required to create an account)

What is CouponMom?

CouponMom is a one-stop website showing sources for not only printable coupons, but online coupon codes for online shopping.  Stephanie, the Coupon Mom, does a great job of keeping all of this up and for FREE!

What is available?

Printable grocery coupons (she has links to SmartSource, Coupons.com, Redplum, etc.).  She also has links to request samples, get online codes, etc.

Grocery Lists

This is where she excels.  You are able to have a shopping list created for you according to places you shop (for my area, this includes: Target, Walgreens, Jewel, CVS, Walmart).  For each item on the list, she details where you can find the coupon, what the value of the product is, the price of product, price after coupon, and then % saved.  Items that are FREE are marked in red. This is great way to see items where you can save 75% or more at these stores. She even marks items that are good for charity donations.  NOTE: Any of my readers who might have problems finding blogs or websites posting deals for their state (IA, SD, FL and ID come to mind), she creates shopping lists for some of the major grocery stores in these states (Publix, Smiths, Hy-Vee, etc).  So, this might be the best place for you to find your deals, since I am not familiar with those stores!  But she does include the national chains like Walgreens, which would be valid for everyone!

Grocery Coupon Database

Similar to other online databases, she has compiled any available coupon for you.  This is great way to create the match-ups I post here and that you see elsewhere online.  Do a search for “tortilla” for example and see every brand that has issued a coupon.  Personally, I prefer the database over at Hot Coupon World, because they also show expired coupons (and I like to shop at Dominick’s because they take expireds). By using databases like these, you don’t have to clip every coupon.  Huge timesaver!

Overall:

This is a great site and service to use where everything is all in one place, especially for grocery shopping.  And especially if you are new, it gives you a place to start.  She does not, however, follow the catalina deals available at some stores (and these are some of the ways to save the most when they are offered).