Friday, January 27, 2012

Rejected Contribution

Earlier this week I wrote an article and sent it to The Krazy Coupon Lady.This site will pay $50 for an original article if they choose to publish it on their website.

Sadly my contribution was not published since a similar article was recently was.
So, I'm putting it on my own blog. :)

It’s OK to be an Un-extreme Couponer

We’ve all seen or heard of the reality TV show Extreme Couponing and watched as these people buy items for no other reason than because they can, had a coupon and only paid $0.08 or each item. We’ve heard couponers called hoarders, and be made fun of. Not to mention the bad name we’ve all gotten by being associated through coupon shopping with those who fraudulently use them.

If you’re like me, you’ve been given grief over why you have 20 tubes of toothpaste, or being told that you don’t eat healthy because you only buy items there are coupons for, or being asked, “do you even use all that stuff?”

I think every couponer no matter how extreme (or un-extreme) has experienced some negativity at some point because of the way they shop.

While I would love to be an extreme couponer, I’m totally cool with being un-extreme!
Here is why:

-I don’t follow all the rules:
I don’t get 10 Sunday newspapers, and I don’t shop every week.
Being an hour drive (one way) from a real grocery store makes it very inconvenient for me to shop every week, also very expensive. I currently shop once a month.

- I don’t buy mass quantities:
I’ve never cleared shelves, nor have I ever bought more than 40 of one item (that was only once). I’ve been married for 2 years and don’t have kids yet. There are only 2 adults in my household, so we don’t go through a lot of stuff very quickly. For example: My husband uses 1 bottle of shower gel in 6 months, 20 boxes of pasta lasts a year, and one 12 count pack or toilet paper lasts us a few months at least.

- I don’t clip every coupon:
Since I don’t have babies, or pets, we don’t use medications, and are brand loyal to many cosmetic/toiletry items, I never clip the coupons for items I don’t use. Even if it’s on sale, and costs only pennies out of pocket, I don’t buy it. Because I won’t use it.
But I do donate all coupons I don’t use. And IF
I had a local food bank in my town, I would buy stuff simply to donate, but sadly I don’t have that option to give at this point in time. But when a friend needs a can of cream of mushroom soup I have an extra can or two to spare!

- I eat healthy:
I don’t buy things we don’t eat. For example, we don’t eat microwave frozen dinners. I don’t cook with boxed meals like Hamburger Helper. We both dislike sodas, so I rarely buy soda (exception: I entertain about once a month and keep 2-3, 2-liters of soda on hand for those time – never stock up on this stuff though).
We manage to shop with coupon AND eat healthy. Remember the 20 boxes of pasta I mentioned? We use lots of yogurt, canned soups, drink lots of tea, etc. And I use coupons so that I can have more money leftover for fresh meat and produce.

- I stock up on non-perishable items:
That’s why my husband has 6 (not 50) bottles of soap in our stockpile (3 years supply). I have 20 tubes of toothpaste because we do brush our teeth, and always will. Even though a case of Charmin will last 3 months, I have 5 cases of it! Oh, and I have about 20 rolls of paper towels. I use all these things everyday and they don’t expire, the majority of my stockpile is staple, non-perishable items.

My tiny pantry is always full, my spare bedroom has one
large shelf-unit full, and my small deep freezer is full. But I’m not extreme! I’m couponing for my family!
So, for all you coupon shoppers who don’t save 90% on groceries because you can’t shop every sale. Or those of you who are passionate about saving money, even if you’re a small family and don’t have a garage for your stockpile. You’re not alone. Don’t let the stereotypes get you down.
I have found that those who make fun of couponing are just envious they themselves aren’t saving as much as we are – even if it is only 40%.
Keep being un-extreme and saving for
your family.
It’s OK to be UN-extreme!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2nd Anniversary

Next week is our 2nd wedding anniversary.
We had already decided to go to Reno and spend the night and do whatever else we found to do in Reno.

Last night as I was checking my "coupon spam" email account. I actually took notice of a email from LivingSocial for a one night stay at Circus Circus resort casino hotel in Reno!
So, instead of deleting the email from them (like I usually do as I don't want most of the deals in the emails they send) I looked into it.

Really happy I got a one night stay deluxe room for 2, with 2 welcome cocktails, 2 breakfast pastries, and 2 coffee/hot chocolates all for just $35 (+ tax and resort fees).
I'm thrilled about the timing on this deal! That it was actually available when we were planning a trip!

This deal is good for next 7 days or so, here's the link:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Love Glorifies God

Have you ever thought of your marriage in this way?

"God masterfully orchestrated marriage to reveal the beauty of His glory. In fact, each of His purposes for marriage reveals a characteristic of God in eternity. Our oneness and companionship reflect His union in the Trinity. Our purity honors His holiness. Our procreation reflects Him as Creator of our life. Our love is founded in the truth that God is love. And our love provides a living portrait of the gospel - Christ's unconditional love for His people, His church, His bride (Rev. 2:9). Your marriage is a mystery revealing His majesty."

From The Love Dare day-by-day devotional Day 21 by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick

Coupon shopping

So far I'm succeeding at staying within my new budget of $300 a month.
This weeks spending was $90.25

These are the deals I got

CVS Pharmacy: $32.58
Soda, crackers, and TP got me a $10 CVS cash card. And the Glade products got me $4 ECB (extra care bucks/cvs store cash).
By scanning my CVS card at the coupon center machine, it printed out $2 ECB.
So my second transaction was the Terminator 10 cream, and Essie nail polish. Which I paid for with my $6 ECB, and the $10 cash card

At Albertsons: $14.34 and Saved: $33.23
Coke was FREE Priced at $0.99, and had coupons for $0.99 off 1.
Popcorn was FREE because I had a coupon for 1 free 3 ct. box of pop secret from DMR (Disney Movie Rewards I redeemed 75 points and got the coupon in the mail).
Napkins were on clearance. Priced at a $1 each. I had a coupon for $1/2 so they were $0.50 each!
Store coupons were mailed to me, had a $3 off any frozen item. Got the Strawberries for about $3 (forgot exact amount).
Milk was $2.19 with store coupon. (Really great, since a gallon of milk usually costs about $3.50).
Soup was $0.88 each with in-ad store coupon. I stacked 2 $1/4 coupons with it cost was $0.63 each.

Smith's: $39.17  Saved: $22.67
Pasta was only $0.50 each. $0.70 each. Not the best price. But I was almost all out of cream of chicken soup, and was better than paying full price. I stock up when it's under $0.50, usually around $0.30.)
Yams about $3 total.
Spend under $20 for all the protein bars. Also got a $3.00 catalina from buying all the PowerBars.

And at Kmart: Spend $20.09 Saved: $6.50.
Doubled coupons on all items except eggs.

And today I picked up some fresh produce from the local store today.

Also got some great Christmas clearance deals at Smith's. Everything was 90% off.

Wreath $6
Napkins $0.50 (with coupon)
Wrapping paper $0.25 each.
Ribbon $0.37

Love not paying full price for anything! :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pretty AND Functional!

Today I got a few things straitened up and organized a little better - as well as improving the appearance of my cupboards and drawers.

Here are my before photos:

Protein/meal bars in cardboard boxes in my pantry. The bigger box is slightly newer, and the tall, square one has been used for about a year to hold bars, and the edges are worn, torn, and looking ugly.

I was in Family Dollar yesterday to pick up a large storage tote for the Christmas stuff I picked Wednesday marked at 90% off (will post about shopping trip tomorrow). While in the store I found these storage cubes!

For $6 total for all 3 I thought this would work great for my cupboards and pantry!

Here are the after photos:

Much Better!! :)

I did the same with my "sweet stash" That has been kept in an empty cracker box for well over a year. They box is still holding up surprisingly well, but these are much prettier!

Before & After:

I'm pleased with how well these worked!

I also found a set of small plastic baskets in various sizes the cost me $3 for all of them. I used them in my bathroom drawer that was a terrible disaster with no organization at all. Just everything mixed together in the same drawer. I forgot to take a before picture, but just imagine all that stuff mixed up and dumped in the drawer (minus the orange baskets, or course) and you'll have a good visual of what the before looked like.

Here is the after picture! I'm glad I'll be able to find everything and it will be more organized now!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Quilt

I typically am not a fan of holiday or themed quilts. Mostly because I don't see the point of them when they are only appropriate during the correct season.
But last month I was in Walmart, and walked by the craft section where all their fabrics are. They had these fabrics displayed with this pattern. I just loved it!! :)

And it's not overly "christmasy" since it's not green and red and have christmas stuff on it. This one is just wintery. With trees, snowmen, and snowflakes, plus I love the color scheme.

This was the first quilt I've done that had triangles. I realized they aren't nearly as easy as squares, and can be a bit challenging. I got the hang of it. But will need more practice to get my corners matched up more evenly.

The back is fleece, so it's really warm and soft. :) I think I would have preferred red, but black was all that was available at the time. I do like it though.

It was kinda fun making a seasonal quilt with directional prints... and triangles.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Giving thanks.... in everything!

My husband left this morning for the next couple days for a work related trip with some co-workers.
It's actually more like Play, under the disguise of "work" - He's attending SHOT Show in Vegas!

Something I'm often frustrated with is his stuff he leaves out that clutters up the house. If I had my way all the time, everything would always be put away, and look neat and clean.
I did some shopping today, and came home to a dark, empty, clean house! Was weird. The absence of my husband's stuff made me miss him, and much more aware that he was gone for the next couple days.

So, I'm thankful for his "junk". Though, I'm sure it will continue to bug me in the future.


So, the FREE NeilMed Neti Pot is available for anyone who's never requested one, on their Facebook again. I mentioned this deal in my previous post. I'm looking forward to getting mine in the mail soon.
Hurry and sign up for this Freebie! Simply "Like" them on Facebook and take the survey!

Thanks, Coupon Pro!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Couponing! and a summary of this weeks deals

With the exception of a post or two, I haven't really blogged much about couponing or online deals I've scored. I'm going to try to do so this year.

First of all,  some changes to my shopping this year:
Last year I spent an average of $400 a month on groceries (including household items, cosmetics, tolietries etc). Not bad, as that's only $100 a month. But I know I could probably do better.
My problem is I can't shop every week. I just do one, big shopping trip a month. Which means I miss out on the weekly deals the other 3 weeks of the month.
So this year, I'm going to try to spend only $300, and shop every 2 weeks. IF this pays off, (as I have to drive 140miles round trip to shop) with the expense of gas and car mileage I will continue to do so. If I don't save at least a $100 by shopping more often I'll just go back to once a month.

I've decided to participate in Fabulessly Frugal's Grocery Budget Challenge. I put in my $300 a month budget, and each week I record my spending and saving!
And also am entered into their weekly giveaway. This week it is a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

I'll also continue to use the Excel spreadsheet I've used the past year and a half for keeping track of percentage saved.

So far this year I've spent $45.49 and saved $4.88. Obviously not the greatest, but $30 of that was at Costco, which does not accept manufactures coupons.

These are the online deals I was able to score this week!

A FREE Facebook offer for a NeilMed Neti Pot (This offer ended yesterday I think. But I know they do giveaways periodically).

 Dear Fans,
FREE NETI POT offer is back for a limited period and valid only for NEW FANS. Click the "Like" button above, become a fan of NeilMed Neti Pot and get access to request your FREE NeilMed NasaFlo Neti Pot with two packets.Click on the FREE NETI POT link on the left panel or visit
Existing fans who have already requested are not eligible. Repeat and incomplete requests will be discarded.
I've heard good things about these, but never used one. Since it was Free, decided I'd try it out. Sounds like a good thing to have on hand, as it is a natural way to relieve colds, and congestion.

Also, through Disney Movie Rewards I redeemed 150 points for a FREE box of Pop Secret popcorn.
I received the coupon in the mail this week. And it's good for one 3 count box of microwave popcorn until 3-31-12, Up to a $3.50 value.

And today, I scored a $40+ value box of beauty and cosmetic items for $0.01 from Julep Maven
This is supposedly for new members only. After taking survey to determine you're style you set up an account (for free) and they select products and colors for you and ship them to you. A $40 value for $19.99. But with Promo code NEWYEAR2012 brings total down to $0.01 shipped!!

After creating an account, they send you new products ($40 value) each month for $19.99. You are automatically billed, and receive a email notification as a reminder. You can cancel anytime, and can always skip a month if you don't want new stuff.
For a penny I thought this was a good deal, I plan to cancel my membership/account soon since I don't use this stuff often enough to pay $20 a month for it. (even though, that is 50% off). Apparently this can only be done by calling or emailing them.
Go Here to score this deal! Not sure how long it is available.

Thanks to Hip2Save for this deal!

Last one, Today on Langers Facebook page they have some rebate deals.
I got the MegaBlocks Blok Squad product. Since we host church fellowship once a month, I've been trying to get a variety of children's toys for the kids to play with while here. Since Langers juice was on sale at my local grocery store I decided this was a good deal, and bought 3 bottle of juice.

That's it for this week! Hopefully in future weeks I'll be more organized with my shopping spending and online deals!

Homemade Yogurt - Take 2

A few weeks ago I attempted to make homemade yogurt. But it didn't turn out as I expected. There wasn't anything terribly wrong with the yogurt, other than the texture, and that it was way to thick.

I decided to try again, this time using powdered milk instead of gelatin to thicken it. I also realized last time, with using gelatin, I may not have needed to strain and let sit in fridge to thicken, which is how it got too thick.

This time, I did everything the same with the exception of using 1/2 cup powdered milk, not gelatin.
After sitting for 8 hours overnight, I checked it (having to get up at 5 am to do so, because I started too early... again. *yawn*). It was just slightly more runny than store bought yogurt. So I decided, in order to avoid letting it get too thick, to leave it as is.

Success!! After going back to bed for a few hours, I got up and had homemade yogurt with pumpkin flax granola for breakfast! The yogurt was very yummy. Though, plain, and not flavored, with makes the taste kind of bland. But, I guess I never have cared for plain yogurt for that very reason. Adding the granola to it gave it some flavor.

Again, I got two 32oz. containers of yogurt! And will save out a half cup for a starter for the next batch. I may never buy store-bought yogurt again! :) I'm thinking this new recipe will be very cost effective, now that I can use half a cup to start a new batch, I only have to buy 1/2 gallon of milk (about $2 where I live), and half a cup of powdered milk, which comes out to pennies, if that, when you buy a large container. So, two, 32oz cartons of yogurt for a little over $2, making them about a $1 each! Very good, cheap, healthy yogurt!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Love Brings Completeness

I've been reading through The Love Dare, day by day devotional by Steven and Alex Kendrick. It has been so good these past 13 days. I'm always encouraged when I read each day's portion.

Today, Day 13, especially encouraged me, I had to share it!
I hope you're encouraged as well!

"A man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh." Genesis 2:24

"In the finale of God's creation, He made the first marriage by taking one man, removing part of him, and fashioning another person. Then, in the mystery of matrimony, two could come together and become one. Adam, though complete with God alone, found his God-given needs met even more fully with Eve, his complement, in life. This is true in your marriage. The Lord knew before you were born that you would one day marry your mate. And in His design of your gender differences and uniqueness, God intentionally created needs in both of you that the other would be exclusively designed to help meet.
The devil's desire is to use your distinctiveness to push you apart - to operate independently - as though what your spouse brings to you is unnecessary. But marriage has made you "one flesh". Now neither of you should live without the other. Though distinct in personality and ability, you have been designed to experience oneness in your diversity. You are no longer just you. You are so intimately combined with your mate that together you are to live as one complete person. "

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A custom Etsy order

This past week I received an order through my Etsy shop for a missal cover. I had no idea what a missal cover was, except for the dimensions. So out of curiosity, I googled it and found out it was a Catholic book, and learned more from talking with my customer, that it has their worship service scripture readings, prayers, and other stuff. Was cool to learn something new.

Made a black cordura cover with hand embroidered cross in the left bottom corner!
I love making custom orders! You learn about the person, their need for your product, and get to know the person the product is going to!
I also was thrilled to get an order, which I haven't had in a long time! Every time someone buys my stuff I'm ecstatic!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!!

Looking back on 2011 it was again, another year of firsts. Not as much as 2010 was, being I got married at the beginning of 2010, lots of new changes and experiences took place (all good ones).

In 2011, I never really made any "new years resolutions" partly because I don't really like them. The concept is a good idea and all. But all too often I feel we set ourselves up for failure by setting the bar too high. Or simply having unrealistic, but good, expectations for ourselves. So, I never set any specific goals, or resolutions last year. I did manage to get a lot accomplished though.

The highlights of 2011 were,
January '11 Celebrating 1 year of marriage! :)

February '11 Moving to a much bigger rental, a single wide trailer, with tip out and was room added on. (tells you how small our previous rental was) ;) And consequently being blessed to have a wonderful landlord, who is a Believer, and previous member of our church! Living in their house has been a big blessing!

April '11 Buying a 2007 Toyota Tacoma and selling My Man's '88(?) Suburban! Building credit and acquiring some debt was a big, new, change!

May '11 Planted my first garden! Again, so thankful for awesome landlord providing a garden spot and allowing me to use it! :)

June '11 Going to Las Vegas for the first time. Attended Street Survival training course with my Man, and got to experience Vegas :)

July '11 Completing 6 mile, 3,000 ft hike to Overland Lake, in the Ruby Mountains! (We attempted to in '10, but only made it about half way, not realizing the mileage, and elevation climb). Was rewarding to complete it this year!

August '11 Road Trip to Okanogan, WA, Lakewood, WA, Long Beach, WA, and Portland, OR over the course of about a week! Was beautiful to see all the country, and go to new places. Also, my first time driving 10+ hours! :)

November '11 Hosting, and cooking Thanksgiving dinner at our house and inviting the in-laws for the weekend! Was so much fun!

I also completed the last 3, of 5 Answers in Genesis online Apologetic courses in 2011!
Saved an average of 40% on groceries by couponing!
and got to be with my best friend at the birth of her first child (all by "chance")!

As I look back on the past year I am pleased with what I've learned and accomplished and experienced! And can honestly say I have no regrets from the past year! It truly was a wonderful year!

As for 2012, I am going to set some goals for myself. I do have long-term and short-term plans and hope to say I have accomplished them by the end of the year! However, one reason I'm not big on making new years resolutions, is because life happens! Unexpected and unplanned events take place messing up your plan A. By not accomplishing your resolution, you aren't necessarily a failure, you're resolution/plan simply changed due to circumstances in life.

With all that in mind I have set a few goals for the next year, aware, that I may not complete any of them. But here it goes.

I plan to faithfully read my Bible and pray everyday. This is kind of an ongoing habit/goal since August, and so far I've been pretty decent, not 100% faithful with it everyday yet. Along with that, I received The Love Dare day-by-day devotional book for couples as a wedding gift from my mom. It's been on my self for the past 2 years, and I've decided to read each day's portion everyday, along with trying to take the "dare" given. Ultimately, my goal is to increase spiritual knowledge and growth, and learn more about God this year.

I also plan to memorize scripture this year. Starting with memorizing Psalm 19.

I plan to de-clutter my house. Get things more organized, and downsize in the "stuff" we don't use. This will be a challenge for both me and my husband (who is not necessarily joining me in this goal, to my knowledge), because we have differing opinions on what is needed and what is not. What I want to throw out, he may want to keep, and vice-versa. So ultimately I plan to get rid of, and de-clutter stuff, and/or learn to deal with stuff I don't like.

I plan to learn more about selling on Etsy, and be more regular in listing/selling products online.

I plan to cook and eat healthier. Goal here is to be overall in better health, as well as learn more about nutrition and ways to cook yummy foods with less of the bad stuff ;)

I plan to grow herbs and learn to make homemade herbal supplements, teas, and medicines.

I want to make a "perfect" quilt. One that is square/strait with even/matching seams, and no mistakes. So far, while I'm pleased with the quilts I make, they are never perfectly strait, or have even and matching seams and corners. My goal is to work on this and improve.

I plan to improve my cake decorating skills. Starting with learning to make gumpaste sugar flowers!

I plan to continue to go to the gym regularly. I am currently content with my body weight, and appearance. So,  my fitness goals are not very specific at this point, other than to maintain my current weight and size. I've considered setting goals to run a farther distance, maybe enter a race/competition (ToughMudder is what I have in mind), or something along those lines. I have not yet decided on my fitness goal in that way yet.

I plan to put more money in our savings account this year. I also plan to work hard on paying off the Toyota. I know it won't be paid off this year, but I hope it can be paid off as soon as possible.

I plan to set a new goal to save 50% on groceries this year with couponing!

I figure that is enough to keep me busy for the year, and am thankful for goals! I think they are good, necessary and helpful. If you don't make plans today for the future, you won't go anywhere!