Monday, January 31, 2011

DIY Valentines

I love a drug store deal just as much as the next coupon lovin' gal.  Where else can you buy everything from toothpaste, medicines, oatmeal and beer. Kid's Valentines are galore at every drug store you go to, your choice of Toy Story 3, Princesses, Spiderman, whatever your kid's heart desires.  I've never been a big fan of the pre-packaged $2.99 boxed Valentine's, we have always gone more of the DIY route.
Last year we did Jonas Brothers Rock Star bookmarks that I created in Photoshop with design instructions from my then 6 year old:

To say they were a hit is an understatement, everyone loved 'em.  She handed out 50 in about 4 seconds flat.  Both of my kids wanted to go the bookmark route again, our oldest is a big Taylor Swift fan so she wanted a Taylor themed one.  Our youngest, very spirited child wanted Barbie, below is the picture she initially chose:
Yep, that is redneck Barbie.  As much as I didn't want to squash my wee ones creative juices I also didn't want 16 calls from the parents of her classmates.  So we went with a more suitable Barbie.  I love the idea of a bookmark too, it is something that won't be immediately trashed and the kids actually use them.

If you aren't a photoshop pro (neither am I) you can do a DIY version.  Get a pack of your kids favorite character stickers or the foam letters from the craft section. Even just some stencils, markers, glitter and a couple of hours and your kid could make them.  Here is a template for a blank bookmark, you can also google character or Valentine one's.  If you have as many snow days as our kids you would have tim to make for everyone in your state.  Maybe if we send Mother Nature she'll lighten up on all the white stuff we have been dealing with lately.

I may send out Valentines with the Barbie picture our 4 y.o. originally chose to family and friends who "get" her different personality...if so I'm thinking about this wording:
This Bud's for You, Valentine.

P.S. If you are dying for the more professional looking photoshop ones, I'm happy to design whatever your kiddos desire for $10.  You can get cardstock and print them at home like we did last year.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It all started with a look...

I was walking from the girls rooms, laundry basket resting on my hip, when I saw my husband standing in our bedroom giving me "the look".  No, not *that* look, this is a family blog!  He was standing near the doorway our bathroom putting on his tie,  his brow furrowed, his lips pursed, then his head tilted to the side toward the bathroom. His eyebrows quickly shot upward and nodded his head.  I nodded and sheepishly grinned.  He didn't have to say anything, I knew exactly what he wanted, we have been married long enough to have conversations without saying a word.  With the "conversation" over he went back to tying his tie and I continued my laundry duty.

So, what was "the look" and ensuing conversation about??  The crazy, unorganized state of our stockpile.  See, completely PG stuff here kids.  I love my house, it is great except one little detail: a serious lack of storage.  So I have had to get creative with our storage.  Luckily, in our bathroom we do have a reasonable amount which is great for our toiletries stockpile, however, we don't have ANY's rough. We had to figure out a good way to organize "stuff". Back in December I had to hijack that storage to hide Santa's gifts for our munchkins.  Since then our bathroom had been in complete disarray, I knew it needed organized and knew we needed a better system but didn't know exactly what I wanted to do yet. 
 Here is a before...don't judge:

and this:

I had decided that stackable drawers would be a good option.  But they were a bit too big and $7 a pop which was more than I wanted to spend.  I went to my DG and found $1 stackable totes, they were small and clear and a buck...they were my solution.  After a bit of cleaning and purging ( I took things we had waaaayyy too much of to our mission).  Here is my new system:

and this:

I labeled each tub to make it eaiser to see what went where.  I left the tall and easy-to-stand up shampoo, lotion and bodywashes out and just lined them up on the side.  This really helped me see what I have on hand too.  Since they were way in the back, I hadn't realized that we were down to 3 toothbrushes, one bad sickness could wipe us out!  We have enough razors however to last until our girls get married and have kids...seriously!

Here is another look:

Feeling all elated and proud I decided to tackle another area of our bathroom. I felt like this area was always getting "fixed" and always messed up again thanks to the lack of drawers.  I am a bit ashamed to even show this picture, it will shatter my image of an organized mom.  Cue the scary movie music from Psycho goes:

 and this:

Now this was right after Reagan knocked a bunch of things over but whew, that's bad.  I bought another of the stackable drawer thingies and got to work.  Here is what it looks like now:

and this:
I'm sure one of those organizing companies or pros would think that this is still lacking.  But the reality is I'm a busy mom living in a snow dome so I have to shovel, salt and repeat every 2 hours and this is good enough for me.  We have been living with this for 2 weeks now and it is still I think this may work!

My hubby came home and liked it too, he very impressed.  He even gave me "the look".... no, again, not *that* look. C'mom people,  my mom and Mother-in-law read this blog.   It was a "now let's think how we can better organize the building when the 37 feet of snow melts" look.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Be our Guest, Be Our Guest....

Put our magic to the test! If you have a girls I am certain you know that this hails from a Disney Movie.  No, I have not lost my mind and decided to write about my favorite Disney Movie, The Lion King.  Whoa, sorry, suddenly Elton John was in my head singing Circle of Life. I love that movie, my kids don't so saddens me.  Now that I am over that, let's get down to the business that made Disney movies pop in my head: 50% off Disney on Ice! 

Woo to the hoo!  Have you ever taken a kid to Disney on Ice?  First off, it rocks.  Second, your wallet can take a huge hit!  When I was browsing Wal-Mart with my fam the other day I spotted a little tid bit about 50% off Disney on the Kraft cheese as a tossed it in the cart. On a side note, my 4 year old would live on cheese slices and only likes Kraft, I allow her to be brand loyal since she loves it so much.  When we got home and I was unpacking the goods I noticed that the half off was for Disney on Ice, since I knew Princess Wishes was coming I was super pumped!

I checked out the details on the back and learned you can buy 2 tickets per wrapper but use an unlimited number of wrappers. SSSAWEET! I would need 2 more wrappers (my mom REALLY wanted to go with us!) 18 inches of snow prevented me from obtaining them until today but I finally did.  I was confused and thought I would enter a promo code to purchase them on the web but you can't go that route.  You have to either go to the box office (which I won't be doing since we live 98 miles from ours) or mail it in (which I did).

If you have already completed a google search to determine that Disney on Ice won't be in your neck of the woods anytime soon don't can also use them for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  BUT, only if Disney on Ice won't be within 100 miles of ya.  If neither are coming you can mail the wrapper in for a free 1 time use camera from Kodak, if you are going to the show I think you get one too!

While you get half off you can't use the wrapper for Front Row or VIP tickets but can for lower level! So you can score tickets for as low as $7 per person if you go for upper level.  We purchased lower level, after tax and fees the were $13 each for the $24 seats. 

 Here is a link for more info:

50% off Disney on Ice tickets

Monday, January 10, 2011

My deals and steals this week

Today I hit up both CVS and Rite Aid for some deals, although I haven't had a chance to plan my CVS trip so I was getting stuff from last week that I had a coupon for. There are a lot of great deals out there, but since I have a good stockpile I was only getting stuff that we need or was a REALLY good is what I scored:

I must be teaching too many people my couponing ways because they were all out of Excedrin every time I went in last week. Luckily, I got my rain-check and waited patiently.  This week they had 100ct. Excedrin on sale for $6.99, my rain check was Get $10 ECB WYB $20 worth.  I also had some (ok 6) of the coupons Excedrin has been pumping out, I asked the cashier and she said I could just pay the difference if necessary.
 So I picked up 3 Excedrins and an Advil (I had a coupon for a free bottle of it too).  When i got the the register the coupons worked for the full amount and the cashier said she couldn't adjust it if it worked so each coupon covered the entire $6.99...woo hoo!! 
My OOP was a whopping $1.21 (darn taxes!) and I got $10 in ECB's for next time! 
Hopefully, if there isn't a snowday tomorrow, I'll get a chance to plan out my CVS trip for this week's deals!

Rite Aid has a ton of deals this week!!  Here is what I got and what I used:
4 Tylenol Precise $5, $3 UP Reward
2 Motrin PM $3, $2 UP
2 Special K Red Berries at $4.79 B1G1 Free
2 Quaker Oatmeal, 2 for $5, $2 UP Reward
2 Clean & Clear at $6.99 (part of spend $25 get $10 UP)
Aveeno Lotion, $3.49  (part of spend $25 get $10 UP)
Lubriderm Lotion $6.99 (part of spend $25 get $10 UP)

I used:
(3) -$6/2 Tylenol Precise or Motrin product printable or SS1/9 coupons
B1G1 Special K cereal, 12 oz. printable
$1 off Quaker Instant oatmeal RP 1/02
$4 off $20 Beauty Care purchase printable
$1 off Aveeno Products in-ad coupon
$1 off Clean & Clear in-ad coupon
(2) $2 off Clean & Clear product SS 1/09 or printable
$1 off Aveeno Body or Baby Product printable or SS 1/09      
= $25.46 (I had some previous UP's)
Got back: $30 in UP...= $6 profit! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Month O' Menus FAQ

It seems like my month long menu has sparked some curiosity as to how I pull that it off so cheap.  Are we raising our own Chickens...uh, no. Nor do we have a cow in the back.  Hopefully I can help answer some of the questions you have sent and help you start saving some moolah!

#1) Where do we get our meat and how do we get it so cheap?

Answer: We buy 90% of our meat at a local meat shop, Jackson's Meat Market for the local readers.  We like to shop at Jackson's for a couple of reasons, first we like to support a local business. Second, they have a great selection of hormone free meat and third, great prices, frequent sales and reduced meat.  We also are able to  buy in bulk there which is how we save so much $$$.  Take boneless pork for instance, pork is typically $2.89 - $3.99 a pound in our neck of the woods.  But, at Jackson's, we can but a 12-15 pound pork loin for $22 - $26 (or $1.60 - $1.80 a pound).  Then, the fine folks at Jackson's cut it up for me (to our desired thickness) and package it up, 3 to a pack.  So I get 9 - 15 packs of pork chops all in vacuum sealed packs which will usually last us 1.5 - 2 months. 

But, it doesn't stop at pork.  I often buy LARGE packs of ground beef (73/27%) at a significant savings over regular prices and when it's on sale I really stock up and fill up our chest freezer.  I NEVER buy any meat that isn't on sale and always buy whatever is on sale or reduced to put in the freezer.  Since my bill is usually around $100 the fine folks at Jackson's try to accommodate my needs, like cutting and packaging my meat for me (for free)! I'm sure that if my little town has a meat shop like this each of you probably do too: ask around, check the yellow pages and if all else fails ask a lil' ole' lady at your church that knows how to cook up a storm, she'll know.

2) Where do we get our chicken, do we raise or own?

Answer: Heck no this ain't no chicken farm!  We only buy hormone free chicken, boneless, skinless chicken....usually Tyson.  I ALWAYS buy it on sale at Kroger, Jackson's or our local grocery store for $1.89 - $1.99 a pound.  Again, when it is on sale I stock up and buy 7-8 packs that will last us a while.  I also cut the chicken breasts into several smaller pieces to stretch them a bit further.

3)Are all of our veggies out of date or from the dented aisle?

Answer: No, we actually use frozen steamer type veggies. I buy them, as you probably guessed, on sale and use a coupon.  Our local store typically have them on sale 10 for $10 every couple of months, I can get coupons for $0.50/2 which they will double so I get them for $0.50 each.  I REALLY stock up when they are on sale. We made the switch to frozen in order to try to lower our sodium intake. Now, we really love the steamers!

I think that covers a lot of them, hit me up if you have any more!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our January dinner menu....$90!

Here is our month long menu, I will make all these dinners for less than $90, about $87 but $90 gives me a little wiggle room.  My hubby usually works evenings toward the later part of the week so we usually have our bigger meals in the early part of the week.  I'm no Paula Deen so everything is pretty simple, as if you thought Sloppy Joes were fancy!

The open days are days I know we have something planned.  This isn't etched in stone and can be altered to accomadate sales, days I need to switch items for some reason or dinner invitations...anyone wanna invite us over??

We aren't real big on leftovers so that is why they aren't scheduled often, that is also why we typically only have 3 items per meal. We are simple folk, no 7 course meals here for the most part.  Did you think this was the Ritz-Carlton??


Maple Pecan Pork Chops
Twice Baked Pots
Green Beans
Fettuccine Alfredo
Hot Dogs
Raw Veggies
Panko Breaded Chicken
Twice Baked Pots
Beef Stir Fry
BBQ Chicken
Chicken Casserole
Grill Cheeses

Dinner Party
London Broil
Mashed Pots.
Alice Spring Chicken
Smashed Red Pots.
Homemade BBQ Chicken pizza
Pepperoni Pizza
Grilled Chicken Salad
Pioneer Woman Baked Lemon Pasta
Garlic Bread
Sloppy Joes
Raw Veggies
Breakfast for Dinner
Beef Stew with Mushrooms (from Pioneer Woman))
Croissant Rolls
Chicken Parm. & pasta
Pan seared roast with red wine reduction
Baked Potatoes
Hot Dogs
Zucchini fries
Gorgonzola steak bites
Cheesey potatoes
Brown rice
Baked Ziti
PW Fiesta Lime Chicken
Pico de Gallo, Rice
Brown Beans
Jiffy Cornbread


Get you coupons and steals 1/2/11

I am really excited about a couple of deals this week! Here goes:

Rite Aid:
(8) Aquafresh Toothpaste at $2.50, $10 UP wyb $20

-$1.50 off Aquafresh Advanced toothpaste 5.6-6 oz (Rite Aid coupon), printable
(2) -$1 off Aquafresh Advanced 2x Whitening printable
(2) -$1 off Aquafresh Advanced Enamelock Formula printable
(2) -$1 off Aquafresh Advanced or Advanced 2x whitening, 5.6 oz + printable
(2) -$1 off Aquafresh Extreme Clean product printable or printable
Get back $10 UP ($0.50 for 8 tubes of toothpaste!) 

(4) Excedrin at $5.49, $10 ECB wyb $20 worth
(5) Wisk Detergents $5 ea
(3) Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch, Frosted Flakes, Mini Wheats, 16.3-18.2 oz., Special K cereal 12-14 oz., Special K, Nutri-Grain or Fiber Plus bars, 5-8 ct., $3.33 each, $4 ECB wyb 3
=  $56.96

 Any of the free Excedrin coupons that have been mailed out (I have 6!!)
-$1 off Excedrin Express gels, 20 ct + printable
  -$1 off Excedrin Migraine product, 24 ct + printable
  -$1 off Excedrin product printable
  -$2.50 off Excedrin PM, 20 ct +, SS 12/05
5 -$2 off Wisk laundry detergent, RP 1/02

$1/2 Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats printable
-$1/2 Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereals printable
 -$1.250/2 Kellogg’s Kids’ Cereals printable
 -$1/2 Kellogg’s Special K cereals, 11.4 oz. +, (register) printable

=  $23.75

Get Back: $24 ECB's = $0.25 profit!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Goals....out there for the world to see!

Goals seems more attainable to me than resolutions. Goals have objectives that can help you achieve the end result, resolutions seem more like promises not to do something.  So I am setting goals for the next year, some are blog related and some are more here goes. 

* Develop a plan for blogging.  Most days what you read is something that I thought about 4 minutes before and decided to write about it.  I am a pretty organized person and would like to plan and organize the blog better so I can quit blogging so much just by the seat of my pants.

* Become more organized in my overall life.  I am not just talking about knowing where whatever item we are looking for is or eliminating the clutter. I want to *plan* and organize our lives better.  Those who know me well know that I am a planner but I want to get better at it. I want to plan out our dinner menus for at least 2 weeks, preferably a month so I can know what I need and stop the last minute (expensive) store trips.

* Staying with dinner theme, I want to get more creative.  I want to try new things and feed my family new dishes. I am very picky but want to broaden our horizons on the dinner front.  So if anyone has a food blog that may help in this area feel free to share it.  But, it has to be budget friendly too, I can't spend $25 just to make dinner and since we are limited in our shopping options you have to be able to get everything from Wal-Mart.

* Sticking with food again, I want to lower our grocery bill a bit more, I'd like to get down to $275 per month for groceries.  I plan to plant a garden this Spring/Summer to help lower costs.

* Since I frequently play "the drug store game" I'd like to start sharing more of the things I get for free or cheap.  Donating bath and body products to the mission or churches to distribute.

* I want to do something (sans children) with my husband once a month.  It could be as simple as lunch and perusing Lowe's (yah, I enjoy Lowe's) or dinner...nothing fancy.  Just a meal where no one spills juice and the only food cut up is our own.  In the summer we may go to the lake alone or on a scenic drive, just something  We get so busy in our day to day lives that we sometimes forget to make time for each other.  We are trying to be great parents to the 2 beautiful kids we have created that we forget to nurture the relationship that created those great kids.  By the way, in order to make this goal possible I am now accepting free babysitting services...just kiddin'...sorta.

* Try to plan at least one family outing per month that is something new or different for our kids.  A new museum, a trip to our State Capital, a train ride, trip to the fire station....ect.  Something we can all do together that doesn't involve ipods, Nintendo DS or any other electronic device. Hopefully this will allow us to spend more time together and expose our munchkins to new things.

* Send at least one hand written note to someone every month, to someone for something.  Whether just a note to a child hood friend or a thank you or I'm thinking of you for someone. 

* Re-do both of my kiddos rooms for less than $300 each.  Our 7 year old has declared that she is too old for the Princess room she has had for the last 5 years. She wants a Paris themed room, we have started looking at options today.  She needs a room that serves her better too, with a desk and reading area. Our 4 year old is dying for a Princess room.  I plan several DIY projects in each room to help lower the total cost and we can recycle some of the older ones things for the younger ones room. Feel free to share any ideas that may work in either child's room : )

* Learn how to say NO!  I love helping out and volunteering but I need to decide what is important to me and commit to those activities and say no to those that are not as important to me at this time. Currently, I serve as PTSO President, volunteer at my kids school (a lot), coach a soccer team, serve on the Board of Directors for our soccer league, serve as a 4-H club leader, assist as a religious education teacher at our church, attend the meetings and assist when needed for the ladies group at our church....and a few other things.  Between all of that, being a wife and mom I find myself way too stressed sometimes!

* Teach at least 50 people how to coupon.  Couponing has drastically changed our lives and I want to teach others how to change their lives and bank account through couponing!

* This last one is difficult for me, it is extremly

Thankfully for me, my mom never even considered the new way to "take care of it" and made many sacrifices to raise me as a single mom. My mother and father never spoke again, when I was 2 she met and later married the man I called Dad, my step-father.  But, there has always been this feeling of angst in me and a desire to know my father.  Now that I have kids it is not only a desire to know him and possibly have him know them but also the medical side of things, I only know 3/4 of our kids medical history. Our oldest has a seizure disorder and I wonder if that came from my father? Or is cancer common in his family? heart disease? diabetes? There is the emotional aspect of just wanting to know who you are and where you came from.  The scary part is the possibility of being rejected (again), will he want to talk to me, meet me, introduce me to his older children?  Has he wondered who I have become over the last 31 years or have I never crossed his mind...I need these questions answered or at least I need to try to get them answered.  This is something I've wanted to do for a while, my husband has always been very supportive even though he doesn't really understand since he *knows* his parents.  I just need to get the courage the start this journey so putting it out there will hopefully help me start this journey.