Friday, July 1, 2011

Winnings Continued...And Other Updates

Just a little update of the winnings I've had from 6/2 to 7/1...(Previous months winnings are listed in older posts. 


Newest Winnings: (5/22 to 6/2)

  • Venus Razor 
  • Handmade Denim Purse
  • ID Tag (it's a small plush monkey head with a place to put a child's ID info on that clips onto a backpack)
  • Gevalia Coffee Pack (Coffee Pot Cleaner, Filters and Coffee)
  • A Book - The Arrivals
  • Go Picnic Prize Pack - 10 boxes of their meals to go. Look tasty!
  • Bloomin' Bellies Soap - Homemade soaps
  • Little Duck Organic Snack Packs
  • 2 Lil' Teammates Bobble Heads
  • T-shirt for Finn
  • Diaper Cake
  • Softlips (5 lipbalms)
  • Handmade Owl Barrettes 
  • $20.00 Target GC - this wasn't a giveaway. I got it for having 3 people sign up for Plum District through my referral link



Weight Update:
I've been feeling really down on myself lately. I haven't been going to Zumba since I had surgery in April. I got the all clear from the doctor June 2nd. Since then, I have been sick 4 times, Chloe has been sick, Finn has been sick 3 times and had tubes. Plus, I've dealt with migraines and my back seems to think it's a great time to take a vacation! I was sure I had ballooned since I stopped working out. But, I sucked it up and got on the scale for the first time in nearly 3 months this week. I was beyond thrilled to see that I am now at 262.4!!! I have lost 16.6 lbs without the working out. Just think what I might be able to do when I start back (hopefully Tuesday...) 


Shopping Trip:
I'm not going to break it all down right now (I'm tired and my head is throbbing), but I was quiet pleased with myself earlier this week when in 2 hours I was able to shop for the entire week at 4 stores, plus "stockpile" for less than $39.00. I saved over 72%! By far my best trip yet...I can't wait to see what I'm able to do next week! 



Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Isn't a Train!

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately. So, here's a brief recap of what's been going on...

John and I decided to take back control of our lives. Some truly wonderful friends (the husband has been a part of John's life for at least 20+ years now) offered to let us live with them for 6 months. Although living in someone's basement isn't the ideal situation, I know that this is going to make such a difference in both families lives. To cut our monthly expenses in half means that we can pay off pretty much ALL our debt, minus student loans, by the end of the stay there.
The idea of living debt-free sends tingles up my spine. :) The move won't take place until September sometime, but knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time in a long time the light isn't a train, makes me happy.
I'm going to miss this house immensely. If you've been here, you know what the kitchen is like! And for someone like me who loves to cook, letting it go makes me sad. Not to mention, we have the best landlords (Love you Amanda!). But, we have to do what's best for our family.
This past year, although full of lots of highs, has had lots of lows that have hurt us financially. Continuing on in this fashion is going to hurt us. As they say, when God closes a door...
The big concern that the few people we've discussed this move with is how are we going to "handle" living with another couple for that long. Well, here's the deal. This couple is so much like us. Very laid back. Similar parenting skills (they have a son and daughter. The son is 7 months older than Chloe and the daughter is 7 months younger). Plus, we've lived with them before (for 2 weeks) when we made the move last May. I know 6 months is different than 2 weeks, but in 2 weeks, if we weren't grating on each other yet, that's a good sign in my book! Also, we pretty much have the entire basement to ourselves, which means privacy when we need to quiet time.
All in all, I'm looking forward to continuing to work like I have been recently, and the money going to pay off our credit cards and medical bills, without feeling like we're treading water...

Work wise, I've been working like made. I haven't taken a full day off in over 3 weeks. I have taken two 1/2 days where I only did rewrites, title claiming and 3 articles each. But a true day off hasn't occurred. Assuming the CEs (copy editors) stay on track this weekend and don't get too far behind. If they can keep up, then I get a day off this week! Much needed, I might add.

I've had my ups and downs with the kids the last few weeks. I've been working so much that my patience has been thin, but I'm trying not to take it out on them (especially Chloe). Chloe's been dealing with a bit of the green-eyed monster recently. Still adores her brother (wants to hug him, play with him, be near him) but she's acting out to get attention a bit more. I'm thinking I'm going to take her for a girls day sometime this week. I'm thinking I'll take Finn to grandma's, then Chloe and I will have a special day. I think maybe lunch (or a dessert) and then shopping, followed with a trip to the park.

My final update is my AMAZING shopping trip today. This is by far my best "haul" yet. I went to CVS and got over $115.00 in merchandise (after tax) and I paid $3.59 out of pocket...I saved 97%!!! To top it off, I left with $17.47 in ECBs which equates to more free stuff! Here's what I got 6 bottles of Revlon Nail Polish (it was how I "made" money), 2 bottles CVS brand kids vitamins, 1 package of Powerbar Bites, 1 Similac Simple Pac, 1 Huggies Wipe Refill and 1 tube Colgate Whitening Toothpaste.
With the exception of the nail polish (and the Powerbar bites - they're for Amanda), I actually needed all of it (well, the toothpaste is going into the stockpile, but I gave a bunch of tubes away a few weeks ago, so my toothpaste bin is low). Not too shabby for a few minutes worth of shopping...



(That's for you Amanda!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Looking at a Thing in a Bag...

I promised Chloe yesterday if she could be a good girl all day she could make ice cream last night. She was wonderful (not just for the ice cream, I think...) She played with Finn all day (so cute to see her "ride" him like a pony and he shrieked in joy!). I swear, these two love each other so much! He looks for her when he hears her voice. If the hall's open, he takes off, always to her room. Sometimes I'll find him just sitting there playing with
her.
After a good day, I helped her make make ice cream. We put the ingredients in the bags and shook it for 8 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to actually have ice cream (or more like creamy ice milk) when it was over. Chloe thought it was great! Much cheaper than buying a gallon of ice cream and I know she got high quality ingredients. Next time, I"m going to try adding chocolate...

Plastic Bag Ice Cream (This recipe was a modification of a recipe I found online):
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar (I think I"m going to use a little less next time, maybe 3/4 tbsp. It wasn't overly sweet, but still...)
1 cap full of Vanilla Extract (I think it's 1/2 tsp, but not positive. Just pour it in the cap and then pour it in)
3-4 cups ice
Salt
2 small Ziploc bags
1 large Ziploc freezer bag

Place 1 small bag inside a cup and fold the edges of the bag over the rim of the cup to make it easier to fill. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla to the bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it.
Place the sealed bag into a second zip bag, the same size as the first. Squeeze the air out of the second bag and seals it. The double bagging protects the ice cream in case one of the bags were to rip during mixing.
Fill a large freezer bag with ice. Pour in salt. (I used about 1/4 cup table salt. Don't use the Kosher or sea salt. It's a waste and the larger crystals will likely cut the bags).
Place the smaller bags into the larger bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it.
Place the sealed bag in side a dish towel. Shake, roll, twist and squeeze the bag for 7 to 8 minutes. When the times done, pull the small bag out of the larger bag. And serve. If you want more than one 1/2 cup serving, I recommend putting multiple baggies inside the larger one instead of making a larger batch. My thought is if you put more in you'll have to mix longer. So separate bags should freeze at the same time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shopping and Sickies

On Thursday, I had to take Finn back to the doctor for his ears again. He still has a double ear infection. The doctor moved us to a stronger antibiotic and is sending us to an ENT on Wednesday. Hopefully we can get this taken care of and no more ear infections!

On Saturday, Chloe and I both began feeling sick. She ran a fever part of the day. She took her first nap in months, on John. They were watching TV. I looked over and she was out. Later that day, she just laid on the couch staring off in space most of the evening. I started running a fever, too. Ears and throat hurt. No fun over all. 


Despite the flu and feeling miserable, I decided to get my shopping done Sunday. Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law, I only had Chloe (and that was only for half the trip. She decided she wanted to stay home after the first half of the shopping.) (Laid out below for anyone who wants a breakdown. I'm not sure what the savings are for Aldi's so there's no GRAND TOTAL). 

Chloe helping me carry in the groceries - Check out the shoes.


When I got home from getting Finn from Grandma's, Chloe and John curled up in bed while Finn and I watched Bubble Guppies. Minutes into the show I noticed he was asleep.


Then, after putting Finn in his crib to finish his nap, I went to talk to John and Chloe. This is what I found.

I must admit everyone got to take a nap, but I still had to run out to the gas station to pick up some papers for a friend. So by the time I got home, everyone was awake again...

We started at Meijer. I wanted to use my Good Start coupon and gift checks. I also picked up a good price on printer paper (which I was out of, thanks to my daughter and her coloring!) and a notebook I wanted for my coupon binder. I also got 2 bottles of KC Masterpiece for $0.28 each!!!

1 Notebook - $0.99
1 Printer Paper - $3.49 (originally $3.99)
2 Good Start Formula - $24.48 ($12.24 each)
2 KC Master Piece BBQ - $4.58 (originally $2.99 each)
2 Wheat Bread $2.00 (originally $1.25 each)
1 Large Fountain Soda $0.99
Total:  $36.53



Used:
$2.00 off KC Master Piece - instant savings
2 - $1.00/1 KC Master Piece 
$10.00/2 Good Start Powders - Meijer Catalina
$0.25/2 Meijer Bread
$11.50 Good Start Check 
$4.50 Good Start Check

OOP: $6.66 
Savings: $29.87 - 82%

Next Stop Aldi's (Trip #1)
2 - 1 gallon Milk - $3.98
1 - bunch bananas - $1.05
1 - can diced tomatoes - $0.55
1 - bag vegetable chips (no pictured) - $1.69
2 - Rising Crust Pizzas (DELICIOUS!!!) - $7.98
1 - Crunchy Granola Cereal - $1.99
1 - Graham Crackers - $1.19
1 - Trash Bags - $4.99
1 - Chocolate chip cookies - $1.79
1 - Zip Top Bags - $1.89
1 - Multigrain Cereal - $2.69
1 - Honey Crunch/Oats - $ 1.89
1 - Apple-Cinnamon Crispy Oats - $1.59
2 - 85% Lean Beef - $5.38
2 - American Cheese - $1.98
1 - Fig Cookies - $0.99



OOP: $42.10 (Not sure how much of a savings this is over grocery store, but it was a huge cart for cheap!)

After Aldi's we dropped everything at home and off to Kroger.

8 pack Brawny Paper Towels - $13.99 (Ok, I just realized the price on these and I'm mad at myself now...I 
                                                               thought they were under $7.00, which is why I got them. Arggg....)
2 - Shower Poufs - $3.18
1 - Bertolli's -  $6.42
2 - Tyson's Chicken Ready to Serve - $6.98
10 - Yoplait Yogurt - $6.00
4 - Oscar Meyer Cracker Combos - $9.96
2 - Knorr Sides - $1.00
1 - Ronzoni Pasta - $1.99
1 - Totinos Pizza - $1.29
1 - Tomato Paste Tube - $2.99
1 - Private Selection Ice Cream - $5.49
1 - Tidy Cat Litter - $2.49
2 - Ragu Sauce - $3.48
1 - Single Roll Bounty Paper Towels $1.49
1 - 4-pk "Puppy Juice" $0.99 (that's what Chloe called it b/c it had Clifford on it)
Total: $67.16
AFTER the return to store to correct the Kroger Plus and E-Coupons that didn't come off:
OOP: $50.34



But I have now discovered, they owe me an additional $4.35, so OOP: $45.99 (and the Brawny may have been on sale, I'll have to check).
Savings: (After I get everything fixed) 32% (not great) (I did use coupons, but it was so convoluted when it was all said and done, I have no idea what!)


Back to Aldi's to get generic Gatorade, left with more than that:
20 - Bottles Generic Gatorade $13.40
1 - 8-pk Elmo Juice $1.98
2 - Self Rising Pizzas - $6.98 (Yes I got more)



OOP - $24.03

CVS:
2 - Jumbo packs Huggies Diapers - $17.98
2 - 8-ct Excedrin - $1.98
1 - $1.00 donation to ALS (to put me over $20.00)
Total: $22.53



Used:
$4.00/$20.00 from CVS
$3.00/2 Huggies
$3.00/$15.00 in Baby Supplies

OOP: $11.90
Savings: $10.63 - 48%
PLUS: I earned $1.98 ECB from the Excedrins, $3.00 from the Huggies and $1.00 from my Green Bag Tag! Yea!!!

Not a bad day..


Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Winnings...

This past week and a half has been FULL of winnings from my giveaways, so I wanted to update. I know some people have asked how I do it. I just take an hour or two a night and enter all the giveaways ending in the next 24 hours. I don't take time away from the kids or family time to do it. It's my me time. After you get the "swing" of it, it takes little time. I use to think "I never win anything", but I'm here to tell you, you can and do!


Newest Winnings: (5/22 to 6/2)

  • $26.00 Credit to Sugar Cake Designs (Edible Cake/Cupcake art)
  • Coupon for a free package of Yoplait kids
  • An Avery Durable Binder and 1 package of NoteTabs
  • Coupon for a free carton of Silk Milk
  • Pair of Wolverine Hiking Boots
  • T-shirt from the Costume Squad (up to $19.99)
  • A Tag-a-Long (a strap you attach to your stroller or purse. I can have Chloe hold it to make sure she doesn't get lost when we're out and about. Neat product).
  • $100.00 Ebates.com Credit (I can use the credit at any of their retailers, including Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.)
  • One free product from the Nickelodeon Kid's Bath Supply Line



Previous Winnings: (Since 11/2010)

  • An envelop of about 50 coupons
  • $50.00 GC to Dayspring (a motivational/spiritual online catalogue)
  • $100.00 in Hasbaro Toys - A playdough fun factory, an infant ball toy w/ gears - Finn LOVES it, and a small monster truck
  • $10.00 GC to Subway
  • $25.00 Visa GC
  • Dominoes Megablock Game (for Chloe)
  • The Hungry Caterpillar Hardback Book and Hungry Caterpillar Zoobie (like a pillow pet, but inside there's a blanket that zips in and out of the Zoobie - Finn ADORES the Zoobie and the blanket!)
  • A one year free membership to an online Cake "school". (A blog that trains you to make and decorate cakes - SUPER excited about this one. I love making cakes and this makes it seem like I can do the "hard" stuff
  • A $75.00 Gift Pack from HappyBaby (oraganic baby food products): includes a tote, bib, baby shirt, Dr. Sears book on nutrion, Eric Carle (The Hungry Caterpillar author) growth chart (really neat), 3 canisters of baby cereal, 3 canisters of Baby Snacks (puffs). 2 Canisters Baby Snacks (yogurt drops), 10 Pouches baby food -  6 coupons for Happy Baby products (FREE), I shouldn't have to buy baby food or baby snacks again. Now, just to get through the next 2-3/4 months and I'll be done with formula!
  • A one year free membership to AboutOne (an online family document organizations program).
  • A 23-cup Zero Water container and 8 refill cartridges (My BIGGEST win to date. Over $145.00 worth of products). Zero Water is awesome. The container comes with a tester to ensure that you are drinking 100 percent, unadulterated pure water. 
  • A CD and DVD of Veggie Tales.
  • A one year member ship to E-Mealz.com. This service is GREAT. I had to tell them the type of meal plan (I chose the standard for 4) and the store I shop at (I chose Kroger). The program gives me a meal plan for the week, including the recipes. It also makes my grocery list for me, including the prices for the ingredients! It uses the sale adds from the store for the week to find the best meals to match the deals! Very neat surface. Makes meal planning super simple!
  • A 4-pack of Mexican seasoning packages.
  • A pair of "socks" for dogs (I thought I'd enter and hold onto it until I found the right person to give them to. Or, maybe I'll just put them on the kids!)
  • A $25.00 credit to Moolala (a site similar to Groupon. I'm holding out to find a maid service!!!)
  • A $50.00 GC to the Fedora Store. John's going to get himself a cool hat!
  • A $20.00 GC to an online t-shirt company.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This is why I Love Couponing!

I had to take Finn to the doctor today. The poor guy has ANOTHER double ear infection. This makes 3 in 6 months. He's on an antibiotic again. We go back in 3 weeks to have his ears rechecked. I guess there is a concern that the ear infection isn't actually healing between infections, just kind of going dormant. So, he wants to check the ears in 3 weeks to make sure there's no fluid in them at that point, that might potentially cause hearing loss and stunted speech development. At that time, I'll be talking to the doctor about tubes for his ears. Although I would prefer not to put him through the procedure (even though I know it is simple and pain-free), at this point he's getting ear infections all the time. The little guy needs some relief.

After his appointment, I decided to run around and do some of my freebie coupon shopping. I have a small "collection" of coupons for free items and some of them are only available at certain stores. I ended up doing my shopping today at Target and Walmart (yes, I went to Walmart. Most of you know how much I HATE Walmart!!!). I managed to get $64.06 in merchandise (after tax) for $7.67! Yep, you read that right. I saved 88%!!!.

Here's the list:

Target - 
1 can Happy Baby Oatmeal Cereal - $3.19
1 canister Happy Baby Banana Puffs - $2.99
1 bag Happy Baby Berry Yogurt Drops (or Rain Drops as Chloe calls them) $3.19
1 pouch Happy Baby Banana. Blueberry & Beets $1.09
1 20 oz Coke (Not pictured because I drank it - it was hot! :) ) $1.49
Total: $12.05
OOP: $1.59
Used:
1 Free Happy Baby Cereal 
1 Free Happy Baby Puffs
1 Free Happy Baby Yogurt Drops
1 Free Happy Baby Pouch
Total Savings: $10.46 (87% Savings!)

(These Happy Baby coupons came from a giveaway I won a few weeks ago - see the earlier post of giveaway winnings. However, if you're interested in freebie coupons, contact the company and compliment them. Happy Baby, as well as other companies, often send coupons for a free product!)

Walmart:
1 Wholly Guacamole Snacker 3 Pack - $2.48
1 Breakstone 4-pack Pineapple Cottage Cheese - $2.66
1 Breakstone Blueberry Cottage Cheese Doublers  - $0.88
12 Bottles Similac Ready to Feed Spit Up Formula $3.84 each ($46.08) (*Finn apparently LOVES the spit up formula even though he doesn't really spit up anymore. But, it's about $1.50 cheaper, at least, than the basic formula, so we'll got with it!)
Total: $52.01
OOP: $6.08
Used:
1 Free Wholly Guacamole Snacker 3 Pack (a coupon I won from a blog Giveaway)
1 Free Breakstone 4-pack Cottage Cheese (From Kraft First Taste)
1 Breakstone Cottage Cheese Doublers (From Kraft First Taste)
2 $5.00 off any Similac Formula (a BIG thank you to everyone who sent me the Similac coupons. I still have around 15 more coupons to use before the 31st!!! I love barely paying for formula!!!)
10 $3.00 off any Similac Formula
Total Savings: $46.02 (88% Savings)

Not too shabby considering, I got 3 weeks worth of food for Finn plus some extras for $7.67!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Heart Freebies!

The kiddos got me sick. I'm pretty miserable, but my amazing mother-in-law took the kids so I could sleep and relax while John went to a training for work. I just woke up from an hour long nap (which was glorious I might add!) and this is what I found in my mail box.

Coupon for a free bag of Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Fries
Coupon for a free package of Breakstone's 100 Calorie Cottage Doubles
Coupon for a free package of Breakstone's 4-pack Cottage Cheese
Coupon for $1.00 off Breakstone's 4-pack or 2 Doubles
Free Samples of Topricin: Foot therapy cream, pain relief and healing creme, Junior cream (2 of each)
Kroger Coupon book with 25 coupons (Summer wine and Beer Pairings book)
True Lemon Sample(2 lemon, 1 orange, 1 lime) & $1.00 Coupon: Go
Silly Paws Dog Socks (Giveaway I won - I thought they were kids socks - ha!)
Free Sample DuckTape Sheet
And a package in the mail for Chloe from my mom (to congratulate her on being a big girl and using the potty!)

It was nice to get some free stuff when I woke up. Thinking about taking another nap soon. Wonder what I'll find that time!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Potty Time

The battle to potty train Chloe has been exhausting:
First, we tried asking her to potty and just getting her to sit there. At first, she'd panic (big potty or small potty. didn't matter).
Second, we tried bribing her to try and potty. We got now where.
Third, we tried bribing her for going potty. (But it's hard to give her treats for doing it when you can't get her to sit on the potty).
Fourth, we tried setting a timer and checking her every 15 minutes. She got M&Ms when she was dry. Every hour, on the potty (but that ended in crying and screaming).
Fifth, we tried no diaper. The thought process is she'd hate not being allowed in her room (she loves to go in and play for hours!) and would hate being wet. She even had to clean up accidents. No good.
Sixth, we tried no panties either. Yep, pretty much the same as the prior attempt.
Finally last week I had had enough. Sunday I told her we were done being a baby. I told her she had to sit on the potty the next day. She said ok (she always said she would "try tomorrow".) I asked her what should happen if she told me no about trying. She decided I could take TV away from her. Well, on Monday morning I told her it was time to sit on the potty. She panicked and said no. I told her she didn't have a choice and on the potty she went. After half an hour, sure enough she pottied! I just kept it up. The only accident all day was a stinky diaper (which I understand is harder to teach). Tuesday (day two), the same thing. Wednesday (day three), she had NO accidents! Thursday (Day four), I put her in panties. One wet accident. Friday, (day five), well it was an awful day! Several wet accidents throughout the day so I put her back in a diaper. But today, she was back on track again. She had one accident when she was outside playing with Mamaw and Papaw and one during bath-time (ew), but all in all it was a successful day again.
So, since she's been doing so well, I guess it's time to invest in the promises we've made:
A trip to the zoo
A trip to the park
Enroll her in school
Take her to the store to pick out new panties
A goldfish
A butterfly
A bunny
A hamster
A puppy
A trip to the toy store to pick out anything she wants
And about 100 other bribes and requests...
Obviously, I'm not giving into all her demands, but we'll be making some choices and going from there...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Possible Free Gas!!!

I was reading through my different blog updates today. I found one I thought was VERY intriguing and may possibly be a great deal for everyone. CVS is trying to help its customers with the overwhelming cost of gas by offering FREE $10.00 gas gift cards to select gas stations for the next several months. Basically, in addition to all the ECBs* they run every week, they will be offering a special offer on select other items. For every $30.00 in qualifying items you purchase, you receive (INSTANTLY) a $10.00 gift card to the participating gas station of your choice. You can only claim one gift card per week, but even once a week is a great deal!
This week, the items listed include things such as Sobe, some candies, chips and ice cream. Also, Finish products, Lysol products and Palmolive. So, if you plan on purchasing those things anyway, might as well make sure you reach the $30.00 mark. If you have ECBs from other shopping, use those in a separate transaction to qualify for gift card. From what I have read, the $30.00 is BEFORE coupons, meaning that with your manufacturer coupons, store coupons (if you have anything from the CRT**) and ECBs, you could get stuff you need for almost nothing and get the gift card.
It is unclear (and we won't really know until this weekend when the paper drops) if all regions are included in the deal or not. So, as of now, I don't know if Dayton shoppers can take part. But I'm still excited by the possibility!
Here are some links to help further explain this new offer:
Coupons, Deals and More: CVS Gas Promotion (5/18/11)
I Heart CVS: 5/22 to 5/28 Weekly Ad (Note the Gas qualifiers are on the first and last page. They're marked with a Free Gas icon)

*ECBs - Extra Care Bucks. These are the specials listed in the Sunday Ad (and in the store). You buy a particular product (or quantity of products) to qualify for the ECBs. They print out at the end of your order for future purchases. You have to have a ECB card (like a Kroger Plus Card) to qualify. But the ECBs are good on ANY purchase, not just similar products. For example, the ECB deal might be "Buy $10.00 in Sauve Products and get a $3.00 ECB". Or, "Buy 1 box of Band-Aids for $2.99 and get a $1.00 ECB". You can use manufacturer or store coupons on these, as well as ECBs from previous purchses (which is know as rolling your ECBs). So, you could, with these examples, purchase 1 box of Band-Aids and use a $1.00 Band-Aid coupon and pay $1.99 OOP (out-of-pocket). You'll get a $1.00 ECB back. Then, purchase in the second transaction purchase $10.00 in Sauve (say you buy 4 Sauve products to reach that total). Use 4 $0.75 manufacturer coupons and one $1.00 CVS store coupon and your $1.00 ECB from the Band-Aids. You pay $5.00 for the products and get a $3.00 ECB back. Then use that ECB towards your Gas Card purchase!!! (Keep in mind, I'm not positive these exact coupons exist. I don't have my binder in front of me, just know that there are Sauve and Band-Aid coupons out there...If you want specific scenarios, let me know and I'll get them for you!)
**CRT - This refers to the big red coupon machine in the store. You scan your ECB card and get store coupons you can combine with manufacturer coupons and ECBs.

Always remember to take a reusable bag with you when you go to CVS to use with your Green Bag Tag. If you don't have one, they cost $1.00. For every 4 purchases you make (can't be same day), you get a $1.00 ECB. Pays for itself quickly!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Giveaway Winnings

For all you folks who think to yourself: Why enter giveaways, I never win!?! I'm here to show you why...


I use to say the same thing. However, thanks to Amanda, I started entering giveaways (occasionally at first...now I"m addicted. It's my drug of choice. hee hee ). Since I started entering in November, here's what I've won.




  • An envelop of about 50 coupons
  • $50.00 GC to Dayspring (a motivational/spiritual online catalogue)
  • $100.00 in Hasbaro Toys - A playdough fun factory, an infant ball toy w/ gears - Finn LOVES it, and a small monster truck
  • $10.00 GC to Subway
  • $25.00 Visa GC
  • Dominoes Megablock Game (for Chloe)
  • The Hungry Caterpillar Hardback Book and Hungry Caterpillar Zoobie (like a pillow pet, but inside there's a blanket that zips in and out of the Zoobie - Finn ADORES the Zoobie and the blanket!)
  • A one year free membership to an online Cake "school". (A blog that trains you to make and decorate cakes - SUPER excited about this one. I love making cakes and this makes it seem like I can do the "hard" stuff
  • A $75.00 Gift Pack from HappyBaby (oraganic baby food products): includes a tote, bib, baby shirt, Dr. Sears book on nutrion, Eric Carle (The Hungry Caterpillar author) growth chart (really neat), 3 canisters of baby cereal, 3 canisters of Baby Snacks (puffs). 2 Canisters Baby Snacks (yogurt drops), 10 Pouches baby food -  6 coupons for Happy Baby products (FREE), I shouldn't have to buy baby food or baby snacks again. Now, just to get through the next 2-3/4 months and I'll be done with formula!
  • A one year free membership to AboutOne (an online family document organizations program).
  • A 23-cup Zero Water container and 8 refill cartridges (My BIGGEST win to date. Over $145.00 worth of products). Zero Water is awesome. The container comes with a tester to ensure that you are drinking 100 percent, unadulterated pure water. 
  • A CD and DVD of Veggie Tales.
  • A one year member ship to E-Mealz.com. This service is GREAT. I had to tell them the type of meal plan (I chose the standard for 4) and the store I shop at (I chose Kroger). The program gives me a meal plan for the week, including the recipes. It also makes my grocery list for me, including the prices for the ingredients! It uses the sale adds from the store for the week to find the best meals to match the deals! Very neat surface. Makes meal planning super simple!
  • A 4-pack of Mexican seasoning packages.
  • A pair of "socks" for dogs (I thought I'd enter and hold onto it until I found the right person to give them to. Or, maybe I'll just put them on the kids!)
  • A $25.00 credit to Moolala (a site similar to Groupon. I'm holding out to find a maid service!!!)
  • A $50.00 GC to the Fedora Store. John's going to get himself a cool hat!
  • A $20.00 GC to an online t-shirt company.

There maybe more, but I think that's it. Basically, I've won over $750.00 worth of stuff...in 6 months! Yes, it takes time to enter. But I do not spend my time couponing or giveaway entering until everyone is asleep for the night. 

Basically, my suggestion is take the time to enter giveaways when you find them. You can win too! If you want a list of some good websites, let me know and I'll get them for you! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Armand Needs Your Help!


Armand Needs Your Help!

Armand is a 2-year-old boy, who by all accounts is a true delight. I have not been blessed to meet this little guy, but in my heart I feel like I know him. Many, many years ago, I worked with his mom, although she probably doesn’t remember me – it was just for a little while. I found this story through a dear friend, my old roommate.

According to his father, Armand was recently diagnosed with GM1 Gangliocidosis (Type II), a recessive genetic metabolic disorder with no known cure or proven treatment.  He also has another genetic mutation of the GBJ2 gene, which affects his hearing.  We are exploring clinical trials and possibly experimental treatments in hopes of slowing (or, even more hopefully) stopping the progress of his disorder until a cure or more proven treatment can be found.” (You can read more at Armand's Hope or donate at Armand's Hope - Go Fund Me).

The cost of his medications, clinical trials, medical devices, travel and living costs when they go to Minnesota for the clinical trials, etc. are astounding. Armand and his family need your help. They are trying to raise money to help improve Armand’s quality of life and stall the effects of the disease. If you can help in any way, please do.

Here are a few options for helping:

  1. On 5/21, from 2-5pm at Soft Rock CafĂ© in Centerville, OH, there will be a Fundraising Benefit for Armand’s Hope. At this time, there is a silent auction planned and donations will be accepted, as well. If you’re able to attend, please do. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Tell your co-workers. Anyone you know! Spread the word.
  2. If you cannot attend, consider donating something for the silent auction on 5/21. This could be a candle or tickets to a concert or whatever you have or make or sell. Send me an email and I’ll get in contact with the good folks running the benefit.
  3. Visit Armand's Hope - Go Fund Me and donate. You don’t have to leave your name if you want it to be anonymous. Anything helps. It all adds up.
  4. I am working to put together a “care package” for the family, using my stockpile. I plan to get at least a $100.00 worth of everyday products together (ie. Toothbrushes, Tylenol, shampoo, dish detergent, etc). I’m going to donate it to the family. Although they can’t pay the bills with the donation, it helps free up that money from shopping to put towards the medical needs. If you’re interested in contributing to the package, let me know.
  5. Share this with your friends and family. Post it on Facebook or tweet on Twitter. Send an email to your aunt you haven’t spoken to in years! The more times you spread the word, the more likely we’ll be able to contribute to helping this deserving family.
  6. Any ideas? If you have an idea on how to help them, let me know. If I can’t make it happen, I’ll get you in touch with someone else who might be able to.

Let’s work together to find a way to help a deserving little boy find a better tomorrow.

Thanks in advance!



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day: A Time for Reflection - Part 2

The other thing I've been reflecting on these last few weeks is the baby we lost. Until you experience the loss, it is impossible to truly understand. I thought I could imagine what a miscarriage would feel like emotionally. I was wrong. I am not trying to say that you can't have compassion or empathize, but once you experience the loss, it changes you. It's been 1 year, 7 months and 27 days since I found out the life inside of me was gone. I think about her (because I've always felt that it would have been a little girl) all the time. I think about what she would look like and how she would act. On 4/20, it was one year from my due date. I would have a 13 month old running around by now! I miss her. BUT, I don't regret the loss. Without the miscarriage, I wouldn't have my handsome man. 

I use to think of my heart as mine. A singular item. But now, I see it as something I divided into four and gave away. John holds the first part. He is my rock. He supports me and loves me, no matter what. He sees past my flaws and finds the good in me. Without him, I wouldn't survive half of what life throws at me. The second part, it belongs to Chloe. Her beauty, both internal and external, are an inspiration. Her laugh, her smile, her mind - they are amazing. Plus, she has a way of breaking through my anger and frustration and bringing me back to reality. Finn, he has the third part. What we both went through this past year...man. I won't go into all the emotions I've felt right now. That's another post. But lets just say, I feel like he's my wings. There's something about those eyes and that amazing smile that fills me with so much joy. The fourth part belongs to our little angel that we'll never know anymore than the dreams we had for her. I will always miss her, but I know she is watching down on me. I have this image of her in my head, sandy blond hair like her sister, with curls around her face. She's has one hand in my Grandma Mac's hand and the other hand in my Grandma Norfleet's. I know that all three of those amazing girls will watch over me and my family, and for that - I am truly blessed. 

This is something a someone sent to me when we lost the baby. We hadn't really spoken in years. But sending this to me was an amazing gesture. I thank her for reaching out in this way. I've reread it several times over the last 1-1/2 years, and strangely, it brings me comfort. 

My Ugly Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger women.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Mother's Day: A Time for Reflection - Part 1

I wrote this last night while I was thinking about my babies... (I'm breaking it into several parts since it is so long. That way if you want to read it all, you don't have to sit through my dribble in one sitting. :) )

As we grow older, we shift our focus on what is important in our lives. When we're little, we want to play, have fun and explore the world around us. I watch my two beautiful children do this everyday. Chloe is constantly learning something new and saying things that amaze us to know end. Recently, she walked into the kitchen and said "Mom, did you know the largest plant in the world (well, she tried. :) ) is Jupiter?" She asks a million questions to figure out what is going on in the world around her. Finn in the last few weeks has gone from a little baby to almost a toddler! He is crawling everywhere (he even made his way into the kitchen yesterday to help me cook!). He pulls himself up on chairs, the playpen and, of course, I'm greeted most mornings by a standing baby in his crib!

Then as teenagers, we want to get as far away from our parents as possible. We exert our own independence. We learn by doing (as I think we do our entire lives). We define who we are and who we will likely become. (I say likely because I don't believe anything is set in stone.)

As adults, we start to look to our families to be there for us again. Right now, I miss my parents terribly. I know the move they made to Florida was an EXCELLENT move for them. They are both happier than I have ever seen them before. But, at the same time it breaks my heart to be so far away from the people who helped shape and mold me into the woman I am today. With mother's day on the horizon and father's day only a few weeks ago, it saddens me that I'm not just around the corner from them. It makes me laugh a little to think that just 15 years ago, I was embarrassed to go to the movies with my parents and now I think I'd give anything to be able to do that any time I wanted. It also scares me that in about 10 years, my daughter will be embarrassed to be seen with me!

I know my "loss" is not the same as loosing a parent completely. I, unfortunately, know too many dear friends and family who are experiencing their first to fourteenth or thirtieth Mother's day without their mother. I know several who are about to experience another Father's Day with out their fathers. I also know a beautiful soul, God bless her, who is experiencing her first Mother's Day without her beautiful baby boy (may she find peace some day!) My heart breaks for these folks. I'm so lucky to have such amazing parents and have them both still on this earth with me, even if there is distance between us. I am also lucky to have the amazing in-laws I have who love me as if I were their own. And an amazing husband who loves me, respects me and trusts me. I am lucky to have a brilliant and absolutely beautiful 3-1/2 year old who sees the world for all its beauty. I am lucky to have a handsome 9 month old who can't wait to grab the world by the ear and lead it where HE wants to go! (Man, I'm going to have my hands full with him!)



 (Yea, I know - I need more updated photos...I'm working on it!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Been pretty busy...

I haven't written much lately. I've been pretty busy working and taking care of the home. I had another follow up with the surgeon the other day. He says the healing is going well. I'm still having considerable pain, but he says it is normal. The muscles he "messed with" are just tighter than normal causing spasms and pain. Hopefully by the next visit, I'll be given a clean bill of health. Can't wait to exercise again!

The kids are doing wonderfully. Chloe amazes me everyday with the things she knows. She walked up to me the other day and told me that Jupiter was the largest planet. Then walked away. I love that girl. Finn is amazing me too! He is growing so fast. He's crawling all over the place now and in to everything. He pulls himself up on the couch and today he did it in the playpen! I turned around and he was smiling at me from over the top rail.

We're still struggling with the potty training for Chloe. But, we started watching some good friends' kids this weeks. She loves playing with Sammy and Sis. And I think they'll be a good influence on her since they both use the potty. She's even laid out a plan of what she wants as a potty reward: After 7 days, she wants a goldfish (in a bowl - she makes sure I know that part). After 14 days, she wants a butterfly (I figure if she gets potty trained, I'm willing to say yes to almost anything!). After 21 days, she wants to go to the zoo (just her, daddy and mommy - Finn will stay with Grandma and Papaw for the day) and ride the elephant (I sure hope they still do that!!!). After 28 days, she wants the Bo Peep doll on her shelf. (It's an Madame Alexander Doll I had when I was little. It's in near mint condition and I've been telling her now to having it because I didn't want it messed up. But at this point, I think it's a great "present" for a stubborn little girl who wants to potty train on her own schedule!).

John and I are working together to make some plans to change and better our lives. Not much to be said about it all right now until we iron out the details. Let's just say I'm hoping we'll be in a better place this time next year. We're both working together to improve our lives all around. I appreciate the energy he is putting into helping us figure our lives out. (I love my husband!)

On the money saving front. I had a great shopping trip last week. I saved 50 percent. Not the best savings, but I was happy with $100.00 for $200 worth of stuff! I didn't even really "coupon". But, I bought enough for snacks, lunches and dinners for the next 2 weeks. I might need to take one trip for ground beef and possibly milk and cereal. But everything else is stocked up! I'm happy with feeding a family of 4 (plus 2 other kids 2x a week) for $50.00/week!

I've also been winning like mad on these giveaways I've been entering. Lots of wonderful free stuff! Some big, some small. I can't wait to see what I win next!!!  I know I'm driving some folks nuts with all the "giveaway posts" on Facebook, but hey - it's paying off in a BIG way for me recently, so bear with me!

Well that's it for now! I hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Disclaimer

I wanted to apologize for any and all typos in my previous post. It was written while on a double dose of painkillers.

I have been feeling an increase of pain this week. At my doctor's appointment yesterday the doctor told me that I have a bladder infection (other than that, however, he said that I am healing very well and he is happy with my progression). I've been feeling the pain of surgery but now I have the pain from the infection, as well. I'm just hoping it doesn't repeat what happened after Finn's birth. I don't want another hospital adventure!

The doctor told me to take the pain medicine. Tonight I was really hurting so I took one and it didn't touch the pain. So the second did the job, but may have resulted in me missing lots of grammatical issues. :)

Thanks for your understanding.

A Mailbox Full of Free: AKA: I Heart Free Stuff...

I wanted to take a minute to share some helpful information with you all.

I have been couponing and entering blog giveaways for 6 months now (thank you Amanda :) ). I don't have a complete breakdown of my savings in that time, but last month I saved $372.31. So using that figure, I've saved $2233.86 since November. Not too shabby.

On top of the benefits of couponing, I've also reaped in the benefits of giveaways. I follow around 50 different blogs. When I say I follow them, I don't mean I go to each everyday. I subscribe to some with email and the rest are on Facebook. I check a couple a day, but don't spend more than about 20 to 30 minutes a day looking at them - unless I'm looking for specific deals. Well, on these sites I enter giveaways. Since November I have won around $400.00 in free stuff. Here's the rundown of my freebies:


  • An envelop of about 50 coupons
  • $50.00 GC to Dayspring (a motivational/spiritual online catalogue)
  • $100.00 in Hasbaro Toys - A playdough fun factory, an infant ball toy w/ gears - Finn LOVES it, and a small monster truck
  • $10.00 GC to Subway
  • $25.00 Visa GC
  • Dominoes Megablock Game (for Chloe)
  • The Hungry Caterpillar Hardback Book and Hungry Caterpillar Zoobie (like a pillow pet, but inside there's a blanket that zips in and out of the Zoobie - Finn ADORES the Zoobie and the blanket!)
  • A one year free membership to an online Cake "school". (A blog that trains you to make and decorate cakes - SUPER excited about this one. I love making cakes and this makes it seem like I can do the "hard" stuff
  • And most recently (today in fact) a $75.00 Gift Pack from HappyBaby (oraganic baby food products): includes a tote, bib, baby shirt, Dr. Sears book on nutrion, 3 canisters of baby cereal, 3 canisters of Baby Snacks (puffs). 2 Canisters Baby Snacks (wheels), 10 Pouches baby food - This one has me REALLY excited - Lots of free baby food - with the baby food I already have and the 5 coupons for Happy Baby products (FREE), I shouldn't have to buy baby food or baby snacks again. Now, just to get through the next 3-1/2 months and I'll be done with formula!
So, the moral of this story is: Enter giveaways! If you want a list of blogs that have good giveaways with good odds, let me know. I'm happy to share! Some have higher entries than others, so I pick and choose the ones I enter. Today, I entered 15 (this took about 15-20 minutes - would have gone quicker if I wasn't wresting with Finn at the same time!). I won the one. So, 20 minutes of "work" to get $75.00 in stuff for free...not too shabby!

I also take the time to do daily sweeps (also have a link I'm happy to share if you're interested). This takes me about 20-30 minutes to do a day (but I enter for Amanda at the same time)...I don't do this everyday, but when I do, I tend to do fairly well. I also sign up for Freebies on different websites. For example, in the past 2 weeks I have gotten a lot of my "winnings" in the mail (or through email). Here's a run down of what I've gotten in the last 2 weeks. 

  • A makeup bag from Target: (includes) $25.00 coupon book, chapstick, 2 shampoo samples, 1 conditioner sample and 1 lotion sample (Freebie)
  • A Pyrex pot holder (which I was excited about b/c I only have 2 - both of which were my parents and they've had as long as I can remember.) (Freebie)
  • Clinque Mascara (Giveaway on FB)
  • Free Halls Coupon (Sweeps)
  • Free Glade Coupon (Freebie)
  • $1.00 Check from Miller (beer) (Website signup)
  • Lipstick Sample (Freebie)
  • Sunkist Tuna Pouch Coupon (Giveaway on FB)
  • Mirilax (2 doses) (Freebie)
  • Dove Men's Deodorant and Bodywash (Freebie)
  • Degree Women's Deodorant (Freebie)
  • And a whole lot more (but I can't remember it all right now).
So all in all - I am thankful for Amanda showing me how to do this and thankful for the success I have had. I know this was a long post but I hope this encourages people to save money and get free things, as well. Even if you aren't interested in hardcore couponing, take a few minutes to explore the Giveaway, Freebies and Sweeps worlds! It's wonderful to have free things in your mailbox!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meal Plan

As much as I love to cook, one of my biggest weaknesses is opting for a trip to Taco Bell or Wendy's instead of cooking on nights I am tired. Although I was just slightly over my "budget" for eating out last month, I still spent more than I allotted us and I want to do something about it. 

SO...

I'm staring a meal plan and going to post it here to get some accountability. That way, when I want to go grab something fast, I think about having to tell my readers that I was weak. :)

So here's my current meal plan:

Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce with Ground Beef
Creamy Mustard Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes (haven't decided what I'm doing with the potatoes, but I have them. :) - I think this will be our Easter Meal. For dessert, I'm making a Lamb Cake.
Homemade Pizza with Mushrooms and Pepperoni
Modified Chicken Divan - John doesn't eat broccoli, so I'm substituting green beans or asparagus (haven't decided which yet. I'll wait to see what I'm feeling at the time). 
Cheesy Bacon Rollups

Do you have a favorite go-to recipe? I'd love to hear some of your favorites. I'm also looking for a new meal. Lately, I've been loving making Indian recipes (although none this week...). 

Ok, now I'm hungry. :)




Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Been a while...

Just wanted to add a little update.

Recovery is going pretty well. It still hurts to sit up, but not awful. I'm just taking the pain pills at night - that's when it hurts the worst. I have a follow up with the doctor on Thursday, so hoping all is going well.

I weighed myself today. I have lost a few more pounds. I'm not at a total loss of 7 lbs since I started all of this. I'd like to further along, but I'm happy that I'm making some progress. We'll see how things go after I start working out again - hopefully 4 more weeks!

I've been working consistently, making the money we need to get things accomplished. It's slow going to get out of the hole we've been in, but I think we're almost there.

I've been very patient with Chloe and Finn - for the most part. Some days are easier than others, but I'm happy with the progress I've made. It's helped a lot that bills are being paid on time and I'm not writing 10 a day - everyday.

Tomorrow starts our new attempt at potty training with Chloe. She is the most stubborn child. But starting tomorrow - no diapers. I told her she'll have one on for nap time and bed time, but during the day she has to wear panties. I told her that if she has an accident, she's cleaning it up. So I'm hoping this will work. We're starting with the "rubber" pants - the panties with the plastic outer so that she doesn't pee on the couch or rug. But if those don't work (b/c she treats them like a diaper), we'll try just panties. I'm going to give the rubber pants three or four days to see how it goes first.

Couponing has been great! The other day I got 1 can of Similac concentrate, 2 cans of powdered Goodstart, 1 loaf bread, 3 half gallons of milk and a pack of gum for $0.80!!! Today, I managed a trip with 5 12-packs of coke and coke zero, 1 box (bottle) of infant Advil, 1 easter basket, 1 pack of plastic easter eggs, 2 bottles of Bayer aspirin, 1 bottle Head and Shoulders shampoo, 1 bottle Head and Shoulders conditioner, 1 concentrate Similac & 2 cans of concentrate Enfamil. I spent $14.97!!!

And since I forgot to share. Last month I ended up spending $437.64 for $809.95 in merchandise!!! That's groceries and "stockpiling". A total savings of 54%!

We started planning our family vacation to go visit my parents in Florida. We're planning on 10 day trip in October with hopefully a few days spent in Greenville visiting our friends. We're planning on going over Halloween and taking the kids to Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween at Disney. Can't wait!

That's about it for now. I'll post again soon.