Friday, March 30, 2007

The Do-Over

So this was the sad state of the living room when I was taking my spring cleaning "before" pics. I'd love to say that it was oh so significantly cleaner, but with a very active, very smart, and curious toddler running around it is rare that there isn't "stuff" all over the floor. What I want to note here is the painting hanging on the wall over the couch. It was tall, but not wide which obviously did nothing to balance the area and furniture. I tried to remedy that with these hanging lanterns that I had laying around unused. I took one look at the "ensemble" and told my husband that it looked tacky. I really wanted to turn the picture long-ways, but the painting wouldn't work that way...

So, I did something I've always wanted to do...I painted my own picture. I've never tried it, but have always wanted to, and it WAS as fun as I had hoped. I painted over the print so that I could indeed hang it length wise! I can't wait to hang it and show you the living room "after" picture!


Another Try it Free!

OK coupon coopers...I was checking my fave blogs when in the background I heard an ad on tv about trying Coffee-Mate for free! I checked it out. It is legit. So, if this peaks your interest, click here to sign up for your own.

This is my 101st post!

On my 101st post I have to announce that my great grandmother, who was 103, finally passed away today. She was an incredible lady! The legacy will live on in all of us who knew and loved her...and hopefully will be passed on and on to those around us and our children!

Esta Reese Hettler, "Ahda", was a woman of character and strength. She loved God and those around her. Even in the nursing home she would push "the old people" around in their wheel chairs to make sure that they didn't miss the church services live or on tv. She kept her husband straight ;-) and her children as well. She adopted! That alone, so many years ago, is a beautiful thing. She was always so independent and always so positive. She prayed fervently and study the Word. She is the perfect person for my daughter to be named for. M's middle name is Reese.

I'm not sad. I'm thrilled that she is "ahda" again in heaven. I have no idea how heaven works, but maybe she'll see her hubby for the first time in 20 years! Not that she'll care about all that since God/Jesus will be there.

Live on Ahda! Live Real Life! Welcome Home!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

FreeBate Alert!

All you fellow couponers out there...and my faithful coupon coopers, there is a coupon and rebate for scotchbrite disposable toilet brush starter kit that make this item FREE in the end. Just click here and print it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How Much Do I Pay?

These kinds of lists usually help me:

likemerchantships says that she buys when:

  • chicken quarters hit .29/lb
  • whole chickens .69/lb **Bloom has had these at .49/lb on more than one occasion
  • bone-in chicken brests .99/lb
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts are $1.69/lb or less
  • lean ground beef is .99/lb
  • turkey breasts are .99/lb
  • steaks are $2/lb
  • sausage is .99/lb
  • fresh shrimp is $5/lb
  • salmon is $3/lb
  • canned wild salmon is $1/14oz.
  • canned tuna is .35/can

I couldn't tell you any better than this. Here is the catch. A lot of these prices are rare, so when you find them, stock up. Fill your freezer or borrow some room in a friends deep freeze.

Now for random other things that I have found;

I try not to pay more than...

  • Cereal--$1 or less
  • Canned veggies--.35-.25 cents
  • Bag Salad--$1.50-.96
  • Coke--4/$10
  • Deodorant (no brand preference)--free-$1
  • toothbrushes--free
  • toothpaste--free
  • shampoo--$1-free
  • spaghetti sauce (premade)--$1--less
  • pasta--.26-.50
  • little debbies--.69
  • pringles--.76
  • apples--.99/lb
  • grapes--.99/lb
  • liquid fabric softener (i prefer gain)--$3-3.50
  • liquid detergent--$2-$2.50
  • dishwasher detergent--$1-$1.50
  • diapers--176/$26 (Sams!)
  • spiral sliced ham--1.49/lb
  • bread (loaf)--.59-.79
  • boxed potatoes/rice--.40-.69
  • milk--$2.25-2.50
  • bottled water--3.33-$4/24 pk.
  • cake mix--.20-.63
  • brownie mix--.25--.63
  • yogurt--.33/cup
  • pain reliever 1.99/small bottle
  • frozen pizza--$1.00-$1.50 medium/large
  • frozen waffles--$1.00/10 count
  • Toilet Paper (cottonelle) $3.50/12

Who knows what else. I think I'll keep this list going and try to revise and update it as I can. There are some things on our list that you would never buy, but some are for lunch making and taking, and others are for fast breakfasts so as to avoid a husband who would rather sleep late and eat fast food out.

Also note!!! this link if you have an ALDI near you, this blogger made a price list of everything in her ALDI, so before you go out and shop the deals, check her list to make sure it is a better deal.

Meals and Coupons

I've had several from the coupon coop ask me to post about making meals from the list and how this saves me money. That is far more detailed than my brain tends to work, but I will say that I did sit down and make up a mock meal plan from the list this week. Where it is now, I couldn't say. It took forever, and I'm not sure I actually finished it, but I came really close.

So here are the things I want to say. First, you have to build up your stockpile and this can take up to 3 months, AND you may feel as if you are spending extra money because where you may need only 1 of the items immediately, you will end up buying 3 of those items to last you through the 3 months of stockpile. They way this actually saves you money is that you buy 3 at the rock bottom price instead of buying just the one you need right now at the rock bottom price and then having to buy it two more times at higher prices. The stores and coupons work on a 3 month cycle, so they do come back around, so for something you need every month, one may find it rock bottom sale 4 times a year or so. The remaining months of the year you will end up over paying unless you stock enough to get you through till the next sale. So...Initially you may have to put in more money than you expect, but in reality you are saving a bundle!

Here is my personal example. Last time detergent was on sale for 1.98 I bought two or three (can't really remember). I'm nearly out, so I've been keeping my eyes peeled for a similar deal. I didn't find anything even close until this week at Eckerds when I found larger quantities for 2.50. I bought 2. I didn't have to pay for them out of pocket though because last month I bought items that had free-bates (rebates that match or exceed the price paid). I paid nothing out of my grocery budget for my two large detergents (stockpile and need) and something else that I can't remember now.

The story for Walgreens is similar and better. My rebates are bigger there. I went to Walgreens for water because 24 pack was 3.99 and for easter eggs and baskets for Stone and Mercy's Easter Egg hunt on Saturday because they had hinged eggs for .59. I bought a few other items that I don't recall off hand, but I didn't spend any of my grocery budget because of the huge rebate I have on a Walgreens gift card. I chose the gift card because I made 10% on my rebate. My rebate that month was $60 so I made an additional $6.

As for dinners in my home, it varies. Sometimes we nearly spend no more than .60 a person, and sometimes we spend up to 3.00 a person, but you compare that with eating out and you are saving a bundle! If you dig from your stockpile for most of your food, you spend even less. Today we splurged. There are these new frozen skillet dinners that literally take 10 min. to cook and looked superb. They are Jose Ole. They had coupons for then in the paper and they were on sale at Bi-Lo yesterday. After the sale and the coupon it still cost 5.00 a bag, but the bag states that it feeds 2, however it feeds 3 1/2 in our family. Jason and I both ate sizzling rice, black beans, and chicken (and all kinds of onions and peppers and sauce) fajitas, Mercy ate the rice and beans but didn't want the chicken. And!! I have leftovers for my lunch tomorrow. Now as for tortillas, I had in my stockpile those taco dinner kits and only used half of the shells (didn't get the tortillas).

Another thing in my house is that I try to not waste any food (as long as it is still good). Often when we have a chicken and rice dish the leftovers are never enough for more than one person, but I like to recreate it into soup using chicken boullion. combine the soup with a sandwich and you can feed 2-3 people. Or I just eat it for lunch the next day.

This is the way it's done. This is the way we live. The grocery game doesn't seem to work for everyone. It does take time and least at first. But into the 2nd month, it seems to me that the work is now beginning to take off and the ease of it is setting in.

This is a pic of many of my freebies. This is not all mind you. There are two more things of Kotex pads and one thing of tampons, there are 2 tubes of Crest toothpaste and another of colgate that we are currently using. There is the deoderant that I'm using now that was a freebate. There are two more bags of cat food all of which I hope to give to my friend with the cat. There is one more thing of dog food and another bag which my friend is already using and loving. She'll be getting all of the dog foods (all free--no need for rebates). If I had been on the ball last week I would have gotten as many blood glucose testing kits as I had coupons for, but I wasn't able to get to it. Between the sale price at CVS and the coupon in the paper, I was able to walk out of the store without paying a penny. I'll be donating those to the local free clinic run by our church.

Spring Cleaning 2

Mercy's room is done all but the hanging of one shelf that will house an old doll of mine! At least I'm still trekking along however slow. My room never got completed...though very near truly. However, there is no other place to put clean laundry because of our space limitations and all you moms know how never ending both laundry and dishes are! Still...After Easter for sure I will get back on the cleaning streak. My husband and I did put in a lot of work one weekend. We clean swept, organized stuff into attractive bins and baskets, we hung pictures! Lots of them. Jason built, painted, and hung shelves, and then cleaned and trimmed the yard. Still...always so much more to be done you know. Always. So here are the pics of Mercy's room. Enjoy, all those who've always wondered. This is very nearly as good as it gets.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Best Trip Yet

Before I get into my best savings trip yet, lets have an update. Yes, we are still sick around here. I am starting to really feel better, but I finally had to get an antibiotic. Oh well. M is headed back to the Dr. today. Hopefully our yard sale this weekend will cover the cost of that. Of course, she was acting totally sick yesterday, but this morning she seems perfectly fine. Maybe we'll go to the Dr. and find out everything is fine. At least then we won't have the cost of medicine on top of that. I'm really ready for us all to be well. Plus! I don't get my MDO free time today cause I've gotta take M to the Dr. Oh well, such is life and motherhood.

Now about that best trip ever!!! So I went to CVS with "the list" and bought things I needed and things that ended up being free! Amazing! Seriously. The cashier was so impressed she asked me about it and said in the end that she was hooked and was going to look it up when she got home. According to the receipt, I saved $74.27 just shopping the sales. Then you add in my coupon savings of $37.00, and the use of my Extra Care Bucks from my last visit of $21.50. Total savings was $132.77. Total spent was $22.43 (includes tax)! Wow!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On the Upswing

I'm pretty sure we are finally on the upswing of all this sickness! We've never all been sick at the same time! Believe it or not we actually have gotten some clean sweeping and organizing done...since we were all confined to the house, we figured we'd make ourselves useful! Still spring cleaning and I suppose I may never claim to be "completed" since I can be sort of a perfectionist about this stuff. I do have to say I appreciate Lola's comment (Charlie and Lola on Disney). "It's not messy, it's just all spread out." Love it! Will post later!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Time Off

A Whole Lot has been going on in my family and extended family and this is why you haven't heard from me recently. Mercy has an ear infection, diagnosed today. We are thankful that God provided a way for us to afford her getting sick. You other parents of little ones understand that I'm sure! We had a short but sweet visit from her Uncle Patrick (which she can say very well mind you). She entertained him and would hardly let him out of her sight. Anytime she couldn't see him she would say, "Where'd Patrick go?" Pretty funny little girl! Except for the runny nose and the obvious hoarseness, you would never know she was sick! It was the fever last night that gave it away. This one was not nearly as obvious as the rest.

I'm not feeling 100% either. I certainly don't think I have an ear infection, but I have an awful headache that just won't quit and a dry scratchy throat. No fun.

My mom is in Baton Rouge with my great uncle who is in and out of being on the brink of death. It's really only a matter of time at this point. Other health issues and marital issues in my extended family are resurfacing as well. Interesting how when it rains, it pours. The only good thing is that apart from this scratchy throat, non of these are actually my problem. That is a nice relief. Still I love them all and want peace and rest for their lives.

My house is a medium grade mess which I'm not so thrilled about, but dinner is in the oven, and M is playing happily in her room. For these things I'm thankful. I missed mom to mom today, which was really sad, since I look sooo forward to it every week...that and I was excited about dishing with the ladies in the coupon coop about their first week trying out the game. It'll have to wait. I've organized my unwanted coupon pile so that they can easily peruse and share. I've got free things to give away. I gave one of my friends to bags of nice dog food, cause I got it for free. I gave one friend to things of feminine products because they were free and I don't use that kind. I have a tube of toothpaste that I got for free, but I don't use that brand. I have a razor (very nice refillable kind) that I was able to get for .34 cents. Oh the fun! At least I can officially say I have a hobby now...Couponing! (shopping always was sort of a hobby) I'll try to keep you posted as things get a little less hairy around here. I have some great pics to post too of M and S at the park! Coming soon

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Spring Fever Fun

I told you all to be holding me accountable for my spring cleaning posts! You know how it is with a toddler. You get something just how you want it, but if you don't take that picture at that moment...the Hurricane M is bound to come through and change the scenery a bit! I have kept the buffet clean, I have kept her room clean, though there are just a few reorganization things I'd like to get done before Patrick comes to be our first over-night guest. My closet is nicely purged and reorganized. Our Master Bedroom is nearing the end of its amazing transformation...I can't wait to show you the pics! I am ill though because my serger is on the fritz and I'll probably have to have it serviced! That has thrown a slight kink in my sewing projects.

I am posting some pics of the very little projects I have gotten done. I didn't take a before pic of my front porch area because I didn't think I'd be doing any changes besides putting up my spring wreath. I did put up the spring wreath I made for $1 last year, but I also reorganized the porch. The rocking chair stays cause I love that thing. I switched out the table though and brought out an M sized chair so she can be with me when I'm out there. I hated the table that was there before. It was dilapidated and I was going to sell it in the garage sale. I had this other little table that was originally for M's first New Orleans nursery that was all white wicker except the bed. I didn't really know what to do with it cause I had no room for it. So out if goes on the front porch. Pleasantly repurposed and with an addition to the yard sale!

I'm also posting pics of my kitchen. My home is a rental...we don't care, we love it, but we can't paint and they picked the colors. I'm not a big yellow fan, but I'm determined to make it work. I found these curtains on the 75% off clearance rack at Lowe's for $3.24 a piece. There's the swag (which you see in the pics), but there is also a tier. I bought 3 of each. Now that I have put up the swags, I realize my windows aren't really long enough for both pieces, so I get to take back the tiers and save $10! I will have windowed my entire kitchen for $10 and no sewing! The ceiling fan left something to be desired though. There is so much you can do with lighting, but there was no good way to go about it. So, I experimented. I took a preexisting lampshade that was not being used and tested to see if it would somehow work in place of the existing attached light on the ceiling fan. If placed upside down it would work great! It was a little different, but added alot of spunk. So, before I put it up I decided to spruce it up a bit with some big black polka dots. I used a stencil from the remainder a sheet of used up stickers and colored it in with a sharpie. It turned out great! Can't wait to finish that room either, but one room at a time. My goal is to complete the bedroom tomorrow!

Monday, March 05, 2007

More Coupon Fun

Made a quick run out to BiLo and CVS by my house. They are literally right next door to eachother in a strip mall. At CVS, I bought three things...I would have bought a few more, but they were out of what I needed. I got Secret Platinum for $1, feminine products for free, and downy fabric softener for $2.49 (liquid concentrate). And the register printed out an additional $15 in Extra Care Bucks! So, I now have $25 in Extra Care Bucks.

I then went to BiLo to get one of my WIC lists: Milk, Eggs, Beans, 5 Juices, and 3 Cereals for free. Then I followed my list to get the rest of the deals. I even bought some weird stuff that actually ended up being free to add to my freebie/donation pile to others in need. (Hey, It's free!) The list of scanned coupons that follows the list of items is equally long! That's hilarious! I even bought 2 big packs of hamburger meat cause we were really low! At 1.99/lb I spent nearly $11. My subtotal before savings was $67.29, my savings on coupons alone (not including sale priced items) was 35.02, and my sub-total after savings was 32.27! I bought a Gillette Venus Razor which normally runs at least $9 and after the close-out price and the coupon, it literally cost me .34 cents! Love It!

I guess Walgreens, Publix, and Ingles are tomorrow...Maybe.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Celebrate Small

In the midst of one of the busiest weeks I've had in 2 years, I did manage to get some cleaning done! I wish I had taken a before picture of my closet! But alas, I did not. We have a very old house, which we love! That said, we only have three closets in the entire house! One in the Master bedroom, one in the kids bedroom, and one in the hall in between. The one the Master Bed is 1/3 taken over by the hot water heater, so I use it for my closet and the hall type closet. Jason uses the hall closet as his own, and we store linens for the bath in a lingerie chest that fits just so in the hall, next to the bathroom. The sheets are stored in the basket turned make shift side table next to the bed. You do what you have to do. The only entrance to the attic that hasn't been used in 70 years according to the landlord is through the top of the closet. I took the entire Master bed closet apart! I wanted to scope out the attic and see if some of our storing type stuff could go there.

Maybe it could, maybe it could not. I was unsure, so I simply reorganized the closet, weeded some things to the garage sale pile. It is so cleaning. I did the laundry and folded it and put it up (this is never ending though!) I nearly finished the Master Bedroom itself. I took everything out from under bed and cleaned and organized it all. Hopefully Monday I will get to finish it up and take an "after pic."

I also managed to sort through, clean, and organize the "catch all" dining buffet. I do have a before and after of that, though not of the inside. So, here's to small victories!

Another Success

My sister was in town and wanted to watch the kids (M and her cousin), so I got to run all my grocery errands so as not to miss out on any freebies from the list (or really good deals). I didn't get to do as much preparation as usual and so my route for shopping hopping was not pre-arranged. This cost me in a little of time and extra gas. Not too much hopefully. Needless to say, that is my only complaint!

One of my bloggiest friends asked me if I ever got anything that could make an entire meal or was it mostly just toiletry items that I got the best deals on. When you see my pics, you do see a lot of toiletries. I think that is because I typically get meal type things and meat and such in my Angel Food Box each month.

That ministry is so helpful to us. Some months are better than others, but so far we are still getting far more than the $25 we pay for it. In fact, I'll post this month's list below.

1) 26 oz. Chicken & Stuffing Bake Dinner
(4) 8 oz. Hamburger Steaks
(1) 2 lb. Lasagna Dinner
(1) 5 lb. Breaded Frying Chicken
(1) 12 oz. Philly Steak Portions
(1) 3 lb. Popcorn Chicken
(1) 1 lb. Hot Dogs
(1) 16 oz. Gourmet Bean Soup
(1) 7.5 oz. Mac & Cheese
(1) 7.5 oz. Southern Style Biscuit Mix
(1) 24 oz. Steak Cut Fries
(1) 16 oz. Peas & Carrots
(1) 16 oz. Turnip Greens
(1) 15 oz. Sliced Pears
(1) 8 oz. Pineapple Chunks
(1) 10 oz. Peanut Butter
(1) 13.75 oz. 10 ct. Waffles
(1) Dessert Item

AND, for another 4 months we qualify for WIC in our area, so that usually takes care of eggs, milk, cheese, cereal, and juice. (Free)

That is one reason why you may see less foodie type stuff in my shopping collections for now. It won't always be this way, AND "the list" does give you heads up on good meat prices, produce, etc. Ingles is typically the cheapest of all "the lists," but I haven't compared them to Aldi, Quality Foods, or Sav More (sp?)

As for the picture, there are 46 items seen. Each item individually was less than $1.19. In fact, the toilet papers are the only things over $1. 9 items were free (after coupons and rebates), some were even less than the rebate amount which means that I'll be making a few cents here and there to put towards other things. The only other things I bought today were a $2 pair of cute socks with stars, 2 special flosses at regular price (long overdue in needing these), and a box of Nice n Easy hair color that ended up costing $2 after coupons and rebates. I had Extra Care bucks to put toward my sock purchase, so I ended up getting 5 pair of socks for $2.18 Pretty amazing. Want the grand total?

Total value: $160.12

Total spent: $49.85

Savings: 69%

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spring Cleaning

This spring cleaning thing is not something I have ever much aspired to before. And this year I'm not just anxious to get it done because it's spring. It's just long overdue. Some of the clutter is the result of never having fully moved in and gotten things where we want them. Some clutter has to do with the smallness of our space and the fact that we have not yet simplified and found enough places for certain things to go. AND of course we have the natural clutter that comes from having a very rambunctious toddler in the house. Some things are not worth straightening up until she has gone to sleep.

I am starting a series on Spring cleaning. Yesterday I focused on our Master Bedroom. I actually did not get it completed though I did get rather far. I would love to finish that today and get to work on the kitchen, but my presence has been requested to help another family member get ready for their big move tomorrow. I will clean that kitchen though. It's least I'll get the dishes taken care of.

The next several posts will hopefully be of before and after photos or my progress. That way, if you don't see any for awhile, you can hold me accountable for what I'm supposed to be doing...aka cleaning.

Off to tackle the dishes if nothing esle.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Inexpensive Fun!

Superfrugality led me to these vinyl stickems on sale the week after valentine's day! They were .75 cents! I chose the ones with other pics besides typical v-day things. This one has funny little bugs on them. We have a clear glass door behind our regular door (or in front of depending on what direction you're looking from I suppose). We like to keep it open to let in the natural light, and so I brought out the stickems which was so much fun. Mercy was so tickled over my .75 find! So much fun to be had on three little quarters...AND they aren't stickers, so you can reuse them over and over! Even better!