Friday, May 30, 2008

Coupon Club

A couple of friends and I just started our own coupon club. (We even have our own blog).

Or idea is to swap coupons with each other and share tips about saving money at the stores in our area. We also plan to share CVS extras and collect our expired coupons to send to service men and women overseas.

We had our first meeting this week and it went pretty well. I think everyone had a good time and gleaned a little information. We hope to implement some games and challenges to add to the fun of bargain hunting.

Does anybody have a similar group that they belong to? What types of things do you do? Any suggestions on how to make our group a success?

For lots of Frugal Tips check of Frugal Friday here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

OK, Now I'm Curious

Hello? Are you out there, bleaders (that's blog + readers, for those of you who missed it the first time)?

Ever since I got Google Analytics (thanks, Travis) I have been monitoring my blog's traffic. I have to say...there are a lot of you out there reading the meaningless junk I put on here, amazingly enough. I have bleaders from all over the world, literally. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty big in Malaysia. Yep. The bleader there spends an average...of 9 minutes on my site!

OK, geeky tech people please don't burst my bubble and comment just to let me know that it is probably just bouncing from a satelite, blah, blah , blah or something like that. I'd rather be happy in my ignorance believing that there is some women in a hut in Kuala Lumpur trying to figure out how far it is to the nearest CVS.

I consistently have between 30 and 150 readers per day but I rarely hear from more than 2 of you...unless of course it is a LOST post...which doesn't count because that will be over for 7 months starting next week. Sometimes I unbelievably have over 200 people visit my site on a given day...usually Kitchen Tip Tuesday or Works for Me Wednesday. And yet my comments are still 0.

Who are you?

Why do you come to my site?

What do you like?

What do you dislike?

You're not all related to me......are you?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

April Showers Bring...May Showers

Rain, rain go away.
My little ballplayers need to play.
Or at least practice for goodness sake!

We are starting to get depressed. The endless rain has spoiled all of our plans recently. All of Cainan's t-ball practices have been cancelled so far and Ryker has only had 1 of the 6 practices he had scheduled. The trip to the water park was off and so was a picnic at school. The garden is soup and the dog is so muddy he hasnt' been inside in days...poor thing.

Well, at least it is sunny far.

As Cainan observed this morning, "Hey, one nice sunny day in a row."

Ladybug Tea

If you live in the midwest...and maybe other parts of North know that the first few warm days of spring bring on the ladybugs.

I call them ladybugs. I'm sure that is not their technical name but if I ask Brian what the technical name is he'll give me the 10 minute kingdom, phyllum, genus, species report and I just don't feel like it right now. So....for our purposes in this post they will be referred to as ladybugs.

These little buggers can get in the tiniest holes and then climb to the far reaches of a room and pile on top of each other in the corners. When you've got 20 foot ceilings, like I do, it's a problem.
You can vacuum them up every day (if you can reach them) but they just keep coming back.

They fly around and bounce off of the lights all evening and in the morning they are covering the floors and counters. And, on top of that, they give off a horrible smell when threatened or frightened. Oddly enough they find the vacuum cleaner to be both frightening and threatening. As well they should.

In short...they are a nuisance!!

But, amazingly they don't taste bad.

My cat and dog eat them all the time and my toddler snacks on them occasionally too.

I always thought they (the pets and toddler) were crazy, but as it turns out their flavor isn't as potent as their odor.

As Brian made my tea one evening he remarked, "Eww, I've got to empty this water out. There are like 5 ladybugs floating in here. You really ought to keep the spout covered on this teapot."

The funny thing is I had already made 3 cups of tea with that water that day and hadn't noticed anything odd about it at all.

So all you adventerous tea addicts out there, give it a whirl. Ladybug tea! Who knows it may be good for the memory or relieving joint stiffness or regrowing hair? If only it straightened spines I would be harvesting those little babies like you wouldn't believe.

Please don't ever drink tea made of insects (dead or living) without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball a medical professional.

For other (more inspiring and helpful) ideas go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Color Memory

Because it was a deal at CVS, I recently bought some Herbal Essences Hydrating Orchid and Coconut Milk Shampoo.

I haven't used HE shampoo for several years but I used to like it a lot. Don't get me wrong...I still like it, just not the color.

It came in a pretty, curvy, aqua bottle. But when I squirted some in to my hand it looked just like a certain dandruff shampoo for your "Cabeza y Hombros". (Look it won't hurt you to increase your Spanish vocabulary.)

You know the color. That milky aquamarine color that all dandruff shampoos use. Orchid and coconut milk shampoo should be white, beige, ecru, purple, perriwinkle, lavender, wysteria or tickle me pink...but not dandruff shampoo blue-green.

I don't know why it bothers me. That shampoo still smells like orchids and coconuts and it works fine but it just reminds me of being in the shower growing up and being out of my own flowery shampoo and having to use my dad's dandruff shampoo. That medicated smell....ewwww!

Does this type of thing bother anyone else?

It's just like when I painted Kinley's room for the first time and it looked just like a certain stomach medicine that tastes like pink chalk. Certain products have certain colors that are forever associated with them. You just can't help it.

Maybe I should write to Herbal Essences and let them know how disturbing the color of their shampoo is.

Maybe they'll send me a free sample...or coupons.

*getting pen and paper now*

Monday, May 26, 2008

Manic Monday

Go to for more great demotivation to get you going on the holiday weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones, Hooray!!

Well, it's finally here: the most anticipated movie of the least in this household.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

(I tried to get the theme song to play on here as you read this blog but the code proved to be too complicated for my small mind. Hum along with me instead. Duh, da, duh, duh! Da, duh, duh. Oh, never mind. Just watch the trailer here. That should give you your John Williams fix for the time being.)

Anyway, I haven't seen the movie yet because I am a responsible adult with three children to take care of and a household to run. I can't just run off to midnight showings of blockbuster movies even if I have waited 20 years for them to play again. Oh to be young, free and stupid again.......or still, as the case may be.

Read on.....

Today, being a holiday weekend and all, I have a special guest post for you from my very own hubby. Enjoy!

Well Wednesday night (or should I say early Thursday morning) I did it.

A friend and I (thanks Johnny Gizmo) defied all logic and reasoning to attend the 4am viewing of Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Mr. Cary, a mutual friend and drummer in our praise band at church, and his family own a local theater, The Orpheum, in Hillsboro. This family and their three theaters are worthy of a blog themselves as $6 gets you in the door for a first run movie, popcorn and a soda, not to mention, friendly smiles, candy as you leave and leather couches to sit on while you watch your movie.

For this event, they held a 24hr showing of Indy. He had joked at church the week before that they didn’t expect a big crowd for the 4 o’clock show. "So why not," I thought. Crystal and the kids would be sleeping, I could see the show, and get back just in time to teach 1st hour physics the next day.

We drove up that morning at 3:30am, and settled in. The previews were good, a new Will Smith flick, Get Smart, and Kung Fu Panda, then the John Williams score commenced. The movie was very good, easily rivaling The Last Crusade. Harrison Ford, jumped right in where he left off as an older Indian Jones. Instead of the Nazis, the Cold War Russians are the villains. Shea Lebeouf gives a good performance as Indy’s younger sidekick and Kate Blanchet is a very convincing villainess. The effects were good too, lots of computer generated, but some good acting as well.

Overall it was a fun night, I mean morning. :) The theater even gave out coffee and doughnuts to the crowd of 40ish. We’ll definitely take the kids soon, as they are chomping at the bit to see it. Rarely a day goes by when Cainan does not dress up as Indy at some point, dog leash whip and all. Believe it or not, I even stayed awake until 11pm the next night.

Total stars 4.5 of 5

Free Movies

If you live in Illinois, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin or Minnesota you can take you kids to see free movies this summer.

Kerasotes Theatres are showing children's movies free every Wednesday and Thursday morning at 10 am June 18th through July 31st. Admission is first come first served.

Click here for more details and to see a complete list of the movies showing at your theatre.

Head on over to Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday tips.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Drinking Problems

Yahoo had an article the other day about how many calories americans consume through a straw.

Lattes, cappuccinos, milk shakes, smoothies and even vitamin waters and juices are chocked full of sugar and calories. My personal favorite, Chai, is pretty bad too.

But what is the most unhealthy drink in America?

The Heath Bar Milk Shake at Baskin Robbins. (Doesn't that sound good, though?)

2,310 calories
266 g sugar
108 g fat (64 g saturated)

According to Yahoo:

The 32 ounce taste explosion contains 66 teaspoons of sugar.

You would have to eat 11 Heath Bars to equal the number of calories found in one shake.

You would have to run for 240 minutes on a treadmill to burn it off.

I think I'll pass.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Another part of saving money and/or living frugally is signing up for hundreds of freebies.

It is kind of time consuming (unless you can figure out how to make the "auto fill" feature work...which I can't) but it pays off.

Here are the freebies I have received in the last two weeks.

It is so exciting to open the mailbox and find all kinds of little packages full of goodies.

All of the frugal blogs I have listed in my sidebar will direct you to the best freebies around. Check it out!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Scrap It

For Kitchen Tip Tuesday over at Tammy's Recipes this week I have to share the recipe for the delicious and stunning Tuxedo Cake that I made for my cousin's graduation party this weekend.

But before I do, here is my tip.

Magazines are full of great recipes...and most come with the nutritional information listed too. They have been submitted by good cooks and reviewed by the food editors at the magazine so you know they are tasty.

The problem? They are in a magazine. Nobody wants to keep piles and piles of magazines around and nobody wants to have a bunch of clipped out recipes floating around either.

The solution? Scrap it. Make a sort of recipe scrapbook.

I use a binder that is just filled with blank white paper (or even scrap paper with stuff printed on it). Whenever I cut out a recipe from a magazine I tape or glue it to the papers in the binder. I divide them in to categories and number the pages. Basically I am just creating my own cookbook.

Every time I try a recipe for the first time I write notes about it in the margins and note the date. That way I can keep track of which ones I have tried and what I liked and didn't like.

Now. On to the cake!!

I found this recipe in a magazine a long time ago. Every time I flip past it in my binder I start to drool and think, "I've got to try that sometime!" Unfortunately I cannot make a three layer chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting and chocolate ganache for my family because....well, frankly I would eat it all myself in one solitary naptime. So I had to wait for the right opportunity to make the elegant cocoa masterpiece to take somewhere else...somewhere where I would be invited to eat a piece but not responsible for taking home the leftovers.

A college graduation party for my cousin. Yes!

I give you.......The Tuxedo Cake

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 cups all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Position racks to divide oven into thirds*. Heat to 350 degrees. Coat three 9 x 2 round pans with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with wax paper, spray paper.

2. Heat butter, water, and oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until butter melts. Stir sugar, cocoa and flour in a large bowl to blend. Add butter mixture; whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then the buttermilk. Add baking soda, salt and vanilla all at once; whisk to blend. Divide batter between prepared pans (approx. 2 2/3 cups per pan).

3. Stagger pans on oven racks so no layer is directly over another. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in middle of eachlayer comes out clean. Monitor layers carefully for doneness--each may be done at a different time.

4. Cool cakes on wire racks about 15 minutes before inverting on racks. Cool at least 2 hours before frosting.

* I did not have three racks for my oven or 3 identical round pans. I cooked two layers at once on the same rack in the oven and then cooked a third layer later after I had emptied one of the pans.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

4 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar

1. Beat cream and sugar in a large bowl with mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
2. Place one cake layer ona platter and spread 1 1/2 cups frosting over top. Repeat with two more layers. Then spread frosting around sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until frosting has firmed.

Chocolate Glaze:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Put chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream until very hot and just beginning to steam. Pour over chocolate; stir until melted. Stir in syrup and vanilla.
2. Pour into a pitcher or measuring cup; let cool 10 minutes (no longer). Slowly pour over chilled cake, covering top entirely and letting some drizzle down sides. (If glaze doesn't flow easily add an extre 2 T. of light corn syrup).
3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until glaze sets and frosting is firm.

Weight Loss Skills

"People haven't changed in the past 100 years, but our environment sure has
and the reason we're gaining weight so quickly now is that since weight gain is
the default, that means by definition maintenance of a healthy body weight in
our current environment has actually become a skill. "

How true! Eating a balanced diet and healthy portions is completely counter-cultural. Losing weight and/or maintaining a healthy weight is most definitely a skill that you have to master. You have to finagle your way through grocery stores and restaurants with all the prowess of a tight rope walker to avoid falling into the numerous big calorie, big fat nets that are all around you.

Don't believe me? Just ask yourself.

  • What do children eat at school from age 5 to 18? (Processed foods.)
  • How does the size of a small soda today compare to the same order at any fast food restaurant 10 years ago? (Double the size, if small is even an option at the chain you frequent)
  • Which is cheaper to buy at your grocery store: a box of Hamburger Helper or whole wheat pasta, chicken breast and peas? (The highly processed, high fat, high calorie, high sodium Hamburger Helper, of course)
  • How big is the average nice restaurant salad? (Enough for 3 good meals.)

There is almost nowhere you can go (except maybe your own home) where you can choose foods and eat them without weight gain repercussions. You have to read labels and pay more and ask for things to be specially made. The dressing has to be on the side. The fat has to be trimmed. The two extra portions on your plate have to be put in doggie bags for later.

It's a skill people, and it takes practice. Just like any skill. And the learning process isn't very fun sometimes.

"And just like other skills (martial arts for instance), just because your
minds' eye might know what it looks like to do a jumping, spinning hook kick, it
doesn't mean you can simply jump up and do one. To extrapolate a martial arts
analogy to healthy weight think of it this way: Just because your minds' eye
might know what a healthy lifestyle looks like, to expect yourself, without
instruction, to be able to simply jump up and happily live with one is often too
much to ask (people do it unhappily all the time - that's called dieting)."

So fight the good fight. Keep up the hard work. Never give up...and a lot of other cliches about staying with even when the going gets tough. You're riding without training wheels. You're diving off of the high board. You're clipping a newborn baby's finger nails. It is scary and tough and sometimes you cry, but it is worth it and the benefits are endless.

The preceeding is quoted from Dr. Yoni Freedhoff's blog Weighty Matters. Click here to read the whole article.

Manic Monday

Wow! It has been a looooooong and very busy weekend for me. I'm going to have to spend today cleaning up and regrouping from all of the projects that I finished up over the last week. I'm going to start my fresh new week tomorrow with a clean house...and list of new projects to tackle.

Friday, May 16, 2008

One More Time

Ok, Ok. I know this is probably boring the socks off of most of you bleaders (that's blog + readers).

I just have to post about it one more time. This is it I promise. No matter how much money I save at CVS in the future I won't make you read about it. (Hey, it could be worse. I could be lining everything up nice and neat and taking pictures of it and posting them on here. Trust me, people do it everyday.) I bought:

7 tubes of toothpaste
2 bags of Hershey's Bliss
1 bag of Twizzlers
8 bars of soap
1 liquid hand soap
1 body wash
1 sucker
1 mini box of Cheese Nips
2 Glade air freshener sprays

...and paid a grand total of $8.94 out of pocket

...and earned $24.98 in Extra Care Bucks in other words CVS paid me $16.04 to take this stuff

Without coupons and Extra Care Bucks I would have paid $48.40!!!

Can you believe it?

You've got to start doing this if you aren't already...and judging by the reactions Jackie (fellow new CVSer) and I have had from the cashiers not many of you in Greenville are doing it. The cashiers are actually asking us how to do it and where to get the coupons, etc.

CVS is my new favorite store.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Island Wars


More of Juliette nagging Jack…no big surprise. (When is she going to die already??!!)

Yet another secret Dharma research “hatch”, The Orchid…no big surprise.

Jin made it to the freighter safely. Now that was a little bit of a surprise. Are they really going to blow him up? I can’t bear to watch that.

And by the way…what kind of Captain doesn’t notice 3 tons of C4 explosives on his boat? I mean come on!

I must say that Sun had the best revenge! It was a perfect example of poetic justice when she told off her father. I hope she puts him in charge of the fishing division…preferably gutting and cleaning. You go Sun!!

We all knew Sawyer really cared deep down…but that he even cares about Hurley…how sweet…really. He really is just a big teddy bear inside of that gruff exterior. I’m anxious to see how he says goodbye to Kate and what instructions he gives her (presumably about caring for his daughter).

I’m glad that a little more truth came out in this episode. Now Jack knows that Claire is his sister and Aaron is his nephew. That wasn’t really how I thought he would find out, but I’m glad he knows. I’m not sure why that knowledge makes him incapable of being with Kate and Aaron (for a while) but I’m sure we’ll find out…eventually.

I do wonder who came up with the whole a-life-raft-washed-up-on-the-shore-of-the-island-of-Membatta-and-we-floated-to-Africa story. It seems very complicated and well thought out. Did Oceanic concoct it? Ben? Jack? Sayid?

The understatement of the night had to be when Ben said, “I wasn’t being entirely truthful.” Yeah, no kidding.

Let me just say that I don’t even want to watch the 2 hour season finale. Nothing but bad stuff is gonna happen, I can feel it. We’re going to have to see them all suffer because of their decisions, but then we’ll get to rejoice when they finally find peace at end of the last season.

I think this next season is going to be kind of like The Empire Strikes Back. The rebels can’t win every battle. Sometimes the good guys get caught by snow monsters or frozen in carbonite. But never fear, there is always a sequel. The Ewoks will come out of the forest to help and there will be a Return of the Jedi.

No really, think about it. Ben is turning Locke to the dark side, Jack found out that Claire was his sister (granted he never kissed her), Kate is always trying to boss the guys around and falling in love with them at the same time, it may all be happening a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away………………
For more outrageous theories, but fewer classic sci-fi movie analogies, go to Rocks in My Dryer and follow the links.

Royal Seating

A local Relay for Life team is having a chair auction.

They passed out chairs of all different shapes and sizes to various community members and businesses. They asked these people to decorate the chairs and then bring them back for the auction.

I was one of the lucky ones chosen to decorate a couple of chairs. So here is what I did with mine.

I also did a boy version in hunter green and gold that says, "King for a Day" on the top.

They turned out so cute and were so easy that I want to make one for Kinley's room now.

These were just old chairs from the Elementary school garage sale. They have metal legs and a wooden seat and back. I base coated everything with spray paint and then striped the legs, painted on the words (with a paint pen), glued on the crown ($1 at Michaels) and upholstered the seat (with a staple gun).

I'm so happy with how they turned out. I hope they bring in a boat load of money for the American Cancer Society.

I may go to the auction just to bid them up.

The Four R's

Last night Ryker announced that we were going to have a Four R's week next week.

By "we" I assumed he meant at school, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the fourth 'r' was. Recess?

Oh no, I was quite mistaken. This is a plan he wants to implement at home. And the fourth 'r' is for 'rot'.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot

They've added an "R". Did you know that?

So here are the rules for Four R's Week in the Grove household.

1. No littering. (no problem)

2. Don't leave the water on while you brush your teeth. (never do that anyway)

3. No using the gas fireplace. (it's May...hello)

4. Recycle everything that you can. (working on it)

5. Don't put any trash in the dumpster until next week. (alrighty)

6. Only 2 TV privileges for kids a day...5 for parents. (no word on how much a 'privilege' is)

7. No fishing unless you ask your mom and dad first. (Cainan's contribution)

8. No vacuuming. (if you insist)

9. No cooking on the stove. (I love the 4 Rs)

10. Go to the bathroom outside. (ummm...wait a minute here)

11. No baths, 'cause that uses like 500 gallons of water. (hold yer horses now)

12. Make sure all visitors understand the rules. (and can find the outhouse, I guess)

Note: "No computer" was a consideration for rule #13 but was ruled unconstitutional before it even made it to the paper.

I'll have to keep you posted on how it turns out. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Make Your Own Detergent

Well, it is Works For Me Wednesday again and this time I actually have something to add.

I made my own laundry detergent and it really works!!

There are lots of recipes online for powder and liquid laundry detergent but I found a great recipe and explanation of how all of the components work here.

I made mine out of 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda and 1 cup Fels Naptha soap shavings. I mixed up a big batch and started using it. I use 1/4 cup in each load.

It seems to work just as well as any other detergent and I actually like the smell of the Fels Naptha soap. It is a little strange not to see any bubbles or suds in the machine, but hey it works, so who cares.

I will warn you that I also tried to make my own dishwasher detergent. It does not work. It is horrible as a matter of fact. Everything came out scummy and with a film on it. See....

The glass on the right was washed in the homemade detergent and the glass on the left was washed in Cascade.

I used the 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda, 1/4 cup salt recipe and then put vinegar in my rinse agent dispenser. It still didn't help. It bothers me that there is no soap in the recipe...and the fact that it doesn't actually clean anything.

I've never wanted to handwash dishes so badly in mylife. I take that back....I've never wanted to handwash dishes in my life, until now. I'm so glad to have my good old generic Great Value dishwasher detergent back.

For more great ideas head over to WFMW at Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Craft Project

I combined two great ideas from two different blogs and came up with these cute little burp rags for a baby gift for a set of triplets at our church this weekend.
The burp rags are just two coordinating pieces of flannel sewn together, turned right-side out and then top stiched.

The flower embellishments are my version of the ones I posted about from Pink Paper Peppermints. She has a great tutorial at her site if you are interested in making your own.
Now I'm in the sewing mood we'll see what I come up with next. The little wheel's are turning. Stay tuned.

The Worldwide Garage Sale

Well, E-Bay has done it again.

Now people are selling old, unused postage stamps!

Yeah, you can buy a roll of 41 cent stamps for $34. That means that even when you add the 1 cent stamp you are still only paying 35 cents for postage.

Crazy!! People really will sell anything.

For more details on it all go to Tammy's Recipes and check out this post.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Manic Monday

OK, obviously this isn't an official "demotivator" but I think this picture is hilarious. I just wish I could come up with a good caption for it. Any ideas? I'd love some fun suggestions.

Brian found this pic on a friend's Facebook page. It was in her the photo album of her recent trip to West Virginia. Doesn't this just scream WV to you? Some hillbilly on a golf cart painting lines along the road who is too lazy to move the roadkill out of the way?

Well, guess what. Upon further discussion with his friend, Brian found out that this picture was taken at the very beginning of their trip, like the first 30 seconds, right here in good old Bond County. (Not that that makes the hillbilly on a golf cart theory any less plausible.)

Maybe it was a Union situation. You know, "I'm not certified to remove roadkill, I just paint the lines."

Or maybe this little guy saw the road crew coming and "played possum" right on the spot in order to look inconspicuous.

What's your theory? What's your caption?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Crafty Flowers

If you look to the right you will see the button for Pink Paper Peppermints 31 Crafty Flowers in 31 Days. The button has been there for a while so I thought I might need to draw your attention to it.

She has some really great ideas at her site. Some of the flowers so far have been made from tissue paper, some from cardstock and some from fabric scraps.

Check out this most recent one.

Isn't it adorable? And it is sooooo simple. All you really need is a drinking glass, a needle and thread, an iron, some fabric scraps and a button and a hot glue gun. No sewing machine...and very little sewing required.

Click on the button to see all of her other really great flowery ideas.

Friday, May 9, 2008

First Time CVS'er

Considering that it is Frugal Friday and all, I finally did it.

I made first foray into the mystery that is the Extra Care Buck at CVS.

I studied for two weeks and read every blog I could get my eyes on. I was finally brave enough to try my luck with the coupons and all today.

Here is what happened:

I bought 2 small bags of dog food, one razor, two tins of breathmints, a toothbrush, and the Tuesday edition of the Greenville Advocate which has my son's prom picture in it.

The total came to $22.58.

Then I whipped out the coupons!!

I had a coupn for $4 off of a purchase of $20 or more at CVS which I used.

I had a $4.00 off coupon for each of the $3.99 dog foods, that made them free and a coupon for the razor and the toothbrush too.

After coupons my total was $9.70.

I got $22.58 worth of stuff for $9.70 and earned $10 in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).

That means that technically I got paid $0.30 for buying $22.58 worth of stuff.

Here is how it works:

Certain items at CVS produce ECBs. That means that when you buy them you will get a coupon printed out on your receipt for money to use at CVS. For example, the Colgate 360 Toothbrush I bought today cost $3.99 (for a toothbrush!, crazy I know) but it also produces an ECB coupon for $3.99, so it's like you get it for free. I also happened to have a coupon from the paper for $1 off of a Colgate 360 Toothbrush so I paid $2.99 for it and made $3.99 in ECBs.

The trick is to buy things that produce ECBs greater than or equal to the amount of the purchase, like the toothbrush.

If you can combine manufactuers coupons with the CVS deal then all the better. I was able to do that today too. I had a coupon for $4.00 off of the Venus razor that costs $9.99 at CVS. That would make it cost $5.99 for me (see how good I am at the math :)). The Venus Razor produces a $5.00 ECB. You guessed it. The razor technically cost me $0.99.

I say "technically" because I did pay $5.99 out of pocket for the razor and $2.99 out of pocket for the toothbrush...but I received $8.99 in ECBs for making those two purchases. I will roll over my ECBs and let them accumulate and then use them to buy stuff that I need, but that doesn't actually produce ECBs, like detergent or something.

Now, some people will buy anything and everything at CVS that produces ECBs and figure out what to do with it later. I am not one of those people. If it isn't something I can use or give to someone else that might need it I am not going to buy matter how many ECBs it produces. I just don't need extra stuff laying around.

So, how do you know what will produce the most ECBs? The sale flyers at the CVS stores tell you exactly what does and doesn't produce ECBs and how much each item will produce. All of those frugal mom blogs listed on my sidebar will give you their best CVS "scenarios" too. (What combination of items to buy to maximize the use and accumulation of ECBs.)

What should you do now? Well, the first thing is to make sure that you have a CVS card. You can sign up for one and receive it immediately in the store. While you are there pick up the sale flyer. (Don't forget to get a new one every week, Sun. I think) Next, go online and register with CVS and get your e-mail coupon for $4 off of a $20 purchase. Then just start readin' the blogs and workin' the deals. Whatever you do do not throw away your ECB coupons (Mom!!). Send them to me if you don't want to mess with them.

If you don't trust me, or don't understand anything I've said here, or would just like a little more explanation of the whole CVS, ECB thing then check out the CVS tutorials here and here. These women have been CVSing a long time and they have it all figure out.

For more tips about living frugally go to Biblical Womanhood and check out all of the Frugal Friday posts.

Answers, Anyone?

I have no answers or theories regarding last nights show. All I've got are questions. Lots of questions.

Richard??!! Richard??!! Are you kidding me??!!

Has Locke been connected to the Island from birth? Have they been recruiting him since he was 5 years old? Did he really draw the black smoke as a child? Did the knife test prove that he was destined to become the leader one day? Is that why Richard got so upset?

So, has the Island now chosen Locke to reveal it's secrets to instead of Ben? Hey, do you think Locke and Ben are somehow related? What was Ben's mom's name? It wasn't Emily was it?

So Michael is still under the magic island bubble of immortality, I guess?

We already knew that time on the Island was not the same as time elsewhere, but how much delay is there? According to last night, maybe several hours? Is the delay more the farther away from the Island you get? Like back in the good old USA it is still 90 days ago? Huh?

Was Whidmore's original plan to kidnap Ben and remove him from the Island? Is his secondary plan to just torch the whole place?

I understand why the pilot, Frank, would help the Losties on the beach, although I don't think they understand why he gave them that GPS thingie, but why did the Captain help Sayid and Desmond? Did I miss something?

Christian??!! Christian??!! Are you kidding me??!!

All of those people that claimed he was Jacob were right (well kind of right, he only claims to be Jacob's spokesperson)??!! He is dead, just like Horace, but being used by the Island, right? What is he doing with Claire? What is Claire doing with him? Why would she give up Aaron? Is this another trick by the Island to get a baby?

So they are just going to move the Island now? Doesn't that sound reasonable?

This episode just set us up for a lot of information yet to come, didn't it? What about those previews for next week? Do they really get off? Really, really off?

Do you want some answers? Maybe the links over at Rocks in My Dryer will help?

Wow, I've never used so many question marks in my life....have I?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Talk Amongst Yourselves

I just started reading a new book that a friend loaned me. It is written by Annie Lamott and is entitled "Operating Instructions: A Chronicle of My Son's First Year." It is written by a 35 year old single woman who is raising her first child alone in San Francisco in the late 80's. She is a professional writer and does a great job documenting everything that is going on with her son and herself as his first year progresses.

But the most interesting thing about the book is the backstory that she throws in. This woman is a recovering cocaine and meth addict, alcoholic and workaholic. She has been clean and sober for 3 years but is still in constant therapy to help her deal with the issues that caused her addictions in the first place. She has had multiple abortions (for some reason she decided to keep this baby, I'm not sure why he was the lucky one) and struggles with depression.

A few other facts about Annie: She hates George Bush (senior, remember its 1989) with a passion, her father (who was raised by missionaries in China) is an atheist, she is a SF Giants fan, she has a cat and she's a Christian.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that. She's a Christian. I about dropped the book when I read that. I thought, "Yeah, right." But as I read on she constantly credits God with all of the good things in her life and asks for his help and guidance to get through the bad. She believes Jesus is always with her and carrying her through. She prays...a lot. She faithfully attends church and loves the congregation there.

She goes to a black church (she's white) where they feed her a lot and love her unconditionally. They have shown her Jesus by helping her through her addictions and scrubbing her bathroom when she was too sore and tired to do it after the baby was born. She loves to participate in praise and worship time with her church family and she stands at the back so that she can hug every single one of them as they leave the building on Sunday afternoon.

But you know what I've noticed. She never mentions the Bible. She never quotes it or reads it or turns to it for guidance. I also don't see much fruit in her life. Despite the addictions and abortions in the past she is still living the same lifestyle she always has...just without the drugs and alcohol. She also never mentions heaven or hell. Her father died of brain cancer and she talks about him a lot. She never seems to have a problem with the fact that he died an atheist. In fact she never mentions his ultimate destination at all. She doesn't seem to recognize any repurcussions for her (or anyone else's) actions, nor does she try to change anyone's views on religion or God...including her dying father's. she a Christian? She whole-heartedly believes in God and Jesus. She knows that they have ultimate control over her life and she gives it (or part of it) up to them. She tries to be a kind and loving person and to help others. She goes to church.

Is that enough?

How many people do you know that could be described by that paragraph? Where do they stand in eternity?

Can she be a Christian without the Bible, heaven and hell as part of her faith?

You all discuss it here in the comments section and I'll finish the book and get back to you. Maybe "more will be revealed". (That's an AA mantra that she says to herself all of the time in the book.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prom Night 2008

Cainan was the page at the prom this year. He was so excited about getting dressed up. He wore his suit jacket and his little clip-on tie all over town for 2 days. (With a t-shirt and shorts of course.)
He enjoyed the whole experience...except for the dancing. I have to admit it would be hard to dance with a girl for the first time in the middle of a empty gym floor while 7 people with cameras circle you. Now he knows how celebrities feel.

The next day he asked if he could "do Prom" next week too. We told him he'd have to wait about 12 years before he could go to Prom again. He seemed to be OK with that.

Wal-Mart Paid Me!!!

This weekend I sent my friend Jackie to Wal-Mart with my coupons. (It costs me $6 just to get to a Wal-Mart so if I can find other people that are going I send my list with them.) She picked up $15.38 worth of products for me, and after she checked out the clerk had to give her $0.15!!!

Can you believe that? Wal-Mart paid me $0.15 to buy 2 boxes of cereal, a bar of soap, two boxes of Zantac, and 6 Ziploc containers. I made money by shopping!!!

Jackie said the clerk said, “Well, that’s a first for me.” Well I can tell you it won’t be the last time it happens because I plan to keep it up. So how did I do it?

Thanks to all of the great frugal mom bloggers out there I have discovered the world of “couponing”. I’m still trying to figure it all out but in just 2 weeks I have saved a little over $24 off of my Wal-Mart bill. This is just a brief overview to help you get started if you are interested in saving money too.

Step One: Buy a couple of Sunday papers.

I buy the St. Louis Post Dispatch ($1.50) and the Bellville Herald and Review ($1.75). They both have two sale flyers in them every week and other flyers that come out just at the beginning of the month.

Step Two: DON’T clip any coupons.

You do not want to clip your coupons ahead of time. Just pull out the flyers and use a marker to write the date on the top of them and then file them away by type (Smart Source, Red Plum, Proctor & Gamble, etc.) and date.

Step Three: Find the deals.

This is actually very easy. Just go to the blogs that spell the deals out for you. I’ve listed some on my sidebar and they all link to others. So just find the ones that you like the best and check them every day. They will have the best ideas listed near the end of the week because they have had time to go to the stores and scope them out. It’s like having your own personal shopper, kind of. You can also use to find what is on sale at all of the major chain stores.

Step Four: Learn the lingo.

There are a lot of acronyms involved with couponing that you’ll need to know.
BOGO= buy one, get one
OOP=out of pocket
$1/1=a coupon that is $1 off of 1 item
$3/$15= a coupon that is $3 off of an expenditure of $15
5/4 SS=tells you that the coupon you need can be found in the May 4th issue of the Smart Source sale flyer. This is why you do not want to clip any of your coupons until you are ready to take them to the store.

Step Five: Combine offers.

That is the most important point to remember. You CAN combine manufactuers coupons with store coupons and discounts. So only use your coupons for things that are already on sale. This enables you to get things for free or almost free.

For example: The Zantac that I bought was on sale at Wal-Mart for $3.98 a box. I had two coupons (that I printed on-line) for $5/1 ($5 off of one box). I bought 2 boxes so I got $2.04 back. The Ziploc containers were on sale for $2.48 but my coupon was only for $1/1 leaving me to still pay $1.48 for the 6 containers. But that’s OK because I’ve got that $2.04 leftover from the Zantac that can go to that. The Kashi cereal I bought was on sale for $2 a box and I had 2 coupons for $2/1. Voila! Two free boxes of cereal. See how it works?

It may sound complicated but it really is simple. Especially when the blogs actually tell you exactly which coupon to use at which store when. It is very little work for a big return.

Happy Saving!

Coming soon! How to get all that free stuff at CVS. (Still working on learning that.)

Cook the Whole Bird

It's Kitchen Tip Tuesday over at Tammy's Recipes so here is my tip for the week.

Buy whole chickens.

It is so much cheaper than buying pieces individually and it is very simple to prepare the whole bird.

Here are a couple of different ways to use your chicken.

I buy 3 or 4 whole chickens a month (usually at $0.89/lb. at Aldi) and throw them in my freezer. Whenever I'm ready to use one I defrost it, pull out the "guts", put it on a roasting pan, pat it down with seasoning salt, and bake it in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. That's it.

That recipe will make a delicious roast chicken that you can eat that evening. Then with the leftovers I make a small portion of chicken salad for my lunches that week and a chicken pot pie for the freezer.


Take your defrosted/gutted chicken and put it in a pot of boiling water. Let it boil until the meat is just about to fall off of the bone, approx. 30 mins. Remove the chicken from the pot and put it on a platter to cool. When it is cool enough to touch without burning yourself, pick all of the meat off of the bones and set aside, removing skin and any fat tissue along the way. Use your chicken for chicken-n-dumplings or chicken pot pie or chicken salad or chicken quesadillas, etc. Don't forget to save the broth in your pot too. Freeze it in 2 cup portions for use in future recipes.

This is a great way to save money and make some great chicken dishes. I find I can get 3 meals for my family of 5 off of one chicken. Try it. It's finger lickin' good.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Manic Monday

Happy First Monday in May!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

One Big Garden

Cainan loves the pharse, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” He looks for any excuse to use it in his conversations with me. Here is what he came up with this morning.

C: I’ve got some good news and some bad news about spring.

Mom: OK

C: Which one do you want first? (This is a rhetorical question because he usually just gives me whichever one he wants first regardless of what I say.)

Mom: The good news.

C: The bad news is we have all of these storms. (See what I mean)

Mom: What’s the good news?

C: It’s gardening season!

Mom: Do you like gardening with Daddy? (I personally am not fond of it. I don’t like all of the kneeling and bending over in the 90 degree heat all summer. Love the food though.)

C: Yeah. And I like gardening with Grandad too.

Mom: (Grandad has like 3 tomato plants. What gardening?) You garden with Grandad?

C: Yeah, like when I ride on the tractor with him.

Mom: Oh, farming.

C: Is Grandad a farmer?

Mom: Yes! (Well, duh.)

C: Huh. Never knew that. (pause for little wheels to start turning) He doesn’t have any animals though.

Mom: No. He isn’t that kind of farmer. He just works on the land…not with animals.

C: Then he’s a gardener.

Mom: I guess so. (Wow, that’s one big garden!)

Jate Forever!!

Thank goodness the writers are giving up on Juliette and getting back to the real love story in this show...Jack and Kate! I was so glad to see Juliette's confession, which was made to Kate and Jack, since he was just playing possum.

Jack wanting to stay awake during his surgery doesn't surprize me at all. Jack being unable to bear the pain doesn't surprize me at all either...he's not superhuman after all. I was glad that Bernard was in there to assist. I still don't completely trust Juliette...although I really don't think she would ever hurt Jack.

I think the Claire and Sawyer love story is building a little bit too. The restraining order cracked me up...typical Sawyer. I don't know what the dead Christian Shepherd is doing showing up and holding Aaron, or why Claire followed him off. I do not think this is the end of Claire...she'll be back in time for her tragic death, no doubt.

::Warning!:: Wild Speculation Below

My LOST addicted friend, Carrie, has a great theory about Claire, Aaron and Jack. She thinks that Jack is going to somehow accidently kill Claire or be directly responsible for her death. After that event, or simultaneously, he discovers that she is his half-sister. This is what leads to his overwhelming guilt and inability to face raising Aaron, at least initially. I think that is a totally plausible explanation.

I do think that Kate is probably taking care of Sawyer's daughter, Clemetine. Why this has to be a big secret from Jack, I don't know. Remember Kate already knows Clementine's mother. It does sound like Sawyer is still alive and remaining voluntarily on the island. Kate is the only person he would trust to visit his daughter.

I am glad that Jin confronted Charlotte when they got back from the medical station. I could tell she was understanding, I was hoping they could too. Jin got a little vicious with her...which I think she needs. I don't like her or Miles very much. I think Daniel is OK.

So the helicopter is back on the island now? I guess that is how the commandos got there to attack Ben last week. Not to burst anyone's bubble...but I still just do not think they are going to get off of the island. And, I think Locke is going to prevent it. The writers are setting us up to be glad about this because everything that we have seen from the flash forwards is awful. Everyone's life is screwed one is happy. We don't want that. We want them to stay on the island together until they can figure out how to get off of it the right way...maybe destroying it in the process. After all the island or Whidmore or Ben or whoever is still controlling/effecting them in the real world. It needs to be eliminated before they can ever really be happy. I may be proven totally wrong on this but I just don't see the show letting some people off and following story lines in both worlds, not that they haven't proven themselves to be totally capable of doing that.

Speaking of that...Christian Shepherd is haunting Jack too. That could explain why in the very first flash forward Jack tells them to go get his dad upstairs and see how drunk he is, however, I still believe that they will find that no time has passed when they leave the island, thus Jack's real human dad is really upstairs. I think Jack's paper was supposed to show that, but I didn't really get a good look at it. I also found it interesting that the smoke detector went off when Jack's dad showed up. Is he just smoke...a relic from the island? We know the island smoke can take on human form and we know he has appeared on the island to Claire...and Jack previously.

Best Sawyer quote of the episode, "It's too early in the morning for Chinese." Hilarious. Only Sawyer could get away with that.

Anyway, good episode. I can't wait to see what's next. How will we survive the summer without LOST....or any good TV for that matter. For more LOST conversations head over to Rocks in My Dryer.

RSS Awareness Day

OK, I know I'm a day late on this. I've had this post prepared and I forgot to post it.

Basically it is all about subscribing to blogs/websites in a reader...which just means it will automatically give you all of the new content from the blogs you read without you actually having to go to the individual blogs. Its a time saver.

As far as I can tell the only drawback is that you don't get to see the actual blogs, which often have cool features on thier sidebars, and all kinds of interesting colors and designs. I personally like seeing all of that instead of just reading the content in black and white. (You do get pictures and videos that are embeded in the post with a reader, though.)

Anyway, Travis does a much better job of explaining all of this than I do so go here for a good explanation of feeds and why you might want to subscribe to mine.

If you are interested in subscribing to my feed just click on my little orange RSS button on my sidebar and you are all set!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ahoy, Mateys!

I jus' found th' best thin'. An English t' Pirate Translator.

Aye. Ye can type in anythin' an' 't will spit 't ou' t' ye in seafarin' hearty speak.

Arrrgh, if only I would be havin' had this before Cainan`s seafarin' hearty birthday party or th' "Pirate Island" play I directed last voyage.

Me promises ye lads that I won't be usin' this here Gentleman 'o Fortune speak on ever' post.

I found th' link at A Ship Full of Pirates, who 'tis given 'way a book too. So git on over there an' see 't fer yerself ye lily-livered bilge rat, o' tis the cap'n that'll make ye walk the plank!

Thank Goodness I'm Not Japanese

Well Weighty Matters has shocked me again.

Guess what? Japan is enforcing mandatory "flab checks" on all employees!!!

If an employee doesn't fall within the excepted range they will be put on a diet and exercise regimen and in some cases....fired!

Another good reason to be thankful to live in America where you can be as fat as you want...uh, maybe not.

Click here to read the whole post.

Take Two

And the winner (again) is....


Monk5 never contacted me so Michelle is the new winner of the best socks ever. Check out her blog and tell her congratulations.