Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Halloween Frenzy

For us, Halloween is over. Yes, it's mid-day on October 31, but our neighborhood chose to celebrate Halloween and trick-or-treating last night instead. The decision of Saturday vs Sunday has been a big bone of contention for many in our Knoxville community, but the decision was quite simple for us. A few mentioned a preference, we put it to an email vote, and Saturday won. We'll probably still have a few outsiders show up tonight and I will happily oblige them with treats. And we could take our kids to another neighborhood tonight, but I think enough is enough.

The nice thing is that I can sit back and relax on this Sunday, reflecting on the frenzy of yesterday and try to gain some perspective on this holiday of costumes and candy. I raced around all day Saturday preparing for all the festivities. I had to gather all the parts to their costumes strewn around the house and ensure they were clean from previous parties. I made "aliens" and "monsters" with the boys out of toilet paper rolls and egg cartons for our spooky tunnel made of pop-up-tents for the neighborhood party in the cul-de-sac. I had to find the playdough and chocolates I had stashed away from the kids for the trick or treaters. I loaded the car with all the supplies for the party and set them up myself. I prepared my cards for the reverse trick or treating. And of course we (well, mainly hubby) carved two awesome pumpkins: one an intricate dragon and one of Wow Wow Wubzy.

Where are pictures, you may ask? This is where the frenzy begins. I'm so mad at myself for not being able to find our camera on one of the biggest festivities of the year. I'm sure it will turn up, but it's all over now and we don't have a single picture.

As the party neared, I felt I had it all together. But then I forgot my great plan of making this a trashless event. I was going to be diligent with gathering recycling, even compostable trash. Alas, I just forgot and ran out of steam to make it happen. Instead, I just enjoyed the fellowship with neighbors.

We then had one hour to get home and eat dinner before starting trick or treating. In the middle of dinner, the doorbell rings. Not yet! "Mom, we're late! They're starting! We gotta get out there!" As we scrambled to finish dinner, get costumes back on, find flashlights and bags, and light our pumpkins, I was breathless before we left the driveway.

"Devin, here's your mask and tail for your bear costume!"
"I don't want to wear them!"
"But you're just a burglar in black without them!"
"I don't care!"
"Where's Brooke's headband?"
"I don't know."
"Devin, you had it last. Where did you put it?"
"I don't know."

We even left without her adorable wings; she was a barebones butterfly in a yellow and black tutu. Bobby took off with his buddy Aiden like race horses. Devin, Brooke, and I scrambled to keep up with maneuvering the wagon, letting her walk some, and prompting "trick or treats" and "thank yous" from Devin. Seven-year-olds do not want to hang with younger siblings. A few times, I found myself yelling their names, barking like a drill sergeant about safety, and yet trying to keep it fun for everyone. With the driveways in our neighborhood all being on a hill, I can safely say I got my exercise for the day.

At the second to last house, it hit me: I forgot our reverse trick or treating cards! "Are you kidding me?!" I exclaimed at myself. Nothing had gone right tonight. But that, of course, wasn't true. When we returned home at 8:00pm, the kids were digging through the candy and talking about how much fun today was. From the crafts to the pumpkins, from the party to the trick or treating, it was a fun day. It's tough at times when the frenzy is at top speed to see that.

So to most of the country who will be trick or treating tonight, I encourage you to not worry about the small stuff and just enjoy the thrill of the holiday. Even without a single picture, I can say it was the best Halloween yet. And this afternoon, I'm going to take all three kids on a leisurely walk through the neighborhood to distribute those fair trade chocolates in mailboxes. Won't they be pleasantly surprised tomorrow?!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The First 24 hours I Have NOT Nursed my Daughter

My daughter is now 20 months old. Many will say, "What are you doing still nursing a nearly two year old?" Some will say, "You go girl!" As she is my last of three children and the only one who took to breastfeeding easily, I'm comfortable with my decision to let the weaning process play out naturally. My original goal was to make it to her second birthday.

However, last night marked the first night in her life that I had not nursed her for an entire 24 hour period. We've given up most day-time feedings and mainly nurse going to sleep and occasionally once during the night or early in the morning. Given I was away during her regular bedtime last night, she went to sleep without me.

I'm not sure whether to mourn or celebrate this milestone. A little of both I guess. I possibly have a trip coming up in a month that would close the door for good. Do I take the first extended vacation away from my kids in 7 years or do I stay to savor a little more time of this treasure of breastfeeding? Naturally, my body is winding down and she doesn't seem bothered by it. She'll likely transition just fine.

The question is: will I? Am I ready to go cold turkey and just have hubby do her bed-time routine? Having made it 24 hours, I thought about that option. Then I pondered, "But I didn't get to say good-bye! I need some sort of proper closure!" But how exactly do I get that? This isn't just weaning a child. This is weaning my last child. The last time I'll ever savor that incredible gift we have as women to nourish and love our child simultaneously.

Maybe I shouldn't be so emotional about it, but I can't help myself. How did you know the time was right to wean? How did you say good-bye? With tears in my eyes....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Great Earthfare Deals (good through 11/30)

First of all, many thanks to Hannah at Frugally Farming Family for taking the time to do the monthly Earthfare match-ups. She has 7 kids and still finds time to help all of us save on healthy foods. The November deals are already up and will be good through 11/30.

Here are the deals I got today:
  • 1 3lb bag of organic honeycrisp apples: $5.99--FREE with this coupon through 11/2.
  • 1 tub of sliced almonds: $2.00 (receipt says I saved $5.99 but I don't think that's right; I believe they are a savings of $3/lb)
  • 2 Cascadian Farms organic peas: normally $3.19, on sale for $2.00, used 2 $.75 printable=$1.25 each. Tip: If you're new to Cascadian Farms, you can print a $1/1 coupon.
  • Dagoba chocolate bar: normally $2.49, on sale for $2.00, used $1/1 coupon from Mambo Sprouts mailer. Tip: Ask one of the clerks if they have any Mambo Sprouts / Earthfare coupon books. I forgot today.
  • 2 Muir Glen 28 oz canned fire roasted tomatoes: normally $2.54, on sale for $2.00, used 2 $.75/1 printables=$1.25 each. Check Hannah's list for several places to print this coupon.
  • 1 Green Genius bio-degradable kitchen bags 45 count: normally $8.99, on sale for $7.99 through 12/31 (this is one of the environmental products I'm willing to pay more for.)
  • 1 bag of onions: $3.49 (not on sale, but I needed them).
Total Spent: $21.46
Total Saved: $20.93 (though that may be inflated with incorrect almonds savings)

If I were willing to go back later today, I could save another $5 off $20 from the stamp on my receipt, but that's just not practical for me. Go green, save green.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Couponing for Charity 10/24-30 & Update #26

My apologies for the delay in posting. Hopefully by now you know how to find the deals yourself and just check my site to compare notes. I tend to post some deals first on Knoxmoms message board. So please check there as well.

For the first time in awhile, I advise skipping CVS this week. Other than the bags of candy I got for $1 each (prices go up slightly tomorrow), there really aren't any great deals. To see if you disagree, go here for Coupon Katie's picks and here for the complete match-ups by Southern Savers.

Thanks to Coupon Katie for the heads-up on deals at Kroger (not a very good week IMO), but you can get free Chex Mix, good deals on GM cereals, free dish soap, and free kids' toothpaste. I've already used my Crest coupon, but I'm ready to stock up on Honey Nut Cheerios and Chex cereal to make my own chex mix for the holidays.

For the best money makers, Walgreen's is this week's go-to store. Click here for Coupon Katie's picks and here for Southern Saver's match-ups. I had planned to get some Goodnites with the diaper deal, but they weren't included and the $2 coupons I had were only for sizes 1 & 2. I also planned to get the free adult cough medicine. I liked that it was homeopathic, but when I looked at the ingredients--honey, sucrose, purified water, citric acid, and sodium benzonate--I figured I'd be better off making my own concoction. Shouldn't honey, lemon, and warm water be just as good? Even though it was free, I'd have to wait for my money for 8-10 weeks with a rebate, and I'm still paying the tax. So, I passed.

Here is what I bought:
Transaction #1:
  • 1 Children's Mucinex (normally $9.49, on sale for $6.99, get $7 with mail-in rebate=FREE)
  • 1 Colgate Sensitve toothpaste (normally $4.79, on sale for $3.49, get $3.50RR, used $1/1MC=$1MM)
  • 1 Contact Cold & Flu (normally $8.49, on sale for $6, get $6RR, used $2 printable=$2MM)
  • 3 rolls of Big Roll toilet paper (normally $.89 each, on sale for $.50)
  • The TP and no coupon for the Mucinex allowed me to use 4 RR's from last week: $2.60, $2.60, $2.00, and $2.00
  • 8x10 collage (printed pictures from our Oakes Farm trip on Saturday; value: $3.99, cost=FREE with code)
Total Spent: $7.44
Total Saved: $27.64
Generated RRs or rebate forms worth: $16.50

Transaction #2:
  • 1 Contact (same as above)
  • 1 Colgate (same as above)
Total Spent: $7.37
Total Saved: $6.79
Generated RRs worth: $9.50

Tip: If you get the rebate deals, make sure you only get one because you can only redeem one per household, and if you choose to get the Chestal, make sure you buy it separately from the Mucinex in case you have to mail in original receipts.

If I decide to donate anything from my Kroger trip later this week, I'll add those later. I'm not sure if any organizations want over-the-counter medicines, but I'll add it now and figure it out later.

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 2 toothpaste, 1 cold & flu medicine

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 1 lotion, 8 toothpaste, 2 heat wraps, 7 lip balms, 2 body wash, 1 shaving gel, 2 razors, 1 lipstick, 1 multi-purpose solution, 1 candle, 6 first aid kits, 2 deodorants, 2 travel wash detergent packs, 1 cough drops, 2 pantyhose, 1 gum, 3 soups, 2 hand soaps, 2 tuna, 1 cold & flu medicine
TOTAL SPENT: -$6.90 (that's negative nearly seven bucks)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How We Can Stop Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

The past few months I've been working with a non-profit, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, to produce a video showcasing solutions for our dependence on oil. No one is asking you to give up your car. We're Americans. We need mobility. We love the freedom to go anywhere we want. However, there are ways that EVERY American can help alleviate the need to drill in the Gulf of Mexico AND the Persian Gulf. Please watch my video at this link to see how you can be part of the solution.

The images of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deep Water Horizon spill in April broke my heart. Some of my family members experienced it first-hand this summer when oil began to wash up on shore. These pictures were taken by my very talented BIL, Patrick.

So when SACE approached me about doing a video focusing on alternatives to off-shore drilling, I was very excited. The key is reducing consumption, and there are four main ways to do that:
  1. Increasing fuel efficiency
  2. Using more hybrid and electric vehicles
  3. Using alternative biofuels
  4. Making better personal choices
Thank you for watching my video and giving your feedback. For more information, check out SACE's blog on the subject.

A few tips for maneuvering Oakes Farm

We finally made it to Oakes Farm today for our annual family pumpkin patch & corn maze adventure. It's even better than before, and we had a blast! I did learn a few things that I thought I'd pass along for anyone still planning their trip.

1. Don't pay full price. The best deal I've seen is what I snagged a few weeks ago from Groupon: B1G1 admission tickets. It saved our family $16. Or go with a group of 20 or more and save $2 a ticket.

2. For those wanting the family adventure with young kids, a Saturday or Sunday is ideal. I had planned to go W-F at 6pm to get the free pumpkins, but only one hour of daylight isn't worth it. We spent 3.5 hours and still didn't do everything.

3. A 12:30pm arrival seemed to be a good time on a Saturday. Some of the first wave was already leaving but the afternoon crowd wasn't there yet. We parked four spaces from the entrance and waited in line for only 10 minutes. Later, the line looked to be closer to 45 minutes for tickets. The kids got a short nap on the way and were ready to go when we arrived.

4. Use your Ergo if you have a little one (under 2), especially if you plan to navigate the corn maze.

5. Pack a lunch. There are plenty of places to have a picnic lunch. Bringing your own saves lots of money.

6. Be a kid! The slides, pedal carts, and bouncing air mattress are a blast for adults too. Don't let your kids have all the fun!

7. If you live in north or northwest Knoxville, returning via Emory Road is just as fast as Washington Pike.

What was your favorite part of Oakes Farm?

Couponing for Charity Update #25

Before I begin posting the deals starting 10/24, I figured I should update my totals from this week of which deals I got. If you're new to Couponing for Charity, here's the background. This was my plan, and below reflects only what I'll be donating. I do keep some deals for my family. I hope you'll consider joining me in my quest of freebies for those less fortunate.

  • 1 Schick razor ($8.49, got $5ECB, used $4MC=$.51MM)
  • 1 Mentos gum (bought 2 at $1.79 each; B1G1 deal; used 2 $1MC=$.11MM each)
  • 1 Nivea mens body wash ($4.99, on sale for $2.50, used $3MC=$.50MM)
  • 1 Blistex ointment ($2.59 sale price, get $2.60RR=$.01MM)
  • 3 Campbell's cream of mushroom soups ($4.50, used WC to save $2.13, used $1.50/3MC=$.87 total)

  • 2 Dial liquid hand soaps ($1.63, on sale for $1, used 2 $.35MC doubled=$.60 total)
  • 1 Crest toothpaste ($2.99, on sale for $1, used $.50MC doubled=FREE)
  • 2 Bumblee tuna packs ($1.99, on sale for $1, used $1/2MC=$1 total)

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 1 razor, 1 gum, 1 body wash, 1 lip balm, 3 soups, 2 hand soaps, 1 toothpaste, 2 tuna

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 1 lotion, 6 toothpaste, 2 heat wraps, 7 lip balms, 2 body wash, 1 shaving gel, 2 razors, 1 lipstick, 1 multi-purpose solution, 1 candle, 6 first aid kits, 2 deodorants, 2 travel wash detergent packs, 1 cough drops, 2 pantyhose, 1 gum, 3 soups, 2 hand soaps, 2 tuna
TOTAL SPENT: -$2.90 (that's negative nearly three bucks)

So, I actually splurged and spent some money this week because I'm preparing a stash to donate to Second Harvest. I realize I haven't covered my tax, but I'm willing to take a little hit for charity. Normally, I'd be spending close to $10 to donate 10 cans of food. With couponing, I can donate more with less. Having fun yet?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Couponing for Charity 10/17- 23

Time to wrangle those deals again for yourself and/or for charity. I primarily post the non-perishable deals here--those ideal to donate to the food bank or non-profits. There are freebies this week at Walgreen's, CVS, and Kroger and I'll be shopping all three. If you're looking for the best candy deal and a free hand sanitizer, go to CVS. If you want to pick up a number of good deals and a few freebies, head to Walgreen's.

For Southern Saver's complete list of match-ups, go here. For a free hand sanitizing pen, go here. I'll be picking up that plus two packs of candy and a free razor. The cereal deal is better at Wags.

For Southern Saver's complete list of match-ups, go here. Scroll down to the bottom for a deal scenario. If you printed the $1.50 Coffee Mate coupon a few days ago, that's a money maker; they're now gone. I'll be getting the FREE nasal spray, lip ointment, cough drops, and body wash. I'll also get a few cans of cream of mushroom soup ($.29 each with coupons) and Kellogg's cereal ($1 each with coupons & RR)--great for your stockpile or donating.

If you're still looking for a costume or an accessory like a cape, there's a $5 coupon on the front of the flyer. Check out this scenario:

Transaction #1:
1 mucinex nasal spray: $7.99, get $7.99RR
1 blistex lip ointment: $2.59, get $2.59RR
You pay $10.58 plus tax; get $10.58RR (or you can use 2 RRs from a previous trip to make your OOP even less).

Transaction #2:
Find a costume that's $14.99.
2 Russell Stover chocolates: $.39 each
Use $5 off costume coupon.
Use $7.99RR and $2.59RR.
You pay $.19 plus tax.

You can do them in the same day and you don't have to worry about how to use your RR in the future. Pretty cool, huh?

For Southern Saver's complete list of match-ups, go here. I'll go for the free Crest toothpaste, Bumblee tuna, and $.30 Dial hand soap--all great donations.

Later in the week, I'll update my totals. Leave a comment if this inspired you to grab some deals for yourself or charity.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween Candy Deals

It's mid-October and I'm trying not to panic yet that I have NO Halloween candy. I'm being patient because I refuse to pay full-price. I keep waiting for the best deals in town to speak to me! Since it's pretty quiet out there, I decided to do some digging.

I first start with what coupons I have from the paper or online. Expiring this week I have:
  • $1/2 Hershey bars and
  • $1/3 Hershey, Reese's or Kit Kats.
  • I also have $1/2 Hershey kisses and
  • $1.50/3 Mars candies including M&Ms, Twix, Milky Way, Three Muskateers, and Snickers from 10/10's paper.
  • Thanks to Coupon Katie for pointing out a number of printables on right now, including Nestle, Wonka, Skittles, Starburst, and Lifesavers. They're higher value but for larger bags.
Personally, I don't buy candy that I'm not willing to eat. I know they say not to buy what you like for health reasons, but that's downright wasteful to me. I detest most hard candy and always go for the chocolate. Snickers, Twix, and M&Ms are big winners in our house; so my hunt is for the best deal to pair with this coupon.

This week through 10/16 you can get bags of that size for $2.50 each at Kroger and CVS. Buy 3 bags, and it's $2 a bag with that coupon. Tip: While you're at CVS this week, make sure you print coupons at the kiosk before shopping. I got a free bag of Brachs candycorn with a $.99ECB (the small bags are on sale for $.99). I also got a bag of Hershey's miniatures for $2.50, used $1/1 coupon, making it $1.50. Not bad, but would I hand out either of these to trick or treaters? Doubtful.

Then it hit me: check Iheartwags and IheartCVS to see what deals are coming up! These sites give you previews of the best deals weeks in advance. Love it! Next week at Walgreen's, the price for those bags will still be $2.50 each, but if you wait until 10/24, they will be that price with a $.50RR, making 3 bags $1.83 each.

UPDATE 10/17:
The best deal I see starting today is at CVS when the kiosks will be printing an ECB that will save you an additional $1 on 2 bags. It gets even better: there's a $1/2 coupon in today's paper. Since they're priced at $2.50 each, you can use both the CVS coupon and the manufacturer coupon, making each bag $1.50 each for two bags. According to next week's preview, the price will drop to $2 a bag, but there's no telling if they'll still be print the $1/2 CVS coupons. So you save either week.

Even if the prices are better at Target or Kroger, I'll still buy my candy at CVS because I think they have the best rewards program. In addition to those savings, I can use ECBs from other purchases to pay for my candy entirely. That's what I'm talking about!

But wait! What's "green" about this candy? Absolutely nothing. So I'll also be on the look-out for deals on fair trade chocolate. I didn't see any bagged candy deals on Hannah's match-ups for Earthfare this month. Maybe World Market?

I did order my reverse trick-or-treating kit that my kids will be handing out to the neighbors, and it just arrived! I suppose it would be pretty hypocritical of me if I didn't have some fair trade chocolate to distribute on my doorstep as well. Any suggestions, greeniacs?

If I don't find fair trade chocolate, I'll distribute mini playdoughs that I got for free with Kohl's cash. Love that!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Couponing for Charity 10/10- 16 & Update #24

Hi savvy shoppers. It's a another decent week for deals. I'm shopping at Target, Walgreens, & CVS. It's a toss-up for which has the better deals. Just make sure you're not letting any register rewards or ECBs expire.

For Southern Saver's Target match-ups, go here. I already made a run to Target today to finally get Bobby's & Devin's Halloween costumes. If you buy a costume of $15 or more, make sure you grab the coupon in the October Parenting magazine for a free bag of M&Ms.

As for the freebies, head to the travel aisle. Usually at Target when you use a coupon that's a higher value than the product ($1 for an item that costs $.97), the register will beep. The clerk can either just hit over-ride, which gives you the full $1 or type in $.97. For two products, I actually made a few cents. The freebies I got were:

  • 6 Johnson & Johnson travel first aid kits ($5.82; used 2 $3/3 J&J coupons=$.18MM)
  • 2 Degree womens deodorants--travel size ($.99, used 2 $1 printables; register took off $1.98=FREE)
  • 2 Tide travel packs ($.99 each; used 2 $1/1 Tide coupons=$.02MM)
  • 2 Reach dental floss ($.97; used 2 $1/1 Reach coupons=$.06MM); we'll keep these.
Tomorrow is when I'll shop the pharmacies; so all I have now is a plan.

  • 2 Quaker instant oatmeal ($2.50 each, buy 2, get $2ECB, use 2 $2/1 printables--limit reached=$1MM)--I'm keeping
  • 2 Colgate Total (normally $3.69, on sale for $2.99, get $2.99, use 1 $.75MC & 1 $1/1=$1.75MM)
  • 1 Brachs candy corn ($.99, will use $.99 Brachs ECB if it prints at the kiosk=FREE)--keeping
  • I'll use $5ECB from previous trips to make my total $.50 plus tax and leave with $8ECB)

Transaction #1:
  • 1 Huggies diapers ($9, get $2RR, $2.50 printable=$4.50)
  • 1 HallS Refresh (normally $2.49, on sale for $1, get $1RR, $.75MC=$.75MM)
  • 1 Crest Pro Health toothpaste ($2.50, get $1.50RR, $1MC=FREE)
  • 4 Barilla pasta ($1 each with in-ad coupon; limit 4)
Since the above items = 7 and I have 4 coupons, I can also use a $5RR, $3.50RR, and $3RR from previous weeks).
Total before coupons: $16.50
Total OOP (out of pocket): $.75 plus tax.
Get back: $4.50RR

Transaction #2:
  • 1 Huggies diapers (use $2.50 printable)
  • 1 Halls Refresh (use $.75 from All You)
  • 4 Barilla pasta (use Walgreens in ad coupon)
Use $3RR, $3RR, and $2RR from previous weeks
Total before coupons: $14
Total OOP: $2.75 plus tax.
Get back: $3RR

Transaction #3:
  • 1 Huggies pull-ups (use $2 printable)
  • 4 No nonsense essential basics knee highs (normally $.79 each, on sale for $.25 each; no coupon necessary)
Use $1RR, $1.50RR, $1RR, $1RR (one from previous trips, three from today)
Total before coupons: $10
Total after coupons: $3.50 plus tax
Get back: $2RR

I should only spend a total of $7 plus tax and walk out with $6RR--not bad for several of our staples and some good items to donate. But nothing ever goes as planned.

UPDATE 10/15:
I did make it to CVS (twice actually because they were out of the oatmeal) and Walgreen's. The hang tags were put on the wrong products for the Crest. I bought the wrong kind and then returned it. I will be giving the two packs of diapers to someone at our church but I won't be including those in my totals. What you don't see donated, I keep.

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 6 travel first aid kits, 2 deodorants, 2 Tide travel packs, 2 toothpastes, 1 cough drops, 2 pantyhose

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 1 lotion, 5 toothpaste, 2 heat wraps, 6 lip balms, 1 body wash, 1 shaving gel, 1 razor, 1 lipstick, 1 multi-purpose solution, 1 candle, 6 first aid kits, 2 deodorants, 2 travel wash detergent packs, 1 cough drops, 2 pantyhose
TOTAL SPENT: -$4.24 (that's negative four bucks)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Green Halloween

Though I'm writing all the time online, I admit I get a little giddy when I see my work in print. Something you can hold, flip, and give to someone else at the park. So I was excited to pick up the Knoxmoms October magazine yesterday, which features, among others, my article: "Green Halloween." It has tips for how to go green and save green this holiday.

Go here to view a copy online or find out where you can get this free publication: I always get mine at the library.

If you haven't heard of Knoxmoms, where have you been the past three years?! I consider it our town's go-to place for LOCAL information.

FIND THINGS TO DO: The datebook is full of family-friendly activities, and can easily be searched by dates.

SIGN UP FOR THE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER: I look forward to the weekly E-newsletter on Thursdays that gives exclusive deals, contest news, hot topics, and Ali's (head mom) pick of things to do.

TALK TO OTHER MOMS: Join the parent community and make friends, upload photos and videos, start discussions and more. I've become quite active on the message board. I'm "bluefrog" of course.

SAVE SOME DOUGH: Download coupons, sell old baby stuff and plan your weekly menu with the recipe database. It's all on MomShop.

Thank you, Ali, for all that you do for our community!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Couponing for Charity 10/3- 9 & Update #23

Here are this week's picks for freebies for charity or for your own stock-pile. I made it to Walgreen's today but won't get to CVS til later in the week. I think they're both worth checking out this week for different reasons. If you have RR that will expire, head to Walgreen's for sure.

WALGREEN'S: Click here for Southern Saver's match-ups and here for Coupon Katie's picks. I tried to get a good deal on Milano cookies, but the Middlebrook Pike store didn't have that size in stock. The Playtex rubber glove coupon didn't match the product on sale; it might work, but I didn't want the fuss if it didn't. I decided to get the free Schik razor deal at CVS since I like their rewards better, but you could use one at CVS and one at Walgreen's. And the Hershey's deal wasn't possible because the bag was too small for the coupon. Again, it might work, but I try to be true to buy specifically what the coupon is intended for.

Here's what I bought since I had 2 $2RR and 2 $1.50RR expiring this week.
Transaction #1:
1 EOS organic lip balm (normally $3.49, on sale for $3, get $3RR=FREE)
1 Crest toothpaste (normally $2.49, on sale for $1.99, get $1RR, with $1/1MC=FREE)
2 Nivea lip balms (normally $2.99 each, on sale for $.99, with $1/1MC from All You magazine=FREE)
1 Russel Stover chocolate ($.29 for filler item)
--Used 2 $2RR from previous trips
--Used $1/1 Crest coupon
--Used 2 $1/1 Nivea coupons
Total spent: $.95
Total saved: $12.27
RRs for next time: $3 and $1

Transaction #2:
1 EOS lip balm
--Used $1.50 RR
Total spent: $1.78
Total saved: $1.99
RR for next time: $3

Transaction #3:
1 EOS lip balm
--Used $1.50 RR
Total spent: $1.78
Total saved: $1.99
RR for next time: $3

Note: I could have gotten another $.29 filler item and used 2 $1.50RR in transaction #2, but I wasn't thinking and hey--more to donate.

CVS: Click here for Southern Saver's match-ups and click here for Coupon Katie's picks. I plan to get the free razor, free multi-purpose solution, and free nail polish. There were no more prints for the B&L or Revlon when I went to print those coupons. Make sure you scan your card at the kiosk before shopping to see if you get the $7 off $15 Revlon coupon that will make it a great money-maker when you buy 4 nail polishes. I may also pick up some CVS earth essentials (toilet paper made from recycled paper.)

KROGER: I didn't see any free hygiene products this week, but you can get 10 free packs of cream cheese (on sale for $.99, use 2 $5/5 printables). That will be for my stockpile and not to donate.

UPDATE 10/8:
From my CVS trip, I picked up the following:
1 hydro razor (normally 9.99, on sale for $8.97, get $5ECB, used $4MC=FREE)
1 Renu multi-purpose solution (normally $8.99, on sale for $7.99, get $7.99ECB, used $1MC=$1MM)
1 apple scent candle from Halloween section ($.99; got for FREE after buying that plus two other items I kept and using the $5 off Halloween accessories ECB from kiosk)

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 4 lip balms (I'm keeping 1), 2 toothpastes (one toothpaste came with a bonus tube attached), 1 razor, 1 multi-purpose solution, 1 candle

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 1 lotion, 3 toothpaste, 2 heat wraps, 6 lip balms, 1 body wash, 1 shaving gel, 1 razor, 1 lipstick, 1 multi-purpose solution, 1 candle
TOTAL SPENT: -$2.04 (that's negative two bucks)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Birthday Parties: Perfection in Imperfection

There are times I consider myself a perfectionist. You might not think that looking at the chaos of my desk, but in some areas of my life (like video production) I'm very precise and want my work to be perfect. Sometimes that perfection sneaks into my role as mom, and I have to take a step back and learn from the wisdom of my children.

We're doing a combined birthday slumber party tonight for Bobby and Devin (yes, most of them are still bouncing off the walls at 11:30pm), and I wanted for each of them to feel special. I thought I'd accomplish that by making separate cakes and having separate themes: Bobby with Bakugan and Devin with lizards.

I should have gone to Party City for everything I needed, but I was trying to save time by not driving that far. Surely, they'll have theme stuff at Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Target, or Ingles. Yeah, right. Tip: If you're looking for a specific party theme, check online at Party City. Chances are, they have it and it's not as expensive as you'd think. And they have two coupons in the Knox County school coupon book that you can use once a month. I knew all this and still wasted my time elsewhere. Sigh.

So here I am on the day of their party with nothing but a multi-colored pack of balloons, streamers in red, black and purple (Bobby's choice), and two poster boards with no stickers for their themes. Last year, Bob had made the cutest sign for Devin's pirate party. It was a hard act to follow. I sat down with Bobby and Devin to decorate their signs and told them they could do whatever they wanted.

I wrote letters for "Happy Birthday Bobby" and then "Devin" and they cut them out. They picked out a variety of stickers that had zero to do with their themes, but they were pleased. In the end, they were nothing you'd post on Coolest Kid Birthday Parties, but the boys couldn't be happier. The posters were simply perfect.

Bobby then helped me make every selection about decorating from which color balloon went where to the order of colored streamers hanging in the doorway. Again, nothing for the record books, but he proclaimed when we finished, "Perfect!"

Later on each guest got to decorate his own tie dye shirt (which was awesome before they started). This will be their favors rather than the traditional goody bag. There were glops of fabric paint on some and one boy ran out of room for his name, but once again, oh yes, perfection.

Sometimes we have to let go of our ideas of creating the perfect memory for our children--especially around birthdays. We buy all the theme stuff in pursuit of this idea of the perfect party because we want them to reflect how special each child is. I'm thankful that my kids could remind me today that it's not about the stickers, balloons, streamers, party favors, or even cakes that make a birthday party special. It's when they contribute their special touch that we really see perfection.

Birthday Cakes: Works of Art

It's birthday season in our house (both boys have birthdays within a week of each other), and I'm lucky to have two master cake craftsmen in the family. My mother-in-law is the primary artist, but my husband is her handy sidekick engineer. Whenever she needs a cake cut into a specific shape or given dimension, he's the man for the job. Now in their sixth year as a dynamic duo, I've learned to step back and busy myself with other skills like streamers and balloons.

The first cake is a three dimensional Bakugan. The picture doesn't do it justice. The other is a lizard, which Devin adores. He carries one or two with him everywhere he goes and tells me what he really thinks by sharing "what lizard thinks."

Neither of these cakes would qualify as "adorable" but the boys couldn't be more proud. Mission accomplished.