Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I started out with a sheet of paper where I listed everyone's names and chores to do for the day. I figured I need to keep them busy somehow! I worked on the kitchen, roasting two turkey breasts that have been patiently waiting in my fridge, baking pies, cleaning the fridge and emptying out drawers and cupboards that my son shop vaced out for me. I got rid of bags of stuff and decided to repaper some drawers. See what was there? It's got to be really old, it was all over the kitchen at one time or another because when we took the drop down ceiling out, everything above it to the ceiling was this paper.
I picked out this cherry contact paper a long time ago. I found one roll at Fred Meyer and called every FM in the state until I found one with four more rolls. After all that work, do you think I got around to papering my drawers?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Waring Pro waffle maker. Next time you are at Costco, you really should pick one up for yourself, they are great.
Since having this handy-dandy gadget I've tried many, many waffle recipes. We've finally decided that Money Saving Mom has it down to a science. See her recipe here. Do be advised to double this recipe, however, if you've got a house full of hungry children. And, if you want leftovers, you may be in the kitchen all morning, but quadruple it.
But today I just set out butter and a sifter full of powdered sugar and let them go to town. It takes a lot of hand strength and time to push that sifter so not much sugar gets on the waffles. It does look pretty and satisfy the kid's desire for a topping.
And, let this post be an example to you. Next time you think that you don't have anything to post about, remember that you can post about anything. Even your kid's choice of breakfast food. :)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
and the big boys with their drawing books. I know I'm not the only mommy who dreads the cold, dark months with energetic children! Take a peek here too, there are lots of good, cheap recipes for things to do with children. And don't forget the ever popular sensory tub, add dry beans, popcorn or rice to a tub with spoons and measuring cups for dumping and pouring. Just be sure they know it stays in the tub.
If you've got a plan for these long nights, please leave me a comment, I need all the help I can get!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Here's the real posty part of this post -
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
The first step in couponing is finding coupons. The Sunday paper is a wonderful source, I would recommend getting at least one, and maybe even three or four if there are a lot of coupons one week. Lately, at least here, there are have been coupons in Friday's paper too, in ads for specific grocery stores. Other ways of finding coupons are "blinkies," those little boxes that spit out coupons in the grocery store isles (always take a few, you never know when you'll need them!), on packages , on tear pads in grocery stores, and the biggest one, online. Red Plum and Smart Source are good places to start. You will find that some really serious couponers will even buy coupons online from others at a fraction of their worth (say a 50c coupon for 5c each) because they need them. I have yet to do this, but I understand how this could be worthwhile (more on this).
You'll need a method of organizing all of these little pieces of paper too. Here is one way that many people do it, and here is another, the way I do. I like the shoe box sized plastic box with a lid, it fits in the front part of the cart with my purse and I take it whenever I shop. Always take your coupons with you when you go out, you might have an opportunity to stop at a store when you are close by. I can't even tell you all of the times that I have found unexpected marked down items for free or nearly free with a coupon that I was able to get just because the coupons were in the car. Along with coupons, I keep a pencil, a pair of scissors (for cutting out coupons in grocery store sale flyers) and a calculator. Very necessary items! It is also necessary to look through all of your coupons each month to check for expired coupons. I do it at the beginning of each month. This is time consuming and no fun, in my opinion, but it's better than being at the check stand and realizing that your coupons, and therefore your whole plan will not work. Even worse is a checker handing back expired coupons!
Knowing what is a good deal is a big part of couponing. Many people keep a price book to keep track of what is a good price. This is often a small notebook with one item per page and grocery stores down the side. Say you are looking at peanut butter, which is advertised for $1.50 per 18 oz. You check the peanut butter page on your price book, where you've written down how much you've seen it for per ounce. You keep track per ounce because if you are at a warehouse club like Costco or Sam's, you aren't going to find it in an 18 oz. size, but it may be a better deal. Don't forget the dollar store when making your price book. If I can get Colgate or Crest toothpaste at Dollar Tree for $1, I know that finding in on sale for $2.99 with a dollar coupon is not a good deal. Know who has the cheapest price on everything. Each area is different.
That brings me to the next topic, stocking up. When you coupon you often get a lot of one item each time you shop. One week you may get a case of tomato soup and ten loaves of bread and the next week, 100 jars of peanut butter or five cases of tuna fish. (Don't let these numbers scare you!) Many people wonder how in the world you plan a menu for the week this way. You don't. You stock your pantry. (You can do this with more perishable foods too, see a previous post here about what I did with lots of potatoes, how to dehydrate produce here, making your own extracts here or my many posts on canning, some are here, here or here). Different things are on sale each month and different things are highlighted each season. When it was near the forth of July or Labor Day, there were lots of sales on ketchup, mustard and mayo. The coupons that came out around these months reflected the season, so there were many for these items. When I saw that they were at their best price (here's where your price book comes in) I bought all I needed for the year (pictured above). This takes some trial and error, because how is it that you know how much relish your family needs for an entire year? If I don't know, I guesstimate, for example, I use relish on hot dogs (we eat them about 1 x per month, less in the winter), hamburgers (about the same) and tuna (about once a week). I figure out how much of a jar we use for each and buy accordingly. If my pantry is stocked with these things, I don't have to worry about them again and can concentrate on items on sale right now. In October I bought a lot of canned tomatoes. This month it is olives, flour, sugars, chocolate chips and other baking items.
Even though I generally don't do once a month cooking, I enjoy listening to Once A Month Mom's monthly pod cast. (Here it is for November.) She highlights what will be on sale for the month, I like to know what's ahead.
So, once you get coupons and have them organized, you have to figure out the best way to use them. Be diligent about looking at your local sales flyers. We get them here on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, I sit down with a piece of notebook paper and a pencil, the ads and my coupons. I look through the ads to see what is on sale. I do often buy the loss leader ad items even without a coupon because they are at the best price they will be all year - I especially like the ones with no limit! I don't have any qualms about going more than once in a week to max out a limit on an item, or even doing more than one transaction to get that price over and over again (if the coupon says per transaction, you can do this, if it says per shopping trip or per family, do honor that too). If there are other things on sale, I match coupons with the sale items for a great price. If I find something that I plan to buy, I write it under the heading of that grocery store, i.e. Safeway, 3 - 18 oz. jars of Skippy peanut butter and if I have a coupon, I will write a Q next to it so I know that I planned to use a coupon with it. Then the coupon goes in to the store's envelope in my coupon organizer. When I get to the store I pull out my list (that I also keep in my plastic organizer) and the coupons from the store's envelope. I know just where I am going and what I am doing when I get there.
Stacking coupons is a way to get an even better deal. This is where you use a store's coupon and a manufacturer's coupon and a sale to get the best deal possible. Many stores like Albertson's, Safeway and Walgreens put out coupons in their own ad and then if you have coupons for that item too, you can use both. You cannot use two manufacturer's coupons or two store coupons - be careful here and check to be sure because stores like Rite Aid and sometimes Fred Meyer will put manufacturer's coupons in their store ads. Although this is perfectly legal, one of my Albertson's stores always give me a huge hassle about it, so I just don't go to that store anymore. I've heard that Target also has issues with stacking, but I'm sure it depends on your checker and the managers on duty. Always check the store's coupon policy on line if there is a question. I've had a lot of experience where the employee didn't know what they should or shouldn't be doing.
That brings me to store matching programs. Walmart will match an advertised price for items. You have to have the ad with you most of the time, but if you show the clerk that bananas are currently on sale for .39c a pound at another store, they will give you the same price. Although it isn't advertised, Fred Meyer will accept competitor's coupons. Bring in a store coupon for an item, even a store brand, and they will give you the item or their store brand for the coupon price. It really pays to know what your store's policies are. These types of matching programs are especially helpful when you have a store that runs out of the ad often. It's ok to get rain checks for later (put those in your grocery store's envelope in your organizer so you don't forget about them!) but when it's a Catalina coupon, it's frustrating.
Catalina coupons are coupons that print out after you've paid for your items. They are sometimes advertised and sometimes not. For example, they use these a lot at Albertson's and Walgreens. Albertson's will have an ad that says if you buy five specific Pillsbury items (this is from this week) you will get a $5 coupon to use on your next purchase. If you do it right (don't forget to match all of those items with coupons!!!) then you will get your $5 coupon when you finish your transaction, with your receipt. Walgreens will often have an item that will be free in the end, an example of this is buy one Dove body wash and get an $8.99 coupon for your next purchase. If the body wash is normally $8.99 and you have a $2/1 coupon, you will be making money on the transaction. This is called "overage" on many couponing sites. Catalina coupons are not good for long, they expire quickly. For this reason, I like to do a second transaction using that Catalina for other items I need, using that Catalina I just received.
(Both of these are the stock of linen closet supplies)
You will begin to have such a stockpile that not only will you have enough for your family that you won't have to worry about what will happen if there is job loss or a tight month or two, but you will be able to give to others in need. This stock pile comes in handy for a friend who has a baby or crisis in the family, Operation Christmas Child, your local food bank or when you want to give hygiene items to your local shelter. It is also a wonderful feeling to be able to, instead of running to the grocery store when you need a can of this or that, run to your own little "grocery store". The savings are tremendous.
Although couponing seems like a huge effort, it pays off in so many ways. As the mother of the house and the helpmeet to your husband, you will be serving your family by your hard work and diligence. Keep in mind that they aren't the only ones that you are serving: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. " Colossians 3:23-24
May the Lord bless your efforts richly!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Lots of babies like Mommy?" I ask.
"No. You only have one baby, Hava (her little sister)." Then she says, "And when I grow up to be a mommy, I'm going to wear bigggggg panties just like you!"
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This picture also moves me. Here is my oldest son, who is determined to go in to the military, watching men and women walk by with photos of all who have died from our city in the past several years while in service to our country.