Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm now of Facebook!


I'm not sure what took me so long, but I finally have a Facebook page for my business, Blue Frog Creations, LLC. If I've inspired you, enlightened you, or helped you through this blog, I ask that you jump over and click "Like." Don't let me be alone in cyberspace! I'd really appreciate it!

Couponing for Charity 3/27-4/2


Sorry I was a slacker last week. I just couldn't get it together to write a post but I did get a few goodies at CVS and loads of free pasta at Kroger. This week's post will be very short because I'm not inspired by the offers. I will head to Walgreen's because I have a $3RR expiring this week.

WALGREEN'S:

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

Here's my plan:
  • 2 Colgate Total products ($3 each, buy 2, get $4RR, use 1 $1.50 from 3/27 paper and 1 $1 from All You magazine=$.50MM)
  • 7 Snickers eggs ($.29 each, use 2 $1/2 Mars coupons=$.03 for all 7--great for Easter baskets)
  • Use $3 RR from last week
Total OOP: $.53 plus tax
RRs for next time: $4

CVS

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

Nothing here inspires me; so I'm going to skip it. You might check out Southern Saver's scenarios at the bottom to see if any of those work for you.

KROGER

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

After the last two weeks of awesome savings, this week is a chance to rest the pocketbook. I may stop in for some fresh bread and bananas on April 1 when they're giving away a free bag of Sun Chips (3-8pm), but I don't see any freebies for charity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TN Aquarium Keeper Kids: What a blast!






Yesterday my kids and I were treated to a visit at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. It was our first trip there and I must say I was impressed. The aquarium consists of two buildings: one focused on river life and one on the ocean. In both, you start at the top and wind your way down.

Though there's tons to see every day, we went during spring break for the special Keeper Kids experiences. You can sign up for two of 19 different behind-the-scenes, hands-on interactions with certain animals, that are offered on a first come, first serve basis. Since a limited number of children are allowed with each experience, you're never crowded and the kids have time to ask questions.

Our first Keeper Kids experience was Otter Edibles and Trout Chow. The otters are so cute at feeding time--like meerkats of the water. The fish were not slimy and were easy for the kids to throw. The trout chow were pellets that made the whole tank swarm in seconds.

Our second Keeper Kids experience was Really Awesome Reptiles. Since Bobby and Devin ADORE lizards, this was perfect. They learned that even though the box turtle is the TN state reptile, it too has seen its numbers dwindle over the past decade. We found one in our backyard once and started to care for it. She recommended leaving them in the wild, as taking them out of their habitat even temporarily is very confusing and possibly detrimental for box turtles. When a lizard native to the desert came out, Bobby recognized it immediately. It was fun for me seeing him spout his wealth of knowledge of these creatures. They got to touch both animals--quickly followed by hand sanitizer; thank you!

Our last encounter wasn't a scheduled experience but they brought out a few shrimp for the boys to feed the sting rays. When a ray came up to the glass to get his treat, he startled Bobby and me. I didn't expect the rays to climb the wall of the tank! The exhibit was set up well so that all the kids had plenty of opportunities to stroke a sting ray as it swam by. Even my two-year-old Brooke got into the action.

The aquarium certainly has the WOW factor year-round, but getting to touch and feed the animals will be experiences they'll never forget. By interacting with them, hopefully they will value efforts to protect animals and their dwindling habitats all over the world.

Don't forget to check out my video at the bottom of this post. If you can't make it to the TN Aquarium during spring break, they will continue the Keeper Kids experiences through April 17. There's a list of programs by times here. Thanks for your feedback on the video and for sharing which Keeper Kids experience would interest your kids most.

Here's more info:
Dates available: March 12-April 17, 2011
Hours: 10:30 am-4:30 pm (Aquarium hours 10 am-6 pm)
Price: Keeper Kids activities are FREE with Aquarium admission
Reservations: Call 800-262-0695, Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm

video

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm on TV!!! (sound of Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.)


Ok, I'm not as ecstatic as Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., but it was kindof fun to see myself on the tube today. All those years behind the scenes and now I'm in front of the camera. Click here for the story.

The basic gist is that even if you haven't planned a big trip, you can still make spring break special. I'm most excited about our ventures to Chattanooga for the special behind the scenes events at the TN Aquarium and Ruby Falls. I'll post about our experiences in the next couple of days.

But there are also ways to save locally at some of my kids' favorite locations:
  • Chuck E. Cheese: With a close vote between Bounce USA and Chuck E. Cheese, the big mouse won out today. I used a coupon from the paper to purchase 160 tokens for $25. I can spread these out to last us three trips. I played the ticket blaster game online before going to earn 30 free tickets for each child. Having 90 extra tickets gave us lots more options. Finally, I saved the most money by not eating lunch there; we arrived at 10:00 and left by 11:30.
  • Bounce USA: If we have time this week, we'll be heading to Bounce USA (our favorite bounce house because of more options for the toddlers). They also offer lots of B1G1 coupons.
  • Children's Museum of Oak Ridge: From Thursday, March 17 through Tuesday, March 22, the Children's Museum and AMSE will have FREE admission. This is huge! Both places will probably be crowded, but we will likely take advantage of this offer.
  • Strike n Spare: Wednesdays are the best day to go bowling with the kids because it's dollar game day. If all four of us bowl two games, this saves us $14.16. With the $12 voucher I got from Half Off Depot for $6 awhile back, we can all have a day out for a bargain. Make sure you ask for the ramp assist and the bumper guards that can be programmed to go up for the kids and down for the adults. However, Bobby likes to remind me I would be a MUCH better bowler with the bumpers!
For a few more options, check out this blog on Knoxmoms. Where are you going this week and how do you plan to save?

Our big yet local spring break plans


Spring break is here and for those of us not already on a trip, there's the question: What do we do this week? I have a 7, 4, and 2 year old and have to find activities that interest and involve all three. When Ali posted the special activities in Chattanooga, I got excited about the "behind the scenes" opportunities for my kids.

Having looked at all the ideas with the boys, two stood out for us: the Keeper Kid program at the TN Aquarium and spelunking at Ruby Falls.

We haven't been to either and are hoping to work both into our schedule next week. You can choose 2 of 19 different Keeper Kid activities. They are free with paid admission to the aquarium but fill up on a first come, first serve basis. I'm thinking feeding the otters and releasing butterflies might be fun for my crew.

I love that Ruby Falls is Green Globe Certified and the only solar powered cave. Click here to learn all the measures they've taken to be more sustainable.

From Monday through Wednesday only, you'll have access to tour a portion of the cave normally off limits with a helmet light and lantern only. The kids get to keep the miners helmet with a working light. You'll also get a lighted tour of the main cave and waterfall, a fossil dig for children, and 10% off gift and food purchases.

Make sure you check out the coupon section for discounts to most attractions.


If you already have plans this week, many of the special events are going through mid-April.

What exciting plans do you have for the kids this week? What do you like best about the aquarium and Ruby Falls? Any must see parts?

Spring Break Ideas: I'll be on TV today at 5pm!

This was totally last minute, but I was just interviewed by Volunteer TV about spring break ideas. I gave ideas for saving money and places you might not have thought of. Who knows what will make it past the chopping room floor. As a former TV producer, I felt a bit odd to be on the other side of the camera. If they post the video online, I'll link to it later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Couponing for Charity 3/13-19


It's Spring Break in East TN for every school I know. Shopping with kids (especially all three of mine) can be stressful. So do what you can and don't worry about the rest.

CVS:
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.

Last night I did my CVS shopping for two weeks in one trip. You can do that each Saturday after about 4pm at non-24 hour CVS stores. I spent $5.01 (mainly tax), saved $55.16 and left with $18 in ECBs! Here's what I bought:

  • 2 Dove Men + Care deodorants (last week's deal, $2 each, used 2 $2 MC=both free)
  • 1 king size Reese's cups ($1.69, coupon took off $2=$.31MM; coupon expires 3/13)
  • 1 Tena ultra thin pads ($9.99, get $9.99, used $2.50 printable=$2.50MM); limit 1
  • 2 Crest toothpastes ($3.49, $2.50ECB, used 2 $1 MC=2 FREE); limit 2
  • 1 Dial Nutriskin lotion ($4.99, get $3ECB, used $2 MC which expired yesterday; I think there's a $1MC in today's paper=FREE)
  • 2 Purex 3-in-1 sheets ($3.99, used 2 $3 MC=$.99 each)
  • I also used $15.58 in ECBs from previous trips
Total before coupons: over $42
Total after coupons, before tax: $1.55
Total with tax: $5.01
ECBs for next time: $18

WALGREEN'S
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.

I have $13 in RRs expiring in a few days. So I will be buying a few items I might not normally get but are nice to have in the stockpile. The best deals are towards the top:

  • 2 Irish Spring deodorants ($3 each, $4RR wyb 2, use 2 $1 printables=2 FREE)
  • 2 Right Guard deodorants or body wash (B1G1, use B1G1 MC from 3/13 paper=2 FREE)
  • Welch's grape jelly: $1.50
  • Pringles ($1.50 with ad coupon, use $1/2 MC=$1 each)
  • Band-aids or Red Cross products starting at $2.99; get $3RR wyb $10 of products. There are several coupons that will take off $.50 - $1 each.
  • Filler items if needed: Scotch mailers: $.34 each with in ad coupon
KROGER:
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.

This is the week to stock up on pasta. With the mega sale (buy 10 qualifying items, save $5), you can get all types of Ronzoni pasta for free. You can use printables (up to 2 per kind) and from the paper. You can also get Annie's organic mac n cheese for $.49 a box--a great price. I'll be stocking up again. You can also get 4 free Pure protein bars with 2 B1G1 printables and 2 $1 printables. All these are excellent to donate.

Second Harvest sometimes accepts pasta, but double check. It's still not clear on their website if they are accepting food donations or where they want them brought. If you know, please leave a comment. Please consider passing along some of your freebies to those in need.

MOST RECENT ADDITIONS TO DONATE: 2 deodorants (normally $4.79 each), 1 Tena pads (normally $12.49), 2 toothpastes (normally $4.79 each).
VALUE OF ITEMS DONATED: $31.65
MONEY SPENT: -$2.50

TOTAL ITEMS DONATING TO DATE: 1 box of pain patches, 2 heat wraps, 12 toothpaste, 4 containers of hummus, 1 trial size laundry, 8 toothbrushes, 1 baby wipes, 24 post-it's, 3 eye drops, 3 cans soup, 2 boxes soup, 1 body wash, 3 gum, 3 feminine hygiene, 1 adult hygiene, 4 knee hi's, 3 deodorant, 2 ibuprofin
VALUE OF ITEMS DONATED: $201.15
MONEY SPENT: -$13.21 (that's negative $13 plus)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jack n Jules officially opens tomorrow



Three, two, one, GO! Consignment season is now open and ready for bargain hunters. I'm grateful for the opportunity from Knoxmoms to get a sneak peak at the Jack n Jules sale today. I arrived just before it opened to the Mommy to Be Club; what a great idea to help out new moms and how fun to see all those beautiful bellies!

Though I didn't have any must-get items in mind, I headed straight for the big toys, ride-ons and then small toys. There was a very cute princess castle pop-up, but I can't spare the room. I did find a huge bag of Lego's for just $3 and a bouncy ball in good shape for $3 too--great prices for classic toys. I may hide these 'til Easter.

I also picked up a good quality butterfly costume for DD next year. Even if she doesn't want it for Halloween, it will be fun for dress-up. Our DSs wear older costumes ALL THE TIME. Just today Spiderman was tearing through the house.

I was pleasantly suprised there was a good selection of clothes for older boys (up to 12). I picked up swim trunks and a couple of shorts for both boys. There were so many 2T girls clothes that it was hard to sift through them. That's one advantage to going later in the sale. Honestly, I found some of the prices high but that's no fault of Jack n Jules. Pricing is the choice of each consigner. I did pick up two cute outfits for her for $4 each. Girls clothes are so much fun!

I only waited in line for 10 minutes, and my total was 9 items for $28. The sale was well organized and laid out, and I'm very pleased with the quality of my finds. Even the shoes were easy to view at a glance--no sifting through bins. I recommend checking them out Thursday and Friday 10am-8pm or Saturday is half price day, 10am-4pm. On Friday 12-4pm, 5% of the proceeds will go to East TN Children's Hospital. That's great!

Please come back and leave a comment about your finds or feedback from this sale.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Couponing for Charity 3/6-12


This always seems to happen: Walgreen's will give us a great week of free stuff where we rack up the register rewards and then follow it with a dull week where there's not much to spend them on. There's always next week.

I will probably wait to shop CVS til Saturday afternoon when I can shop two weeks' sales at once and Walgreen's if it works into my schedule.

CVS:
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

Since I couldn't find the coupon for the free nail polish, here's my plan:
  • 2 Dove Men+Care deodorants (2 for $4, use 2 $2 printables=2 free)
  • 1 Reese's cup (free with coupon emailed to me from Facebook; see here for details).
Total due: $0 plus tax

WALGREEN'S:
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For pared down lists, go to Coupon Katie or Coupon Mommie.

Here's my plan:
Transaction #1:
  • 1 Breathe Right strips (FREE with Walgreen's catalina that printed weeks ago)
  • 1 Always dri liners 30-34pk ($2.99, get $2RR, use $.50MC=$.49)
  • 2 Pediacare products 4oz ($7 each, use $5 in ad coupon which deducts $10, use $3/2 printable=$.49 each)
  • 2 boxes baking soda (2/$1 with in ad coupon)
  • Use $2RR from last week
Total due: $.47 plus tax
RRs for next time: $2

Transaction #2
  • 1 Always dri liners 30-34pk ($2.99, get $2RR, use $.50MC=$.49)
  • 2 Pediacare products 4oz ($7 each, use $5 in ad coupon which deducts $10, use $3/2 printable=$.49 each)
  • 2 boxes raisons ($1 each)
  • Use $3 RR from last week
Total due: $.47 plus tax
RRs for next time: $2

STAPLES:
Through Wednesday, there are a few freebies after easy rebates to consider, but none are pulling me into the store:
  • 1 five pack Pentel pens
  • 2 packs of 200 gold paperclips
  • 2 boxes envelopes (100 count)
  • 2 packs photo paper (50/pack)

KROGER:
I don't see any freebies at Kroger this week, but $.79 for granola bars and $1.08 for Honey Nut Cheerios (stacking e-savers and manufacturer coupons) are good prices. Most charities want granola bars and cereal. Most deals are the same as last week; so if you're looking for ways to donate to Second Harvest, check out this list.

What are your favorite deals this week?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Save big on Marcal at Staples 3/4 only!


I know people can be pretty picky when it comes to toilet paper. Even the most determined environmental couponers draw the line at wanting their favorite plush brands. My husband and I are not that picky about brands and really want to support recycled products in this way.

I've tried the 100% recycled CVS brand and Marcal 2 ply, and I prefer Marcal. Marcal is great about coupns in the paper, where you can save $1 here and there. I just got two boxes of tissues for free with those coupons at Ingles when they were marked down to $1. And you can get 4 small rolls of TP at Earthfare for $.67, but we seem to go through it faster than I can buy it.

So, personally I was jazzed about Staples daily deal today on Marcal TP and paper towels. You can get a case of TP (48 rolls) for $16.99 or 15 rolls of paper towels for $9.99. You can buy multiple cases. Since I have several rewards from buying the products that are FREE after rewards, I decided to buy 2 cases of TP.

My subtotal before coupons was $61.18. The online coupon valid 3/4 only took off $27.20 and I used a $33.20 reward. Since I chose in store pick-up, there's no delivery charge. My tax was $.08 and I paid $.86 for 96 rolls of toilet paper. And I did it from home. Woo hoo!

Anyone else out there by recycled paper products? What do you think about them?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Canned Food Deals to help Second Harvest


By now you've probably heard the terrible news that on Monday, the warehouse for Second Harvest Food Bank was flooded. They lost all their freezers and fridges, and they expect most of their food is contaminated. Hopefully insurance will help pay for most of the damage, but there are immediate needs in our area that don't stop because they're temporarily closed.

Think of it like this. They are a like grocery store that supplies food to many other agencies that in turn serve 158,000 people a month. Without the grocery store, those agencies have to rely on what they have on hand until the grocery store reopens (which hopefully will be Monday, March 7).

I'm pleased to see some groups are already stepping up the plate to help. Bearden High School donated enough money to provide 42,000 meals for the Food for Kids program and Frontier Airlines gave $2000. See video above.

As a coupon blogger, I don't have that much to give, but I know how every little bit helps. If you and your neighbor and your friend and your mother all donate something, we could have a huge impact. Donating online is a great way to go because with their ability to buy in bulk they can turn every dollar into 3 meals. But if you prefer to give actual food, here are some ideas to save you money:

The most requested items are peanut butter, diapers, and canned food with protein. Cereal is another good item to consider.

1. Kroger:
  • Honey Nut Cheerios ($2.18, use $1/2 MC and $.55 esaver from Kroger, Cellfire, or Shortcuts=$1.13 each)
  • Progresso soup ($1.25 each, use $1/4 MC and 2 $.50/2 esavers=$.75 each)
  • 2 Butterfingers ($.50 each, use $1/2 printable=both FREE) Think of it as a nice treat for the volunteers!
2. Ingles
  • Starkist tuna pouches 5oz ($.50, use $.50 coupon in All You=FREE)
  • Hunts tomato products ($1, use $.45 printable, doubled =$.10 sauce or $.45/3 doubled =$.70 each) I think to double coupons, you must spend $10 to double three.
  • Peter Pan 16oz peanut butter ($1.67)
  • Laura Lynn canned fruit ($1)
  • Healthy Choice soups ($1)
3. Earthfare:
  • Muir Glen tomatoes 28oz: $2, use $.75 printable=$1.25 each (a good price since this is the large can).
  • If you have 28oz of Hunts tomato sauce to donate from previous Kroger sales (I got mine free), you could exchange them for a free Earthfare jar of sauce ($2.99 value) through Take the Boot challenge. The cans will be donated to Second Harvest.
4. Walgreen's:
  • Huggies diapers or pull-ups ($8.99, use $2MC, get $2RR=$4.99 each)
5. United Grocery Outlet (Thanks to Hannah from Frugally Farming Family for this list; they do not accept coupons)
  • Generic diapers: $2.29 for various sizes and quantities per package.
  • Name brand diapers starting at $5.59 for various sizes and quantities.
  • The peanut butter is Fischer brand for $1.49 for 16 oz.
  • Canned goods were anywhere from 4/$1 to 3/$1 or 2/$1. There are also some $.69 each.
  • The cheapest cereal was 1.99 each; some name brands were more expensive.
6. Your own pantry
Chances are you've gotten even better deals and stockpiled several items they could use. Consider giving from here, but make sure nothing is beyond the expiration.

Since Second Harvest can't accept physical donations now, you could drop them off at the office where the husband of another coupon blogger, Knoxville on a Dime, works:

Rocky Top Realty
4313 Ball Camp Pike
Donation hours are 9-6 weekdays, by appt on weekends.
Contact David Gibson (865)566-1216 or Dolly Smith (865)755-2201

Thank you for your generosity!