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Friday, December 31, 2010

Around here you gotta earn your keep!

I have some goals for 2011 (wow! that is crazy to write...er, type!) that I'll be sharing one day real soon, if I was on top of it I'd have them finished already.  One of my goals is to continue to trim our family's grocery bill.  I have considered many options: skipping meals, having the kids alternate who eats dinner each night, a meat free existance. None of those seemed viable- I was completely joking about the kids (don't call CPS), I get waaayyyy grouchy when I don't eat so skipping meals is out and we are a carnivorous family who enjoys meat! I went back to the drawing board and remembered a Christmas gift my hubby gave me:

Ignore the bed head and focus on the waffle maker, that is my money saver.  Yep, that $10 waffle maker is an investment! Our oldest is an oatmeal kind of girl, she eats it every morning without fail.  I had already figured out how to save money on oatmeal, you can scope that out here.  But, my youngest, she is not a big fan of oatmeal.  She is a waffle gal, everyday the kid eats waffles.  Have you checked out the price of waffles lately though...whew! At our Wal-Mart they run $4.38 per 24.  That makes them 18 cents per waffle, doesn't seem like a lot but she eats an average of 10 a week so that's $95 a year.

With my new handy dandy waffle maker I'm going to lower that breakfast cost for our 4 year old.  A box of Krusteaz waffle mix is $1.78, add in the eggs and oil and it is about $4 to make the entire box. A box makes about 12 large, round waffles with 4 pieces each. So the cost to make 48 smaller (child size portions) is 8 cents per waffle, using the same 10 per week formula our waffle consumption cost goes down to $41 per year. I could probably lower the cost a bit more using flour and other ingredients instead of a box mix.  But the reality is that I am a busy mom so a box mix works for me. 

I plan to make these in one big batch and freeze them, just like the fine folks at Eggo. Some will be plain, some will have blueberries that I froze after buying them at Wal-Mart reduced to $1 a pint and some will be filled with strawberries that we picked and froze over the summer (free and family time!!).  I may get really crazy throw some chocolate chips in some for the weekends. 

Now, I know you are thinking: that is an awful lot of work to save $55!!  It isn't really that much work, it will take less than an hour, be healthier than the store bought frozen variety and save some moolah. But add that to the $132 I save in oatmeal and we are saving about $190 a year to feed our munchkins breakfast and that is without coupons, which I occasionally find on the items needed for these DIY breakfasts!  Again, some of you may think $190 isn't that much money but here is some examples of how it compares to other aspects of our expnses:
$190 = 1/3 of the total cost to insure our house or cars
$190 = The cost to pay our water bill for 5 months
$190 = Our cell phone costs for 3 months
$190 = a summer of entertainment with a family pass to our local pool : )

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 75% off Target trip

Today I went into the big city, one with more than 1 stop light and a Target! And a Panera Bread, be still my heart.   I didn't have high hopes of finding any good deals since my Wal-Mart was barren of after Christmas deals yesterday.  But was I delightfully surprised!  Here is a quick recap of my visit:
My stomach is always on my mind so of course I started grabbing food!  The Poppycock (in the back) were only $1 each (reg. $3.99), the brownie mix with a wooden spoon was $0.75!! I will use the brownie mix at our church family bingo or give as a thank you with a note about being sweet to someone deserving.

My 4 year old was so confused as to why I was buying wrapping paper, I tried explaining...she just wanted to look at toys. Here were my deals, 5 rolls of wrapping paper at $0.62 (reg. $2.50) each and 2 at $1.25 each (reg. $5). I also scored 3 rolls of tape for less than a buck, 6 shirt boxes for a $1, bows for $0.50 each and two packs of gift tags for $1 each! My wrapping supplies for next year total $9.35!!!


The stockings will be hung with care with our new stocking hangers.  Our old ones were not cute....at all. They came from The Dollar Tree 7 years ago before they had kinda cute stuff aaaaannnnddd they were gold.  I hate gold!  So I was on a mission to replace them this year, these cute snowflakes fit the bill, 12/24 they would have rang up at  $25.98 for the set of 4 but today they came home with me for the bargain price of
$6.49!!! Less than the original cost of 1!  I can't wait to use them, no one else in my house was feeling the excitement that I was about these babies, I showed them to the dog and he gave me this look:

Thanks Bo! No on here loves a deal like me...back to the bargains


A little home decor...yah! The Dt. Mtn. Dew was not purchased at Tar-Jay not is it part of this segment, I just have to have one within arms reach to function...no, seriously I do!  See that wreath there, I have long dreamed of  a cute berry wreath but the problem is I'm cheap so I'd never buy one.  Until today when that $20 wreath joined us for 5 smackers.  And yes I know $20 isn't a lot for a wreath but it wasn't on my radar for $20,  $5 works for me.  Those beeeaautiful chrome thingmajigs beside the wreath are actually flowers and planters, they were $2 each!  The planter is super nice and worth more than $2, the flowers are an added bonus.   Let's all cross your green thumb (is that possible) that I don't kill them, I'm not a gardener. Here's a closer look:

Plus, my mom will be happy I have an indoor plant.  Our lack of plants bothers her. Are you happy Mom? 

And now for the Grand Finale!! Drum roll please......

Yep, a dining set! No, not really but I did score the table runner, napkins and napkin rings. Wanna guess how much?  How does $8 sound...yep for all of it! The runner (reg. $19.99) , 8 cloth snowflake napkins (originally $4.99 for 4) and 8 silver napkin rings ($7.99 per set of 4)!!! Woo to the Hoo!! Double bonus, we live in a snowy area so I feel like I'm ok to leave this out through January so I can enjoy it a bit even though I HATE snow! 


Isn't it pretty?? I'm so excited!

So here is my Target total.....$38!!  A few things were 80 - 90% off so it was better than I thought!
Regular price would have been $180
So I saved $142!!!  

Did anyone else score any post Christmas deals?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Need a last minute gift?

Ok, raise you hand if your still Christmas shopping?  Whew, both my hands are busy stuffing Christmas goodies in my mouth so luckily I don't need to put any in the air!  But, you over there in the corner with your hand up, you still need a gift?  I've got a super easy one that you can whip up in a jif!
Here are your needed supplies:
-1 white salad plate (scored mine at the Wal-Marts for $2.96)
-Modge Podge
-Scrapebook paper
-a Dry erase marker (look for one with a magnet on the lid)
-Magnet (optional)
Plate stand (any craft store for $2-$5 buck-a roos)

Using Word type "Notes" in a font that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, print it in your cutesy paper or just a colored paper.  Cut it out in an oval or circle.
Carefully Mod Podge it on your plate and let it dry.
If you go the magnet route adhere it to the back edge of the plate.
Ok, your finished!
Wrap that puppy up, you have given the gift of communication or organization and a cutesy message board!

If you have the paper and mod podge you could easily complete this for less than $10!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coasting to Christmas...sorta!

It's official, my family has moved to a snow globe that some pesky kid keeps shaking! It is the 16th day of December, we have had the white stuff falling all but 3 days this month and today we are getting hammered!  My kids have attended school 2.5 of the last 9 days, and are sure to make it 2.5 of 10 tomorrow!  Needless to say, I haven't had time to blog!  I have been too busy dressing and re-dressing kids, barbies and babies, refereeing squabbles and determining whose turn it is to lick the spoon after we make our latest baked treat.  But, I did want to give you an idea for a DIY Christmas gift that you could do this weekend This one is sure to be a hit with Grandmas, Grandpas aunts, uncles...the whole crew! 

Here's what ya need to get going:
- 4 4x4 white tiles from Lowe's (these ring in at about $0.25 a pop)
- 4 pictures, trimmed to fit the tiles
- Mod Podge (you know I love me some Mod Podge!)
- Mod Podge clear acrylic sprat
- Paint brush
-Cork or felt
-Glue gun

This is a super simple craft! After you have trimmed the picture go ahead and slather some mod podge on the back of a picture.  Carefully adhere it to the tile then brush a layer of mod podge on the front.  Repeat for the other 3 tiles. 

After and hour or so apply another thin layer of mod podge and a bit later one more for good measure.  After the final layer is dry you can start the layers of acrylic spray.  Do 4 or 5 thin layers of spray allowing 15 minutes dry time in between. 

In the meantime cut your felt or cork to fit the back of the tile.  Either will work, felt is WAAAAAY cheaper though and happens to be what I used.  When everything is good and dry use you handy dandy glue gun to secure the felt or cork to the tile.  Stand back and behold your awesomeness!!


This set will be in my Mother in Law's gift, those are her 4 darling grandkids.  My mom is getting a set too!  Since my hubby and I were basically teen parents I forget that some of you may not have kiddos to show off. Ok, to clarify, I was 23 and he was 24 but we had only been married 13 months when we welcome our oldest so I feel like we have been parents FOREVER! 
Anyhow, some ideas if you don't have kids would be vacation pics, or pictures from the internet of favorite spots.  You could use word to create a cute monogram for your sister or initials for newlyweds, favorite quotes or bible verses even showcase your favorite sports team...Let's Go Mountaineers!  Sorry, it is a reflex, I hear sports and think WV!
Just have fun!  And the best part is these are cheap-o!  If you have everything but the tiles this project will only set you back a buck!  If you have to buy the spray and mod podge try making multiple sets to lower your total cost per set!   

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DIY gifts for the Grandma's....well sorta

My girls are lucky to have two Grandma's who adore them, Quinn, our oldest is the first grandchild on both sides of the family.  My hubs parents had waited awhile for a wee one, although I don't think they expected their youngest child who had been married only 5 months to call and say he would be providing them one! They were over the moon when she arrived 7 and half years ago, our oldest nephew joined the crew just a few months later.  Rounding out the posse on my hubby's side is our Reagan who joined us 4 years ago and Michael the baby at 2.   My girls are still the only offspring in the grandchildren category among my brothers and I. In an effort to chronicle the kids in their early years and give the Grandma's something to show off to their friends I started making photo calendars as Christmas gifts a few years ago. 

5 years into this tradition it is less of a surprise and more of an expectation from both Grandma's.  I joked with my mom that I just didn't have time to do it this year....she didn't laugh....at all.  She then told me to go to my room and make a calendar and don't come out until it's finished!!  Yes ma'am!! The first year I started doing this there was only one or two places that offered photo calendars, now my email box receives offers from a different company daily. 

I consider this gift to be a DIY sorta  because it does require a couple of hours to sort through the pictures and arrange them in the calendar.  Most places even let you include birthdays, anniversaries or other special events too.  I have used several companies over the years, this year and last I went with Vista Print.  They offer great prices, good quality and quick turn-a-round time...everything I look for.  They are currently offering 50% off!! Woo to the hoo!! By the way, I didn't do the express shipping, I ordered last Monday and received them on Tuesday...so just 8 days! At around $8-$15 each they are affordable for everyone too, you usually get a discount for buying more than one too and since we have found that aunts and uncles enjoy them too why not get a few made! 

This is a gift that is truly enjoyed all year and since I know both Grandma's have everyone I've made stashed somewhere they will be enjoyed for years to come!

Here are some of the cuties gracing this year's edition of the Raffo Family Calendar:

Reagan: The elusive rebel





Anthony: The Dare Devil

 Quinn: The Sweetheart

Michael: The Wild Man


P.S. The peeps at Vista Print are not aware of me or my lil' blog and did nor compensate me to include them... just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Easy homemade gift idea

Remember way back in October when I said I was making most of my Christmas gifts this year and you all laughed. Well, with all of my  Christmas shopping complete I am happy to report that I did make at least half of my gifts, if not more.  If my kids would have been happy with a bleached shirt instead of insisting on a Nintendo DS and Buzz Lightyear I could have made more, darn kids for ruining it.   The gifts that I was unable to make were all on sale and I used a coupon for most of them. So  I am happy to report that I came in over $100 under my Christmas budget which was pretty modest to begin with, like below $500 for everyone on our list. 2 kids, 2 parents, 4 grandparents/parents/ step-parents, siblings, aunts, nephews, cousins, friends, teachers....you get the picture. 

Over the next dew days I'll share some of my gifts with you.  Since some of the recipients read the blog I won't be mentioning who they are for most of the time. First up, a simple and small gift.  A nice gift for a mail carrier or someone you want to show your appreciation.  Since my kids go to a school that has a lot of extra teachers that help in addition to their classroom teachers I may be handing out some of these to those teachers:


How cute is that vintage milk jug??? Cute and useful, two of my favorite things and everything my kids are not! Just kidding, they are useful sometimes and always cute : ) These cuties serve as a conversion chart when you are cooking, so you can figure out that 6 Teaspoons = 2 TBSP when you can't find your measuring spoon because your 4 year old has it hid under her bed until she can use it in the sandbox. Did, I come up with these?? Heck no, I am not that thoughtful or that good at math but thanks for thinking I'm capable.  The queen of cooking Martha Stewart created these puppies.  I bet she lays awake at night thinking up really useful stuff, I just try to think about where the latest lost item could be in our house.  After you download these cuties, cut 'em out, laminate them and attach a magnet to the back, or head to kinkos and they'll do it for you. If you live in the sticks like me and there is a foot of snow on the ground you'll have plenty o' time to do it yourself.  You could give these with cookies, or some other baked good.  If you aren't a baker, like me, I have another idea too:


Hot Cocoa Cones!  These are soooo easy to make and paired with a coffee mug or the milk jug would make a great gift.  You can buy the cone shaped cello bags at any craft store, I got mine at Hobby Lobby, 25 for $1.99.  You will use 2 per cone so prepare for that!  My girls and I double bagged them, added cocoa powder, chocolate chips, crushed candy canes and marshmallows.  Then we tied the inner bag, wrapped a bow around the outer one and ta daaa! Cute gift!

You should be able to make both of these for less than a buck, so if you have to give several (we are handing out 15!!) you won't break the bank!


Tomorrow I'll be covering what the Grandma's are getting from the girls.  Both of them read the blog on occasion but since they pretty much demand that we give this gift (this is year 4) I think the element of surprise is out!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hi, remember me...crazy deal lady???

Ok, first off, I'm sorry.  I quit blogging for a while because I was overwhelmed.  See, I have this problem where I can't say no when someone asks me for help.  My kids school, soccer, 4-H, church....the list goes on and on.  Add in the 2 kids a husband and my wife and mom duties and I became too overwhelmed.  I was stressing to blog everyday so I just quit doing it at all.  Yeah, in retrospect that wasn't the best approach.  Plus, I was convinced I was the only one who would even notice.  But then something funny happened, people asked me and emailed to ask why I wasn't blogging anymore.  After the initial shock wore off I started thinking maybe I should put on my big girl pants and try again. So, I decided to give it another go, but I won't put unrealistic expectations to blog 6 times a week like my pal Pioneer Woman.  Ok, so maybe she and I aren't pals and she has no idea who I am but we both like to blog so I can see a friendship on the horizion. 

So, on my first day back I'm gonna share a deal I did yesterday at Wal-Mart.  Hasbro has some coupons for $5 off games:

 
 
 
 

So, you can use those on regular games or head for the travel games like I did.  My Wal-Mart only had travel Hungry Hippos and Battleship but get this, they were only $5.24!! SWEEEETTTT!!!  I got them for $0.24 each!  The payer (as they are called by my children, you may refer to them as a cashier) was shocked when I used 6 and brought my total down by $30!!!  I plan to use them as stocking stuffers for my girls and give some to my nephews, one is on a travel hockey team so they travel to games a lot.  If you have a Target or Toys R Us in your area they have the travel games priced similiarly!  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Traditions....at a bargain!

My family doesn't have a lot of holiday traditions, it makes me a little sad.  There are a couple of reasons we are void of tradition: 1. My hubby works in the Hospitality Industry and typically has to work on the holidays and his days off vary from year to year. 2.We have moved around a bit so it was difficult to start a tradition that required nearby people or geographical events. and 3. We haven't always lived near family. We are fortunate now to live about 15 minutes from my mom, but at times we have lived 8+ hours from anyone we really knew and my hubster's parents are living the good life of retirees in the Sunshine state of FL so they are usually not nearby either.  We do have a few traditions that we have started for various holidays, but there is only one that we have done every year, this year will make our 8th!

Christmas PJ's!  Every year on Christmas Eve, usually before we leave for Mass, our kids get to open one gift.  The gift is always Christmas PJ's that they will where to bed that evening.  The last few years the hubster and I have joined in and got festive in new PJ's as well.  Timing is key in this tradition, too early and you are paying too much for the PJ's, too late and you are left with the not so cut choices, especially since I like my girls to match.  If you join in on the whole Christmas PJ craze head on over to crazy8.com for a super sweet deal, 2 piece PJ's for the whole fam for $7.99 each.  A great price for PJ's!  They have a great selection but it is going to dwindle quick so head over and check it out! At this price, you could start a new tradition for your family this year!

Here is a look at one of our Christmases past:

Hot Holiday Bargains!

With Halloween and the Mid-Term elections behind us it is time to start getting serious about Christmas Shopping! I have made my list ad budget so I am ready for the deals!  They are starting early and will be frequent so don't get caught up too much in the deals and blow your budget!  Make sure it is something that was on your list before dropping the dough on a sale or your budget will explode!

Toys R Us brought back the super Hasbro deal they had last year!
Here's the deatails:
From October 31st - December 31st, 2010 Toys R Us is once again offering their Hasbro Family Game Night rebates!  You can find these rebate forms at most Toys R Us locations! (usually in the game section) You can click HERE then check on page 28 for all the details! 
Also, when you purchase 1 Hasbro Trouble, Twister, Operation, Connect 4, Scrabble, Battleship, Guess Who, Sorry, The Game of Life or Monopoly priced at $10.99, then you get a FREE Chocolate Monopoly or Chocolate Scrabble game!! ($9.99 value)  This discount will automatically be applied at checkout!   PLUS, it's also being reported that when you purchase 2 select Hasbro games (Scrabble, Connect 4, Sorry, Battleship and Monopoly), that you’ll get a FREE $10 Toys R Us gift card!!  It's being reported that there are NO signs for this deal, but that the register is still prompting for the $10 Toys R Us gift card!  So...check out this HOT deal you may be able to get!
  So buy 2 games at $10.99= $21.98
- $6 in Mail in Reabates
- Free Game valued at $10
-Possible $10 Gift Card
= -$4.02!!! A Money Maker!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Exercising my civic right to be frugal!

We are blessed to have many freedoms in our country, I hope everyone exercised their civic duty to vote, we have been discussing the elections with our girls so I took them with me to vote, they enjoyed the field trip on their day off.  I am also happy that we have the freedom to be frugal!  A wonderful blog I like to frequent is The Frugal Find, a couple offering their frugal findings and lifestyle.

They are pros! And now, they are offering a great, online class for free!  Yep, you read right, free frugal knowledge! So, head on over to The Frugal Find and start your frugal journey!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hot Toy Story 3 Deal!

Go here to print a $8 off coupon for Toy Story 3 Blu-Ray, DVD Combo pack,

Then, go here to get a $5 rebate!

= About $12 at Wal-Mart!

Deals and Steals 10/31

Sorry i haven't posted this week, being a mom got in the way : )

Rite Aid:
Note: Sadly Rite Aid is no longer doing $5 off $25, but you can earn $4 off $20 by watching video values.
(2) Kellogg’s Cereal, Kashi 12.4-17.5, or Nutri Grain Cereal Bars 8 ct., at $2.44, $2 UP wyb 2
Tide Laundry Detergent 2X Liquid 50 oz. or Powder 70 oz., or Stain Release 18 ct at $5.88, $1 UP
Tide Stain Release 20 oz. at $3.99, $1 UP
(2) Pantene Shampoo, Conditioner, or Stylers at $3.50, $2 UP
= $21.75


Use:
$1/2 General Mills Frosted Mini Wheats printable or $1/2 Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereals printable
$2 off Tide detergent, October Redbook or October Good Housekeeping or $3 off Tide Stain Release 25-50 oz powder, 15-34 ct Duo Pac or 36-68 oz liquid, PG 9/26 (EXP 10/31)
$2 off Tide Stain Release, Sept Martha Stewart Living magazine or Sept Parenting Early Years magazine 
$1 off Pantene Restore Beautiful Lengths, October Women’s Health mag (Rite Aid coupon) (EXP 11/01) & $1/2 Pantene product, PG 10/10 
= $10.75 
Get back $6 = $4.75

Trans 2 (if you don't have a CVS but want to get Toy Story 3)
Toy Story 3 DVD (available 11/02) at $19.99, $3 UP
.50 filler item
=$20.48   

Use; $4 off $20 from Video Values
Get back $3 ECB
= $13.48




CVS
Trans 1 to Get Toy Story 3 and mark an item off my little one's Santa list:
Charmin bonus, 16 pk + 4 double rolls, $9.97
Bounty Regular Rolls, 8 pk., $6.97
Duracell AA, AAA, 10 pk., C, D, 4 pk., 9 volt, 2 pk., $5.97 
(3) Dawn 97¢
 Toy Story 3 $19.99
=$45.83
 
Use:
$4 off $20 email coupon
$1 off Charmin Any Product, P&G $100 Coupon Booklet (home mailer)
$1 off Bounty Bounty Towels or Napkins, P&G $100 Coupon Booklet
 $0.75/1 Duracell Coppertop, 4 pk, PG 10/10
$0.50/1 Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, PG 10/31
(2) 25/1 Dawn product, PG 9/26 (EXP 10/31)
Automatic $16 TS3 discount
= $22.33 ($3 more than you'd pay for just the movie elsewhere, hopefully you have some ECB's to help lower the cost, but hey, everybody needs toliet paper!)


Trans 2:
Schick Intuition, Quattro or Hydro 3 or 5 Razor, 1 ct., or cartridges, 3-4 ct., $8.99, $4 ECB
 Oral-B Pulsar, CrossAction, Stages Power Toothbrush or brush heads, 2 pk., $4.99, $2 ECB
 Olay Body Wash, 23.6 oz., plus Ribbons, 18 oz., or Total Effects, 15.2 oz., $7, $3 ECB
Secret Deodorant, travel size $1
=$21.98

Use:

$4 Schick Intuition (Facebook), printable
$3 off Oral B Pulsar, CrossAction or Advantage Battery Powered toothbrushes, PG 10/31
$5 off Olay bar, body wash, In Shower body lotion or hand and body lotion WYB Secret product, PG 10/31
=$9.98
Get Back: $8 ECB
=$1.98!



Friday, October 22, 2010

Cute Halloween candy gift

Who doesn't like candy?  No one, everyone loves it!  Especially the over-worked and underpaid peeps in the public school system.  The other day we gave a little Halloween gift to some of the staff at my kids school. Everyone loves a surprise gift and then when my oldest forgets her milk money (AGAIN!!) someone will kindly spot her 30 cents for her lunch time calcium fix.  Although, since the teachers at my kids school are super great they would spot her the 30 cents anyway.  But every now and the I like to show 'em how much we love them, so we whipped up these cuties:

 and these too:




What's that? I shouldn't try to bribe teachers and it sets the wrong example for my kids... Nope, because we bribe the principal too!  These were super easy to make here I'll explain it in 5 easy steps:

1. Find an empty fruit or veggie can.  It is also ok to search for expired (quit judging) or gross (why would my hubby buy canned spinach) stuff and dump it.  Then rinse the can out really good! Go ahead and drill a couple small holes in the sides too.  You can do it, it wasn't hard.

2. Use glue dots or glue to adhere the paper you've cut to size.  Use something Halloweeny or orange (for a pumpkin) or white (for a ghost). If you go the pumpkin or ghost route, cut out a face from some black paper too.

3. Use pipe cleaner to make a handle.  Tie a knot on the inside of each side to keep it secure.

4. Head over to Sherbet Blossom to print out a super cute and free tag!

5. Fill 'er up with candy....it is acceptable to use leftover candy from the 87 fall festival parades that have gone on in your small town over the last month, if ya' know anyone that fits that description.  Or hit up the Dollar Tree...whatever floats your boat!

And now you have a cute (and cheap) gift to bestow upon someone.  You can also feel all good inside because you are Upcycling the can.

Total cost: $3 for 6! But I had the paper, pipe cleaner and may or may not but probably did use some of the aforementioned parade candy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Freebie the kiddos will love!

I saw these when I was perusing the web the other day and had to share it, aren't these the super cutest things ever!




Head on over to Living Lucurto to print your own out and buy yourself an hour of peace and quiet. Bonus if you print them on magnet paper so they are easy for the lil' ones to manipulate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Candy Corn topiaries

In case you missed it, I LOVE candy corn!  It is my favorite candy, one of my childhood buds even sent me some candy corn shampoo from Philosophy.It is glorious and intoxicating, it makes my morning shower routine so much happier. Somewhere I saw these wonderful candy corn topiaries and fell in love, I knew they must be made and added to my Halloween decor, so without further ado here is the process of making them.

Here are the necessary supplies:
Styrofoam balls, I went with 3 inch
a dowel rod, painted however you desire
yellow and black spray paint
jelly or mason jars or small metal buckets
candy corn, Indian corn, black and orange jelly beans or gumdrops
Hot glue gun

Step 1:
Spray paint your Styrofoam balls yellow and paint your dowel rods with whatever color or pattern you'd like. If you are using glass jars go ahead and drill a hole in the lid then spray paint those as well, I went with black.



Step 2:
Attach the candy corn or other candy, I found the best way is to put a blob of glue and then quickly put the candy corn on.  You might want to have a bowl of water handy for burnt fingers


Step 3: Place them in a jar or bucket, I used some floral foam to help secure them a bit and added some cotton balls to hide the foam.

Here they are in our living room:


A closer view:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Deals and Steals 10/17

Better late than never!


Rite Aid
ThermaCare Back Patch 1 ct $2.99, $2.99 SCR
Simply Saline Adult Nasal Mist 1.5 oz., $3.99, $3.99  SCR
Simply Saline Children’s Nasal Mist 1.5 oz., $3.99, $3.99 SCR
Crest Pro Health Clinical Toothpaste 5.8 oz., at $3.99, $2 UP
Chestal Children’s Honey 4.2 oz $4.99, $4.99 SCR
TheraMax Allergy or Cold & Flu Spray .5 oz. $6.99, $6.99 SCR
= $26.94

Use:
$5 off $25
$1 off Thermacare product, (Rite Aid coupon) printable &  $1 off ThermaCare Heat Wraps printable
$1 off Simply Saline product printable
$1 off Simply Saline product printable
$1 off Crest Pro Health Toothpaste, $128 Inside Clip & Save booklet (Rite Aid coupon) & $1 off Crest Reg or Pro Health for Me toothpaste, 4.2 oz +, PG 9/26
$1.50 off Chestal product RP 1/24 

= $14.44
Get back  $22.95 SCR, $2 UP!!

There are a TON more deals but these are things we need for cold and flu season!


CVS:
 Shick Hydro 3 or 5 cartidges 4ct or razor 1ct $8.99, $5 ECB
All Laundry Detergent $4.99, $1 ECB
Kellogg’s Cereals, NutriGrain Bars, Fiber Plus Bars $3.3, $5 ECB wyb 3
= $23.98

Use:
$5 off $20, everyone is getting these in their email
$4 off Schick Hydro 3 razor, SS 10/3
 $1 off All detergent, RP 9/26, or printable
$1.50/2 Kellogg’s Kids’ Cereals printable or $1/2 Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats printable or $1 off Kellogg’s Cinnabon Cereal printable 


= $11.48
Get back $11 ECB, only $0.48 oop!

Friday, October 15, 2010

It'sgoing to cost me how much???

The Campus Beautiful, Concord College University, Athens, WV. For 4, ok 5, years it was my home away from home, a place that I spent some of the best years of my life, I look back on my college years with great memories.  I attended a small, liberal arts school in a very small town in Southern WV and quite honestly, it was idyllic.  With about 1500 students living on campus it was small enough to know lots of people yet big enough to not feel like high school.

The Library   

The other day I was speaking with someone about the many things that you learn outside of the classroom during college, I said that everything I learned at Concord that I use today I learned on the library steps skipping class. I was joking of course, but I did spend a great amount of time on those very steps.  Like many people, I went to college as a shy and awkward teen and left as a confident young adult.  During my years there I learned a few things, joined an awesome sorority, met lifelong friends and even fell in love with a sweet boy from Maryland. 

This weekend is my college's Homecoming Weekend: Friends, food and football and for those of us who were Greek, the crowing of the Homecoming King and Queen.  I can't wait to arrive in Athens later today, see some of my sorority sisters and friends and cheer on my Tri-Sigma girls. Today I was thinking about how I want my girls to have a great college experience just like I did, we have a few years before we cross that bridge but as any parent knows the financial aspect is daunting.  I was fortunate that I received a couple academic scholarships, a community service scholarship, other financial aid and even a small (VERY small) athletic scholarship for soccer and track.  I left with only $4000 student loan debt, a very manageable amount compared to others. 

I hope that we can be as lucky for our girls, they will actually be taking an SAT prep course this weekend while I'm gone.  Just kidding, they are 4 and 7, we are waiting until next year when the little one knows all of her letters :  )  But , just for fun, I ran some numbers today regarding the cost of college for our munchkins.

According to savingforcollege.com we have a lot of saving to do!  Here is the info I got for our 4 year old, this would be for her to attend a school that currently costs $14000 a year (about the tuition and fees at a State school):


Yep, a whopping $138,500!  That's a big chunk o' change!  And that number doesn't include any "extras" like books, food, clothing, transportation....yikes!  Luckily, we have a small amount saved already.  We also hope that our girls will get some assistance and we know loans are an option.  Considering a college grad makes an average of a  MILLION bucks more than a high school graduate over their lifetime it is a worthwhile investment.

Head on over and see how much you need to save for your munchkins. I've got to finish packing, complete that SAT prep course paperwork and head out for The Campus Beautiful!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm a green??

Do you ever sit and look at a wall of a room in your house and wonder what color you should paint?  My hubby and I rented for MANNNNNYYYY years and became very used to and tired of boring white walls.  For years we would talk about what colors we wanted to paint our house, ok...I would talk, he would listen and nod along.  Last winter when we did our mini makeover (read about part of it here) we added some color to our boring walls.

Since our house has a very open floor plan the main color had to be something colorful enough to make me happy yet neutral enough to go with the colors of 4 rooms: family room, dining room, kitchen and living room.
We went with a brown called "Crunchy Granola", it's perfect and we get lots of compliments on it.  The other colors are our brown/black/white/tan back splash, Mediterranean Spice (a darkish orange) and Slice of Lemon,  a bright yellowish gold that people love or hate.  Some other colors in our house are chocolate brown and  light green as well as some pink in the kiddos rooms.  We plan to add a little blueish color this winter after we decided how to repaint our bathroom.

My reason for explaining all the colors in our house?  Of course, Better Home and Gardens color quiz!  I took it and got a green.  Green? Seriously, green.  I am not a huge fan of green....at all.  Brown, blue, orange, yellow, RED...lots of colors...but I got green.  I was a little shocked, but what do I know.

 If you want, head on over to BGH and take it yourself.  What did you get???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Steak Gorgonzola ...aka Steak gorgon yummo!

Here in fly-over country we are steak and potato kinda people, a celebration calls for a big, juicy steak.  My hubby didn't grow up in the hills of WV like me, he grew up near Annapolis, MD and the Chesapeake Bay.  That is crab and crab cake country, nothing would make him happier than a bushel of steamed crabs, Old Bay and a few hours to enjoy eating them.  The other night, after our day with nature, we had a little celebratory dinner for the hubster because he started a new job at a big, fancy schmancy hotel.  Since you can't find good crabs in WV and they are WAY too pricey to order online he had to settle for a steak and potato kinda night instead of his preferred dining choice of crab.


Since we had to settle for steak, by the way I don't like hate crab, it is far too much work and way too gross for such little food.  I decided since he had to settle for steak I'd make it fancy, schmancy steak.  What, you've never eaten fancy schmancy steak?  You don't know what you are missing! It is super easy to make too, you start with your favorite steak and season it as normal then grill it up just the way you like.

Now, here is the fancy part. Take a tablespoon or two of butter and soften it in the microwave for about 6 seconds.  You could do 5, but I think that extra second makes a difference.  Next, add in some gorgonzola cheese and stir it up, you find gorgonzola cheese in the deli section in a tub usually beside feta cheese.  Now, add that to the top of your favorite steak.  Take a minute to let it soak in and begin enjoying it's yummy goodness.



Warning: DO NOT LICK YOUR SCREEN. But, doesn't that look yummy? Trust me, it was! We served it up with a simple salad, twice baked potatoes and roasted asparagus.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Deals and Steals 10/10

Wow, Rite Aid is really trying hard this week!

Here is all the FREE stuff you can get after SCR's (all these items have an SCR equal to the purchase price):
NeilMed Nasa Mist Spray All-In-One 6 oz., $9.99 
-$2 off Nasa Mist printable, plus there is a mail-in-rebate for $9.99, so you can make $12!
NeilMed NasoGEL Moisturizing Spray 1 oz., $5.99 
-$2 off NeilMed NasoGel printable  
PediaCare Children’s Cough Syrup or Multi-Symptom Cold 4 oz., $4.99
-$1 off any PediaCare product SS 10/10
PediaCare Gentle Vapors Vapor-Plug Unit & Nightlight Mini Waterless Vaporizer $6.99
-$1 off any PediaCare product SS 10/10
Antiox Immune Support Shots Tropical Fruit or Sugar-Free Blueberry 2-Pack $2.99 
Blistex Ointment .21 oz., $1.49
Comtrex 24 ct., $3.99  
Emergen-C Immune Booster Shots Citrus 2-Pack $3.49
Kids-EEZE Soft Chews 12 ct., $4.99
NeilMed NasaDOCK Plus Drying Stand at $5.99
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Butter, Dark Chocolate and Peppermint .35 oz., at $1.99
Sucrets 18 ct., $2.99 

Profoot Foot Care $5: Miracle or Triad Insoles, Flextastics, Pump Pouches, Heel Cream, Synovium or Proclearz , $10 SCR wyb 3
-$2 off Synovium Gel printable (use 2)
  -$1 off Profoot product printable (use 1 and the 2 above, all 3 are free!)

There are a ton of other UP deals too but with so many free things this week making a scenerio is too tough right now! head over to southernsavers.com for more info.
 

CVS
 (2) $2.99 ECB WYB Colgate Total Advanced or Enamel Strength toothpaste 4oz $2.99 Limit 2
$2 ECB WYB (2) Quaker Products at $2.50 Limit 2
Bounty Paper Towels 8pk. $6.99 & Charmin 16pk. $9.99 & 2x Ultra Tide or Gain 48-64 loads $10.97 (spend $25 get $10 ECB)
2 ECB WYB (2) General Mills Cereal $3 each Limit 1
Purex Ultra Concentrate Laundry Detergent or 3-in-1 Sheets B1G1 at $7.99
 =$52.92
 
Use:
$10 off $50 from kiosk
75/1 Colgate toothpaste, 4 oz +, SS 10/03 or printable or $1 off Colgate Total SS 10/10 & $1 off Colgate Total printing from Coupon Center
(2) $2 off Quaker Instant Oatmeal printable  
 $1 off Bounty Bounty Towels or Napkins, P&G $100 Coupon Booklet
$1 off Charmin basic , Upromise eCoupon 
$1 off Tide detergent, PG 9/26 or $2 off Tide Liquid detergent, October Redbook magazine, October Good Housekeeping 
(2) -$1 off Total Cereal printable
 (2) $3 off Purex Complete 3-in-1 laundry sheets, RP 10/10 
 =$23.92
Get back: $19.98    
=$3.94 total OOP

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The best bargain: Faith is free!

I am always looking for a bargain yet sometimes forget that the greatest things in life are free. The past few weeks my family was dealing with a difficult situation, it was one of those things that seemed devastating. Yet, in reality, it wasn't. We spent a lot of time wondering why it happened.  We also spent a lot of time praying and are very blessed to have the wonderful support of our family, friends and church to help us get through it.  As always,  God's plan worked and we are happy with the resolution of our situation.  We were reminded that God will never give us more than we can handle. Last week, my cousin experienced a terrible tragedy, something that I can not imagine, something truly devastating.  I quickly realized that my "difficult situation" was nothing. 

I didn't grow up going to church, my parents talked about God and definitely believed in God but it just wasn't something we did. During college I started attending church occasionally with some friends, we didn't go every week but went somewhat frequently. I met my husband my Senior year of college, when we began to get serious and talk about marriage we started attending church together.  After we were engaged and had been attending church together for several months, I began the process of becoming a Catholic, my husband 's religion.  I enjoyed learning more about Catholicism and the Bible in general.  Needless to say, even though I always believed in God, I found my Faith later in life. We had both of our girls Baptized in the Catholic church and attended Mass weekly, last year I attended adult education weekly and learned so much than I could have imagined, now that our girls are older and are beginning to learn I am continuing to learn and grow my Faith with them.


Sometimes I am reminded that our Faith, the greatest gift of all, is free.  And only gets stronger the more that we rely on it.  I am so thankful that God lead me to someone who helped lead me to my Faith. There is not much I can do to ease the pain of my cousin and her family, expect pray for them.  I ask God to grant them peace and help ease their pain and heal her broken heart. I also ask that you keep her family in your prayers during this difficult time.

Today, I was reminded how truly fragile life is, not to be taken for granted.  To celebrate life, my family had a nature day today.  We went on a beautiful drive with gorgeous fall foliage, we also went on a hike through a couple of nature areas in a National Forest.  An area that is 25+ miles from a stop light and 65 miles from a McDonald's, no cell service, no Blackberry or iphone, just a family enjoying the sun and sights and a few pepperoni rolls.  Watching my kids laugh and smile at the simple pleasure of a waterfall or throwing leaves at each other was wonderful.  We are so busy with our lives: work, school, sports, dance, Girl Scout, 4-H but need to remember to take a few minutes and enjoy the most wonderful and free gifts that God has provided us!



My family



They help renew my Faith daily.



Note: This was by no means intended to "promote" the Catholic church or my religion.  While I am Catholic, I truly believe that there is good in most churches and that Heaven will be filled with my friends and family who are Baptist, Methodist, Protestant...whatever.  I have just had such sadness for my cousin and was truly reminded that the greatest things in life are free, not bought with a coupon at CVS or Wal-Mart. 


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kitchen before and after

As I mentioned yesterday, my hubby and I did a kitchen makeover last winter.  Granted it was a small change, our house is new and we love everything, but I wanted a little ummphh.  Something to make the hours I spend in the kitchen a little more fun. This is also the first house that we have ever owned and after 7 years of marriage (and renting) I had been seeing ideas and projects that I wanted to try.  According to my DIY BF's, (Do-It-Yourself Best Friends) all the HGTV pros, this would be a fairly simple project and my hubby and I could do it.  So what if we have never laid a tile in our lives.

I watched a few online tutorials and felt confident that we could handle it.  First, we headed to Lowe's to look at tile, I wasn't impressed so I started an online search.  The hubs was a little anxious about ordering tile online without seeing it, but when I saw this tile I knew it was meant to be.


It was named Rocky Road, I have a love of ice cream that is second to none. Second, it was $5.95 a sheet and on sale for an additional 15% off.  It also went with our colors and our vision perfectly.
So, I figured out how many I needed and ordered those babies. There was even a handy dandy calculator that helped me determine how many I needed.

We did have to get some adhesive, grout mix and sealer from Lowe's as well as a float trial, all that set us back about $30.

Since the tiles came in a 13x13 sheet with a mesh backing we didn't need a wet saw to cut them, whew! That insured that we came out of this project with the same 20 fingers we started with.  We would suggest some glass nippers though if you need something to help around outlets and light switches.

On day one we applied adhesive to the back and secured the tiles to the wall.  Here is a pic after day 1:


Day 2 we grouted. And wiped. Grouted. Wiped. Panicked about hazy look.  Grouted more, wiped more. We used a cheesecloth to help get the cloudiness out and all was right again.  Wiping away the grout was by far the hardest part of the process.

Here is an after peek:

Here is a kitchen before:

And here is an after:


and another:

Here is the project breakdown:
Tiles: we got them from modwalls.com, they were $105 including shipping
Other stuff from Lowe's $30
=$135

Our budget for this was $150 so we were in under budget.  And the best part, about a week after we finished we got an email from Modwalls asking us to send photos of our job so we happily sent some.  They quickly responded and asked if they could use them for their website, in return they would give us a $100 credit.  SWEET!  I couldn't click send fast enough! Scope us out here and here on their site.

We plan to cash in our credit this winter to add a little glitz to our bathroom, we are trying to decide between a few options:


What do you think? Which one should we go with next?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DIY art!

I like pretty things, pretty art, pretty pictures, pretty accessories,  they all make me smile and feel happy.  The problem is pretty things don't always...ok, rarely ever, fit in my budget.  I know that art is an "investment"  but since I am not buying a Mona Lisa anytime soon I don't think the type of art I would be buying is necessarily an investment so I just can't justify spending big bucks on it.

This winter we did a mini makeover of our house, painting, new tile backsplash and a re-do of our kitchen island bead board.  During the design phase of the project, which consists of me showing my hubby paint chips and tile samples until his eyes glass over, I saw a set of pictures I loved on a website.  It was a set of 4, they were large squares and represented the seasons. I quickly developed a deep love for them, then I saw that they rang up at $495 plus shipping!!!! Whoa! That is more than we spent for the entire makeover. After a exhaustive search I realized that I wasn't going to find anything I liked in our budget.

Of course, I decided to make some. My interior design training (ya know, the 87 hours of HGTV per week) taught me that they needed to have height, be a set of 3 or 4 or something really long.  I thought about painting something but them remembered that I had to steal one of my best buds coloring sheet in Kindergarten just to get a good job sticker so I ruled that out.  Sheer luck would have it that later that day I saw this idea, cover plywood in fabric and call it art....so I did!

First I got 3 scrap pieces of plywood cut to the same size, 10 x 35.  Then I wrapped them in batting and used a big staple gun to secure it.  Next, I wrapped them in fabric and stapled it in place on the back and added a picture hanging thingama bob.



I wish I had found a different fabric, I am not sure what I wanted but it wasn't quite this.  I wanted it to have black and white and some turquoise.  If I ever see a fabric that better strikes my fancy I will simply recover these babies.


Here is a look at the entire room:


And the couch area with my "art" work...sorry for the nasty glare:



Total cost: $12! So, if I decide to change them it isn't a big deal!