My Blog

My blog has morphed over the years into different things. It is a place to learn about saving money, product reviews, cooking, gardening, and homesteading. It can take you to whatever has my attention at the moment and then back to the day to day. I hope you will learn something here and come back often.

Friday, December 31, 2010


First, let me say Happy New Year to all of my friends and family!

I wrote a really long blog about the highs and lows of the past year but decided to delete it.  You  guys know all of them anyway.  So, I want to tell you about my savings for the past year since that is how this blog started.

Last January 1st I started a spreadsheet and faithfully posted every grocery transaction throughout the year.  I estimated that in previous years we spent an average of $400 per month on groceries.  My goal...spend less.  Did I reach it...YES!!

The total retail cost of our groceries this year was $4,239.46.  The ACTUAL amount out of pocket that we paid was $2,379.49.  That is a savings of $1,864.97 or 44%!  

I think that's great for my first year couponing! I will admit that I was sometimes obsessive and sometimes negligent in my couponing.  I came to realize that if I didn't have time to do coupons that I didn't have time!  Life was not going to end...and this was very freeing for me.

My goal in 2011 is to be more consistent but I still won't let it overwhelm me.  I would like to be at 50% savings by the end of 2011.

My other non-resolutions ( I don't really like resolutions) for 2011....
(1)Get healthy...and that means the whole family! We need to lose weight, exercise more, and eat healthy foods. 
(2) Garden, Garden, Garden!  I would like to garden year-round so all we have to do is pick our food before we eat it. (this will also help the grocery budget). 
(3)   Enjoy Life!  My boys are growing up so quickly.  I want to spend more time laughing, loving, and learning.  I don't want to look back and have regrets.
(4) And most important~ Remember God~ without Him none of the things listed above matters. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Hello Blog.  I haven't seen you in months!  Life seems to get so busy that I hardly have time to breath. 

Now it's Christmas time and we are looking at the end of another year.  I always get reflective this time of year.  I think about what has and has not happened this past year.  I think of loved ones that have past and I feel the sadness all over again.  I hurt for those that we know that have lost loved ones recently.  We will all be going through the holidays knowing that it will never be quite the same.

I also spend some of my timing thinking of the coming year.  What do I want to do differently?  There are always numerous things that come to mind and I get excited in the planning stages.  What will happen that is beyond my control?  Our country is changing so rapidly I wonder what it will look like at the end of next year.  Will I recognize it?  Will I want to? 

In the cold of winter, I think about my garden that I will be planting in the spring.  I have already ordered most of my seeds.  I ponder on where to plant each vegetable.  I wonder what I will try that is new this year.  I also take stock of the things that I have canned to see if what I grew last year was enough to sustain us over the winter.

I believe reflection is good.  You need to judge your past and make changes for the future.  The danger is trying to live in either...the past or the future.  So, I'm going to snuggle up with my family and enjoy this Christmas season. 

From our family to yours....Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Busy, Busy

Life has become so busy the past couple of weeks!  We started school last Monday so we are in a new routine.  We are trying a new curriculum and so far we love it!

Our homeschool group, OBLIQUE, has lots of fun stuff planned this year.  I am planning 3 classes at my house and that has me hopping!  First, we are having a bread baking class.  I have 22 people signed up so we might have to have 2 classes.  Next, will be a canning class.  I offer this class every year and it's really cool to hear about the things my "students" are canning now.  Lastly, I am going to have a Zumba class at my house every week.  I'm really looking forward to this one!  I think it will be lots of fun.

The garden has just about dried up.  This excessive heat has taken it's toll.  We are getting lots of okra every day but everything else is about gone.  I did find a few minutes to clear an area and plant some kale for the fall.  I would like to plant some other fall plants but the heat has returned so I will have to wait.

I hope to get back to regularly blogging so look for more soon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Trip to Kroger

Today I took a little trip to Kroger.  There were a few things that we needed and a few coupons that needed to be used by the end of the month.  If you are looking at ways to save money on groceries it is really not hard to do.

Kroger has had leg quarters on sale for the past couple of months. For $5.90 (the cost of one value meal at McD's) you can get 10 pounds of chicken (leg quarters).  That is $.59/lb for meat!!  You are not going to find much better than that!  How many meals can you make out of 10 lbs of chicken?  I can think of lots! And here's what I do:  Cook the first meal...whether it's baking, grilling or broiling.  Next, debone the leftover and have chicken salad or use the chicken in another recipe.  Lastly, boil the bones for chicken broth.  If you don't want to can it, freeze it in 2 cup containers.  When it is just frozen, remove from containers and put them in freezer bags.  This way the broth is premeasured!  When a recipe calls for 2 cups of chicken broth, grab out one block.

Anyone need toothpaste??  Kroger has Crest on sale for $1.00.  This is the large 6.4 oz tube.  I had a couple of $.50 off coupons which they double so they were free.  I also have a whole stack of $.75 off coupons.  So for $.25 we will be in toothpaste for a while.

Deodorant?  Kroger has Speed Stick on sale for $88.  I had a couple of coupons for $.50 off, which again, they double, so it's free.  I don't really like Speed Stick (or Lady Speed Stick) but it's good for the boys.

On this trip I also got free Dove soap, Free Smart Ones meal,  2 free yellow rice and free coffee.  With very little effort I got a lot of free or almost free stuff. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

School Again

Well, it's that time of year again.  Where does the summer go?  I have spent the last couple of days cleaning out the homeschool room.  It's amazing how much stuff can accumulate in one area!  I have a whole list of things that I am selling so if you are a local homeschooler email me and I can send you the list.  I have it posted on the Oblique website and on the MHIS group.

We are trying a new approach to school this year (it seems like we try something new every year).  We are starting A World of Adventure unit study.  I have been reading through it tonight and it sounds like it is going to be really good.  There are a lot of hands-on projects that make school so much more interesting.  We are going to have an Egyptian meal the very first day.  The only downside that I can see is there is a lot of reading.  I won't have a problem with that but it will be an adjustment for the boys.  I told them that we will try the first 30 day study and then evaluate it to see if we want to go on from there.  That seems fair to me.

Oblique, our homeschool group, has some really great things going on this year.  I am excited to be a part of it and I am anxious to get my kids more involved.  Of course, my favorite part is Mom's Night Out.  I never thought I would enjoy it but it is so nice to meet other Mom's that go through the same struggles you do as a homeschooler.  I've gained priceless knowledge from all of them but I have to admit I have learned the most from Jen, our fearless leader.  She has taught me to relax and enjoy the ride...not that I have completely learned this lesson, but I am on my way.

I am very thankful to be able to homeschool my kids.  It has taken years to get to the place where I don't miss work and to feel that this is what I am supposed to be doing.  I am here now and I plan to take advantage of every minute with my boys.  God has truly blessed us and I want to be found faithful with the things that he has entrusted to me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coupons: Evil or Good?

My opinion of coupons change every week or so.  There are some weeks when I see a huge reward and I know that all of my work is worth it.  There are other weeks (like this one) when I look at the sale papers and see that I cannot really save any money on things that we need.  On days like this I wonder why I even bother.

Like you, I have better things to do with my time than sit down and clip coupons.  I feel especially overwhelmed when I let them stack up and don't cut them out or organize them in a timely manner.  I also heap guilt on myself when I go to the store and forget my coupons.  Inevitably I will find something on sale that I know I have a coupon for and I have missed out on a great deal. 

I am trying to teach myself that this is just a way to save money.  It is not something that should drag my emotions along with it.  If I find a great deal and can add coupons to make it even better then great!  If life gets in the way and I can't do everything I need to do with coupons then we will live!  It's ok.

Do you have these same issues?  Maybe your issue is not coupons but something else.  Is it something that you NEED to have emotions attached to or is it pressure that you are putting on yourself?  Think about it and try to find an area in your life where you can give yourself a break.   

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mardi Gras Gumbo

It has been a while since I have had a chance to blog.  You know, it's hard sometimes to make time to just sit down and write.  It's not that I don't have anything to say but that I am having a hard time prioritizing my days lately.

For those of you that don't know, the boys and I just got home from a week of camp.  This was their first time going to youth camp and my first time going as a counselor.  All of us had a great time.  I had 18 girls ages 10-12 in my cabin.  I lucked out and had wonderful girls.  We had very little drama!  We are all looking forward to going back next year.

Now, the bad thing about camp was that when I got home my kitchen was covered in produce.  My husband did a great job of picking the garden while I was gone but I was a bit overwhelmed when I got home.  Instead of resting I had to jump right in and start canning, freezing and cooking.  I even took 110 cucumbers to church Sunday to give away. 

I did finally get everything put up but I am still picking the garden every day.  I've been able to sell a little of the extras that we had and I am still canning and freezing.  I used a lot of our fresh goodies on this recipe that my Mom sent me (you can use canned or frozen if you don't have fresh).  We really enjoyed it and I hope you will too!

Mardi Gras Gumbo
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch chunks
28 oz. diced tomatoes
16 oz. corn
16 oz. okra, diced
28 oz. chicken broth
1 T. hot sauce
1/2 t. liquid smoke
Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute chicken in olive oil until slightly cooked.  Add all other ingredients in a large pot and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for about 45 minutes~ until chicken is cooked and gumbo thickens.

Now, I know some of my family and friends that know "gumbo" will say this is not a gumbo b/c there is not a roux but I didn't make up the name so don't shoot the messenger!  It's still really good and very fresh tasting.  I served it over brown rice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kid in a Candy Shop

It's 8:30 a.m. and I have just completed my garden work for the day.  I came into the house looking as if I had just walked out of the shower.  This heat and humidity makes life hard!

I will admit though, that I am much like a kid in a candy shop.  I get so excited to see what is growing and what is ready to pick.  I am amazed that I can pick cucumbers one day and go out the next day and pick more.  There seems to be no end in sight.

I am a little disappointed in my squash this year.  It is not producing as well as it has in the past but my tomatoes are making up for it.  They are completely loaded and the largest plant I have is one that came up on it's own in the compost bed.  The "critters" are out now too.  I found my first horn worm yesterday and I have collected 2 caterpillars eating tomatoes.  They all became snacks for the chickens!

My biggest garden concern is that my green beans and tomatoes will all start coming in the week that I am gone to camp with the boys.  You know, I put so much tears and sweat into that garden that I hate to miss any of it!

I guess there is no point worrying about the future.  I will be gone that week and that's that.  For today - it's pickle making time!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

$79.21 FREE...thanks CVS

I finally had a few minutes yesterday to sit down and look at Sunday's ads and organize my coupons again.  The coupons have been pretty neglected lately!  I knew that I did not really need anything from Kroger this week so I just looked at Walgreens and CVS.

I started by looking for items that I know we need and checking for coupons on those items.  I then circled the picture in the ad so I would not forget when I got to the store.  I also wrote x2 or x3, etc if I planned on buying multiples of an item.  I pulled all of my coupons and paper clipped them to the front of the ad.

Today I made it to CVS and I think this was my best purchase to date!  I began in the pharmacy.  I had a coupon that offered a $25 gift card for any new or transferred prescription.  I transfered one of mine that only costs $2 to fill and I got the gift card.

I  purchased the following:
6 Dove Deoderant 2/$5 - I used 4 coupons for $2 off.  I recd $5 ECB for spending $15 - final cost $2
2 Old Spice Deoderant $3.99 each but had BOGO plus I used 2 $1 off coupons and rec'd $2 ECB - final cost $FREE
2 Tampax @ $2.97 each minus 2 coupons for $2 off - final cost $.97 each
Dawn Dish detergent on sale for $1 minus $1 coupon = FREE

You get the idea... I used my ECB's from my previous purchases and by the time I was finished the total due was $11.35.  I paid using my FREE $25 gift card and I rec'd $12 back in ECB's for next time.

I do believe CVS has surpassed Walgreens as my favorite place to shop.  Today has certainly renewed my enthusiasm for coupons!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh, To Blog Again

Roma Tomatoes

It has been a while since I have sat down to blog.  In fact, I feel like I rarely have time to sit down and do anything!  I will take a few minutes to tell you what has been going on.

A lot of my mornings are spent in the garden.  It looks like I will have a bumper crop this year!  Everything looks really healthy and is growing well.  You can see a picture of my Roma tomatoes at the top.  I have already begun picking yellow squash, blueberries and blackberries.  I have a few tomatoes that are starting to turn pink too.  It is so exciting to watch things grow!  If I could, I would post pictures of all of my baby vegetables for you to see but I am sure you would not be as excited over them as I am.

My husband and oldest son have kept me busy the last two weeks sewing "period correct" costumes for them.  They are both members of FCF (Frontiersman Camping Fellowship).  This is where grown men dress up in garb from the 1800's.  Personally, I don't understand why anyone would want to do this but they enjoy it.  I finally finished all of their requests and sent them packing on an FCF camping trip.

We added a new member of the family last Sunday.  A friend brought over a half chihuahua/ half poodle puppy.  He is all of 1.06 lbs (note - not 1.6 but 1.06).  I know his exact weight because of our emergency run to the vet Tuesday morning.  But let me back up a little.  I had decided not to get another dog yet because I am still struggling with the death of Prancer.  Cissy brought this little pup over with the understanding they would take him home if we didn't want him.  Well, I didn't particulary want him, even though he's a doll, but Doug and the boys were already in love so he stayed.  Monday morning I took him outside and he immediately went to sniff of our downspout.  As soon as he reached his nose up, a wasp flew out and stung him on the back.  The poor baby cried and rolled on the ground.  He didn't know what had happened to him.  Tuesday morning he decided to wake up at 4 a.m. and not go back to sleep.  Josh finally got up around 6 and I handed the dog over to him so I could take a shower.  As soon as I headed to my room I heard the puppy cry and Josh yelling for his Dad!  The pup had jumped out of Josh's arms and landed on the concrete porch. Doug checked him out and decided he probably had a broken leg.  So, off the the vet we go!  He stayed at the vet all day.  They originally told me he had a broken humorous and would be in a splint and bed rest for 6 weeks!  By the end of the day they had decided he was not broken at all but had a dislocated shoulder and would not need a splint.  He would have to be kept in a kennel for 2 weeks and only allowed out to go potty.

Now, it's Thursday and "Scrappy (Doo)" is getting along well.  He is such a well-behaved little dog considering he is locked away in his kennel.  He whines to tell me he needs to go out and he quickly does his business.  He loves to chew on my hair every chance he gets and wags when spoken to.  He cries for a few minutes when I put him back in his kennel but then he settles down and is quiet for hours.  It's amazing!

Last night Blake had a friend over to spend the night.  He went home around 2.  Now, all is quiet in the house....just the clicking of the keyboard.  I am trying to decide what to do next.  Do I take advantage of the quiet house and take a nap, sit down to all of the paperwork that I need to do, or go back and work in the garden again.... I guess I will have to decide soon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Want to try E-Mealz?

One of my favorite sites is ChaChing on a Shoestring.  She posts all of the great weekly and daily deals floating around the web.  I have signed up to her email, twitter and facebook so I don't miss anything!  You can check out her site using the link in this blog or click the button on the right side of the page.

Right now you can sign up for a chance to win a 3 month subscription to E-Mealz.  I have been reading about them and would really like to try it out. 

So go ahead...Check out all of the links and see if you can save your family some more money!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Garden Update

My garden is my sanctuary.  I love it there.  It is quiet.  It is peaceful. It is beautiful to watch.  I look at it in awe every year as a seed that I planted turns into a plant, produces flowers and then fruit.  It's amazing.  I think that if I ever lose the magic in seeing a plant burst through the ground I will hang up my garden hoe and find a new hobby.

Some one asked me yesterday what I had planted and I was amazed when I wrote it all down.  I have Tomatoes, Okra, Purple hull peas, Green Beans, Squash, Zucchini, and Pattypan Squash, Cucumbers, Lipstick Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Watermelon, Cantelope, Eggplant, Sweet Potatoes, Red Potatoes, Lettuce,  Cilantro, mint, parsley, pineapple sage, basil, lavendar, chives, leeks
In fruits in have figs, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries (well, those that the chickens didn't eat), apples, peaches, plums, and pears.

If everything grows well we will have a lot of food in the pantry this fall!  If I can ever afford a fence in the back yard I will buy a cow and I wouldn't have to go to the grocery store at all.  Wouldn't that be great?!

My newest project is honey bees.  I spent about an hour working on the brood boxes today.  Our bees come in May 22.  I can't wait!  We won't have any honey this year but we will next year.  I will keep you updated on the progress.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Monthly Planning

Do you take any thought of what happened this past month and what you would like to see change during the next month? I really have not been much of a planner. I just take each day as it comes and then wait for the next one. I am learning that by making a conscious decision to “pay attention” that I feel I have more control over my life and I am able to make small changes that impact us in big ways.

This entire blog started because I realized I had no idea how much money we spent a month on food and I really didn’t do anything to save any money in that area. So, I began paying attention. I started keeping receipts and learning how much money we were spending. I learned to use coupons and maximize sales and now our food budget is under $200 a month for a family of 4.

I have also started menu planning. Now this is not something I am consistent with so one of my goals is to do this every week. This is a priority because when I get busy and tired I just give in and say ok…we can go out and eat while we are in town. This is counterproductive! By menu planning, I have everything I need for the week already at the house and I don’t have to look around and try to come up with something appetizing. I’ve done it in advance! I can even use slow days around the house as time to prepare some of the foods in advance.

Want to know my biggest goal for May? Exercise! Yep, that dirty word. We were doing so good at the beginning of the year. We were eating healthy and exercising. The whole family was feeling better and was excited about our progress and then the rug was pulled out from under us. We (and by we, I mean me) are just now beginning to deal with the deaths in the family this year and I guess move forward. The first step in moving forward is taking care of ourselves. So Monday our new treadmill arrives. I have warned the family that with the arrival of the treadmill comes the arrival of our healthy lifestyle.

What is the biggest change you would like to see in your house this month? Take a moment to think about it and determine a way to change it! Talk about it with your family and get them on board with you. You will see how good it feels to be actively accomplishing something rather than be pulled along by life!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rain Days

Ok, so we all know it's coming, right?  The forecast says rain beginning today (Friday) and ending Monday.  They are predicting 5-8 inches of rain, hail, and possibly tornadoes. So, how are you going to spend your weekend?

This morning I ran to town to do all of my errands so I don't have to get out again until this is over.  I'll be honest, I have every intention of sitting down, reading my magazines that I never have a chance to open, and then taking a long, well-deserved nap!  After that, well, that's when the work begins again.

I have done a quick inventory of my freezer and pantry.  In the freezer I have flounder, crab meat, and chicken breast strips.  I am going to create next week's menu around these items and extras that are in the pantry.  I am already planning on Chicken Cacciatore.  I will have to look around and see what I want to do with the flounder and crab meat.  I have lots of frozen veggies that will fill out the rest of the menu.

Just so you grocery budget for this month was $149!  That is really great considering I really did not do much with coupons.  My savings for the month was only 30%.  This just goes to show you that you can still feed your family well on a budget even if you don't have time to devote to coupons. 

Next month I am planning on getting back to the coupons and see how much I can save!

The next blog...MONTHLY PLANNING!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Updates and Recipes

It has been a little while since I have written so I will give you a brief update. 

I have put many hours of work into preparing the garden this year.  I finally got everything planted and decided to use this black erosion control plastic stuff in between the rows to try to cut down on weeds since I have 3 gardens going.  I hammered all of the posts in the ground and ran wire for my green beans last week.  Everything was looking great and starting to grow and then....the storms hit!  I watched all of my hard work blow around and tangle on posts, break tomato plants, and tie in knots.  I have been able to clean up a little bit but there are parts of the garden that is like quick sand to step in.  I guess it will dry out in time for rain again this weekend.

I spent the weekend making jelly out of the strawberries we bought from a local farm.  I ended up with 40 jars when I was all finished.  I used the rest of the strawberries today in Strawberries and Cream Bread.  Here is the recipe:

Strawberries and Cream Bread
 1  3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp (or straight from the chicken!  I sent the boys to the yard)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 t. vanilla
1  1/4 c. strawberries, chopped

Combine first 5 ingredients and set aside.  In mixer, cream butter.  Gradually add sugar.  Beat until light then add brown sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add sour cream and vanilla.  Add flour until just moistened.  Fold in strawberries.  Pour into greased 8 x 4.5 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Let stand in pan for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unable to Function

Have you ever had so much you need to do but you just cannot find the motivation to do any of it?  That's kind of where I have been since February....going through the motions every day but not really doing anything that I'm supposed to....including this blog.  I sit down to do it and just do not feel like talking.  I have my coupons neatly in a stack (I have even cut them out now) but I just don't care enough to sort them...much less shop with them.  My house needs to be cleaned but I've just done enough to scratch the surface.

I guess I have accomplished one thing.  The garden is planted!  Actually, I have several garden areas and they are all planted and I'm waiting, impatiently, for things to start sprouting.  I love being outside and hate coming in. I have enjoyed playing with the chickens, tilling the garden, planting the seeds, even weeding but I seem to shut down as soon as I come inside.

I guess this is a side effect of losing Grandmother, my dog, my neighbor.  Maybe it is a huge case of spring fever?  Whatever it is, I hope it passes soon.  I have a lot to do!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's New

As I am sure you can tell from the lack of blogging, I have been really busy lately.  This week we said goodbye to my parent's elderly neighbor.  We've known her for 20 years now.  Her son came and got her to move her to an assisted living facility in NC.  It was really hard seeing her go.  I usually see or talk to her every other week.  The boys have known her all of their lives.

Our beloved little dog Prancer also died this week.  She was 6.5 years old.  She was diagnosed last October with fluid around her heart.  They were able to drain the fluid but told us if it came back that she probably wouldn't live.  Well, it came back.  She died in my lap on the way to the vet Monday.  It has been very, very sad.  You know, I'm not a cryer but I cry every time I think of her and every time I come in the house.  She was such a huge part of our family to be such a little dog.

I have been busy trying to get my garden in before the rain this weekend.  I got the last of it tilled and planted today.  I just have a few small things to do then I can relax for a little bit.

I have not had time to buy groceries or sort my coupons in several weeks.  It just is not a priority right now.  We are still eating out of the pantry and freezer for most meals.  I am also trying to use up some of my canned goods to get ready for this year's canning.

I will probably host another canning class at my house in a few weeks.  I just need time to recuperate from this week and get things back in order then I will come up with a date.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Lunch

This year we are having Easter Lunch - on a budget.  In years past we always went out to eat on Easter.  This year I decided to cook.

Our main dish will be ham that I purchased from Kroger for $.77/lb.  Our sides will be:  Mashed Cauliflower ($1.50/head), Creamed Leeks ($2.32 - I had purchased these earlier for a new recipe and I'm using what I had left), Green Beans (free from last year's garden) and home made buttery dinner rolls.  For dessert we are having Angel Food Cake ($2.00) and fresh Strawberries ($1.50).

As a side note, this is the first time I have tried Creamed Leeks.  It is incredible!!  It's too rich to eat often but WOW!  I also love the Mashed Cauliflower. I will post the recipe to both at the bottom of this post.

Back to the subject at hand - Our Easter Lunch should cost us no more than $15 to feed a family of 4.  We will also have lots of leftovers! 

Mashed Cauliflower - You will find various recipes online but this is the one I made up myself and we like it.
1 Head Cauliflower - cut into pcs
2 C. Chicken Broth
1/4 C. Heavy Cream (you can use milk or half & half)
Salt and Pepper

Place cauliflower and chicken broth into dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high simmer.  Cook until tender.  Strain the liquid into a bowl (keep).  Place cauliflower in blender with enough of the cooking liquid to cover about 1/2 way.  Add cream, salt and pepper.  Blend until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Creamed Leeks
4 Large Leeks (whites only)
2 T. Butter
1 C. Chicken Broth
1 C. Heavy Cream
1/2 t. Salt
1/4 t. Pepper
Dash Cayenne

Slice leeks into rounds and wash well.  Saute leeks in butter until wilted.  Add chicken broth and boil liquid down by half.  Add cream and remaining ingredients.  Cook until thick.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I am so tired today!  Yesterday I unloaded 2 truckloads of compost and 1 truckload of sand.  I should have done the sand first because it is a lot heavier than compost!  All of this in preparation for my garden.  My neighbor is supposed to come today and disk up the ground so it will be easier for me to till.

So, how do you prepare your soil for gardening?  The first thing you need to do is a soil test.  You can take a sample and mail it in or you can buy a cheap little test from Home Depot or Lowe's.  It will not be as detailed but it will do the job.  Once you have the results you can move on to amending the soil.

Our soil here has a lot of clay and it is acidic.  For the acidity, I add lime.  To amend the clay, I added leaf mulch, composted horse manure and sand. 

Once your soil is amended it's time to till.  You will get the best results from ground that is tilled as deep as you can get it.  This will loosen all of the hard ground and make it easier for your plants to thrive.  Once tilled you will have to go through and pull out any grass and weeds.  You want to be as thorough as you can in this step because the more you do now, the less you will have to do later.  And's going to be really hot!!

I usually do not plant until after April 15 but I have decided that I will plant on any sunny day after the garden is prepared.  Last year we had so much rain that I thought I would not have a garden at all!

Are you trying your hand at gardening this year?  If you don't have a lot of land to garden, use a small part of your flower bed and just plant 1 or 2 items that your family really enjoys.  You can also try container gardening.  You will be amazed at how much money you can save on tomatoes with the purchase of just 1 plant.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Challenge Confession

The "Buy No Groceries Until April" challenge was my idea right?  Yeah, I know it was and I have stuck to it...until today or maybe tomorrow.  I have cleaned several things out of the freezer and pantry during this challenge and we have not suffered for it.  There is still plenty of food left without searching very far.  The problem is the sales. 

Oh, the sales!  How do you pass up ham for $.77/lb?  This is when I stock up not stop buying!  So ok, I confess, I will be purchasing hams during this Easter season.  We could also really use some fresh fruit but everything else is still off-limits unless I can get it free with a coupon.  Deal?  Deal!

By the way, I picked my first salad greens from my little earth boxes yesterday.  I have prepped the soil and I am planning on planting my herb garden tomorrow.  My neighbor is coming by Friday or Saturday to disc up the big garden and then I'll be ready to go full steam ahead!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Words are Few

I must admit, you will probably not hear from me so much now that Spring is here. I see the sun shining and it beckons to me to come out and play. Now, my “play” is probably different from yours! Mine involves a shovel, hoe, and dirt. I love to “play” in my garden!

As usual, I already feel like I am behind in gardening. I wanted to get my seeds started in February but it did not happen. A couple of weeks ago I finally got a few tomatoes and peppers started. I have a few little seedlings growing on my kitchen counter. I guess I will end up buying any additional plants that are needed but most of my garden will be started in the ground outside.

I have not been able to prepare my soil yet due to all of the rain. I am hoping that it dries out enough this week for me to get some work done. I never plant until after April 15 so I still have a few days but not many. I did get a little work in Saturday on my front flower bed. I am transforming part of it into an herb garden. I am really excited to see how it does.

My real garden will be a lot different than previous years. I am not going to plant as many varieties this year. I am planning on having tomatoes, squash, green beans, and peppers. I will still have my small plot of sweet potatoes too. Josh is going to be growing okra this year to sell at the farmer’s market.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Free Stuff

This is just a quick note to tell you about all of the free stuff I got this week in the mail.  There are always promotions online that you can sign up for, so keep an eye out for them.  I will try to start posting more of them here.  I have also been posting them on my FB page so if you are not my friend, friend me and send me a note telling me that you are a follower on my blog.

1.  14 day supply of Prevacid
2.  Coupon for FREE VitaminWater
3.  6 different flavors of Nescafe Taster's Choice
4.  Free full size bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce

Here are some other things I have received in the mail previously:  Full size bottle of shampoo, energy drinks, vitamin drinks, cereals and lots of coupons!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

FREE Courtesy of CVS

CVS is quickly becoming my favorite place to shop!  Remember I am not allowed to buy anything until the end of the month unless it's free, right?  Well, look what I got for free!

It does not look like that much, does it?  It's actually $38.13 worth of stuff.  I did not really plan on getting anything but Easter candy.  I had a few minutes (without kids) so I decided to stroll around the store.  I found deoderant that was 75% off the regular price and then to add a little sweetness to the deal, I had coupons for these items which made them free.  I also had a CVS reward for $4 off a $20 purchase.  I had to work hard to get my $20.  I had to grap a couple of M&M minis to get my total up but I made it.

Bottom line  $38.13 of goods.  Cash out of pocket $4.87.  ECB's $6.99.  I actually made $2.12 PROFIT!!

Here are a few helpful hints:
  1. Learn to shop at ONE store using coupons.  This can be Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, or any where else.  (We'll use CVS as our example store of choice)
  2. Shop at different CVS locations to see if they have the same deals at each store.  I have found that one store will offer an item at 75% off while another store offers the same item at only 25% off.  Guess which store I shop at most of the time??
  3. Get to know the employees and a good way!  Try to have all of your stuff in order and make their jobs easier so they don't mind you bringing a dozen coupons to them.
  4. Once you learn the ropes of one store, add another, then another.  Learn which stores work best for you and then stick to them.  Don't overwhelm yourself by driving to 7 different stores just because you can get 1 or 2 good deals at each of them.
  5. Have fun!  I love, love, love seeing how much I can get for a little.  Find some friends that share your enthusiasm and share your good deals.  You will be surprised at how many people you motivate!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Challenge

I am so glad you guys are on board with the Monday Challenge!!  Reply to the blog with your meal ideas and any difficulties you may have.  We can try to help one another out.

We missed breakfast today because we got a really slow start.  We made sandwiches for lunch to take to the zoo....then once we got to the zoo we left because it was sooooo crowded.  This evening we will be having leftovers from last night's soup.  I also made corn cakes to go with it and will probably repeat that tonight because they were a big hit.

I am thawing some chicken breasts to cook tomorrow.  I'm not sure yet how I am going to cook them.  Any ideas?  I get so tired of the same old thing.

I also have quite a collection of fruits in the freezer.  I have bananas, peaches, strawberries and blueberries.  I am thinking about smoothies for breakfast and maybe even some blueberry muffins.  It just depends on how industrious I feel this afternoon.  You know, when the sun shines it is hard for me to stay inside!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Challenge

Today is Monday, March 22, and I have a new challenge for you (and me!). Can we go the next 10 days without buying groceries? I have spent $162 on groceries this month and I want to stop there! The only thing I am planning on buying is milk. Everything else is off limits…unless I can get it free with coupons.

I have plenty of food in the pantry and in the freezer. A little imagination and some time spent on should net some good recipes.

Today I am cooking “Lentil Soup for People who Thought They Hated Lentils”. We love lentils so the name does not apply to us but this just sounds like a good recipe. It is jam packed with fresh veggies. It does have an option to add meat but I am going to keep it vegetarian this time. I had to buy leeks for this recipe so I am planning on making Potato Leek Soup later in the week. You know, with this crazy cold weather it will taste good!

Do you have an excess of any foods in your pantry or freezer? Can you skip a week of buying groceries? Maybe you cannot forego the grocery store completely but you can plan 3 meals around food you already have on hand. That is a good start!

If you are one of my local readers, we have more than enough fresh eggs around our house right now. If you would like some we are offering them to our friends for $1.50/doz for a limited time. Soon they will be back to $2.50/doz. Let me know if you would like some. If you want some REAL Easter eggs – we have one hen that lays green eggs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kroger Shopping

I went to Kroger last night not expecting to save much money. I checked the ad that came out yesterday and I really didn’t have many coupons for the things on sale. I also knew that I would be buying things like deli meat (not a normal purchase) and ground chuck. I needed a few other things to try a new recipe. The recipe includes red bell peppers and leeks which are two things that are rarely on sale. So, I went knowing that this was not going to be a trip to blog about but I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and checked the bill.

My total bill was $151.98! (I know…more than I spent all last month!) After coupons and discounts I paid $84.64. That’s a savings of 46%. Not bad!

Look at the bottom of the post and you can see some of the ways I saved!

I bought 2 jars of Classico pasta sauce for $1.49 each. I had a coupon that if you buy 2 jars of Classico you get $1.50 off fresh ground beef. Kroger has ground chuck on sale for $1.99/lb. I bought a 5.07 lb package. The coupon made it $1.79/lb AND the Classico purchase applies to the 8 items needed for $4 instant savings special Kroger is doing.

I also bought 2 Old El Paso soft taco kits. They are regularly $3.19 each but were on sale $2 each. I found a coupon on one of the boxes buy 2 kits and get 1 refried beans free.

Always look at boxes or containers for coupons. I got the free beans, a Kashi coupon, brown rice coupon and cereal coupon just by picking up the right boxes.
Free BetterOats

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free Stuff

I want to let you guys know about Vocalpoint.  Yesterday I received a free, full-size bottle of Pantene shampoo.  Along with this free bottle were 3 coupons for $2 off any 1 purchase of Pantene.

Today they have another freebie you can sign up for.  It is for Puff's tissues.

Another great place to get free stuff and great coupons is Kraft First Taste.  Now, I have had trouble printing coupons from this site but I think it is more a problem with my printer than anything else.  Sometimes it likes to print and other times it does not.  Recently, they have given away free coupons for Oreo Cakesters and Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yea! Friday

Since it's Friday we'll start off with some free stuff and good deals!  We want everyone to be happy on Friday!

Free Country Bob's

Free Spring Cleaning Gift Pack

Home Made Simple $30 in Coupons

I am spending the weekend getting ready for Monday.  That's when our challenge is officially starting.  Tomorrow I will be putting together our menu for next week.  We will probably be going back to the one I posted a couple of weeks ago...the beans and rice one.  It is a great way to kind of detox your body and get started on a healthy new lifestyle.  I bought a new exercise dvd yesterday since my treadmill and wii died!  I will let you know how I like it next week.

And for my homeschool friends, I encourage you to get involved with your local homeschool group.  If you find that it's not a fit for your family, don't give up.  Keep looking!  I have missed the last couple of MNO with our homeschool group so I was really excited to get to go last night.  We have the best time and it is so nice getting together and comparing notes.  And by the way, if you happened to be driving through Olive Branch at around 9:00 pm last night and saw about 10 cars following one another.... that was our Homeschool Mom Convoy! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ready 4 a CHALLENGE?

Make sure you check out the free stuff at the end of this blog!

If you have been with this blog since the beginning you know that we started eating healthy at the first of the year.  We also made a family pact that we would only eat out 1 time per month.  We were doing really good on both of these until the sickness and death of my Grandmother.  When I got home from the funeral I got sick and I am still fighting the symptoms even now- two weeks later.  We have just been eating whatever was easiest and we have been eating out WAY too much!  It's time to get back on the wagon.

So, are you ready to join me?  The challenge is for the family to eat out only 1 time per month.  I know that my husband will have to eat out some with work but this is excused.  I am allowing myself 2 dinners a month at Mom's Night Out. Anything else is off limits!

The second part of the challenge is to eat healthy!  What does that mean?  It means different things to different people.  At our house it means no sugar, no white flour, no sodas.  We increase our vegetable and fruit intake and cut down on fats.  It's time to start drinking water and exercising. 

One personal goal that I have is to not have any processed foods in the house.  The only thing allowed is cereal and we are very choosy about what cereal comes in the house.  I know that this will create more work for me but I think it is worth it.

Now, I will tell you that it is harder to save money on foods when you eat healthy.  Take a look at the next set of coupons that you get.  Most of the items are for processed foods.  I don't even cut these out anymore because if I have the coupons, I am tempted to buy them.  I cut out all coupons for rice, beans, meat, nuts, etc.  These are staples that I can use in many ways.  There have even been some coupons lately for oranges which I have certainly taken advantage of.

I guess what I am learning is that I don't want to just see how many groceries I can get for the least amount of money.  I want to feed my family healthy foods and try to save money doing it.  I don't want to feed my family junk just because I didn't pay much for it.

So, are you in?  Can you cut back just 1 meal out this week? Will you put the soda down and pick up a glass of water?  Make one step in the right direction this week.

Free Sample of Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Free Vasca Detergent - Become a facebook fan then click on the link for a free sample!

Free Sample Burt's Bees Toothpaste

Want to know what coupons will be in Sunday's paper?  click here

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Target Deals

Here are some Target deals that were posted on Money Common Sense.  If you find any great deals let me know and I will post them.

Tide travel size $0.97

Use $1/1 any size Tide coupon from 3/7 Proctor & Gamble insert (exp 4/30)
Free after coupon (Thanks Pocket Your Dollars)

Satin Care shaving cream trial size $0.97
Use $1/1 any Satin care product coupon from 3/7 P&G insert (exp 4/30)
Free after coupon (thanks Spectacular savings)

Reach Dental Floss $0.97
Use $1/1 coupon from 3/7 Red Plum insert (exp 12/31)
Free after coupon (Thanks Pocket Your Dollars)

Johnson’s Buddies Soap $0.97
Use $1/1 Johnson’s baby product coupon from 3/7 Red Plum insert (exp 5/15)
Use $1/1 Johnson’s baby product printable coupon
Free after coupon

Old Spice Red Zone Body Wash trial size $0.97
Use the $3/2 Old Spice coupon from 2/21 P&G insert
Two free after coupon

Oral B Stages Toothpaste $1.49
Use $1/1 or $0.50/1 coupon from 2/7 P&G insert
Use $1/1 Oral B Toothpaste Target store printable coupon
As low as free after coupons

Character Bandaids as low as $1.89
Use $1/1 Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid Brand Product, Any from 01-03-10 RP x3/31
Use $1 off Band-Aid bandages Target store printable coupon
As low as free after coupons

Travel Size Bop It! Game $9.99
Use $5/1 Bop It! printable coupon
Use $3/1 Hasbro Game Target Store printable coupon
Pay $1.99 each after coupons (Thanks give me Neither)

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Week

Well, it is a new week and it's off to a bang! My husband has a "situation" at work that we are praying about.  My youngest son and I had a very rough day of school and we had another death in the family this morning.  Another earthquake is in the news and I'm wondering what will come next. Whatever comes will be met with the assurance that God is in control.

Now, on to saving money$$$ I quickly ran by Walgreen's and CVS yesterday. 
Walgreens has a great deal if you need Resveratrol (antioxidant vitamin).  They are on sale BOGO.  Pick up the Walgreen's coupon book in the front of the store and there is a coupon for $5 off.  This will take $5 off of each bottle making them FREE ($20 value). 
Use Nestle Crunch coupon in Walgreen's ad for $.49 each.  Use BOGO coupon.
Honey Bunches of Oates $1.75 each then use $1/2 coupon.
My total bill $3.99  Savings $26.59

CVS - I had to spend a little more money at CVS in order to restock my ECB's.  This is what I bought:
2 Raisin Bran $2.50 each (Saved $2 each) used (2) $1 coupon
2 Corn Flakes $2.50 each (Saved $2 each) then rec'd $5 ECB
2 Pantene Shampoo $3.49 each (saved $1.79 each) $3 coupon
Oral B toothbrush $4  used $.75 coupon rec'd $4 ECB
Always 20 ct. $2.99 (saved $.70) used $1 coupon
Charmin 12 ct $5.97 used $1 coupon rec'd $1 ECB
Used $3 ECB from previous purchase

Bottom Line:  cost $21.28 savings $25.03      PLUS $12 ECB

You can save a lot of money if you use your ECB's to purchase items that earn back ECB's.  I had trouble with mine when we were out of town for the funeral and then I came home and was sick.  I was not able to turn them around like I normally do.

Another note.  I signed up for today.  You can select coupons to be added to your Kroger card so you don't need to print them.  You can check out too.  It does the same thing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saving Today

The height of frustration is spending all morning poring over sales papers, organizing coupons, and making lists then driving 15 minutes to the grocery store only to find that you left your coupons at home!! I guess this is why you don’t shop when you are sick.

The only reason I was getting out of the house today is because I have not really cooked all week. We have been out of bread for 2 days and the milk is running low again. I thought I could drag myself out of bed long enough to provide some type of food for my family. Boy was I wrong!

I stood in the middle of the Kroger parking lot weighing my options. I could go in the store and just buy the items we need with no coupons. I could drive back home and pick up my coupons and drive back…it’s only 30 minutes out of my life. The final option was to drive home and stay home and try again another day. I chose the first option. I decided I could buy the necessities and things that I was planning on purchasing that did not use coupons anyway.

My purchase total was $49.68. My savings for this trip was $17.11. Not too bad with NO coupons. I bought some of the whole grain bread that was on sale for $1. I headed to the meats that they were marking down as I watched. I bought ground chuck for dinner tonight, chicken breasts to throw in the rotisserie and a 4 lb. box of frozen catfish (product of the USA!).

I did not find a lot of great coupon deals at Kroger this week but this is what I planned on purchasing: Betty Crocker frosting and cookie mixes- $.50 and $.70 each and Green Giant Steamers $.78 each.

Here’s a buy from Walgreens:

Tylenol PM $2.99
Stack with $1.50/1 coupon from the Walgreens March Coupon Book
Free plus $0.50 in overage


Simply Sleep $2.99
Stack with $1.50/1 coupon from the Walgreens March Coupon Book

Free plus $0.50 in overage

Here is a helpful hint about printing coupons online.  Once you have printed a coupon 1 time, hit the BACK button on your browser THREE times.  Most of the time you will be able to print the same coupon twice.

Monday, March 1, 2010


That's how much I spent on groceries in the month of February - $100.43! The retail price was $311.85. My savings for the month was $211.42!!

Now, the last week of February was mainly spent on the road going back and forth to see my Grandmother. This caused us to eat out more than we normally would but it was still not that bad. We had free breakfast at the hotel every morning and I had several meals of homemade bread (from my wonderful little cousin, Whitney) and peanut butter. We really didn't have much of an appetite in the hospital so this worked fine.

Our grocery bill for January was $436 so I am excited to see how March will work out. January was when I was really learning how to use coupons and I was also stocking up on some essentials. I don't expect to spend that much again...ever!

So, how are you doing? Are you saving money with coupons? Do you even know how much you are spending per month? I enter everything into a spreadsheet as soon as I get home from the store so I don't forget to track my savings. This way I am very conscious of how much I am spending.

Tonight I am going to sit down and get all of my coupons ready. I need to clean out the expired ones and file away the new. The grocery ads will come in the mail tomorrow so it’s time to go shopping again. I still plan on creating meals from items that I have in the freezer so I should not have to buy that much.

As soon as I can get myself organized again I will start posting weekly menus.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ready to continue?

No, I am not ready to continue yet.  I keep looking at my "deal" emails and I cannot seem to make myself read to the bottom.  I threw my sales papers away without even looking at them.  My coupons lay unopened, uncut, and uncared for.  No, I am not ready to continue with "life" yet.

I will tell you the truth.  I woke up this morning and saw the headlines about the earthquake in Chili.  My first reaction was "God, you are coming soon".  He is trying to warn us to be ready.  Are we listening?  My second thought was "I will get to see Grandmother soon".  One of the last things that I told her was that we will all be in Heaven with her soon.  I believe it. I long for it.

I was supposed to be leaving for Greenville, South Carolina this Wednesday for the FOCUS Children's Conference.  I went last year and had a great time and I learned so much.  This year I cannot bring myself to go.  I am exhausted from all of the driving and riding... about 1200 miles this week.  I have been fighting a sinus infection since the day of the funeral.  I think at this point the infection is winning.  But the main reason I can't go is Mom.  I can't leave her right now.  Even she will admit that she is still numb from the past 2 weeks.  It has not hit her yet but I will be here when it does.  She told me today that she has been having chest pains for over a week now.  It is from the stress.  Stress of losing her beloved Mother, stress of dealing with friends and family, stress of going on and moving forward.

Changing the subject, it is interesting to see the traits that death brings out in people.  Some people must cope in quiet and solitude...I am one of these people.  Some cope by being the life of the party even when it's not party time.  Some cope by not dealing with reality at all. We all cope differently.  The hard part is allowing someone to grieve without judging or taking it personally.

I am still learning to grieve.  I am trying to learn to allow others to grieve as they need to too.  It's harder than you would think.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Down the Road

What a busy life!  You would think that a homeschool Mom would have a quiet, peaceful life...unless of course you are a homeschool Mom!  If you are, you know better!

Last week we had 2 days where my husband was in Chicago.  He got home Thursday and we left Friday afternoon headed to Jackson, TN.  We went to see Lee University's Campus Choir in concert.  They were awesome!  We spent the night in Jackson with our JBQ (Junior Bible Quiz) team and were up early Saturday morning for a long day of quizzing.

This was the last sectional quiz meet of the year.  We will head to districts on March 20.  We had our awards ceremony for the section Saturday afternoon.  Our team came in FIRST!  All 4 of our quizzers were in the top 10.  Josh, my oldest son, came in FIRST in individual points.  He even beat the Advanced league.  I am so proud of him.  He has worked so hard!  The thing that I am most proud of is the Word of God that they have placed in their hearts.  I know it will follow them throughout their lives.

Tonight I am packing to go see my Grandmother tomorrow.  It will be about a 5.5 hour drive.  She now has a blood clot in her leg where they did the hip/leg surgery.  She also now has pneumonia.  I know that she won't be with us much longer but it's ok.  I know where she is going. 

I won't be posting while I am gone.  Hopefully life will get back to normal soon and we can talk about coupons and saving money again.  In the meantime, things of much greater importance have my undivided attention.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I have very intentionally avoided CVS since their recent influx into the Memphis area. I was a little aggravated that they chose to build on every corner opposite Walgreens. I’m not sure why I took this so personally but I did

I have looked over their ads every week but nothing convinced me to go in until they had the BOGO Hellman’s mayonnaise a couple of weeks ago. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back!

Since my first purchase I have ventured into CVS on multiple occasions. This week I find myself going there more than Walgreens. In fact, I MAY have a new favorite store!

I am going to quickly tell you about some of the deals that I got this week. They are awesome! Remember the way to shop at Walgreens and CVS is to buy things that earn you Register Rewards (RR) or Extra Care Bucks (ECB) and then use them on future purchases. Try to make sure that your future purchases will earn RR or ECB’s so you keep “rolling over” your savings.

You will see my previous purchase from CVS on my post “How to Roll Over Your Register Rewards”. Yesterday this is what I got:

Aussie Shampoo $2.99 - $1/1 coupon= $1.99

Cottonelle TP $12.88

2 Purex Detergent Buy one get one $.01 so 2/$6.50 - $1/1 coupon PLUS BOGO coupon from yesterday’s mail means I actually made $1 on this purchase

My total purchase was $21.90 My coupons and ECB’s were $22.49. I MADE $.59 on this transaction AND earned $6 in ECB’s. Now did they pay me?? No. Blake decided that he needed to buy some modeling clay with his money that he got from his Grandparents for Valentine’s day so his transaction was included in mine.

Today I went to CVS again and bought:

Cottonelle TP $5.99

Planters mixed nuts 4 @ $1.37 each (clearance)

Planters DigestiveHealth Nuts 2 @ $1.62 each (clearance)

2 Purex Detergents same as above

1 coke zero (so I could use a $2 off coupon!)

Total price $24.29 Coupons and ECB’s $16 total cost $8.29

The reason that I paid $8?? I found out when I got home that they did not credit my Purex coupon which is $6.50 off. I have called CVS and they said they would make it good if I can get back up there tonight. Lesson learned – Watch everything they key in! Do not let your kids distract you! 

I also earned another $3 ECB on this transaction!

Ok...I walked out to the truck to head back to CVS.  When I opened the door, something fell out.  It was my BOGO coupon for Purex!! I guess I am the one that made a mistake!!

I also forgot to tell you about my great deal from Target.  Remember I told you we are collecting items for missionaries in Mexico that work at an orphanage.  Well, one of the items they needed were flip flops for the kids to wear in the shower areas.  Target had theirs on clearance!! Kids sizes were $.25 and adults were $.70!! Don't bother looking for them at the store in Olive Branch.  I bought 40 pair!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Today's blog is not about coupons or saving money.  It's not about the menu or how to grow a garden.  Today is just a day to talk.

Some of you know that my 92 year old Grandmother fell and broke her hip Saturday night/Sunday morning.  They had to perform two surgeries on her Sunday evening.  The first was to remove and then replace a rod that was in her leg from a break several years ago.  The second surgery was on her hip. We were greatly concerned about her being able to handle the surgery at all..not because of her health but just her age.  Her health, as a matter of fact, is excellent.  She's the only 92 year old I know that takes NO medication!

She did make it through the surgery and has since been in ICU.  They had trouble stabilizing her blood pressure and managing her pain yesterday.  This morning I have found out that they are giving her morphine every 2 hours to manage the pain.  They are trying to reduce the medicine that is keeping her blood pressure stable to see if it will regulate it's self.

I cannot go see her because she is 5 hours away and my son has the flu.  I have no way to leave him here and go on my own.  I would still wonder if I would carry flu germs to her just because I have been the one caring for my son.

Regrets?  No.  I have had a wonderful relationship with my Grandmother.  As a teen we wrote letters back and forth.  As an adult we have spent hours and hours talking and visiting.  As she aged and her memory declined, I spent time with her as much as possible. When the decision was made to place her in nursing home I thought my heart would break but I saw that is was best.   I have visited her there often and so have my children.

I will cherish forever the last time that I saw her.  We took food and had a birthday party for her.  My youngest son was able to go with me.  As was our custom, we had prayer together.  My Aunt asked Grandmother if she would pray for Blake.  Grandmother laid her hand on his head and prayed a prayer of blessing upon him.  This, to me, is priceless.

I know she is not gone yet.  God may still choose to heal her but I am trying to prepare myself if he chooses not to.  I know she will be better off in heaven.  There is no doubt in anyone's mind that that is where she will be. Even now in her semi-conscious state she can be heard praying.  No, I don't doubt where she will be.  I just don't know how to go through this grieving process.  I'm hoping that writing about it will help.  How do you grieve for someone that has meant so much?  How do you let them go?  I'm not sure but I am trying.  I want what's best for her.  She deserves the best!

Monday, February 15, 2010

How To Roll Over Your Register Rewards

How to Roll Over your Register Rewards (Walgreens) or ECB’s (CVS)

I bought several things at CVS for our church missions project. The best deal that I got for me was on Covergirl. I bought 2 pressed powder compacts for $6 each. I used a BOGO coupon plus one $1 off coupon. This made it 2 for $5. This is $5 out of pocket. Next, I got an ECB (extra cash back) of $5. This made both of them free!

I am going to go back to CVS and use my $5 ECB on Aussie hair products ($2.99) and Colgate (2.99). I will pay $1 + tax out of pocket and receive $4 in ECB…so I am basically making $3 on this transaction.

Through this transaction I have received $18 worth of products for $6 + tax out of pocket + I have $4 to roll into my next transaction. If you look at the whole picture I have $18 products for $2.

Did you follow that? It can be kind of confusing until you do it a few times. The thing to remember is that you will pay more out of pocket on your first transaction but you will receive “money” to spend on your next purchase. Once you have your money to roll over you can start really saving!

I found a great post today on Common Sense with Money. She does a MUCH better job at explaining than I do!

Walgreens is a drugstore and general merchandise store that sells health and beauty items, as well as office supplies, toys and grocery items. These are the terms you need to become familiar with when shopping at Walgreens:

• Register Rewards: It’s a coupon for a discount of your next purchase order that prints at check out.

• Monthly Coupon Booklet: This is a small coupon booklet that contains Walgreens store coupons that can generally be found next to the weekly sales circulars.

• Megasaver: It’s a term that denotes items that are on a special sales price for a one month period.

• Instant Value Coupons: or IVCs are Walgreens store coupons that can be found in the monthly coupon booklet or any other coupon booklets available.

• 7 Day Coupons: These are Walgreens store coupons that can be found in the weekly sales circular.

• Fillers: These are small and inexpensive items that are sometimes needed in order to be able to use a register reward on your transaction (read more about how the register treats register rewards below)

How to Get Free Stuff at Walgreens

1) The first way to get free stuff at Walgreens is by taking advantage of Register Rewards promotions. These register rewards usually require you to buy items, pay for the item and at checkout a coupon (register reward) prints that allows you to save on your next shopping transaction.

Register Rewards Facts:

• You CAN use manufacturer coupons when taking advantage of register rewards promotions. The use of manufacturer coupons will not prevent the register reward from printing.

• Register rewards can not be rolled: this means that you can not use the register rewards you received from purchasing one item to buy more of the same item on a future transaction. If you do this the second register rewards will not print.

• Register rewards offers are usually one per transaction. For example: If the offer is buy one Bottle of Pantene Shampoo for $4.99 and receive one $4.99 register at checkout, only one $4.99 register rewards will print if you buy two or more. You need to do separate transactions if you want to take advantage of the register rewards offer more than once.

• Register Rewards are manufacturer coupons. This means that they need an item to attach to. This is often referred to as a the coupon/item ratio. The coupon/item ration pertains ONLY to manufacturer coupons and the rule is: You need to have as many items as you have manufacturer coupons. Please note that manufacturer coupons that read” $x off two or more items are considered two coupons.

• Register Rewards generally expire within 2 weeks, so make sure to use them before then so as not to lose the money savings they provide.

2) The second way to get free or cheap stuff is by combining Walgreens store coupons with manufacturer coupons. Even though Walgreens store coupons may be labeled as manufacturer coupons, they are store coupons if their bar code starts with the number “0″ instead of the number “5″ that generally precedes the bar code of a manufacturer coupons.

Things to Remember When Shopping at Walgreens:

1) The key to a smooth shopping experience at Walgreens is planning your purchase in advance or develop “scenarios.” This plan of attack will help you maximize savings.

2) The secret to minimizing your out of pocket expense is by breaking off your transactions and using register rewards from the first transaction on the second and so on. Please remember to be polite and let others ahead of you if you have more than two transactions planned.

3) There is a right way to hand your coupons when shopping at Walgreens: First hand Walgreens dollar off transaction coupons, then manufacturer coupons, then Walgrens store coupons and finally your register rewards.

4) Before you leave the store make sure to check your receipt and register rewards to verify that all register rewards and discounts you expected were awarded. It is easier to correct situations right after you complete the transaction.

Walgreens FAQ:

• My Register Rewards didn’t print, now what?

There are a few reasons why your RR didn’t print: you bought an item that was not eligible for the deal (type or size), the catalina machine was off, the RR deal had ended already or not started yet. If you bought the right item, the catalina machine was on and you bought during the correct offer period then you can do two things:

1) Contact the Catalina company at 1-888-8 coupons. Explain your situation and they should be able to send you the information you need to get your RR in the mail.

2) Return the product and surrender any RRs that may have printed. Then rebuy the item at another register.

• I had a horrible shopping experience, what do I do?

Your best course of actions is to call Walgreens Consumer Relations Toll-free (800) WALGREENS (800-925-4733). 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday and calmly explain what happened.

• I let my Register Rewards expire, what can I do now?

The first thing you may want to do is ask your cashier if they accept expired register rewards. However, it is very likely that they don’t and you are unfortunately out of luck. Make sure to keep register rewards visible in your coupon holder to make sure you use them before they expire.

• Does Walgreens have an official coupon policy?

Walgreens does not have a public coupon policy. However, there’s a Policy FAQ document that has been emailed by Walgreens Corporate to customers. Post by: Common Sense with Money

Sunday, February 14, 2010

FREE Community Coffee

Anyone that gets the Sunday Commercial Appeal - check out page A7.  There is a coupon for a free bag of Community Coffee.  If you don't like this coffee let me know.  That's all my Dad drinks.  I'll be happy to send you a stamp for you to send it to me.

CVS Deals This Week

Here are some CVS deals -
Buy 1 Crest Pro-Health Enamel Shield Toothpaste or Rinse at $3.50, Get $3.50 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $0.75/1
Free plus up to $2 overage after coupons and ECBs

Buy 1 Aussie Conditioner, Shampoo, or Styler at $2.99, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use $1/1
Free after coupons and ECBs

Buy 1 Colgate Advanced Toothpaste at $2.99, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use $1/1
Free after coupons and ECBs

Nature’s Bounty Vitamins and Supplements–on sale Buy One, Get One for $0.01

Buy 2 and use 2 $2/1 printables here
Free or almost-free after coupons and sale
Buy 2 select CoverGirl products, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use BOGO coupon + $1/1 coupon

I have not found any great deals for Walgreens yet.  I will let you know when I do.  BTW - if you don't need the toothpaste or vitamins from CVS this week, we are collecting these to take to missionaries in Mexico that deal with abused and abandoned children.  If you can get these items for free or pretty close we would love to have them.  I will be taking the items to them the first weekend in March.

Ready to Eat Healthy?

Happy Valentine's Day! Did you overdo it with the rich foods and indulge in too much chocolate? If so, begin with me on this journey for the next 3 weeks. We will be following a healthy eating plan that I have put together from various books that I have. We have used this program several times and have had great results. It is also rather easy on the pocket book once you have a few staple foods. I get really frustrated with these diet programs that have you eating expensive food the entire time.

I will give you the menu for the first week. It will vary slightly from week to week. You will be eating 4 small meals a day.


1. 1 egg + 1 pc fruit

2. 1 c. sliced fresh fruit

3. Small salad w/ 2 T. dressing

4. ½ c. beans, lentils, or chickpeas, 2 servings vegetables

Exercise – 20 minutes of cardio


1. 6 oz. low fat yogurt (be sure to watch the sugar content in yogurt!) + 1 fruit

2. Small salad w/ 2 T. dressing + 1 c. fruit or vegetable juice

3. 4 oz. chicken or turkey, ½ c. beans, chickpeas, or lentils

4. 1 c. brown rice + 2 servings vegetables

Exercise – 30 minutes of cardio


1. 1 c. cooked oatmeal (you can add sliced fruit, ½ t. sugar or ½ pat butter) + 1 c. fruit or vegetable juice

2. 1 small fruit smoothie or 1 small whey protein shake

3. 1 c. beans, chickpeas or lentils, 1 c. brown rice, 1 serving vegetables

4. 4 oz. fish, chicken or turkey, ½ sweet potato, 1 serving vegetables

Exercise - 30 minutes cardio


1. 6 oz low fat yogurt + 1 pc fruit

2. 1 small fruit smoothie or 1 small whey protein shake

3. 1 large vegetable salad + 3 T. dressing

4. 1 small veggie or lean beef burger (No bread), 1 c. brown rice

Rest Day


1. 1 egg scrambled with veggies + 1 pc fruit

2. Small salad w/ 2 T. dressing + 1 c. fruit or vegetable juice

3. 4 oz. chicken, ½ c. beans

4. 2 servings vegetables + 1 c. brown rice

Exercise- 30 min cardio


1. 1 c. oatmeal + 1 c. fruit or vegetable juice

2. 1 small fruit smoothie or 1 small whey protein shake

3. 4 oz. tuna + small salad

4. ½ c. brown rice + 2 vegetables

Exercise - 30 min cardio

Some notes – I buy whey protein from Walmart. I pay about $15 for a huge container. It is great for the whole family. Our favorite is 8 oz milk + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 frozen banana. Blend for about 30-45 seconds. You can also add peanut butter and/or any fruits that you like. I keep fruits in the freezer so we just grab a handful and throw them in.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coupons and Deals

I am trying to find the energy to head to Kroger. I got up this morning feeling better. I took a shower, got dressed and then my energy bombed. I changed clothes again and went to bed. I slept for about 5 hours. I really want to go and buy something to cook for a Valentine's dinner since we are not eating out anymore. I just don't know if my body will cooperate. So, here I go. I'm going to try. I'll let you know how it goes.

Here you can print Kellogg’s coupons.

Ok, I made it to Kroger. I hate going on Saturday! It is so crazy in there. It was not the best time for me to shop anyway because when I got about half way through I felt my energy draining again. I had a hard time focusing on what I was supposed to be buying. By the time I left I didn't care if I had coupons or not! After I finally checked out and got out to the truck, I found that my neighbors in the parking lot had parked so close that I couldn't load my groceries. I had to put them in the back of the truck. This was not a big deal except my receipt blew out on the way home so I don't have an exact count of how much I saved.

This shopping trip was mainly for things that I don't normally buy because it was our Valentine's meal. I did get a few good deals that I will tell you about though.

Bic Razors - Kroger has BOGO and I had a coupon for BOGO so I got 2 packs of men's razors ($6.99 each) and 2 packs of women's razors ($3.99 each) for FREE! Savings $21.96

1 Kroger coupon for free salad dressing - savings $1.99

Discounted loaf of sourdough bread to go with dinner (we usually don't eat white bread) $.99 savings $2.00

Broccoli and cauliflower sale $.99 each

Rosarita refried beans on sale $1 minus $.50/2 coupon doubled= 2 for $1.

OH...I almost forgot! I got the same deal on the Mahatma Yellow Rice that I got the other day PLUS someone was nice enough to lay a coupon down in front of the rice! So, I bought 6 bags for $1.25.

Since I don't have my receipt I can't tell you exactly what I saved but I know it was over $30. My final bill was $40 and some change so I would say it was a good percentage saved!

Be sure to get a Sunday paper tomorrow and cut out the coupons! There's no better time than now to get started!

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Wonderful Morning!

Today's blog was written by my Mom.  My son has the flu and I have several of the beginning symptoms so I really don't feel like writing today.  I think you will enjoy this though!

The snow and ice were pretty to begin with but after seeing it for several days, they are both getting old now. Sure, the sun is shining today.....right on the snow and ice! It is so cold, there is little chance of either of them going away very soon. So I am still cooped up inside......unwilling to venture out to shop or do anything else in this frigid temperature.

I decided to relieve my boredom this morning by making homemade bread. Since I am trying to eat healthy, I chose a nice oatmeal bread recipe made with fresh buttermilk and only a couple pats of butter. I carefully measured the ingredients, fully aware that a bread maker is unforgiving with variations in the recipe.

While the bread was baking, I decided to organize and file a vast pile of recipes I had cut out from various newspapers and magazines. They were pretty interesting to begin with, especially the lovely desserts. But after two hours of sorting through a multitude of recipes, however, I sternly imposed a rule for myself: If I cut recipes out, I must file them immediately! No more collecting and tediously sorting through stacks of recipes!

Now the aroma of the bread was wafting deliciously throughout the house. Nothing smells better than fresh, hot homemade bread! I was looking forward to my lunch of black beans with rice (cooked the day before), fresh mozzorella cheese topped with red pepper relish, and fresh bread! I continued to steadfastly work on my recipes. Occasionally I glanced at the timer on the bread maker and after quite a while, was delighted to see that it would be ready by noon.

I wearily continued organizing and filing the recipes while wondering why I ever started the entire process.

Shelly called to update me on Blake who has the flu and tell me she called the doctor regarding her own symptoms. Yes, flu-like symptoms! While we were talking, I noticed a strange odor and realized the bread smelled very different. In fact, it did not smell like fresh bread at all. More like a horrible burning stench! I ran to the bread maker and did the unthinkable.....lifted the lid before the time was up! I groaned as I saw the almost baked bread with a black coating all around it! I immediately asked Shelly, "How do you burn bread in a bread maker?" Of course, she did not know either. Now I've baked bread for years and I've never had a burned loaf! I've had loaves that were a little on the raw side, but burned?? I've even baked loaves of bread that tasted like sawdust, but never burned! And this bread maker is the top of the line! Perhaps I should have kept my cheap one....

Disappointed, I fixed my bowl of beans and arranged the rest of the meal. Just before I sat down, I thought, hmmm, hot sauce with the black beans sounds good. I reached in the fridge and viewed the assortment of hot sauces. There was the standard hot sauce, green hot sauce, Louisiana Gold but I finally decided on Texas Pete. I removed the lid and began to shake it. Too late, I realized it did not need shaking! Instead of dripping out like most ordinary hot sauces, to my horror, it poured out! Liberally! I looked helplessly as a small red pool of Texas Pete formed in the middle of the bowl of beans.

Now my mouth has just recovered from a long bout of breaking out from the chemo therapy that I take daily. Large portions of hot sauce was the last thing it needed. But by then, I was just exasperated and too tired to care so I just decided to eat it anyway....uncomfortably aware that my stomach would be the next part of my body to rebel!

I slowly ate my beans drowned in hot sauce followed by lots of cold water. I dined with the revolting smell of blackened bread in the kitchen. In fact, now an hour later, it is still permeating the house...even upstairs. Nauseating smell! The exhaust fan on the cooktop was very little help.

The snow and ice are still on the ground. The sun is still shining. Yes, it is still cold outside. But I may go for a walk, anything to take a break from the results of my morning! Yes, I will go outside....just as soon as I send an emergency email to the manufacturer of my bread maker and I find a bottle of Maalox!