Monday, January 31, 2011

Money Saving Monday (1/31)

Sorry for the late post everyone.
Here are some of the deals and steals this week...

Has items on clearance for $2.97 (clothing for kids). Pair that with a $10 off 50 purchase and you can have yourself some nice savings if you can use the buy ahead principal.

Please check out the deals at Dearly Domestic 
But, I will say that Doritos are BOGO this week and we only buy them if they are 1.99 or less a bag. This is a treat at our house. Doritos are a sometimes food.

They have some good deals this week. I again got produce on clearance there. If you are in the mood for ice cream and saved your

To see more of the sale items, specials and match up coupons you need to check out For the Mommas

They have some cheese on clearance there. Not even close to expiring. They are just discontinued items.

Tostitos are on sale there for $1.99 a bag when you buy 3 bags.

Keebler Crackers (select) - $2
Buy 2 and use the $1/2 coupon from 1/30 redplum
$1.50 each after coupon

Chex Mix - $1.34
Buy 2 and use the $0.50/2 coupon from 1/30 smartsource
$0.84 each after coupon

Physician’s Formula Products Spend $10 Earn 7 ECBs Limit 1
At our local store you can find some of these at 75% off and get a lot for $10, then earn the $7.00 ECBs.

Unilever Products Spend $15 Earn 5 ECBs Limit 1
Ragu Sauce 3/$5
Ragu Pasta Sauce coupon

Skippy Peanut Butter 3/$5Skippy Peanut Butter 1/30/2011 RP Insert
Lipton Tea 2/$5Lipton Tea Bags 1/30/2011 RP Insert

Buy 1 Olay Body Wash at $6, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1)Buy 2 and use Buy One Get One Free coupon from the 1/30 P&G insert
Plus use $2/1 coupon from the 12/26 P&G insert

Buy 2 Cheez-It Club Crackers or Sandies Cookies at $3, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1)Use $1/2 coupon from the 1/30 RedPlum insert
$1.50 each after coupon and ECBs

Other CVS deals can be found at The Thrifty Mama
Doubled coupons even those that are $2.00 off!!!

Spend $35 in participating P&G products, Get $10 coupon for your next purchase
Buy 4 and get $5 back when you purchase Hershey's new Drops candy.

Check out money saving mom for Kmart deal advice. :)

Happy Savings Everyone!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Guest Blogger, a recipe, and photo topics -Whew what a Friday!

Little man is sharing a picture of some cookies that he enjoyed after playing in the most recent snow.  Coming inside to cookies and hot cocoa has become a tradition. These are Oatmeal Toffee Cookies.

Those of you that know these are hungry already. Those of you that don't, are totally missing out! :)  But, because you should not miss out on such cookies. I say, make some of your own.

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies
(Recipe from Hershey's Kitchens and can be found by clicking here or just looking below.)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits
  • 1 cup MOUNDS Sweetened Coconut Flakes (optional-we don't add these as we are not coconut people)
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Beat butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat until blended.
  2. Stir in oats, toffee bits and coconut, if desired, with spoon. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto prepared sheet.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove to wire rack. About 4 dozen cookies
FYI: Photography things I have on the docket to cover based on what has been asked so far:
  • Tips on using a DSLR--this will be multiple posts!
  • Where to begin with editing? (Beginners based and again multiple posts!)
  • Nailing exposure (Oh my, this is really more for a one on one session with a camera in hand. But, I will see what I can do for you via a blog.)
  • Workflow (I can cover the basics, but I always think this is more of a personal style than a formula.)
  • Tutorials on: Popping the color, Enhancing the eyes--honestly folks this is more about finding good light than post processing. But, we will discuss that.
Any others to add to my to do list? Shout them out.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Organize your Kitchen...

Here are a  few simple steps to getting that organized Kitchen:
1. Get rid of any cookbook, gadget, or ingredient that you have not used in a year or more.
2. Put recipes you do use in a binder. (I am starting a binder project and will share more when it is all together.) Perhaps I can get one of my friends to share their binder too! (Hint Hint)
3. Retain only the items you actually use-donate the rest. That means really look at the dishes, glasses and serving pieces. Just simplify!
4. Think about where items are used, what you use most and store them in that manner.
5. Silverware organizers are great for a junk drawer. We have one in ours and it helps to store that mess in a more organized fashion.
6. When you do the decluttering think about how nice it will feel to have the clutter removed. That can help you move away from having so much. Less is more.
7. If you buy something that requires an ingredient that you don't use often. Think about making extra batches or finding another recipe that uses it, so that you can use that up and keep from storing those 1/2 opened bottles.
8. Get rid of damaged food containers. If you are using plastic, think about going to the glass kind. They are multipurpose and I find easier to store and find lids to. Plus, I worry about some of the plastics. But, that is just me.
9. Clear the countertops as much as possible.
10. Create a pantry if you don't have one and need one. (More on that in the next post--Organizing your Pantry)

Happy Kitchen Organizing!  Have your own tip, be sure to share. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Craft ideas for the week-Silhouettes and photo wreath valentine style.

Craft/Photo idea of the week. You know those silhouettes that the make at theme parks of your children that you can buy? Well, look no further than your camera, a window, and a photo editing program to make your own low cost. Not to mention you can then print more than one and give them as a gift.

If you want to learn how to make it, you should stop over to the Crafting Chicks. Besides, if you have not seen there blog before, you will be in love with it. At least, I am. Just follow this nice little link over there: How to make your own silhouettes
While you are over there, you should check out her photo wreath valentines day style. It's oh so cute!
Happy Crafting! :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Thoughts on Tuesday (Time Management Winner Announced)

1. I love when Little Man sets goals. Especially his goal of reading through the bible in a year. Which he's on track to complete. :) If you are looking for a way to have your child(ren) do this as well, might I suggest...
The One Year Bible for Kids, Challenge Edition
Photo from Amazon
2. My old blog was full of pictures, of course there was a reason why. But, I do think this blog needs a few more. What do you all think?

3. I am reading a new book and I LOVE it! It's a devotional for Moms. The messages have been wonderful.
Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God: Encouragement to Refresh Your Soul (Hearts at Home Book)
picture from
Click here to order your own copy! :)

4. When I got the above book, Little Man told me I was not ordinary but that I was extraordinary, also. Yes, he does melt my heart--often I tell you.

5. I loved watching Little Man sing with enthusiasm "Our God" at Church on Sunday. But, what was better was he was singing that song during the afternoon as he was going about his day. You too can enjoy the music here. Sorry, it's not him singing it. Although that would be entertaining. :)

6. Did I mention I love watching the spiritual side of my child grow. I do. It makes this Mom's heart VERY happy. :)

7. Little Man told me before he lost his first tooth that the tooth fairy certainly was not real. Yes, cry with me that I never got to play that. But, don't worry he still insists that the Mommy Tooth Fairy visits him. :) Well, he had hurt his finger a while back. (He slammed it in the car door). I know ouch! Well, the nail finally fell off. So,what does Little Man ask? Mom is there any such thing as a nail fairy? With his sweet smile lighting up his face. He wanted to be sure that he wasn't left out if that was something that others believed in. :)

8. Ever have the moments when speaking truth might cause you to be unpopular? Where you want to stand up for what is right, but it goes against others? What do you do? Do you stand up for what is right and speak the truth or do you sit down and go with the flow? It's easier to go with the flow and stay in good graces, but is that really better? Something to think about.

9. Our house is happy that the Steelers are going to the Superbowl. :)

10. WINNER for time management help. Shannon and Wha! Since only 2 responded, I will help the two of you. One at a time. Send me an email and we will get the process rolling.

I am already planning the next give away. (Think blog header!)

I know I shared more about us on a personal level here than what I normally do. Is that good? bad? I don't know. Will I do it again? I don't know.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Money Saving Monday (1/24)

What are the deals this week?
Confession time...Honestly, I did little shopping this week so I might not be the one to tell you about all the stock up deals. We just didn't need much. That's what happens when you stock up at rock bottom prices and have a nice packed freezer and pantry. All you have to get is the fresh fruit, veggies and milk. So anyone else that has deals to share, please leave a comment and lead everyone in the deals of the week.

The total for this quick snapshot (forgive the quality) below: $8.72 What did I pay this week for groceries? $7.22  (2 gallons of milk, 1 large can of tomato juice, 1 large can of tomato pureed, (both to be used in homemade turkey chili), 2lbs peppers, 2 bags salad mix, celery, small mini peppers, and 3 blistex. The other $1.50 comes from the 3 blistex. :) Not bad. 

The rest of what we will be eating is fresh veggies and fruit we have left over from last week. Along with some other pantry and freezer/refrig items. :) Although, I might see about working the Old El Pasco Items deal. But, only if I can get a good amount of coupons to cover the cost of it. We love our turkey taco nights but I want it to be a deal worth doing.

Lots of 10/$10 items here as well.
Dole salad blends BOGO
VO5 .89
Looking for Green peppers? The 2lb bag for $2.99 is a good deal.
On the back of the flyer it says, buy 7 of the participating products and get $5.00 off. Look and see if you are buying any of them, if you have a coupon or can find one online for them and get the price as low as you can then add the $5.00 off on top of that and it makes it even better.
I will try to get a link to the other Giant Deals...
Rice a Roni and Pasta Roni 10/$10
Wheat Thins $1.99
Progresso Soup 4/$4
BOGO Fresh Express Salads
Buy $10 of Del Monte veggies or fruit ot College Inn Chicken or Beef Broth and get $2.00 coupon, Buy $15 and get a $4.00 coupon.
Blistex $1.00 each. You can get coupons that make it only .50 each and given the weather we could all use a bit more of this! ;)
They have a lot of 10/$10 items. Remember this just means those items are $1.00. You really don't have to buy 10!

I will try and get a link to the Weis deals as well.

Chicken Tenders this week $1.39lb.
.99 celery
$4.99 Clementines
.99 Salad
.99 Baby carrots (1lb)
They have a Buy any 10 Old El Pasco Items listed and save an extra $5.00 when you buy beef or chicken. There are coupons to be had for these items.
What's included?:
Dinner Kits (2/$5)
Taco Seasoning .79
Taco Shells (2/$3)
Thick and Chunky Salsa (2/$4)
Don't forget to check their reduced products. :)

Spend $20 in Eucerin Products, Get $10 ECBs (Limit 1)
Deal Idea:
Buy 4 Hand Creams – $5.49 each
Use 4 $1/1 coupon from the 1/23 RedPlum insert or a printable coupon (Yes, they are online as well)

$1.99 each after coupons and ECBs

My CVS Shopping this week was this:

How you too can get that deal. As, I will explain it here.

Buy 1 Crest Pro Health for $3.99, Get $3.99 ECB
Plus, use -$2.00 off coupon. (Sorry I forget the date of that one)
Pay $2.11 (includes tax) and get $3.99 ECB back!

3 Clean and Clear Daily Facial Cleaners on sale for 4.99 each
Use the -$2.00 off coupon from the paper (don't have the date either, sorry) and/or use the printable coupons so you have a coupon for each one  $2/1 any Clean & Clear product here. Plus, use the $3.99 ECB from your first purchase. That makes it $4.98 total and you get $5.00 ECB back!

I paid $7.09 out of pocket including tax and I have $5.00 ECB to spend still!!!  So, if you subtract what I have in ECBs, I spent $2.09 on this. But, I prefer to say $7.09 and then use the $5.00 later and then it's "Free money". By the way, I am seeing valentines day candy for the valentines in that $5.00 future. Perhaps I will be able to work a deal that the valentines day candy will not be over $5.00. Wouldn't that be wonderful!
Happy Saving! :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Blogger Friday & Questions...

So, the guest blogger is up and it's his turn to share the picture that he took for you all this week. Plus, I wanted to ask you more specific questions as to what you want me to share about photography.
1. Did you want the focus to be more on editing or taking the photos?
2. Did you want to have tips for using a point and shoot or DSLR?
3. Any specifics that you want me to cover?
You see, I don't want to put stuff up here if it's a waste of your time. So, letting me know what you'd like will help me focus what I will share with all of you.

Now, the guest blogger's picture. Have you all seen these erasers?

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Can you dance in the rain?

Not literally--although that would take you back to childhood wouldn't it? That carefree feeling of dancing in the rain on a warm summer day - pure childhood joy.

But, the rain I am talking about isn't that type of rain. It's the hard times that we face in our lives. How do you deal with them? Do you ever ask for them?

A while ago, I had a conversation with a friend about my losses and how I was dealing with lots of people around me having babies. I have to say that this friend has been one that has NOT said things that have made me wince. Instead, she was the one that said in no uncertain terms when we were going through our first miscarriage that it sucked (sorry about the language people). But, she was right, it did!

She didn't try to sugar coat it or say things like: your still young, you have plenty of time, there is a reason for it all, etc. Really, at that moment I didn't want to hear those things. Sure there is a reason, but I just wanted to cry, to be upset, to well...wallow for a bit. I wanted to be allowed to do this and be told I had the right. She did that for me. In a way that she will never fully understand, I held on to those words and the fact that someone realized that it wasn't easy and it helped.

Though, I don't talk to this friend daily or even weekly for that matter, when I do and when she checks in on this topic, I am able to be more open about my feelings. That is a gift that she has given to me. The gift of an ear that is willingly to listen and not judge. An ear that will allow tears and pain to come out if they need to. What a gift it is to have a friend like that. I am blessed to have a number of women in my life that are like that and to have an amazing supportive husband who gives me that ear anytime I need it.

Anyway, back to the rain and this friend. I was telling her that I was handling it. I told her that I needed to praise HIM nomatter what. Are the losses what I would choose? Certainly not, but I learned a long time ago, that HE knows best and HIS plans are better than what I could come up with myself.

Of course, she was one of the few asking how I was doing with it all. I think others would rather forget. I help them forget because I like to put on my stern upper lip and move forward. But, there are certain times of the year (when I would have given birth, when I lost the babies) that it's harder to get that stern upperlip. But, we manage, right?

That said, I've grown through all of this--the infertility and the multiple losses. I look at life different. I've grown in ways I may never have grown otherwise. HE has shown me that I am stronger than I thought and that with HIM I can get through anything.

I think these two songs are very fitting for the topic, not to mention they are 2 of my favorites.
 Bring the Rain 
The story behind this song: Bring the Rain--the story behind the song.
Praise You In This Storm

Guest Blogger returns tomorrow. Can't wait to see what he comes up with this week! I will also be posting some questions as to what you want me to cover with photography. So, be sure to check in and be sure to leave a comment so I know where to focus.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Storage and Don't forget about the Time Management Post!

1. Don't forget about the time management post and my willingness to pick a winner to help. You must comment under that post to be entered.

2. Anyone have any super deals this week that you found? Post them here as a comment. Perhaps, you can be the one to lead us to another good deal.

Today's Topic:
The Storage--Helping you get ready to organize that house!
  1. Go through the stuff you sorted and now think of where and how you use those items.
  2. If you use items together to complete a task, place them together in piles.
  3. After sorting by common functions, separate into piles of how often they are used.
  4. Map out your space.
  5. Measure the space you have.
  6. Prepare the budget for the mission.
  7. Shop for the storage containers. Remember they have to be functional as well as attractive.
  8. Think outside the box when you plan. Just because it says it’s for silverware storage doesn’t mean it can’t help your junk drawer.
With this basis behind us, we can tackle the Kitchen. (By the way, that is set for a blog post next week! Are you ready?)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Giant Deal on Cereal just got better...

Not only do you get the $6.00 off instantly! Yes, it comes right off at the register. :) When combined with the coupons that are out there (paper,, etc) that can bring it down to around 1.00 sometimes less, sometimes more per box. But, add on top of that that General Mills seems to have a Catalina coupon that gives you free milk when you purchase 4 of them. So, that's 6.00 off, plus free milk, plus they are about a 1.00 a box when they are normally close to 3-4 a box. Hummmm...worth a trip? I'd say.
Thanks General Mills and Giant!!! :)

Organize your TIME! :)

As much as having a house that is organized is nice. Having your time be more organized helps in the long run to keeping that house in order. So, how can I organize my time?

1.) Make a list of things you need to accomplish in a week.
2.) Then make a list of things you want to accomplish.
3.) Start breaking up your day into time blocks.
4.) Be sure to leave wiggle room or flex time because we all know life happens.
5.) Remember you are one person you can't do it all. Give yourself some slack.
6.) Look at your time blocks through the week and start placing your tasks in those blocks. The need to accomplish first, then the want to accomplish.
7.) Be realistic with your time blocks.
8.) When you create this plan, be flexible to change it. You'll revise it as the weeks go on. So save this in a file on your computer so you can revise it as needed and it won't take a lot of time to do.
9.) Remember your plan doesn't have to be hour by hour--just in blocks.
10.) That's the first step in organizing your time. Now, get the time organized!

Feel like you need help? You may be in luck. I am willing to help one person with their time blocks for a week. In order to be considered, you need to leave a comment. Then, we will randomly pick a person that I will help get their time organized. I will announce that winner next Tuesday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

This weeks Deals...

I promised to point you in the direction of these deals for the week and here they are...
Giant Deals week of January 16th Found here Thanks to Dearly Domestic! :)
CVS deals Found on Money Saving Mom. :) They were gathered by The Thrifty Mama
Weis Deals Thanks to For the Mommas

Have fun shopping and if you come across a great deal, come back and share it so we can all learn!

Money Saving Monday (1/17)

1.) The Frugal Find has an Online Coupon Class!! I know I posted this on my old blog, but since there are new readers over here and since this woman is amazing and giving all her hard work away, I thought that it was worth the mention again. My post from before: I stumbled upon this blog a while back and knew that instantly I had to tell people about it. I did and now I am telling all of you about it. Julia is simply a must stop in your blog reading. She has been GIVING away her coupon class that she spent time and money putting together. I can tell she has a generous heart and I have never met her in person. To be honest, she doesn't even know I exist. I have not contacted her at all, but I should to tell her thank you for her generous heart. But, I have to say for those of you that will be following the Money Saving Tips on Mondays, you should check out her coupon course. It will be a great background of information for you.

2.) Ever wonder about the Catalina coupons and what is being offered nationally? Yes, these are national offers. There are some by regions, but here is where you can find the list for the national ones
Coupons Deals and More. Incase you don't have time to check that link right now they are listed below for the ones through February:

Catalina National Events Calendar
(OYNO = On-Your-Next-Order Catalina)

Purchase three – four (3-4) Stouffers, Receive $1 OYNO
Purchase five – six (5-6) Stouffers, Receive $2 OYNO
Purchase seven or more (7+) Stouffers, Receive $3 OYNO
Note: included items will be denoted with shelf tags
valid 12/27/10 – 1/23/11

Purchase three (3) General Mills Salty Snacks, Receive $1.50 OYNO
Purchase four (4) General Mills Salty Snacks, Receive $2.50 OYNO
Purchase five or more (5+) General Mills Salty Snacks, Receive $3.50 OYNO
valid 12/27/10 – 1/23/11 (Chex mix is in this category)

Purchase three (3) Nature Valley Bars, Receive $1.50 OYNO
Purchase four (4) Nature Valley Bars, Receive $2.50 OYNO
Purchase five or more (5+) Nature Valley Bars, Receive $3.50 OYNO
valid 12/27/10 – 1/23/11

Purchase two (2) Crystal Light, Receive $1 OYNO
Purchase three (3) Crystal Light, Receive $2 OYNO
Purchase four or more (4+) Crystal Light, Receive $3 OYNO
valid 12/27/10 – 1/23/11

Purchase two (2) Kikkoman Marinades, Receive $1.50 OYNO
Purchase three (3) Kikkoman Marinades, Receive $2 OYNO
valid 1/14/11 – 2/6/11

Purchase two (2) Lawry’s Marinades, Receive $1 OYNO
Purchase three (3) Lawry’s Marinades, Receive $2 OYNO
valid 1/14/11 – 2/6/11

Purchase two (2) Crystal Light, Receive $1 OYNO
Purchase three (3) Crystal Light, Receive $2 OYNO
Purchase four or more (4+) Crystal Light, Receive $3 OYNO
valid 1/24/11 – 2/20/11

3.) Coupon question entered by Rae. (Yes, I am sure more of you just getting into coupons have this too, so thanks Rae for asking. This answer is thanks to The Krazy Coupon Lady -you can click there to read and see her answer or the short and sweet one is below. Trust me she knows her stuff! I wanted to be sure that what I was going to say was correct. PLUS, she has a Coupon Binder organization set up for you that you can use! It's wonderful. :)

On to the answer for Rae:

One Coupon per Purchase:  Refers to your ability to use one coupon per item.  Meaning you may not use two of the exact same coupons for one item. However, you can use one coupon for each item purchased. This is with anything, you cannot use more than one manufacturer coupon per item.
Hope this helps.

4.) Did you know you can buy coupons? Yep, coupon clipping services. I am not doing that--yet. But, I will admit there are times I wish I had some more of certain coupons.
The where to Shop on Monday section will be posted later. So, check back. Hope you are all off to a great week.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guest Blogger and Tip on how to create a header for your blog...

1.) The guest blogger is back with a bit of winter for you this week. I look at the boots and they look so big, then I wonder when did that happen? When did his boots go from being tiny to this? In the blink of an eye I tell you, in the blink of an eye.
2.) Here is a video that will walk you through on creating a header for your own blog. I would put up a step by step. But, sometimes it's easier to follow a video. :)
Creating a blog header tutorial

3.) Inspiration for your weekend. I really liked this movie (Facing the Giants)--my whole family did. Here are 3 clips from the movie. The whole movie is so worth watching though.
Facing the Giants--inspiration
Message-Bloom where you are planted
Prepare your Field

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Since there was no questions...

I could have totally taken the day off blogging. Yep, I could have. Instead (this time), I am going to share that one of my goals that I have on my list for 2011. (I do mean I have a list!)  It is to document my family better (in pictures and words). I also want to keep up with it on a more weekly basis. I have decided that I needed scheduled time to do this--making an appointment to do so like I do for everything else. This time isn't going to magically appear for me as I may have had myself thinking before. :) 

How about you? What are some of your goals? If taking more pictures is one of them, how about some tips on doing that better? Anyone want those tips? Specifics for me to cover? Jump in and let me know. I am willing to cover that topic, too. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Sorting

The Sorting

There will be 4 piles. Make signs for each and give them their own designated space for when you sort.
The 4 piles are:

The Throw pile- these are for things that just need to be thrown away, you don’t use them and nobody else can use them.

The Keep pile- for things that you use and are in good shape. Those things you need to keep and find a place for them.

The Move pile- those are for the items that you use, just not in the room they are currently in—so move it to where you use it.

The Donate pile- for items that you don’t use but others can.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, that depends on how attached you are to things.  Before you place something in the keep pile (the pile that is most used) you have to ask yourself.

Has it been over a year since I used it?
Do I use it at all?
Is it something I am holding on to for sentimental reasons?

The last question is the hardest. If you are holding on to things for sentimental reasons, you have to ask other questions. Such as:
Can I save a part of it and then get rid of the rest? (A part only takes up some space not all). Can you find a new use for it?
Can it help someone else if you donated it?

You may want to have a friend help you with sorting or hire someone to come in and help you get this done.  Now, are you ready to tackle a room? Great--The Kitchen is up first on my list for you. Get mentally prepared. But, don't worry next week is about Time organization and then we will tackle that kitchen. So, see I am giving you a while to get mentally prepared. :) 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Email Subscriptions and feeds...

You may want to update them--sign up again. As I have tried to change a few things to see if I can get them working. Sorry about that for those that signed up for the emails. Yes, I have been posting. It's just not getting to you all. :( I am new to that, so I it will take a while to work it all out. Thanks for your patience. :) S-thanks for letting me know. Looks like you are signed up, hope you start getting them. Just keep letting me know and I will keep working on it.
Have a great day!

Organization Tuesday! (1/12)

Today we start the Getting Organized Series on the blog.
1st Steps to getting your home organized
1.)    Get in the mindset to let go, find a place and keep it neat.
2.)    Plan what room you will start with—taking baby steps like this will help ease that overall sense of being overwhelmed. (I am guiding you through the kitchen first in case you are wondering)
3.)    Get the gear you will need:
Garbage bags- for the trash
Cardboard boxes- for donations and selling items. (Make labels for those boxes ahead of time.
Notebook and pen- you’ll be making notes as to what items you will need to organize what you have left as well as a list of items you will be donating so you have it for tax purposes.
Music- keeping it upbeat will help pass the time.
4.)    Plan a time to do this. Realize that it takes time at first, but your reward comes later when being organized actually saves you time.

Up next: The Sorting

But, I wanted to let you know that Thursday’s blog post will be about answering questions from the readers. So, ask away. Remember I don’t have all the answers, but I am happy to look for them for you. Don't want to ask with your name. It's ok to ask without using your name. Coupon questions, Mommy topic, organization, photo taking, blogging, etc. Ask otherwise Thursday will be really boring around here. :)  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Money Saving on Monday

Sorry for the late post, it is my hope that on Mondays I have the blog post up for you by 5AM. This way you can use my tips for your shopping that week.

1.) Tips for saving more money on your dinner plans from Sandra: Sandras-money-saving-tips (Food Network) Not only does she give you a few tips, but she also has some budget friendly meals. Check it out.

2.) Looking for the CVS deals this week. You need to check out Money Saving Mom's CVS Deals week of January-9-15-2011 Most of these are the same region to region. So, I am not going to repost these items, instead I will send you on over there. Besides she has an amazing amount of resources for you! I visit there weekly.

3.) Meal Planning: If you are new to it, I suggest you plan one week at a time to start. But, when you plan consider leftovers and how you can use them to make another recipe the next day. Not only does it save you time in some cooking steps, but it can also be budget friendly. For instance say I make Chicken Quesadillas one night. Then, I might prepare more chicken and use that seasoned Chicken the next night to do a version of Spicy Chicken Pasta. I'll also make an extra Quesadilla or 2 so that there are leftovers to pack in lunches.
I have a form I use to plan my meals and food shopping and I am happy to share that with anyone that wants it. I also have my planning for Little Man's lunch on this form to. It's a very simple form in word. I will eventually make it cute and a bit more designed the way I want it and then I will share it as a graphic on here. But, in the meantime, if you want what I have, I am happy to share. :)

4.) I often hear, I don't want to feed my family processed foods everyday and that is what all the coupons are for. Well, not all. But, I agree a lot of them are. Rarely do you see a coupon for oranges or apples. But remember your savings doesn't just come from coupons. It comes from knowing the prices of the local markets and knowing the best price. For instance, this week at Darrenkamps they have bananas for .39lb vs the .59 at the others. I got bananas for this week and bought some really green ones so we can have them next week at that price too! I also shopped the reduced produce bin this week at Darrenkamps. I got apples for .59lb vs my best deal otherwise was 1.19lb. Now, you might question the reduced bin. Yes, you have to look, but the apples I got were great! A mixed variety but all of the ones we got were ones we love. We are not hard to please in apple land. They also have a reduced bread department. I got some Wheat rolls for 1/2 off the orginal cost and they were still soft. :) They also have other reduced departments in this store and honestly you can find deals that are still good in any of them (dairy and meat included). Speaking of meat, Chicken breast is on sale for 1.39lb. (Boneless and Skinless).

5.) Darrenkamps has Chex mix BOGO and if you buy 5 or more you get $3.50 off your next shopping order. This means having 5 in your cart and since when Darrenkamps runs the BOGO what they do is slice the price in 1/2 you can buy only 5 and still save. These are on the 15 oz bags. They were the best price locally this week.

6.) Comparing prices example this week: Not only did you have the bananas and oranges--did I tell you that Darrenkamps has oranges for 4.99 for 8lbs. Where other stores have 3.99 for 4lbs? Yep, Darrenkamps was the clear winner this week for me. Another comparing price Manwich .88 at Darrenkamps, 1.00 at Giant, 1.25 at Weiss. Humm...wonder where I would get that. :)

7.) What's the best price? When do I stockpile what I can? Knowing your prices helps, but so does knowing the lowest price and when the sales will be. So, another project that I have is tracking the local prices of our 3 markets. I will do this over a 12 week period. I am going to be tracking what my family eats to see the pattern in sales, best prices, etc. If there is something you want me to track, leave a comment and I will add it to my list. When I am done tracking, I will share this list with anyone who is interested.

8.) So, it's obvious the bulk of my shopping was at Darrenkamps this week. I say that with a smile. Because honestly I love to shop there. The people are so friendly and helpful. My husband likes their meats. I like there produce (heck, even the reduced kind is fresh!).

9.) Smart Money Deals (The-best-time-to-buy-everything link) This article might prove helpful in saving money on other things.

10.) Clothing sale tips: Link

Tomorrow's Topic: 1st Steps to getting Organized. I am opening this up for Organization or other questions for future blog posts. I will be doing weekly blogs on organizing and the way I have it planned your house should be organized by the end of April. :) We will also talk about organizing your time.

Hope these tips help you this week. Don't forget, if you want something added to my tracking list, let me know and I will do that. Also, if you are new here don't forget to read the other money saving tips on the blog added here: food-budget-and-coupons and here at the stockpile post.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Guest Blogger...

Did you notice the beautiful sunrise the other morning? Wasn't it amazing? Don't worry if you missed it, the guest blogger didn't and he captured it to share with all of you. It really was beautiful and he captured it in such a beautiful way.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The BONUS post--a dose of inspiration...

Ok, so this is totally a bonus post. But, I thought I didn't leave you much inspiration yet on this blog. So, let me share this with you. I had a quote that I took from one of the church services that we went to and it said this...
"Wake up expecting God to use simple things to teach life lessons."  That in itself is inspiring. Add to that there was a little note found under that in beautiful childhood handwriting that said WOW. :) Even in the eyes of a child this is inspiring and WOW worthy.


Create your stockpile:
Stockpiles will be different for everyone—that was proven to me when I saw the coupon show. OH MY! Regardless, the first step is planning. Make a list of the food items that you normally buy. Think of the meals that you cook most often--what do they include. This doesn’t mean that you have to plan your meals for the next year or anything. Just know what you use a lot of when you cook. What does your family love and what do you love to feed them?

Having a well stocked pantry and freezer will help you save money in the long run.
Planning a list of meals for a week works—I find that if you throw in an extra meal for variety (you know in case you don’t feel like Chicken again) it helps. Remember shop your freezer and pantry first when planning meals. So, now that you have your list of meals and what you need for the week. Make a list of the items you would like to start stockpiling. Then, it is time to look at the grocery ads. Just remember that you will not stockpile items that are not on sale. This will not help you lower your grocery bill at all. Only buy extra of items if they are on sale at the stockpile price (that’s different for every region). Know THE good sale price and when to buy. Also, see if you have coupons for it.

Now it can get confusing. You will benefit from knowing if a sale price is a THE sale price can be hard, especially if you are new at paying attention to prices. This is where I might be able to help you. I am more than willing to share what I have seen and hope you do the same for others and me. Together we can know THE prices.

If you notice a sale on something that you use regularly and you realize that you have never seen the price this low that could be THE sale price. Sales cycle every 6 or 12 weeks in food stores or so I have been told. I think I am going to keep in a folder 12 weeks of flyers. Do I sound nuts? Never mind, don't answer that! So, buy enough to last you until you think the next sale will be. Keeping in mind coupons can take a good sale and make it a great one.

It can be hard at first but, in the long run, you will have a very well stocked pantry and freezer all while saving money. Even if you have to pay full price for one item each week, that is much better than paying full price for all of your groceries. Good luck in your stockpile adventure and let me know how you are doing. Tips to share of your own, post a comment so we can all learn together. Get a great deal, post a comment so we can see it and know if it might benefit us. Together we will lower our budgets! Have a question, feel free to ask. I will TRY to answer or search so I can find you one.

Meal planning will be covered in more detail next Monday--I think the stockpile thing is enough to swallow for now. But, stay tuned.

Guest blogger returns tomorrow!!! Wait until you see what he captured!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Food Budget and Coupons....(*Edited to Add Crystal Light Deal)

The Food Budget:
How do you create one? Well, here is a start…
Step 1: Take a month and track your spending to determine what areas you are spending your money on.  You write down everything. (You do this for all food—eating out, Turkey Hill stops, anything that is food you write it down.) You can also do this for other areas of your budget—but more about that another time. Let's take baby steps.
Step 2: Decide how you can cut costs.  (Hint-coupons and sales)
Step 3: Make a basic weekly grocery allowance.  Plan meals that will help you stick to that.
By February, you will be ready to make that food budget lower.Then, let me know how it is going.

Some tips to cut costs:
  • Shop with a list and stick to it.
  • Use coupons (More on this in future blog posts)
  • Comparison shop (More blogging on this too!)
  • Know when to stockpile and create one (The first stockpile post tomorrow)
  • Make more at home and double it up. When you make a recipe that you know you can freeze, make 2 of them and freeze the other one for a quick and busy night. Or plan to have leftovers from your menu planning. Making a better plan on how you can use your leftovers will save you money.
  • Grow produce. (OK, I have not done that and I don’t think I can do that well. My thumb is not green. But, we MIGHT give it a try this summer. I want to run the idea by Little Man. Thinking it would be our project. I know if my husband is reading this he is laughing!)
  • Give up the junk--better for your wallet and your body.
  • Shopping in off peak hours if you can will make you feel less rushed and you can process what you are buying better. I remember food shopping very early in the morning when my little man was a baby, he had gotten me up and I wanted to make the most of the day. So, off we went to the 24 hour food store.  Food shopping before 5 am is peaceful.
My one take away for coupons today is just because you have the coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it.  You can go “coupon broke”.

For a coupon to be used you need to ask yourself:
  1. Is this something I use?
  2. Do I need this?
  3. Is it making it free or next to nothing that I can use it in my stockpile? (After last night, I feel the need to clarify a stockpile does not have to devour your house and take up your life! YIKES!)
  4. And…would I buy this eventually even if I didn’t have a coupon. Coupons can make you go crazy buying things you don’t need (like say over 200 boxes of pasta!) or they can be a useful tool to help you stay in or under your food budget. I prefer to use them as a useful tool in getting my weekly shopping trips down to next to nothing.

I plan on doing Money Saving Tips on Mondays and will cover coupons in more detail each week, as well as, some great deals for different stores.  However, I am only sharing what I know and what I am learning and I have a LOT to learn still. But, what I know I am happy to share. I am also happy to point you in the direction of other ladies that know how to work the system well. 
After watching the show last night, I was in shock. I am after the good deals, I want to save money, I want to make coupons and stockpiles work for me. But, there is a point (at least for me) to say when is enough. I remember before Christmas giving coupons to a friend that could use them to get more shampoo. My stockpile was plenty for my family and I wanted to share that great deal with someone who could use it. Plus, a few other things, one there is such a thing as an expiration date, eating way too much processed foods isn't good for your body and having coupons can consume your life if you let it. As for me, I want to live my life, feed my family healthy foods and save money while doing it. I am NOT saying these people are wrong or living wrong as we are each different. I am just saying, that amount of stockpile is not for me.

Have a great day everyone!

**Crystal Light Deal-Explained**
Crystal Light has a somewhat new product called Pure. There are No artificial sweeteners, NO artificial preservatives and No artificial flavors and it's 15 calories per serving. At least that is what the box tells me. :)
They are doing a promo. It came on one of my print offs at Giant. If you buy so many between now and 1/23/11 when you buy 2 you get 1.00 off, Buy 3 get 2.00 off, buy 4 or more get 3.00 off your next shopping order on anything. Now, they have to be purchased in one shopping order. This week Giant has Pure on sale 2/$4.00. (It's usually 2.99 a box.) Buy 4 and you are getting $3.00 off coupon at the register. Not to mention when I have brought it, the register is also printing me .75 off 1 box of Crystal Light as a Catalina coupon. Which are coupons that print at the register after your purchase is made. So, today, I made a quick stop and got some more. I bought 4 of them to be exact. (We all like Crystal light--don't worry I won't stockpile 100 boxes or anything ;)). I also got veggie pasta--which was also on sale 4/$5.00 and I had 3 $1.00 off coupons. I only bought 3 of the pastas. I used my coupons that I had, $3.00 off, $1.50 off, and (3).75 off, plus each of the 1.00 off pasta coupons (3 total) and my bill which should have been $17.03 +tax, (apparently crystal light is taxed?!?) was now $2.35 including tax. Not bad for a 5 min trip. Oh did I mention I also got the $3.00 off coupon again. So, although out of pocket (which is what I count) was $2.35, I really made out on this deal--.65 to be exact.
Now, I can use that $3.00 on veggies, fruits, whatever I need next week. Questions, ask away. I am happy to help.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I just learned that...

The Krazy Coupon Lady will be on TLC tonight at 9PM EST --well, according to the website. It was on in December apparently. So, incase you missed it....
The Krazy Coupon Lady will be on there again tonight! This lady is a master at the craft of coupons. Be sure to check it out.  I confess I do have my very own Krazy Coupon Lady binder and I don't think it makes me the least bit crazy! :)
** Edited to tell you it might be 10PM**

Packing a creative, nutritious, fun lunch...

So, I have decided this week will be a food week. Maybe I can convince the guest blogger to take a picture of some food for you for his weekly appearance. (Or maybe not--those I leave up to him.)  Other topics on the list for the month are: Organization, Valentines, Time Management, and throw in a few blog tutorials. Perhaps some photo tutorials, I am thinking about putting those along side his guest blogger appearances. You tell me your thoughts. Today's food topic: LUNCHES
Little Man (as I will refer to him on this public blog--unless he sees that and exclaims that he's not little :).) prefers to pack. That is unless it's brunch lunch. Then, watch out he wants to be first in line.

So, what do you do to make a lunch packed full of the right foods and fun at the same time? (While maintaining your food budget--which is the topic of tomorrow along with coupon tips and deals of the week.)
What to pack?
This is a tough question. Really, it depends on your kids likes and dislikes. But, you can help by:
1. Having your kids help you plan their lunch. Use something like tip #2 to have them do this...
2. Plan using a chart like this one:  (This from a Mom who loves charts, lists and anything organized!)

The tool we use when planning a lunch-updated and changed as needed. :)

( NOTE: I created this a a word document and would LOVE to share. I know we'll keep changing this list and if you had your own copy, then you could, too. I seriously need to find a safe place online that I can upload and have you all download files for free. ANY TIPS??? As I have lots of things I plan on giving away in a digital form. But, for now, let me know if you want it and where I should email it to.
3. Theme them up (Back to school, Holidays, colors, shapes, etc.) I'll have to take some pictures of themed lunches when I do them. In case you want some inspiration in the meantime. Check out this amazing lunch packer! Another Lunch I aspire to get to that packing skill. :)
4. Notes--I put them in there for now while they are still allowed. I wonder how long he'll let the notes keep coming, at some point I am sure they will become "uncool". Sometimes it's a joke with a little love you at the bottom, sometimes it's a short encouraging note, and sometimes it's just an inside way of me telling him I love him--that others wouldn't know. Our inside family I love you.  I plan on creating some cute notes to share in the future with all of you. So, all you'll have to do is print, cut and throw in the bag.

What do I put it in?
I am still struggling with this question. No expert on this, but I can tell you that some things just don't work. I plan on getting Little Man a lunch box system that we'd both love before next school year. I've waited 1/2 this school year and have a lunch box that is starting to show it's wear and a less than perfect packing system. Perhaps, I will get one before the year is out. Little Man hates if the food gets all mixed up and the containers that I got when trying to pack a more Bento style lunch for him, just are not cutting it in that department. It's not always a problem just when I pack certain things. Sigh!!

Ideas for packing are listed below:
Planet Box If I could get over the sticker price and have my husband get over it, this would be in my home in the blink of an eye.
Goodbyn a serious consideration for us as well.
Laptop lunches
or just type in Bento lunch box and you'll come up with a ton of options.

There you have it. Rest of the list of topics for the week:
Wednesday- Setting a Food Budget and Sticking to it and using coupons to your advantage.
Thursday- The Stockpile and meal planning
Friday- Guest blogger and perhaps a tutorial of some sort.
Note: I will be working on getting an email subscription for this blog ready for everyone-per some requests.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year - New Blog!

Welcome to the new blog! It’s great to get this started.  I will be honest; I wasn’t going to launch the blog today or even this week.  I wanted to be able to tweak things and get them the way I wanted them on the new blog before I started posting. Well, that didn’t happen. However, instead of making myself feel guilty about that, I decided that I would use that as some tutorials on the new blog. So, expect blogging topics over the next few weeks. (I’ll make a header post soon—since that was something I quickly did to make the blog more personal. Simple-but personal.)
Wondering what to expect on this blog? Expect some teaching, some leading, and hopefully some inspiration.  Topics? The guest blogger will be back, saving money tips, photography tips, digital design (ideas, tips and maybe even some digital layouts for you), food shopping tips, ideas for kids, and other mom topics. I figure when you throw in the word mom that covers a LOT of topics!
If there is a topic that you want covered, leave a comment and let me know. I’ll do my best to see that I cover it or get someone to help me cover it.
As for today’s topic, a short top 5 list on how to save at the grocery store. (Don’t worry we’ll cover this a LOT more!)
1.       Shop your freezer and pantry first.
2.       Look over the local store adds to see if there are any buy it now prices. (We will talk more about buy it now prices and what some of them are for the local area.)
3.       Plan a menu based off of 1 and 2 for the week. Some people plan 2 weeks, some a month even. But, baby steps people, start with a week.
4.       Find coupons for the items you are buying and figure where you will get your best deals and make your store(s) list.
5.       Make sure you don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach.
See you all again tomorrow.