Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Frugal Face

Let me preface this post by saying that I am NOT a makeup expert!!  There is so much I DO NOT know about makeup, applying makeup, or even all the hundreds of different brands/types of makeup available.  I just want to make sure you all know that this post is just me sharing what I have found to be the best and most frugal makeup choices for ME over the years.  There are an abundance of choices out there from high-end to low-end, and if you have already found exactly what works for you and you love it----stick with it!!  I just thought it'd be fun to share, from my experience, how I've come to use the products that I do.

So, let's start with my face.

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(So, it's not that I really WANT to put this big of a picture of me up here, but I thought it was a pretty good one to really show my face and what it looks like in the makeup that I am about to share with you.  That way, you can read below and check out my "face" as you go.  It's for informational purposes, only!!)

1.  I have found that I like to have an even look to my face.  I would say I don't necessarily need to put anything on my face, (ie, powder, concealer, etc), but I feel more comfortable starting with an even base.  I have spent YEARS trying to find something that will work for me......I've gone from concealers, to liquid foundations, to powders.....you name it---I've tried it.  AND, wasted a lot of money on it all!!  But, as I was desperately trying to find the perfect product, about 7 years ago, before I was getting married, I stumbled across this:



[caption id="attachment_514" align="aligncenter" width="289" caption="Maybelline PureStay Powder Foundation"]Maybelline PureStay Powder Foundation[/caption]

This, in my opinion is ALL you need for your face!!  As you can tell by the name, it's a powder and a foundation all in one.  It comes in the form of a compact with a sponge for application.  It is powder-based, not cream based, but, covers anything you want covered.  It's an all-in-one product that works wonders for me.  I can apply it in the morning and never have to even touch-up my face again.  It's not too cakey, it's not too powdery----it's PERFECT!!

I usually get the Ivory.  My skin is not that pale, but, as you'll read further ahead, I always apply a bronzer, of sorts, and blush, so I don't want my base makeup to be dark at all.  I can darken it up a touch with the other two products.

One of the BEST things about this product, is that it runs about $6, give or take.  I ALWAYS either buy it at Wal-Mart, where it's cheaper than that, and I buy all they have.  Or, I wait to stockpile some coupons to go along with a sale a drugstore is having on it.  One compact usually lasts me about a month to a month and a half.

2.  I'm IN LOVE with Bronzers and Blush, and over the years have probably, at times, used too much!!  But, I think I have now found the exact product that works wonders for me to give me a nice glow and great color to my cheeks:

For my "bronzer" and blush, I rely on Cover Girl:

instant_cheekbones_contouring_blush_1This is Cover Girl's Instant Cheekbones Contouring Blush.  I don't believe the picture above shows that pallette of colors I choose for the Bronzer, but you get the idea.  I use SOPHISTICATED SABLE.  I apply this with a blush brush (longer bristles to sweep my face better) all over my face to give it a little bit of color.  It's great, too, because with the three colors in the palette, you can create as much or as little color as you want.  I LOVE this product and it's all I use!!  I can sometimes find it as cheaply as $3.99 and I always couple it with a sale or coupon to get it even cheaper!!

For my blush, I use the exact same product, just in PEACH PERFECTION.  I think peach blush works on EVERYONE.  Again, I am not a pro, but I find that peach is a great color palette for virtually any complexion.  I use a more dense brush that has shorter bristles and doesn't sweep so much, but I pat it on my cheeks to keep the color in one spot.

3.  I've had a hard time finding the perfect Mascara for me, so I've definitely switched it up a bit and tried new ones, but lately, this is the one I've been sticking with:

great lashIt may not be the "be all end all" Mascara, but I really am enjoying the Frugality of it (It's only about $3.99!), it goes on great, and it doesn't clump up on me.  I buy the VERY BLACK and only apply it to my top lashes.  I've never been one to apply it to the lower ones.....I look a little funny!!!  It's a great Mascara for a GREAT price!!

Now, if you can believe it, I DON'T wear any eyeshadow.  I never have.  For one, I just really don't know how to apply it, but, even if I did, I don't know that I would wear it all that much.   I feel like the Maybelline PureStay Powder Foundation really gives my eyelids a great base and I brush just a touch of "bronzer" over them, and that's it!  Definitely saving money in the eyeshadow category!!

4.  Last but definitely not least:  MY LIPS.  As you've seen in a past post, I LOVE lipstick and lip gloss and am ALWAYS wearing it!!  I found THE most awesome lipstick color, that, when, paired with Slick Tint looks great!!  (At least, in my opinon!!)  I'm wearing it on the picture above!  Here's my fave lipstick:

sandstoneThis is L'Oreal Colour Riche in Sandstone.  I ADORE it!!  It's a little bit on the spendier side, it usually runs about $8.99, but I can sometimes find it on sale and occasionally I'll see a coupon for it.  It's amazing stuff.  It glides on beautifully, stays on great, and lasts a LONG time!  (Especially by using my lip brush!!)  As I said before, I apply Slick Tint over the top of it, and it really gives it just a touch lighter color with a great shine.  I can't say enough about it!!!

So, there you have it!  My take on the best and most frugal makeup choices out there!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

We live.

For Faithful Friday today, I thought I'd share a really great song with a simple, yet, powerful message.

"We live.  We love.  We, for-give and never give up.  Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above and today we remember to live and to love."


How many times have we held grudges and not wanted to FULLY forgive someone who has "wronged" us??  How many times has your husband or wife left for work and you forgot to tell them you love them?  How often have you wallowed in your day-to-day tasks, not really thanking the Lord for giving you THIS day???


I'd have to say that I am just as guilty as the next guy.


1.  It can be HARD to forgive and fully FORGET.  But, the bible tells us in Colossians 3:13--  "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  I know, easier said than done, but, forgive and be forgiven;  And then forget it.  Keep short accounts with God and men.  Don't lock bitterness and guilt within the closet of your soul.



2.  Mark and I always have this thing, where, whenever one of us leaves the house without the other, we ALWAYS say "I love you" to each other and the kids.  It's not as if we would think the other doesn't love us if it wasn't said, but, we never know where our life is going next.  Not to be morbid, but, to be realistic:  it could be the last time we see each other.  I know, that if it were to be the last time I was going to see my husband or my children, I would feel so great knowing that my last words to them, were, "I love you."  Again, not that they wouldn't already know it, but it's just so wonderful to HEAR it.  So, whether we're in a hurry, or we're in an argument, or we're just in a bad mood----WE SAY IT.  I.  Love.  You.   Probably three of the most powerful words on earth.

3.  Being a mom is so rewarding, yet, is a very challenging job.  I LOVE being home with my children, but I am constantly being challenged hour-by-hour.  (Maybe even minute-by-minute??!!) And,  sometimes just the mundane tasks of mopping the floor, doing the laundry and picking up toys can get me in a little bit of a funk and I forget that THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE.  I need to REJOICE and BE GLAD IN IT.  No.  Matter.  What.  As my Mom used to tell us growing up, as we were doing chores, or things we didn't necessarily want to do:  "Do this as if you're doing it for the Lord."  What great advice.

So, enjoy this song and video.  It's not the official video, but the song and lyrics.  I'm a huge music fan, and music always speaks to me.  I hope this speaks to you.





Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meat.

cheeseburgerLGMmmmmmmm.......I don't think anything looks as tasty to me, right now, as a McDonald's cheeseburger.  At this point in the pregnancy, I'm craving........meat........meat...........and MORE meat..........and boy do these cheeseburgers HIT THE SPOT!!  I've always loved them, but right now I am REALLY loving them!!  I literally just wolfed one down in about 10 seconds.  Amazing what a little life inside can do to a woman!! Can't seem to get enough!

And, speaking of........ meat............SAFEWAY has Ground Beef on sale for $1.47/lb!!!!  I think that is the best deal on ground beef I have seen in a LONG time!!!  As I mentioned in my last post, I was close to hitting our planned budget for groceries, and I was going to try to stay below $45 on this weeks' shopping trip, and I DID IT!!  I spent $38.95.  Safeway doesn't have many great coupon match-ups this week, but there were a few good deals, along with the MEAT.  My freezer is chalk full of ground beef, but I couldn't help but buy more!!!  I'm even tempted to go back, but.......NO, SARAH, have some CONTROL!!!!  :-)

In my meat-eating quest, I have also looked up a few recipes that you might enjoy making with your plethera of ground beef!  Here are some links to recipes you might like!!  (AGAIN, I can't get the 'LINK function to work!!  ARGH!  You can copy and paste.)

1-Dish Taco Bake:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/1-Dish-Taco-Bake/Detail.aspx

Army SOS Creamed Ground Beef:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Army-SOS-Creamed-Ground-Beef/Detail.aspx

Sweet and Sour Meatballs:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sweet-and-Sour-Meatballs/Detail.aspx

And, here is a recipe for, what I believe, is THE BEST Meatloaf you will ever have!!!  It was handed down to me by my Mom, (not sure where she got it??), and I make it all the time.  It is sooooo tasty!!

Ingredients:

2 pounds Ground Beef

1 1/2 cups Cracker Crumbs

3 Eggs

1/2 cup chopped Onion

2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp of all:  Pepper, Dry Mustard, Celery Salt and Garlic Salt

1 T Worchestrshire Sauce

1/2-1 Cup Milk

Blend all the above until well mixed.  Put in a loaf pan and cook for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.

(I'm also thinking of doubling this recipe and making mini-meatloaves in muffin tins and freezing them for future meals!)

DELICIOUS!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

31?!

I'm not sure how it's possible that I have already lived on this earth for 31 years, but I guess it's true!!
Don't we all just feel 16 inside?  (Ok, or maybe 18.......or 21??)

So, it's my tradition at almost every birthday of a family member, to either sing (yeah, I know, scary!!), or play, the "Happy Birthday" song by my all-time favorite group----NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK!!!  I'm posting this song, not to sing it to myself, but for all of you who have never heard it.  Here's what you've been missing!!  :-)

Click Below:

happy-birthday--724771

Aaaaahhhh....don't you just love it!!

So, even though I'm one year older, I feel so thankful and grateful and blessed in so many ways.  God is good and so faithful.  I'm blessed in SO MANY ways!!!

Here's to one more year!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meal Plan (Tuesday!)

I've been slacking on the Meal-planning for the past few weeks.......I don't have a great excuse, other than, we've been busy (but who isn't?!), my "fun" leg issues have been slowing me down a bit, along with the pregnancy.....maybe de-motivating me slightly.  But, I know I have to get back on track!!  I wanted to post a Meal Plan Monday, every Monday, to get people inspired to plan their meals, to have some links to recipes, and post some of my own recipes, but, again, I've been slacking!!  But, I'm going to try to get back on it!  So, since yesterday was a Holiday and we got home in the evening, I didn't have much time to come up with the plan, so here's 'Meal Plan Tuesday!'

By the way, since we were on mini-vacation over the weekend, we went over budget in the DINING OUT category.  But, because I was way under in the GROCERY category, I still haven't gone over in the grand scheme of things!!  But, it only leaves me $45 for Groceries this week!!  We're pretty wiped out of all of our "perishables", fruit, veggies, etc, because I wanted to get them all eaten up before we left, so $45 might be a challenge, but I'm up for it!!  Think I can do it????  I'll for sure let you know!!

Ok, so here's my Meal Plan for the week:  (I apologize:  I'm still having "issues" with the LINK function, so if you want to see the recipe for the Teriyaki Chicken, you can copy and paste it.  Sorry!  I'll get it figured out one of these days!!!!)

Tuesday:  Teriyaki  Chicken: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Baked-Teriyaki-Chicken/Detail.aspx,  a mix of brown and white rice, and stir-fry veggies

Wednesday:  For my B-Day dinner, my mom is bringing up her homemade Lasagna and I'll be providing the Salad and Bread.  She's also making one of her AMAZING pies for dessert!  MY FAVE!!

Thursday:  Mexican Beef Pie, Cheese Quesedillas, Fruit Salad

Here's the recipe for Mexican Beef Pie:

Brown 1 lb ground beef

Add 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning and simmer for about 5 minutes

Drain.

Add Beef to the bottom of a casserole dish

Sprinkle 1 Cup grated cheese on top of meat

Blend 1 Cup Bisquik, 1 1/2 Cups Milk and 3 Eggs.

Pour over.

Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Leftover Feast!!

Pretty simple this week!!  Hope your Meal Plan for the week is a success!!

Tip Tuesday

free family


MOVIES, ANYONE????


(For my Tip today, I was actually going to talk about money-saving/free ways to entertain the kids this summer and I came across this!!)


Do you like movies??  Most of all, if you have kids, do they like movies???


I just came across an AWESOME money-saving tip for all you movie-goers (or potential movie-goers!)!!


For the ENTIRE summer, Regal Cinemas is offering a FREE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL!  It's 9 weeks of movies starting in June and ending in August, that are either G or PG rated, for families to attend for FREE!!  It happens on each Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10AM, and tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis.


What a spectacular way to provide some safe and fun entertainment for the kids......not to mention:  It's FREE!!!


Click on this link and pick your state to see what Regal Cinemas are offering it in your state!


(And, I'll still be back with more tips on frugal entertaining for the kids this summer!!)


HERE

Monday, May 25, 2009

Home!!

We just got back from a wonderful, relaxing and fun time with family in Idaho!!  I failed to do any blogging while over there, which is the reason for the few days of "nothing-ness".  I'm going to get settled in tonight and rest, and I'll be back tomorrow with TIP TUESDAY!

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faithful Friday

God of This City.................

"Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city."

If you watched American Idol, then you know that Kris Allen is our winner!!!  I have to admit, he was my second choice; I really liked Danny Gokey, but they're both FANTASTIC!!  And, I'm sure Danny will go on to have an amazing career, too!

I came across this video of Kris Allen yesterday, singing Chris Tomlin's "God of this City".  It really speaks for itself, and I'm so excited to see what Kris is going to do as an artist!!  Enjoy!





Free Chocolate Friday!!

chocolate_bars


It's Free Chocolate Friday!  The first 250,000 people who sign up will get a coupon mailed to them for a FREE single package of M & M's, Milky Way, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Dove or Twix.


HERE

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So Proud!!

I tell ya, it is so rewarding being a mom.  I just can't imagine not having these two sweethearts in my life.  I just am so filled with love and adoration for them, I'm so proud of their accomplishments, and I am constantly learning something from them everyday!  As a stay-at-home mom, I get to be a part of every second of their lives, and although it's not always easy, and every day has its challenges, it is such a PRIVILEGE to be at home with them.

I gotta give a couple "shout-outs" to my two little ones.........

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Our little guy, Luke, (or, Deebee, as Ava calls him!) turned 2 a couple months ago, and I'm amazed by his intelligence, everyday.  He picks up on things SO quickly and is so insightful.  Just the other day, as we were sitting at the table for breakfast, I always go over with them what our plans are for the day, and as I was talking, he was very intently looking outside.  It was windy and the trees were moving back and forth.  He said, "Mommy, wind blowing the trees."  And I said, "It sure is!"  We looked a little more, and then he proceeded to say, "Deebee don't see the wind, but it there." I turned to him in amazement and said, "You're right Luke!  We can't see the wind, but it's still there!!"  I mean, I could just be super biased, and I probably am, because we all think our children are geniuses, but I just thought that was so insightful and so amazing of him to notice!!  As he says to us all the time, "I'm so proud!!"  (It's true, Luke is always giving us and other family member's hugs and telling them he's "so proud!"), and I really am just SO PROUD of him!  He is such a sweet boy with an insightful and smart little mind!!

Not only is he smart (and not to mention, ADORABLE!!), he is such a help, verbally, to Ava.  It's usually the other way around, the oldest child being a verbal example for the younger child, but, in our household it's reversed.  Here's why:

P1010310

Ava, our amazing 3 year old was diagnosed with a speech disorder, Speech Apraxia, at around 20 months of age.  Speech Apraxia is a neurological disorder where the brain does not send any and/or the proper signals to help her mouth/tongue/lips, etc, all work together to form her words.  She was barely saying any words at 2 years of age, but was SO SMART and could understand all that was being said to her or asked of her.  She knew exactly what was going on, but our dear girl just couldn't get her words out.  We started early with sign language and other forms of communication and we were able to communicate with her fine, even though she wasn't using many words.

When she was being evaluated for the Developmental Preshcool that she now attends, I remember them saying, "She just doesn't talk at all, does she?  How do you guys communicate with her?"  It was weird, but I had never really thought about it.  We just did it.  She was our daughter, who we loved dearly, and we just made it work however we could.

She has been in this preschool for 4 months, now, and has been going to Speech Therapy for quite some time, and with those two put together, along with the work we try to do at home with her, she has come LEAPS and BOUNDS!!  I can officially say that she has hundreds of words (she doesn't always say them, but they are there!!), and can put 2-3 word sentences together if she really tries!!  It is so heart-warming and truly touching to see the progress she's made.  True, she has so much further to go, but in just 4 short months she has made tremendous strides and is talking in a way we've never heard her before!!  Even, every now and then, an "I wuv you Mommy" will come out of her mouth and I literally want to cry!  She is such an inspiration to us all.  I am astounded at what Ava can do.  She's amazing.  I'm so proud.

I just had to give this "shout out!", because I really am just so proud of our two children;  I'm so impressed with their individual talents and abilities, and I just can't wait to see what the future holds!!

I encourage you.....if you have a child who is not talking, or you think might have some sort of speech delay, and your "gut" is telling you there might be something wrong, then follow your instincts and get your child checked out immediately!  I think the best thing we did for Ava was get her diagnosed EARLY!  I had a "feeling" long before any doctor mentioned anything to me.  In fact, they always said that it "would come" and that she was just a late talker, which, may be true for many children, but I just had that gut instinct that this was not true with my child.  Be your child's advocate and be their voice!!  I researched my heart out and didn't let what the Doctors said influence me.....I forged ahead and took matters into my own hands.  Do as much research as you can, and break down those brick walls that stand in your way!!!

For more info on Speech Apraxia, visit HERE

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Kind of Meal!

I'm a big fan of Allrecipes.com and I'm always trying new recipes from the site. Since it was a busy day, and I knew I'd be gone in the afternoon, I decided to pull out my crock pot. I settled on a chicken dish called "No Time to Cook Chicken." It sounded SUPER easy, it got great reviews, and it was very frugal,  so I was willing to try it!!

Check out the recipe here:  allrecipes.com/Recipe/No-Time-to-Cook-Chicken/Detail.aspx

(Sorry!  For some reason the Link function isn't working!)



P1010358
I tweaked it just a bit:  I seasoned the chicken breasts with poultry seasoning, garlic, and salt and pepper before I put them in the crock pot, and I also added some Wortchershire Sauce and a little milk to the two cans of soup.  I also added a bit more sour cream at the end, but that's just my preference!  We had our chicken and "gravy" over egg noodles with green beans on the side.  (I'm thinking it'd be tasty over rice or mashed potatoes, too!)  I have to say:  DELISH!! Even the kids, who can sometimes be picky, really enjoyed it!!  What a delightful meal!

Sine I'm always trying to think frugally, I broke down this meal, dollar-wise, to see how much it cost us.  This is what I came up with:

Chicken: $3.31  (Safeway had bags of frozen chicken breasts on sale for $6.62 and I used half the bag)

Egg Noodles:  FREE  (They were on sale and I had a coupon to make them free)

2 cans of soup:  60 cents (I got them for 30 cents each)

Sour Cream:  75 cents (I used half a container that was $1.50)

Green Beans:  FREE  (My mom's yummy canned green beans!)

Total:  $4.66

For our family of 4, that is about $1.15 per person!

PLUS, I had enough leftovers for another ENTIRE meal!!

If that's not a frugal meal, I don't know what is!!  And, tasty to boot!

Coupons.com

coupons_logo

I can't help but remind you about the AMAZING coupons still available at www.coupons.com!!!

If you still haven't printed them, yet........get on it!!!

I'm matching them up with some of the items in the Albertson's Ad and getting 47 cent boxes of Wheat Thins and Triscuits, 50 cent bottles of Salad Dressing and $1 packages of Kraft Cheese, among LOTS OF OTHERS!!!  And, remember, if you do have an Albertsons near you, they have three DOUBLES attatched to their Ad this week, so they will double three of your coupons!!!

If you don't have an Albertsons near you, I know that you can get some really amazing deals with these coupons at Walmart, Safeway, and just about any other Grocery store that sells food!!  :-)

You can also go and get the same AMAZING coupons when you sign up to join the Kraft community!  Soooooo worth it!! Hurry up before they're all gone!! ClickHERE

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SLICK TINT

So, here's your Tip #2 (OK, so it's more of a recommendation, but a MONEY-SAVING one, nonetheless!!):

If you love LIP GLOSS, CHAPSTICK, or a little SHINE to your lips, you MUST check out:


Avon's SLICK TINT!!!!


slick tintI have been wearing Slick Tint for, oh, I don't even know how long!!  I'd say, AT LEAST, 10-12 years! NO JOKE!  My family likes to joke about my obsession with it!  I can even remember, as I was in labor with my first child, about to give birth, I was applying my Slick Tint!!  (I know......come, on, right?!!!)  That's how obsessed with this stuff I am.


Slick Tint comes in 3 different Colors:


glossy opalGlossy Opal



glossy roseGlossy Rose



glossy wineGlossy Wine



I swear by the Glossy Opal and I buy it by the truckloads!  The reason I love it so much, is that if you want to wear it alone it adds just the right amount of shine to your lips;  it's perfect.  But, also, what's so cool about this color, is that you can put it over ANY shade of lipstick and it transforms your look!!  It really is amazing.  It adds shine and turns your everyday lipstick into something great.  Truly.

Ok, so what's even GREATER, is that it's only:


99 cents!!



For as much as I use it, it still lasts me close to TWO MONTHS!!  (Use those lip brushes, ladies!!)  That is one frugal way to have amazing lips!!  Keep a close eye on Avon's sales, too, (which, by the way, I have no affiliation with Avon and I'm not getting paid to endorse them!!), because they often go on sale for 79 cents!  That's when I buy up to 40 at one time......I know, I'm crazy for this stuff!!

Check it out for yourself!  I'm pretty sure you will love it!!

Go HERE

TIP TUESDAY

USE A LIPSTICK BRUSH


maybelline



If you're like me, you can barely go anywhere, without, at least, some lipstick or chapstick on!!  It's my "go-to" product!  Many women, though, as they get to the end of their lipstick tube, toss it out;  they think it's done.  NOOOOO!  Don't do it!!  You can stretch the life of your lipstick GREATLY if you use a lipstick brush to get the rest of your lipstick out.

I would advise all you lipstick-wearers to invest in a lip brush.  This particular Maybelline brush that I have pictured is GREAT!  It is the one I use.  It has the retractable "pop-up" brush for applying your lipstick and gloss and then retracts back into itself.  Mess free!!  Gotta love that!  I believe it retails for about $5-7 in drugstores.  It's a great investment to save you money in the long run!

Also, a neat little fact I learned, is that, if you apply your lipstick with a lip brush ALL the time (from start to finish), rather than applying the lipstick directly to your lips, you extend the life of it by up to 50%!!  It picks up less color and the color actually lasts longer on your lips than if you applied it straight from the tube!  Go figure!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Frugality at its Finest

Is there anything more frugal than growing your own fruits and vegetables??  If it's not at the top, it's close!

This is our second summer in this house with this amazing property to grow, grow, grow!!  I have to admit, that I am NOT a gardener and I DO NOT have a green thumb.....this will be a definite work in progress for me.  My "worker bee" husband is the gardener in our family, at least for now.  He grew up watching his parents and, for sure, his grandparents take care of their bountiful crop.  (Right here, where we're living now!!)  He will be the first to tell you that he doesn't know much, but I guarantee he knows A LOT more than I do!!  He has been working his little heart out these past few weekends and it is soooooo exciting!!  I have been doing my best to help him with whatever I can, ie:  weeding, planting seeds, giving advice, etc, but with this pregnancy and my leg/vein issues, PLUS, taking care of the kids, it's been more of his thing.  We have our roles, though, as I'm sure every married couple does.  It's kind of an unspoken rule that he plants everything, gets it all ready, and I'm the one who does all the picking, harvesting, and preparing of it all.  He doesn't like that part, and I don't like the planting part, so, IT WORKS!!  He's also been hard at work planting some grass, too.  We felt like we needed a little bit more space for the kids to run, and it's so exciting seeing some sproutlets coming up!!  Here are some pictures:

These are the strawberries.  Mark replanted all of them and re-built the boxes; they look so happy!

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[caption id="attachment_347" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="strawberry boxes"]strawberry boxes[/caption]

Here's a couple shots of the garden we planted last weekend.  (Well, I supervised and spread the seeds!)  We planted Cucumbers, corn, radishes, leeks and carrots.  We will also be planting our blueberries in the same area!

P1010347P1010350And, here are the tomoatoes Mark planted yesterday!

[caption id="attachment_350" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Tomatoes"]Tomatoes[/caption]

If you can tell, here's the area where the new grass is planted.

[caption id="attachment_351" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Grass (trying to grow!)"]Grass (trying to grow!)[/caption]

Besides all this, flowers also grow in abundance in the yard!  We can't take credit for any of them, though, because Mark's grandparents planted them all when they lived here and we're just going to try to keep them up!  Behind the strawberry boxes, Mark transplated the Calla Lillies, and here is a shot of where all the Dahlias are (and will be!) this summer.  I have to get out and weed through the aisles, but Mark has put sticks up and pinpointed where all the Dahlias are!  And, right in front of those are the Gladiolas sprouting up!!  I can't wait!!

P1010351Besides all this, there are rows of Raspberries, a Peach Tree, a Cherry Tree, tons of Rhubarb, about six Apple trees and a Pear tree!!  (I might be forgetting something, but you get the idea!!)  Someday (in our wildest dreams!) we would love for this to be a "farm" for us and we can sell all this wonderful produce and flowers.  A nice summer job for me!!  I dabbled in it a bit last summer and sold peaches and apples in a stand that Mark made, and I also put together Dahlia bouquets, that, in my opinion, sold VERY well for it being my first time doing it!  It was such an enjoyable experience!!

With a new baby coming in early August, I hope and pray I/we can keep everything up!!  (I think it's the weeding that is overtaking us, now!!) :-)  But, all we can do is our best!!!

I will make sure to keep you updated and post pictures of all the progress!!

Diapers.com

Hey all you moms with kiddos still in diapers!! Diapers.com is having a great deal going on right now:

You save $10 on your first order of $49 or more, Plus get FREE 2-Day shipping!!



I've already done this, and they get here in LIGHTNING speed!! Plus, they have some great deals on Diapers!

Use the code: PTGMAY09

This deals expires 10/31/09

Go to: WWW.DIAPERS.COM

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blueberries, anyone??

blueberries

I LOVE Blueberries!!!  They're probably my very favorite fruit!  I can remember going to Puyallup to pick them, as a kid, with my family, and I LOVED it!  My mom would freeze some of them and we'd have them on our cereal, or on icecream, or just eat them straight out of the freezer!  It was wonderful!! Plus, I'm sure you've heard how good blueberries are, for you!

Well, now here's your chance to grow some blueberries of your own!!  Many of the money-saving websites that I frequent are all RAVING about this Blueberry deal!  It sounds like a reputable company with a great product and a money-back guarantee.  Here's the deal:

BUY 2 BLUEBERRY PLANTS FOR $10 AND GET THE 3RD ONE FREE!!

I just ordered ours, and it was $10 for the 3 Blueberry plants plus $8.90 for S/H

I can't wait to plant them!!

ClickHERE

Friday, May 15, 2009

Faithful Friday

Ok, so I might be going too far with these days of the week names, ie:  Tip Tuesday, and Faithful Friday, but I just can't seem to help myself!!  :-)  If my tagline is going to be " A journey of living life fully, frugally and faithfully", then it seems fitting!  I can't guarantee I will be able to keep this up, but I'm going to try!

Today, I've been listening to Casting Crown's "Praise You in this Storm" quite a bit.  Such an amazing song by such an amazing group.  I've been thinking a lot about all the "storms" we go through in life, whether they be big or small, and I just felt like this song is such an encouragement and a blessing.  We all struggle on a day-to-day basis;  Maybe you're having a really bad day getting the kids to obey, maybe you're dealing with chronic pain, maybe it's a terrible situation in the workplace, or maybe it's your financial situation.   Whatever it might be, remember that God has never left your side.

I encourage you to watch this video and really listen to the words.  I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.






"I'll praise You in this storm, and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are, no matter where I am.  And every tear I've cried You hold in your hand;  You've never left my side, and though my heart is torn....I will praise you in this storm."

Celiac Disease

I am very interested and intrigued by the information on Celiac Disease that my sister, Amy, sent me.  It was information that I didn't know, and, frankly, that I'd never heard of!  I thought it would be important to post this, in case there were some of you that hadn't heard of Celiac Disease and maybe had some of these symptoms.


Celiac Disease is, basically, a digestive disease, where the body can't tolerate Gluten



Here's a list of symptoms in Adults:

  • unexplained iron-deficiency anemia

  • fatigue

  • bone or joint pain

  • arthritis

  • bone loss or osteoporosis

  • depression or anxiety

  • tingling numbness in the hands and feet

  • seizures

  • missed menstrual periods

  • infertility or recurrent miscarriage

  • canker sores inside the mouth

  • an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis

  • abdominal bloating and pain

  • chronic diarrhea

  • vomiting

  • constipation

  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool

  • weight loss


And, here are some other health problems associated with the disease:


  • type 1 diabetes

  • autoimmune thyroid disease

  • autoimmune liver disease

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • Addison’s disease, a condition in which the glands that produce critical hormones are damaged

  • Sj√∂gren’s syndrome, a condition in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed


I am very interested, because I have quite a few of the symptoms for this disease and one of the health problems associated with it:  Autoimmune Thyroid Disease.  What is even more interesting is, that, more than 2 million people in the U. S have this disease, and, it's hereditary and could be past down from generation to generation.




If you think there is a chance you might have this disease, there is a simple blood test your doctor can do to diagnose it.  For more great information, please visit this website:

HERE

Thanks for the great information, Amy!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More thoughts on coupons, and beyond.......

So, I'm still traumatized by the spider incident (see below), but I thought I'd get my mind off of it and blog about something else!!

I've covered a lot about coupons, but I thought I'd add a few more tips/thoughts that I thought of recently.  I apologize if some of this is a repeat, but I wanted to cover a few other things!

  • Make sure that you never feel like you HAVE to use a coupon, just because you have it.  I think I've said it before, but in my early coupon-ing days, I would get giddy and excited just knowing I had all these coupons to use that I would feel a little pressured to use them!!  Don't ever feel that way, because if you do, you will probably end up SPENDING more money and not SAVING more money!

  • Sift through your stash regularly and pull out all your expired coupons.  But, WAIT, before you throw them away, did you know that Military Families living overseas can use expired coupons for up to 6 months after the expiration date??  How neat it is to know that we can help out!!  For more info, go HERE

  • As I have said before, if you are able to get something for FREE, even if you know you might not want and/or use it, GET IT ANYWAY.  Through this frugal journey I have been on, I really feel strongly that I should not only save money to help my family, but I should strive to save money so that I can HELP OTHERS.   For instance, I currently have 26 boxes of cereal in my stockpiling stash, all either $1.00 and under or virtually free.  I will be heading out to Albertson's in the next few days to get their great deal on Kelloggs Cereal (For every 4 you buy, they are $1.50/each, and remember those $1.00 coupons on coupons.com?!  Each box will be .50 cents!!)  I will probably buy 12-16 more boxes.  Is it because we are in desperate need of more cereal??  NO!  But, 50 cents a box for cereal is allowing me to be able to buy them and GIVE THEM AWAY.


And,  to that point, it doesn't even have to be your groceries that you give away......it can be your MONEY that you've saved and/or your TIME that you give away.  Here are some ideas of simple ways to GIVE on a frugal budget:

1.  As I just mentioned, give of your stockpile. This may be the easiest and least expensive way to bless someone in need.   Maybe you can't give a $25 check to a family in need, but there is a likely a chance that you can put together $25 in groceries to help someone in need!

2.  Make and/or bake something. If you don't feel like your stockpile is big enough, then you must have ingredients to whip up a great soup, your favorite casserole, or a nice loaf of bread.  Oh, how that could make someone's day!

3.  Give of your time:  Help an elderly neighbor with their yard work, help clean a new mom's house, or offer to watch a friend's child for an hour while they get a rest!  The possibilities are endless!

4.  Give of the items you no longer want or need anymore. From clothes, to books, to videos to coupons, there is always something that someone else can use!  Pass them on to someone that can get some use out of them!  But, if you do give someone a big bag of items, make sure you let them know that they are not obligated to keep it all and they can pass the items on that they don't want or need.

These are just four simple ideas (among hundreds!) of things you can do to help others, while on a budget.  This list BARELY even scratches the surface of ideas of how to give generously on a budget, I know, but hopefully this has gotten you thinking about things that YOU can do.  I'd LOVE to hear more ideas!!

    um, not a fan......

    of SPIDERS, that is.

    Anyone who knows me well, knows that my BIGGEST FEAR is spiders.  I can't help it, and I don't know how it started, but we all have fears, we all have phobias, and this just happens to be my NUMBER ONE BIGGEST FEAR, EVER!!!!!

    It doesn't matter if they're big, small, skinny, fat, happy or sad.......I LOATHE them!!!

    Ok, so some of you know my experience with finding the WORLD'S BIGGEST (At least the biggest that I had EVER seen, NO LIE!!!) spider in MY BED........ON MY PILLOW.......awhile ago.  It was a devastating, horrific and traumatizing experience for me.  Not only because I turned the sheets back and, there it was, but because I was so shocked and scared by the size and bulk of it that I didn't know what to do!!!!  To make a long story short.........(all you spider haters, prepare for this)..........I NEVER FOUND IT.  Yes.  True story.  It was pure torture.  I tore our bedroom apart, threw everything everywhere, trying to find it, just to give me peace of mind.  But, no.  Never did.

    I couldn't sleep in our bed for over a month.  Some of you might think that is so silly, but if your worst fear in the world just happened to appear in YOUR BED, on YOUR PILLOW, you just might have the same reaction!!!

    We have since had our house sprayed and continue to do so every 6 months........I've seen less spiders in the house.............

    UNTIL TODAY.

    The kids and I were rushing out of the house to my Mom's Group this morning......and THERE. IT. WAS.

    A GINORMOUS, BIG, BLACK, THICK......HUGE.........Spider.  Clinging to the wall right by the front door.  HOLY COW.  This spider, and I'm not trying to gross anyone out, was as long and as wide as my hand.  It. was. terrible.  I almost cried.  I almost screamed.  I wanted to vomit.  I was stuck, stone-cold, not able to even move my feet.

    I knew I had to, though!  We HAD to go!!  What was I going to do??????  I couldn't leave it there for two hours while we were gone, and let it wander anywhere it wanted to, so I had to do SOMETHING!

    So, I grabbed the kids, ran into the kitchen and grabbed the RAID.  That's all I could think of at the time.  I ran back to it and just started spraying and spraying and spraying and spraying and spraying and spraying.......(AND SPRAYING!!)  Pretty soon it was totally white, covered in yummy Raid and was not moving.  I was SURE it was dead.  There is no way it couldn't be, right?!

    So, we ran out the door and were off to my meeting.....(since I KNEW it was dead, there was NO WAY I was going to touch it, too!!!  I would just let it suffer there and have Mark pick it up when he got home.)

    So, we come back from my meeting, I carefully come in the door, thinking I'm going to find this nasty mess of a spider still hanging on the wall, or at the least fallen down on the floor in misery......

    NOTHING.

    PEOPLE!!!!!!  IT WAS GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    How is that possible?????  I sprayed the dickens out of that thing!!!!  HOW?!?!?!?!?!?

    I panicked.......like, really panicked.........I searched all around, tore everything apart (boy, does that sound familiar!!), but........NO DICE.

    This spider, that was the size and girth of a small child has suddenly disappeared????

    I've lost two of the WORLD'S BIGGEST SPIDERS in MY House???????????

    HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    SUCCESS!!

    I love baking and I do it often, but I have yet to master the art of bread-making.  BUT, today, I found a really wonderful, easy, and DELICIOUS recipe for whole wheat bread!  Instead of two loaves, I made one really nice size loaf and some great dinner rolls.  We enjoyed the rolls with our Spaghetti dinner tonight. It's called "Kid-Friendly Wheat Bread." For the recipe, click HERE

    P1010336

    P1010337P1010340If you haven't tried making your own bread and are a little nervous about it (like I was!), this is a great recipe to start with;  You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry, already!!  It's worth a try!

    What a more frugal, healthy, and tasty way to go!!  I hope I can continue with this success!  (One loaf at a time!!!)

    COUPONS 101---PART 4

    HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR COUPONS

    You will see that once you start to collect coupons, they will quickly turn into a pile of clutter if you don't have a good, organized system in place.  And, the only way I will use them is if I have them organized and easily accessible.  I have to admit, this is still a work-in-progress for me!!  I've researched and found several ways of organizing, but still don't feel that I've found the one that suits me best.  But, as of right now, I currently organize my coupons in seperate labeled envelopes, and they are all stored in a plastic box.  Here's a couple shots of my box:  (For some reason, my flash would not work, so I'm sorry these are a little dark!!)

    P1010328P1010329This is a rather small box, but I chose this size, specifically, because it wasn't too large for me to carry into the stores with me, without me feeling too much like I was carrying a suitcase or something!!

    I make broad categories for my coupons, ie:  DAIRY, CANDY, BAKING, CEREAL/BREAKFAST, BODY CARE, BABY, PAPER PRODUCTS, FROZEN FOODS, etc.  To make the labels, I cut up old cereal/cracker boxes and used the inside (brown side) to write on and cut them just long enough that I can see the categories above all my coupons.  Those have seemed to serve their purpose well.   Here's a closer (albeit, still dark!) picture of my labels:

    P1010330

    I also have envelopes for each store I frequent, because many times these stores will send coupons in the mail, or I'll have Catalinas from that store, or a rebate.  It's nice to keep that organized.

    Now, as I said, I have BROAD categories for each envelope, but as time is going on, I'm realizing, I might need to make them more specific, because some of my envelopes are bursting a the seams, and here is a picture of all the coupons I still have yet to organize!!

    P1010331

    Here are some more options for organizing your coupons.  Some I like, and some I don't, but I wanted to show you some of the options that are out there:

    coupon organizer

    coupon07couponbookcouponbox

    I think my favorite option would be a bigger version of the second picture.  I've seen larger black books that you can put the clear plastic photo pages into and/or clear baseball card-type pages into.  You can categorize each page, and that way, you have other pockets up front for your calculator, pens, gift cards, etc.  And, not only that, it looks to me like it might zip close, and what a treat that would be!

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Take your list.......AND CHECK IT TWICE!

    TIP #2:

    I've talked about making a list before you go shopping, as a great money-saving tool, but as I was talking with my mom this afternoon, she brought to my attention another GREAT tip about your grocery list:  CROSS OFF THE THINGS THAT YOU PUT IN YOUR CART!  My mom goes shopping with my dear Grandma, and I guess there have been a few times my Grandma will say she is done, and has everything that's on her list, only to learn, (once they're home!), that she didn't get everything on the list!!  Why????  Because she didn't mark things off as she went.

    This may sound like a no-brainer to some of you, but ALWAYS bring a pen with you and cross things off as you go!!   This is a sure-fire way that you will get everything on your list!  This is truly money-saving, because if you have to make ANOTHER trip back to the store for something you forgot, there goes more money (gas, etc) and not to mention, TIME, down the drain.

    Also, if you frequent your grocery store enough, you probably have a pretty good idea of the layout of the store, and you probably take the same pathway around the store, each time you shop.  If that's the case, another great tip is to make your list according to the path you take in the store, ie:  if you always start in the produce section, list all the produce together first, then if you go to meat next, list all the meat you are planning on buying, then on to the next, etc.  You're almost ensured never to forget an item!!

    TIP TUESDAY

    TIP #1:  REUSE YOUR FOOD STORAGE BAGS

    I have been doing this for years, and I KNOW it has saved me money!  I don't think I could tell you the last time I actually had to go out and buy more food storage bags, aka, Ziploc bags, because I almost always wash them, put them back in my drawer and re-use them.  If you think about it, there is no reason NOT to.  I think the rare occasions that I don't save them are when there was raw meat in the bag, or something happened to spoil in there, so I opted out!  But, other than that, I can't bring myself to throw them away!  I make a bath of hot, soapy water, and let them soak for a good hour or so, and then I scrub them well, and hang them on my bag dryer.  Do you have a food storage bag dryer???  This thing has been my lifesaver, because I not only use it for Ziplocs, I also wash the kids' bibs and hang them on there to dry, as well!  I got this idea from a neighbor of mine and bought it on Amazon (they are still for sale there for under 20 bucks!)  Here's what they look like:

    bag dryerAnd, here's what mine currently looks like this morning:

    P1010311It really works, and I use it EVERY day!!  I have also heard that you can make your own bag dryer, by buying a toothbrush holder and sticking chopsticks in the holes!! Someone out there is clever!!

    So, if you don't reuse your food storage bags, give it a try!!  It's an easy, money-saving, "going-green" way to be!! :-)

    (I'll be back later tonight for Tip #2!!!)

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    My Albertson's Deal of the Century

    I had an appointment in Bremerton this afternoon, and since I only had one child with me, I thought I would make a quick stop off at Albertsons on the way back.  I had researched this morning a few EXCEPTIONAL deals, by using MFR coupons, Albertsons Coupons, and my 3 Albertsons Doubles that I got in the mail.  I was sooooooooo excited once I figured out this deal this morning that I couldn't help but call Mark and let him know!  He was quite impressed!  Ok, so here's what I got:

    P10103073 packages of 4 Cinnamon Rolls---normally $2.99/ea.  I had an In-Ad Albertsons coupon for 99 cents/ea.

    1 32 ounce Albertsons Cheese---normally $7.99, but used the In-Ad coupon for $3.99.  (which is an awesome price for a full loaf of cheese!)

    Albertsons also has a Mix and Match deal:  Buy 10 of certain items and you get $3 off instantly (therefore, making it $7).  Kraft BBQ Sauce and Kraft Easy Mac were part of this promotion, so I mixed and matched, buying 4 BBQ sauces and 6 Easy Macs.  Along with that, I had FOUR $1.00/1  Kraft BBQ Sauce coupons and THREE $1.00/2 Easy Mac coupons.

    This is how the math breaks down on that:  10 items at .70/each=  $7.00-$4.00(BBQ coupons)=$3.00-$3.00(Easy Mac Coupons)=FREEALL 10 ITEMS TURNED OUT TO BE FREE!!! But, WAIT, that's not all!!  I also had the 3 Albertsons Doubles, so that took off $3 more from my total purchase amount, so my grand total for all FOURTEEN items was.........drumroll please.......

    $3.96!!!!!!!!


    But, THAT'S NOT ALL!!!  Kraft also has a promotion going on, that if you buy 4 of their BBQ Sauces, they will give you back a $2 Catalina for your next shopping trip.  Which, is essentially a $2 coupon that goes towards your next Albertsons purchase of ANY products!


    Essentially, with the extra $2 coupon in my pocket, you can say I only spent $1.96 on this entire purchase!!  I gotta say.......that might be the best deal I have come across, yet!!!  And, it was so cute, as the gal was ringing up my purchase and got to the end, she said, "You definitely need to show your husband THIS receipt!!!"

    Saturday, May 9, 2009

    HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

    "THE MOTHER IS THE ONE SUPREME ASSET OF THE NATIONAL LIFE.


    SHE IS MORE IMPORTANT, BY FAR, THAN THE SUCCESSFUL STATESMAN,


    OR BUSINESSMAN, OR ARTIST, OR SCIENTIST."


    ------Theodore Roosevelt------

    COUPONS 101-Part 3

    WHEN TO USE YOUR COUPONS----

    Just because you have a coupon does not necessarily mean you should buy an item. In fact, if you buy items just because you have a coupon, you will end up spending MORE money on items you don’t really need, and are still over priced. The trick is to wait for the item to go on sale or clearance, THEN USE YOUR COUPON, which is an even better deal.

    • WAIT FOR A SALE: Wait for the items that you want to go on sale, then use your coupons!    Then, buy several of that item so that you won't need to buy it, again, until it goes on sale again.  It's sometimes hard, but your item will more than likely go on sale, so WAITING is the key!

    • BUY ONE GET ONE FREE (BOGO) SALE: When a store has a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sale, this is a great time to use your coupons. You can use TWO coupons. One for the item you are buying and one for the item you are getting for free. WHY???   Remember that a coupon is like cash, a form of payment.  The store IS getting paid for that product, by the Manufacturer.  (They get back the coupon price, plus 10 cents (or so) shipping)  So, the store gives you the second item for free, but they can turn in the coupon and get paid for that item they just gave you for free.   Example-  Granola Bars are on sale, buy one get one free. You pay $3.00 for the first box of granola bars, and get the 2nd free.  But you have 2 coupons for $1 off a box of granola bars. You can use both of those coupons. One coupon is applied to each box of granola bars (although one box is considered free) Both coupons are applied to the TOTAL SALE PRICE.  It brings the total to $1.00 for 2 boxes of granola bars. You would have paid $6 for 2 boxes of bars, but by using the Buy one get one (BOGO) free sale you have saved  $5.00 on two boxes of granola bars!!!  Quite the deal!

    • STACKING YOUR COUPONS: Stacking your coupons is when you are able to use 2 coupons for one item. You are able to do this when you use an IN-STORE COUPON ( a coupon that the store prints, normally in the weekly ad, or on their website.  It will have the store logo on it) along with a MFR (manufacturer coupon). When you use the in-store coupon and the MFR coupon together this is called “stacking” your coupons. So watch for those in-store coupons, and see if you have a MFR coupon to go along with it.  When I figured this one out, I was OVERJOYED!  (I know, it obviously doesn't take much to get me excited!!)  But, what a great deal you will get if you have a MFR coupon to go with the store coupon!!  Always keep an eye out for that!

    • REBATES: A lot of companies offer a mail in rebate for their items as part of a promotion to get you to try or buy their product. Many times this makes the item free after rebate.  Example- Rite Aid is selling shaving cream  for $3.00, and they have a mail in rebate for $3.00, which would make the item free.  But, let's say you have a $1.50 coupon for that particular shaving cream; after you turn in your rebate they will send you a check for $3.00, and you only paid $1.50 for it!!  Rebates are very easy to do, and with most companies, you can just do it online, type in a little info from your receipt and they'll send you a check.  Completely easy and painless!

    • STORE MATCH OR DOUBLE: Some stores do this every week, but seems as if the local stores I frequent only do it a few times a year. They will match your coupon amount, which gives you the chance to get twice the amount of your coupon. Example- the store is selling juice for $1.00 but I have a coupon for $.50 off, The store them matches the price of my coupon giving me another $.50 off, making my juice FREE.   I have been getting a lot of "DOUBLES" from Albertons, lately, and it's been great!  I've received a lot of free items! Normally if a store matches or doubles coupons, they only let you do a limited number of items per shopping trip. So I plan to make several trips through the checkout line, or plan another trip back to the store at a later date.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    COUPONS 101--PART 2

    Ok, so now that you know where to get your coupons, you now need to know what coupons to SAVE.

    PART 2

    • What coupons do you save? I clip and save almost every coupon, about 99% of them, even if it is something I would never use.  The reason I do that, is because, if there is a chance it is going to be free or under a $1, I get it and give it to charity or someone I know could use it.  There is no reason NOT to get something if it's going to be free!!  On Sundays (or whatever day I get the inserts or coupons), I spend a little bit of time clipping them and putting them into stacks of like categories, ie:  cleaning supplies, Breakfast, etc.  From here, it's time to organize, and that's when I put them into all my categorized envelopes in my box.

    • Why do I clip and save every coupon? I save every coupon because I never know what is going to come on sale, or what I might be able to get for free. Or, I never know when I might find an item on clearance, and if I have all my coupons with me, (Yes, I usually take the entire box with me to stores!!) then I am able to take advantage of both the coupon and the sale. Before I started bringing my box of coupons with me, I can’t tell you how many times I would buy something that I had a coupon for at home but I just forgot to bring it!  Or I didn’t plan to buy it that week, but when I got to the store it was one sale. So I missed a great way to save even more money.

    • Don't be Brand Loyal This might be a hard one for some of you and for others, it's no biggee, but if you are going to be an avid couponer, brand should usually NOT matter.  Now, don't get me wrong, there are some brands that I won't/don't buy, because I just simply either don't like the way they taste (if it's a food product), or I don't like how it worked for me.  (For example, a cleaning product.)  But, for the most part, if you save all the coupons in the inserts, and not just pick out your favorite brands, you are going to save big!  For Example:  Let's say my family only usually buys Tree Top Apple Juice.  So, if I see a coupon for Tree Top, I will definitely clip it and save it.  If I see a coupon for Motts Apple Juice, I may not clip it, or overlook it, because my family does not usually buy Mott's Apple Juice.  If both juices are $2.50 each at the store, I will definitely buy the one we like best, but if  I find a sale on Mott's Apple Juice for $2.00 and I have a .75 coupon for it, it would make the Mott's $1.25 and the Tree Top is still $2.50. At that price I would be happy to buy Mott's! So, clip ALL brands and make sure to bring all your coupons with you!

    • How many to Save As I stated earlier, we don't have a subscription to the paper (Yet!!), so it varies how many coupons I can get on any given Sunday.  It is at least one of each insert, but could be up to 20 or more!!  So, you may ask, why do I want so many??  Here's an example for you:  Let's say Safeway is having a sale on Pasta Sauce, $1.50/each, and normal price is $3.00/each, plus, I have a coupon for $1.00 off.  That would make each pasta sauce .50 cents!!  A GREAT DEAL!!  But, maybe I don't want to go out of my way for one jar of pasta sauce....But, if I saved 10 coupons,  and I can get 10 jars of pasta sauce at 50 cents/each, then it is definitely worth the trip!  Plus, then I have "stockpiled" plenty of pasta sauce for weeks to come and I don't have to worry about buying more for awhile. When you buy your items at a super low price, such as this, and stockpile, the goal is to have enough so you won't have to buy it again until you can get it for that low of price, again!  That way, you can ALWAYS buy your items at half off or more!

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    COUPONS 101

    So, I want to start a "tutorial", if you will, of all things COUPONS!  I am not a coupon genius, nor do I claim to be.  I have always loved saving money, using coupons, finding deals, looking for sales, thrift store shopping, etc, etc, etc.  But, just recently, in about the past 6 months, I have dived into the world of coupon-clipping and now there's no turning back!!  I LOVE IT!  I have to admit, that I used to think coupon-clipping was a somewhat waste of time, I would clip a few, and then throw the rest in the trash.  But, BOY, have my eyes been opened!!  I now look at coupons as MONEY IN MY POCKET!  This is the world of coupon-clipping that I have learned, and I hope it helps you!  Please let me know if you have any questions.....I'd be more than happy to answer them!  There is so much to go over on this subject, so each day is going to be something new!

    PART ONE

    Learning to use coupons effectively is an integral part of saving money, you could be saving up to 50% or more on each shopping trip!  But, you first have to know where to get your coupons!

    • Newspaper- I have found the best place to get a wide variety of coupons all at once is the Sunday coupon inserts.  Not all papers carry the same inserts, so you might ask which inserts your local paper has. Once a month, Procter & Gamble has a special coupon insert dedicated to their products but it is available only in select papers.   Most papers allow you to purchase just the Sunday paper, or Multiple papers, at a lower price.  Purchasing just the Sunday paper is minimal money out of your pocket, compared to what you're going to save!!  Now, we don't get the Paper, and we haven't since we've lived here.  I seem to be able to still get the Sunday inserts by scouring recycle bins, (If I happen to ride the ferry on a Sunday, HOLY COW, I can snag up 20 inserts at a time!!), asking neighbors, letting family members know to save them, etc.  I haven't missed any Sunday inserts, yet, and I don't even subscribe to the paper!

    • Printable Internet coupons- There are a lot of really good sites to print coupons from. You can print the same coupons from a lot of different sites. Most of the sites will allow you to print the coupon twice. But if you have more than one computer at home, you can print it twice from each computer.  If you do not have high speed internet it can be tricky to get them to print.  DO NOT try to photo copy your coupons, the stores can tell, and it will make using printable coupons harder for us all. Check your local stores to see if they accept printed coupons.  All the local stores I frequent, ie:  Safeway, Albertsons, Rite Aid, Town and Country, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens all accept printable coupons.  Here are some sites that I frequent:  Coupons.com, Redplum.com, smartsource.com, eatbetteramerica.com, and coolsavings.com are just a few!

    • Blinkies- These are the little black boxes with the red blinking light that spits out coupons at the store. You can find these little units on the shelves in some stores, like Safeway and Albertsons, to name a few. Go ahead and take a few and save them for your coupon stash, or use on your shopping trip.

    • Peelies- These are the coupons that come stuck to a product. They normally have a long shelf life, and they tend to not expire for up to a year. They are great to save and combine with other sales and/or other coupons.

    • Store coupons – Often stores offer their own coupons, as opposed to manufacturer coupons. Store coupons are actually “stackable,” meaning you can use both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupons on the same item. Pair this combination up with a great sale and you can SAVE BIG! A good way to get store coupons is by signing up for store loyalty programs, or just looking at their once and/or twice weekly Ad.

    • Buying coupons- According to the law, no one can "sell" a coupon, but, they CAN charge you for the time and effort put into clipping it. You’ll find lots of coupons for sale on other sites.  The two sites I frequent the most to buy my coupons are on Ebay and thecouponmaster.com.  Buying coupons is very inexpensive and is great, because you can pick the exact coupons you want!

    • The Manufacturer- Many companies like it when you contact them.  Many folks are eager to contact when something is wrong with the product (which is understandable!), but companies love to hear good things, too! You can call, email, or write to them and tell them how much you love the product.  Some companies are happy to send you coupons for discounts, or for free products.  I have emailed numerous companies and received many, many coupons, free products and samples!  It's great!  Not all companies do this, though, so don't expect them all to send something your way.

    • Free samples –Manufacturers often include coupons in the free samples that they send out as an extra incentive for you to go out and purchase the product if you try it and like it.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    TIP TUESDAY

    I think this should be TWO Tip Tuesday, so that's what I'm changing it to!!  One tip just isn't enough!!!  :-)

    These two tips today come from two of my beautiful, talented and very smart OLDER sisters!

    Here's Amy's:

    TIP: "Buy ground beef in bulk (Costco has multi-pound packs and other stores have 3- and 5-lb. chubs) and separate it into meal-sized portions yourself to freeze. Also, you can buy a 3- or 5-lb. chub of beef, cook it all as taco meat and freeze it in meal-sized portions. Then on Taco day, just thaw the portion you need and reheat. No cooking necessary!"

    I LOVE this tip, because it's not just money-saving, it's also time-saving, (and we all know time is money, right?!)  Thanks for the great tip, Sista!!

    Here's Martha's:

    TIP: "Actually prepare and cook what you buy!!!"

    Knowing Martha, this tip was probably a little tongue-in-cheek, because cooking for one can be difficult!  Things go to waste a lot quicker.  BUT, there is SO MUCH truth to this for ANYONE!!!  Prepare and cook what you buy.....what a concept, huh??.....it doesn't sound too difficult, but it's so much harder than we think!  How many of us let food go to waste in our fridge, (many times, though, not on purpose!), how many of us have oodles of food stocked up in our pantry, how many of us have backstock of meat frozen in the fridge???  Yet, we look at it all and actually think we don't have anything to eat!!  (I know I've done that before!)  That's why this tip is sooooooo important!

    Go through your fridge every other day or so and actually use the perishables that are in there......don't let them go to waste!  There's always something you can make or freeze to use them up!  Look in your pantry and pull all the "older" stuff forward and organize it so that you can actually see what you have!  And, do the same in your freezers.......I know that mine aren't the most organized they could be, in fact, I found a whole bag of chicken stuffed way down in the bottom back part of the freezer I didn't even know was there!!

    If you actually prepare and cook what you buy, you aren't just saving money, but you're saving time, AND you're helping to save the environment, to boot!!!

    Thanks so much for the tips!!!  Keep them coming!!

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    Scotch Teas

    scotch-teas

    I came across this recipe a month or so ago, and shared it with all my family, and now I want to share it with everyone!!  I can't stop making these!!  They are just about the tastiest and easiest cookie/bar I have ever made and the family loves them!  So, here you go!

    Scotch Teas

    • 1 c. brown sugar

    • 1/2 c. butter or margarine

    • 2 c. quick-cooking oats

    • 1 t. baking powder

    • 1/4 t. salt


    1. Cook butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan until butter is completely melted, stirring often. Remove from heat.

    2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Press into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. They will firm up as they cool.

    vgabs

    Our 'new arrival' before the 'new arrival'

    So, I promised a picture of our non-human new arrival, so here it is:




    [caption id="attachment_201" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="2009 Toyota Sienna"]2009 Toyota Sienna[/caption]

    We're now a "Mini-Van Fam!!"  It's quite a necessity when you are becoming a family of FIVE!  We are really loving this car, already!!  It is really so lovely and sleek, and quite wonderful!!  I had really been getting used to no car payment, though.  We still have our Subaru Forester and will keep it for as long as it wants to run, and had paid it off quite awhile ago, so a car payment is going to be a little shock to the system, but we can handle it!  We're prepared!


    It was quite a looooooooong night at the car dealership on Friday night and I thought the kids (and myself!!) were going to go out of our minds!  I do have to say, though, that Mark and I make a good team for phenagaling a deal!!  Mark's good at playing it cool and giving the feeling that we are ready to walk at any moment, and I am good at giving it to them straight and lettting them know EXACTLY what we want to pay and what we will or won't settle for.   It was good teamwork and I'm pretty sure we got the deal of the century!  Even with some gas cards and other "extras" thrown in!  They REALLY wanted to sell us that car!!! We didn't get home until almost midnight, because we missed the 10:05 ferry by seconds........poor Ava and Luke.  But, as soon as they hopped in that van, they were all giggles and Luke kept saying, "Come on Mom, let's go!!!"


    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    Third Trimester, already??!!

    This is craziness to me......how in the heck did I already make it to the third trimester???  I'm in the home-stretch, already?!  I really can't believe how fast time has gone through this pregnancy.  Obviously, having a 2 and a 3 year old to take care of, really makes things much different this time around!  Although, during the first trimester, I really thought I was never going to get here!  The constant everyday, all the time, nausea and vomiting were *almost* too much too take.  Five months of that would be too much for anyone, I should think!!  But, what's even crazier is that I am getting that nausea back, just ever-so-slightly, every morning now.  It's that feeling of *uuuuuggggghhhhh* right when I get out of bed, and if I don't hurry up and get something in my stomach, then I'm dry-heaving over the toilet!  I know, pleasant, huh?!  But, I think that's what made me realize I'm already in the 3rd trimester!!  I've heard that the fun nausea and vomiting can come back.  "NNnnnnooooooooooooo........!!!!"  Well, if it's just this little-bitty morning stuff, I can take it!!!

    So, here's what my lovely belly looks like now:

    p10103003

    Sorry, not the best shot, because I had to turn the flash off so it wouldn't glare against the mirror, but you get the idea!!  That's baby girl in there!  She's been moving around like CRAZY!  In fact, I asked Mark the other night, "Can a baby ever move tooooo much?!"  I already knew the answer to that was 'no', but she was keeping me awake!!  :-)

    If some of you don't know, baby has a few kidney issues that we're keeping an eye on, and I'll get another ultrasound in a couple weeks to check up on her again.  She has two cysts growing--one IN her kidney, and one on the outside that is partially blocking the flow of urine coming out.  Therefore, it is very enlarged, but still functioning!  Her other kidney is perfectly fine.  We all know, and I am living proof, that we can survive with one kidney, so at least we know one of them is functioning normally!  Thank the Lord!  My two-year-old, Luke, also had a kidney issue that they found in utero and his cleared up completely on his own and he's totally healthy!  So, the moral of the story is to *NOT* worry, (which I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of), because there is nothing that I can do.....I have to remember that God is in control.  And, to just trust that all will be just fine!  Which, I'm positive it will be!!

    We are SUPER excited for this little one to arrive!!  I will post pictures soon on the progress of her room, and I'll also fill you in on another "arrival" that came on Friday!!  (A non-human arrival!!)  But, something we *NEED* before baby girl is born!

    "Children are a heritage from the Lord, a REWARD from Him."


    Psalm 127:3

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Does your dryer EAT socks????

    I'm CONVINCED that mine does!!!

    My favorite part of doing laundry is folding the kids' clothes....I love it, for some reason. I love looking at all their cute clothes, (albeit, some with stains that won't come out!), and folding their petite articles of clothing and putting them away in their drawers. That's actually fun for me. But, when it comes to their socks, I'm COMPLETELY baffled and frustrated!! Here is my supply of, as I like to call them,

    MISMATES:p10103001

    These are all socks that have no mates!! How in the world is that possible?! Now, don't get my wrong, I know the dryer is not 100% to blame, because I do find a few under their beds, in with our laundry, in the toe part of their footed jammies and sometimes still stuck in their shoes. But, I'm sure that only makes up for a good 10% of the lost ones. Where do all the other ones go???? I can't bare to throw them away, (some I still have from when Ava was a newborn!) so I hold onto them forever thinking that I'll find the mate.........I rarely ever do.  I have socks in this pile that are "clean", but are stained and icky, but I still can't seem to give them up!! I've even been known to put mismatched socks on the kids, because what's so wrong with wearing two different socks, right?!  :-)

    Is anyone else dealing with this baffling, confusing and downright frustrating phenomenom????

    MORE Cereal!!

    So, if the coupons on coupons.com weren't enough for you, there's more!! Kellogg's must really want us to buy their cereal! I couldn't resist telling you about one more spot for more cereal coupons. You can get two more of the eight different coupons
    HERE!!!