Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to School Clothing: Go Green Save Green

Last night I wrote about ways to go green and save green on school supplies. Tonight I figured I'd share my two cents for how to do the same with clothing.

There are different ways to consider what makes clothing green. There are those made with organic cotton. Some clothes are even made from recycled materials. It's also green to buy at consignment sales or garage sales because it's giving clothes another life. Personally, we do most of our kids "shopping out of a box"--boxes of clothes passed down to us from friends and family. Free is good! Finally, green might just mean purchasing better quality from the start so that the clothes will last longer.

When I say "quality," I don't mean you have to buy boutique or froo-froo. Kids need to feel free to play and get dirty in my opinion. But this is a lesson I've learned the hard way with shoes. When the boys were really young, Wal-mart and Target were my go-to for shoes. That was fine since they out-grew them before they out-wore them. As they got older, I turned to Sketchers bought at Kohl's. They worked fine for about three months, when stitching began to pop and holes started appearing. When I asked my friends Amy and Shannon where they bought shoes, they unanimously said, "Stride Rite. Yes, they're more expensive, but one pair will last all year."

So today I checked the Stride Rite website and saw that everything in the store is buy one, get one half off 'til August 29; no coupon necessary. We hopped in the car. The prices for boys' sneakers ranged from $30 to $55. Each of the boys got identical shoes and I saved $25. Tip: You might wait to shop during the tax free weekend (Friday, August 6 - Sunday, August 8), but last time I went to Stride Rite on a tax free day, there were 25 customers in front of me. No thanks.

Though fine chocolate has nothing to do with clothing your kids, one principal of green shopping is clustering your trips. Since the Godiva store is only two shops away from Stride Rite, I went in for my free piece of chocolate. I signed up for the free rewards club months ago, which lets you pick one FREE piece of chocolate every month (no purchase necessary), but this was my first chance to try it. I picked one of the incredible truffles and each kid got a taste. Heaven!

If you make it to West Town Mall tomorrow (7/31), you might check out The Children's Place sale. With these coupons, you could save up to 30%. Thanks, Coupon Katie.

We then headed over to Kohl's since I had several ways to save:
A. It's the mega 2 day sale.
B. It was during power hours (tomorrow they are from 7am -1pm).
C. I had a coupon for an additional 15% off everything in the store.
D. I had a $10 coupon emailed to me (no minimum required) for shopping in the newly renovated Morrel Road sotre.
E. If I spent $50 (after all these savings), I could earn $10 Kohls cash.

My plan was to get just enough underwear for the boys to pay little out of pocket. "I don't want underwear! I want a watch!" Bobby whined. "You don't need a watch. You need underwear." I was being sensible and frugal! Then we walked past the backpacks. "Look, Mom, Bakugan! It's perfect! Can I get it?! Please!" I rarely give in to my children's requests in the store, but there's a part of me that knows the joy of starting each school year fresh and new. Nothing does that better than new shoes and a new backpack. Though the greener choice is to stick with a backpack til it falls apart, I relent on this one. Devin was elated at the Buzz Lightyear pack with a 3-D image. At least they were half off and I saved an additional 15% and $10 off my total.

Another place to consider for backpacks if you're out tomorrow is OfficeMax. They have a sale (through 7/31) that gives you the full price of up to two backpacks in MaxPerks Bonus Rewards. If you need other office supplies, this is a way to get free backpacks.

I'll close with a suggestion for all those old sneakers hiding in the crevices of your closets. Don't throw them away! Donate them instead to Nike ReUSE a Shoe and they will be recycled into rubber surfaces for playgrounds, basketball courts, and tennis courts. You can drop off up to 10 athletic shoes (any brand) at the Nike Factory Store in Sevierville or host a group shoe drive. I'm hoping to make a trip to the Smokies with the kids before school starts. Thanks to Couponing in Critical Times for the tip.

What ways do you go green and save green on back to school clothes?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back to School Supplies: Go Green Save Green

I'll admit I was lured in by the money savings. I needed to complete their back to school supply lists and decided to make Target my one stop. Armed with Walmart's circular that had cheaper prices on crayons, glue sticks, and notebooks, I was ready to do battle with customer service if I had to. What a relief to see all the items I would have price matched had already dropped lower than Walmart. Score! What was even better was seeing that several of the products that were great prices were also surprisingly green.

For instance, Crayola markers are only $.77 each for regular and $2 for washable. They are now making the barrels black to use more recycled plastic in them--keeping hundreds of tons of plastic out of landfills each year. Crayola is also using solar panels to provide enough power to make one billion crayons each year, and a new tree is planted for every one used to make their colored pencils (on sale for $.88.). A 24 pack of crayons are non-toxic and only cost $.20 each. Throw in that all Crayola products are made in the USA, and I'm sold.

I was also excited to see a new recycling program by Elmer's. According to this site, you can drop off your used glue bottles and glue sticks at Walmart. Hopefully they'll be repurposed with fresh glue instead of just melted down and recycled. I'm going to ask our school if they'll place a bag in each classroom to collect these and then I'll take them every few months. And if you're looking to save money on glue, now is a great time. A 2 pack of glue sticks and 4 oz. of "school glue" are just $.20 each! Last year I made the mistake of buying just what was on the supply list, only to realize that number multiplied five fold by the end of the year. Buy extra crayons and glue sticks now!

Another cheap item this week is composition notebooks. You can buy a variety of colors, 100 sheets / 200 pages for just $.20 each. I was delighted to see that these are made with recycled paper. Another good deal is a 96 sheet pack of construction paper for just $.88. It's not from recycled paper, but it is made in the USA.

One of my favorite green products is the dry erase board. It's one of the best examples of reducing in the classroom. It gives me warm and fuzzies just thinking of all the paper it saves by having them practice letters and numbers on the boards. I picked up a double sided board (one with lines and one plain) for just $3.14. Bobby's from last year was looking pretty warn but will become Devin's at-home board to practice his letters.

I also picked up two Embark lunch bags with an attached insulated bag for drinks (on sale for $9, a $4 savings). I'll replace the water bottles with our kid-size Klean Kanteens. The lunch bag is a perfect size to fit the laptop lunch boxes I bought a few months ago. This is a great organizational tool to save you money and waste big time throughout the year. People comment on them everywhere I go.

Finally, there are two good snack deals I picked up. With a $1/1 Target coupon and $1/1 manufacturers coupon in last Sunday's paper, you can get a pack of Snyders pretzyls for just $.24. Kashi products are also on sale and there are a variety of Kashi coupons here. Since you must have to go to Super Target in Turkey Creek for Kashi pizzas and frozen foods, I honed in on the granola bars on sale for $2.50 a box. Though I couldn't find the "Go Lean" variety noted on the Target coupon, I was still able to get them for $.66 a box. You can print two Target coupons: buy any two Kashi products, get one free. I had 6 $1/1 manufacturer's Kashi granola bars from peeelies I got off cereal boxes months ago. Since I saved $11 off 6 boxes with these 8 coupons, I only paid $4 total. I did make the mistake of picking up several boxes of the dark mocha almond; doesn't that sound delicious? Guess what? "This tastes gross, Mom! It smells like coffee!" Oops. Who says every back to school purchase has to be for the kids?!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Invasion of Pantry Moths

Part of me doesn't want to write this post because it's admitting my house is not the model of cleanliness. Newsflash--I'm a terrible maid! I like to think I have other redeeming qualities that overshadow this flaw and that it's better to have happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids than a spotless house.

But that philosophy came as no comfort when I opened up my pantry to discover not one, not two but probably 50 moths circling our food. I know---eeewww!!! I've never seen these moths before and had to go online to discover there is such a creature as the PANTRY MOTH. Of course the first line of defense to pantry moths is good housekeeping. Yeah, yeah, yeah, what else you got?! ;-) I liked this post for inexpensive and safe ways to handle pantry moths. I find it weird putting rice and crackers in the fridge, but I liked the natural defense of putting bay leaves around the cupboard.

Last night Bob and I spent two hours emptying the pantry, vacuuming up every moth in sight, scrubbing surfaces with a bleach solution, and checking every box for foreign invaders. Probably the most important find was where they were laying egg sacks--in the tiny holes that are used to adjust the shelves to different heights. Again, eeewwww! I'll admit it was time for me to check my stock and purge a few items anyway, and it feels good to have an entirely empty shelf. My wish for you is that you don't wait for unwanted visitors to motivate you to clean.

Have you ever had pantry moths? What did you do to fight them? Please reassure me that they do go away!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blueberries Galore

"Ooohhh, here we go into the enchanted garden!" I beckon. "Ooohhh," my kids respond, ducking under branches into a copious canopy of lush fruit. "Look up...and over there...and right here...blueberries are everywhere!" I exclaim with joy. The excitement is infectious and within minutes, my children (ages 6, 3, and 1) are all busy gathering a bounty of blueberries.

We've come to Maxine and Bob Falls Blueberry Farm in Maryville today to stock up on this antioxidant superfood. Since this is one of the dirty dozen (foods you should try to buy organic), my goal is to get as many as I can today. Though this farm is not "certified organic," they are "green" in my book because they do not use chemicals or pesticides and are locally grown. I'd take the freshly picked element over certified organic trucked from across the country any day.

When we first arrive, we are greeted by Bob and Maxine on the patio. To me, it looks more like an extended garden in their yard than a farm. Open to the public for 18 years, the Falls attribute the success of these 30-year-old bushes to using filtered water. "You can't grow blueberries with city water," Bob declares. Duly noted.

Each of us are outfitted with their brilliantly simple blueberry gathering system: milk jugs with the tops cut off attached around the waist with belts strung through the handles. I'm going to make some of these for our own garden. The boys beam with pride in expectation for a grand expedition.

"Where should we go?" I ask. "Oh anywhere," Bob responds. "Just choose a bush and start pickin'. You'll probably be more comfortable under a bush looking up than in the sunshine. It looks like an arbor in there." Thinking of our own blueberry bushes my husband planted last spring that are maybe two feet tall, I have a hard time imagining an arbor of blueberry bushes. Sure enough, many of them are probably seven feet tall and I have to get on my tip toes to reach the upper branches. Already 10:00am and stinkin' hot, I had feared the kids wouldn't last long. However, under the branches, it must be ten degrees cooler. Ahhh.

After a few pictures and video clips, we all get quickly to work. Though I've loved picking strawberries with the kids, a few bonuses spring to mind about blueberries.
A. We aren't out in the blazing sun.
B. We don't have to walk far.
C. All three kids can wander and still be within sight.
D. There is no mud or standing water.
E. I don't have to crawl in the mud.
F. Their attention span is much greater and allows us to stay for nearly two hours.

At the end of our quest, we've gathered six pounds of blueberries, about the equivalent of 1 1/3 gallons. Here's the best part: the cost. Since they only charge $1.25/pound, my total is $7.50 for blueberries that should last us at least a few months. I'm debating about going back for another round before they're out of season (Maxine expects another 3-4 weeks for harvesting), but I'll need to evaluate my freezer space.

So what does one do with 6 pounds of blueberries? Maxine hands us a sheet with recipes for using blueberries in syrup, bundt cakes, jam, pancakes, pies, lemonades, smoothies, even chicken salad. I think we'll eat as many as we can fresh, I might make Gabe's cobbler recipe, I'll trade a bag of berries for homegrown cantaloupe with my friend Libby, and I'll freeze the rest. Maxine recommends NOT to wash the berries before freezing--only just before eating them. I'm going to lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and pop them into the freezer; then I'll throw them into quart size freezer bags.

Nearly noon, I ask the boys if they had fun. "Yeah, can we do this again?" Bobby asks. "I'm a good helper." Smile. Honestly, there are days every SAHM questions if she's the best person for this important and sometimes daunting task of raising children 24/7. Our little field trip today not only proved that it can be fun to "go green and save green" but that I'm on the right track of mommyhood.

Thanks to Squeezing a Dollar out of Dime for the tip on this place. Here are the basics of the farm:

Maxine and Bob Falls Blueberry Farm
111 Harmon Rd. Maryville, Tn 37804
(865) 982-3457
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday 6:30am-8:30pm.
1.25/lb when you pick them yourself and 2.50/lb if you just stop in to purchase them. They also have a few baked goods.
They're located about 10 minutes beyond McGhee Tyson Airport.

Please enjoy my little video below.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mother Goose: funding in trouble, HELP!

If you're a mom in the Knoxville area, you've no doubt benefited from the wonderful FREE program called Mother Goose. This is a great article if you're new to the concept. Through songs, rhymes, instruments, and interactive play with care-givers, Mother Goose strives to give every child age 3 and under the best start possible. I've taken all three of my children until they were too old or were in MDO programs during the sessions. Especially with the second and third kids often suffering from the "tag along syndrome," I loved having an opportunity to focus one-on-one to foster their developmental skills. I also got many of my ideas for "eco toys for toddlers" from Mother Goose.

Though I believe there are still two Mother Goose programs in Knoxville that rotate Thursday mornings, we've always gone to the one at the Oak Ridge Civic Center. It's close to us, and the location gives us the option to walk on the trails or play on the playground before or after the class. With the uncertainty that comes from raising infants and toddlers, I've appreciated having a structured class that did not require a commitment. Sign-ups are not required, and the classes are completely FREE.

Now comes the problem with that set-up: Lori Murphree, the teacher for the Oak Ridge classes, is losing her funding from the Anderson County Health Council. Without funding, there will be no Mother Goose in Oak Ridge. But here's the hopeful news. The Mommy2Mommy program at Methodist Medical Center will be considering taking on Mother Goose in a board meeting TOMORROW. If you've benefited from Mother Goose or have a compelling story to share, please leave a comment at the end of this post and I'll pass along the link. Thank you!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Four R's: Christian Environmentalism

Last week was Vacation Bible School at our church. After reading Gabe's post on how she reduced waste at her VBS, I decided to see what I could do for ours. This was going to be my first task as a Certified Master Recycler. What's that, you ask? A couple of months ago, Knox County Solid Waste asked me to be a part of the pilot class of master recyclers. The basic premise was to educate and empower a few individuals to spread the knowledge of what can be recycled in Knox County to their schools, churches, civic organizations, or neighborhoods. This was my chance.

I first sat down with the educational director weeks in advance to help her make snack choices that minimized waste and used recyclable materials. She was very open to my ideas and agreed to buy plastic cups instead of paper ones lined with wax--not recyclable. Individual snacks would be packaged in small paper bags--fully recyclable. And hand sanitizer instead of wipes would be used to clean hands. We already had a recycling pick-up at the church; so all we had to do was bag it and take it to the bin.

A few days prior to VBS, I went to the main Knox County Waste facility on Baxter Avenue to borrow three "clear stream bins." Anyone can sign them out for free; you're only charged if you don't return them. These consist of a wire X, a plastic top, and bags into which you can put all recyclable material together: paper, plastic, glass, and cardboard.

The first day, I briefly described to the kids our system for what to do at the end of snack time. "If you have extra drink, dump it in this bucket. If you have extra snacks, dump it in this bucket. Everything else (plastic cups and paper bags) go into the recycling bin." A trash can wasn't even an option. I was there to grab anything out of the ordinary.

The extra liquid was poured down the drain. The extra snacks ideally would have all gone into my compost bin. Some of the items like animal crackers and popcorn were compostable; some more sugary snacks like Fruit Loops and oatmeal cookies were not. The cute cheese and crackers shown above were a judgement call.

We did have some trash. Some kids with allergies brought snacks in foil bags and some of the packaging for cookies and goldfish couldn't be recycled. I also struggled with what to do with the wrappers around the oatmeal cookies; though they are plastic, this thin, saran wrap type plastic is not recyclable. I gathered them anyway in hopes to use them as windows in a craft project one day.

After five days and compressing the bags once, we filled three bags of recycling from the kids and another in the kitchen. We might have filled one trash bag half way. What impressed me most was how easy it was and how not one person (adult or child) balked at the idea or said anything negative about my "crazy ideas." Most people want to do the right thing; they just need some guidance and for it to be a no brainer.

But by far the best part of VBS was my opportunity to share some ideas with the kids each day as "Earth Mama." In one minute each day, I focused on one of the "three R's": reduce, reuse, recycle. I gave the kids tangible ways they could do all three. Then I decided to add one more R: responsibility. Kids, not just adults, should take responsibility for caring for God's creation. It's what I call Christian Environmentalism, but I'm sure many other religions support the same concept.

The theme this week was about creation and animals of the Bible. So it fit perfectly that we would hit upon how in the very beginning (Genesis 1:26), God gave us this incredible earth and told us to take care of it. He didn't mean for us to use it and abuse it however we wanted. Like nurturing parents, we are the protectors of every fish, bird, cattle, and bug on earth. Recycling is just one step, but judging by these kids' enthusiasm for it, I'd say our planet is in good hands.

Couponing for Charity 7/25-31

Hi savvy shoppers. I didn't make it shopping today because I enjoyed the sunshine with friends and family instead. However, I do hope to get to some deals in the next couple of days.

I'll be skipping Kroger this week because there aren't any sensational deals I can't live without. I'll be heading to a farmer's market and Weigel's for milk instead. As I did last week, you can still get free Crest toothpaste, Oral B toothbrushes, Suave deodorant, and Gillette body wash. Click here for details.

Other than the $1 Listerine, I didn't see any sensational deals at Walgreen's either. You might check their list of school supplies to see if any deals match your list. Click here for details.

The best place once again appears to be CVS. Click here for details. Here are some of the deals I might go after (all prices are rounded up):

  • 1 Photobook ($8, get $8ECB)--has anyone done one of these before? Do I upload photos from home like at Walgreen's?
  • 1 U by Kotex product ($5, get $5ECB); use $1/1 printable to make it a money maker.
  • 1 Biotrue solution ($3, get $3ECB); a $2/1 printable makes it a money maker. (They were out last week; maybe they've restocked).
  • 4 CVS pantyliners (Buy 2 at $.50 each, get $1ECB)--I bought 2 packs a few weeks ago because the tag said limit one, but I've heard it's actually limit 3; we'll see.
  • 1 box Pampers ($22, get $10ECB); I have a $3 coupon from Vocal Point, but there have been several $2 coupons in the paper. Since the box is about two packs of diapers, that's like getting each pack for $4.50 - $5.)
  • Goodnites boxers (Squeezing a Dollar out of a Dime noted these were on clearance for $2.99. You can find coupons from $1.50 - $2.50, making these an excellent deal)

If you haven't yet signed up for CVS emails, you can go here for some good deals, including a bonus $4ECB; only for new sign-ups though.

If you're out at Target this week, you might look for some of these freebies at the bottom of the list. Target also loaded new Kashi (organic) coupons; print those while you can. For some reason, mine aren't currently printing.

If you haven't done it in awhile, this is a good week to clear out your coupons for those expiring July 31. What are your favorite deals this week?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wild Salmon: Impress on a Budget

I recently had some friends out for dinner and served wild salmon. They seemed impressed, but it really was an economical meal. After reading this article, we've sworn off farm raised salmon. Besides, farm raised salmon is $.8.88 a pound at Sam's Club this week, and wild salmon is $3.99 a pound at Kroger. Now I don't know my salmon and which types are superior to others, but our family has enjoyed this salmon at a great price. When we cook salmon, we cook it once and make three meals out of two pounds of fish.

The first is quite simple. We marinate it in a store bought Teriyaki marinade (usually on sale for a buck) and grill it. It pairs nicely with wild rice or pasta and something green like broccoli, asparagus, or spinach. A couple of nights later, I flake the leftover salmon into a pasta dish with veggies--whatever I have on hand.

Tonight I tried this recipe and really liked it. It uses ingredients I've been able to get for very little lately (ketsup, pasta, and sour cream); fresh chives and tomatoes came from our garden. I would suggest cutting the ketsup way back (by 1/3) or adding more sour cream so that it's not too sweet. I added steamed spinach into the dish because we had it. I also topped it with fresh grated parmesan cheese because everything is better with parmesan! I doubled it and had enough for dinner and leftover lunches tomorrow.

One final note: when I posted about "the new dirty dozen"--the foods you should try to buy organic--a local reader suggested I buy salmon from her brother, a fisherman in Alaska. I'm still considering it, but the cheapest variety was $7.99 a pound, and I'd need to buy a lot of it. I'm sure it's superior in taste and quality, but I'm having trouble justifying the cost.

What do you think? How do you prepare salmon?

FREE cream cheese--maybe?

This week the mega sale and a Kraft promotion have collided at Kroger to make for 5 blocks of FREE cream cheese--maybe. Here's the scoop.

Through August 15, if you buy 5 select Kraft products, you will get $5 off your next shopping trip. You're limited to one per transaction, I believe. This week the mega sale makes Philadelphia cream cheese only $.99; buy 5, and you should get a $5 catalina, making them all FREE. Unfortunately, it's not working quite that easily.

Today at Kroger I put items into two transactions to qualify for two of these Kraft rewards and the 10 item mega sale. The first group with five blocks of cheddar cheese worked no problem. The second transaction with five cream cheese gave me the mega savings but not the catalina for $5. Apparently Coupon Katie had the same experience. Thankfully Customer Service gave each of us $5 for the confusion; however, with three kids in the cart, I would have rather skipped the hassle.

Several customers across the Southeast have been complaining of it not printing in the comment section of Southern Savers. One solution could be to buy 4 cream cheese and 1 block cheese; maybe then it would print. This worked for one customer. So if you're heading to Kroger this week, that would be my suggestion. If not, head to Customer Service.

For coupons on cream cheese, you may be able to go here for $1/1. I already printed and used mine two weeks ago. Coupon Katie found blinkies for $1/2 on Kraft block cheese in her store. For more printables on sour cream and select cheese, go here. Happy saving!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tooth Fairy's First Visit

Last Sunday was a big day in our household: our oldest Bobby lost his first tooth! Nearing 7, he's pretty old to still have all his baby teeth, but the dentist says that's actually a good thing. When it first began to wiggle a month ago, I should have devised my plan for its eventual debut. What would the Tooth Fairy bring? What's the going rate these days? Should she do something special for the FIRST tooth? This is important because a precedent is being set for his siblings too. Yes, all these questions were on my "to do" list, but when the tooth came out suddenly on Sunday evening, the Tooth Fairy was not prepared!

I was actually running an errand when my husband called to tell me the news. I swung into Weigel's for some milk and asked the cashier for anything special in her drawer. "I have one gold dollar coin and two $.50 pieces." "I'll take them," I said. When I returned home to see an exuberant boy bouncing off the walls, I knew we had to make this special. I fished around in our odds and ends basket for two Susan B. Anthony coins, and Bob found another gold dollar coin in his dresser. Great! We now have $5 in special coins. He'll love it.

Just before bed, Bobby began asking questions. "What does the Tooth Fairy look like?" "I don't know. She may be so small, no one has ever seen her," I replied. "I'll write her a note," he decided. And this is what it said, his spelling and all: "I wont your picshture or foto please on the bac. Biey Bobby." With such an ernest request, the Tooth Fairy had no choice but to comply. Thank goodness for the Internet.

Once he was in bed, I began searching for images online. Most of them wanted money for them or would only print with the image credit blazed across her chest. This one and this one were a little scary. This one is downright terrifying. An extremist was even touting, "The Tooth Fairy teaches children they can sell their body parts for money." Chill out! Several sites were charging for a custom something or other (they lost me at charging me money). Thankfully, I found this free printable certificate, signed "Toothie the Tooth Fairy" along with a picture of a blonde fairy with a wand. Done.

Wanting to ensure his expectations did not count on $5 for every tooth, Toothie wrote on the back of his note that the $5 in special coins was only for the first tooth. He would receive $1 for each additional tooth. The next morning he was all aflutter with the bag of coins and his certificate. The picture wasn't quite what he had in mind, but he seemed to accept the money plan as a fact not to be contested.

All and all, I'd consider it a success. Maybe we should have found him a special pillow or sprinkled "fairy dust" (glitter), but seeing his new smile with one less tooth was all that mattered. Long live the magic!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Couponing for Charity 7/18-24 & Update #17

I just posted my deals for charity last week--nearly $36 of goods for one penny (and tax of course)! How great is that?!

This week, I think CVS has the best deals if you want to pick one location. Here are Southern Saver's match-ups. Today I spent $3.15, saved $42.44, and walked out with $11.99 ECB for next time. Half of my savings were from last week's ECBs, here's the break-down:

  • 2 M&M pretzyls ($.89 each, on sale for $.50, buy 2, get $1ECB; that makes both FREE; I couldn't find the coupon that made this a MM but oh well; love free chocolate!)
  • 2 3 count Expo washable dry erase markers ($4.99, on sale for $1.99 each, used 2 $1/1 printables, making them $.99 each)
  • 1 Ivory 3 bar soap ($1.69, on sale for $.99, used $.50 coupon from paper, making it $.49)
  • 1 Celsius green tea ($7.99; get $7.99 ECB; used $2 printable here for a $2MM. NOTE: I suspect this coupon could be a fraud because it didn't scan and he had to type it in. I'm very wary of using fraudulent coupons; if I had known, I wouldn't have brought it.)
  • 1 Huggies Goodnites ($11.99; on sale for $8.99, used a $2.50/1 printable I printed ages ago. After the $3ECB, these were only $3.49! Limit 1)
  • 1 CVS hand sanitizer pen ($1.99; free with coupon they emailed me. Go here to sign up to get your deals.)
  • 1 CVS sunscreen ($6.49; used $1/1 coupon that printed from the kiosk. This is my favorite sunscreen and here's why.)
  • 1 bag of cheese popcorn ($1.49; ok this was an impulse buy, but I wanted a new snack for the kids this week.)
  • I also had a $5 off $30 coupon they emailed as well.

My total before coupons: $32.92
Coupons used today: $14.99
ECBs used from last week: $16.97
Total spent including tax: $3.15
Total saved: $42.44
Total ECBs earned for next week: $11.99

I haven't decided if I'm going to Walgreen's this week. The toothpaste and pen money makers might draw me in, but I'm not sure yet. For Southern Saver's match-ups go here. Staples also has more deals--including $.01 glue--but I may not make it there either.

UPDATE 7/20: I did make it to Kroger today and picked up some good deals for charity. I also picked up some of their mega-deals for us but forgot to mark four of them somewhere between yelling, "Stop hitting your brother" and "Get back here; no running in the store!" Here are the free hygiene items I scored:

4 Crest toothpaste ($2.59, on sale for $1, used 4 $.50 coupons which Kroger doubles=FREE)
2 Oral B toothbrushes ($2.69, on sale for $1, used 1 $2/2 coupon=FREE)
1 Suave deodorant ($2.06, on sale for $1.50, mega sale takes off $.50, used 1 $.50 coupon that doubles=FREE)

If I hadn't been so eager to use my Ivory soap coupon at CVS, I could have made $.50 on 3 bars at Kroger: on sale for $1, the $.50 coupon doubles, and a $.50 esaver from gives you a profit. Can't win 'em all!

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 4 toothpastes, 2 toothbrushes, 1 deodorant

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 10 pens, 2 multi-purpose eye solutions, 1 shampoo, 2 feminine care, 1 pack of napkins, 1 pack of paper, 4 toothpastes, 2 toothbrushes, 1 deodorant

What are your favorite deals this week?

Couponing for Charity Update #16

I'm a little behind in my posts--ok a lot behind, but I'll get there. To keep all the math correct, I decided I should total all my bargains LAST WEEK and then post the good finds I got at CVS today in a separate post. These aren't all the deals I got--just the ones I'm donating. The values represent the non-sale prices.

10 pack of Papermate pens ($1.99; free after ECB)
1 Biotrue lens cleaner ($2.99; free after ECB)--There is a $2 printable I saw after my trip, but there were no more products on the shelf today.
1 Complete multi-purpose solution ($10.99; free after ECB; couldn't find the coupon for this.)
1 John Frieda shampoo ($6.99; free after coupons and ECB--I bought 2 and kept 1)
2 CVS pantyliners ($1.98 each; free after ECB)
I kept the free scissors.

I got some good deals here too, but I'm keeping them all.

1 500 count Dixie napkins ($3.99, on sale for $1.49 with mega deal, used a B2 plates, G1 napkin free coupon attached to the plates. After coupons, I got all three items for just $.50! I'm keeping the plates and donating the napkins. These aren't a green product, but sometimes the deal wins out.)

1 500 count multi-purpose paper ($6.99, on sale for $4.99, only $.01 after easy rebate. I bought 2 and kept 1. I wish they were made from recycled paper, but oh well.)
I got the $.01 pencils and the $.01 folders as well as lots of other deals for a buck, but I'm keeping those.

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 10 pens, 2 multi-purpose eye solutions, 1 shampoo, 2 feminine care, 1 pack of napkins, 1 pack of paper

Since this is the first batch of products for the next charity, we'll keep the totals separate. Maybe towards the end of the year, I'll total all the products, costs and savings. Having fun yet?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Couponing for Charity 7/11-17

Miss me? I'm back! I didn't want to publicize that I was going on vacation, but we just returned from a wonderful trip to the CT shoreline with family. I have lots to share and will get to those in future posts, including Bobby's first fish and his first visit from the Tooth Fairy!

For the bargain shoppers, it's already time to save on back to school products. Remember even if your child may not need some of these supplies, non-profits can always use office supplies. I recommend heading to CVS, Staples, and Walgreen's TOMORROW if you get a chance.

If you only have time for one store, I'd recommend CVS. For all the CVS match-ups, click here. For Coupon Katie's picks, click here. Through 7/13, you can get 10 free pens and a free pair of scissors. Other deals include free multi-purpose solution (I can't find the coupon that makes it a $2MM), two free bottles of John Frieda shampoo (it's worth wading through the steps to get 2 $2.50/1 coupons), and two free packs of CVS pantiliners. And I'll admit I'm going to get the Neutragena wrinkle treatment ($5MM with rebate this week only)--I'm not getting any younger!

Staples has several dollar deals for supplies, but how can you pass up the penny deals good through 7/14? You can get $.01 pocket folders (limit 10), $.01 pack of 8 pencils (limit 2), and 500 sheets of multi-purpose paper for $.01 (after easy rebate; limit 2). There's also a $5 off $30 purchase coupon here.

For all the Walgreen's match-ups, click here. For Coupon Katie's picks, click here. As for Walgreen's, there are no great freebies this week, unless you count the SalonPas hot patch noted by Coupon Katie. I may stop in to get dry erase markers ($2 for 4 or I'll see if the Expo washables are on sale to use the $3/6 pack in the July coupon book), a few mini highlighters for $.09 each, and Penway memo books (5/$1 with the extra coupons you can print at the end of the flyer online).

And while you're grabbing the best deals in town, Kroger is having a decent mega event (save $5 on 10 select items). I'll be stocking up on cheese for sure.

Once I've made my trips and have my totals, I'll publish another update. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fishing: NO Girls Allowed

I've never been one to bow to gender expectations or to limit my choices simply because I was a girl. When I first went fishing at age 5, I thought nothing of the fact that A. I was a girl participating in a sport dominated by boys or B. That it was unusual that I would catch a fish before my 9 year old brother. The picture of me holding my first fish--3, maybe 4 inches long--was one of sheer joy and pride.

But as I grew up, fishing was never my top choice for how to spend an afternoon. My husband, however, describes his childhood as if he were fishing every day. Growing up a few miles from the ocean, he would pack a PB&J, ride his bike down to the pier, and spend 5 or 6 hours fishin'. He also developed the fine art of dragging and trapping crabs. His knowledge of bait, tides, fishing gear, and what to do with the darn things when you catch them far out-weighs mine. Nevertheless, when he decided to take the boys fishing, I wanted to tag along. I had no idea what territory I was about to intrude upon.

Their trip to the bait shop is just Bob and the boys. Devin demands, "You and Brooke stay here. WE go to bait shop." Whatever. They also pick up some gear. Up to now, our 6 and 3 year old sons have been content with fishing line tied to a stick on one end and a bobber on the other. No hooks helped me relax. That time has passed.

When I get in the car to go fishing and leave Brooke with the grandparents, no comments are made. At the pier, each boy is presented a genuine rod and reel and a hook spearing a tiny fishhead. When the boys begin flailing them around dangerously, I quickly search my first aid memory bank for how to remove a hook from appendages. Can we please skip that lesson today? I pray.

Patiently, Bob shows the boys how to cast and reel it back in slowly. "Don't reel it in right away; just leave it there and watch for any signs of movement, " he encourages. I go over to help Devin, but he gives me the cold shoulder. He would listen to Daddy's guidance but not mine. He uses no words but his actions speak volumes: "Fishing's for boys; no girls allowed." It's at this point that I truly feel like a fish out of water. I don't belong. I've intruded on a male bonding activity and my presence isn't appreciated. How did I not see this coming?

I ask Bob if he ever brought girls along on his fishing escapades as a boy and he responds, "Never." After I snap a few pictures, I decide to just relax and soak in nature. That lasts about five minutes when I begin to get eager to interact with nature. "Any nibbles yet?" Nothing. "How you guys doin'?" Nothing. This is fishing? I wonder. How does anyone do this for 5 or 6 hours?! Regardless of my gender,this sport is not for me.

It turns out I'm not the only one bored. Within ten minutes, the boys have wedged their poles in a rock and are off on a nature scavenger hunt. A funny thing happens when fishing is no longer the focus: I am once again included in their adventures. "Look, Mommy, isn't this shell neat?" "Ooh, ahh, let's show Nana and Papa that when we get home!" They beam with pride. The lines have been clearly drawn: fishing isn't for Mom, nature hunts are.

After an hour, my frustrated husband packs it in. His vision of being able to share his beloved pass-time with the next generation is a bitter disappointment. "When the fish are biting, it will be a very different story," I console him. "You might also need to give them a few more years when their patience and attention spans are superior to that of a knat."

A few days later--despite my resolution to leave fishing to men--the whole family including aunts, uncles, and cousins return to the pier for another go at fishing. I spend most of my time shadowing Brooke hopping along rocks way too dangerous for a 16 month old. The child has no fear; wonder where she gets that?! Just as we spot a red jellyfish, I hear, "Alright, Bobby, your first fish!!" Everyone huddles around to sufficiently admire and praise the young fisherman. His memories of boredom during fishing are quickly masked by the thrill of the catch. Once sufficient pictures have been snapped, Bob tries to get the hook out and release it, but no luck. Bobby is thrilled to take home his grand prize of nature. He even surprises us by trying a few bites of his prize catch breaded in a frying pan.

I can't say as I've given up fishing with my children, especially when Brooke begs to go too. But I have realized fathers need a few activities that are "boys only" just like Brooke and I will need our "girls only days." It can be a fine line between feeding into gender expectations and acknowledging some preferences are normal, but I'm sure we'll find our way.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Couponing for Charity 7/4-10

As I mentioned last week, I'm taking off this week from couponing for charity. If you need a break, this a good one since the deals aren't sensational. Check for all the match-ups.

There are three freebies at CVS: multi-purpose solution, pantyliners, and Post cereals. And Walgreen's has 10 pencils for $.19 if you want to start stocking up for school supplies. Happy shopping and I'll get back into the swing next week.